Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: King of the Jews

A Baptism of Suffering?

As a former high school Bible teacher, I am familiar with the differences between a believer’s baptism, christening and dedication.  Depending upon the denomination, leadership and theology of a church, baptism can be a divisive issue.  During one conversation in college, I was told if I wasn’t immersed, then I wasn’t truly saved.  I don’t think this is what Jesus meant by a baptism of suffering.

I have a baptism [of great suffering] with which to be baptized, and how [greatly] I am distressed until it is accomplished! – Luke 12:50

In the passage above, Jesus begins to reveal the fate that he must endure in the coming weeks.  The disciples could not wrap their heads around Jesus’ comment.  Many of these men believed that Jesus would become an earthly king, rising to power as king of the Jews.  Thus, the twelve disciples ignored Jesus’ warning, focusing on their travel plans for the next day.  To a certain extent, everyone overlooks signs and warnings from friends, distracted by selfish ambition.

Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways], Romans 6:3-4.

The apostle Paul unravels what Jesus means by the statement a baptism of suffering.  At the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, bishops agreed upon the term homoousios.  This means that Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the same substance.  This means that Jesus was perfect, not needing to be purified.  However, as the Lamb of God, without blemish, Jesus needed to fulfill God’s will by suffering and dying on a cross.  Since Jesus completed his mission on earth, modern followers are baptized into Jesus’ death and raised from spiritual death through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog bring clarity to this topic.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

The Gospel and Politics

Certain topics can create division, friction and tension if not communicated in a civil manner.  Yet, when words are accompanied by a loving spirit, the gospel and politics can be persuasive.  One of my friends ran for the House of Representatives in the state of Delaware.  Up against a heavily democratic district, Bryan needed to introduce himself to complete strangers, express his political views and convince several hundred voters to switch parties.  This task required a dedicated team of volunteers.  Initially, I told my wife that I would commit to being part of the ground team, going house to house to drop off pamphlets to potential voters each weekend.  Just as Christians experience lukewarm stages, at some point my heart wasn’t into surrendering my weekends.  I guess you can say, I wasn’t dedicated to due do what was necessary for victory.  While Bryan received one of the largest percentages of votes for a Republican, his campaign to represent the 5th district ended in defeat.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mark 10:45.

During the first century, an obscure carpenter from Nazareth, a shady town overrun by crime began a three year campaign.  While lacking the finances to make a big political splash, Jesus turned to mainly blue collar individuals, fishermen from the Sea of Galilee.  After John the Baptist’s death, Jesus began to travel from town to town, visiting local synagogues.  Before long, crowds of people started following this motley crew as rumors of faith, healings and miracles spread.  Oddly, anyone who experienced these supernatural events were told to keep quiet, unheard of in any type of political campaign.  As followers increased, curious spectators began to see that Jesus was the real deal, a person who practiced what he preached.  This fact only endeared the masses to this uneducated man.  When Jesus began to be embraced like a rock star, jealousy spread among political and spiritual leaders.  This threat resulted in false accusations, gossip and slander to squash Jesus’ popularity.  Yet, after three years of serving, teaching and visiting strangers, Jesus became a man of the people, king of the Jews.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, 1 Peter 4:10.

The only way for the gospel and politics can work together is if genuine faith unites with statesmanship.  Modern debates has turned to identity politics, putting one class, occupation or race against the other.  If there is a disagreement, the non-conformist is immediately labeled as a bigot, homophobe or racist.  If an opponent can convince potential voters that a candidate is extreme, embellishments, half truths and lies will continue to bombard citizens every election season.  Some where along the way, good news has been watered down by endless smear ads.  The word gospel comes from and old English phrase godspel, meaning good news or tidings.  It’s hard to be positive in a negative environment, especially when shrewd politicians use raw emotions to stir up their base.  Yet, why does the negative make national headlines daily while good stories are avoided, disregarded or go unnoticed?  Perhaps, its time for modern politicians to follow the Jesus model.  Serve one another, help the poor, feed the needy and extend a loving hand to the unwelcomed.  If future leaders begin here, you won’t need a campaign advertisement to get you elected.  Rather, the people who see the love of Jesus displayed by you will form loyal supporters to stand by your side through thick and thin.  This is the possibility of the gospel and politics.

by Jay Mankus

40 Days of Proof

Deep inside the heart of a child, there lies a doubting Thomas, a desire which leads you to see or touch something before you believe.  This curious nature varies within each soul, with some demanding more proof while others are able to trust once an initial experience calms their fears.  Skeptics tend to need more evidence, questioning if their encounter was real or a mirage.

In the matter of Jesus of Nazareth, there were 40 days of proof following his crucifixion which transformed 11 men from wimps into martyrs.  According to Acts 1:1-3, Jesus met privately with his disciples, spent time in public and visited woman of faith.  However, if you listen to the media, read their books or attend seminars sponsored by cohorts, these 40 days are a fairy tale.  Like the Romans guards of Jesus’ day, people continue to do everything in their power to cover up Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Matthew 28:11-15.

Atheists and agnostics do make a few valid arguments, like why did the gospels take over 20 years to be written if Jesus did rise from the dead?  To answer this, you need to understand the background of the gospel of Mark.  When the eyewitnesses were alive, people who saw Jesus die and rise from the dead, there wasn’t a sense of urgency to record this information.  When many of these witnesses began to grow old and die, Christians in Rome were fearful people might forget all that had happened.  Thus, John Mark, a disciple of Paul, was hired to write down key events, a reference point for those who did not hear, see or touch Jesus.  May this blog eliminate any doubt Thomas spirit, serving as proof that Jesus truly was as Pilate wrote in John 19:19, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews!”

by Jay Mankus

Ahead of His Time

† †

English has been the primary language in America since the early British settlements of the 1600’s.  Described as the Great American Melting Pot in Saturday Morning advertisements aired while children watched cartoons during the 1980’s, this country has gone through a major cultural transformation.  Instructions enclosed inside new products have multiple languages, with Spanish and English always mentioned.  Electronic telephone directions are played in English first, then Spanish.  In addition, depending upon the airport you travel through, intercom updates can be heard in Japanese, German or French.

Believe it or not, Pontus Pilate was ahead of his time.  After his wife was warned in a dream, likely a nightmare, Matthew 27:19, Pilate tried to pass the buck and responsibility for Jesus onto the religious leaders.  According to John 19:1-16, Pilate tried to persuade them, yet gave into public pressure.  However, in a last ditch effort to wash his hands of Jesus’ death, Pilate does something remarkable in John 19:19-20.  While he had a notice prepared and fastened to Jesus’ cross that read, “King of the Jews,” few recognize the last words of verse 20.  Like modern America, Pilate had ordered 3 separate plaques, in each of the 3 major languages of the day.

Maybe Pilate’s wife was mad at him, twisting his arm to have these 3 signs made.  Possibly a deep sense of remorse filled Pilate’s soul, inspiring him to do something in his power.  Or God, through the whisper of the Holy Spirit urged Pilate to inscribe the truth about Jesus for all to see in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.  Although, no one will know for sure until heaven, I suspect the hand of God played a vital role, helping Pilate be ahead of his time in communicating to all nations the truth about Jesus!

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: