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The Man in the Middle
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The Man in the Middle
Listening to a discourse given by Fr. Rutler, a Roman Catholic priest, on the EWTN network, I was intrigued when he used the phrase ‘The Man in the middle’. I thought it would make a fitting title for my next message. I surmised that there were many possibilities in using this phrase as a title and pondered the best ways to put it to use. It was a very interesting discourse, although I wish I could remember most of what he said. This is the way I have decided to develop this theme.
The Man in the Middle hung between two felons, one on the right and one on the left. They were all going to die, but only One had a purpose to do so. His Cup did not pass from Him for it was His Father’s will that He should take upon Himself the sins of the world. He would become the sacrifice to replace the bulls and goats that were necessary in the past, and was led to the Cross like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). The one on the left or was it the right felt the same indignation towards the Man in the Middle that the insensitive and jeering crowd bore towards Him. He was in the same predicament, yet he was just as condemning as those who were mocking and casting insults at the sinless One. However, he was chided by the other, who reminded him that they both got what they deserved, whereas the Man in the middle did not. He thereupon asked the One in the middle that he be taken to His kingdom and was reassured, “today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). We know that He, the Crucified One, did not go to Paradise on that day. The ancient writers did not use punctuation marks and the comma was inserted by later scribes. He spent three days in the tomb and for forty days after His resurrection he was seen in Jerusalem by His apostles (Acts 1:3).
Envy and hatred, twin brothers of the same ilk, opposed the teaching of the One who showed the Way. When He said to His disciples, “Follow me”, they followed where He led, along the Way, the path to righteousness. He said. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) This was in answer to Thomas’ declaration of not knowing the way. He showed them the Way, the way to live, the way to eternal life, the way to enter the Father’s kingdom, if you knew Me, you would have known the Father (Jn. 14:7). He exemplified Truth in His character and in His treatment of those with whom He came in contact. His whole life was Truth, He never sinned. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor.5:21). When Pilate asked Him what is truth, it was because he was unable to discern Truth standing before him. He gave Life in His healing, His teaching, His love for mankind. He came to give Life and to give it more abundantly (Jn.10:10), that those who believe will know that He is from God and that God is love. His crucifixion bore out the fact that He came to ‘lay down His life for His sheep’(Jn.10:15). He offered the woman at the well “living water” and she called the Samaritan folks to ‘come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did’ (John 4:29). The Samaritans accepted Him as the Messiah, whereas the Jews did not. He rendered service to mankind and showed His disciples that He came to serve and not to be served. He washed their feet (Jn.13:14) much to their consternation and He encouraged them to do the same.
The Pharisees and the Chief Priests and Scribes were not willing to accept Him. They let their self-centredness, their bigotry and their pride oppose His truths, so they were unable to see that only God could have given Him the power to perform the miracles He did. They were blinded by their hate and envy and missed the opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the Divine One. On the way to Emmaus, He opened up the Scriptures to the two disciples from the time of Moses to show that the Christ had to suffer and bear the iniquities of mankind and to be raised in His glory. The Chief Priests and Scribes could have checked the Scriptures to see if what He professed about Himself was indeed so. The Bereans in Paul’s day checked the Scriptures diligently to see if what they were hearing was true, and many of them became believers (Acts 17:10-12).
It was to defeat Satan and his minions that He went to the Cross. He was bruised for our iniquities, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). “And if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (Jn.12:32), signifying by what death He would die. The Tempter subjected the Holy One to three temptations to test His loyalty to God, even though he knew He was the Son of God. ( Matt.3:17) And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” “If You are the Son of God” prove it by turning these stones to bread. The very stones that would have cried out if the disciples did not shout out in praise of Him (Luke 19:40). His answer gave us this timeless Bible quote, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Not satisfied with the answer of the Tempted, he took Him to a high mountain and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him. Yet, He answered: “Get thee behind me Satan, For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Then he dared Him to throw Himself down from a high pinnacle to prove what was written of Him, that God would bear Him up lest He dash His foot against a stone. Again He answered: “It is written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” (Luke 4:4-12).
The Man in the Middle revolutionized the thinking, not only of His disciples, but His audience. “Never man spoke like this Man.” “He taught them like One having authority, not like the scribes” (Matt.7:29). “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5:44). There shall no longer be an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. “Love your neighbour as yourself.” When asked, was it tauntingly, who is my neighbour? He presented the story of “The Good Samaritan”. To demonstrate the love of His Father, He told of “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 10:30-37). To test Him to bring a charge against Him, they asked Him to whom they should pay homage, whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. Reading their hearts, as only He could do, He asked whose image was on the coin. When they said Caesar’s, He adjured them to pay to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:16). His omniscience was the Divine power residing in Him, too exalted and far above their understanding. To take Him to the Cross was outside of their control. When Pilate asked him if He did not know that he had power to crucify Him, or release Him, He rebuked His arrogance, “You could have no power at all against me, unless it had been given to you from above.” (Jn. 19:11).
“To feel and apprehend our pain He was born a human being, who wept with the mourners of Lazarus and also over Jerusalem. He who calmed the sea and hushed the waves, brought to life Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, called forth Lazarus from his four-day sleep in the grave, healed the lepers, exorcised demons, gave sight to the blind, restored hearing to the deaf, made the lame to walk and performed many other miracles, is the Man in the Middle. He was none other than the Messiah prophesied by Daniel about six hundred years before His birth, the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel!
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Reader Count & Comments
19 May 2015
Beautifully done! Mademe cry and shout! PTL!
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