When Jesus came, the only logical handling, applicable to common sense, was to use those grounded in the Law. These were the Pharisees, assisted by the Scribes. Such religious groupings included the Zealots and the Sadducees. Among them were teachers of the Law, used as authorities, on matters of the Jewish religion. Their common ground was the Law of Moses.
The Law of Moses had been their focal point. But the Jews had failed to apply the Law, as unable to produce the required results. They were aware of the coming Messiah, according to the Scriptures. The only problem was that they expected the Messiah to conform to their viewpoints. They were stuck in dogma and unable to submit to anything outside their doctrinal viewpoints.
Even at age twelve, Jesus had attempted to reason with those religious elders (Luke 2:49). He could not deal with them, after realizing that He could not work with those assuming to know everything. For purposes of learning, there is only one condition, and that is the willingness to learn. The only condition for the disastrous failure to assimilate new information is the idea that one knows it already.
Jesus had to choose from those outside the Jewish religion, rather than from those assumed to be grounded in God’s Law. At face value, it could have been easier to use those already occupying positions of authority in religious offices. This was not the case, as can be observed in real experiences.
Jesus had to select people from outside the citadel of the Jewish religion. Simon Peter and his brother Andrew had been businessmen in the fishing industry. The same applied to the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who Luke identifies as having been Peter’s business partners.
The fishing business must have been viewed as more fashionable at that time. Those with a truthful disposition could not identify with the circus, portrayed with the long-robed Pharisees in Jerusalem. Aware of what was in their hearts, Jesus found comfort, inviting them to His newfound faith.
Later, Jesus called Mathew, a Levi, who had become a Tax Collector. At that time tax collectors were extremely hated by the Jews. They were labelled as the worst sinners. Tax collectors made life uncomfortable to ordinary people on behalf of a wicked gentile establishment. The calling of Matthew, a tax collector, was, obviously, one of the reasons why the Pharisees found Jesus unacceptable.
The traditional religious people became suspicious, noticing that the disciples, were not subjected to strict ritualistic conduct. Those disciples were under training, but not subjected to strict religious practices. John’s disciples questioned the anomaly. They expected to see even stricter religious practices, but they received an unexpected response from Jesus.
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:14-17 NIV).
Jesus’s response revealed stark differences between the Old and New Testaments. The disciples were directly called by Jesus, to establish the New Testament Church. There were things not understood by those having been zealous for God on religious matters. But Jesus had brought something new, in the religious sphere.
The gospel books provide clear activities of the following disciples: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Judas Iscariot, the doubting Thomas, Philip and Judas, son of James. However, nothing is recorded, on the significance, of the other three apostles: Bartholomew, James, son of Alpheus, and Simon the Zealot.
Although, Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, is only mentioned at the beginning when he could not believe that Christ could come from Nazareth. But after Jesus had revealed His ability to have known Nathaniel, before this time, Nathaniel believed and followed Jesus. After that, nothing is mentioned of Nathaniel, except as generally identified among the twelve.
We can draw some parallels with the twelve tribes of Israel, just for interest’s sake. There are some popularly recorded sons of Israel. And yet others have their activities in the entire story of the Israelites, least recorded. Naphtali, Asher and Issachar, among Israel’s sons, appear as not having been mentioned as much as others were mentioned. This is not suggesting anything, except just for interest.
There may be Christians, even in our time, known only by God. But ordinary people may not even appreciate their existence. It is therefore inaccurate to assume that true Christians are only represented in the outstanding ones. True Christians will only be revealed at the second coming of Jesus.
The common problem with humanity is giving credit to individual personalities, instead of focusing on God. This is why the Israelites were stuck with Moses, rather than the principle in the Law given through Moses. Amazingly, they could not even identify with the fact that Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Canaan. Moses was regarded highly, by the Jews, who failed to accept the significance that Moses was not that important, in God’s viewpoint.
God’s Church is a preplanned spiritual organism. No one takes credit for whatever service one gives, except for allowing oneself to be used by God. The notable apostles could not have been more important than the least known. This is when considering Jesus’s utterance that they did not choose Him but He chose them. (John 15:16).
The most interesting distinction from a worldly viewpoint is that none, among Christians, takes credit ahead of others. Each of them was called to fulfil some specific purpose. Even Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed Jesus, existed without mistake. The role of Judas was designed, specifically, for what he accomplished.
The organized Christian religion is apparently oblivious of this reality. What is observed in the Christian world, does not agree with the original Church’s design. The confusion resembles what dogged the Jews, leading to the condition that confronted Jesus’s appearance. The only difference is that the Spiritual confusion cannot be as obvious as the physical capture of the Israelites.
Keen Bible readers can discern the clear departure from Jesus’s teachings. Very few are willing to stand out and apply Jesus’s teachings. Ordinary Christians fear being labelled “heretic”. If there is anything ordinary Christians fear most, in this world, is being labelled “heretic”. There is comfort in obtaining worldly approval, rather than securing God’s approval.
The organized Christian religion makes Christianity appear normal, even though clearly abnormal, to true Christians. Very few appreciate why Jesus was killed on the cross. But His teachings disagreed with common understanding in this world. The unworldly philosophy, inviting persecution, did not end at the cross.
Except for John, who fled to the island of Patmos, all the apostles were killed. The viewpoint of those of this world is decrying what happened. The reasoning is that such a development, ought to have been avoided. They blame Nero, for instance, wishing that Christianity ought not to have been persecuted. But, if not persecuted, that Church would be fake.
After the demise of Judas Iscariot, the apostles felt incomplete. Jesus had instructed them to wait for the comforter, who would show them the direction. However, the eleven, were still captured, by the worldly viewpoint. They came up with an idea that appears reasonable, yet clearly departing from the new way of life.
“Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26 NIV).
Unbeknown to ordinary believers, this decision was scandalous, as it negatively affected the Church. This was allowed, just as Judas Iscariot was allowed to commit his abominable act. However, with all these apparent abnormal infiltrations, everything is by design.
The existing abnormality within the religious community, even at Jesus’s time, was not accidental. As the enemies of Jesus were plotting against him, Jesus was ahead of them, as aware of what was happening. However, Peter could not identify with that, although this was in line with the blueprint, long designed. There was no need to be gripped with revulsion.
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, the chief priests and the 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!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:21-24 NIV).
Nothing extraordinary, in Peter’s behaviour. His mind had been conditioned according to worldly dictates. The world views Jesus’s rebuke against Peter, unwarranted. But the disciples ought to have realized that their behaviour had become distinctly no longer part of this world.
Peter’s behaviour, was recorded for those of our time, to perceive the merit, distinguishing between worldly and Godly behaviours. This was sealed in Jesus’s utterance: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 NIV).
When Carnally viewed, such Scriptures are left without being confronted. A great amount of work has been done, uncovering these things. The question of reception by ordinary people is dependent upon the author of Christianity. Most of what is exposed may possibly attract very few people of this generation.
But nothing gets projected without a purpose, as long as inspired by God. No one takes credit for Godly revelations. The only reason such teachings remain without takers may be according to God’s design. Christianity was never meant to be popular. Whether there would be one or two people taking heed, the general rejection is by God’s design.
Since its inception, the Church has gone through gloomy conditions, affecting the select few. While discouraging to observe mainstream Christianity preferring to remain in a spiritual wilderness, nothing is outside God’s perfect planning. The adulterous behaviour of Christianity is not a manifestation of what is new.
Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:38-40 NIV).
The Pharisees and teachers of the law manifested the common behaviour of humanity. That viewpoint clearly exists, today. The disdain against truthful teachings should not surprise the true followers of Jesus. They should not be discouraged, as not many people may be keen to adopt such revelations.
Nothing has changed, since the time of the apostles. The builder of His Church is Jesus, Himself. If observing clear rejection, even though appreciating its value, the reader should cast out doubt and take the author of Christianity’s advice: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 NIV).
It is unnecessary for the reader to look elsewhere, assuming that there ought to be many people adopting this information. Doing so would be perfectly according to the thinking pattern of this world. Nevertheless, if truly finding the information truthful, it is unnecessary to think of other people, except unequivocally applying what is revealed. This is the matter between the person concerned and God, Himself.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21 NIV).
The characteristics of membership into God’s household does not suggest good living, in this world. What happened to Christ and the apostles, should be holistically adopted as applicable to one. There is no room for fear, among God’s people. The reader is granted the only opportunity to come out of confusion and be in God’s household.
The interesting part is that Jesus remains in charge, even though not physically observed. But the idea of a physical Jesus is only applicable to those of this world. Not those having accepted the grace, and being observed by a willingness to act according to their conviction. The responsibility of Christianity rests with those concerned.
It has always been my wish and prayer that many people may see the truth. But, over the years, I have learnt to adopt the comfort in that the fruits of salvation are determined by Jesus. It is not for the one being used to worry about the fruits, whose reward comes at the appropriate time.
The only sad moments, in this life, include observing friends, choosing to ignore such revelations, yet without justifiable reasons. The spiritual generation of Judas Iscariot is probably represented among believers, just as the rest of the apostles are represented among those that the world cannot identify, as stated by Jesus (John 14:16-21).
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. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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