Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mt 28:18 The Kingdom of God

Christos Pantocrator. God and man.
St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt
Image wikipedia 

With a few examples we have established from the Gospels that when Jesus said "I have been given all authority and heaven and earth" He did not promise end to wars, human suffering from sicknesses or natural disasters. On the contrary, these things continue and become even more intensive as the end of time approaches.

The majestic words are therefore for many unbelievers without any real significance and the authority of Jesus Christ is largely ignored from political calculations, economic decision making, administration of populations even in Christian countries. What worth is there to a man who claims to have all power and yet does not put an end to human suffering. History shows even how in His name bloody atrocities have been performed by His followers against non-Christians and other Christians.

Yet there are many reasons to take the words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew very seriously. Here are some of them

1. The words at the end of Matthew are spoken by a man who was publicly executed at the time of Pontius Pilate and his dead body buried in the city of Jerusalem.

2. Mission impossible that has been accomplished: many nations have been made into disciples of Jesus Christ through the message of joy and salvation proclaimed by His followers.

3. Christ will personally be present with His own people every day and every night. The enormous power behind the majestic words on authority lays in the last words of the Gospel according to Matthew
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20 NIV

King without a kingdom
In about 30 AD, when Jesus of Nazareth first began to preach to the people in the region around Lake Kinneret and then elsewhere His message is given in Mark 1
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14-15
The kingdom of God is near, at hand. Therefore do two things, repent and believe the gospel. But He was a lone man speaking, king without a kingdom.

From this on until the end of the time it is the history of the Kingdom of God, Civitate Dei as St. Augustine called it in Latin,

Today, the passport control stations for this Kingdom are still open but the quota of refugees from this world to eternal life is becoming smaller as the chosen are marching in, generation by generation.

Soon the gates of the Kingdom may close as God in His Day finally resolves a number of problems on the earth.

The home of Jesus disciples is not this world but something in the future when the now hidden Kingdom becomes apparent and the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ the King of the Jews will be seen by all - for better or worse..

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mt 28:18 Lord Jesus and natural disasters

In the Gospel of Matthew the Man of Galilee makes an extraordinary claim:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Matthew 28:18

However, risen Lord Jesus having all authority in heaven and on earth has not removed natural disasters from the world. For example, the tectonic plates of planet Earth continue their movement causing sometimes devastating earthquakes, volcanoes erupt near densely populated cities and the global weather system causes fearsome hurricanes that destroy property and kill and maim humans.

Instead of promising to put an end to natural disasters Christ does the opposite and says in the Gospels that there will be frequent earthquakes.
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Matthew 24:3-8 NIV
How could you possibly call such an absolute ruler benevolent who does not prevent massive human suffering but talks about more of it on the way?

And so it is in our world. Despite of the victory of Christ and His having all the power in heaven and on earth our daily news report natural disasters from all parts of the world, one deadlier than the other, some causing tsunamis some collapsing large parts of cities like in 18th century Lissabon or 21st century Port de Prince and now in Chile.

In the majestic words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew Lord Jesus did not promise to put an end to natural disasters. The focus of His words is in something else altogether..

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mt 28:18 Lord Jesus and human diseases

In the Gospel of Matthew the Man of Galilee makes an extraordinary claim:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Matthew 28:18

However, risen Lord Jesus having all authority in heaven and on earth has not wiped out human diseases nor has He prevented illness among other living organisms. The dictionaries of various types of illnesses are thick and detailed concerning all parts of the human body and mind. Hospitals, big or small, are built everywhere human live and medical research and profession flourish. 

"The deadliest disease in humans is ischemic heart disease (blood flow obstruction), followed by cerebrovascular disease and lower respiratory infections respectively" (WHO 2012). Fearsome pandemics have wiped out large human populations in the past and threaten to do so in the future, as well. 

In fact, Lord Jesus - almighty Christos Pantocrator - did not promise in the final words of the Gospel of Matthew to wipe out human diseases. His focus in those words was on something else altogether. 

Divine will and illness
In our judgment omnipotent God could have created a bit more perfect world without diseases. His work looks deficient as so many details can go wrong from birth to childhood, adult life and old age causing suffering, pain and often early death. 

Again, as in the case of wars, the easy solution is to deny God and all wondering of His plans and good will towards humanity so praised by the angels in first Christmas in the shepherds field. For if God is capable of creating a human that does not become sick under any conditions why did He not do so? The responsibility of the faults in the system lies ultimately on the Maker. 

In same breath we could then ask why diseases, why suffering, why death? Why God did not create immortal humans? Why we all have to die?

Biblical realism
Holy Scriptures are not Utopian nor do they describe human world in sugary words and beautiful but untruthful words. The life of the Chosen People is filled with suffering and the Torah contains so many references to sickness and how the community must deal with specific cases such as leprosy. Job is hit by all kinds of diseases to test his love of God and sacrifices of thanks are offered in the Temple after recovery from illness. 

Human diseases are integral part of Scriptures and the role of Jesus of Nazareth as a healer among the people of Galilee, Judea and Samaria is pronounced in the Gospels. His disciples continue the healing service in specific cases. The resurrection and the authority given to Jesus did not bring a fundamental change in this world.  

The focus of Jesus' words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew is in something else altogether.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mt 28:18 Lord Jesus, Fuehrer and Father Stalin

In the Gospel of Matthew the Man of Galilee makes an extraordinary claim:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Matthew 28:18

Considering the history of humanity after this pronouncement in about 34 - 35 AD many think that the words are null an void. What kind of ruler is Lord Jesus Christ allowing all this to happen to the people created by God, His Father? Where can we see Christos Pantocrator carrying all the authority in heaven and earth? 

The discrepancy between Jesus' words and the history of the world is such that with a few exceptions the Jewish people are convinced that the man of Galilee was not the promised Messiah King, the Prince of Peace as prophet Isaiah calls Him. Not to speak of many Christians.

In the majestic words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew Lord Jesus does not promise to put an end to wars. On the contrary, the Gospel contains a number of dark visions about future warfare and deadly battles between nations as well as about deep hatred shown by nations against the Jewish people.

The focus of His words is on something else altogether.

History is what it is
The Nature God of Israel has created is savage. Yet we must confess that in the fight for survival, in ecosystems and environments there is power and deep wisdom way beyond our pride, the scientific understanding of natural phenomena and consequently, our ability to solve problems and face challenges with the help of technological advances.

Human history is savage and marked by warfare apparently from the very beginning of homo sapiens sapiens. Not just hunting but fighting our own species, other humans, for a reason or other. The Biblical view on this is surprising - God of Israel is Lord of the Hosts, Adonai Zebaot, and according to Apocalypse of John there has even been a war in heaven! The coming of Christ is depicted there as a massive war against the nations that have gathered at Armageddon.  

One Lord and two lords
Let us look at one example on the way Lord Jesus Christ uses the authority and power of Pantocrator, almighty God, given to him by His Father.

World War One happened. Millions of soldiers and civilians perished in the worst war humanity has seen during its existence. It is a fact that it happened so Lord Jesus allowed it to happen.

Second World War was preceded by the rise to absolute power of two humans, two men of humble origins - Adolf Hitler in Germany and Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. They were given power to do what they wanted with nobody in their home countries or among other political and military powers able to force them to anything. 

These two lords, dictators and tyrants, turned quickly into dangerous enemies of Christ. In Germany the target was first the People of God to whom the Man of Galilee belongs, and soon the aim was on the Christian church, as well. Many people followed the Beast and joined its version of Christianity mixing nationalism and religion into a poisonous soup. In Soviet Union, the man from Georgia targeted the People of God although Jews had had such a role in the birth and evolution of Communism. His atheistic onslaught on Russian Orthodox Church was devastating.

So this happened and it is the sole responsibility of the one having all authority in heaven and earth that it was allowed to happen.

The end
Lord Jesus did not stand idle during World War Two and His angels had a particularly busy time on all fronts from Europe to Pacific.

On the decisive level Lord Jesus made a remarkable move - the two lords were in many ways friends and it has been said that Hitler was the only world leader he fully trusted. 

Fuehrer attacked Father Stalin's empire with great ferocity with the aim of conquering what Napoleon had failed to conquer in the East. 

The two most dangerous enemies of Lord Christ and His people fought each other to death causing unimaginable misery to each other, to the Germans and its allies as well as to the Soviets and its allies. 

Hitler's 1000 year kingdom lasted less than 10 years. Unlike Hitler, Stalin survived the war but was quietly put into sleep 5th of March, 1953 by his own trusted friends. "American historian Jonathan Brent and Russia's Presidential Commission for the Rehabilitation of Repressed Persons executive secretary Vladimir Naumov published a book proposing that Beria, with the complicity of Khrushchev, slipped warfarin into Stalin's wine on the night of his death" (wikipedia)

2015 refugee crisis
Ths is history. Today Levant is in fire and refugees drown on boats trying to reach safety. Where is Lord Jesus?

Yes. That is a good question, look for Him.