Saturday, December 31, 2016

What do you say about yourself? John 1:21-23

The Apostle John is trying to convey who this Jesus was, not that they did not know for he was writing to believers – Jewish believers, converts. These converts, especially on John's part, were not asked to leave the richness and fullness of Judaism, but were shown how much richer it is knowing that the Messiah was no longer awaited, but here now in spirit; just as he had promised. The converts had the evidence of their lives filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to prove that this was all true.
Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees
Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sadly, not everyone believes your words and other methods must be used to convince them; such was the case with a man named Saul. We eventually come to know him as the Apostle Paul.
John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, is at least six months older than Jesus, and, according to Scripture, filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit while in his mother's womb.
Why would this be important and what difference does it make? Being filled as he was, circumvents standard religious practices and methods. Are you telling me that God does not work within our parameters? Exactly. It is the other way around as we work within His.
John the Baptist was the first human, that we are aware of, to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
If you consider how the Holy Spirit prompted Peter to behave on the day of Pentecost, then how did this infilling impact John, all his life. Perhaps the answer to that is, how did the Holy Spirit transform Jesus, throughout his life. The answer is seen. To those who needed help and asked for it, the impact was gentle and dramatic, not so dislike the attributes given to a dove. Was John the Baptist perceived as gentle? Only to those who needed his help, as he led them into water baptism. Oddly, this water baptism as it is not the prescribed method for the cleansing of sins, the blood of animals was. So, those who caught the brunt of John's zeal and peculiarities were the same as those who caught Jesus wrath as well, the Pharisees with their holier-than-thou attitudes.
The Apostle John, whom we gather to have been a disciple of John the Baptist, tells us that he testified about Him. Let's ponder that for a moment:
Merely to say Him means nothing unless the hearer is already aware of who is being referenced, and that may not have been the case.
The phrase, to testify about Yashua/Jesus, begins to take on a deeper meaning, as there were many who had this name. If Jesus had done amazing things before this moment, and therefore his name is associated with notoriety, then John the Baptist could have been speaking about those events. But as yet, Jesus, as far as scripture points out, had done nothing. (You know that is not true, although this is merely a logical assumption, for his mother, at the wedding in Canaan, said, “whatever he tells you to do, do it.” That statement does not come out of presumption, but evidence; evidence that convinces you that your son is filled with a power that you do not understand and he is capable of doing amazing things.)
My last attempt at speculation about such a simple word as “him,” implies that John, based on scriptural knowledge, (remove the images of the Bible from your thinking here,) knew who He was and why He had come. This knowledge could only have come through the suggestion of the Holy Spirit and yet have little to do with head knowledge or understanding. To make that statement clear, let me just say that the Holy Spirit has prompted me to say things to people, that at the moment made no sense to me; and yet, when I said them the response was often, “how did you know that?” I did not know anything, I merely complied with what I heard, and John the Baptist may have done the same. Now, none of this disqualifies study, and John the Baptist was the son of a priest. He then may have been intentionally taught, orally, about the coming Messiah. It is a major theme in the Jewish process of learning.
So in testifying, what did John the Baptist say?
John 1:15-18 NASB John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16) For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17) For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18) No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Keep in mind that I pointed out how John was born before Jesus, and yet, here he is saying, “He existed before me.”
John tells them, “for of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
What is he trying to say? Jesus is about to come into his role and launch into the ministry of which we all seem to be aware. But, none of that appears to happen until John baptizes Jesus in the river Jordan. (What happens when John does this?)
For the Law was given through Moses: grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
As far as we know, Jesus had said nothing yet. How is that possible? Therefore John sees moments into the future, or God's plan is already in action, and it means salvation.
This last aspect of what John testified about is somewhat convoluted unless you change one word – God, in the second half of the sentence, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
(We are in no way trying to diminish our understanding, nor are we trying to lessen the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh.) However, we do have this same verse as an explanatory statement, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
Since the Apostle John's purpose in writing was to point out that Jesus was God, this statement, above all others, should do it - “The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father..” The Son, who had been no less God, and, the very Word involved in creation was caused to be birthed. God sends his only son to be birthed, bypassing the natural process of man, one in which we, without an option, continue to pass a damaged DNA string along to every child through birth.
So God, the Son, is now resting His head upon God the Father's breast. No one has seen God at any time, and yet Jesus the Christ: A man who is God and God's son at the same time; an heir to the throne of God; referred to as God; and yet there were those that saw Him. I might add that even after death and resurrection, Jesus has continued to be seen. Because He is God I could also say that God has continued, in a sense, to be seen. One huge example we have of this is found in the transformation of the Apostle Paul.
As usual, you have endured another of my horrendously long introductions.
The religious crowd had already openly challenged John the Baptist as to whether he was the Messiah, now they ask him, Who then are you; what do you say about yourself?
John 1:21-23 NASB They asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" And he *said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22) Then they said to him, "Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23) He said, "I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,' as Isaiah the prophet said."
At this point, the question is, are you, Elijah? It is a logical issue for those in the Jewish community. In thinking differently, what evidence would we, if Jewish, have that prompted a question like this?
Malachi 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
If he held to the claim that he was Elijah, then they were all sitting dangerously close to the edge of eternity, and some could find that frightening. An alternative understanding is that the law allowed for the Jews to stone false prophets, and that would put a damper on anyone's ministry. Consider that Israel is still anticipating the return of Elijah the prophet.
It seemed they believed his simple answer of NO; so they ask again, “Who are you,” and, if you are not some huge personality that we should be enthralled by, then “what do you say about yourself?” The question carries many implications. It is highly possible that this crowd are the same ones who asked Jesus a similar question, which we find in John chapter 8.
One of the implications would be, by whose authority do you act and talk the way you do? John who had a rather direct way of saying things got him beheaded had a simple explanation:
"I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,' as Isaiah the prophet said."
John's response was not just a sentence pulled out of the air for John had memorized Isaiah chapter 40, along with the majority of the Old Testament. Memorization was the primary method for passing along the wealth of information, written on scrolls, to the next generation; therefore it was necessary to learn these words with precision. However, like many of the things John the Baptist and Jesus said, this was an excerpt; if you must be critical, it was taken out of context. Having done that did gravity cease to exist, or the world come to an end, No.
So, what was the context? Isaiah 40,  as the Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary, states, is saying that “The restoration after the Exile pointed to the coming of the Lord's kingdom.” God's command in verse one of chapter forty is to comfort his people. Calling the Pharisees vipers does not come across as comforting.
Certainly, John the Baptist had a sense of urgency, but for what, “The Way of the Lord.” Now the question then should be, what did that mean? Christ had already been born, and wiser men recognized him, so that eliminates that possibility. It feels as if we are being guided to assume that this day something else was to happen. I say that as though this scenario transpired earlier in the day, and it might have, for it seems to have been on John's mind.
So what was different about this day?
As far as we can tell we are all still awaiting our restoration after exile, and the coming of the Lord's kingdom. What if it has come and we who have accepted His salvation are already in it? There is no doubt that we still long for a salvation and redemption that includes an undisturbed peace in the Father's arms; certainly, no one would say that we are there yet.
So, again I ask, what was different about the day that Jesus was baptized if that was the day John made this statement?
  • The day of His baptism was the day Jesus was introduced to the world as the Messiah.
    The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...
    The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded by angels, by Giaquinto, 1750s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is that an honest and valid statement? Wasn't the "star in the east" that led the Wisemen to Jesus an announcement? And what of the choir of angels that told the shepherds that the (key word) Christ was born. The word Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. Based on this, I could easily say that God had already made His proclamations.
  • This day was also significant, as God, announced to those gathered around the Jordan that day, by sending the Holy Spirit, like a dove, to lite upon Jesus, and to those listening, he said that "this was His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased.”
The reality of that moment was that some saw something alighting upon Jesus, while others heard a rumble or noise, but heard no distinctive words. It makes me wonder what John heard. Perhaps John operated on faith and merely trusted that the noise was God. However, John was filled with the Holy Spirit, the first and only one so far, and because of his ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, he may have heard distinctly.
With those ramifications in mind, what impact did this moment in time make on the world?
It was not simply the entrance of Jesus into the world; it was a shift in the methoddeliverya change in procedureI think we could even make the assertion that God's plan had been in motion for a long time and that God looks at His plans as complete, regardless of what things look like, knowing full well that there will be a completion, just as He said. Therefore, what John said in response, was only restating God's plan, and that to God, it does not matter how long the process takes.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Aren't you just a bit curious about what John had to say? John 1:19-20

In a recent post, I talked about spending time in a psyche hospital and how they asked me how long my parents had been alcoholics. That generated some negative feedback, not from a reader, but from a relative.
Sadly, I allowed his input to almost shut me down, and for that, I apologize. Fortunately, I got a phone call from a brother who told me to keep doing what God called me to do. That being said here is something I have been lax in posting.
The object of Bible study is to understand.
How many people do you know that understand the Bible, and can effectively convey it back to you?
I was asked recently if church leadership had contacted me about leading a Bible study.
(I suppose I should tell you that our book study had ended four weeks prior and a window of opportunity came to lead a Bible study when our group leader pointed out that he had been asked already and if he was not available was anyone else interested. I told our leader yes, and made the point of telling that particular pastor yes also.)
I answered the brother, with a resounding No. His response was for me to develop a format so that I could present what I intended to do, to church leadership. Having been recently involved with a book guided Bible study, I found it to be atrocious in its context, as the authors taught fallacies, traditions and directed the reader to assume false scenarios through their wording of the text. I want no part of that, but, I also realize that the modern church thinking is that we have to race through the Bible because people will get bored and leave – the church in its entirety; then, let them go.
I have no problem with leadership asking me to lead some book guided study that is filled with conjecture and tradition, however, you should know that I will contest every time I think it's wrong and integrate a verse by verse approach as I deem necessary. What then happens to your time frame?
I often find myself surrounded by fools who tell me, "we cannot understand all of what we read" (This usually occurs when the book of Revelation or prophecy come into the discussion. What they do when they say that, is prove how little they read and their lack of desire to know. As for the boring aspect. Teachers are boring, but the Word of God is alive, and there is nothing boring about that.
Now, let's continue with the Gospel of John.
The NASB entitles this section, “The Testimony of John the Baptist.”
Since I have always understood a testimony to be what one says, either in defense of themselves, about something they have seen, or in defense of someone else. Aren't you at least curious what John the Baptist had to say? So were the Jewish leaders. One aspect of what he said was this:
John 1:19-20 ERV, The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, sent some priests and Levites to John to ask him, "Who are you?" He told them the truth. 20) Without any hesitation,
A study Bible.
A study Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
he said openly and plainly, "I am not the Messiah."
If you are an avid reader of my work, then you know I prefer the NASB translation. The NASB finishes this paragraph with the word Christ instead of Messiah, as do many others, however, there are about as many who end with “the Messiah.” This choice of terminology and our casual way of handling it is another example of where our Westernization of the Bible comes into play. When we read Christ, as the NASB puts it, what do we see? Sadly, it is often little more than a man that has yet to come into His own? We don't see God standing there as a man; neither do we see a triumphant king, yet to come into power. No, we see a man that is frail and insipid, unable or unwilling to defend himself. We see him exactly as the prophet Isaiah said we would, a lamb about to be lead to the slaughter.
Isaiah 53:2-4 NASB For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
In today's world, which is far too concerned with marketability and packaging, there was nothing here that could be sold to the public. Besides all that, there was this lingering question about Jesus familial heritage. We understand this to be a valid assertion for the Pharisees, on several occasions, rudely rebutted him when they said, “we know who our father is!” Their statement was very intentional, meant to hurt and degrade Jesus in front of those who heard them.
But, we fail to ask, what does the word Christ mean? So, even if John the Baptist used the word Christ instead of Messiah, and he may have, is this a problem? Not really, and here is why:
It is the Greek word Christos and means anointed, that is, the Messiah.
When you consider the languages forced upon the Jews of that day, you come to realize that Greek was the language of the ruling authority. Jesus also spoke Aramaic and may have spoken Hebrew. To call Jesus the Christos would have been a far stretch for the chief priests and elders for it means the anointed one, and hence the Messiah. If they did this, they would have been admitting that He was the Son of God, and they were not going to do that. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem that day, on a young donkey, they all recognized that this was something different, something rare, and the entry mode for Kings. The strongest assumption of the people was that Jesus must then be the king, and these common folk, longing for freedom, cried out appropriately.
This dialogue about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem may not answer the question for many, so I'll give you some scriptures that may help to identify Jesus as the Son of God, a high priest, anointed by God, and Messiah that He truly was.
1Samuel 2:35 'But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.
Is 1Samuel 2:35 a description of Jesus? Absolutely, but his identity is cloaked in veiled language that speaks in the future tense. If you go back to find the context of this statement you end up at 1Samuel 2:27 where an unknown man, a prophet, comes to Eli, the priest, and points out the changes that are to come because Eli did not act according to God's plan. The prophetic declarations take us to verse 35.
Hebrews chapter 10 talks about Jesus, the faithful high priest who performed every detail. As one “who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul." Jesus filled that role precisely and told the Jewish leaders so. We see this in John chapter five.
John 5:19 NASB Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
And in John 12:49-50 we have Jesus telling the Jewish leadership of the day, that He only said what He heard his Father, God, saying.
John 12:49-50 NASB "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. 50) "I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
There is that other thing that plays a role in this question, “who are you?
This next passage is one every Jewish kid would have learned in Synagogue school.
Malachi 4:5-6 NASB "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6) "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."
The Jews, anticipated Elijah coming again.
Now, how he would come is debatable, for example: in spirit, or in the flesh. There was no question that he would come again and they anxiously awaited him. Why? For the Torah (Law) clearly, states that man will return to the earth in death. We can find this in multiple locations: Genesis 3:19; 2Samuel 14:14, and Job 14:5. The idea that it is appointed for man once to die and then the judgment comes from the New Testament in Hebrews 9:27.
Because we are also trying to find those things that would have instructed the Jews of Jesus day, we really should exclude Hebrews as an influence, particularly as it would not have been written at the time of John the Baptist. Historically Elijah was known to have been caught up in a fiery chariot unto God; then we make the logical assumption that Elijah did not die and must at some point be returned to expire, following the conventional path of man.
What other problems we could have with Elijah's return?
The answer resides in the verse from Malachi that we just looked at:
Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
What about a few more references to the terrible day of the Lord.
Many tell me that I make these posts too long, but try to consider the person who reads this and does not have access to a Bible. Another problem could easily be the abbreviation of references that do not convey the context or the scenario adequately and therefore wrongly feed skewed misconceptions about God's timing and the event that is going to happen.
The prophet Joel went into a long oration inspired by the Holy Spirit, in which he describes events that cover a substantial amount of time, and, demonstrate a God that still shows a willingness to relent if men will humble themselves before Him. It also includes the paragraph about the sons and daughters that dream dreams and prophecy as God pours out His Spirit upon them. Does this all happen in a day? I don't think so, but it can happen over a “seven-year” period.
Joel 2:30-32 NASB "I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. 31) "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32) "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
While Joel gave us some hope, Isaiah speaks of making the land desolate and destroying the sinners out of it. This descriptive includes the darkening of the sun and an impairing of the moon's light. (There are several places in the world, at present, where the populace rarely see the sun or moon thanks to smog.)
Isaiah 13:9-11 KJV "Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11) And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."
The Apostle John, in relating his vision of the end times says, that the stars fall to the earth; the heavens depart like a scroll, and the earth is shaken by a serious of vicious earthquakes. These events are so frightful that the rich, the kings of the earth and the great men have hidden in elaborate caves.
Take a moment to look at this article from the Daily Mail.com, which runs in the U.K. Written by By Isabel Hunter For Mailonline and Published:15:42 EST, 13 April 2016.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3538525/Where-pandemonium-strikes-Super-rich-buying-underground-bunkers-installing-panic-rooms-luxury-apartments-protect-against-revolutions-natural-disasters.html.
In the article, it talks about the ultra rich who are buying these complexes to protect themselves from the insanity that is coming upon the earth. This is an accurate depiction of what we see in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 6:13-17 KJV "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
So when is the day of the LORD going to take place?
There is really only one place prescribed in scripture for this to happen and it is after the harpazo or snatching away of the church. Yes, it also entails the climatic end where Jesus physically returns with a vengeance and plants his feet on the Mount of Olives, at the end of the time of wrath, (we love to call it, The Great Tribulation.) Sadly, most of you still have a problem in understanding the timing involved because the Time of God's wrath, is this entire period after the church is snatched out of here. This scenario is equatable to the flood account with Noah and righteous Lot, where God removed the righteous from the harm that was to come. In both cases God had them removed just moments before destruction began. And make no mistake, while God will be pouring out His wrath man, it seems, will be ramping up the violence. Since one of the principal methods of violence we see in scriptures includes the beheading of “believers,” then it is easy to ascertain the “religion” that loves to do that. We, in what we deem the civilized nations, still do not wish to believe this level of destruction and violence can befall us. How naive we are, as our governments have been on a fast-paced course of action to eliminate the overabundance of users (that includes food and resources) and they know they can do this through what they think is controlled violence and poisons.
(Again, do not be naive, the same people that brought you chemicals for a better tomorrow are owned or controlled by the same people that run the governments, and there is an intentional effort to reduce the population legally. Why do think abortions are government funded?)
Because the time that is labeled, the day of the Lord, is a time of wrath; then you must know that the church is not meant to partake in that time of destruction. We see this in several places and here is one of them.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB 9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Some would say, that's fine, but it's not enough. Are there any reliable references from the Old Testament? Sure there are, and one is found in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.
Malachi 3:16-17 NASB Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17) "They will be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."
Don't make the mistake of thinking this excludes followers of Christ from the extraordinary but everyday violence that surrounds us, for we were told that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” (You can find this reference in the Gospel of John chapter 16 verse 33.)
One last thing – I have been talking to so-called Christians as my target audience. Do not think you are excluded, for the main reason God sent His son, was to save the entire lost world, broken by this “sin” thing that corrupts us. I find it easier to think in terms of a damaged DNA strain that is common to man. From the scientist point of view, having never seen a man without a damaged DNA chain, would not think it anything but normal. Having lived just a little, and seen the side of life that includes Christ, I can tell you that there is a difference and it is life. No, I don't wake up in a bed of roses, my life is tough, just like everyone else' is, but I have a confidence that there is a life beyond this garbage here on earth. I mean really, you think life is nothing more than collecting trophies and then you turn into worm fodder.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why would John have to say that? John 1:18

English: Jesus and Nicodemus
English: Jesus and Nicodemus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Apostle John had just finished saying,
“John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John 1:15-17 NASB
What the Apostle John had just said was almost too much to handle, and, keep in mind that John is addressing Jewish converts. A group that before receiving salvation seemed to struggle with the idea that Jesus was the Messiah/God in the flesh. He finished the thought with, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
You can almost feel the tension in the air as they read this last statement.
I imagine the converts wanted to understand, but this needed to be chewed on for a moment. I can just picture John taking an intentional pause, breathing deeply, and then adding this next statement:
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18 NASB
Why would John have to say that?
We have to go back to his opening lines and try to grasp how the minds received what he said. Some may have been wondering if Jesus still walked the earth. Besides, we are talking about the all mighty God, right?
You would think that the concepts the Apostle John was setting forth were already understood.
Even I can understand that the law of God came through the mouth of Moses, but if God conveyed what we typically see as anger and wrath through the law, then how do I embrace grace and truth, which almost seems in opposition to the law. Furthermore, how do I accept this “freedom” as being through Jesus, who was also here as God, or at least a representative of Him?
Let's try to grasp this for a moment.
  • On two occasions Jesus spoke of how he and the Father are one. We find both of those detailed in John's Gospel: John 10:30 and John 17:22.
    When Jesus made the statement in John 10:30, the religious Jewish crowd (this probably consisted of the chief priests, elders, scribes, Pharisee, and Sadducees) reacted, and poorly. To them Jesus words were blasphemous, and, as you can see by their response, they were willing to stone Jesus to death.
John 10:31-33 NASB, The Jews, picked up stones again to stone Him. 32) Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" 33) The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."
But what is the obvious problem for the religious Jews? They were not going to accept Jesus words. This is not true of all of them because of Nicodemus, one of the elders, came to Him by night. Nicodemus tells us that many believed. Believed what? Jesus word.
  • Young's Literal Translation of John 17:22, gives another view of Jesus relating who He was when He said, “And I, the glory that thou hast given to me, have given to them, that they may be one as we are one;”
    Fairly direct, wouldn't you say?
  • In Luke's gospel, chapter 22 verse 30, it is recorded that Jesus referred to the table of God as His table.
    that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (NASB)

    But once again we have a problem.
    To whom is Jesus saying this? The disciples. We make the assumption that this means twelve men, but we find out that by the time the Holy Spirit fell on them all, there was as many as 120 who carried that title. If the message was that Jesus and God were one and they were excited about that aspect, then how and why would that have been prevented? Only through fear, intimidation, and threats, and that is exactly what the religious Jews did.
  • I will end this rant with a passage from Mark's gospel.
    Held like a criminal before the high priest and elders, Jesus was challenged.
    Mark 14:60-64 NASB, The high priest, stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"

    As you can see, He answered them with “I am.
    61) But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" 62) And Jesus said, "I amand you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."

    Those listening, and they were listening intently, heard every word. It didn't take lengthy discussion because they understood the implications of every word, comma, and period, and yes, I know that the Greek has no punctuation. The list of accusations was already sufficient and substantial. As soon as Jesus said these words, “I amand you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” the high priest intentionally ripped his garments.
    From Kenneth Wuest's Word Studies in the New Testament, we get this: “This tearing of garments was an old sign of mourning or sorrow first mentioned in Gen_37:29The law forbad the high priest from rending his garments in the case of private troubles (Lev_10:6Lev_21:10), but when acting as a judge, he was required by custom to express in this way his horror of any blasphemy uttered in his presence.” - Me, this was, of course, their interpretation, not knowing that Jesus was God.
    63) Tearing his clothes, the high priest *said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? 64) "You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

    We assume that this was the last straw for putting Jesus to death, but they had tried to kill him on many occasions. What we have to keep in mind is that death was a necessary price to pay for our redemption and a price that He paid willingly.
Now the question, why would the Apostle John have to say the things he said, comes full circle. Hopefully, I presented enough evidence to convince the Bereans among us, that Jesus was God. Do I fully grasp the concept? No, but I am not foolish enough to challenge the idea any longer, and my lack of understanding has created an insatiable desire to learn more completely these things the Jewish leadership understood – and yet repressed. This desire to know the God I choose to serve is the main reason I write, that and the horrific lack of knowledge we "followers" of Christ have about most anything when it comes to the Bible. Simply put, we choose to live in a world of fairy tales, such as David and Goliath, believing that David was just the cutest little twelve-year-old boy. Wake up! What fool would let a child attempt to defend a nation, knowing full well the horrors of enslavement that would befall all of Israel?
Setting the idea of fairy tales aside, the question now is, who do you say this Jesus is?
The answer is important, whether you believe it or not, because:
  1. Jesus is coming soon to gather those who belong to him, back to himself.
  2. This void left by a praying church will leave many here on earth to suffer the hateful indifference of a godless society; hell bent on the collection of riches. Their decisions, which we are already experiencing, include the killing of those associated with Christ.
While I am not the judge and do not know the hearts of those around me, God does, and the religious practices of these cult religions have shown them enough truth to understand that God is real and that the world around you, at this point, wants you dead.
All my life, practically living in the church, has sheltered me, to some degree, from the world. What that means is that I am thankful I did not develop a taste for most of what the world offers, like drugs and alcohol. What I did find myself consumed by was co-dependency, anxiety, depression, and a Viking-like anger that I used to keep myself safe (so I thought) from people who had the skills to push others around. [This idea of pushing people around is often subtle and done under the guise of people skills.] So, does growing up in church give me an advantage? Hardly, it puts you in the sights of individuals, who have a religious side to them but are almost as twisted and evil as the world.
I am not going to lie to you, growing up in the church was hard, it should not have been, but it was. Later on in life, after a wife cheated on me for the second time, I allowed myself to indulge in some Viking-like rage and ended up in a psych hospital for a month. Thankfully I learned some things about myself that enable me to walk calmly through most of those anger filled moments. To add to my grief, the psych staff asked me how long my parents had been alcoholics. Try to imagine the questions your mind throws at you in a moment like that, when, to my understanding, my parents have never touched alcohol and yet act like they guzzled the stuff. I still have trouble with it, and, have considered going to something like an Adult Children of Alcoholics group, just to see what help I could gain in understanding me.
All-in-all, I consider myself fortunate that I found Christ at such an early age because the life I lived in Christ gave me a foundation that was rich in a diversity that included: the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Because of those experiences I have felt all the emotions, I associate with a God that loves me, but spread over many years. Feelings, by the way, buy you nothing in the long run as we are expected to live this life by faith. The problem with years of experience is that the time frame is broad enough for me to become almost numb to it, or at least not react appropriately to the moving of the spirit. It is in those times that I remind myself, as the song says, of all that he has done. Yes, I remind myself, not only from a historical point of view but also of how Jesus has shown up in my life as well.
Jesus, make me yours!!

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