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Monday, April 2 2012

The Passed Over Pharisees

The prophet John (popularly-known as "John the Baptist") was given the task of preparing the way for the Messiah. How? By preaching repentance, so that the Lamb of God's Sacrifice ("1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29 KJV) would apply (see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners).

The Jordan River

"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [i.e. Isaiah; see also What Did Isaiah Know About Jesus Christ?], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey [see What Was Strange About John The Baptist?]. 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:1-12 KJV)

As stated above, Pharisees (which, as we will read, included Nicodemus, to whom the famous "John 3:16" was given, and Saul, who later became the apostle Paul) were among those who came to hear John. They did not repent at that time; according to the Messiah, "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."

"7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. 7:31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept." (Luke 7:29-32 KJV)

The Messiah commanded His people not to follow "hypocrites" (as He called them), "Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ" ("Mister" is merely a different pronunciation of the word "Master"). His warning applies as much to today, regarding the self-proclaimed "apostles" who claim the right to lord it over Christ's Church - ruling over God's people, while ignoring God's rule over themselves (see Can You See The Church? and Is Your Church A Cult?).

The Pharisee and the Publican

"23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matthew 23:1-12 KJV)

The Messiah then warned the "hypocrites" themselves of what would happen to them if they did not repent of their abusing Christ's sheep.

"23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Matthew 23:13-15 KJV)

"There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus ... he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them"

Does that mean that the Pharisees were "lost" if they didn't repent at their first opportunity, or first time of opportunity? That is for the LORD to Judge (as He surely will - see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff), but we can look at the Biblically-documented accounts of two of the men who were among those Jerusalem Pharisees at the time of Christ's killing. One of them, Nicodemus, repented before the Crucifixion; another, Saul (later known as the apostle Paul), repented after the Crucifixion - and after he had participated in the persecution and killing, not only of the Messiah, but of followers of the Messiah.

It was to the Pharisee Nicodemus that the Messiah gave the famous "born again" and "John 3:16" teachings - which were and are about repentance (see What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?).

Nicodemus

"3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

3:9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

3:10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:1-21 KJV)

Although Nicodemus did not make a political break from the Pharisees at that point (the reason that he "came to Jesus by night"), he did not approve of, or participate in, the Messiah's killing either - even though, most ironically, it was that Sacrifice that paid the death penalty for all sinners, whether they accepted the offer of forgiveness, by repentance, at the time of that Passover, or later, having been "passed over" until such time that they would later repent and have their sins forgiven (as we will see even more starkly with Saul/Paul). Nicodemus tried to reason the other Pharisees from carrying out their plan.

"7:50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 7:51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" (John 7:50-51 KJV)

Nicodemus did however, along with Joseph of Arimathaea, make his stand known at the time of the Crucifixion. At great personal danger, Nicodemus and Joseph demanded the Body of Christ from the Roman military, and then buried Him with the full knowledge of those who had killed Him - including the as-yet unconverted and very dangerous Saul the Pharisee.

"19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 19:42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." (John 19:38-42 KJV)

"He which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed"

Whether it was due to age difference (Nicodemus being older) or simply a personality difference, Saul was much more brash and aggressive - to the point of participating in the execution of Christians. Saul participated in the stoning of Stephen (see The Crossing Of Philip And Saul).

Saul Struck Down

"7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 7:58 And 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. 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 7:60 And 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 7:57-60 KJV)

"8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." (Acts 8:1-2 KJV)

It is no surprise then that Saul's conversion was accomplished in a more forceful manner. The Messiah struck Saul down - not dead, but into the dirt as a means for him to come alive (see Straight Street).

"9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord?

And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 9:8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9:9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink." (Acts 9:1-9 KJV)

Saul / Paul was forgiven because he acted out of ignorance, and he repented when he became aware of the wrong that he was doing.

"15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.

15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 KJV)

"1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia [see also Why Did Paul Say That Sinai Was In Arabia?], and returned again unto Damascus.

1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter [see Peter's Ministry; also Peter and Paul], and abode with him fifteen days. 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the LORD brother. 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 1:24 And they glorified God in me." (Galatians 1:13-24 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Who will be in the resurrection on the day of Christ's return? (b) Who will be in the resurrection at the end of the 1,000 years?
(a) See When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin
(b) See The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?


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This Day In History, April 2

742: Charlemagne, king of the Franks, was born. King from 768, with his brother, he ruled most of Europe and was crowned emperor in 800 (see Emperors and Popes and ).

1118: Baldwin I died at age 60. As king of the crusader state of Jerusalem (1100-1118), he expanded the kingdom and secured its territory, formulating an administrative apparatus that was to serve for 200 years as the basis for Frankish rule in Syria and "Palestine" (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).

1513: Florida was discovered and claimed for Spain by Ponce de Leon.

1524: At age 40, Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli (a former Roman Catholic priest) publicly married the widow Anna Meyer. Their marriage lasted until his death at the Battle of Kappel in 1531.

1550: Jews were expelled from Genoa Italy.

1801: During the Napoleonic Wars, the Danish fleet was heavily damaged by the British under Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen.

1912: The Titanic went out on its first sea trials under its own power.

1917: The U.S. declared war on Germany in the First World War - 2 years and 8 months after the war in Europe began (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).

1932: Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh paid over $50,000.00 ransom for his kidnapped son, who was later found dead.

1975: Toronto's CN Tower was topped off at a height of 1,815 feet, making it the tallest free-standing structure in the world at the time.

1982: Argentina seized the Falkland Islands and overthrew the British administration. Britain responded with a naval task force which recovered the islands.

1990: Saddam Hussein threatened to "incinerate half of Israel" with advanced chemical weapons if it joined a war against Iraq (the result of the later invasion Iraq proved that Saddam had no "weapons of mass destruction").

2002: Israeli military forces surrounded the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem after armed Palestinians had retreated there.

2005: Karol Jozef Wojtyla / Pope John Paul II, died at age 84.




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