Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jesus in Jerusalem

Insight #12 June 20, 2015
Second Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Jesus in Jerusalem"
For the week of June 20, 2015

The Triumphal Entry

The lesson commences with the triumphal entry of Christ. How glorious would that day have been as the hopes of the people soared to new heights in the thought of deliverance from their Roman captors! Yet these hopes were never to be realised, and the bitter disappointment only urged many of those who had glorified Christ that day to cry more vehemently but a few days later, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

From the Mount of Olivet, Christ looked upon the city; and wept. She had been given privileges and opportunities beyond that given to any other nation, yet she had not rendered the "fruit of the vineyard" back to God. He discerned the angel of mercy folding her wings to step down from the throne to give place to judgment; and an awful cry of anguish poured forth from a heart breaking on the nation's behalf.

Question 1 in the lesson asks an important question: "His disciples were so caught up in the traditions and teachings and expectations of their own time and culture that they completely missed His earlier warnings about what would take place and what it all meant. . . What He said went so much against what they expected that they blocked it out. How can we make sure we aren't doing the same thing when it comes to biblical truth?"  

As applicable to Christ's withdrawal from Israel as from Judea, is the following statement: "As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated." (E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 232.)

Today, the message of Christ Our Righteousness is being revived in our hearts and it has brought new hope and new life to our parched and fainting souls. Yet the truthfulness of the above statement must be confessed in even our day; that this message of Christ Himself – the gift to every believer – "has been rejected in every succeeding generation" since it was first proclaimed in 1888. Taylor Bunch, Robert Wieland, Donald Short, etc., sought to revive the message in their generations but it was met with the same reaction as in 1888: it "has been slighted, spoken against, ridiculed, and rejected." (E. G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 467.)

Cleansing the Temple

"When Jesus began His public ministry, He cleansed the temple from its sacrilegious profanation. Almost the last act of His ministry was to cleanse the Temple again." (E. G. White, Selected Messages, Vol. 3 p. 405.)

Christ must have a pure church before it will show forth His glory to the world. In Counsels for the Church, this cleansing work is described:

"I was shown the people of God, and saw them mightily shaken... I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God's people." (E. G. White, Counsels for the Church, p. 338.)

The Unfaithful

In 1888, through Elders Waggoner and Jones, the True Witness appealed to the church, identifying that they were deceived in regard to their true spiritual condition. "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev 3:17). Through His messengers, He sought to awaken them to their need of Himself and His own right-doing. But many were not willing to humbly confess their need, were offended, and turned away from the Giver and the gift. Despite the many precious blessings that had been bestowed upon them, they returned not to their Lord the "fruits of the vineyard" and smote the servants whom He sent.

God Versus Caesar

Our own lives belong to God; and it has been given to us that we might fulfil the purpose of our Maker. "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory" (Isa 43:7). God has placed a certain degree of power into the hands of worldly governments for our protection. Likewise, into the hands of the government of the church, "for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account" (Heb 13:17). As far as possible, we are to follow peace with all men, rendering to earthly governments and church authorities an obedience that does not conflict with obedience to God. Yet, God reigns supreme and our ultimate accountability is to Him; therefore it is imperative that we recognize God's messengers and His message and not depend upon any one else's knowledge or opinion; or we will make the same mistake as the disciples did of old. In this day, when many voices are crying, "Here is Christ! There is Christ!" and when "the shaking of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves" (E. G. White, Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 89), we must know for ourselves "what saith the Lord".

"To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only?" (E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 625.) 

The Lord's Supper

From the lesson:

"… What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated." (E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 389.)

It is only as we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, receiving His word – His life – into our own personal experience, that we will stand unmoved in the final crisis. In 1888, Christ was offering His own perfect life to each and every member of the church. Many were satisfied with their own righteousness and felt no need of the gift. Today, we must confess our own desperate case – that all our right-doing is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). True, it is not an easy thing to confess the truthfulness of Romans 3:12 ("there is none that doeth good, no, not one") for we all have some "form" of godliness; but what is the source of our power? Do we perform all our "good works" or is it God who "worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure? (Phi 2:13)

Robert Wieland and Donald Short make a very interesting statement in their manuscript 1888 Re-Examined: "What is so urgently needed is an understanding of human nature in the light of the true atonement. Jones and Waggoner began to probe into that discovery, but the probing was so unwelcome to self that it was arrested." (R. J. Wieland, D. K. Short, 1888 Re-Examined, p. 203.)

As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we show the Lord's death until He comes. Christ died because He took our sinful selves upon Him. Let us therefore remember that we also are "crucified with Christ". From A. T. Jones:

"The man who is connected with himself is connected with the world, and the world is Babylon. . . To be delivered from sin, then, is to be delivered from ourselves. That is what it is to come out of Babylon. . ."  (A. T. Jones, 1895 General Conference Bulletin, p. 142.)

If we want to be among those who will give the call to "Come out of Babylon!" we must be dead to self. If self is still alive when that time comes, we will be offended. Then let us, now, learn the lessons of the past that we do not make the same mistakes again. Let us receive the message that God offered to His church 127 years ago with all its additional depth and beauty which God has promised will accompany its return. And if it hurts, and self wants to kick and scream and throw tantrums, kill it – let it go to the grave with Christ; and remember:

"Don't look to feelings. Feelings are as variable as the wind. You know that is so. Never pay a particle of attention to them. It is none of your business how you feel. (A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, p. 402.)

Open the windows of the soul wide toward the heavens, and pray, "Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus King of Kings." God loves that prayer, and He will never fail to answer it.

- Camron Schofield

Raul Diaz