How many times do we testify about the very Person of Jesus and also His wonderful deeds and how is the response? Honestly, not all listeners responded positively to our testimonies as what apostle Paul had experienced, written in Acts 23: 1-2, "Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day." At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.”

At that time apostle Paul was sent by the elders in Jerusalem to ministries in many places, among others: in Antioch, Macedonia, Thessalonica, Berea and so on. When he returned to Jerusalem providing a detailed-report about what God had done among the Gentiles, those who heard him glorified God (Acts 21: 17-20).

But apparently not everyone could accept apostle Paul, the Jews accused Paul of inciting the people to oppose the law and caught him (Acts 21: 27-30). Paul asserted that he was a Jew, not an Egyptian, proved by speaking in Hebrew in front of the crowd (vv. 39-40).)

Paul later testified about his old life as a Pharisee who strongly uphold the law, had persecuted the followers of the Way of the Lord until he met Jesus 'whom he persecuted' on the road to Damascus. The encounter with Jesus led him to believe and repented and then gave himself to be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts. 22). After that his life changed completely, he confessed to be a blasphemer, a persecutor and a ferocious; everything was done outside the faith (1 Timothy 1:13).

Hearing his testimony of repentance, people were getting more ferocious to kill him. The commanding officer gave orders to bring Paul to the headquarters to check and torture him, so that it could be seen why the people were so anxious to kill him. It became different when Paul said that he was also a citizen of Rome, the commander was afraid to torture him without judging in advance.

Being curious to know the accusation of the Jews to him, the commander took Paul to the Council the next day. Paul admitted that since he repented, he lived with a pure conscience before God because of faith, for baptism is not to cleanse physical impurity but to ask for good conscience to God (I Peter 3:21). Hearing this statement, the high priest Ananias did not want to believe it and ordered those standing near Paul to slap his mouth (Acts 23: 1-2).

Introspection: Do we, who have been following Christ for so long, believe in the Word of God that we read and hear? Not only believing, but also maintaining by practicing it in daily life so that there is a change of life that comes from the purified heart!

After the Israelites were freed from the slavery of Egypt and camped in front of Mount Sinai, God called Moses from the mountain,  " you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:6)

It is necessary to know that priest in ancient Jews were chosen by God Himself from many nations, tribes, languages and people. It could be imagined to be a consecrated nation and priestly kingdom for God, not the priests serving humans, who were often characterized by mood or situation and condition!

Speaking of nation, certainly it could not be removed from the region, leader who leads,  rules that must be obeyed and the people who inhabited it.)

Obviously the priests that reigned kingdom had their regions, the rules in the Word of God that must be run to sanctify them as priests for God; if not, it is not possible to have unity of so many priests if each retains its own nature. Remember, a kingdom, also marriage, household, and community will be fragmented if there is no unity (Matthew 12:25).

How can the life of priests be holy?

·      Exodus 19: 5 writes, "So now, if you really listen to my word and hold on My covenant then you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations; I am the owner of the whole earth.")

By listening to the Word of God diligently to emerge faith (Romans 10:17) and holding on to His covenant, we are changed day by day and our lives are more and more sanctified to have the character of Christ. For example: husband and wife with contrasting characters will never unite if each retains his ego; on the contrary, once the husband and wife believe and practice the Word of God, both will be sanctified, so that both have the character of Christ, then there will be unity of marriage that will have an impact on children and this kind of family will be God's special treasure.

Illustration: When we have a pen that we like, we will take care of it that we may not lose it nor damage it and maintain it when others want to snatch it away. Similarly, if we have experienced sanctification to be priests - God's special treasure, whoever dares to bother us will surely deal with God Himself.

·     Revelation 1:5-6 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,  and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father ... "

We who were redeemed by His blood will be made as His priests. In this case, it is no longer limited only for the Jews but anyone who believes and honors the sacrifice of Christ will be saved also inaugurated as priests.

Introspection: Do we truly appreciate God's Word and His sacrifice? When we know an important person and become his beloved, we feel tremendously proud, are we really proud to be a treasured possession of the Heavenly Father?

It should be admitted that the preaching of the crucified Christ is foolishness to the Gentiles (non-Jews) but for us it is the strength and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1: 23-24) because through this teaching our old lives which were wicked and unclean were altered to be God's special treasure. That is why, do not be afraid to hear the Word which speaks of sanctification, not promising mere mortal blessing.

What is the impact of the Word of life that sanctifies us? We live in the light and have fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-5). The fellowship of husband-wife, parent-child, children of God who live in the Light of Christ is not fake as shown by the world. Indeed, marriage counsels offered by the world against problematic marriage only concerns horizontal things that does not relate to eternal salvation.

Besides sanctifying, the blood of Jesus also unites the two parties - Jews and Gentiles - that are hostile to create a new man full of peace (Ephesians 2: 13-18). All of this can happen because Jesus had died and resurrected (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22) and defeated the last enemy that is death (v. 26).


a husband or wife, who still lives in darkness, will not be able to unite in marriage unless they are willing to accept the word of light that unites and gives peace.

What is the result of people who claim to be priests but do not (not willing to) believe in Jesus - the Word - who was crucified? Schism happened as experienced in the Council (which consists of senior priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) that each retaining old character that cannot be fused).

Such kingdom of priests will certainly collapse (Acts 23: 6-9). The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection; in fact, if Jesus had not risen, people would have been living in sin and never experienced changes. The Pharisees acknowledged them but the problem is whether they really believed in Jesus - the Word - who died, was risen and transform or they actually doubted it (meaning not truly experience).

It turned out that Jesus condemned the Pharisees as hypocrites like whitewashed tombs on the outside (looking holy) while on the inside was full of bones and various types of dirt (sinful; Matthew 23:27).

Implication: how can we testify to those who have not / do not know the Lord when we and interdenominational churches are not united? Do not forget that they learn to know the Lord through our speech, attitude and behavior!

It is God's grace if we can serve and hear the Word of God, but we must be careful when we start not to trust him. How far was the longsuffering of God toward the unbelieving priests who did not experience life changes? Before being crucified, Jesus - the Word, the Light - complained against Jerusalem - the city of peace - that did not believe and rejected Him whereas He, just like a hen, wanted to gather her chicks under her wings for protection when danger threatens. Consequently, Jerusalem was abandoned and became desolate, having no peace (Matthew 23: 37-39).

Illustration: in facing danger, the hen gives a code to their children and they understand the language of their mother to rush, to take shelter under the wing of its mother. Do you, as a priest, understands the word that is delivered in the language of God who wants to protect and unite His children and give peace? Do not underestimate the longsuffering of God and reject Him, He – the source of peace - would leave us!

Because of the great chaos ended with a big split in Jerusalem, the Lord strengthened Paul's heart who was imprisoned for daring to testify in Rome (Acts 23:11). It happened that the Lord had prepared Paul to bear witness in Rome because Jerusalem rejected him. What happenned then? Because the priests did not want to believe in Jesus - the King of peace, the Word of light - as a result, they remain to live in the dark and eventually conspired with the criminals to kill Paul. It is clear if one retains the old life, he will be increasingly wicked (Revelation 22:11) and his sins will pile up to heaven to be ready to accept God's punishment (Revelation 18: 5-6).

Implications: we do not need to feel hurt when the testimony or the gospel we preach is rejected because there is still other place that is willing to receive it.

Will we - the priests - believe in the Word of God that is able to transform us to live in the light and in the communion with the Father, the Son and others to experience the protection and peace from Him? Amen.

Sunday, Lemah Putro, June 7, 2015
Rev. Budy Avianto


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