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Paris - history repeats its lessons

He [Jesus c. AD 30] also said to the crowds, (1) “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You play-actors! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? (2) And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.” There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, (3) “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you change your minds, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you change your minds, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 12: 54 - 13: 5
 

If we were living exactly 2,000 years ago, Jesus would have been alive and living in Nazareth, a town in present-day Galilee within the borders of the nation of Israel. As you can see from (1) of the above extract (in bold) from Luke’s biography of Jesus, he was scathing towards the crowds who heard him because they refused to interpret the signs all around them at that time…… Are we also refusing to do just that?

• Paris 2015. Killings. IS. Islam. Reprisals.
• Paris 1943. Killings. Nazism. French Jews. Vichy co-operation.
• Paris 1793. Killings. Humanism. Clergy and aristocracy. Reign of Terror.
• Paris 1685. Killings. Christian-ism. 900,000 Huguenot refugees leave France.
• And so on backwards…
 
 
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‘The whole world has been booby-trapped by the devil, and the deadliest trap of all is the religious one.’ (A W Tozer, American pastor, 1897-1963)

If we were able to listen to Jesus now, we’d hear him ask us to form our own judgment about “what is right”. See (2) in bold above. If we find there’s something wrong with us (a killer instinct?) and we’re accused of killing (or of authorizing it or consenting to it) we’d better settle with our accuser before responsibility for our own actions (or authorizations) lands us in jail until we “have paid the very last penny”. But what if our accuser is the LORD God above? And it’s the lives of others that we’ve taken (or authorized)?

When with Jesus 2,000 years ago, let’s not think that disasters didn’t occur. In (3) above, Jesus mentions two: the Galileans killed by Pilate, the Roman Governor, as they engaged in their religion; and the collapse of the Tower of Siloam killing 18 people.

How often do we hear that the people who die in similar tragedies to these are “innocent”? Are they? Were they?

Jesus twice puts that question. Were those killed by Pilate in Galilee “worse sinners” than those who were untouched by that tragedy? Were those who died in the collapse of the Siloam Tower “worse offenders” than all the other people living at that time in Jerusalem?

It’s interesting to see that the underlying Greek words for “sinners” and “offenders” are different. The former (hamartolos) means those who are living in opposition to God’s will, living away from God. The latter (opheilites) means those who are debtors (including debts of restitution) to another, including those who owe debts to their God and Maker.
 
 
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‘Most of modern evangelical religion is rotten to the core, because its aim is happiness not holiness.’ (Al Martin)

Jesus’ answers to both of his own two questions are very clear. “No, I tell you; but unless you change your minds, you will all likewise perish.”

Putting together (1), (2) and (3), Jesus’ message of 2000 years ago “to the crowds” was –

(1) to call them “play-actors” because, although they were able to do so, they refused to work out what was going on all around them,

(2) to tell them to make peace with their accuser (the LORD God above?) lest they find themselves imprisoned without any possibility of being able to restore what they have wrongly taken or to obtain forgiveness, and

(3) to warn those who have temporarily escaped from the death which has come early to others, to find a solution for their hamartalos and opheiletes.

 
Richard Syvret

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