Wednesday, March 12, 2014

He is a good man, a teacher . . .part I

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

Bear with me . . . this is a rather lengthy post!

For centuries, people have been arguing about who Jesus was . . . many say that He was a good and moral man. Others say He was a wonderful teacher. Some will admit that He was a prophet, and that He fulfilled many prophecies.

In His own day, people argued about Him, too. Some called Him a liar, a blasphemer. Some said he was crazy. But to those the Father drew by the Holy Spirit, He appeared as His true self -- the Son of God, the Messiah.

It would be difficult to accept Jesus as a good and moral man, and as a great teacher, without also accepting Him as God. 
Ever thought that one through? Since He claimed to be God, He must either be telling the truth (as He was) or He must be lying or deceiving Himself and others. If that latter phrase is true (if He's lying) then He can't be a good, moral teacher.
C. S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God."  That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Let's look at some of the claims that Jesus made:
       He said that He and the Father are one.
       He also said that whoever has seen Jesus has seen God.
       He told everyone that God the Father sent Him to do His will.
       Jesus said also that He is the Savior and the only way to God.
       He said that He was the light of the world, and the resurrection and the life.

And here is where He really enraged the Pharisees: He said that not only did He have the power to heal the sick, and to raise the dead, but He claimed authority over the Sabbath, authority to answer prayer, and authority to forgive sins!

Here is the earthly, mortal, legalistic way that the Pharisees looked at that last one . . .well, let's use an example, one of the faithful followers of this study blog. Let's say that I stomped on B's toe.
On purpose.
Now, if I ask her to forgive me, then she can be gracious, and as she applies a bandaid, she can say that I'm pardoned.
But, if I stomp on B's toe, and then B starts to stomp on mine -- but C steps in and says, "Wait a minute, B! I forgive her for stomping you."
Then we would all wonder why she stepped in, right? It isn't really her argument. B is the one who can forgive me.  The offense was against her.
Now, here is the difference -- the Pharisees heard Jesus saying that He could forgive sins. And sins are sins because they are wrongs committed against God the Father.

Ahhhh, I think I get it now. They (the scribes and Pharisees) called Jesus a blasphemer, because they were thinking, "Who can forgive sins, except God?"

In addition to the scribes and Pharisees, we also see that His own family said that He was out of His mind. His brothers didn't believe in Him, and they didn't believe on Him.
Why is this? Why, as C. S. Lewis said, do some call Him Lord, and others say He has a demon? Well, Paul told us in the New Testament that natural thinking can never accept spiritual's thought to be foolishness. The spiritual truth is that Jesus is not a great teacher Who came to explain how to live a moral life; He is a merciful God, Who came to save a sinful human race. And we can only accept Jesus and treasure Him as we should, when we are born again of the Spirit.

Let's really "get down and dirty" here; let's examine His brothers closely: Jesus grew up with them and they saw his character every day. He was cheerful and obedient to His parents; He was gentle and unselfish; He did not lash out at others with pride or anger. He never lied or blamed others. But in spite of this, His own family is no better than the Jewish leadership. They don't believe.
And they're not quiet about it, either! They try to manipulate Him, and show their jealousy with their spiteful words. But Jesus said that some people would not be convinced, even if someone is raised from the dead.

We should not despair when we are rejected as we sincerely try to tell others about our Lord. Even Jesus was rebuffed by those who should have been his biggest champions, his warmest allies. Jesus will know our loneliness, and will comfort us.

What we should do, is to pray for grace and wisdom as we try to tell others about Him. He says in His word that if we call out to Him, He will answer us.

We also should claim His promise -- He promised His presence and the power of His Spirit, when we tell of how our lives have been changed, and try to persuade others to come to a relationship with Him.

Let's be totally different from the Jewish leaders, and Jesus' brothers . . . let's believe in Him, and on Him, and let's delight in doing His will!

1 comment:

Belinda said...

I've never understood how folks could think Jesus was just a prophet, other than making an excuse to not accept Him as Lord. But I never considered that IF He wasn't the true Son of God, He was a crazy man or the devil. Wow! Powerful stuff there Snoodles.

I may need to read this a third time to really take it all in.