Favoritism

Sometimes we permanently categorize peoples by
• How they look
• What they have
• How many followers they have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
We even categorize peoples age if they have more followers on Facebook than they do on Instagram.

Many times those who are popular tend to have more people in their circle of influence, while those who are less popular do not and favoritism is shown to those who have the power of personality, popularity, and influence.
This is not to say that in every instance this is wrong or unmerited.
I do believe our motivation for deciding who should be deemed worthy of our attention and who should not deserves a second look.
In the second chapter of James the writer observes behavior that is obviously troubling to him.
He describes a situation that would be troubling outside the church even more so inside of it.
A rich man with gold rings and fine clothes has been shown to the best seat in the house. The poor man in shabby clothes has been assigned a seat in the back row.
James presents a question to his audience, ” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Discrimination which is very prevalent in our world should get our attention but the statement, “judges with evil thoughts” certainly should.

In a court of law a judge with evil thoughts towards the defendant or the prosecution would be unable to make a sound judgment based on the law and the evidence before him or her.
We are held to a much higher law that states “we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

What motivates us to judge who has value who does not?
To show favoritism based on appearence, material wealth, popularity?
I see three things that could influence how we in James view “judge” people.
We determine someone value based on “external” criteria. And doing so misunderstand who is important and blessed by God and who is not.

We assume that the rich man is more important revealing we put too much value on material riches.

We show preferential treatment revealing a self serving agenda because we believe we can get more from that person who “has it all”.

James message is clear.
In the church there is no room for this type of favoritism.
And if we are guilty of this type of behavior towards those outside the church, we miss the reason Jesus came.

Who Killed Jesus

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As the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus draws near my thoughts are turned towards those three days that changed history and eternity for everyone.
The events leading up to the crucifixion deserve our attention and there is much to be gained by understanding the motive and agenda of everyone involved that led to that hill on Calvary on the day of Passover.

Who killed Jesus?

There are many characters who walk across the stage of this event planned and directed by God before time began. But there are two groups and two individuals who are the primary suspects as we seek to understand who killed Jesus.

Greed, religion, and politics have caused more death and upheaval in this world  from that time to now. In the events leading up to His death we find all three present with our suspects.

Suspect #1
Judas was motivated by greed. He was the one to protest Mary’s use of expensive perfume to bathe Jesus feet and  John provides the additional detail that Judas helped himself to the money bag that he was in charge of as Jesus’s treasurer. (John 12:6)
Judas possibly also had a political motive expecting Jesus to use his power and miracles to overthrow the hated Roman government.

Suspect #2
The religious order the scribes the Pharisees the Sadducees certainly had a political and religious motive. Jesus was basically exposing them for who they were and in the process showing them up with real power and authority.
It is noteworthy that Herod who felt threatened by the king he had been told would soon be born went to the scribes to inquire as to where this promised king would be born. Searching Old Testament prophecies they found it would be Bethlehem. When the prophecy was fulfilled along with many other prophecies the scribes would surely be familiar with how could they have missed Jesus as the expected Messiah?

Suspect #3
Pilate had political motive to allow the death of Jesus although he did not at first go along with it.
He found Jesus guilty of no crime and even after being warned by his wife to have nothing to do with this
“innocent man” caved to the pressure brought by the religious order fearing reprecussions from his bosses if he couldn’t keep things under control.

Suspects #4
This group had more reason to be suspects than any of the others.
Because they were the reason Jesus said He came to die.

Who killed Jesus?
You and I.
Whether we leave him on the cross and write it off as a fable a myth or failed experiment, or celebrate Him risen from the dead His purpose for coming cannot be denied.

He came to die.

Willingly laying down His life for you and I.
Judas had a part in it, the religious order had a part, as did Pilate but in the end it was you and I. And everyone who has lived and died since the garden.
There are lessons and hope in this story. The lesson is no matter where you are or what you have done you can change your mind, change direction.
Judas could have,
The religious leaders could have (some did),
Pilate could have. The consequences of rejecting Jesus were severe.

Judas hung himself.
The beautiful temple revered by the Pharisees was reduced to rubble. Just as Jesus predicted it would be.
A few years later Pilate was relieved of his duties, transferred into oblivion, sent away in disgrace.

The hope- When we ask “who killed Jesus?” The answer is all of us. But in this story Jesus was no victim, and the perpetrators have a chance for full pardon and the opportunity to receive everything Jesus died for.
Forgiveness
Restoration
Grace
Love
Eternal life.