What did HE say? (continued)
“…. he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:17-21)
According to Luke, this is the beginning of Jesus ‘public ministry’ and He begins it with an outline of His purpose as was prophesied by Isaiah over 700 years earlier (see Isaiah 61:1-2). From here He began to teach us and is still teaching us through His word today. He is called by some The Teacher alike of Men and Angels and the World Teacher and He is these things and more. He is the Son of the Living God; the Power from On High that was brought to this world in the life of the Master Jesus Christ. He brought with Him the reality of the Kingdom of God and the Power of Love and He left these with us.
He is with us today in presence and we know this because He told us that “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20) though we do not know how this is so. He is also with us in His word which we have in our books and which He intended would be in our hearts. We have His word and interpretation of His word and commentary on His word yet there are still but few who actually understand and do His word. I do not place myself in the category of the few but only in the category of an earnest disciple; one who, in the classical definition of the word, receives or professes to receive instruction from the Master and to be a follower of that instruction. I make no other claims other than, to use the words from a disciples affirmation, ‘I play my part with stern resolve, with earnest aspiration’.
So we have the Master with us till the end and we have His word also; and we have the Christ Within, the Spirit of the Living God inside of each of us. This is the state of man; to live in this world, in the midst of all the worldly ways of living, and to have inside of us that spiritual aspect that is our life and our soul. As we have discussed in numerous posts, it is the point of focus of our minds that determines our place in the scheme of things. If we place our attention on the spiritual we will live that way, reading and meditating on the word and growing into a better understanding. And we have His word to help us and to teach us; to heal us and to set us at liberty from the pain and the sorrow inherent in living according to the ways of the world of men.
Now His words are rather clear; much clearer that the words of the epistles which we, as a people, choose to follow rather that the words of the Master. But it is in the words of Jesus that there is true salvation and true redemption and the proper understanding of what He means when He says that “but if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11:20) and what He means when He tells us that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Does this not tell us that we should not be waiting for and planning for a place, after the death of this mortal body, in the ‘heavenly places’ but that we should be looking for and striving towards living in the Kingdom here and now. What else could we take from these words. The Christian world spends much time on the idea of the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ Jesus and on salvation from eternal damnation. But little time is spent on the words of Jesus regarding the presence of the Kingdom of God both here and now and, more importantly, the Kingdom of God within each of us. Dwelling in the Kingdom here and now is our assurance of that ‘eternal life’ that the churches preach.
The words of the Master on the subject of eternal life say little to help us to understand what it really means to us as children of God. From the words we should get that eternal means without beginning and without end; has always been and always will be** and that this Greek word for life, zoe, means life; the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate; every living soul**. These are the common meanings of these word and they are rather constant across all sources; they are also some of the more difficult words to comprehend with our finite minds. They must, of course, be understood spiritually based on two facts. First that eternal cannot be of form because we see that forms come and go and the word means always was and always will be and second that life is just that life, it is the state of being. So in this phrase, eternal life, we need to have the understanding that by definition we are, we have always been, and we will be forever and , of course, as the spiritual beings that we essentially are and not this as gross form that we see in the mirror. Hard to understand but far less nebulous than that eternal life promised by the churches which brings the quality of this earth life to a heavenly realm forever.
In His words are Life and His teaching on Eternal Life says it is intended to start here and now and not as some reward for believing or proclaiming. Let us look at some of what He said. Speaking about those who did not see the Lord in the stranger and the sick He said “Then shall he answer them, saying , Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:45-46). For us here the keywords are that the righteous, those who do see the Lord in the stranger and the sick, etc., go into eternal life; He never mentions death or resurrection. Speaking about those who left all and followed Him He says: “…. Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:23-30). Here the context is key; they who have given up all for the Kingdom shall, in the world to come, dwell there forever.
One more example on this from the Gospel of John “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:15-17). Now this is the kind of verse that gives much confidence in the churches because in it eternal life is for the believer, so called, and sometimes this is to the exclusion of the sayings above from Mark and in Matthew. Should this saying have any more weight than the others or should they be seen equal and complementing each other? Looking closer at the saying in John we should see that the Greek word pisteuo that is translated as believeth is alternately translated as commit unto, commit to (one’s) trust, be committed unto, be put in trust with, be commit to one’s trust** and that Strong’s defines it as to believe, put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow***. In these definitions and usages we should see a bit more depth in the word and, in this deeper understanding, see that those who are committed to the Christ and follow Him and His word will not perish but have everlasting life.
This may seem an odd place to start this dialogue on ‘What did HE say’ but it seemed to me to be appropriate in that this theme of eternal life is so important to the life of the Christian today. What the Master says about this is, in my perception of modern Christianity, not readily addressed and the idea of being a true follower as seen in His statements above are little taught or understood as a criteria for this ‘reward’.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
Again I did not get to change the Quote of the Day and so we are left with Friday’s for yet another day; I’ll try to be better prepared in the future. On a positive note, there are few sayings that can mean more to our life with the Christ that this one.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (Hebrews 3:14). This is the first time that a quote has been recycled but since I thought that it fit so well in this theme, I decided to use it again. In this quote of the day is found the Faith that is needed to bring the life of the Christ Within to expression in this world. Is there a better way this could have been said? Hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast so that once we see the Light or feel the effect of Faith that we should not turn back but we should stay with the Light toward our goal which is to be part with Christ and to bring forth the Christ Within. Jesus reflects on this when He says also: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Be STEADFAST.
- ** from New Testament Greek Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
- *** Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – 2001