Jesus Actually Is Our Saviour

Jesus Actually Is Our Saviour

We are mostly familiar with the last days of Jesus and what happened to him. We can understand that he suffered the extreme penalty through betrayal, false witness, political expediency and the cruelty of the age. We might struggle to understand why it was necessary for Jesus to die as he did but we can accept the gifts of knowledge of God's love for us, redemption of our sins, salvation and eternal life. We are glad to be part of His world wide family – the Church. We are thankful to have personal Faith and to know answers to prayer from time to time confirming the truth that Jesus actually is our Saviour. But what happened to Jesus in his last days and hours did not happen in isolation. Throughout his ministry there were people who criticised him, objected to him, argued with him and even hated him.

Jesus was rejected at the beginning of his ministry by his own people in his home town of Nazareth. After his sermon there he said, "I assure you that no prophet is ever welcomed in his own country”. The Gospel tells us that “They sprang to their feet and drove him right out of the town, taking him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, intending to hurl him down bodily. But he walked straight through the whole crowd and went on his way”. The first serious opposition to Jesus' claim to be the Son of God came after he had healed the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda. It was because Jesus did such things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus' answer was this, "My Father is still at work and therefore I work as well. This remark made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, because not only did he break the Sabbath but he referred to God as his own Father, so putting himself on equal terms with God”. People found fault with Jesus because his disciples picked ears of corn on the Sabbath. "There, you see," they remarked to Jesus, "your disciples are doing what the Law forbids them to do on the Sabbath." People also found fault with Jesus because his disciples did not wash their hands before eating. A Pharisee invited him to dinner. So he went into his house and sat down at table. The Pharisee noticed with some surprise that he did not wash before the meal. But the Lord said to him, "You Pharisees are fond of cleaning the outside of your cups and dishes, but inside yourselves you are full of greed and wickedness"! And when he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began to regard him with bitter animosity and tried to draw him out on a great many subjects, waiting to pounce on some incriminating remark.

Even John the Baptist doubted. He was in prison when he heard what Jesus was doing, and he sent a message through his own disciples asking the question, "Are you the one who was to come or are we to look for somebody else?" Jesus gave them this reply, "Go and tell John what you see and her - that blind men are recovering their sight, cripples are walking, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, the dead being brought to life and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses faith in me." An older better translation says "blessed is anyone who is not offended by me".

Jesus was accused of being an agent of the devil by people who were blind to the good he was doing. After Jesus had healed the man with the shrivelled hand, a devil-possessed man who could neither see nor speak was brought to Jesus. He healed him, so that the dumb man could both speak and see. At this the whole crowd went wild with excitement, and people kept saying, "Can this be the Son of David?" But the Pharisees on hearing this remark said to each other, "This man is only expelling devils because he is in league with Beelzebub, the prince of devils."

Even members of Jesus' own family including his mother had problems with him and actually wanted him to stop preaching. They thought he'd gone mad. While he was still talking to the crowds somebody said to him, "Look, you mother and your brothers are outside wanting to speak to you." But Jesus replied to the one who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"; then with a gesture of his hand towards his disciples he went on, "There are my mother and brothers! For whoever does the will of my Heavenly Father is brother and sister and mother to me."

Jesus was rejected again at Nazareth. The Gospel says, “When Jesus had finished these parables he left Capernaum and came into his own country of Nazareth. Here he taught the people in their own synagogue, till in their amazement they said, "Where does this man get his wisdom and these powers? He's only the carpenter's son. Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? And aren't all his sisters living here with us? Where did he get all this?" 'Ah kent his Faither'. And they were deeply offended with him. But Jesus said to them, "No prophet goes unhonoured except in his own country and in his own home!" And he performed very few miracles there because of their lack of faith”.

Jesus was also rejected in Samaria. "Now as the days before he should be taken back into Heaven were running out, he resolved to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers in front of him. They set out and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. But the people there refused to welcome him because he was obviously intending to go to Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Master, do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them all up?" But Jesus turned and reproved them. - "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them, .... and they all went on to another village". Opposition to Jesus increased as he continued his public ministry. Later, after dealing with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus spoke to the people again and said, "I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light." This made the Pharisees say to him, "You are testifying to yourself - your evidence is not valid."

What is interesting is the fact and reality of spiritual blindness to what God was doing in Jesus. Even when he did something obviously good, some people said he was a devil worshipper. John Hus born in 1369 was an early Reformer. He was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake in 1415. As he was being burned, an elderly peasant picked up a stray piece of wood and added it to the fire. For all his pain and extremity John Hus just said, 'O holy simplicity'. The peasant was not full of ill intention or hatred or bitterness but thought she was doing the right thing even if she did not know or understand what John Hus was dying for, the truth of the Gospel. John McLeod Campbell was a minister of the Church of Scotland at Rhu near Glasgow in 1825. He tried to lift his parishioners from their spiritual indifference and spiritual slumber by preaching the universal love of God. Some members of his congregation reported him for heresy and in 1831 he was deposed from the ministry of the Church of Scotland. One of his parishioners was heard to say. “Aye he was a fine man – but - he diverged”. Here is another example of lack of spiritual discernement, lack of perception, lack of Christian understanding. Those who opposed Jesus were more bitterly determined to oppose him on spurious grounds while being unable to accept that he was actually doing good and clearly fulfilling some of the expectations of the Messiah. They just could not see it. Because they were not in tune with God themselves they could not recognise God's presence in Jesus.

Are your eyes open to Jesus Christ? Do you see what he is doing today before your own eyes? Our society seems blind but that is to be expected given the folly and wrong of the values that dominate the media and social media. Pilate was blind to Jesus when he met him. He hadn't a clue who was standing in front of him. He could not understand why Jesus did not defend himself and beg for mercy and blame others for his troubles. Pilate knew in his conscience that legally, there was insufficient evidence to convict Jesus of any crime worthy of death. Even his wife sent a message to him telling him she'd had nightmares about an innocent man condemned to death. But he was a person of poor character unable to take the higher moral ground and set Jesus free. Maybe he thought Jesus didn't care whether he lived or died. He realised he could placate the Jewish leaders and the mob all too easily. So – he went against his own conscience, his legal training and his wife's advice and put Jesus out to death. He had not the slightest idea what was actually happening – that Jesus actually is our Saviour. Pilate did not rise from the dead. Annas and Caiaphas the high priests did not rise form the dead. No-one in this story rose from the dead except Jesus. And here we are nearly 2000- years on worshipping Him today because Jesus actually is our Saviour. He is the living Son of God.

Can you take him so lightly? Can you go against his calling of you to his friendship and service? How long can you resist in your heart? Don't be on the wrong side of Jesus. Jesus actually is our Saviour. Make a decision to believe in, and to follow and serve him this Easter.

Robert Anderson 2017

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