WHO EMPLOYED JESUS? (Matthew 21:23-27)
Jesus was teaching in the Temple and what He was talking about disturbed the priests. They demanded to know who had given Jesus the authority to interfere in their affairs. Jesus never answered the question directly, but He let His deeds show who was delegating Him and why. God’s people had abandoned God’s law and lost their way. He was sent to restore both. The Greek word in question is “exousian.” The word grants powers to a human that are equal to God’s power. By itself, the term is difficult to explain. It has to be treated in a larger context and that is precisely what the Evangelist John has done. In our rendition, we shall use the Greek “exousian” instead of our English equivalents like power, authority or right, because the Greek includes all of these and much more. “To his own he came, and his own accepted him not; but everyone that accepted him, that believes in his name, he will enable (exousian) to become children of God – not by a bloodline, nor by the will of the flesh or the will of man but begotten of God” (John 1:11-13).
The emphasis is on the role God plays in the recreation of the lost sheep of Israel. God’s Spirit does the creating and not man (John 3:8). Man does not have the authority, the power or the right to recreate himself (John 3:4). A man cannot re-enter his mother’s womb and re-emerge as anew being, but he can enter the water and be washed clean enough for the Spirit to transform him (John 3:5-7). Jesus was talking to a lost leader (Nicodemus) that believed he was a member of God’s chosen by his bloodline, his natural birth and his race. John’s point was and still is that a man cannot make a man that deserves to enter the kingdom of God, only God can by assisting man or enabling him to take the first step. Man has to be willing to let God’s Spirit work from within him. He must comply with God’s will and not rely on his association with a creed, race or any other. The will of God must take preeminence (Matthew 7:21, 6:33).
Jesus insisted that God was drawing and enabling man (John 6:44, 65). The Greek has the perfect passive participle “dedomenon” (to give “didomi”) and it means that God does the enabling, and He does the actual “begetting and creating.” Those that followed Jesus, the Father gave to Him and He keeps them safe (John 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9, 24). The union that Jesus has with His Father God has also become the union between the new man in Jesus and God (John 10:38; 14:10-11; 17:21). Jesus reassured His followers, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). How does one love Jesus? The answer was and still is, “he will obey my teaching” and not anyone else’s. No one can come to God any other way (John 14:6).
Many Christians believe that man can do nothing to earn his right and that it is gifted to them by grace. What did Paul, the Apostle, whom Jesus chose really preach? Here are some references that shed light on our interpretation of grace. To Paul, Grace was God’s actual involvement in recreating man in Christ. Unless man has changed, grace has not been at work. And if grace has not been at work, neither has God. The two cannot be separated. Grace is God’s tool to enable man (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:20). God created this man in Christ or in His likeness to do some good in this world (Ephesians 2:10). Man becomes Christ-like by being like Him (II Corinthians 5:17). It is God that is at work in man (Philippians 2:13). It is the man, like Christ, that can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Such a man lives by the guidance of the Spirit and no longer desires to gratify the craving of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Paul, himself, believed he had the Spirit (I Corinthians 7:40) and that the Spirit controlled his life (Romans 8:9-17). The Spirit of God and the Son lived and worked in Paul (I Corintians 3:16; Romans 8:26-27). The message of the Gospel itself was transmitted to him from the Lord directly (Galarians 1:1, 11-12). Paul’s ear was constantly tuned to the message of the Spirit (I Timothy 4:1). It was the Spirit that assured him that he, too, was a child of God (Romans 8:14-16). His body had become a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). All of this was God’s doing and the prompting by the Spirit was the evidence.
The Spirit of God does draw a line between the spiritual and the not so spiritual followers of Jesus. What happens to those that live on the edge of being spiritual? Jesus, too, had people leaving Him (John 6:60) and His disciples questioned what would happen to those that could not part with the world. His answer was that God makes all things possible (Mark 10:27). Submission to God shall not be the only thing that maters. What a person does to assist one of His brethren shall also count (Matthew 25:34-40). Paul discovered that he had three kinds of Christians in Corinth (I Corinthians 2:14-16; 3:1-4). He had the spiritual (pneumatikos), the emotional (psychikos) and the physicals (sarkinois). Paul, too, felt that those not so spiritual were capable of doing good and that they could be saved as by fire (I Corinthians 3:10-14). James concluded that God was behind everything that is good (James 1:17). Everyone that does something good, including Jesus, is being employed of God. Are we employees of God?