Only One God.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30). 

The Jews knew that such a statement meant Jesus was claiming equality with the God. That meant He said He was God Himself, for He is equal with God is God. 

Now there are four possible assumptions we can make about Jesus, in the light of what He said. Only one of these four can be correct, or true.

He is a liar. 

He is insane.

He has a demon.

He is who He says He is.

Despite what Jesus says here, many people believe that Jesus was merely a man, a good man, but just a man. Yet Jesus was a kind, compassionate and loving teacher who spoke with authority, grace and wisdom that no philosophers and religious gurus can equal or match. In addition He demonstrated divine power: He touched people, healed their physical and emotional diseases, raised at three people from the dead and cast many demons out. By these actions we are forced to conclude that one who does and speaks such good and righteous things must be God as He says. One who does such great miracles and speaks with such authority cannot be a liar, or insane, or demonic.

And, logically, there can be only one God, only one supreme, all-powerful being. And if Jesus is that Being, there can be no other. This indicates that there is only one way to God, only one pathway to eternal life. That is through Jesus. We human beings have no the option of believing that faith in any other being, idol or god can save a person, can bring us peace, happiness, eternal life, or nirvana.

Now it is currently popular to be pluralistic or tolerant of all faiths. But Hinduism, Buddhism, Theosophy, Islam, Wicca and all other religions are all meaningless because they are either man made or demonically inspired religions. Those who place their faith in any other person, idol or god are placing their faith in something or person that not really exist. Yet those who place their faith in the sacrifice of Christ place their faith in reality, in God Himself who can never lie and who is all loving and all good. 

The true sheep know the true shepherd. 

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”       (John 10:11).

When Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd we know He was using a metaphor. The truth He expressed was of the sacrificial relationship He has with us His children. As a shepherd, He knows which sheep belong in His fold and those that recognize His voice, that is, know and believe in Him, so only they get in. Jesus made it clear that those sheep included the Jews primarily but also those that dwelt outside of Israel, the Gentiles. The Kingdom of God is now open to people of every ethnic group, language and nationality. These only they are the ones who benefit from His protection, from His life. His sheep trust Him and depend on Him for everything including food and protection from predators, which in our case are Satan, sin and death. He laid down His life to protect us from them and bring us into His Kingdom.

The strange thing today is that so many of the sheep seem to be led astray by shepherds who masquerade as servants of God. Now no real Christian should be fooled by outward pagans and teachers of non-Christian sects and religions. Yet many will fall pray to preachers and pastors who claim to speak for the Lord. They promise prosperity, healing and ease to those who will come, to those who will give their cash, to those who will perform certain acts of worship and sacrifice. Such false teachers are preying upon people’s fears. They are out to enhance their own kingdom not the Lord’s by abusing the poor and weak.

Some of the Lord’s true sheep may be led astray, but the Good Shepherd will go out of His way to bring us back to Him. He works through His Word and Spirit to do this. For our part, we Christians need to discern the true teachers and preachers from the false. We must compare all teachers to the Word and to Jesus, knowing of course that no one is perfect or sinless as Jesus was. His true servants serve not with bombast, pride and self-interest but with weakness, humility and compassion.

Intolerant of sin.

“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”                                                              (1 John 3:6)

To our politically correct culture which demands tolerance of all religions and lifestyles not matter how bizarre or immoral, these words of John will seem extremely offensive. John tells us that those who continue to live and advocate for sinful lifestyles have no fellowship with God, even if they claim to be Christians. This would include many so called righteous people who boast about their good works and their love for others. The fact that they are boasting and/or seeking recognition or fame for what they do shows that they lack are sinners for they lack the humility of Christ. Often the only reason they do good deeds to exalt self, to be liked and respected and so no one will notice their “insignificant” faults and “minor” indiscretions. They think that even God won’t mind because their good so outweighs their bad.

What John calls sin is not within their vocabulary because it smacks of Christian intolerance for the rights of all people to choose their own lifestyles. Yet the lifestyle of the Christian should bear witness to the truth of the gospel and at the same time convict the people in the world of sin. They will hate us because of this. This hatred is demonstrated by a desire to exalt self and abuse others. Love, on the other hand, is a positive regard for other people, not just those who love us, not just our relatives and friends, but our enemies as well. Love is shown by self-sacrifice and taking care of the needs of others. Jesus manifested such love by dying on the cross. He expects us to do the same, but knows we can’t and so equips and enables us to do so.

Encouragement from Jesus.

Luke wrote down the testimony of the two men who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus who were so overcome that by their encounter with the risen Lord that they remembered most of the details down to the very words that were spoken.   

From what Luke writes we can tell that those 2 disciples had been completely demoralized by the crucifixion of Jesus. They had not expected that. Everything had been going great; they had believed that He was the Messiah who would redeem Israel. But just when they thought He was going to reveal Himself and overthrow the Romans, He was crucified. So they must have been quite confused, at a complete loss as to what to do with their lives. Now that Jesus was gone, what did they have to live for? Should they continue to practice His teachings? Should they go back to their old ways, back to their hometowns, back to their fishing nets?

And now to add to that confusion were the reports made by some of the women and the apostles of the empty tomb and the message of the angel that Jesus was alive. They were now completely bewildered for as much as they wanted to believe that, they did not know how that could be possible.

So we know what these 2 men may have been feeling. What they needed was not a scholarly theological lecture. They needed was encouragement. And this is what Jesus gave them.

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  (Luke 24:27). We all would like to know the words of encouragement that Jesus brought to those disciples. But we are not given the exact words. All we are told is that Jesus used the Old Testament scriptures to show them that their expectations of who the Messiah was and what he would do were all wrong. He used the scriptures to prove that He, Jesus is the Messiah, and that He fulfilled those scriptures in His life, suffering, death and resurrection. They were expecting a military and political Messiah, one who would set up the Kingdom of Israel. What they got was a Messiah who suffered and died for the sins of all mankind.

And whatever Jesus said to those two it lifted them up: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:32).

We have all felt that burning when we read the Scriptures; when we pray; when we worship. It is the Lord’s encouragement urging us to go on in the midst of the most trying circumstances, to walk by faith and not by sight.

We all need a Savior.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out ,…” (Acts 3:18)

 

The beggar that Peter had healed had been crippled probably due to a congenital malformation of his bones. That is why the people who saw him walking were so astonished, why the healing attracted such a great deal of attention. They just could not understand how such a wonderful thing was possible. They knew who the man was but had never seen him walking.

Peter was quick to turn the central focus of the event away from himself and John toward Jesus for it was the Lord who had performed this great miracle. This allowed Peter to preach a sermon centered on Jesus as he disclosed that this deed had been performed by faith in the name of Jesus. Peter and John were merely His instruments.

Peter took the opportunity to remind his audience of their responsibility for the death of Jesus. He told them exactly who it was they put to death. Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, the one who was promised and foretold by Moses and the prophets. He is a prophet Himself, a servant, the holy and righteous one and the creator and sustainer of life. From what Peter said, the people could see that they had been complicit in a very serious matter when they called for His death. While they may have acted in ignorance of who Jesus really was they still needed to repent of that sin and all their wickedness. Otherwise they faced exclusion from God’s kingdom. The same is true of us all. Our sins sent Jesus to the cross, whether we knew it or not. Yet He grants mercy to all who repent and come to Him.