Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘Christianity

Matthew 19 

Teaching About Divorce

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a] 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

I feel like a lot is going over my head right here. For one thing, it doesn’t really seem like they want to dig into the issue of divorce as much as they are trying to trap Jesus or prove somehow that he doesn’t understand anything. But either way, we are taught them as if they were specific commandments, as opposed to a sharp answer to a snarky question.

People seem to always be using these verses to trap people. If it’s not prove that divorce is always wrong, it’s to find a loop-hole out of marriage. Here it seems Jesus would only allow for sexual immorality to come between a man and wife and bring about a permanent end to their marriage. But what about physical abuse? Is that because at the time a woman was considered property? And what’s all this business at the end about the eunuchs?

I read this article about this portion of Matthew 19. If you are interested, I’d highly suggest it. To be honest, I only skimmed it (therefore, there might be parts that I don’t actually agree with/endorse), but my favorite part is that it shows that Jesus was an expert in the law, even though it seems he never sat down and had a thorough education as the rest of the pharisees must have. They kept trying to give Jesus these hard trick questions that only an expert would understand, but he always does, AND he shoes that they are missing the point again and again. My point: if Jesus was a real person, and he knew all this stuff, it’s really a miracle in itself how SMART and EDUCATED he was.

Let the Children Come to Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

1) Why were they bringing children to him? What was the goal here? and 2) Why were the disciples so pissed about it?

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[b] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[c] and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Eat it, Prosperity Gospel. Even I know that I hang on to way too many physical possessions. Some of them are out of comfort (like a home, a couch, necessary clothes), some out of personal attachment (my dog, memorabilia, photographs, gifts), and some out of sheer luxury (most of my clothes, electronics, beauty products, probably at least 70% of my possessions). So suck on this section of Red-Letters, anyone who thinks that money is proof of your amount of Christianity. I don’t think that being rich is inherently bad, but I do hate any theology that says that “faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.” (from Wikipedia’s definition)

I also want to point out that while we Christians always say that we only have to believe in Jesus to be saved (and of course, our lives ought to reflect that belief), Jesus says right here that if you aren’t willing to give up your things, you shouldn’t expect to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. That means that basically everyone I know (including myself) isn’t going to heaven OR that this Kingdom of Heaven isn’t exactly the Eternal Jesus-ized Disneyland we’ve all been forming in our mind.

Lingering Questions:

  • What’s the deal with the eunuchs?
  • Can someone explain the part about the children? Why were they brought to him at all and what did he do to them and why were the disciples mad about it?
  • What did Jesus REALLY MEAN about “Kingdom of Heaven?” I don’t want the Sunday School answer. I want a cultural, historical, reasonable, logical answer. PLEASE!

Traditions and Commandments

1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”[a] 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word[b] of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Ohhhh BURNNNN! 

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides.[c] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Can I say it again? OH BURN! Jesus totally speaks to me. I can’t handle rules and traditions – not when there are serious issues that are often ignored. Yes, rules and traditions keep us safe and healthy – but what is more important? Health of the body or health of the heart and soul?

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.[e]

Okay, I love Jesus and I see where he is coming from, but he sure comes off as a crusty ass hole right here (sorry, J-dawg). Yes, it’s been made clear that he only came to save/handle the Jews. But then again, what about that centurion? He wasn’t Jewish, was he? But I love this woman who won’t give up, and it pays off. Perseverance, baby. Jesus is such a sucker for faith. Note to self: HAVE MORE FAITH! It pays off.

Jesus Heals Many

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

 

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

He does it again, folks!

The Death of John the Baptist

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,[a] 4 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

So both the Bible and Josephus give reasons for why Herod put John in jail. One was because John called Herod out on his incestuous marriage; another reason was that the old fear of the Jewish Messiah showing up and rebelling against him seized him with fear.

Quick side note: growing up, my parents always asked my brother and I what we learned in Sunday School after church. I was a serious goody-two-shoes and usually articulated not only what I learned, but what the teacher had gotten wrong. My brother, on the other hand, usually had one line replies that generally matched the little subtitles of a chapter: “Jesus fed the five thousand,” or “Jesus healed some people.”

For about a month one year, my brother came back every week saying “John the Baptist got his head cut off.” The first two weeks that happened, my parents nodded and moved on. But after the third and fourth time, my mom started to suspect something was up. I mean, who teaches third graders about John the Baptist getting his head cut off for over a month? After the fifth week, my mom called my brother’s Sunday School teacher and asked what as up. The answer? She HAD taught that lesson – five weeks ago. That was the last time my brother had come to Sunday School.

The sixth week my mom surreptitiously followed my brother after church to see where he was heading off to instead of Sunday School. Our church is located out in the country, and there is a separate building called The Annex where many of the children have Sunday School classes. My brother headed off to The Annex, as he should have. However, instead of going in, he walked to the soda machine that stood on the porch. He looked around, popped his offering money into the machine, retrieved a can of soda, and squeezed between the back of the machine and the outer wal of the building. He sat there nursing the soda in solitude until his friends came back outside forty minutes later.

On the way home, my mom asked my brother what he learned that day. “John the Baptist got his head cut off,” he replied, looking out the window. My mom confronted my brother, who quickly burst into tears. I guess he had been so traumatized by John getting his head cut off that he has resolved not to go back. My mom told him that John was in heaven now, and his Sunday School class hadn’t talked about John for over a month. My dad had to walk my brother to class the next week.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Even when Jesus is sad, he has space in his heart to take care of others. I want to be more like that.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[b] from the land,[c] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that my brother loved this story. I also did. I spent at least a few minutes every summer at church camp trying to summon the faith to walk on the water. I guess I failed. I want to tell you that I think the disciples are being stupid again, but if I was in a choppy sea in the middle of the night and a figure was coming toward me on the water, I think I’d flip out, too. I’m glad Jesus doesn’t yell at them for that – he’s pretty kind. It’s not until Peter loses his faith right there in front of Jesus that Jesus scolds him.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Jesus  is so cool.

The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears,[a] let him hear.”

Dang, I must not have ears. Did people talk like this back then? Let’s get a translation up in huurrr.

In each case the seed is the same but the receptivity of the soil is different. The parable makes plain that in this present age there will not be universal reception of divine truth. And if the decline of the numbers regarding fruitfulness has any significance, the effect of the Word weakens as this age waxes older (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; Rev. 3:14-19). (biblicist)

Some seeds represent people who hear the truth but can’t understand it; some represent people who get excited about the Gospel but give up on it when life gets hard; some represent people who would rather love the things of this world than the Gospel. Okay. That makes way more sense to me.

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

I don’t get it. They don’t understand him so he’s making it harder for them to understand?

The reason Jesus told the parables was to hide the truth from those with hard hearts who did not want to hear the truth and did not want Jesus as their Messiah. They were looking for a different type of Messiah. They wanted one who would come in and defeat their earthly enemies right then.

But while He was hiding the truth from the hard hearted, he was also revealing truth to those who had open hearts and were willing to accept the truth, even if it was not what they expected.

What did the prophets and righteous men not see nor hear that the disciples were hearing about and soon to see? (Matt 13:17) The interadvent age. In OT Israel there was the present age and the age to come. The age to come was the kingdom where the Messiah would rule. What the prophets and righteous men did not see or hear about was the church age. They only saw one coming of the Messiah in the OT. They didn’t see him coming to die the first time, and returning later to judge. (Isa 61:1-2)

What Jesus is doing is revealing truth about the interadvent age – the church age – a mystery form of the kingdom. Matt 13:12 says, “what they have shall be taken away…” What is it that they don’t have? Spiritual insight. What will be taken away? Their responsibility. Because they rejected Jesus, their responsibility to reach the world – bless the world would be taken from them and given to others – the church. (bible.org)

THANK YOU. Makes way more sense. I’m glad people have studied this to help the rest of us out.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it,the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.[b]22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word andunderstands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one casea hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Oh, NOW he tells me.

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds[c] among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants[d] of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

So humans, both good and bad, grow up on this earth together, and the bad might overtake some of the good, but the good that survive to the end will be saved…?

Jesus identifies the field as the world; the sower as Himself, the “Son of Man;” the enemy as the devil; the good seed as the “sons of the kingdom;” the tares as the “sons of the evil one;” the reapers as angels; and the time of harvest being the end of the age. This parable reveals that in this present age both “wheat” and “tares” are allowed to grow together (often to the untrained eye, indistinguishably). That is, believers and unbelievers will together progress and will not be separated until the end of the age. At that time the “wheat” is gathered into the barn and the “tares” bundled up and burned. (biblicist)

Yep, got it. I think.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

 Help?
However, this present age along with the professing church is permeated with false doctrine and unbelief manifested by various forms of wickedness and worldliness. The introduction of “leaven,” representing outward profession rather than true inward faith, actually makes the church appear much larger than what it actually is. (biblicist)
Ah, okay.
Prophecy and Parables

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:[e]   “I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

We covered this, I think.

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

A lot of people have used this explanation to “prove” the rapture. I am not convinced. I also have heard that the weeds represent unbelieving people, but this translation at least says they will take the sons of the evil one. Couldn’t that be any of the things that cause us to stumble and sin; whether that’s cynicism or just bring brought up in a part of the world where this information doesn’t show up or doesn’t compute…? I guess the truth is that I hate the idea of hell, especially considering that most of what I know about hell seems like far-reaching translations. I can understand Jesus wanting to remove anything bad from the earth before the new kingdom comes, but I don’t know how that would require punishing people who have never been able to understand God. It doesn’t seem loving at all. Anyway, my rant. I love Jesus, and I believe in him… but I don’t have to believe in a specific/popular depiction of hell.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These makes sense to me. Totally. When you find something that’s priceless, you will do anything to get it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I don’t know why, but this only makes me sad. It’s good for the people who were fortunate to find faith, but faith is so difficult for some people. I know lots of people that want to believe, but they can’t. How is that their fault? We are rational creatures, and if anything I see the church getting in between them and Jesus (I guess that’s possibly the blasphemy of the spirit?). But why should they be punished?

New and Old Treasures

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

I don’t really understand why they got so indignant. But again, if Jesus doesn’t find faith, he will not give it to them. I guess that might explain my bitterness from before – faith HAS to come before the works.  Hmmm…

The Pharisees seem like real d-bag. I can see how they are just trying to follow the rules – it was their role in society, after all. But dang if they don’t get in the way of all the goodness that seem to be the truth within the scriptures.

Matthew 12:6: Now, is Jesus saying A) “Chill out, D-bags, you’re missing the point!” or is he saying B) “You would be right, but it’s me your talking about. For others you are correct, but I’m the Messiah so everything looks different when I’m around.” What I mean is, was he saying that it’s always okay for people to feed themselves on the Sabbath, even if it seems to go against scripture, or was he saying that it’s not okay usually, but his presence makes it an exception?

Matthew 12:11 – Maybe that’s my answer – he was saying that sometimes you have to do something, but if it is to help someone or keep them healthy, it’s permissible.

I guess this video helps put things in perspective (even though it’s kind of crappy and cheesy): Jesus was doing some amazing things, and anyone whose head wasn’t buried in the sad could see that. But the pharisees – the very people who were supposed to understand the scriptures and God the most, as well as lead the people, were actually plotting a way to get rid of him. They were plotting murder!

Matthew 12:21 – YES! Finally a reference to the rest of us!! And isn’t that a proven prophesy? Way more gentiles follow Christianity than Jews have.

I have total respect for a logical and sound argument. Gotta love Jesus for calling them out on being ridiculous. Now, verse 32 threw me for a bit of a loop. What does this mean? I read a very interesting article here. It seems to make a lot of sense. Here is the 2 cent version:

The blasphemy against the activity of the spirit means to slander by hindering the work and the activity of the spirit.

and

tem 6 in the list above provides three possible translations for Matthew 12:32; no matter which one is used, all refer to speaking against the activity of the glorified Christ in his spiritual form, which takes place after his ascension and onward.  This shows the true meaning of, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” which is blasphemy against God, as He works thru Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ works thru his body of believers, the church.

On the other hand, Matthew 12:31 refers to blasphemy against the, “Spirit,” of God, committed by the Jewish spiritual leaders known as the Pharisees.  The “Holy Spirit” did not yet exist, as we recall from earlier in the study in John 7:39, which says the Holy Spirit was not given until after Jesus was glorified.  The Pharisees blasphemed against, “the Spirit,” of God, (Yahweh) as He healed the sick by performing miracles thru His son, Jesus the Messiah (i.e. – the man Christ).

I article talks about how we all sin – in great distress and pain, probably most people have told God how angry they are at him, or maybe sworn at him or dismissed him or any other thing you shouldn’t say or do when you’re talking to God. But those are all forgivable. This person write that it’s the act of actually plotting against or trying to undermine the work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. Which makes a lot of sense. (But then again, didn’t even Paul do that when he persecuted the Jews before Jesus came to him?)

I’ve always enjoyed the comparison about good and bad fruits. And verse 36 and 37 are good reminders to me. I have a bad habit of complaining about people when I’m alone with my husband or a close friend. My feeble defense is simply that there are things that people do that bother me, and I just want to bitch about those things to release some of my own personal bitterness. When I do, it’s not usually a character complaint – I know that I’m super flawed too. However, I need to knock it off.

The sign of Jonah is cool. Ha!

Okay, let’s talk about this unclean spirit. Does this strike anyone else as Jesus speaking in his parabolic way? When I was growing up we were taught about how if you do an exorcist on a demon-possessed person, but that person isn’t a Christian, it’s pointless because this verse says that seven more will come back.  Here are my issues with this: I’ve never met a demon-possessed person, if demon-possessed people are anything like those described as crazy evil in the New Testament. I’ve never been privy to any exorcisms or anything. And finally: this really does seem something more like Jesus speaking as in a parable, or saying something more like, “When you try to kick a bad habit but you aren’t committed to changing your life, it’s going to come back and be even worse.” That doesn’t seem like such a far off base interpretation, does it? It still fits with his threat to the current generation…

I always found the way Jesus treated his mom and brothers in this verse a little cruel, but I’m sure that I’m missing the point. It sort of seems like he’s posturing in front of his friends, too, but again, I know that’s not the point.

Lingering Questions:

  • Was Jesus saying that it’s okay to break the Sabbath to do certain things, or was he simply making a point that he was the one who fulfilled all the rules, so it was pointless to accuse him of breaking the rules because he made them?
  • Does anyone else have a different interpretation on blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
  • Didn’t Paul blaspheme the Holy Spirit by persecuting Christians before he became one? So was he forgiven?
  • What do you think about Jesus talking about seven spirits returning? Is my interpretation wrong?

Matthew 11

Posted on: February 9, 2012

Wait a second, why is John suddenly unsure? Wasn’t he the one who tried to refuse to baptize Jesus because he knew who he was? That’s confusing to me.

Verse 12: From the days of John the Baptist? So, like a couple of years ago? Until now?

Verse 17: Love it. Don’t we all know people who keep saying they need to see XYZ for them to believe something – then when it’s there, they still don’t respond?

Verse 19: Sure enough!

Verses 28-29: I’ve always found those last couple of verses very comforting.

Verse 30: Why is it that sometimes he’s all, “Following me is going to SUCK!” and then other times he’s like, “Being one of my followers is going to bring you so much comfort”?

Lingering Questions:

  • Did John the Baptist get hit on the head and lose his memory? Why did he seem to recognize Jesus before, and now suddenly be filled with doubt?

Matthew 10

Posted on: February 8, 2012

Matthew 10:5-6 – Jesus was so not interested in people outside the Jewish faith. At least, not yet. But I guess it was the Jewish religion and its prophesies the was here to fulfill. Everything he says to his disciples in this chapter are very interesting. Strict and important. I like how he basically says, you HAVE to have faith in me – don’t take a bag, don’t take an extra shirt, just go and tell people what I’ve told you. Don’t worry about what to say, because the Spirit will move through you. Don’t worry about getting hurt, because that isn’t important.

Matthew 10:22 was always taken out of context when I grew up. I was told that it meant that if you committed suicide, you would go to hell. That’s so off base.

Verse 27 gives me faith. Sometimes, as a Christian and a theist, you are praying and you become enlightened. You hear things in your heart. It’s supernatural, but you instantly doubt yourself, no matter how logical or reasonable what you believe you’ve heard is. I have a serious problem when people say “God told me XYZ,” because usually you can see right through what they are saying as bullshit. Like when I’ve heard girlfriends say, “God TOLD me that I was going to marry this guy.” Did he now? A) I think you want to marry him, and you want it so bad that it feels right, and you want people to support you. I’ve seen that happen a million times (and 999,999,999 times out of a million, they did not end up marrying that person), and B) Why would go tell you that? That doesn’t seem like something you need to know. Has God told you how many kids you’re going to have? Did he tell you what your job was going to be out of college? Did he tell you when you’re going to die? When I hear people tell me that God told them what’s going to happen, that doesn’t make sense to me, because God doesn’t decide what we’re going to do with our lives – we do. We decide to be good people or bad people every day. We make our life decisions based on various reasons; sometimes those decisions make our lives better and sometimes they make our lives worse.

Verse 31 – I’m worth more than many sparrows? OH THANK GOD. Not many horses or two houses or anything? Ha.

Verses 32-33 – That’s serious. What does acknowledge/deny mean? Just curious.

Verses 34-35 – Isn’t this the same situation that Jesus just talked about in regards to persecution coming? It sounds like there is no safe place.

Verse 37 – I really don’t know anyone who would say they love God MORE THAN their family – but I think the love we have for our families is different than the love we have for Jesus.

Lingering Questions:

  • What did he mean when he talked about acknowledging/denying him?
  • Persecution and people turning on each other… huh?