authority, cross, death, discernment, hatred, Jesus Christ, persecution, Pharisee, satan, unbelief

The Interrogation, #100

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“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68 and if I ask a question, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 And they all said, “So You are the Son of God?” And He said to them, “You say correctly that I am.” 71 And then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth!”

Luke 22:67-71, NASB

The Sanhedrin thought they had him. Jesus mounts no defense in this particular trial. He is serene, quiet and very much in control. The interrogators tried 5-6 different questions, each purposefully designed to reveal Jesus’ guilt. We should remember, he was regarded as guilty until proven innocent.

This was regarded as a capital crime–a death penalty could be given. But the Law declares that a trial could only be held in the daylight. It was to be public, open to all Jewish men. And in cases like Jesus’, the evidence was to be offered on one day, and a verdict the following. It couldn’t be a “rush” to judgement.

They got there licks in even before the official arraignment before the high priest. Jesus is blindfolded, mocked and beaten, even before the trial began (Luke 22:63-65). All of this took place as soon as he was brought in from the Garden, even before he was charged with a crime!

The deck was definitely stacked against him. The blindfold seems to be a test of sorts, it was believed that the real Messiah would have the supernatural ability to discern his attackers, even while blindfolded. That explains much if it’s true. The spitting was pretty evil though (Mark 14:65).

In this passage Jesus carefully turns the tables on his interrogators. His reply is perfect–they are forced to examine their own hearts. When you put the Son of God on trial, you can expect to see things like this.

“Jesus warned them that though they sat in judgment of Him now, He would one day sit in judgment of them – and with a far more binding judgment.”

David Guzik’s Biblical Commentary

Jesus reply of “I am” carries significant meaning, and we see the impact it has on his captors. In verse 71, they now have the answer they’re looking for, and we sense that they’ve got the evidence in that response. It’s the breakthrough they’ve been waiting for.

The patience and endurance of Jesus amazes me.

He stands alone in the middle of accusations and after being mocked and beaten. In the Garden he states that at his word he can have “twelve legions of angels” ready to protect him (Matthew 26:53). This is profound–I consider not only his restraint, but also his steadfastness, his ability to press on no matter what.

He doesn’t crack or break under the pressure. He goes the distance. He patiently endures it all, and he did this for you and me. Now dear ones, that’s a very good thing.

“For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up.”

Hebrews 12:3

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The Father, #76

“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

John 10:37-38

The Father is in me.” This is one of the clearest passages Jesus uses to explain his ministry. His listeners are doubters. They have decided that he must be executed for blasphemy. In verse 31 we read of their deep, deep anger–“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.”

It’s crazy how “bad religion” affects people. The Pharisees thought for certain that they were defending God’s honor. They really believed that they were doing exactly what they needed to do. Their religion demanded it.

“I and the Father are one” (v. 30), really disturbed them. Leviticus 24:16 delineated their duty. They must defend God from blasphemers, it was their duty as religious leaders. And Jesus was one of the most egregious offenders that they had ever seen.

This confrontation between them and Jesus was quite intense, and yet Jesus, (instead of backing off) presses the issue. The Father has sent him–Jesus must speak the truth, and there is absolutely no sugarcoating his message. He very clearly states what is real. It has to be believed.

“Believe” is mentioned three times. “Know and understand” are thrown out there for good measure. All explain the necessary components that must be present in a saving faith. And yet, all it did was make them angrier.

I believe that Jesus speaks softly, and with wisdom and compassion–but what is real and true, must be spoken. I really don’t think he “returned” their anger. That would’ve been wrong. And John doesn’t mention it.

“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife.”

(Prov. 15:8)

“The Father is in me and I am in the Father” explains his ministry, and Jesus can’t, or won’t, compromise his message, or the truth. It is a fact. It’s something you can hang your hat on.

“He is not ‘making himself God’; he is not ‘making himself’ anything, but in word and work he is showing himself to be what he truly is – the Son sent by the Father to bring life and light to mankind.”

Bruce’s Commentary

When they looked at Jesus–they saw the face of God. The Father was living in him–and he resided in the Father. This is the truth, and it blew out their religious circuits. It was something they simply couldn’t accept.

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The World x Three, #58

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

John 17:15-16, (context, vv. 13-19)

What strikes me is the use “of the world” three times in this passage. Jesus seems to make a point to describe the system we’re all enmeshed in. It’s very clear to Him that we do belong somehow; the first phrase makes it awfully clear that we are part of this structure, and we must accept this.

Like father, like son–but in this case it’s “like savior, like disciple.” The religious apparatus couldn’t humble themselves to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Their dislike becomes hatred, which ended up in murder. And now they fix their dark gaze on us. We’re guilty by association, to a certain degree.

This is a prayer. And “the second person of the Trinity” happens to be interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25.) I don’t know, but there is some very heavy voltage packed into this prayer. Far more than I can even imagine. But He has covered you, don’t doubt it for a single second.

We belong–but yet we really don’t.

Our commitment to Him has completely blown away our chances to be friends with this world’s system. They see us as enemies (or at least, minor irritants) to their dark way of living. At best we’re tolerated, and at least they murder us; all they’ve done to Jesus is now suddenly turned on us.


“I tell you, my friends, don’t be terrified by those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing more.

Luke 12:4

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death, disciples, Gospel, hatred, offense, persecution, truth, unbelief

The World’s Hate, #57

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”

John 7:7 (context, vv. 1-8.)

Forty years of following Jesus has taught me many things. Lumped up in my top-ten is the hard lesson, “people dislike truth.” We are all fallen, and the fig leaves we find don’t cover much–they’re always wilting. And yet we avoid the light, and make up things that are really illusions (or delusions.) We find a mask and wield it to prevent the truth from penetrating our hearts.

Darkness is everywhere it seems. We see it in politics, religion and the media. We see it in our self, and others. It’s grim and sad and proud. And it’s disturbing that it actually turns into a solid hatred. And as believers, and part of the Church, we catch levels of flack from different levels of darkness.

“If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.”

John 15:19, Amplified

Jesus knows every heart, He evaluates and can’t find anything good. “The works are evil,” and every place He looks it is night, spiritual darkness. When you’re dark spiritually, you’re in a very bad place–you are still lost in your sins (Luke 19:10.) I’m sorry, but I am telling the truth.

The world system still hates Jesus, and we’re despised by association. We must be aware. As believers, we’ll never fit in. Much of persecution is satanic, the devil originates much of it. There are countries today that blast believers with dark attacks. I’ve read that more Christians have been killed in the last century than all the others, combined.

“Princes, kings, and other rulers of the world have used all their strength and cunning against the Church, yet it continues to endure and hold its own.”

-John Foxe, “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs 

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Please, Don’t Be Offended, Entry #33

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Matthew 11:6, (context, vv. 2-6)

Being “blessed” is much more than having lots of money, a nice home or a fancy new car. First and foremost being blessed must be a spiritual word–it seems sometimes we have to rescue the true definition and then bring back its real meaning. The old hymn exhorts the enriched Christian to “count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Singing this will work something inside us.

We become spiritually prosperous when we begin to embrace the reality of Jesus–His words, actions, even His very person becomes the dearest thing we could ever dream of possessing. We’re also blessed when we receive deep inside us the many challenging things He says. We really must absorb these harder words without any reservations. It seems that He doles these things out very carefully.

We have to admit that being scandalized over Him is always a possibility. It can happened to a pastor, or a ‘newbie’ in the faith. No matter who we are, we’re always in the arena, being watched, and our faith in Jesus will be tested. Is it real? Will we be insulted or affronted by the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? That dear one, it a very real possibility.

Jesus still offends people. There were those who embraced Him, and yet it seems to me that most ended up resisting and rejecting Him. He was a ‘wrench in their machinery,’ an obstacle in their theology. He was constantly doing things that didn’t seem right or proper.

Does Jesus offend you?

“When Jesus came to earth, demons recognized him, the sick flocked to him, and sinners doused his feet and head with perfume. Meanwhile he offended pious Jews with their strict preconceptions of what God should be like. Their rejection makes me wonder, could religious types be doing just the reverse now? Could we be perpetuating an image of Jesus that fits our pious expectations but does not match the person portrayed so vividly in the Gospels?”

-Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never Knew”

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Two Sparrows and a Head of Hair, Entry #30

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31, (context, vv. 26-3).

Jesus communicates this promise to disciples facing the harsh reality of persecution. These verses are embedded in the context of abuse and mistreatment. They are meant to comfort believers when things are wicked and dark. The world does not love the Christian, it really does hate us, and the persecution ranges from a simple ostracism to outright murder.

Sparrows and hair.

God is a wonderful mathematician. He constantly keeps track of all that concerns us. Sparrows are fairly insignificant. They really don’t amount to much of anything, their value works out to a measly penny. And when it comes to the hair on our heads, we can rest assured that He has His abacus out.

But the real issue is of the person who is being persecuted. Sparrows and hair become present reminders of the intense concern of the Father. He is deeply aware with the details, those intricate facets of our very modest lives. Everything about us is counted and analyzed. Truly the believer is under God’s microscope, (Psalm 139:1-18). That is a good thing.

These wonderful words, vv. 29-31, are often applied to ‘general’ living. Seldom do we realize that the context is that of persecution. That is their truest use. These simple promises fit quite well when they’re understood from that idea, and it seems that’s when they make the most sense; they comfort us in the deepest part of our spirit when we need it the most.

Sparrows and hair.

These are fairly common things, things that we can understand, things that are easily embedded into our thinking. Jesus promises the simple believer mysteries that are truly powerful–ideas that come out of the deep heart of God Himself. These assurances become profound intricacies that directly impact our lives.

So there we have it. There exists a holy math that surrounds the simplest believer. These are straightforward sureties that even children can understand and trust. We discover verses that carry out the “fear not” thought that is part of scripture– promises that are quite wonderful for those who are being pummeled by the darkness.

“So do not fear, I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

 

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Serpents and Doves, Entry #29

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues. 

Matthew 10:16-17 (context, vv. 16-24)

We are being sent into a dangerous place. There will be those who hate us, they take us and lead us into courts and they will bring out a whip. The world is not a kind place for believers in Jesus. He warns the disciples of a definite persecution that they face as His disciples. This deep darkness has teeth.

The servant of Jesus will never be “above His master.” Since they called Jesus, “Beelzebul,” they’ll certainly “malign those of His household” (Matthew 10:24-25). We must accept this. At best they will criticize, and at worst they will kill us. We are facing a hostile world who hates our faith.

If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!

And yet Jesus still sends us. We dare not step away from this viciousness. It’s part of the package He gives. We should expect to be treated this way. Jesus warns us honestly of the terrible things we can expect, He does not sugarcoat things. The Lord is well-acquainted with what the world is capable of.

When sheep and wolves meet each other it becomes a slaughter house. And yet there is another side to all of this. We are called to think like a serpent, to have a definite wisdom of all that must be faced, and what we must do to faithfully survive this persecution.

It troubles me somewhat that believers are called to be snakes. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to equate to an innocent faith in Jesus. (Snakes are bad, at least in my thinking). And yet Jesus clearly welds this holy innocence with a wisdom that is very much aware. I suppose that there is a thoughtful balance here, we must find it, and then live it out.

He calls us to vulnerability, most certainly, but mixed into this we need a grasp of being aware; a holy shrewdness (but never a naïvety) that knows how to face the darkness without becoming apostate. We need to use our brains, but be led by our hearts. We are His witnesses, but we must never become His victims.

“It has become a settled principle that nothing which is good and true can be destroyed by persecution, but that the effect ultimately is to establish more firmly, and to spread more widely, that which it was designed to overthrow. It has long since passed into a proverb that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

-Albert Barnes

    

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