Accused!

Guilty as charged?

What would you think of someone who was a subject of persistent rumor? How would you feel if you heard that this person ate and drank to excess? And that he was demon-possessed and in league with Satan? And that he was guilty of deception?

What if you heard that he was a law-breaker? And that he advocated not paying taxes?

Who was this person? Jesus!

By reading the accounts of His life as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we keep running into accusations leveled against Him. John especially emphasizes the undercurrent of controversy swirling around this carpenter/teacher/healer from Nazareth (John 7-10).

Slander without substance

But would the charges stick? Once Jesus challenged His critics, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). They could accuse Him all day long, but where was the evidence?

They absolutely hated Him! Highly motivated to find fault where there was none, they tried to turn as many against Him as they possibly could.

The rumors flew but never hit the mark. Jesus was innocent. Unlike His accusers, He had never sinned—not even once (Hebrews 4:15).

True, His opponents did succeed in having Him executed. But did they have the last word?

Jesus was able to use the cross as the altar for sacrificing Himself for the sins of the world.

And then God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to the place of supreme authority and glory He now occupies—as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Even to this day

But the story doesn’t end there. Those who follow Christ today may also be faced with unfair accusations. As He said to His apostles, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you . . .” (John 15:20). A certain degree of opposition from the world is to be expected (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 2:12; 3:16; 4:3-5).

But what a blessing there is in it! (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 4:14)

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Blessed Risk-Takers

High praise!

The leaders of the Jerusalem church referred to Barnabas and Paul as “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). Earlier, Paul had been stoned by an angry mob. Later he would experience many more hardships in his service to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

Paul appreciated risk-takers like himself, such as Priscilla and Aquila, “who for my life risked their own necks . . .” (Romans 16:4).

He commended Epaphroditus, who “came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me” (Philippians 2:30).

Worth the risk?

Sometimes it’s wise to avoid unnecessary hazards, such as when an older person hands over the car keys in view of diminishing eyesight and slower reflexes.

But what if a Christian is faced with the choice of confessing Christ and suffering for it, or denying Him to save his own skin?

At one point Peter’s fear led him to deny he even knew Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). Later emboldened, he was willing to suffer imprisonment, beating, and death for the Master (Acts 4:18-31; 5:17-42; 12:1-4).

The promise

What would we do, if faced with the choice?

“Blessed are you,” Jesus said, “when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Worth it?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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