Thursday, July 17, 2014
Conclusion - Learning from the Pharisees
We've seen this week that we can learn "what not to do" from this episode with the Pharisees. We need to make certain that we don't act like the members of the Sanhedrin.
Their pride-filled efforts to act on their own, to preserve their important positions, were ultimately unsuccessful.
Not only did they miss out on the Messiah, but in 70 AD the Temple was destroyed and the nation was scattered!
There will be times in our Christian lives (and in the life of our churches) when it will seem much, much easier to follow our own human wisdom, rather than searching the Word of God and following its precepts. We can easily be tempted to do what pleases the world and preserve ourselves, rather than doing what promotes God's glory.
It's tempting to consult the wisdom of men. Sometimes to be faithful to God's word and follow Christ will be inconvenient. Maybe even dangerous. Perhaps in the future, just like the Roman government threatening to persecute the Council, our own government will threaten to persecute us.
But here is something important; it is a reason to be encouraged, to persevere, to follow and trust in Jesus. Sometimes what man intends for evil, God intends for good. Look at verses 51-52 again:
He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he
prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation
only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered
We can see that Caiaphas spoke to the Council out of an evil desire to murder Jesus, but John writes that he was being used of God -- he "prophesied" as the high priest!
Jesus was, in fact, through their evil plan, going to "die for the nation." He would die for Israel. But not for Israel only, but "to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."
The evil Council thought that they were ending the ministry of Jesus. In reality, they were helping to bring it to fulfillment! Their plot would accomplish God's purposes and gather in all of His children.
That's the gospel. We've all (all of humanity) fallen into sin and we deserve the judgment of God. At the tower of Babel God scattered mankind all across the earth -- but then He showed His mercy and grace in launching a plan of redemption. He sent his Son to live a perfect life of love to God and man, which we have seen in the life of Jesus of Nazareth in this Gospel. Then, he would be sacrificed on a cross as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” God’s wrath and anger against sin would be poured out upon his Son. Then, he would rise from the dead, so that whoever turned from their sins and called upon Christ to save them, would be forgiven of their sin and adopted by God and inherit eternal life.
As believers, we should not fear man. Be still and know that the Father will be exalted, and His purposes will be accomplished.
Then we should examine our hearts. Are our hearts proud, like those of the Pharisees? Do we judge by our own wisdom, or by God's will? Do we seek to do what pleases the world, for convenience sake?
Or, are our hearts resting in Christ, willing to follow His plans?