NOT THIS MAN BUT BARABBAS

It seems as though Pilate was trying to find a way out, a way that would not involve him any more in the condemnation of Jesus. Pilate warned Jesus to defend Himself, “Hearest Thou not how many things they witness against Thee?” (Matt. 27:13). He marveled that Jesus would not answer in defense of Himself, not even a word, against such serious and numerous charges (Matt. 27:14). Earlier, when he had heard that Jesus had begun by speaking in Galilee, Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was at Jerusalem at the time (Luke 23:5-7). But Herod just sent Jesus back to Pilate (Luke 23:11). Pilate tried to get the Jews to take Jesus back and judge Him according their own laws, but they would not (John 18:31). None of Pilate’s efforts to escape Jesus worked.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He knew that it was only the envy of the hypocritical, self-righteous Jewish leaders that prompted them to deliver Him for judgement (Mark 15:10). Pilate confessed “I have found no cause of death in Him: I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go” (Luke 23:22). Furthermore, Pilate’s wife had sent a message to him to “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matt. 27:19). Not only would Pilate be going against his own conscience but also angering, possibly alienating, his wife.

Pilate finally remembered a custom in which one person held would be released at the Passover (John 18:39). He must have felt that Jesus was popular enough that the people would have wanted Jesus released or that the Jewish leaders could not stomach having murderers and thieves released into their community. But he underestimated the Jewish leader’s hatred of Jesus. While there were many in the crowd supporting Jesus, the chief priests moved the people to ask for Barabbas’ release instead of Jesus’ release (Mark 15:11). While Pilate was willing enough to release Jesus, the voices of the chief priests and those whom they had bullied, prevailed (Luke 23:20,23). When Pilate offered them the choice between Barabbas and Christ, they brazenly cried out, “Not this man, but Barabbas” (John 18:40).

When Pilate had run out of political options, when he could no longer stall, he gave in to political pressures. The Jews had accused him of not being Caesar’s friend, if he let Jesus go (John 19:12). When Pilate had brought Jesus before the Jews, he said “Behold, your king!” But the chief priests replied slyly, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). It must have been this that scared Pilate for he immediately delivered Jesus to be crucified (John 19:16). But Pilate, still wanting to be innocent of Jesus’ blood, took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matt. 27:24,25).

There is a lesson to be learned in Pilate’s behavior. He knew what was right. He knew Jesus was a “just person,” yet he had Him beaten and then crucified regardless. It is hard to stand up against pressure from peers. This is a problem not just with young people but with the old, as well. Many of the chief rulers of the Jews believed on Jesus but would not confess Him because they feared retribution from the Pharisees (John 12:42,43). Peter fell in with the crowd and denied the Lord, even to the point of cursing, because he was afraid of what others would think about him or do to him. Later, even after the church was established, he would turn his back on the Gentiles because he was afraid of what the Jews would think (Gal. 2:11-14).

There is also a lesson to be learned from the people. Many of them are to be commended, for they voiced their support for the release of Jesus (Luke 23:23). They were fearless in the face of staunch opposition and retaliation in the crowd and perhaps at a later time. There may have been more, perhaps, who supported the Lord than not, only the chief priests had louder, more insistent voices (Luke 23:23).

But there were other voices in the crowd which may have been among the number of those hailing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with praises and palm branches who were now joining the chorus of the “Crucify Him” choir! They wanted loaves and fishes, they wanted overturned money-tables but they didn’t want thorns or nails or sweat and blood. “They denied Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.” They “denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted” unto them (Acts 3:13,14). They cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas” (John 19:40)!

We condemn them, and rightly so, for this unrighteous act. But how many times have we called out, “Not this Man but Barabbas” in our own lives? Not in those exact words but many cry out, “Not this Man, but my preacher,” when they want to follow a man they like religiously, and set aside the doctrines of the Lord. We cry out, “Not this Man, but my relatives,” when we put our relations before our worship and service to the Lord. We cry out, “Not this Man, but my things,” when we put material blessings before the Lord. We cry out, “Not this man, but my pleasure,” when we put our recreational activities before the Lord. What we are really saying is, Not this Man, but me.”

Eric L. Padgett

OUR FATHER’S HOUSE

I don’t know about you, but I want to go to heaven. In heaven there will be no more tears, pains, sorrows, or even death (Rev. 21:4). There the faithful will serve God eternally without the obstacles we face in this life. In the fourteenth chapter of the John’s gospel account, Jesus paints for us a beautiful landscape of heaven upon the canvas of revelation with the pure words of inspiration. In the first four verses he paints a portrait of heaven as (1) a place of peace, as (2) a place of preparation, as (3) a place of possession, and as (4a) a place of a plan. I want a place in heaven because it is a …

Place Of Peace

In verse one, Jesus presents heaven as a place of peace or rest. The word “trouble” is the word which means to agitate, stir up, or unsettle. But the Lord said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Why? Jesus had just said that he was going to be glorified with His Father. This occurred when He was raised to sit at the Father’s right hand in heaven. He further said that His disciples could follow Him afterwards. The fact that the Lord is in heaven and that we will one day follow Him there should comfort the most anxious of hearts (I Thess. 4:13-18). Heaven is a place of peace and great comfort. Indeed, of rest (Heb. 4:9-11).

We have no right to rest yet, however. We must work. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Our work will not be finished until we leave this earth, until the toils of life have ceased. Revelation states, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). It is only after we have finished our gospel endeavors on this earth can we hope to enter into that heavenly rest (II Cor. 5:1-10). Heaven is also a…

Place In Preparation

Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you” (14:3). This does not mean that Jesus will have to build more mansions. No, there are plenty. He has already said that in His Father’s house are “many mansions.” This word “prepare” means to make ready. The Bible teaches that heaven has been prepared for us by God since the beginning of time. Jesus said, “And then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). We are further told “but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16).

Too, notice that Jesus said there are “many mansions” in His Father’s house. On another occasion, Jesus said that “few” would enter into the straight and narrow path that leads to heaven (Matt. 7:14), but heaven is big enough for all men who will obey God. Jesus further assures us that if it were not the case that heaven was big enough for us, He would have told us. God does not keep anyone from heaven. He has not predestined some to be saved and others lost. It is man that deceives himself. If any man does not make it to heaven, he will have only himself to blame. Heaven is also a. . .

Place Of Possession

Heaven is also a place of possession. Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.” Jesus here makes a promise to his faithful disciples: I will come again. We must know that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). Regardless of what the critics may say, Christ will return. Regardless of how many false predictions of His return are made, Christ will return. He has made a promise.

However, the Lord promised also to receive us unto Himself. This is what makes the Christian life so special: we are close to God. The apostle Paul taught that we are no longer our own masters when we obey the gospel of Christ. Christ lives in us (Gal.2:20). We divorce ourselves from our own wills and begin to do the will of Him who owns us. When the Lord returns and we are taken to glory, we know that we shall be as He is (I John 3:1-3). Finally, heaven is a . . .

Place Of A Plan

Most every successful journey we take to new lands requires us to plan our route. There must be a road to where we wish to go. The journey to heaven is no different. To get to heaven we must follow the Master’s Plan–the Bible. The Bible plainly tells us that there is a correct way to go heaven (Matt. 7:21-23). In fact, the Bible teaches there is only one way to get there. All other ways will lead to hell (Matt. 67:13,14).

God has always had a plan. The church of Christ is God’s plan to save man from the consequences of his sins (Eph. 5:32). This plan was not the last minute decision of deity, as the millenialists say, but the eternal plan of God (Rev. 13:8). The church of Christ is God’s eternal plan (Eph. 3:10,11). While in ages past the plan was not made manifest Paul states that the Old Covenant was “imposed” on the Jews till the time of reformation, when Christ would show the path into the Holiest of all–heaven (Heb. 9:8-12)! When Christ did enter heaven after His triumphant resurrection from the grave, He obtained eternal redemption for us (Eph. 1:3-13). We now have access into the Holiest of all through Christ.

Eric L. Padgett

BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH!

In Syhcar, in Samaria, Jesus had been so busy with teaching the woman at the well and then the people of the city, that He had neglected to eat. His disciples, concerned for Jesus’ well-being, urged Him to eat something (John 4:31). But Jesus told them that His meat was to “do the will of Him” that had sent Him and to “finish His work” (John 4:34). Just before Jesus died on the cross of calvary, He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had completed the work He was given to do.

However, while the Lord completed His work on earth, He spoke about another phase of His work, especially toward the end of His work here. Jesus said “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3). Jesus promised to come again. This should have given the apostles comfort after Jesus’ death and an indication that He would keep His word and rise again the third day (Luke 24:37). But Jesus did leave this world and promised to return once again (Acts 1:11; Heb. 9:27). That promise still stands.

In one of the parables Jesus delivered during His last hours on earth, He described His return in the figure of the return of the bridegroom (Matt. 25:1-13). It was the custom in those days for the bridegroom to spend time at the home of the bride’s father and then to bring his new bride to his own home. Virgins waited for the bridegroom to come, so that they could assist the bride in her new surroundings. In this parable, ten virgins wait for the bridegroom to return.

At midnight, at an hour when you might least expect it, the call came that the bridegroom approached. The bridegroom had been away longer than anticipated. The young women, who had been busy with preparations, were now weary for waiting so long and had fallen asleep. But when the call came, they arose and hurriedly prepared to go to meet the bridegroom and his new wife. Five of the virgins were wise and had prepared beforehand by taking extra oil, anticipating a longer wait. Five were foolish and did not prepare for any eventuality.

The foolish virgins desired that the wise virgins would give them of their oil, but they refused, lest they should not have enough for themselves. They counseled the five unwise to go to the market and purchase their own oil, but by the time they returned it was too late. The door to the house was shut and when they called for entrance, the bridegroom said unto them “I know you not” (Matt. 25:11,12). Someone else cannot make preparations for us; we are all going to receive the things done in our bodies (II Cor. 5:10,11).

Jesus gives us the point of this parable. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). Previously, Jesus had said that even the angels do not know when He will return (Matt. 24:36). There were many things the angels would like to have known but could not (cf. I Pet. 1:12). Mark also indicates that Jesus, on earth, did not even know when the return would be (Mark 13:32). If the angels and the Son did not know, how can we believe any mortal man who would claim to know the day or hour of the Lord’s return?

But as Jesus teaches us in His parable, the key is not knowing the day or the hour, but in being prepared no matter when He might return. It is easy, as the Lord delays His return, for scoffers to say “Where is the promise of His coming” (II Pet. 3:3,4). It is also easy for us who believe to grow weary in well-doing and faint as we wait (Gal. 6:9). Just as the virgins fell asleep waiting for their Lord to return, we might also fall asleep. Thus, Paul warns us:

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:14-17).

Do not be unwise. Don’t let your oil run out. Redeem the time. When the bridegroom comes will you be ready?

Eric L. Padgett

What Think Ye Of Christ?

After a long, weary day of answering the questions the Jewish leadership posed to Jesus (Matt. 21:23-22:40), in which they tried in vain to entrap Him verbally, Jesus turned the tables on them and asked them this simple question, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He” (Matt. 22:42). The Pharisees’ answer that Jesus was the Son of David was not untrue but it was also incomplete. Jesus demonstrated this answer was insufficient with His response.

The Jews continually thought of the Messiah as a national leader on the order of David who would lead Israel once again as he did to national glory. That was a materialistic view of the kingdom. Even up to the time Jesus ascended back to the Father, the apostles, themselves, were looking for some kind of return of this materialistic kingdom. The apostles asked, “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). They, of course, were likewise misguided. Jesus had said earlier, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Jesus asked a similar question when He came into the coast of Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13-19). He asked, “Who do men say that I the son of man am?” Obviously, there were already many views circulating among the people as to who Jesus was. Some thought He was John the Baptist come back to life, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets (Matt. 16:16,17). However, until Peter spoke up, no one had ever said that the Christ was the Son of the living God (cf. John 6:68). This is clearly indicated by Jesus’ recognition that this information was given by God (Matt. 16:17).

The Old Testament speaks in several places of the “sons of God.” Moses used the expression to refer to the righteous line of Seth (Gen. 6:2). The angels are referred to as the “sons of God” (Job 2:1). It is used collectively of the people of Israel (Ex. 4:22,23). But the singular expression “son of God” is not found in the Old Testament, though the implication is there.

Naturally, the Jews rightly expected the Messiah to be a descendent of David because of the prophecies referring to the seed of David (e.g., Ps. 89:29, 132:11-12; Is. 9:7; 11:1-3, 11:10, etc.). Jehovah promised to set up David’s seed after him, that proceeded from his bowels (II Sam. 7:12). But in connection with this promise, Jehovah says He shall be “My Son” (II Sam. 7:14). The parallel account in Chronicles says that He will be “of thy sons” (I Chron. 17:11).

The Jews were expecting this earthly Messiah but, as He did all that day long, Jesus refutes their materialistic, worldly, political notions of the Messiah with impeccable logic. In quoting Psalm 110, Jesus uses an important passage which the Jews fully recognized as Messianic and by it shows their view was limited. They had failed to understand the implications of the words. It is true that Jesus was of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom. 1:3), but Jesus, as the Christ, was more than that (Rom. 1:4).

The passage which Jesus quoted has David saying that Jehovah says to my (David’s) Lord (adonay) “Sit Thou on My right hand” (Psalm 110:1). The Messiah was not just some royal seed of David, like Solomon or Hezekiah or Josiah. These also were of the seed of David but David did not call them Lord or Christ or Messiah, nor would He. This shows that the Christ was more than a mere descendent of David. Furthermore, the Christ sat down on the right hand of Jehovah, showing an equality with Jehovah that no mere earthly descendent of David could ever claim.

The notion that Jesus was the Messiah angered the Jewish leadership. Jesus was showing the Jews what it really meant to be the Messiah. While they might not have fully understood what He was teaching them, the realized the implications of it. As Jesus later that week stood before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas asked “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). When Jesus answered in the affirmative, they asked “What think ye?” (Matt. 26:66). They then accused Him of blasphemy and condemned Him to death.

Eric L. Padgett

I suggest reading Barclay’s comments on this section of scripture.

THE WHOLE WORLD IS GONE AFTER HIM

The city of Jerusalem was abuzz with the talk of Jesus of Nazareth. Will He make an appearance in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover or will He stay hidden (John 11:56)? In the days leading up to the feast, Jesus had intentionally kept Himself out of the reach of the Jewish leaders. They had vowed His death (John 11:53). They had also put out the word that if any man knew where He was, he should give Him up to be taken (John 11:57). So, for maybe a couple of months before the Passover, Jesus and His disciples took refuge in a city called Ephraim (John 11:54; c.f II Chron. 13:19).

Earlier, His disciples had feared that He would return into Judea (John 11:7,8) and now their fears were coming to pass. They knew what He had said concerning His own fate in Jerusalem (Matt. 20:17-19). Besides Providence, however, Jesus had something working in His favor for a while, at least—His popularity with the people. As Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, very great multitudes spread out their garments in the way and greeted Him as He entered the city (Matt. 21:8-11). Others cut down branches from palm trees and lay them out on the ground as He made His entry (Matt. 21:8; John 12:13).

The multitude that followed Jesus as He was entering the city of Jerusalem, cried “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord; Blessed be the kingdom of our father David; Hosanna, peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13). Many in this multitude were among those who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17). They spoke to others about this miracle and the news of this great deed was circulated among the crowds (John 12:18). Because of it, many were waiting excitedly for Jesus to come (John 12:12). Throngs of people before and after His entourage praised Him thus as He entered triumphantly (Matt. 21:9).

Some of the Pharisees were even now brooding. They called on Jesus to rebuke His disciples for their exuberant praise of Jesus (Luke 19:39). But Jesus replied that if the people had refrained from praising Him thus, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Perplexed and dismayed, the Pharisees despaired because they could do nothing to Jesus, saying “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the whole world is gone after Him” (John 12:19). At least, that is the way it seemed to the Jewish leaders.

The fact that the multitude took Him for a prophet deterred the chief priests and Pharisees from taking Him publicly (Matt. 21:45,46). All the people were astonished at His doctrine (Mark 11:18) and they were very attentive to hear Him (Luke 19:48). Yet Jesus was very bold for, though there was a price on His head, so to speak, yet He taught daily in the temple (Luke 19:47). This caused some of the people to wonder if the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers did not know already that He was indeed the Christ (John 7:25,26).

The praises that the multitude heaped upon Jesus were nothing short of Messianic. Hosanna, or the Hebrew “Hoshiah Na,” meant “save now.” It is used in Psalm 118 which was sung at the feast of the Tabernacles. Later the expression apparently became a term of praise. Thus, the people were acknowledging Jesus as the Son of David, or as Messiah. It is no wonder that the scribes and Pharisees were envious of Jesus (Matt. 27:18).

The scribes and Pharisees sought popularity. They loved the praises and accolades of men (Matt. 23:5-7). Jesus’ did not seek popularity for its own sake but popularity was His due to His authoritative teaching (Matt. 7:28,29). Undoubtedly His miracles drew the attention of the multitudes but it was His character and teaching that really impressed the multitudes (e.g.,Luke 23:40,41). The Pharisees were vain and superficial and self-serving. Jesus was genuine and sincere and selfless. And so should we be.

Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). His Great Commission was to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. One day, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, whether willingly or not (Phil. 2:10).

Eric L. Padgett

Glory In The Lord

It almost sounds like the beginning of a contemporary joke. “Two men went up into the temple to pray…” However, rather than being a joke, it is a very poignant teaching on one of the most important issues we face as individuals…our attitude. Luke prefaces this parable of our Lord with the observation that it was about those that “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). In other words, this parable is about those who have an attitude of superiority and self-righteousness.

Most of the time, the New Testament presents the Pharisees in a rather unflattering light. Jesus blasted them with a series of woes as He described the scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites” (Matt. 23:13-33). There were exceptions, of course, but generally that was true. This parable is another example in which Jesus contrasts the Pharisees with a publican or other known sinner and the Pharisees again come up short.

Besides the fact that Jesus spoke it, two things make this parable powerful. First, the description Jesus gives of the Pharisee and the publican ring true. Everyone must have recognized its truth or the parable would fail to make it’s point. Second, generally speaking, everyone would expect that the Pharisee would be the one who was supposed to be truly righteous and the publican the one who was supposed to lack any sense of sin. But this was turned upside down by Jesus’ parable.

Notice, please, that the Pharisee prayed “with himself” but addressed God (18:11). It is almost as if he felt that he was taking God’s place! In his “prayer,” he mentions himself five times and God only once. He not only mentions himself but praises himself as he enumerates all his good deeds. The facts he lists about himself are good. It is good not to be an extortioner, or an adulterer or unjust. These things are good and Jesus does not condemn these things about the Pharisee (if they are true).

The problem with the Pharisee was that he exalted himself. He contrasted himself with the publican and assumed that he was better than the publican. Contrast him now, yourself, to the publican. The publican acknowledged the fact he was a sinner while the Pharisee boasted that he was not a sinner. The publican did not think himself worthy even to approach near to God while the Pharisee hardly mentioned God. He wouldn’t even look up to heaven while the Pharisee was looking everywhere but to heaven. He smote his own breast with his fists and asked God to be merciful to him while the Pharisee said I am not as other men are.

Jesus also contrasted the publican with the Pharisee and found that the publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee. He went justified because he did not exalt himself. The Bible is clear that God cannot use one that is full of himself. In fact, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). God wants only to use the weak and foolish things of the world, and the things which are despised so that no flesh should glory in His presence (I Cor. 1:27-29).

On a couple of occasions Jesus made clear that we are to be genuine, not hypocrites. Jesus warned against doing things just to be seen of men (Matt. 6:1-18). He again warned that the Pharisees did everything just to be seen of men (Matt. 23:5). And then, just before going on to describe the woes placed upon the Pharisees, He said that “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). God wants us to be genuine, sincere, unvarnished servants.

Even though the Pharisee was correct that it was good not to be an extortioner or and adulterer or unjust, and even though he may have done well in doing more than required, his sense of self-worth or a sense of self-righteousness hurt his fellowship with God. He exalted himself instead of letting God exalt him. We should heed the admonition that he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (I Cor. 1:31).

Eric L. Padgett

Deeds, Death and Destiny

Jesus does not give us the name of the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), though He does give us the name of the beggar. There must have been a good reason for this. Perhaps there was no need to make a further spectacle of the rich man. Giving his name, and thus adding to his shame, would not have made the point more potent or made hearers more receptive. Often, however, you will read of commentators referring to him as Dives, but this is merely Latin for “rich man.” Traditions have also handed down a few names for the rich man, but we cannot know for certain if they are correct. In the end, his name really does not matter and thus is not given.

The beggar’s name is given, it is Lazarus. Lazarus is a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, which means “God is help.” That Jesus gave a specific name indicates that this account might be more than just a parable for in no other parable did Jesus ever give the name of one of the individuals to which He referred. A parable is usually defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. However, it is difficult to see how this is an earthly story with such a vivid depiction of the afterlife.

On the other hand, even if it were a parable, Jesus’ parables only presented that which was real, unless this account is the exception. Jesus never made up fictional characters or places, but used that which was known and used everyday. The parable of the lost coin, the lost sheep, the parable of the sower, the parable of marriage feast, the prodigal son, the pearl of great price etc., are examples of the kind of parables Jesus told. The story of the rich man and Lazarus does not fall into this category and is probably an account of something that actually happened.

The picture painted by Jesus’ words is poignant. Here was a man afflicted with some great malady that kept him covered in sores (Luke 16:20). He was apparently unable to move himself, at least with any ease, because he was carried by others and “laid” at the place where he was (Luke 16:20). Because of this infirmity, he was apparently unable to work and had thus become poor. The word translated “beggar” is most often translated in the New Testament as poor. This man was laid at a rich man’s gate and would have been satisfied with only the few crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. It was this man’s sickness that reduced him to such beggary, and nothing else.

The beggar’s character is attested to by the fact that, upon his death, the angels carried him to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). This suggests that he was given no grand burial and it was left to the angels to treat him with kindness. Abraham’s bosom, or paradise (Luke 24:43), is the place in the Hadean realm where the righteous go to await judgment (cf. Luke 24:43 and Acts 2:26,27). His character is also attested to by the fact that the rich man sought Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family of the reality of this place of torment to which he had been sent.

The character of the rich man is also plainly indicated. He was clothed in purple, a precious and costly dye desired by the wealthy and powerful. He wore fine linen. Every day he ate from an expensive table of delectable (Luke 16:19). He had everything he could want and more, yet he took no interest in the poor beggar who lay at his door seeking only crumbs to satisfy his hunger pains. He must have known of Lazarus for he identified him in the Hadean realm (Luke 16:23,24). Furthermore, that he only asked for a drop of water corresponds to the crumbs that Lazarus was seeking, suggesting his timidity in asking for anything more.

It is not that the man was wealthy that sent him to torment nor that he ate well everyday. It is not that he wore fine clothes which he could afford and paid for with his own money. These things in and of themselves are not sinful. There is no indication that he had obtained his wealth in a sinful manner. In truth, it was not what he did with what he had but what he didn’t do with what he had that made the difference. During his life, he could have helped Lazarus even in the smallest of ways but made a conscience decision not to. This, it seems, was his fault.

Now in torment, he wanted the assistance from Lazarus that he refused him in his life. Probably, if he had been able, Lazarus would have helped him even then. This seems to be the kind of person Lazarus was. But there was a great gulf that separated the two compartments of the Hadean realm that held the good and bad from this earth and Lazarus was not allowed, as no one is allowed, to cross the great divide (Luke 16:26). Further, no one can leave that place prematurely (Luke 16:31). Once this life comes to a close, our eternal destiny is set, forever.

Eric L. Padgett

THIS MAN RECEIVETH SINNERS

Everyone wanted to hear Jesus teach. We know the common people heard Him gladly (Mark 12:37). The Pharisees were forever listening in on Him, if for no other reason than to find a way to entrap Him in His teaching (Mark 7:1). He drew such great multitudes of people that He often had to retire to a separate place apart to get rest (Matt. 14:23). The multitudes that followed were so many that He often did not even have time to eat (Mark 3:20). The publicans and sinners also drew near for to hear Him (Luke 15:1). Even the little children wanted to hear the Lord (Mark 10:14).

On one occasion, the Pharisees were critical of the Lord on account that He received and ate with publicans and sinners, who had gathered to listen to Him teach (Luke 15:2). The Pharisees were often an haughty lot (Luke 18:11), though there were some who exhibited humbler attitudes, such as Nicodemus (John 3:1-3) and Joseph of Arimethea (Luke 23:50). But most of the Pharisees were such scoundrels that the Lord could universally blast them with a series of woes highlighting their hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13-29). The Pharisees would never think of associating with sinners (Luke 7:39).

On this occasion, the Pharisees sought to impugn the character of Jesus. They apparently addressed the people, saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). They said this as if it would somehow depreciate His teaching and His character. But Jesus did not deny associating with sinners. Instead, He demonstrated that the Pharisee’s views on sin and sinners were not only incorrect but hypocritical, as well.

It stands as a truth that a human being is far more valuable than any dumb animal. Yet, the Pharisees would leave ninety-nine safe sheep of their own to find one sheep that had been lost. If you would do that for the dumb animal, why wouldn’t you do that for a lost soul? If you were to lose an inanimate object like a piece of silver, you would turn the whole house upside down to find it. And when you had found these lost things, you would rejoice.

Likewise, when God loses a soul in the wilderness of sin, or one gets lost in the cracks of the world, when they are found, there is great joy in heaven. The parable of the prodigal son demonstrates like no other the great joy that should accompany the restoration of a lost individual (Luke 15:11-32).

Jesus was sent into this world (John 10:36) but He said “I am not of this world” (John 8:23). Neither was he ever tainted by the wickedness of the world nor wallowed He in it’s filth, but He could interact with sinners and influence them for good (Heb. 4:13). Take for example the incident at Simon the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:37). A woman of known ill repute could embrace and kiss His feet yet there is never in the slightest a hint of impropriety on the part of Jesus. Yet Simon saw only the sinner while Jesus saw a lost soul. Simon interpreted her actions as improper, but Jesus saw love oozing from a wounded heart. Simon would not have associated with her by choice and would have castigated her for her sins. Jesus let her know He knew of her many sins but was willing to forgive her.

While Jesus was in the world and interacted with humanity, He never descended to its level. Whatever Paul meant when he said “I became all things to all men” it could not mean anything that contradicted the Lord’s teaching or life. When Jesus attended the supper at Matthew’s house (Mark 2:14,15), the Pharisees again asked, “Why eateth your Master with Publicans and sinners” (Matt. 9:11)? This event was after the Lord called Matthew to follow Him (Matt. 9:19). It is very unlikely that Matthew, after being called by the Lord to be His disciple, would throw a wild, worldly party. It is much more likely that Matthew called all of his old friends to hear Jesus teach them the truth. Jesus was not there to join in any revelry, He was there to teach.

Jesus did not brow beat sinners. It is true He could not seem to bear with the stiff-necked, hard-hearted, arrogant Pharisees. But He never acted as though He was better than those He met (even though He was). He had compassion on the souls that were lost, that hungered and thirsted for righteousness. He did not use people as things but treated them with dignity. He received and ate even with sinners and publicans, but it was in order to bring them to Himself, closer to God. Jesus’ association with the world should be the pattern for our own association with it.

Eric L. Padgett

Loosed From Infirmity

Exactly where He was teaching is not stated, though it was probably in Peraea. Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day (Luke 13:10). This was a common practice for the Lord (Luke 4:16). Beside this incident, the most notable other record of Jesus teaching in the synagogue was when He announced Himself as fulfilling the Messianic prophecies in Nazareth (Luke 4:15-21). The people were so disturbed by this that they wanted to put Him to death (Luke 4:28,29). The apostle Paul also followed this practice of going to the synagogues and teaching (Acts 17:1-3).

In this particular instance, the Lord spotted a woman who had “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up” (Luke 13:11). The source of her suffering was not from merely natural causes. The Text tells us this came upon her by a “spirit of infirmity” (Luke 13:11). Jesus says that she had been “bound” by satan (Luke 13:16). The Bible makes a clear distinction between being afflicted by the spiritual realm and being sick from natural causes (cf., e.g., Matt. 4:24; Mark 1:32).

What is telling about this woman’s character is that despite her terrible burden, she was faithful to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath. She had been this way for eighteen years. It must have been physically challenging to go to the synagogue, but she went. She would have had an easy, ready-made excuse and no one would have faulted her, yet she chose to go. On this she is to be commended and perhaps it is just this sincerity that caused Jesus to take note of her.

When Jesus saw this woman, He “called” unto her. The word “call” used here can either mean to address or summons. This woman did not ask Jesus to heal her and there is no indication she had any expectation that such would happen. But Jesus probably called to her to come to Him and when she approached Him He told her that she was loosed from her infirmity (Luke 13:12). Jesus could have healed her from a distance as He did with the Centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5ff) but He was close enough to her to touch her, and to lay His hands on her (Luke 13:13).

The miracle was immediate and complete (Luke 13:13). As Jesus laid His hands on her, she was made straight. For eighteen long years she had been “bowed together” and was unable to lift up herself (Luke 13:11). Luke used the medical term to describe her condition. She must have needed assistance from others in her daily life or was unable to do many things others could do. But when Jesus healed her, she stood up straight. Another indication of the character of this woman was that when she was healed she glorified God (Luke 13:13).

This woman’s attitude was very different from that of the ruler of the synagogue, the archisunagogos. The ruler of the synagogue did not even try to deny the miracle. This woman was known to them all. Her condition was equally known. This he could not deny. He was left to offer the very inept and vacuous criticism that she was healed on the wrong day! Imagine that. She had been there for eighteen years and had never been healed but Jesus comes along and when He first sees her He offers her a means of recovery. Instead of rejoicing that this woman was healed the Pharisee had nothing but indignation.

Furthermore, in response to this notable miracle, this Pharisee directs his remarks to the crowd and not to Jesus. Of course, he could not stand against Jesus and so turns to those over which he believes he had control, but the Lord will soon bring his pitiful objection to nought. The Pharisee said you ought to come on one of the other days and be healed, as if he would not have objected to the healing then, as well.

In answering this pharisee, Jesus calls him a hypocrite. Not many preachers take this approach today, do they? Jesus did. Jesus points out this pharisees hypocrisy when he would help a dumb animal but would not assist a person on the Sabbath day . This woman was not only a human being, but a daughter of Abraham, a Jewess, and a woman who had been afflicted by the devil. Jesus said this woman “ought” to have been healed. There was a rightness to it and a necessity.

The Lord so powerfully dismissed this objection of the Pharisee, and so gloriously healed this deserving woman, that the people also rejoiced at all the glorious things done by Jesus that day (Luke 13:17). Not only was the Pharisee silenced, but he and those that stood with him, were ashamed. Today we need to put to silence and make ashamed those who would stop the good work of the Lord.

Eric L. Padgett

HE WROTE ON THE GROUND

That the Jewish leadership wanted Jesus dead, was apparently not a secret to anyone who wanted to know (John 5:18; 7:1,25). It is not surprising then that when Jesus went up to the feast of tabernacles, He went, as it were, in secret (John 7:10). Yet Jesus began teaching in the temple openly and boldly, so much so that some in Jerusalem were saying “Is this not He, Whom they seek to kill? But, lo he speaketh boldly and they say nothing to Him” (John 7:25,26). Even Jesus, Himself, openly confronted the Jews with the pointed question “Why go ye about to kill Me?” (John 7:19).

Nevertheless, however much they wanted to kill Him, no one would make the move, some because they were afraid and others because they were impressed with His teaching (John 7:44,46,47). When the officers of the temple would not bring Jesus in to the council, the Pharisees accused them of being deceived (John 7:47). Nicodemus offered a mild defense of Jesus, arguing that at the very least Jesus should be given a hearing (John 7:50,51). Finally, when they found themselves at an impasse, the council broke up in disarray, and every man went to his own house (John 7:53).

After spending the night on the mount of olives, the next morning Jesus returned to the temple and began teaching openly again (John 8:1,2). As Jesus sat down and taught all the people that had come to hear Him, that faction of the scribes and Pharisees who sought Jesus’ life approached Him with a woman whom they sat in the midst of the crowd, right in front of Jesus (John 8:3). “Master,” they said, “this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4). Their intentions were not honorable for they sought an occasion where Jesus would make a mistake and entrap Himself and they could have something tangible wherewith they could accuse Him (John 8:6).

Some have supposed that the woman’s situation was like that of forced infidelty found in Deut. 22:23,24. In any case, the law required the death of both offending parties (Lev. 20:10). However, is it not curious that the male offender is strangely absent? Is it not curious that just after they had failed in trying to take Him, that they found just the right woman with which to attempt to test Him? Perhaps the guilty man was in the very crowd surrounding Jesus, or, dare we say, even among the scribes or Pharisees?

“Moses,” they said trying to give themselves some semblance of authority, “in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?” (John 8:5). Maybe they so disgusted Jesus that He ignored them. Maybe He was drawing them further into the moral dilemma into which He was going to place them. But for whatever reason, Jesus seems to ignore them and stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger (John 8:6). They must have thought that they had caught Jesus for they “continued asking Him” the same question (John 8:7).

But Jesus turned the tables on them. He calmly rose from His place and mades a simple statement: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then He stooped down again and began writing on the ground again (John 8:8). What Jesus wrote on the ground has been the cause of a lot of speculation. It has captivated the imaginations of many people for a long time. It could be that just as the finger of God wrote the tables of stone, the finger of God was now writing on the tables of stone in the temple (cf. Ex. 31:18). We simply cannot know. We need to learn that the secret things belong to the Lord (Deut. 29:29).

With this statement, Jesus pricked the conscience of every man there (John 8:9). The oldest first began to drop their stones and then the younger (John 8:9). As they dropped the stone they held, they each went out until only Jesus and the woman were left there (John 8:9). “Woman,” Jesus said, “where are those thine accusers? hath no man condenmed thee?” “No man, Lord” she replied. Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The scribes and Pharisees not only broke the law of Moses by not examining this man and woman legally, they were partial in that they let the man go free (if he was not in on this attempt to snare the Lord) and their intentions were dishonorable from the beginning. Jesus knew their hearts. Jesus also knew the heart of this woman. We do not know her background but she was apparently of a far different character than the hypocritical Jewish leaders. Jesus did not condone this woman’s actions or pass over them lightly. He called it sin. He called upon her to sin no more. However, since there could no longer be found thetwo witnesses against her the law required, the Lord forgave her and encouraged her to change her life.

Eric L. Padgett

NOTE:
In the area of Textual Criticism, John 8:1-12 is one of the most controversial passages found in all the Bible. So controversial has this passage been that certain professors of the Christian faith, even in ancient times, have excised it from the biblical text. Many of those same ancient authorities, however, which omit the reading note where the passage in John should have been, and is now, with special diacritical marks indicating that they knew of the reading.

Some have suggested that the passage is an ancient oral tradition that found its way into the Text, though not scripture. However, it is hard to understand how or why this section was added to the text, and particularly in this place, being so controversial as it is. It makes more sense that it was excised from the text by someone who was uncomfortable reading about how Jesus treated this woman caught in the very act of adultery.

This passage is found in the Latin Vulgate in 383 A.D. Jerome based this translation on Greek manuscripts which were already available and considered ancient. Didymus the blind mentions this pasaage by 395 A.D. He lived in Alexandria. The Didascalia Apostolorum mentions the account. It was written around 230 A.D. in Syria, some have suggested it was written near Antioch. Ambrose of Milan mentions this passage no less than nine times, according to Dean Burgon, and places it in the gospel account of John.

There are other proofs that this passage is part of God’s word that cannot be gone into here. A search of the internet will provide plenty of arguments on both sides of the issue, if you are interested.