Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chapter 6 - Remember - Learning to live what we already know

Chapter 6 –
It is kind of depressing, isn't it?

God parts a river, provides bread and water, conquers nations, topples idols and so much more.

God made Himself so clear: obey Me and I will bless you; disobey Me and I will curse you. If ever a people had the motivation to follow God, it was in the Old Testament. He would bless them with every financial and physical benefit if they would just remember his words. They had every reason to remember God and yet they forgot. Was it because God did not do enough? You have to wonder what God needs to do to get his people to remember. Perhaps if this God would just come down as a man, perform some miracles, teach His truths and walk with people, then, just maybe, then they would remember. Well, that is exactly what He did. But, we are not ready to get there just yet.

Let's look at the forerunner, John the Baptist.
Four hundred years is a long time. Right now, the year is 2011. If I were to
subtract 400 years from 2011 we would arrive at the year 1611. What happened
in 1611? I am on the plane as I write so I cannot even check the internet. I
have no idea what happened in 1611.Columbus? Alright, I am back at the
internet. In 1611, the telescope was invented, the King James book was
written, and Shakespeare wrote "The Tempest" in 1611. Truly, that's a long
time ago and it is difficult to remember anything from that time period.
Even the internet is not much help. I wonder if my Great-Great-Great-Great
(times a lot) ancestors would have been able to convey anything to me
regarding my heritage, customs, and culture. I hardly know my relatives from
two generations ago. Just contemplating that makes the whole answered
prophecy of John the Baptist even more amazing. And there, in the midst of
400 years of silence from God, He finally speaks and John the Baptist is
sent to earth to remind everyone that God lives, cares, and is real.

John 3:30–36
"30'He must increase, but I must decrease.'
31He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to
the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above
all.
32He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his
testimony.
33Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
34For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit
without measure.
35The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the
Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
Malachi prophesized about a type of Elijah, a forerunner and prophet who
would come to remind people about God. This forerunner and prophet was John
the Baptist.. But this time, God was not going to just do it through
prophets, kings, judges, or priests. He was going to do it through The
Prophet, The Priest, The Judge, and The King: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the son, does not have life.
That is all you need to remember.

John never lost track of the fact that it was not about him. He said, "He
must increase. I must decrease." And he kept pointing, kept preaching, and
kept speaking about Jesus until he was in prison. He was in prison for
awhile, a long while. He didn't see this one coming and it worked him over
pretty good. And, even though he knew he was pretty special, having heard
the stories of his miracle birth, and learning over time from God about his
forerunner role in this life, circumstances have a way of creating spiritual
amnesia. He knew Jesus was the one, saw a dove come down from Heaven,
received divine revelation about Jesus, even baptized Jesus, and with all of
this, he sent his messengers to find out if Jesus was really the One. Are
you really the one? Did John forget? It seems that way.

Jesus was gracious and sent his messengers back with a spiritual reminder
that He was, indeed, the One. What was the proof that He was the One? "The
blind are seeing, the lame walk, the dead are raised up and happy is he who
doesn't stumble over me. Or, another way to read it, "Happy is he who
remembers me, even while in prison." (Luke 7:22)

Who can blame John for a little doubt? He had been in prison for at least a
year. It would be easy to struggle a bit in a dungeon. He spent most of his
time in a desert eating locusts and honey and never really spent a lot of
time with Jesus or the disciples, for that matter. We cannot fault a man
whose life was an anomaly, from start to finish. But, even John the Baptist,
someone with a miraculous birth, born with the Spirit on Him, who spent many
years in the desert learning from the Spirit, still forgot when he needed to
remember most.

So, back to where we started this chapter. What if God sent a representative
to earth? Would that change anything? We know that God did just that. God
sent his Son, born of a virgin woman, to live on this earth for 33 years. At
the age of 30, Jesus began his public ministry. Jesus picked twelve people
to be his disciples. Then, over the next three years, He taught them, ate
with them, loved them, and revealed to them His ability to do divine
miracles. In fact, He did 35 divine miracles of those three years. His first
miracle was changing water to wine. He then healed a nobelemen's son, cast a
demon out of a man, healed Peter's Mother-in-Law, and caught a bunch of fish
with his tired, discouraged fisherman disciples. Thirty-five times He
healed, casted out demons, fed thousands, walked on water, and much, much
more. And those are just the miracles that are recorded. John says that
there could not be enough books written to contain all that Jesus did and
said during his ministry on earth.

I say all of that because I want to give a little context for what I want to
share next. There were 18 major miracles before Jesus performed the miracle
of feeding 5000 men. Before we move on, consider that 18 is a lot of
miracles. Most people would be satisfied with just one or two bonafide
miracles to encourage or convince them that there is a God. And now, And
here comes an incredible dilemma. You have to assume that most of the men
had wives and maybe a few kids. There must have been 10,000-15,000 people
there. The twentieth miracle was Jesus and Peter walking on water. The
twenty-first was Jesus casting a demon out of a gentile's daughter. Then,
the twenty-second miracle was Jesus feeding 4000 men. We don't know how much
time was between the feedings. I am guessing at least a month because
between the feedings, He went to Tyre and Sidon, traveled along the Sea of
Galilee, and preached and healed in many places in that area. Even if it was
two months, don't you think that seeing over 10,000 people fed from just a
few loaves of bread and with a few fish would make an indelible impression?
Don't you think that you would never need to worry about food because Jesus
would take care of it? And yet, they, too, forgot.

Check out this interaction following the feeding of another 10,000 or so
people:
Mark 8:14–22
"14Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with
them in the boat.
15And he cautioned them, saying, 'Watch out; beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.'
16And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no
bread.
17And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, 'Why are you discussing the fact
that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your
hearts hardened?
18Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you
not remember?
19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full
of broken pieces did you take up?' They said to him, 'Twelve.'
20'And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken
pieces did you take up?' And they said to him, 'Seven.'
21And he said to them, 'Do you not yet understand?'

The disciples were worried about the bread. Their hearts were dull and they
were unsure how they were going to eat. They were too busy kicking
themselves to remember that it really did not matter that they had forgotten
the bread as long as they were with Jesus. The issue truly was and continues
to be that they did not remember what Jesus had done. Even after doing 22
miracles, they still were unable to allow this new reality to infiltrate
their understanding of how life could/should/would work out in their new
world.

The disciples seem to forget a lot during their three years. Despite the
miracles and the amazing teaching, they are called at different times, "Dull
of hearing" and "you of little faith." They forgot again at the Cross and
after the resurrection. There is really only one place where the disciples
do seem to remember something. It is an unusual passage. During the first of
three visits to Jerusalem, Jesus makes a whip of cords and cleanses the
temple of the money changers. After watching this happen, John 2:17 says:
"17His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will
consume me.'"

But what is strange is that a few verses later, the Jews demand a sign from
Jesus and He does not give them one. In fact, He tells them the sign to give
proof that He has authority to cleanse the temple; He said He would be
raised in three days.

And then, it says:
John 2: 22
"22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that
he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus
had spoken."
The remembering was written in the future; it seemed to happen after He was
raised from the dead. It seems that something cliqued. It is strange that it
did not clique earlier because He told them many times. The first time He
mentioned it was in this John 2 passage early in His ministry . He told them
again before the Transfiguration (Matthew 16:21-26, Mark 8:31-37, and Luke
9:22-25) and again soon thereafter (Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke
9:43-45). And for the last time in the recorded scripture, He told them
again near the Jordan during His last Perean ministry (Matthew 20:17-19,
Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34).

I think the reason it cliqued after He was raised and glorified was because
it was concealed to them. For some reason, Jesus exhorted them to remember
and, yet, God concealed it from them. See it for yourself in Luke 9:44–45:
"44'Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be
delivered into the hands of men.' 45But they did not understand this saying,
and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they
were afraid to ask him about this saying."

It all comes together in two verses many chapters later, that seem to help
clarify this idea of how and when remembering comes.
Luke 24:5-12 - 5And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the
ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?
6He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still
in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful
men and be crucified and on the third day rise." 8And they remembered his
words, 9and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven
and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the
mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the
apostles, 11but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not
believe them. 12But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in,
he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what
had happened.

The women remembered after the angels told them, but the disciples, despite
being told four different times, did not remember. Mark 16:14–15 captures
this conversation:
"14Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at
table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because
they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15And he said to
them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole
creation.'"

This shows that remembering is more of a heart issue than a mind issue. And
we are getting close, really close to putting this all together.

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