“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
The Bible teaches in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 28, about an angel called Lucifer. He was an angel of light, created as model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect beauty. He was in Eden, the garden of God; adorned with every precious stone. He was anointed as guardian cherub. He was on the holy mount of God and walked among the fiery stones. He was blameless in his ways until wickedness was found in his heart. His heart became proud on account of his beauty and his wisdom was corrupted because of his splendour. So, he was defeated and thrown to earth. By his many sins and dishonest trade, he desecrated his sanctuaries.
For this reason God caused a fire to come out of him which consumed him and reduced him to ashes on the earth.
The pride that arose in Lucifer’s heart was therefore, the first sin and father to all subsequent sins. It caused the ruin of the angel of light who, because of his beauty, exalted himself in his heart. And blind, completely blind, fought against God for the dominion over all creation. The Bible highlights: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘in the pride of your heart you say ‘I am god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’
But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.’ ” (Eze.28:2)
Notice, dear reader that pride is the genesis of all evil. It started with the devil when he was still an angel of light. His perfection and wisdom created in him such a terrible pride that blinded him completely, transforming him into Satan. The first sin found in God’s creation was therefore, self-pride. All other sins derive from it.
When self- pride dominated the heart of the angel Lucifer, it made him imagine he was like God. It made him imagine he could go against God, deprive and sit on God’s throne and dominate over all creation.
If we observe satan’s snares carefully, in which our forefathers fell in the Garden of Eden, we will conclude that satan engendered a temptation such as the one he himself had fallen into - Pride of being like God. “‘You will not surely die’, the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be LIKE GOD, knowing good and evil.’ ” (Gen. 3:4,5)
We find, then, the sin of pride as the origin of all that multitude of iniquities, which God speaks about through the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 28 verse 18.
The devil wanted to be like God. In his heart he thought himself to be God. When tempting our forefathers with the forbidden fruit, he promised them, implicitly, that they would be like God. The woman ate of the fruit and gave it also to her husband. Thus, they lost the presence of God, becoming subject to death.
Our forefathers were also perfect and wise, with ability to exercise free will - free will to decide whatever they wished. At that very moment they were blinded by pride of wanting to be like God, and committed sin.
A proud heart blinds even the most wise and intelligent men. It is conceived within the depths of the heart as a self-admiration.
As a desire to be exalted by all, craving, by all means, for the glory of this world. It is something that comes from within the person. No one is to blame of someone being proud, since it is the person herself who has a high self-image and judges to be more and better than anyone else.
Who tempted the devil or persuaded him to sin? Who taught him pride or from where did his inspiration come, turning him obstinate against God? Before him there was no devil; there was no sin or temptation. He is the father of lies and the origin of all sins.
Pride, therefore, is something conceived within the human heart, which surfaces and appears on the outside. Pride inside the heart is like an unquenchable fire, burning day and night. It makes one to desperately search for human glory, praise, admiration and exaltation.
It seems that because of this, when the angel Lucifer was punished, God made a fire come out of him, as the Bible says: “...So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.” (Ez. 28:18)
The fire burning inside the devil was the punishment for his pride. It represents the pride that burns within those who wish to exalt themselves, seeking for the glory of this world.
Pride is like an inextinguishable fire in the heart of the proud one, crying out for its glory. To obtain this glory, the person respects no limits. She lies, steals, deceives, prostitutes herself, corrupts, and will do anything to comply with all desires of her pride.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Ezekiel’s prophecy describes this situation as the trade of the proud one, who sells his own soul to buy the glory, which is required by his pride, “Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.” (Ez. 28:16)
In this widespread trade, the proud person sells his true friends to buy false ones in exchange of vain promises, and is seduced by the illusions of her ambitions.
That was what the angel Lucifer did in heaven when he conquered a third of the angels to fight with him against God. He developed his trade of corruption, seducing smaller angels - certainly planting in their hearts the same pride he had created in his own. The ones, who accepted him, became demons.
These were dragged down by Lucifer’s tail when he was cast out of heaven. “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten thorns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.... And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Rev.12:3, 4; 7-9)
The proud person never repents. She never recognises her mistakes; is insubordinate; doesn’t have any respect for others; plots against anyone who opposes her, because she is terribly jealous.
Another aspect to be evidenced is that the cursed pride, when it reaches a certain point, becomes a one-way street with no turning back, with any remedy, no solution. If God could, in some way, re-educate the proud one, he most certainly would have done so with the angel Lucifer, thus sparing the world of so many wars, crimes and all kinds of curses. And above all, it would have avoided the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so greatly that He took upon Himself our curses on the cross.
But that did not happen. The angel Lucifer became irredeemable. His pride had reached an intolerable level. There was nothing that could be done.
Pride really blinds the understanding even of the wisest of men. They will not accept, under any condition, a rebuke, advice or instruction.
The avenue of pride is a steep down-hill-slide, which leads the proud one to total damnation. He runs blindly down it, until it is too late! It is the sin which most deceives.
“KING SAUL AND KING DAVID”
The history of the first kings of Israel shows us clearly the blessings that derive from humbleness and the curses that derive from pride. When God planned to create a nation to influence the world, it seems that His first concern was to take away from their hearts pride. For four hundred years, the Israelites were pilgrims in Egypt. And for most of the time they were slaves.
Slaves had no reason to be proud, as they had no rights. They suffered prejudice on the part of their masters, who were wiser and better educated than them. The master used them just as any other tool. For the Egyptians it weren’t even permitted to eat bread with the Hebrews, because this was an abomination. The difference between masters and salves was always outstanding in Egypt. At this moment of national humiliation, God found the broken heart He needed to work with.
The same happened with the Israelite’s leader. Moses was taken from the palace to the desert, where he lived forgotten for forty years. From the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, he became a simple shepherd of sheep he did not own, because he worked for his father-in-law. Please note, that the most important factor before God to Him manifests Himself in the life of a human being is a broken and humble heart. When they left Egypt and conquered the Promised Land, the Israelites asked the prophet Samuel, who was their spiritual guide in those times, for a king.
They wanted to be like the other nations. God knew very well the danger it represented for a man to have the power of reigning over others. Pride could corrupt him and lead the kingdom to a great destruction. In fact, it was never God’s will to institute a king in Israel, because the heart of this king, when in power, could be filled with pride. The image of a king that God had for His people was completely different from the kings of this world.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
The King and Redeemer of Israel, prepared by God, was the Lord Jesus. He would manifest Himself as the humble King, according to the prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your humble King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zec. 9:9)
When answering the plea of the people for a king, we notice God’s care in choosing someone from the lowest strata of that society so that the risk of pride would be smaller. This person would always remember her background and would know that she had reached the throne of Israel merely by the grace and mercy of God.
For this reason Saul was chosen. The Holy Scriptures say that Saul had left his father’s home to go and look for some stray donkeys and that for three days he was looking for them. As he couldn’t find the animals, he went to the prophet Samuel for help. God had already revealed to the prophet that the chosen king of Israel was Saul.
When Saul heard from Samuel that God had chosen him, he couldn’t believe it and said: “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” (1Sam. 9:21)
Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob. His mother Rachel had died soon after his birth. Being the last son, he was also the smallest tribe among his eleven brothers. Besides being a Benjamite, Saul also belonged to the smallest family of that tribe and was the last one in his family. This means that if we were to put all the men of Israel in line of importance, Saul would be the last one.
God’s concern was in preparing someone whose heart was humble due to his own origin. For this reason He chose Saul among the last, so that he wouldn’t exalt himself before the Lord, but would serve Him with gratitude and wholeheartedly.
The day of coronation was proof that Saul was becoming king by the mercy of God and not because of his merits. The prophet Samuel called the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah. And before them, he cast lots over all the twelve tribes of Israel. The lot fell over the tribe of Benjamin. Once again lots were cast over all the families of that tribe. The lot fell on Saul’s family. Finally, lots were cast over all the men of that family and the lot fell over Saul. The king of Israel was chosen! The first king of Israel!
When they went to look for Saul in the multitude, they couldn’t find him. They prayed to God to know whether that man was there, to which God answered: “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” (1Sam. 10:22)
This is how the first king of Israel was crowned. He was so simple that he hid himself among the baggage because he didn’t feel he had condition for such great responsibility.
In the whole Bible we find the Lord our God searching for His chosen ones among the simplest people. Let’s bear in mind that God’s greatest concern is with our heart. Pride, self-exaltation and self-praise are as a weapon, which make man, destroy himself with his own hands.
God was not worried in choosing the strongest, the most handsome or the most intelligent. No! Absolutely not! The most important factor is man’s heart be humble. The strongest can take pride in his strength, the most handsome in his beauty, the most intelligent in his wisdom and do as the devil did in his rebellion.
Saul, then, began to reign over Israel. All people accepted him as king, except for the sons of Belial, who despised him.
Once a king, God began blessing Saul and confirming his reign. God gave him victory over the army of the Ammonites, when they besieged Jabesh Gilead. And so great was this first victory that the people went to the prophet Samuel to inquire about the sons of Belial who did not accept Saul as king, in order to kill them. However, King Saul said: “No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.” (1Sam. 11:13). In this way, Saul’s heart was good before God.
As time went by, Saul’s heart began to change. In the second year of his reign, the Philistines gathered to fight against Israel: with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
The people of Israel were filled with fear. However God had mercy on Saul and, through Jonathan his son, gave Israel great victory. But Saul committed his first and serious mistake. He offered the sacrifice for the victory without waiting for the prophet Samuel, who was the one who should have offered it, being a priest.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
The people of Israel, before going to face the enemies, used to offer sacrifices to God. These sacrifices brought the certainty that the Lord would fight with them, and that the victory had come from Him. In this way the people kept their hearts humble.
The Lord blessed Saul and gave him victory over all his enemies. He fought Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah and the Philistines. But it seems that all these victories changed the heart of Saul. His heart was no longer of the man who knew he had come from among the last ones and had hidden among the baggage because he felt he had no conditions to be a king.
In the battle against Amalek, Saul received strict orders from the prophet Samuel to kill all the Amalekites, not sparing one single person or one single animal. However, Saul and the people, after defeating that enemy, spared the king Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs - everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely.
Then came the word of the Lord to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” (1Sam. 15:11)
Saul was on Mount Carmel and was still celebrating his victory.
He even rose up a monument in his own honour and then went down to Gilgal. (1Sam. 15:12).
When the prophet Samuel came to Saul, he told him he had been reject in the sight of God. That same day Saul lost his anointing as king of Israel. He still sat on the throne and used the crown and the title, but the presence of God was no longer with him.
Samuel said to Saul: “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” (1Sam. 15:23)
Saul had fallen into the trap that most destroys men: Pride. He became a victim of himself, just as the angel Lucifer, from whom a fire came out, turning him into the devil.
Notice how Saul’s life changed. Without the presence of God, he was tormented by an evil spirit (1Sam. 16:14). He dreaded Goliath, the Philistine giant, which the young David eventually defeated (1Sam. 17:11). His heart was filled with hatred and jealousy towards David, and he became obstinate in killing him. He ordered that eighty-five priests of God as well as all those who lived in their cities be killed: men, women, children, babies, oxen, donkeys and sheep. He cut off the mediums and spiritualists from the land. He went to consult a witch of Ender. He lost the battle against the Philistines, who killed his three sons. At this point, Saul was desperate and killed himself by falling over his own sword.
What a terrible end had the first king of Israel! Chosen when he was so small! However, he didn’t keep his heart simple before God. He took pride in himself and neglected God, becoming the first suicide related in the Word of God.
To take his place, came King David, who also was of humble background - a shepherd. However, his heart was special before God. Even being exalted before the eyes of his brothers when he was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel, or when God gave him victory over the giant Goliath before the eyes of all the fearsome army of Saul, David’s heart was humble towards God and obedient and faithful towards king Saul.
King Saul, with no reason whatsoever, was looking for an opportunity to kill David. He hated David with mortal jealousy. He was envious because God had blessed David. However, David loved and respected Saul, and for two occasions he could have killed him, but he didn’t dare touch God’s anointed one. When David heard about the death of Saul and his sons, he and his men mourned, wept and fasted till evening.
David’s heart was clean before God’s eyes. There was no hatred against the king who so unjustly persecuted him. His heart was humble and felt compassion and respect for the dead king.
David was first king in Judah and then in all Israel. He conquered the fortress of Zion, which is Jerusalem, and it was called the City of David. Then he brought back to Jerusalem the ark of God, built in Moses’ time. David came dancing with all his might before the Lord, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord, with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
When Michal, Saul’s daughter and David’s wife, saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. David, however, said to Michal: “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes...” (1Sam. 6:22)
And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Now, king over all Israel, David continued to have the same humble heart before the Lord. He had learnt with Saul’s example that the proud heart is the greatest trap that destroys kings.
When God made a covenant with David, David showed a completely different heart than Saul’s: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (2Sam. 7:18)
The humbleness in David’s heart was his strength before God all the days of his life. Even when he sinned, committing adultery with Bathsheba, he reached forgiveness because his heart was free of pride. God blessed him mightily. And to his son Solomon, He gave strength and wisdom to build the Temple of God, according to the promise made in the covenant.
The two first reigns of Israel show clearly the great question of the human soul before the Lord Creator. The humble heart and the proud heart. King David overcame because of the heart he had before God. King Saul was miserably defeated because he did not guard his heart.
The word of God says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Pr. 4:23).
“BAPTISM OF HUMBLENESS”
In a world of so many kings and kingdoms, one day the King of kings manifested Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ showed in each word of His Gospel and in each gesture of His ministry the strength of the Creator in His deep humbleness of heart. For this reason He was rejected by many who could not see in Him the image of a king. He walked among the poor, dressed in a simple way, did not gather riches and never accepted the glory of this world.
“He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (Jh. 1:2, 3)
The Lord Jesus, born from the tribe of Judah and from a virgin of Bethlehem - city of king David, manifested Himself in this world as a fulfilment to all the prophecies that announced Him since the time of Moses.
When we read the Bible, we understand that all the 66 books complement each other harmoniously pointing towards the Saviour of men, although different authors wrote them in different ages. Evidently the same Spirit of God inspired all authors.
It was with Him that our Father and Creator talked to when He said: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness...” (Gen. 1:26)
He was perfect and the First born of all creation, He was the only one who could fulfil the requirements of the justice of God and pay the price of death that our sins deserved. That is, die in our place and come back to life.
When God created the world, he knew very well that His creature would sin. Being perfect God, He could never have communion with His sinful creature.
Death is exactly this: to have no communion with God. And to death was man sent when he sinned. That is, he lost communion with God.
I believe that if God accepted sin, He would break the principles of justice through which He exists. Once the justice of God is broken, the existence of God would also be broken.
God is perfect and in perfection He will exist forever. The perfection of love and justice.
For this reason it is impossible that there be communion between Light, that is God, and darkness, that is sin or the sinner.
Being sinners and being against God’s law, the death penalty that we were due was put on Jesus.
Since the moment, at Gethsemane, that Jesus was handed over to the sinners to pay the price for our sins and said: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”, and while sweating blood He asked God to remove from Him that cup, yes, since that moment, Jesus was deprived from communion with God and from the Holy Spirit. At that moment began His death.
From then on, and during the six hours he was on the cross, Jesus was alone. He was far from God and the Holy Spirit.
For the first time the Holy Trinity was disrupted. How great and immeasurable was the pain of Our Lord when He was cast into death because of our sins!
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Those who think Jesus’ sacrifice was only physical are completely mistaken. How much more intense was the spiritual sacrifice, His separation from God - experiencing the second death.
Jesus once told about a poor man named Lazarus, who lay as a beggar at a rich man’s door. When they both died, the rich man went to hell and the poor man to heaven. From hell, the rich man called to Lazarus, begging him to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue because of his agony in the fire.
Abraham, who was comforting Lazarus, answered him saying that there was a chasm separating them, making it impossible to cross either from one side or the other.
I believe that this chasm is what separates life from death. The great chasm represents the power of God in maintaining what is right apart from what is wrong; separating light from darkness; differentiating what is perfect from what is imperfect.
I believe also that this chasm separates all that are on the other side from God’s presence.
In the prayer Jesus said at Gethsemane, His words were very meaningful: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. If it is possible take this cup from me.” (Mk. 14:36).
The cup Jesus was referring to was His death. Not only physical death, but also the crossing of the chasm, from which He could only come back if He were perfect - without sin.
All things are obviously possible to God, all things that are in His universe, which comprehend His presence yet the other side of the chasm is out of the presence of God.
When Jesus said: “Everything is possible to you” and still God did not answer Him, the Lord was teaching us that the place were Jesus was going to, was outside the realm of “everything.”
The Lord Jesus would have never come back if He were not pure and perfect, that is, sinless.
The resurrection was the great sign that Jesus Christ was really the Holy Son of God. That is why Jesus was anguished, because He knew that in the place where He was going to, He could not count on God or on the Holy Spirit.
God never died, neither did the Holy Spirit. They are: Life, Origin and Foundation of all things.
Jesus had to die, cross the chasm and fulfil God’s justice, which required punishment for all sin.
He went there for me and for you!
I believe the Holy Spirit left Jesus exactly when He was in Gethsemane. It was there that the Holy Spirit departed - our Lord was heading to death. He said: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” And while He prayed, He swatted drops of blood.
Some time earlier, the Pharisees had asked Jesus for a sign. However, He answered that they already had the sign of Jonah and no other would be given. Jonah had been three days and three nights in the womb of a big fish; the Son of Man, likewise, would be three days and three nights in the womb of death.
Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday, however it does not account for the three days He had prophesied.
From Friday to Saturday, one night; from Saturday to Sunday, two nights. And the third night?
That is why I believe that Jesus’ spiritual death, that is, the separation from God, took place on Thursday night when, in the Gethsemane, the Holy Spirit left Him, and Jesus was turned over into the hands of the sinners.
When the soldiers, who were accompanying Judas Iscariot, were closing in on Jesus to seize Him, He said to them: “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour - when darkness reigns.” (Lk. 22:53)
Something had changed! The Holy Spirit who moved the multitudes to come to Jesus, as on the previous Sunday, when the people were crying out loud “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”, or that had revealed the truth to Peter, when he said: “You are the Christ, the Son of God”, was no longer active. The time now was of the power of darkness.
The multitude was shouting out, “Crucify him, crucify him...” and Peter would betray the Lord three times, abandoning Him, like all the other disciples did.
When Jesus was on the cross, the devil and the demons came and tried to make Him commit at least one sin, so He could never be resurrected from the dead or come back from the other side of the chasm.
Hanging on the cross, Jesus was alone; without the Father and without the Holy Spirit. That was why the devil thought that He would not resist sinning.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
I believe Job was a type of Jesus, when the devil declared that if all Job had were withdrawn, he would curse God.
The devil believed that without the Spirit of God, and God Himself, Jesus, under such pressure, would sin. Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 o’clock in the morning and there He remained until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. He endured six long hours, until He finally gave up His spirit.
Remember His words on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
He had taught us to call God, Father. The prayer He taught us was: “Our Father who is in heaven...”. However, now He was calling Him God, showing that on the cross He was no longer the Son of God. He was but a simple man, blamed for many sins: mine, yours and those of the entire world, with no right to call God, Father.
Let us now study together Psalm 22 - a prophecy delivered by king David, who 700 years before had received a revelation of what would happen to the Saviour on the cross.
We will go over this Psalm verse by verse. It is a profound prophesy, fulfilled on the cross of Calvary.
Please bear in mind that king David announced these facts 700 years before they came to pass.
Understand the words of this prophesy as the prayer Jesus uttered when He was nailed to the cross.
PSALM OF DAVID No 22
Verse 1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
On the cross of Calvary, the Holy Trinity was dissembled. Jesus was detached from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus was carrying our sins, and therefore God and the Holy Spirit were distant from Him. Jesus called the Father, God, but because he was separated, He was forsaken.
Verse 2: “Why are you far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night and am not silent.”
The words of the Lord in these verses show the anguish in which He was living because of the distance between Him and His Father and God.
Verses 3-5: “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved. In you they trusted and were not disappointed.”
Jesus pictures Himself in these verses as a common Jew, referring to the patriarchs like Abraham, Moses or David. On the cross, Jesus calls for His forefathers - His physical ancestors.
Verse 6: “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.”
Jesus’ condition on the cross was terrible. He was carrying all the sins of humanity. He called Himself a worm and not a man. Above all, He was greatly despised and abandoned even by His closest friends.
Verses 7-8: “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue him.”
That is what the people near the cross-said of Him. Those who witnessed these facts wrote in the Gospel that those who passed by, during the six hours of crucifixion, mocked Jesus’ situation. The fact that He was crucified naked brought the Lord even more shame.
None of them could understand that the ugliness of His face, caused by the beatings and the pain He was enduring, was in reality the ugliness of each one of us. They also could not understand why God could not help Him, if He loved Him so much.
Verses 9-10: “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”
Jesus meditates on His miraculous birth by the Holy Spirit and how God had kept Him when He was still a baby, having to flee from Herod to Egypt with His parents. Now, however, God did not protect Him.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Verse 11: “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”
Note that, when on the cross, Jesus said that tribulation was near. I understand that the tribulation to which He referred was not solely to the cross and all His physical suffering, but the parting to the other side of the chasm. The same chasm mentioned in the story of Abraham, Lazarus and the rich man.
“There is no one to help me”. The truth was that Jesus’ resurrection depended on Him being perfect and totally sinless. Only this condition could make Him conquer death and come back from there.
For this reason He said: “I will destroy this temple and in three days will rebuild it.”
Verses 12-13: “Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.”
Here Jesus was referring to the devil and his demons, which came around the cross to try everything in order to increase His suffering, and in some way make Him sin.
If Jesus transgressed God’s law, even for a second, He would never come back from death. And the plan of salvation for man would be definitely ruined.
Verse 14: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.”
Since the time Judas leaded the mob to arrest Jesus, I believe around sunset of Thursday, each moment our Lord passed in the hands of the sinners was of great pain.
When they took Him to the house of Caiphas, the high priest of Israel, the Sanhedrin, constituted of seventy Pharisees, got together to judge Him. As soon as they considered Him guilty, they began beating Him. Then they tied Him up and cast Him into a narrow hole, where He past the night.
Early the next morning, He was taken to Pilate, and Pilate sent him to Herod, who sent Him back to Pilate. Around eight in the morning, Jesus was already exhausted.
After they had judged Him and the mob was screaming to crucify Him, He was handed to the Roman soldiers. The soldiers whipped Him, beat Him, spat on His face and put a crown of thorns on His head.
On His bleeding back, they made Him carry the cross to Calvary, where He was crucified.
We can now understand that because of the blood He had lost during all those hours, He felt as if being poured out like water.
The thirst our Lord felt must have been tremendous, because of all the blood He lost. When He asked for water, it was because His tongue was stuck to the roof of His mouth. For this reason He couldn’t speak to the thief, crucified next to Him and in that Jesus saw conditions to be saved.
When He asked for water, He was given vinegar. And I believe that, although He knew it was vinegar and that it would burn His mouth, He drank it in order to loosen His tongue and be able to preach to that thief, who eventually was saved.
He received vinegar, but produced salvation with it!
When they took Jesus from the cross, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear. And immediately a sudden flow of blood and water came out. The cause of the Lord’s death on the cross was due to the pain of His separation from God. This separation broke His heart as the Scriptures say: “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.”
With His heart ruptured, Jesus’ chest cavity was filled with water and blood. It was a great internal blood spill, which, under pressure, flowed out when pierced with the spear.
Verse 16: “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”
The dogs referred to here are the Romans - the four soldiers that escorted Jesus to the cross. In those days those who weren’t Jews were considered “dogs”. Remember what Jesus said to the Syrophenician woman when she urged Him to drive a demon out of her daughter? “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
Verses 17-18: “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots over my clothing.”
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Jesus possessed a garment and a tunic. The garments were sewn so it was easy to split them up. The tunic was one piece of cloth with no stitches, which was the reason they cast lots to see who would have that valuable piece of cloth.
They were not aware that these facts had been announced 700 years before.
The Lord then departed to the other side of the chasm, far from God and far from the Holy Spirit.
That Friday was the Passover, a festival celebrated by the Jews for over 2000 years. The Sabbath, the day of rest, would start at six o’clock that evening and all Jews would participate of the lamb, the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs.
Jerusalem was crowded with people from all over, who had come for the Passover celebration, the biggest religious feast of that time. Solomon’s magnificent temple was full of people; kings, foreigners, Greeks and Jews from all parts of Israel. In each home, the families were preparing the special meal.
While all this was going on, the real Lamb of God was abandoned, left on the cross, naked and bleeding.
Notice, dear reader, that while they were preparing the Passover lamb, the True Lamb was abandoned on the cross.
This is the result of religion and traditions of men. Those who were eyewitnesses to these facts, write in the Gospels that that day was extraordinary because darkness came over all the land, like if nature itself were groaning with pain.
I believe that the spiritual universe was quiet and expectation could be felt in all creation.
On the third day, as He had said, the Lord burst through death like the first sun beam breaks through the night, revealing the light of a new day!
He had won! And because he was perfect and no sin was found in Him, the chains of death were shattered! The price had been paid for! The devil was defeated forever! Hallelujah! Our Saviour overcame death!
Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom Jesus had expelled seven evil spirits, was beside His tomb. For three days she had been crying, seeking to see the Rabbi, even if only His dead body. She had found the empty tomb that Sunday morning, and, desperate, she sat on the ground and started to weep. At that very moment, Jesus came up from behind her and asked: “Why do you cry?” She thought He was the gardener, who took care of the tomb garden.
She answered: “Sir, if you know where they have put the body of my Lord, tell me where it is so I may go an get it”. It was then that He called her by the name, “Mary”.
She turned back and recognised Him. She fell at His feet full of joy. Then the Lord said to her: “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father...”
I think about the greatness of my Lord! After having conquered the victory over death and becoming the greatest conqueror of all universe and receiving a name above all names, He still had time, before going up to heaven to receive all praise and adoration and sit at God the Father’s right hand side, to reveal Himself to the lowly Mary, of whom He had cast out so many demons, giving her the privilege of seeing Him before anyone else. Mary, because of her own condition, would never have received in this world the honour of entering a royal palace. However, it was to her that the King of kings appeared first - before He had even gone to the Father.
All this grandiose work of our Lord - and this book tells of only a small portion, started with His baptism of humbleness in the River Jordan. It was in the humility of that gesture, that the Lord prepared Himself to win the great fight for us.
When He was thirty years of age, although without sin, He went to be baptised by John in the baptism of repentance for sinners. Jesus had nothing to repent for. When John the Baptist saw Him coming, he refused to baptise Him, as he felt unworthy to do so.
Understand dear reader that Jesus did so in order to humble Himself before God and fulfil justice. That is, humbly submit Himself to God’s guidance. He taught us that those who humble themselves would be exalted. In His baptism, He humbled Himself, being baptised with sinners. Immediately God exalted Him.
“This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”, was the voice that came from heaven, when the Holy Spirit descended on Him. We fulfil justice when we humble ourselves before God. Is there a greater expression of justice other than we accept we are nothing and God is perfect and Holy?
Is there anything more rightful or fair than that?
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Even so, few are those who humble themselves before God and many are who despise Him and even dare to blame Him for the problems they go through. Humbleness, I believe, is the sure way to receive the Holy Spirit in our lives.
“THE GLORY OF THIS WORLD”
After the Lord Jesus’ baptism in the waters, the Holy Spirit took him to the desert. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” (Mtt. 4:1-3)
Notice, dear reader, that after Jesus was acknowledged by the Father as the Beloved Son, He had to go to the desert to be proved and only after that be approved.
The desert here represents the difficult times we need to endure alone in order to be tested. Allowing to be led to the desert, Jesus demonstrated His complete submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
In the desert, Jesus knew He would be deprived of food, water and comfort. However, His humbleness lay on the fact that His communion with God was the great priority in His life. As the Perfect Servant, His life was entirely in the hands of His Lord.
The devil only came to tempt Jesus when He felt hunger, that is, when He was physically weak. The devil then tempted Jesus in all ways to satisfy His physical needs. But Jesus did not fall into any of them. Every temptation was repelled with the Word of God.
Finally the devil tries to tempt Jesus, offering Him the glory of this world in open rebellion against God. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘ if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Mtt. 4:8-10)
This rebellion would, thus, forfeit God’s plan for human redemption. Jesus overcame this great temptation not because He was God, but because of His total submission to God’s will.
The devil offered the glory of this world because it belongs to him. Woe to those who love the glory of this world because, in fact, they love the devil and all that is his!
“ ... And the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1Jh. 5:19)
When Jesus past the test, the angels came and attended Him (Mtt. 4:11), satisfying all His needs.
In the same way, when a Christian goes through “deserts” in his life, he must resist all temptations; endure tribulations with a submissive heart certain that at the end God will fulfil His glorious plan.
All tribulations are permitted by God and produce blessings for all eternity. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine...” (1Pe. 1:6, 7)
‘God proves us to bring out the best in us; the devil tempts us to bring out the worst in us.’
The Holy Spirit may lead us to the “desert”, but when the devil leads us to “the high mountains”, we must resist him and cast him away in the Name of Jesus.
A little while before the Lord Jesus’ death, some Greeks came to Jerusalem and wanted to see Jesus. When the disciples told Jesus about this, He replied: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (Jh.12:23,24)
The disciples must have felt confused, because the Greeks wanted to see Jesus to compliment Him for His beautiful philosophy, His powerful speech or something of the kind, because they did not acknowledge Him as the Son of God, but as a prominent philosopher. And Jesus tells them that the time had come for Him to be glorified and that if a kernel of wheat doesn’t die it remains a single seed.
Jesus was talking about the glory He would receive from God when fulfilling His plans that is, dying to save the world. And for this reason He didn’t make any reference to the Greeks, because He was not seeking the glory of this world.
Dear reader, never exchange the glory that comes from God for the glory of this cursed world. The tribulations we have to undergo are only for a little while, but the blessings are for all eternity.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
“THE WAY TO VICTORY”
The first words of teaching of our Lord Jesus registered in the Bible are found in Matthew chapter 5 verse 3: “Blessed are the humble in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
Like all sins, wars, sicknesses, misery, crimes, perversions, etc, had their origin in the pride of the devil’s heart, I believe that the source of all blessings in our lives is when we learn to have a humble heart before our Lord.
Moreover, when Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, the first words, before asking for our daily bread, were of submission: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As pride was the basis of sin, humbleness is the basis to all blessings. It was when Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself, going to be baptised in the river Jordan that everything began in His life.
Imagine, dear reader, the King of kings, Son of the Almighty God, being baptised with sinners in the baptism of repentance that John preached about.
He had never sinned. Why then should He be publicly baptised for remission of sins?
John was startled when he saw Jesus coming to be baptised together with murderers, prostitutes and all kinds of sinners. John did not want to baptise Him because he considered himself not worthy to stoop down and untie the thongs of His sandals. But because of His attitude of humbleness before God, God the Father, for the first time in His earthly life, spoke to Him from heaven: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!” Immediately the Holy Spirit, taking the form of a dove, descended upon Him.
I am repeating this with the hope of awakening the reader to the importance of this fact.
Jesus did exactly what He taught us.
He humbled Himself before God and was by Him exalted. The baptism in water still has the same character. When a person lives in this world, she lives according to her own interests; listens only to herself and tries to satisfy all desires of her flesh. But, when this person turns to God because of a sickness, a financial or family problem, or even because she finds herself as a miserable sinner, she must understand that the beginning of everything is the full understanding of the distance between our injustice and God’s justice.
Nothing expresses better our repentance and sincere conversion than water baptism, when we humble ourselves before God. When we live our own lives, far from God and distant from His will, what is it but pride in our heart, thinking we owe no gratitude or obedience to the Creator?
This is the cursed pride that comes in to the heart. It comes especially in the heart of those who are rich, important, famous or even religious. Because of that Jesus said: “Blessed are those who mourn...” Experience has shown that when all things are turning out well, man’s heart has the inclination to become proud. What is, no doubt, worse than any disease or disaster that can afflict the human body. Because these cannot cast the soul into hell as can pride.
When we are baptised, we are recognising our smallness and filthiness, submitting ourselves entirely as if to die submerged in the waters, and thence live according to the Holy will of God. Baptism should then kill all pride in our hearts, regarding our neighbour and especially regarding God.
In addition to that, when we start to live a life in accordance to God’s will, we should double our efforts in being careful so that our heart does not become proud because of our conversion. And thus, turning us into religious people, who, although they obey the Bible’s principles, they are proud of themselves. They think highly of themselves. They despise those who are not their equal, and thus turn out to be in a worse condition than when they lived in their world of sin.
For this reason Jesus alerted us when He said: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Dear reader, the danger of pride in the heart of a religious person is, maybe, as great as the danger of pride in the heart of a rich person. Wasn’t it precisely to avoid this problem that the Lord put a thorn in Paul’s flesh? Paul said: “To keep me from becoming conceited... there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me.” (ICor. 12:7)
Wasn’t it also why Moses wrote in the law, in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 9 verse 4, alerting the Israelites of the danger of judging themselves righteous people:
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
“After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness. ’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you... to accomplish what he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Wasn’t it the religious of those days that killed our Lord Jesus, because they couldn’t accept Him as a king, even witnessing all the deeds He performed?
Wasn’t it the pride in their hearts that made them crucify Jesus, despite the great love He showed them?
The Pharisees, as well as all the other religious people of that time, were fanatic observers of the Law of Moses. They prayed and fasted as no other. They paid tithes and offerings. However, all they did was with the intention of being exalted before men, seeking the glory their proud heart yearns for.
Therefore, they did not see the great light, which dwelt among them. They continued in darkness and were lost.
The way to victory starts in the humbleness of our hearts. And, if after every victory we achieve we keep our hearts humble, shutting pride out, then God will bless us even more. Our path of blessings then, will be always at the feet of our Lord Jesus. Beware that your achievements do not destroy you.
The way to victory starts in humbleness and maintains itself in humbleness. One of the greatest (if not the greatest) lessons the Bible teaches us is humbleness. It is a virtue considered so out of fashion, that when it is exercised only brings criticism, and the person many times is called a fool or a weak character.
However, no smartness, courage or strength is greater than humbleness in its total simplicity. That is, the profound knowledge of our smallness before God and the thorough conviction that we are not superior to anyone else.
It is said that many years ago, there was a town built at the edge of a lake, formed by a river of crystal clear waters, which springs were at the top of Blessing Mountain. On the top of that mountain there lived, all alone, a man of God. He dedicated his life to the study of the Word of God, to fasting and to prayer.
During all his life, that man had been a preacher. He had opened many churches and consecrated pastors and bishops. As he had become of age, he secluded himself in a modest house at the top of the mountain.
The bishops he had raised would now and then climb the mountain to visit the wise preacher, and bring him news about the work. They also came to search for advice and guidance from this wise man of God, whose experience in so many battles and great faith had made him an over comer. They also used to take him the chosen pastors to be consecrated bishops, in order to receive, by the laying of hands, the blessing of the priesthood.
It was during one of the most rigorous winters that a young pastor, passed over to be consecrated a bishop, feeling hurt in his pride, decided to climb the mountain alone. He wanted to tell the old man of God about his works and receive directly from him what the members of the presbytery had denied him.
The climbing was hard, the mountain was covered with snow and the cold wind slashed the face of whoever defied it. Only the obstinacy of the young pastor gave him strength to continue in such adverse circumstances. He was convinced that he would receive the just reward for all his works.
After climbing almost three days, the exhausted young pastor saw light coming from the small house, where the man of God lived. He gathered his last strength together and hurried to the gate, which he kicked opened and finally reached the front door.
The man of God received him warmly. He gave him clothes to change and put him near the fireplace, from where they had a good view of the snow falling outside the window.
The man of God then asked the young pastor what had made him climb the mountain in such difficult circumstances. Taking that line as his opportunity, the young pastor began explaining why he deserved to be consecrated as a bishop. He always sacrificed himself a great deal. He only wore white clothes - to overcome vanity. He only drank water so as not to give pleasure to the flesh. He used to put small stones in his shoes to inflict pain upon him. During winter nights, he would expose himself to the cold and sleep always on the floor. And besides all of this, he would whip himself forty times as proof of his complete consecration.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
The man of God was listening attentively, when a white horse galloped through the open gate, drank water from a puddle and lay down tired on the cold snow. This scene caught their attention. The man of God pointed to the animal and said, “Look, my son, at that horse. It also wears white, has nails in its shoes, only drinks water, sleeps on the snow and receives much more than forty thrashings a day. However, it is still an animal”.
This was how the young pastor learnt that whatever we do, even the greatest sacrifice, if motivated by a proud heart in search of self-praise, then, it has no value. Jesus taught us that in the kingdom of God the smallest is the greatest, the weakest is the strongest, the last is the first, it is giving that we receive, it is humbling ourselves that we are exalted and it is dying that one lives for eternal life. Remember, dear reader: Never leave the path of victory. There is no other, there never was and there never will be.
He taught us, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12)
The one who humbles himself will be exalted, and no one can impede this. God loves him tremendously, knows his humble heart and will give what he requests. Moses alerted the children of Israel not to grow proud, reminding them that when they conquered the Promised Land, they should humble themselves for the victory achieved. Moses said: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth...” (Dt. 8:17, 18)
“HUMBLENESS OF MIND AND OF HEART”
The humbleness we are seeking, as we study these chapters, is, of course, the humbleness that comes from the Holy Spirit, as a fruit of His life within us.
There are two types of humbleness: humbleness of the mind and humbleness of the heart. When we talk about humbleness of the mind, we are referring to the one, which happens apart from the heart, that is, humbleness motivated by self-interest or fear. This is the common humbleness of this world, but it is worthless to God.
For example, an employee who usually is humble before his superior, especially when his boss is around, does not necessarily mean that this humbleness comes from his heart. However, if this same employee is humble also with those below him, not because he expects reward from them but because he loves and respects them as brothers - equal before God, then this man has a good heart.
Humbleness of the mind is circumstantial. It is motivated by interest in attaining something. It can be a favour for mercy. For example, a criminal, when captured, shows himself as the most humble of men in order to attain mercy from those who have captured him. If he obtains his freedom and happens to be carrying a weapon, in a situation to his advantage, his heart will reveal itself and he will be back committing crimes again. When a young lady falls in love and wishes to marry, she demonstrates to her future mother-in-law to be the most humble person in the world.
However, maybe after the marriage, she will despise her mother-in-law because her humbleness was only a product of her mind; circumstantial.
Humbleness of the mind is only appearance. It does not last long because it is fake. Very soon it will show its real face, especially if the person is successful in her intent and gains what she was seeking for.
Humbleness from the Holy Spirit, however, occurs within the heart. Despite what she possesses, the person still knows she is a wretched sinner, useless before God and no better than anyone else.
Such a feeling is spontaneous in her heart. It never changes, no mind the honour she receives in different situations, and she continues to be the same faithful servant. Her humbleness is completely different from the humbleness, which only occurs in the mind.
In humbleness of mind, the person is convinced that she needs to be humble in order to obtain what she desires or overcome a situation. In humbleness of heart, the person recognises her smallness before God and men.
When someone humble in mind grows, she becomes proud. But when someone humble in heart grows, the more humble she becomes before God and men.
Humbleness of mind searches its own glory, while humbleness of heart, and searches the glory of God.
Like a wolf dressed in sheepskin, such is pride dressed in humbleness of mind.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Humbleness of mind sees the man and the circumstances, but humbleness of heart sees God.
Like the weed that looks like wheat when it begins to sprout, likewise does humbleness of mind seem like humbleness of heart at start?
But as the weed becomes very different from the wheat when it grows, so does humbleness of mind become different from humbleness of heart when it is put to a test. The humble in mind accepts the glory of this world. He assumes he deserves the praises he receives. Even if he pretends not to, within his heart he exalts himself. The humble mind is pride waiting for a chance. The humble in mind never accepts his mistakes. When corrected he keeps quiet, withdraws in himself and searches for consolation within his heart. He is certain that he is right and that he was unjustly treated. The humble of mind likes to show men he is humble and delights in praises. What separates the humble of mind from the proud one is only time.
The humble in mind is capable of the greatest of efforts to obtain praises, and when he gets them he accepts them in his heart, even though he may deny it.
The humble of mind likes to be noticed by men, not by what he possesses - like the proud one - but for his humbleness.
The humble of mind can sometimes deceive even himself, but never God.
The humble of mind does not seek to receive from God humbleness, because he thinks he already has it.
The humble of heart never exalts him, even if he is greatly honoured.
The humble of heart sincerely accepts a rebuke coming from a just person because he rejoices in learning. “Let a righteous man strike me, it is kindness; let him rebuke me - it is oil on my head.” (Ps. 141:5)
The humble in heart depends solely on God, regarding everything he does. He does not trust men’s strength or his own. Humbleness in mind is a disease of the heart.
“JESUS OF NAZARETH”
When we consider humbleness, our perfect model is our Lord Jesus Christ. His birth, not to mention His significant life, would be enough to show us His perfect love and humble heart.
Read what Paul wrote in the book of Philippians chapter 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross.”
As we have studied in chapter 3, our Lord Jesus’ sacrifice was far beyond His immense physical sacrifice. It was He who had to cross the chasm and only return if He were sinless.
We also have seen that death means no fellowship with God and that was precisely what happened to the Lord. He was bearing our sins and carrying our faults, and because of doing so, He lost communion with God and the Holy Spirit. At that moment, the Holy Trinity was disrupted. As we know, the Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is very close to Jerusalem, and the same town where king David was born.
It was prophesied: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” (Matt. 2:6; Mic. 5:2)
Nazareth was a northern small town, located in Galilee, expressionless in the biblical context. It’s not quoted a single time in the Old Testament. No prophet or king or judges were ever born in Nazareth.
Jesus called Himself “Jesus of Nazareth”, thus suffered prejudice from many Jews. In fact, up to date, Nazareth remains a modest town.
Nathaniel had prejudice towards Jesus when he heard He had come from Nazareth. It is said in the Bible: “Philip found Nathaniel and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’...” (Jn. 1:45,46)
Calling Himself “Jesus of Nazareth”, the Lord humbled and identified Himself even more with the poor.
For the rich, scholars or religious people, the fact that Jesus was from Nazareth, only assured them that He was nothing more than a poor person from the inland. I believe that natives from that region had a characteristic accent, which enabled one of Caiaphas guards to spot out Peter, who was also from Galilee.
“The Danger of Pride in Heart.”
Proud Saul of Tarsus, a Benjamite, thoroughly trained in the law under Gamaliel, persecutor of Christians and a zealous Pharisee, fell to the ground, blinded by a bright light from heaven that flashed around him when he was heading to Damascus.
He described what happened in the book of Acts chapter 22 verses 6 to 8. “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting’, he replied.”
I marvel at the fact that our Lord Jesus, even after His complete victory over death and having received a name above all names - sitting on the right hand of God the Father, still calls Himself Jesus of Nazareth.
All of us, no matter our poor or rich background, should learn to have a Nazareth citizenship.
For Saul, the persecutor, this was to be his first great lesson. Imagine, dear reader, what Saul, a Jew with a Roman citizenship, thought of those who came from Nazareth!
Surrounded by a flashing light from heaven, he hears a voice that says it is the Lord from Nazareth.
Later in his life, Paul, now a broken and humble man, wrote about the glory he had had in this world as a religious man: “... If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the Church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:4-8)
Paul had changed his citizenship to Nazareth.
He became humble under the One who is humble.
To enter the kingdom of God, we all have to become citizens of Nazareth. A humble servant of God seeks first to honour, love and serve his Lord and Master.
A humble heart is one who is willing to give up all he has and commit his life to serve God at any personal cost. A humble life is one, which is willing to live unnoticed and to give all glory to God.
A humble person wishes to obey his Master and be where He abides.
“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.” (Jh. 12:25,26)
“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”