|أحمد محمد لبن Ahmad.M.Lbn|
مؤسس ومدير المنتدى
عدد المساهمات : 42998
العمر : 71
|موضوع: Chapter 9: Jesus’ Promise الثلاثاء 22 أغسطس 2017, 5:43 am|| |
Chapter 9: Jesus’ Promise
I was now left with absolutely no idea what the Bible said about how Jesus, his teaching and his being taken up by God affected me. I began to search for the meaning of Jesus’ exaltation in the Gospels. My first surprise was in the Book of Matthew. I had always been taught that the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 referred to Jesus’ being the sacrifice for my sins. Matthew 8:17 said: “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” Instead, in the context of the Gospel verses where I found it quoted, this verse actually referred to Jesus’ healing ministry.
This verse and Matthew 12:18-21 confirmed that Jesus was the servant referred to by Isaiah 42 and 53. Matthew 12:18-21 says: “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.” I was struck by the realization that the servant was chosen by God and that the Prophecy said that Jesus would proclaim justice, not absolution and that he would lead justice, not mercy, to victory.
Later in Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” in verse 26:28. As a Christian, when I had read this, I had understood that it referred to Jesus’ blood pouring out to wash away our sins. Reading it now, it occurred to me that “poured out” in this verse could more properly grammatically apply to the covenant, as that is the noun which it modifies.
According to the verse John 19:34: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water”, Jesus’ blood wasn’t poured out; it was only some water from his abdominal cavity, with blood mixed in it.
Lastly, Jesus’ great commission at the end of the book of Matthew enjoined the disciples not to proclaim forgiveness in the name of Jesus, or by the blood or sacrifice of Jesus, but instead to proclaim Baptism, an act of repentance, and obedience to all of Jesus’ teachings.
In the book of Mark, the only reference I found to simple belief leading to forgiveness occurs at the end of Chapter 16 verses 9-20. According to the footnotes in my New International Version, these verses were not present in the earliest manuscripts of Mark.
The book of Luke said in 24:46-47: “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and the forgiveness of sins (in some translations: the change of heart that brings about the forgiveness of sins) will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Instead of proclaiming absolution on the basis of belief and substitutional sacrifice, I thought that these verses could more appropriately be interpreted as teaching that repentance would precede forgiveness.
It was in the Gospel of John that Jesus had the most to say about his being taken up by God. In John 12:24, he said: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Though this verse certainly talked about the necessity of death in a general way, it said little about any specific outcome Jesus expected of his own. In John 12:32, Jesus said: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” I thought that although this clearly showed that Jesus knew that he would eventually be taken up to Heaven, and that this would have a significant worldwide impact, it did not say what that impact would be. I also noticed that Jesus and the Gospels spoke more often about his suffering, going away and being taken up to Heaven than they did about him dying.
It was when I read John 14:3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am” that I finally found a specific reference by Jesus to what he expected to do after being taken away. Neither it nor John 16:5-7: “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you", said anything about Jesus being a sacrifice to absolve either his disciples or the rest of us. In fact, in none of the Gospels did I find any reference to Jesus being a sacrifice for any of our sins.
Jesus taught repentance and obedience to the Law. John 15:9-10: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love”, was quite explicit, as was John 8:29: “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Both verses said that even Jesus had to obey the commands of God to remain in his love.
In addition to examining the Gospels, I knew that there were many verses in the Old Testament which could be applied to Jesus and his ministry. Isaiah 49:6 said: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” To me, this verse spoke of restoration for Israel through the servant, and guidance for the rest of the world.
Another long prophecy found in Isaiah 53 had always been presented to me to be one of “the” prophecies referring to Jesus, and so I reread it carefully: “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
This was perhaps the most explicit prophecy regarding the suffering of the servant of God that I found in the Old Testament. It confirmed to me that the servant was not divine. It contained the seeds of resolution for the conflict between Muslims and Christians regarding the events at the crucifixion. Most importantly, this passage contained a lot of information about how I was to benefit from Jesus’ ministry. It did not say that the servant would receive my punishment.
I had always read the passage: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" and understood that it said that everyone's punishment had been assigned to Jesus. Iniquity is not punishment. Its synonyms are sin, depravity, wickedness, darkness and corruption.
Whatever else it meant, I realized that Isaiah 53 didn't say that any of us would be absolved of the responsibility for our own actions. Although it did say that all would benefit by his suffering, this chapter said that it would be “by his knowledge” that the righteous servant would “justify many”.
After the servant had suffered, Isaiah 53 declared that he would be the recipient of God's blessings. It said: “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.”
For the rest of us, Isaiah taught: “he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors”, but didn't say what that intercession was for. Instead of proclaiming a direct benefit for others from Jesus’ obedience and submission to God, this prophecy from Isaiah said that Jesus was the one who would receive the portion and the spoils, and that other transgressors would be given knowledge and his intercession.
I needed to check this conclusion somehow, and so I examined “and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering” by looking in the Old Testament to find out what a guilt offering actually was.
I had always assumed that this offering had been universal, for everyone, and had been the primary purpose of Jesus’ ministry. Leviticus 5:14-18 was very specific: “The Lord said to Moses: ‘When a person commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, he is to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering.
He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven. If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible. He is to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.
In this way the priest will make atonement for him for the wrong he has committed unintentionally, and he will be forgiven.” Moses in Leviticus said that a guilt offering only pertains to unintentional sin, particularly in regard to one of “the Lord’s holy things”, and that it was without universal connotations. It seemed most likely in that context that the “guilt offering” was for Jesus himself rather than the rest of the world.
Wherever I looked, neither Jesus nor the Old Testament said that his followers were supposed to hope for personal absolution as a consequence of Jesus’ sacrifice. Instead, they promised knowledge and intercession. I now had one remaining question. I needed to find out if Jesus had said what his intercession would be for!
In fact, I found that Jesus had specifically stated that the result of his follower's Faith would be obedience. The intercession that Jesus said he would make was not for forgiveness but instead that his followers be given the Spirit of truth to give them guidance.
Jesus made this promise to the disciples in John 14:15-17: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 16:5-11 said: “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”
I think that if Jesus had been planning to be a sacrifice of atonement for all his followers, he would have said so, or if the belief was some sort of a test, he probably would have said nothing explicit. Instead, Jesus said very plainly in the Gospels how his followers would benefit from following him.
He said that if they loved him, they would obey his teachings, and that if they did, they would receive God's Grace. In John 5:28-29, it says: “Do not be amazed by this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”, in John 8:31-32, Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” and in John 14:23: “Jesus answered, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’”
By this point in my search, I knew that I could no longer accept that any of the doctrines that I had been taught since I was a child were true. I had thought that if I ever rejected my doctrine, that I would lose my Faith. However, even in the absence of a framework for belief, I still believed. To me, that was a miracle. I had always believed that if I lost my certainty that Jesus as God had died for me personally, that I would have lost everything. Now, even though I had lost my doctrine, I still trusted God. I still trusted His power to teach me through His Word and Spirit.
More than I ever had before, I trusted in the Justice and Mercy of his Judgment. Instead of the despondency and hopelessness that I had once felt, I was experiencing a steadily increasing feeling of excitement. The more I searched and read and researched, the more plain and obvious the words of the Bible became. Instead of needing to decode the meaning, I was finding the words of Jesus and the Old Testament Prophets to be incredibly explicit and easy to understand.