"Would You Believe...?"

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"Would You Believe...?"

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He is a drunk! He is illegitimate! He is a glutton! He talks to sinners! All these were accusations laid against Jesus Christ (Luke 7:34; John 8:19, 41). He was accused of deceiving people (John 7:12) and was barred from entering some cities (Matthew 8:34).

An intriguing question comes to mind. How many believed the rumors and lies that were spread about Jesus? How many people who were on the verge of trying to find Him, turned back because of these rumors?

Enemies know that people will believe rumors without checking them out. Propaganda is a tool that does work. I have no doubt that all of us could give an example in which we accepted someone's word about someone else and perhaps avoided that person or found ourselves building some sort of resistance to him or her.

Just think of the people Jesus could have helped, but who continued in their illnesses or sorrow because they turned away. Some, perhaps influenced by the rumors, did not see the need to come to Jesus for help. But others went so far as to cut holes in a roof in order to lower a paralytic for healing (Mark 2:4)!

Stories went around about Jesus that were untrue, indicating that it was not wise to associate with Him. His work and ministry still touched countless thousands in spite of the lies.

Matthew 4:23 tells us that Jesus went all about Galilee preaching and healing diseases and sicknesses. He brought hope and taught of a wonderful future for mankind. Though Jesus went to many towns and villages, not all accepted Him. In some towns the people refused to believe and, in those places, Jesus could do very little.

Jesus was disappointed in the cities that easily forgot the deeds He had done. In Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus warned them because so few went on to repent after they saw the miracles and heard His message. It is quite surprising that this most remarkable Man could do miracles that were unheard of--such as healing the blind and the lame and raising the dead--and yet not have more people cling to Him with all their might. It does seem that there were suspicions that lingered and caused people to turn away.

A parallel for today

In the spiritual realm, we can see a parallel. We too have to go to Jesus. We are told to go forth to Him (Hebrews 13:13-14). We are to seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened (Luke 11:9). Luke 13:22-35 tells the story of those who have heard and have been helped, but who did not strive to enter in at the narrow gate.

If the friends of the paralytic had not made a great effort to bring him to Christ, the man would in all likelihood not have been healed. We must also make that effort. We must not allow ourselves to be led astray by rumors about Christ or about the Body of Christ, which is His Church. The Bible is the guideline God gives to finding His children.

A skeptical world

Jesus died for mankind almost 2,000 years ago. It is not easy to believe something that happened so long ago. It has never really been easy to believe--even the disciples who saw the resurrected Christ had a hard time believing (Matthew 28:16-17). We live in a skeptical world. We are bombarded with religions of all kinds, all purporting to have the answer to all our problems and cares. Some religions are so hypocritical and weak, they only succeed in turning people off religion altogether. Some fall woefully short of giving the guidelines that lead to the hope offered in the Bible. The true followers of Jesus Christ have been labeled with various accusations as Christ Himself was. They have been called fanatics, legalists, cults, antichrists and worse. Many who are seeking God turn away before they actually investigate enough to know if the accusations are true. Negative rumors can be one of the ways "the wicked one" snatches away the seeds God is sowing (Matthew 13:19).

Large groups today sometimes try to protect their "flocks" by throwing stones at anyone who seems to be stirring up an interest. It is sad, but true, that many people who throw rocks are very insecure, feel threatened and unsure of their own positions. Rather than having confidence in their teachings and actions and letting the facts speak for themselves, they feel compelled to discredit those who represent other groups. If a person had supreme confidence in what he was doing, nothing would deter or upset him. Jesus Christ reflected that confidence. He was forsaken and deserted by all His followers--for a while (Matthew 26:56). Rather than being resentful and spiteful, Jesus could have pity on the very ones who were the cause of all His pain and suffering. That is true confidence and strength.

Jesus tells us that people speak well of false prophets and misleading guides (Luke 6:26). Peter knew that people who strive to follow Jesus Christ and to do good will have tales told about them. They would be spoken of as evil people (1 Peter 3:13-17). In the book of Luke we also read of people who will hate the followers of Jesus (Luke 6:22-23). Jesus said they hated Him and would also hate His followers (John 15:18-23).

The real loser

The loser in all of these examples is the person who turns away because of a rumor he or she has heard. In Jesus' day, many who could have been healed did not come because of a rumor. They did not have a chance to take the next step of repentance and baptism, which leads to eternal life (Acts 2:38-39). There is a promise to all whom God will call today, just as there was a possibility of help directly from Jesus for those who pushed the accusations aside and did seek Him out. We must go to Him of our own free will. God will not force anyone. John 6:44 reveals that God must first call a person. Many are called, but only a few are chosen (Matthew 20:16). It seems only a few are responding to the call. People are just too busy right now!

The decision is yours and mine. We can be duped and stay in the dark where it seems comfortable, but really is not, or we can be determined to find the truth and find God. If we seek Him, the call will come. God wants every person on earth to be saved. Jesus would have helped others if they had come to Him. The ones who received no help were those who did not come. It is the same today. If we do not become active in this wonderful search and adventure, we will be left in the dust until another day. The choice is yours and mine. God says come!