“Qvo Vadis?” (“Whither Goest Thou?”)
(pronounced Quo WAH-dees)

I’m going to Rome to be Crucified Anew.

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Jackson Snyder

September 2, 2001

Mat 16:21-27

Quo Vadis is one of the greatest biblical Motion Pictures ever made.  It accurately and dramatically depicts to persecutions of believers in Rome under Nero.

Matthew 16:21. From that time Yahshua began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, "Yahweh forbid, Master! This shall never happen to you." 23. But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of Yahweh, but of men." 24. Then Yahshua told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27. For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

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The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
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Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?

Joshua

Joshua Series - Joseph Girzone

  The Joshua Series of Books - Best Sellers “When Joshua moves to a small cabin on the edge of town, the local people are mystified by his presence. A quiet and simple man, Joshua appears to seek nothing for himself. He supports himself by working as a carpenter. He charges very little for his services, yet his craftsmanship is exquisite. The statue of Moses that he carves for the local synagogue prompts amazement as well as consternation. Even more mysterious, is the extraordinary effect he has on everyone he meets. His incredible warmth transforms all who come in contact with him. The acceptance and love in his eyes and in each action amazes the townspeople. Who is Joshua and just what is he up to?  Some people report having seen him carry a huge oak log on his shoulders effortlessly. Still others talk about the child in a poor part of town who was dreadfully ill but, after Joshua's visit, recovered completely.  Despite his selfless work to bring the community together, some remain suspicious. Finally, in an effort to resolve the suspicions, the local church leaders confront Joshua. ‘Who are you?’ they demand.”

 

    I just read some promotional material for the best-selling book, Joshua - by Joseph Girzone.  It’s the story of Yahshua, who calls himself by his Old Testament name Joshua.  He just appears in a small town one day and sets up a woodworking shop.  He is a humble and charismatic man with no last name, a man of quiet strength who does well for all.  He attends synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday, but never the same one twice in a row.  Over time his mysterious love transforms the community.  Over more time, and in the course of several books, the entire world begins to change as hundreds are quietly converted to his benevolent way of living.  Eventually, the nations of the world become the kingdoms of our Yahweh through the unassuming influence of this one man.
   Though beautiful, I felt uneasy about this story because Yahshua didn’t return by the method I expected.  You know, in certain Bible passages, his return to earth seems anything but quiet; his coming is loud, with trumpets and thunders and earthquakes and spirits, and with justice, like in this passage from Jude:

Jude 14b. Behold, the Master cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15.  To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are unrighteous among them of all their unrighteous deeds which they have unrighteously committed, and of all their hard speeches which unrighteous sinners have spoken against him. (KJV)

Whew!  What a spectacle.  What a tongue twister!

   When the dear person who had me read Joshua asked what I thought, I said, “It’s a wonderful story, but, in the Bible, he doesn’t come back that way.  This time, he’ll not be the meek Lamb but the roaring Lion; this time, he will not be the Suffering Servant but the Commander of Armies; this time, he will not come to be judged, but to judge.  Isn’t that the way you understand his second coming – with plagues and heralds and angels and catastrophes and wars and trumpets and tanks and beasts?  Sure it is.  Maranatha!  Even if this all were so, “Come, Master Yahshua”!

Career Ambitions Dissolve

     Do you realize that our expectations for Messiah are exactly the same as the Apostles’ expectations two millennia ago?  They were sure that the Anointed One would simply take over.  For years, the Jewish legends taught them this, that the Messiah would come in the power of angels to destroy the hated occupying armies.  Prophecies they knew, especially those in the Book of Daniel, detailed the exact time when the Messiah would descend, and that time was their time!  All of their young lives, the parents and rabbis of the Apostles told them about what the Messiah would do to unrighteously sinners when he came.  When they were old enough, they put their beliefs into action by joining up with the religious army of John the Baptist.  He was known as the vanguard of the Messiah sent to herald his coming.  When John the Baptist pointed Yahshua out to his future Apostles saying, “Behold the Lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sins of the world,” they immediately saw in Yahshua the fulfillment of all the stories they had heard about Messiah since childhood.  They placed in Yahshua all their hopes of national freedom and all their personal career ambitions.
   Now, these Apostles had been with Yahshua for over a year and had seen his ability to suspend nature and change reality.  They were convinced that Yahshua was the star upon whom to hitch their wagons!  In fact, Simon had just gotten a word from the Father that Yahshua was the Anointed One, the Son of the Living Yahweh, and Yahshua even admitted it was true.  Furthermore, Yahshua changed Simon’s name to Simon the Rock, and said that he would build his community upon this Rock.  How exciting it all was – everything they believed their whole lives was coming true!  Soon the armies of heaven would descend upon the Romans, and Peter, James, John and the rest would be the kings of the world, richer than Herod the Great! 
   Peter is daydreaming about all this when Yahshua breaks up his reverie: “Peter!”  Peter mumbles, “Now what, Master?”  This is what Yahshua says: “Listen up you guys.  Our enemies are going kidnap me and take me up to Jerusalem pretty soon.  They’re going torture me and nail me to a cross.  You need to know this now, but don’t be afraid for me -- I’m going to rise from the dead.  Peter reacts immediately: “Rise from the dead?  What?  Wait a minute?  What do you think you’re talking about?  Master, have mercy!  Are you nuts?  You can’t do that to yourself!”  An argument ensues.  Simon would never have dared do this before, but now he roughly grabs Yahshua’ tunic at the forearm, spins him around and drags him off into a corner of the room.  “Master, what about prophecy?  What about Daniel’s seventy weeks?  What about the Romans?  What about the murder of John the Baptist?  What about my career?  You’re not going anywhere like that!  I’m not going to allow it. There’s too much at stake.”

   Although Peter had earlier received a word of knowledge in regard to Yahshua’ identity, he had not received a word about Yahshua’ mission:  that Yahshua had not come to rule over a sinful world at that time, but to die for unrighteous sinners.  If he had come to conduct a military action, the re-conquest of Israel, that would be a good thing surely, but it was not the right thing, it was not the perfect thing.  Yahshua was bigger than the nation of Israel, greater than the Jewish world.  Peter’s notions blocked his vision and the devil found a place in him.  “WHAT ABOUT YOUR KINGDOM?” Peter cried.  Instead of acting the Rock, in that instant he cracked just enough for Satan to enter in, and the Rock became a stone.

Satan Enters In

   “Get behind me, Satan – I rebuke you.  You are a stumbling stone in the pathway of destiny.”  Yahshua applies a very strong rebuke as he snatches his arm away from Peter.  I always thought these words were too harsh.  I felt sorry for Pete.  One minute Yahshua calls him the Rock, the next, Satan and a stumbling stone!  But now we realize that these words are not directed at the gentle fisherman, but at the devil who had rushed in through a chink in Peter’s armor.  Yahshua doesn’t rebuke Peter; he delivers Peter from evil, for Satan wanted to sift the old boy like flour.

   Yahshua had heard Satan speak words like this before, out there in the desert a year or so earlier: 

Mat 4:8. Taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  9. And he said to him, "I will give you all these, if you fall at my feet and do me homage."

Yahshua had a choice, you know – he could have been one of two things – he could have been the King of Jews or he could have been executed for the world.  Only one of these choices was the Yahwehly one.  There were greater concerns than Roman legions!   The future of humankind was in the balance!

Is 53:4. For ours were the sufferings he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying, while we thought of him as someone being punished and struck with affliction by Yahweh;  5. on the contrary,  he was being wounded for our rebellions, crushed because of our guilt; the punishment reconciling us fell on him, and we have been healed by his bruises.

If Yahshua had chosen Satan’s way then, he would have failed in his mission.  Instead of dying on the cross, his blood pouring forth as drink for all believers to come, he would have died in an insurrection, been eaten by dogs, to become a minor footnote in one of Gibbon’s volumes of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Had he died as merely the King of the Jews, we would not now be living day by day in the great hope of his return to earth as promised to rule the nations with the iron rod, bringing rewards for those faithful stewards who had well served him.  Today’s world would be a far more hostile, hopeless and unrighteous realm had Yahshua died a King instead of a pauper.  But some things just don’t make any sense at the time.  We have a luxury that the disciples didn’t – we can stand upon the mountain of All Time and peer down into the valley of All History and know he was going to die for us who are so far off.  But his friends needed him to live; who can blame them?

Demonization

   By the way, there are well-meaning folks who say that a True Believer can’t be demonized.  However, here Peter is certainly a True Believer and Satan is certainly a demon.  If Satan is speaking through Peter, then the passage clearly demonstrates that even a super True Believer like Pete can be demonized.  If we will believe the Bible on this point then we may have the courage to address our own stumbling blocks more readily and powerfully.  This good subject will keep for another time; there’s something else at “stake” here that we must at this time “take up.”

Take Up the Cross

   That is: “the cross.” Satan is cast out, but he’s drawn down the road apiece, just like a fly to a pie.  Something very demonic is happening there. Yahshua and his disciples witness a line of Roman soldiers roughly escorting a group of miserable Jews down the way.  Each bloody prisoner is carrying a heavy log that is tightly tied onto his shoulders by ropes.  The prisoners are all chained together.  There is no earthly means of escape.  The scene is an example of the horrifying cruelty of the government that Satan set upon earth and rules.

   “Look over there,” Yahshua commands his disciples.  “Look!”  He points to the line of prisoners now marching past on their way to the crucifixion stakes just down the road.  Yahshua is silent for a while as they pass by.  This gruesome sight’s not so uncommon these days in North Galilee; there’s a lot of unrest and rebellion here.  But crucifixion is never taken for granted, for these tortured men are kinsmen and brothers, the chosen race of Yahweh.  One of the condemned men looks at Yahshua for a long moment as he stumbles by and Yahshua looks intently upon him.  Then they pass, and Yahshua begins to speak, but his voice kind of breaks up.  Yahshua has compassion on this criminal.  Then he tries again to speak, softly. 

 

“See that man?  I’m following him to this same death.  If you are to follow me, you must be willing to follow me there.  You must hoist up your cross like these brothers and follow.  Once you decide to take up my cross, you will lose if you then try to save yourself.  What good is it to become the King of the Jews but lose your very self?  Is becoming a Prince of Palestine worth being crucified for?  Hardly.  There are many philosophies and ideas and luxuries that may be worth living for, but not so many worth dying for.  And to live for me means to die for me.  But if you happen to lose your life for my sake, be assured, you will find life.  Don’t resist these soldiers when they come.  They can only kill the body.  Rather, fear him who can destroy body and soul.  Your conduct during these difficult days is crucial to your mission here.  Furthermore, if you want a reward for following me, you will get a reward.  However, what you receive will be based on your actions now.  And now, you must follow me.”

 

   Peter and the other disciples take the news hard.  They glance far down the road and see the soldiers in the distance as they process their prisoners.  They hear the dull crash of the iron hammers, iron against iron – iron against flesh - and the muffled wails of those who are dying all day long.  Their temporal hopes are shattered.   They sadly look at each other and, though they are all rough men, they are all red-faced and teary-eyed.  One disciple sobs some, and then the other disciples notice that Yahshua too is weeping.  He looks into the face of each disciple in turn as though he was beckoning them to speak, but nothing is said.  The spirit of defiance is broken.  Satan has been defeated.  It is Yahshua who breaks the silence.  “Will you all leave me, then?”

   After another long pause, Peter again speaks up,

 

“To whom shall we go, Master?  Who else shall we follow?  You alone have the words of eternal life.  We believe and now are sure that you are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living Yahweh.”  

 

This was not Satan speaking this time, but the Rock. 

   We now know that Yahshua fulfilled the Scriptures and his own prophecy.  He lost his life for the sake of humankind, for your sake, and then took his life up again in glory.  We, like the disciples before, are now certain that he will soon return to rule and to reign in benevolence over the nations of the earth.  We long for that day.  And we know that, save one soul, all those dear men who were with him that day did take up their crosses and were far flung as if by angels out across the empire of Rome and beyond, preaching the good news to the nations, living exciting missionary lives, bearing great fruit unto harvest, dying uncertain deaths at the hands of sinners, then ascending upwards onto great rewards. 

Qvo Vadis

   But what of Peter, the Rock?  What became of him as he up and carried his cross?  Well, let me tell you about one incident recorded by the ancient church historian St. Ambrose.  It was during the terrible persecutions of the Emperor Nero that Peter found himself in Rome.  He had been on mission since the early days, having preached through Asia in all synagogues of the Jews who would have him.  His fame had preceded him there. (Excerpt, paraphrase Sermon Against Auxentius):

 

Peter, when he had overcome Satan (Simon Magus), stirred up the minds of the heathens against him by sowing the doctrine of Elohim and in teaching chastity. When they came for him, the True Believers in Rome begged that Peter would leave the city for a time. And though Peter was not afraid to suffer, he was moved by all who were praying for him.  And they begged Peter to save himself for their sakes.

 

   Let me interrupt the story here to call your attention to the fact that exactly the same circumstances existed when Satan through Peter’s mouth rebuked Yahshua for telling them that he had to die.  Now it’s Peter’s time to die and the people rebuke him!  Back to the story:

 

At night Peter begins to sneak out of Rome and he gets just past the city gate.  There he sees a man approaching and recognizes him, though it has been a long time.  It is Yahshua!  Yahshua passes Peter on the road and starts through the gate into Rome, entering the dangerous city!  Incredulous, Peter turns around and cries out to him, “Domine, quo vadis?  Master, whither goest thou?  You’re not going in there are you?”  Yahshua turns and looks Peter in the face, recognizing his old friend.  Then he answers the question plainly: “Yes, Peter, I’m going in to be crucified again.” 

   How could Yahshua be crucified a second time?  Hadn’t he had put off the flesh by the passion which He had undergone years before?  Isn’t it true that, when "He died, He died unto sin once, but now he lives unto Yahweh"?  Peter understood Yahshua’ answer to spell his own cross, his own death: for if Yahshua was to be crucified again, it could only be accomplished in the person of Peter. 

   So Peter turned around and went back through the gate toward the heart of Rome.  Finding again his disciples, they questioned him, but he related the words of Yahshua, and they understood.  Soon after, Peter was seized by Nero’s henchmen, and glorified the Master Yahshua by his cross. 

 

So Peter followed him to the end.

   That was the end of Peter but not the end of the story.  We are the end of the story, here, awaiting Yahshua’ return.  When he arrives, will he find faith on earth, the kind of faith that has followed him along every narrow path, byway and detour in this life?  The kind of faith that leads to a cross?  Qvo vadis, my friends?  Whither goest thou?

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