“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me” (John 1:29) (ESV).
According to John the Baptist, there is only one sin of the world that could only be handled by Jesus. Unless that sin is identified, those committed to pleasing God, are involved in futility. There is no-one who can match the credentials of the Man who did not originate from this world.
The sin of the world came by Satan and it is manifested in pride, as projecting self-centredness. All other sins known to exist in the world are a result of pride. Covetousness, greed, theft, murder and virtually everything that is listed on Galatians 5:19-21 are effects of the problem of pride.
As seeking to elevate self, the sin of pride, bears the characteristics of humanity as known today. It seeks to rejoice where others are downgraded. However, the dynamics of humanity encourages respect for achievers where non-achievers are despised.
Dealing with the most complicated sin of humanity started with the story of Abraham. The land from where Abraham was called had not been associated with keeping God’s laws. Abraham may have also been idolatrous, before his calling, just as everyone in that surrounding was idolatrous.
Nothing makes Abraham special, except that He listened to the voice of God and committed himself to obey God’s every instruction. This led him away from his own people, who obviously could not understand his behaviour.
Abraham died without enjoying the physical fruits of those promises, except being ascertained of future promises. His record of submission to God would be used as acceptable standard, in the advent of Christianity, several millennia years later.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:17-19) (ESV).
While the Israelites were used as means to facilitate the expected Messiah, they were not necessarily more privileged, compared to the rest of humanity. This is why they had to bear the sinful burden of killing the Messiah. The purpose of Jesus was not to address Jewish sins, necessarily. The Jews had long reverted to slavery, because of violation of God’s Laws.
The Christian Church would not be persecuted by the gentiles, or those not associated with Jewish religion. The enemies of the Church would primarily come from those associated with the Bible. Such people were held with high esteem, as descriptive of Jewish religion. The only scriptural references, held as authoritative, for religious purposes, comprised the Old Testament scrolls.
However, a careful study reveals that the caustic behaviour against Jesus, by the Jews had been designed to suit the impact of the gospel. There was nothing accidental about the Jews being the ones used to condemn their Messiah.
It would not have been possible for Jesus to be condemned, without those faithful in zealously observing God’s Laws. Jesus did not start another religion. It was the same Jewish religion, necessitating processes in dealing with the sin of pride—based on recorded Scriptures, leading to His crucifixion.
This is why it was His custom to attend synagogues every Sabbath, to preach about God’s Kingdom. The Jewish intention to kill Him, did not cause Jesus to change His programs, including observing annual festivals and Passover.
If Jesus identified with the Jews, why are His followers not identified with the Jews, today? The simple answer is in that they find it inconvenient to attend synagogues, as the Jews are known to be opposed to Christianity.
But the one who said He was the way, the truth and the life, remains authoritative in stating: “Follow me!” The principle of following Jesus implies surrendering everything of convenience, as Jesus said (Luke 14:25-33).
Therefore, if Jesus was not bothered by the discomfiture, in associating with those who later crucified Him, why should His followers be different? If Jesus is way, truth and life, why do people avoid following Him, yet desiring Salvation?
Jesus never instructed anyone to avoid Jewish festivals, including Sabbath observance, for instance (Matthew 26:1-2). However, He revealed that He was the reality of what is contained in the Old Covenant. He later provided new methods and symbols of the Passover (Matthew 26:17-29).
Generally, fulfilment implies disqualification of the temporary, in order to commit the reality, as qualifying the significance of what is established. The Old Covenant rituals were temporary, as focussed towards Jesus. The teachings and behaviour of Jesus should be what is significant and desirable for salvation.
Basically, the purpose of Jesus is to restore what Humanity lost—being their relationship with God at the Garden of Eden. After the creation of humanity God had bestowed them with dominion over everything He had created. As well-known, the schemer, known as Satan the devil, deceived the couple, to adopt the opposite of God’s original intention when creating humanity.
What makes Satan to be the devil, is pride, which led Him to rebel against God. Humanity slipped off the rail after the Garden of Eden incident. The sin of pride became the norm, in conducting ways of living, from then on.
Humanity have been characterized with pride. Without pride a human being appears as abnormal, when dealing with other fellow humans. In their ordinary ways of looking at things, a person is considered abnormal, if not displaying pride in his conduct, one way or the other.
Anyone would do well, just by appreciating that current conditions of human behaviour is the opposite of what God intended for humanity. When Satan deceived Adam and Eve, he instilled in them the culture, opposite that of God’s culture. It, therefore, became impossible for the culture of pride to be removed from humanity without death.
Pride is not a Godly attribute, but associated with the author of pride, Satan the devil. Jesus’ mission was, therefore, to deal with pride, as introduced to humanity by the same devil. All other sins, bedevilling humanity, exist because the sin of pride exists. Without pride, all other sins, have got no basis on which to stand.
If my son achieves something that is praiseworthy, it is commonly acceptable for me to say words like: “That was good achievement son. You made us all proud.” In other words, any achievement of high quality, gives a feeling of worth, producing a feeling of greatness, as compared with peers.
Teams, Groups, Nations, Societies, families and individuals, excel in their endeavours with one objective in their minds: To achieve the praiseworthy status that makes them comparably better than the rest. However, all the works of the flesh, as outlined in Galatians 5:19-21, exist because of desire to achieve recognition. That is what makes a person feel better, when compared with others.
In this world people are generally categorized according to their respective achievements or lack of achievements. Perhaps the story of Lazarus and rich man summarizes everything about the treachery of living a life that lavishly esteems self, ahead of others? (Luke 16:19-21).
In that story we find a commendable rich man failing to make it into God’s Kingdom. And yet at the same time we find a despicable Lazarus being attached to God’s Kingdom. Lazarus may or may not have been aware of Godly principles. But that is immaterial, due to the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. See [The great chasm—impossible to cross from either side].
The story of Israel projects a nation favoured by God, due to Abraham’s faith. But it is through that nation that God would reveal sinfulness, associated with pride. To the Israelites, material riches were a symbol of living by Godly statutes. Obviously, the rich man was viewed as superior, as much as he viewed himself as superior to Lazarus, who showed signs of irresponsibility.
It may as well have been possible that the rich man was a strict Law-keeper, which may be what propelled his riches and respectability in society. It is possible that in that community, some people were rich out of dubious activities. But the acquisition of riches was associated with religiously commendable standard of living, like being faithful in giving tithes (Malachi 3:10-12).
The narration of that parable, is not clear, whether that rich man was ethical or not. But when considering what Jesus had said in Luke 16:15, obviously, the life of that rich man was considered ethical in that community. Yet the great chasm could not allow him to be on Abraham’s side.
When carefully following the story of Abraham, one sees a man simply obeying everything that God said. This includes sacrificing his own child as burnt offering, because God had ordered him to do so. All this shows that the life of Abraham could not have been viewed as admirable, but strange, among his peers.
The life of Jesus, in His thirty-three and a half year ministry, exposes the sin of pride. Jesus expects those who desire life to apply everything He taught, including the way He conducted His own life.
In His humanness, there is everything to recapture what was lost at the Garden of Eden. Jesus declared that He was the bread of life. Without an appetite to commit oneself to everything that Jesus taught, it is impossible to attain salvation.
This difficulty is revealed in the behaviour of a rich young fellow in Matthew 19:16-26. Apparently, that young man desired eternal life, which he found to be as difficult as requiring him to renounce his entire wealth.
Using an animal as large as a camel—going through the eye of a needle—Jesus exposed an absolute hindrance in attaining eternal life. Wealth is commendable, throughout the world. But, it is as abominable as hindering a person to attain eternal life, according to Jesus.
Actually, Jesus had previously declared: “….For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). Wealth is basically what is exalted among men. Yet, of the two, Lazarus and rich man, it was the rich man that was exalted and held with honour. Lazarus was despicable and dishonourable, yet, carried to Abraham’s side, after death. See [The only time a Christian should be depressed].
The man called Jesus is an instrument by which the sin of the world is completely crushed in several ways. But below are the definite Scriptures that can be considered effective in dealing with this abominable sin of the world:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:1)
“No-one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24)
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:20) (Matthew 20:16)
“But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12).
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-17).
Apparently, these are only excerpts, revealing that the mission of Jesus was not necessarily to encourage expertise in Bible knowledge, for instance. Jesus was also not concerned about ethical living, or lack of it.
His only mission was to deal with the sin of the world, more than anything else. A good example is that of Lazarus, found to be on the side of Abraham. Yet without showing Scriptural competence, or concern about how people perceived him.
Attending to the issue of pride is as difficult as attempting to drive a camel to go through the eye of a needle. No human being can ever deal with pride, regardless of background. This is why submission to Jesus is as good as surrendering one’s own life (Matthew 10:39). There is no way a person can receive honour in this life and be accepted in God’s Kingdom, as well (Matthew 6:1).
The falsity of Christianity is easily exposed when simply going through what Jesus taught, against what is displayed among various denominations. It can be discouraging indeed, when realising how people fall short. However, that kind of discouragement gets revoked, as leading to persecution that gives assurance in being on the Lord’s side (Matthew 5:10-12).
The humility of Jesus—as displayed at Calvary’s cross—needs to be appreciated, as special—for those desiring God’s Kingdom. This requires discarding all forms of dignified public approval. This is why there will always remain a way that shows: [The only time a Christian should be depressed].
What is required, in order to get into God’s Kingdom is humility. A humble person is willing to change when found to be wrong (Matthew 5:3). Only a humble person is able to live an altruistic life (Luke 10:25-37). A humble person is a servant of all (Matthew 23:12). Only a humble person is willing to forgive, even the worst of offenders (Luke 11:4).
There are innumerable examples that can be given, as displaying the principles of humility. But the most important datum to remember is that a humble person can easily be classified as abnormal. The reason being that he/she rejoices when he/she is abused by others (Matthew 5:10-12).
The restored truth is in that there is no human being, ever created to be better or worse than another fellow human being. Having been created in God’s image, such comparisons serve to invalidate God who created such people in His own image (Proverbs 17:5). This is all that Jesus came to address, in taking away the magnified sin of the world.
The ability to achieve what others have failed to achieve, at any given time, bestows responsibility on a person. This is why the same measure of judgment against another person, would also be judged against the one judging (Matthew 7:1-2).
In Christianity, the weakness of another person is borne by the enlightened Christian (1 John 3:16). This is one of the reasons that take away comfort among the enlightened Christians, as indicated in Matthew 5:10-12. Christians rejoice only when criticized and treated badly, due to the knowledge that others do not have.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from 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 reliefs to those having witnessed 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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