Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everything will be thrown down. “ As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs”(Matthew 24:1-8 NIV).
Jesus advised of possible deception, citing that many would claim to be the Christ, thereby deceiving many. Humanity gets fixated on material things, rather than substance. This is why physical death catches most people by surprise, rather than accepting it as an anticipated event.
Death is a phenomenon that surprises most people. Existing physically; portrays death, described at the time of Adam and Eve. Physical humans loosely describe physical demise as death, other than God’s description.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, same from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:23-26 NIV).
Jesus was describing His physical death as being glorified. Physical humanity would see it as death, but Jesus accepted it as the process of being glorified. Without unpacking such Scriptures, it is impossible to understand the entire Scriptural references depicting Jesus’ teachings.
“Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” (John 12:27-28 NIV).
This was a good question but understood by the enlightened ones. Jesus’ words befuddle ordinary humanity. To them, Jesus’ physical death would mark His end. How could the Son of Man die and be the Messiah, at the same time?
The Messiah, whose mission is to deliver humanity from death, pronounced at the Garden of Eden, cannot be appreciated physically. As Son of Man, Jesus represented humanity, in redeeming life conditions.
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them (John 12:35-36 NIV).
Jesus was the light of the world. However, ordinary people could not appreciate the physical Jesus, as the Messiah, whose life is eternal. The deception that Jesus was talking about would manifest physically. The Jews understood that the Messiah would come in physical form, but would be unable to die.
However, the description of the Messiah is spiritual, not comprehended physically. Jesus’ intimated deception, affecting humanity, would result from not knowing the Spiritual condition of the Messiah. That explains the reason for the Jewish failure to appreciate that Jesus could be the Christ.
Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22 NIV).
Jesus had been the only individual representing life, during His presence on earth. The rest remained in the condition of death. Ordinary people were dead, although burying their physically dead ones. Jesus said those who believed in His teachings would never see death.
“I tell you the truth, if a man keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51 NIV).
Jesus showed that actual death was different from physical demise. As adopted in the Garden of Eden, death is reversible through accepting Jesus’ teachings. The Jewish misunderstanding was premised on failure to appreciate that Jesus was a Spiritual being, representing what was created in God’s image.
It is impossible for a physical person, to appreciate humanity’s spiritual condition. Hence, belief in Jesus clarifies that reality. This requires a commitment to Jesus’ teachings. It is impossible to attain life, without appreciating Jesus’ standpoint, and His resurrection.
“Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”(1 Corinthians 15:29-32 NIV).
What about the portrait, often pinned on most Christian Churches, assumed to be Jesus’ picture? All that amounts to deception affecting humanity. The Messiah is a Spiritual entity, observable by those having received the Holy Spirit. The process of receiving the Holy Spirit is as was declared by Jesus.
This is after the person would have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Those people need to be taught what Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Confusion is in not knowing what the Holy Spirit entails.
When unsure of the Holy Spirit, how can one claim to be led by the Holy Spirit? This projects the dogmatic characters who assume knowing better than others. They tacitly assert fulfilling the role of being Christ.
Since the establishment of Christianity, after the first apostles, there have been many assumed to be spiritual leaders. The denominational phenomenon across the world testifies to the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy to His disciples.
There is only one condition that removes deception, which is that Jesus is the Son of God. Others maintain that Jesus is not different from God, hence have come up with a Triune God; Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. But a Son infers a product of God. This portrays the fundamental condition of misunderstanding.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them(Genesis 1:26-27 NIV).
Who was the man created in God’s image? That man refers to any human being. However, that Man is not physical, but as spiritual as God is Spiritual. That Man is not different from God, yet currently depicted in physical form.
Another problem, encompassing humanity, is the inability to define death. The Man in God’s image died, after having eaten the fruit that God had commanded humanity to avoid. This cannot be difficult to understand, but unbelievable to most people.
“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”(Genesis 2:17-19).
When did the man created in God’s image die? The above Scripture shows that he died after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Jews did not believe. Most of those declaring being Christ are mystified.
Their followers are also mystified as much as the leaders would be confused. This confirms Jesus’ warning that many would be deceived. The majority, in their ordinary walks of life, are dead, except those having received the Holy Spirit.
“I tell you the truth, if a man keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51 NIV).
Jesus was not talking about physical, but Spiritual death, on those having not obeyed His words. The easiest way of eradicating misunderstanding is by first picking up Scriptures where Jesus had conflicts with the Jews.
This refers to the Scriptures showing that the Jews sought to stone Jesus. One would then honestly ask himself whether one fully understands the causes of such offences. This is different from those simply glossing over such Scriptures, but dwelling on the ones they consider favourable. The Book of John carries most of such Scriptures:
“My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:54-59 NIV).
Imagine Jesus’ statement being uttered by anyone like any of us, today? Those words cannot mean anything to ordinary people, even though claiming to be Christians. Anyone taking these words for what they really mean, without being confused, would be blessed.
Before Abraham was born, Jesus existed. Jesus had grown up in His community as the Son of Mary. There had been a miracle of His conception so that He was not identified as Joseph’s son. Under common adulterous occurrences, who would have believed Jesus’ story?
An honest person ought to sincerely ask himself whether the above Scripture is not confusing. If not, that person would be a true believer. Such a person would clearly understand the mystery of Creation
What often prevails is the person’s observance of miraculous performances, being fascinated, but without understanding. This would be driven by propitiation, where a person relegates his/her sanity, leaving everything in God’s hands.
Most people consign such a behaviour as depicting “faith.” However, that comes from misunderstanding the definition of faith. They adopt blind faith as if pleasing God. The true meaning of faith includes truthful understanding; without which, a person would be confused.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for”(Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV).
To illustrate, let us use what commonly applies to academic education. A renowned Professor, having acquired great achievement, gets recognized as an authority. For any other person to be conferred with a Doctorate, he would have to quote the recognized professor and others, in that field.
“According to Professor “Joe Broche”, this works like blah, blah!” The more Professors the student quotes, the more he/she is assumed to be educated. By quoting those previous achievers, the person is then awarded a doctorate by a panel of other renowned Professors.
The Scholar would then be assumed to be well-educated, and therefore, deserving of a doctorate award. However, such Scholars, as quoting several other Scholars to augment their doctorate, would, therefore, not have faith in what they claim to know. They have to rely on others, even though holding such credentials.
With faith, it is unnecessary to even quote others, but oneself. One carries confidence and assurance in what one knows. The author of Hebrews says; that is what the ancients were commended for, leaving no room for doubt.
Deception is possible, as long as believing any other authority, other than Jesus. The starting point is verifying the Scriptures to be certain whether Jesus is the Messiah. Most of those claiming to be Christian believers, characterised by doubt and fear, cannot have Faith.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99