What is Truth?

The story of Cain and Abel.  The continuation of the story of the fall of man, from the paradise of Eden, all the way until our day.  We see here the first offerings to the Lord.  Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.   Notice the offerings here.  Abel brought a blood offering, Cain an offering of harvest.   Abel’s offering was acceptable, Cain’s was not.  Why?  Abel brought a blood offering, a sin offering.  From the fall, we are all sinners.  Even though this had not been defined in the law yet, God is defining what is necessary to be acceptable before him.  This is why Abel’s offering was acceptable – he brought a blood sacrifice for his sin.  So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”   Sin certainly was crouching at Cain’s door, as it still does for all of us.  The sin sacrifice would have meant repenting of his sin, humbling himself. 
But instead of repenting, Cain remains angry.  He is angry his brother might be more acceptable than he is.  He is jealous.  And so he acts on his jealousy and rage – Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.  Rather than repenting of his sin before God and bringing an acceptable sin sacrifice, Cain made his own blood sacrifice – the blood of his brother!!   That blood cries out to the Lord from the ground, convicting Cain, just as Jesus’ blood cries out to this day, convicting us.  We see Cain and the Lord following the death of Abel, and God punishes him by cursing the ground.  Cain still refuses repentance.   “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.”  So Cain chooses anger and misery rather than repenting of his sin.   And God gives him special protection from the surrounding people that he may not be killed as he himself killed his brother.    
And so, this is the founding of our world, the way we establish power, the way our world is ordered.  Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.   Cain exercised his physical power, killed his brother, and started the first city.  This is how our world is run.  Power, force and might rule.  And the victor, of course, writes history.  The history of the world is written from the viewpoint of Cain.   Every empire that has ever existed, exists based on military power.  Today, we would have to add economic power to that.  Point is, the world is run by strength and power.  That is the “truth” of the world – I have a bigger gun, I can destroy you (or have destroyed you).  You must live by my rules.  
When Pontius Pilate asked the question “What is truth?” in John 18, we fail to realize he answered his own question in the very next chapter.  In chapter 19, Pilate questions Jesus, and Jesus remains stony silent.  “So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” ‭‭John‬ ‭19:10‬ ‭ESV‬. And that is the answer to his own question, what is truth.  Truth to Pilate, truth to us today, truth to the civilized world since Cain killed Abel, comes down to just that – the authority to kill.  Society versus society, society to citizen, citizen to citizen.  All of our laws, the entire structure of the our world, comes down to military might, the power to kill.  Whether we know it or not, our total world order is on the model of Cain.
Jesus, of course, brings a completely different paradigm.  The kingdom of God is based on the model of Abel.  Jesus blood cries out to God just as Abel’s did.  He convicts us just as Abel convicted Cain.  He came representing all the Abel’s of the world, all the victims of Cain based society.  All those without the military might to stop the invading masses showing up on their shores.  The hundreds of millions (at least) killed from the dawn of civilization, because after all, we ate from the tree.  We now know Good and Evil, right?   And, always, no matter what the civilization, WE are good, THEY are bad, right?   But, not in Gods economy.  If we are part of God’s Kingdom, let us never forget – “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Yes, the world lies in the power of the evil one.  The real question is this – are WE really from God?   Are we part of Jesus’ realigning of the world with the Abel’s of history?  Or are we part of Cain’s society, based on force, power and death?  What is our Truth?
 

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah. Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭4:1-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

John Lewis

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Those People

This is the scripture that changed my life.  Really, it changed how I thought about Jesus, how I viewed him.  Jesus was for those “church people” – those people who thought (as did I) they were better than guys like me.  I was not worthy of Jesus.  I did not deserve his salvation.  I did not get the idea of the free gift of his salvation.  I did not understand what grace and mercy truly were.  I just knew that I was an alcoholic, degenerate gambler who had stolen thousands from his own wife and kids.   I knew that I then had moved on to multiple affairs and trysts with women I communicated with online.  I knew that I wasn’t living up to the perceived standard of doing just a little bit more good than bad in my life to get into heaven.   I had just begun my recovery, and at the suggestion of my sponsor, began to read the bible.   Not knowing any better, I started in Matthew.  Finally, in chapter 9, I came to this – But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”   

I was one of those sinners the Pharisees were standing judgement of.  Those church people were looking at me, wondering what Jesus is doing eating with a guy like THAT!!  But you know what?  Jesus doesn’t hang with “church people.”  They don’t recline at the table with Jesus.  As a guy who has been sponsoring people in recovery for a while now, I understand why.  These “church people” already have it all together.  They know all the answers.  They don’t NEED Jesus.  Just like most of my sponsees.  They already know.  They don’t NEED what I have for them.  Jesus came to save, but if he had spent all his time on those who had it all together, who didn’t know they needed saving, how many would have been saved?   He didn’t spend his time trying to justify himself to “church people.”  He came and hung out with those who knew they were sinners and needed saving.  He came for those of “us” who know we are sick and need a doctor!!  

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:9-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.9.9-13.esv

 

John Lewis

The Power of True Belief…

 
You know something??  Most of us, myself included, have no problem claiming Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, happily claiming for ourselves the forgiveness of our sin that only He can bring.  Yes, if we are Christian, we all pretty much believe and proclaim that Jesus was indeed the son of God, sent to God’s holy people.  We know that He was mostly rejected by those to whom he was sent, that he suffered under Pontius Pilate, that he died on a Roman cross in our place, and was raised on the third day, proving for all history that He was who he said He was.
But – do we believe the teachings of Jesus as much as we believe the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus?  If Jesus was counter-cultural in his day, what would He be today?  I think He would be much more counter cultural today than He was in his own time.  Imagine this – You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  Seriously??  Love my enemies??  Pray for those who persecute me?   How many of us really believe in that?  And when I say believe, I mean believe so much that we actually DO that?  Doesn’t Jesus know that I have my pride?   I mean, I love Him and all, but you gotta draw the line somewhere!  Right!!

So, what would happen if, instead of just believing in Jesus, we actually meant it when called him “Lord” of our lives.  Stephen, the first Christian martyr, gave us the example in the bible of not just claiming Jesus as Lord, but LIVING Jesus as Lord.  Look at Stephens reaction as he was being STONED to death for the name of Jesus – “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts‬ ‭7:59-60‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So, how many of us in 2016 would actually put this teaching of Christ into action?  Particularly 2016 America?  Not many!  Most of us consider it Christian suffering if we are asked to miss an episode of Dancing With the Stars to spend an evening at church.  We consider it Christian suffering to give up our parking spot AT CHURCH on a Sunday morning to make room for a visitor who has never met Christ.  But consider the POWER that came from this submission by Stephen.  Remember who was there observing – “And Saul approved of his execution.”  Act 8:1.  Perhaps this selfless act by a guy who truly believed in the power of Jesus Christ enough to actually DO AS CHRIST TAUGHT made an impression on Saul of Tarsus that day.   Perhaps Saul, despite dialing up his persecution after Stephens death, was haunted by Stephens prayer for his enemies that day.  Maybe this softened Saul’s heart just enough to make his later conversion possible.
Just imagine if Stephen had responded as most of us would have responded? What if he had responded with anger and bitterness instead of love.  What if we as the church actually responded to our world with love, instead of so much anger and bitterness?  Do you think we could change some hearts, as Stephen helped to change Saul’s heart?

““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:43-48‬ ‭ESV

 

John Lewis

 

Risen Indeed!


Imagine the scene.   Jesus is dead.  GOD IS DEAD.  His life cut short, taken out of jealousy and political expediency.  He was buried Friday before sundown, and his disciples could do nothing for Him on Saturday.  Saturday, after all, is the Holy Sabbath.  While we know that Jesus was Lord of the sabbath, at this point he is not Lord over death.  Death has Him.  He is in His grave.   

Finally, Sunday comes!!  Now, finally, they can go and honor Him.  They can mourn Him.  They can properly prepare His body.  While they may be disillusioned with the events of the past few days, they still believe He was the Messiah.  They just believe those earthly enemies had killed Him before that destiny could be fulfilled.  So, they were going to treat Him as if He were a king.  Because He was their king. 


But…where is He??  The stone is moved, the body is gone.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.   So…that’s what He meant!!  We remember these things He told us, things we did not understand, because they made no sense.  But it still makes no sense.  Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 

Would you believe them??   DO you believe them?   But Peter believed – But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.   That’s right, Peter.  Peter would be the one, wouldn’t he?  The Rock on whom Jesus would build His church.  The one who denied Jesus three times, then wept bitterly when he realized it was just as Jesus told him.  He remembered the words Jesus had told the  just days before.  And – Peter had learned to believe what Jesus told him.  When he went to that tomb, looked inside, and saw it was empty, he knew.  He knew Jesus had risen from the dead!!  He knew – all had not been folly.  He knew – Jesus WAS indeed the Messiah he had been waiting for!  He had overcome death, and risen from the grave!  


Jesus Christ is risen indeed!!  He has overcome sin and death.  His resurrection that Sunday morning, and his walking among his disciples for 40 days afterward, PROVE that He was indeed the Son of God.  He was who He said He was!!  Yes, He was, and Peter believed as soon as he looked into that tomb and saw it was empty.  He knew Christ had defeated death.  Do we?  More importantly – Do you?   


“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:1-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

http://bible.com/59/luk.24.1-12.esv

What about Saturday?

What about Saturday?
 
 
We know all about Good Friday, and Jesus being nailed to a Roman Cross.  We know all about Sunday morning – when Christ is Risen!!  What about Saturday??   What were Jesus’ disciples feeling on Saturday?  His mother?  Actually, we all know this “Saturday” feeling.  The feeling of mourning, grief, and lost hope.   The feeling we all get when, even though we know in our heads that Jesus did indeed rise from the grave on Sunday morning, we lose hope in that power of resurrection for our own lives.  We forget that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is there working in our own lives.  We forget that in order to to get to Sunday, we are just going to have to go through our own Friday.   I don’t have an answer for why God allows suffering and pain in this world, but I do know this – he did not leave us here to suffer through it in our own.  He did not stay detached from his creation, always knowing we would suffer, but never knowing what it was to feel that suffering.  He came and joined his creation in the man of Jesus Christ and suffered with us.  Not only that, but He suffered FOR us.  So while we will never know “why” on this side of eternity, we can certainly know that we are not going through anything God himself has not directly felt.  Physical pain of torture, beating, and crucifixion.  Emotional pain of betrayal and desertion.  He KNOWS what we go through.  He gave us the power of His Holy Spirit to go with us.  And He gives us the same power that raised Him from the dead on that Sunday morning.  That same power can get us through our Saturday’s, our times of feeling abandoned, our times of suffering, our times when our soul feels tortured.  I found this in Zechariah, I think it looks forward to that Saturday between the crucifix and the resurrection.  All the families of the royal line of David are specified here.  But all of us, being Gods children, are included in this.  We will all mourn.  We will all suffer.  But we are not left alone, no matter how alone we feel.   During those times, I hope I can remember this from the apostle Paul – “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:37-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬

““And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.”
‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭12:10-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬


 

John Lewis

Behold the Man!!

 
 
The serving up of Jesus to be crucified.  We have the odd exchanges here between the crowd and Pilate, Pilate obviously having his conscience bothered by the whole affair.  But, having come this far, there was no turning back.  
Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”  Pilate certainly knew Jesus had committed no crime against Rome.  And it was Roman law that the Jewish authorities were appealing to in order to get that done which they wanted done – the elimination of this troublesome rabbi who embarrassed them so easily and so often.  
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”   Yes, Behold the man!!  While today we might use these words to show our admiration and love for Christ, here Pilate is using the words for something else.  We usually think Pilate is mocking Jesus, making fun of his claims at divinity.  But I think what Pilate is really trying to do us stir sympathy for Jesus here.  He is being manipulated here by the Jewish authorities, and he snd the Jewish authorities are simply not friendly with each other.  Pilate hated the Jews he was in charge of, but he had to work with them in order to fulfill his duties as governor of his province.  He knows Jesus has no real guilt, and is bothered by all the claims Jesus has made.  Plus, in the book of Matthew, we read that his wife had had a very disturbing dream about Jesus the night before.  “Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.””‭‭Matthew‬ ‭27:19‬ ‭ESV.   So, behold the man.  Pilate is not trying to mock Jesus.  If he is mocking anyone, it is the Jewish authorities with whom he has had such a contentious relationship.  Pilate is trying here to stir sympathy for Jesus.  Behold the man, hasn’t he suffered enough??  He was trying to stir pity for Jesus, so maybe he could turn the hearts of this crowd.
 
When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”   No guilt in him.  Exactly!!

“Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”   I love this little line.  Take Him yourselves and crucify Him!!  Notice his accusers.  They have failed completely in proving their case that Jesus was breaking any Roman law, so now they fall back into begging Pilate to enforce their own religious laws, which would have no bearing in the Roman courts.

When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”   Pilate is just getting more afraid of this situation by the minute!!   He asks Jesus where he is from, very simply puzzled by the claims Jesus has made.  But, ultimately Pilates downfall here the same as it is for all humanity – personal pride.  Don’t you know who I am??   When all else fails, appeal to emotion, and what stronger emotions to appeal to than fear and hope?

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”   Jesus just lays it out, even if Pilate still had no real idea what he was saying.  The guilt in this exchange does not lie with Pilate, but with Caiaphas the high priest and all the Jewish authorities.  Make no mistake, Pilate was not a good man, but he is not the main culprit in the death of Jesus.

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.   This is very simply the Jewish authorities bullying Pilate into doing what they want done.  Pilate had no stomach for opposing Caesar, and this statement has undertones of a threat of impeachment from position or worse, which a man like Pilate would likely fear above all else.

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,”
“Behold your King.”  “Shall I crucify your King?”  Pilate mocking the Jewish leaders.  They are the ones calling for the death of Christ, not he.  In the end, he gets what he wants from them.  These “religious” leaders, whose primary allegiance is supposed to be the Lord their God, openly and publicly announce  their allegiance the to Caesar.   Whatever they must do to kill Jesus of Nazareth…





 “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,”
‭‭John‬ ‭19:1-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
 
 
 

John Lewis

The Story of Us

  

Of all the parables Jesus told, this one seems to have particular application to us in 2016 America.   We all have received Jesus’ offer of free salvation and forgiveness of sins.  We’ve all been invited to his great banquet.  We’ve all received this invitation with great excitement.  After all – Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!  I mean, what a deal, right!!   All we have to do us believe, and our sins are forgiven, we have a purpose for living, and a home in heaven!!

Yes, we’ve all felt that call to accept the offer and live for Christ.   And…almost all of us, in some way or another, say yes Lord, but….
 
We are in so many ways like the subjects of this parable of the great feast.  Jesus has given us the open invitation to follow him.  Many of us profess faith, but have all of our reasons for not stepping out in that faith and acting on the Great Commandment and Great Commission we have been given.  After all, our schedules are full.  We have things to do, places to be, and people to see!!  We have no TIME to do what we can plainly see Christ calling us into.  What we do have are reasons why we cannot do what know we should be doing, just as Jesus illustrated 2000 years ago in this story about us.
 
But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.   If you’ve heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then you’ve been been personally invited to THIS banquet.  This banquet will be the greatest party ever known, the party of believers called together at the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Question is, will we be there??  Or will we still be making excuses why we can’t come?

The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’   This is who we are.  Like I said, things to do, places to be, people to see.  We have so many distractions from following Christ.  Kids, sports, movies, TV, work.  We have technology, supposedly to make our lives easier and better, that instead takes all of our focus and attention away from the things that matter and causes us to spend every spare minute focused on screens.  Phone screens, computer screens, TV screens, movie screens.  These screens, whether 3 inches or 50 feet, seem to serve as our true Gods of this age.  On top of all the other busyness in our lives, when we get a spare second, it’s taken up looking at some screen.  But God??   We don’t have time for Him.  Maybe Sunday morning, not even that for most of us.  Maybe Christmas and Easter…but how many can’t be bothered to go to His house even on these days??   

So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  This reminds me of going to the Gentiles for Jesus and the apostles to begin performing miracles.  Many Jews were opposing Christ, so he began going to those outside the regular circle of “Gods chosen people.”  He is angry, because his invitation is a sincere invitation.  He came not to condemn, but to save.  It hurts Him when He invites us and we reject His invitation.  

And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ Our Father’s House has many rooms.  So many have accepted the invitation, but there is still room for more!!  Room for all who accept the invitation.  The servant is commanded to go to the highways and hedges – in other words, the ends of the earth.  It says to compel people to come.  This is because people out on the highways and hedges and outskirts of town, these are the outcasts.  They don’t need to be forced to come, but the servant will have to work hard to get them to come, because they will feel unworthy of the invitation.  After all they are outcasts, right. These are the addicts, the drunks, the homeless, the losers of society.  They will have a hard time understanding the invitation they are receiving…
 Notice that none of the men here outright declined the invitation.  The answer, every time, is “Lord, I would come, but…”  If I didn’t have this to do.  If I wasn’t so busy.  If I didn’t have a family.  If I didn’t have so many other invitations.  You see here that all of these men will come later and want to be let into the banquet.  They (we) never really intended to miss the party.  They (we) just had to take care of all these other things first.  Our problem is that we don’t realize the application of the parable of the sower to our lives – “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬




“When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:15-24‬ ‭ESV

 

 
 
 
John Lewis