Friday, January 19, 2018

77 - No Grounds for Racial Discrimination

Oh, Those Samaritans

We need a bit of background to try to understand the feeling the Jews had for the Samaritans.

At the final captivity of Israel by Shalmaneser (of Assyria), we may conclude that the cities of Samaria were not merely partially, but wholly depopulated of their inhabitants in B.C. 721, and that they remained in this desolated state until, ... the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon ... and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the children of Israel, and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 2 Kings 17:24. Thus, the new Samaritans were Assyrians by birth or subjugation.[Smith's Bible Dictionary]

The picture seems to be that most of the men of Northern Israel had died in battle against Assyria and so the king of Assyria imported men from Babylon to repopulate Assyria's new conquest - Northern Israel. The offspring of the Babylonian men and Israelite women and some others were later known as the Samaritans.

Some were left in Samaria, mingled with the Samaritans, and became bitter enemies of the Jews. [Smith's Bible Dictionary]  These people are the "mixed race" whom the Jews, at Christ's time, hated.  For example, if they were going from Jerusalem to Nazareth some Jews would travel much further and cross the Jordan River twice rather than walk through the Samaritan territory.

Racial Slurs

He who is of God hears God's Words. Therefore you do not hear them because you are not of God.
Then the Jews answered and said to Him, Do we not say well that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?
Jesus answered, I do not have a demon, but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
John 8:47-49

It used to be common, in North America, if a person wanted to ridicule or demean someone, even a white person, they would call him a "niger".  It seems as if the Jews, in Christ's day, suffered from the same kind of narrow-mindedness. 

There was a situation in which the Jews accused Christ of being a Samaritan, even though obviously He was not.  In reply to that insult Christ said, I do not have a demon. John 8:49.  This answer shows just how deep that slur cut; being called a Samaritan was akin to being accused of being demon possessed.

The Good Samaritan

Christ's listeners probably also had a problem grasping Christ's story about a benevolent Samaritan.
Jesus said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothing and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 

And by coincidence a certain priest came down that way and seeing him, he passed by on the opposite side. 
And in the same way a Levite, also being at the place, coming and seeing him, he passed on the opposite side. 
But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came by him; and when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 
And coming to him, he bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and putting him on his own animal, he brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever you spend in addition, when I come back, I will repay you.'
So which of these three does it seem to you proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the bandits?"
And he said, "the one who showed mercy to him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." 
Luke 10:30-37

In answer to the question who is my neighbor? [Luke 10:29]  Christ told the story of The Good Samaritan.  Christ could just as easily have "designed" a man from Bethlehem, Hebron, or Bethel or anywhere else but He distinctly chose a good man from Samaria.  He wanted to show the Jews that their bias against the Samaritans was not fitting and that He personally did not have that antagonism toward them. 

Go and do likewise. Now, you go and do acts of kindness, just like the Samaritan did. He is of that race of people you hate without a reason.

Those Other People

Dr Luke tells another story in which "A Samaritan" was "the good guy".

And as He entered into a certain village, ten leprous men met Him, who stood afar off. 

And they lifted voice and said, Jesus, Master, pity us! 

And seeing them, He said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And it happened, as they went, that they were cleansed. 

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back and glorified God with a loud voice. 

And he fell down on his face at His feet, thanking Him. And he was a SamaritanLuke 17:12

he was a Samaritan.  Ten lepers were healed of their disease; nine of them legalistically followed the religious rules.  One, a Samaritan, broke the rules, returned to Christ and thanked Him for healing him.  Again, it was the one from the down-trodden race, that shone high above the others.

A Samaritan Woman

He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 
And it was necessary for Him to go through Samaria, 
Then He came to a city of Samaria, ... Jesus, therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus upon the well. It was about the sixth hour (12 noon).
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give me to drink.
... Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, How do you, being a Jew, ask a drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews do not associate with Samaritans. 
John 4:3-9 

When Christ left Southern Israel to go back to the area where He grew up He did not take the long way so that He could skirt around Samaria; He went directly through Samaria. If, for no other reason, it was to show His disciples that He did not have an unhealthy bias against the Samaritans. While Christ waited at Jacob's well His disciples went into town to buy some lunch. While they were gone a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. Christ talked to her and she was just as "floored" as any Jew would have been. She said How do you, being a Jew, ask a drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?

We, white skinned people, would do well to get rid of our superior attitudes.  To think of ourselves as being superior is part of our birthright.  It is only by following Christ's example of humility that we can shed that very inferior trait we have. 

These days there is a certain, very public, egotist who is in desperate need of an attitude transplant.  He can be changed only by having a direct encounter with the living Christ.  It has happened before to people who were almost as egotistic as that man is.  It would be fascinating to see what would happen if all the Christians in the USA would pray for a miracle, the miracle of rebirth, to happen in that man's life.

Friday, January 12, 2018

76 - Don't Mess with Evil Spirits

 And when they came to the crowd, a man approached Him, kneeling to Him, and saying, 
 "Lord, have pity on my son, for he is moonstruck and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.  
So I brought him to Your disciples, but they were not able to heal him."
Mat. 17:14-16

Casting Out Evil Spirits

Christ and three of His disciples had been up on a mountain; that is where the transfiguration happened. Now they were back with the crowd again and immediately Christ was under pressure to do some more healing. 
The difference was that this time, assumably, the other nine disciples had tried to cast an evil spirit out of a father's loved son. They were not able to. Christ said it was due to lack of faith. 
There are still some people who exorcise spirits but most us, if we tried it, would probably suffer the same fate as "The sons of Sceva" when they tried to cast out an evil spirit. the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I am acquainted with; but who are you?" Then the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped upon them, and having subdued them, prevailed against them, so that they fled from that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:15-16

he is moonstruck.  In place of moonstruck, some translations use the word lunatic.  The CEV uses the word epilepsy.  We know enough about epilepsy to understand that it could cause the victim to fall into water, fire, or anywhere else.  Before modern medicine developed, many kinds of sicknesses were attributed to Satan's activities.

O unfaithful and perverted (one of the meanings of perverted is "twisted out of shape") generation (generation can refer to a group of people, eg. a nation).
how long shall I be with you?  How long shall I bear with you?  This He said to His disciples.  I can't help but wonder what put-down He would have for His present-day Church; if we did take the time to listen. 

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out from him, and the boy was healed from that very hour.  Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?"  So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith like a mustard seed.  This is almost always said to have reference to the size of a mustard seed. Regardless of how small our faith is, if it is genuine, it is enough.

It seems that a better interpretation is this: if your faith grows like a mustard seed does and becomes a small tree that is enough faith. Christ was merely saying the same thing we can read on a hundred different blogs every day "If you don't give up you will succeed!" Of course, this isn't always true and it is only a "probably" statement.

Moving Mountains

you shall say to this mountain, 'Be moved from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible for you.  We have noticed before, Christ loved using "The Hyperbole".  He greatly exaggerated to make a point and this is totally acceptable in both, speaking and writing, and it has no relationship to telling a lie.

An example: Monday morning a woman complains about going back to work because she knows she has a "mountain" of emails to answer. We know exactly what she means.

I am glad that, in this case, Christ was not speaking literally.  Suppose anyone with enough faith would have moved Mt. Saint Helens, in Washington State, USA, before the 1980 eruption, say to about five miles south of Seattle, the number of deaths, because of the eruption, would have been many thousands rather than 57 as the record stands now. [from Wikipedia]  It is a good thing that people cannot move mountains.

However, this kind.  There are different kinds of evil spirits as we learn from Mat.12:45 Then he goes and takes along with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself.  Some cannot be exorcized except by prayer and fasting. 

However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Mat 17:21 There are many ancient manuscripts which do not include this verse in the Gospel of Matthew at all.   One manuscript that does include it leaves out the word "fasting". [Clarke]

Christ, at His transfiguration, was informed that He needed to go to Jerusalem and there meet His death; but Christ and His disciples were staying in Galilee. Christ waited in the province of Galilee until the Passover would be observed in Jerusalem. 

Jesus said to them, The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and on the third day He shall be raised. And they were exceedingly sorrowful.  Isn't it strange how, when humans hear a compliment and a put-down all they remember is the put-down?  When they hear good news and bad news all they remember is the bad news. 

Christ says the Jews will kill Him; He also says that on the third day He shall be raised. He may as well not have bothered saying that last part. The only thing the disciples heard was that He will be killed and, of course, they were exceedingly sorrowful.  Their friend and teacher will be unjustly killed!

Friday, January 5, 2018

75 - Moses, Elijah, and Christ

He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 
And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and glistening. 
And behold, two men were talking with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 
who appearing in glory were talking about His decease which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. 

But they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things they had seen. Luke 9:28-31,36

Three Disciples

Jesus took Peter, James, and John. 
  • that before Christ called these three were a group of fishermen 
  • that these three were Christ's first disciples.  
  • Some think that Christ took them along with Him on to the mountain because they were the three most likely to get into trouble, so He kept them close so He could keep a close eye on them.[Guzik]  
I have trouble believing that after three years of intense preparation to be rulers in Christ's kingdom His disciples would still need a chaperone.

The Change

while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, His clothing became white and glistening. Luke 9:29.  
Matthew wrote it like this: and He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Mat 17:2

Among those who believe that Christ is the second person of "The Godhead" are some who say that it was all that Christ could do to hide His divinity.  At times it just about shone through against His wishes. With the rays of glory and brightness which darted from his body through his clothes. [Gill]
This was not a new miracle, but the temporary pause of an ongoing miracle. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying His glory. [Guzik]

About these man-made ideas Barnes writes: The Scriptures should be taken just as they are, without any attempt to affix a meaning to them which the sacred writers did not intend. [Barnes]

So, if Jesus is God, how is it that only most of the time He could do what He wanted to do.  According to Guzik, this time He fell short of His intentions.

We might remind ourselves that when Moses descended the mountain after meeting with Jehovah his face also shone.  it happened as Moses was going down from the mountain of Sinai ... Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become luminous through His speaking with him.  Exodus 34:29. 

If the shinning of Christ's face and clothing prove that He is divine, simple logic would insist that Moses, therefore, is also God.

As we have been studying the life of Christ we have seen, and will continue to see, that Christ does not come across as being divine.  
  • Physically - He got tired and sleepy; He was the first one to fall asleep on the fishing boat. Mark 4:38                                                                      
  • Intellectually - He had limited knowledge and intelligence. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Mat. 24:36                                                                            
  • Socially - He got upset with His peers because they did not believe His mission was from God. O unfaithful and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear (put up) with you? Mat. 17:17.
Why do so many in the church insist that Christ is "God Himself" when the Bible clearly teaches that He had limitations, which we have been told, God does not have?

Why The Transfiguration

nd behold, two men were talking with Him, who were Moses and Elijah.

My thesis is that Christ's clothing became white because Moses and Elijah were being beamed down from a spaceship above them and that the light from the spaceship fell on Christ.

"To help us understand this picture better, let us take a short excursion into the realm of TV science fiction."
"If the crew of a spaceship needs to move a person from one place to another, that person can be ‘beamed up’ or ‘beamed down’. As the person being moved “dematerializes”, he becomes altogether bright. When that person ‘materializes’ again he loses his brightness. This, in science fiction, can be done without causing any harm to living cells. Does this really seem too wild to accept in real life? Remember, That which was impossible yesterday becomes possible today and tomorrow we will wonder why we ever thought it impossible." God Drives a Flying Saucer. (1969) Dione. Copied from:                      

Now, about 50 years later, a corollary to the preceding paragraph might sound something like this. It is therefore not surprising that the recent announcement that Chinese scientists teleported an object from the ground to a space satellite has engendered so much attention. Article headlines like "First object teleported to Earth's orbit" are pretty exciting. Taken literally, you could imagine not only visiting exotic locations across the globe in a blink of an eye, but also imagine an enormous advance in space technology.[]

"when Christ was transfigured, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias (Elijah) talking with him. Mat. 17:3.  These two witnesses stand before the God of the whole earth and they come to the New Jerusalem to preach; they have magnificent powers.  However, they must die again; the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will ... kill them. Rev. 11:7.  Just as surely they will be raised to life again; And after three days and a half, a spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet. Rev. 11:11."  For more about these two witnesses I suggest:           

The Purpose Of The Visit

two men were talking with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appearing in glory were talking about His decease which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

It sounds as if Moses and Elijah came to bring Christ the final instructions, and perhaps a lot of encouragement, concerning His last few months on earth and perhaps they verified to Him that He, indeed, must be crucified just outside the walls of Jerusalem.

His decease which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. One does not normally think of dying as an accomplishment, however, in Christ's case His death was a great accomplishment.  It is because Christ died that our sins can be forgiven and we can appear as righteous in Jehovah's eyes.

And as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should relate to no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man should rise from the dead. Mark 9:9.  Christ ordered them not to talk to anyone about what they had seen until after His resurrection.  

Luke tells us that they followed His command, But they kept silent and reported to no one in those days any of the things they had seen.