Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Did Jesus Open His Mouth During His Trial?

Did Jesus Open His Mouth During His Trial?
"But he would not open his mouth. He was brought like a sheep to the slaughter, Like a ewe that is silent before its shearers, And he would not open his mouth." - Isaiah 53:7
Jesus, as we know, was brought before Herod, then to Pilate. And while he typically refused to answer questions, he answered a few. To the skeptic this is enough to find fault with the scriptures. To them either Jesus is not the Messiah or that the Bible contradicts itself. However let us examine what questions he answered and why. By doing so we can see whether or not Jesus was silent. (Before continuing I recommend reading the account of Jesus,' trial.)

In one occasion Jesus was asked a question by Pilate, "Are you the King of the Jews?" How he answered could have saved him. For example he could have said: "No." If he did he would not be seditious against Rome and quite possibility would have been saved. He answered, "You yourself say it." By this idiom he meant "Yes." While he broke the extreme interpretation of silence there we see that in fact he was silent by refusing to answer other questions. This surprised governor - after all who would not come to their own defense?
"But while he was being accused by the chief priests and the elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him: "Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?" But he did not answer him, no, not a word, so that the governor was very surprised." - Matthew 27:12-14
The conclusion we can reach is that he answered questions about who he was - however instead of defending himself they "convicted" him all the more - and when asked to defend himself, or when presented with an opportunity to do so, he remained silent. He therefore met the requirements of Isaiah 53:7, and the early Christians (e.g., Philip or Peter) found no contradiction in the accounts because Jesus was silent and Isaiah didn't mean that he wouldn't make a noise (even if he didn't talk the skeptic might say, "Jesus opened his mouth to breath! He isn't the Messiah!"), but rather that he would be silent in his own defense.

The Conclusion
Because Isaiah's words do not indicate that God's Servant would be totally silent, and that Jesus was silent in his own defense and only said a few things when ordered to or put under oath, things which concerned his identity only, we can say that he was in fact silent.

If skeptics are still not satisfied with this explanation there is no excuse. Instead of being reasonable and understanding the intent of Isaiah (i.e., the Messiah would not defend himself and would silent except when needed) they set the bar so high that Jesus could never live up to it. However we can be confident that Jesus did keep silent when on trial.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Do You Feel Worthless?

Putting Things in Perspective
While some people may feel that Jehovah cannot see the good in us because of perceived (or actual) sinfulness take this illustration: We are in the heart of a big city and can only see a few stars; they are nowhere as plentiful as in the countryside. Are the stars really absent? No, but since the light of the big city is so great, we can't see them. However, someone higher up (say, in heaven) will see them. In such a way Jehovah can see past our sins to see the good. He can also help us overcome our sins – move out into the peaceful country, so to speak – and be declared righteous.

Not Merely a Feel-Good Message
This is not purely a feel good message, for it does take effort, even great effort to build up desirable qualities and to diminish negative ones, yet keep in mind these two verses as we strive to do so. 

Psalm 130:3,4 - "If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand? For there is the [true] forgiveness with you, In order that you may be feared."

1 John 3:19,20 - "we will assure our hearts before him regarding whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things."

We still should feel ashamed of what we did, yes sad, but sad in a godly way – in a way that leads to attaining repentance and salvation, not endless self-loathing and inactivity. Feel sad in a godly, yet be confident that you can make the needed changes, get the help. and have God's spirit change you as you put on the new personality that God makes.
Yes he will turn our anguish into joy and our shame into a grounds for love toward him and sympathy toward others. One day we will be in a position giving encouragement to those in a situation not unlike our own. Because we expend the effort now, disowning ourselves and accepting whatever embarrassment and perceived loss of face, we will be an excellent help to our brothers. Knowing as we do that to lose face in this matter is actually to gain it, especially with God.

Therefore the path before us is straight: if you have sinned, repent (and mean it both in desire and action) and Jehovah will by no means hold it against us (remember that Jehovah gave his Son for us). If we have not sinned or have long ago received forgiveness, then let us not imagine that Jehovah cannot see the stars – that he holds it against us without let up; he is greater than our hearts and knows all things, his mercy is exceedingly great. It may take time to appreciate this, but if we meditate on this we will be blessed. We will have the strength and confidence to right the wrong and build our relationship with Jehovah God - as many who were once worse than us have done.
I encourage you to share these sentiments with anyone who feels worthless, for, though they feel such a way, Jehovah assures us that we are worth a great deal to Him. We retain our dignity as beings made in God's image and God loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with him. This he does even though we do not deserve it. This should not make us shrink back – that it is undeserved – but extend the same compassion to our fellows, so that we might be perfect, just as Jah is.