Have you heard this from the pulpit?


 

“We have mocked his (Jesus’) victory by whitewashing the enemy for the sake of our neighbor’s approval.” He blinked and drew a deep breath. “Imagine me talking like that from the pulpit. It would scare the breath out of most of them.””

 from “Heaven’s Wager (The Heaven Trilogy Book 1)” by Ted Dekker
open quote from Amazon.com

Chances are you haven’t heard anything even close to this. 
You should be asking – “why not?”

After all, Jesus Himself said things like this –

Jesus Predicts His Death

Jn 12:20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jn 12:23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Jn 12:27 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jn 12:30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Jn 12:34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
Jn 12:35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Jesus talked about His own death many times. 

He also talks of how His heart is troubled about His impending death.  As do many of us.
However – He goes on to say –

… what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?

No – He is not going to ask the Father to save Him from what’s about to come.

No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

Jesus goes on to say that His death was the very reason that He came to earth!  Without the suffering and death that He’s about to endure, His life would not serve the intended purpose.  That’s because without His suffering and death, there would be no payment for our sins – there would be no justice.  Then we’d be like some other religions, with no hope – leaving it up to us to have to try (and fail) to do enough good to “deserve” going to the next life.

Father, glorify your name!”

Finally, Jesus’ death is also to glorify the name of the Father.

Maybe that sounds weird to you.  How can the death of His Son possibly glorify the name of The Father?
Well – look what we just said happens with that death.  It pays the penalty for our sins – if we accept it.  It allows us to spend the rest of eternity with Him.
If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is.

and Jesus said things like this –

The World Hates the Disciples

Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

A bit after the previously examined verses, we read the ones above – where Jesus tells those who follow Him about how the world will hate them.
And, He reminds us that it’s not really us they hate – it’s Him.  And people hate us because of the simple fact that we follow Him.

and like this –

The Death of Jesus

Jn 19:28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

At the very end of His life, Jesus says It is finished.

He’s on His way back to The Father.  Back to Heaven.

Earlier, when we looked at His purpose on earth – why He was born – it was so we could do the same.

What should we have learned?

Yes – Jesus talked about hatred, persecution and death.
About how those things would come to Him.
And about how, if we follow Him, those same things will come to us.

Jesus also talked about why those things – even especially His death – were so important.

So why do we try to make it look like the Christian life will be so easy?

Why do we try to make it look like the Christian life will be a good life?  I’ve been to churches where they say that God wants us to be happy. 
That He wants us to have lots of “things – even money! 
That’s not what Jesus said at all! 
And yet – we keep hearing it.  We keep wanting to hear it.  We keep wanting it.

And that’s what hit me about the quote at the top –

“We have mocked his (Jesus’) victory by whitewashing the enemy for the sake of our neighbor’s approval.” He blinked and drew a deep breath. “Imagine me talking like that from the pulpit. It would scare the breath out of most of them.””

It made me think about this –
When we talk to people about Jesus – what is our goal?

Is our goal to bring in more people to hear what we have to say? 
Is our goal to become more famous?
Is our goal to bring in more money?

The quote from Heaven’s Wager is spoken by a Pastor.  He’s saying that if he truly delivered the message that Jesus spoke when He was on earth – he’d scare most of the people sitting in front of him.  And so he doesn’t say those things.

But the simple truth is –
if we don’t say those things – we aren’t delivering His message.  We’re delivering ours.
If we don’t say those things – we aren’t getting people to follow Him.  We’re getting them to follow us.
If we don’t say those things – we aren’t showing them the narrow path that leads to Heaven.  We’re showing them the wide path that leads to destruction.

Which path are you on?

I submit to you – we are all on the path upon which we lead others.

Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

As Christians, we are supposed to be examples to others – both Christians and non-Christians.
As such – I also submit that we are also all teachers. 
We lead by example. 
We teach by example.

What are you teaching?

“We have mocked his (Jesus’) victory by whitewashing the enemy for the sake of our neighbor’s approval.” He blinked and drew a deep breath. “Imagine me talking like that from the pulpit. It would scare the breath out of most of them.””

Are you talking about what Jesus actually said?
Are you talking about the fact that this persecution, suffering, and death is all because of “the enemy”? 
It’s all because of Satan – because of the fall – because of Adam & Eve’s choice – because of our choices?

If we don’t talk about these things – we let the enemy – Satan – win.

and then – even though Jesus defeated Satan on the cross –
we will not share in that victory –
and neither will the people we teach – whether intentionally or “merely” by example.

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