Friday, November 19, 2010

Speculation

More questions from Matthew Chapter 2

7. Considering all the events of chapter two (Magi visiting, Herod's deception, angels' warnings and more), what would have happened if even one hadn't occurred?

This is all speculation because there is no way that we could ever know what could have occurred, however the exercise will point out God’s sovereignty and omniscience. Starting with the Magi, what would have happened if they had not seen the star or even if the star had led them directly to Bethlehem and they had not stopped to ask direction from Herod? Would things have been forever changed?

First, the people of Jerusalem, especially the chief priests and scribes would not have been put on notice that the Messiah had been born. Because they were told, they had no excuse. They couldn’t say that they didn’t know the time of the Messiah was near. Would this have changed anything when Jesus started His ministry? Probably not.

The common people didn’t remember when the Magi visited. John 7:41-42 Others said, "He is the Christ." Still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" (NIV) I think it is interesting that many people knew that the Messiah must come from Bethlehem. This indicates that they knew the prophecies about the Messiah, yet others were totally misinformed. John 7:27 But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from. (NIV) If the Magi had not visited, they would have still been in the same state of unbelief. They were like many people today. They have heard of Jesus but choose to either not believe or are unwilling to find out enough information to overcome their ignorance. In a court, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse for breaking the law.

In the realm of salvation, ignorance of Jesus is not an excuse. John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV) When we look at what Jesus said and take Him at His word, then we must assume that the only way a person can find salvation is through Jesus. Someone may argue that it isn’t fair because people in some parts of the world have never heard of Jesus. However recent experiences of many missionaries in closed countries have surprised those of us who live in countries where knowledge of Jesus is readily available. In many of these countries, Jesus has been appearing to people in dreams and visions. Afterwards, they receive a copy of the Jesus movie on DVD or a Christian explains Jesus. Paul tells us in Eph 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (NIV) Think about this for a while. Jesus isn’t going to let people He has chosen to be lost because they haven’t heard of Him.

Take a look at the attitude the leaders expressed when Nicodemus confronted them about condemning Jesus. John 7:52 They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee." (NIV) They were not willing to even ask Jesus where He was born so it makes little difference whether or not they remembered the events thirty years earlier. They were still guilty of rejecting the Messiah. John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (NIV) Jesus made it clear that they didn’t need the Magi or anyone else to testify that He was the Messiah. The very word of the Scriptures would have revealed it to anyone who was willing to know the truth.

John the Baptist, in the gloom of his prison started to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah. Matt 11:2-6 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (NIV) Jesus answered by pointing out what he was doing among the people. John the Baptist would probably have recognized this as a reference to Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… (NIV) These are the words Jesus read when He first went to a synagogue to preach. (Luke 4:16-21) He said that the words were fulfilled that day. He announced He was the Messiah. His deeds proved it. Jesus reassured John and also condemned the religious leaders of the day because they wouldn’t acknowledge His works proved that He was the Messiah. (John 10:31-33)

So Jesus didn’t need the Magi to prove that He is the Messiah. The sad truth is that today many reject Jesus because they are like many of His day who are ignorant and don’t bother to look up the facts. Others know the facts yet reject Jesus because they don’t want to submit to His authority.

Of all the events described in chapter two of Matthew, the one of primary significance was Jesus’ protection. Jesus had to die, but He had to die on the cross at the right time. He first had to prove to the world that He was the Messiah; He had to die for our sins, and then be resurrected. He had to teach His disciples and be betrayed by one of them. If Satan, through Herod, had succeeded in altering this, then all of us would still be in our sins. It would have proved that God was not capable of carrying out His plans. We would be in bondage to Satan forever without hope.

Aren’t you glad that this isn’t the case? God is sovereign. He has complete control over all the circumstances of this world. He will not let any of His people die without salvation. How do you know you are one of His people? Do you know Jesus? If you do and He knows you, then you can have the assurance that all things will work out according to His will.

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