Bill Gates is currently the richest man in the world according to Forbes Magazine and he is currently engaged in what all rich people should be doing and that is giving his money and time to noble causes. No matter how rich you are you cannot take anything with you when you die for even the clothes you wear to your funeral will be the clothes someone chooses for you. Imagine that. The very clothes you take to your grave will be the clothes someone will choose for you. It is for extremely good reasons the Bible says, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." (Proverbs 22:1)
The Pharisees understood this thing about good name very well and sought their level best to dirty the name of Jesus, drag it through the mud, sully it to such an extent that nobody would ever want to associate with that name. Even although they saw compelling evidence that Jesus was special; they witnessed that "in the name of Jesus of Nazareth" great and wonderful things were taking place, they were forced by undeniable evidence right before them to confess, "Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46) and the admission of the soldiers, "Truly this was the Son of God." (Matthew 27:54) yet they persisted in their gratuitous, total folly.
For them Jesus was an undesirable and no amount of opprobrium was too much to heap on his head and their religious zeal to dominate and direct spiritual matters forced them to do things that were clearly unconscionable. The adage that says hell hath no fury "like a woman scorned" must give way to hell hath no fury "like religious zealots whose hypocrisy has been exposed for the world to see" for these Pharisees were determined to wipe Jesus out along with his name from among the Jewish population and hence the world.
Name calling was one of the tactics they used. It is amazing how history keeps repeating itself and we get confirmation yet again that there is nothing new under the sun. In the dark days of American history people to whom you were opposed were called "communist" or "socialist" or "liberal" or "catholic" or any other name that was regarded as pejorative and without any evidence the system were suppose to persecute and ostracise them. Today your opponent is called "terrorist" or "activist" or "militant" and the same brutal methods employed to eliminate them as in the past. We only have to look at how some names were sullied, deserving or otherwise, to see how our built-in revulsion is triggered.
Adolph Hitler: genocidal maniac. Yuck!
Charles Manson: mass murderer. Yuck!
Pol Pot: mass exterminator. Yuck!
Al Capone: mighty gangster. Yuck!
Bernie Madoff: monumental fraudster. Yuck!
All of those mentioned above have names that elicit disapproval and you would be hard-pressed to find any normal, decent person who is not personally related or in some way indebted to those persons, looking on those names with pleasure and appreciation. You would be safe in saying that some people earned their notoriety, the list just mentioned is of this sort, but not everyone sees people as they really are. What about this list.
Martin Luther King Jr.
All on this list will be regarded by all right-thinking people as people of honour, dignity, irrepressible integrity and compassion whose contribution to humanity will get greater with time but even these are not without their detractors. It must be remembered that however much we regard these people today, there was a time when they were regarded as undesirables and relentlessly persecuted and unjustly victimised.
But here is another list and the good/bad axis is not so clear and again I am referring to all rational, right-thinking people and not supporters or opponents. Whatever may be your personal opinion of these people it is accepted that these are contentious figures.
President George Walker Bush.
Joan of Arc.
All of those on this last list were called by uncomplimentary names or titles at some time or another; for example President Bush was called the Great Satan, Joan of Arc was called a heretic and a sorceress, etc. And whether deserving or not once you were called by a derogatory name or title it tended to stick along with the concomitant consequences as in the case, for example, of the slave and militant abolitionist Frederick Douglass who purchased his legal freedom in 1847 yet was pursued by bounty hunters who wanted to capture or kill him as a runaway slave.
So what did the Jews do about Jesus, the undesirable they wanted to rid themselves of and in effect to destroy? They muddied his name by calling him by the most loathsome of names or titles. They called him:
This was not just a bad man, he was to them evil personified, he was the chief devil, he was the most evil of the evil ones. He was Beelzebub. Here is how the Bible puts it, "And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils" (Mark 3:22). This is what we call the ultimate sin, for to look at pure light and deem it utter darkness or to determine God's greatest good and call it supreme wickedness or to call God the malevolent Satan is ultimate blasphemy and for which there is no repentance or forgiveness.
Now examine if you will the mighty contrast between the Jews disdain for the name of Jesus and Almighty God's declaration of that most majestic name.
For his name is and forever shall be:
THE MIGHTY GOD
THE EVERLASTING FATHER
THE PRINCE OF PEACE.
Here is how the Bible declares it, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
Throughout history the world has come to rely and bless the name of Jesus. Saints have lived and died by the name of Jesus. People who were crippled and lamed rose up and walked by the name of Jesus. The dead was brought to life again at the mention of the name of Jesus. Demons were and are being put to flight at the name of Jesus. Bad habits are discarded, new lifestyles adopted and a living hope engendered at the name of Jesus. This blessed, transfixing, transforming name means so much and stands so powerfully above all that the Apostle Paul gave mighty voice to its centrality when he said, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Colossians 3:17).
Never has the world had a name so mesmerizing, so enthralling, so riveting, so uplifting, so majestic, so blessed and compelling as the name Jesus; Jesus Christ of Nazareth God's only begotten Son.
Believe in it, trust in it, hold it close to your heart and feel it's awesome power and grace and remember the name is Jesus.
Can you think of a name its equal?
Neither can I.
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