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Simply the Greatest

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Which of us has ever been privileged with following a teacher, master or pastor who has been able to do before his disciples what Jesus did?  The simple answer is none, not one.

For me, the greatest mystery of wickedness, that is, the forsaking of God, remains this:  How can men who have seen the wonders of Jesus give time to listen to men who disbelieved Jesus and had themselves never done what Jesus had done in front of them?

As Luke has recorded it, Peter himself was there in Jerusalem when Paul and Barnabas came up from Antioch to settle the matter about the need for circumcision to be saved because Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” Peter, who was one of three who were eyewitnesses to the greatest of all of Jesus’ miracles before His resurrection and who was also witness to the resurrection, said nothing against James the Younger’s recommendations, but permitted the church to go back to the partial observance of the Law of Moses.

Moses may have come down the mount with his face shining… but no one had ever seen a transfiguration of Moses.  But Peter and James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were eyewitnesses when Jesus transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light …as bright as a flash of lightning. This was of course followed by the appearance of Moses and Elijah to speak to Him and then the voice that came from the cloud of glory who told them exactly who Jesus is with the command, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!”

Now consider this, elect, if you were to see a Man and be discipled by a Man who:

  1. Transfigured before your eyes;
  2. Had Moses and Elijah appear before your eyes;
  3. And you heard the voice of God telling you who He is and to listen to Him…

what would make you care to listen to anyone else?

Did James the Younger transfigure before Peter?  Did Moses and Elijah appear to him in Acts 15 and speak to him as well?  Did a cloud fill the room and a voice speak from that majesty, saying, “This is My other Son…”?  The answer is simply no!  As Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Especially when you know what is recommended goes against what you have heard Jesus said.

You see, elect, if there is someone greater, then we might listen to him… but the truth is, there is no one.  There is no one who has transfigured before the disciples to whom Moses and Elijah have appeared publicly and who has been commended by God in the manner of Jesus.  If you hold on to these three tests of greatness, then no one, not even the false prophet himself, can deceive you.  Indeed, as ones who do listen to Jesus, you are already forewarned of his appearance, and indeed, you would rejoice at the appearance of the false prophet, for he is one of the last contractions of the birth pangs that herald the arrival of Jesus Himself!

So then, the greatest commandment for a disciple from God is not the commands of the law nor the commands of Jesus as such… but rather, it is these three words:  “Listen to Him!” For when God said, “Listen to Him,” to Peter, James and John, it also meant they could stop listening to Moses from then on.  It was in fact the Father Himself declaring the law given to Moses to be obsolete for those whom He had given to Jesus.  The law remains in force for those whom God has not given to Jesus out of the Jews, and we are to uphold it for them.  But for the Jews whom God has called and given to Jesus, they are to listen to Him only.

As for gentiles, that is, those who are not born physical descendants of the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we were never under the Law of Moses, but are under the Covenant of Life through Noah.  And as such, we should never be subject to the Law of Moses, but rather, the Law of Noah… the Law of Salvation of the Family, for …Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. The righteousness of Noah is the faith that he believed God, but the righteousness of his work and motive was that he did it to save his family.  So when gentiles are brought into the way of the Lord Jesus, it is not and has never been the intention of God for them to be taught the Law of Moses and its practices, not even the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20.2-17… but they are to be taught and to practise just the words of Jesus Christ, which begin with, “The Kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!” For the good news that Jesus Himself first declared to a gentile was this: “Believe Me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” And to every messianic gentile, that is, a non-Jew who believes that Messiah is coming like the Samaritan woman of John 4.25… this is Jesus’ personal declaration:  “I who speak to you am He.”

As such, elect, the case is simple and clear.  If even Jews whom God gave to Jesus were told by God to listen to Jesus, then how much more non-Jews need not be concerned with the Mosaic Law but listen only to Jesus?  For even the entirety of the commandments of God from Exodus 20.2 before Israel refused to listen to Him directly is summed up by these words of Jesus:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” leaving everyone free to just listen to the new laws, commands and prophecies of Jesus.

Which words to be practised are as simply clear:  for a Jew, they are the words of Moses; for a non-Jew, they are the words and ways of Noah; for a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ, they are the words of Jesus.  Since Moses never transfigured before the elders, nor did Enoch and Noah appear to speak to him, or Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, and neither did God speak to Israel from the cloud telling them that they should listen to him… but rather, it was Israel who said to Moses and to God, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die,” then why listen to the lesser when you have not finished listening to the Greatest?  And once you have heard from the Greatest, what need of you from the lesser?  Since no non-Jew has ever likewise openly transfigured before witnesses, nor been commended by the patriarchs or by a voice from a cloud of glory that we should listen to them, what can they offer us?

It is enough for you to know every descendant of Noah will inherit the righteousness of Noah if when warned of the things to come, they too will do whatever it takes to save their family.  As for those who believe in Jesus, those who are disciples of Jesus and more importantly, those who seem important in the ministries that are gifts from Jesus Christ to the church – the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers – if they do not know the greatest command of God to every disciple, then what have they to offer you except a lesson of how not to do things and a reminder of God’s amazing grace? Amazing grace as He watched patiently while listening to Jesus as the twelve set off for Capernaum instead of Bethsaida and did not drown them all for their disobedience.  A reminder of God’s amazing grace that the Holy Spirit was still poured out even though the eleven did not go to Galilee when told with Peter then leading them back to Galilee to fish even though Jesus had told them, “…stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high,” on the evening of resurrection day.

So, ought we think of ourselves more highly?  No, not at all, but be reminded that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Rather, be sober and recognise that God has given us the greatest command – “Listen to Him!” – and take pride in that honour.  Then you will be able to take pride in those who likewise are making every effort to listen to Jesus and having heard the words of Jesus, are making every effort to practise them unashamedly before this adulterous world.  Those who hold the words of Jesus above all other words as surely as His Name is above all names, so that those who love to honour and listen to men like James and his disciples or Nicolas and his disciples are convicted of their sin and disobedience.  Perhaps they will repent; perhaps they will not.  Nevertheless, they will know that God in His grace has sent them a reminder… “Listen to Him,” and not to James or Nicolas.

For not even the false prophet can impress those who listen solely to Jesus and who through dedicated practice have succeeded in being witnesses to the full entirety of His words.  For a man who can raise the dead, heal the sick, cause the blind to see, multiply the food, walk on water, even call down fire from Heaven in the sight of men, cannot impress another who can do likewise by his signs and wonders.  As such, the ability of each and everyone who listens to Jesus to do miracles, signs and wonders protects him from being deceived by the one who is the deceiver using miracles, signs and wonders.  And if your obedience to the royal command has availed to you a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ, then neither will the one who declares himself to be God in God’s temple but does not arrive on clouds of glory with the martyred saints accompanying him, impress you at all, no matter how the world runs after him.

Such is the greatness of these words, elect:  “Listen to Him!” For He, Jesus Christ, so surpasses everyone that all who are under the Law of Moses should listen to Him and all who are descended from Noah should likewise.  Take the example of the wise Samaritan woman of Sychar and give Him a cup of cold water whenever He asks, and seriously consider, “Could this be the Christ?”

And when each of us are able to testify, not preach, testify as to what we have heard, seen and know of Him, then those who have ears to listen will hear, those who have eyes to see will see, and those who have good and noble hearts will understand that Jesus Christ is simply the Greatest of all.

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