By Li Qingming
A couple of days ago, I saw the following scriptures: “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus” (Matthew 27:20), and “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see you to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas to them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:24–26). From these words, I learned that most Jewish people followed the Pharisees in resisting and condemning theand nailing the innocent Lord Jesus to the cross, thereby suffering the curses and punishment of God and bringing about 2000 years of destruction to Israel. This made me sigh with regret. At the same time, I wondered: What was it that caused most Jewish people to follow the Pharisees in resisting and condemning the Lord Jesus? Thanks to God’s guidance. Through my seeking, I found the answer to that in a book.
It is said in the book, “If you use conceptions to measure and delineate God, as if God were an unchanging clay statue, and if you delimit God within the Bible, and contain Him within a limited scope of work, then this proves that you have condemned God. Because, in their hearts, the Jews of the age of the Old Testament cast God in the mold of idol, as if God could only be called the Messiah, and only He who was called the Messiah was God, and because they served and worshiped God as if He were a (lifeless) clay statue, they nailed the Jesus of that time to the cross, sentencing Him to death—condemning innocent Jesus to death.” “What you admire is not the humility of, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. … Even now your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, and toward their influence and authority. And yet you continue to hold an attitude of resisting and refusing to accept the work of Christ. … In your heart forever tower many lofty images; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.”
After reading these two passages of words, I understood the reason why most Jewish people followed the Pharisees to resist and condemn the Lord Jesus. It can be reduced to the following two aspects.
First, it was because they were arrogant and self–righteous, and confined God and His work within the Bible and within their own conceptions and imaginations.
The Old Testament recorded: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6–7). Based on their literal understanding of these words, the Jewish people at that time, like the Pharisees, believed that the coming Savior was called the Messiah and was born of a virgin, and that He would be the King of the Jews to save them from Roman rule and thus they would never suffer the misery inflicted by the Romans. But the truth was not what they imagined it would be. The Lord Jesus was not called the Messiah, and was born in a manger as a normal man; He had father and mother and grew up in the home of a poor carpenter, without a noble identity or a prominent position. Moreover, He didn’t lead the Jewish people to overthrow the rule of the Romans. Also, He did not go into the temple to do His work, but went out to preach and work with His disciples, asking people to confess their sins and repent. It was because all the work the Lord Jesus did was not in line with their conceptions or their literal understanding of the verses in the Bible that those Jewish people followed the Pharisees to convict the Lord Jesus and His work based on the letter of scriptures.
Second, it was because they worshipped the status and power of the chief priests, scribes and the Pharisees, and only had men in their hearts.
As the religious leaders, the Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees were familiar with the Scripture and proficient in the law, and appeared devout on the outside. In addition, they made many sacrifices and served God in the temple all year round, and they had high positions and prestige. So, those Jewish people admired and looked up to them, treated what they said as the truth and even as the standard for weighing whether it was the true way, and obeyed and followed them in all things. As for the Lord Jesus, He was of humble birth, having no backer or influence, and in outward appearance He looked like a normal and ordinary human. So, most Jewish people took Him for an ordinary man. Even though they saw the Lord Jesus displayed many signs and wonders and that His work was far beyond the capacity of anyone, and moreover, they enjoyed so much of His grace and blessings, they still only had the Pharisees in their hearts. As a result, they blindly followed the Pharisees to furiously slander and condemn the Lord Jesus’ work, and even more so they would rather release the murderer Barabbas, so long as they could crucify the Lord Jesus. And they recklessly said these words, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” This made them severely offend God’s disposition and so receive God’s punishment—Israel ceased to exist.
God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). It can be seen in our belief in God, if we don’t place God in our hearts nor have discernment of things, but blindly worship and follow man, then we cannot gain God’s praise in the end. Rather, we will be punished by God because of doing evil in resistance to God. The consequences are really unimaginable! So, those Jewish people’s failure should serve as a warning to us. Especially now, the prophecies of the Lord’sare basically fulfilled. The Scripture says, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (see Revelation Chapters 2–3). From these scriptures, we can see when the Lord returns, He will utter more words and express more truth to supply man, and He will lay bare all mysteries not understood by us and allow us to have a clear understanding. At this crucial point, regardless of whether or not the work of the Lord’s return conforms with our conceptions and imaginations, we must possess a heart that fears God and cannot rely on our conceptions and imaginations to delineate it, much less can we blindly follow others to resist or condemn it. Take the Lord’s disciples like Peter, James, John and others for example. On the subject of welcoming the Lord, they were not restrained by the status and power, nor did they define God’s work according to their own imaginations and conceptions. Instead, they actively sought the Lord’s words and work and followed His footsteps. Finally, they gained the Lord’s salvation. So, when hearing someone testify that the Lord has returned, we should be like Peter and John to be wise virgins and be able to actively seek and examine it and pay attention to listening to God’s voice. I believe God will guide us to welcome the Lord’s return at an early date.