How the Wicked Respond to Jesus Christ

And they that passed by railed on Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ah, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself, and come down from the cross.”
Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him.                  Mark 15:29-32

We have three examples in the text above of how the wicked responded to the death of Jesus on the cross.

Number one, was those who passed by.

Number two, was those who were the priests and religious leaders in Israel.

Number three, was those other two men who were crucified with Him; one on His right, and the other on His left.

Will you just continue on your way passing by the One who was nailed to that cross for the forgiveness of your sin? Will you continue in your sin of rejection of your only hope for eternity?

Will you, O you who have great educational degrees; PHD’s and MDivs; or whatever degree you may have; thinking you are more intelligent than our Creator;  will continue to mock and blaspheme His name and then burn in Hell?

Will you who are condemned to die deride, continue in your blasphemy and ridicule of the name of the One who died for you? One of the men who died with Jesus on the cross, awhile later cried out to Jesus, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus responded and said, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43

What is your response to the death of Jesus? Will you respond to His love and grace, or will you continue in your wicked, evil way?

The Gospel at Work

The apostle Paul is defending himself; and it is yet to be determined what his penalty will be for preaching the gospel to the hard hearted religious leaders who hated Jesus.  Accusations are hurled of “Heresy”, and maybe to the religious Jew, with their strict adherence to the Law; it probably was.  None the less the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth.

Hear Paul’s defense (Acts 24:10-21)…

“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:14-15 (KJV)

Paul did not deny the heresy charges, but rather confirmed what he believed concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:32-33).

Paul had not changed his belief’s concerning the Law and the Prophet, he had only received the One of whom the Law and the Prophets had spoken.  His name is Jesus the Messiah of Israel; and that is not what the religious establishment wanted to hear.

Thing we Christians need to realize is that no matter what kind of thing happens in our lives we must be ready to present the gospel of Jesus, without fear, favor or compromise.  On trial for our faith?  Share the gospel.  Laying in a hospital bed?  Share the gospel.  Stopped for speeding?  Respect the officer, and share the gospel.  Before the traffic court Judge?  Take your medicine, and share your faith – if not by words, at least by your actions toward the verdict.  You get the point.

Your life; whether there is a chaotic event, or no specific event in your life; is a witness.  Make it a good one.  When your life testifies to the genuineness of your faith, then share the words.

This Man will Receive You

One of the things that causes jealousy in the hearts and minds of men and women is when someone else gets more notice, and attention than we do.

This jealousy is quite evident among the religious leaders of Jesus’s time on earth with us; walking, talking, teaching, living for the Father, and His glory. The way He lived, the words He spoke, the kindness in His voice to the weak, the lame, the sick, the poor, and the outcasts was what drew these people to Him.

Luke the Historian of the life of Christ writes:

“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Luke 15:1-2 (KJV)

Why do the religious always want to seek after those who have? Why do those, even, who profess themselves to be Christian go after the same? Jesus had no ill motive of seeking what the wealthy, religious leaders had to offer. He came to save souls (Luke 19:10).

The publicans were the most hated of people. They were the tax collectors of the day. Hebrew people who were collecting money from their own to give to the Roman government; therefore very despised, and hated; yet, Jesus would sit with them speak with them, and treat them with dignity and respect.

As Christians in the world of 2015 we must be as Jesus and treat all people; no matter their race, their economic level; their political affiliation; their illnesses; or transgressions; must treat them with the love and respect that Jesus would. Yes! That would include the muslim religion, and any other religious sect.

In loving them; we still confront sin; and its crippling, killing affects on those who are enslaved by it.

Draw near to Christ today. He loves you so much that He died on the cross for you, was buried, and rose again.

The Preacher in Power With God

The Man in the Wilderness

“And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” Matthew 11:7-19 (KJV)

Jesus makes a declaration about the prophet who showed the way to Himself. Jesus’s word is that John was a prophet who stood, and was not swayed by the tide of public, or popular opinion. The “Reed” spoken of by Jesus was native to the country, and was easily bent in every slight breeze. He would not bend to the winds of conformity of the flesh. He would not win any elections. He would not even allow his name to be submitted to any office.

John was not a man who would attend the social events of the season (v. 8). He was not out to win any popularity contest. The people would not have gone to the wilderness to seek the finely dressed. He dressed in “camel’s hair” very similar to Elijah’s apparel. Not the garment of a popular individual, or one seeking popularity.

A prophet of great esteem, that esteem was from the Lord, not men. To be esteemed “the greatest” by the King Himself is certainly the highest of honors. The esteem of man is useless in eternal matters. Because John was the herald of a new covenant, a better way, those in the new are counted greater. John is counted only as a friend of the Bridegroom. Those in the new covenant are the Bride of the Bridegroom.

The people to whom John preached, and to whom Jesus preached were mostly a people who committed a Dereliction of duty. They heard the voice, but the words were of none effect. The nation neglected to heed the message of the prophet (v. 12). Their opinions were on equal ground with the Word of God. Their attitude was, “We will have the kingdom in our own way”. They hated the prophet and this eventually showed up in their hatred for the King. It seems that the message of all the prophets were despised by the nation (v. 13). John’s message is on equal footing with that of Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah to Malachi. His persecution was on equal footing as well. Here are some similarities. 1) John was fearless before Herod – Elijah was fearless before Jezebel’s prophets; 2) John was locked in prison – Jeremiah was put in a pit; 3) John lost his head – Isaiah was probably sawn in two. John preached against the adultery of Herod; as pointed out earlier (14:1-12).

John would have been the one “In the spirit and power of Elijah” if he would have been received (vv. 14-15; Luke 1:16-17). His ministry would have been to turn the hearts of the people back to God. This was accomplished in a small way. There is yet to come another “In the spirit and power of Elijah” who will accomplish his task (Revelation 11:1-14). The message of the prophet is one people must hear and take heed.

This generation of people was likened to spoiled, uncooperative children (vv. 16-17). Likened to children playing wedding game, then others come into the picture, and declare they want to play the funeral game instead. They want to mourn at a time for rejoicing. They want to rejoice at the wrong time and weep at the time of rejoicing. John’s message was one that the Messiah has come, and the people refused to hear it, tearing their garments in grief. When it was declared to them the time for mourning, then they were rejoicing. There is a whole lot of that in the world of 2008.

It seems the religious leaders had no desire for hearing the truth of God’s message from His prophet John. When they did not want to hear they set out to find fault. The prophet because of his “self-control”, lack of fleshly desires, sometimes loud, and “rude” preaching is accused of being demon possessed. Jesus, because He sits and dines with “tax collectors and sinners” is accused of gluttony and drunkenness. By these accusations they are only endeavoring to cover their own sins that have been exposed for what they really are.

Truth always bears fruit. Lies also bear fruit, but none worth having. Truth reveals the good, and exposes the bad. The children of complainers and accusers continue complaining, accusing lives – to eternal condemnation. The children of wisdom are drawn to the Savior. If Jesus and John were the way of these accusations, then, why are lives changed by faith in Jesus. The resurrected, changed life is evidence that the claims of Jesus and John are true and not the claims of the complainants.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Doing The Word of God

Knowing the Mission and Purpose of the King

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” Matthew 11:1-6 (KJV)

In chapter ten Jesus has sent His disciples out to minister the Word of God and declare the message of the King. In the first verse of this chapter we find Jesus preaching and ministering alone. He has given commandment and sends the twelve out. In the first verse we are told, “He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. “Their cities” would be speaking of the cities of those He had just sent, of course.

John the Baptist, a prophet truly in the Old Testament sense, would know the message of the prophets. He knows, especially the ones of the coming Messiah. He, being a man, and a sinner like the rest of us would have had some preconceived notions concerning the Messiah; somewhat like his Jewish teachers. For instance he must have believed that the Messiah was going to come and free the nation of Israel from Roman rule. These preconceived notions would cause him to doubt. Preconceived notions of Scripture will cause doubt.

The Baptist has been imprisoned for his faithfulness to God’s call. He preached telling Herod he should not have his brothers wife (Matthew 4:12; 14:3-12). John’s notion was most likely that Jesus as the King of the Jews would set up His kingdom. His assumption was correct, however, his timing was millenniums away; ie., His earthly kingdom.

Since John was imprisoned he was unable to question Jesus personally and sends his disciples. He is showing faith by sending his disciples, and by seeking confirmation. An understanding of Jesus’s mission and ministry would end the doubt and the confusion for John.

To know our own mission and ministry for Christ will give us peace of mind. Every individual believer, every church needs a mission and purpose for being, and we find that in Jesus Christ, and His Word.

John’s question is one we could probably ask at times. “Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” Can we truly understand John’s dilemma? I think so. When he has been believing that he was preaching the way of the Messiah, then, he winds up in lock up, because he preached against Herod’s adultery, he is surely wondering, “Have I been preaching the right stuff? Is this man whom I have proclaimed really the One?” By his faith, he sends his disciples to ask Him. He did not send them to ask the religious leaders. He knew the answer he would get there. He believed Jesus would be the only one who would have the correct answer. He must have trusted, by what he had seen and heard, that Jesus was truthful, and that His word could be trusted. Jesus would not lie about His own identity. Sometimes doubt is a sign of growth, if you are really seeking the truth. Was this man, Jesus, the Messiah; the long awaited One by the Jews?

The question asked by John, which was born of doubt is answered by Jesus. To answer, Jesus had only to use the Old Testament Scripture. When Jesus gave them the words of Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:4-6; 61:1-2a John would be satisfied with the answer, and the doubt was resolved. Being a prophet he would have been very acquainted with these verses, which are prophecies of the Messiah. He would trust the Scriptures in the identity of Jesus, and the evidence that He gave as well. The evidence was what Scriptures said the Messiah would do, and Jesus was doing it.

The mission of Jesus was to help the afflicted. Those who were afflicted physically, economically and spiritually were aided and blessed by the touch of Jesus. The works He performed were evidence of who He is/was. We must keep in mind that the works we perform are a testimony of who we are. The power Christians have over man made religion is a living Savior who overcame the power of sin. Man made religion binds men to man made laws. Christians are not bound to law, but to the One who fulfilled the law, thus, able to live His life.

John knowing the Prophets and their prophecies recognized the mission of Jesus when it was told to him. Jesus’s ministry was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). His ministry was one of offense. He touched the unclean and the defiled. He ministered to “Tax collectors and sinners”, and that offended the religious leaders. He rebuked the religious establishment and their self-righteousness.

The King’s mission was to die, that all who repent and believe could be saved. The ultimate goal of King Jesus was/is to fulfill all the Word of God.

-by Tim A. Blankenship