“Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” – Matthew 16:6
I’m confident most everyone reading this has read the original four Gospel accounts at some point in their life. You may have read them many times, studied them systematically, even walked through every verse in a Bible study.
But now I’d like to challenge you to do it again with a certain perspective in mind that will, with the Holy Spirit’s leading, give you fresh insight into what Jesus taught that was so radical, who He was directing it to, and what practices He tried to correct before going to the cross as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.
They key question I want you to ask yourself in this fresh encounter with the Gospels is this: Did Jesus come to start a new religion called Christianity? The answer may surprise you. Jesus came to do many things, to fulfill many roles. But none involved starting a new religion.
He came to save the world from sin.
He came to bear witness to the truth about God and the fallen world.
He came to fulfill what was prophesied about His Coming Kingdom.
He came first for the lost sheep of Israel.
He came to be a light to the Gentiles.
But one thing He did not come to change or do away with was His Father’s commandments. I don’t believe that for a minute. I don’t see it in Scripture. In fact, all the evidence shows just the opposite. Somehow, though, most people who claim to follow Him have missed that.
I’m not suggesting that the Creator of the world didn’t know what would happen after His death and Resurrection. On the contrary, He knew. He most certainly knew. That’s why he warned us ahead of time. What did He say?
Matthew 7:13-14 tells us: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
He added: 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
More than a billion people alive today call themselves “Christians.” Will they all enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Will most? How many of us have ever prophesied or cast out demons in Jesus’ name? Very few I suspect. I sure haven’t.
Yet even some who have done or will do these “wonderful works” will be turned away by Jesus when He returns. That should give every self-proclaim follower of Jesus pause to consider: Am I on the broad, destructive path, or the narrow one that leads to life? “Few there be that find” that one, Jesus emphasized.
If all we are expected to do, as many television preachers suggest, is “give our hearts to Jesus” in one momentary, “born-again” confession of faith, why will so many be lost? Don’t many teachers today say that Jesus came to give us an easier path to salvation – to unburden us from the law, which was such a stumbling under the old covenant? How do we reconcile this teaching with what Jesus said in Matthew 7?
These are the questions that should be on your mind as you take another walk through the Gospels. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what may have been previously obscured from your understanding.
Here’s another provocative question: Why did He speak in parables in His teachings? Do you think He used them to make his message easier to understand, so that more listeners would discover the truth and find the narrow path?
In two of the Gospels, the disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables. His very direct answer, recorded in Luke 8 was: “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
In Matthew 13, He provides more detail: “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
In other words, Jesus did not speak in parables so that the masses would see and hear more clearly. He did so to fulfill a prophecy from Isaiah 6:9-10. “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”
Jesus was not into easy overnight conversions. He’s was in it for the long haul. He was speaking truth to the lost sheep of Israel – and they had heard it for some time. It didn’t waver. And faith does not take a minute to instill for Gentiles either. Only a few were chosen. This is the way of the narrow path. Broad is the way of destruction.
ALSO: Get Joseph Farah’s book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom. Also available as an e-book.
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