Jesus paid for the redemption of mankind with His own life

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Ministerial Association By Jim Squires
Sunday, June 28, 2020
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Last year my daughter-in-law and her folks visited Israel for ten days. Wanting to bring back mementos of her trip she purchased a ram’s horn. Even more important to me was a book entitled “The Heart of a People” by Rabbi Moshe Avraham Kempinski.

The Rabbi tactfully discusses the differences between Christianity and Judaism. His arguments for refusing to accept Jesus as the Christ or promised Messiah are the same arguments that Jesus encountered in His earthly ministry.

By the time Jesus came to earth, Jewish religious thinking and practices had strayed far from what was taught in the inspired Scriptures. The religious leaders of the day​—the Sadducees, Pharisees, and scribes—​ upheld man-made traditions, putting them ahead of God’s written Word.

Time and again they accused Jesus of breaking the Law because he performed miraculous cures on the Sabbath. By forcefully refuting their unscriptural teachings, Jesus challenged both their authority and their claims of having an approved standing with God.

By contrast, Jesus came from a humble background and lacked their formal religious education. No wonder it was so difficult for such proud men to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah! Such confrontations so enraged them that they “took counsel against [Jesus] that they might destroy him.”​—Matthew 12:1-8, 14; 15:1-9.

How could the religious leaders explain away Jesus’ ability to perform miracles? They did not deny that the miracles occurred. Instead, they blasphemously tried to undermine faith in Jesus by attributing his power to Satan, saying: “This fellow does not expel the demons except by means of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”​—Matthew 12:24.

There was another deepseated reason for their adamant refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. After Jesus resurrected Lazarus, leaders of the various religious factions consulted together and said: “What are we to do, because this man performs many signs? If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” For fear of losing their power and position, the religious leaders conspired to kill both Jesus and Lazarus!​—John 11:45-53; 12:9-11.

The attitude of first-century Jewish religious leaders created a social climate that was hostile to anyone accepting Jesus as the Messiah. Taking pride in their prominent positions, they belittled anyone showing faith in Jesus, saying: “Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he?” (John 7:13, 48)

Some Jewish leaders, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, did become disciples of Jesus, but they kept their faith secret out of fear. (John 3:1, 2; 12:42; 19:38, 39)

The Jewish leaders had decreed that “if anyone confessed [Jesus] as Christ, he should get expelled from the synagogue.” (John 9:22) Such a person would be shunned and scorned as a social outcast.

Opposition to Jesus’ apostles and disciples eventually ignited violent persecution. Because of their bold preaching, the apostles suffered at the hands of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. (Acts 5:40)

Opposers framed false charges of blasphemy against the disciple Stephen. He was condemned by the Sanhedrin and stoned to death. Then, “great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” (Acts 6:8-14; 7:54–8:1) Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, shared in a campaign of persecution that was officially supported by the high priest and “the assembly of older men.”​—Acts 9:1, 2; 22:4, 5.

Even under such difficult circumstances, Christianity grew rapidly in the years after Jesus’ death. Although thousands became believers, Christians remained a minority in first-century Palestine. Publicly identifying oneself as a follower of Christ meant risking ostracism and even violence.

As we consider the events of Jesus’ arrest and trials followed by His crucifixion, let us understand that Jesus did the will of His Father.

The price Jesus paid for the redemption of mankind was with His own life.

Do you believe Jesus is who Scriptures tell us? Are you willing to be reconciled to God through His atoning sacrifice and submit to those things that believing in Jesus entails?

Jim Squires preaches at the Church of Christ in Glendive.csquires@midrivers.com

Even under such difficult circumstances, Christianity grew rapidly in the years after Jesus’ death. Although thousands became believers, Christians remained a minority in first-century Palestine.

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