“Fellowship with Yahshua on the Pathway to the Cross”
In the Footsteps of the Master
Fall Week of Prayer - November 19, 2004
In the days of Jesus, the southwestern corner of Jerusalem there was a special gate that was used only by a mysterious people. Here to the west of the old city of David on what is known today as Mount Zion, the Essene gate marked the spot where the most secret and mysterious sect of Judaism retained its only presence in the Holy City of the Jews. Here lived the Essenes who were also the guardians the most revered and holy spot of 1st century Judaism outside the temple of Herod, the tomb of King David.
This was a most mysterious of nights. Secret emissaries were sent into the city that was on guard for a rebellious rabbi, who was attacking the bastions of the powered elite. He cared for the peasants, ministered to the lost tribes of the House of Israel and proclaimed the right of all men including the gentiles to a future in the world to come.
The emissaries were on the lookout for man with a veiled sign. Where else would you have found on a narrow Jerusalem street a man carrying a water jug. This duty reserved only for a woman. In solemn quietness they followed him down a lamp lit street thru a non-conspicuous side door and disappeared. With furtive glances, they passed through the same corridor, 1, 2, 8,10,12.
What an exhilarating week: an anointing at a social gala with the city elite, a ceremony befitting the anointing of a king! And then a surprised entry through the northern Damascus gate just minutes before High Priest Caiphas was to lead the Passover Lamb from the fields just north of the city walls into the city. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all around the world were packed like sardines waving palm fronds and shouting, “Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of our Lord.”
To their shock, Yahshua the Rabbi, whose name hovered over their lips throughout the festival was riding down the street on a donkey. Quickly their cloaks came off in honor of the newly arriving king.
Upon arriving to the temple, Jesus immediately went to the temple courtyard and in a fit of passion and anger, grabbed a whip and assaulted the fleeing corporate money launders, bank brokers and foreign exchange agents. Why? They were charging extortion rates to the peasant pilgrims seeking to bring their gifts the God of Israel in the temple.
For three days, Yahshua ben Yosef stopped all income flowing into the money coffers of the bastion of corporate and moneyed elite of the House of Ananus, Inc. Who were they? Ananus the Elder was the patriarch of the most powerful Sadducean family in Judea. Not only were they the most powerful but they were the most evil and ruthless. How?
This one Sadducean family held a monopoly on the office of the High Priest for sixteen out of the prior eighteen years since the day when the twelve year old Yahshua (Jesus) met with the chief priests and elders at his Passover bar mitzvoth. Need it to be said, that the newly nominated high priest was Ananus was now the father in law of Caiphas and in his home Jesus would soon be taken for His trumped up Sanhedrin trial. What do the Gospels say about Jesus first visit with Ananias the High Priest when He was yet a lad? “He astounded them with His command of the Torah.”
Here Jesus met face to face with the most powerful corporation in the Eastern Roman Empire, The Temple of Herod Inc. That was not all, the next day and for two more days, the Rabboni took control of the outer court of the temple. The Romans and the Temple military guards did not dare touch Him for they feared the wrath of the people. In a show of power and authority, Yahshua gave the most dramatic demonstration of the ‘kingdom of God’. He presented it in living drama. He healed the sick, cared for the poor. He taught the multitudes about Abba, His Father in heaven.
Now He was inviting His own disciples to a pre-Passover feast to fellowship with them. Why all the secrecy? Jesus (Yahshua) was a hunted man! The Romans were looking for him. Caiphas and his guards were looking for him. Here the recently anointed king of the Jews and a recognized coronation entry into his capital city on a donkey was having the “Last Supper”. Under the protection of the Essenes in the Essene Quarter and surrounded by the guardians of the tomb of David, Jesus invited His disciples to dinner with him. Where? Right over the very tomb of King David!
Today, you can visit Mount Zion and the Upper Room. In the old Essene Quarter, we later find the “Jerusalem Church” in Acts, the Mother Synagogue of the eventual gentile Christian Church. This was the site of the Last Supper and yes, it literally sat over the recognized tomb of King David in 1st century Jerusalem.
Think about the most intimate moments you have had with your special friends; quiet, undisturbed, soft flickering candlelight, soft cushioned sofas, beverages and succulent nourishments. The intimacy of the hour when the deep recesses of the mind open up to share and nurture each other, to question, explore great ideas, and share intimate thoughts. These are the moments of vulnerability and transparency.
Now, think of the times when you sit prim and proper during communion service every three months in your church pew; your coiffured hair meticulously done, your suit sleekly covering your frame, your shoes nicely polished. Can you truly identity with the Jewish disciples of the Rabboni sneaking through the Essene Gate, capes shielding their countenances, their sandals covered with the dust of the Mount of Olives and the ascending slopes of Mount Zion? Oh, we want to understand the emotions and how the feelings exuded in the atmosphere of the Upper Room. Really? During communion, you hold in your hand a thimble full of non-fermented grape juice and a wafer of non-descript doughy wheat. We wonder. Is this what it was really like? Hardly!
Take away the pews and give me some big billowing cushions to lounge on. Image that your dusty toes are now squeaky clean by the touch of the Master’s hand. You wiggle them in the soft cushions. Look at the Master. He was not to be the regal and untouchable eastern potentate isolated from His people. Here was the servant-king in real life. How exciting it was. Drama and power swarmed through their heads.
What is it like to be intimate and feel the oneness with the Prince of Peace? Did they really care? The jealousy, rivalry, and insecurities were imbedded in every conversation of the disciples. The excitement of the week was over, and they were preparing for the Passover. What would be next? They feared that in the swift moving political events their destiny might be left behind.
Were the chosen twelve much different than each one of you? Maybe you are like James and John. I’m ok worshipping with your church family as long as I can be entrusted with some form of church leadership. Church Elder would be OK. Maybe Sabbath School Superintendent.
Maybe you are like Judas where you really feel important when church members seek your professional advice on church monetary expenditures. Maybe you’re like Peter who had great religious pride in being Christ’s servant and bodyguard. As long a Jesus was on the road to the kingdom, that is Peter’s image of the kingdom, he would willingly die valiantly for his Master. Jesus and His Father had a different plan. Peter was in for a big surprise.
What was the fellowship Yahshua sought with His disciples? Jesus knew His pathway to the cross. Do we really think that at this moment of time, He wanted sympathy from His chosen disciples to share His secret fears and mental agony? No! The Son of Man did not seek solace in humans but only with His Father in heaven.
Did our Lord fear death? Hardly! He came to this earth for the very purpose of dying. It was His chosen destiny before the foundation of the earth that this moment of time would be His to conquer sin and set all men free from the bondage of sin.
He might have doubted that as the Son of Man that He could endure. He had no doubt as the Son of the Living God of Israel that He would triumph. Jesus’ destiny was “mission impossible”. He would reveal the agony of God through the life of one Person. This one Person was on a collision course against cosmic evil and human sin.
As Jesus was having communion with His twelve, He wanted to reveal to them that as He was on the path to the cross they would be walking down a different pathway to their own crucifixion.
After a little confrontation with Peter, Jesus went quietly one by one to every one of the disciples and washed their feet. I wonder what He said to each one of them. All we have recorded is:
John 13:13,17: “You call Me Teacher and Lord and you say well for so I am…I say to you a servant is not greater than the Master.”
What was He saying here? In the kingdom of God there is a hierarchy of authority. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of law and order. When you reach up to connect with the Divine you are reaching up with your spiritual body. This is your vertical relationship with the Divine. This relationship is totally different that we have with each other. We reach up to the Divine. We reach out to each other.
Jesus never insisted on having authority over you and I. He never said, “You will submit to Me.” You are perfectly free to choose or to reject. Yet, when you recognize Jesus’ right to absolute authority over you, you also give Him complete dominion over your lives. Only then do you recognize the He is worthy of your trust, loyalty and dominion. This is your spiritual person. This is the person we connect with the Divine. This is the part of you that you take to the Throne of His Father, the Eternal God of Israel.
Let us explore a bit this spiritual relationship with our Lord and Master Jesus and Yahweh, His Father in heaven. Do we make the decision for this relationship by our rational mind? NO! We don’t choose Jesus by investigating Him and putting Him under a microscope. This is not like buying a car or a new sofa for your house. We might want to say, I must be comfortable in this relationship before we say, “OK Lord, I will give your control.”
The choice of submission to Christ is by my obedience. Obey? That’s what we did when we were kids. I’m an adult now. I have autonomy. I have individuality. Let us remind ourselves, Jesus said, “Unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” A sober thought. That autonomy and that individuality keeps us from submitting ourselves
If Jesus insisted on your obedience, He would become your taskmaster. Your free will would cease to exist and He would become a dictator or autocrat in your lives. Oh yes, the Bible says that we are to be ‘bond-servants’ to the Master, but on this night Jesus was introducing his disciples to a new way of life. He was introducing them to a re-New-ed Covenant with Him.
Let us re-look at obedience. Obedience only exists between equals. Puzzle that around in your minds. Did not Jesus give complete submission to His Father in heaven? He was not only obedient to the Torah, but He totally submitted Himself to His Father in every thought, word and action. Every passion, every thought, every motivation He presented first to His Father in heaven. Yet did He not say,
John 10:30 - “My Father and I are One”
What happened then? When you give up your right to yourselves and lay yourselves on the cross of Jesus, you open the powerhouse of heaven. The Father God, through the Son, Jesus, comes to live in you. You are not to be an apologist for God. God does not need you to be an apologist for Him. Honestly, God is big enough to do it for Himself. You can only testify of what He is doing though you to others. If you are doing nothing for God, you have nothing to testify.
You are like a funnel, or a vortex for the Living God. It is through you that God speaks to your friends and family around you. Let us understand, God uses spirit filled friends to speak to you. He uses you to speak to them. But even more so, He uses you to acquaint others of what it is like having Christ living in you. Every action of your life is a testimony for or against God. Let me repeat this. Every action of every moment of your life is a testimony for against the God you serve.
As Jesus was approaching His cosmic battle of sin and evil at the cross, the twelve disciples were also on the road to their crucifixion. Peter, that brusque and brave warrior that would have made any Roman centurion proud, when he saw Jesus his Master reviled, hated, scorned, whipped by His very own people, he panicked, denied that he knew his Master and like a whipped puppy, ducked his tail and ran away as fast as he could.
Judas, after he became a turncoat and sought an alliance with Caiphas the high priest, pocketed the blood money, kissed his Lord as a traitor and also ran away and committed suicide.
Nine other disciples disappeared in the night. They were hiding in fear for their lives. Only one calmly walked about the house of Ananus and Caiphas. Only one disciple quietly stood at the cross. John the Beloved. In honor of John, the Lord of hosts revealed to Him the Revelation of the time of the end while captive on the Isle of Patmos.
We are disciples of Christ. Every time we fellowship we are in communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many of you are waiting for Jesus to look you in the eyes and say, “It’s time to give it up! Let Me in! You’re scared. You think your world is going to fall apart. You feel that you must control, manipulate or ‘hold fast’.
I was a physician for twenty years before I had the courage to say “Lord” to my patients. Did I have the courage to say “Jesus”? No, not Jesus, I had to keep the name generic. It was another two years before I was willing to talk about the vertical relationship with the Divine. Yet only then did it become evident how different our relationship is with God than the horizontal relationship that we live in our world between friends, family and church.
One of the great illustrations I love to talk with my patients is found in the last verse of the Shepherd’s Psalms (Psalms 23) that begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This Psalms ends with “my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.” What a wonderful phrase.
That should be your life. That is your life after you have been crucified in Christ. You will be like a geyser of water erupting and flowing over the rest of the land. You will be like the River of Eden that the Lord of hosts placed in the Garden. When your church becomes crucified in Christ, it will become a fountain of Living Water and the Living Christ will radiate from its walls like a lighthouse in a stormy sea.
Have you ever been so excited about a great thing that has happened to you that you had to tell someone about it? Anyone. You did not care who it was. It could have been a stranger on the street. When you have given up your right to yourself and have been crucified, the Power of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) will flow through your life in a way that you cannot contain it.
This should be your life. You will become a geyser shooting up from the subterranean fountains of the deep. Think about it. At that moment of time you are invisible. You are only a vessel holding the “spark” of God within your life. The power of God will flow out through your life in ways that even you will not understand.
The Lord of hosts wants you to be a vessel to be used by Him. He wants to dwell within your life. He want to radiate through your life to every person you come in contact with. Are you ready to allow the Lord to strip away your life, your calloused, thoughtless, inconsiderate and self-centered life and let the Power of the Divine radiate and shine in you?
I guess the Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul) was correct when He said,
Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives within me.”
Have you ever made the decision that sin should be eradicated from your life? It must die! It must be killed in you! This is a momentous decision in your life.
I’m not talking about sin being restrained, contained or suppressed. I’m not talking about making war against sin. Kill it! Crucify it just like Jesus did on the cross.
Crucifixion comes by obeying. Obeying the Lord comes by making a mental decision. It is not your emotions. It comes by giving your self-centered will over to Jesus. It must be done and done now. For Paul this was not some ‘divine future expectation”, but a radical definitive experience in his life.
Once you have been crucified in Christ is it all over? No!! What you have done is give your life totally over to Jesus. You now give Him the privilege to root around in your life, snoop in every crook and cranny of your mortal being. Let Him clean out the cobwebs. At that time, Life in Christ begins. A whole new world opens up in your life. You become a servant of others. You become an emissary to reveal God living within you. More than that, the Lord of hosts wants to make you a “Zaddik”. That is a righteous being created in His own image.
Lord, bring out the scrub brush. Don’t just clean but remold and restore my entire life. Polish me like a mirror to reflect Your image dwelling within Me?
Let see! James and John had their own mother on a secret mission to seek preeminent ministerial roles for her two sons in the expected soon to be established “kingdom”. What was galling to the rest of the disciples, she apparently was the aunt of Jesus seeking special family privileges.
Of, course, there was Judas Iscariot with his acumen as a business administration guru. Like most corporate CEOs who send political campaign contributions to both political parties, he made sure that he kept control of the business sector of the Nazarenes yet also had a secret alliance with the high priest Caiphas and the ruling Sadducee party.
The bodyguard to Jesus was Caiphas Petros (Simon Peter) who also had a personal relationship with the Master. Yet Peter seemed to be in total denial that Jesus was seeking a reciprocal relationship not just a bond-servant to his Master.
There in that Upper Room before the Passover, Jesus was primed to bring Judea to its greatest glory since King David. Yet in this moment of time, He was seeking oneness and companionship with His disciples. He wanted to share with them what His “real mission” was to be in the next twenty four hours. They were seeking power, greed and control. He was seeking companionship and fellowship.
Maybe we should open our hearts to the Master and let Him reveal to us what our next mission is to be for Him. When that moment comes, we find that we are a friend to the Master. What a glorious moment that will be.
Many Blessings from our Master
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