THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 1

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius was concerned. The Pharisees, scribes, priests and even the Herodians have stepped up their confrontations with Jesus. The reason was quite obvious. Jesus’ popularity has increased in the city while theirs have waned due to the fact that his teachings lately had focused on their collective hypocrisies.

To the crowd he would say, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and yet do not do them.” [Matthew 23:2 NASB]

So far, Cornelius saw that the religious hierarchy has only been sending their lackeys to try to trap Jesus. Two weeks after the festival, Jesus had continued to teach and work miracles in the Temple court, but yet no sign of the High Priest or any of the leadership to offer challenge. But Cornelius knew it was just a matter of time.

One day, as Jesus lounged in the shade of the columns and the crowd have dispersed, he noticed another group of men loudly debating among themselves not too far away. Jesus went over to listen. Cornelius saw that the men who heatedly argued among themselves actually belonged to separate factions in the ruling class. The distinction between them was quite obvious. One group was obviously Pharisees who tend to be long bearded and traditionally garbed. The other group was more cosmopolitan and younger. A number of them sported the Greek look; that is short hair and clean shaven. This group belongs to the faction called the Sadducees.

The Sadducees as Jacob at one time explained is actually a political group that have gained control of the priesthood at about a time of Rome’s conquest of Palestine. Their views are totally opposite of the Pharisees. Much of Scripture they believe has to be interpreted literally. One of their favorites is the literal interpretation of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth’. They also do not believe in the resurrection, hence the source of the argument that Cornelius is watching right now.

One of the Sadducees, a young arrogant priest who did most of the talking saw that Jesus was watching them. In his excitement he called out to Jesus, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ “

Cornelius again noticed that Jesus had an amused look. He nodded his ascent. Arrogantly, the young priest approached Jesus and the rest of the men gathered around them.

“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

The young priest strutted around like a proud rooster of the chicken coop thinking that he had the upper hand. The other Sadducees applauded him as the Pharisees jeered.

Jesus stood up and positioned himself in between the two factions. When they quieted down, he faced the young Sadducee and answered him, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Astonishment was on the faces of both factions as Jesus calmly walked away. Even the young Sadducee appeared unsure of himself. The Pharisees who were pleased in Jesus’ answer talked among themselves, a few of which kept gazing towards Jesus. They all seem to come to an agreement and approach him again.

One of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Him a question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 

And Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

As they consulted among themselves, Jesus asks them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?”

Nicodemus was quick to answer him, “The son of David.” 

Then he said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until i put your enemies beneath your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”  [Matthew 22:23-45 NASB]

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 043

ZACCHAEUS THE LITTLE PUBLICAN
32 AD – Guess Who’s Coming For Lunch – Jericho, Jordan River Valleyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The luncheon was a grand one. Food and drinks were served in every open courtyard of Zacchaeus’ vast villa. Though his house had the distinction of being the home of the hated tax collector, it did not deter many of the town folk to eat his food which was openly provided. Jesus and his entourage with their host had finished their meal under a covered raised pavillion facing the already overcrowded courtyard. Zacchaeus, Jesus and three others were huddled together listening to a confessed story told by their host.

When Jesus smiled and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, the people began to mutter among themselves. Then a young Pharisee among the crowd, spoke out loud, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” [Luke 19:7]

Zacchaeus stood up looking at the grumbling crowd, then he looked down at Jesus who was smiling encouragingly. He came to a decision that had suddenly unburdened his heart.

“Look, Lord!,” He excitedly announced. “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor.”

The people were stunned to silence. But Zacchaeus felt that he had to do more. He saw among the crowd the man that had bullied him and he took revenge on him by cheating him greatly out of his land. Zacchaeus went to him and said out loud, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” [Luke 19:8] Then he reached out a hand. The man’s lofty demeanor softened and slowly he took his hand and shook it.

There was a smatter of clapping among the crowd still stunned by the tax collector’s declaration. But the clapping increased as Jesus himself came down happily laughing and clapping.

Jesus said out loud, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [Luke 19:9,10]

But then the young Pharisee who boldly stood up among his peers challenged Jesus by saying, “Teacher, your teachings are inconsistent!”

Jesus faced him calmly. Emboldened, the Pharisee continued. “I heard you speak to a young rich man. He came to you and asked if he could enter eternal life. You replied to him, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ He declared he had kept them all since he was a boy. Then you said that he lacked one thing; told him to go sell everything and give to the poor; and then follow you. After which he walked away sad. You concluded with, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ Such were your words.” [Mark 10:17-23]

“It is not my teaching that is inconsistent. It is your conclusion that is in error.” Jesus offers no other explanation to the Pharisee who returned to his companions unsatisfied.

Jesus led Zacchaeus into the house with the disciples close behind.

“Master?” It was the disciple Philip asking, “What is the difference between the young rich man and our friend, Zacchaeus?”

“The young rich man’s problem was always his riches. His money was his idol… his god. And most importantly, he was without faith.” Then Jesus took Zacchaeus to the side.

“Zacchaeus, my friend, I must go,” Jesus said.

“Lord, I will follow you,” Zacchaeus begged.

“A time will come when you will. Stay here and be strong in your faith. Soon all things will be made clear.”

“Where will you go, Lord?”

“To see a young girl under a tree.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 43rd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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