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INTRIGUING DEAD SEA SCROLL SAYS MESSIAH TO COME, DIE, AND RISE ON THIRD DAY « Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog.

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He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were appalled at You, His appearance was so disfigured that He did not look like a man, and His form did not resemble a human being…”  –Isaiah 52:13, 14

That disfigured face…that happened because of me. I did that to Him because I thought I was better than Him. My pride, greed, and lust were more important than His sovereignty, His holiness, and His mercy. I wanted to feel loved, feel happy, feel rich, feel fulfilled, be independent and self-reliant. After all, who knows me better than…me? The world had much to offer: attention. love, success, acceptance.

But this self-reliance thing…turns out I wasn’t very reliant. But I kept forging ahead on my destructive path convinced that God’s power couldn’t or wouldn’t reach me. I didn’t like what I was doing to myself because I was raised in a Christian home and I had accepted Christ as a young child. But, I felt God didn’t really understand my needs so I was on my own quest. But, I wasn’t finding that love and acceptance in the world. Oh, I got the attention, but it was at a great cost.

Meanwhile, 2000 years ago, Jesus comes to earth as God in the flesh and dwells among us because man is in trouble. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way. That’s what we do, we go our own way. And it gets us in trouble every time. We end up despising Jesus and rejecting Him because He doesn’t fit into our plans the way we want Him to. Jesus is the only way? No, couldn’t be, He wouldn’t do that…so, go away. I know what is right and best.

But He was on His own quest.

He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.

 

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

 

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.”   –Isaiah 53:2-5

He went through that willingly, like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers…for me. He willingly let wicked men scourge Him so that He could provide these wicked men a way out — forgiveness, healing…the opportunity to become children of God.

He was in the world, and the world was created through Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name…”   –John 1:10-12

People are God’s highest creation and yet we rebel against Him. But He loves us too much to let us go…and that is why we celebrate Easter — the risen Christ, marred, scarred, and disfigured after bearing the depravity of man on the cross. What an amazing, hopeful truth to embrace and make part of our story…my story. See, growing up I didn’t really know the true Jesus — I believed because that’s all I knew but I didn’t know or comprehend His love for me.

But I have found this One and Only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth, who shares this glory and honor with no other…the one who let me wound Him so that He could heal mine. What amazing love that is!

The choice is ours…the world and man’s depravity or redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7,8)

 

The Passion.

The Passion..

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.

For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities–
all things have been created
  through Him and for Him.

He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body,
   the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.

For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross–
whether things on earth or things
   in heaven.

–Colossians 1:15-20

Not much to add to that. ALL of God’s fullness dwells in Jesus. He hasn’t divided it up between Jesus and Buddha and Krishna and Mohammed…and us. It is only through Jesus that “He reconciles everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross…”

Jesus was also the creator: “for everything was created by Him…” He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.” This doesn’t leave room for Jesus being an enlightened human being who shows us the way to become divine. No, He is fully God and always has been. He makes us co-heirs with Him by his shed blood for our sins but only through faith in Him.

Once we were alienated and hostile because of our sin. But He reconciles us by His physical body through His death, to present us holy, faultless, and blameless before Him — if we remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that we have heard. (Colossians 1:21-23)

We have to stay grounded and steadfast in the faith and not shift to other beliefs and teachers that tickle our ears. These aren’t my words, this is God telling us this through the inspiration of Paul.

He who has an ear, let him hear.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” –Ephesians 5:15-17

On this Palm Sunday morning which happens to fall on April Fool’s Day, my mind is on the events that Palm Sunday commemorates.

The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival [Passover] heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ‘Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One — the King of Israel!’
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written: Fear no more, Daughter Zion. Look, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.
His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Meanwhile, the crowd, which had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify. This is also why the crowd met Him, because they heard He had done this sign.
Then the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look — the world has gone after Him!”  –John 12: 12-19

The people celebrated Jesus in this way because they believed He had come to save them from the oppression of Roman rule. Palm branches were a Jewish national symbol. They were hailing Jesus as the Davidic king sung of in Psalm 118 and were singing songs historically sung at Passover. “Hosanna” means Please Save!

Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 49:10, 11 and Zechariah 9:9:

“The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until He whose right it is comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him. He ties his donkey to a vine, and the colt of his donkey to the choice vine. He washes his clothes in wine and his robes in the blood of the grapes.” –Genesis 49:10, 11

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” –Zechariah 9:9

Many of the Jews were disappointed that Jesus did not save them from political oppression. But it wasn’t ever Jesus’ intention to save them from political oppression…thank God because that would have been temporary “salvation” and would not have an eternal affect nor would the Gentiles have the opportunity to receive salvation. His main purpose for coming to earth as a man was to die on the cross for our sins and rise again three days later for the purposes of offering salvation to all mankind for eternity.

Many churches today teach that the only salvation we need is from our earthly situations such as poverty, sickness, injustice, and war. Indeed, God’s help in those times of trouble is greatly needed, but if all He gave us was temporary salvation from our current earthly situations, Jesus would not have needed to be the sacrifice for us in a brutal crucifixion. To miss the real salvation from our sins while being saved from our earthly situations is to miss everything. Without receiving Christ’s atoning blood for our sins, we are separated from God no matter what good or bad happens to us on earth.

And the Pharisees were threatened by Him because He had the audacity to not obey them. So many people today are threatened by Jesus…and even hateful of Him. Why? Because He isn’t obeying us like we want Him to. He isn’t fitting into our preconceived notion of what we should get from life. He insists on being the only way to the Father and claims to be not only the Son of God, but God Himself. People hate that. God wouldn’t be so exclusionary and mean. So, they’ve chucked the Bible essentially and have decided to build their own religion with Jesus thrown in for good measure. God calls these people “fools.” Not my word, His. I’ve been foolish many times so I’m in no position to call anyone a “fool.”

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  –Ephesians 5:15-17

It may be April Fool’s Day on the calendar, but in Christianity, it is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week which leads up to the most important event in Christianity, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Don’t miss its importance in these evil days.

For the whole story on who Jesus is and what His earthly ministry was about, read the book of John. To learn about the very beginning of Christianity and the early church after the risen Christ ascended to heaven, read the book of Acts. To learn about the sovereignty of Christ, read Colossians.

Don’t you hate it when Christianity is painted with a broad brush — that it’s just a bunch of televangelists with carefully coifed hair scamming vulnerable people for money, Pat Robertson claiming to speak for God and saying embarrassing things in the media, Westboro “Baptist Church” picketing funerals and claiming that God hates fags? Many years ago, Catholics tortured and killed people during the Inquisition and then there is the Crusades (regardless of what atrocities led up to them). Christians are seen as hicks, hypocrites, money-grubbers, judgmental, bigots, hateful, intolerant, and even murderers.

I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with Christianity either.

But, three things, first, not everyone who says and does things in the name of God are true believers. Fred Phelps and his family who make up Westboro Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas are not a true Christian church, nor are they Baptist. They are a cult, led by an insane man. Many people in this country, some knowingly and some unknowingly, use this cult as propaganda that Christians are hateful and bigots.

I watched a video (For The Bible Tells Me So) a few years ago that many liberal churches were airing about the “intolerance” of evangelical Christians towards gay people and Westboro Church was one of their big examples of the so-called hatred in mainstream evangelicalism. The Westboro cult no more represents evangelicals than the soldier who killed several Afghanis represent the rest of our military. I would contend that it is intellectually dishonest to use Westboro as an example of evangelical Christian hatred for gay people. Everyone knows they are nutcases. And since Christ commands us to love our neighbor, we are commanded to love gay people. Saying that evangelicals hate gay people is simply a lie. There may be individual exceptions to that but as a whole, it is not in our theology to hate anyone.

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Second, if these other “Christian representatives” are true believers, they have gone their own way and even preach a false gospel. Many televangelists are false teachers as they preach the prosperity gospel and positive thinking as Biblical, which they are not. They have their own greedy agendas.

The Catholic Inquisition had nothing to do with true Christianity but was about protecting “the Church” and the positions of power that it had. If you look at how Jesus lived His life on earth and what He taught, there is nothing Christ-like about some of the atrocities done in His name.

Thirdly, when I behave badly — react to someone in anger, become prideful, have critical thoughts towards someone, refuse to forgive — I am giving in to my flesh and not submitting to the Spirit of Christ living in me. Christians are human beings who fail probably daily at having the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.”) evident in their lives. What Christians DO have is forgiveness and the Holy Spirit’s help in imitating Christ. If Christians all acted perfectly, we wouldn’t need Christ. We are sinners in need of grace and because we have the indwelling of the Spirit after expressing faith in Christ and making Him Lord of our lives, we are covered by the shed blood of Christ on Calvary.

Lastly, many people have left the church and the faith because of other Christians. I understand why and how that happens. But, the biggest mistake anyone could make is to leave the Jesus of the Bible in the process. Reject the badly behaving Christians, but don’t reject Christ. Don’t add false teaching into your beliefs. Flee any church that is not representing Christ properly, but don’t run into the waiting arms of false teachers who are more than eager to lead you down their deceptive path.

Run to Jesus. Study the book of John and study who He really is and accept Him.

I wish that Christians, including myself, were better representatives of Christ. Some of us are trying because we know the world is watching. But please do not reject the hope of salvation only brought through Jesus Christ.

The Real Jesus?

Is it possible to find the real Jesus? That depends on how you answer a more fundamental question: Are you willing to set aside your preconceptions and let the evidence take you wherever it will? I have done just that and I guess I find myself still doing that sometimes.

Beliefs have very real consequences, so finding the truth is important. Think about Jim Jones and the tragedy in Guyana several years ago. Nine hundred followers drank the poisoned Kool-Aid in loyalty to and in fear of Jim Jones, who claimed to be the Messiah. Men, women, and children died a terrible death because of one false teacher who claimed to be God.

Faith is only as good as the one in whom it’s invested. If Jesus isn’t who He says He is in the Bible, then I will not find another faith or my own faith smoothie, but just live for myself. Why live for a Jesus who isn’t really the Son of God who now sits at the right hand of the Father? I would contend that what we belief is of utmost importance. It determines how we live our lives and how we view death.

I have done a lot of studying the past several years to see if the Christianity of my youth is really true. The facts about Christianity in my church growing up was mixed with legalism and man-made rules. When I left home as a young adult, I started questioning all of it and had to rediscover Christ bit by bit. I had to find out what the Bible really says and if it can be trusted. I tested everything that was taught to me by other people, including pastors. The Bible says we should test every spirit. I took that literally.

What I have discovered in studying several parts of the Bible inductively (having scripture prove scripture, NOT having commentaries prove scripture) has changed my life. I will be discussing more of that in detail in future posts.

Who is the real Jesus? Is He the Jesus Seminar Jesus? Is He one of several Masters? Is He just a teacher, a prophet that lived 2,000 years ago? Is He the “nice” God while the Father is the “mean” God? Is He an example for me to find the god within me? Or, is He really who HE says He is?

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