By Cheng Tu
One day in 33 A.D., dark clouds loomed over Jerusalem, filling the air with gloom.
The, with a crown of thorns on His head, was standing on the platform where the trial had been held. Off the platform were the angry chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, who shouted, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Many furious Jewish people were also yelling as they raised their arms, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
One day in 70 A.D., flames of war raged in the city of Jerusalem, the smoke drifted and covered the sky.
The raging fire was engulfing the imposing temple; terrified Jewish people were fleeing in all directions; armed Roman soldiers wielded their swords hacking at whatever they saw. The ground was strewn with the corpses of the Jews, blood flowing like rivers …
When Pilate, the Roman governor, asked them to make a choice, the Jewish people chose to reject the Lord Jesus. Ultimately, they were cursed by God and suffered the pain of national subjugation.
Every time Simon read Matthew 27:21–25, these scenes would come into his mind.
Back then, the Lord Jesus’ words and work overflowed with authority and power. He healed the sick, exorcised demons, and allowed the blind to see, the lame to walk, lepers to be healed—which of the things He did or the words He spoke were not beneficial and edifying to people? So, what is the reason that caused the Jewish people who had enjoyed so much grace from the Lord to follow the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees to reject the Lord Jesus and nail Him to the cross?
With this question, Simon went before God to pray and seek guidance many times. Finally, one day, after listening to Brother Song’s fellowship, he found the answer.
That day, Simon came across Brother Song, an old acquaintance of his, and he hurriedly poured out his confusion.
After listening to Simon’s question, Brother Song thought for a while and replied, “As for why the Jewish people followed the Pharisees in resistance to the Lord Jesus, I think there are two primary reasons:
“First, they stubbornly held on to their own notions and imaginations and didn’t seek the truth—this is one of the reasons. At that time, the Lord Jesus showed many of God’s signs and wonders, which caused a sensation in the Jewish land. The Jewish people had personally seen or experienced them, and they were aware that the Lord Jesus possessed authority and power, and that He was capable of making the blind see, the lame walk, and even bringing Lazarus, who had already been dead for four days and whose corpse had already rotted, back to life. However, they simply didn’t pay attention to seeking the Lord Jesus’ work or listening to His words, but still stubbornly clung to their own notions and imaginings and relied on them to delimit the Lord.
“When the Lord Jesus said He was sent by the Heavenly Father, they accused Him of blasphemy and didn’t believe that the Lord Jesus was the coming Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. Just as it is recorded in the: ‘The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone You not; but for blasphemy; and because that You, being a man, make Yourself God’ (John 10:33), ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not His mother called Mary? and His brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things? And they were offended in Him’ (Matthew 13:55–57).
“We can see from these verses that, though they had clearly seen the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus and had listened to His preaching, they still held onto their own conceptions and condemned the Lord Jesus. They believed that the Messiah would be majestic, poised, and be born in the palace, and that He would save them from the rule of the Romans. But the fact is that not only did the Lord Jesus not lead them to overturn the Roman regime, but actually taught them to be forgiving and tolerant, and to love their enemies; He wasn’t born in the palace but in a manger, and He was ordinary in outward appearance, and had parents and siblings, different from the Messiah in their notions and imaginations. They therefore defined that the Lord Jesus was not the Messiah based on their notions and imaginings without seeking in the Lord Jesus’ work and words, and even followed the Pharisees in resistance to Him and nailed Him to the cross.”
Simon listened entranced, and he nodded, saying, “It’s true. They saw that the Lord Jesus had performed many miracles, but they still didn’t seek and accept His work, which was precisely caused by their stubbornly clinging to their own notions. Because the Lord Jesus’ work wasn’t in line with their notions and He didn’t match up with the Messiah of their imagination, they condemned Him based on their notions and missed out on the Lord’s salvation. It seems that notions can really ruin man.”
Brother Song continued fellowshiping, “We humans are dust, so how can we fathom God’s work? Actually, notions are not to be feared; what is to be feared is for people to blindly hold onto them and refuse to let them go. This is the most deadly thing. Aside from this, another important reason for the Jews following the Pharisees in resisting the Lord Jesus is that in their faith in God, they didn’t worship God or focus on listening to God’s words, but instead followed and listened to men.
“In the minds of the Jewish people, the Pharisees had served God in the temple for generations, they were familiar with the Scripture and proficient in the law, and so it was undoubtedly right to follow them in believing in God. Although many of the Jews had heard the Lord Jesus exposed the hypocritical essence of the Pharisees, which was that they did not practice what they preached, and that they honored God with their lips while their hearts were far from Him, they didn’t accept His words. They still had no discernment of the Pharisees and continued to follow them and live bound by them. Just like it is recorded in the Bible: ‘Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said to them, Why have you not brought Him? The officers answered, Never man spoke like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?’ (John 7:45–48).
“Even though they believed in God, they had no place for God in their hearts, but had a place for people. For example, it is recorded in the Bible that the Lord Jesus once cured a man who was born blind with clay and spittle. Afterward, when the Pharisees asked the man’s parents whether their son was born blind, though they clearly knew that it was the Lord Jesus who cured their son, they didn’t dare to tell the truth. Just as it says in the Bible, ‘But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who you say was born blind? how then does he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now sees, we know not; or who has opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spoke his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was, he should be put out of the synagogue’ (John 9:18–22). ‘Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:42–43). It’s not hard for us to see in these verses that, during the period the Lord Jesus worked, many Jewish people had witnessed the miracles performed by the Lord Jesus and believed that He was from God, but because they feared that they would be suppressed and persecuted by the religious leaders, and that they might be thrown out of the synagogue and be abandoned by people, they didn’t dare to believe in the Lord Jesus or bear witness for His deeds. Clearly, God didn’t have even the smallest place in their hearts. They would rather offend God than offend people, and they feared people but had no reverence for God. On the surface they appeared to , but in fact were following people.”
Simon shook his head and sighed. From Brother Song’s fellowship, he saw that these Jewish people were exactly a living example of the saying, “The pathetic must have done something detestable.” He couldn’t help but feel sorry for their tragedy and angry at their cowardice.
Brother Song seemed to see what Simon was thinking. He then opened his notepad and read a passage of God’s words: “For they only value position, prestige, and power. … they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life. What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. … You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but gladly go into the arms of those reckless antichrists though they supply to you only flesh, only letters, and only control.”
Simon nodded in agreement and thought: “These words are spoken right to the point! Isn’t this exactly the condition of the Jews who followed the Pharisees?”
Brother Song said, “Only from God’s words did I see the substance of the Jews. They paid lip service to believing in and following God, but in reality were worshiping and following people. They didn’t love the truth or listen to the Lord Jesus’ words, but rather esteemed influence. They saw that the Lord Jesus was an ordinary and normal man, whose followers were some sinners despised by others, whereas the Pharisees were the religious leaders, who held a high position in the synagogue. They thought if they followed the Lord Jesus, then they would no longer have a foothold in the synagogue. That is why they would rather reject the Lord Jesus than offend the Pharisees, and lost God’s salvation in the end.”
Simon nodded and said with emotion: “These words have dissected the Jews very thoroughly. Indeed, in the Jews’ eyes, the Pharisees had status and influence while the Lord Jesus was just an ordinary man, so they would rather offend God than offend the Pharisees, and even followed the Pharisees to condemn God. It seems that they actually were not believing in God but were worshiping people. Through your fellowship, I feel much clearer about why the Jewish people followed the Pharisees in resisting the Lord Jesus. It really is thanks to the Lord!”
Brother Song nodded approvingly and said, “Thanks be to the Lord! God said, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6). And it says in Proverbs 10:21, ‘Fools die for want of wisdom.’ Those who believe in God but follow and listen to people rather than God are destined for destruction. In fact, we should take the failure of the Jews as a warning. Now the last days have already arrived, and the prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. At this key time of the Lord’s coming, how should we welcome the Lord’s return? The Lord Jesus once said, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6), ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me’ (John 10:27). The Lord asked us to be as wise virgins, to learn to hear God’s voice, and to actively welcome His coming. Even if there may be some things we don’t understand about the Lord’s coming and we may have some notions, we should let go of them and practically seek and investigate to see whether or not it is God’s voice. Only in this way can we avoid being like the Jews who missed out on God’s salvation because of notions.
“From the lesson of the Jews’ failure, we should also understand that it is God whom we believe in, and that in our faith in God, we should honor God as great and do everything in accordance with God’s words. Especially with regards to welcoming the Lord’s return in the last days, we should listen to the Lord’s words even more, pray and seek the Lord in everything, and practice in accordance with God’s words. We mustn’t worship, look to or listen to people, much less be bound or restricted by any person when it comes to studying the true way. Just like when Peter and the other apostles were captured by the chief priest—what did they do when the priest intimidated them and threatened them to abandon the Lord? They said firmly, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29). Their example is worth emulating!”
Simon nodded his head in agreement and they two then fellowshiped until 5 p.m. that day. Because Brother Song had something important to do, they ended the conversation.
In the dead of night, Simon lay on the bed and his heart couldn’t calm down. He kept thinking of Brother Song’s fellowship and thought: “What Brother Song fellowshiped today really contains the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit! The Jews back then clung to their own notions and refused to accept the Lord Jesus even though they had seen the miracles He performed and heard the words He spoke. They listened to the Pharisees rather than to God, and they were afraid of offending the Pharisees but didn’t fear offending God. As a result, they followed the Pharisees in crucifying the Lord Jesus, thus committing a heinous crime. The lesson of the failure of the Jews is really worth absorbing. Now it is already the last days, the key time for receiving the Lord’s coming. I must pray and seek more, focus on listening to the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches, and be like a clever virgin….”