Friday, July 1, 2011

The Prophet

[6] The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. [7] They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. [8] Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. [9] And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" [10] And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" [11] And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee." Matthew 21:6-11 (ESV)

“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” There were at leas a great deal of Jesus’ compatriots who recognized that he was a prophet. Of course there is nothing new here, even Nicodemus recognized that early in Christ’s ministry.
What’s odd is that even today, people will recognize Jesus as being a prophet but care less as to what that actually means. It means he spoke truth, he spoke the word of God. It means that you cannot discount what he says of himself. If he is a prophet, then what he says about himself is true.
This is where Muslims get Jesus completely wrong, but also a good many people today, who perhaps aren’t muslims, but think they can lump, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha together and call them all prophets, which has come to mean in common parlance, something to the effect of, charismatic religious figure we can admire but ignore. If Jesus is a prophet, then these others are not. And if these others are prophets, then Jesus is not. They did not teach the same thing. Only one of them is good. And that one is Jesus. He is the only one who rose from the dead, so I’m guessing he is the one to put your money on.
Of course that is another thing all together. I think faith has to be something a little more than Pascal’s Wager, after all it is completely antithetical to 1 Cor. 15. If Jesus be not raised from the dead, we who laid down our money on him, are most to be pitied. If there is a God we made him out to be a liar. If there isn’t, well if Nietzche is right… See I don’t know. Some want to believe God is dead, they think it gives them freedom somehow, to run off and do stupid things, take advantage of others and so on. Of course most atheists do end up adopting some sort of ethic. And I have met very few people atheist or otherwise, who don’t deal with guilt on some level. So that seems to be a dead end. To top it off, those engaging in the hedonistic lifestyle seem to be enjoying life as much as the tee totaling baptists, which is to say, they don’t seem to be enjoying life. Neither of these two groups
That’s telling on both accounts. Christ came that we would have life, and that abundantly. (John 10:10) So that’s where the problem is. True Christian theology, as men like G.K. Chesterton have shown, should have the effect of showering one’s life with joy and purpose, even in the midst of the pain and suffering of this world. It gives us a sure and certain hope, that this is not the end of life. It brings to life value in knowing that Jesus Christ has loved us to the point of redeeming our lives with his very own blood. So the Christian is left with the wonderful predicament that Paul illustrates, to live is Christ, to dies is gain. Sure we leave this world to be with Christ, and it is better for us. As long as we live here, we live for others, as Christs to them. Our life is a living sacrifice that way, we live for others, as Christ lived for us to bring them with us to live with Christ. And this doesn’t require that we join a monastery, in fact a monetary is the exact opposite of this. The self proclaimed “good works” of running off to Calcutta to work in a soup kitchen is not this. In fact, we live for those whom Christ has put in our live, mostly our family, we carry this out by living in our vocations, doing honest work. Perhaps, we are missionaries, but flipping hamburgers is truly as God pleasing a work, the only question to be asked is, is it personally satisfying for you. But my son really appreciates a good hamburger, and since we find Christ in our neighbors, the least of these as Christ says (Matthew 25), then making a good hamburger appreciated by others is indeed a service to Christ. However this means those working at McDonalds will be suffering in the third level of hell….
There are some vocations that are not Godly, any way you cut them. It is a service to Christ when you are the best father you can be, the best son, daughter, mother, employer, employee, politician, judge farmer, janitor, Hvac repairman, soldier (yes killing people can be a very God pleasing thing to do), the list could go on. And then the trials, and tribulations you endure in work gain perspective, because it is here you are serving Christ, who suffered and died for you, then these things can bring a great joy, and they become less burdensome as you realize they are in God’s hands.
And that is why it is such a great thing that Jesus, this prophet from Nazareth of Galilee, is who he says he is, the one who truly does come in the name of the Lord, the great I AM, God become man for us men and our salvation.

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