Before the ball dropped and the New Year started, I posted an article entitled: Jesus the True and Better Prophet, Priest, and King. In my next several posts, I want us to explore those roles in more detail.
Much like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus’ message didn’t resonate with everyone, especially the high ranking officials in His day. Since He opposed their way of life and threatened their power and position, they rejected Him and had Him killed.
The Jews, however, weren’t the only ones to reject Jesus. We are still rejecting Him today
How Do We Reject Jesus’ Prophetic Message?
We reject Jesus’ message in a number of ways. Certainly, this is happening through:
Laws that are being enacted.
Under the Bloomberg administration, New York City sought to keep churches from using public schools to hold worship services.
While this was disguised as an attempt to separate Church and State, it was clearly an attempt to silence the message of the gospel in New York City. Space in New York is limited and expensive. Without the ability to use the school’s facilities many churches would be forced to either move out of the city or quit gathering altogether.
Or think of the battle over bathrooms that is currently happening in our country. While the battle over bathrooms is generally taking place in the public sphere, in Massachusetts it’s even affecting churches. On September 1st, 2016 the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination released a Gender Identity Guidance legislation, which says, among other things, that all places of public accommodation have to allow people to use the bathroom of their choice.
Churches aren’t exempt from this ruling. They say,
“Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”
So if a church denies a person from using the bathroom of their choice, they could be prosecuted. Going even further, they say that the failure to use a person’s preferred pronoun at these events would also trigger anti-discrimination laws and the church could be held liable . Clearly, this is an attempt to silence churches from speaking the truth by forcing them to participate or pay the price.
In the State of Texas, the city of Houston tried to silence pastors’ speech from the pulpit about these same transgender issues.
Those few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. There are people right now pushing for laws, legislation, and ordinances that seek to silence Christians.
Closer to Home
The above, however, aren’t the only ways Jesus’ message is rejected. Bringing it a little closer to home, there are people in Decatur, the town in which I live, who reject Jesus’ message.
We reject Jesus’ message because we don’t recognize we are sinners
Many think they can save themselves because they see themselves as good. For some reason, we have this idea that God keeps a tally of our good and bad actions. When we die and stand before Him, He is going to bring out His heavenly scale and weigh our good against our bad. If our good outweighs the bad, the pearly gates are going to open and we are going to be ushered into heaven.
This thinking, while it leads to moral living, at least moral living that is better than the guy down the street, ultimately leads to a rejection of our need for Jesus, because the core of this type of thinking believes that Jesus came not to save, but to provide the ultimate example of how we should live. In this way, then, we change Jesus’ prophetic message from one of repent and believe to follow My example and everything will be alright.
While some, then, may not be working to enact laws, or blatantly stifle Jesus’ message, we still rejecting Jesus’ prophetic message when we claim and even teach others that we can get to heaven by simply doing more good than bad. But that’s simply not true. We can’t work our way to heaven by doing more good than bad, which is why:
We Shouldn’t Reject Jesus’ Prophetic Message
Instead, we should listen to it.
The Bad News
Paul provides a good summary of Jesus’ message in his letter to the Romans. In Romans 3 starting in verse 10, Paul paints a startling picture of just how despicable we are when he says,
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Ro 3:10–18)
This is us! This is the bad news. “no one is righteous”. “No one does good.”
If no one is righteous and no one does good, how then can our good outweigh our bad? The answer is: It can’t! Our good can’t outweigh our bad if all we do is bad. So, even if God kept a tally and weighed our works on a heavenly scale, the “good” side would be empty. Instead of being ushered through the pearly gates, we would be ushered into eternal destruction, if it’s our works that we rely on.
You see, we are that bad, and since we are that bad we can’t save ourselves. In verses 19 and 20, Paul says,
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Ro 3:19–20)
You see what he is saying? The idea that we can work our way to God is the same idea that condemns us. That’s because we learn what is good or bad through the law. Either the law of God given in the Bible, or in the case of those who don’t have a Bible, the law that is written on their hearts; the one that is apparent in their society (Rom 2:14-15).
Once we have this law, which we all have, we all stand condemned. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight”, Paul says. And “No one does good, not even one” (Rom 3:12b-c). We are all sinners who are incapable of working our way to God.
I don’t know about you, but that is enough to convince me that I need to listen to Jesus’ prophetic message. But in case you still think that you are a pretty good person, consider what Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, revealed about God’s knowledge of us. There we learn that God doesn’t just judge us by our outward actions, He also judges according to our heart. That’s a scary thought for someone who is trying to justify themselves by their works. Outwardly you might appear to be a good person. You might do and say all the right things, fooling yourself and those around you into believing you are a good person. But God looks past the facade. He peers into the very depths of your soul, judging you not just by what you do, but also by what you think, want, and desire. He knows the motivation behind every action. We all know our thoughts, wants, desires, and motivations aren’t always righteous, which means we really are that bad.
The Good News
We, then, need to listen to and believe Jesus’ prophetic message. Realizing that Jesus isn’t just a prophet announcing the coming of the Kingdom, instead, He is the One who brings the kingdom. He is the bread of life. The One in and through whom we find our salvation. He is the true and better Prophet who offers complete forgiveness and reconciliation.
Don’t Reject Jesus’ Prophetic Message
Instead, hear it, believe it, turn to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and experience the good news of the gospel for yourself.
If you have already experienced salvation in Jesus, praise God for sending His prophet, His Son into the world, to not only announce the good news but to be the good news Himself.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you realize that you are that bad?
- Do you see your need for Jesus?
Post adapted from my sermon Jesus as Prophet
 Washington Post
[2&3] Mass.gov AND Washington Post