Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit

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?
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Matthew 3

Posted on: January 31, 2012

Enter John the Baptist! Someday I’ll tell you all about how John the Baptist caused my brother to hide behind a vintage soda machine for a month.

I have two thoughts about John the Baptist: 1) This guy is crazy and reminds me of the creepy people who used to come to my college campus, stand at every corner, and hold signs up saying we were going to hell if we didn’t repent, and 2) How did he become this powerful, radical person? He seems to be an outsider to the norm as far as whatever Judaism was at the time. Enough that people were coming out of the woodwork to see him. What’s his deal?

John was somewhat reclusive. Jesus once said: “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon” (Mt. 11:18). “Eating and drinking” stood for socializing. The prophet was not a party-goer. His ascetic life-style appeared almost demonic, like those possessed of evil spirits who apparently frequented the desolate areas (cf. Mk. 5:2-3). He did not seek out the multitudes; rather, somehow, he attracted them.

The citizenry of Jerusalem and all Judea went out unto him as he moved about in the Jordan Valley (Mt. 3:5; cf. 13; Jn. 1:28; 3:23). The imperfect tense verb, rendered “went out” (Mt. 3:5), suggests a stream of auditors gravitating to the rough prophet. His influence was phenomenal. Hundreds, if not thousands, were immersed by him. And his success was solely in the message he proclaimed.

The multitudes said that he performed no “sign,” though they regarded his message concerning Christ as true (Jn. 10:41). This passage appears to indicate that John did not perform demonstrative miracles, as Jesus and the apostles did (cf. Mt. 10:1ff). It is certainly the case, however, that his message was from God, and thus infallibly true. The power of John’s preaching, together with the void in Israel’s hearts, was a winning combination. (christiancourier)

I can’t get a firm answer on where John got his instructions or why he did what he did. But Jesus wanted John to baptism him.

Now, to me, baptism is a very Christian thing to do, but Christianity as we know it today wasn’t even a thing yet. John was a Jew, Jesus was Jewish, and Jews were waiting for the Messiah. So why was John baptizing at all?

Background in Jewish ritual

Main article: Mikvah

Although the term “baptism” is not used to describe the Jewish rituals, the purification rites in Jewish laws and tradition, called “Tvilah”, have some similarity to baptism, and the two have been linked. The “Tvilah” is the act of immersion in natural sourced water, called a “Mikvah”[80][81] In the Jewish Bibleand other Jewish texts, immersion in water for ritual purification was established for restoration to a condition of “ritual purity” in specific circumstances. For example, Jews who (according to the Law of Moses) became ritually defiled by contact with a corpse had to use the mikvah before being allowed to participate in the Holy Temple. Immersion is required for converts to Judaism as part of their conversion. Immersion in the mikvah represents a change in status in regards to purification, restoration, and qualification for full religious participation in the life of the community, ensuring that the cleansed person will not impose uncleanness on property or its owners (Num. 19 and Babylonian TalmudTractateChagigah, p. 12). This change of status by the mikvah could be obtained repeatedly, while Christian baptism, like circumcision, is, in the general view of Christians, unique and not repeatable.[82] (wikipedia)

So maybe John was putting a new spin on the Mikvah – he was cleansing people of their sins. Or maybe John was just doing the Mikvah, and then when Jesus showed up asking for it, that’s what started the whole thing?

Baptism has been part of Christianity from the start, as shown by the many mentions in the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles. Christians consider Jesus to have instituted the sacrament of baptism. How explicit Jesus’ intentions were and whether he envisioned a continuing, organized Church is a matter of dispute among scholars.[22] (wikipedia)

Later in Matt 2:11, the Holy Spirit is referenced again. And again, the Holy Spirit is a Christian thing – not Jewish, right?

Judaism

Main article: Holy Spirit (Judaism)

The term “holy spirit” only occurs three times in the Hebrew Bible. (Found once in Psalm 51:11 and twice in Isaiah 63:10,11) Although, the term “spirit” in the Hebrew Scriptures, in reference to “God’s spirit”, does occur more times. In JudaismGod is One, the idea of God as a duality or trinity amonggentiles may be Shituf (or “not purely monotheistic”). The term Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In some cases it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in others it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God.[16] The Rabbinic “Holy Spirit,” has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, “a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes” and not, as in mainstream Christianity, representative of “any metaphysical divisions in the Godhead.”[17] (wikipedia)

and also

Fire was often a symbol of wrath, and so linking the Holy Spirit with it superficially appears to clash with portrayals of this Spirit elsewhere in the New Testament as a gentle thing. Some translations avoid using the word fire due to this, but when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, it appeared that several of its texts make the connection between Holy Spirit and wrath, and so most scholars now see the wording here as original, and the other portrayals as misinterpreted. (wikipedia)

Matt 3: 15 – I think we already discussed that.

Matt 3:16 – What can I say, there seems to be no information affirming or refuting this from happening. It must simply come down to faith as to whether and how this happened. It is said that Luke is emphatic that something like a dove came down, while Matthew leaves things vague, and therefore perhaps something “dove-like” happened.