27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
John 7:25-27 NLT
The people knew Jesus was the man the Jewish leaders were trying to kill. They wondered how He could preach in public without being arrested. Did the leaders really believe this man was the Messiah? They decided that that was impossible since they knew where Jesus had been born and raised. If they knew this and they knew the prophecies concerning the Messiah, how could they possible come to the conclusion that no one would know where Messiah came from? After all, there were hundreds of prophecies fulfilled by the birth, life and death of Jesus. It should have been crystal clear to them that Jesus would be born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, that He would be of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David. Messiah must be born of a woman to fulfill the prophecy in Genesis.
15 From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”—-Genesis 3:15 (NLT)
But we should not be surprised, even today, with the myriad of historical and Biblical proof there is available, people still find ways to disbelieve. It is our job to pray and to speak the truth in love. We must follow Paul’s example.
23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.–1 Cor. 9:23 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
8 God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith.
— Acts 15:8, 9 NLT
The believers of the sect of the Pharisees wanted to require that all of the new believers who had not been circumcised must do so. Peter stated that that was a requirement under the law and the law had been too heavy a burden for the Jews to bear. So, he asked, knowing this, why would you lay this same unbearable burden on the new believers? Throughout the history of the church, there have always been those who wanted to add requirements to God’s simple plan of salvation. God says that “we are saved by grace through faith” There is nothing else that is acceptable in His sight. Nothing less and nothing more. That’s it. When the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him, Jesus assured him that they would be together in paradise. Nothing less, nothing more. That is the key that unlocks the gates to heaven. Once that step is taken, there are things that need to be done to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus said He brought to us. Those things do not add to the salvation plan, they just make for a more purposeful, abundant lifestyle here on earth and more rewards when you get to heaven.
12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the palace gate, but Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. — Esther 6:12 NLT
We are familiar with the story of Esther and how God exalted her to the position of queen in a most unlikely situation. Besides Esther, there are three other people God had positioned strategically for this particular time. God needed a man with the the authority to make things happen so He had positioned Xerxes as king. He needed a villain, He chose Haman for this role. Haman was the perfect villain for this time, he hated Mordecai and all of the Jews. God needed a hero, someone who would refuse to bow to the villain and with the backbone to stand up for God’s people. He chose Mordecai who had a little known history with the king. In the past, he had warned the king about a plot to kill the king and for this he had never been rewarded (at least not in earthly ways). Mordecai was also a man of compassion. We know this because he had taken his cousin, Hadassah, also known as Esther and raised her as his own daughter after his uncle died. God had prepared and positioned each of these people to carry out His plan to free His people and destroy the enemy. God is preparing each of us to do the same thing today. Are we ready and willing to do our part when all the people involved come together? If not, how do we get ready?
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 NLT
15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. — 2 Chronicles 36:15
Because of His great love and compassion, God had warned the Israelites again and again. The people and the leaders would repent and be faithful for a while. Then they would go back to their wicked ways and worship the idols of the nations around them. God would bring up armies against them, but He had never allowed them to completely destroy Jerusalem. This time, they had gone too far. Just as the prophets had told Josiah, God would allow the city to be destroyed and the people taken captive. He brought the Egyptains against the city and the Judahites had to pay tribute to the king of Egypt. Then, God brought the Babylonians against Judah to completely lay waste to Jerusalem and the land of Judah. They took the people to Babylon where they would remain in captivity until Cyrus of Persia became king. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemened to repeat it.” is a statement attributed to George Santayana in 1863. Our nation can learn and remember what God did to His chosen people, the Israelites or we will be condemned to repeat their failures as well. God has repeatedly sent His modern day prophets and preachers to warn our country to repent, turn from our wicked ways and return unto the God of our Fathers. Let us join together in prayer that we and our leaders will learn from history so that God can continue to bless us and not allow our great country to be destroyed.
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. 17 Then the Pharisees once again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “This man who opened your eyes — who do you say he is?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” 18 The Jewish leaders wouldn’t believe he had been blind, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he see?” 20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. He is old enough to speak for himself. Ask him.”22 They said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough to speak for himself. Ask him.” —John 9:16-23 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the Way.
About Jesus, some said He can’t be from God or He wouldn’t heal on the Sabbath. Others asked: then how can He do these miracles? No ordinary sinner could do this.” So, the discussion goes on and on. The Pharisees asked the former blind man “….who do you say He is?” The leaders called the parents to confirm that this man really had been born blind. They testified that he was their son and yes, he had been born blind. But because of their fear of the Pharisees, they denied knowing who healed him or how he was healed. Instead, they said, “he is old enough to speak for himself, ask him”. How sad that these parents could not celebrate the healing of their son because of their fear. Now, we must ask the same question and answer it for ourselves. “Who do you say He is?” Was he just a man? Or was that baby born in a manger early Christmas morning really the Messiah? That baby grew into a man who divided history to “before” (BC) and “after” (AD). His name still divides families and nations today. But that Man also gave His life so that you could be redeemed and live without fear. Accept Jesus and live a life of peace and joy that the world can never know. “Who do you say He is?”
13 Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.–Esther 4:13-17 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
The Jewish nation is celebrating Purim, a celebration based on the story of Esther and her role in their history. Just as Esther was “made queen for such a time as this”, God has placed each of us here and at this time in history for our part in His eternal plan. We can be like Esther and participate in God’s plan. Or we can refuse, then God will raise up someone else to continue His work. As Mordecai pointed out to Esther, our cooperation or lack of it will not deter God from accomplishing His plan. It will mean, however, that we will have one less reward stored up in heaven. Cooperate in God’s plan to bring people into His Kingdom. How sad it will be, if we enter heaven empty-handed because we refused to be obedient and participate in His work here on earth.