"These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world."
Life, these days, is very stressful. Terror is a term heard all around the world. Many deal with fear and anxiety every day. Life to many seems to have no meaning or worth. Jesus says that in this world of tribulation we can have peace and to be of good cheer. How?
Often we think because Jesus is God's Son that other than His crucifixion He didn't have any problems. So how could He possibly understand how we feel? In studying the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I have discovered that there really aren't too many things that we go through that Jesus can't relate to. He truly is the perfect one to be our "Intercessor", that is by definition - One that can intercede with God in behalf of mankind.
In this book I will review the life of Jesus through the prophecies about Him in Isaiah, Chapter 53, and through the events in His life as recorded in the Gospels. This way we will see that Jesus was, indeed, a real person and not a myth and that He can identify with the pressures and the problems of life today. I will also share different experiences in my life, and the lives of people I've known to show that Jesus still works in lives today.
Many people have placed Jesus on a pedestal as if He were a statue that can't see, hear, feel or speak. Some have placed Him in the past and say that the miracles and words of the Bible do not apply to us today. I hope that this book encourages people to seek a closer relationship with God; that they will see Jesus is alive and well today and still works in people's lives. No matter what the pain, trial or terror you are experiencing, Jesus knows and He can help you more than anyone else through any situation.
That's why He came. That's why He died and rose again.
"Who has believed our report?
John 1:1, 2 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."
In the beginning of time Jesus was with His Father in heaven; no pain, no sickness, mansions. All this Jesus gave up to come to earth for 33 years to live as a man on earth and become our Savior and Intercessor.
John 1:14: "And the Word, (the promise of God since Adam) was made flesh and dwelt among us." Though He was foretold over the centuries; at the time of His birth many did not believe it to be so. Those who studied the Scriptures all their lives and proclaimed themselves religious leaders did not know the signs of Jesus' coming because of their pride; even though Jesus' coming was predicted time and time again by such prophets as Isaiah, Daniel, Micah and several others.
"Who has believed our report?" Joseph was the first to doubt. In the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke we are given an account of Jesus' birth. In reading them you will find that Mary's fiancé, Joseph, was very questionable about the condition she was in. How could she be carrying a baby when he had never touched her? Was there someone else? Did he think she just concocted the story about the angels' visitations? He must have, because Matthew tells us in verse 19 that Joseph was not willing to make a public example of her and thought to privately send her away. In those days woman who were unfaithful were stoned to death. For this reason Joseph was not willing to let this happen.
While Joseph was thinking about this, trying to decide what to do, an angel appeared to him. He explained that Mary had not sinned, as Joseph had feared, but that the Child she was carrying was of the Holy Ghost. The angel also told Joseph that the Child would be a boy and His name should be Jesus.
Surely Mary must have been concerned because Joseph did not believe her. Perhaps it was her prayers to an understanding God that sent the angel to Joseph? Was Joseph the only one who looked down on her? How many people do you think that knew Mary and Joseph would have believed her story?
In chapter two of Matthew we see that King Herod heard about the Messiah's birth by way of the wise men from the east. He wasn't sure if this child was the prophesied Messiah or not, but he wasn't taking any chances so he set out to kill Him even if it meant killing every child in Bethlehem born during the appearance of the star. But God made a way of escape by warning Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt.
The people back then were very much like people today and Jesus' entry into this world was not an easy one. Still today there are many that do not believe the report of Joseph and Mary concerning the virgin birth of Jesus.
I remember the first time I learned the story concerning my birth. It was pretty devastating to a teen that thought she knew for sure who her dad was. No, it's not a story of adoption. That, I think I could have handled!
I use to clean my mom and dad's room for spending money. I was cleaning my mom's dresser drawers when I found my birth certificate. It was a shock when I noticed my last name was one I never heard mentioned in our house before. I quickly brought the paper to my mother with many questions.
Having dreaded the day I would ask, she began to explain that her first husband was my real dad. But during that time he was having an affair with a nurse he met in Korea during the war. My mother wanted to keep her husband so out of desperation she came up with a plan that totally backfired on her. She concocted a secret admirer hoping to make him jealous and thinking that it was enough to make him return. (Not a good idea) Well, guess who was announced into the picture while this was going on? Yes - I was.
Was my Dad happy? Yes, he was, now he had the excuse he needed to end the marriage. He asked my mother for a divorce, saying that I was not his child and that when I was born if she gave me his name he would kill her, the doctor and the baby. (Meaning me)
This was a hard time for my mother and she did not want her mistakes to mark me for life with the title of illegitimacy. So she asked a very close family friend if she could use his name on the birth certificate when I was born. The kind man that he was - whom I have never met, agreed.
Perhaps he was placed in my mother's life for that very reason. Jesus knew how it felt for no one to believe the report of your birth. How it feels to have people place shame on the event, and how it was for someone to threaten your life just because you were born. I am thankful to God for this kind man who gave me his name. By the way, his first name was Joseph.
Psalm 27:10: "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me."
"And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"
It never ceases to amaze me how God could tell someone something and about seven hundred years later it happens! It must have really bewildered Isaiah when God told Him to write some of these verses.
We have an advantage Isaiah didn't. He wrote what God told him to, but we get to see what it meant. For example we read in the first part of Isaiah, Chapter 53 verse one: "who has believed our report?" Now I imagine Isaiah must have thought, what report? But we can see that it was the report of Jesus' birth.
I wonder what Isaiah thought about the verse: "And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" What do you think he means?
As we continue with Jesus' birth, we see God is referring to Jesus once more. The clue here is "the arm of the Lord". In Isaiah 52:10 we read, "The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
Again in Psalm 98:1-3, "Oh sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has openly shown in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God."
To whom did God reveal His arm? Let's return to the Gospels once again.
I found that at the time of Jesus' birth, there were several different classes of people made aware of this very special event. In the book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 34: Peter tells us that God is not a respecter of persons. And God proves it at the birth of His Son.
In Matthew and Luke we find that God revealed the fulfillment of His promise of His Son to several variations of people:
1. Mary: A young virgin.
2. Joseph: a lowly carpenter.
3. Religious People: Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth. They were the chosen parents of John the Baptist. John was the announcer of Messiah's coming. There was also the Priest and Scribes who told Herod about the prophecy of Christ coming in Matthew 2:2-6.
4. The Poor: The shepherds tending their flocks at night.
5. The Faithful: Simeon, a just and devout man who knew by the sound of Baby Jesus' cry that He was the Messiah he had waited for so long. Anna, a prophetess and widow, who never left the Temple; who also "spoke of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (Luke 2:36-38)
6. Foreigners: The wise men from the East that followed the star to Bethlehem in search of the King of the Jews that was foretold.
7. Royalty: King Herod who upon hearing the news from the wise men, the Chief Priest, and the Scribes about a Messiah being born set out to find a way to kill the Holy Child.
8. The Animals: The sheep in the fields also must have heard the angels, and those near the manger; donkey, camels, oxen, perhaps mice and insects? (Mark 16:15 "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.")
At Christ's birth we see there were no barriers of class, color, age, gender, race or nationality. Who was invited to His birth? And to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed? To the rich and poor, the old and young. To the different races and nationalities. To the lowly animal, the pure and the wicked. And to the entire world today, the story continues.
Isaiah 52:10 "The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God."
In the Gospel of John, 3:16 it says "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
"God so loved the World" includes YOU and my husband John.
John use to think that because he was born poor that God did not care about him. He always felt like God couldn't possibly love him because so many bad things happened to him when he was growing up. Mostly he felt that there wasn't any God. Have you ever felt that way?
After we had been married nine years he got tired of other people and myself telling him about God and Jesus. Finally he decided to find out for himself if God was real or not. He decided he'd try to talk to God alone just to see if what everyone was telling him was true.
One day when he was out hunting in a field, while the dogs were hot on the trail of a rabbit, he put his cigarette out and just started talking to God.
This is what he prayed, - the best that I remember him telling me:
"God, I don't know if you can hear me or not or if you're even real, but if you are, I hope you're listening. I don't know how to pray. I'm tired of the way I've been living. I've ruined my life.
They say if I ask Jesus into my heart He can give me a new life and teach me how to do right. I don't know anything about being a Christian so you'll have to help me because I don't want to be a hypocrite. If it's okay, I ask Jesus to come into my life and forgive me of my sins."
He came home that day, came through the door of the dinning room where I was sitting at the table, started to walk past me and turned around, looked at me and said enthusiastically: "He's real, He's really real!" That night he went to church with a purpose for the first time in his life. He was 34 years old.
Some days later, John got to dwelling on his past and could see that God had been there with him all along and he just never knew it.
One time, in the darkness of the night, a man put a knife to his throat at a gas station and he was able to get away unharmed.
Another night, at about the age of fifteen, he had hitched a few rides from Illinois to Tennessee. One man told him he needed to stop and see his brother. John didn't see any harm in that. The man turned down a dark dead end road surrounded by fields. John started feeling uncomfortable and began to fear for his life. When they came to the end of the road there was a house with a light on. When the man saw the light he turned the vehicle around real fast and went back to the highway. That's when John quickly escaped from the car and the man took off.
Once John wrecked a friend's van while intoxicated. He got out of the van and lit a cigarette, never realizing until later that he'd been standing in a puddle of gasoline. He could have been quickly ignited should a hot ash fallen.
In review of these memories John realized that God did care about poor boys and even boys no one else thought was worth caring about. He'd been looking out for Johnny for a long time. Now he is so glad to be one to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed.
How about you? Are there times you know you should have been dead but you are still here? An illness you never thought you'd recover from? Maybe you were once in need of funds and had no idea where help would come from, but it did. And maybe in the worst way you needed a friend to talk to, and conveniently one showed up just because they just happened to think of you at that moment. ------Why? ------
Because, "God so loved the world" included YOU! Will you let Him reveal His arm of salvation to you?
Read also: Jesus Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3-10 and Luke 6:20-26.
"For He shall grow up as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground;"
According to Isaiah it's time for Jesus to start growing up. All Isaiah says about that is in the first sentence of verse 2. "He shall grow up as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground;"
If everyone would think of children when they're small as tender plants that need special tending to, then maybe there wouldn't be so much child abuse. I like the way Isaiah put that phrase. Even as a root out of dry ground has to be watered and cared for in order for it to survive; so, too, do children - even Jesus as a child.
The Bible doesn't tell very much about Jesus' childhood. Isaiah tells us in Chapter 7:15, that as a child Jesus would eat butter and honey so He would know to refuse evil and choose good. And in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2 verses 13-15; we learn that when Jesus was a young child His life was in danger. For the child's protection, God sent an angel to Joseph and warned him in a dream that he should take Jesus and Mary into Egypt because King Herod wanted to kill Jesus. Joseph did as the angel had said.
After Herod died, Joseph had another visit from the angel telling him to go back into the land of Israel because those who sought the child's life were dead. Fulfilling the prophecy, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." (Hosea 11:1)
Because they feared Herod's son, Archaleaus, (who was reigning in his father's place) Joseph and Mary took the child, Jesus, who by now must have been three or four years old to live in Nazareth.
Matthew doesn't say anything more about Jesus' childhood; but Luke does in Chapter 2:40-52.
We read, "Jesus grew strong in spirit, and was full of wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him." Then Luke begins to tell us about an incident that took place when Jesus was 12 years old.
Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem every year at the time of the Passover.
And as Jesus was twelve years of age they went according to the custom of the feast and when they had stayed the required amount of days, they started back for home. Mary and Joseph were on the road for a day before they realized Jesus wasn't with them. They must have felt panic stricken; when after one whole day of searching among the group they were with, they couldn't find Jesus. Needless to say they headed back for Jerusalem. It was a total of three days before they ever found Him.
Where was Jesus all this time? That's what Mary and Joseph wanted to know! They found Him in the middle of a group of teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. "And all those that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers." (Luke 20:47)
Joseph and Mary were amazed when they saw Him. They wanted to know why He worried them so. "Your father and I have sought you sorrowing." Mary said.
Jesus, now old enough to be considered a man, yet still a teen, was probably like most teens and aggravated that they would be worried. Like all youth that age who think Mom and Dad are suppose to know what they are thinking without having to tell them. Jesus replied to His mother: "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I would be about My Father's business?"
His parents did not understand what He meant, but at the moment I believe Jesus realized that honoring His parents was one of God's commandments and, therefore, by doing so He was being about His Father's business. Jesus went back to Nazareth with His parents and was "subject" to them. Luke also tells us "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man."
It's hard to picture Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as a tender plant, yet as a child that is what He was. And just like all children at any age God gave Him parents to look after Him until He could care for Himself. It's evident that Jesus felt that the age of twelve was indeed the time to go out on His own and care for Himself. But, because He was still like a plant out of dry ground Jesus realized that God gave parents for a reason and that it was still needful of Him to be under their submission. It was hard for Jesus to obey His parents that day, but by so doing, He set an example for us to follow. In fact, Jesus never did go out by Himself and start His ministry until He was thirty years old. That wouldn't set with many youth of today.
One other thought about this time in Jesus' life. During this Feast of Passover, Mary and Joseph lost their Son, and found Him. On Passover some 21 years later, Jesus died so that we who are lost in sin can be found and become children of God. Then we can begin the job of being about our Father's business.
As we neared the entrance to the fairgrounds excitement expounded from our three young children in the back seat. The lights shinning on the many rides in the distance brought back memories of past fun and frolic. We soon parked the car and the scents of the many tasty delightful treats that awaited us teased the children's delicate little noses and their Daddy's appetite. The first major decision upon entering the park was, food or rides first.
Michael, who was six years of age, loved the bumper cars and riding with his Daddy. To
Kelly, four at the time and Eric, two years, it was exciting and scary all at the same time. Kelly remembered the rides of the past year, but Eric was still not sure what all was taking place, but it had to be good because his sister and brother were excited. With children pulling in different directions we decided to walk around and look for a little while before we made any decisions.
As we fought the immense crowd of people, a spot caught our eye where they took computerized pictures. This was something we had never seen before, but looking at the black and white pictures on paper that people were carrying away with them we decided we would try it.
Satisfied with the results of the picture we went along the way with barkers crying out to us to try their games and the tempting odors of all kinds of food beckoning unto us. We checked out the games we would like to try later: throw the ball in the fish bowl and win a fish, put the gum on the color of your choice and if your color is picked you win.
Then the children spied the rides they wanted to try. First came the bumper cars. As we waited in line for the tickets, John's sister, Betty, and her family stopped by for a chat, then we saw some of his Aunts and Uncles.
Michael's desires were met with jubilance at the bumper cars so we continued on to the kiddy rides for Kelly and Eric. It was a ride that had different color artificial horses that went round and round. It had a spot for the two to hold on safely. We put Kelly on the horse of her choice, showed her where to hold on to and explained that we had to put Eric on his ride and showed her where Mommy and Daddy would be standing. We then proceeded to the next available horse for Eric. We showed Eric where to hold on to and explained where we would be and to watch for us. We could tell by the look on Eric's face that he wasn't so sure about this ride so we kept a close eye on him as he went around. The ride started and as I saw that Eric liked it, I began to watch for Kelly to wave at her. I watched, and watched, and looked and it finally dawned on me that Kelly was nowhere in sight. She was not on her horse, she was not at my side, she was not at her daddy's side, she wasn't even anywhere in the vicinity! I was now very panic stricken and hollering at Johnny, who obviously had the same previous concern for Eric as I had before I noticed Kelly's disappearance, "Where is Kelly?!"
His response was calm, "She's right. Where is she?!" Did she get off the ride? Do you see her?"
"No" I said almost tearfully, my heart feeling as if it were struggling to beat. My head swimming in bewilderment, I heard my voice speak but I wasn't sure how the words were coming out. "We've got to find her!" I said with horrible visions of an abduction going through my mind.
"God please keep my little girl safe." I prayed. Johnny gave me instructions to stay put, stating that he and Michael would walk around and look for her. Some of the nieces and nephews came by and we instructed them on our plight. The search began.
I held tightly to Eric in my arms as I watched the crowds go by. I tried to fight the horrible fear that wanted to creep into my mind. "God, please let Kelly be okay, please, let someone find her, please don't let a pervert get her, please let someone nice find her" Eric wriggled in my arms; I guess I was squeezing him too tight to be sure he did not escape my grip. I relaxed my grip a bit and continued to watch anxiously in the crowd.
It seemed like an eternity had passed when coming straight for me was Kelly dragging a young couple behind her. "Kelly! I cried out as tears of relief welled up in my eyes. There were a thousand questions trying to come out of my mouth at once, "Where were you? Why did you get off the ride? Where" Kelly responded just as quick to my questions as if she wanted to let me know of her adventure also. "I was looking for you and Daddy; I thought you left me. I was lost and started crying and these people found me." She pointed to the sweet looking young couple in front of me who were watching everything.
As I looked at them I thanked God greatly for the kindness I saw in them. "Thank you both so much, I have family everywhere looking for her, I prayed someone nice would find her, thank you so much for watching over her!" They told how they had found her crying and thought that if they walked around with her maybe she would see her parents.
I prayed God's blessings on them as they went on their way and stayed put until Johnny and the family showed up. We were all greatly relieved.
Once again, we squatted down to Kelly's level and asked her why she left. Once again, this time where Daddy could hear, she relayed her reasons. All she knew was she didn't see us and thought we left her. We explained to her that we would NEVER leave her and that she should have paid attention to us while we were instructing her about the ride and where we were going to be. After the hugs and kisses we decided on one more ride, something to eat and then we went home thankful to be all together.
That night I learned not to take anything for granted when it comes to tender young plants called children. Kelly and her brothers learned to listen closely to what Mom and Dad have to say or you could end up in trouble. Isn't that what happens when we do not listen to our Heavenly Father when He gives us His instructions?
I can't help but wonder what would have happened to Jesus if Mary and Joseph let him stay at the Temple. There was a human side to Jesus and I believe the human side told Him he was a man now and that it was time for Him to start His ministry. What if He had started then? Would He have died at an early age? Would anyone have followed a twelve year old back then? I think not and I believe God placed the knowledge in Mary and Joseph that they also knew it was not His time yet. Then again perhaps Jesus was there to plant seeds for the Pharisees and Scribes who listened that day. Perhaps Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were there? We may never know the answers to these things until we are forever with Jesus. What we do know is that God commanded: "Honor your father and your mother" Jesus did, even when He started His ministry in Cana.
"He had no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him,
there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
Some interesting points to be learned from Isaiah and the Gospels are that Jesus understands how it feels for no one to believe you. He knows what it is like to be born poor and for people to want you to be destroyed at birth. We learned that Jesus had to obey His parents even though He didn't feel like it; that God looks at children as tender young plants and God is not a respecter of persons as He reveals His arm of salvation to the world.
Now Isaiah tells us, and you may never get over this one, but all those pictures or movies we see of Jesus being portrayed as a handsome man are not true. The verse above states it plainly. Jesus did not want people to come to Him for His looks, but to be drawn by the words He spoke and the example He set and the love He showed. Like many of us He wanted people to be able to see the beauty within, that Godly, Holy presence that we as Christians are also expected to show forth.
Most people are drawn to the pretty, strong or rich people of the world. Those who were not born with good looks, strength or money are often made outcasts. Many attempt to be part of the "in" crowd by giving into peer pressure. They want to fit in so much they will join gangs or sororities and be subjected to many humiliating initiations. They turn against friends and families - just to belong.
The society of Jesus day was much like our own today. But Jesus didn't strive to follow the crowd. He went against the flow and made His stand for what He knew was right and what was best for others. Making a stand is not always an easy thing to do. This is some of what Jesus dealt with during His ministry:
Mark 5:40 "and they laughed Him to scorn."
Luke 4:28, 29 "Then all those in the synagogue rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff."
John 10:31 "Then they took up stones again to stone Him."
Though making a stand and doing what is right is not easy, you will find that the rewards for making that stand are far greater. With each attempt on Jesus, He overcame it and went on His way doing His Father's will. He knew that God had a plan for His life and nothing would hinder Him until the right time, the time He would give His life freely.
Although the religious leaders of His day, or many of the people who followed them, did not accept Jesus there were thousands who did love and accept Him. Why? He was not handsome or muscular. He was poor, so He could not possibly have kept up with the high-class style of those days, He did not care about keeping with the fashion. He tells us in Matthew 6:19-34 not to worry about clothing. He did not always agree with the religious sects and he wasn't a politician. So what drew those thousands of people to Him? Let's check the Gospels again.
Matthew 7:28, 29 "And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes." (Jesus lived what He preached)
John 4:5-42 "Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. Samaritans were outcasts in those days and Jesus went against popular custom and spoke to her, much to His disciple's surprise. After speaking with her, she left her water pot and went to the city." In verse 29 she tells the neighbors, "Come see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"
The people weren't going to take her word for it; they wanted to find out for themselves. In verse 42: "Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."
These are just a few examples; there were also many miracles that Jesus had performed that drew the crowds to Him as well.
It was the good things Jesus did that drew people to Him. Even though people laughed, threw stones, cursed Him or tried to kill Him. He did not let them stop Him from doing well. He stood up to peer pressure and made a stand for what was right. He dared to go against the flow and in so doing He drew thousands unto Himself and they were glad He did. Aren't you?
I was not a very popular person in grade school, I was often chased home with rocks and apples, laughed at, and lied about. People did not take the time to know who I was on the inside or the situation in my home, which was not very good as my mother was a violent alcoholic. My sister, MaryAnn, was six years older than myself and had to be more of a mother to us. For such a young age it was a hard task for her, she could only do so much for a family with five children, three of which were younger than she. Because our clothes were not always tidy and my mothers fighting was not always kept indoors, sometimes the neighbors wouldn't let their children play with us; they didn't even want us in their yards. If they could keep us off the public sidewalk at times, I believe they would have.
Going through all of that, needless to say, I did not have any self-esteem. I truly believed that I was the scum of the earth. So much so, that at one time I attempted suicide. (But that's another story for later.) I worked hard at trying to make friends and I did care what everyone thought. I was not very pretty and my clothes were not in fitting with the fashions. Though back in those days we wore uniforms to school, there was still a matter of knee-highs or anklets; what kind of shoes; what kind of hairstyle and the choice between boots or goulashes.
I tried to be like the popular girls in class and in the neighborhood. I dreamed of being like the toughest girl in the neighborhood whom no one messed with; but I was not strong at all. Once I graduated from Grade School I began to worry about High School. But something happened that summer that helped me a lot.
My dad was showing old home movies one evening and there was a shot of me with my cousins at Christmas. Oh, I was really putting on the show! I looked so ridiculous trying to be something I wasn't that I couldn't stand it. I thought to myself: "No wonder no one wants to be my friend if I act like that!"
That night I laid in bed and thought about all I'd been through since birth. Remembering all the taunts and all the tears, I began to talk to God. He was my greatest confidant and often my only friend. I knew He would listen as He had so often before and He would never belittle me. I got to thinking how I had wished people would take the time to know me as I was on the inside, in my heart, not who I was on the outside. No, I didn't always dress just right and my hair wasn't always in style with the times. Maybe I wasn't smart about a lot of things, but I did care about people and I tried hard to do what was right. Didn't that count for anything? I didn't chase people and make them cry. I knew I wasn't perfect by far, but I also knew I wasn't as horrible a person as some made me out to be. So that night with God listening I made an important decision. I made up my mind that I knew who I was inside and that God knew me better than I knew myself. I knew that I have to answer to Him when I die. I told God: " It does not matter anymore what people think, I am going to be "me" God. I have to answer to You when I leave this world and I have to live with my conscience. So from now on if people like me or they don't like me that's all right, from now on it's just You and me."
So, I began High School with that attitude. I was just me - wore what socks, shoes and clothes I had and the hairstyle I could handle. I tried smoking and didn't like it so I didn't do it. I would not do drugs and alcohol because I like to have control of my senses and I promised myself I would not be like my mother and hurt people like many alcoholics do or make a fool out of myself. I made my stand with the youth around me, but did not condemn them for their choices, just stated my reasoning.
Much to my surprise I had more friends in High School then ever in my life. Some even came forward and said they looked up to me and wanted to be like me. That just totally blew my mind! My response to that was my mouth falling open and saying "ME!" (I still had that low self-esteem) I told one girl she needed to aim higher.
I'm not going to tell you that my life got better for that decision, as life has it's problems and always will. I faced many dangers in those years and the years to come, but each time I made my stand for what I felt was right with my conscience clear before God, I would get the same results. When I made the wrong decisions, I paid dearly. When I made a stand for what was right, people respected me for having the courage to make a stand. To say the courage is my own, I cannot, God 'IS' my Strength. I depend on Him for everything daily and if He were not real I would not be here. I have literally faced knives, guns, fists and hammer, but Jesus never left me nor forsook me.
I am so thankful that we can turn to God for anything and that He doesn't look at the outward appearance but at our hearts. (I Samuel 16:7)
I am also thankful that Jesus came to earth to live as a man and that He understands what it is to be human. He understands peer pressure and knows how it feels not to be accepted. He showed us that we could make a stand against it.
When you make a stand for God, He makes a stand for you I Promise!
* * *
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident." (Psalm 27:1-3)
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (II Peter 3:11-14)
"He is despised and rejected of men;"
We now know that when Jesus came to earth He did not want to be desired by people because of His looks. He wanted people to accept Him as He was, in hopes that they would see His Father in Him. In that way Jesus was much like many of us who would like people to accept us as we are and to see the good in us.
What else does Isaiah tell us about this man Jesus? In this verse we see that Jesus was
"despised and rejected of men," Not only was Jesus widely accepted by people, but also there was even a larger percentage that despised and rejected Him. Jesus went through a lot before His crucifixion.
Remember in the last chapter I gave some quotes of incidents that happened to Jesus. Lets look a little closer at these.
In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus had just come out of the wilderness where He had been tempted by the devil and of whom He defeated with the Word of God. He went to Nazareth, His hometown, where He grew up; the place where His family and His neighbors were. He probably played with the neighborhood children here when He was young. This was where He attended synagogue services as a boy. It was the very place He chose to announce His calling.
Sounds easy enough. Not quite, in fact, if you read the story you'll discover that His announcement, which He gave after He read Isaiah 61:1-2, caused a furious uproar among the people. He said, ''Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Meaning; He was the one God appointed to preach the gospel, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives, heal the blind, and to deliver the oppressed. This was the Scripture about the promised Messiah everyone had been looking for and Jesus was saying He was the fulfillment of that Scripture.
The people began to ask each other, "Is this not Joseph's Son?" Wasn't this the child they watched grow up, how could He possibly be the Messiah? Jesus, knowing they did not believe Him went on to rebuke them in verses 23-27. This is what truly angered them, so much that they tried to push Him off "the brow of the hill on which their city was built." But Jesus past through the middle of them and went His way.
In Mark 5:22-43 Jesus had been preaching and working miracles in cities around the Sea of Galilee. One of the rulers of the local synagogue by the name of Jairus came and fell at the feet of Jesus begging Him earnestly to heal His daughter who was at the point of death. Jesus went and followed Him with the crowds pressing in on Him everywhere.
Now Jesus was very aware of the man's distress and the urgency involved but He still made time for one woman who was desperate. She came through the crowd and dared to reach out to touch Jesus garment, she knew that if she did, she would be healed from a flow of blood that caused her great affliction for many years, one that the doctors could not heal. Upon feeling the power go out of His body, Jesus asked "Who touched me?" When the woman came forth and told her story, Jesus told her that her faith had made her whole and to go in peace.
Well, by this time Jairus daughter had died and his servants came and told him not to bother Jesus about it any more because it was too late. When Jesus heard this He told Jairus not to be afraid but to only believe.
Jesus did not allow anyone else except for Peter, James and John to go with Him to the ruler's house. When they got there people were weeping and wailing. When He came in He said to them: "Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping." In verse 40 it says: "And they laughed Him to scorn." He then proceeds to take the father and mother of the twelve-year-old child and those who were with them into the place where the little girl was laying and He raised the child from the dead.
Jesus did not go and tell His disciples to go broadcast the news of what He had just done. He did not charge the parents for His services or even ask for a gift. Verse 43 tells us "He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and that something should be given her to eat."
In John 10:22-39, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah, as we know it today). He walked into the temple in Solomon's porch. There the Jews approached Him and asked Him if He was indeed the Christ. Jesus proceeded to tell them that He did the works of His Father and that the works He did bore witness of Him. Then He explained that those who believed in Him were His sheep and only His sheep hear His voice; He knew them and they followed Him. He also said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish and no one is able to snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me, He is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and my Father are one."
The Jews then picked up some stones to stone Him with. He asked them for which good works they were going to stone Him? They said they were not stoning Him for His good works, but because He made Himself equal with God.
When He finished trying to explain to them; verses 34-38 tells us that they tried to seize Him again, "but He escaped out of their hand."
We can see that Jesus' life was definitely not easy. I know He can relate with anyone having problems with rejection.
This one little boy comes to mind. He had attended grade school with my children. He was about nine years of age, shy and withdrawn. His blonde hair was often a mess and the children often complained about how he smelled. A lot of times his clothes weren't very neat. Because I worked at the school at the time, I noticed that he came in from the bus most every day crying.
When I visited his classroom I often noticed him going out of his way to do things to be accepted by the other children and the teacher. Sometimes, he'd start crying in the middle of class, to me that set off an alarm in my mind.
Why an alarm? In the last chapter, I talked a little about my childhood and how things were for me in grade school and a little about my home life. Well, by the time I reached High School, my nerves were pretty beat. Between the rejection at school and the physical and mental abuse from my mother while she was in her alcoholic state, life was hard to cope with and death had become a pleasant thought.
Sometimes, after being up with my mother ranting and raving all night or being chased with a butcher knife around the house or being slapped silly for 15 minutes straight; I'd have to go to school with only an hour or two of rest and struggle to stay awake in class.
Sometimes, in class, someone would say something pertaining to a lesson and it would bring to my remembrance the night before and without any warning I would break out in tears. I would cry so hard I had to be excused to my counselor's office. It happened like that several times. Needless to say it wasn't long before I did try to take my life.
It's a good thing God doesn't see things the same way we do, so God intervened by using my brother, Terry, to stop me.
I was in the bathroom, contemplating cutting my wrist and I asked myself how so many people could be wrong. Maybe I was the scum of the earth. Maybe everyone would be better off if I were dead. Maybe if I weren't around to remind my mother of a marriage gone badly, she'd quit drinking and life would be easier for my brothers and sisters. I decided I would cut my wrist. I figured it would hurt for just a short while, but then it would be over. I raised the single edged razor and was about to bring it across, when Terry, for some reason or another kicked the door open and grabbed the razor from my hand.
Maybe I spent too long in the bathroom or maybe he had recognized the signs of my mood; as he had tried to take his life before. I didn't know that at the time, but some years later, after I left home, I learned that so had my other brothers and sisters at one time or another.
Whatever the reason, I know God sent Terry to stop me. As for this young man at school, I believe God laid him on my heart so I could help him somehow. When I watched him go through all this I saw myself at an early age. I recognized his pain and all the signs that went with it.
So, I began to check things out. It turns out that the boy lived with his daddy and younger brother. One day the boys came home from school only to find that their mother was gone. She left her husband and didn't want her two sons with her.
The mother came one day to get more of her things and her boys wanted to go with her. She told them no, and they could not come visit. How devastating for those boys, they were crying and pulling at her clothes trying to make her stay.
Well, there dad had to work and they didn't know how to keep their clothes clean and neither he, nor the boys knew how to do the laundry or clean house. I think also their dad had to be too upset to care about anything. I also found out that the older boys on the school bus had been shoving the young man around and calling him names.
One day I shared what I learned with the teacher, some of the fellow classmates and the principal. Gossip? Not at all, had people in my school known my situation at home, I believe they would not have been so cruel. But no one took the time to find out what made me cry so much. They just laughed, making things worse. These children needed to learn about the consequences of such laughter and impatience, and their teacher and the principal needed to know what the consequences of ignoring the situation could be, it could cause a child's self destruction. So the teacher had a discussion with her class about these consequences. The principal found out who the boys were on the bus causing the trouble and promised them some strict disciplinary action. End result?
The boy's classmates were encouraging him in his work. The boys no longer troubled him on the bus and the teacher and I were able to talk with him, in a kind way, about bathing habits. It wasn't long before he started coming to school with a smile and started making friends. The children in his classroom learned not to judge someone by their appearance, as there is much more to a person than how they look.
It was a wonderful day when he tugged on my skirt and looked up at me, smiled and said: "Guess what Ms. Brown, I haven't cried in school for a whole month and the boys don't make fun of me on the bus anymore!" I gave him a huge hug.
It was one of the best days of my life. I felt like that would be one life spared. But had I not known the signs of his pain, had I not walked a mile in his shoes, I never could have recognized those signs. Had Jesus not walked a mile in my shoes, there would never have been a Terry for me and then I would not have been there for this child. We are truly blessed with a wonderful Intercessor who can understand our pain.
What else can we learn from all of this? Let's look at the example Jesus set.
In each situation that Jesus had to face we can learn three things:
1. Jesus was patient with the people who rejected Him. He was God's Son, He could have easily destroyed them.
2. Jesus did not think of himself during these trials. He did not drown in self pity, but still made
time to help others. He still was compassionate and merciful.
3. Jesus looked at the situation taking place and found a way to turn it around and make a
lesson out of it.
As for me, I gave in to self-pity, and self-pity led me to self-destruction. Only after my salvation did I learn to take the pain of my past and turn it into a lesson.
We all have that choice. We can learn from our pain and turn it around to use it for good, or we can let it destroy us. What do you choose?
Let me leave you with this thought:
I Samuel 16:7. "But the Lord said unto Samuel: Do not
look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because
I have refused him. FOR THE LORD DOES NOT SEE AS MAN SEES:
FOR MAN LOOKS AT THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE, BUT THE LORD LOOKS
AT THE HEART."
If you remember this, it doesn't matter what people say or do, God knows your name, where you live, your situation and what's more He knows who you are inside and that
"...a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
I wondered sometimes why life has to be so hard. I wonder if Jesus felt like that sometimes. Of course being God's Son I guess He would understand the reasons better than we. But is that to say He was never troubled by the way life goes? Isaiah 53 again sheds some light on this perplexity. The rest of verse 3 tells us that Jesus was; "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
The definition of grief is: “deep sadness caused by trouble or loss; heavy sorrow.” What kind of trouble, loss or heavy sorrow did Jesus experience? Let's take a look into the Gospels again.
One day as Jesus was overlooking Jerusalem, Luke 13:34, He was saddened because many people there did not recognize His coming and would not accept His gift of salvation. As He says the words "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem...” you can feel His sorrow for those who would die lost in sin, because they did not recognize the time of His appearance.
And what about Joseph? After Jesus starts His ministry we never hear of him again. We hear about Mary and Jesus' brothers and sisters, but not Joseph. One has to wonder if Joseph had died. The Bible does not tell us. But if he did then we know that Jesus didn't raise everyone from the dead. He had to learn to lose loved ones and felt the sadness of separation from a loved one. In the story of Lazarus we read of Jesus emotions, even His weeping.
Now Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha; we read in different parts of the Gospels of Jesus stopping to visit them.
In Luke 10:38,39 Martha complains to Jesus because Mary was sitting at Jesus feet listening to Him instead of helping her serve. Jesus told Martha that Mary had picked the more important of the two. In Matthew 26:6-13, Luke 7:36-50 and John 11:1-2 we read about how Mary the sister of Lazarus was sorrowful because of her sins and she anointed Jesus head and feet and wipes them with her hair in repentance.
One day as Jesus was at Bethabara, the place where John baptized Him, (John 1:28). Martha and Mary sent a message to Him saying: "Lord, the one whom you love is sick" (John 11:3-44). When Jesus heard it He told His disciples: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it".
It was still two days before Jesus went anywhere. Then He announced to His disciples they were going to Judea, (the providence where the town of Bethany was). The disciples tried to talk Jesus out of going because several times in that area the people had tried to kill Him.
Jesus then announced that Lazarus was dead. After some discussion they left for Bethany.
Martha heard that Jesus was coming and ran to meet Him. "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
Martha replied, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?
She said, “Yes Lord, I believe that You’re the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After saying this Martha got up and secretly went to her sister Mary and told her that Jesus was calling for her. Mary got up and ran to Jesus, fell at His feet and said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the Jews that were with her weeping He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. He then asked where Lazarus was laid. They said “Lord come and see.”
Then “Jesus wept.”
The Jews said, “Behold how He loved him!” Some questioned why this man could open the eyes of the blind but couldn’t prevent Lazarus death.
As Jesus came to the grave, He groaned with Himself again.
*Now here one can see the sorrow Jesus felt and could tell that as a man He was trying to contain himself, thus the groaning. Perhaps Jesus recognized the pain of losing loved ones. He new He would raise Lazarus, He even told His disciples.
I can’t help but wonder what was going through His mind when He wept. Something that troubled Him perhaps, something more than we will ever know or maybe He was just sorrowing for the pain Mary and Martha and the others were feeling at the time. I guess we won’t know until we are with Him for eternity.*
The remainder of the story goes on to tell how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It would have been an amazing event to witness. It is hard to believe that the Scribes and the Pharisees still refused to believe after that. They even planned to kill Lazarus.
Another example of Jesus sorrow is in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus not only knew fear as He thought of the cross that waited for Him but He also grieved and prayed for us.
His prayer is in John, Chapter 17. He prayed for us to believe in Him, that we could be one with He and His Father. He knew life would be hard for us so He prayed we’d see a better way.
As Jesus prayed in the garden, Luke tells us in Chapter 22, verses 39-48, that Jesus “sweat drops as blood.” He had to have felt so many emotions at that time. It must have been a great strain on Him to have sweat like that.
Up to this point we have seen that Jesus has been through quite a bit already. He’s had to experience hate, anger, rejection, attempts on His life, poverty and grief.
I have learned through life that God has a reason for everything that happens. We see how this works throughout the Gospels in Jesus own life. However, some things we may never know until the day we are with Him.
Death, I guess is one of the hardest sorrows to deal with. Especially when it is someone you love or have known for so long.
In this chapter I could tell you of the death of loved ones I’ve had to deal with. My mothers death, my Dad’s death from cancer; or about the time I watched my baby girl die at birth on my stomach or even about my best friend, Mary, whom they said killed herself by shooting herself in the head with a 22 rifle.
I have dealt with all kinds of death, but the one that comes to my mind now is the one I feel I should talk about.
We had some good neighbors when we were growing up. One family in particular lived right next door. Many neighbors came and went because of my mothers desire to fight anyone and everyone while under the influence of alcohol. But this family stood firm. So firm in fact that sometimes it was actually interesting to watch. I think it was because Fred was a veteran and didn’t believe in backing down.
Rose and Fred had a daughter, Carol, and two sons, Harry and Fred, Jr. (Hap and Freddie to us). Freddie was the oldest and Hap was his shadow. The two were inseparable. Hap was my age and we were pals growing up, while Freddie hung out with my two older brothers, Terry and Kim.
When my mother and usually their dad got into arguments, us kids would sit on our separate porches and watch the fireworks. We would just look at each other or make faces while my parents were on one side of the driveway and their parents on the other. It was kind of funny for us to watch these grown ups fight, but the down side was that sometimes we wouldn’t get to play with each other for several days or sometimes weeks.
When we were allowed to play together my brothers would pair off in wrestling matches with Freddie and some of the other boys in the neighborhood. There were no girls my age that I was allowed to play with, not to mention, I always wanted to be one of the boys, so Hap and I just had each other. Because we were much younger we were left out so we’d follow the guys and wrestle each other. I often won, because of my size, however, when we got older I wouldn’t wrestle anymore for obvious reasons, one was Hap was now taller and stronger and I knew he could whip me easy.
Sometimes we’d play soldier, go ice-skating, play hockey, build snow forts in our perspective yards and have major snowball fights. We’d play softball in the street and go sledding together. When we were allowed to play together or we’d sneak behind parent’s backs we all had a lot of fun.
In time everyone has to grow up. Terry and Freddie became old enough for the draft. Terry went into the Air Force one year before Freddie went to the Marines. They both had to serve a four-year term. It was during the Vietnam War and each of them had to serve one year in Vietnam.
I remember when Terry had to go into the service, I cried when he left and always looked forward to his homecomings. Terry was about 7 1/2 years older than me, and Freddie was about 6 years older. They were both heroes to me even before they went into the service.
Because Terry and Kim were close and Freddie and Hap were close I knew it was hardest on Kim and Hap for them to go away. I remember one time when Freddie came home on leave. It was winter and as usual, they got a snowdrift that reached all the way from the roof down. Freddie, although older and a big marine now, took the time to make a tunnel in that snow drift, like they often did when they were young. As long as it lasted, it was their secret club house and absolutely no one else was allowed in, especially me. I thought it was great the relationship they had.
I looked forward to Terry coming home on leave. Sometimes he brought friends home with him and they would have a party, which I was too little to attend. I would get upset, but Terry would comfort me and it would be okay.
I remember when Terry came home from Vietnam it was a happy time. I usually had the job of unpacking his duffel bag and put his clothes in the laundry when he came home. While unpacking this particular, time I came across a book he had in there, it was small but very thick. I looked through the book and it was full of traps that they had to watch for. They were cruel, horrible traps! I asked Terry about it but he wouldn’t talk about it, he wouldn’t talk about anything in Vietnam other than the Momma-san that took care of them while they were there. Once Terry was home, Vietnam was never discussed.
As for me, I had gone through some horrible things myself when he was gone so we both had faced some dark times in our lives and we began to become distant in our relationship.
I remember the day Freddie was to come home from the service for good. Hap and I were already in high school. Freddie had served his last year in Vietnam and was going to meet his family along with his fiancé in Hawaii. Rose and Fred were so excited. Fred said they would get there a couple days ahead of time and surprise him. Fred, who always wore his hair in a crew cut, had been letting his hair grow all year to surprise Freddie because Freddie always wanted to see his dad with longer hair.
I watched out our side window where you could see their front door. I was so happy for them. Fred was going in and out of the house loading suitcases smiling as big as you please. He had come out with the last suitcase and they were about to lock the door when they had forgotten something and went back in. When they had gone in a car pulled up in front of their house with “U.S. Marines” on it. My heart jumped within me and I gasped in fear. I knew it meant Freddie was dead. I cried out to my mother and told her about the car, she came running to the window. By then two marines were standing at the door knocking, I asked my mother if Freddie was dead… she pulled me away from the window and whispered that she thought so and told me to stay away from the window.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt so bad for the whole family. Fred and Rose were so looking forward to seeing their son. I knew Rose must have ached to hold her son one more time. But Hap, he and Freddie had been so close. I knew it more than devastated him! I worried about him for a long time.
We went to the wake. They only showed one side of his face. When I left from the casket I went to look for Harry (after we started high school he didn’t like to be called Hap anymore). Harry was standing with a few of his friends; he looked up and saw me and gave me a look that said, “don’t come over here!”
I had the feeling if I went over there he or I would start to cry and he didn’t want to do that in front of his friends, so I looked for my parents. When it was time to leave I saw Harry again and once again I got that look, but I felt that I needed to talk to him and he needed to talk period. I started over to him and he quickly motioned to his friends and they began to walk in the opposite direction. He looked back at me as if to say, “don’t follow”. So I just left with my parents, never to say a word to Harry until about a week or two after Freddie’s death.
I had wanted to go to the funeral, but my little sister, Kathy, had just gotten home from having her appendix removed and my mother did not want her to be home by herself. I cried almost the whole time they were gone. I felt like I had let Harry down, but he never said if he felt that way. So many times I had wished I knew something I could do to help that family, but what do you do at a time like that especially when you’re just a teen?
Where was God in all this, where was Jesus and how could anything good come out of all this? Did God care about this family’s pain? Did Jesus understand?
When my baby died, I wondered these things, I dared to ask God “why?” This is the verse He gave me and it comforted me:
“The righteous perish, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” Isaiah 57:1,2.
Many people have lost their loved ones in battle, it is a sad part of life and hard to endure. Some never can recover from such a loss and those who do; it takes them many years.
God, too, had a Son, His only begotten Son whom He loved desperately like a parent would. He had made the decision that because He loved us and saw that we were having a hard time down her, that we need some help. So He sent his Son, Jesus to do battle for us.
Now, for some people, it’s hard to picture life as a battle. But in the spirit realm we read in Daniel 10:11-13, II Kings 6:15-17 and in other Scriptures that there are battles going on that we can’t see but they do affect us. These are the types of battles Jesus fought.
I do not believe it was an easy thing for God to send His only begotten Son. To send Him to fight a battle where He would have immense pain and torture. His Son, Jesus, had to leave a home of happiness and painlessness to face a cruel world and uncaring people.
God sent His Son to die in that battle for those same uncaring people who caused Him much suffering and torture, which also crucified Him. He sent His Son to help a people who did not want his help; some people even protested against His help. God sent His Son for those who cared and for those who didn’t; for those who would not appreciate His sacrifice or His Son’s sacrifice and for those who would.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever, believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I truly believe there is a special place in Heaven for anyone who gave his or her life for someone else to live or to be free, because Jesus has been there. He knows what it is to lay down your life for another. Have you accepted this precious gift of salvation yet? Jesus is there waiting for you to ask Him into your life. He understands and He loves you unconditionally. No matter what your past was, let Jesus be your future.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8 (KJV)
“…And we hid, as it were, our face from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:30)
There are several incidences in the Gospels that show this verse from Isaiah to be true. We already read some accounts in Chapter 5.
There are several more examples, such as when Jesus was being tried before Pilate. Because of a dream his wife had, Pilate attempted to get the people to see that Jesus was innocent. He also could find nothing wrong with him. But the people cried out for Him to be crucified anyway.
It is beyond my understanding how people could just forget about all the healings and miracles that Jesus had done. Even if some of them never saw one, you know they had to hear about them. I guess it goes to show how much power the religious leaders of the time had over the people.
In order to accept Jesus as their Messiah, the people would have had to look within themselves and see that they were in need of repentance and a Savior. Pride is what blinds many of us today from seeing this same need. To say, “I’m wrong”, or “I have sinned and made a mess of my life and I need help” is a humbling experience. In order to keep from seeing there own wrong it was easier to say Jesus was wrong.
The people of that day did not just hide themselves from Jesus, but they were running away and hiding from themselves as well. Jesus explained it this way to Nicodemus in John 3:19-21.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (NKJV)
Was it just the everyday people in the crowd that hid themselves from Jesus? Were they the only ones who did not esteem, or value Him?
Even His disciples had problems with accepting who Jesus was at times. Thomas, we know, was a doubter. He followed Jesus and was one of the twelve chosen by Jesus, but he was one to represent those of us who have “a little faith”. Then there were seventy other disciples beside the twelve. (Luke, Chapter 10) Jesus sent them out two by two into the cities and they worked miracles and cast out demons. They came back to Jesus rejoicing over how people were healed through them and demons were cast out. Yet, in John 6:53-66 we read how some of them went back and no longer walked with Jesus because they could not grasp what He was talking about in verses 53-58 concerning the sacrifice of Himself. There was also, of course, Judas Iscariot, who also was able to do miracles like the seventy, but did worse then they by betraying Jesus for money.
Should we talk about Peter? I love Peter very much; I find I can relate to him in many ways. He has always been an inspiration to me. We know that he truly loved Jesus, but he was very much human like ourselves. He made mistakes, time and time again. He even denied Jesus, not once but three times because of fear. Yet Peter never let his mistakes destroy him. He admitted his faults, did something about them and then picked himself up and kept on going. Peter is such a blessing and there is a lot we can learn from him.
One of my all time favorite stories is about the man who was blind from his birth and Jesus healed him. You can find the story in John 9:1-23.
Jesus passes by the man and heals him of his blindness. The neighbors were excited for him and took him to the Pharisees. When the Pharisees heard that it was Jesus, they were very upset.
Instead of rejoicing for the man, they had tried to use the situation as an advantage to destroy Jesus, because he had done this miracle on the Sabbath!
First of all the Pharisees send for his parents to verify that the man was truly born blind. The parents admitted that he was there son and he was born blind, but out of fear of being cast out of the Synagogue, they told the Pharisees that they would have to ask their son for themselves about the one who healed him.
Here a wonderful act was done for their son but they still chose to hide their face from Jesus, they would not esteem Him. But, their son did and I love the way he did it too!
The Pharisees called the blind man and told him, “Give God the praise, we know that this man is a sinner.”
I find the blind man’s responses to them to be quite humorous, though I think they were not intended to be. Here the Pharisees are anxious to find a reason to kill Jesus, but read what his answers are to them:
“Whether he be a sinner or not, I do not know: One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
They asked him again. “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?”
The blind man answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
I would have loved to see the expression on their faces when he said that. You can tell how mad the Pharisees get by the next verse and you can see that it was there pride that caused them not to value Jesus as their Messiah.
They reviled the man and told him, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses; as for this fellow we do not know where He is from.”
Again the man replies with an innocent wisdom. “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from and yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
I’m sure in a rage, the Pharisees responded, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?”
And then they cast the man who was healed of blindness out of the Synagogue.
The blind man was not afraid of the consequences of following Jesus, he knew the most wonderful thing in his whole life happened to him---Jesus. Read and find out the end of the story, see what happens when he finds Jesus and JESUS has words with the Pharisee! (Verses 35 to John 10:18)
So what does all this have to do with Jesus knowing how we feel? Come on now, haven’t any of you housewives, mothers and daughters ever felt unappreciated for all that you do. How about some of you husbands, fathers and sons out there? Do you always feel appreciated for all the hard work you do for your boss and you family all the time?
And what about children? You youth out there that does your chores and keeps a job; do schoolwork and play sports. Does everyone always appreciate your efforts all the time? It would be nice if we all learned to appreciate each other, but life in the real world isn’t always like that, is it?
There is one person I know that did very much for very many people and I wonder if we could have ever appreciated her enough for all she did? You never heard about her in the news or on T.V., nor would you know her if you passed her on the street. She never sounded a trumpet about all she did and she never thought of herself as a great or even as a good woman, but to those of us who knew her and watched her through the years, especially to me that is what she was, a great woman.
My mother-in-law, Edna Mae Flowers, was a great woman to me. However, when we were first married she and I did not get along too well. I couldn’t do anything right for her only son and that got on her nerves and mine as well. But, with time we overcame our pettiness and as I got to know her better and watched her over the years I felt so insignificant and it became my goal to try to be as good a person as she.
Everyone called her “Mama” because she became like a mother to everyone. She didn’t believe in anyone being hungry when she was around, no one would do without clothes, or if money was needed for doctors or such and she had it available she gave it, if she didn’t she’d try to find someone who might or sell something to get it for you.
Mama would plant a garden every year; but not just any garden would do. No, Mama believed in giving and she grew up on a farm, so no small garden would do. When she planted a garden it would start in the very back of her yard, the next-door neighbors yard, and would sometimes continue to the third house down. They would share the cost of having the garden turned, but Mama and whoever in the family or neighborhood who wanted to help, would plant the seed. But if Mama had it her way she would have done it all herself.
Come time for harvest, the neighbors were fed, her brothers and sisters, eight altogether, and their families and anyone else who came along or she heard about. Mama would can, freeze and put up anything she could find; it didn’t all come from the garden. If she saw watercress growing in a creek, we’d have to stop so she could get it. Her sisters, Helen and Nell or anyone she could find to take her, would ride around looking for blackberries, turnip greens, sales, good deals on meat. No one was going to do without as long as she knew there was a need.
Many times in our early years of marriage I don’t know what we would have done if she hadn’t helped us. I never had to say anything, it was like she had radar and she knew the exact moment we were low on groceries and then here she’d come with canned goods and things from the freezer. She was such a blessing.
Edna Mae Flowers never let people go without clothes either. Many a time people would pass a dumpster and their would be an elderly woman with light hair in the dumpster slinging out clothes or carpets or anything else she thought someone could use. She’d take those clothes home and wash them so clean that you thought they’d come out of a store! I never could get clothes as white as she could and still can’t. When her children were small, in order to make sure they had food, she would wash nurses uniforms from a nearby hospital, by hand and iron them to make money.
Once she felt we needed some carpets on our floors because the floors were cold and she felt that wasn’t good for the children. She was not a rich person who could just go and buy these things, so she found some carpets in the dumpster, took them home, scrubbed them on her hands and knees, hung them to dry outside and brought them to the house and they were great!
Mama never was ashamed to do things like that, she didn’t give a thought to what people would think about her climbing into those dumpsters; she just thought of the needs of others and was going to fill those needs anyway possible.
She never left a grave without flowers; she never turned anyone in need away. No matter if they had done wrong with their money or their ways; if they were hungry, she fed them. If they were naked, she clothed them and if they were sick or in jail she visited them and brought them what they needed to make them feel better.
I don’t think any of us appreciated her as much as we did after she was gone. She left a big empty place in everyone’s lives that she touched.
There we some who couldn’t see her total beauty and goodness because Mama wasn’t always the most perfect person in the world; some would think that because she didn’t go to church that she was in the wrong. Mama use to drink alcohol when my husband, Johnny, and I were first married, but when her husband, Jim, began to get sick, the drinking quit for both of them.
Through the years after some of her daughters, Johnny and Papa Jim got saved with the others seeking the right way; we began to see a lot of changes in her life. Mama started watching two television ministers, one that was Billy Graham. I believed she prayed the prayer of salvation with one of them.
No, she never went to church except as a child, which is when she was baptized. To her she was having church with those ministers on TV while her health, unbeknown to us, was failing. But she lived church in her heart and in her actions. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Again, Jesus said in Luke 10:30-37, when He asks a young lawyer about the law. The man’s interpretation was this: “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul with all your strength and with all you mind and your neighbor as yourself.”
Then Jesus goes on to tell him the parable of the Good Samaritan, and finishes with “Go and do likewise.” Mama went and did likewise. I know with all my being that wonderful woman is resting in Jesus.
Jesus performed miracles, healed the sick, made the lame to walk, the blind to see and He raised the dead back to life. Yet for all the good He did, there were those who did not appreciate Him. Jesus understands how it feels to be unappreciated or taken for granted. So if it appears that no one notices your efforts, I guarantee you some are watching unawares to you, especially Jesus.
“…When did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 26:37-40)