23 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Constantine I's tomb was used for his mother Helena. She is not disputed to have existed. And she is recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea as being 80 years old as she looked at all types of archeological sites in Jerusalem. Eusebius actually met both Constantine and his mother.
Do you remember the reaction of Herod hearing Judea had a prophet of old? He wanted to see a Jesus sign. Herod had a natural curiosity to meet Jesus. Not unusual, Herod was picking out the priest who could speak in the Temple. Surely Herod did not want the Temple rocking the Roman Gravy Train. And remember Herod was sent out of his dad's paranoid frenzy to be educated in Rome. Herod thought more like a Roman, than a Jew, remembering, prophets tend to get personal. Jesus did not honor Herod. Herod, when you look through the Gospels feared Jesus and only wanted, in curiosity, to see a sign. Herod was going to remove John and honor him in the prison, but push to shove - shove behead.
Herod ended up not doing so well from his brother's wife's (his own 2nd wife) family - exiled.
And remember with me Pontius Pilate's wife begged him not to have anything to do with the harm of Jesus. She had a dream about Jesus saying HE is a good man. Jesus even forgave Pilate standing in front of Pilate.
but he will say, 'I am not a prophet; I am a tiller of the ground, for a man sold me as a slave in my youth.' 6"And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will say, 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'
If it sounds off to you, it was what Pilate hoped to hear - Jesus to disavow - to allow Jesus freedom. This passage IS well recognized as a prophecy of Pilate to Jesus. Jesus called upon to forgive in the midst of torture. More than just upon the Cross dying.
This is an amazing story - one we become so familiar with. We have to look at other details to see - how incredible - and true - this History is.
The death of Jesus was not a joy to Pilate. And not to Herod. Only in the Temple was there brief joy. And then the Temple itself - all 36 acres housed grieving believers to the horror of the Temple government. The multitudes of believers began to grow and grow to the consternation of Rome 16 years later. Letters of Rabbis from the time believed this was the end of Judaism. Rabbis prayed God would stop the miracles in the name of Jesus. See Ian Wilson's books with these letters.
The Book of Acts has the Apostles leave the Temple because the Temple was small itself. The Apostles start meeting outside by the healing pools, were larger crowds could gather. And not have to be so Jewish to hear. Roman citizens were present. Officials within Herod's palace. Multitudes. The dead were seen as risen. Jesus taught His disciples and appeared to 500.
This was so large, no one could get Christianity to stop. Josephias, the Judean General turned Roman Historian, was moved that this would not end. Calling the believers "Christians." Recognizing in two places in Josephias' History that Jesus was called Messiah. And only one is debated.
This history is So Large that if you look at a panorama of the Temple Mount - where Abraham was trusting God with Isaac - you see living stones referring to Jesus.
Today the stones ringing the Temple Mount have a quote on them "They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God."
So how is it that Jesus seems to get the men in power in trouble and we have Christianity today millenniums later?
"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
Constantine. You hear the same pop culture inform you of Constantine’s jaded use of Christianity.
Today we are going to follow this Incredible Change of the Roman Empire with some pop culture.
"MIB" K said, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it! 1,500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."
We aren't salmon, we are meant to be unique with unique opinions. There is more to Constantine than "Constantine used Christianity to promote his promotion to Emperor."
There is some truth to that 50 years ago – the History of our United States Congress was being used as a Christian Church on Sunday for most of its years. When we discuss Constantine today - we adopt today's opinions. Our children won't. Personally I hope our children's children look more favorably at souls and less jaded.
Constantine has something Pop Culture wisdom – SEVERELY OVERLOOKS.
Constantine, Alexander the Great and Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire had something in common. When the events surround a man are beyond his imagination, he looks to see what force is behind him greater than himself.
This is called “WISDOM.”
Julius Caesar was before Jesus. He took his troops to the beach were the goddess Venus was to have ascended - because Julius Caesar believed his successes were because he was a grandson of Venus. Julius Caesar saw himself as a demi-god descendent of Venus.
Constantine was a prisoner of Diocletian to prevent political uprising, Emperors did that with competition. Nonetheless Constantine was a prominent member of the court: he fought for Diocletian in front of Bishop Eusebius as Constantine witnessed the torture of Jesus Christ’s nephew descendents to repent of Jesus. They all refused and upon torture and promises, died for Him. Constantine was a tolerant and politically skilled man who had mixed with pagans and Christians in the reign prior to Diocletian. Events there changed him.
Constant power struggles suppressed Constantine from coming into his position as his father's son. Constantine began to look to soothsayers recommendations,for favorable omens. Constantine, was with a spirit that left a deep impression on his followers, inspiring some to believe that he had some form of supernatural guidance. Constantine's army arrived at the battle the seers of Rome declared to be a final battle. His soldier's sheilds were bearing an unfamiliar symbols. According to Lactantius, Constantine was visited by a dream the night before the battle, wherein he was advised "to mark the heavenly sign of God on the shields of his soldiers ... by means of a slanted letter X with the top of its head bent round, he marked Christ on their shields." Eusebius describes another version, where, while marching at midday, "he saw with his own eyes in the heavens a trophy of the cross arising from the light of the sun, carrying the message, In Hoc Signo Vinces or "with this sign, you will conquer", Constantine had a dream the following night, in which Christ appeared with the same heavenly sign, and told him to make a standard, the labarum, for his army in that form.
Constantine was to look to another Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia to be his baptizer as he was about to die. He had hoped to be baptized in the River Jordan. This was not to be. But Constantine had changed the Empire and called the Council of Nicaea - to resolve with the Bishops, who would dare to travel, what the Holy Spirit would call as His Word.
Alexander the Great did something similar Josephus said in his History: Alexander had visited Jerusalem after his conquest of Egypt and that the High Priest in all his splendor had come out to receive him. When Alexander bowed down before the High Priest, he was asked why he did so. He said in reply that he was actually bowing to God, of whom the High Priest was the representative, and that while still in Macedonia he had had a dream of this meeting. Then the King "was shown from the book of Daniel the passage where it says that a certain Greek will come to destroy the whole Persian empire", and Alexander is said to have guessed that it referred to him.
The Talmud relates that when Alexander the Great and his conquering legions advanced upon Jerusalem, they were met by a delegation of elders, led by the High Priest Shimon Ha Tzaddik (Simon the Righteous). When Alexander saw Shimon approaching, he dismounted and prostrated himself before the Jewish Sage.
To his astonished men, Alexander explained that each time he went into battle, he would see a vision in the likeness of this High Priest leading the Greek troops to victory. In gratitude, and out of profound respect for the spiritual power of the Jews, Alexander was a kind and generous ruler. He canceled the Jewish taxes during Sabbatical years, and even offered animals to be sacrificed on his behalf in the Temple.
Two different historical accounts tell us Alexander believed God was part of his life.
And so did Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar believed Isaiah's 14th Chapter was written about him. Nebuchadnezzar gave Ezekiel his own house and had attempted to work with Judea and the Temple of God. This is why the exiles were promised a return from Babylon.
3 When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
5 The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
6 that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
8 The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
9 Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.
12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts.
Nebuchadnezzar would predict the end of the Babylonian Empire before he departed this life.
The work of Salvation is God's. When mankind become entangled with God, they begin to look to Him.
The choices of men. It's always our choice how we want our stories to continue with Him. Jesus forgave Pilate. Pilate, according to known history, chose a more desperate path, as did Herod, in the convenience of life. Constantine chose to embrace the Lord even if it was not until his death that he was baptized. I'd far prefer to be Constantine in History than Herod or Pilate.