Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus

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.

I already know why. This article says it exactly.

Click on the image to go to the article.

I remember this article going viral a while back, but I didn’t read it – because based on the title, I knew exactly what the writer was going to say, and I already agreed with him. Then I read it yesterday.

Here are a couple of my favorite parts:

I’ve heard it, and I’ve heard it over, and over, and over again.

Hell, in the past (and to some degree in the present) I participated in it. I propagated it. I smugly took part in it. I’ll admit that.

And I did so under the blanketing term “Christian.” I did so believing that my actions were somehow justified because of my beliefs at the time. I did so, actually believing that such appointments were done out of… love.

and

“Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”

Then yesterday, a friend of mine posted this article, which is by the same author and is a follow up to the first article. It broke my heart, but it gave me hope.

I started crying and couldn’t stop for the longest time. I don’t know why I was crying exactly, just so many emotions came over me. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. I finally stopped and went and read your article once more only this time I tried to read it through my son’s eyes and the whole thing was so different than it was a couple hours before. By the time I finished I felt as big as an ant and I realized just how much hatred I have in my heart toward others.

You see, Mr. Pearce, you are right. It’s not about what other people do. It’s about whether or not we are loving them. Nothing else matters at all. And it took all of this for that to finally sink in.

Now, I posted both of these articles on my Facebook yesterday, and I actually made the original article viewable by all of my friends (I have some pretty strict privacy settings, because I don’t like doing a lot of debating on my wall with people who I know I won’t be able to see in person in over a year or more). But I have a lot of very conservative (both politically and religiously) friends from back home, and I really wanted them to see this article, because I actually used to think a lot like them. It took some pretty emotional encounters, just like it did for the woman in the second article, for me to start to see this issue from a different perspective. And looking back on that time, I still feel so sad that I used to think that my hatred and disgust for gay people was just my way of showing them God’s love. What a laugh! What a bunch of bull shit! Love gets very specific responses from people you are showing love to – the responses I got actually shined a mirror on my own heart. I saw heartbreak in the eyes of both friends and strangers; my heart was finally broken, too.

Anyway, I posted these articles because, although they aren’t the most well written articles on the subject, I think they both cover something important and something that is severely wrong with the modern American church: love is absolutely conditional. Which is about as far from what Jesus preached about as you can possibly get, I think.

If Jesus DOESN’T conjure up a feeling of love, then Jesus isn’t anything at all.

So if you follow Jesus, you should hope that the image you are sharing is one of love. If it isn’t, you have failed, and nobody will be interested in becoming a Christian. It seems simple, but somehow, it’s gotten totally warped. It’s been broken and crudely taped together and then repackaged as something completely different. Something heinous. Something blasphemous.

These articles articulate that pretty well. I hope you read them.

Anyway, since it was there for anyone to read, I got a response from a woman who I greatly admire. She is very godly and has always been someone whom I respect. However, the argument she had was a little disappointing. For one thing, I can only assume she didn’t even read the article, since her problems with it are pretty baseless if you have read it.

I question if this is a bit …one sided…why is it OK to lump all “christians” into one category? and how is the “lack of acceptance(tolerance)” described different than what the writer is doing to “christians” in this blog ? the writer wants to come off as tolerant of all…yet he is not tolerant of those who don’t believe like he does.(or maybe doesn’t LOOK like him…or act like him…or dress like him…or take care of their children like he does…etc)Its like saying “If you don’t accept the same things that I think are acceptab le, then YOU need to change” and when you do …then i’ll accept you because you’ve earned it. I know that there many people in the church today who are wonderful, loving , accepting people . not saying the “gist” of the blog is wrong…just saying that you can’t preach acceptance and not be accepting of those you don’t agree with

My short was response was as follows:

First, the article doesn’t lump all Christians into one category. The title does sound like that, but once you read the article, you find that it isn’t the case. Second, the theme of the article is that people of all religions are guilty of saying that they are doing something because of religious beliefs, but if their actions aren’t loving, then they are lying to themselves and only hurting people/giving people a negative view of their religion. It isn’t about tolerance or intolerance of beliefs, but the hypocrisy of people who say, “I’m a follower of Jesus! (or whoever)” but then they only show Jesus’ love to people who look or act like they do. The reason I love Jesus is because he loved EVERYONE, the outcasts and “sinners” of his day. So why are today’s Christians so selective about who they love?

I wanted to go on, but a comment on a FB status just isn’t enough room. Like I said, some of her arguments don’t make any sense if you’ve read the article. And then, of course, is the old fall-back apologetics argument I’ve heard my whole life from Christians.

“How can people say they are being ‘tolerant’ if they aren’t tolerant of me being intolerant?”

Now, I’m not even going to try to unravel that mindfuck right now, but bare with me. This article has NOTHING to do with telling people to be more tolerant. The author doesn’t say anything at all about what people should or shouldn’t believe. He simply says that IF you say you believe in Jesus (actually, he broadens it to any of the major religions, which are all based on a foundation of love and doing good to people from all walks of life), and IF you say you want to follow his example (which was loving everyone, without exception – except, you could probably argue, those people who wear religion on their sleeves but miss the point entirely), THEN you MUST love people, even when they don’t meet any of your expectations. If they are gay. If they are deadbeats. If they are homeless. If they are addicts. If they have stolen from you. If they have cheated on you. If they have a weird look about them, or if they pray to some other god, or no god, or they say they believe the same things that you do but they don’t act like it (that last one is where I fall short), THEN YOU HAVE TO LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

And, as the author says, if you’re not willing to do that, where do you get off saying you are a Christian at all?

That’s not about tolerance. That’s not about telling Christians they can’t believe this or that interpretation of the bible. That’s not about telling Christians anything; it’s only reminding them of exactly what it is they are proclaiming to believe in the first place. That’s simply calling a spade a spade.

But, just like the woman who wrote to the author in the second article, sometimes you can’t see a spade very well. Sometimes there is a plank in your eye that obscures your vision.

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.

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.”

The Triumphal Entry

21  Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,“Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me.If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt,[a] the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

I love how Matthew is kind of like a researcher. He’s documenting all of the things Jesus did and citing his sources for each prophesy. I have a couple of questions about that though: How did Matthew know the prophesies so well? He wasn’t really trained in these things. Also, when did he write this all down? It had to be some time after this all took place. How did he know Jesus’ origins so well? Did Jesus tell him? I think bible scholars say that Matthew wrote this like, 30-50 years after the fact. I’m not doubting that everything wasn’t seared into his brain, but it does make me wonder how he got all of this information written down so accurately.

Look at verse 11: This is the PROPHET. Did they see him as their Messiah? Or simply another prophet from God?

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12  And Jesus entered the temple[b] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them,“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 14  And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15  But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple,“Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them,“Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Dang, these guys just do NOT want to have an open mind about this, do they? Also, I only remember Jesus coming in like a badass and tossing everyone out – nobody tells the rest of the story about more healing and more prophesies being fulfilled.

Like this:

Okay, a couple things: 1) I always thought Jesus acted kind of like a psycho, but I guess that’s righteous indignation. 2) Is that Desmond from Lost?!

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18  In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19  And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

I  have a few thoughts on this one, too. Jesus, CHILL OUT! Man, no mercy for a sad little fig tree. Just kidding – but it is kind of funny, right? Also, there’s that faith thing again. Man, if there is ONE SINGLE THING that re-reading Matthew has taught me, it’s that more than anything Jesus asked for or responded to, it was FAITH.

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23  And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them,“Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Haha, Jesus knew they were cowards.

The Parable of the Two Sons

28  “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Hahaha BURN/ZING/OH SNAP. Man, Jesus was a smart ass.

The Parable of the Tenants

33  “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants[c] to the tenants to get his fruit. 35  And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36  Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves,‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;[d]
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”[e]

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

Wow, if I heard this, I think I would IMMEDIATELY tear my clothes and run to Jesus and ask him to forgive me and let me follow him. This also seems to indicate that Jesus recognized that the Jews weren’t ever going to fully get behind him, and so the Gentiles were the ones whom would receive the kingdom of God. Or is that me just reaching?