32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 10:)
John was not the Hidden Disciple.
Many women gave much support to Jesus and the Twelve, were boldly present at the Crucifixion, and were the first (and would have been the only) to visit the tomb, while the "Mighty men of God" hid in an upper room.
These women were not the Hidden Disciple.
Multitudes, well over 5,000 at one time, followed Jesus. Then when He spoke to them of things they didn't want to hear, they went their own way (John 6:28-71).
None of them were the Hidden Disciple.
No, the Hidden Disciple was not one who wore goatskin, nor an apron, nor sat on a mountainside listening to Jesus. This disciple was not one of those with little to lose, or one of little reputation, as was Jesus and His followers.
In fact, one Hidden Disciple was one of the best known men in all Israel. He was one of those who could have had a hand in changing the destiny of all creation.
But he was hiding in the shadows of Fear.
This council governed both the National and the Religious activities of Israel. It was not considered expedient to get on the wrong side of them - which, of course, Jesus always did.
We know of two "Rulers" that may or may not have been one of the Seventy. One of these rulers came to ask Jesus how he could get to Heaven (Luke 18:18-23), and the other asked Jesus to save his child's life, and instead Jesus brought the child back to life.
But these, as far as we know, were not disciples of Jesus.
So here we have a Disciple in the Shadows - literally.
But how can we know that Nicodemus was a disciple? Were there any more? And why were they In the Shadows?
We know that at least two out of the tormenting groups mentioned above believed in Jesus. Are there any signs that there were others? That question was asked by the more powerful of the Sanhedrin:
Nicodemus tried once to stand up for Jesus:
Were there any signs which might have pointed them to the fact that their Messiah would be coming at that time? After all, the Messiah would be coming to drive out the Romans and give back the nation to the Jews. Of course He would have also driven out all the phony priests, High Priests and other unfit rulers as well.
But did anyone bother to go see this Blessed Child? Oh yes, many. Herod sent his soldiers to butcher this future King, and any other who might possibly fit into His age group.
But maybe once these rulers knew that they had made a mistake they would repent and correct their error:
62Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. (Matt 27:62-65)
11Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matt 28:11-14)
This study of Hidden Disciples is not for the intent of exposing the faults of 2,000 years ago, but to portray some of the various problems Jesus had from the beginning to create His Church.
And the problem didn't cease when He died, as can be seen in the writings of one of Jesus' one-time biggest problem - Paul of Tarsus.
A great deal of time and space in the Epistles is devoted to keeping "wolves" out of the church. These wolves would enter a church Paul started, gain position, then fleece the sheep, try to take control and lead them astray, and/or separate them off from the Head, which is Jesus, and create a distorted version of the True Church (Acts 20:29).
Somehow the Church has survived in spite of all this deviousness.
But in what form?
The church has been mangled, divided and diluted until many factions believe they are the only true church, and all others are "lost" (1Cor Chapter 3).
What is the True Church? Is it possible to find it amongst all the denominations and cults? Is there a church building, or at least a group of people with whom you could associate and know that you are with the Church Jesus intended?
I don't think anyone can answer that question, but I am going to do it anyway.
The answer is a resounding NO!
I say this for several reasons, most of them being restatements of what Jesus said Himself.
To begin with, wherever there is a genuine wheat field planted, the intent is to grow a pure Harvest for the Lord, the Enemy will come along and plant his tares (Matt Chapter 13:).
Tares are a plant that likes to grow in the fertile wheat fields and are essentially undetectable since they look like wheat until they are ready to be harvested. Once the plants have reached maturity they are easily identified, but difficult to separate without "filtering" (the tares' seed is smaller than that of wheat). And where wheat is nutritious, the darnel (tares) are poisonous to both man and beast due to a smut fungus they attract.
In the church it's the same way; Tares will cause strife, division, doubt and in many other ways keep the church from functioning properly.
Tares have small seeds (of Faith). Tares "fill out" the church. Other church members don't recognize them as tares. And worst of all - tares don't know they are tares! And often they are very fine people, but with no "Life" in them. In fact, tares believe they are better Christians than anyone else, and that the church couldn't function without them.
And they are right! That is, the church could not function without them.
Christians rarely get involved with the "government" of the church. They stay out of the limelight, and prefer to busy themselves with jobs like maintenance of the church, visiting the sick, prayer chains, helping the elderly and infirmed, and Missionary work.
Tares love the limelight and shove others out of the way in order to be seen and be highly regarded.
Christians work toward Jesus' admonition to be meek and humble, that is working with the Lord to rid themself of Ego and Ambition (Matt Chapter 6:). Christians look toward a Heavenly Reward, and the desire of their heart is to serve the Lord.
Tares expend great effort on the church government and activities. Appearances and Activities and Entertainment are their direction. They are often the Leaders of a function. They have all the answers, but are less likely to be doing the actual work.
Tares are often frustrated and angry at Christians who "waste their time" on missionary work rather than serve tables at a picnic the tares have decided to organize.
Tares look to this world for their rewards.
Tares are also hard to recognize because they so strongly resemble True Christians who are earnestly working for the Lord by setting up functions and helping with the governing of the church.
So what do you do about the tares? Jesus said to let them stay among you, and He will take care of them when He does the winnowing, that is, separating the chaff from the grain (Mat 13:30).
In the meantime, is there any way we can tell the tares from the wheat? Jesus said that by their fruit you can recognize them (Matt 7:20).
Somehow, by the Grace of God, the Church has managed to continue in spite of these overwhelming odds.
But for what purpose? Why does God bother with such a rebellious and weak church? He didn't put up with Israel, who was following very strict rules, so why does He allow such a wishy-washy church to continue?
Then it went through the Dark Ages where the church became so corrupt that some of the most heinous crimes were committed in the name of Christianity. Innocent and even honorable names were given to some of these, like the Inquisition and the Crusades.
Later we had martyrs such as Martin Luther who struggled to change the status quo, and others who were also martyred in order to put the Bible in our hands rather than have to accept what the corrupt church leaders were saying it said.
Followers of Jesus were led blindly astray with seemingly no help in order to follow Christ.
How could Our Lord possibly find any Faithful during those Satan ruled centuries?
Then, and even much later we had "wolves" who began as sheep, then turned on their flocks to destroy them. Hitler and Jim Jones are two such examples of this, though there are many other less notorious and obvious examples as well, some who have not killed their sheep, just kept them from moving on in the Lord; that is they left their congregation standing on the "Fire Line" so to speak.
Jesus gave His life to create a Church. The apostles lived their life in order to leave us instructions on how to build the Church Jesus created.
But we, the sons of Adam, have taken that Church and turned it into "churchianity."
Church is no longer a place where True Believers come together with a heart-rendering desire to serve the Lord and His Body. It is a place to socialize, and be entertained.
The church is a kindergarten of lambs fed milk to keep them small, soft and tender for the wolves, rather than fed wholesome "meat" in order to become strong and useful servants of the Lord (Hebrews. Chapter 6:).
And even the best of churches and congregations, those with full intent of serving the Lord, are geared toward the lambs (fed milk) and not toward those sheep desiring to grow toward maturity.
And how could it be otherwise? The church is similar to a One Room School where the teacher must spend all her time working with the first graders who constantly demand her attention leaving the older students with nothing but the Book and the exhortation of each other in order to grow in wisdom.
But we do have the Book. And True Christians also have an Instructor to help them understand the Book.
During the past two thousand years we had the Dark Ages where there was no real instruction, and no Bible to read, and few if any examples of what a Christian was to be like. In spite of this there were many notable Christians who rose above the field of tares to bring the Truth to the people (and lost their heads in order to be silenced, just as did Jesus and the Apostles).
But only True Believers were listening.
"The world has gone mad," and is getting madder. But this is nothing new. The world has been going mad since Adam, and God wiped this world out once because of it, and will do so again.
In the madness before Noah, there was Enoch, who rose above the tares of his day.
And there was Noah who found favor with God.
In the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah there was Lot who stood alone as a witness to God.
In Canaan, a nation to be destroyed for its abominations, there was a Priest so honorable that he is used as a type of Christ, by the name of Melchizedek.
In the desert of Midian, Moses had to be instructed by his father-in-law, a priest in an idolatress land.
Elijah cried out to God, while hiding in a cave, that he was the only one left who was loyal to God, and that everyone else was looking to kill him. But God told Elijah that He had "left me 7000 that had not bowed the knee" to Baal (1Kings 19:14,18).
Are you one of the remnants?
Are you rising above the tares in your heart by letting the Holy Spirit expose the tares and selfish fruit in your own nature?
Are you seeking God, rather than the praise of men as are the tares?
Are you striving for strength to speak out for what is right, what you believe in, rather than pulling into yourself in order to not "look foolish"? Tares have no problems forcing others who oppose them to shrink away timidly. Shouldn't a Child of God speak up for our Lord? (Matt 10:33)
So then, where is the True Church?
The True Church is scattered here and there throughout a monstrous field of tares. And in many cases the True Seeds are buried, unrecognized, even to themselves, because they are made to feel inferior to the majestic tares and wolves.
But they were not held back by those in the Temple; though much effort was exerted to get them to do so by the tares.
We are told to be a "Light unto the World." A Light in Darkness. The church is very dark. It needs light as well. Even though that darkness believes that it is the light (2 Cor 11:14; John 3:20).
So, the question left unanswered is "Why does God bother?"
He bothers because of you, if you are a "Child of Light," and not just another tare.
Who is the Hidden Disciple?
Is it you?
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