BARNABAS

There was a time in the early church when Barnabas held greater influence than the apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:1,2). Some time before Saul of Tarsus was immersed into Christ, Barnabas was already expending a great amount of his own financial resources assisting needy saints (Acts 4:36,37) and he had a close relationship to the apostles (Acts 4:36; 9:27). Paul’s reputation as a persecuter and a blasphemer of Christ had preceded him and Christians were reluctant to accept him, thinking he was, perhaps, feigning his conversion to gain an advantage (Acts 9:26). Even after his conversion, up until the first evangelistic tour, when their names are mentioned together, Barnabas is always mentioned first.

After Paul and Barnabas returned from delivering aid to the poor saints in Judea, the Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch that Barnabas and Saul were presently to be used in the special work for which He had called them (Acts 13:2). Saul had been called to be an apostle by the Lord at his conversion and was told he would be sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15,16; Gal. 2:7,8). When Barnabas was called for this task, we do not know, just as we do not know when or where Barnabas was converted to Christ. Was Barnabas one of the original disciples of Christ (Acts 1:15), was he converted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) or was he among the five thousand men who believed (Acts 4:4)? We do not know. But we do know he was separated by the Lord very early on to take the gospel to the Gentiles along with the apostle Paul.

Immediately after the establishment of the church, when Jews from distant lands were converted by the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:5-11), instead of immediately returning to their own countries, many of them apparently continued in Jerusalem with the apostles and the rest of the church. In order to help support these brethren, some sold their property and gave the money to the apostles to distribute to every man as he had need (Acts 4:35). Barnabas was one of those who supported brethren in need in this way and the Holy Spirit saw fit to make particular note of his contributions (Acts 4:36).

Barnabas was not his birth name. His real name was Joses (or Joseph). It was the apostles who called him Barnabas, which literally meant “son of prophecy” or, by extension, “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36; cf. Acts 15:32). His preaching, along with others’, produced many converts in Antioch (Acts 11:24) and he is listed first among the prophets and teachers in the church there (Acts 13:1). When the the apostles had heard that there was a great response to the teaching of the gospel in the regions of Cyprus, Cyrene and Antioch, they chose Barnabas to organize the work, even though Paul had already been called by the Lord (Acts 11:22). It was Barnabas who, after he had seen the work in Antioch, sought out Saul in Tarsus to assist him in that vital work (Acts 11:25,26).

Barnabas’ reputation among the apostles is further seen in the fact that it was Barnabas that brought Saul of Tarsus to the apostles after his conversion. He was able to convince them that the Lord had, indeed, appeared unto Saul and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27). Some have surmised that Barnabas and Saul had known each other prior to their connection in Christ. They had a close relationship and both truly seemed to admire the other.

It was during their first evangelistic tour that Barnabas begins to recede into the background. In Paphos, Sergius Paul, the deputy or proconsul of the country, called for Barnabas and Saul to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith” (Acts 13:8). Saul then stepped up and struck Elymas the sorcerer blind as a punishment for his opposition to the gospel (Acts 13:8-11). It is during this time that Saul begins to be called Paul (Acts 13:9). It seems also as though Paul begins to take the lead because the group is now called “Paul and his company” (Acts 13:13). Further, it is no longer “Barnabas and Saul” but “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:43).

Some time later, when Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, Peter visited and was eating with the Gentiles until certain came from James in Jerusalem. Then Peter, fearing them of the circumcision, “withdrew and separated himself” (Gal. 2:12). Paul observed that Barnabas “also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal. 2:13). Paul then had to confront Peter to his face before them all, including Barnabas (Gal. 2:14). This all happened after the conference in Jerusalem in which it was determined by the Holy Spirit that the Gentiles need not be circumcised (Acts 15:28, 29).

After some days had passed, Paul purposed to go and visit the brethren to whom he and Barnabas had preached on their first evangelistic tour (Acts 15:36). Barnabas wanted to take with them John Mark, but Paul thought it not good because John Mark, who had begun with them on their first tour, left the work prematurely (Acts 13:13), making him untrustworthy. Because of this sharp disagreement, the two men parted ways. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus and Paul and Silas, whom the brethren recommended, went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches (Acts 15:41). Later, Paul would acknowledge Barnabas’ wisdom when he told Timothy “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).

Eric L. Padgett

THAT DAY

The apostles were left awestruck! All they could do was to keep gazing up into the clouds in amazement. Jesus had only moments before been standing with them and giving them instructions to be His witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:7,8). That, in and of itself was marvelous for just a little over a month before He had been crucified and raised from the dead. Now, on this last day, after having shown Himself alive by many infallible proofs for forty days and having spoken with them during that time, “while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus literally ascended up into the air and a glory cloud enveloped Him as He disappeared from view!

While they continued to gaze into heaven with astonishment, two angels brought them back to earth. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In effect, they were saying: Don’t just stand here with your mouths hanging open, there is work to be done. “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The message: He is coming again! Now work!

The truly amazing thing about this event is the change which took place in these men. Immediately after Jesus’ arrest, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 25:56). Peter, who had said “though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33), and “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee” (Matt. 26:35) denied the Lord that same night a little over a month ago! After Jesus had been crucified, the apostles apparently hid behind closed doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were a group of men cowering in fear behind locked doors. Some witnesses.

However, after Jesus’ ascension back into Heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem and waited for the promise of the Father of which Jesus had spoken (Acts 1:4-8; John 14:26; 16:13). On the day of Pentecost, these men, who before had cowered in fear of persecution and death, now, after receiving the promised baptism of the Holy Ghost, boldly and publicly proclaimed Jesus openly! “Ye men of Israel, hear these words,” they said to the multitude that had gathered:

Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).

Later, Peter and John openly entered the temple (Acts 3:1) and healed a man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:2-10). Peter then told them that “ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). What boldness (cf. Acts 4:29,31)!

These were strong words. Powerful words! These words laid the responsibility for the death of the Messiah squarely at the feet of the “men of Israel” (Acts 2:22). Forty days ago neither Peter nor John nor any of the other apostles would have dared speak such words privately, much less publicly (cf. Matt. 15:12). Now, however, you could not keep these men from openly speaking what they knew to be true. When the council dragged Peter and John in for questioning after a night in a cell (Acts 4:1-5), they charged and threatened them that they never again speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17,18). Peter’s response: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20).

These men were changed men. What made the difference? They did not take a Dale Carnegie course on how to sharpen social skills and improve relationships. The High priest and their kindred said it best when they “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Undoubtedly their reception of the Holy Spirit endowed them with extra courage but their years with the Lord had ultimately prepared them for this occasion. When we spend time with the Lord in His word, we become changed men and women (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10; II Cor. 3:18).

Eric L. Padgett

THAT DAY

All the faithful followers of Jesus must have been stunned and disheartened. Here was the Man that walked on water, that calmed the stormy sea, that multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands, that raised His friend Lazarus and others from the dead, that healed a host of sick folk, that restored withered limbs, that restored sight to the blind and so many other miracles the world itself could not contain their account if they should all be written (John 20:30,31), here is that Man now crucified and buried in a borrowed tomb. There must have been many, including the apostles, who were emotionally drained and deflated. They must have felt as though all hope was lost.

A group of women that followed Jesus from Galilee, standing far enough away not to be too involved but close enough to observe, had seen the Lord hang on an old, rugged cross and then die and agonizing death (Luke 23:49). They also saw Joseph of Arimethea take the Lord’s body down from that cross and wrap it in a linen cloth and then lay it in a newly hewn sepulchre (Luke 23:53-55). Knowing now where He was lain, they returned and prepared spices for the embalming of the body (Luke 23:56). They obviously had no expectation of a resurrection at that time.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome and certain others with them which came from Galilee (Mark 16:; Luke 23:5524:1,10), brought the spices unto the sepulchre expecting to prepare the body of the Lord. When they found the stone already rolled away from the opening, they went in and found not the body of the Lord (Luke 24:3). Mary Magdalene, distressed at the missing body, immediately ran away from the sepulchre and found herself running to Peter and John (John 20:2), leaving the other women at the tomb perplexed (Luke 24:4). She told the two apostles that someone must have taken the body because it was no longer there and she did not know where they could have lain Him (John 20:2). Again, there is not yet the notion of Jesus’ resurrection in her mind, for she fears His body had been stolen. But the apostles are nursing their own thoughts.

In the meantime, the other women who had remained at the sepulchre encountered “two men in shining garments” (Luke 24:4), one standing by them and the other “young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5). The women fell to the ground in fear (Luke 24:5). This “young man,” an angel, told the women not to be afraid because Jesus has risen. “Behold,” he says, “the place where they lay Him” (Mark 16:6). He further told them to go and tell His disciples and Peter that “He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you” (Mark 16:7). The women were frightened and fled, perhaps wandering and thinking what they should do, but they do not immediately follow the instructions of the angel because they did not tell anyone and were afraid and amazed (Mark 16:8).

After Mary Magdalene had spoken to them, Peter and John immediately set out to see this (John 20:3). They both ran together and as they came closer to the sepulchre, John outran Peter, reaching the sepulchre first (John 20:4). John stopped at the opening and looked but did not go in. His heart must have been racing from running and from wonder. He saw the linen clothes in which they had wrapped the body of the Lord. Peter finally made it to the sepulchre and entered immediately and saw the napkin and the linen burial clothes. John summoned the courage to enter and, seeing these things, believed (John 20:8). Did they speak to one another about their thoughts or did they instinctively know what each other were thinking?

Mary had followed behind Peter and John, who had now left, for she was standing there “without the sepulchre weeping” (John 20:11). She, herself, now looked again into the sepulchre and saw the two angels “sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:12). They ask her why she wept and she still did not consider the possibility that Jesus had risen. She told them someone had taken the body of the Lord and she knew not where (John 20:13). Then turning around she saw Jesus but only thought He was the gardener (John 20:15). He asked her why she wept and she inquired if He had taken the body, she would be glad to remove it for Him.

Just then, Jesus spoke her name, “Mary” (John 20:16). There was no mistaking this voice and the way He spoke her name. She knew then that He was Jesus, her Master, risen from the dead (John 20:16). Jesus told her to go and tell the apostles that He was ascending back to the Father. Mary then “came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her” (John 20:18). At no time did Mary think the Lord had risen until she had spoken with Him herself.

Now as the other women finally decided to tell the disciples of what had happened, Jesus appeared to them as they returned. He met them saying, “All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him” (Matt. 28:9). He then told them to tell His brethren that they would see Him in Galilee (Matt. 28:10). When the women told the apostles, adding their testimony to Mary Magdalene’s, to them their words seemed as idle tales and they believed them not (Luke 24:11).

However, when Peter heard the testimony of the women, that they had seen the Lord, he once again headed for the empty tomb. He ran again to the sepulchre, no doubt anxious to see the Lord for himself, and looked in and saw everything as he had seen it before (Luke 24:12). He “departed, wondering in himself at that which had come to pass” (Luke 24:12). But sometime while he was separated from the rest of the apostles, the Lord appeared to Peter alone (I Cor. 15:5). We are not given the details of that appearance, but it must have been a very emotional one for Peter.

Later that day, the Lord also appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He casually drew Himself near to them as they were walking, and discussing the things which had happened that day (Luke 24:14,15). He engaged them in conversation and explained to them the events that happened by means of the scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). As it was getting toward evening he tarried with them and ate (Luke 24:28-30). As He ate, their eyes were opened and they now recognized Him. But just as they recognized Him, He “vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31). In the very same hour, they rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the apostles of the events they, themselves, had witnessed (Luke 24:33).

As they told the apostles of the things that had happened to them, they were told that the Lord had appeared to Peter as well as the women (Luke 24:34,35). “And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36). But the disciples were terrified and affrighted and thought Jesus was a spirit. He showed them His hands and His feet and they could hardly believe for joy (Luke 24:41). Over the next forty days the Lord would show Himself “alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 13).

Eric L. Padgett

MY LORD AND MY GOD

“We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25)! These words must have been spoken with great excitement. Thomas had not been present when the Lord appeared to the Twelve earlier that week, the first day of the week, the very day He arose from the dead (John 20:19,24). The other ten apostles were trying throughout the week to convince Thomas of the truth of their encounter with the risen Lord. They were joyous because they had seen the risen Saviour (John 20:20). But Thomas could not bring himself to believe them. His response was as stern as it could be: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). No wonder many call him “doubting Thomas.”

We know a little bit more about Thomas from the references we have of him in the New Testament. For instance, we can gather from his name that he was probably a twin. The name “Thomas” is a Greek form of the Aramaic word which means “the twin.” He is also called “Didymus” (John 20:24), which also means “twin.” The identity of his twin is not revealed in scripture but some have suggested that because he is most often listed with Matthew, that he was his twin (Matt. 10:3; Luke 6:15; Mark 3:18). Other traditions say that he had a twin sister named Lydia. The truth is, we really don’t know.

While most people latch on to Thomas’ statement above and condemn him for his doubt, there is another side to this we should not fail to see. Besides, Thomas is not the only doubter amongst the Twelve. When Mary Magdalene told the apostles of Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to her, they “believed not” (Mark 16:11). Afterword, when Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, He “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen” (Mark 16:14). All of the apostles had experienced some form of doubt at some point.

Often during their time with the Lord they expressed doubt in some form. Peter doubted as he began to sink in the waves on the sea of Galilee, so that the Lord had to rescue him from drowning (Matt. 14:29-31). Jesus rebuked all the apostles as they were in a vessel with Him when the winds and waves threatened their safety, or so they thought (Matt. 8:25,26). Jesus rebuked their lack of faith when they thought He condemned them for not bringing bread. He reminded them of the fact that He had multiplied the loaves and fish (Matt. 16:5-12). Jesus said to them on these occasions, “O ye of little faith” (e.g., Matt. 16:8).

But these events were from an earlier time with the Lord. Now, at the close of Jesus’ time on earth, they should have known better. But much of the source of their doubt now was that which comes from being overwhelmed with joy at some good news it can hardly be believed. Even when the Lord was standing before their very eyes, probably late on the first day of the week, they were “terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:36,37). Jesus showed them His hands and feet and this is probably what caused Thomas, who was not present on this ocassion, to say that unless he saw them he would not believe either (Luke 24:39,40; John 20:25). But the reason they had trouble believing was that they were overcome with joy (Luke 24:41). The very same could be said of Thomas, as well. The other apostles, then, were really not any different than Thomas.

The first time we read of Thomas speaking is when the Lord purposed to go into Judea again (John 11:7). The apostles, it seems, thought they had a duty to remind the Lord that the Jews had, of late, sought to stone Him and that going back might not be a good idea (John 11:8). But Jesus said He was going back to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:11-15). It was then that Thomas spoke to the other apostles: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). In this statement, Thomas shows both his complete devotion to the Lord but also manifests either a lack of understanding of the Lord’s teaching or a lack of faith.

Thomas was not unlike Peter in this way: though he said he would die with the Lord, when the time came for the Lord to be taken, he fled just like all the other apostles (Matt. 26:56). Peter had said “Though all other men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33). Yet Peter denied the Lord three times that very night (Matt. 26:34). Though Thomas loved the Lord, he seemed unable to get his mind around just who Jesus was. When Jesus told the apostles that they knew where He was going and the way He was going, Thomas confessed his ignorance about these matters (John 14:1-5).

One week later, we find Thomas assembled with the other apostles. Why he was not there the first time, the Bible does not say but it may well be he was grieving for the Lord, thinking that all was lost since His crucifixion. But now he is there and the Lord appears miraculously in their midst (John 20:26). After greeting them all, the first thing the Lord does is to address Thomas “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). The Bible does not say whether he did or not, but the last thing we hear him say to the Lord is, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). He had learned who Jesus was.

Eric L. Padgett

“IT IS FINISHED”

Somewhere outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:12) there was a place called Calvary. The Greek word translated “calvary” (kranion) meant “skull.” Luke used this word (Luke 23:33) while the other gospel accounts preferred the Hebrew word “Golgotha,” which also meant “skull” (Matt. 27:33; Mark 15:22; John 19:17). This place was near the city (John 19:20) where there was a fairly busy road that led to the country (Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:21). It was here on a cross far away that Jesus suffered and died by crucifixion.

It is fairly easy enough to reconstruct and relate the historical events which occurred so many years ago. In many ways they were not unlike events which had happened many times before. Persons pronounced guilty by Roman power were often condemned to death and executed by Rome. But on levels that we, perhaps, can never fully comprehend, things happened that day so profound that all the world was forever changed.

As Jesus hung on that old, rugged cross, slowly and cruelly asphyxiating, He managed enough breath to utter seven, short sentences. One of the last of these was the statement, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It is natural to assume that Jesus was anticipating His own death and in such earthly suffering death would have been a welcomed release. But there is more to His saying than a mere expectation to end His physical pain.

Jesus had stated earlier “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me and finish His work” (John 4:34). As Jesus worked His way toward Jerusalem, He told His apostles that “all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished” (Luke 18:31). When Jesus prayed to the Father the night of His arrest, He said “I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). What was this work?

Among other things which could be mentioned, Jesus brought an end to the Law of Moses (Rom. 10:4). The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ and when it had fulfilled it’s purpose it was no longer necessary (Gal. 3:24). Paul tells us that Jesus took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross (Col. 2:14). Jesus had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it and to fulfill it all (Matt. 5:18). That law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did (Heb. 7:19).

The law of Moses was only “a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things,” and it could “never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins” (Hebrews 10:1-2).

Daniel tells us that when Jesus came it was to “finish transgression” (Dan. 9:24). It was also to “make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” In Christ we are a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17). Old things are passed away; all things become new! We are now cleansed of all things that we could not be cleansed of under the law of Moses (Acts 13:38,39).

The world was altered that day in a fundamental way. Man’s relationship to God was changed through the mediatorial work of the Messiah. Upon His ascension back to the Father, the way into the holiest of all was made available to man (Heb. 6:17-20). The change was so profound that the angels and prophets, themselves, sought to look into these things (I Pet. 1:10-12). The Lord “inaugurated the kingdom of God” and gave “birth to a new world.”

Eric L. Padgett

Then Judas Repented Himself

Judas was a thief. The Bible is plain about this (John 12:6). He did not care for the poor and apparently was afflicted with the root of all kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10). Another flaw in Judas’ character was that he was hypocritical. He appeared to be concerned about the poor, he made a big speech about how the poor might have been served, when in reality he was simply money hungry (John 12:5,6). The facade worked, for some believed the act (cf. John 13:29). But what is more, he exhibited the ultimate in hypocrisy, when he would betray his Master with an apparent act of sincere friendship (Matt. 26:48; Luke 22:47,48).

Jesus’ words concerning him show the underlying fault in his character. Jesus said that there were some with Him at that time who did not believe and then, John added, that Jesus knew who it was that would betray Him (John 6:64). Later, in the same context, Jesus said “Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). Again, John adds “He spake of Judas Iscariot” (John 6:71). Later, Jesus identified Judas as the son of perdition (John 17:12). Peter would identify the character of Judas by observing that Judas would go to his own place (Acts 1:25).

His act of betrayal became notorious, apparently becoming known to all in Jerusalem (Acts 1:19). The field which was purchased with the blood money became popularly known as “the field of blood” (Acts 1:19). The seriousness of this act of betrayal is revealed by the Lord when He said that it would have been better for that man who betrayed Him if he had never been born (Matt. 26:24)!

It seems that Judas went to make arrangements for the betrayal of Jesus immediately after he, along with a few others, protested the use of the oil for the anointing of Jesus (Matt. 26:6-16). It was from this time he sought opportunity to betray the Lord (Matt. 26:16). When Jesus washed the disciples feet, He told them that they were clean, but not all, indicating that one of them would betray Him (John 13:10,11). Jesus then quotes David’s Psalm about Ahithophel, David’s close advisor who turned on him (Psalm 41:9), “He that eateth bread with Me, hath lifted up his heel against Me” (John 13:18).

Jesus said, “I know whom I have chosen” (John 13:18). This act of betrayal did not take Jesus by surprise. He had been warning the apostles that He would be betrayed and delivered to the Jews and crucified, but perhaps they did not know how close it would be to them. When Jesus finally said to them on the night of His betrayal, “One of you shall betray Me,” they all asked, “Lord is it I?” (Matt. 26:21,22). When Judas asked privately, probably to throw off suspicion from himself, “Master, is it I,” Jesus told him “Thou hast said” and “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27). He went out immediately (John 13:30).

One would like to think that Judas had some ulterior motive, some good reason in his own mind, to do what he did. But the Bible does not give us one. Jesus chose Judas even though He knew from the beginning he would betray Him. He gave Judas every opportunity to change. His many teachings on the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt. 12:22,23; Luke 16:11; Matt. 6:19-34; etc.) should have moved Judas, but his heart became too hardened.

But there must have been some kernel of good in Judas. There was at least enough for him to feel remorse for betraying the Lord, when he saw that He was condemned (Matt. 27:3). While he must have known the intent of the chief priests to do Jesus harm, perhaps he thought Jesus would extricate Himself from this trial as He had at other times (e.g., Luke 4:28-30). In the end, his conscience overwhelmed him and he wanted to somehow remove the guilt he felt for his crime. When he threw back the blood-money into the temple he proclaimed “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4), confessing Jesus’ innocence and his own guilt.

The Bible tells us that Judas “repented himself” (Matt. 27:3). The word used here indicates a sorrow, but not for the sin, but for the consequences, of his actions. His sorrow was not of the godly sort (II Cor. 7:8-11). He did not sorrow unto repentance. Perhaps Judas never did fully understand Jesus’ teaching. Perhaps he was just weak and took the easy way out. The harder way would have been Peter’s way, to live with a knowledge of his sin and serve his Lord and acknowledge his forgiveness.

Eric L. Padgett

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.