“And when the Sabbath day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing were astonished, saying, From whence has this man these things? And what wisdom is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands.”
Amazement and wonder attended all that the Lord did as He walked upon this earth. He came in the form of the lowliest of men and in circumstances which gave rumor of being a social and religious outcast. The ancient text of the Prophets gave word of the promise that a “virgin should conceive” but even to the most learned scholar the concept of virgin birth was absurd. When the messenger of Yehovah came to His servant Mary with the announcement that she had been chosen of God, she was ‘greatly agitated’. This was not an everyday occurrence that the angel of the Lord should stop in for a chat, nor was this something that Mary had been expecting. She had not been praying unto God that she might be the chosen one to do His will and she certainly had no idea of the carnal concept, let alone the Adamic power of how to ‘pray down’ the honour of this blessing upon herself. Yet in the fullness of time, or in other words, when there was no more time to be exhausted for every person, place and thing were in the exact place and order, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman under most suspicious of circumstances.
He did not send forth His Son as the God of the universe with mighty pomp and elaborate circumstance but rather brought Him into a poor working family of meager means. His anointed messenger came at a point in history when there was a famine in the land, not of water and bread but of hearing the word of God. The last Prophet was about 400 years earlier when Malachi (‘My messenger’) proclaimed the coming of the one who would prepare the way of the Lord. He stated that Messiah would “suddenly come into His Temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in, behold He shall come, saith Yehovah of hosts, but who shall abide in the day of His coming and who shall stand when He shall appear? He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto Yehovah an offering of righteousness” (3:1ff). These words were lost to the natural nation of Israel as they hoped for a military leader who would vanquish the foe and restore the nation to her long lost power and prestige.
There is no record of either Mary or Joseph being educated in any manner except for the trade that sustained Joseph. There is no indication that these were students of the ancient manuscripts or active in any religious affiliation but when Gabriel came to Mary she was “made willing in the day of His power”. Joseph, being a just man, which would signify that he knew the law, or at least the manner in which it was presented in those days by the scribes and the Pharisees, was perplexed about news of these events and sought to “put her away privately”. He was also made a willing participant in this most glorious event as the messenger of Yehovah came to him in a dream and told him all was proper and magnificent. Neither came to this place in their respective lives by means of study, education or learning for each was taught of the Lord. They each had within them the Spirit of the Most High which bore witness to them that these things must needs be to come to pass that all things written might be fulfilled. Neither was offered anything and there were no choices which need to be made in order for the Word of God to come to pass as foretold by the prophets of old. Both were most perplexed by these events and were amazed as each aspect of the will of God was revealed
The heralds filled the skies as the angels of the Lord came to the lowly shepherds in the fields, “and they were sore afraid”. Once again the Word of Yehovah came not to the scholars in their hallowed halls for even when the news of the star from the east was revealed to these learned men, they had to search the scriptures to find the place where it was prophesied that He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah. These frightened shepherds left their flocks, which was a violation of every code of conduct for men of that particular occupation, and went into the town armed with the news which they had seen and heard. Those who heard these things ‘wondered at those things’ which were told them by the shepherds but there was no crowd that followed them as they found Him lying in the manger and there were no headlines in the news of the next day about the arrival of Messiah. These men returned unto their flocks, which had neither wandered astray, nor been frightened off and scattered nor attacked and eaten by the carnivorous beasts of the fields, “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).
Mary and Joseph went in as was the custom of the law and presented the babe in the Temple. How interesting and disconcerting it must have been to this new mother when an old man, Simeon, emerged and took her baby from her arms. How could she have ever let go of this child to this complete stranger is in itself an amazement but this servant of God raised up the child and said; “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word. For mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel”. Even more so when Anna, “a prophetess came in that instant and gave thanks likewise unto the Lord and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” did Joseph and Mary watch in wonder and amazement (Luke 2:29ff).
“And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47)
At the young age of twelve years old, Jesus was found of His earthly parents, sitting in the Temple at Jerusalem, “in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions”. This indeed was an unusual event, that one so young and devoid of the proper credentials of education should be first entertained by men of substance and second involved in such a discourse. Yet the bodily manifestation of the invisible God sat in the form of an inquisitive student before these masters of the scriptures. He was not just a curious onlooker, who sat in the balcony and listened, this boy, who had yet not been made a ‘son of the oath’, was disputing with the ‘learned ones’.
The entire event is one ‘out of place’ or contrary to the norm of things and all were ‘thrown out of place’ (astonished) at what they heard. How could someone so young be so intelligent? How can someone who has not yet studied at the feet of the ancient Rabbi have an understanding of the text and how is it that this one answers in such a manner that is contrary to the teachers of Israel? These men were busied in the daily arguments about words and pronunciations. They were not searching the manuscripts to find the comfort and hope of the scriptures nor were they seeking after righteousness. They were actively consumed with the theology of Adam, “straining at a gnat to swallow a camel” (Matt. 23:24).
Even His earthly parents did not understand the meaning of these things. Their son had left the family party with apparently no regard for their feelings about His absence and when He is located three days later, a grieved mother asks Him; “Why have you dealt this way with us?” These both had been visited and spoken to by the Messenger of God. They had taken a two year trip into Egypt and returned home at the direction of the Spirit of God and now this one they have named Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins”, has confused them by His actions and confounded them by His words. The testimony of the Spirit of God is that this child, growing up in their presence, is the Son of the Most High God. He is indeed the son of man for His body was fashioned for Him as the first Adam’s was yet this second Adam was without sin; “and Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” (52).
“And He closed the book and He gave again to the minister and sat down; and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him” (Luke 4:20).
As was the custom of the day, a man could stand in the meeting place (synagogue) and reading from the scrolls of the Law and the Prophets, he was encouraged to ‘prophesy’. In a land in which there was no recent ‘word’ from God and all who had known and heard the last of the prophets had passed away, many eagerly sought to hear something that would give explanation to current event, proclaim the year of jubilee and give peace and comfort to those gathered together. Now this young carpenter’s son, a man of no proper education or teaching, stands in their midst and reads the ancient Hebrew text and then announces unto them, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears”. Certainly this should have initiated a response of excitement and anticipation for, if these things were true, them Messiah had come.
The religious society of the day taught that when the Anointed One would come, He would vanquish the foes of Israel and return the prominence of Solomon’s kingdom to the earth. In other words, the people of Israel would be the ruling class and the Gentile nations would once again be under their feet, where they belonged. This Messiah would re-establish the theocracy and sitting on David’s throne, He would rule over all. Even after the resurrection of Christ and His appearance to upwards of five hundred of His brethren, as He prepared to ascend back to the Father, did His disciples approach Him and ask, “Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”
This was the teaching those many years ago and is still the teaching today; that the earthly kingdom will be restored to national Israel. This is man’s understanding of the promise of God and so when Jesus told the hearers that this day these things were fulfilled, they should have rejoiced and given praise unto God. But such was not the case for “all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things were filled with wrath and rose up and thrust Him out of the city and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them, went His way”(28f).
Astonishment and fear were the responses of the people who had not the testimony of the truth within and even the reading from the prophets could not convert nor persuade the natural mind toward the things of God. Here stood the fullness of the Godhead bodily and His words had the intended effect on those who believe not the testimony. These had not the Spirit within and therefore could not recognize nor acknowledge the truth. The result was that some were ‘thrown into terror’ (sore amazed), other were alarmed and terrified (with astonishment), and at Pentecost, when the Spirit spoke and all heard in their own language “they were all amazed and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meanest this?” (Acts 2:12) In the same manner as the Israelites of old in the wilderness, when God sent forth the bread of life to sustain them through their journey asked; Manna? (What is it?), so when the Elect Servant of God and His servants proclaim the truth of the hope of glory within, the religious of the world ask, “how can these things be?”
“Now about the midst of the feast, Jesus went into the Temple and taught, and the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How does this man know letters having never learned?’” (John 7:14)
The promise of the New Covenant which God has made with His people, which indeed is not new for it is an eternal, everlasting covenant, is; “it is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). No one therefore who has the Spirit of God dwelling in them has any need to be taught or to go and teach his neighbour saying “Know yet the Lord” for they are all taught of God. They all know the truth, they understand the vanity of this world and they walk in the light of Yehovah. This Word is singular and simple. It begins, in the beginning, with Yehovah reigns and continues from age to age with the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. The educational expertise of Adam cannot add one bit to the teaching of the Spirit nor can the indoctrination’s of man quench the power of the purpose of God to teach His children.
The King of the Universe who had created all things by the power of His will stood before these people and speaking the truth of the kingdom of God was rejected. His word was not the modern ecumenical call for universal compliance and acceptance, it was direct and just. He spoke of the love of the Father for His children, the work that He had come to manifest which demonstrated that love and the sovereignty of His Kingship over all things. This doctrine infuriated those who did not have the ears to hear and were not given to believe. The hearers of His words, having hearts as hard as the ‘adamant stone’ (Zech. 7:12) could not hear Him for His words were not for them; “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you cannot hear My word” (John 8:43). Many then were angered, confused and frightened, not because Jesus was on a crusade against these individuals but because His word spoke condemnation to all who did not believe as He spoke the truth of God.
Certainly if preaching was the only ingredient needed for Adam to believe in the Christ of God and be delivered from his sin, as many affirm and proclaim irresponsibly from Romans 10, then Jesus failed in His endeavours. He did not give invitations, He did not start up social programs to help the poor and the needy and He was not the role model and father figure to the children of this world. He did not preach equality for all mankind, He did not coddle to the religious leaders of the community and solicit their help in His endeavours and He did not come to make one race of Adam’s children to be lord over all others. He spoke the truth as the Word of God and the wise, learned scholars of this world were repulsed by His understanding, thus they resorted to aspersions of shame and discredit for Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, had no learning.
“From whence has this man these things? And what wisdom is that which is given unto Him that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands”
The presence, words and actions of the Anointed of God were completely contrary to the nature, understanding and comprehension of Adam. This was not an accident or a miscalculation by God; it is the nature of Adam. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit. The natural eye indeed may see the evidence as it is plainly set before it for; “Yehovah has made bare His Holy arm in the eyes of all the nations and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Is. 52:10) but to those who have not the testimony of the Spirit within, from faith to faith; “The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might, they shall lay hands upon mouths, their ears shall be deaf, they shall lick the dust like serpents, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth and they shall be afraid of Yehovah our God and shall fear because of you” (Micah 7:16).
The Word of God, whether it be proclaimed by the mouth of God or by His Anointed One, is foolishness in those who have been afore ordained unto eternal death. It is not validated by those who believe any more that it is disproved by those who do not. The teachings of men are subject to the hearer, the speaker and the environment of the presentation; the Word of God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus stood before the people of His own country where He grew up in favour with men and they were astonished at His intelligence and knowledge (wisdom). They all knew His family and His circumstances. They were all well aware of the fact that Joseph was gone and that Jesus had taken up the business of being a carpenter. They knew Mary, His mother, and His brothers and sisters but not one of them could attest to the fact that He had been educated in the customs and traditions of the elders even though His Word was vindicated by His strength and ability (mighty works) and they were offended of Him.
“For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard” (Heb. 4:2).
Even so it is this day that when the Spirit grants the proclamation of the truth of the hope of glory, which is the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah, it is of no profit to any who have not faith. The devout men in Jerusalem at Pentecost accused those who spoke the truth of being drunk with wine and marveled at such strange things (Acts 2:12) and the men of the established religious community accused Paul of being mad because of all his education and learning (Acts 26:24). This is not an indictment against the unbelievers in the world and platitudes for those who do believe, it is a statement about the inability of the natural man to comprehend the things of the Spirit while leaning on his own understanding. Yehovah God has set the wisdom of man as foolishness and has confounded the wise by the simple things of His creation. He has set the things of this world into the minds of every child of Adam so that no flesh shall ever glory in His sight. He has revealed the beauty of His Holiness to the children of light “with all knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9) that they “may approve things that are excellent” and be “sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10).
He has anointed His Beloved with His Spirit and that Anointing abides in each of His children as they journey in the wilderness. This Anointing teaches them His statutes as His Spirit causes them to walk in all judgment keeping His Law perfectly. Because of this anointing “which you have received from Him abides in you and you have NO NEED THAT ANY MAN TEACH YOU; but as the same anointing teaches you ALL THINGS and is true and is no lie and even as it has taught you, YOU SHALL ABIDE IN HIM” (I John 2:27).
The Spirit of God has revealed that this teaching is not by man and cannot be of man for all men are liars but the anointing is not a lie. The natural man loves and makes a lie by the nature in Adam but the children born from above have known the truth and have been made free. This is the year of jubilee that Jesus told the people, gathered in the synagogue, was fulfilled in their ears that day. The captives were set at liberty, the debts were paid and there was peace in the land. He was anointed of the Spirit to teach this precious truth and all His children have the same anointing.
Jeremiah said it was a new covenant not like the covenant in the wilderness (Jer. 30:31), Ezekiel said it was a covenant of peace and an everlasting covenant (Ezek. 37:26) and Malachi said that Messiah was the messenger of the covenant. He revealed His salvation and all the world has seen it yet the natural man of Adam is not changed. The world is still looking for the restoration of the kingdom here on earth but Jesus said “My kingdom is not of the earth” (John 18:36). The eyes and ear of the natural man needs the proof of education and the legacy of great men of learning but the child of grace needs nothing save the Spirit who bears witness with their Spirit from faith to faith that they are the sons of God.
“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty and not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and things which are despised has God chosen and things which are not to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26ff).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
October 12, 2014