Friday, March 29, 2013

Forgive Them

Luke 23:33  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Ignorance! When they hung the Savior on the cross they did it out of obliviousness.

The Religious Crowd was blinded by its legalism. They couldn't see that they accused Him, arrested Him, lied about Him and prompted the people to plea for the release of Barabbas instead because their pride and control blinded them. They couldn't open up their eyes to the truth that this was the promised Messiah. This is the One Who fulfilled the prophecies. But they refused to see and were willingly ignorant.

The Government was ignorant. They were blinded by public opinion. Backroom deals were struck, political bedfellows were made, decrees were announced to make sure that, ultimately, Caesar would be pleased. They licked their fingers and lifted them to the air to see where the popular winds were blowing. They didn't know that this prophet from the sticks would be King of kings. His was a matter for the high priest to deal with. The Tetrarch and the Procurator were concerned with pragmatism, and thought this whole matter concerned superstition. So they were willing to wash their hands of the matter. One less Jewish troublemaker was no big deal to them and His crucifixion would serve them well in matters of crowd control and a healthy fear of the government. "Away with Him, let him be crucified!" was a decree made out of politically expedient ignorance.

The Soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross out of ignorance. Their job was to obey the powers that be, not to show mercy to some preacher. The crueler they were, the better they felt they were doing their jobs. They were war-toughened, hard-bitten soldiers doing what they were trained and ordered to do. But they were ignorant.

The People were ignorant. The mob ruled. They turned on a dime and danced on a denarii. On Sunday, many of them joined in with the choruses of Hosannas. But on Thursday, the crowds were yelling, "Crucify Him!" and they joined in on what everybody else was doing. Group-think ignorance.

It seems Jesus, hanging there on that cross, bleeding, beaten, mishandled, tired and thirsty, would be delirious. Instead, with full mental capacity, was able to put 2 and 2 together as He looked down upon the Pharisees, centurion, soldiers and the hostile mob. He gathered His breath by pulling against the nails, looked toward heaven and cast the words "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." to the Father.

Meanwhile, in continuing ignorance, they gambled for His garments.

And history continues to repeat itself. Politicians still say what they have to say to keep their poll numbers up. Calloused, gun-toting enforcers brutalize low-lifes. Know-it-all clerics struggle to maintain absolute control over the diminishing congregations. And the crowds holler for their "free" cell phones and entitlements, the Constitution be darned.

The Jesus still pleads for forgiveness for their ignorance. Meanwhile, they buy their Lotto tickets, watch their programs, sleep in on Sunday mornings, drink their beer, lust in their hearts, spew their blasphemies and know not that they have crucified the Lord’s Christ. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Enemy of My Enemy

Luke 23:11  And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12  And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

The governor and the tetrarch despised each other!

One was a Roman, one was a Jew, of sorts.

One earned his position by showing fidelity to Caesar, the other bought his position.

The first man was a hardened, seasoned veteran of war, a leader of men. The second was a self-obsessed, power-hungry, mad man who enjoyed the fineries of life, but suffered horribly due to the sins of his family. He was in a constant state of misery because of his health, and was therefore angry and cruel to others.

The Roman worshiped Caesar by decree. The Hellenist worshiped himself.

The relationship between the two was like that between a regimented, disciplined military officer and a corrupt politician. There is no love loss present.

However, as the old adage says, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And that is what happened here.

Pilate would not side with Jesus, even though he personally found no fault with this rabbi, because he considered Him a rabble-rouser Who was not amenable to keeping peace in his realm. Caesar would not put up with a governor/procurator who could not control the people.

Herod had no respect for Jesus. He thought of Him as a side show, a snake oil salesman. He had hoped Jesus would do a personal performance for him. Jesus refused to even acknowledge him and he was furious.

So, the two authorities developed a bond on crucifixion day because they were in league to dispose of a "problem" in this outpost of Roman rule.

And, here is my private opinion, publicly expressed.

I think of the eclectic group which opposes the cause of Jesus today. Greenies, the Occupy movement, abortionists, radical gay rights advocates, feminist Nazis, Socialists, Communists, radical Islamists, the mainstream media, the ACLU, radical college professors, atheists, Hollywood types, etc.

They have a common goal, suppress or eliminate the Judeo-Christian value system. Hence, the enemies of Christ become friends, strange bed fellows, a league of satanically influenced parties bent on godlessness.

And yet, Jesus died for them too! As He expressed 1980 years ago tomorrow, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Camping Out in Gethsemane

Luke 21:37  And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

Throughout the week of the passion, the Mt of Olives, and certainly, the Garden of Gethsemane, was the camping spot for the Lord and His disciples. This is how Judas knew where to find Him when He betrayed the Lord. (Lk 22:39)

Each day, Jesus would teach in the temple and heal folks of sicknesses, each night they would resort to the Garden where He would instruct the disciples on ministry and their futures.

I wonder, were they squatters in this olive garden? Or, like the borrowed donkey and the borrowed upper room and the soon to be, borrowed tomb, was this place loaned to the Savior by some kind owner?

Gethsemane means oil press. Indeed, it became a place of great pressure as Jesus agonized there in prayer to the point of sweating, as it were, great drops of blood.

A sad fact in modern Christianity is that so few pray as they ought, including this writer. Time constraints, mismanaged schedules, misplaced priorities, lack of faith, multitudes of distractions and a simple unwillingness to do the work of prayer keep us off our knees. The prophet said that he would be guilty of sinning if he failed to pray for the people of Israel. I Sam 12:23. Daniel prayed, windows open and the breeze a blowing, knowing that it meant a visit to the zoo and an overnight stay at the Lion's Club.

But our Gethsemanes are unmanned much of the time. We say quick little ditties over our meals and maybe a bedtime "goodnight" to the Father, but fail to agonize in prayer and fellowship with Heaven.

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the enemy, a discipline for the follower of Christ, a blessing to those for whom we pray and a sweet-smelling savor to the Lord on high.

Therefore, we need to find that camping out spot where we go without sleep and are arrested by heaven's edicts. We need regular overnights to the garden where we accept the cup and embrace the cross.

Do you have a place like this?

’Neath the stars of the night
Walked the Savior of light,
In the garden of dew ladened breeze;
Where no light could be found,
Jesus knelt on the ground,
There He prayed ’neath the old olive trees.

’Neath the old olive trees,
’Neath the old olive trees,
Went the Savior alone on His knees:
“Not My will, Thine be done,”
cried the Father’s own Son,
As He knelt ’neath the old olive trees.
All the sin of the world
On the Savior was hurled,
As He knelt in the garden alone;
Hear His soul burdened plea,
Let this cup pass from Me,
“Even so, not My will, Thine be done.”

May my song ever be
Of the love proffered me,
By my Lord all alone on His knees;
Praise His wonderful name,
He who bore all my blame,
As He knelt ’neath the old olive trees.

’Neath the old olive trees,
’Neath the old olive trees,
Went the Savior alone on His knees:
“Not My will, Thine be done,”
cried the Father’s own Son,
As He knelt ’neath the old olive trees.

Monday, March 25, 2013

When Good Men do Stupid Things

(Sorry, no reference to women, because there are not as many biblical examples :<)
>Adam ate the fruit
>Noah got Drunk
>Abraham slept with Hagar
>Moses got angry and struck the rock
>David slept with Bathsheba, killed Uriah and numbered the people
>Peter denied Christ
>Thomas doubted
>James and John got angry and got envious of a good seat in heaven 

I am not really a good man, but I am guilty of more than my share of stupid antics.

*Were these all good men? Of Course!
*What caused them to do what they did? Their human condition. The lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
*What contributed to their stupidity? Listening to the enemy, feeling stressed, deprived, impatient, fear, doubt, etc.
*What were the results?
The world was plunged into sin, descendants paid the price, their followers suffered, etc.

It is like the rock thrown into the serene lake which creates ripples in ever-widening circles. Our sins not only affect us, but those around us and those who follow after us. 

Keep your nose clean, stay close the Savior and be obedient to the Word.


Friday, March 22, 2013

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Thanks to all who have stopped by to share with me in our thoughts in this little blog. I hope you are blessed by something that has been penned. I am blessed by your visits. Thanks, gracias, merci'