Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Like the Days of Noah....

"For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah, For as in those day before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and they did not understand until, the flood came and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:37-39).

Hey Gang:  I tuned into what was supposed to be a discussion about the controversial movie "Noah", but it looked more like an argument than a discussion.  I am always amazed that the movie moguls feel a need to improvise and improve on the miracles of the Word of God.  I mean how can one improve on the parting of the Sea to allow the Israeli children to walk on dry land and escape Pharaoh's charioteers?  Or the creation story or the flood, or the etc. etc. etc.

After hearing the various critical analysis and the many religious guru's, I sensed my time would be better spent reading the Biblical account of the event to see what really happened.  I do believe Moses had a better handle on the whole affair than the people involved in the "so called up dated and modern version of what happened at that time". 

The critical analysis of the movie, on the part of the religious community, certainly got a lot of people’s attention.  Might I add a "praise the Lord" for that.  Now before you tar and feather me for such a brash statement, let me add a thought or two for your consideration.  In my life time I have believed that God has given me the gift of "seed planting".  I cannot boast of a green thumb, as most plants that I have touched have soon committed suicide and faded away, but the Word into hearts, I pray has different results. 

I have also been a seeker of how do we penetrate the ‘domes of intellect’ of those folks who have never been blessed to have someone cross their paths with the Word and joy of having a relationship with Father God.    In other words, how does one connect the wondrous things God has done, and continues to do before our very eyes, when we have no connecting lines to Abba Father?

When asked about the Noah film one young man made the following comment: "I went to see the film and enjoyed it, not so much from the content but from the photography and the neat things they did to project the floods and such." 

Okay, I can buy that.  But his next statement was the one that made me put down my book and pay attention.  He said, “After hearing all of the controversy, I went into the closet and dug out the Bible my mother gave me when I was a little squeezer and read the story for myself.  And then I read it again and a third time.  But I did not stop there, I wanted to find out the context of the story and why ‘if there is a God’ (the seed is planted), He would see the need to wipe out most of His creation?

I wonder how many people went to see Noah because of the media hype and did not have a clue what they were going to see, but came away with a seed planted in their minds and hearts to seek a deeper understanding of what was presented in the movie.  Mistakes, yes, but if it did indeed impact others, like it did with the young man, make them dig out that dusty Bible and get the truth - should we not be thankful? Keep in mind that God can take anything and turn it to good.

Soooo, let me share with you a small piece of what I believe is my mission that God has challenged me too for my remaining years.  I have been researching the descriptions of hell and heaven to use in a future morning message.  Why? Because most people stop reading when they read the encyclopedia definition of hell which in my opinion has glorified hell.

Revelation 20:14 gives us a much better understanding that should light a fire under every believer to prevent even their enemies from accepting Christ as Savior.  Notice the words, "…then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire"  (Rev. 20:14-15).

Now hear this old man -is it not time to look at the things that unite us under that banner of Christ? Is our love relationship not strong enough that we can tackle our differences?  The one thing that frightens me the most is that I will miss the opportunity to break the bondage that Satan has over a soul and lead him or her to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.



Monday, April 28, 2014

Faith Demonstrated - Faith Rewarded

"And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well."  But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, "take courage; your faith has made you well."  At once the woman was made well" (Matthew 9:20 - 22).

Hey Gang:  As a little squeezer, our Sunday School used to have contest memorizing Bible verses and the winner would get a prize.  Being a lazy type I always looked for the short verses like "Jesus saves", "Jesus Wept" and "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". But I readily admit I did not have a clue what ‘faith’ was.  In my tenure in the church the word ‘faith’ was used quite frequently but I do not recall anyone sitting me down and saying “now this is what faith is all about” and it is a very essential ingredient in your walk with the Lord.

And then one day, as I was doing a word study on the word faith, a brilliant thought crossed my dome of intellect, "Faith is an action word".   As I read and reread all of the accounts where Jesus did miraculous healings, in each miracle faith rewarded was preceded with faith demonstrated.    In other words, I learned that faith was an action word.  In all of the faith healings performed by Jesus there was a prerequisite - they had to believe with all their heart that Jesus could do what they were asking Him to do.

Do you remember the story of the paralytic? Due to the huge crowd that surrounded Jesus, the four men who carried him could not get close to Jesus.  Time to pack it in and wait for another day, right?  Wrong! They were determined that they would get their friend into the hands of the healer, so they went up on the roof, cut a hole in the thatching and let down the paralytic down into Jesus’ presence.    Seeing their faith, Jesus responded: "Your sins are forgiven, take up your pallet and go home".  (Mark 2:3-5).

How about the blind man who was sitting by the road when he heard commotion and learned that Jesus was passing by.  His response,” Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me".  He was told to keep quiet, to which he cried all the more!  Jesus said, bring him to me. Jesus then asked the man what he wanted Him to do.  The man responded, “I want to be able to see.” Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight, your faith has made you well" (Lu. 18:35-43).

And then there was the woman who had suffered with a hemorrhage for twelve years.  She  believed if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she could be healed.  Weakened from the loss of blood for so many years she had something that many of us lack - determination.  She would not be stopped!  And Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well." (Matt. 9:20-22).

Sooooo, My friends, these are but three of the awesome miracles that Jesus performed; each one was based on the faith demonstrated - faith rewarded formula.    I challenge you to do a word study on the word faith and see the many times that Jesus touched -the lepers, the blind, the paralytics and even the dead and said, "By your faith or the faith of someone who loves you dearly, you are healed".  It is a faith building exercise for truly "Faith does come by hearing" and reading of the many wonderful examples He gives, "and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17)



Friday, April 25, 2014

Dare To Be A Daniel

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials, that he might not defile himself.  Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials.”  (Dan. 1:8-9).

Hey gang:  Notice the last line of this passage of Scripture: “Now God granted Daniel favor”.   Wow, you mean if we are obedient God will give us favor?”   In the past two months our lives have been lives of contrast.  We spent five weeks in Bartlesville, Oklahoma working in the mail room of Voice of Martyrs and presently we are at the African Missionary Retirement Home in Clermont, Florida. 

Our main purpose for being at VOM was pure sweat and toil as we prepared hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail to go across this world telling all who are interested in learning, more about the persecuted church.   Now get the picture, I am eighty years of age and my bride is seventy six.  Manuel labor is not the unusual forte of folks of that maturity level.  But, how many know that God will supply for all of our needs, if we put our faith and trust in Him and are obedient to His call.

My prayer, prior to arrive at VOM was, ‘Lord you have called me to this ministry to help, I pray now you will fill my body with the energy and stamina to stay the course and complete the race.’  That has been my prayer in each of the past six years as we prepared to leave for Bartlesville, from our rocking chairs in Michigan.  And He has honored that prayer magnificently.  We always return with more strength and stamina than we had when we left home.

As I mentioned above, our lives have been one of contrast.  As you know we have had a horrendous winter in most for the country.  Have you noticed that the weather has been horrendous across the nation for the past several years? Do you think God may be giving His children a wakeup call?
So, we did as Daniel did and “Made up our mind” that we would retreat to the sunny south for a time of rest and recuperation from Bartlesville, a place that was not all white but still very frigid. 

We returned to an oasis from our past, the Christian Retreat Center at Bradenton, Florida, a place that was filled with many wonderful memories of the past.  It is a place we crawled into when we were exhausted during our years at Eagle Village.   Our Board president recognized the need for us to have an opportunity to just rest and be fed!  It was my privilege on one of those trips to baptize my Board President, his wife, Marjorie and David; one of the very high points of my life.

It was here sitting under the teachings of many wonderful and powerful teachers of God that I gained an understanding of Daniel’s commitment to not defile himself with the things of the world.   If I could make a challenge to every daddy that reads this message, it would be to set aside a week when they would take their family out of the business of the world and spend a week renewing their commitment to Christ as a family.  (Grace Adventures and other Christian Camps offer such an opportunity).

Soooo my friends, when was the last time you got alone with God for more than two or three minutes between appointments?  I mean really get alone with Him.  A lesson that was very hard for me to learn, and I am still struggling with is, prayer is a two-way conversation; unless we give God an opportunity to speak to our hearts, we will never come to know the Lord in a personal way.  Once again I would challenge you to get up fifteen minutes early and spend that time alone with the Lord.  Your day will go much better, I promise.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Epilog: Have You Considered My Son Jesus?


"He has no stately form or majesty,  that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  He was despised and forsaken of me.  A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face.  He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our grief He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:2b-5).

Hey Gang:  As I prepared to write the morning messages on the Trial of Jesus, my sincere prayer was not that you gained a deeper understanding of the procedures of that day for handling capital offenses, nor to show the sadistic attitudes of the religious leaders but that you would get a firm grasp on the price that Jesus paid for our salvation.  Keep in mind, folks, He did not have to submit to the cross.

John set the stage when he wrote, "Judas then, having received the Roman cohort (a Roman cohort consisted of 600 men) and officers from the chief priest and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons" (John 18:3). 

Mathew made that very clear when He entered Jesus words, spoken at the time of His arrest and  into the archives of time,  "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matt. 26:54).  (A legion equaled 6,000 angels).  But notice Peter, the impetuous one, the one who vowed he would never leave or forsake Jesus, whipped out his sword and removed the ear from the head of Malchus, a slave. 

I wonder what those hardened Roman soldiers were thinking when Jesus calmly reached down and reattached Malchus’ ear.  I certainly would have been awe struck!  How about you?  As I read this part of the account from John, I could almost hear Jesus saying, in a very loving and calm voice, "Peter,  put the  sword in to the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).
 The battle of the cross had already been fought and won when Jesus cried out,  "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will...If this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." (Matt. 26:39/42).   

Soooo, my young friends, I have read and heard the Easter story many times, and in eighty years of life, I am sure I have heard more than eighty sermons on the cross.  But this has been a very special year for me and I question why?  Perhaps it was because I took the time to do some serious digging until I have a better understanding of the price Jesus paid for me.  Perhaps it was because I believe we are standing on the very threshold of His return for His children and I expect very soon to be running and leaping and praising God in His presence  and sitting at His feet as Mary did when she discovered the finer things.

Yes, I am deeper in my love and respect for God and His love for me- that He was willing to send His Son to live in human form and pay the price on the cross for me.  Look in the mirror this day and say quietly to Father God, thank You Lord for loving me.

I close with a words of one of those hardened Roman Soldiers who may have driven the nails in Jesus’ hands,  "Truly, this was the Son of God!"   Is it not a privilege to be one of his children?



Monday, April 21, 2014

The Tomb

"That if the resurrection of Christ is not true, then we Christians are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor. 15:19).  "Joseph brought a  linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock, and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb" (Mark 16:46).

Hey Gang:  I need to add one morning message to the Easter messages of the past several weeks. I don't apologize for that because I believe we should not celebrate Easter/Resurrection day only one day a year ,but each and every day.  The horrendous price Jesus paid for our redemption deserves your honoring Him every moment of every day.  What happened on that hill outside of Jerusalem that day when they crucified our Lord is the very essence of where we will spend eternity.

I have mentioned before, we, my bride and I, have been to Israel several times and hope to return again next year. Yes, we do have favorite spots that tend to warm the cockles of our hearts.  There is no great joy than standing on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Kidron Valley and seeing  Gethsemane on one side and the Eastern Gate on the other.   As I look beyond the Eastern Gate I allow my mind to dream a little and see the Temple begin to rise out of the dust- the Temple Mount and the Eastern Gate where Christ will enter  when He returns to take back what is rightfully His.

But there is another place that warms the cockles of my heart, the Garden Tomb best known as Gordon's Calvary.  There is a great deal of controversy between the various schools of thoughts as to whether this is the right place where they laid Jesus body or perhaps at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Hey folks, we have stood inside both and excitedly report to you, they are both empty!

Of all the miracles and acts of God in the Bible, the Virgin Birth and Resurrection have, through the centuries, been the most attacked and denied and vilified.     In recent years "creation" as been added to that list, but the resurrection continues to take first place.  The resurrection is the foundational doctrine of the New Testament.  It is the miracle on which all other miracles rise and fall. 

The Resurrection makes Christianity the only major religion in the world with a living originator.  Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, etc, all had their originators and founders, but they are all long since very dead!   Only Christianity has a living founder!

Sooo, my friends, we are a generation that tends to take things for granted and not get too serious about the deep meanings and implications of what Jesus really did for us that day on Calvary’s Hill.  It is recorded that when Jesus was hung on the cross, he was totally unrecognizable; the beatings that he endured were beyond description. I wonder what went through the minds of Caiaphas and the other members of the Sanhedrin that night. I have spent much time thinking about His suffering,sacrifice, passion, love and grace.  Thank you Jesus!!! 



PS If  you have not read the story about Ron DiCianni's mural of the resurrection, check it out and you will be amazed at this special work of art.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Conclusion - It Is Finished Day 9

"I am the good Shepherd, and I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep....For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative, I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.  This commandment I received from the Father" (John 10:15; 17-18).

Hey Gang:  Preparing this epistle for you has been an awesome task, not because of the research and writing, but in trying to keep in within bounds for the morning message format.  Each page could have been several pages and it saddened me that I could not include all of the material that crossed my desk. I pray it has sparked a deep interest in each reader to hunger and thirst in their hearts to learn more about the tremendous gift that God has given to us.

As we have seen, the trial of Jesus, from beginning to end, was one big farce- from the arrest to the crucifixion.     It is believed by many that for this reason and this reason alone, there was no recorded record of the proceedings, which was very unlike the Sanhedrin who maintained three secretaries whose sole purpose was to record every word spoken in every session.  The Jews and Romans were known for their impeccable record keeping.

The Sanhedrin was afraid to keep a record for they knew they were illegal in everything they did pertaining to Jesus’ trial.  Today we handle such issues with shredders.  Simply stated Jesus was murdered by an unprincipled, unscrupulous, and jealousy-ridden hierarchy of 'nincompoops’ whose hearts were as hard as the marble they sat on in the "Hall of Hewn Stones". 

Did Jesus know that?  Yes, a review of the Scriptures show that John the Baptist pegged the Pharisees from the get-go when he referred to them as "A brood of vipers" (Matt. 3:7).  We also find further condemnation from the lips of the Lord when He said "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites".  Matt. 23:27).

I believe most folks, who look at the practices of the Pharisees and scribes and other religious leaders of the day, would agree that these leaders would qualify for the scumbag award of all time.  I believe one of the most profound statement of all times came out of the mouth of Caiaphas when he said, "And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children" (Matt. 27:25).  Is that not the greatest of all trash-bag statements of all time?

Oswald chambers wrote the following about the cross, "The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God's judgment on sin.  Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.  There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross; He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God.  He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God".

I titled this last part ‘It iI Finished’ but, in true reality, it is the beginning for all who lay down their lives at the cross and truly give their lives to Him.  Gramps and his bride wish you one and all a wonderful Resurrection Sunday. And don't forget to take time to thank Him for the tremendous gift HE gave to all who will receive it, from a very sadistic hill in Jerusalem.

I close this epistle with the words of Isaiah, "Just as many were astonished at you, My People, so His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men"  (Isa.52:14).  "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face.  He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our grief He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried, Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  He was pierced through for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him and by His scourging we are healed." (Isa. 53:3-5).

He could have called ten thousand angels and claimed His throne but He didn't, He choose to die for you and me".   How about you this Easter Season.  What price are you willing to pay?



Friday, April 18, 2014

Finished - Not quite! Day 8


"You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, here after you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right and of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven"(Matt.26:65)

Hey Gang, We ended yesterday’s morning message with a description of Caiaphas, best Barnum and Bailey act of the day, "He tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed".   (Matt. 21:65a). There was a law breaker there at that moment but it was not Jesus.  Leviticus 21:10 tell us that Caiaphas performed a sinful act against the Lord:  "The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who had been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes".  In other words the High Priest should never lose his cool.

Point:  Just a reminder as we look at the road to the cross, the Jews did not have the power to kill someone and had to go to the Romans for permission.  The Romans then would then carry out the execution.  The main  focus was now expediency.  Passover week was known to have as many as two million Jews that descended on Jerusalem for Passover. Caiaphas and his cohorts wanted the whole thing completed before the sun came up and people began to pour into the streets seeking the Nazarene who does great things and teaches with authority.

Notice the drastic change in the crimes they asserted against Jesus when in front of Pilate, the Roman Procurator!  It was no longer a religious issue but treason against the people and the State.   "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, A King"(Luke 23:2).  Short memories or outright deception?  Did Jesus not say, "Render to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God's"?  It really did not matter what they accused Him of, any charge would have been without foundation because He was "A Lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19).  They knew that treason was the only charge that would ring Pilate's bell and gain them the tragic end they sought.

Soooo, it is interesting to note that, as I reached this point in my preparations, the count down to the cross, I began to make a huge amount of mistakes in my typing.  I have sweaty palms and I notice the anxiety level has gone up.  When I think of what Jesus did for me on a hideous cross on Golgotha's Hill in Jerusalem,  I feel a great burden for the part I played it putting Him on that cross.   How wonderful to know that Father God loved me so much He sent His Son to die on that hideous cross for me and you.  Praise Him for that.

NOTE: Last day of trial tomorrow Sat Apr 19.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Then Came Balloting Day - Day Seven

  "The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst" (Deut. 17:7).

Hey Gang:  The High Priest, who is the key influence, is the one who condemned Jesus when he said, “It is more expedient for one to die than for Him to shake up our world, no matter how very corrupt it is" (Hainley Rendition).  The High Priest was not permitted to express an opinion or interrogate the witness of the accused;  he had to remain silent.  He would also cast the last ballot, so as to not influence the rest of the voters.  Once he voted he could not change his vote, unless it was from guilty to not guilty.

The ballots were submitted from the youngest to the oldest,  and those who believed the person was innocent voted first. 

Very Interesting Point of Law:  If the vote was unanimous, that the person was guilty, then by law, the trial was declared a mistrial and the accused was set free.  Why?  According to the Talmud the rule was that a man must have at least two votes in his favor, if not - they must set him free.  That certainly is a good definition of a "hung jury".

As mentioned before, a day of soul searching followed the first day of trial, to seek God's guidance; if no changes were made, the verdict was rendered and due process had to take place immediately, or before the sun went down.   The officers of the Sanhedrin did not perform the execution.  It was dictated by Mosaic Law that the witnesses must be the first to lay hands on the condemned.   If the accused was still alive after the witnesses had cast their vote of wrath (usually stoning), the people who had cause were invited to complete the execution.   I emphasize, once again, that up to this point nothing they did at the trial of Jesus was legal!

The witnesses were the key players in any legal trial. Therefore, since Judas identified Jesus, he should have been considered the arresting officer and should have cast the first stone.

Sooooo now we turn our attention to the crucifixion.  After Annas third degree, Jesus was sent to Caiaphas.  We are not told if the Sanhedrin was called into session, to hear the interrogation of Caiaphas but it is strongly suggested that the court that night was a stacked group of Pharisees, mostly kin folks of Annas.   It was after midnight when the third degree began.  Jesus knew what they were doing was wrong and remained mute.  

Matthew gives us this account, "But Jesus kept silent, And  the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell as whether You are the Christ, the Son of God"  Matt. 26:63). 
At this point, Jesus broke His silence because He could not deny who He really was, "Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt; 26:64)

Then Caiaphas, the High Priest, committed yet another illegal act by declaring Jesus guilty of blasphemy!
"The high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  Behold you have now heard the blasphemy" (Matt. 26:65; Mark 14:63-64; Luke 22:71).

That is a good place to stop for today - tomorrow we will look at the last chapter of this grisly smudge on history. 



Monday, April 14, 2014

Procedures of the Trial Day 6

"I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogues, and in the temple where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.  Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said" (John 18:20-21).

Hey Gang:  I pray by now you have stuck with me and are getting the true picture or how very foul the religious leaders were, while being used by Satan, in seeking to kill the Lord.  But, keep firmly implanted in your heads the tremendous love story that is the backdrop of  this whole experience - no trial, no crucifixion no resurrection means no forgiveness of sin for you and me.  There is no greater love than to lay down your life for those you love. 

Today we are going to look at the highpoints pertaining to the procedures of the trial.   Every trial before the Sanhedrin was really two trials:  One, the first day, including a vote, and a second on the succeeding day.  In the down time, between the two trials, the Sanhedrin members were to do some soul searching - not to find if they should convict but whether the person is guilty in the eyes of God. 

Each witness had to give a clear picture of all the issues pertaining to the trial and we learned there must be more than one.  If three witnesses and one differed in how they saw the crime, the accused was found not guilty.   Today we would call that ‘reasonable doubt.   Ben Matlock, of television fame, would have loved this aspect of Jewish court procedure. 

Another very significant point pertained to the Jewish trial procedure, no documentary evidence, nothing written could be introduced as evidence.  Eye witnesses were examined separately and not in the presence of each other.    There were no oaths - for an oath was repulsive to the Jews because they could not use the name of God.  
Prosecution and defense each presented their case, which was followed by arguments.  A very unique aspect of the argument stage was that all sitting in judgment remained perfectly still until someone got up to make an argument in favor of the accused.  When a favorable report was introduced, the arguments could begin, but only in relation to the favorable argument.  If no favorable comment, there could be no argument.  If the trial resumed, each time anyone spoke they had to give a valid reason for their attitude against the accused.

Sooooo, the point that stands out to me is that I sense Jesus would have approved the court procedures of that day, if they had not been contaminated by man’s manipulation of the law to suit his own purpose.  It was very much based on finding one thing good about a person. Unfortunately, at Jesus’ trial, there was no one, that night or in Pilate’s presence, who had anything favorable to say about Jesus.  Keep in mind the mob present at this trial was a stacked deck and under the influence of the Pharisee's. 

Tomorrow we will examine the verdict.



Friday, April 11, 2014

THe Noose Continues to Tighten - Day 5

"On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness" (Deut. 17:6).

Hey Gang: Today, in America, we have a Grand Jury System that determines if there is enough evidence to take an accused perpetrator to court.  We also have a law that clearly states - a person must be charged with a crime before a referee or court of law within a number of days after their arrest.  There is no such procedures required in the Mosaic and Talmudic law.  Such institutions as Grand Juries, State Attorney's and preliminary hearings were an abomination to the Law. 

Therefore, when they took Jesus before Annas (John 18:13) in the middle of night, it was without question, absolutely illegal under the law. Add to this that Annas was no longer the high priest and had no authority.  Thus, it was illegal for two reasons;  first, it was at night and second, no one person could legally interrogate either the accused or a witness.  The Sanhedrin rules were very clear, an examining board had to consist of three to seven Sanhedrin members.  No one person could independently interrogate a witness or an accused person.

It was also clear that no man could incriminate himself or be subject to punishment on his own confession.  It had to be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  This, too, was based on Mosaic Law as found in Deut. 17:6; 19:6; Num. 35:30.

Jesus knew the law and let Annas know it; His response to Annas, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogues, and in the temple where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret.  Why do you question Me?   Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said" (John 18:20-21).

Jesus knew that to be interrogated by the High Priest alone, or without His consent, by the Sanhedrin, was illegal, and any verdict passed down would be null and void.   He also knew that, if two or more witnesses did not support their verdict, it would be null and void.

Soooo, in closing for this day let’s do a quick review in preparation for looking at the "procedures of the trial" in the next segment.  We have determined that the arrest and hearing before Annas and Caiaphas were illegal,  as defined by their own laws.  We have determined that business conducted by the Sanhedrin at night was null and void.   We have also learned that it was not lawful to have a trial the day before their Sabbath or a feast day, and we have learned that this was the Passover Week, in which every day was a Feast Day!

And then came the trials.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And Then They Came and the Process Began! -Day 4

"Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber?  Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me" (Mat. 26:55).

Hey Gang: The process began, the die was cast, and God's plan for redemption was initiated.  Keep in mind that nothing that done from this point on was legal by Jewish law.   It was clearly stated in the Law of Moses that it was not legal for any member of the Sanhedrin to be an arresting officer.  Only the witness of a crime could be the arresting authority.  (read Deut. 17:6,7)

Notice, I said "God's plan for redemption was initiated!  I would like to expand on that statement but that is not my intent with these morning messages, however, let me make one point.  I struggled many years with the meaning of predestination until that still small voice opened my eyes of understanding. 

  I believe that God in no way causes the alligators to have their day with our lives.  He does not have to do that, we are very capable of making bad decisions that make us pay the Pipers of life, big time.  But I do believe God sits and waits until we have dug our holes. He then picks up the pieces and places them on the potter’s wheel and, if we are willing, molds them into the image of His Son.     
Notice, in Jesus’ words to the arresting mob we find the reason for what is about to happen:  "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber?  Every day I used o sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me."  but don't stop there, read on, "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets" (vs. 56).

Illegal Act Number two:  It was illegal to arrest anyone after sundown no matter how bad a criminal he was - 'unless he was caught in the very act'.  He is absolutely safe under the law until the following day.  I suspect the rational for this law was tied to the creation of the Cities of Refuge that were built when the Children of Israel crossed over the Jordan.  By restricting the’ powers that be’ from arresting people at night, it would give the perpetrator time to escape to one of the cities of Refuge.

In other words, the police could only stand by and wait for the witness, who had seen the crime in action make a citizens’ arrest.  Can you see the ramification of such a law in our society today when the attitude of many is "I just don't want to get involved".  Keep this statute in mind as we progress through the remainder of the trial of Jesus.

According to Jewish law, Judas, by identifying Jesus, was the arresting officer, which was also a no- no at that time based on Leviticus 19:16, "You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord".  

It is also interesting to note, a witness had to be a person of good character and forbidden from taking a bribe.  In the eyes of the Jews there were no good Gentiles, therefore a Gentile could not be used as a witness.   There may have been a whole barn full of Gentiles present when a crime was committed but the perpetrator was home free because the word of a Gentile was considered unacceptable.  And, If you were in any  way involved with the crime that, too, eliminated you from the witness list.  Therefore Judas could neither be a witness nor the arresting agent because he was a companion, a traitor, and 'a talebearer'!

Soooo ends day four in our trip through the trial of Christ.  As Paul Harvey would say, tune in to the next episode and find out what error number four was.   Are you beginning to feel the noose tightening around Jesus’ neck?



Monday, April 7, 2014

The Plot Thickens -Day 3

Hey Gang, Jesus reminded the Leaders of Isaiah's words that the Temple was God's house of prayer for all people:  "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer" (Isa. 56:7a), but  they made it a "den of thieves", they sought how "they might destroy Him" (Matt. 21:12-16; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:19-25). 

Hey Gang, the thing that really set the pot to boiling was the words "Lazarus, come forth from the grave" (John 11:43-45).  Why? Because they saw the glory of God being manifest in this Carpenter from Nazareth and they could no longer deny that He was deity.  It was a panoramic picture of the greatness of Jesus.  It also kicked their hatred up their hatred and jealousy a few more notches and it could no longer be contained.

They would have killed Him that day, but could not because of the many who believed in Him (John 2:23; 4:39, 50, 53).  John tells us they wanted to kill Lazarus, who was a living testimony and witness to the power and claims of Jesus (John 12:10). But, again, the people who were there would have witnessed their crime.

Their jaws were set.  They made up their minds to get rid of Jesus under any circumstances.  But they were very careful not to show their treacherous actions and nor excite the local multitudes who believed on Him and loved Him (Matt. 26:3-5; John 11:47-54). It was here that Caiaphas uttered his famous death decree, "It is expedient for one man to die for the people, and that the whole nations not perish." (John 11:50).

The Leaders needed a catalyst to kick their plan into gear;  that catalyst came in the form of one of Jesus’ inter-most family, namely, one Judas Iscariot.   Judas had a problem, his love for mammon was greater than his love for Jesus and he was willing to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  The only question was where and when.    The story of betrayal is a familiar one. 

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His Disciples in an ‘upper room’ when Judas slipped into the shadows and went to the Pharisees to do his dastardly deed.  The die was cast.  After washing the Disciples’ feet, and sharing the first communion, Jesus led his small band of warriors to the Garden of Gethsemane, His favorite place to spend time with Father God.

The story of Jesus in Gethsemane was one of agony and pain; pain so deep that He literally sweat drops of blood.  The battle of the cross was not waged at Calvary but in the Garden, where Jesus cried out, "Father, If you are willing, remove this cup from Me, yet not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42).  It was here that Jesus won the final victory came over the powers of darkness and the die was cast.  Jesus would take the sins of all men and carry them on His back to Golgotha's Hill.

Sooooo, my young friends, began the most despicable day in human history, the day they began the process to kill the Son of God.   Temple guards and soldiers came.  "Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees came there with lanterns and torches and weapons".(John 18:3)  From the moment they arrested Jesus nothing that was done was legal by Mosaic law or as clearly defined in the Talmud.   In the next morning message we will look at the process leading to the cross.



Friday, April 4, 2014

The Legal System During Jesus' Day -Day 2

"Appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment" (Deut 16:18). Notice the last two words of this Scripture!

Hey Gang:  In the last morning message we learned how the judicial system came into being with the establishment of the Sanhedrin.  In the years since its origination, it, like everything pertaining to government, went through many transitions and grew in size and power.

 In Jesus’ day it consisted of three sets of courts:  The Judges Court, consisting of three judges who tried only civil matters; the Lesser Sanhedrin, consisting of 23 members which could try all kinds of cases; and the third, the Great Sanhedrin, which consisted of one set of 23 scribes (attorneys), one set of 23 elders (business men) and one set of 23 priests. 

To be a member of the Sanhedrin you had to be thoroughly trained and conversant and linguistically perfect in all the languages of the surrounding nations.  Why? Because it was illegal to have an interpreter in their sessions.  One had to be forty years of age, married and parent.    It was felt married members were more apt to be more merciful.

God’s original design was for Aaron’s line to be the High Priest, but man’s ideas caused change. The chairman of the Great Sanhedrin was referred to as the High Priest and was elected by the people. However, at the time of Christ the Romans had changed this and they appoint this position to assure only those willing to do it Rome's way were appointed.  It was now purchased by the highest bidder and given to the one the Roman governor felt would be of the greatest value at the Imperial Court. 

The House of Annas was a godless, wicked aristocracy and guilty of the most atrocious and wicked deeds against the people.  Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas, the past and present high priest, were very much involved in the trial of Jesus for obvious reasons, they had the most to lose.  It is also believed that most of the other Sanhedrin members, involved in the trial, were sons and relatives of Annas.   In other words Jesus faced a no-win stacked deck.

 According to the Law he Sanhedrin could meet only in one place- in the Temple in a room known as the 'Hall of Hewn Stones'.  If they choose to meet someplace else, the business conducted was null and void and of no affect.  Jesus was taken to the home of the High Priest. here was also an under-ground chamber prison.

The Sanhedrin that sat at the trial of Jesus had plotted against Him and had made it known that He must die.  He had rung their bell and ticked off the Jewish aristocracy with what they considered ‘radical teaching’. Even more insulting was that the people gravitated to Jesus.  Mark tells us "The common people heard Him gladly" (Mark 12:37) and Mathew recorded, “The people were astounded because He was one who taught with authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:29).

We are told that throughout the trial and crucifixion of Jesus the true motivation of the scribes, Pharisees, and elders was one of jealousy and pride.  After healing the incurable, He was accused of witchcraft (Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22 and Luke 11:15).  When He told them that no prophet was accepted in his own country they were filled with wrath and wanted to kill Him (Luke 4:24-29).

It is recorded in the Jewish Annals that they did not have the needed 23 Rabbis to make up a 'small Sanhedrin in order to try Him.   He was accused of defiling the Sabbath, when He healed the man with the withered arm on the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:9-13; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-121). 

Even though Jesus gave a clinic on the reasons that "It is lawful to save life on the Sabbath.” “The Pharisees joined hands with the Herodians,”… taking counsel together on how they might destroy Him.” (Mark 3:6)

Soooo, the noose was rapidly being tightened simply because of jealousy and envy.  Do you think that is what has Satan so ticked off today? It seems Satan is doing all he can to destroy Believers around the world?  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

History Leading Up to the Trial of Christ

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
Hey Gang:  We are nearing the Passion Week of the Easter Season. Those who love Jesus as Lord of their lives will once again turn their attention to the horrendous price Jesus paid that we might receive forgiveness of sins. He opened the door to our living eternally with Him, the King of kings and Lord of lords..  

Many years ago, I was blessed and privileged to have as my Board President a committed Christian brother who was also a Court of Appeals Judge.  One day he heard the Lord's call to study the procedures and action of the various participants in the crucifixion story from the standpoint of ‘Was it legal?’ according to Jewish law. He shared that message with whomsoever would listen and learn.  After several years of study he presented his findings hundreds of times in churches around the country and opened the eyes of many about how very sadistic the various participants were.
In these morning messages between now and Easter I will share with you some of his findings.  In a recent research project it was discovered that the average Christian, if there is such a being, is very superficial in their understanding of the Scriptures. 

The basis for the trial of Jesus was in two parts: one was the Law of Moses, or the first five books of the Old Testament, and the other on the Talmud which is divided into two divisions called the Mishna and the Gemara.  The Mishna is an exposition of the Jewish laws and customs; the Gemera is poetry, proverbs and theology.  The one point that you want to get firmly implanted in your mind is:  the Religious Leaders had no authority!

Also remember that He, Jesus, the Son of God, had all power in heaven and earth. At any time during the process He could have called down ten thousand angels and zapped the whole bunch of them; He could have walked boldly to the throne, sat down and taken up the scepter of power.  But He "Chose to die for you and me".   "No greater love!”

The governing body of the Jewish nation had its origin in the days of Moses when his father-in-law came to visit him and he was King Tut of the children in the wilderness.  At that time Moses was everything to everybody and all decisions were made by him alone. Papa-in- law, Jethro, said to Moses, "Hey son-in-law this is not good; you will surely wear out.  Choose able men of God and make them heads over the people leaders of the thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.  Let them judge the misdemeanors and reserve yourself for the felonies"  (Ex. 17:19-26  Hainley rendition)

God gave Moses specific orders for what the governing body, the Sanhedrin, would look like.  Numbers 11:16-17 tells us,  "They shall bear the burden of the people with you so that you will not be alone" .  In his final speech to the Children of Israel before they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land Moses  challenged them "… appoint judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord our God is giving you.....and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment" (Deut. 16:18).

But, between the challenge given by Moses and the courts that were in place during Jesus’ day things had changed significantly.  Tomorrow we will look at the legal system that was bent on destroying the Son of God.