twelve apostles

The Price of Christ #2

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3 KJV).

How much should Jesus Christ be worth in the eyes of Christians?

About six days before His crucifixion, Jesus is in Bethany, a town one or two miles (1.6 or 3.2 kilometers) southeast of Jerusalem. He has raised Lazarus from the dead just a short time earlier (John chapter 11), and they are holding a supper for Jesus there in Bethany (John 12:1-9). Lazarus’s sister Mary (cf. John 11:2) anoints Jesus’ feet as recorded in today’s Scripture.

Mary took a “pound” (roughly a pint or 0.5 liter) of the very intense aromatic essential oil “spikenard” and poured it onto Jesus’ feet. She then wiped His feet with her hair. (You can grasp Mary’s humility by remembering that sandaled feet that trod hot Middle Eastern sand were quite filthy, sweaty, and smelly. Can you imagine wiping your hair on those feet?)

Spikenard, whose plant derivative is still unknown, was just as the Bible says—“very costly.” In fact, when Judas—the thieving treasurer of the apostles—saw what Mary did, he bemoaned, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5). Verse 6 says, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” Judas just wanted the spikenard sold so he could pocket the money!

The word “pence” in our King James Bible means the Roman coins called denarii. A denarius was equal to one day’s wages, so 300 pence was roughly ten month’s wages (the denarius was originally worth the price of ten donkeys, so 300 pence was 3,000 donkeys!). Mary recognized the great value of the Lord Jesus Christ: He was worth far more than the mere 30 pieces of silver (three or four months’ wages) Judas later received for betraying Him. May we Christians value the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, as much as Mary did!

Bible Q&A #370: “How could Jesus say His killers knew not what they were doing?

The Price of Christ #1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15 KJV).

How much is Jesus Christ worth in the eyes of lost man?

Let us read today’s Scripture within its context: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-16).

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me” (Matthew 27:3-10).

The 30 pieces of silver was enough to buy a field; it was an enormous sum of money. The King James Bible does not specify what types of coins the priests paid Judas, but the “30 pieces of silver” is estimated to be the equivalent of three or four months’ wages. According to the Mosaic Law, the price of a slave was “thirty shekels of silver” (Exodus 21:32). In the eyes of lost mankind, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, was worth nothing more than a slave!

An Eternal House in the Heavens #2

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

A dear friend of mine has been entangled in the “Charismatic Movement” for years. She thus boasts of her “gift of healing.” (Her husband and one of her friends both died of cancer years back.) Afflicted by chronic illness herself, she talks about how she has visited her sick and aging friends in nursing homes, praying and “laying hands” on them to restore their health. (She still visits the same people at those same institutions!) While she has a testimony of salvation in Christ, she is a most confused lady concerning the Bible. She always seeks “signs and wonders” to know God is working.

Friends, since it has utterly failed to uphold the Word of God rightly divided, the Church the Body of Christ is largely caught up in thinking and behaving like Bible skeptics. You ask an atheist what it would take before he or she would “believe in God,” and he or she will probably reply, “If only I could see this miracle happen or that miracle occur, I would believe in God.” In other words, “I will not believe unless I see God working.” Friend, do you know anyone like that in Scripture?

Why, chapter John 20 says of “doubting Thomas:” “[25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe…. [27] Then saith [Jesus] to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

If only we would “believe without seeing….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What Gospel message did Lazarus believe to wind up in Abraham’s bosom?

Sifted Saints #5

Monday, March 13, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

In his final meeting with the Ephesian church elders, Paul through the Holy Spirit issued a grave warning in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Notice how Satan “sifts” members of the Body of Christ by having them overlook “the word of [God’s] grace” (verse 32). Thus they follow the Law, available in many forms—that is, 38,000 denominations! Splinter group after splinter group develops, until the distinction is no longer “Christian versus non-Christian,” but increasingly “this denomination versus that denomination.” So many precious Christian souls are entangled in such confusion and division!

As Satan attempted to “divide and conquer” the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, so he uses a similar strategy with us the Church the Body of Christ today. Remember, he attacked the Little Flock by focusing on its chief Apostle (that is, Peter). With Peter discredited, the Little Flock would collapse. Likewise, we see Satan attacking the Church the Body of Christ by concentrating on its leading Apostle (namely, Paul). There are “doctrines of devils” today aimed at questioning Paul’s grace doctrines, Romans through Philemon (1 Timothy 4:1-16)—people using the Bible but not “rightly dividing” it (2 Timothy 2:15). With the Bible not rightly divided, the Christians are divided and conquered!

Sifted Saints #4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

“Simon, Simon” underscores the seriousness in Jesus’ voice. After delivering to Peter the grim news about Satan wanting to split up the Little Flock—mainly by attacking its leadership, the 12 Apostles—the Lord comforts His chief Apostle. Not many people notice, but the Lord, in today’s Scripture, revealed that He had prayed specifically for Peter ahead of the impending ordeals. But I have prayed for thee….” (We do not read the actual prayer, although it preceded today’s Scripture.) Jesus prayed for Peter (remember, “thee,” singular), rather than the whole group (“you,” plural, as in modern versions).

“[T]hat thy faith fail not….” We are not to suppose that Peter’s faith will be unwavering (because, as we know, it was not). The implication is that he will fall; hence, his “converting,” or turning around, will be necessary. However, because of Jesus’ prayer, Peter’s denial of God’s only begotten Son will not be continuous. “[A]nd when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We know that, after he denied Christ, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62; cf. Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Although not recorded in the Bible, we can assume that Peter was “converted” (moved from denier to embracer) sometime after.

When Peter would be turned around, re-oriented toward the right way, Jesus told him to strengthen his brethren. Those brethren would be vulnerable to Satan’s further assaults, but with Peter, their leader, now restored in faith, they would be also rescued from additional spiritual harm. Peter could encourage them to remain having faith in Christ. In fact, he will go on to declare to them the news of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24:34)! As a powerful, Holy-Spirit-filled Apostle, he will go on to lead the 11 Apostles of Jesus Christ into the Book of Acts. Except Judas, none of the Apostles were permanently lost to Satan. In short, the Lord Jesus’ prayer was effectual!

The Devil, however, still employs “divide and conquer” to hinder believers in Christ today….

Sifted Saints #3

Saturday, March 11, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

It is the night of the Lord Jesus’ arrest; He has less than 24 hours left to live. In today’s Scripture, He issues some very solemn statements to His 12 Apostles. As He speaks, He bears in mind that Satan’s schemes against Him are already coming together in other parts of Jerusalem. There is worse news to come, but He does not tell His disciples yet.

According to the succeeding verses, Jesus and His Apostles will finish eating. Suddenly, and mysteriously, Judas will leave the meal. (The 11 Apostles will assume he is going out to purchase items for the feast, or to give something to the poor—John 13:21-30.) Jesus and His disciples, singing a hymn, will go out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39; cf. Matthew 26:30). They will see Judas return, leading a mob, coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus into custody (Luke 22:47-53). In other words, this is how the 11 Apostles will learn that Judas is the traitor. As Jesus is arrested, the Bible says that all of His followers will flee in fear: “Then all his disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).

During the Lord’s trial, Peter, hiding afar in the shadows, will publicly deny knowing Christ not once, not twice, but THREE times (Luke 22:53-62; cf. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-18). Peter was the leader of the 12 Apostles (see Matthew 16:19), and often their spokesman. Now, he will gravely stumble. With one Apostle (Judas) the traitor, and another Apostle (Peter) now the denier, the remaining 10 Apostles will be severely tested to cave in as well. Potentially, all of them, being fallible humans, can permanently forsake Christ Jesus. This is a very real possibility that the Lord Jesus foresees in today’s Scripture, well in advance. His Apostles will, not surprisingly, be unfaithful. However, He reminds them that He has been loyal to them, and that, consequently, Satan will not conquer or destroy them….

Sifted Saints #2

Friday, March 10, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

Friends, Satan (Hebrew, “Adversary”) is very strategic in his endeavors. Yea, he is much more intelligent than most of us give him credit for; he employs whatever underhanded means he can to accomplish his end. The Lord Jesus explains to us in today’s Scripture that Satan has “desired”—begged intensely—to “sift” these Messianic Jews. We can see the Devil employing here the age-old military strategy “divide and conquer.”

But, before we proceed any further, we will take time to acknowledge the superiority of the King James Bible to modern English versions. Notice the second-person pronouns found in today’s Scripture. While many have been conditioned to complain about the Authorized Version’s usage of “thee,” “thou,” and “ye,” they have not been trained in the original Bible languages to know enough about the issue to comment.

Today’s Scripture again: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Please notice that, while Jesus is clearly speaking to Simon Peter, he is speaking about more than Peter. The word “you” in older English is plural (a group); the word “thee/thou/thy” is singular. As with biblical Hebrew or biblical Greek, older English distinguishes between second-person singular (one person) and second-person plural (two or more). Contemporary English, however, does not—it simply uses “you” in both cases. Thus, modern English versions obscure the King James distinction in today’s Scripture.

Mindful of the above facts, now we see Satan wants to “sift as wheat” not simply Peter—as modern English versions teach—but rather the group of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ. Scripture already chose wheat as symbolic of Messianic Jews in Israel (Matthew chapter 13, verses 24-43, for example). In addition to what has already come before today’s Scripture, Satan will see to it that Jesus’ Apostles are further separated….