We have a Historical Trail.
Papyrus 46 of Philippians is something to remember. Critics say the New Testament was created in the Roman Empire's need to create a document of Christ.
Papyrus 46 dates to the first or second century and has written history of AD 110 to 140 by Polycarp. Polycarp was a disciple of the beloved disciple John on Patmos. The Harris fragments tell of this connection claiming John was engaged in a battle with the Jews over Religious Law and the Divinity of Jesus, Gnostics, linking John and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. The text of the Harris Fragments on Polycarp and John raises discussions on martyrdom and apostolicity, the earliest history of the important Christian communities.
We have not only Bishop Papias. And in the generation after Polycarp, then Irenaeus' letter below. He was the Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul. The three bishops form a historical chain. Witnessing to John's old age and vibrant struggle.
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”
6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
20 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
We pray knowing God hears us! We know what we know what we know. To see Jesus sitting in a today situation is inspiring, reassuring, comforting and peaceful.
The Bible assures us Jesus sat comfortably being with people, hearing them, teaching and Loving.
Not only the Pharisees and Sadducees sought to influence Jesus.
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
John went on to recover from this and said this about Jesus:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
And in all the Books of the Bible - Covering Millenniums - God never once said to any of His Children - Thank you for judging one of the children. I really needed your help.
"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
My grandmother Bit had been married to an Episcopal priest. She had always given love and a sympathetic ear. She never returned my father's cold shoulder to her with unkindness. She had always spoken well of my grandfather who died before I was born. Who had the nickname of Pos - for playing Possum from his salad days. I never heard her cut someone else down. She told me story after story of her childhood. She spoke well of her grandmothers who lived with them as children. She loved to tell of her uncle. She spoke well of her neighbors. She was thrilled my step-grandfather's parish accepted her so easily. She drank way too much. Grandmother Bit made sure we had Christmas money to spend for gift giving. We had summer camp and horse back riding lessons from my grandmother. Vacations. Grandmother provided my college and my car.
Three of her four great-grandchildren are named for Bit and because of her. And the day came 1986 that I knew to expect - the last week of her life - "come to the nursing home" where cancer had just fallen that week. I had just been telling Nadine about my grandmother when the intercom called me to the phone to say - come now - come swiftly. I went back to Nadine and couldn't even speak. My mouth opened and closed. And finally I pointed - - - Nadine said she understood - go fast.
My daddy and I sat for about three hours watching my very southern Grandmother in a receiving line we could not see and names of people gone on Home. Grandmother adored all the people she shook double hands with. And after she greeted each person and had gracious conversation with them - Grandmother would look at the ceiling and say, "I'm ready to come home, Father. Today?"
She reached a lady named Mary and had about a four or five minute conversation with Mary. And my father's mouth fell to his chest. I asked him why. He explained Mary had died at age 42. She had been their good friend and neighbor in the late 1940s. Their next door neighbor. Mary knew Grandmother had always loved Mary's house better than her own house. Mary asked Grandmother to buy her house and live there with Mary's love. I asked my dad why he looked so shocked. He said Mary's children had been older - and here was Mary telling Grandmother about her children's marriages - their grandchildren and great-grandchildren their college educations, marital status and jobs.
I didn't know what to reply. So my father said - the names are all right of the children - but the rest of the grandchildren were unborn in the 1940s and this was just so detailed for someone in a semi-comatose-delirium state.
I promise you, I had never seen my father so amazed and stunned.
"Father, today, today may I come home?"
Grandmother Bit rarely spoke of her deep and abiding faith. She lived loving her Father God and expecting His promises to her to be fulfilled. I'm happy to say, of the several dreams I've had of visiting with my Grandmother in Heaven, my life has expanded - the narrow path on the way where I know Jesus calls us Home to live. The fruit of those decades long dreams is as vivid today as the time they were envisioned. I know we go Home to Jesus Christ the Lord.
♔ Lord Jesus Saves †