Lost in translation


July 28, 2007 – TheScroogeReport.com Post


Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America’s largest churches) in Riverside, California. Laurie is also the founder of the Harvest Crusades.

If you’ve ever traveled overseas, you know how challenging it can be to scale the language and cultural barriers in many countries. American corporations trying to break into international markets sometimes have had a very difficult time communicating uniquely American ideas and colloquialisms. The problem is that something often gets lost in the translation. In Italy, for example, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

When Coca-Cola was introduced in China, it was first rendered as “Ke-kou-ke-la.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after thousands of signs had been printed the company discovered the phrase means, “Bite the wax tadpole,” or “Female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect.

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation,” translated, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

Quite a promising product there!

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, the company apparently was unaware that in Spanish, “No va” means, “It won’t go.”

Greg Laurie

In the same way, when Jesus spoke to his disciples about his impending death and resurrection, it seemed to go right over their heads. They just didn’t get it. Jesus spoke in plain and simple terms, yet his message didn’t penetrate their minds or hearts.

As good Jews, they believed the Messiah was coming as Scripture had promised, but they didn’t read their Bibles carefully enough. They rightly understood that when the Messiah came He would rule the earth in righteousness, but they also should have seen that the Hebrew prophets foretold the fact the Messiah would also suffer.

As they thought about the Messiah of Israel, they saw the glory, but not the suffering. They saw the crown, but not the cross.

When Jesus went to his death, they must have thought He had let them down. And for many, perception is often reality. Perhaps you feel that way right now as well. Perhaps you feel as though God has somehow let you down, that he hasn’t kept his promises. But Jesus hadn’t failed the disciples; they had failed to see what he had come to do. The same is true of us when it seems as though God has failed us. Perhaps we need a new understanding of his ways.

All the disciples could see was that their Master had been killed – and not just killed, but tortured, humiliated and murdered in cold blood before their very eyes. When he uttered the words, “It is finished!” from Calvary, it seemed for them that indeed it was finished.

Two disciples later summed up how everyone felt: “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Prior to the crucifixion, everything seemed to be progressing beautifully. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, it appeared he was finally ready and willing to establish the kingdom as Israel’s long-awaited Messiah.

But then, without warning, everything began to unravel in the upper room. Jesus just didn’t sound like himself, speaking as though it were an end to something. Then came the arrest, the trial, the crucifixion and the horror of it all. How could anything good come after this?

But what a difference a day makes! Jesus rose from the dead just as he had promised repeatedly. This forever changed that group of disillusioned, discouraged and frightened followers into bold and courageous disciples who turned the world upside-down.

Of course, not everyone believes Jesus rose from the dead, and I think there are reasons for that. I don’t think people reject his resurrection because they have necessarily carefully researched it and have concluded that the evidence for its historicity and reality came up wanting. I think they reject it for the same reason they reject the biblical account of the creation: If God did indeed create the world, then we’re not just highly evolved animals. It means we are responsible to our Creator and will have to answer for our actions. And if the resurrection of Jesus is true, then there is life after death, and there is a future judgment.

The real reason a person doesn’t believe isn’t intellectual or rational, but moral and spiritual. David wrote, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1). The fact that the foolishness referred to is moral, and not intellectual, is clear from the rest of the text: “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Atheism’s rejection of God appeals to people who wish to avoid judgment for their sinful lifestyles.

If you don’t have God at the beginning, then you don’t have Him at the end. And you don’t have God in the middle, either. If you believe you evolved, then you say your life is an accident, maybe even a mistake. You have come from nowhere, you are going nowhere, and your life has no eternal purpose. You don’t belong to anyone, and you have no accounting to give to anyone.

But God created us, and we will be judged by Him: “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). This reminds us, among other things, that God’s justice ultimately will prevail. We have all witnessed wrongs committed against others (and ourselves), but it’s all going to be settled at the judgment seat of Christ, who rose from the dead and conquered sin, forever.


2007 Southern California Harvest Crusade—with Greg Laurie, David Crowder Band, Toby Mac, P.O.D., Leeland, and more!


Do you want to change your life?

Overcoming temptation

Welcome to the war

Tactics of the enemy

The essentials of belief

It’s what’s inside that counts

Lessons from the school of hard knocks

The foolish wise man

What is a Christian?

Why does God allow evil?

One thought on “Lost in translation

  1. ‘ Jesus spoke in plain and simple terms, yet his message didn’t penetrate their minds or hearts.’

    Perhaps Jesus could have given them the secret of the Kingdom of God, or given them the power personally to raise the dead.

    Mind you, he had done that in Mark 4 and Matthew 10, so it would not have helped.

    The disciples should have taken lessons in faith from the thief on the cross.

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