Jerusalem’s Rejection of the Christ

In the late night rush to judgment they brought Jesus first to the court of Annas, head of the preeminent priestly family of the time in Jerusalem. Five of his sons would be high priests and Caiaphas the current high priest was his son-in-law. Annas questioned Jesus and then sent Him on to the house of Caiaphas where the scribes and elders were gathered. There He was again interrogated and when Jesus admitted to being “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One” Caiaphas tore his robe crying “blasphemy!” Those assembled declared “He is deserving of death!” and began spitting on him, pummeling Him with their fists and slapping Him (Matthew 25:65-68). In the morning, after being mocked and beaten throughout the night, Jesus was taken to the council chambers of the Sanhedrin. It was now Friday. The questioning continued. “’If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But He said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe.’” …. “’Are you the Son of God, then?’ and He said to them, “Yes, I am” (Luke 22:66-70). Hearing the testimony from Jesus’ own lips, the religious courts of the Jewish hierarchy concluded their inquiry. Convinced of His guilt, but requiring a Roman death sentence to do away with Jesus, the Sanhedrin now had Him bound and brought to the Roman court of Governor Pontius Pilate.  

I want to know Him!

“I want to know Him.” Philippians 3:10

It was some thirty years after walking with and serving Jesus that the apostle Paul wrote these words. Some would think it a bit curious that one as experienced in the things of God as Paul, would still be driven by that one over-arching desire, to know Him better. But it was the all-encompassing pursuit of his life ever since his Damascus road conversion when Jesus first revealed Himself to him in a blinding vision with the words “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” The unfathomable grace of this Jesus, who would choose to arrest a man from being a persecutor and call him rather to be an ambassador, forever captured Paul’s heart. Paul’s life from that moment on was dedicated to getting to know this Jesus better and better, who had intervened and shown him such unmerited grace and mercy.

Norman Grubb, beloved Christian author of the past century, wrote an autobiography entitled “Once Caught No Escape.” I have often thought that title aptly encapsulates the story of every follower of Jesus who like Paul has been apprehended by His grace. It is lifelong quest to seek to comprehend such grace and mercy calling us out of darkness into His marvelous light, even while we were yet sinners, separated from Christ, without hope and without God. (1 Peter 2:9, Romans 5:8 &Ephesians 2:12)

Meet the third Christian

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:24 (NIV)

You may not have realized it, but Joseph was the very first Christian. Now stop and think about it. Becoming a Christian might best be defined as accepting Jesus as both the Savior and Lord of ones life. And that is exactly what Joseph did when he agreed to take Mary home as his wife.

The angel that appeared to Joseph in the dream informed him of two things. He told him that Mary, his fiancé, had conceived by the Holy Spirit and was pregnant. And he told Joseph that the child within her womb was named “Jesus” the promised savior of the world.

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (vs. 20-21)

Joseph’s acquiescence to the angel’s command to take Mary home as his wife was in essence and more importantly an assent to take Jesus home as well.

Accepting Jesus as the one who saves us from our sins is an act of faith. It is rooted in the belief that such forgiveness and the resultant transformation in our lives are really possible. It took tremendous faith on Joseph’s part to accept the fact that this Jesus, whom he had not yet seen, was the Messiah the scriptures had promised would come and the one who would make all things new. When he agreed to take Mary home, he was explicitly taking Jesus home as well and implicitly putting his faith in Jesus as his savior. His acceptance of Jesus as the Christ sets him apart as the first human being ever to do so.

But to me, the even more remarkable aspect of Joseph’s response was his acceptance of Jesus as his Lord. It has been said that most people want salvation and the forgiveness of sins, but few want lordship. To yield ones life to the rule and lordship of another call for the total surrender of ones will.

Sow a seed to meet your need

“What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 2 Kings 4:1 (NLT)

The woman in this story is in desperate need. In the midst of grieving the loss of her husband who has just died, she is confronted by a creditor who is now threatening to take her two sons away from her as well and turn them into slaves as payment for a debt she cannot pay. Her husband had been a God fearing man and member of Elisha’s company of the prophets and so she comes crying to Elisha for help.

Note Elisha’s response to her. He begins by asking her to take stock of what she has rather than bemoan what she doesn’t have. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” There is a very important principle of faith that Elisha is tapping into here and we see it at work throughout both the Old and the New Testament. The principle is this: before God meets a need, He always requires someone to sow a seed. Desperate needs are seedbeds for miracles and Elisha knows that the place this woman must begin is by looking for a seed that she can sow.

She admits that she does have a flask of oil, but in her estimation it is “nothing at all.” But to Elisha, and most importantly to God it is that requisite seed, no matter how small, that can be used to prime the pump for her miracle. Sowing a seed in faith is like priming an old hand water pump. A little bit of water is needed to pour into the pump to create the suction necessary to begin drawing out an endless stream of water. In God’s hands, a little bit can produce a lot.

Elisha instructs her and her sons to go to all her neighbors and gather as many empty containers as they can. Then she is told to begin pouring the oil from that little flask into the containers. One by one, her sons set a filled container aside and slip another empty one in as the oil continues to flow. Miraculously the oil does not stop until every single container is full. Then Elisha tells her “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (vs. 7)

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