The Greatest Gift, Remembered

I’m haven’t really had a chance to write in a while.  I apologize for that, but life happens.  But I was thinking about this week and the coming Easter holiday, and decided that there is no better time or subject to write about.

When thinking about God, I sometimes follow a particular train of thought that helps me put things in perspective.  Do you know those websites or apps that compare the size of objects in space?  It starts by comparing the size of the Earth to the moon and the closer planets.  Then you scroll out and compares the size of the Earth to the outer planets.  Then it compares Jupiter to the Sun.  Then goes on to compare the size of various stars that make our sun look tiny.  After the stars it shows nebulas, galaxies and galaxy clusters, and eventually it shows the known universe.  It really is an awesome thing to see, and it humbles you.  It really shows how insignificant and small we really are in this great big universe.  But that is just the creation.  I then expand my feeling of awe when I think of the One that created it all.  He, being not bound by His vast creation, and is omnipresent, is bigger still than all of it.  Bigger in more ways than we can comprehend.  The power He has to create it all is baffling, yet it is all done at the mere command of His voice.  As I meditate on these things, I truly get a sense of just how awesome God is.  Even so, I acknowledge that itself as an understatement.

After I have put creation in proper perspective, I move on to God’s interaction with His creation.  I think of how we will swat a fly with out a second thought, because a house fly seems so insignificant to us.  It’s very lifespan is nothing compared ours.  Then I remember our little spec of existence in creation, and the vapor in the wind that our lives are.  God could look at us like we do flies.  And as the Creator, He has every authority to “swat” us as He pleases.  But what does He do instead?

Picture God in His position of greatness over all of creation.  Now He willingly stepped out of that position, to take on the insignificant human form, as Jesus, on our tiny spec of a planet.  God Almighty, the Great I AM, the Creator of that huge vast universe we spoke of earlier, got down on His knees in human form and washed the feet of His followers.  This being considered at that time a base task for the lowliest of servants.  Think about that a moment before continuing.

Jesus then willingly let Himself be beaten, insulted, shamed, and executed.  Executed by one of the most sadistic methods mankind has ever concocted.  He lived a perfect life.  He did no wrong.  Consider that next time you say life is unfair.  And in that moment in time, He was looking up and down the corridor of time and taking all of our sins and accepting the punishment for them.  He had our names on His mind.  He was thinking of His followers.  He was thinking of me.  He was thinking of you.  For God so loved YOU that He sent His Son, so that if YOU believed in Him YOU would not perish.  Because if we do not accept His sacrifice, then we ourselves must bear the punishment for our own iniquities.  And we do not possess the power over death and therefore cannot conquer it.

Think about the vastness of the known universe.  Think about the greatness of the Creator of that universe.  And remember this Sunday just how small He willingly made Himself, and what He subjected Himself to.  All because He loved us.  He loved us not because of what could become, but He loved us in our sinful state.  Because it is in our sinful state that He first calls to us.

The words here really do not do justice to what I feel when I follow this train of thought.  Awestruck wonder seems to fall short of the mark.  This week, I will remember how Jesus loved such a small insignificant spec in His creation enough to become human and experience a painful death so that I might live.  How will you remember Him this week?

 

-JCH

Regarding The “Gospel” of Barnabas

[Editor’s Note:  It has been pointed out to me that this post was misleading in the beginning.  Let me point out from the beginning that I am in no way endorsing the false “Gospel” of Barnabas.]

 

I saw this being passed around social media toady.  Take a moment and read.

http://www.truth-code.com/2014/12/1500-year-old-bible-claims-jesus-christ.html

[Editor’s Note:  I began by providing the original article for the purpose of showing what it was that I was writing about.  This way, the reader has the option to look over the material in question.]

I find it presumptuous to say that the Vatican is in awe.  Though I do not speak for the Vatican, nor does it speak for me.  So I looked into the claim.  The first thing I notice is that it says that Jesus was not crucified nor was He the Son of God, but a prophet.  According to this, Judas was crucified in His place.  I read a verse from this “gospel” and it says that the appearance and sound of Judas was changed to be like that of Jesus.  Jesus in turn supposedly ran away and hid, and was then taken away by archangels.  This “gospel” also calls Paul a fraud.

[Editor’s Note:  In the previous paragraph, I merely mention some of the claims of this document.  In the following paragraph, I point out the terrible implications of these claims.  I then provide a couple of my own thoughts on why this document is simply not true.]

Allow me to pick through this for a minute.  Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is the case and the book is genuine.  Jesus said that the greatest act of love was for one to give his life for another.  Which is exactly what the Bible teaches that Jesus did, by giving His life for all of us.  This writing implies that God did not perform the greatest act of love.  It says that God did not even come to Earth in the flesh.  What are the implications of this thought?  They are quite terrible actually.  First, we must do away with Isaiah’s suffering servant.  That prophecy clearly will not fit here.  A perfect sacrifice as symbolized by the Jewish sacrificial system was not performed in Jesus, and in turn our sins are not washed away, and we are all still slaves under the Law and living in sin.  We cannot  hope to save ourselves and we are all doomed to Hell.  Now let us look at the Apostles, who all but one died very horrible deaths for what they believed.  Which was the risen Christ.  Of course anyone can die for something they believe, even if what they believe is wrong.  But consider this, the apostles were in a position to know the truth.  Therefore, they would have been teaching a known lie.  In doing so, they would in the end have died for a lie.  This is something quite different.  They had nothing to gain in dying for what they knew was a lie.  And they had everything to lose in teaching the lie.  Not something very many people would do, especially eleven people all at once.  I’m quite sure had it been a lie, someone would have squealed.  But there is silence from these Church fathers in terms of refute.  Also, what of the body of Judas?  Had this not been Jesus, all the authorities would have to do is examine the body after the supposed sightings of a risen Jesus.  They would have know something was up and would have exposed the conspiracy.  But they had no body to examine.  The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers.  It is highly unlikely that a group of common fishermen got past them to roll away a huge sealed stone from the tomb and stole the body of an imposter.  In fact, the empty tomb itself is one of the greatest pieces of evidence of the day.  If there were no empty tomb, it is highly improbable that the first community of believers would grow by the thousands within the walls of Jerusalem.  With the tomb a stone’s throw away, they could easily go and witness the tomb.  If it was sealed, or a body was present, the credibility and growth of the new Church would have been doomed from the start and we would not have Christianity today.

This is my own initial views of the matter, and the “problem” dissolved into nothing after considering the validity of the “gospel.”  But still I looked further, and I found an article on the very subject.  Take a few minutes to check it out.

http://www.answering-islam.org/Nehls/Answer/barnabas.html

[Editor’s Note:  I begin the conclusion of this post with another article that discusses this document in some detail, and it points out why it is clearly a fabricated piece.]

Of course there will always be those who have something to say about it.  They will claim to have no bias regarding the issue.  But I find it quite rare that a person in these situations are without bias.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God.”   – Acts 5:27-39  (Emphasis added)

There will always be someone who tries to say Christianity is false.  They will likely not listen to any evidence that disproves or contradicts their theories.  If Christianity is of man, it will fail one day.  But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop it.  And in trying, you will find yourself opposing God Himself.

-JCH

[Editor’s Note:  I hope that the few added notes on this post help prevent future misunderstandings on where I stand in regards to the subject discussed.  Thank you for reading and come back anytime.]