What Else Changed?

     In the last post, we discovered that Jesus changed some things.  Remember He was sent first to the lost sheep of Israel.  Israel and in particular the Jew held ideas that were contrary to what Jesus came to do.  The Jew was territorial and believed that God held this same view.  Jews were a tribal people but had taken that tribalism to a place of deep prejudice.  They completely misunderstood the Torah as Jesus often revealed. 

      The thing they likely misunderstood most was what Jesus revealed about their Temple.  Jesus said in John 2:19 “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  Jesus had just cleansed the natural temple of money changers and those that bought and sold cattle and doves.  It should be noted that this often leads to misguided preaching that we shouldn’t have certain activities in churches.  The greater understanding is that this was a cleansing of the outer court or the Court of the Gentiles.  The access that the Gentile had to the temple had become clogged with commerce.  Jesus wanted all the have equal access to the temple.  Because of their hatred and disregard of the Gentile the Jews had turned the only access for the Gentile into a marketplace.  When Jesus cleansed the temple in this manner the Jews demanded that He give them a sign that He had the authority to perform this action.  His answer was John 2:19.  They completely misunderstood His meaning.  Stephen in Acts 7 gave the Sanhedrin a history lesson.  He told the story of Israel and quoted Isaiah the prophet saying that God does not live in houses made with human hands.  Stephen was killed after this speech, in fact, the bible says “they gnashed on him with their teeth.”  A violent response to the truth.  Years later that entire temple was leveled, not one stone on another, and it doesn’t need to be rebuilt, contrary to popular “end-time” teaching.  God does not live there because he chooses to live in you.

     Tradition.  My favorite example of this is in Mark.  The religious elite questioned Jesus as to why his disciples did not follow the traditions of the elders.  They charged that His disciples ate with unclean hands.  “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:6-7)   We have traditions today that we haven’t learned are not part of true worship.  “They don’t use the red hymnal, King James is the only acceptable interpretation of scripture,  Sunday worship, and much, much more.  The very substance of denominal religion is the tradition.  Most of their structure and written regulation is mere tradition and commandment of men.  We are not talking about horse and buggy thinking or driving black cars.  We are talking about superintendents and overseers and regulations that forbid the wearing of a t-shirt that has something written on it.  And curses on those who don’t tithe.  Jesus called it lip-service.   I have been in a lot of lip services.

     Moving on to Tyranny.  I feel like this has been covered under tradition but I will call your attention to Luke 18:9-14.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The tyranny of superiority was not just a problem in Jesus day.  The modern Christian church has as much of this working in it if not more.  We love to fight, we love to think we are superior because we do or do not do.  To this Jesus says in Revelation 3:17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”  When you behave in this way you become unaware of your actual condition.  This mindset creates its own blindness.  We can identify everyone else’s sin but cannot see our own condition.  When you can recognize your condition as it should be in 2 Cor 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  When you can realize that you are the righteousness of God in Christ because of the unmerited favor you have received without works then you can judge those around you righteous, in spite of their shortcomings.  Otherwise, we behave as tyrants instead of agents of change.  The Jewish religious system had become tyrannical and exclusive.  If you can’t see the similarity in aspects of the modern church, then you need a check-up from the neck…up.

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