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An Open Mind

An Open Mind

As we’re nearing the end of our study through the Gospel of Luke, we’re seeing the events surrounding the risen Christ. In my last two posts, I talked about His encounter with some of the disciples along the road.

They returned to Jerusalem to tell the others that Christ had risen. You may want to read Luke 24:33-45 before continuing.

As they talked together, the Lord appeared in the room with them. They were still confused and doubting what was happening. Jesus explained that everything was foretold by Scripture.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Luke 24:45 NIV

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the Spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the Spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:5 NIV

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times, we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually, it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2 NIV

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place, it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Lighting the Fire

Lighting the Fire

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post I started talking about the followers of Christ in Luke 24:9-32. They were discouraged and double-minded concerning Jesus’ death. After encountering the risen Lord everything changed.

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32 NIV

They said that their hearts burned within them. In order to understand what happened we need to go back to that point. According to the men, it was when Jesus talked with them on the road. Let’s look at what He said to them.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27 NIV

As they were walking along the road Jesus explained the Scripture to them. What would you give to have an experience like that? The Lord, Himself, explaining the Scripture to you. It turns out that you can.

The word explained that’s used in this verse is very special. It’s the word that’s normally translated as interpretation; as in the spiritual gift of interpretation. This explanation that Jesus gave them was no boring lecture. It was an anointed Word straight from the Spirit of God.

That’s what will ignite the fire, not only in those early saints, but in us as well.

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 23:29 NIV

God declares to us that His Word is like a fire. That’s the Word that Jesus proclaimed to these men on the road to Emmaus. As He spoke to them, the Lord lit a fire in their hearts.

We can have this same experience today. As we spend time in the presence of the Lord, we must have a listening ear. When we hear a Word from the Holy Spirit it will ignite a fire in our heart.

My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue…
Psalms 39:3 NIV

God’s Word to us starts the fire burning. But as we meditate on it, the flames increase until it is all consuming. That’s a part of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church today. He brings a Word from God to our attention – if we’re listening.

That’s the key. I’ve heard people pray for God to “send the fire.” It’s not a matter of Him sending it, but of us receiving it. We need to hear a Word from God to get it kindled in our heart. Then meditate on that Word in order to heat it up.

That means we need to develop a sensitive, listening ear in the spirit. And that only comes as we spend time in the presence of the Lord. I’m talking about intimate times where we’re not doing most of the talking.

If you want to feel the fire of the spirit, then you must learn to wait upon the Lord to hear His voice.

Question: What has the Lord spoken to you lately by His Spirit?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2023 in Anointing, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Hearts on Fire

Hearts on Fire

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. At this point we’re in the final chapter. Christ has risen from the dead. The women went to the tomb and had an encounter with some angels who told them of the resurrection.

We can learn some important truths from what happens next. You may want to read Luke 24:9-32 before continuing with this post.

At this time, Christ began showing Himself to groups of His followers in various places. At one point two of them were walking from Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus. They had an encounter with the risen Lord, only they didn’t know who it was.

Jesus acted like He didn’t know what had happened in Jerusalem. The disciples shared their grief with Him.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Luke 24:25-27 NIV

It wasn’t until Christ vanished that they knew who He was. Later, once they knew who they’d been with, they discussed it.

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32 NIV

The key point is that their hearts were burning. So, let’s start at the beginning. If this is about their hearts, then how did they begin the process? This is an important question.

As I said before, they didn’t know at first that they were talking to Jesus. He asked them why they looked so sad. They were amazed that there was a person who had no idea of what had just taken place in Jerusalem.

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.”

Luke 24:19-21 NIV

This is one of the most amazing confessions of faith AND unbelief that I’ve ever seen! On the one hand they saw in Christ the power of the Word of God. They were inspired to place their hope in Him as the Redeemer of Israel.

Yet at the same time they were walking in defeat, believing that there was nothing more to hope for. It was over. The chief priests and rulers destroyed the dream.

In this condition, they were what James called double-minded.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James 1:6-8 NIV

Being double-minded doesn’t mean that you doubt everything. You’re trusting God for some things, while doubting others. You may trust God to save your soul, yet not believe that He wants to provide for your needs.

That’s the place that many Christians find themselves in today. They know what God’s Word says, yet they have no idea how to apply it to their lives. They’re hoping that God will do something in them, while at the same time they expect nothing to happen.

This is where the burning hearts come in. In my next post we’ll see the Lord’s remedy for this double-minded dilemma.

Question: When have you found yourself both trusting and doubting God at the same time?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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What Are You Preparing For?

What Are You Preparing For?

As we continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke, we’ve just witnessed the death of Christ on the cross. He was buried and laid in the tomb for three days. Now we’ll see the best part of the story.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:1-3 NIV

Recently, I noticed this gem in the Scripture for the first time. I was reading my Bible and the words seemed to jump out at me. The women who had followed Jesus’ ministry were very faithful to Him. They worked to support the ministry while He was alive.

When Jesus went to the cross, they were devastated. But they continued to serve Him the best that they could. This verse says that they prepared spices for His body.

Because Jesus’ crucifixion took place so close to the Sabbath, they were not able to go through the normal embalming process when He was placed in the tomb. It was only after the Sabbath was over that they could proceed with it.

This was quite a bit of work on the part of these women. It involved grinding the spices to a fine powder. Then they had to crush a resin in a mortar and pestle. Only after this was done and the spices mixed, could they go to the tomb.

The problem was – all that work was for nothing. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! Embalming spices were not necessary. The Holy Spirit started to speak to me about our walk with God.

How often do we give up on something – a plan, dream, or ministry – because it doesn’t seem to be working. We just want to put it out of its misery. So we go through all the work of preparing for its demise. Then, to our surprise, God supernaturally brings life to it again.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered his words.

Luke 24:4-8 NIV

We have to heed the words of the angels to the women. “Remember how He told you…” That was the key for them, as well as us.

We need to remember the things that God has spoken to us. That’s why we should have a prayer journal of some sort. We should always be able to go back and remind ourselves of the interactions we’ve had with the Lord.

Sometimes it looks like the things we heard will never happen. Circumstances, situations, and setbacks can rob us of our vision. But thankfully, God is not bound by circumstances.

We need to remember that we serve a God who can raise the dead. Never give up on a God-given dream. It may go through a “death cycle.” But God is not bound to how things appear on the surface.

Don’t waste your time preparing for defeat, when the Lord’s plan is for your victory. Let Him have the final say in your situation.

Question: What are some God-given dreams that you’ve laid aside?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Is It Really Over?

Is It Really Over?

We’re at the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus Christ is on the cross, giving His life for our redemption.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NIV

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension. You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth. It was made of leather panels stitched together. It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen. If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit. There may be trials along the way. There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God. But, God’s power shines brightest when we’re at our weakest.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Luke 23:47-49 NIV

This wasn’t something that was done in secret. There were many people surrounding the cross. They watched as He gave His life.

Many of these people had placed their hopes in Christ. Now that dream was gone.

Maybe they were all praying for a miracle as they watched everything taking place. They could have hoped that at the last moment, angels would swoop down and take Jesus off the cross. They watched and waited, but the Messiah stayed on the cross.

Now it was over. There was nothing left to do but to take care of the body. A member of the Sanhedrin stepped up and came out of the shadows.

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Luke 23:50-54 NIV

Joseph was a man who was highly respected. He could have remained as a secret follower of Christ. Instead, he summoned his inner strength, and received the body of Jesus. Joseph did what he could to prepare the body for burial. He even gave the Lord his own tomb that had never been used.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23:55-56 NIV

Once the body was laid to rest, the tomb was sealed. It was finished.

At least that’s what everybody thought. What went through their minds as they tried to sleep that night? It seemed like God had failed them.

It’s like us sometimes. We give God a time limit. We think He needs to answer us by this time. Then, when nothing happens, we get upset at God.

“Lord, I trusted You. Why didn’t You answer my prayer?”

What we miss, sometimes, is that God isn’t bound by our limits and weaknesses. He can bring about His plan even after we think it’s too late.

The people of Scripture thought the same way as us. Jesus is dead and buried in the ground. There’s no way that He can save Israel now.

Understand this. God always has a bigger plan than we can see. It’s never too late for the Lord to turn things around. Put your trust in Him and never waver in your faith.

We know how the story will finish!

Question: When has God answered your prayer even when you thought it was too late?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Save Yourself?

Save Yourself?

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now seeing Christ on the cross and all that means to us. Listen as the crowd mocks Him.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Luke 23:35-39 NIV

As emotionally charged as this scene is, there’s something for us to take note of. There’s an overall theme of what’s being said to the Lord. “Save yourself!”

I think that we lose sight of this truth sometimes. The will of God often goes against the natural tendencies of our humanity.

The world and even our own flesh will cry out for us to save ourselves. Surely there must be something we can do to get out of the mess we find ourselves in. However, that’s carnal thinking.

Jesus prepared the disciples for what His attitude would be on the cross.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 NIV

There was a work that needed to be done. The only possible way was by means of the cross. There was no accomplishing our salvation and at the same time saving Himself. Jesus totally surrendered to the will of the Father.

We are not called to anything less. The road that we walk, many times, requires us to deny ourselves for the sake of others. Our flesh may be insisting that we save ourselves. But that’s not the example that was laid down for us.

Even in His pain and suffering, there was a work that Christ needed to be doing for those around Him. There was one more act of compassion that had to be done before His death.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:40-43 NIV

I can’t even fathom the love of the Lord at this point. My attitude would have been a lot different.

“Really, Father? I’m dying here. Do you really expect me to minister to this man in my condition?”

I’m so glad that Christ lived above our petty self-centeredness. His life was never about Himself, but always for the betterment of others.

That’s the key to a fulfilled life in Christ. We must accurately portray who He is through our daily lives.

But we’ll never be able to live up to this in our own strength and ability. The only way to accomplish such a lifestyle is through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s why we need to spend quality time in the Lord’s presence. It’s only as He imparts His love, boldness, and strength, that we can hope to minister as Jesus did. Let the Lord’s example motivate you to seek His face for the days ahead.

Question: How much of the Lord’s compassion do you see in your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2023 in Faith, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Forgiveness Begins

Forgiveness Begins

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now at the crucifixion of Christ. There’s so much for us to see in this section of Scripture.

Sometimes we need to be reminded about the simplest concepts. Something as common as forgiveness should be reviewed again and again so that it stays fresh in our hearts. Christ is our greatest example of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34 NIV

In the past I’ve shared about what forgiveness is. It started out as God’s idea. In the Old Testament, God is the only one who ever forgave. Forgiveness is the end of the penalty for our actions. It cancels the demand for retribution. It also frees us from the guilt.

If you want to read the original series in more detail, click here.

Jesus started the process of our forgiveness even while being humiliated and ignored on the cross. But, how does this process work? Let’s start with King David in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.

It all began when he stayed home from battle when he should have been with his army. He ended up on his porch, watching his neighbor’s wife as she bathed. David ended up being involved in adultery, murder, and a cover-up.

God sends the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with these sins. David is convicted, repents, and writes a song about his experience. (Psalm 51)

In the first 4 verses of Psalm 51 he used 5 different words for sin. He wanted to make sure he covered everything. That’s how forgiveness starts.

The first step – Sin is committed. There is a failure, a hurt against someone. But the truth is that no matter who gets hurt, there’s one important truth we need to recognize.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:4 NIV

Think about all that were hurt by David’s actions. There was Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan, David’s family, as well as the whole nation of Israel. In spite of all this hurt, David recognized that the sin was against God only.

This is the key. We have such a high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we were created to be perfect. Anything less offends God. There is no sin we could possibly commit that’s not against God.

There is good news, however. That’s not the end of the story. The next step is that once sin is committed, forgiveness is purchased.

We know from Scripture that without blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Testament Law there had to be a sacrifice. The Good News is that we live after the cross.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

The blood of Christ paid for our forgiveness once and for all. It was the one perfect payment needed.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

This verse says that we have been loosed off by His blood and our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is available to all.

But that’s also a problem. It’s available to all, but it’s not yet manifest. That’s what the Good News of Christ is all about. It’s communicating the forgiveness of God to the world.

Each one of us, as believers, should be proclaiming this great Gospel.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2023 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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The Burdens of Christ

The Burdens of Christ

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. As we do, we’re now at the crucifixion of the Lord. This is one of the most important events in all of history.

But, before He ever went to His cross, Jesus told us that we each need to carry our own cross. What does that mean to us? I believe that the events surrounding His crucifixion, give us some insights.

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26 NIV

The first thing we see is that in His weakened state, the Lord was physically unable to carry the full weight of His cross. So, a man named Simon was made to carry it.

Nobody volunteers to carry a cross. He had to be forced to do it, and it wasn’t even Simon’s cross.

We may not want to do it, but carrying our cross is a choice every believer has to make. It’s a daily decision. It’s not some situation that we find ourselves in.

I’ve heard some women say about their husband, “You’re my cross that I have to bear.” That’s absolutely not what’s meant by carrying the cross. It’s all about a daily choice to deny the flesh and follow the leading of the Spirit.

However, there’s more to the story that we need to see.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘

For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31 NIV

This section of Scripture shows the compassion of Jesus Christ in a powerful way. The Lord is too weak, physically, to carry His cross. Someone else has to bear the weight for Him.

Yet, at the same time, we see Him spiritually strong enough to bear the burdens of others. There are crowds of people following Christ to the place of His execution. Jesus looks at them and shows His concern for them.

Any other person in that place would be worried about themselves.

“I’ve got my own problems. Yes, weep for me. Show me your support of what I’ve done. Encourage me to do what I have to do.”

But, through all of this, Jesus shows that His focus is not on Himself. He’s doing this for others. For the crowd watching, as well as for you and me. He showed in this instance that there was no self-centeredness in His makeup.

He looked at these women and had compassion on them. He saw their future. Israel was going to be attacked and destroyed. All of its people would be scattered across the world. He was bearing the burden of that knowledge.

We need to follow his example. Yes, there are things we’re going through and battles that we’re fighting. But that doesn’t excuse us from ministering to the needs of others.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 NIV

We’re not told to help others only when everything’s going great for us. That’s not the example Christ laid down for us. We’re to help one another even when it’s not convenient.

Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. Let Him strengthen you, not only for your trials, but in order to be an encouragement to others.

Question: How have you helped others while going through your own trials?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2023 in Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Conspiracy Theory?

Conspiracy Theory?

We’re going through the Gospel of Luke. At this point we’re looking at the Lord’s trial before Pilate, the Roman governor. You may want to read Luke 23:1-25 before continuing with this post.

So many times, believers get the wrong idea about Pontius Pilate when they read the Scripture. They think he’s a spineless coward. Why would he give in to the crowd?

What most people don’t know is that this snapshot of Pilate is very different from the Pilate of history. This man was a leader who was not to be trifled with. There were times that he could be very cruel and decisive. What exactly happened on this day to make him act the way he did?

After being questioned by the religious leadership of Israel, Jesus was taken before Pilate. That was because during the Roman occupation, the Jewish people could not exact the death penalty on any criminal. Only a Roman judge could do that.

And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

Luke 23:2-3 NIV

These leaders were on a mission to see Jesus killed. They brought accusations and lies before the governor. Yes, Jesus is the Christ – the true King of Israel. However, He never subverted the nation or told people not to pay their taxes.

By saying these things, the priests knew the ramifications. It was an act punishable by death to oppose the Roman government. So, in this case, Pilate was duty bound to look into it.

What was the outcome of his examination?

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

Luke 23:4 NIV

Pilate’s verdict was, “Not guilty!” As a matter of fact, when you read this section of Scripture, you’ll find that Jesus was declared innocent five times before he was given the death penalty. Was there anyone else in history that bore this much injustice? He understands that kind of cruelty.

When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent the Lord to Herod, who was in charge of that region. Again, the governmental rulers found nothing worthy of punishment in Christ. So, Jesus was sent back to Pilate.

Again and again, the Lord was declared innocent. But that didn’t matter. The crowd was adamant.

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Luke 23:23-25 NIV

How could such a travesty of justice take place? Was it some massive conspiracy between the Jewish religious leaders, Herod, and Pilate? It might look that way on the surface.

No, there was no earthly conspiracy. Even in our day, sometimes events occur that cause us to think this is the case. What we have to remember is that there’s another unseen kingdom that affects things on our planet.

I’m taking about the enemy’s kingdom. Scripture calls Satan the god of this age. His minions are working behind the scenes in every corner of society. That’s why Jesus was so quickly condemned to die.

That’s the bad news, but the good news is so much better.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:15 NIV

It may have seemed like they won a great battle that day. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The Lord Jesus Christ has the last word. His death, burial and resurrection has now become our greatest victory!

Question: How do we walk in the victory won by the Lord?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Judge for Yourself

Judge for Yourself

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now looking at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. That’s the ruling body of elders in Israel.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71 NIV

This is quite an applicable portion of Scripture. It contains what I call the “Jesus Dilemma”. It was faced by the religious leaders of Israel as well as the unbelieving world of today.

The biggest part of the problem is faith. These were a group of men who saw the works of the Lord. They heard His teachings and felt the power of His wisdom. The life of Christ was above reproach – there was no wrong-doing that they could accuse Him of.

However, they had already rejected the Lord before the trial ever started. They were simply looking for a way to put Him to death.

That happens a lot in today’s society. Many times, people say that they want to talk to us about Jesus Christ or the teachings of Scripture. However, the reality is that they’ve already made up their minds to reject it no matter what we say.

It’s almost like the world views Christians the same way they view time-share salesmen. They listen politely, but they already have their “no” ready and waiting for the end of the conversation.

I love how the Lord gets right to the center of the issue. It’s not that clear in this English translation, so I’ll try to explain what was said.

The first thing Jesus told the leadership of Israel was, “If I told you who I am, you wouldn’t believe me.” That’s where faith comes in.

People see the difference in our lives. They see the blessing and favor of God on us. They ask us to explain what makes the difference. But, when we tell them how the Lord Jesus has changed our lives, suddenly the walls go up.

They start getting defensive. They tell us that the blessings of God are merely coincidences that could happen to anyone. They’ve decided from the start, not to believe.

There’s a second issue as well. Literally, Jesus said, “If I asked you, then you not think long and hard about your decision.” That’s because the word for answer, is a word that means to make a decision based upon all of the facts before you.

That’s what I think is a major problem in today’s society. People don’t want discernment and understanding. They simply want explanations that agree with what they already want to believe. They don’t want to make a personal judgment about who Jesus Christ is.

We have a generation that doesn’t want to think deeply about anything. That’s why we enjoy Google and Facebook. These sites record what we view, determine what we like, and spoon feed us more of the same.

Personally, I want to be challenged. Tell me why you think I’m missing it. It strengthens my faith. Or it shows me areas in which I need to change. In either case, I experience growth.

The worst-case scenario is for me to decide what I want to believe, then only listen to those who agree with me. That’s a sure road to failure.

I don’t follow Jesus Christ by blind faith. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. My trust in the Lord is based upon a deep understanding of Him and His ways.

My prayer is that you will know Jesus Christ in the fullness of who He is. Then your life will reflect the glory of God.

Question: Why do you think that many in the world reject the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in Faith, Israel, The Gospel

 

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