Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Matthew 28

Posted on: April 12, 2012

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, andhis clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

I guess it’s fitting that I get to this chapter the week after Easter. I don’t have a church here in the country I live in. There ARE some English speaking churches, but their doctrine is so stale, and at times so far from what I believe is the heart of the religion (i.e. more prosperity, less social justice). Anyway, this is also the crux of Christianity, isn’t it? Did or didn’t he come back to life? Did or didn’t he save all of us from our sins (and if he did, what, then, do we have to do to “earn” that from him)?

If this chapter is true, which I choose to believe it was, then goddamn, right? Oh, is that blasphemy? Anyway, holy cow! Wait… more blasphemy? Let’s try this: alleluia!

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Perhaps this is the reason that nobody but the bible can corroborate the story? Or can they?

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him theyworshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 As a child I felt these dudes were so stupid – they DOUBTED him? How could they call themselves his disciples? But I do understand. I would want to touch his holes, too, just so I could tell others, hey, don’t believe it? I put my hand through his holes…
His beautiful, sweet, loving holes.

Matthew 27

Posted on: March 8, 2012

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

27  When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Judas Hangs Himself

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus[a] was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.”So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

 That’s pretty gory.

Jesus Before Pilate

11  Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12  But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

15  Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, orJesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd toask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Yikes, this is serious groupthink. Pilate seemed to want to let Jesus go free, but didn’t want to be responsible for making that decision. And then these crazy leaders go in and tell everyone to ask for a murderer to be released instead? And they LISTEN to him? Who are these people? Where are all of the people who had seen Jesus do miracles? Were they there and just easily manipulated, or were they all elsewhere?

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[b] see to it yourselves.”25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and havingscourged[c] Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

Jesus Is Mocked

27  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him.28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail,King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Is this seriously legal? That they can be terrible? So freaking confused.

The Crucifixion

32  As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33  And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34  they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42  “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43  He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44  And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

 I always heard that one of the other robbers tried to help Jesus or something. Hmm.

The Death of Jesus

45 Now from the sixth hour[f] there was darkness over all the land[g] until the ninth hour.[h]46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice andyielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54  When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said,“Truly this was the Son[i] of God!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph andthe mother of the sons of Zebedee.

 I don’t have a lot to say. Whether or not he was or wasn’t the Christ, the way he was killed and the process of it seems barbaric and unethical.

Jesus Is Buried

57  When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day,lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[j] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

This is all just so bizarre.

Matthew 26

Posted on: March 2, 2012

The Plot to Kill Jesus

26 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Oh oh oh oh oh here we go! I know I shouldn’t be excited for Jesus to die – I’m not. I’m just really excited to get to the point where he blows everyone away.

It makes me really sick that the chief priests were so upset about Jesus that they were plotting to kill him. If they really thought he was evil, they should have just told people so and tried to reason with them. But reason had failed them over and over – he always trumped them. And instead of realizing, hey… maybe we were wrong… NOPE. They turn to murder? That doesn’t sound like following God to me.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a]a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

I think I’d kind of have the same reaction as the disciples, but I hope Jesus was gentle with them.

Judas to Betray Jesus

14  Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Yikes – how did this even happen?

The Passover with the Disciples

17  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?” 18 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.’” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

20  When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.[b]21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Haha, if everyone knew what Judas was going to do, why didn’t they try to stop him? I mean, obviously they probably couldn’t, but the disciples don’t seem to do the obvious thing that often.

Institution of the Lord’s Supper

26  Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said,“Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Mmmmmmmk.

Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

30  And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”33  Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34  Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35  Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Crap, his posse is dropping left and right.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36  Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[d] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[e] See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Man, even as Jesus prepared himself for his death and torture, his friends are failing him. He can’t even take comfort in his relationships with people. That’s so depressing and sad.

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

47  While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f]Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him,“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54  But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me.56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

HA. Prophesies! Suck it. Even when they try to thwart him, they only prove his authority.

Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council

57  Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council[h] were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none,though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”[i]63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Thenthey spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him,68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

So so so so sad and frustrating. Was blasphemy something that they often killed people for?

Peter Denies Jesus

69  Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Poor Peter. Poor Jesus. This is just tragic, all around. Peter thought he would have courage to follow Jesus, even to death, but he stumbled and broke, just as I’m sure most of us would. I want to say I’d do differently, but dang… who knows.

Sorry, I haven’t been on top of sticking to a daily routine. Vacation – what can I say?

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps[a] and went to meet the bridegroom.[b]2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12  But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Mmm hmm. Still talking about the Kingdom of Heaven (whatever that is) and what it means when it comes… still not sure. We already established at the beginning of Matthew that nobody is quite sure what “Kingdom of Heaven” means, so I’m not positive how we are supposed to interpret anything else.

The Parable of the Talents

14  “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and ent

rusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to

his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.29  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Again I am confused. Let me see if someone can interpret this for me…

In Matthew, the opening words appear to link the parable to the parable of the Ten Virgins, which immediately precedes it.[1] That parable deals with wisdom in an eschatological context.[1] This parable, however, has been interpreted in several ways.

As a teaching for Christians

Traditionally, the parable of the talents has been seen as an exhortation to Jesus’ disciples to use their God-given gifts in the service of God, and to take risks for the sake of the Kingdom of God.[1] These gifts have been seen to include personal abilities (“talents” in the everyday sense), as well as personal wealth.[1] Failure to use one’s gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgement.[1]

The poet John Milton was fascinated by the parable (interpreted in this traditional sense),[13] referring to it repeatedly, notably in the sonnet “On His Blindness“:[13]

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide

This interpretation seems to be the origin of the word “talent” used for an aptitude or skill.[14]

As a critique of religious leaders

Joachim Jeremias believed that the original meaning of the parable was not an ethical one about every man. Instead, he saw it as aimed at the scribes who had withheld “from their fellow men a due share in God’s gift.”[15] In his view, Jesus is saying that these scribes will soon be brought to account for what they have done with the Word of God which was entrusted to them.[15]

Jeremias also believed that in the life of the early church the parable took on new meaning, with the merchant having become an allegory of Christ, so that “his journey has become the ascension, his subsequent return … has become the Parousia, which ushers his own into the Messianic banquet.”[15]

As a social critique

William R. Herzog II notes the traditional interpretation of the parable,[16] but gives a liberation theology reading in which the image of the absentee landlord, who reaps where he didn’t sow, is taken literally. On Herzog’s reading, the third servant is a “whistle-blower”[16] who has “unmasked the ‘joy of the master’ for what it is, the profits of exploitation squandered in wasteful excess.”[16] He is punished for speaking the truth, not for failing to make a profit. For Herzog, the point of the parable is the need to act in solidarity when confronting injustice.[16]

Sociologist Robert K. Merton used the parable of talents to describe the reward system in science in which famous scientists often receive disproportionate credit for their contributions, whereas lesser known scientists receive less credit than their contributions actually merit. called this phenomenon the Matthew effect; see also Stigler’s law of eponymy.[17]  (Wikipedia)

Okay. The first part makes sense to me as a traditional interpretation, and one that does make some sense to me, too. Still a little hazy.

The Final Judgment

31  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separatesthe sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 Andthe King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Okay! Goats and sheep! I’ve been called a goat before by Christians because they say that I don’t follow their flavor of Christianity correctly – and therefore I’m going to hell. It’s hurtful, but I also find it hubristic. This verse clearly shows that he’s saying that people who are kind, generous, caring, and loving are his sheep – that has nothing to do with the political merit or the way the bible is interpreted such as how people have tried to ascribe to me. I would never tell someone that I believe they are going to heaven or hell. That’s not for me to decide. God knows our hearts – even better than we know our own. And besides all that, we don’t even know what heaven and hell really are, when it comes down to it.

Jesus kind of describes something of eternal punishment and eternal life, but that’s still pretty vague.

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

24  Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them,“You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Things are really starting to heat up over here in Matthew. Instead of fulfilling prophesies, Jesus is prophesying now.

Signs of the End of the Age

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them,“See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away[a] and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13  But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

I guess the real question is “What does the ‘end of the age’ even mean?”

The disciples were really asking three questions. First, they wanted to know when “this” would happen. The “this” could be a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which Jesus had just finished describing as being threatened with destruction. Second, they wanted to know what the “sign” of his coming was, which as we shall see, Jesus finally gave them in 24:30. Third, the disciples also wanted to know when the “end of the age” would occur. This is something Jesus told the disciples they could not know (24:36).

If we separate out the three questions, and see how Jesus answered each of them, we can clear up a number of problems or misinterpretations associated with Matthew 24. Jesus was telling his disciples that Jerusalem and the temple (the “this”) would, indeed, be destroyed intheir day. But the “sign” they asked about, Jesus said, would be associated with his coming, not with the destruction of the city. Finally, as to the disciples’ third question, Jesus said, no one could know the answer to the question of when he would return and “the end” of the age would occur. (Source: GCI)

Ah, okay then. Whenever Jesus said anything, the interpretations I got as a child were ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS about the rapture. Or the Tribulations. Or another part of Revelations as fictionalized by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Man, did I have serious nightmares growing up about being left behind.

The Abomination of Desolation

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place ( let the reader understand),16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17  Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23  Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27  For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28  Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

Jesus would be AWESOME at telling scary stories around the campfire. As for me, the part that has always stuck with me is verse 19 – perhaps this is one of the reasons I’ve always been afraid of getting pregnant and having children. Not necessarily because of THIS EXACT EVENT happening, but whenever I think about the Holocaust or Hurricane Katrina or whatever, I think, if I had a kid, that would be terrible for both of us.

The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Okay. Still talking about the end of the age/the rapture/I don’t know what.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35  Heaven and earth will pass away, butmy words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[b] but the Father only. 37  For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43  But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant,[c] whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’49 and begins to beat his fellow servants[d] and eats and drinks withdrunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Okay I’m lumping all of that together because he is still talking about… what? The second coming? I’m going to be honest – although I look forward to the proverbial heaven on earth that has been prophesied, I can’t let myself dwell on it. It is important to me – and to God, too, I think – that I am doing what I can HERE and NOW on THIS earth to spread goodness, love, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, etc.

Hmmm.

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11  The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d]15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside ofthe cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside ofthe cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you alsooutwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34  Therefore I send youprophets and wise men and scribes,some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood ofZechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

HO.LY.SH*T. Seriously all I have to say. Scary.

Lament over Jerusalem

37  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say,‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Yiiikes…

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants[a] to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

I do not even understand this…

Okay, after looking it up, this is another parable Jesus uses to show the Jews that, when it comes down to it, they are going to miss everything and not follow him, and that his gifts are going to go to the Gentiles. Also, the last part about the clothes seems to be lost on many scholars as well.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

15  Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.[b]17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[c]20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Don’t test Jesus. HE KNOWS EVERYTHING. Also, we gotta coexist with our governments; they aren’t meant to represent our religion or our spiritual beliefs.

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32  ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Okay. I’ll just go with this one.

The Great Commandment

34  But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Nice. I seriously always try to just keep things simple with these two rules (the second one is basically the Golden Rule, no?). I’ll be honest though, I am way better at the second commandment than the first one. I’m not the best at loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind. I don’t have enough respect; I take him for granted.

Whose Son Is the Christ?

41  Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46  And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Hahahahahahaha! Oh man, he was like, “You wanna mess with me? I’ll totally screw you up. You think you know everything, and you know NOTHING. Don’t mess with me.”