The Gospel Observer (September 11, 2016)

1) The Mocking of the Messiah (Terry Slack)
2) We NEED Doctrinal Teaching (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes


The Mocking of the Messiah
Terry Slack

For those of us who were adults in the ’70s and ’80s, the name Ted Bundy conjures up a variety of thoughts — none of which are pleasant. As a serial kidnapper and killer, the accounts of his crimes turn even the strongest of stomachs. After years of eluding law enforcement, he was eventually captured in Florida in 1978 and convicted for the murders of 3 young women. Living in Florida at the time, I remember his capture and conviction being prominent stories in the local news. Sentenced to death, the appeals would last for years before Bundy was finally executed in Florida’s electric chair in January, 1989.

By 1989 I was now living in Indiana and vividly recall the images televised on the network news. Outside the prison gathered the typical group of folks protesting the death penalty, some carrying signs proclaiming it was unbiblical. Though that contingent bothered me, there was another group I found even more troubling. In a field across the road from the prison were gathered more than 2000, some of whom professing a connection to Jesus. These had come for a very different reason. They sang, danced, and even set off fireworks at the moment of Bundy’s execution. As the hearse carried the body away from the prison, these same revelers cheered loudly in celebration.

Did Ted Bundy deserve to die for his crimes? I believe he did. Does the Bible teach that the government has the authority to carry out such executions? I’m convinced it does (Romans 13:4). Was I repulsed by the actions of those who chose to revel in his death? Yes, yes I was. Justice was being served. There was no cause to celebrate the end of Bundy’s life in such an egregious manner — surely death was enough.

If I was appalled by such actions toward a guilty man, surely there must be even greater disgust when similar brutality is demonstrated toward a man who is totally innocent.

Though there were no TV cameras present to capture the images, the gospels reveal such a scene centuries earlier at a place called Golgotha. After years of hatred and hostility, the religious leaders had finally achieved their objective. They were about to eliminate this itinerant rabbi they believed to pose such a threat to their power and position. Under compulsion, the Roman governor sentenced Jesus of Nazareth to die by crucifixion. When we consider the barbarity and the horrible agony involved, how could anyone ever think of it as a time for mockery? But for many, the cross was a joke and Jesus would be the recipient of their derision. Having stripped Him of His freedom, His rights, His friends and His clothing, they now seek to strip the sinless Jesus of any dignity that remained.

The writers of these accounts say very little about the crucifixion itself. In fact, their extreme restraint is evidenced in just four English words: “There they crucified Him” (Luke 23:33). But while they say nothing specific about the procedure itself, since the original readers were well acquainted with the particulars, they reveal much regarding the attitudes of those gathered. Achieving their objective of getting rid of Jesus (after all, no one survived crucifixion) and witnessing such horrible anguish (this was not a “humane” death by electrocution or lethal injection), one might think they would simply leave Jesus to die. But in Luke 23:33-39 we read of four groups for whom death was not enough. Instead, they are intent on inflicting even greater suffering.

While Luke 23:35 tells us that people stood by, looking on, both Matthew and Mark reveal even the passers-by taunted Jesus, “Save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:40). Some of these may well have been healed by Jesus at some point during His ministry or eaten from the few loaves and a couple of fish miraculously provided along the shore of Galilee. No doubt many had heard Him preach and witnessed His compassion. Now as they watch Him fight for every breath, they repay His kindness with sarcasm and scorn.

In the same verse we also read of the religious leaders “sneering at Him” with a similar declaration: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” They deride Him by way of two Messianic titles, relishing the fact they have vanquished, what is in their minds, a phony king!

As Luke’s account continues the soldiers join in (23:36-38). Though they know little about Jewish theology, they follow the same line of merciless insults, taunting Him to “save Himself.” There’s the added component of their offers of sour wine as they pretend to “serve” Him as mock courtiers for Israel’s alleged “monarch.”

Finally, there are the thieves who have been crucified with Him (Luke 23:39). Both Matthew and Mark inform us that initially both men were casting similar insults. Even those on the lowest rung of human society, those who were in the process of dying themselves, play the same cruel game of ridicule.

Considering the brutal nature of crucifixion, one might think that such a horrific death was enough. Instead, those at the cross seek to add insult to injury as they treat Him with as much disdain as they could muster. In their minds it was utterly absurd that this man would claim to be a king! Yet, this was blasphemy without equal, evil in its very lowest form as they mock deity, ridiculing the very Son of God with one sarcastic taunt after another. They couldn’t have done more to offend a righteous God. After all, Jesus was the only truly innocent person present! If there was ever a time when divine justice was demanded, surely this was it!

Yet, judgment falls, not on them, but on Jesus. The wrath that should have crushed them instead crushes Him. He willingly bears both their insults — and their sin! What kind of cruelty would be required to witness a fellow human experiencing such incredible agony, yet delightfully engage in such merciless ridicule? And what kind of love would it demand to refuse their scornful suggestions “Save Yourself!” in order to be able to save them instead?

Had I been present, would my voice have been heard among the mockers? Would those same vicious taunts fall from my lips? The mere thought of such brutality sickens me. Surely I wouldn’t have done that! Or would I? That question will never be answered. What I can know is that He endured the agony of the cross and the anguish of their taunts so He could save me — and anyone else who would bow in humble submission to God’s crucified King.  (See Hebrews 12:2 — and understand how much Jesus loves you!)

— Via the Gallatin Road church of Christ, Scottsville, Kentucky, April 18, 2015


We NEED Doctrinal Teaching

Greg Gwin

It has been reported that American students are not doing well in important Math and Science studies.  In fact, they rank 35th in the world on achievement tests in Math, and 27th in Science[1].  However, it is also reported that the very same American students rank among the highest in the world regarding how they feel about their Math and Science abilities.  This is direct evidence of the over-emphasis that has been given in recent years to the subjective matters of self-worth and self-esteem.  Our educators have obviously worried too much about “feelings,” and not enough about real learning.

We may be following the same mistaken agenda in our spiritual teaching.  It seems that we have lost a sense of balance in our preaching and in our Bible class studies.   We may be stressing certain “feel good” themes too much, while neglecting important instruction in matters of doctrine.  The results tend to indicate this.  We have a generation of Christians that don’t know and can’t explain simple doctrinal truths.  Many would be hard pressed to explain what’s wrong with instrumental music in worship, why we oppose church sponsored recreational and social activities, or what the Bible teaches about institutionalism and unscriptural church cooperative enterprises.   Some could not even describe the simple New Testament plan of salvation, or prove that baptism is essential for the remission of sins.

Members of the Lord’s church once had the reputation as “people of the Book.”  We knew and could defend the truth on a wide variety of Bible subjects.  Members of various denominations dreaded, and even avoided, discussions with us because they knew that we knew the Bible and could answer their faulty arguments.  Sadly, we’ve lost much of that reputation.  Let’s get back to teaching and emphasizing “all the counsel of God,” while “keeping back nothing that is profitable” (Acts 20:20,27).

[1] Pew Research Center , 2/2/15

—  Via The Beacon, June 14, 2016


News & Notes

Let us be remembering in prayer the following:

Jim Lively continues with his physical therapy and is coming along well.  He recently received another good report from his doctor.

Post Hospital Update from Misty Thornton: “My heart has completely returned to a normal ejection fraction (60-65%). I have been taken off all of my heart medicines and will only continue a very baby dose to make sure that my heart stays strong. God is great and he has healed me!! BUT>>>>>> now to a new journey… I had to have an MRI and CAT scan done, due to new symptoms that have happened to me; and the Neurologist is thinking Multiple Sclerosis because she did find two white spots on my brain, weakness in my extremities, and lack of balance. So I will follow up with my Cardiologist and follow up with the Neurologist to continue to solve this new puzzle that has been presented to me. …Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts as my family and I have gone through this roller coaster of a ride. Our prayers were definitely answered.”

Debra Medlock has been having back trouble.

Bennie Medlock recently had slight surgery on his lower back where there had been some infection, and is now improving.

Shirley Davis, in addition to her back and foot problems, will also need to soon have knee surgery.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes
(Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ
(John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins
(Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith
, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost
(Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Tebeau Street
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services:
9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress) (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990) (audio sermons)


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