Posts Tagged ‘Herod’

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Matthew 19:1-2 – E-MAILS TO JESUS

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

We didn’t realize You were coming into our area but now that You have arrived we notice You are attracting large crowds. Proselytising is strongly discouraged in our community. 

We, the Pharisee Investigative Group Surveillance, will be on hand and will see to it that you and your followers are scrutinized with the appropriate checks and balances of all you say and do.

We ask that you comply with the following

  • Do not speak against religious and government authorities, local customs and laws.
  • Do not share heretical teaching, or engage in defiling acts such as healing or associating with undesirable people such as sinners and those with leprosy or Gentile dogs, especially on the Sabbath.
  • Do not throw furniture or act violently in and around the temple or synagogues.
  • Do not leave food scraps around after meal times
    • Do not refuse to answer the questions of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance group or hesitate in asking for any further legal advice.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

1 You finished teaching in Galilee today and You said You are going down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds have been following You there and You have been healing their sick. I just wanted You to know that I am going with them.

It is difficult to make the adjustment of leaving, but I know that I must move on. One painful season of my life has finished. 

I almost left it too late. Making the right move depends on making sure you make the right choices. It’s not always easy, is it? I knew I had to go from here but I wanted so much to put it off. That’s partly why I am writing this letter.

Unlike me, You always understand the right time to go. When You finish saying what You want to say, You just move on, so resolute for some reason to move ever closer to Jerusalem. I am not sure why.

Jesus, I have noticed that You never stop people like me from following You. Even though I am all alone and have no right to expect anything from You, somehow I know that when You welcome the crowds, You are welcoming me too.

In fact, I have discovered that believing what You say for my life is a continual journey of following You, Lord. You say You still want to heal people like me on the inside and make me whole.

I feel safe with You. You will never turn me away or leave me to face the journey of life alone, but neither will You compel or coerce me to obey and follow You.

I am praying that God will help me in the next part of the journey but I know it will not necessarily be easy.

Jesus, You simply invite me to come, and in coming, I know that I must turn from all else, from the directions I could take to the directions You want for me to take. You say we have all gone astray from God and that You are the only way back.

I have found that this is what faith is all about. Simply turning around and following You, instead of trusting in the direction I wanted to go without You.

I just wanted to thank You.

Yours,

A follower.  

 

The Pharisees Write to Jesus

Jesus,

We warned you about associating with sinners, the sick, proselytizing and teaching about culturally sensitive issues. You will now be subject to the public questioning of the Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S) team.

 

A Woman Follower Writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

3 Today, some Pharisees came and tried to trap You with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 

They seem intent on wanting to trap You, to set You up and discredit what You teach. They want to see You fail. You can speak freely but only if You agree with their point of view.

You are healing the sick but they are more concerned about a theological issue concerning divorce. Go figure.

I felt as if they were looking at me. Why did they choose this question? One of them looked at me with derision. Do they know my secrets, a Christ-follower who is divorced? I shrank back into the crowd. But I don’t feel rejection from You, Lord, only respect.

I think I know what the Pharisees are doing. That’s the reason for this letter. There is more to their question than meets the eye. Their question has political overtones.

That’s why I am warning You, Lord, but already it seems too late. I know You are not concerned for political games but I also know that Your forthright views won’t endear You to the Pharisees. The truth is that the Pharisees don’t only want to trap You, Lord, but they want to get You into trouble with King Herod. Herod does not tolerate those who say anything against divorce.

I was a friend to Herod’s wife, Phasaelis. King Herod has divorced her. I tried to warn her about Herod’s affair with his own niece, Herodias, and it was me who helped her escape to her father, Aretas, king of Arabia.

When my husband found out I had helped Phasaelis, he was furious. He did not want to be associated with me for fear of King Herod’s wrath, so he divorced me, and threw me out of the house. He threatened to turn me in to the authorities.

And that’s why I am hesitant to follow You now that you are moving closer to Herod. 

King Aretas has put a contract out on King Herod’s life for the shameful way he has treated his daughter. He has declared war on Herod and there is a bitter battle taking place on the Northern border.

And Lord, it’s not only Herod You should be concerned about. You should know that Herodias, Herod’s niece, and lover, is just as dangerous as Herod himself. She caused Your friend, John the Baptist, to be murdered.

When Herod arrested John the Baptist, Herodias sought to justify her relationship with Herod, but John the Baptist denounced her “marriage” saying that it was against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). John was just like You, anything but politically correct.

Herodias didn’t like anyone exposing her sinfulness. Her conscience was seared with a life of excess, and she had the political backing to get her way. With a heart as black as the dungeon wall in which John the Baptist was imprisoned, Herodias tried to rid herself of what she considered to be an irritation, this badly dressed and ill-spoken man, … and she succeeded.

Herod granted her request. It was quite a table that had been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sat together at the king’s table that night as John’s head was brought in on a platter. You see, it doesn’t pay to say anything about God’s views on the marriage relationship. It is considered to be hate speech.

I know You are not intimidated by the dangerous question the Pharisees asked. But Lord, they are trapping You into speaking against Herod’s incestuous, adulterous marriage, even indirectly, and this could get You into a lot of trouble and I don’t want this to lead to Your death, too.

I would recommend that You leave this place as soon as possible,

Yours,

A Concerned Follower

 

The Pharisees write to Jesus

Jesus!

How dare you question our theological understanding! Your narrow views about the Scriptures are not wanted here. Not once did you mention the views of our esteemed Scholars and experts, Shammai and particularly Hillel, who have interpreted the Scriptures to be more culturally appropriate? This matter will not end here.

Pharisees Investigative Group Surveillance (P.I.G.S.)

 

A Woman writes to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

I’ve been thinking about the way You answered the Pharisees when they asked You about divorce. You answered their question. 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” You replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 

They wanted to argue and impose their thinking upon You, not read the Scriptures in order to understand what God was saying to them.

You cut across the plans of the Pharisaical social engineers, beyond all the popular opinions of the Romans and Jews, beyond all their justifications and You went back to what God has already declared in the Bible. I love the way You said, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?”

The simplicity of Your statement struck me. You said that God created them male and female for the purpose of marriage. I am a Roman woman and I am so aware that we Romans practice polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, incest, keeping of concubines, prostitution, and divorce. But you made it clear that the original blueprint God made for marriage involves one man, one woman, who become one in Marriage.

5 You said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 

I’ve been thinking about this Oneness. You seem to be suggesting more than just the physical union but a oneness like a spiritual glue that God uses to bond us together as a husband and wife and this eventually leads to us to become a mother and father ourselves.

My husband and I had a son. You said a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife. But Your words only remind me of the pain I feel.

When my husband divorced me, he took our son. Our son, the miracle of the oneness of our marriage, torn from me. 

You expressed it well. 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 

My divorce at first left me with less than I started out with. I felt bereft in every way, split apart from the oneness I experienced with my husband and torn apart from the expression of our oneness – our only son. I miss my son with an unbearable pain and all I can do is ask God to protect him.

Yet, despite the devastation and pain, my relationship with You has somehow made me whole. If only my marriage had the oneness I experience spiritually as I trust in You. If only my husband knew that it was God who joined us together.

Yours,

A Reflective Follower

LOST TWICE FOR THREE DAYS – CHRISTMAS
FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

 

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

It struck me as Pastor Brian Houston was speaking at the Christmas Eve Service that for 3 days Mary lost her Son when He was 12 and for 3 days she lost Him again when He was 33. Both times He was “about His Fathers business” (Luke 2:42-51 NLT). Mary was present for His birth and present at His death. We celebrate both Christmas and Easter so as not to miss the significance of His birth and His death.

At the Beginning of His life there was no room for Him at the Inn and He was laid in a borrowed manger. At the end of His life there was no room for Him so they laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Followers of Christ make room for Him in their lives.

At His birth lowly Shepherds came. At His death the great Shepherd was abandoned, yet He said “I am the Good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, … So I sacrifice My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

At the beginning innocent babies were killed. At the end of His life guilty thieves died with Him on the Cross. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Wise men followed God’s directions intentionally after He was born. Foolish men knew not what they were doing at His death. Yet in Luke 23:34 (NLT) Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.

He was visited by shepherds at His birth. Disciples abandoned Him at His death. It takes commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Herod tried to put Him to death at His birth. Pilate tried to save Him from death at His trial, but ended up washing his hands of Him. All of us are given a choice concerning what we will do with Jesus.

Wise men acknowledged Him as King soon after He was born. At the end of His life foolish men put Him on a Cross with a sign they thought was mocking Him as King of the Jews. Yet Revelation 17:14 (NLT) calls Him “… Lord of all lords and King of all kings…” Followers of Christ acknowledge His rulership in their lives.

After His birth wise men gave generously to Jesus. At His death the religious rulers gave Judas “thirty pieces of silver” to betray Him (Matthew 26:15 NLT). Matthew 16:26 (NLT) says “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Wise men invested their wealth as they gave it to Jesus. At His crucifixion foolish soldiers “gambled for His clothes” at the Cross Luke 23:34 (NLT) concerned only with taking. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).

A star shone at His birth. He was the light of the world at His death. God still directs us to Him.

Angels at His birth spoke of a Saviour. Angels at the tomb said He is risen. Romans 6:9 (NLT) says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”

Jesus was born into the family of Abraham, ancestor of King David. He died so that we could be born again into His family.

At His Conception the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. At the conception of the Church the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples in an upper room. Zacharias was speechless before Jesus was born. Peter preached a powerful message after Jesus rose again (Acts 2). With the help of the Holy Spirit we can share the message of Christ boldly.

At His birth He is called Immanuel “God with us”. After His death Hebrews 13:5 says God will “never leave You or forsake You”

He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the end. Saviour, Born that we may never die. He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. Born in a manger, died on a cross. Born that I might be born again. Immanuel, God with us. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, My Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ross

 

THE 4 KINGS OF CHRISTMAS

4 KINGS. 4 cards. Spades, Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts. Each King represents a person in the Christmas Story. Three of these kings represent people today as well,… maybe you. Three of them missed Christmas altogether. The fourth invented it!

The first person who missed Christmas is represented by THE KING OF SPADES.

KING OF SPADES

KING OF SPADES

If you look at the KING OF SPADES you will see a King with a SWORD in his hand. In the Christmas Story this king is violent and cruel. History tells us he killed his wife and three of his own sons because he suspected they were trying to take his throne. Some people said it was safer to be his sow than his son, because Jews didn’t eat pigs but this king slaughtered his own sons. Like the gunman over in Newtown Connecticut recently, he also murdered children at Christmas time (Our hearts grieve for your loss). Bethlehem mourned that first Christmas also because of a king who had to WIN AT ALL COSTS.

SPADES is a good sign for him because if you tried to play games with this king, you would end up DIGGING YOUR OWN GRAVE.

Matthew 2:1-8 (NLT) tells us his name. It says “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of KING HEROD. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.”

The wise men CALLED HIS BLUFF and found Jesus but returned to their home another way.

Herod was a WILD CARD. He was more than a few cards short of a deck. He certainly didn’t call a spade a spade. He said he wanted to worship Jesus but he really wanted to get rid of him. He was a negative, bitter, angry, revengeful leader. Like a lot of world leaders today who want to HOLD ALL THE CARDS, to have absolute rulership and power, Herod was willing to do anything to hold onto his kingdom.

HEROD MISSED CHRISTMAS

Today many people miss Christmas for the same reason. Afraid that Jesus might cramp their lifestyles, or their ambitions, they are self-sufficient and don’t see their need of a Saviour. They play games with God and are not willing to lay all their cards on the table with Him. People miss Jesus because they don’t want Him to be LORD AND KING of their lives. What about you?

But there was ANOTHER KING in our Christmas Story. I have represented him by THE KING OF CLUBS.

KING OF CLUBS

KING OF CLUBS

Also holding a sword, he is a dangerous leader. I have chosen the KING OF CLUBS because he headed up a group of leaders, a CLUB of people who missed Christmas.

Self-centred, suspicious and always getting offended, they were a very negative club. They always saw problems and were always looking for an argument. They were perfectionists, trying to keep all kinds of laws, and systems of their own making, and always critical of others. Wallowing in gloom and doom, they considered that they had been dealt a bad hand in life. They harboured animosity and sought revenge. They were unforgiving and prejudiced and self-righteous.

But their religious system was really a HOUSE OF CARDS. Jesus layed His cards on the table with them. He had many confrontations with them and eventually they demanded His death. They were frauds, jokers in disguise. This religious Club was headed up by a leader called the high priest.

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS MISSED CHRISTMAS

Matthew 2:4 says, “(Herod) called a meeting of the LEADING PRIESTS AND TEACHERS OF RELIGIOUS LAW and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”   “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:    ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”    These leaders (called the Sanhedrin) knew where Jesus was to be born but didn’t go there to find him. They MISSED CHRISTMAS! They had been waiting for the Messiah for years, yet this RELIGIOUS CLUB didn’t bother to walk 2-3 miles to see if this was Him. Why?

More interested in studying about the messiah than actually worshiping Him, they had RELIGION BUT NO REALITY. They considered themselves TOO HOLY. They were not willing to admit to their own sinfulness and therefore they didn’t think they needed the Saviour. Treacherous and secretive, they wanted to hold the cards close to their chest.

Many today ignore Christ because they don’t understand their need of a Saviour. They are religious but they don’t want a relationship with Christ. They don’t want to lay their cards on the table. What about you?

This Card is the KING OF DIAMONDS.

KING OF DIAMONDS

KING OF DIAMONDS

Diamonds speak of MONEY. It represents a man who wasn’t strictly a king, but certainly a man who loved making money. King of his own castle,he owned real estate, a lodging house. That Christmas he knew that if he played his cards right he could make a lot of money from all the people in town.

He doesn’t have a sword, but an AXE. Yet this man had no AXE TO GRIND with Mary and Joseph. When Joseph and Mary turned up he turned them away because there was no room in his Inn. He was already too busy. He had a Full House.Too many other people in Bethlehem that night

THE INNKEEPER MISSED CHRISTMAS

Luke 2:7 (NLT) says, “She (Mary) gave birth to her first child, a Son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” It was a good deal for the Innkeeper. He’s not actually mentioned in the Bible but he must have been there.

We can get so caught up in the busyness of Christmas we can miss it’s REAL WORTH!

King Herod. The Religious leaders. The Innkeeper. All of Jerusalem missed Christmas. All of Bethlehem missed Jesus. No room.

Only a few found Christ that Christmas. Wise men followed a diamond in the sky, and came up aces. Only a few still find Him today. What about you?

The last King is the KING OF HEARTS.

KING OF HEARTS

KING OF HEARTS

He represents the REASON FOR THE SEASON, THE TRUMP CARD. He was born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger, and is called the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. The heart indicates His LOVE for the world.

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” 

The Bible says that the cards are stacked against us without Christ. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death” (Spiritual Separation from God).

When it was on the cards that we would all fall short of God’s perfect standard, the Bible says that Jesus showed His cards, so to speak, and came up trumps. It says “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT).

But He will never FORCE YOUR HAND. He always gives us a choice. John 1:12 (NLT) simply says “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

Herod missed Christmas. The Religious Leaders missed Christmas. The Innkeeper missed Christmas. Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem missed Christmas.

Ignorant preoccupation. Negativity. Jealous fear. Prideful indifference. Religious ritual. Unbelief. What about you? Will you miss Christmas? Is your life a house of cards. What are you following? Someone said WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS.

On Christmas Day, many years ago, I believed in Christ. He changed my life. The invitation God gives at Christmas is to receive Christ and trust your life to Him today. He’s got the best hand. He’s a great Bridge partner. In fact He is the BRIDGE to life and Peace with God.

The Bible says God is not mocked and He can’t be bluffed. He is great with Patience. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “…He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. He wants to count us in,not so that we can play games with God, but so we can lay our cards on the table before Him and commit our lives to Him, so that we will enjoy the true significance of Christmas. What about you?

Pastor Ross

MATTHEW 2 – STILL THE GREATEST QUEST THIS CHRISTMAS

Following the Star

Following the Star

One Christmas when our kids were young, we decided to re-enact the Christmas story. I painted a background scene and we each played a part, dressing up as Shepherds one minute and Magi the next. We had towels on our head and the angels – Julie and her sister – were dressed in white sheets. We narrated the story and improvised. We had a big star that hung from the ceiling and a manger with a doll, instead of a Christmas tree, an old fence with paintings of animals hanging over the side. I also painted a picture of Mary and Joseph onto some cardboard and borrowed some old lamps. We split our sides laughing sometimes but at certain moments as Rachel our daughter held the Christ child (her doll) in her arms, we also felt the presence of God as the story found it’s way through the events of Jesus birth. Our re-created stable had a manger with gifts all around it (that year the Magi were particularly generous with more than 3 gifts). We opened the gifts that year with an acknowledgement that the greatest gift of all was found lying in a manger and ended with a birthday cake for Jesus. For me, that’s my greatest Christmas memory.

In the real Christmas story, Matthew 2 starts off with Magi searching for a king. Who are these guys? We don’t know if there were 2 or 40 of them. We do know they gave 3 gifts. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, gifts for a king. Some people trace them back to Daniel 5:11 and I like to think that their journey to Bethlehem was because of the ancient writings of Daniel, which we no longer have. Perhaps he left a legacy that led them to Jesus. His Godly wisdom and insights from days gone by to Persian Magi, sent these men on a quest to find the Messiah.

What was the star that moved across the sky? Was it a comet or supernova? I like to think that it was the Shekinah glory that had once led the Israelites through the wilderness in the days of Moses that appeared in the sky as a sign of the Saviours birth, and led them to humblest of places – a humble house in Bethlehem. You wouldn’t expect to find a King in a place like Bethlehem. It has to be God impressing upon us that His rulership doesn’t depend upon the lavish palaces build by such kings as Herod.

Matthew cites an ancient prophecy in relation to Jesus birth.

“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah; are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Christ is pictured as a powerful ruler but also as a caring shepherd. He is all powerful and able to accomplish all He purposes for your life. He is a caring and loving shepherd who acts with grace in our lives. So different to king Herod, whose reputation for brutality was renowned.

Herod was a descendant of Esau, an Edomite, and he was a cruel and ruthless king. History tells us that he even murdered his own wife and 3 of his sons because he was suspicious of them taking over his kingdom. The man was insane! It was said that it was better to be Herod’s sow (pig) than Herod’s son, but you wouldn’t say that to his face. A pig would not be slaughtered because Jewish people saw pigs as unclean. But Herod’s own sons were slaughtered. Such merciless power is not unusual in the East, even in our own day. He said he wanted to go and worship the Messiah but his brutality in killing the infants in Bethlehem shows what measures he went to in order to maintain his authority over the Jews.

When an angel told Joseph to escape to Egypt, he and Mary probably used the gold, frankincense and myrrh as trade to Egyptian merchants. They would be worth a great deal of money in Egypt where they used these things for embalming the dead.

God bless you as you seek Jesus this Christmas and find Him in the most unexpected places and in the humblest of settings and as you celebrate His birth, bring Him the very best of your worship.

Pastor Ross