Tuesday, May 11, 2021

“Be Imitators of God”

 
“Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God,
as dear children;”

(Ephesians 5:1)

 

Following the conference several weeks ago “The Church in the 21st Century” (see previous post), we were invited back to the Community Church of Devore to deliver a Mother's Day message and share more of our testimony. You can access our message online HERE or HERE. The verses the Lord put on Lynn's heart were from Ephesians 5, beginning in verse 1. The word translated “followers” or imitators” is from the Greek word from which we get our English word “mime” or “mimic.” 
 
During our talk we referenced an article written ten years ago.[1] We've republished it below for your edification.

Starved Rock Park [2]

Follow the Path
 
“Make me to go in the path
of Thy commandments;
for therein do I delight.”

(Psalm 119:35) 
 
By Sarah Leslie
 
Why would a Christian want to warn about the dangers of heresy? Are discerners just being busybodies, acting like know-it-alls, minding other people’s business, looking for trouble, trying to agitate, or being contentious? (We should work very hard to not be like this!) 
 
A good motive for warning someone about the dangers of heresy is because we love them and we are concerned for their walk with the Lord. Another good reason for warning is because it is a duty found in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul provides a good example to us of a loving warning in Acts 20:31: “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Another good reason to warn is because we may happen to understand the dangers of a particular heresy. We may have a prior firsthand experience that cannot be easily discounted or dismissed. 
 
I’ve noticed that the Bible often connects the avoidance of heresy with the idea of walking in the right path. Our Christian life is often described as a walk. For example, Romans 6:4 says we “should walk in newness of life” and Romans 8:4 reminds us to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 13:13 and 1 Thess. 4:12 both say to walk honestly.” Several times we are reminded to walk worthy” of the Lord (1 Thess. 2:12; Col. 1:10; Eph. 4:1). Proverbs 4:14 warns us to “enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.” And Psalm 1 begins with “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly….” 
 
When I was a young parent, I learned that warning about danger is part of natural affection. When toddlers and young children begin to crawl, walk and run, we parents cry out warnings: “Don’t touch that!”… “Stop, or you could get hurt!”… “Quit doing that!”… “Slow down!”… “Stay here by me!”…. 
 
I’ve observed that when a believer warns a brother or sister in the Lord with similar admonitions, “Don’t touch that!”… “Stop, or you could be hurt!” the warning isn’t always appreciated or heeded. In fact, it is a common experience for warnings to be rebuffed or dismissed as the hypersensitivity of an overly-cautious saint. Sometimes the manner in which the warning is delivered isn’t perfect, and this shortcoming is then used as an excuse for not listening to the warning. 
 
Why is it so hard to hear a warning? Well, some of it has to do with our human nature, our carnality. It isn’t pleasing to our flesh to be corrected, reproved, warned or cautioned. One must have a teachable spirit in order to accept warnings. It also requires a willingness to check out the warning in the light of Scripture to see if there is some merit to it. (See Acts. 17:10-11.) 
 
Sandstone Paths 
I have often meditated on the Scriptures about “paths” and how they relate to biblical discernment. I grew up in central Illinois, not far from a state park called Starved Rock. Starved Rock is a sandstone cliff with a very unique history and geology. The cliff overlooks the Illinois River and offers a magnificent view. The reason for its name is that, according to native legend, a group of Illini Indians were pursued by other tribes to this large butte where they were held and starved to death. 
 
During my childhood I spent many hours hiking along the paths of this park. My parents, who also grew up in Central Illinois, were very familiar with this park and enjoyed taking us there. Mom and Dad would often warn me and my siblings to “stay on the path” when we walked through this park. Mom told us sad stories of people who had strayed from the path and fallen to their death. She lost a good friend this way. And once she almost fell off the cliff; she was grabbed by the arm and pulled back at the last minute. My father, who was always very concerned about safety, would point to the signs along the path. These signs simply warned us to stay on the path. But Dad said we needed to know the reason why. He explained that 1) sandstone is very slippery, and 2) sandstone is a very fragile rock and an outcropping can easily break off. 
 
I also spent many summers attending a camp not too far from this park. It was full of the same beautiful geological features of sandstone cliffs and caverns. I learned very quickly that sandstone is one of the most treacherous types of rock to walk upon, that the slightest bit of moss or moisture can make it extremely slippery. More than once I fell on the path, slipping from a rock upon which I had thought I had a sure footing. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of shoe I was wearing. I learned that walking on sandstone required not only good dexterity and balance, but often some sort of outside support like a tree limb, a root, or a walking stick that we could grab onto. At times I had to resort to crawling on all fours. 
 
Veering off the marked sandstone paths could be treacherous and perilous. Sadly, my brothers lost a good friend at Starved Rock. He had been a difficult child, rowdy, very disobedient to his parents, and always in trouble at school. He joined the military at a young age and everyone in my small town thought that the discipline of the military might help him settle down. When he got back from the service he visited Starved Rock where he began to clown around. He ignored the warning signs and went near the edge of the cliff. He fell to his death. 
 
Slippery Paths 
Psalm 17:5 says, “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” In my teenage years I got involved with meditation, eastern religions, mysticism and all of the other things that came with the hippie culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I didn’t heed the warning signs and took every opportunity to stand as close to the edge of life’s cliffs as I could. In fact, I adopted a credo called “kicks.” I would do anything for “kicks” just once. Well, “kicks” proved to be a terrible philosophy. 
 
I explored the mystical paths. I was a slow learner (what the Bible calls “a fool”) so I began to know all of these paths by heart, making the same mistakes over and over again. I learned just how far one could walk along the path of meditation or altered states of consciousness before encountering evil spirits. I soon found out that searching into the occult produced terrible fruit. Every other world religion eventually leads to darkness, despair and emptiness. And I discovered that mystical kinds of peace, joy, love and beauty were dangerous mirages. Sadly, I lost some friends on these paths, fellow seekers who got too close to the cliff and fell off to their death. My own life was miraculously preserved and I repented of my sins and was born again. 
 
It wasn’t very long before I realized that many of the old occult paths upon which I had formerly trod were being treacherously and deceptively converted into “Christian” appearing walkways. Billed as some “new thing” that would make believers more “spiritual,” or promising some sort of higher self-esteem or deeper self-fulfillment, these paths all started out by looking quite benign, even helpful. 
 
I began to warn believers when I saw them entering into the same mystical realms that I had once left and repented of! Why? Because I had inside knowledge about these trails! I knew from prior experience that a path along a beautiful vista could become horrifyingly unstable. I knew where there were weak and vulnerable spots, deep caverns just off the established trail where slippery sandstone lurked, often hidden underneath green moss. Sadly, over the years I have lost many Christian friends on these same paths, believers who thought they could play with a little bit of heresy or sin. They got too close to the cliff, and some even fell to their death! 
 
Sometimes the warning to stay on the path just doesn’t seem all that dangerous from our own limited viewpoint (Gen. 3:6). But Scripture informs us that just off the main path there are all sorts of allurements that can entice the senses. Leaving the narrow way quickly leads to perilous rabbit trails. These side routes rapidly diverge from biblical orthodoxy. A few little detours, a bypass here and there, a couple of extra steps onto a rock overhang…. What could be the harm in that? Who could object to exploring just a bit outside the boundary? Why not mosey closer to the cliff for a grander view? Why not roam over to grassy edges? What could be wrong with tiptoeing across sandstone rocks to see tiny little wildflowers? 
 
God’s Word posts warnings along all of the pathways of a believer’s life. There are plenty of “don’t do” type messages warning us not to stray off of the narrow way. The Bible even warns about “slippery” paths, like the sandstone paths at Starved Rock (Ps. 35:6; 73:18; Jer. 23:12). Scripture also offers blessings for those who stay obediently on the narrow path. Psalm 23:3 says, “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.” In the New Testament we learn that we should follow Jesus on this path: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21), and “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good…” (3 John 1:11a). Hebrews 12:1-2 says our eyes should be “looking unto Jesus,” not at the sideshows. 
 
Job 24:13 warns us: “They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.” 2 Peter 2 graphically warns believers about following the wrong ways: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 
 
My favorite Scriptural passage about following God’s path is found in Psalm 119. A study of this lengthy Psalm reveals that learning and following God’s Word, His testimonies, precepts, law, commandments, statutes and judgments in Scripture, will preserve and protect us along the path of life. The familiar verse 105 reminds us that: 
 
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.”
 
 
Endnotes:
1. This post was originally published in the Discernment Newsletter (Vol. 22, No. 1), Jan/Feb. 2011, http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL2011JanFeb.pdf. It was later republished with permission, January 10, 2018 at https://holdinghiswordhigher.com/2018/01/10/follow-the-path-by-sara-leslie/.   
2. The graphic for this article comes from an October 1, 2019 article by Biana Reyes titled “Starved Rock State Part is crumbling and it could be your fault,” WQAD8, https://www.wqad.com/article/news/local/drone/8-in-the-air/starved-rock-state-park-crumbling-and-it-could-be-your-fault/526-e5ec323a-8c0d-4194-8114-70a6022a3804.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Church in the 21st Century

The Importance of KNOWING Jesus Christ
 
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord
unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God."

(Colossians 1:10)
 
 
Watch our testimony on YouTube, Rumble, or BitChute

 
Conference recordings are now posted on a variety of platforms for the recent conference The Church in the 21st Century. We appreciated the opportunity to share our personal testimony in the Lord, answer questions, and present some of our research. (See the end of this post for links to the research we cited.)
 
When Pastor Marco Quintana invited us to speak, he mentioned the conference theme was inspired by Dr. Francis Schaeffer's 1970 book The Church at the End of the 20th Century. Providentially, it was a book that we had recently pulled off the shelf and dusted off. In fact, this book inspired our recent apologetics article series on the freedom of speech found in the Gospel, and we quoted it in our previous post. We have included a few excerpts from his book in today's post because it is so relevant to the subject matter discussed at the conference. 


 
The Rise of the New Left
In a chapter titled "The Threat of Silence," Schaeffer predicted the rise of a New Left, which would exhibit its own brand of Dominionism (he called it totalitarianism) over free speech. We now recognize this as Cancel Culture. Schaeffer was prescient in the following descriptions of the times:
 
Here we are, then, the historic, Bible-believing Christian minority.... As the New Left and the anarchists come forward, more chaos will result. And as more and more chaos comes, the majority of the Silent Majority will increasingly tend to strike back. To do so, they will increasingly accept the Establishment elite.

Dr. Schaeffer warned the Church to NOT cozy up to the State patriotically because Big State could suddenly turn its fangs on the Church. We have now witnessed this shift with this past year's shutdowns and mandates. When one part of the Church compromises, it will become a persecutor to the remnant that do not cave in. We are already seeing evidence of this compromise:

What about the church in this situation? Certainly, at least at first, the Establishment elite will be less harsh on the church than the Left Wing elite if they should come into power. But that is a danger. The church will tend to make peace with the Establishment and identify itself with it. It will seem better at first, but not in the end....

In the United States many churches display the American flag. The Christian flag is usually put on one side and the American flag on the other. Does having the two flags in your church mean that Christianity and the American Establishment are equal? If it does, you are really in trouble. These are not two equal loyalties. The state is also under the norm of the Word of God. So if by having the American flag in your church you are indicating... that there are two equal loyalties or two intertwined loyalties, you had better find some way out of it. The Establishment may easily become the church's enemy.... There are not two equal loyalties--Caesar is second to God.

Dr. Schaeffer wrote books for the Baby Boomers, the first "full post-Christian generation," and we testified that as new believers he helped us learn that the Gospel was both Truth and Fact. He predicted: 
In government and in morals the [Christian] base is gone and the hedonistic, subjective whims of a 51% majority or an elite, are all that is left. Only sociological averages and arbitrary judgments remain.
 
Watch Session 5 Q & A with Sandy Simpson, Pastor David Gonzales,
and Lynn & Sarah Leslie on YouTube, Rumble or BitChute

 

The Erosion of Truth
Schaeffer warned of the rise of FAKE Truth and dialectics, a topic that was discussed by Sandy Simpson of www.deceptioninthechurch.com at the conference (linked to above):
...[M]odern men no longer believe in truth. They no longer believe in antithesis. Modern man following Hegel believes only in dialectical synthesis.... "Truth" for today lies only in a synthesis. And even that synthesis is not true forever, for tomorrow there will arise another thesis different from today's and out of the combination will come "truth" for tomorrow. But in no case will any of these "truths" be absolute. Truth in the classical sense of that which accurately represents what is real for all time and all places does not exist--not even as an ideal. 
 
Francis Schaeffer predicted the rise of mind-altering drugs, which numb people's brains so they can no longer discern Truth. And he warned about the changes in language -- which we now see happening before our very eyes with new rules for new terminologies, new pronouns, and the forbidden words now banished. 
Drugs, of course, add to the sense of the loss of truth as truth. And the destruction of normal syntax and normal language in the Theater of the Absurd, etc., is meant to hack away still further at any hope of truth. 

As a consequence of the erosion of Truth he warned about the logical next step -- the rise of FAKE Science -- a science not based on truth, nor fact, nor morality:

Modern man no longer expects that truth exists even in the scientific world. All we are left with is statistical averages.... 

And with the corruption of science he warns about biological and genetic engineering -- even transgenderism -- and man's creation of deadly new viruses: 

Modern man has no moral imperative for what he should do, and consequently he is left only with what he can do. And he is doing what he can do even though he stands in terror. And the biggest terror of all is: Who is going to make the babies? Who is going to know what kind of babies we need to make? Who is going to shape the human race? 
 
It will not be just a matter of male and female....
 
And with the development of the biological bomb, even today men are on the verge of being able to make new deadly viruses as super weapons, viruses for which there are no cures.
 

For Further Study:
Below are some of the articles, books and publications we cited in our testimony and during the Question & Answer session at the conference. 

This is our testimony of enduring a time of persecution in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of our articles are archived on this website. 

the deliberate dumbing down of america: A Chronological Paper Trail (1999, 2011) by Charlotte T. Iserbyt. This book chronicles the history of education reform, its system and its methods. 

Rick Warren - Is He Scary? 10/20/06 documenting the financing of his global databank by Bill Gates. The implications of this are staggering given what we now know after this past year.

The Pied Pipers of Purpose: Part 1: Human Capital Systems and Church Performance, by Lynn D. Leslie, Sarah H. Leslie and Susan J. Conway (2004). This monograph helps to explain human capital and how the "system" works. After we published this monograph we ran multiple articles on Herescope about Peter Drucker, Rick Warren and Leadership Network and the concept of a 3-legged stool of governance by Corporate - Church - State. See also our article "Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism."
 
This article series documents the role of Leadership Network in the formation of the Emergent and Neo-Calvinist movements:
The Culture Which Gave Rise to Mark Driscoll

Also see: The Gospel Coalition's Hodge Podge, by Dr. Martin Erdmann. 
 
Dancing With the Stars and Doing the Templeton Twist by Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie describes the money trail and Tim Keller, and the eradication of biblical Creationism.
 

 

NEW EVANGELICALISM: The New World Order. Paul Smith's book documenting the rise of New Evangelicalism. Research conducted by the Discernment Research Group was included in this book.

 

"That I may KNOW Him,
and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings,
being made conformable unto His death."

(Philippians 3:10)

 

Endnote:
1. The quotations in this blog post come from Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the 20th Century (Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), pp. 82-88. Bold emphasis added, italics in original. 
 
 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

JESUS & the "FACT" CHECKERS

Part 5 of “For we cannot but SPEAK” 
 
Read Part 1: SPEAK NOW 
Read Part 4: FAKE JUSTICE 
 
 
“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side,
and forthwith came there out blood and water.
And he that SAW it BARE RECORD,
and his RECORD is TRUE:
and he KNOWETH that he SAITH TRUE,
that ye might BELIEVE.”

(John the Apostle, John 19:35-36) 
 
“Today [the] objective basis for knowledge has been undermined and the distinction between reality and fantasy has become difficult –sometimes impossible – to maintain."
Dr. Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the 20th Century (1970), p. 10. 

 
DEAD DEAD 
Forensically, Jesus Christ was DEAD. He DIED in a moment of time, and He DIED in a specific place (Luke 28:33,44). Ensuring that Christ was brutally killed on Calvary should have settled the matter. His cruel DEATH was seen as the success of the LYING NARRATIVE of the Religious Leaders that He wasn’t the Son of God. He DIED. End of the STORY. The Religious Establishment had effectually squashed the TRUTH. Or so they thought… 
 
The Bible account of the DEATH of Jesus is straight forward and FACT-BASED. Scripture contains various accounts of the DEATH of Jesus Christ from reliable EYEWITNESSES who could ATTEST to the FACTS. 
 
The ROMANS were both executioners and EYEWITNESSES to His DEATH. Matthew 27 recounts “a whole band” of the “soldiers of the Governor,” i.e., the Pontius Pilate, who, after mocking, spitting, and putting a crown of sharp thorns on His head, “led Him away to be crucified” (vs. 27-31). These same callous Roman soldiers crucified Jesus and then cast lots for His garments. They stripped Him, handled Him roughly, nailed Him to the cross, “and sitting down they watched Him there” (vs. 35-36). Jesus’s DEATH was the end result of a series of violent physical assaults on His FLESH. This tortuous Roman death-by-crucifixion was OVERSEEN by a Roman Centurion who was “watching Jesus” DIE. And then he “feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’” (v. 54). This Centurion would become the key EXPERT WITNESS. 
 
Many bystanders, onlookers, mockers and scorners, both friends and enemies, were present on site at the cross as EYEWITNESSES to His DYING. Matthew describes “they that passed by” who “reviled Him, wagging their heads,” and “Likewise also the Chief Priests mocking Him, with the Scribes and Elders” (27:39, 41). Luke 23:25-32 wrote that “there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him.” Matthew referred to the “many women” who “were there beholding afar off” who were also “ministering unto Him” (v. 55). Mark lists “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome” and “many other women which came up with Him unto Jerusalem” (15:39-41). John’s list includes “Mary, the wife of Cleophas” (19:25). Luke 23:48 takes note that many EYEWITNESSES expressed great grief: “And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.” 
 
Despite the imminent Sabbath shutdown, with so many EYEWITNESSES Jerusalem’s scuttlebutt must have quickly spread the CONFIRMATION of Jesus’s DEATH far and wide. 
 
“For these things were done,
that the Scripture should be fulfilled,
A bone of Him shall not be broken.
And again another Scripture saith,
They shall look on Him Whom they pierced.”

(John 19:36-37) 
 
 
PILATE’S EYEWITNESSES 
Meanwhile Pilate’s place had been busy. John 19:31-37 indicates that the Religious Micromanagers were anxious to expedite the entire deadly affair before the Sabbath. Once again they trotted back and “besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and they might be taken away.” Breaking legs guaranteed that the malefactors would not be able to push themselves up to breathe. But when the soldiers “came to Jesus, and saw that He was DEAD already, they brake not His leg.” (John 33:33). 
 
Pilate then learned that Jesus had already DIED. “And Pilate marvelled if He were already DEAD: and calling unto him the Centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while DEAD… he KNEW it of the Centurion” (Mark 15:44-45). The FACT of DEATH was confirmed by the Centurion forensically, who oversaw the spear pierce to His side that gushed out both water and blood. The Centurion PRONOUNCED the official DEATH of Jesus Christ. The Centurion had no reason to LIE; in fact, he seemed to believe he had participated in the KILLING of an innocent man. Luke recorded that upon Jesus’s DEATH the Centurion “glorified God, saying ‘Certainly this was a righteous man’” (Luke 23:47). 
 
Joseph of Arimathea showed up at Pilate’s place that evening to beg the DEAD body of Jesus. Mark 15:43 commends Joseph as an “honorable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate.” Joseph was a wealthy man of influence who had previously lacked courage – he is listed by John as having been “a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). But Luke takes note that he “had not consented to the counsel and deed of them” (Luke 23:51). Joseph was a reputable EYEWITNESS to the DEAD BODY. 
 
Tagging along with Joseph to the tomb was another EYEWITNESS previously lacking in courage, Nicodemus, “which had first came to Jesus by night” (John 19:38). Nicodemus is credited with standing solidly on the side of the Law in defense of Christ: “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:51) These two respectable men seem to have acquired holy boldness. They were staking their reputation, livelihoods and social status by aligning themselves openly with the controversial convicted criminal Jesus Christ – now officially CERTIFIED by Pontius Pilate to be a DEAD man. Would these two men suffer ill consequences from the Pharisaic Cancel Culture for aligning publicly with Jesus? Would their businesses be boycotted? Would they be blacklisted, banned from polite society, castigated, mocked, demonetized and persecuted? They took this risk, and their officially-sanctioned BURIAL of the BODY was presumed to be the end of the matter. 
 
“Be not a WITNESS against thy neighbour without cause;
and DECEIVE not with thy lips.”

(Proverbs 24:28) 
 
 
THE TRUTH LOCKDOWN 
Once again Pilate received visitors. Something was niggling in the back of the Religious Establishment’s minds and they couldn’t shake it. Their fabricated crime NARRATIVE had been built on the “three days” testimony during Jesus’s trial, and this is the VERSION that had been widely promulgated to justify His crucifixion. So they hurried back to Pilate to voice their concerns, “Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first” (Matthew 27:63-64). 
 
These Ecclesiastical Elites called JESUS a DECEIVER – the opposite of the TRUTH. Already they were cooking up a NEW LIE. Just in case Jesus’s story was potentially TRUE they were concocting a COUNTER NARRATIVE to posit against it – that the disciples were THIEVES who would STEAL His DEAD body. Pilate granted a Watch and told them to “make it as sure as ye can” (Matt. 27:63). 
 
A very DEAD body wrapped in a “clean linen cloth.” A brand-new tomb which Joseph of Arimathaea “had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre” (vs. 59-6). A very secure guard posted 24/7. The Chief Priests and Pharisees “went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (Matthew 27:60). They took elaborate precautions to ensure that the DEAD body could not escape their multi-layered barricade. 
 
The TRUTH had died. His VOICE had now ceased. What could possibly go wrong? What were these Religious Elites really afraid of? 
 
“Vain men! As if the same power that was necessary to raise and quicken the dead could not also remove the stone, and break through the watch which they had set. But by this their excessive care and diligence, instead of preventing Christ’s resurrection, as they intended, they have confirmed the TRUTH and BELIEF of it to all the world.”
(Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Matthew 27:62-66)
 
 
“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem
took the twelve disciples apart in the way,
and said unto them,
‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem;
and the Son of Man shall be betrayed
unto the Chief Priests and unto the Scribes,
and they shall condemn him to DEATH,
And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock,
and to scourge, and to CRUCIFY HIM:
AND ON THE THIRD DAY HE SHALL RISE AGAIN.’”
(Matthew 20:17-19) 
 
 
THE CASE OF THE MISSING BODY 
The Sabbath had passed. The Devil’s DEADLY NARRATIVE was under control, or so it seemed. But then the worst fears of the Religious Establishment happened! THE TRUTH got out – quite literally! HE escaped from the tomb! The gigantic stone, sealed into the hewn rock, had been rolled away – but how? And by whom? And there was NO BODY anywhere to be found! The tomb was EMPTY! A few mentioned sighting this BODY, even encountering it ALIVE, but it was not in custody. No one could produce a DEAD BODY. 
 
Meanwhile the TRUE STORY was quickly leaking out all over town! There had been multiple EYEWITNESSES to His EMPTY tomb. Gossip – the original social media conduit of human discourse – whispered the TRUTH through the garden gate, shopkeepers’ small talk, marketplace rumors, and word of mouth. By the time the two individuals were walking on the Road to Emmaus they “talked together of all these things which had happened” and “they communed together and reasoned” (Luke 24:13-33). These two individuals had heard the reports that very day, and they were already carrying the STORY to another town! WORD was leaking out! 
 
Meanwhile the Religious Establishment went dark. Things were eerily QUIET. The four Gospel accounts do not describe a massive on-the-ground search for a MISSING BODY of an executed prisoner. They do not recount a house-to-house search or a street-by-street campaign throughout Jerusalem to locate a man’s CARCASS. There is no record of mass arrests and detainment of the disciples, friends, or family of Jesus for the crime of stealing His BODY. Nor do we hear of a flower-strewn shrine erected at the tomb to honor a DEAD holy man. 
 
Perhaps this abnormal SILENCE on the part of the Authorities was an attempt to STIFLE the TRUTH – Keep everything QUIET, ignore the problem of the MISSING BODY, pretend nothing has happened, go back to normal life, shut down all official communication, suppress the flow of information, keep everyone hunkered down after the previous days of civil unrest. 
 
“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners,
Christ DIED for us.
Much more then, being now justified by His BLOOD,
we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
For if, when we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God by the DEATH of His Son,
much more, being reconciled,
we shall be saved by His LIFE.
And not only so, but we also joy in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
by Whom we have now received the atonement.”

(Romans 5:8-11) 
 
 
THE WELL FINANCED “FACT” CHECKERS 
Matthew reveals how the Official COUNTER-NARRATIVE was MANUFACTURED to be positioned against the TRUTH of the GOSPEL. It seems that the hapless guards, upon leaving the EMPTY TOMB, “came into the city, and shewed unto the Chief Priests all the things that were done” (28:11). Exactly what STORY did they tell these Religious Chiefs? Probably something akin to, “Um, sorry, sirs, but we fell into some sort of a stupor sleep, and when we woke up the stone was moved, the body was gone and there was all sorts of comings and goings of assorted people exhibiting all stages of emotions.” These guards confessed the FACTUAL TRUTH of the matter. They frankly admitted their own failure to secure a high-profile DEAD man’s tomb during a momentous time period. 
 
But what is even more shocking is how the tomb guards were immediately excused! Would they be punished, disciplined, demoted, written up for laxity on duty, failure to perform the deed assigned? Nope. Instead, they became co-conspirators in a massive COVER UP FRAUD. These guards were generously bought off for their SILENCE about the TRUTH. They were assigned the task to SPIN a LIE, to widely broadcast a NEW NARRATIVE! These bribed men were even permitted to publicly confess their failure to stay awake! “And when they were assembled with the Elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept” (Matthew 28:12-13). 
 
To sweeten the pot, and to further blacken their own sins, the Religious Establishment agreed that they themselves would also participate in this COVER UP FRAUD: “And if this come to the Governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (Matthew 28:14). Bought off with such an unlawful sum of money, and with such a sweeping promise of protection, the guards “took the money, and did as they were taught” (Matthew 28:15a). In this way they all became official FACT-CHECKERS, assigned the duty of clamping down on the TRUTH whenever it surfaced by perpetuating their own PHONY STORY. 
 
Thus began the PROPAGANDA campaign well-financed by the Religious Thought Police to sabotage the TRUTH. Their entire FAKE NARRATIVE was a HOAX. A tactical DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN. In this act of flagrant DECEPTION their MANUFACTURED LIE reportedly took hold in some quarters. Matthew wrote that “this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (Matthew 28:15b). 
 
How many people were led astray by the politically correct OFFICIAL VERSION story that Jesus’s body had been stolen? How many fell for the FAKE NEWS accounts? Did they believe the BIASED REPORTING because it came from the Official Experts? Sadly some must have gullibly swallowed it. But others must have remembered Jesus’s prophetic WORDS about the “third day”… 
 
“To whom [His chosen apostles] also He shewed himself ALIVE
after His passion by many INFALLIBLE PROOFS,
being seen of them forty days,
and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:”

(Luke, Acts 1:3) 
 
 
THE ALIVE BODY 
All four Gospels record the various EYEWITNESSES at the site of the EMPTY TOMB. The FACT is that the stone had moved away. Matthew 28:2 gives credit to an angel who “descended from heaven” after “a great earthquake” and “and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.” The TRUTH was out! HE was out of the TOMB! His BODY showed up – ALIVE! A living, breathing, eating Jesus appeared to his followers, not as an apparition but RESURRECTED in the FLESH. 
 
There were multiple WITNESSES to the FACT that THE TRUTH Himself didn’t stay buried. All sorts of comings and goings to the tomb transpired that early morning: angels, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Salome, John, Peter, and others SAW the EMPTY TOMB. The TRUTH Himself was out walking around and talking to many. 
 
This was not a case of MASS HYSTERIA, HALLUCINATIONS or VISIONS. His LIVING BODY in the FLESH was seen by multiple WITNESSES on multiple occasions in the days and weeks to come. He was handled physically and touched. He ate food with them on more than one occasion. Luke 24 ASSERTS that Jesus was not a “spirit” when He “stood in the midst” of the His disciples. The RESURRECTED Jesus stated: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have… And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb, And He took it, and did eat before them.” Thomas would become a key EYEWITNESS, having thrust his finger and hands into Jesus’s physical bodily wounds. 
 
The Apostle John would later “BEAR WITNESS,” testifying “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the WORD of LIFE” (1 John 1:1-2). 
 
This was not MYSTICISM, MYTHOLOGY or FABLE. Luke claims that there were “Infallible proofs” of the resurrection of JESUS in the FLESH and states that these encounters with the risen LORD went on for forty days (Acts 1:3). Luke, the doctor, wrote like a lawyer. He emphasized to Theophilus that he was writing an AFFIRMATIVE account of the birth, life and death, and resurrection of Christ, based on TRUTHFUL TESTIMONIES. These firsthand EYEWITNESSES could have signed affidavits to the FACTS that they had been with Jesus in life, in death, and resurrection. (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3). 
 
After the forty days many SPECTATORS observed the ascension of the RISEN BODY of JESUS CHRIST into heaven: “while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus had previously foretold his disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of TRUTH would change everything and TESTIFY of Jesus Christ: 
 
“But when the Comforter is come,
Whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the SPIRIT of TRUTH,
which proceedeth from the Father,
He shall TESTIFY of Me:”

(John 15:26) 
 
 
THE DEVIL IS A “FACT” CHECKER 
The Religious Elites did not anticipate the day of Pentecost, when the humble disciples would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to PROCLAIM the TRUTH. Peter, becoming emboldened upon receiving the Holy Spirit, TESTIFIED publicly to crowds in Jerusalem about “This Jesus hath God RAISED UP whereof we all are WITNESSES” and ASSERTED that Jesus is now “by the right hand of God” in heaven. (Acts 2:32). Peter also laid the charge of His DEATH at their feet, urging them to repent: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And KILLED the Prince of life, whom God hath RAISED from the DEAD; whereof we are WITNESSES” (Acts 3:14-15). There was a newfound POWER to PREACH the TRUTH of the GOSPEL of salvation from that point forward. 
 
But the Devil didn’t back down. He would become a perennial FACT CHECKER, challenging the TRUE GOOD NEWS and supplanting it with HERESIES, his own FAKE NEWS. He ramped up his attacks on early believers, persecuting them fiercely in an attempt to SUPPRESS the TRUTH. He also began to tempt people’s minds with shades of dispute, nuances of doubt, clouds of uncertainty, and corruption of RESURRECTION FACTS. 
 
The Devil spins DISINFORMATION to DISRUPT and DISTORT the TRUTH. SCRIPTURE warns about this very tactic: “Let no man DECEIVE you with vain words” (Eph. 5:6) and “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain DECEIT” (Col. 2:8). For those saints who are pummeled with DOUBT, God “hath given ASSURANCE unto all men, in that He hath RAISED [Jesus] from the DEAD” (Acts 17:31). 
 
For the next two millennia the Devil would wreak havoc on the church with his unrelenting attempts to DEBUNK Resurrection FACT, especially by DISTORTING the Gospel TRUTH that Jesus DIED for our sins. He would TWIST and DISTORT such doctrines as: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL” (Hebrews 10:10). 
 
“For many DECEIVERS are entered into the world,
who CONFESS NOT that Jesus Christ is come in the FLESH.
This is a deceiver and an ANTICHRIST.”

(2 John 1:7) 
 
 
FALSE PROPHETS & FAKE CHRISTS 
Jesus warned specifically in Matthew 24 about the end times that believers would encounter FAKE NARRATIVES: “Take heed that no man DECEIVE you” (v. 4). Those Agents who purposefully DECEIVE Jesus called “FALSE PROPHETS.” (v. 6). The Devil’s Minions include FALSE PROPHETS who give out FALSE FACTS! They spew out a FAKE NARRATIVE! Jesus especially warned that a sign of the end was “many FALSE PROPHETS shall rise, and shall DECEIVE many” (Matthew 24:11). 
 
Jesus also WARNED about the end goal of the Devil – DECEIVING people with a FALSE Christ – “For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ;’ and shall DECEIVE many” (Mark 13:6). Jesus described the end times: “For FALSE Christs and FALSE prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to SEDUCE, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22). ANTI-CHRISTS will come in with a FAKE GOSPEL and utilize the MYSTICISM of signs and wonders to FOOL people. This is PROPAGANDA on steroids! Worse, the Devil will employ coercion, penalties, and persecution to achieve his aims. The coming global FAKE CHURCH will mandate that no one can buy or sell unless they WORSHIP this IDOLATROUS FAKE CHRIST (Rev. 13:17). 
 
Paul specifically WARNED: “Let no man DECEIVE you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (2 Thess. 2:3). John, a key EYEWITNESS to Jesus’s life, death and resurrection, wrote how to discern JESUS CHRIST from a FALSE/ANTI-CHRIST: 
 
“Hereby KNOW ye the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that CONFESSETH
that Jesus Christ is come in the FLESH
is of God:
And every spirit that CONFESSETH NOT
that Jesus Christ is come in the FLESH
is not of God:
and this is that spirit of ANTICHRIST,
whereof ye have heard that it should come;
and even now already is it in the world.”

(1 John 4:2,3) 
 
 
THE TRUTH: 
The Apostle Paul grappled with the FALSE NARRATIVE about Jesus’s Resurrection once and for all and GUTTED it. In a beautiful passage in 1 Corinthians 15, he PUBLISHED the TRUTH for us to stand upon throughout this age until the end: 
 
“For I delivered unto you first of all
that which I also received,
how that Christ DIED for our sins
according to the SCRIPTURES;
And that He was BURIED,
and that He ROSE again the third day
according to the SCRIPTURES:
And that He was SEEN of Cephas,
then of the twelve:
After that, He was SEEN of above five hundred brethren at once;
of whom the greater part remain unto this present,
but some are fallen asleep.
After that, He was SEEN of James;
then of all the apostles.
And last of all He was SEEN of me also,
as of one born out of due time….”

(vs. 2-8) 
 
“Now if Christ be PREACHED
that He rose from the DEAD,
how say some among you
that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there be no resurrection of the dead,
then is Christ not risen:
And if Christ be not risen,
then is our preaching vain,
and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found FALSE WITNESSES of God;
because we have TESTIFIED of God
that He RAISED UP Christ:
Whom He raised not up,
if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not,
then is not Christ raised:
And if Christ be not raised,
your faith is vain;
ye are yet in your sins.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ,
we are of all men most miserable.

(vs. 12-19) 
 
“But now is Christ RISEN from the DEAD,
and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death,
by Man came also the RESURRECTION of the dead.
For as in Adam all DIE,
even so in Christ shall all be made ALIVE….
O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?

The sting of death is sin;
and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God,
which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(vs. 20-22; 55-57) 
 
 
“We are of God:
he that knoweth God heareth us;
he that is not of God heareth not us.
Hereby know we the Spirit of TRUTH,
and the spirit of ERROR.”

(1 John 4:6)

Friday, April 02, 2021

FAKE JUSTICE

Part 4 of  For we cannot but SPEAK
 
Read Part 1: SPEAK NOW



“And JUDGMENT is turned away backward,
and JUSTICE standeth afar off:
for TRUTH is fallen in the street,
and EQUITY cannot enter.”

(Isaiah 59:14)

 
Continuing our series on freedom to SPEAK, what follows is a unique perspective on the Trial of Jesus Christ, creatively employing descriptive words and phrases that are being used in the current “Cancel Culture.” 
 
 
The LAWLESS Case 
Over the three years of Jesus’s ministry on earth the “Whited Sepulchres” in leadership must have carefully considered their ecclesiastical options and calculated their political strengths. What triggered them? When did they jump off the deep end? When did their Power Base over the people begin to sharply erode? Jesus’s rising popularity with the masses, which was in evidence when He entered Jerusalem before Passover, clearly enraged the Power Elites. Luke 22:2 reveals their evil plotting: “the Chief Priests and Scribes sought how they might KILL Him; for they FEARED THE PEOPLE.” 
 
The Bastions of Legal Extremism – the Pharisees and Scribes, and all of the other assorted Elders in the Religious Establishment – were supposed to be the ones who upheld the LAW. After all, they excessively demanded that everyone conform to the intricate reinterpretations of the old Mosaic Code. THEY controlled the DEFINITIONS of justice, judgment, truth and equity in their System. To the Old Testament Law they appended rigorous extralegal requirements, duties, obligations, rules and regulations. Jesus didn’t buy in to their NARRATIVES. He often called out their hypocrisy (Matt. 15:7; 22:18; 23:14-29; e.g.). No wonder they hated Him so much. He exposed their doctrinal FALSEHOODS, their PRETENSES at virtuosity, and their sinful MOTIVES. 
 
Yet the Plain People dutifully conformed to their edicts and mandates. Why obey such overly strict requirements? Fear of retribution, public shaming, and other onerous penalties? After all, these Micromanagement Experts ran a heavy-handed Social Control system. Citizens were being monitored for compliance. Consider how the Pharisees and Scribes operated. Luke 6: 7 describes their obsessive surveillance of Jesus and His disciples: “And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.” They even trolled Him, “Laying wait for Him, and seeking to catch something out of His mouth that might accuse Him” (Luke 11:53). 
 
By the time Jesus rode into Jerusalem the Thought Police appeared to be losing their iron grip. He was becoming wildly popular with the Common Folk! Something needed to be done! They needed to regain the upper hand! 
 
But they couldn’t just go after Him in the open, during daylight. Ordinary People might have revolted. So Judas’s betrayal was uncannily timely. It facilitated a late night arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane under cover of darkness. A “great multitude” armed with “swords and staves” sent by the “Chief Priests and Elders” came upon Jesus. This aggressive maneuver worked: “all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Matthew 26:47; 55-56). The disciples RAN AWAY even though Jesus had just STATED that if he PRAYED to His Father, God would send Him more than twelve legions of angels! They had been daily EYEWITNESSES to His power for over three years, yet His own closest friends fled in fear. Fear of man trumped logic, common sense and spiritual TRUTH. 
 
The Religious Authorities then put on a good public show of brute force by hauling a physically bound Jesus around to the various trial venues. BOUND! As if mere cords could have stopped Him! Their blindness to their own ridiculousness is astonishing. A short time earlier a BOUND dead man, Lazarus, had actually walked out of his tomb ALIVE! In fact, the entire Lazarus matter must have also triggered the Rulers. John 12 records that hordes of curious people came to Bethany “that they might see Lazarus…” after Jesus raised him from the dead. “But the Chief Priests consulted that they might put Lazarus ALSO to death.” What legitimate CRIME could they possibly charge Lazarus with? There was no crime. John reveals the REAL issue. Because of Lazarus “many of the Jews… BELIEVED ON JESUS.” 
 
“The High Priest then asked Jesus of His disciples,
and of His doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
I SPAKE openly to the world;
I ever TAUGHT in the synagogue,
and in the temple,
whither the Jews always resort;
and in secret have I SAID nothing.”

(John 18:19-20) 
 
The SPEECH Crime 
The Corrupt Priests’ hatred and envy of Jesus, especially His popularity with the rabble, caused them to forego the usual legal constraints. The ends would justify the means. The entire juridical matter had the feel of a rush job to it: hasty proceedings and a fragmented case sloppily slapped together. When these Rabid Leaders set out to charge Jesus with “crimes” they ran roughshod over their own legal Code that protected the rights of the accused. Their entire case would be so poorly constructed that it would go down in history as THE classic example of INJUSTICE. 
 
To any impartial observer the hearings were a travesty. It started off backwards. First, they arrested Jesus, then they had to concoct a crime. Desperately they interviewed witness after witness, hoping to unearth a suitable NARRATIVE to FABRICATE a crime. 
 
Perhaps the FALSE witnesses hoped for a reward. Were they bribed? The Mosaic Law forbade bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16; Deut. 5:20), and there were penalties (Deut. 19:16-19). But this part of the Law was ignored. Then, after a prolonged session, the leaders finally seized upon a plausible accusation – based on Jesus’s own WORDS: “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” (Matthew 26:59-61) 
 
It was a SPEECH crime! This proposed “crime” was based solely on His WORDS. Two witnesses agreed that they had overheard him SPEAK WORDS threatening destruction and reconstruction of the temple. This was a blatant distortion of His TRUE WORDS. John 2:18 records what Jesus actually had said: “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” A physical impossibility. Ridiculous on its face. Not literal… unless… Jesus was actually the Son of God. It is ironical that this charge actually admits He could do it! Similar ironies occur throughout the entire FABRICATED case against Him. 
 
The TRUE STORY of Jesus Christ, Son of God, is juxtaposed against the FALSE NARRATIVE that the Rulers were trying to construct throughout their hearings. During the FAULTY religious trial the High Priest demanded an oath, “I adjure thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus’s TRUTHFUL answer was met with a charge of BLASPHEMY, a twist on the capital crime deserving of death (Lev. 24:15). Yet another irony. Just WHO were the Real Blasphemers here? Certainly not Jesus Christ! It was the Accusers, who utterly failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God! (Luke 22:65). 
 
“Also to punish the JUST is not good,
nor to STRIKE princes for
[doing] equity.”
(Proverbs 17:26) 
 
Disorder in the Court 
When Jesus stood before Caiphus to answer questions, He was assaulted by a bystanding officer: “And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest Thou the High Priest so?” (John 18:22). Scripture does not mention that this officer was reprimanded. He got away with it. This small vignette illustrates the crude nature of the illegal proceedings. 
 
Once the Religious Officials found a “crime” upon which to establish their FAKE NARRATIVE of Jesus’s guilt they should have moved on. But abandoning all restraint they resorted to even more physical violence – they “spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and… smote Him with the palms of their hands” (Matthew 26:67), and “blindfolded Him, [and] they struck Him on the face.” Even their “servants did strike Him” (Mark 14:65). The High Priest must have stood by and permitted this extraordinarily unethical brutality. 
 
How quickly FALSE NARRATIVES degenerate into unwarranted acts of bullying and physical aggression. This brutality illustrates the shallowness of their case. They didn’t want to debate FACTS or hear TRUTH. They hated the TRUTH so much that they went overboard, overplaying their hand, revealing the evil darkness of their hate. They were clearly out for revenge. 
 
“Pilate therefore said unto Him,
Art Thou a king then?
Jesus answered,
Thou sayest that I am a king.
To this end was I born,
and for this cause came I into the world,
that I should BEAR WITNESS unto the TRUTH.
Every one that is of the TRUTH HEARETH My VOICE.”

(Jesus, speaking to Pilate, John 18:37b) 
 
The Kangaroo Court 
The Religious Establishment submitted their shoddy case to the Romans. Why did they take Jesus’s trial to the Civil Jurisdiction when they had “found” a “crime” under their own Law? It seems obvious that they were seeking the Roman imprimatur to bolster their own weak case. It set a terrible precedent. For the next twenty centuries persecutions launched by a Reigning Church often enlisted the State to carry out the executions. 
 
The Elite Elders brought their CONTRIVED charges before Pilate for what would become a very political Show Trial. Immediately they established their own Power Base with Pilate, insisting that he come outside his own Judgment Hall to meet them on their turf. Pilate obliged them, and throughout the course of the trial we read of him walking back and forth. When Pilate inquired about their charges against Jesus, they made a sweeping allegation that “if He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee” (Luke 18:30). Pilate wasn’t buying it. They began winging it. They padded Jesus’s charges with extra FALSE accusations beyond the scope of their original investigations. Mark 15:3 records that “the Chief Priests accused him of many things.” (See also Matthew 27:13.) They even threw in the kitchen sink. Luke 23:2 says they accused Jesus of “forbidding to give tribute to Caesar,” another obvious distortion of His actual WORDS (Matt. 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25). 
 
Pilate started off the hearing on a professional stance, but things quickly degenerated. He was a crafty political creature who accurately read their motives and conducted his hearing accordingly, “For he knew that for ENVY they had delivered Him” (Matthew 27:18). Pilate, like the Herod dynasty, was notorious for his use of blunt force rather than savvy diplomacy. Luke 13:1 mentions a previous gruesome act of his brutality: “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” 
 
“The lip of TRUTH shall be established for ever: 
but a LYING tongue is but for a moment.” 
(Proverbs 12:19)
 
 “What Is TRUTH?” 
John 18:38 records Jesus’s curious conversation with Pilate. He asked Jesus, “What is TRUTH?” Was Pilate asking a serious question? Was he mocking? Was he being facetious? Was he influenced by the ancient philosophers who were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH” (2 Tim. 3:7)? Was Pilate attempting to SPIN a NARRATIVE, questioning whether there is such a thing as absolute TRUTH? In a fascinating anecdote, John 18:38 tells us that Pilate didn’t wait around for an answer, but immediately “went out again to the Jews, and saith unto them, ‘I find in him no fault at all.’” 
 
Luke 23 records that Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod Antipas’s jurisdiction, either for some sport or maybe to pass the buck. “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8). This is the same Herod who had beheaded John the Baptist in a capricious act of cruel injustice. Prior to this Jesus had done nothing to ingratiate Himself to this Herod – calling him “that fox” when some conscientious Pharisees had warned Him that “Herod will kill Thee.” He even forewarned Herod via the messengers that “the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:31-33). Herod apparently didn’t want to hear the TRUTH either. Under Herod’s jurisdiction Jesus suffered more mocking and rough brutality. 
 
Cancel Culture politics is very fickle about friends and enemies. In one day, out the next, or vice versa. After this interrogation a new liaison formed: “And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves” (Luke 23:12). This was a newfound Political Alliance that the Chief Priests probably hadn’t counted on. 
 
“And Pilate, when he had called together the Chief Priests
and the Rulers and the people, Said unto them,
Ye have brought this Man unto me,
as One that perverteth the people:
and, behold, I, having examined Him before you,
have found NO FAULT in this Man touching those things whereof ye ACCUSE Him:
No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to Him;
and, lo, NOTHING worthy of death is done unto Him.”

(Luke 23:13-15) 
 
Manipulating the Masses 
The badly battered Jesus was sent back to Pilate. When Pilate offered the Religious Establishment a choice between Jesus and the REAL criminal Barabbas the “robber” (John 18:40), the Leaders organized street riots, “a TUMULT” (Matt. 27:24) to violently PROCLAIM their LIE. They revved up raucous crowds to CRY bloody murder: “crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13). This incitement of the mob created unrest, riots and civil destabilization, a volatile tactic to achieve the PHONY verdict they desired. These unethical Elder Leaders employed Mob Violence as a tool to achieve their own dastardly purposes. 
 
Which raises an interesting question – just how politically corrupt were these Chief Priests that they could so quickly organize a mass riot? Jesus had only been arrested late the night before, and already the Gang of Elders had managed to orchestrate large chanting crowds as a volatile Pressure Tactic. This whole MOB matter just doesn’t have the feel of a spontaneous uprising. Had the Priestly Class been supporting a group of ruffians, freeloaders, activists and zealots in the background just in case they ever needed to display their Political Clout? A Criminal Class that gladly cried the release of their Comrade in crime, Barabbas, “Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison” (Luke 23:15)? Barabbas was the TRUE insurrectionist (Mark 15:7), but Jesus had assured Pilate that His “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). 
 
For they are a nation void of COUNSEL,
neither is there any understanding in them....
Their wine is the poison of dragons,
and the cruel venom of asps.

(Deuteronomy 32:28, 33)
 
 
Verdict by Verbal Assault 
The Religious Authorities hurled their WORDS like weapons to bash Pilate with their NARRATIVE. Luke 23 tells us the progression of increasing VERBAL assaults that the Religious Authorities spewed. First, they were “all the more FIERCE” (v. 3) with their myriad of accusations. Then they “stood and VEHEMENTLY ACCUSED Him” (v. 10). When it seemed Pilate might release Him, “they CRIED OUT ALL AT ONCE” (vs. 18). By verse 23 “they were INSTANT WITH LOUD VOICES, requiring that He might be crucified.” The verdict was won by the loudest SCREAMERS – “And the VOICES of them and of the Chief Priests prevailed.” Their histrionic rhetoric became more and more vitriolic – once again indicating the inferiority of their actual legal case. 
 
When Pilate heard Jesus’s response to their TRUE claim that “He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:7), Pilate flinched. Maybe he was disturbed by that strange dream his wife had about Jesus (Matt. 27:19). After all, the Romans were very superstitious. At the time of Christ, the Romans were still butchering animals and examining their entrails to ascertain divine guidance. When the Romans conquered new territories they simply added in the conquered gods to their already burgeoning pantheon. So Pilate might have panicked – just what sort of “son of God” was Jesus? Who WAS He? Whose SON was He? What sort of “god” was this humble Hebrew fellow? 
 
Seizing upon this momentary weakness the chief priests switched their NARRATIVE to the charge “King of the Jews.” In doing so they left Moses’s LAW in the dust. They then invoked Roman political authority and legal jurisdiction, threatening Pilate: “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar” (John 19:12). So much for their pretense at religious sanctity. Their new charge was TREASON against Rome! They even stated a dreadful OATH, “His blood be on us, and our children” (Matthew 27:25). 
 
Pilate caved, but he was no dummy. Pilate would satirize their NARRATIVE, which irritated the Religious Establishment greatly, by posting “The King of the Jews” on Jesus’s cross (John 19:19-22). Fearing people would take it as literal TRUTH, the chief priests begged Pilate, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21 – a relativistic statement to the effect that this was just Jesus’s personal “truth” – not THE TRUTH. Pilate didn’t give in to their demands this time. He had caught on to their semantic gymnastics. Thus, he posted the actual TRUTH openly on Jesus’s cross so all could read it. 
 
The Religious Establishment was not content to leave matters alone. They had to get their digs in. They provocatively REVILED Jesus about His “three days” statement while He hung on the cross (Matthew 27:39-40). Their words would soon backfire on them. . . . 
 
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities,
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed.”

(Isaiah 53:5)

 
To Be Continued….