Friday, April 22, 2011

Before Man, God's Plan

Before there was man, God finished the plan.  

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:10-11)

God knew, before He made mankind, all men would sin.

Because all men sin, God's wrath is aimed at every man, including you. "
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Rom 1:18-20)
So the loving, merciful God created a plan. The plan sanctions Him to be both holy and just plus gracious and merciful.  

All things work according to His timetable. It was so precise man could recognize it. "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. " Galatians. 4:4-5 

The Plan stipulates a sinless human sacrificial 'lamb', similar to the Old Testament Jewish sacrificial lamb of atonement.  Jesus, God's only son, was the only sinless man.   For God's divine and only son to die would require him GIVING his life. If Jesus chose NOT to GIVE his life, men would NOT be able to take it from him In Matt. 20:28 and Mark 10:45, Jesus said he would "give his life as a ransom (the 'buy-back' price) for many." The greatest love is when He would "lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13.  Jesus' most powerful statement is in John 10:18. "No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

I wish to Intensely Highlight Jesus GAVE His life. HIS ACTIONS OBLIGATED Powerful People to Consider Him AS GUILTY when THEY KNEW He was INNOCENT.

Jewish confrontation is not resolved like ours. Confrontations were like mini-debates. It required an un-answerable accusation or a disabling reasoning. If an response was considered, it required being more profound, more UN-answerable, more disabling, or out-witting. The rebuttal must out-do any previous comment by either party. Generally the last one to speak, if he is better, is considered the winner. 

Every challenge results in a strengthening (or decline) in political power, or an improved (or diminished) ranking in the public's opinion. If challenged and won, you moved up and the challenger goes down. The reverse is also true.

Below are three of the ten times Jesus was challenged. Find the pattern. I followed Matthews account.
  1. Matt 9:1-8 (Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26) Jesus healed a paralyzed man to prove He could forgive sins. The religious 'establishment' challenged him (in their thoughts, which Jesus read.) Jesus spoke last -- he won. He increased and they decreased.
  2. Matt 9:9-13 (Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:27-32) Jesus was challenged for eating with tax collectors and sinners. He gave his usual brilliant answer. They did not offer a rebuttal. Jesus won and increased more.
  3. Matt 12:1-8 (Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5).  The Pharisees charged Jesus with allowing his disciples to do work on the Sabbath (they rubbed wheat kernels together in their hands before eating the kernel). Jesus answered with the story of David and the shewbread. They could not refute. Their popularity and power diminished as Jesus' increased. Get the idea?
His score: 10-0 (10 wins and no loses.)

How did the people view him? He was the greatest authority of His time. 

How did the people view the religious leaders? The people could have used descriptions like pathetic, substandard, valueless, or flawed.

Now, let's add the parts. First, Jesus said He would GIVE his life. Jesus said no one would TAKE HIS LIFE from him. Second, all His victories made Him the most powerful religious leader in Israel. GIVING His life will be complex. He must reverse the power-hungry people's opinion of Him, so they will crucify him on Friday.  How can He do this?

He follows God's eternal plan. He uses silence and humility.

Note His changed behavior following the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • Matt 26:62. The High Priest asks "Aren't you going to answer?" In verse 63 "Jesus remained silent" -- He 'lost' purposefully.
  • Matt 26:63. They asked, "Are you the Christ?"  His answer of being the Christ was self-condemning. He 'lost' intentionally.
  • Matt 26:67. They mocked Him with ""Prophesy. Who hit you?" He made no answer. He suffered a 'loss'.
  • Matt 27:11. Pilate asked, "Are you the Jews King?" Again a self-condemning "yes." Again, a defeat.
  • Matt 27:12.  He was accused by the Chief priests and elders. Still He gave no answer -- only silence. Another intentional failure.
  • Matt 27:13-14 Pilate: "Don't you hear the testimony against you?" Jesus response: No answer. He is suffering a rout.
  • Matt 27:40 "Save yourself!", was the challenged to a Jesus on the cross. What did he do? Nothing. He had so many losses, so quickly.
  • "Come down from the cross." they taunted. He gave no response, and successfully lost a final time.
Can you hear Isaiah 53:7?  "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth." (Emphasis mine.)
Do you hear Phil. 2:8? "
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Emphasis mine.)
God's plan was for Jesus to GIVE his life, so you would not need to suffer God's eternal wrath. Why suffer God's wrath?

Your sins made His death necessary. Your sins put Him in the grave.
But it was God's eternal plan that raised Him from the grave, never to die again.

Because He suffered God's wrath, you have an opportunity to live forever with him.
How do you claim this opportunity?

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