Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Original Message--by Linden Malki

It was a traditional festival day in Jerusalem, the Feast of Weeks, a thanksgving for the wheat harvest, as well as the anniversary of Moses' receiving the Law on Mt Sinai. In Greek, it is called Pentecost, because it is fifty days after Passover.  The streets were crowded with pilgrims from many places where Jews had spread. Some of them may have been there for Passover, and made it long holiday, possibly visiting family and friends in Judea.  Suddenly, there was a sound like a wind coming from a house in the city,  and voices, speaking a variety of languages, with one message.  One man raised his voice above the others, with an amazing message.  His name was Simon, knows as Cephas, or Peter.   The message was the most important one in the world.

This was the first public explanation of something that many people in the crowd had probably seen or heard parts of, but didn't know its importance. They may have seen or heard of a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who said and done astonishing things, claiming to have been sent by God Himself.  Some of them may have been in the crowds that had seen Him enter Jerusalem on a donkey just a few weeks earlier; or the crowd that had demanded His death.  Some of them might have heard rumors that something odd had happened just a few days after His death.   Peter's  message was that Jesus, the man that had lived among them, was the promised descendant of David, sent by God, showed the power of God, was sacrificed and resurrected, and is now at the right hand of God.

  The townspeople in Nazareth had watched Him grow up, know his parents and siblings, and as far as they knew, he was an ordinary man.  He was ordinary enough to have died, in full public view, like hundreds of other men who had been crucified since the Romans brought this practice to Judea. What wasn't ordinary were the descriptions of his having been seen alive just a few days later.  Peter had spent three years 24/7 with Jesus, and knew as much about him as anyone could; now he had to add what he had seen and heard after His resurrection.  Peter's explanation of how God had worked in this man, and how it had fulfilled prophecies and promises hundreds of years old, not only touched the hearts of thousands of people that day, but brought them to a willingness to learn more and to follow Him.

Jesus has never been easy to understand; in fact, our human minds can't grasp it all. As the message spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, there were all sorts of speculation as to who He was, what He was, and what it meant. Two thousand years later, there are still a wide variety of theories and beliefs floating around.

One thing we do know, however, that the very earliest message of His followers is that He was a man,  that He did said extraordinaly things, that He died, and was raised not only to life, but also taken up from the Earth.  John was also a witness to thesame story, and warned the church to not be led astray by anything contradicting this original message.  The church for its entire history has wrangled over attempts to explain the unexplainable. 

We are in the preparation for Easter, coming up in 4 weeks.  Much of our world is uncomfortable with this, as recognizing the reality of the Resurrection brings the often-uncomfortable  question: What do I do with this truth?  

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