Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Jesus' World

Jesus did not arrive in an idyllic time in history.

Far from it.

Yes, Caesar Augustus had established the Pax Romana, and for two centuries after that, "the civilized world will enjoy unprecedented peace, prosperity, and, for the most part, good civil government under Roman rule.  It causes one to think of a God who is working through history to achieve his eternal purposes."  (Smith, F. LaGard.  The Narrated Bible.)

The Romans built roads throughout the empire.  Greek was the lingua franca and Romans troops kept the peace.  

Yet, when Jesus was born, the possibility of a competing king led Herod to have the baby boys in his kingdom brutally slain. 

There was a tremendous division within Judaism, with differing sects believing they understood the Torah best.  

The Temple was in full swing.  The religious leaders controlled the people with a lot of legalism, and the Romans controlled the leaders with a not so subtle threat of shutting everything down if the leaders and/or the people stepped out of line. 

The poor were really poor. 

The rich were really rich.   

Life was cheap:  infanticide, slavery and death for entertainment was as common as mud.   

Political agitation was rife:  The Romans were on constant alert for even a hint of an uprising.  The Jewish nationalists were waiting for the perfect moment to strike and take Israel back from Rome--by whatever means necessary.  The Jews were disgusted with King Herod, who religious practice was suspect.  

The Pharisees kept the Torah alive, but added oral tradition whose practice added an additional burden  on the people.  

The Sadducees were aristocratic, urbane and didn't believe in an afterlife.  

The Essenes went into the desert and awaited the Apocalypse.  They sought a purer form of faith,  disgusted with how Judaism was being taught and practiced by the religious leaders.    

People longed for a Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who like His father David, would rule over Israel.  Many believed that meant a political confrontation with the Romans, for how could dark and light exist together?  To make this nationalist omelette, this Leader would break a lot of Roman eggs.  

So, to say Jesus doesn't understand our world, and can't possibly relate to the struggles we are going through, I would say, "Oh, He gets it."

Has anything really changed?  Yes, America, with its technological innovations, has provided "roads" everywhere, with communication and news traveling at the speed of a cell phone.  English is the lingua franca of this global village, and the peace is somewhat kept, if enough nations believe it is important to do so.  If not, butchery rages on.  

There is tremendous division in Christianity in America now.  Big churches utilize corporate models to brand their churches, provide an "experience" on Sunday morning, with a stage, smoke machines, large screens and participation akin to a spectator sport where Jesus is cheered in the name of worship.  

Biblical standards are ignored in an effort to not offend the culture.  

The church conforms, not transforms.

Compared to our history, as was Israel under David, our country is radically different, with political factions vying to either recreate or recapture America in their own image.  

Jesus gets it.

Our world is in a mess right now, and our country seems to be in a free-fall. 

Many are awaiting the Apocalypse, waiting our Deliverer to return the second time, to reclaim His bride and right the egregious wrongs of our modern world.

The cry of our hearts is not only heard but understood by our Lord.  He stepped into our mess 2,000 years plus ago.

He still steps into our mess as we call upon His name.

(Sorry for the long time between blogs.  I went to Maui for a vacation.  God's creation is on full display in that place!)



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