Prepare for Jesus’ Return: No More Pharisees’ Errors
By Ma Xiao
One day, Sister Ma made an appointment with me to come to Co-worker Xiao’s house. Sister Ma said, “These days, when studying the Scripture, I’m always confused by a question. I want to discuss it with you, and listen to your understanding. In the Bible, I saw one of the ‘Seven Woes’ with which the Lord Jesus cursed the Pharisees: ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). I thought: These scribes and Pharisees were master of the Bible and served Jehovah God in the temple and synagogue all the year round. They ought to have known God best. However, they didn’t accept the Lord’s salvation and even hindered the Jews from doing it when the Lord Jesus came to do work. Unexpectedly, they nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross in the end. They were all familiar with the Bible and the laws. How come they didn’t know God but rather resisted Him? It’s very necessary for us to figure it out, I think.”
I responded to her, “You don’t say, I also think there is truth to seek from it. Nowadays, the disasters are getting more serious everywhere. The four blood moons in the book of Revelation have been fulfilled. The great disaster is about to fall. Now is the day of the Lord’s coming. If we fail to see through the essence of the question why the Pharisees longed for the Messiah but opposed Him, then we can hardly ensure we won’t walk their path. In that case, we’ll be in danger.”
Co-worker Xiao said, “You’re right. I consider this question, too. Recently, I’ve studied the Bible carefully. I found: At that time, the Pharisees saw many miracles performed by the Lord and heard many words spoken by the Lord. They saw His words and work had authority and power. But they didn’t know the Lord from them. Rather, they feared that the Jews all would follow the Lord Jesus, and that they would lose their status and livelihood. So, they tempted the Lord and tried to find fault with Him to condemn Him. It’s just like what was recorded in Luke 6:6–11. When the Lord Jesus worked with His disciples and healed the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, the Pharisees condemned Him for His not observing the Sabbath and communed with each other what they might do to Him. Also, John 8:4–11 recorded like this: The scribes and Pharisees seized a woman in adultery and intentionally took her to the Lord Jesus. They tempted Him, asking Him whether or not this woman should be stoned to death according to the law of Moses. However, the Lord Jesus forgave her. After carefully weighing these verses, I found another reason why the Pharisees opposed the Lord was that they only kept the laws of the Old Testament and always used them to measure His work. Once His work wasn’t in compliance with the laws, they then would condemn and judge it. As a result, they became the ones who opposed the Lord.”
Then, Sister Ma said with emotion, “Your words remind me of what the Lord Jesus did at that time, such as sitting down with sinners, touching the dead man and the man full of leprosy, and forgiving the sins of the sinners. In the eyes of the Pharisees, these actions were unlawful. No wonder that they didn’t admit the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. It is because they judged whether or not the Lord came from God according to the Old Testament. They deemed that anyone who kept the laws was from God, or he was not from God, no matter how great his authority was. This caused them to turn the Lord Jesus over to Pilate and say, ‘We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God’ (John 19:7). So, I think the reason for their failure was that they rigidly held on to the letters of the Bible, but didn’t at all know God or His work of saving man. Instead, they were arrogant and conceited. They used their biblical letters and theories and their own conceptions and imagination to determine that the Lord couldn’t say new words or do new work beyond the laws of the Old Testament. Consequently, they crucified the Lord. After reading the Bible carefully, I see the Pharisees were indeed too arrogant and too conservative.”
I said in a heavy tone, “Yeah! Jehovah God said, ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8–9). God is the truth, the way, and the life. How can we men define God’s work? At that time, the Pharisees didn’t know God. They believed that they could welcome the descent of the Messiah as long as they understood biblical letters and abided by the laws of the Old Testament. But as a result, they became the persons who resisted the Lord. I increasingly feel that we are also in trouble. We have believed in the Lord for years and understood much of biblical knowledge, but we don’t know Him. In our daily life, we often arrogantly judge things that are not in line with our conceptions. After the fact reveals itself, we are ashamed. Then when the Lord comes back and His work isn’t how we want it, we’ll also easily make the same mistake as the Pharisees did. If so, we’ll end up just like the Pharisees.”
There was complete silence in the room …
“Hey! When the Lord Jesus came to do His work, there were some people following His footsteps, right? If we get clear on what basis they knew the Lord Jesus was the One coming from God, then can’t we find the path to knowing the Lord?” Co-worker Xiao said in surprise, as if discovering the new continent.
At the moment, both Sister Ma and I smiled. Sister Ma said, “Right, how come I didn’t realize it? At that time, there were so many people following the Lord, like Peter, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, the Samaritan woman, and some other Jewish people. They all thirsted for and sought the Lord. How did they know the Lord then?”
I answered, “I remember that the Bible recorded how the Samaritan woman and her companion knew the Lord. When the Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, ‘Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life’ (John 4:13–14), and spoke her secret — she had five husbands, she left her water pot and went into the city. Then she said to the men, ‘Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?’ (John 4:29). The Bible also recorded, ‘So when the Samaritans were come to him, they sought him that he would tarry with them: and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.’ (John 4: 40–42). From these verses, we can see that Samaritan woman realized that the Lord was Christ by hearing His words herself. Moreover, these Samaritan men also heard His words and then believed the Lord Jesus was the Savior.”
This moment, Co-worker Xiao said, “So did Nathanael. When Philip told Nathanael that Jesus was the Messiah, Nathanael said, ‘Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ However, when Nathanael heard the Lord Jesus said, ‘Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you (John 1: 48), Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel’ (John 1: 49). Nathanael put aside his own notions and believed in the Lord because the Lord knew he was under the fig tree without seeing him. Likewise, the Ethiopian eunuch affirmed that the Lord was the Son of God after hearing Philip’s preaching what the Lord had done. And Peter, who heard of the Lord Jesus’ preaching from others when he was fishing, and then he had a heart of yearning, always wanting to find the Lord Jesus. And afterward, through getting along with the Lord Jesus, Peter listened to and considered the Lord’s words carefully. And thereby he obtained the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit and knew that the Lord Jesus was Christ. He said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16: 16). ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God’ (John 6:68–69). These disciples and people who followed the Lord all came to know Him by His words and work. Thus, they moved outside the law, followed the footsteps of the Lamb, and received the Lord’s salvation.”
I said with some excitement, “I find that some people at that time, like the fisherman, the publican without understanding the Bible, and even the ignorant woman, all were hungry for the Lord’s words, had pure obedience to His words, and could put aside their own notions. With these traits, they were illuminated and enlightened by God from the Lord’s words and work and recognized that the Lord Jesus was Christ. At last they followed the Lord and received His salvation. It’s just as the Lord said, ‘Whoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Luke 14:11). ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’ (Matthew 5:6). The common people who were humble, hungry, pure, and obedient knew the Lord through His words and work, and thereby followed Him. However, those chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, who had high status and thought that they had great knowledge of the Bible, were arrogant and self-conceited. They held on to their own notions and opposed the Lord. In the end, they nailed the Lord to the cross, and so they were cursed by God. Therefore, regarding the return of the Lord, in my opinion, we can’t rely on our conceptions and imagination, thinking we’ll welcome Him by our understanding of Bible knowledge and our spending and suffering for Him. Instead, we should focus on God’s words and work to discern God’s voice. Like this, we can avoid repeating the Pharisees’ error of opposing God, and then welcome the Lord’s appearance.”
Co-worker Xiao said, “Well, the Lord Jesus said long ago, ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’ (Revelation 3:20). ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2:11). It shows us that the Lord will speak to us when He comes back. With regard to the church which testifies that the Lord has returned, we should investigate it with a seeking heart, and heed the voice of the Holy Spirit like the wise virgins. In this way, we can welcome the Lord’s appearance.”
Sister Ma and I replied in unison, “Thank the Lord! Through the fellowship today, we got unexpected gains: A knowledge of how to welcome the return of the Lord.”
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