THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 4

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

“I have always looked at these stories as exactly that, stories! Intellectually, I knew them as your people’s history. Now, I believe them to be not just a collection of your history but one continued account; an account of God in the process of redeeming not only your people but all of mankind. In fact, redemption is the key in the process.”

“I am intrigued!” Jacob said eagerly. “Please, go on.”

“Mind you, I am only skimming the surface of God’s process. I really doubt that I will ever figure it all out in my lifetime. But this is what I managed to figure out when I first met John the Baptist. From the Adam and Eve story, mankind had a very close relationship with God. He provided everything for them in the Garden of Eden. But most importantly, we were created to live forever with him. Can you just imagine it, Jacob? Eternity!

“Unfortunately, mankind chose differently. They chose to sin; the most heinous sin of them all… UNBELIEF! What prideful creatures we are, Jacob, for we chose to know better than the creator himself. Even when God gave Adam and Eve an opportunity to repent they would not accept the error of their ways. It is no wonder that God had no choice but to eject them from his presence and the doom of death was laid upon all our heads.

“But death is not the worst of our doom. Mind you, this is just conjecture on my part for I have not found anything solid on what awaits us after death in the book of Moses or any of the other books. There are hints but I cannot put my finger on it now. However, there is a sense of damnation that awaits us. Jesus spoke of an eternal life with God. This made me to think that he is here to save us from the opposite – eternal separation from God. I believe this is mankind’s greatest doom! For are we not created in God’s image? To be eternally separated from God is eternal torture and madness. In fact, this madness is reflected already in mankind’s history and religions as we strive to get back to him. But we can discuss this part later. What is important to consider is that we are DOOMED!

“That is the bad news! The good news is that God had a plan even before he created us. That plan is hinted throughout all of Scripture. Again, I do not have it all figured out. Earlier, I said that redemption is the key. Now, sin prevents us from coming near God. So, God provided a way for us to come to him and that is through animal sacrifice. Why animals? I ask myself. The answer is simple enough. Animals are not under the penalty of sin. They are innocent of sin. We, on the other hand, do not qualify even though we were originally created in his image. If one of us offered ourselves to pay for the penalty of sin, that sacrifice will be rejected off hand. So, the tradition of animal sacrifice had been passed down through the generation. But the true implication of the sacrifice was not known among the other nations, only in yours, for God had focused on your people. It was God who had institutionalized the sacrifice to become eventually the Temple practice.

“However, I think that the whole Temple system was never meant to be permanent. For one thing it is not perfect. We only have to look at the history and see how easily the system can be corrupted. Then there is the frequency of the sacrifice itself. Every year thousands of animals are offered. All of these show me that it is temporary. I think the whole system, every element in the temple – the laver, the altar, the incense, the bread table, the candles, the Ark of the Covenant, the priestly garments, the utensils, and the animals – the whole Temple itself is a shadow of something even more significant to come. I think all of that point to Jesus!”

Cornelius can see a slight frown of skepticism on Jacob’s face. “I know, it sounds thin. But I cannot get it out of my head. Imagine if the blood of a lamb can temporarily purchase forgiveness for just a year, how much more the blood of the Messiah. Do you recall what John, you know, one of the Twelve, told us what John the Baptist called Jesus?”

“No, not really,” said Jacob.

“He said that the Baptist called him, ‘the Lamb of God!’ Jesus has to be the ultimate guilt offering to open the way to God once and for all. It all fits. By his mother’s testimony, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He had no human father. His unique birth qualifies him to be free of the doom of sin; And to add to that, all the miracles that you and I witnessed are clearly testimony of God’s approval.”
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The story continues on in my next post.

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