PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XCIV
Jesus, the Son of God, was very adamant about the value and meaning of His Work and so will judgment be on every man’s work. Jesus has left His Redemptive Work in the hands of his followers. And therefore Jesus prayed thus:
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Consecrate them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (John 17:16-19).
WHY WERE JESUS PEOPLE LEFT IN THE WORD, AND WHY DID HE COME IN THE FIRST PLACE?
It is generally believed and accepted that Christ was sent to save the world, but the world, especially Israel, was not ready to be saved. Jesus came into a world that was similar to the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-37). So, the Son of God had not come to save Israel, but to shut Israel down. And this would all take place in the generation in which the Son of God was incarnated (Matthew 24:32-35). It would take place while Jesus’ disciples would be alive.
And Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:29-33).
The reference was to the destruction of Jerusalem and to the end of Israel, as a nation, by the Romans. And the Kingdom of God that could not take root in Israel would flourish in the Roman world. Jesus had earlier explained the process of closing down Israel in a parable to the Jews. Israel had not produced fruit that honored God, or that dignified her own existence. Stubbornly Israel persisted in having God doing it her way, and not her doing it God’s way. It is a tendency we too should guard against at all times, mostly when grace is being taken for granted.
And Jesus began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they sould give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beated and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “God forbid!” But he looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner’? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him” (Luke 20:9-18).
THERE WAS A LONG ENCOUNTER IN THE COVENANT OF ISRAEL WITH GOD, WHO WAS FORBEARING`
It is painful for any father, who must punish his children for disobedience and transgressions, but how much more hurt God the Father must have felt when his children rejected, punished, and crucified His Son? In the past, Israel received and disposed of prophets and apostles (Luke 11:46; 13:34). Prophets are the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit, and Apostles are the bearers of the message of God. Jesus was the final Messenger of God to Israel (Hebrews 1:1-4). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would continue His Work through the Apostles, when He had to return to the Father. The Holy Spirit would and is focusing on sin, righteousness, and the world leader (John 16:8-11). The first Christian message of the Holy Spirit to Israel was delivered by the Apostle Peter:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having losed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:22-24; 2:36).
“The stone which the builders have rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23).
The man, who made the prediction, was not doing the right thing. Only, his warning came too late, because he should have resisted temptation and not induced it. Well, guess who it was? The man God sent was both: a Prophet and an Apostle.
And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man. Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hands of Saul; and gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if it were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites” (II Samuel 12:1-9).
HOW CRUCIAL IS LIGHT IN REDEMPTION?
The word “light” in the Bible, particularly the New Testament, has to do with insight, knowledge, and understanding. The word “darkness” has to do with a closed mind and a lack of perceptions and understanding. The inability of the Pharisees and scribes to understand what and whom Jesus represented was a form of blindness, that kept them from recognizing their own guilt. Jesus had restored physical sight of a person on a Sabbath, and the synagogue leaders excommunicated the man. Jesus sought him out and asked him.
“Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he , sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (John 9:35-41).
It was and still is that the knowledge, life, and deeds of Jesus fueled, and fuel the light of God, in us and through us. We are only the lamps that need the oil of Christ to make us shine in a way that glorifies God (Matthew 5:16). Jesus began as the “Light of the world,” but his followers must continue. Jesus said several things:
“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light (John 12:35-36).
“He who believes in me, believes not in me but in Him who sent me. And he who sees me sees Him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:44-46).
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound , your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness?” (Matthew 6:22-23).
THE LIGHT OF CHRIST REFLECTED HOW MUCH THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS ACTIVE IN A PERSON
Jesus’ Words and Works made Nathaniel identify Jesus as, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). Nicodemus viewed Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” (John 3:2). The man who could see again told his interogaters, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (John 9:30-33).
Then Jesus declared: “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned” (John 15:4-6).
The Jewish leaders recognized who had fueled Peter and John:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:13-14; 18-20).
The light of Christ does melt the darkness and grants courage to his followers to uncover the wrong that is being done. Even the tiniest spark of light can help a strayed person come home. Just keep fueling and shining:
So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:26-28).
No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away (Luke 8:16-18).