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Jesus Was Religious
April 2, 2020

Jesus was Religious

By:  Johnny O. Trail

          In a postmodern society, it is not hard to hear someone say, “I accept Christ, but I am not much on organized religion.”  On one level, we understand what they might be saying.  Organized religion, in some settings at least, has perverted the message of Christ and the true definition of religious devotion to Jesus.  Thus, it is of great wonder that many have offered disparaging remarks in regard to modern, organized religion 

          On the other hand, the one who makes a comment similar to the aforementioned one is implying that a person can have Jesus without participating in organized religion.  When one examines the life of Christ and the teachings of the New Testament, it becomes apparent that Jesus participated in and endorsed organized religious practice.  The idea that one can have Christ without religious devotion is fraught with error in light of scriptural truth.

          Jesus’ life is filled with examples of Him participating in organized religion.  As a matter of fact, a glimpse into His life as a young man demonstrates the religious devotion that He and His parents had.  Jesus’ early life is characterized by obedience to the teachings of the law regarding the required assemblies.  Luke 2:41-47 “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.  And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”  Thus, one of the earliest descriptions of Jesus has Him participating in an organized religious setting.

          When Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman, He emphasized the importance of organized religion by underscoring the place of acceptable worship.  John 4:19-22 “The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship."  Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”  If organized religion was not important under the Old Law, Christ would not have concerned Himself with the particulars that constituted acceptable worship.

          Those who are truly following after the Father and the Son will worship Him accordingly.  John 4.23 says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”  Jesus, God in the flesh, makes it plain that the Father is desirous of our obeisance and devotion.  Those who love and adore God will approach Him in true worship.

          In this same series of scriptures, Jesus taught that worship is a compulsion and not to be ignored.  John 4.24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."  The word “must” carries with it the idea of something that cannot be disregarded.  For one to be a follower of God and of Christ, he must worship the Creator as He has authorized.

          Upon instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus was engaged in observing an ordinance of organized religion.  It is of no coincidence that the Lamb of God would ordain communion as a means of remembering Him during a feast that took account of the Israelite people sacrificing a lamb, so they could be delivered from Egyptian bondage.  Matthew 26:17-18 “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?"  He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'"

          From these examples, one learns that Jesus recognized the importance of worship and participated in organized worship assemblies.  The commands of worship were observable in the life of Christ.  Even so, He did not agree with the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His age.  Mark 7:6-7 “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  Hypocrisy can turn people away from the truth. 

          Hopefully, members of the Lord’s church do not behave in a hypocritical manner.  If we act in a way that is not consistent with our profession, it can turn people away from the church and salvation. 

          These facts notwithstanding, the hypocrisy of those claiming Christianity is not a valid reason to completely reject the idea of “organized religion.”  Scripture calls the child of God to assemble with the saints upon every possible occasion as a source of edification and support.  Hebrews 10.25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

          One cannot be religious or a disciple of Christ and deny the importance of “organized religion.”  Jesus was a participant in scriptural, organized religion, and, as followers of the Master, we should be too.  This being the case we need to seek God’s authority and follow His will for appropriate and acceptable worship that is pleasing to Him. 


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