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“You Can't Do This!”

You keep saying that. And Yet…

June 25, 2011

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

"You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet ..."

If you're a regular reader of this site, you know that this comes from a book - a book that is not the Bible - because it's in brown italics.

In fact, it comes from a new Ted Dekker novel called The Priest's Graveyard. I have to say, I like his books. They do tend to look into the dark side of man - but I think it's good to know that side. After all - it's the dark side that really needs to see the light. I've only just started reading this one - this sequence comes in chapter 2.

It's between someone who is avenging evil in the world (the vigilante) and his current evildoer that he is trying to get to repent. The person who is doing the evil keeps telling the vigilante that he can't do what he's doing. The avenger says - yes, you keep telling me that. And yet - I am doing it.


Let's change the situation somewhat -
make believe -
but what if it really does happen?

What if it went like this:

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>

Same words - different colors.

If you're not a regular here, the colors are significant.
Today, the significance is especially important.
The colors are used to identify the "speakers".

As always - Jesus' words are in italic red.

The rest of the Bible is in italic green.

The words inside the << >> and >> << are unique for this article. They aren't actual words spoken by anyone - they are from scenes that I have made up for this article. Their meaning is as follows:

The purple represents us - you - me - anyone - after we've died.

The red - that's Jesus - judgment time for us - you - me - anyone - after we've died.

There is also something different between the words inside the << >> as opposed to those inside the >> <<. Read carefully - think about what's presented - who is speaking first and who is responding. That's the key.

I didn't set out to write it this way - so complicated.
I just felt led to do it that way -
and the whole thing took a really different turn in the dialogues, which is why I switched to the >> << part way through.
Yes - it's complicated - and it takes attention to know who is speaking - but life's that way too - having to pay attention to the difference between what we want and what God wants.
I hope you stick with this one - and really see what happens with the change in speakers.


Let's start with the "I am doing it" part. That the character in the book is called the vigilante means he is taking justice - judgment - into his own hands. None of us have the authority to do this.
I started to say no man has the authority to do this - but I guess that's not quite true - as we see in John 5:19-27 --

Jn 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Jn 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

See - there's that red text again - except this time it's real - not make believe.

Jesus can say "I am doing it" - because He alone has the authority to do "it" -
"it" being forgiveness or condemnation.

The vigilante was doing the same thing - giving people he confronted the choice of changing their ways - or of dying. But he didn't have the authority to do it.

Jesus gives us the same choices - in a different way - but completely with authority.


So while I was reading this exchange in the book - I couldn't help but wonder - when confronted at the final judgment - how many people will say the same thing to Jesus?
How many will tell Him that He can't judge them - that He can't condemn them?

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>


For those who have contempt for God - this seems like a perfectly reasonable sequence - at least to those of us who think we know Him.

After all - we know about what it says in Isaiah 44:22-24 --

Isa 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.

Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.

Isa 45:24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone
are righteousness and strength.’ ”
All who have raged against him
will come to him and be put to shame.

So we know that every knee will bow -
some because they know who God is and know that they have been saved by Him -
others because they learned - too late - that He can and will judge everyone.


But - what of those who think they know God -
Will they be saying

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

and will Jesus be saying

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

In the Gospel of Matthew, there's a section in chapter 23 called the Seven Woes

Here's two of them -

Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>


——————
——————


But - what of those who think they know God -
who even think they have a relationship with Jesus?

Will they be saying

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

and will Jesus be saying

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

——————

Well - there's Matthew 7:21-23 --

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>

——————

And - continuing in Matthew with 7:24-27 --

Mt 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>

——————

And just one more - also from Matthew - 22:1-14 --

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Mt 22:1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

Mt 22:4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

Mt 22:5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Mt 22:8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Mt 22:11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

Mt 22:13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Mt 22:14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

<<

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. You can't do this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

>>

——————

I saved this one for last - because it does sound so absurd!

Someone's invited by the king to go to a wedding banquet - and blew him off - didn't go. And some even killed the king's servants! Who would do that? Totally absurd!


And yet ...

The Word Became Flesh

Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Jn 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Jn 1:6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Jesus - the king - came into the world to save all men - many rejected Him - and many of His servants have been killed because of Him - and even the King Himself was killed.

>>

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Why are you doing this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

<<

——————

So the king send out more servants to gather whoever can be found - good - bad - whatever - he just invites more people. How absurd is that? The king inviting people off the street! You never know what kind of awful people you might get that way! No king would ever do that. How absurd!.


And yet ...

The Calling of Matthew

Mt 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Mt 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Mt 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus - The King - says that those are exactly the people who need Him.

>>

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Why are you doing this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

<<

——————

But someone off the street wasn't dressed properly - so he gets kicked out.

Of course - your supposed to dress nice when going to a wedding - aren't you?

Except that's not what this means.

It's not about the clothes - it's about the offer.
The offer of salvation.
Anybody would take up Jesus on that, wouldn't they?


And yet ...

Lk 23:38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Lk 23:39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Lk 23:40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Lk 23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”

Lk 23:43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The King is there on the cross - two of these riff raff off the street are on their own crosses on either side of Him. One of them rejects The King - the other accepts Him.
Neither of these men are dressed for the wedding. For that matter, neither is the King. But both were invited. One wasn't ready - inside - in his heart - wasn't willing to accept the invitation - the gift - and he was tossed outside. No doubt there was some gnashing of teeth after that.

>>

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Why are you doing this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

<<

——————
——————


You may have noticed - hopefully you did - the colors changes for that last parable. If you didn't catch that - I invite you to go back and re-read that part.

——————

I can't help but wonder if God doesn't think these thoughts sometimes about us.


He's given us so much -
He's offered us literally everything - up to and including Himself -
And we keep rejecting Him.

"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Why are you doing this!"

And yet ...

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."

——————
——————


We have a choice here -

[Jesus can say "I am doing it" - because He alone has the authority to do "it" -
"it" being forgiveness or condemnation.
The vigilante was doing the same thing - giving people he confronted the choice of changing their ways - or of dying. But he didn't have the authority to do it.
Jesus gives us the same choices - in a different way - but completely with authority.]

We can have one of two possible endings to this imaginary setting I just wrote about


"I've never heard anything so absurd in my life. Why are you doing this!"

"You keep saying that. And yet" ... "I am doing it."


Or -


“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

“Father, I thank you..."


——————
——————


“Father, I thank you..."