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“But they cried out:  Away with Him, Away with Him! Crucify Him!”

“Pilot replied to them: Shall I crucify your King?”

“The Chief Priests answered:  We have no king but Caesar!”  John 19:15

Dictionary defines human nature as: “ordinary human behavior, especially considered as less than perfect.”  Human nature has been used as a scapegoat for much of mankind’s questionable behavior.  It is a way of giving you and I a pass, an excuse for common behavior that we wished we had not committed but many of our peers would have done as well.

Jesus is a threat to the Jewish leadership.  They are the recognized authorities on the law.  They are the ones people turn to with questions about God and Godly behavior.  Jesus challenges their authority.  Jesus does not do this on the basis of traditional study or learning.  No, Jesus bluntly states His authority comes directly from God.  For He is the only true Son of God.  For the Jewish leadership this is blasphemy, pure and simple.  Yet try as they might, they can’t get the Jewish people to turn against Jesus.  Every time there seems to be a slight chance for His destruction; once Jesus was going to be thrown off a cliff, another time it seemed like a crowd might stone Him to death, Jesus easily escapes.  And worse than that, because Jesus does escape, even more people flock to listen to Him, to believe in Him.

So human nature kicks in.  If we can’t stop someone on our own, then we’ll find another power to which we can turn, the Jewish leadership plots.  Very quickly, the Romans had been in control of the Jewish nation for more than six decades.  Thousands of Jews had been slaughtered in the conquest of Jerusalem and scores more were being regularly killed in attempts to keep order.  Also Pilot was known to put up pagan symbols all over the city over the strenuous objections of the Jewish leadership.  So now, to rid the land of Jesus, the Jewish authorities turn to, even seem to embrace the Roman leadership.

But the Romans, or at least their leadership, don’t like the Jews much.  The Jewish leadership is constantly complaining.  They are thorn in the Romans side.  So the Jewish leaders have an expectation that the Romans won’t just happily comply with their request to kill Jesus.  Indeed, Pilot can find no reason for placating the Jewish leadership in the matter of Jesus.  Pilot has no love or respect for Jesus.  He dislikes the Jewish leadership more.

So human nature dictates that the Jews will have to convince Pilot, by threats and gifts to get what they want.  The threat?; that the people will become uncontrollable, will riot if Pilot does not crucify Jesus.  The Romans greatly prized compliance and stability in their conquered lands.  If a Roman leader was not able to provide that; his professional as well as personal life was in dire jeopardy.  The gift?; servitude.  “We have no king but Caesar!”

“We have no king but Caesar!”  Augustus the emperor when Christ was born called himself a son of god (not our God).  Emperor Tiberius also considered himself to be divine.  The Jewish leadership declares that there only king is the divine (in his own mind) Roman?  Their one king is a leader of a regime that has brutally killed their people and blasphemed their religion?  Their only king is an uncircumcised gentile?  How can they stand to make that declaration?  Human nature says to proclaim anything is okay as long as they get their ends; Jesus dies.

If you’ve ever read any of the other posts, you will know that if you or I are shaking our heads and pointing a judging finger at these horrible people; we’d better avoid any or all mirrors.  “Jesus Christ is my King!  I have no other!”, I shout.  Hmmm, but I need that promotion so I better make myself look better than my other peers.  They may need help but too bad so sad.  That’s just human nature.  You make me look bad.  You embarrass me in front of my friends, family, coworkers.  You better believe I’ll be paying you back in kind.  That’s just human nature.  Look at the harsh, damaging conflicts in our world, in our own country, our own family, our own church.  Human nature is alive and well.

Dear brothers and sisters it is clear that the only true way to counteract the effects of our human nature is to strive to have Jesus Christ nature.  For Jesus Christ not only taught us what true, righteous nature should be; He also lived it every day, every moment.  Human nature would tell us that to even attempt to obtain the Christ nature must require an extremely high price from us; must involve years of study to achieve our JCN (Jesus Christ Nature) degree or maybe there is some “inside track” we can use to easily obtain it.  Well, there is a high price.  A price higher than the combination of all human wealth forever could pay.  It has been paid by the only one who could pay it; Jesus Christ.  Relying on our own wisdom, our own academic prowess to achieve?, not hardly.

While I don’t believe we (or at least I) can completely achieve Christ Nature in this world, it starts with a simple declaration and request.  There is no exchange of money involved, no signing up for a degree program.  It starts when we declare that Jesus Christ is the One True Perfect, Holy Son of God.  It continues as we further declare that we are sinners, in need of repentance  and ask Him to come into our lives as Our Savior.  Human nature tells us that can’t be it.  Human nature tells us to turn away from that message.  The only way to conquer human nature comes from and requires belonging to Jesus Christ.  Thankfully the Nature of Christ is to be lovingly there beckoning our call.

Most Gracious and Loving Jesus Christ, come into our lives, be our King, we pray.  Replace our evil human nature, with Your Righteous, Loving, Christ Nature.  Forgive us when we fall, when we slip back to our own nature.  Strengthen us to return to You, knowing that You paid the price for our sins.  That we might live lives of eternal praise to You and Our Heavenly Father.  In Your Name, Jesus Christ, we pray.  Amen.

“So the children of the Lord did evil in the sight of the Lord”  Judges 3:7

Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel…..”  Judges 3:8

When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer…”   Judges 3:9

“So the land had rest for forty years”     Judges 3:11

“And again the children did evil in the sight of the Lord.”   Judges 3:12

Human nature.  It is a phrase oft used to describe a multitude of things.  For some, our human nature is such that we are basically loving, generous, giving people who are led astray in some way or another by our environment.  When we do evil, we are somehow acting against our basic nature.  For others, human nature describes certain aspects of how we behave but attach no judgement to that behaviour.  It is human nature to be competitive or it is human nature to have the best.  It is basically human nature that has us looking out for number one (ourselves) first.

So we come to the book of Judges and the people of Israel who, when following the Lord under the human leadership of Joshua, completely conquered the promised land.  The  people who in conquering the land, time after time, they destroyed armies many times their size and strength.  After conquering the promised land, the bible tells us that generation served the Lord and they were at peace and prospered.  Then Joshua dies along with the generation that was with him, who directly witnessed the power as well as the mercy of the Lord.  Then something changed.  Their environment didn’t change.  it wasn’t as if, as they were correctly serving the Lord, a drastic drought or great enemy came against them.  No, first they turned from the Lord and started doing evil in the sight of the Lord.  What was the evil that they were doing?  They turned from worshiping the Lord and started worshiping the local gods:  Baal and Asherahs.

And here’s where human nature kicks in.  For we might understand that those who had not had the opportunity to first hand witness the power and the mercy of the Lord might not grasp the all encompassing need to worship Him.  Yes their parents taught them of the Lord but they lacked the experience.  What they knew was peace and prosperity but not the way in which it was derived.  So they strayed.  Okay, I can understand that.  However, once they get to witness it themselves.  Once they experience first hand the anger of the Lord, then cry out to Him and are delivered and then are brought into His rest.  Surely they will not stray again.  Well, I’m starting the fifth chapter of Judges and already this pattern has repeated itself three times.  And, having read the book before, I know that it will continue.  And should we think that this is just an aberration of this particular time.  Centuries later, after David and Solomon have ruled, there comes a time that is captured in the books of Kings and Chronicles, where this same pattern is repeated over and over again.  There would seem to be some aspect of our nature as humans that brings about this repeated behavior.

Fast forward to today.  As we read this we might be tempted to judge these people harshly.  To call out to them:  “You Fools!”; believing that we would never behave in such a way.  Wise was Jesus to give us this warning:  “Judge not lest we be judged”.  For I, at least in those times when I am honest, can see this behavior in myself.  I am in need.  I declare that Jesus Christ is my savior and in faith I call out to him.  I am blessed greatly in the response.  And sometimes (sadly not all the time) I give thanks for what God Almighty had done for me.  I feel a sense of peace and prosperity.  Then it happens.  The gods of this world intrude.  With my new prosperity, I deserve to live the good material life.  Bring on the new!……gadgets, vehicles, homes, lavish dinners out.   I deserve and am wise to use only my judgement in wielding my new power!……do as I say (don’t look to closely at what I am doing), I have no need for your opinion, shut up.  Look at me!  Want to be me!  I should have all that my eye sees and my mind can conjure.  Gradually, insidiously, I turn away from the One True God and serve the many earthly gods:  money, power, prestige, selfishness.  Invariably, when I turn from God, I plummet.  My sense of peace and well being flee from me.  My decisions are wrong and bring about hurt and pain.  I find myself lost.  So I cry out to Jesus and He hears me and rescues me.  And I am once again blessed.  And the behavior, sometimes to a greater or lessor degree, will repeat itself over and over again.

And here is the amazing triumph over the tragedy; the God Nature versus Human Nature.  Human nature has a saying:  “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  Human nature says, once you have done something against me the first time, I should stop trusting, respecting or believing in you.  Human nature says you deserve what you get.  But not God Nature.  First our Heavenly Father isn’t fooled.  He knows our nature is to stray.  He knows that we are going to sin.  How many times should I forgive a person; Jesus disciples ask:  seven times?  No, Jesus responds; seven times seventy times.  Even then, I believe Jesus nor God is putting a true number of times on forgiveness.  Jesus Christ didn’t die just to deliver us from our first 10 or even 100 sins.

So what is to be our response?  Just keep sinning?  Can we not see that the turning away from God is not hurting God but is tragically and repeatedly destroying ourselves. But if that is our human nature then what can we do?  Jesus Christ tells us.  We must be born again.  We must be born again into the spiritual realm of God Nature.  Our human nature must die only to be resurrected into His Nature.  How can we accomplish this?  We as humans can’t.  But remember that all encompassing promise made by Jesus Christ.  With God, all things are possible.  May it be that we strive for a new trend.  The trend that comes from being with and in God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ.  And when our human nature tries to cause us to fall; know that we have a Savior who is there to catch us.

Our most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we confess that we at times believe we can live without You.  We confess that we bow down either in desire or fear to the gods of this world and our own making.  Forgive us Dear Father when we are forgetful of Your blessings and take credit for them ourselves.  Strengthen us Merciful Father, to be victorious in our battle against our own human nature.  Wonderful Father, pour out Your Spirit upon us, testifying to us and giving us the will to subvert our will to Your Devine Will.  That our lives might be a lasting testimony to the world of Your Glorious Nature and a Blessing to Your Most Holy Name.  In Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen


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