Saturday, November 28, 2015

John 20:26 - 21:14 comments: filled with meaning

26 ¶  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30  And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The following week, Thomas was with the group and Jesus came in among them again. He gave Thomas the opportunity to verify for himself what the others had seen in the previous meeting. Thomas acknowledged that this was indeed his Lord and his God, the fundamental statement of the Christian.

John reports that there are many things that Jesus did that he saw as an eyewitness but that he did not include them here. The things he wrote in this gospel are for the purpose of leading you to believe that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, the Son of God, and by believing that you will live forever with Him as so many other passages maintain. That is the purpose of the Gospel According to John, to get people saved.

There is a blessing here from Jesus for those who believe without seeing the signs these Jewish Apostles required. Unbelieving, faithless people require big shows and displays of supernatural power, which can often be faked by opportunistic people with an agenda to make money and achieve fame. But, true, Christian faith does not require such displays. It is quiet and believing, without demanding such proofs.

Chapter 21

1 ¶  After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2  There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3  Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4  But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8  And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9  As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10  Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12  Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13  Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14  This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

The third time that Jesus showed Himself to the Apostles was after they had a long night of fishing without catching anything. Jesus appeared on the shore but the disciples did not recognize Him. He directs them to cast their nets on the opposite side of the boat and the nets were filled with fish. Then, John recognized that it was Jesus and told Peter. Peter was not wearing any clothing, which for men working together on a ship at that time, might not have been unusual as the word naked means naked. See Genesis 2:25. Peter then swam to the shore as the other disciples brought their catch to land, a little over a football field’s length from them.

Jesus had prepared a fire over which He was cooking fish and there was bread. He told them to bring the fish they had caught and the net produced 153 fish but the net, though full, did not burst. Jesus told them to share a meal with Him. They all realized it was Jesus at this point.

Why all the detail? What does this passage mean? Why did the Holy Spirit find it necessary to tell us that the load of fish caught after Jesus became involved was a 153 exactly and not 152 or 154? There are a lot of sermons which have seeds in this little section. Some thoughts might be;

The disciples went fishing and caught nothing in the night, the time of spiritual night we’ve already discussed. Men are like fish in the sea and without Christ we cannot draw them to Him and it is morning when Christ calls them, another topic already discussed.

Habakkuk 1:14  And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?

Matthew 4:19  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

John 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

They have success when they obey Christ’s direction.

Peter knew enough that swimming to shore naked was not appropriate. God’s standard is that we be clothed when we worship Him. This is probably partly due to the naked rites of pagan idolatry. The priests were not to attend to God’s altar in just their outer garments.

Exodus 20:26  Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

So, underwear was designed for them. Notice that breeches cover the loins to the thighs, from the crotch to the knee. These are not trousers as some commentators have insisted. Trousers didn’t come into play until the Persians invented them for men and women both to ride on horseback long after these Old Testament verses were written.

Exodus 28:42  And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 43  And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

Remember the idolatrous practices of Egypt the Hebrews brought with them.

Exodus 32:1 ¶  And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2  And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4  And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5  And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6  And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play…25  And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)

1Corinthians 10:7  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

So, Peter would not have a problem being with his fellow workers in the condition of nakedness but he knew that it would not be appropriate to stand naked before his Lord and Master. In a different sense, figurative, the Christian also does not want to stand naked before God but our righteousness, based solely on Christ’s righteousness, is represented by fine, white linen.

Revelation 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Think of Christ feeding you with His word in the Bible.

Matthew 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Revelation 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

So, as you can see there are many, many possible sermons out of this one little passage. Just looking at how each verse might apply to your condition is a marvelous thing about the Bible.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

John 20:19-25 comments: the unique authority of the Apostles

19 ¶  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20  And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

Later, the disciples were hiding behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, and Jesus appeared in their midst. He greeted them with, “Peace be unto you,” and showed his pierced hands and side to them. The disciples were glad to see Him. He repeated His blessing to them and declared His authorizing of them to be sent by giving them life, in a way, as He had given Adam life in Genesis 2:7. Christ gave the eleven remaining Apostles the Holy Ghost.

These Apostles were given the authority to remit sins. It is reported elsewhere that Jesus said;

Matthew 26:28  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Modern definitions of remission include, “the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty,” or, “a temporary recovery from a disease or the pain associated with it,” and, “forgiveness of sins.”

In the era the King James Bible was translated there was a thesaurus called Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae. This was compiled by Thomas Cooper in 1584. In it, remit, meant, “to acquit one of his debt; to forgive…”, and, “to pardon and remit the punishment one has deserved.”

In 1587 Thomas Thomas’ Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicanae had, “to remit, or forgive, to pardon.” Remission in those early dictionaries and thesaurus in Early Modern English is listed as synonymous with forgiveness or pardon. (40)

What does the Bible say? Clearly, in the verse in Matthew we know that Christ’s shed blood is required for the forgiveness of our sins.

Ephesians 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Colossians 1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance to the Jews as a nation for the remission of sins.

Mark 1:4  John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

And when Peter faced the proselyte Jews after the Resurrection he told them that they must receive this baptism of repentance to receive the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

But, what about the Christian? Does remission mean forgiveness and was this a special authority given to the Apostles only or was it for all Christians?

Romans 3:25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

The use of the word remission has to do with a debt that is cancelled. Many would say that remission and forgiveness are distinct and that if sins are remitted they not completely removed. But it is clear that remission and forgiveness are synonyms.

The Apostles were given the authority to forgive sins, but clearly, like speaking in tongues or foreign languages without learning them, and healings administered by individuals this was used to spread Christianity in its early days. Here is another authority given to the physical Apostles that we do not have;

Matthew 18:18  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus Christ gave the Apostles the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost came again in a very public way on the Apostles, in Acts, chapter 2;

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 2:1 ¶  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Clearly, since these are two events and the Holy Ghost is involved in both they have two distinct purposes. One, the first, is in granting authority to the Apostles to forgive sins, and, two, the second one is giving the spiritual power to accomplish the supernatural task Jesus set for them.

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Thomas doubts the Apostles’ account; the evidence of Christ’s pierced side and hands. He wants to see what they have seen and if he does not see it he will not believe.

The conclusions drawn here from this passage are that Christ gave the Holy Ghost to the Apostles in two stages; one with authority and power to forgive sins and the other with the ability to carry out their mission. Another conclusion is that the Apostles had power that we do not have in this age of the Church. The third thing is that remission and forgiveness are synonyms.

(40) Lexicons of Early Modern English,

Saturday, November 21, 2015

John 20:11-18 comments: Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

11 ¶  But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12  And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13  And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14  And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16  Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17  Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18  Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Peter and John do not understand the Resurrection. Mary thinks someone stole Jesus’ body. It is given to Mary Magdalene to see two angels and then to turn and see Jesus, thinking Him to be the gardener. Jesus says her name and then she sees Him for who He is. Is that not the way salvation is and the way the translation of the church will be? We knew Christ for how He was when He spoke our name. Our coming to Christ had to be a very personal thing, not a group thing. There is no group salvation in Biblical Christianity. You were not saved because you were a Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, or Pentecostal. You were saved because God spoke your name and you saw Him for who He is.

John 10:3  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

Genesis 22:1 ¶  And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am…11 ¶  And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

Exodus 3:4  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

1Samuel 3:4  That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

Song of Solomon 2:8 ¶  The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills….10  My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Acts 9:4  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

1Thessalonians 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [you certainly don’t think here, in consideration of other passages that the Lord is just shouting, “HEY!” do you?]

Revelation 2:17  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Jesus told her not to touch Him as He had not ascended to the Father. We can only guess the reasons for that and the physics of it. But, she ran and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and what He had said to her.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

John 20:1-10 comments: they didn't see this coming?

Chapter 20

1 ¶  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2  Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 3  Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4  So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5  And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6  Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7  And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8  Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9  For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10  Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

Sunday, of course, is the first day of the week. As the Jewish day begins with the evening, Sunday would start on Saturday at nightfall or around 6pm, then Sunday began on Saturday night. Before daylight Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw the stone that was placed in front of it was moved away. You can read more about the stone being placed and the watch over the tomb in Matthew and Mark.

Mary told Peter and John, the writer of this gospel, and they both ran to the tomb. John was younger and faster so he arrived first and saw the linen clothing Jesus had been wrapped in laying there but he was looking in and did not go in the tomb. Peter also witnessed this and the covering for His face lying separately after going inside the tomb. John followed after. That these details are important to John but not the placing of the stone in front of the tomb is very interesting.

 But, once again we are faced with the fact that the Jews were not looking forward to the Cross and the empty tomb like we are told so often. Even though Christ’s body is gone His disciples still do not understand that He was to rise from the grave. The next passage reveals that to underscore this point.

This brings to mind an interesting point. A doctrine exists even if the majority of people do not understand or believe it. If it is true, it simply is, regardless of opinion. As an example, the early church was premillennial, in that they believed in chiliasm (kill e as um), believing that Christ would return to rule physically on earth for a thousand years. Historical writers like Will Durant, in his epic eleven volume The Story of Civilization noted this.

“The apostles were apparently unanimous in believing that Christ would soon return to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.” (35)

With this belief came the understanding that the church itself, the people, would be removed or translated from the world before Christ’s return, based on several verses in the Bible beginning with Enoch being physically removed without dying. See Genesis 5:24; Proverbs 25:7; Luke 17:34-36;  Hebrews 11:5; 1Thessalonians 1:10; 1Thessalonians 4:14-17; Revelation 4:1; 11:12, 18.

Writings of early church leaders that have come down to us expressing belief in the premillennial return of the Lord include Papias, Shepard, Irenaeus, Lactantius, Victorinus, Cyprian, Ephraim the Syrite, Commodianus, Origen, Tertullian, and Justin Martyr while some of them also include implications and clear statements that the church will not see the wrath to come but will be removed beforehand. This does not prove, of course, that the doctrine is true but just that it is not a new doctrine, either the premillennial view or the translation of the church, but that these early church leaders, the viewpoint of the Apostles who knew Christ, and the Scriptures point in this direction.

The dominant viewpoint of the Roman Catholic Church after Augustine was that there was no millennium, in that references to a thousand year reign were allegorical and that the Roman church was ruling the world in Christ’s place as his proxy. The Reformation called that into doubt. The dominant viewpoint in early America up to the turn of the 20th century among evangelical Protestants was called postmillennial, in that the church would rule the world with Christ reigning spiritually through it, as men became more righteous and more Christian in appearance and practice.

As I pointed out before the American Theological Review, in 1859, said that postmillennialism, whereby a millennium would be set up and the religion of Christ would be everywhere and, “his spiritual reign would be universal,” and that would be followed by Christ’s physical return was the, “commonly received doctrine.”  While admitting that this was not what the early church believed, as the early church said and we believe, He will return first to rule and then the millennium, the thousand year reign, will come, the author goes on to say that the early church was simply wrong.(36)

Christians today who do not believe in the translation of the church, popularly called The Rapture, will say that preacher of the early 1800’s, John Nelson Darby, invented the doctrine. He did popularize it in a world that regarded evolutionary progress as truth and that mankind and Christians in particular were headed toward a Golden Age of righteousness and peace.(37)

But, he obviously did not invent the doctrine, merely gave it his own twist. As John Reeve wrote  two centuries before Darby’s, in the 1600’s, “Then shall the Elect, by the Decree or Voice of Jesus Christ, the Archangel, first appear out of the Graves, and, in the twinkling of an Eye, with all the Elect that are then living, as one Man, with a glorious Shout, shall, with distinct immortal Bodies, like unto their God, ascend to meet the Lord in the Air, and with him and his mighty angels, as swift as Thought, enter into that vast new Heaven and new Earth above the Stars….(38)

My intent here is not to approve of any preacher’s particular doctrines or idiosyncracies or even personal opinions or heresies but simply to show that the doctrine was not invented by Darby, as some would say. Only the timing of when it would happen, before the Great Tribulation mentioned in Matthew and Revelation, during, or at the end of it were in contention among those that believed in it.

Other references to the idea of the church being physically removed are from such diverse preachers  and commentators as Jesuit priest, Francisco Ribera, in 1590, Puritan Cotton Mather in the 1600’s, and John Gill in the 1700’s.(39)  In the first decade of the 1700’s Matthew Henry even uses the phrase, “rapture in the clouds,” in his commentary on 1Thessalonians 4:17 which is so commonly free on the internet I don’t need to give you directions here.

Again, the issue is when that happens and how close it is to the general judgment of the dead. Darby’s view was that it must take place before the return of Christ. The Bible seems to indicate that then there is the thousand year reign of Christ and the general judgment follows.

My point in bringing all of this up is to only say that a doctrine can exist in the Bible and either be misunderstood, not be known by most believers, or that those against it may misrepresent it to justify their own beliefs. The Jews believed that Israel would be restored to its past greatness, not seeing the Cross or the Resurrection of their Messiah. Many Christians believed they would turn the world over to Christian principles and values without Christ present. We must always remember that our understanding is incomplete until we stand before our Saviour.

Don’t put the Jews of Christ’s time down because they did not see this coming. We, ourselves, may be surprised that many of our pet doctrines, including The Rapture, may be wrong or not quite how we envisioned or our preachers taught us. All that matters is the truth and we have our hands full trying to obey the clear instructions of the Bible without arguing incessantly about who the antichrist is or when The Rapture is to take place when we should be focused on the proof or fruit of the Spirit in our lives as Paul wrote in Galatians, chapter 5. Rather than excitedly seeking out the next prophecy conference why don’t you spend some time on your face praying to be filled with the Spirit?

(35) Will Durant, “The Apostles: A.D. 30-95,”  The Story of Civilization:Volume 3, Caesar and  Christ (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1944), 575.

(36) Henry Boynton Smith, ”History of Opinions Respecting the Millennium,” The American Theological Review (Boston: Charles Scribner & Son, 1859), 642.

(37) J.N. Darby, “The Rapture of the Saints,” in The Heavenly Hope, or, What is the Hope of the Christian? What is the Hope of the Church? (Dublin: Dublin Tract Repository, 1844).


(38) John Reeve, “An Epistle to a Kinsman,” in Joyful News from Heaven (London: Francis Cosinet, 1658), 60.

(39) Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

John 19:31-42 comments: Jesus' burial

31 ¶  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32  Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35  And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36  For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37  And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

The brutality of crucifixion is again revealed here. The following verses were interesting, I thought, in regard to their references to water and blood.

1John 5:6 ¶  This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8  And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Scripture was fulfilled. Regarding the Passover lamb;

Exodus 12:43 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof…46  In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

And the righteous man;

Psalm 34:20  He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

And as the one pierced being stared at;

Psalm 22:16  For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17  I may tell [count] all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

Zechariah 12:10  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

    38 ¶  And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39  And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40  Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41  Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42  There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Joseph of Arimathaea is said to be a rich man in Matthew.

Matthew 27:57 ¶  When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58  He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59  And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60  And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Isaiah 53:9  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Jesus’ body is wrapped in linen with a hundred pounds of spices, which must have cost quite a lot. While the Bible does not explicitly say what day Jesus was crucified on in a way that allows us to link that day to one of our days of the week there are three theories; Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Notice that this was a special Sabbath; a high day. I’ll leave the disputation to others so as not to take away from things God has for us in this narrative.

Nicodemus from chapter 3 was one of the rulers who lovingly prepared Jesus’ body for burial.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

John 19:16-30 comments: the crucifixion

16 ¶  Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18  Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

    19 ¶  And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20  This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21  Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22  Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. 23  Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24  They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. 25  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26  When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. 28  After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29  Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Pilate is persistent, either in rubbing what he said in the Jews’ collective faces or perhaps in trying to mollify his own guilt.  He had the declaration that Jesus Nazareth was King of the Jews placed on the cross in three languages; Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Some would say he was mocking Christ but it is more likely he was mocking the Jews based on the previous exchanges between himself and the Jews. In spite of their objections he insisted on leaving it up.

Luke reports some conversation on the cross between Jesus and the two men who were being executed with Him.

Luke 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Roman soldiers at the scene gambled for his clothing but left his coat, made like the robe of the priests’ ephod in Exodus 39:23 in one piece, intact without ripping it up.

Please take the time to read Psalm 22, which Matthew and Mark reported that Jesus began reciting from the cross.

Psalm 22:18  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

From this point Jesus gave the apostle, John, the responsibility for His mother. There was no Social Security in those days, no welfare other than begging, and a woman depended on her son to care for her in her old age. Jesus did not leave His mother, Mary, without care.

Jesus said, “I thirst.”

Psalm 22:15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Psalm 69:21  They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

“Gave up the ghost,” is a euphemism for dying referring to the spirit of a man or woman leaving them upon death.

Genesis 25:8  Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people…17  And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.

Genesis 35:29  And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Jesus, being fully man and fully God, had the soul and spirit of a man in Him, the self-identity, will, and uniqueness of the soul, and the spirit by which a man or woman can know God. We are composed of three parts; body, soul, and spirit.

1Thessalonians 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If any of these are separated from the others we physically die.

Genesis 35:18  And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

The man, Jesus Christ, is dead. But, something is about to happen that has never happened before or since, a dead person raised themselves from the dead.

John 10:18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

God raised Christ by granting that authority, that power, to resurrect from the dead. Believing that is the foundation of salvation. Without that belief a person is lost; not church membership or attendance, how many people you get to say 1-2-3 repeat after me, repenting of your sins, or what Bible version you use will save you. Only this;

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 ¶  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

To believe in the Resurrection is the foundation fundamental of Christianity. Salvation is predicated upon belief, not works. Works come as a result. Yes, it is important to believe that Jesus is God because it has been shown that He did declare Himself to be God in the flesh, the Messiah, and the Christ, that He is the only way to eternal life.

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 6:28 ¶  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

But, believing in Christ’s physical resurrection is essential to this saving faith. Examine yourself. When whomever led you to Christ prayed with you was there any examination of whether or not you trusted in Christ’s resurrection?

In the narrative, though, at this point, there is despair and uncertainty.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

John 19:1-15 comments: no king but Caesar

1 ¶  Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2  And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3  And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4  Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. 5  Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6  When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 8  When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; 9  And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10  Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11  Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12  And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 13  When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14  And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15  But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

Scourging was a particularly brutal whipping which tended to tear the flesh off the victim. There is no need to go over the details here as many sermons have been preached on the absolute agony and degradation that Jesus endured. The danger of that is to start to think that the scourging was so brutal it led to His quicker death, as Pilate was amazed Jesus didn’t linger and suffer longer as some did (Mark 15:44). But, Jesus died at the time appointed not because of the whipping but remember that He had the power to lay down His life as He had the power to take it up again.

John 10:18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Pilate then exposes this bloody mess of a man, our Lord, to the crowd and insists again that he finds no fault with Him, saying the great words, “Behold the man!” Perhaps this means that he hoped that the torture would be sufficient to satisfy the bloodlust of the mob. It wasn’t. Pilate even argued when the chief priests screamed to have Jesus crucified. Again, he says that he finds no fault with Christ.

The Jews respond that Christ must die because He declared Himself the Son of God, which is to say, that Jesus had made it clear that He was God in the flesh.

Luke 1:35  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

This frightened Pilate who goes back to Jesus and asks Him where He is from. This indicates that Pilate has some stirring of concern about Jesus’ true identity. Perhaps he was becoming convicted as his wife had already told him that she had a nightmare about Jesus in Matthew 27:19. Jesus would not answer him.

An upset Pilate cannot believe that Jesus will not answer him. After all, he says, I have the power to execute you and the power to release you. The word power, in certain contexts, means authority.

Luke 4:36  And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

Luke 9:1  Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

Luke 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

1Corinthians 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

Revelation 13:2  And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

This authority is given by commandment, whether it be from God the Father;

John 10:18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

…or, as in the case of Pilate, a human authority, and see in the following the connection between the commandment and the ability to rule over someone or have power…

Esther 9:1  Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;)

Jesus then declares to Pilate that Pilate’s power comes from God Himself because without God’s permissive will Pilate would have no power over Him at all. This is something we forget. God’s hand in the leadership of oppressive authority, for a purpose, is something that the modern Christian cannot begin to understand.

When the era, unfortunately called The Enlightenment, came in Western history our way of viewing God changed first until the intellectual elite abandoned the idea of God altogether. Edwin Burtt, in the book The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, published in 1954 (from earlier editions in 1924 and 1932), pointed out that what modern scientific thought did, and I’m paraphrasing from numerous points he made throughout, was to change our idea of God from an active agent in every facet of reality to simply the First Cause. So, we now view God, not as He Himself declared in Job as bringing the prey to the predator, creating dirt clods out of dust, and making events happen in the furthest heavens or rain to fall in places on earth where no man is, but as the Creator who wound up the clock and watches it run.(34)

Face it, you have been brainwashed to view God as an absentee landlord to whom you complain when the plumbing leaks or a big brother you run to when the Devil roughs you up on the playground and not the God who made the plumbing leak and gave the Devil permission to go so far against you and no further. We have reduced God to a simpering, milquetoast who cannot even keep you saved, who has no power to preserve the Bible He wants us to have, and who is facing an almost equal, Satan, in a non-existent war for our souls.

But, the oppressive dictatorship of Rome was, at the very least, allowed by God and such governments will not end until Christ returns. Read Romans 13. On the other hand, government can do something other than for which it was ordained, which, according to Romans 13 is to avenge evildoing, and then it becomes an evildoer itself.

Pilate is about to execute an innocent man because of political realities and God is going to let him do it because it is part of God’s plan. But, Pilate is still guilty.

Matthew 18:7  Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

Luke 17:1  Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

We are enabled to resist human government when it goes against God, specifically, when we are forbidden to preach Jesus.

Acts 5:29  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Jesus does not give Pilate a pass for his cowardly avoidance of justice in wavering about whether or not to free an innocent man but says that the Jews who delivered Him have the greater sin.

Pilate tries again to release Jesus but the Jews accuse him of treason against Caesar. In spite of that, Pilate presents Jesus as the King of the Jews. The crowd, consisting also of the leadership of the Jews, then proclaims that they have no king but Caesar.

Before you gloat over the Jews choosing a human king over God’s authority examine yourself. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

The Jews had rejected God’s authority over them in favor of a human king previous to this.

1Samuel 8:4 ¶  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

Matthew added this statement in 27:25  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

And so, it appears from history that they suffered mightily for nearly two thousand years. Paul noted that the Thessalonians suffered from the pagan Greek culture around them as the Jewish churches suffered from the Jews and that God’s wrath came upon them.

1Thessalonians 2:14  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15  Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16  Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Again, before an American Christian gloats over the Jews choice, though, he should examine his own placement of the state, meaning the government, in front of his worship of Christ. For many years of our history our worship of Christ was filtered through our patriotic devotion to the god of the state. Our ancestors and many of us only saw Christ dimly by looking through the flag. For many conservative Christians, at least in regard to unlawful wars and unconstitutional military interventions, though not in regard to helping our own citizens who needed help, the state has had a divine right in place of God to be God’s agent on earth. It was believed and is still believed by many that we send our military, not on a mission to support some ill-conceived foreign policy mandate or some secret, veiled business interest, but almost as a messianic crusade of good (us) versus evil (them). Everything the government does in regard to war is then couched in terms of good and evil and defending our freedom as if some goatherder in a cave in Afghanistan was more of a threat than our own government and if you don’t wholeheartedly support what the government of either party declares is its intention on the surface you are not supporting your sons and daughters in arms that you have gladly delivered into the arms of Molech.

Be aware. God is able to take your nation away from you as He took the Jews’ nation from them. Repent of your worship of the state before it is too late.

(34) Edwin A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (1954, repr., Dover Publications, 2003), Kindle Edition.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

John 18:28-40 comments: Barabbas chosen

28 ¶  Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. 29  Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 30  They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. 31  Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32  That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. 33  Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35  Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36  Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37  Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38  Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39  But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 40  Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

The Jews did not want to enter the judgment hall of the Roman governor, Pilate, lest they be defiled for the Jews were all about their spiritual superiority over their rulers and the worry about being tainted by contact with them. Verse 31 presents us with an interesting question. If the Jews were not allowed to inflict capital punishment then were they not risking Roman justice by threatening to stone the woman caught in adultery and would they not, in Acts 7, be in danger because of their stoning of Stephen?

Here we have a crowd demanding that a Roman governor put Jesus to death and insisting that they have no lawful right to do so themselves. So, clearly they needed Roman permission for a death sentence to be executed. They certainly weren’t afraid to murder someone they were enraged at, as we see in the two aforementioned passages about the woman taken in adultery and Stephen’s extrajudicial murder. The Jews wanted Jesus crucified, not stoned. They wanted Him treated like a common criminal by the Romans, someone guilty of a capital crime that was worthy of death. Worthy of death to them they wanted to be worthy of death to the Romans. This becomes a political issue very quickly and is very dangerous to Pilate’s position among a people who are constantly creating civil disturbances.

It is also a matter of prophecy. Verse 32 shows us why, in how Jesus was to die. Being hung on a tree becomes a euphemism for being crucified on a cross of wood.

Deuteronomy 21:22  And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree…

As Peter said;

Acts 5:30  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

Acts 10:39  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

And Paul;

Galatians 3:13  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

The Jews were not going to take Jesus out in an extrajudicial proceeding. They wanted the full Roman authority behind His death as if He were an insurrectionist fomenting a disturbance against Rome’s authority itself. I point you back to what Caiaphas said much earlier about the need to sacrifice Jesus.

John 11:47  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50  Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52  And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

John 3:14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Pilate tried to see if Jesus would claim to be the king of the Jews, thereby lending credence to the Jews’ accusation without proof. But, Jesus tells Pilate an important truth that Christ’s kingdom is not of this earth. This has been a hard pill for state religionists to swallow so it is usually ignored. The Roman Catholic Church thought that they were ruling the earth in Christ’s name and that His kingdom was represented by them for many centuries. The American Theological Review, in 1859, said that postmillennialism, whereby a millennium would be set up and the religion of Christ would be everywhere and, “his spiritual reign would be universal,” and that would be followed by Christ’s physical return was the, “commonly received doctrine.”  While admitting that this was not what the early church believed, as they and we believe He will return first to rule and then the millennium, the thousand year reign, will come, the author goes on to say that the early church was simply wrong.(28)

From the America’s earliest days prominent voices like John Winthrop evoked the concept of America’s destiny to be, “a city upon a hill,” and that, “the eyes of all people are upon us.”(29)  Preachers and prominent men, such as the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, at the country’s victory in the American Revolution, referred to God’s special grace on America as a divinely inspired (and white) nation.(30)  This early concept of America’s divinely ordained place in the world is represented by the co-opting of the reference in Daniel 2:45 in the Old Testament to a fifth kingdom that is, “a stone cut out of the mountain without hands,” that smashes the feet of the statue of past kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which was prominent in the early American mind, as preached by Rev. Pitts before Congress itself in 1857.(31)   Early American writers spoke of a millennium to come of peace and progress initiated by America’s very existence.(32) Millennial beliefs based on the Bible combined with a faith in America’s inevitable progress and capacity for being a beacon of freedom in the world was common in American belief. John Eliot, Cotton Mather, and other notables such as Jonathan Edwards linked America during the colonial days with a golden age of progress for mankind and as the center of the millennium of Christ’s reign, although without Christ being physically present but reigning through the church, a radical departure from traditional Calvinism’s hopelessness for a world full of sinful, depraved men.(33)

But, they were wrong. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world as in a physical, earthly kingdom until He reigns from Jerusalem in the millennium over the all the kingdoms of the earth, as the early church believed and the Bible teaches. The kingdom of God is invisible on earth. It is in each believer connecting them to their king, Jesus Christ, who is God.

Luke 17:20 ¶  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

So, how plain does that have to be? Jesus will bring in His physical kingdom when He returns.

Revelation 11:15  And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

For two thousand years groups of so-called Christians have been murdering and pillaging under the excuse of bringing in Christ’s kingdom. The weapons of our warfare are not physical, though.

2Corinthians 10:3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…

Pilate asks Jesus directly if He is a king. Jesus answers that He came into this world to bear witness to the truth. Then, Pilate asks sarcastically, “What is truth?”

Having found no fault with Christ Pilate offers His release to the Jews, as we as the custom at Passover. But, they cry out for a robber and a murderer (Mark 15:7) to be released.

The world will always prefer to glorify thieves and murderers to Christ and unfortunately, so do most Christians. Liberal Christians seek the approval of powerful men in government and business whose intentions may be totally selfish and ungodly. I recall listening to Billy Graham, on tape, and reading about Anthony Campolo justifying the wrongs of presidents, saying what they wanted to hear and pumping up their huge egos. Fundamentalists will totally disregard Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and the sermon given on a plain in Luke, 6, and preach a militaristic, hate-strewn, justification of every war the high mucketymucks say we need and every policy of someone who convinces them that they want to return America to some mythical time when it was God-fearing, decent, and moral. But, the Christ of the Bible, not so much. Give us Barabbas. He’s cooler and appeals to the flesh more.


(28) Henry Boynton Smith, ”History of Opinions Respecting the Millennium,” The American Theological Review (Boston: Charles Scribner & Son, 1859), 642.

(29) John Winthrop, “A Modell of Christian Charity,” Hanover Historical Texts Project (1630, repr., Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1838) (last modified, August, 1996.)

(30) Ezra Stiles, “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor,” in The Pulpit of the American Revolution, or, The Political Sermons of the Period of 1776, John Wingate Thornton, ed., (Boston: D. Lothrop & Publishers, 1876), 405.

(31) Fountain E. Pitts, A Defence of Armageddon or Our Great Country Foretold in the Holy Scriptures In two discourses, Delivered in the Capitol of the United States, at the request of several members of Congress, on the anniversary of Washington's birthday, 1857. (Baltimore: J.W. Bull Publishers, 1859), 90.


(32) David E. Smith, “Millenarian Scholarship in America,” American Quarterly Vol. 17, No. 3 (Autumn, 1965), 541. (accessed 10.28.2015).

(33) Ibid., 539.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

John 18:13-27 comments: warming your hands over the fire

13 ¶  And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14  Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15  And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16  But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17  Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. 18  And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. 19  The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20  Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21  Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22  And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23  Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24  Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. 25  And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 26  One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? 27  Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

For verses 13 and 14 see chapter 11 again in the account of Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead. Here is Caiaphas.

John 11:45 ¶  Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46  But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50  Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52  And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

Who was the disciple that was known by the high priest and went in with Jesus to the interrogation of Annas, Caiphas’ father-in-law?  We aren’t told so we can only presume any significance to the mention. He was able to get Peter admitted and that was the first time someone said that Peter must have been a disciple of Jesus. He denied that he was.

Verse 18 brings up an interesting idea as Peter warms his hands over the fire. Do we warm our hands over the world’s fire and does that not lead us to denying we know Christ? In the entertainments we choose, the employment we choose, the education we choose, the friends we choose, and in other things we do as we follow Christ we are tempted to deny that we know Him. How does a Christian go to a professional sporting event with drunks and profane people shouting obscenities and not feel as if he just wants to keep his head down, maintain a low profile and keep from even being noticed? How do you work with foul mouthed people who mock God and not be tempted to just not be noticed so as not to cause a stir?  I’m just asking a couple of questions. Sure, you can be a light and beacon for Christ wherever you are. But, I just want to alert you to the fact that if you throw your clean shirt into a filthy, sewage filled mudhole the mudhole does not become clean, the shirt gets dirty. Just keep that in mind when you look down your nose at Peter.  Wanting to keep a low profile, to keep your head down, not to be the cause of controversy that gets you thrown out of the ballpark stadium or fired from your job and runs away your friends can be a very dangerous thing for your walk with Christ. Just keep it in mind the next time you go to a professional football game or think about where you might want to try for a job. When are you warming your hands over the world’s fire?

Jesus answered their question with the fact that He had done the things He had done openly so why were they asking Him these questions. I am reminded of Paul being smitten, although with a slightly different response;

Acts 23:1 ¶  And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.2  And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3  Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4  And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?  5  Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

Jesus however did not hurl any insults but simply asked that if He had done bad things testify of them but if He had done good things why did they hit Him? Many preachers like to say that Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived just as it is said that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. However, the Bible paints a portrait of the followers of God, no matter how great or wise, warts and all. Do you think you are any better?
Peter denies he knows Christ twice again.