As It Was Then

Is How It Is Now

After seeing the Passion of the Christ for a second time, best cialis there I realized as I walked out of the theatre in silence again that the characters that surrounded Jesus at His crucifixion 2, see 000 years ago are among us today.  Just as it was then, is how it is now.   There were then and are today frightened disciples, false disciples (Judas), the religious-self righteous, Romans,  immoral men and women of Herod’s court, the fickle multitude, the faithful few, and two thieves on crosses.   Just as the battle for man was fought and won by Christ at the Cross in the first century, so it is being fought and won now through the lives of those whom Christ has indwelled because of their faith (Romans 8:10-11).   And just as an end came at the cross two thousand years ago, so another victorious end will come when Jesus returns as He promised.

Frightened disciples

As it was then

The disciples were very committed to Jesus before His trials began, but discovered their faith was incredibly weak as Jesus was being beaten, tortured, and crucified.   When Jesus most needed them, they panicked and fled (Matthew 26:55-56).

How it is now

There are those today that have put their faith in Christ, but the minute adverse circumstances challenge them, they flee from their allegiance to Him and pursue safety.  And as Jesus forgave the disciples when they returned, so He will forgive his frightened servants today when they seek Him (John 20:27-28).

Judas

As it was then

Judas, in the end, betrayed Jesus. He was a false disciple who traveled with Jesus, heard His teachings, received His love, participated in His ministry, but never gave Him his heart.

How it is now

There are many, like Judas, who attend and participate in our churches today.  As time passes, their actions prove who they are for their attendance or participation is never in response to an indwelling Christ.  Like Judas they have never repented of their sins and made Jesus the Lord of their lives.   They look and play the part, but in the end their masks will be revealed and they will spend eternity with Judas in hell (Matthew 13: 3-5; 20-21).

The religious self-righteous

As it was then

The Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of Israel, were responsible for putting Jesus to death.  They manipulated the Romans into carrying out a crucifixion they wanted.   They hated Jesus not so much for His claim to be the Messiah, but because He challenged their spiritual authority.   He preached a gospel of forgiveness built on God’s grace not a proclaimed set of religious works for which they were famous (Matthew 5:20 Luke 5: 20-24).

How it is now

There are religions and religious leaders throughout this world who still hate Jesus and His message of salvation.   They are just as insecure about their faith as the leaders of Israel were 2000 years ago.     These religions, mostly in the East and often Islamic, are barring, persecuting, arresting and even executing Christ’s missionaries as never before (John 15:18-19). But in the end they will bow before Jesus and confess that He is Lord.

“God highly exalted Him, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”  (2 Timothy 2: 9-11)

Romans

As it was then

The Romans were the political and military power of their day.   They were a philosophical mix of men and women, and correspondingly their responses varied as they took over the responsibility of Jesus’ trial, punishment, and eventual crucifixion.  Some were very cruel; they enjoyed flogging Jesus and making his last hours on earth as miserable as they could.    Other Romans like Pontius Pilate and his wife, struggled with the decision to put Him to death.   But nothing defined this contrast more than during the last moments before Jesus died, when one group of Romans callously gambled over his robe, while another Roman stood reverently by Him and said, “Truly this is the Son of God.” (Luke 23:34; Matthew 27:54)

How it is now

There are many “Romans” among us today.  Some are quite self-sufficient, rich and powerful, but very callous and cruel.    They love to rule over others and call it business.   They have no need for a “crutch”  called Jesus.  There are others who are also quit powerful, but use their status and position to spread the Gospel of Christ (Matthew8: 8-10).

Herod’s court

As it was then

Herod and his court were sold out to sinful self-gratification.   Life was nothing less than debauchery, which according to Scripture included degrading passions like drunkenness, greed, sexual immorality, and homosexuality (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 1:26-27).  Herod’s role and interest in Jesus was nothing more than a hope for an entertaining miracle.   When Jesus refused, he sent Him back to Pontius Pilate and continued his party.

How it is now

Herodian like men and women dominate the world and especially America today.   There are a multitude of people sold out to a life of sin and self-gratification.   The Hollywood film industry loves them; they make billions of dollars off their hedonism.    Every once in awhile though, God interrupts the party as He did with Herod.    “The Passion of the Christ” is perhaps God’s current interruption of the Herodians; perhaps some of them will stop, think, and even repent.

The fickle majority

As it was then

As Jesus was paraded through the streets of Jerusalem the day of His crucifixion, many in the crowd who had greeted Him with open arms the week before, jeered him.  Some spit on him, while others yelled, “Crucify Him.”   I suspect, though, that a majority of almost a million people watching the crucifixion did nothing.    They were perhaps impressed with Jesus, after all He did some great miracles and was a great teacher, but that was not motivation enough to do anything to help Him.

How it is now

Billions of people throughout the world today still will not accept God’s only path to salvation which is through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  They are like the crowd in Jesus’ day.  They praise and honor Him one week, but desert Him when the wind changes direction.   The tragedy of 9-11 is a great example of this for Americans.   When the tragedy occurred we prayed to God as never before, honoring Him for who He is.   The churches were full for months.   But soon the crowd got over it and returned to complacency as many did on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The faithful few

As it was then

There were only a few who stayed with Him to the end through His trials and crucifixion.     In “The Passion of the Christ”, Mary and Martha were the representatives of those who refused to give up, but protested and cried all the way to the cross.   The fear of retribution did not phase them; they loved Christ and were willing to share in the abuse were it to come.

How it is now

They’re many faithful today who stay by Christ, no matter what the cost.   We just lost a few of those faithful in Iraq this last week (March 2004).   They were missionaries who loved Jesus enough to put their lives on the line.

Two thieves on crosses

As it was then

During the last minutes before Jesus died, two thieves on crosses made some eternal decisions.    One professed faith in Jesus and to this day still walks with Him.   The other denied Him, and has walked in hell now for 2000 years (Luke 23:39-40,43).

How it is now

The decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Lord is the same today as it was for the two thieves who faced Him at the cross.  Many will be lost because they still look at Jesus beckoning arms and say, “No”.  And so their eternity is set; they will join that thief in hell, and will never know what it would be like to live in paradise with God for eternity.    And others say, “Yes,” and because of their decision, they will never know anything but joy, love, and peace. (I Thessalonians 2:19-20)

Christ’s victory over Satan

As it was then

When Christ gave up His life on the cross He won a great victory over Satan.   Satan did everything he could to keep Jesus from the cross, but failed.    And because of Christ’s sacrifice, man’s sin was forgiven.  This opened the door to salvation for anyone willing to repent (laying their sins at the cross) and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (I Peter 2:24; I John 1:9).

How it is now

Nothing has changed in regard to salvation.   But there is one more victory we will see when Christ returns.   It will be a glorious coming, and the whole world will witness it.     Satan will be sealed off forever with those who refused Christ, and all believers will be gathered together to live in peace forever with God (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Final Comment

I leave you with two questions.   Who would you have been on that Friday 2000 years ago?   Who are you today?

God’s Word

* Some of these verses have been abbreviated for article space reasons.

Romans 8:10-11   10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Matthew 26:55-56   55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me. 56 ..Then all the disciples left Him and fled.

John 20: 27-28 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My   hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Matthew 13: 3-5; 20-21 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Some seeds fell on the rocky places, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 20, ..This is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

Matthew 5: 20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 5: 20-24   20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But Jesus. .answered.., “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

John 15:18-19    18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

Luke 23: 34   But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.

Matthew 27:54   Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Matthew8: 8,10   8: But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, and sensuality.

Romans 1:26-27 26 God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another.

John 14:6   Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Luke 23:39,40, 43 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered…remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

I Thessalonians 2:19-20    19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

I Peter 2:24   And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

I John 1:9   If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I Thessalonians 4: 16-18   16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. 17 Then we will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.