Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Twelve Minus One - Judas

It is not possible to ignore one who played a vital role in the establishment of the church of the Apostles- Judas Iscariot.

If not for this man’s sacrifice of his own soul we wouldn’t have known if anybody else would have done it. The controversy has always been, was Judas created for this purpose, to serve as a scape-goat for the human race? Some say, “Yes” and brand him a hero in hell fire. Others think he did not really mean to do harm. He was trying to make Jesus hasten the deliverance of the Jews. Nothing can be further from the truth.

   To answer to the former, we need to find out who Judas was and see if he had a choice. One is that he was not the only one bearing that name among the Apostles. So if it were by name, he had a choice. Two, few people know he had the best name among the twelve, the name meant “Of praise” and to amplify this he was chosen under divine guidance after a night vigil (Luke 6:12) and men honored him by making him a money keeper. The latter point was enough to force the other Judas to do what he did. Instead he became a thief (John 12:4) stealing from the public purse, rebel, by rebelling against his master (John 12:4-8), a hypocrite, by interacting with the brethren when he actually meant to betray their Lord. So, he became a devil (John 6:70) because the devil entered him (Luke 22:3)

     Having come thus far, we may ask, “Was Judas born again?” In my opinion he was, but sensuality and love of this world’s wealth dragged him away and took him captive even when he was physically with Jesus and the other Apostles.
    The common denominator for all fools is that they think they are the wisest people on earth (Rom 1:22) Whereas the other disciples were giving away all they had to the poor, Judas was accumulating and perhaps kept a fat bank account. Whereas some of them who were rich were going about with few clothes, Judas was looking flashy with newer ones. It was never thought of that Judas contested for leadership in the group like Peter and John did, because he only hoped to grab enough and quit.

So, he became a thief and a devil and lost his place for another. Judas was in a way typifying the Jewish nation of his day, who as a whole nation betrayed and killed the Messiah sent to them to remain in Roman captivity. Like Judas they received the divine judgment and their temple was destroyed and their place taken by another – the Church.

    Judas committed suicide but that was not the day he killed himself. He killed himself when he yielded to the love of money and made friends with enemies of the church. The rest was only a manifestation. The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, many lives lost and the Jews scattered all over the world- in 70-AD, but that was only the manifestation of the rejection of the Messiah more than sixty years ago. They too committed suicide by assuming they can fight through to their freedom from the Roman government, also assuming that God was with them, when the opposite was the case.

   I wonder if you know that the word Jew is a short form for Judah and Judas meant of "Judah.” All point to praise. They were raised to declare the praise of God but they defiled themselves and faced God’s wrath.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Old Testament Priesthood and New Testament Priesthood

Jesus himself made an assessment in Matt 23 of the Pharisees and teachers of the law and we have to go by this evidence.
1.  They were hypocrites- They were teaching one thing and doing another. They knew what the law commanded, preached and taught men the truth, but “Tie heavy loads and put on men’s shoulders but would not put a finger to it”.
      They wished that every detail of the law be followed by others but not by them.
2.  They do everything for a show- They prayed for a show, gave gifts for a show. In fact, their phylacteries (a type of the bible today) were larger than that of others and their tassels (a type of priestly dressing and collar of today) were longer than that of others.
3.   They love to be honored in public places and have men call them “Rabbi” (a type of Reverend and Bishop today) and honored by government officials by political   appointments.
4.    They shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces- (when men see their live styles they do not wish to repent and join the church. Jesus said that they stood at the door of the kingdom, not entering and not letting others to enter.
5.    They go for evangelism and when one accepts their gospel, they make him twice a son of hell as they were.
6.    They distorted the scriptures as they exalt gifts and fat offering above God’s holy place- the altar. Gifts were higher than the altar and the gold of the altar hold more honor than the altar.
7.    They pay their tithes but defraud widows and orphans, even as they neglect justice, righteousness and mercy.
8.    They clean the outside of the cup but the inside remains dirty. They paint the temple, dress the choir in special robes, dress the church with colorful altar cloth and balloons and neglected the spiritual and basic natural needs of their members.
9.    They were like white washed tombs. Looking at them from a distance (or like today, on TV and radio) they appear wonderful but when you draw close you see a person you regret ever meeting in your life.
10. They praised the old and departed prophets as today’s preachers’ praise Charles Finny and John Wesley but their life styles and ways proved that if they had been alive in those days, would have joined forces with those who opposed these men.
11. To worsen all these things, being pre-occupied with matters of religion they did not know the time of God’s visitation for them. Even though they told men that Christ was coming, they became blinded by their obsession for wealth and sins, and so would not see when the Christ came.
Jesus then, said that the disciples should watch out for the abomination that causes desolation. Any time they see it standing where it does not belong they should flee.
      Before men these men were still ministering but before God they have been judged and sentenced. The kingdom will be taken from them and given to those who will bring its fruit (The twelve Apostles and the disciples as a whole)
The problem with the Old Testament system was more than skin deep. It had to do with the system itself. This, Jesus illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan.(Luke10:30-37).
As a young Christian I used to think that the priest and Levite were wicked people who did not care for people as servants of God. How wrong I was? These were limited by the nature of their ministry. There is a limit to what they could do for God and people. They must wear a particular kind of dress, be in a particular kind of place, and most importantly be in a particular state of righteousness, to be able to perform their duties.

The reader may begin to wonder what that has to do with the man lying in the pool of blood. Everything, yes everything. That priesthood and their systems must not touch a dead body. In fact, they do not touch corpses of their own relations. In a situation somebody dies while they are there, they and not the dead man are defiled. And will be disqualified to function in their office for a season. That was why those men of God passed on the other side.

The Samaritan represented another other of priesthood, a free priesthood, a priesthood that is not bound by natural laws or rules. It did not require a special thing. Just a left over of his wine and oil, a common inn hosted by an old friend, in whose place he can return without any protocol anytime, any day. If the man dies, no problem, his obligation is to God, not to any man. This is the priesthood Jesus came to establish. If it enters in a defiled place, its presence sanctifies the place. If it encounters death it can give life. With the wine, oil, and bandage always in its kits, it can perform miracles. For every truth Jesus wished to portray, he gave a practical lesson. So at the tomb of Lazarus (John11:41--) he canceled what would have defiled an Old Testament priest. And he then established life. This is the priesthood he bequeathed his Apostles.

This ministry does not require special buildings or ecclesiastical titles or pana-pheleria.
As I write this, I wonder if today’s ministers and Christians do not fit into the above descriptions.