Who is this Jesus?
By Billie Marie Zal
He was hunted as prey from the day that He was born. The first martyrs were the little children who were slain by order of Herod, who feared that a “new king” had been born who would usurp his throne. He need not have worried. The throne that Jesus would occupy was far distant, and not until He sets up His kingdom on earth will He be honored as a King.
The wise men knew Him. And the first thing that they did was offer Him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold would provide for His mother and father Joseph as they fled to Egypt in order to save His life. It has been said that the wise men worshipped Him in Bethlehem. But in reality they found Him in His own home in Nazareth when He was two years old. This would account for the fact that the Bible tells us that Herod ordered all babies slain from “two years old and under.”
Jesus was despised all His life. No one could understand Him - One who “knew no sin.” There would be conviction wherever He went and whenever He spoke and even if He never said a Word! The Light in Him shone forth and darkness hates Light.
When He was twelve years old His parents took Him to the temple in Jerusalem. What could have been His thoughts when he saw that place where everyone came once a year to offer birds, lambs, or calves for their sins? It did not impress Him for He knew the wretchedness of those who ministered therein. It was only an empty shell, an earthly temple, bereft of the Holy Spirit who had long withdrawn because of the idolatry of the people. Until the restoration of the Kingdom on earth, His own Body alone would be the habitation of the Holy Spirit and later on, of those who worshipped Him in Spirit and in Truth.
His Mother never understood completely what He was doing. He stayed behind at the Temple, answering the men who marveled at His knowledge of the Word (He WAS the Word incarnate!). When His Mother hurried back and scolded Him for grieving her, He replied, “Don’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” Perhaps she had all but forgotten the message of the Angel to her: “A sword shall pierce your heart also.”
His ministry began after He was baptized by His cousin John, who recognized Him as the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sins of the world. Immediately Jesus was led away into the wilderness to be tempted (put to the test) by satan. The moment we are wholly dedicated to doing God’s will, all hell takes notice.
Jesus passed the test. He was there, in that desolate place where temperatures soar and hot winds stir up the sand for forty days and forty nights. Could each day have represented the time of the flood when Noah and his family took refuge in the Ark where it is said “the heavens were opened and it rained for forty days and forty nights? I believe so. The “Ark” represents Christ and the Ark passed the test. We can praise Him for this!
After He overcame the suggestions and promises of satan to give Him all the kingdom of the world (and he could have, they belonged to him by right after the fall of Adam) Jesus, refusing to bow down to this fallen creature, began to minister.
We must always remember who satan is and never discredit his power. He was the chief Archangel before his determination to usurp God’s authority. He was a beautiful angel, and called the Son of the morning. He probably led all the songs in Heaven. He was brilliant, and he still is. Make no mistake about that!
But he made one terrible mistake in judgment. He rebelled against God and determined to be “like Him.” For this he was thrown out of the heavens with one third of his rebel hosts, to earth. Now he had power to seduce and to blind anyone who desired anything but the will of God.
Jesus, the true “Morning Star,” never wavered from the path which His Father God had laid out for Him. He healed, He blessed, He fed, He cast out demons, and He continually ministered wherever He went. The grace of God was in Him and His very presence left satan no space for entry.
His was not a “flamboyant work.” He had no buildings, no advance team, no media hype. He walked the dusty roads with His Twelve, and all the while they knew that one of them would betray Him. He possessed nothing of this world’s goods. When offered praise, He turned away. The rich young ruler was ready to worship Him but he said to the Lord, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus replied, “There is none good but God.” Had this young man realized what Jesus meant, he would have at that moment received the revelation of Christ’s Sonship and would have become one of the little flock who followed Jesus to the end. But he loved his riches and went his way. He was the loser.
Jesus never forced a “decision.” He never coerced, or promised gifts or the good things
of life if men would follow Him. Rather, He offered men a life of denial, of loneliness, of loss, and of the sufferings of the cross that would cut across every fleshly hope of anyone who chose
to follow Him.
He refused to go along with those who had made His Father’s House a den of thieves. It had become a bartering place where evil men made merchandise of worship. He threw out these money changers, turned over their tables and took a whip to drive them away. The fact that no one could stop Him proved His Sonship. He had no fear of those who made their living by selling the same sacrificial animals over and over in order to make a profit. By their very act they were denying the fact that there would be only ONE LAMB on that cross at Calvary.
He called them thieves because they were using God’s Name and His order of worship to maintain their own rich lifestyles and take from the poor, and deceive them as to the real meaning of sacrifice. They were stealing the Glory of God.
It has been said often on today’s religious programming that Jesus wore “designer clothing,” had an advance team, a treasury with lots of money, and owned His own home. This is heresy and God will have none of it. One day He will bring to Light the motives behind such teaching. Jesus was unafraid to speak out against the religious hypocrites of His day. He called them “whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones,” the blind leading the blind, in need of inner cleansing. He would have none of them, for they had turned the Truths of His Father into lies for their own advantage. No wonder they hated Him enough to kill Him!
Jesus never swerved from the central theme of His message: those who would deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him would be worthy to be called His disciples. None other.
But, to quote George Williams from The Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, “The poor human heart likes position and glory, and is quite willing to exalt the Messiah even to heaven, but it shrinks from self mortification and shame and hatred and persecution and death. The term, ‘the cross’ means all this. If anyone wishes to go after Jesus he must consent to share His reproach and die with Him. At the door of the Roman Court of Justice crosses were piled and the condemned, on leaving, took up a cross and carried it to a place of execution.
“The believer must follow Christ in that path. It is the only path; there is none other; and if anyone would be His disciple he must enter it, for it is the path the Master took. Those who take up that cross lose their lives in relation to this world, but find it in the next; those who refuse safeguard their lives in this world, but suffer eternal loss in the next.”
It is a hard message, this Gospel of the Kingdom. God speaks against those who in the Apostasy (the great falling away) say they are “rich, increased with goods, and have need of nothing” as a sign that His blessing is upon them.
He says to them in the book of Revelation, that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked! Success and wealth and a treasury filled to brimming over is not a sign of blessing. We just might be in that final stage of apostasy and there is no man to rebuke and warn of coming judgment. We need such a man in such a desperate hour.
Jesus did go to the cross and He seemingly failed, even after He died. His disciples gave up; they went their way, dejected and ashamed. They had failed Him often. The three failed Him in His deepest agony when He prayed in Gethsemane to be, if possible, “spared the Cup.” They slept when they should have been united in prayer for love of Him. They failed Him by running away when He needed them and denying they even knew Him. Such is the heart of men who have not themselves yet died WITH Christ on Calvary. But Jesus Christ never failed them, nor mankind. His blood was shed for all mankind - the plan of redemption worked out between Himself and God the Father in eternity past. And He succeeded in winning for us the grace of salvation, a covenant between Himself and us when we identify with His cross and His life.
It is significant that after His ascension He did not leave us comfortless. He sent His Holy Spirit to make us new, to give us life, a life straight from the Throne of God. And He manifested Himself in His glory to the Apostle Paul who would be given the “mystery of the Church” and teach us that we are no longer earth bound. We have been united with Christ in the heavenlies and thus have power to overcome sin. Paul’s life is a lesson if we will only study it. It cost him everything in this world to obey the vision of a glorified Lord. He had to leave behind his prominent position in the Jewish religion. He had no family that we know of, and very few friends. His life was so similar to that of our Lord’s. How can we expect to live differently?
God is grieved by the condition of the Church for whom Christ died. We must remember that it cost the Apostle Paul everything. And he said himself, “If any man obey not my Gospel, have no fellowship with him.” The Word has not changed. We can worship money (and we do), we can worship health (and we do), and we can worship relationships (and we do). But we are suffering eternal loss. I thank God that by His grace alone, He has taught me the
meaning of discipleship. He taught me by His Word and by His Spirit who interpreted that Word to me.
He taught me that I must never bow to public opinion, or even to the opinion of my own dear ones. When Jesus was ministering the Word tells us that His relatives thought He was “beside Himself” (lost His mind) and yet He reminded them that only those who do the will of His Father would be His relatives.
Jesus taught me through the story of John the Baptist, whose faith was tested beyond measure when he sat in a dark prison cell waiting for execution, simply because he had warned an evil King of his sins. When John asked his own disciples to go find Jesus and ask, “Art thou He or should we look for another?” it was because he had thought his life would go beyond the short years he had lived on this earth and he could further serve God. Jesus’ reply assured John that He was the Christ. And God took him home! When I am alone, in some dark prison cell of my own imaginations, I go to this Word and am comforted. Yes, He is the Christ and He does all things well.
He taught me the value of crosses. We hate them until we see beyond the pain to the glory. A person comes into our life and we are sorely tested by circumstances that would make us want to run away. But the Word says, “To whom shall we go?” Only Jesus has the Words of eternal life. I always hear God’s voice saying to me, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” No matter whether my heart has been broken, or my life has been in danger, this is the way. And this cross is valuable and will give me eternal joy. This alone makes life bearable down here.
He also taught me to avoid deception. I am deeply troubled by the things that go on today in the Name of the Lord. There is definitely bartering in religious matters. There is money changing, an emphasis on the value of riches and success and health. It is all wrong - contrary to God’s Word!
I thank God that by His grace alone I have not been deceived by the lies of satan. Around me are gathered a “little flock” of believers who will one day surely be with me around the Throne. For we have believed His Word. We have received our crosses with joy, and we follow Him. We are His Bride, awaiting His rapture. May God help all of you to see that wonderful Eternity where He rules and we are His forever and ever!
(From the August, 1994 Wingspread)
Its been a really beautiful spring and summer so far this year. The Lord has blessed us with plenty of rain and we’re still getting showers every week. But the storms have gone around us, and so far the
temperatures have remained mild, although I’m sure that will change soon as it’s always hot here in July and August.
We have at least two grey foxes living in the area. I couldn’t believe it when I saw one of them walking up our driveway one day. Then a few days later someone saw two of them together in the driveway. We catch a glimpse of him (or her) when he comes for the food that Shirley puts out near the garbage cans. Rodney and Walnut saw a fox walking around all the trees that had been bulldozed up together on the property to our west. I’ve got a feeling they have a den there.
We are so blessed and privileged to live on such a beautiful place. And I don’t take it for granted, ever.
I have noticed of late that many of you have written to us about your belief that we are close to “the end of time.” And I think that anyone who is a “thinking person” can see this. Global warning, starvation and disease, and being at the end of our resources, are pretty much accepted facts by everyone.
Sometimes I think animals have more sense than people. We have a cat we call “Precious.” She has got to be the cutest cat that ever lived. Anyway, when there is a storm coming I’ll see her run past our house down to her “secret hide out.” Rodney discovered her hiding place one day. It’s a small cave under some big boulders. There she stays dry and safe. She has enough sense to take shelter from the storm. But most people do not.
How do we take shelter from all that’s happening around us? One of my favorite Psalms is Psalms 91: “He who dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in him will I trust” (Psalms 91:1,2). So why do we not all seek out this place of refuge? Well, I think you have to know you are lost before you want to be rescued. I always felt lost, but I can only speak of myself. I was chosen and of the elect, or I wouldn’t have had that need to be found by God.
One evening Rodney and I watched a program on Public Television about China. China’s economy is booming and people were working very hard. When asked what they desired the most in life, the answer was always the same - they wanted to be wealthy.
One young man owned a beautiful hotel and was very wealthy, yet he had not been satisfied. He held a Bible in his hand and said that through the study of God’s Word he had been convinced that the Bible had the answer, and Jesus Christ was the answer to all our needs. His life was changed and he had peace. So God has those that are His all over the world, and somehow that’s a wonderful thought.
We were checking the newsletter list and some of you guys have been with us so very long. Through all the trials and tribulations, something has kept you hanging on. And something has kept you coming back to God. So take heart in that, because you must be of the chosen and elected in Him, before the foundation of the world. And like Dr. Scott use to say, “some day we will rule and reign with Christ through eternity.”
Prayer Requests for July, 2008
For Cora Della Aulman, Prairie Grove, Arkansas, who has diabetes and glaucoma.
For Mickey Miller, McAlester, Oklahoma, and for his family.
For Frank Williams, Jr., death row at Grady, Arkansas, for favor with the courts to stop his execution which has been set for September 9th.
For Marlin Resinger, McAlester, Oklahoma, for an interstate transfer to Arkansas.
For Bobby Wayne Linscombe at Iowa Park, Texas, for a cell partner that would be willing to help him read about spiritual things.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, that his cancer will stay in remission; and for his friend, Tayna Stewart, who has skin cancer.
For our neighbor, Sandra Beckam, who is battling cancer. Also, she just recently broke her leg.
For Ed Ewing, Dinuba, California, who is 87 years old, for strength and health.
For Willie Harper, at Joliet, Illinois, who has stomach cancer and is awaiting surgery.
For Jason White, McAlester, Oklahoma, that he’ll meet a good Christian woman.
For everyone on death row at McAlester, Oklahoma, and that the air conditioning will stay on there this summer.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Randal Smith, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, who recently suffered a seizure and had to be hospitalized.
For Joseph Runge’s Mother who has bladder cancer. She just had surgery and will be going thru chemotherapy for a long time. Joseph is at Centralia, Illinois.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, that his lung cancer will stay in remission.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry in Los Angeles.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for his health, and that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon.
For Cleveland Cook’s big brother to find his way home. His family hasn’t heard from him in a long time. Cleveland is at Florence, Arizona.
For all of us at Wingspread, especially Eddie, that he will gain weight and strength. The doctor told him that he didn’t need the surgery to clear out the arteries in his neck right now.
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