Post 79 / Director's Vision, The Next Language
March 1, 2022
Knowing the Times
As a team, Nathaniel and Marcos and I were studying the life of Christ. It became apparent that Jesus lived in a very complex intersection of history, culture, dispensations, public expectations, political tensions, and spiritual conflicts.
And in the morning, [you say] “It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering.” O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? [Matt. 16:3 KJV]
Despite the miracles, the testimony of John the Baptist, and Jesus’ own words, the leaders of Israel missed who Jesus was and rejected Him. They were not alone. Jesus’ own family at one time wanted to restrain Jesus because He was neglecting his own physical needs. Even John questioned Jesus’ true identity while he was locked in prison. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t “get” the death and resurrection destiny of their master and were instead obsessed with who would be greatest in the Kingdom. Even after the death and resurrection of Christ, the disciples were still asking Jesus — just moments before the Ascension — “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” [Act 1:6 KJV].
Jesus crashed the theological and political expectations of everyone. He seemed to go out of His way to offend on religious traditions like the Sabbath. Because He didn’t fit their expectations He was alienated from all but those that personally accepted Him and His deeds and words. The most unforgiveable fact was that He showed no interest in fighting the Roman government. People were obsessed with having political freedom from Rome. Jesus taught them that their first need was to find freedom from the bondage of sin. Only in that arena would they find the Savior they were waiting for. The Exodus that they celebrated every year reminded them of the deliverance from Egypt, but only reinforced their desire and expectation to be delivered from Rome. Because He conquered demons, disease, physical dysfunction, and even the winds and the waves, everyone knew He had the power to break Rome, as Pharaoh was broken. In fact, at one point they tried to take Him by force to make him King. Ironically Jesus died under an official poster that said, “King of the Jews.”
It is easy in retrospect to recognize the failure of the Jews of whom it was said, “His own received Him not.” In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, success was measured in pain, hunger, thirst, persecution, and even death. The servant was not to be better than the Master. In this Kingdom, it is easy for us to find ourselves as confused as were the Sadducees and Pharisees because our aspirations, even in the service of the Lord, are not matching our expectations.
The only insurance against missing God’s plan is to focus on Jesus Himself — not the works or service. The lesson of Mary and Martha was clear. Jesus told Mary she had chosen the good part. In fact, it was stated even more strongly in Luke 10:41-42 [KJV]. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
We can be busy about many things but, “one thing is needful” and that is to be with Jesus. Only in this intimacy will we not ultimately be disillusioned over life events, injustice, politics and policies, theological persuasions, and Biblical interpretations.
I ask my self the same question I would ask you. Where would you have been among the multitudes in Jesus day, who were trying to understand exactly who He was? The answer could probably be best found in what you are doing today. Would you have been a religious zealot defending the religious traditions and the temple systems? Defending fundamentalism against challenging new ideas about the kingdom of God? Defending Sabbath practices rather than accepting the Lord of the Sabbath? Would you have been one of the political zealots focused on getting rid of Rome and its taxes and rules? Would you have been focused on the openly public prayers and washings instead of the “weightier matters of the law — judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” [Matt 23:23].
Even after Pentecost the church was growing prodigiously but still rooted in Jerusalem. Only after intense persecution did the early church disperse and “go” as it had been instructed. Only after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem did believers cease being tempted to return to creating the scenario addressed by the book of Hebrews.
There are so many parallels to today. As we consider what came of the temple system and Rome for that matter and the persons involved on both sides of those issues, I think it wise for us to make sure we are not tilting at windmills instead of knowing and walking with the King and doing His business. Jesus predicted danger when people “as in the days of Noah” were just going about the daily routine of living (eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage), entirely ignorant of the imminence of the times.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
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