Wednesday, December 31, 2008

They Became Friends

John Lennon wrote in his song Imagine,
"Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace"

What a vision! A world where everyone gets along. The end of war. The end of hostility. A world where everyone is supplied for. A world where nothing is worth dying for. A world where their is no god or cause that would divide us. We can be at peace. Just imagine it!

In Luke 23:1-12 Jesus is undergoing a mock trial. He is accused of all sorts of things. He even has to stand before Pilate, who doesn't understand why Jesus is such a problem. However, Pilate tries to be politically expedient. He thinks he can avoid a political fallout by sending Jesus to Herod. "Technically, Jesus does fall under Herod's jurisdiction," Pilate thought.

And they became friends.

Now Herod is at first delighted to see Jesus. He hoped to be entertained by him. But Jesus wasn't having it. This, in turn, changed Herod's attitude. He begins to mock Jesus instead, along with his soldiers, and then sends him back to Pilate. It was on this day that Herod and Pilate became friends.

What is significant about this development is that they were previously enemies. But on this day, after a long period of animosity, they became friends. What a wonderful development! Getting Jesus out of the way actually caused peace to be made between two former rivals. Imagine that!

What's the big deal?

Luke picks up the significance of this in Acts 4:23-31. It says that after Peter and John underwent persecution for their testimony about Jesus, Peter recognized the event as a continuation of what occurred between Herod and Pilate. That when Herod and Pilate became friends, it fulfilled prophecy in Psalms 2:1-2 that nations will come together to take their stand against the Messiah (or the Christ). In other words, peace would come between former enemies and rival powers in order to oppose the Christ of God.

This is no different today. It continues. As John says in 1 John 4:1-6, the spirit of the antichrist is in the world. This spirit denies that Jesus is the Christ — God in human flesh. Those who are of this spirit speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. For them the saying is true, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

On one level, we will never have peace as long as people oppose God and oppose his offer of salvation. On the other hand, peace will come between those whom oppose God. And the world is willing to accept this kind of peace — even some who claim the name of Jesus, if that were possible.

Global peace is achievable, sort of.

Our world wants peace. People want to feel safe and secure. We all want to just get along. Wouldn't it be wonderful if no one had to steal, kill, or fight for limited resources. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just shake hands and live and let live. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

Well, this peace will come, but not in the way most people expect. Only Jesus will bring true peace. But not the peace the world desires. For he didn't come to bring peace on the earth. He came to bring peace between mankind and God. And those who are at peace with God will be at peace with each other — but not always with the world. In fact, the world will hate those who are at peace with God. (Luke 12:49-53; John 14:27; John 15:18-16:4; John 16:33)

Therefore the real question is, which side are you on?

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