Archive for the ‘ Disciples ’ Category

VerseD: John 13:14

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14, ESV

We are not greater than our Savior who came to serve others. Sacrificially.

Sermon: Chasing or Chosen – Mark 3:7-21

I preached again!

This is one in which I do not name names but I do call out bad teachings.

What are we chasing? Are we actually pursuing Jesus?

Give it a listen (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

https://DanielMKlem.sermon.net/player/audio/21726595?repeat=false&autostart=true

Chasing or Chosen    Mark 3:7-21

It is my Re-Birthday! (Well, yesterday was.)

As of today, it was 21 years [and approximately 1 day, or 15 hours for first service and 16.5 hours for second service] ago that I became a Christian. At 6:46 pm CST on January 9, 2000, at the tender age of 16, I first knelt down to say “Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God who died for my sins.”

I went through some struggles to get there, to be sure.

I was “that kid” in the youth group who had everything figured out, so I challenged the youth leaders and the pastor.

I dealt with chronic anxiety, always worried about trivial things as if they were huge, and I did not need another worry on my plate, like trying to please God.

I even went through a short time of thinking it might be possible I could be Christ (before misunderstanding a text about John the Baptist never touching alcohol, thinking it was about Christ, and that misunderstanding shot down any ideas of me being Christ right away.)

When the Holy Spirit finally finished breaking down my own ideas, fears, and misunderstandings, Jesus grabbed a great big hold of me, and I can guarantee He has not let go. (Not from lack of my own stupidity and running in different directions!)

That is why I make a cake every year on January 9. I celebrate my Re-Birthday, the day I was born again into God’s Chosen family: The Church, grafted into Israel by His blood.

What does this have to do with our passage today?

Well, we will spend most of our time in Mark 3, but I also invite you to be ready to flip back to Deuteronomy 18 and 13.

In Mark chapter 3, we see a transition from Jesus setting the foundation for His ministry to preparing to share His ministry with His disciples in Israel.

MESSAGE:

vv. 7-8:
People were coming from all over Israel. With the areas listed, Mark is letting us know people from all the tribes from the original Promised Land (Time of the Judges) have come to see if the Prophet like Moses – the Messiah – has finally come. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)


“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

But what were they chasing? v. 8b: They heard all that He was doing. He was healing paralytics and shriveled hands, He was casting out evil spirits, and He was rebuking and teaching with boldness and authority.

They were chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. As we continue reading in …

vv. 9-10:
They were actually putting their Messiah in danger!

To be fair, we are talking about people who have been hurting, suffering, and worrying about what the government, religious leaders, and spiritual forces were doing to them. And here is someone standing up to the leadership and healing people.

But maybe you are wondering about Jesus’ response: Not just to get a boat ready. We remember from last week that the Jewish leadership were chasing after their own power and plotting to destroy Jesus, and now the crowds are endangering Him. However, we also know He often taught from boats, as we read in many other places in the Gospels.

vv. 11-12:
Spirits know who Christ is. They recognized Jesus as the eternal Son of God, something most people missed, even with miracles.

But why did He tell the spirits “not to make Him known”?

This is not quite like Scott taught a few weeks ago, telling those He healed not to tell anyone. Evil spirits and demons know who He is, and they will tell others truthfully who He is, but they also follow their leader, The Devil, and twist the truth and lie. He doesn’t want these spirits spreading misinformation.

“Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be like God …”

Hold on to that. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

vv. 13-15:
We remember people are expecting the Promised Prophet like Moses, and here is Jesus going up a mountain, just like Moses. But He is not getting God’s Commandments, He is being the Commander commissioning His generals.

Jesus basically chose His representatives for the 12 Tribes. Remember a few verses ago we saw that Mark was pointing to all of the Tribes of the Promised Land coming to see if this was the promised Messiah. Now, He has His representatives for each tribe, those He is sending out in His Name. Apostle means “one sent out.”

And what does He expect His Apostles to do?

First and foremost: They spend time with Him, learning from Him.
Secondly: Preach. They are to share the good news of this Messiah.
Finally: Heal and cast out demons and evil spirits.

Jump back with me for a moment to Moses’ promised Prophet in Deuteronomy 18, in vv. 20-22.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord , if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.Now back a few chapters, 13:1-4.


“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.

Many so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles today often start out well, saying we need to spend time with Christ and learn from Him, and it sounds good. Then they spend more time focusing on miracles, signs and wonders, and dreams and visions.

At best, the preach a gospel-lite: You are basically a good person, you have to have dreams and visions or perform miracles, signs and wonders. Essentially, you are little gods. (Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Bishop T.D. Jakes … even starting to hear it from Steven Furtick and his friends.)

Now. Remember what I told us to hold on to for a moment: “Did God actually say … You will not surely die … You will be … like … God …”

Many of today’s so-called teachers, prophets, and apostles are chasing the miracles more than the Miracle Maker. They are listening to the wrong spirits.

Perhaps you have heard the teaching today that just because someone gets a prophecy wrong does not mean they are a false prophet, they just tried prophesying in their own power and got it wrong. That is the exact opposite of what we read in Deuteronomy. “Did God really say …”

Perhaps you have even heard the rebuttal that those of us who point this out probably want to follow Deuteronomy 13:5, to kill the false prophet. Obviously, we don’t teach that in the slightest, but now we hear that next lie: “You will not surely die …”

All three of Satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden are being used even today.

Perhaps, you think, people do make mistakes and come from broken and sinful pasts, but God forgives and changes them.

True. In fact, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, will readily attest to that. He worked for his Uncle Benny for years, and today he preaches the true gospel and the danger of these “prophets and apostles” today. But this also points us back to the next verses in Mark 3 …

vv. 16-19:
Mark, Peter’s disciple and friend (remember Acts 13 and 15, John Mark who abandoned Barnabas and Paul, later causing division between those two), understood Peter well, both having turned on those they loved. Hence, Peter is obviously first in the list, followed immediately by James and John, the Sons of Thunder. (Great preachers!)

These three – with at least four others: Andrew (Peter’s brother), Thomas, Bartholomew (Nathanael), and possibly Philip – were fishermen (Remember they were all together fishing after Jesus’ resurrection – John 21). They were the rough-around-the-edges (probably foul-mouthed) sailors of the day. They were prideful, power-hungry men (Remember the request by James and John to sit at either side of Jesus in His Kingdom!)

We know Matthew/Levi was a tax collector, and possibly Judas Iscariot. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to their people, their money not even allowed in the Temple. They were more interested in money (and power), and obviously not above turning on their brethren. Judas was obviously “the open-minded, social justice” one of the group who was “more concerned about the poor” than all the others. (See his suggestion of selling the expensive perfume Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet – John 12.)

That just leaves James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (the other Judas), and Simon the Zealot. James and Other-Judas may have been businessmen of some sort or just farmers. They could be more down to earth, but they also had their opinions on politics and religion. Simon, the Zealot, was definitely involved in politics. The Zealots were constantly trying to make Israel great again (Sorry, not sorry!) and kick out the invading empire.

This was a rag-tag bunch of sinners … who all abandoned their Lord, one even betraying Him.

Yet, I hear Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Yes and hallelujah, God can change us. But we should still be wary of those who teach a different gospel – “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:7-9)

No, the calling we all have is not to chase miracles but to realize we have been chosen to spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:18-20 –

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

But we also live in a culture that says sharing your faith is bad. (Including from the Pope!)

vv. 20-21:
Went home (most likely to Capernaum), where crowds kept them from eating. (Still missing the point to “love your neighbor as yourself” and that God was literally with them!) Yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

And His mom and half-siblings thought He had lost it.

He now has the Jewish leadership plotting against Him and His family doubting Him.

And yet, Jesus persisted in His ministry.

We can glean two things from this:We know, as we also read in Matthew 28:20, that God never stops. He keeps working out His plan.We will have people oppose us, either for not following modern understandings of religion and science or for being crazy for believing myths and stories (or even changing our lives so drastically and against societal norms).

And that can scare us, intimidate us, make us want to shy away from sharing our faith.

We might hear those thoughts: “I’m not good enough.”
“Who do I think I am to tell others that they are sinners?”
“If others make fun of me, they won’t hear the message anyway.”

Maybe we are chasing the miracles, the easy parts of Christianity: the power, the prophecies, and the praise of others.

We should realize we are chosen by God. And He has promised to help us by His Holy Spirit.

We can chase miracles that come from touching Christ, or we can realize that being His Chosen people means He has already chased us!

By ourselves, we run from the things of God by chasing our own interests or thinking we need to do something to please God. We seek the mountaintop experience, but God has come down from His mountain to change His Chosen to be more like Christ.

The biggest disease we have is our sin. It can only be removed by the grace we have by faith in the blood of Christ. Without that, we chase whatever we think will make us happy or whole, instead of realizing God’s Chosen One is the only One who can heal.

Let’s not chase after the miracles, but let’s seek the Miracle Maker and His peace and healing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If you do not know the peace of Christ, I invite you to seek Him and have your own Re-Birthday, or at least trust in Him more. Put your faith in the Faithful One. Realize your sinfulness – your own breaking of God’s Law – and believe that Jesus’ death on the cross brought you forgiveness, that His resurrection gives you the promise of eternal life with Him.

Yes, people may think you are out of your mind, possibly ridicule you or even persecute you, but Jesus it is better to know that is coming and prepare than to begin under the assumption that life will suddenly be the best ever. Jesus promised this life would be hard, but He also promised He is with us.

And He chose us.

VerseD: Philippians 4:9

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:9, ESV

We should be growing more in Christ, to be more like Christ.
We should be showing others how to grow in Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20)

VerseD: 1 John 2:6

whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:6, ESV

How did Jesus walk?

He loved the lost, rebuked the religious haughty, and served all to the point of death.

Go and do likewise.

VaerseD: 2 Timothy 1:9

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began
2 Timothy 1:9, ESV

All Christians have the same calling: reconciliation with a fallen world through the making of disciples of Christ.

… The Work Will Go On with @UnspokenMusic

Do not bury wisdom. Instead, find some at Proverbial Thought!

Tertullian famously said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

This is certainly evidenced in the Bible:

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 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.

And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Acts 8:54-8:4, ESV

That is what one of my new favorite bands sings about in this song.

Unspoken has a lot of great songs on their debut album (personally, I like all of them). This song, Bury the Workmen, had me shouting out “Yeah! Preach it!” as I was driving down the road.

Enjoy.


Unspoken – Bury the Workmen

Steven was a deacon in Jerusalem
They dragged him out those city gates to try and quiet him
When Steven preached those Pharisees started throwing stones
Before he died he raised his eyes and saw Jesus on the throne

He said, You can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
You can bury the workmen but the work will go on

James was sent to Heaven at the edge of Herod’s sword
And Peter he was crucified like his beloved Lord
The Roman Coliseum, the lions and the fires
The gates of hell did not prevail, they fanned those flames higher

Cause you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

And then they lowered Jesus, they laid Him in a grave
They thought that it was over, that His name would fade away
But Jesus wasn’t listening, no, He rose to life again
Cause God is not persuaded by the arrogance of men

So you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
And you can silence the voices but you can’t stop the song
When the Spirit’s moving, His will will be done
And you can bury the workmen but the work will go on
Yeah you can bury the workmen but the work will go on

Seeing Salvation

I consider this work a work in progress.

It can be considered a Christmas poem. It can be considered a piece on the Gospel. It can be considered a prophetic word.

In any event, it fits this week leading into Christmas, and it is a good reminder after the events in Connecticut and around the world this past week.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the two people, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, who were waiting for the Messiah and saw Him in their old age. My thoughts concluded (indeed, centered around) expecting the soon return of the Messiah Jesus.

The entire reason for Jesus Coming to Earth was to save us from our sins and bring us into a right relationship with God. His return will be to finish the entire process, by bringing the physical up to speed with the spiritual, and bringing about ultimate peace on Earth for ever and ever.

It was easy for Jesus’ followers to forget His promise of coming back to life, and their new-found hope was a very pleasant surprise later at the resurrection of Jesus.

Because of His resurrection, we are able to give all of our troubles to Him, and we must remind ourselves of His soon return.

Now, see if you can find where I share each of these in this poem:

Seeing Salvation

They waited for years,
worshiping God daily in prayer.
God ever feeling more near,
as they awaited His Answer.

As their twilight years waned,
dutifully keeping their stations,
in came a couple with a babe.
They knew they were seeing Salvation. (Luke 2:21-38)

They walked with Him for years,
gladly hearing what He taught.
Now they only had tears,
with their Lord dying on a cross.

As their hope began to wane,
the women came with a proclamation.
The Lord was alive again!
Their faith was restored at seeing Salvation. (Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:1-12)

We live for many years,
wandering all over this earth.
We have troubles and fears,
wondering if we have any worth.

As our strength begins to wane,
there is hope in each situation.
We must turn to the Lamb who was slain.
Our souls are renewed in seeing Salvation.

There are not too many years,
this world will soon be decimated.
For God-lovers are jeered,
while sin and pride are celebrated.

After His long-suffering has waned,
His wrath will pour out on the nations.
Yet we will be reborn in His Name,
when we finally are seeing Salvation. (Revelation)

We must remember that all people are seeking redemption.

Some seek it and must wait.

Some are swept up and almost miss it.

Some find it out of their pain.

All people one day will see the Redeemer bringing redemption to all of Creation.

At Christmas, we must remember that God loved us enough to save. He came to us, born as a baby. He lived a perfect life, and died as the only acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He seeks us out, and will one glorious day return to claim His redeemed and redeem all of Creation.

That is the true promise of Christmas. Peace on Earth will only come at the final consummation. When we pray for peace on Earth, we are asking for Jesus to come and save us all, people and Creation!

The Core Facts: Converted Conspirator

For some words of wisdom, head over to Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, and the change in the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Conversion of Saul/Paul

All of the facts build on each other, building to the point that none work without the others, especially and most importantly because of #1.

Without the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ there is no despair in the Disciples. Either there was never a Jesus of Nazareth to have followed and have taken away, or Jesus was just a good leader and the Disciples could have found another great leader.

Without the Resurrection after the Crucifixion there is no reason for the Disciples to change. The could have easily gone back to their old lives. The Disciples would have had every reason to abandon the mission, especially if a body could have been presented.

There would have been no reason for Saul to hunt down blasphemers, and he would not have been able to see the Resurrected Jesus.

The Apostle Paul is one other person whom should not be doubted as having existed. I can understand people who think Paul was the creator of Christianity. He covered a lot of land in a relatively short span of time, and he impacted countless lives.

However, before he was Paul the Apostle, he was Saul the Pharisee. I will let his own words explain:

“The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.”
Acts 26:4-5, NIV

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Philippians 3:4-6, NIV

This man did his best to be a really good Jew. He even went so far as to literally hunt down people who defied his fellow religious leaders.

This man was allowed to study under Gamaliel, one of the greatest Rabbis in history. He is renowned within Judaism for his strict adherence to and reverence of the Law of Moses. This is not just the 10 Commandments, but all of the 613 laws found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible known as the Books of Moses.

Our man says “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God” (Acts 22:3) (Emphasis added, and, yes, I admit to shortening the verse by a few words.).

There should be no doubt that Saul was a man seeking to work his way into God’s good graces, who was passionate about God’s Law and the teachings and holiness.

Saul was a man who was so devout that he did his best to never be defiled in any way and went as far as to hunt down, arrest, torture, and even kill (at the very least through other people while he approved, as stated in Acts 8:1) those who claimed God became a man.

But then it all changed.

Why would a man so devout to following every letter of the Law to the point of feeling a need to persecute others to protect it suddenly join those he was hunting?

This Saul of Tarsus would have had to have had a truly life-altering event take place.

What would send Saul (meaning “prayed for”) into synagogues to preach the Gospel and the desert wilderness for some time to study to eventually come back as Paul (meaning “small”)?

Other than brain-washing, the only possible explanation is that he saw a vision of the Resurrected Jesus.

It is possible to claim he hallucinated, however when taken with the other three Core Facts that seems unlikely.

In fact, the conversion of Saul the Pharisee in to Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and one of the greatest missionaries and church-planters ever also falls under the third Core Fact.

Next month I move on to our youth group‘s Four Core Values:

  1. Desperate pursuit of God
  2. Diligent prayer
  3. Consecrated heart
  4. Focused life

Thoughts?

The Core Facts: A New Boldness

A wise mind would go find some wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

To keep up to date, do not forget to go back and read the first two Core Facts that show why Christianity is based on truth and reason: Jesus’ death on the cross and the despair of the Disciples. I give my usual reminder that this is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the arguments, but these posts are primers to get you thinking. If you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

Now for the third of The Four Core Facts:

The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

I feel I must first verify for everyone that there were indeed more than 11 or 12 Disciples as evidenced by Jesus appointing 72 to go on a short-term mission (Luke 10) and 120 meeting in “the upper room” between Jesus’ ascension and Pentecost (Acts 1:15). You see, the Twelve Disciples were Jesus’ inner circle, His closest friends entrusted with leading the fledgling Church after His ascension.

And now, we should start with the obvious: Why were the Disciples willing to die?

They firmly believed they had seen the Risen Lord.

Jesus was not just another man. He made the impossible claim that He is God (John 10:30). Jesus backed up this claim through various miracles …

… the ultimate miracle being that He was beaten, crucified, died, and buried, and rose back to life.

The Disciples were convinced they saw Jesus risen from the dead, and that gave them the confidence they needed to willingly face death for the sake of the Gospel.

This change is more than just a willingness to die. This needs to be understood.

People of many beliefs are willing to die for what they believe. That cannot be denied. September 11, 2001 is enough evidence for Americans, and many nations around the world see evidence of this deadly devotion many times a year if not every day.

There are a couple of differences with they young Church. The Disciples had a passion to share the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. They taught a radical message that required change in all who believe.

Just like the Western world today, people in the Roman Empire had an understanding that you could believe anything you wanted, just do not try to tell anyone they are believing wrongly. If you did, you were clearly wrong and must be stopped.

The Disciples started a new revolution of love for all people, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, color, nationality, or societal stance. But it was also a revolution of needing to change yourself: your habits, your thoughts, and especially your beliefs; in other words, that everyone was essentially wrong.

They knew the consequences: Deny your teachings or risk imprisonment, torture, and even death.

This means the Disciples went from a group of cowards who ran away from punishment to not shying away from the threat of suffering and death.

As I said two weeks ago in my fourth point, it would have been easy to stop the early Church from growing beyond several dozen or several thousand people.

If the Disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, most if not all of them would have cracked under torture and the threat of death and admitted to the removal of the body (which Jews would not do, because touching a dead body made you ceremonially unclean … very non-kosher).

If the Disciples had suffered from mass hallucination, all the authorities would have had to do is open the tomb and show them the body and snap them back to reality … or at least stop new converts rather handily.

If the Jewish and/or Roman authorities had stolen the body … THEY COULD HAVE PRODUCED THE BODY!

Did you notice a trend?

The Disciples becoming so bold in the face of the most powerful forces in the known world is not a trivial matter.

The crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth can not be credibly denied.

The Disciples despairing after Jesus was led away is and understandable truth.

The change in the Disciples to endure pain and death for a belief that Jesus was who He said He was and had risen from the dead only helps to prove that Jesus really is the risen Son of God.

It also helps explain the fourth of the Four Core Facts: The Conversion of Saul/Paul

Are there any other thoughts? Is there anything to add?

The Core Facts: Despairing Disciples

Here is another friendly reminder to go read the wise words written by the men at Proverbial Thought!

Also, the youth pastor with whom I work speaks on all of this. Find Jesse Bollinger at Fervent Youth.

Last week I began the study of the Core Facts, starting with Jesus’ death on the cross. And I remind you that these posts are not meant to be exhaustive arguments on these topics. I currently do not have the time for that! Rather, these are a brief synopsis of the main points.

This week I continue with the second of The Four Core Facts:

The Despair of the Disciples

There are two main reasons why the Disciples being desperate is true:

  1. the Jews (of which all of the initial Disciples were) were expecting a Messiah to overthrow the pagan government; and
  2. it was shameful to record faults of heroes of the story.

On point number one, as was discussed last week, the Jews were expecting Israel to be freed from oppressive rule by a great King.

One example of the Disciples’ fervor for a conquering King is demonstrated while travelling through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem for the last time:

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

Luke 9: 51-54

One example that they did not expect their Messiah to die comes immediately after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Matthew 16:21-22

Imagine being in their shoes … er … sandals. They are expecting the heir of King David to come to the rescue, restore Israel, and lead them as King …

… not die.

If you saw your unstoppable leader killed, would you not be emotionally destroyed?

If you saw your Lord being taken away by soldiers, put on trial, flogged (beaten, whipped, and tortured), and crucified, do you think you would run in and try to save the day or run and hide?

This leads to point number two: The Gospels recorded the Disciples running away!

Throughout history, those who have written history have generally put themselves in the best possible light. The epics written of old showed individuals and armies alike running into danger to rescue a friend, a leader, or an army. Individuals confronted hundreds or thousands of soldiers to save the day. Mere mortals braved the pain and torment of the Underworld to save a loved one.

The first leaders of the Church fled and hid. Then they told everyone about it!

At the time of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, they forgot He ever said that He must be killed and raised back to life. Peter even denied his best friend of the previous three years!

Some might argue that this kind of thing happens all the time, but I urge you to look into the current world of politics. Rarely do we see a politician taking the rap for a mistake, let alone deserting friends. If they do own up to it, usually it is to cast it in a good light.

The Disciples knew what they did was sad and wrong. They owned up to it.

Even today that shows someone who is honest and therefore trustworthy.

These were heartbroken men, literally scared for their lives, who believed their Lord and Messiah died. They had enough reason to suspect that they could also be arrested and even crucified for inciting a rebellion.

Perhaps they even thought they were wrong all along about who Jesus is.

Talk about an existential crisis.

Fortunately for them, within three days they were redeemed (on so many levels).

It changed their lives.

But that is for next week when I cover Core Fact #3: The Change in the Disciples’ Willingness to Die

Are there any thoughts on this?