‘SOME THINGS HARD TO UNDERSTAND’
In what is commonly referred to as Jesus’ sermon on the mount, referring to His resurrection promises, Jesus said to His disciples, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:3-14).
In the same way that God has called us as believers in Christ to be salt and light to the earth despite what opposition may come, both the Apostle Peter and the writer of Hebrews spoke of the long-suffering nature of Christ being our Salvation.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1-4, NKJV).
It was this same love, and this same long-suffering nature of Christ in the face of opposition, that was at the heart of both Peter and Paul’s ministries’, enabling them to bring many to the knowledge of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
- PAUL SPOKE THE THINGS GOD GAVE HIM TO SPEAK AS THE LORD GAVE HIM UTTERANCE, AND THOUGH PAUL’S LETTERS AND EPISTLES DENOTING THE WISDOM OF GOD WERE SOMETIMES HARD FOR THE PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND, THEY WERE WORTH THE SEARCHING OUT!
When speaking of the coming of the day of the Lord and the new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells, the Apostle Peter said, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is Salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:14-16, NKJV).
Peter went on to speak of how untaught and unstable people, who, rather than searching the Scriptures out for themselves and seeking God’s help to understand them, sought after their own purposes; twisting and perverting Paul’s words; proclaiming he had said things that he had not; all this, to the cause of their own destruction. “Which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16, NKJV).
- GOD IS LOVING IN HIS EMBRACE. IT IS BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR MANKIND THAT HE CONTINUES TO WARN US.
Peter continues to lovingly warn all followers of Christ, not to fall from their own steadfastness, or to be led away by this same error of the wicked. “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17, NKJV).
THE VOICE OF THE PHARISEE
Jesus said, that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must come to Him with faith like a child, in order to understand His ways, that He may direct our paths. “Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-4).
Again, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
Not willing to come to Jesus this way, the Pharisees, who judged according to the flesh (by what they could see and hear and not by the Spirit of God); were confronted by the truths which Jesus spoke. Jesus proclaimed, that according to Mosaic law – the law by which these men abided; the testimony of only two men was valid. Jesus began by declaring, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Contradicting this statement that He (Jesus) WAS THE ONE TRUE GOD, The Pharisees replied, “‘You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going (Here He was speaking of going to be with His Father in heaven); but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; FOR I AM NOT ALONE, BUT I AM WITH THE FATHER WHO SENT ME. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I AM ONE WHO BEARS WITNESS OF MYSELF, AND THE FATHER WHO SENT ME BEARS WITNESS OF ME” (John 8:13-18).
Jesus was testifying over and over again by the Spirit of truth, that He was the Son of God. Frustrated with the answers Jesus kept giving them, but not yet willing to hear, the Pharisees said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). Jesus again, answered for Himself, saying, “'I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.' Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (John 10:25-31).
- IF HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS, THEN HE WILL DO WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO!
The Pharisees were ready to stone Jesus because He declared He was one with God. By this He was rightfully proclaiming that He was the Son of God. This again, they were not willing to hear. In the absence of fear, Jesus then asked them, “'Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?' The Jews answered Him, saying, 'For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God'” (John 10:32 & 33).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MOSAIC LAW
King David proclaimed, that the Lord is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation” (Psalm 68:5).
- ORPHANS AND WIDOWS ARE GOD’S SPECIALTY!
Therefore, Jesus, drawing attention to the Pharisees’ pride and reminding them of what cost this would be to themselves should they continue to refuse Him, replied, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?” (John 10:34). Jesus was quoting here from a passage in Psalm 82. Whereas in the New Testament the word ‘gods’ here, is translated ‘theos’ in the Greek, figuratively referring to the ‘magistrates’; in the Hebrew it is translated 'elohiym’; again, this can be applied by way of deference to ‘magistrates’ or ‘(very) great, judges’ of the people. (See Strong’s Concordance). By referring to them as gods, the writer of this Psalm was speaking to those who stood as judges or ministers of justice to the nation. According to Mosaic law, these men were signified as the rulers of the people; for Mosaic law commanded: “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people” (Exodus 22:28, KJV). These men were spoken of this way (as gods) because they were charged with serving the needs of the poor; and there were significant needs in these poor. But the Lord God Almighty is final judge over all!
The psalm of Asaph said, “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked. They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable. I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations’” (Psalm 82:1-8, NKJV).
“If you conduct yourselves well - according to the way of the Lord, will you not do well, says the Lord?”
BELIEVE IN JESUS – BELIEVE IN HIS WORKS
Jesus, again speaking to the very people to whom the word of the Lord had come, continued, “If He called them (referring to the Sanhedrin or the judges of Israel) gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:35-38).
Again, when speaking of the works that He did, Jesus said, “The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me” (John 10:25).
Elsewhere declaring that His authority to do all things came from His Father in Heaven, Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves” (John 14:10 & 11).
EVEN THE DEMONS FEAR AND TREMBLE AT HIS NAME!
Though the Pharisees refused to recognize that Jesus was the Son of God, the demons certainly did! Whilst Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, a man with an unclean spirit cried out: “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24 & Luke 4:34). This demon recognized Jesus, called Him by name, and declared Him to be the Holy One of God! But Jesus rebuked the demon, saying, “’Be quiet, and come out of him!’ And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him’” (Mark 1:25 – 27).
Again, when Jesus came to the region of Gergesenes (thought to be modern day Kursi), He met two men possessed with devils (by this, meaning that both were under the power of, or being influenced by demons). And these demons also recognized Him, crying out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men” (Matthew 8:28-33). All it took for these demons to go was one word from Jesus, “GO!” And the demons obeyed His command!
Again, in the Gospel of Mark, when a great multitude from Galilea, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, Tyre and Sidon began to follow after Jesus, “the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God” (Mark 3:11).
The Gospel of Luke, in the same way testifies, “When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ” (Luke 4:40&41).
THERE ARE THREE WHO WITNESS TO THE TRUTH
In the passages above, here are three of Jesus’ disciples, who, in the Gospels, testify to the truth; that the demons both recognized Jesus and proclaimed Him by name to be ‘Jesus’ (of Nazareth), also translated ‘Iēsous’; ‘Jehoshua’; ‘Joshua’; and ‘Justus’ in the Greek; and ‘Yehowshuwa` in the Hebrew, meaning, ‘Jehovah is Salvation’! Not only did they call Jesus by name, but also by His titles given in heaven, declaring Him to be, “The Holy One of God”; “The Son of God”; and “The Christ!”
The law of Moses declared, that no man could be put to death except on the testimony of two or three witnesses. “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (Deuteronomy 17:6).
Again, concerning any man’s sin, the law of Moses said, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15)
While quoting from these same laws and speaking to His disciples about the need for settling a dispute and gaining a brother, Jesus said, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’” (Matthew 18:15 & 16).
If this is the strength of the witness of men according to Mosaic law, then how much more so is the witness of God!? The Apostle John, declared the witness of God to be greater than that of men, saying, “This is He (when speaking of Jesus Christ the Messiah Who had come in the flesh) Who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the SPIRIT Who bears witness, because THE SPIRIT IS TRUTH” (1 John 5:6).
John continues to explain, “For there are THREE that bear witness in HEAVEN: the FATHER, the WORD (Who is Jesus), and the HOLY SPIRIT; and THESE THREE ARE ONE. And there are THREE that bear witness on EARTH: the SPIRIT, the WATER, and the BLOOD; and THESE THREE AGREE AS ONE. IF WE RECEIVE THE WITNESS OF MEN, THE WITNESS OF GOD IS GREATER; FOR THIS IS THE WITNESS OF GOD WHICH HE HAS TESTIFIED OF HIS SON” (1 John 5:7-9).
- THE MOMENT YOU SUBMIT TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST, YOU BECOME ONE WITH THE CHURCH OR THE BODY OF CHRIST.
- WE BECOME ONE IN THE FATHER AND ONE IN THE SON.
- WE BECOME HEIRS OF THE FATHER AND JOINT HEIRS WITH THE SON.
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:16&17).
When praying for His disciples Jesus said, “I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11).
Again, praying this time not just for His disciples, but for those who were yet to believe through them in His name, Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23).
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that there are three in heaven Who witness to the truth that Jesus Christ is Your Son - The Father; the Word; and the Holy Spirit. We thank you that there are three that witness on earth that Jesus Christ (the anointed one) has come in the flesh - The Spirit; the water; and the blood. We thank You that You have left us in no doubt, but that by the mouths of two or three witnesses You have established everything according to the truth of Your word. As in heaven, so on earth! (Mathew 6:10). We thank You, that there still remain here on earth, many who continue to follow You, who witness to the truth of Your mercy, Your Salvation, Your grace and Your love, for all mankind. For You are not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance through the knowledge of Salvation through Jesus Christ Your Son. (2 Peter 3:9). Help us to come to understand more and more each day, the ways in which You speak to us, revealing to us the depths of Your love. We ask You to continue to work in our hearts more and more to bring us to the truth. And where we are lacking in courage to speak that truth, bring us into a greater and greater freedom. In the name of Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus the Messiah) we pray, Amen!
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