25Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus said..... (John 8:)
We watch Little Junior as he grows from a baby, through his teens, and on through manhood and old age. Junior is going to make a lot of changes (besides his diapers) during those various stages of life. Junior was such a wonderful baby, and a delightful young man, and an adult any mother would be proud of. Then one day we see Junior and he has his head shaved and a skull and crossbones tattoo where he used to have such golden curly locks. He wears spikes on a chain around his neck and the crowd he hangs around with seem as if they emerged from hell itself. Or maybe Junior instead becomes a suit-wearing salesman selling dope, or phoney bonds to unwary Senior Citizens. We wonder what could possibly have gone wrong in Junior's life. And we wonder if there was something we could have done to halt such a turn of personality, this especially if we are a parent of the young man, or a close friend. But all in all, we tend to take such a change in stride, understanding that today's culture is not one that can be altered or understood.
On the other hand, maybe Little Junior was a terror of the neighborhood as a child. He was the one we suspected when something was missing or malfunctioning. Little Junior liked to chase pets, run out in the street, and tear wings off butterflies. We had no doubt but that bars were in the future for Little Junior. Yes, drinking bars as well, but what I had in mind are bars of another sort altogether.
Then one day our path crosses that of the little terror we had hoped to never see again. And instead of drinking bars and iron bars, Junior is a respected member of the bar of the legal profession. What happened to Junior we wonder? What made the change? And is the change real? Maybe Junior is still the mean little kid inside and pulling the wool over the eyes of the world. We wonder what scheme he's carrying around in that little black bag of his. It will take a lot of time and effort on Junior's part to prove he has really changed his nature and allow us to trust him.
Noah is another who lived amidst a world devoid of the knowledge of God. It always causes me to wonder how such people as Noah, Enoch, and any other of the pre Exodus folk even knew about the True and Living God when He wasn't preached at all. Maybe there's a nugget of this knowledge in all of us if we're willing to listen for it and obey what we hear.
We find Jacob, the scoundrel, changing into Israel the Wonder Boy. Israel had 12 sons, all but two (and maybe only the one since we know very little about Benjamin other than a very brief moment of his life) are the ones we would expect to find behind bars, but instead were made patriarchs of one of, if not the greatest nations on earth. They wiped out a city they had lied to, they sold their little brother into slavery instead of killing him as they had planned to do, then they lied to their father in such a way as to cover up their sins, just as did Adam and Eve (cover their sins I mean).
Then, at the end of the story of these twelve boys, we find Joseph running them through the gauntlet in an effort to test their new-found and proclaimed integrity. He wasn't about to accept their change merely by hearing their confession of such a change (my own personal view of the incident).
Moses was picked by God to bring His people out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land He had prepared for them. Moses resisted this call, but that's not the point of this story. The nation of people, now free of bondage, made a wild promise to give up this newfound freedom and obey God's every Word. God has had experience with His creation before, having watched them go back on their word. So He tested them in the wilderness, and in the process taught them what He expected of them, and how He would protect them in any event.
All their words of allegiance proved to be of no avail as they one after another turned their back on God and wanted to go their own way, to return to Egypt and the bondage of this world.
The story of the nation of Israel is resplendent with examples of promises broken, betrayal, and change to the worst. Human nature was just as prevalent in that holy, that sanctified country as is in any other nation of the world, especially the nation of the good ol' US of A.
It's difficult to accept change in people. I know I have trouble accepting changes others have made. But I've become quite used to seeing huge changes in those I know and care for, especially as they relate to me. Those who once loved me, eventually turn their back on me it seems. The more I care for someone, the more I do for someone, the more likely they are to turn cold toward me. Is this a natural phenomenon? I don't know. It doesn't seem to be, but I suppose my life is not that much different than the lives of everyone else.
There are things about my experience that I did not expect however. I thought those who had seen the change I had made, that of being one who rarely if ever spoke of the Lord or the Bible, becoming one of the most ardent and outspoken preachers of the Word, would be interested in what caused the transition. I had changed from being unschooled in the Bible, to being one who had a clearer understanding of the Bible than many preachers. I had changed from one who engulfed himself in worldly entertainment, to one who wanted nothing other than to study the Word, write these studies and stories, and fairly well abandoned those things of the world.
In my mind I imagined that those who had seen my change might have recognized the change for what it was, that of becoming what we as a Christian claim to be. I was being led by the Holy Spirit (albeit in faltering footsteps and stumbles). I suspected that others might desire to hear what it was I am learning, and that they would desire to discover how they might have what I had been given.
Such, I learned, is not to be the case. Instead I hear such comments as "Well, if that's your thing..."
In my mind what is my thing should be everybody's thing. It seems to me that what has become my thing is what every preacher of the traditional churches preach we are to have, but no one expects anyone to actually have it. And as I've learned, those who do have it are set apart from those who talk about having it.
To me there's something wrong with this picture.
Then I got to thinking: Is there a precedence for such a behavior in the Bible? I have since discovered that there is:
46While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Mat 12:)
Again note this statement: "If thou do these things, show thyself to the world." The Pharisees said: "29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30They said therefore unto him, What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?" (John 6:) And Satan said: "3And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." Notice the same line of thinking in each of these situations. None of these people wanted evidence that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, they only wanted to discount Him. He had given them plenty of evidence that He was who He claimed to be, and who He had appeared to be, but none who should have recognized Him, not even His brothers, would accept Him. We talk of "Brotherly love." With love like these brothers displayed, who needs enemies?]
19And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? (John 7:)
14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read..... 28And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30But he passing through the midst of them went his way, (Luke 4:)
58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:)
26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30I and my Father are one. 31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. (John 10:)
37But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (John 12:)
53And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. (Mat 13:)
15The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. (John 5:)
18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 5:)
11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Mat 5:)
16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles......22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: (Mat 10:)
34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Mat 23:)
1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:)
3I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 4And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. (Acts 22:)
54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:)
12And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (1Tim 1:)
10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (2Tim 3:)
22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. (2Cor 11:)
1Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.....13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Rom 10:)
19And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? (John 1:)
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