I like old things — really old things. I like to read stories about real life Indiana Jones characters. I’m a History Channel and Discovery Channel junkie. I don’t usually take what someone says as fact — I study, ponder and study some more. I wasn’t always that way.
One of my Sunday school companions once said, “The Bible says so and that’s all I need. All I need is my faith.”
Good for him. I’m not like that. Sometimes I wish I was.
I began my spiritual journey when I was about 13. For many years I sat on a pew, sang worship songs and listened to what the man in the pulpit had to say. The next Sunday, I’d dust off my Bible and repeat the process.
I was clearly a sheep. Sheep aren’t very smart. I’m sure that’s why humans were compared to sheep in the Bible. In fact, because sheep have a strong flocking habit - mobs without thought are often compared to a “herd of sheep.”
Too many times in too many congregations — if a spiritual question comes up, the member or members go to their preacher, minister or priest for the answer. This furthers the idea that we are wooly humans led by a shepherd.
To be blunt — we are trusting our very soul to Rev. Shepherd. Using that reasoning means when we meet our maker, our response to a question from God would be “Well that’s what Rev. Shepherd told me.”
Forgive me if this train of thought makes you uncomfortable. I never feel I am in a position to give advice, much less chastise but I’ve been in the very position I just described.
I spent most of my life sitting on a pew, not really understanding why I was there. I was just going through the motions of being religious. Good people went to church and I wanted to be a good person.
I started reading and studying the Bible in 2000. I’m no expert, but I can, at least, say I’ve read the book cover-to-cover nine times and the new testament, by itself, a few more.
You see, in my opinion, if you say I believe in God or Jesus, and don’t read the scriptures — you’re lying to yourself.
It’s all we have. It’s the only way we can see for ourselves what to believe and how to live.
I tested the Bible. I found that these ancient cities mentioned in this book have been found. Archaeologists have unearthed the ancient ruins of Ur, Haran, Ashdod, Babylon, Susa, Nazareth, Behsaida, Cana and even Jericho. In Jericho they found two small rooms attached to a partial wall that did not fall. Joshua 6:25 - “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” This was the only part of Jericho that wasn’t totally destroyed, proving the Bible, once again, accurate.
I have a modest collection of artifacts from the Holy Land ranging from the time of Abraham up though about 100 a.d., the approximate date when the Bible was completed. In my collection is a small coin (shown at right). It’s not much to look at but valuable to me. This particular coin was struck in Jerusalem around 29 a.d. Pontius Pilate designed this small homage to himself. The text of the coin mentions Tiberius Caesar who was emperor at this time. Pontius was governor.
According to scriptures Pilate was reluctant to condemn Jesus. He was forced to give in when the crowd became unruly and the Jewish leaders reminded him that Jesus’s claim to be king is a challenge to Roman rule. Think about that. Pilate was a sheep too, led by a crowd to do what he didn’t really want to do.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened to Pilate. But according to Josephus, a Jewish historian, he was called before the Emperor. But before he reached Rome, Tiberius had already passed away. Another Jewish source (39 a.d. Julian/Gregorian) says “he was banished to Vienna and three years later, committed suicide in solitude and remorse in the Austrian mountains.” I can hold this small coin in my hand and know that it was ordered, made by a man, who made a very bad decision. I’m sure he sobbed bitterly in those mountains wishing he could return to that day and do things differently.
Don’t be a sheep (except for The Shepherd).
Read God’s gift to us for yourself. Have a blessed Easter.