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The Chronicles of Eternity, Part 1: The Scattered Sheep - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8144
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
On one particular night, many years ago, a divinely appointed conversation ensued. A group of men gathered in a large upstairs room of a house belonging to a man only identified as one carrying a pitcher of water. The room itself was inconsequential, but it offered the group a brief moment of respite from the thronging crowds of devotees and critics which usually pressed them at every turn. Of note, the room had already been prepared for the Passover Supper prior to the group's arrival.
Initially, there were 13 men, but one them left abruptly and mysteriously. But at his departure, the men drew in closer around one Man in particular, who had been serving the bread and the wine. He was an average looking Man, but the men listened intently to every word as He spoke and began to grasp the gravitas in which He spoke to them. He said that the bread represented His body, which would be broken and that the wine, represented His blood, which would be shed for the forgiveness of sins.
There was something foreboding about this night, though, and the men could all sense it. They weren't sure what would happen, but the One, Jesus, had spoken recently about how He would soon be handed over to the officials, and subsequently executed. But He seemed so serene and at peace about the whole ordeal that it was a little unsettling to the rest of them, especially Peter. And how could this be when it was only a few days prior, that all the multitude of His disciples began to throw down palm leaves before His path and singing " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Things weren't adding up in many of the disciple's minds. He was supposed to be "the One", of whom all the prophets foretold would come, and would finally set up the promised Kingdom for which they had been waiting for. How could He now allow Himself to die or be killed by the Romans, or by the Scribes and Pharisees? What about the promised Kingdom with the Messiah at the head of Israel, who was to be the head of all nations? Knowing their concerns, Jesus spoke...
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:1-6
A week prior, as they were departing from Herod's temple, they made note of its beauty and grandeur as the sun hit it in the dying light of the day. It was then, that Jesus told them that it was all coming down...literally. Herod's Temple, Jerusalem, Israel, and everything they ever knew, was about to be changed forever. This greatly troubled the men and they pressed Him as to the meaning of His comments as they climbed the Mount of Olives. It was here that He explained to them the answers to their questions of when these things would be, what would be the sign of His coming, and of the end of the age.
"Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
"Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened. Matt. 24:4-22
From the way He had put it at the Mt. of Olives, the future was dark, dangerous, and filled with peril. So how is it now, at the Passover Supper, that He was calmly telling them to not to be troubled? He promised them that a "Helper" would come, and that He would guide them into all truth, and that even though they would have tribulation in this life, that they would overcome the world, just as He has. On one hand, as they were facing the Temple and Jerusalem, Christ told them what would be coming in the future, and that would be killed and persecuted. On the other, as they sat here in this intimate setting, celebrating the Passover meal together, that He had a glorious plan to receive them unto Himself, and take them to be where He is.
Departing the house after the Passover, they gathered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was praying, and they were scattered about attempting to pray, but mostly dozing, when they came. The Sanhedrin Guard, chief priests, elders, and supporters with club and sword, came to arrest Jesus. Half of the disciples scattered, Peter attempted to fight, but was quickly and verbally restrained by Jesus. Then He was gone, taken by them to the high priest's courtyard to face trial in the middle of the night, in what would presumably be, a one-sided, already predetermined outcome to finally rid Jerusalem and all of Israel, of this Jesus.
It was during the trial, that anything and everything they could possibly accuse Him of, was thrown at Him. In fact, there was so much "evidence" and "eyewitness" statements, that they started conflicting with each other...so much so, that in any normal court, would have been immediately thrown out. All the while, Jesus remained silent. In fact, it wasn't until the high priest Caiaphas adjured Him under oath and before the living God, as to whether or not He was the Christ, the Son of God that He finally spoke up.
He opened His mouth and the crowd drew back... "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." The courtroom exploded into commotion, as the priest tore his robe and calls of 'blasphemy' rang out. The men began to beat, spit, and pull the beard from Jesus. Things were getting out of hand, but it was to this charge, that the Jews wanted Christ killed.
Since they lacked the legal means to execute Christ themselves, the Sanhedrin had to take Jesus to Pilate for sentencing. Knowing the Romans would not see 'blasphemy' as a serious charge, they instead brought Him there on accusation of treason. They wanted this Man dead, and would use any angle they could to ensure that that was the outcome they received. The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, wanted nothing to do with this "Jewish drama", and told them to take Christ to the "Jewish" king Herod. Herod sought parlor tricks from Christ, yet Christ remained silent, and thus, was sent back to Pilate for sentencing.
Again facing Pilate, Jesus spoke only briefly in response when asked if He was the King of the Jews, in which Christ responded "it is as you say". Pilate then let the thronging crowds decide His fate. Pilate then found the most despicable and detestable Jewish prisoner he could find, who was a murderer by the name of Barabbas. Either Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd chanted "Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let His blood be upon us and our children!"
So Jesus was charged, scourged, and crucified on the same day. His bloodied, bruised, and naked body hung on a cross between two thieves as the sky grew dark and ominous. He died in the ninth hour, and although as was the custom, did not have a single bone broken even after to confirm His death. Instead rather, a spear was thrust into His side, of which blood and water poured out. His mother, John, and Mary Magdalene remained near the cross to receive His body and to ensure that He received a proper burial before sundown.
The Shepherd was struck, and the sheep were scattered...that is what Christ said would happen, and it was so. The disciples remained hidden that day, and through the rest of the Sabbath. It was on the third day, that the women went to His tomb to dress the body, in which they made an amazing discovery...the Roman guards were gone, and stone which sealed His tomb had been rolled aside. It was Mary Magdalene who first saw the resurrected Christ. She worshipped Him and then ran back to tell the rest of the disciples. There was excitement, anxiety, and even disbelief amongst the disciples as to the veracity of Mary's claim. True enough though upon their own inspection, that the tomb was empty and it was as she claimed.
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. John 20:19-20
For the next forty days, Christ remained among them, appearing and disappearing at will, eating with them, and instructing them on all that the Hebrews Scriptures foretold about Him, and all the things that are still yet to come. He instructed them to wait in Jerusalem until the received power from upon High, the promised Holy Spirit. It was on the fortieth day, that Christ gathered them and was about to ascend, when the disciples put forth one final question to Him...
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Acts 1:6-11
They didn't fully understand all that was to transpire. All through the Hebrew Scriptures, the Kingdom was to be a glorious age ushered in by the promised Messiah. Yet He was departing and not all were privy to the conversations that were had on either the Mt. of Olives, or the Upper Room so the question loomed large in their minds as to what was to come. But God, being merciful, would bring about their understanding in a most unusual way. And it was in these early days, that the Jews began persecuting the Church (or as was known then as 'The Way') without mercy. One of Jews most zealous enforcers of the anti-blasphemy laws, went by the name of Saul of Tarsus. So it began with Stephen, their group's first martyr, being stoned to death after giving a most excellent testimony that...
Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Acts 8:1-3
To be continued...