“The more I get to know Jesus, the more trouble He seems to get me into.”
― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
I thank the Lord that we did not live in the OT, where we had to approach God in fearful uncertainly, through various sacrifices of blood, a human high priest, at one temple in Jerusalem. The writer of Hebrews is correct, we have a far better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23), better covenant (Heb. 8: 6); better promises (Heb. 8: 7); better hope (Heb. 7:19); better than the angels (Heb. 1: 4); better mediator (Heb. 12:24), better resurrection (Heb. 11:35)!
As with a new cell phone, the moment you take possession of the new product, the old phone expires and is obsolete. We are grateful for the old one because it was useful, but now that we are using the new one, we no longer think of the old one, because of the new phone’s better features!
Jesus was revolutionary! He did not improve or add anything to the old, no He replaced the old with something much better! Too many believers still think from an Old Testament, old covenant paradigm. They use New testament vocabulary with an Old Testament approach and mindset. He paved a whole new path, through His preaching and example, His suffering and death, and His resurrection! The origin of Christianity did not begin in Genesis, it began with Jesus, and His resurrection!
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.. ” (Heb. 10: 19-22 NKJV).
Demolish the Temple and Rebuild it In Three Days
The Jews were passionate about the temple! The temple was the epicentre of Isreal’s Religious practice. Imagine what the Jews would do today, if you only touched the Wailing Wall remnant in Jerusalem, and threatened to tear it down. The third world war would break out!
Around the year AD 40, citizens of Jerusalem were notified that a statue of Emperor Gaius Caligula was to be erected within the temple walls. Petronius, governor of Syria, was given responsibility for transporting the statue from the port city of Ptolemy to Jerusalem. He was accompanied by two legions (approximately 10,000 soldiers). When he arrived to take possession of the statue, he was shocked to discover thousands of Jews from the region had gathered in protest. When threatened with violence, instead of organizing to defend themselves, the protesters knelt and exposed their necks to the Roman soldiers. They threw themselves down upon their faces, and stretched out their throats and said they were ready to be slain. They did this for forty days abandoning the tilling of their farms in the required time period to sow it. Firm in their resolution to die willingly rather than to see the dedication of a pagan statue within their temple. Footnote https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/jewish-peasants-block-construction-statue-gaius-caligula-galilee-40-ce
The Maccabean revolt was also sparked by the Greek General Antiochus’ desecration of the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus in the temple and sacrificing a pig on the altar. (168 – 165BC) Footnote https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes
When Jesus thus spoke off destroying the temple, He made Himself the number one enemy of the state. “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Matt. 24:1-2) see Mark 13:1, 2; Luke 21:5, 6.
This statement about the temple was the main argument against Jesus, why He stood trial, and deserved the death penalty. That was what the witnesses brought against Him (Matt. 26:61; Mark 14:58). Even during His crucifixion, these words were repeated! (Matt. 27:40; Mark 15:29).
Abraham’s calling was: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). God is calling us to bless the world through us. The tabernacle, later the temple, was to be the place of blessing, forgiveness, and liberation. The place that was to bless the world became a robber’s cave, as the money changers exploited the people, for their own gain. Therefore, Jesus cleanses the temple (John 2: 13-22).
Thirty-eight years before the final destruction of the temple in 70AD, Jesus clearly warned the people: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24). This is one of Jesus’ prophecies, which was fulfilled literally word-for-word: and also a beautiful proof of His Historic existence.
The revolt of the Jews culminates in 66AD, after which various battles are launched by the Hebrew Zealots for nearly four years. The Roman general Titus besieged three legions of soldiers against Jerusalem a few days before Passover, April 14. With more than 100,000 people trapped in the city. Internal factions destroyed food supplies, the stench of no sanitation removal, hunger and too many people, made the situation within the city unbearable. An angry soldier threw a torch over the wall in August, and the temple caught fire. Finally, by 7 September 70AD, the city was taken. Footnote https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(70_CE
Josephus, an eyewitness tells: “The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without. Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of the dead to carry on the work of extermination.”
To this day, the Jews can no longer offer any sacrifice on their altar. There has been no atonement for their sins since then. So Jesus did not just make empty promises. Jesus announces the new: a new way; a new covenant; a new kingdom; new rules and laws; new promises; rewards and inheritance! Jesus fulfils the old, sealed with His crucifixion and resurrection making a new covenant! (Jer. 31:31-34).
The revolution Jesus announced is the destruction of a sacred building, the birth of a building built with people. (1 Pet 2:5)
No “Replacement Theology”
The Christian church has tragically used this revolution, to claim that the Church has replaced Judaism! But God’s plan was not to replace one man-made institution with another. Jews and Gentiles are called to become part of an organic spiritual body in Christ. Read the entire passage in Ephesians 2:1-22 with emphasis on verses 16-18: “and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
One of God’s primary provisions to us besides the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the Body of Christ. For God to become human, He needed a body (Heb. 10: 5). Body implies community and family. There are thousands of churches in the world today, but they do not necessarily function as a family, and community. Community implies we are inter-interdependent in close connection.
The Omnipresent, Almighty and Omniscient God, comes to dwell in a human body! It’s His first great act of love to us! His incarnation! (Heb. 4:14-15). He needed a body to do good to mankind, to heal the sick, to defeat the power of evil, and to care for the orphan and the widow, and the poor. No single person today can be completely Jesus alone. If there is such a person again, we will glorify that person. Jesus becomes flesh today through His church. The church is His body. The fullness of God is revealed in His body (Eph. 4:11-16; Eph. 5:30; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 12:12).
We also need a body to do God’s will. We cannot bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven without His Body.
God has decided to reveal to them how blessed and glorious this mystery is to the nations. Its content is: Christ is in you, He is your hope of glory (Col.1:27). The word you is a collective pronoun and can be translated “Christ among you” and “in you”. Christ is in you but there will never again be a Christ manifested in His fullness in one person. Christ’s fullness can only be glorified by a body of people. The church is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23). “Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, ‘Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, that I may not destroy them all.‘” (Isa. 65:8).
Jew and Gentile are now together the temple of the Holy Spirit in Christ alone (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16).
Like the temple building the living church also consists of three parts.
The individual, the local church, and the universal church. Like an orange: the cell, inside a slice, inside the peel. There is only one body. (Eph. 4: 4). The glory of God is already locked up in His body. We can only live in the fullness of this glory when we see the Christ in one another and unlock the gifts in one another. Just as Jesus was born in a body that had to grow before the time came for His ministry, so the church is in a process of preparation until the final hour of her glory! Just as people did not want to acknowledge or accept Him and eventually crucify Him, the church will attain its greatest glory in its darkest hour. May God open your eyes like Peter’s to see salvation in His true united church!
Reduce 630 laws to only Two
There are two groups of people when it comes to religion, sanctification and dedication to the Lord. Those who try their utmost best, many times in isolation, working hard to achieve a perceived standard of self-righteousness. The second group try to get by with the least effort, and wants the publicity benefits without the sacrifice. The first group becomes more and more judgemental and critical of the rest the holier they become. The second group is just trying to get through without really growing and building any spiritual capacity and will eventually fall away.
Jesus offers a radical, revolutionary alternative to this self-human-centered existence. He unites the upward God-directed vertical focus, and sideways, human-oriented, horizontal focus, and makes them one. Inseparably one. You cannot be one without the other.
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24). So you cannot love the Lord without loving your neighbour. Point! On the contrary, how you love your neighbour is the ultimate “litmus test” of whether you truly love the Lord. Through the centuries since the church is measured by how are we loving the world? In the New Covenant, you simply cannot continue with religious observance, of methods and formulas and think you are pleasing God, without loving your neighbour.
Jesus’ preaching to love your enemies, and to do them good, to bless them, in fact, was radical! He literally went directly against the flow of what has been taught and understood about God over the centuries. The religious group hence mobilizes a counterattack: they send the Sadducees to try to question Him: about the life hereafter. When this attempt failed horribly, they sent a lawyer: “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:34–40 NKJV).
Although both of these verses come from the Scriptures (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18), no one has combined the two as “mutually inclusive”. You cannot be the one without the other. Their religious standing and their right to exist was weighed and found wanting. Therefore, they come up with, one last attempt to win back the favor of the people. Remember the Jews saw their neighbour as fellow JEWS! No one else! They are not permitted to intermarry, they may not mix!
Fortunately, Luke added this important explanation so that there would be no ambiguity about exactly who Jesus meant who is “our neighbor” by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan:
“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”
But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25–37 NKJV).
Even today, when we read these passages, we are challenged, because what Jesus asks is not easy. It does not sit easily in our ego. Our secular, consumer, group identity, populist culture has taught us differently.
Jesus thus declares that the 613 Jewish laws are obsolete. It’s over. He has something better! “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). Jesus demonstrates a new basic commandment, an inherent law and worldview, a unique yet life-sustainable approach to life – Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as your Paul the Pharisee, who was zealous for the traditions of his ancestors (Gal. 1:14), declared blameless in righteousness in the law (Phil. 3: 6) said: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6: 2).
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5: 1-2 NKJV).
This reciprocal commandment to love God, but at the same time your neighbour, is the basis, the foundation, the summary of all the laws and rules of the OT.
Jesus exemplified this way and way of working for us. We can possibly devote more time to fasting and prayer, meditation, seclusion, without reaching out our hands to our neighbours. Our lives are poured out like a drink offering, like Jesus.
Jesus Calls God Father
One of the first revelations of Jesus is that He calls God Father. This form of address must have caused earthquakes in the religious world because the Jews made a big deal out of how you address God. God’s primary name was never pronounced: JHWH – JAHWEH. The fear was never to use God’s name in vain. The idea that God is Father was not the problem, but the fact that someone can address God directly as Father was unheard of.
Throughout the Bible we find God portrayed as a Father. This portrayal, however, is surprisingly rare in the Old Testament. There God is specifically called the Father of the nation of Israel (Deut. 32: 6; Isa. 63:16; [twice] Isa. 64: 8; Jer. 3: 4; Jer. 3:19; 31: 9; Mal. 1: 6; 2:10) or the Father of certain individuals (2 Sam. 7:14; 1 Chron. 17:13; 22:10; 28: 6; Ps. 68: 5; 89:26) only fifteen times. (At times the father imagery is present although the term “Father” is not used (Ex. 4: 22-23; Deut. 1:31; 8: 5; 14; Ps. 103: 13; Jer. 3:22; 31:20; Hos. 11: 1-4; Mal. 3:17). This metaphor for God may have been avoided in the Old Testament due to its frequent use in the ancient Near East where it was used in various fertility religions and carried heavy sexual overtones.
The teaching of the Fatherhood of God takes a decided turn with Jesus, for “Father” was his favorite term for addressing God. It appears on his lips some sixty-five times in the Synoptic Gospels and over one hundred times in John. The exact name, father is found three times in the New Testament (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8: 15-16; Gal. 4: 6) but elsewhere the Aramaic term Abba is translated by the Greek pater [pathvr].
God’s interaction with man and the foundation of faith began with Abraham and the promise of Fatherhood. The patriarchs’ God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The role of the Father is therefore central to our faith. The father determines the path and direction in which the family walks. The chaos in our world today can be largely attributed to the absence of Fathers.
But we must not seek our salvation in earthly Fathers. There is a reason why earthly Fathers fail us, God wants to reunite us with our heavenly Father first. Consequently, our behaviour and actions are, of course, determined by our heavenly Father. We get our DNA from the Father (1 John 3: 9): we are born of Him (John 3: 4-5); by immortal seed (1 Pet. 1:23); we know the Father and His ways (1 John 2:13). Earthly fathers are limited in their provision as a father. Therefore, we should not put our trust in people (Ps. 118: 8-9). Good earthly fathers direct us to see God the Father and to be dependent on Him.
Note in Matt. 23:9 (NKJV): “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” Surely our view and experience of our earthly Fathers determine how we see and experience God. But we should not let this keep us captive any longer. No earthly Father biologically or spiritually can replace God or be equal to God the Father. The weakness and imperfection of our earthly fathers must compel us to look to God as our Father.
That is primarily why Christ came, to give us through His righteousness the gift of childhood and access to God, so that we may know Him as Father. The more God as Father becomes a reality for you, the more He will cause you to grow into maturity and the fulfilment of His will. Jesus, the Son of Man, showed us how to do this. He was totally dependent on the Father.
We Gain The Fullness At The Beginning
I asked a good friend, who is a deep thinker about spiritual matters: What makes Christianity different, unique from all other religions? Her immediate response: “We get it all at the start!” In all other religions, you must first work through many rites and customs, to achieve a form of Nirvana, and spirituality. Jesus teaches, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matt. 11:11. The workers who were last employed received the same pay as those who worked all day. (Matt. 20: 1-16).
The best story that illustrates this truth is where Jesus turns the water into wine, His first miracle – a miracle of divine transformation. Jesus’ first miracle marked the beginning of His ministry and was surely significant. We know there is always a deeper meaning, in the first mention of a matter. After all, Jesus did not simply do things (John 5: 19-20, 30; 8:28; 14:30; 12:49). Why water into wine? Why make the best quality wine? To whose advantage was the miracle? The guests were certainly very happy… but the resulting possible drunkenness? How can this be spiritually justified? Some say it was grape juice; however, is there such a big difference in the quality and taste of grape juice? Either way; Jesus accomplished the process of winemaking; picking grapes, pressing them, separating the skins and seeds, fermenting, clarifying and ageing everything in one moment. One milli-second!
The six vessels were used “according to the manner of purification of the Jews” (John 2:6), as Mickva baptism containers. Jewish law requires that one immerse in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion to Judaism. It also requires women to immerse themselves before getting married or after their menstrual cycle. There are also various other reasons. Although this baptism immersion was used to symbolise cleansing people externally it lacked the power to renew people’s inner selves.
The number six is the number of man. They had to fill it to the top. Each can hold between 90 and 100 litres of water, so a total of about 600 litres of wine! On the other hand, the whole community was usually invited to a wedding.
The first plague that Moses performed was the change of water in blood (Ex. 7: 14-24). However, the blood of sacrifices was not sufficient to change the nature of man. Jesus turns water into wine! Wine speaks of abundance, favour, joy and the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul admonishes the church not to get drunk on wine, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Those who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were called drunkards (Acts 2:13). John’s gospel is compiled in seven primary phases where a specific miracle is told and then follows the explanation and spiritualization of the specific event. In this case follows the story of the visit of Nicodemus the Pharisee, and Jesus’ long explanation of rebirth. (John 3).
According to Paul, we become “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus changes the “DNA” of water and what takes years to happen He accomplishes in one moment. The miracle in Cana indicates the scope and power of Jesus’ ministry and work. He came not only to heal or touch us, He came to deliver us from our sinful nature and make us new people in Him!
We sometimes try so hard to be better people: we work on ourselves; we follow this plan and read that book; we discipline ourselves to keep certain rules and follow certain goals; we avoid certain temptations and try to walk a straight path to gain God’s favour and acceptance. Jesus does it all in one moment! He changes our spiritual DNA. We become His children! (1 Pet. 1:23); and according to John we can no longer sin, because we are born of God (1 John 3: 9). Our human efforts for holiness and divine character are futile.
The new covenant that Jesus sealed for us promises:
- An inner understanding and comprehension of God’s heart and will (Jer. 31:31-34).
- He writes his laws in our hearts. Divine characteristics become “fruit” and not “works” (Gal. 5:22-23).
- We receive His thoughts and sentences (1 Cor. 1:16).
- It is the miracle of true salvation, that He works in us to do His will (Phil. 2:13).
- Our fragrance changes from the fragrance of death to the fragrance of His knowledge and glory (2 Cor. 2: 14-16).
- We receive His light and become His light (Eph. 5: 8). Without trying we are His light, when He comes to dwell in us through His Spirit.
- We become the temple and sanctuary of God through which He makes His glory shine (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16).
He also fills us, to the top. Full is an abundance concept, no half measures! This is how He ‘fills’ us with His person! All in one moment !!!
What To Do To Receive Him?
Nothing at first… He was invited to the wedding. He comes to you. No one can come to the Father unless He draws us (John 6:44). God’s plan of salvation begins by sending a messenger to our world, who is preaching the Word to us. We hear and understand the Word and faith is raised in our hearts. We call on Him and salvation is poured out in our hearts (Rom. 10: 14-15). It is the wonder of God’s love that draws and serves each of us in His unique way.
Second, we must believe in Him. The guests all saw Jesus at the wedding, but Mary believed in Him. She believed that He would be able to do anything. She made no other plans to get wine, she saw in Him the ability to ŉ solution.
Third, you must respond and be obedient to what He tells you. She goes into action and tells the slaves to do exactly what he says (v. 5). Their obedience activates the miracle of God. The miracle does not happen when they pour the water into the jugs, but when they take the water to the master of ceremonies. He could chase them away and fire them because they dared to simply bring water to him. They knew it was just water, but then the miracle, the best wine! When we believe in His Word and respond to it to start living as new people even though we still do not feel anything, something supernatural happens to us somewhere. He makes us new!
God is able to turn the dirtiest sinner into a royal child in an instant. That sin you just can not overcome, He can save you in a second! You have confessed so many times, but fall back every time. You do not overcome sin by not only confessing but also by believing that He will help you never to do it again. You are a new person! Look, all the old things have passed away, everything has become new. If He can turn water into wine, then He can change you !!
Jesus Rises From The Dead!
Jesus’ resurrection is the crescendo of His Revolution!
It is in His resurrection, where the Jesus revolution originated!
“We must thether the faith of this generation to the event that sparked the movement that brought us the Bible” Andy Stanley
It is essential the church remembers that the “Jesus movement” did not begin with the preaching of the OT laws or scriptures. The origin and driving force of the Jesus movement is and has always been, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. See previous chapters, for more evidence of His resurrection. The effect Jesus had on people, and later His story as retold by the disciples, was the flame and life of the movement. These first believers and followers also suffered greatly, for their faith. The resurrection of Jesus, was the main theme of all preaching, and testimonies, and consequent miracles. The resurrection of Jesus is the core of the Christian Church! Some want to focus on the Bible, the laws and doctrines, traditions and traditions of men. The proverbial Sun of our spiritual solar system is Jesus and His resurrection!
“Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.
But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” (1 Cor. 15: 1-20 NLT).
It is said that Ignatius (c. 50-115 A.D.), the bishop of Antioch, a resident of Syria and a disciple of the apostle John, was “thrown to the wild beasts in the Colosseum in Rome. He wrote his epistles during his journey from Antioch to his martyrdom “. At a time when he would no doubt have been clear-minded, he says of Christ: He was crucified and died under Pontius Pilate. He was truly crucified, not just plainly, and died, before the eyes of creatures in heaven and on earth and under the earth. He also got up after three days.
Pope Benedict the 14th hung a cross in the 18th century, in the Emperor’s entrance, from the Colosseum, to pay tribute to the thousands of Christians who were killed in this 50,000-seat arena for their faith in Jesus.
Josephus, a Jewish historian who at the end of the first century wrote this fascinating passage in Antiquities, 18.3.3: “There was at this time Jesus, a wise man, if it were justified to call him a man, for he did wonderful deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with joy. He attracted many Jews to him, and also many Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate condemned him to the cross, having been accused of the most important men among us, those who loved him from the beginning did not forsake him, for on the third day he came alive again. they appear, as the Divine Prophets foretold these and tens of thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now the group of Christians, named after him, has not become extinct.” (Josephus, AJ, 18.3.3).
A book I can really recommend on the subject is, ‘Irresistible – reclaiming the new that Jesus presented to the World’, by Andy Stanley. He warns that the church will have to seriously wake up to the reality that young people and the next generation are looking for. They are looking for a person, not a dogma, and not the watered-down second-hand traditions of people. They are academically read, they have seen the world, and they mix widely between different religions and groups of people. The church must return to the revolutionary radical person of Jesus, who lived and proposed a simple, yet relevant way of life against the norms of His day.