What does the Bible say about sickness and pandemic disease?

At the time this article is being written (late March 2020), we are living in a world consumed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some of us are self-quarantined, working from home, and maybe even not working at all, due to so business or social gathering venues being closed. The long-term effects of the pandemic itself, along with the measures being taken by various levels of local and state governments could be devastating, both personally and economically (individual, state, & national).

Every form of media seems to be all coronavirus, all the time. There are conflicting reports from all directions. Self-proclaimed experts and armchair quarterbacks are legion. There are some whose political agendas take priority over the impact upon human beings and their families, which it frankly disgusting.

Through the years, various outbreaks of pandemic diseases, such as Ebola, SARS or the coronavirus, have prompted many to ask why God allows pandemic diseases. Some even ask if a loving God could be the cause such things. So rather than debate the issue, we ask the Bible!

A good look at both the Old Testament and the New Testament tells us that the same God seemed to deal with his children differently. In the Old Testament we see God bringing plagues and diseases on His people and on His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). He used plagues in Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His people from being affected by them (Exodus 12:13; 15:26), demonstrating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions.

In the New Testament, we have the story of Christ, who came to be a healer, both physically and spiritually. In fact, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in some of the places He visited (Matthew 9:35; 10:1; Mark 3:10). There is however a striking similarity between the Old and New Testaments. God’s power is on display in the sending of plagues and disease, as well as in the sending of His Son, who verified that he was God’s son by performing miracles and healing sickness and disease.

The New Testament also speaks of seeing sickness, disease, and pandemics as part of the end times. Jesus spoke of plagues (Luke 21:11). The two witnesses of Revelation 11 will have power “to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Seven angels will wield seven plagues in a series of final, severe judgments described in Revelation 16.

What should Christians learn from all of this?

First of all, we should realize that although sickness and disease are part of living in a fallen world, there can also be elements of God’s judgment at work. At the same time, it’s not our business to try and figure out exactly what’s what.

Second, we should be mindful that life is tenuous at best. We all die. Those who are not resting in the loving arms of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, face an eternity in hell. We believers should be energized into zealously and compassionately sharing the gospel of Christ to the lost masses among whom we live and breathe. Our business is the gospel.

Third, we should not panic, as so many have during the coronavirus outbreak, with major mass media outlets fueling that panic by turning natural apprehension into mass hysteria. We are safe in the arms of Christ.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to remember that God is complete control of all things, even the coronavirus. We take reasonable steps to avoid exposure to the disease and to protect and provide for our families, while sharing the gospel of Christ to those living in fear.

So that’s some of what the Bible tells us about sickness and pandemic diseases. We don’t need to add to it or omit the hard parts. Let others speculate. Our mission, now and until He returns, is sharing His gospel!

______________

P.S. One last thing. This is NOT an expression of my opinion, but an attempt to just look at what the Bible actually says.

Coronavirus “Spiritual/Prophetic” Garbage Summary

This is comparable to a cat’s litter box. Lots of waste matter in one place……….

So far we have, ……..

None of these things are true. May the Lord rebuke them.

_________

Online Source

‘Celebrity’ Christians and Evangelical Idolatry

Needless to say, the whole Kanye West conversion story, Sunday Service performances and release of his ‘Jesus is King’ album is all the rage these days among evangelical Christians. Much of that is due to his success and fame as a celebrity in the music world. In fact, he recently appeared at Lakewood Church, home of Joel Osteen and some very questionable doctrine and theology. I first read about it and then listened to the on stage interview between the two.  Articles about the genuineness of Kanye’s faith are all over the place, with everybody who is anybody in evangelical Christianity sharing their opinion.

Now rewind back to 1978. The artist was Bob Dylan. Some of you are too young to remember his conversion from the Jewish faith to Christianity, but I am not. Certainly not as famous then as Kanye today, Dylan nevertheless made a resounding ‘splash’ with the release of three gospel albums. “Slow Train Coming” (1979) was my favorite. The song “Gotta Serve Somebody” from that album will be forever etched in my memory. Dylan was interviewed about his faith, but unlike Kanye he never made a big deal of it to the public. Through the years there has always been speculation about the genuineness of his faith, and in 2012 he said he still believes in Jesus. He still tours to this day.

There have been many more celebrities who have converted to Christianity or made professions of faith through the years, with varying degrees of public notoriety. We can all remember many of their names. The more famous the celebrity, the more excited we seem to become, and that’s my point.

I’ll cut to the chase here and ask THE question: Why is it that we seem to put celebrities who claim to be Christians on pedestals? Whether they come from Hollywood, the music industry, or the world of sports, we act like they are something really special because they are open about their faith. They become instant heroes of the faith, even when they are but ‘babes’ in Christ.

Food for thought on this Thanksgiving holiday morning. Speaking of thanksgiving, I am thankful that God saves people from all walks of life, including famous celebrities. We just need to treat them as God would, nurturing them in their faith, praying for their Christian growth and transformation into the likeness of Christ.

Perhaps Kayne West needs to take a step back from the entertainment business and find out who he is in Christ. I have a hint, It’s probably not ‘the greatest artist God ever created’.

There’s a lot more that could be said about the state of evangelical Christianity in our time, but I’ll just leave it right there and let you think about it. All comments are welcome.

Hillsong Worship Leader Leaves the Faith

By Pastor Gabe Hughes, The Midwestern Baptist

Recently, author and former megachurch pastor Joshua Harris announced that he had left his wife and the Christian faith. The announcement came in a most 2019 way: via Instagram with a picture of himself brooding over a scenic lake (your typical Pondering Pond photo). Most known for his breakout book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, it was all too easy for a plethora of articles to emerge under the heading “Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye.”

Mere days later, Harris was posting pictures of himself at a gay pride event. Some have dared to speculate that Harris’s next big announcement will be to come out of the closet. Gossip aside, it’s clear that Harris does not intend his departure from the faith to be a quiet, contemplative step back. He will capitalize on his own name and the bankability of a star-pastor going rogue, having said he plans to start a podcast about his “journey.” Harris is not a Christian, and he’s proud of it.

Regarding Harris’s apostasy, Toby Logsdon, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Lynnwood, WA, said the following: “Amazing, isn’t it? That anyone could walk away from the Christian faith and feel liberated rather than absolutely terrified. But were it not for God’s grace sustaining our faith and preserving our place in Christ, we would deny Christ as surely and as readily as Peter did.”

With any story of apostasy, we would do well to remember the Spirit’s instruction in Philippians 2:12-13, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Harris is not the first high-profile name to leave the faith, and he won’t be the last—as we are being reminded even today. Yet another megachurch star has taken to Instagram to announce he’s no longer a Christian. You may not know the name Marty Sampson, but you know his songs. Marty has been a worship leader with Hillsong and has written or co-written dozens of hits. His praise albums have sold millions of copies, and his worship choruses have tens of millions of views on YouTube.

In a single paragraph on his Instagram (martysamps), Marty said the following:

Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more. I want genuine truth. Not the “I just believe it” kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others. All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point… I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.

It looks like it was written with the grammar and reason of an adolescent who begrudgingly went to youth group because his parents made him. But Marty Sampson is 40 years old, a husband, a father, and a church leader. As with Harris, Marty is “so at peace” with his decision. I would be, too, if the Christianity I had was the flimsy cardboard box Marty had been living in at Hillsong.

Marty says, “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.” Um, where has he been all summer? For the last two weeks, news of Joshua Harris has consumed evangelical social media. A couple weeks before that, narcissist Mark Driscoll came in on the raft he’s reassembled from the shipwreck of his ministry to make fun of his former beliefs. A month before that, word had spread that Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald allegedly sought a hitman to murder someone. Shall I go on?

Marty says, “How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it.” Consider where this is coming from—Hillsong is a charismatic megachurch that started in the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination. They believe tongue-spieling, prophecy-revealing, spirit-feeling, body-reeling, super-healing miracles are going on all the time. Marty has seen through the ruse of charismaticism and recognized this stuff is totally fake. But instead of questioning the Hillsong bubble he was living in, he’s blaming all of Christendom.

Marty says, “Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it.” How much has Marty actually tried to find answers for these things? The Bible has not a single contradiction. If at any point we think the Bible contradicts itself, that’s our problem, not God’s. For two thousand years, the church has not lacked teachers able to respond to such criticisms. One of my first WWUTT videos was dispelling the myth that there are contradictions between the four gospels. To say “No one talks about it” is absurdly ignorant.

Marty says, “How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to [hell], all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.” Hell is what everyone deserves because all have sinned against God. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). There are many teachers who talk about the stuff Marty says no one talks about. Now, it may be true that “no one talks about” hell at Hillsong because it’s an uncomfortable doctrine that will keep people from buying CD’s. Sales will truly drop if they go from singing about happy-go-lucky Jesus to the Jesus who will strike down the nations (see Revelation 19:11-16).

Marty says, “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth.” That may be a picture of what Marty encountered at Hillsong. Maybe he tried to ask questions about these things, but the depth of the answers he got was “I just believe it.” We as Christians are instructed to grow in the knowledge of God through the Bible. The Apostle Paul told the Colossians to be “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In Christ we find “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and we are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10).

Hillsong is not the place to find knowledge. One of their own pastors, Carl Lentz, was asked by Oprah, “Do you believe that only Christians can be in relationship with God?” Lentz replied, “No. I believe that when Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, he’s the road-marker.” What on earth does that mean? No wonder Marty has had trouble finding “genuine truth.” Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). If genuine truth is what Marty wants, he must turn to Jesus and away from Hillsong.

Marty says, “Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion,” which is just his way of saying, “I’m a natural-minded man who can’t discern spiritual things” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). Marty says, “Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God.” This is the fruit of Lentz’s reply to Oprah. Jesus is not a life-improvement plan. He’s the only way to God, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection from the dead!

If this is Marty Sampson’s farewell letter to Christianity, then all he reveals here is that he was never a Christian in the first place. We read in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

There are many who scoff at the idea that a former believer didn’t really believe in the first place. But just take Marty at his own words. In his song Elohim, he wrote, “I stand upon the solid rock of faith in Christ,” and “I know my hope shall last.” Apparently that was a lie. In the song One Thing, Marty wrote, “One thing I desire, one thing I seek, to gaze upon your beauty.” The bridge goes, “I will seek your face, call upon your name, Jesus, all I want is you.” But Marty is no longer seeking Christ and is not calling on His name. It cannot be that Jesus was all he wanted.

The chorus of the song goes, “Lord your name is higher than the heavens, Lord your name is higher than all created things.” That’s certainly true, but it wasn’t for Marty. How could a person believe with all his heart in the greatest truth that could ever be known, and then turn around and call it a lie? Such a thing would be impossible. The truth of God cannot be denied by those who have truly beheld its power. Marty did not have faith—he had a passing opinion. He never truly believed the name of Jesus is the name above all names. If he did, he’d be falling on his face in fear of his unbelief, not comfortably musing, “I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.”

Marty says, “I’ve never been about living my life for others.” Now, Marty what means is that the opinions of others regarding his newly minted apostasy are not going to change his mind. But unfortunately, this is, like Joshua Harris’s confession, an unapologetic statement of pride. That’s exactly who Marty is living for—he is living for himself.

His closing words are equally sad and ironic: “Let the rain fall, the sun will come up tomorrow.” When the Apostle Paul rebuked some of the Corinthians for not believing in the resurrection of Jesus, he said, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Without hope in the resurrection of Christ, we have no hope at all. Marty is conceding to the purposeless of life apart from Jesus, whether or not Marty is aware that’s what he just confessed.

Our hearts should break when we hear of stories like Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson. They no doubt have family members whose hearts are also breaking. The day of judgment will be most dreadful for the one who heard the truth, even shared the truth, and yet did not believe it themselves. That is a frightening thing to consider. May none of us ever be too proud, but may we submit to our Father in heaven with fear and trembling. Pray for one another, that we may stand strong in a time of trial. “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

We worship a good God, and without His grace none of us would be saved. Draw near to Him, cling all the more to Christ, who has sealed us with His Holy Spirit for the day of redemption. Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus, His Life – Episode 6: Pilate: The Trial

We begin this final episode with the same introduction as the first five parts. he episode begins with the same introductory comments.

We begin with a scene of Roman soldiers, along with a carriage in which sits Pilate and his wife, entering through the gates of Jerusalem. Pilate is thinking “I hate this place.” Referring to hot dusty Jerusalem. His thoughts continue “Once I wanted to make a name for myself, but now I just want to scrub this place from my skin”. Pilate’s attitude is significant to the whole story.

The commentators provide a bit of historical content:

Pilate was the prefect, that is the Roman military Governor in the province of Judea from 26 – 36 A.D. He’s famous for one thing. He’s the man in charge during the execution of Jesus. Pilate has come from the lowest level of Roman nobility and probably clawed his way up the ladder to end up in the little backwater town in Judea, arriving on the eve of the Passover. It’s a tough time for a Roman to be in Jerusalem.

Pilate only travels to Jerusalem during Jewish feasts and festivals and fulfills an important ‘behind the scenes’ role, working with the High Priest to make sure there is no unrest during Passover. Pilate also holds the ceremonial robes that Caiaphas must wear – a kind of hostage situation.

Pilate gives Caiaphas his ceremonial robes and asks him if there is anything he needs to know about. Caiaphas answers that there is not. Pilate is naturally suspicious of Caiaphas and really thinks that Caiaphas is expecting trouble.

Next we wee Pilate being awakened in the middle of the night by a messenger from Caiaphas and of course upset. Caiaphas drags Jesus in and presents him to Pilate, hoping Pilate would deal with Jesus because Jesus is popular with the Jewish people. It’s a familiar story. Pilate asks about the charges against Jesus and actually speaks to Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”As with Caiaphas earlier, Jesus answers “You say so.”

Caiaphas and Pilate talk things over with Caiaphas making more accusations about Jesus. Pilate finally tells Caiaphas and the religious leaders “Take him yourselves. Judge him by your own laws.” (So far, so good.). Caiaphas wanted Jesus executed but had no authority to do so. Pilate wonders why Caiaphas wants Jesus dead.

At the same time we are told that the Pilate of history was cruel and merciless petty tyrant, while the Pilate of the Bible is weak and indecisive, not wanting to take full responsibility for Jesus’ death. The story of the trial in the gospels doesn’t really reflect the actual historical and political reality of the time, so we are told, in order to more easily convert Romans to Christianity. The Biblical portrayal doesn’t reflect the true power of the Roman Prefect.

The conversation between Jesus and Pilate is for the most part, faithful to the text of John 18. Pilate’s wife tells her husband to have nothing to do with Jesus, but when Pilate was sitting at tribunal and not privately, as depicted. Also, the film gives us a glimpse of what she saw in her dream, which is not in the text. Pilate then ‘passes the buck’ to Herod.

The appearance before Herod is recorded in Luke 23. Jesus wasn’t forthcoming there either. Herod an his solders mock Jesus and it is Herod’s soldiers who are said to mock Jesus, not Herod alone, as the film portrays. The chief priests and the rulers of the law who were there are not shown in the film either. It is suggested that perhaps Herod thought the mocking was sufficient punishment and that’s why he handed him back to Pilate.

Pilate of course doesn’t want to make a decision to put Jesus to death and is seen taking things over with Caiaphas telling the Chief Priest the he has found nothing in Jesus worthy of execution. He calls for the condemned rebel Barabbas to be brought to him, per the Jewish custom of freeing one condemned Jewish man during the feast.

We are again told that it is naïve to think of Caiaphas a terribly evil character and reminded that portraying Caiaphas birthed anti-Semitism. After all, Caiaphas just wanted to save lives. (This is the same line that was fed to us in an earlier episode.) This is consistent with an earlier commentator’s claims that the Jewish people were not, then or now, in any way responsible for Jesus’ death (even though Peter on Pentecost said otherwise).

Pilate presents Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd. “Give us Barabbas!”, they shout. So Pilate is off the hook and can have Jesus executed without a major uprising. He orders the flogging that preceded the execution. We are given great detail about the whip of cords used in the flogging,

Soldiers again mock Jesus and put a red cloak across his shoulders and the crown of thorns upon his head.

Jesus is dragged through the crowds. Pilate still seems uncertain and Caiaphas tells Pilate, “Go on, crucify him.” Pilate says to Caiaphas, “You take him, you crucify him.”, demonstrating the power play between the two men. Since Pilate knows Caiaphas doesn’t have the authority to put Jesus to death and us warning Caiaphas to stay in his lane. (Scripture says they became fast friends? Luke 23:12).

We are treated to more speculative commentary concerning the back and forth between the two and a silly commentator (professor from Duke) telling us that the gospel writers were wrong trying to blame the Jews for Jesus’ death. (He doesn’t believe the gospel writers weren’t inspired by the Hoy Spirit to write what they did.)

At this point Pilate and Caiaphas sure aren’t acting like fast friends! There’s a lot of angry glaring at each other.

Another10 minutes or do of speculation I was too tired to add to my notes, along with more angry stares between Caiaphas and Pilate. Finally, Pilate himself orders the execution but washes his hands of Jesus blood. More comments about the gospel writers being wrong about the Jews being responsible for the execution (different commentator).

“The historical reality is likely to have been that if Caiaphas had brought Jesus to Caiaphas to Pilate, Pilate would not even have batted an eye in ordering the crucifixion of Jesus” (Dr. Robert Cargill)

Pilate walks away thinking, “What does another dead man matter to me anyway? Golgotha is soaked in the blood of countless men, and I remember none of them. Rome won’t give a second thought to Jesus of Nazareth, so why should I?”

Jesuit Priest, Dr. James Martin tells us, in one of the last two comments of the episode, “We should not blame Caiaphas and the Jewish authorities for the death of Jesus. Only one person had the authority to put Jesus to death, and that was Pontius Pilate, a Roman.”

The very last scene of the episode has Pilate and his wife watching two Roman soldiers dragging Jesus away for his execution. Jesus glances at them both. Pilates wife looks at her husband disapprovingly then turns around and walks away.

“If Pontius Pilate hadn’t executed Jesus of Nazareth. Pontius Pilate would have been lost to history. He would have just been another Prefect of another distant province.” ( Dr. Michael Peppard, Author)

(I guess the very last comment had to be about the main character of the episode.)

                                                                           The End

Dan’s final thoughts:

This episode had nothing at all to say about Jesus’ mission in coming, either true or false. It didn’t really need to. It was all about Caiaphas, Pilate, and Jesus’ trial. What was shown about Jesus seemed to be accurate. Not so much the Roman Prefect and the High Priest. They were both misrepresented and their relationship (they became friends) twisted to fit the botched narrative commentary.

P.S., I just noticed that there are still two more episodes to follow, Jesus life from the viewpoints of Mary Magdalene and Peter. I had already begun working a summary of sorts with a few overall observations, and now two more???????? (Some of you will get it.) Decision, decisions.

Jesus, His Life – Episode 5: Judas: The Betrayal

The episode begins with the same introductory comments. Again, as with previous episodes we will be asking “Where’s the Gospel?” again and hoping to see/hear a clear message that Jesus died for the sins of men. There will again be a few italicized personal comments. And off we go again.

This new episode’s introduction begins with a commentator telling us that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is “one of the great mysteries of the New Testament” Then we are taken back to the scene in the Garden where Peter cut off Malchus ear and Jesus healed him. Judas is watching and we are told that Judas is probably asking himself “Is this the kind of Messiah I want to follow?” Judas had been looking for another “David”. Another commentator says “Every story needs a bad guy and Judas is it”.

The actual episode begins in Bethany and Jesus’ whispering for Lazarus to come out, which he does. Mary hugs Lazarus. Judas is watching and thinking “Each of us grows up hoping we can make our mark, becoming something special. Until Jesus came into my life I was a nobody, but not now. Now the world will remember the name ‘Judas Iscariot’- forever.” (I guess that’s because he was one of the disciples of the man who brought a dead man to life.

We are told that “The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the greatest miracle of Jesus’ ministry, bar none” and would both astonished and scared people. We are also reminded that why Judas betrayed is the greatest mystery in the Bible. It’s not a ‘who done it, but a “why did he do it”

Commentators speculate about Judas, since the Bible doesn’t tell us much about him. He wasn’t mentioned all of the time but we know he spent a lot of time with Jesus. We see Judas and Jesus in a crowd and Judas cautioning Jesus, “Be careful Lord, these crowds are dangerous.” “Jesus was very close to Jesus, in his inner circle, yet he betrayed Jesus for reasons we don’t understand. That makes him a compelling and mysterious character (Joel Osteen).

Judas was different from the other disciples. He didn’t come from Galilee, where Jesus called the others. “Iscariot” is probably a Judean name. He might have been named after a town called ‘Kerioth’. Maybe he’s even from a group of trained assassins called the Sicarii, who were Jewish zealots.

We do know he sort of the ‘treasurer’ for the disciples. With that in mind, we head to Bethany again, to the home of Mary,

Martha and Lazarus and the story we are so familiar with of Mary anointing Jesus feet with expensive ointment and Judas objects, scolding Mary:  “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone and that while the poor will always be available to care for, he (Jesus) would not.

The incident is kind of a turning point for Judas. Jesus had rebuked and embarrassed him in front of the entire household. Judas is convinced that Jesus could not see just how much he cared. (Really? For the poor? He was always a thief [John 12:2])

Fast forward to the triumphant entry into Jerusalem at Passover.

One commentator tells us that that Jesus knows exactly what he is doing, that he is orchestrating everything.’ coming to Jerusalem was to say “The status quo is corrupt, the current world is wrong, and we need to change it, NOW! We See Jesus riding through the streets with Judas alongside proclaiming “This is the coming kingdom of or ancestor David.” Judas muses that he was convinced that his destine was to sit at the right hand of the king! Jesus is riding along, arms wide open and smiling. By riding in on a donkey he is in effect claiming to be the king of Israel. We are told that Jesus has become both a religious and political agitator to the Romans and religious leaders.

Jesus goes to the temple and sees the money changers there to sell animals for sacrifices, a practice everyone is making money off of, and Jesus is angry, turning over tables and scattering money all over the place. We are told that Jesus’ anger is really an expression of his disgust at Caiaphas becoming rich from Roman favor and the money of honest Jewish pilgrims.

We are told that when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers, Judas might well have thought that this picture of a violent Jesus, and not the loving, ministering, miracle working Jesus, was NOT the Jesus he wanted to see. This would mark Jesus as ‘public enemy #1 for the establishment.

Judas is then seen approaching the temple (or home) and asking to see Caiaphas. Judas was deeply disappointed that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah he had expected, which might have been the reason for the betrayal. We are told that many fail to see the human side of Judas, that he was wrestling with a huge decision. Judas tells Caiaphas that Jesus must be stopped. Caiaphas tells him to look for an opportunity to hand him over, somewhere quiet, and hands him a bag of money, the thirty pieces of silver, which amounted to either one month’s wages or four month’s wages, depending on if the silver was in Roman denarii or Israeli shekels.

We are given some useful information about the history and meaning of the Passover meal in Jewish culture, looking back a the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Now to the Passover meal with Jesus and the disciples. Judas is concerned whether or not Jesus knows he just betrayed him.

At the table, Jesus speaks to his disciples about his coming death, confusing the disciples again. Jesus shares the bread “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” “This is the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Neither Jesus or the commentator say that Jesus blood was poured out “for the remission of sin. This is a huge omission, consistent with previous episodes omitting the thought that Jesus died for the sins of men. We are given to believe that Jesus’ impending death and resurrection is about saving the world system!)

At supper, Jesus also announced “One of you will betray me, one who is eating here.” Judas, sitting next to Jesus asks him “Which of us in the traitor, Lord.” Jesus says “It is the one who to whom I give this piece of bread, when I have dipped it in this dish,” and breaking off a piece of bread, dipping it and handing it to Judas. And of course, Jesus also whispers to Judas “Do what you have to do, but do it quickly.” The other disciples think perhaps Jesus has sent Judas on some sort of an errand.

The Jesuit Priest who commented on the other Jesus episodes offers that Jesus was either demonstrating his omniscience in knowing Judas would actually betray him, or he was just using human intuition, having known Judas so well. (The either/or is interesting, coming from someone who supposedly knows the attributes of God.)

Judas leaves, still struggling mightily, knowing he is betraying everything he once believed in.

Now to the Garden of Gethsemane (probably a vineyard, per a commentator). Jesus is praying, doesn’t want to die, but has accepted his fate, if it’s God’s will.

The Roman soldiers, Malchus & company from the Temple, and Judas arrive. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.

Peter separates Malchus from one of his ears and Jesus miraculously heals him. Judas is thinking again: “Jesus IS committed to a ministry of non-violence, and certainly doesn’t it marred by a violent act.” . . . “With that kiss I tore down everything he (Jesus) gave his all to do!”

Jesus is dragged off to see Caiaphas (for the first time) Judas realizes that he has played right into the High Priest’s hands, asking himself “What have I done?”

Jesus is being judged in Caiaphas’ mansion by the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night, against the rules for such affairs. Jesus is confronted with “So you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus is silent except to say “You have said so. But I say to all of you, from now on, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, on the clouds of heaven.

The Sanhedrin, except for Joseph of Arimathea (who offered a tomb for the burial) and Nicodemus (who visited Jesus at night in the gospel of John), agree that Jesus must die The two men cave to pressure, however, and the verdict of the Sanhedrin is unanimous.

Judas is distraught because this was NOT the end he was hoping for. He had wanted Caiaphas to toss Jesus “into the deep end” to see what he would do. Perhaps if Jesus had performed another great miracle, they would have been convinced he was who he said he was and let him go. Jesus was actually horrified by the verdict.

A commentator (the Jesuit Priest) adds that the ‘illegal’ trial would make the Jews look like bad people and wonders of the accounts of Judas in the New Testament fed into ‘antisemitism’. The Jewish people, as a whole, were not then, and are not now responsible for the death of Jesus.

Judas, thinking again, finally understands his legacy. He was the man who handed Jesus over to his executioners. “Lord, what have I done? I never thought it would end like this! There was a time when I thought nothing could stop us – until an evil seed entered my mind and made me doubt his (Jesus’) every word.”

Judas angrily returns the thirty pieces of silver. Overwhelmed by guilt he wonders if he was born to betray Jesus, or if the Devil made him do it.

Another commentator (Obama’s faith advisor) asks “What it Judas’ fault he did what he did? The reality is that we all have free will. Our Jesuit Priest says that the Judas story demonstrates the great battle between good and evil. That Judas was ‘chosen’ to do what he did means that there is some good in it. In fact, there is a huge battle between good and evil within Judas throughout the story.

Professor Nicola Lewis’ gives us her opinion of the Judas story:” I think what’s fascinating is that we will never get a handle on his (Judas) motivation.”

Then we see Judas, alone in the desert, slowly walking toward a lone, scraggly tree, and sitting down at the foot of the tree. “I wish I could go back, but I sense that God will never forgive me.” The camera zooms out and we see the silhouette of the tree and Judas hanging from one of the branches.

A final commentator tells us: “Our conundrum is that without the betrayal, Jesus doesn’t get handed over to the Romans to be executed. If Judas hadn’t done what he did and we wouldn’t have the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which is the centerpiece of Christian history.”

The End

Dan’s final thoughts: WHAT conundrum? Is all of this REALLY such a great mystery? Haven’t some of these commentators read Peter’s sermon at Pentecost? To the assembled Jews he proclaimed:

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Acts 2:22-23

Is there a great conundrum, or unfathomable mystery in the story of Judas? I would say possibly, but only a small one. While we might not know Judas’ exact personal motives, there was a very definite plan of God afoot; one that could NOT be thwarted. The fact of the complete sovereignty of God in the story should put us at complete rest concerning the minute details and this ‘great mystery’.

There is much in the film I left out, some accurate things and some not so accurate. Feel free to watch it for yourself, Bible at the ready!

Next up: Pilate: The Trial