About a million years ago, when people were just beginning to get used to microwave ovens as an every day part of life, I went to week long seminar on the understanding the Bible. My parents were divorcing after 25 years of successful marriage. We were asked if GOD wrote you personally a letter, would you read it? And I thought I'd LOVE to have a letter from God. I did promise then, I would read the Bible every day since the age of 16. And I have. We were told if we read the Bible every day, over time, it would become a personal letter. After many years, that has become so.
Our young friend, James, was discussing a rough Thanksgiving, with the fam, as we discussed families. Our young friend asked me, "What do you think of stuck up religious people?"
I said, "I LOVE Stuck Up Religious People!!!!" We all laughed, after all you are supposed to love stuck up religious people too! My friend looked a bit hurt and he waited for the game to resume, looking at me. I told him with honesty and insight, " I think you are going to turn out alright, there is hope for you." He was pleased.
So we are going to think about "Stuck Up Religious People" by looking at saints and then pharisees and ~ why there is a great hope for my young friend.
What is a saint? Abraham, we remember, did some fairly incredibly not saint like things, yet Scripture says, "His faith was credited to him as righteousness."
1.) Simon (whom He named Peter, the Rock of the Church) Peter was always making mistakes. When he was able to look Jesus in His Eyes and when Jesus had gone to Heaven. If you think Peter is named Rock because he recognized Jesus as the Christ, first, you are very mistaken. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Read John 1 and the last Chapter in John.
Peter is the Rock because he had enough faith to walk on water, and when he quit believing in his own self-righteousness, he wanted to see Jesus so much, he jumped into the water to get to Jesus. Jesus works to repair their friendship, making Peter breakfast. Peter gets so comfortable, with the risen Jesus, he begins complaining John might have the blessing of living on earth until Jesus returns.
If you don't believe me, read the last Chapter of the Gospel of John. This is a tremendous statement of how imperfect we are and perfectly loved. A tremendous statement of the way saints behave. How people behave. How the Church behaves ~ to a Risen Jesus.
No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
Andrew tells Peter. Andrew is a great brother and brought his brother to Christ. A quiet hero we learn in the Scriptures, who lives with Peter, Peter's wife and Peter's mother-in-law. Archeology tells us they were wealthy from their house in Capernaum.
3 & 4) James and John, Sons of Thunder ~ The newer Synagogue built upon the one Jesus taught in. An Aramaic inscription on one of the broken columns records the name of the donor, "Halfu, son of Zebida". These names in the Greek form (Alphaeus and Zebedee) are mentioned in the New Testament. Jesus Christ's Disciples, James and John, were sons of Zebedee.
Quiet, humble saintly people. Especially mom, too. Matthew 20. Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him (a great approach) she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” (I'd like to know the tone for that question.) She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Now, because Jesus was dealing with saints. They did not complain. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. If you overlook incredulous as a stuffy word, you know the chins were pulled in and complaining commenced.
5.) Philip Philip did desert Jesus. However in Acts he did great things, like go where God wanted him to go and he heard angels speak to him.
6.) Bartholomew Recently archaeology reported finding a first century portion of Scripture Bartholomew carried into India. This compliments the Scripture found in the U.K., from 60 Anno Domini. Bartholomew and, that stuck up religious, Paul got into a not speaking fight over Bartholomew's nephew John Mark. Bartholomew stuck up for John Mark and said he'd turn out okay. John Mark went on to grow up and write the Gospel of Mark.
7.) Matthew was a opportunistic yuppie. He loved Jesus stepping up for him so much, he threw Jesus one of the four parties Jesus attended. Jesus came eating and drinking. Matthew invited every non-rules oriented yuppie and thug, Matthew (and Jesus) knew and loved.
8.) Thomas Thomas was famous. We get that. Who wants to be know as "Doubter" to all.
9.) James son of Alphaeus a whole lot of James. This one was short and therefore called James the Less. These were tactful people. (James the Just is the deserter of his own flesh and blood brother, Jesus. The physical brother is the writer of the Book of James, not this James the Less.) Not much is know about James the Less. He was martyred in Egypt. A rather amusing comment I read once said Live for Jesus Another Day and Run. Well almost all of our Scripture was saved by those willing to flee. James, however, was not going to deny Jesus again, after becoming convinced Jesus is God's Son, our Savior. James was standing up for Jesus and with this effort - Scripture, Hope, Faith and Love is the Bible in your hand - at great conviction and fighting the good fight.
10.) Simon who was called the Zealot was the one we would sing the Beatles Revolution about, he was political gorilla~ish. Buried in the Vatican with Thaddeus. The bones of saints were never forgotten. (Peter the other Simon has hundreds of pilgrim made graffiti on his house identically matching Peter's found grave. 80 feet under the Vatican altar and protected from decay by a "rock" - that Jesus knew of what He was telling us. The Vatican spent 60 years double checking the archeaological intact city they found under their 400 A.D. site for the Vatican - the first one burned in 1400 A.D. and was designed by Michelangelo who lived to be almost 100 years old saying God was keeping him alive. And Botticelli. )
11.) Thaddaeus, so called instead of a second Judas, son of James. What do you do when there are too many Judas ,when Jesus also had a brother named Judas, you call him ~Thaddaeus. Jesus did well for a grass roots organization; He sent 72 disciples out 2 by 2. Thaddeus and Simon were martyred together and buried together. There was an archaeological dispute over their bodies until recently. Thank HIM for Archaeology proving all the time Scripture is reliable.
12.) Judas Iscariot- later replaced with faithful Matthias. Scripture records Judas as being hung and disemboweled in two separate stories. Remember what a time of confusion this was. The Potter's Field was a cemetery and I think Judas hung there for some time until falling and becoming disemboweled, when removed. The saints were rising from the dead declaring Jesus as risen. The disciples were preaching in the Temple itself.
Pharisees are rarely confused with tax collectors.
But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.'
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
The Saduceen Council was interested in Jesus. And one of them, in a cowardly fashion, traveled to see Jesus at night.
3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
If we paraphrase Jesus' answer to Nicodemus we find Jesus is a bit waspish and a little stinging and asks Nicodemus: If he is a teacher of Israel, why does he not walk in the day. And why is he asking these questions. Nicodemus probably thought Jesus was a stuck up religious person, at least for a few minutes. However, it is very important to remember, Nicodemus was left deliberately out of knowing about Jesus' trial and went to Pilate to help Jesus, claiming His Body; he wanted to help Jesus.
So some stuck up religious people, actually want to help us.
Jesus offended stuck up religious people, and proclaimed every day mercy and kindness over sacrifice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
How my friend is probably going to end up quite well. Faith, Hope and Love.
Faith. My friend spoke willingly of his belief he would make an ace. Jeremiah said we should believe God has good plans for us.
Hope. My friend stated that if he won, he would share with those around him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Love. I watched my friend follow through on his promise to share the winnings of his ace.
Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1 Corinthians 13:13
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Father God, we lift our loved ones up to You. Your hand is that of Love and Salvation. We lift up our cares, and cataract complete recovery. We lift up our friends, Church family, Churches in our area, our State and States. Our Nation to be One under God. The Nations near us to be blessed by God. In Jesus we pray, Amen.
♔ Lord Jesus Saves †