(John 17: 16; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 11: 16, 13:14)
If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you (John 15:19).
Called and chosen out of the world, the believer has an eternal heavenly passport. The moment that a person becomes a child of God by the new birth, or being born again, he/she receives the right to become a child of God. It is not a birth from flesh, but of the Spirit. YAHSHUA told Nicodemus, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn. 1,3). This passport is signed, and sealed by and with the Holy Spirit. As a foreigner carries his passport as the proof of his citizenship somewhere else, the believer also carries his heavenly passport as the proof of his heavenly identity in this world. This Seal guarantees the believer his entrance into his heavenly country, as Paul confirms: The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance, an anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it – to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:14). One sign of a true believer is the antagonist attitude the world displays against him/her. YAHSHUA said, Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account. Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great, for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matt. 5:11-12). In their persecution, the believers are sustained by the promise that the glory which will be revealed to them, will be greater than the sufferings he has endured in this world. In reference to the heroes and heroines of the faith, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth…they were yearning for and aspiring to a better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that reason, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (Heb. 11:13,16).
When YAHSHUA received the message from Lazarus’ sisters, concerning his sickness, He was in a town beyond the Jordan River, which was a day’s journey to Bethany, where Lazarus and his sisters lived. His death took place 2 weeks before the Lord’s death. He died on Friday April 17th, and he rose on Monday April 20th. This parallels to the time span when YAHSHUA died, which was 2 weeks later, on the Friday of the first of May, which is 15 days from April 17th; and He rose on May 4th, two weeks from April 20th. The delay Lazarus’ sisters experienced did not constitute a delay in God’s calendar to implement His divine plan in which He would glorify His Son through the display of His power over death, with the purpose that the nation of Israel might believe in this their last chance, YAHSHUA to be His Son, the Messiah that was to come to redeem the nation.
Arriving at the place, four days later, YAHSHUA encountered Martha, who in deep sorrow, expressed her frustration by saying, If You had been here my brother would not have died. “If you had been here” a phrase that demonstrates faith and confidence in YAHSHUA’S divine being. The presence of the Lord is the most desired presence Christians long for. His presence brings joy, peace, unity, love, healing, forgiveness, hope and much more. When He saw people’s sorrow over the dead, He then partook of their sorrow and wept with them, knowing that sin is the cause of death. Sighing repeatedly, deeply disquieted, he went to the tomb. This was the moment when He lived His soon coming death by crucifixion, and the evil treatments He was going to go through. This was the moment when He saw Himself paying the penalties of sins in a most humble way men ever experienced; when men’s cruelty, for whom He was going to die, would take its toll on Him, leaving Him completely disfigured; that would be the moment of His Father’s abandonment of Him as the sins of the world would weigh on Him. That was a disquieted moment, although for Lazarus and his sisters, it was a very exciting moment- it was Lazarus’ resurrection moment.
Messiah being essentially one with God and in the form of God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped, or retained, but stripped Himself, so as to assume the guise of a servant in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name. That in the name of YAHSHUA every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess and acknowledge that YAHSHUA the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2: 6-7).
On the first day of weeks, that is, counting from the day after the Sabbath, when they had brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths (Lev. 23: 15-16). That constituted Pentecost and the waving of the sheaf constitutes resurrection- Messiah’s resurrection, behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the boulder back and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. He said to the women who had come to the tomb, do not fear. He is not here for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord was laid. There was the empty tomb! Some of His disciples witnessed as well and believed Him. As two of His disciples were walking to the city of Emmaus, Messiah walked with them to their place and ate with them. On the evening of that same day, Messiah appeared to His disciples though they were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. He stood among them and said, Peace to you! Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were filled with joy. The Prophet Zachariah foretold that in “that day” future day yet to come, Israel will look upon their Messiah, Whom they had pierced and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. Messiah remained on earth forty days after His resurrection. He appeared to five hundred people at that time. They all testified His resurrection. He, the firstfruit of all those who will believe in Him, went ahead to conquer death. It was swallowed up in and unto victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through the Lord YAHSHUA the Messiah.
Who has believed our message? asked Isaiah. The Messiah came to His people but they received Him not. He grew up before His Heavenly Father like a tender plant out of dry ground- loved and accepted only by few. His own betrayed Him for a sum of thirty shekels. Judas, the betrayer and one of His disciples, taking charge of a band of soldiers and some guards of the high priests and Pharisees, delivered Messiah with a kiss to the Jewish authorities. Judas was not an enemy who taunted Him; nor was not one who hated Him; but it was a man of His equal, His companion and one of His familiar friends; one who ate with Him. His own people delivered Him to the Roman government with insistence and urgency, with loud cries demanding Governor Pilate to crucify Him.
After His last supper on earth, having spent His last hours privately with His disciples sharing His last words and preparing them for what was to come, the Messiah went to a special garden, which was His custom to do. Gethsemane was His place of prayer. A quiet and isolated place away from all the noises of the crowd. That night, however, was His last visit to that garden. He had come to that garden this time to confront the reality of the plenitude of the time of His trials and ultimately death by crucifixion. There He prayed in agony more earnestly and intently, for the stress of the moment caused His sweat to become like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground. He prayed: Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. An angel appeared to Him from heaven to strengthen Him at that time. Moments later a crowd lead by His betrayer showed up. They came out with swords and clubs as if He were a robber. They were the chief priests and captains of the temple and the elders. They took Him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest. Then He was bound and taken to the house of the high priest. So, it started the series of His unjust and illegal trials.
God’s time line is in no way our time line. He acts in the sphere of eternity, in His all-knowing, all seeing before even anything takes place, to the time when all begins. In fact, before there was time, He was. Hard for a limited human mind to comprehend such reality. Where there is no beginning and no end, it just floats around our mind, without settling in our understanding. But that is the way it is. For our God is not in the frame of our understanding, being Who He is. This is how the Apostle Paul describes Him: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable are His judgments! And how untraceable are His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has ever been His counselor? … For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-34, 36).
Just before His trials and ultimately death, YAHSHUA spent time alone with His disciples preparing them to face the world without Him and at the same time warning them of things to come, including persecution. After His last supper with them, He washed their feet with the purpose to teach them humility. In chapter 14 He promises to return to earth to gather His own for Himself and blessed them with His peace; He presented Himself as the only Way to the Father, the Truth that will set man free; and Life. He is the only source of life physical and eternal. In chapter 15 He emphasizes sanctification. Here, He presented Himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches. Apart from the Vine there is no life. He calls their attention to love one another, for it is a commandment that summarizes the entire law – love for God and for others. in chapter 16 He promises the Holy Spirit; He details the nature of His ministry; and gives details concerning future persecution coming against them and encourages them to endure, for He had overcome all for them. He concludes it by saying: In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! For I have overcome the world (vs. 33).
The tribulation YAHSHUA mentioned was not concerning the great tribulation, as many Christians think, but it referred to persecution from the world which embraces all those who are enemies of God. If you belonged to the world, YAHSHUA said, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember that I told you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15: 19-20a). Persecution is a sign that the believer is not of this world.
(Isaiah 53; Hebrews 10: 7,10)
Then YAHSHUA said, Behold, here I am, coming to do Your will, O God, what is written of Me in the volume of the Book; and in accordance with this will we have been made holy through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10: 7, 10).
While He was carrying our grief and sorrow, while He was being wounded for our trespasses and transgressions, while He was being bruised for our guilt and iniquities, while He was taking our punishment and giving us His peace, we stood ignorant and considered Him to be under God’s judgment, rejecting Him to the point of hiding our faces from His appearance, which was marred beyond human form (Isaiah 52: 14). Why do think that was? The reason why, was that we could not stand to see our own sinful condition being put on Him. He didn’t fight back and we thought Him to be weak and marveled at His silence. He was taken away by oppression and falsehood and was led away to the slaughter with criminals, as if He were one of them. He was denied justice and a fair trial. We then, nailed His hands and feet to a tree for six hours when our guilt and iniquities were lighted on Him. With the intensity of His suffering, He cried, Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani? (My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me)? (Isaiah 53; Psalm 22)
Bruised, grieved and sickened, God made Him an offering for the sin of the world. Nailed to a tree, His face and body disfigured and poured out like water (in His blood), all His bones out of joint, His heart softened in anguish, no strength left in Him, thirst from dehydration, His tongue cleaved to His jaws, yet He endured the insults of men. “Come down from the tree, if You are the Son of God!” with many other insults they tormented Him. But again, they could never understand that the horror they had seen in YAHSHUA’S face body were indeed the reflection of their own sins He was taking upon Himself. They failed to accept that He was the perfect gift to them- the ultimate gift God was giving to the world– the gift of forgiveness.
(Mark 10: 46-52)
Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside (Mark 10:46). It was a regular day for Bartimaeus that day when he, as his daily routine, sat by the road side to beg. His physical dark world impaired him to be part of society.
When he would have a job to provide for his family; it would have supported his social life with friends and family. It was a lonely life for Bartimaeus in his world, lacking the most basic thing of life- his eyesight. His song echoed in the ears of people a monotonous melody, which many had closed their ears to. In a repetitious melody and words, he would ask help for the poor blind man, using the pronoun on the third person. But that day his ears perked up when he heard noises from a crowd coming toward him. For a moment he stops his song, instead, he asked, what was happening? When he heard that it was YAHSHUA of Nazareth, he began to shout, saying, YAHSHUA, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me (Mark 10:47). Remarkably, this poor blind man had knowledge of Whom YAHSHUA was, while Israel as a nation was left in the dark of their spiritual understanding concerning YAHSHUA, for their hearts were callous toward Him. Bartimaeus, from the depth of his soul proclaimed YAHSHUA to be the Messiah- coming from the line of David, as it was prophesized. He must have learned from others about YAHSHUA’S work of miracles, miracles that marked and determined Him to be the promised Messiah. He did not have to see YAHSHUA to believe Him. That was the faith he had, that sprung a belief in his own healing. Nothing would stop him from shouting the prophetic words, “You, Son of David, have pity and mercy on me!”
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm (power) of the Lord been disclosed? (Isaiah 53:1). A question that has been echoed for thousands of years in the ears of mankind. The Prophet Isaiah uttered the message of the coming Savior in a far distant future, with descriptions of His sufferings, at the hands of wicked men. In the early days of the church, an Ethiopian was found reading the passage of Isaiah 53, without the understanding of Whom was that referring to. A Gentile with an enormous curiosity and desire to know and understand the question set in the beginning of the chapter, Who has believed our message? Of whom does the prophet speak? Himself or someone else? He asks the apostle Philip, who after been guided by an angel of the Lord to go to a certain place, there, he met that Ethiopian. Philip then asked him the question, do you understand what you are reading? To what he answered, How is it possible for me to do so unless, someone explains it to me? He said, I beg of you, tell me about whom does the prophet say this, about himself or someone else? (Acts 8:26-34). After Philip explained the message he was reading, the eunuch believed it and was baptized. That was the message of love- a gift of salvation through God’s Son, Whom Philip knew personally and had witnessed Him agonizing at the garden before His trials, and death.
YAHSHUA was dead; His body was not in the tomb, Mary Magdalene puzzled over what she was seeing, without understanding what had happened on that early morning of the first day of weeks. Without any delay, she ran to tell Simon Peter and John about it. Anxiously and worried, Mary related to the disciples that they had taken YAHSHUA’S body; she did not know where to. Her heart was disturbed and fearful with the idea that YAHSHUA’S body had disappeared. While the disciples went to verify her report, they left also puzzled, for not having understood the words of YAHSHUA concerning His resurrection in three days. Meanwhile, Mary remained at the tomb sobbing, overtaken by her emotion at the thought of Him been gone. She stood at the tomb alone, for the disciples had left at the reality of the empty tomb; they pondered over the fact, for their understanding was veiled with unbelief. As of today, not all Israel has yet been unveiled to see and perceive YAHSHUA been risen from the dead. But for Mary Magdalene, that was all a different story. Delivered from seven demons, she lived her freedom displaying her gratitude to the Lord, as in together with other women, she ministered to and provided for Him out of her property and personal belongings (Luke 8:2-3). Her love for YAHSHUA was clearly genuine, even when she thought Him to be dead.