Friday, November 24, 2017

70 - Clean Dirty Hands

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 

Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 

For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands with their fist, holding the tradition of the elders. 

And coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. And there are many other things which they have received by tradition, like the washing of cups and pitchers, copper vessels and couches.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but they eat bread with unwashed hands?" 

And answering He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 

And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 

Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.

For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother';
But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift),
then you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or for his mother, 

thus nullifying the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down. Mark 7:1-13; 

You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean. 
It doesn't go into your heart, but into your stomach, and then out of your body." By saying this, Jesus meant that all foods were fit to eat. 
Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean. 
Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, 
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness. 
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God. Mark 7:18-23 CEV.


when they, the Pharisees, saw some of His (Christ's) disciples eat bread with ceremonially unclean, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.  It seems that finding fault was their most obvious talent.

When we think of the words unwashed hands we think of dirty hands and, of course, we would wash before we eat.  This, however, is not what the Pharisees were referring to.

For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. To wash your hands in a special way, you started by taking at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half egg shells. Then, you poured the water over your hands, starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. [Guzik]

they wash their hands with their fist, Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers. [Guzik]

holding the tradition of the elders.  They were overwhelmed with traditions and this is what bothered Christ about their religion.  Christ came to dispel cold religion and traditions. He said I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10.  

It is probably natural to think that the opposite of enjoying the abundant life Christ gives is being totally irreligious.  Isn't a religion weighed down by rules and traditions much more binding than no religion at all?  Not being bound by religious rules is more in line with Christ's attitude of freedom.

Of course, just because we reject religious, man-made, rules we do not reject the need for decency, honesty and obeying the laws laid down at the first church council meeting.  We looked at these in an earlier post:

1. to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols
2. and from blood, do not drink blood,
3. and from things strangled, do not eat meat with the blood still in it,
4. and from fornication. Acts 15:28-29; Acts 21:25.

Cancel the Traditions, Already!

Ceremonially, they wash their cups, pitchers, copper vessels and couches and coming from the marketplace, unless they bathe, they do not eat. We must not forget that this has nothing to do with making anything cleaner; it is just religious tradition.

Here are a few interesting side notes concerning the couches.

  1. These couches were not used for sleeping on.  They were the couches that, in Roman times, were used for leaning on while eating.
  2. These couches were too large to be completely submerged in water in any container that would normally be in a home.  Yet the word for wash, in this case, is the same word that is used for baptize.  They baptize their couches!
People who insist that baptism is valid only for those who have been completely immersed in water should have a problem with this verse.  If a couch can be baptised, and considered to be clean, without being completely immersed in water, why can't a Christian?

Christ could see right through their facade and said Isaiah was right when, speaking for Jehovah, he said This people honors Me with their lips.  You know all the right religious words to say; you know what kind of things to do to make people think you are really spiritual but your heart is far from Me.

Christ continued by saying, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men ... Well do you set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your tradition.  Here are a few quotes from Jewish teachers:

  • He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come  
  • It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself. 
  • If the scribes say our right hand is our left, and our left hand is our right, we are to believe them. 
  • There is more in the words of the scribes than the words of the law. [Guzik]

Example One

Christ then gives an example of what the Jews, His peers, had done.  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; this does not mean only to speak nicely to them, it also means to help them with whatever they need help with.

But you say, 'If a man says to his father or to his mother, "Whatever you might be profited by me is Corban"--' (that is, a gift).  In modern English: Your parents cannot fulfil their mortgage payment and they ask you for help but you say to them, Oh, I would love so much to help you but all the money in my bank account has been promised to God so I'm sorry I cannot help you.  Christ does not accept that vow as a good reason to break one of the ten commandments!

then you no longer allow (once you have made that vow to God you cannot undo it no matter how much your parents need your help and in that way you have nullified the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down.

Example Two

Christ gave His listeners another example.  He said You Jews are so fussy about what you eat and how it has been prepared You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean.  It simply passes through the body and becomes waste.

Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean.
Out of your heart come:
evil thoughts, 
vulgar deeds, 
unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, 
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God.

Friday, November 17, 2017

69 - Fat Hearts

And the disciples approached and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 

He answered and said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 

For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he shall be in abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: 'Hearing you shall hear and by no means understand, and seeing you shall see and by no means perceive. 

For the heart of this people has become dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn back, that I should heal them.' 

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear.
Mat 13:10-16.

Dull Hearted People

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more shall be given.  It is easy to read this as though God has called some to know the mysteries and others have not been given that opportunity.  However, that is not what is meant.   About the Jewish people, Isaiah said their eyes have they closed. 6:10. The choice is always the human's; they chose to live with their eyes and minds closed.  Christ's disciples, right from the start, were willing to accept His teachings and consequently to the disciples more shall be given.

but to them it has not been given.  In this case, He was probably speaking of the Pharisees because they were totally against the Messiah's doctrines.  The Pharisees are by no means the only people with closed minds; we run into this in any church setting; people who know their church's statement of faith will cling to it without ever studying what it actually means or why the creed designers chose the words they did; even what they have shall be taken away from them.

For the heart of this people has become dull (in place of dull the KJV has is waxed gross which means, to fatten (figuratively stupefy or render callous). [Strong G3975] and their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn back, that I should heal them. 

They purposely did not listen to any new doctrine brought by Christ; they closed their eyes to the truth; they did this because they were afraid they might change their minds and finally see the truth. The status quo is much more comfortable and easier than thinking and rearranging one's beliefs.  

Believe what you believe is right but not without studying what you say you believe.  If it is buried, I must search. The gold is not going to un-dig itself. [Focus on the Kingdom; Nov. 2017]  A simple look at church theology shows us that theologians have a knack for being wrong.  Why do you believe that your own pastor is doctrinally faultless?  Study the Bible to check out what he/she preaches.  If you do, Christ will say to you blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

A Change of Scene

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gadarenes. Mark 5:1 
And when He got out of the boat, immediately there met Him from the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs. 5:2-3
But seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran and worshipped Him,and crying out with a great voice he said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? 5:6-7
And he was imploring Him many times that He would not send them out of the region. 5:10-13
Then they began to implore Him to go away from their region. 5:17  

The Demon's Request

But seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran and worshipped Him, and crying out with a great voice he said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, (the name Jesus is omitted in many manuscripts), Son of the Most High God?

Demons know their place and they know that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God.  The demon did not like it that Christ came to his territory.  It sounds as if the demon is saying, I did not come to bother you in your country so why did you come to bother me in mine?

When Israel captured Palestine, after wandering in the desert for 40 years, half of the tribe of Jacob's grandson, Mannessah, took possession of the land East of the Sea of Galilee.  Later when the Assyrians conquered the northern tribes of Israel some of the Assyrians moved into that part where half the tribe of Mannessah had been at home. 

The Jews of that area had already left the worship of Jehovah in exchange for foreign gods but the arrival of the Gentiles made it official that they were a heathen nation.  The people of that area were called "The Gadarenes". 

We had that short look at history to set the stage.  Christ went across the Sea of Galilee into Gadara and immediately He met a demon-possessed man and he cast a demon out of that person.

However, it was not quite that straight-forward.  The demon requested Christ not to send him out of that country.   It seems strange that a demon would care where he lives.  It has been suggested that the demon felt more at home among the Gentiles than he would have in the land where people still worshipped Jehovah. 

We, North Americans, on the whole, have left off worshipping Jehovah.  We have no qualms with jesting about evil spirits; we love to watch movies about them; We think they are a joke.  That will change when the presence of God's spirit is even more diminished in our society than it is now.  The demons will feel at home and move right in and inhabit humans.

When we hear of those individuals who purposely slaughter as many people as possible it is hard not to believe that they are demon-possessed.

Then they began to implore Him to go away from their region.  When the people of Gadara heard that the man who had been demon possessed had been cured they came to see Jesus and while they were there they asked Him to leave their country.  People then, as well as people now, must either accept the teachings of Christ or they will feel very uncomfortable in His presence and they will tell Him to leave.

Friday, November 10, 2017

68 - The Wheat and the Darnel

Here is the parable of the wheat and tares as the masses heard it:

Another parable He set before them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man sowing good seed in his field.
But while the men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went away.
But when the stalk had sprouted and produced fruit, then the tares also appeared.
So the servants of the master of the house approached and said to him, 'Sir, was it not good seed you sowed in your field? From where then does it have tares?'
"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Do you wish then that we should go and gather them up?'
"But he said, 'No, lest gathering up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.
Leave both to grow together until the harvest; and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares, and bind them into bundles to burn them, but gather together the wheat into my barn. 
Mat 13:24-30.
See also Mat. 13:37-43.

The Wheat and the Darnel

Pale red is from Mat. 13:24-30; Dark red is from Mat. 13:37-43.

Here is the same parable as it was explained to the disciples:

The man in the parable is the Son of Man - Christ, our Redeemer. 
his field - is the world.  Bible scholars tend to limit this to the worldwide Church but Christ did not limit it like that.  He said that His field is the world.
good seed are the sons of the kingdom.  People who live righteous lives.
the tares are the sons of the evil one.  People who live unrighteous lives, or, as Christ said, those who work iniquity. 13:41 
the enemy - is the devil
the harvest is the end of the age
the servants - are the angels

Some Bible translations use the word darnel in place of tares.  Darnel is a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine. [Easton Bible Dictionary]

The Good Seed

One idea expressed is that at nighttime (spiritual drowsiness) when preachers and other Christians were sleeping God's enemy came and sowed tares (evil thoughts and lifestyles) into the hearts of the good people.  However, in opposition to that idea, Christ said, the tares are the sons of the evil one (evil people in the ranks of the Church).  Guzik writes, the seed represents the word and in the previous parable this was true, but in this parable Christ said, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom.

After the wheat had started to grow the tares also grew among the wheat. Some Christians noticed this and they said to their master Do you wish then that we should go and get those evil people out of our church? he said, 'No, lest gathering up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.

“A zeal for the extirpation (extirpate implies extinction of ... an idea or doctrine by destruction or removal of its means of propagation, [Webster] of heretics and wicked men,” said a pious Papist, “not regulated by these words of our blessed Savior, allows no time for the one (the not so spiritual brother or sister) to grow strong in goodness, or to the other to forsake their evil courses. They are of a spirit very opposite to his (Christ's), who care not if they root up the wheat, provided they can but gather up the tares.” The zeal which leads persons to persecute others for religious opinions is not less a seed of the devil than a bad opinion itself is. [Clarke]

This is happening continually to people, in the church community, who dare to express ideas or beliefs different than the "statement of faith" their church holds.  Some church members are much too eager to condemn and oust "those unbelievers".

False doctrines are against God - he alone is the judge and punisher of them - man has no right to interfere in this matter. They who burnt Vanini for atheism usurped the seat of judgment, and thus proved themselves to be not less a diabolical seed than the person they thus, without God’s leave, hurried into eternity. [Clarke]

A short note on the very interesting story of Vanini. ... in 1619, Italian freethinker Lucilio Vanini was adorned with a placard reading ‘Ateiste et blasphemateur du nom de Dieu’ (Atheist and blasphemer of the name of God) and taken to Toulouse’s Place du Salin where he had his blasphemous tongue cut out, then was strangled and burned at the stake.  The so-called Christians in the so-called "Christian church" were much more eager to insist on what they thought was doctrinally right than they were on showing Christian love to a fellow human being.  This man, according to his own writings, denied that he was an atheist.

To Thy Ownself Be True

Fortunately, for us, the church is no longer in control of civil laws or of what a person believes.  Because of what I have written in my blogs I have been "condemned to hell" numerous times already.  Not because what I write disagrees with what the Bible teaches but because it disagrees with their church's creed.

As applied to the kingdom community, this parable teaches us that it is not our job to sort the tares from the wheat. That is only done at the time of harvest. Among God’s people, there may be some who are not genuine Christians, but it is God’s job to sort out false professors.[Guzik]

Throughout our studies of the life of Christ we have seen, time and again, that Christ emphasised a person's manner of life above religious rules or beliefs.  He did not say, You will know whether or not they are Christians by how well they adhere to the church's "statement of faith".  He said, By their fruits, you shall know them.  

The New Testament makes it very clear that the end of this age will happen at the return of Christ.  That is the time of harvest when The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who work iniquity.    He did not say, All those who have not joined themselves to the Christian church.

Then the righteous (by their lifestyle you shall know them) will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  

Friday, November 3, 2017

67 - A Sower Went Out To Sow.

It is probably not right to assume that Christ preached all of "the sermon on the mount" in one setting. Matthew's paraphrase of it is much longer than Luke's is so it is logical that Matthew gathered more material from Christ's various sermons, than Luke did, and laced them together into what appears to be one continuous lecture.

Christ was an itinerant preacher and He preached wherever He went and no doubt He repeated the same thoughts many times because He continuously had a new audience.

The reason I repeated this now is to show that what was said about Christ's various sermons can probably also be said about His parables.  It seems unlikely that Christ would have given the same audience all eight "object lessons" at one sitting but it does make sense that Matthew gathered them together and put them as one segment in his writings just as, some say, he had done with the sermons.

Christ's Parables

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 

And great crowds were gathered together to Him, so that He got into the boat and sat; and the crowd stood on the shore. 
And He spoke to them many things in parables. Mat 13:1

Those of us who dare to Think Again repeatedly run into the likes of the following scenario.  

When Jesus taught from a boat, surely that was a new thing. We can imagine some critic saying, “You can’t do that! Teaching belongs in the synagogue or in some other appropriate place.” It would be easy to come up with objections: “The damp air might make people sick” or “There are a lot of mosquitoes down at the shore” or “Someone might drown.” [Guzik]

Whatever ideas we postulate that "rock the boat" are thoughtlessly condemned by others not because they do their own thinking but because of what they grew up believing.  About them Christ said For the heart of this people has become dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn back, that I should heal them. Mat 13:15.  They will not, or cannot, accept any new ideas. 

In studying parables one must always remember that not every detail that seems apparent needs to represent an important lesson.  Only those things that the speaker emphasizes are to be taken as having meaning.

The Sower and The Seed

Here is the parable of the sower as the masses heard it:

Behold, a sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seed fell alongside the road; and the birds came and devoured them. 
But others fell on the stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth. 
But when the sun rose, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. 
But others fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them out.
But others fell on good ground and it was yielding fruit: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 
He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Mat 13:3-9 

Here is the same parable as it was explained to the disciples:

According to this parable, there are at least three things that conspire against a preacher when he preaches the word of the kingdom:

1. some seed fell alongside the road - soil along the roadside has not been cultivated; it is hard and the seed just lies on top so the birds eat it.  This uncultivated roadside represents the people who will not dare do their own thinking.

In the spiritual sense: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand, then the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. 13:19.  If he has not taken the trouble to open The Book and think how can he possibly understand the lesson?  The evil one will make sure the message is removed from the heart.

2.  others fell on the stony ground but when the sun rose, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away - between the stones there might be some soil; possibly some seeds could survive for a little while but the soil is not deep enough to sustain them in times of drought.

In the spiritual sense: the seed sown on stony ground.  The stony ground is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. For when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. Mat 13:20-21.  He hears a new teaching, immediately snatches it up, does not do his own studying to prove its validity and when people ridicule him for what he believes he "ditches" the new teaching whether or not it was right.

3.  others fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them out.  Thistles have a way of choking out desired plants.  The thorns are those who have so many earthly "things on their plate" that they do not have the time to listen to the word.

In the spiritual sense: the seed sown in the thorns.  The thorn is he who hears the word, and the anxiety of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches chokes out the word, and it becomes fruitless. Mat 13:22 

Christ zeros in on two very prevalent, up to date, problems:
  • the anxiety of this age - it seems we would rather worry than trust.  We are much too wound up in temporal things.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.  
In this setting verse seven is almost always quoted by itself, and consequently, out of context.  Have you ever noticed that in most translations there is no period between verses 6 and 7?  With that punctuation change, the meaning changes from our anxiety should not be about temporal problems to our thrill should be on the fact that God will exalt us in due time.
  • The deceitfulness of riches chokes out the word, and it becomes fruitless. - Paul wrote it like this: For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some by aspiring have strayed away from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Tim. 6:10.  Can we even imagine that we will live godly, Christ pleasing lives if the word has been crowded out of our lives by temporal riches?

But the seed sown on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Mat. 13:23.  Christ did not intimate that all of us have to produce 100 fold (100 times as much).  Some of us have been blessed with only enough to produce 30 fold, but then, that much is expected from us. 

Christ tells us exactly what He means by those words - You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grape clusters from thorns, or figs from thistles? Thus every good tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree produces evil (ill, that is, diseased; but especially (morally) culpable) [Strong G4190], fruit. 

Consequently, by their fruits you shall know them.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Mat 7:16-21.

Friday, October 27, 2017

66 - Christ's Sorrow Over Lost Cities

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is similar to children who sit in the marketplaces and call to their playmates, 
and say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.' 
"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 
"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' And so wisdom is justified by her children." Mat 11:16 -19

Beliefs Are Not A Game

You grown-ups, my peers, are just like children at play when they pretend that they are at a wedding and they say, We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.  Then we put on a play in which we were at a funeral and we sang a dirge and We mourned to you but you didn't even pretend that you felt sad.

This is what I am saying, said Christ, John came and lived the lifestyle of a hermit and you complained about him and said He has a demon.  Then I, a son of Adam, came eating and drinking and you say, Look, a glutton and a drunkard.

wisdom is justified by her children.  Wisdom's children are the output of wisdom's activities and they will, in the end, be proven to be right.  No Christian's lifestyle will ever please all critics.  Some critics will never approve of any Christian's conduct.  However, after all is said and done, those who acted in wisdom will be vindicated; and Christ said by their actions, not by their words, you shall know them.

Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, Ninevah

Then He began to reproach the cities in which His very many miracles had been done, because they did not repent: 
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! Because if the miracles which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 
Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 
And you, Capernaum, the one having been exalted to heaven, you will be brought down to Hades; because if the miracles which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 
But I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." Mat 11:20-24.

A History Lesson

Woe to you - The word Woe carries the idea of sorrow rather than condemnation; A primary exclamation of grief. [Strong G3759]  Christ is not speaking to them as a judge but rather as an intercessor.

Christ compared some local "cities", where miracles had been performed, with other "cities" which did not have that advantage.  People are responsible to live and believe according to the light they have received.

1. Chorazin - the precise situation is unknown. [Barnes (deceased in 1870)]  Interestingly, time and archaeological research have changed that fact.  Chorazin is about 2.5 miles north of the Sea of Galilee ... on the hill are the ruins of 1st century Chorazin. [Retyped from Associates for Biblical Research]

According to Christ, many miracles were done in Chorazin.

2. Bethsaida - The home of Peter, Andrew and Philip [Easton Bible Dictionary].  A city near which Christ fed 5,000 and where the blind man had his sight restored.  The people in these cities had witnessed the power of Jehovah and had, in spite of that, rejected His chosen messenger.

Tyre - When visited by Christ Tyre was, perhaps, more populous than Jerusalem.  At the time of the crusades, it was still a flourishing city.  It was deserted by its inhabitants, in A.D. 1291. ... This was the turning-point in the history of Tyre, which has never recovered from the blow.  It is now known as a rock whereon fishers dry their nets. [Smith's Bible Dictionary]

Sidon - The Old Testament prophet, Joel, reproves Sidon and Tyre for selling children of Judah and Jerusalem to the Grecians, and threatens them with a like fate, Judah selling their sons and daughters to the Sabeans. [Fausset's Bible Dictionary]

It was in the region of Tyre and Sidon that Christ exorcised a demon from a pleading woman's daughter.  Perhaps Christ could contrast the region of Tyre and Sidon with Chorazin and Bethsaida because Tyre had a huge population and only one miracle is recorded for that area whereas the population of Chorazin and Bethsaida was much smaller and many more people had witnessed Christ's miracles and still they didn't believe.

It was in Nazareth that the Jewish leaders attempted to kill Christ by throwing Him over the cliff.  However, Christ did not mention it as one of the cities for which He felt sorrow.  This might indicate that He was not as interested in His own well being as He was in the eternal welfare of those who rejected His message.

3. Capernaum - It was the home of Christ when He was not out on the road preaching.

You, Capernaum, the one having been exalted to heaven.  As far as altitude goes Capernaum was lower than either Nazareth or Cana so, obviously, Christ was not speaking of physical altitude but, perhaps, rather spiritual blessings.  

you will be brought down to Hades.  We need to be careful that we do not confuse "Hades" with "the lake of Fire".  Hades or the place (state) of departed souls: - grave, hell. [Strong G86]   We also must not confuse "hell" with "the Lake of Fire".  The Revelation says Then Death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Rev 20:14.  Obviously, if "hades" or "hell" is thrown into the Lake of Fire "hades" or "hell" cannot be the same as the Lake of Fire  

Christ continued on: if the miracles which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.  From studying the Old Testament we learned that Sodom was destroyed because of its wicked lifestyle, but, Christ says, if they would have seen Jehovah's works as you, the people of Capernaum, have they would not have been destroyed and when judgement day comes they will not be judged as harshly as you will be judged. 

The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah.  The Ninevites heard Jonah preach repentance and they repented so they will be in a position to condemn the people of Capernaum because the people of Capernaum did not repent even though they heard the message from one who was greater than Jonah. Mat 12:41.

The queen of the South (the Queen of Sheba) shall rise up in the judgment with this generation (Christ's audience) and she shall condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; (she was looking for the truth from Solomon, and she found it) and behold, a greater than Solomon is here but you are not interested in knowing the truth. Mat 12:42  

she came from the ends of the earth.  Many Bible scholars believe that she was from Ethiopia.  Ethiopia is about 2500 Km (1500 miles) from Israel and the people back then called that the ends of the earth.  Today we drive further than that just to go on a vacation! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

65 - Peaceful Violence

A slight change of style: I have noticed that sometimes when I quote in blue, having the author's name after the quote can make it confusing. From now on I will try to always put the source, except Bible references, into [square brakets] to separate them from all other text.

We have now spent nine weeks on the Mount of Beatitudes listening to the greatest of all teachers. Now it is time to go back into the cities and put into practice the things that we have recently learned.

Christ's Message Was

The blind receive sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Mat 11:5

It is so easy to read into any text things that we think we should find there. Let's be careful and think about what we are actually reading.

Clarke zeros in on the phrase the poor have the gospel preached to them and he says what was this Gospel? Why, the glad tidings that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.  Because we can be so easily duped by repeatedly hearing the same thing it is hard to think of it any other way.

However, in a former post, we learned that Christ was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the death and resurrection of the Messiah; Jesus went about all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. 

The Greatest Ever Born

Assuredly I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Mat 11:11 

Here we have a few problems.

1.  Christ was born to a woman, is He not greater than John the Baptist?  I suppose it is possible to believe that since Christ made that statement He did not include himself among those He was speaking about.

Bible commentators seem to agree that John was the greatest because he was the one chosen to be the forerunner of the Messiah.  I find this to be a weak argument because it still does not exclude Christ from among all the others. 

2.  Yet, even though John was the greatest he was still less (of lower status) than the one who has the lowest status in the kingdom of heaven.  This is said to refer to the fact that John could never be born again (he died before Christ did and so could not believe in the death and resurrection of Christ) because he was still part of the Old Testament covenant.

Our preachers have repeatedly told us that only those who are born again will ever be in heaven.  Where does that leave poor John, the Baptist, or any Old Testament "saint" such as father Abraham or Moses the authoritarian?  

3. of all the prophets that have been in the world, since the beginning of it, Moses himself not excepted, there has not been raised up by God a greater prophet than John, the first administrator of baptism. [Gill (emphasis mine)]

baptism itself did not originate with Christians or, for that matter, with John. Jews practiced baptism as a traditional act of purification and the initiation of converts to Judaism long before the coming of the Messiah. [gotQuestions?org (emphasis mine)]

Non-Violent Violence

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men seize it. Mat 11:12  

From the time John started preaching and baptizing until Christ spoke these words (this has, by some, been estimated to be one year) people have pressed into the kingdom of heaven.  First people crowded around John and later around Christ just to hear the message of the kingdom.  

We need to realize that the word violence has nothing to do with violence as we understand the word.  This means to crowd oneself into. [Strong G970]  That is: to be eager, determined.  This is another way of saying, a person cannot be a half-hearted Christian.

By the kingdom of heaven in this verse is meant, the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel of peace; which fullness was not known till after Christ had been crucified, and had risen from the dead. Now the least in this kingdom, the meanest preacher of a crucified, risen, and glorified Savior, was greater than John, who was not permitted to live to see the plenitude of Gospel grace, in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. [Clarke]

Think Outside the Box

And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah, the one who is about to come. Mat 11:14

Our English equivalent of if you are willing to receive it is here is a new way of looking at something that you believe to be true.  The Jews, back then, believed that the real Elijah (in Greek Elias) would actually come back.  Christ said, Think again!  Do not follow your preacher's or priest's teaching without doing your own thinking; are you are willing to receive the truth?

Luke seems to have understood the concept that the actual Elijah was not coming back as the forerunner of Christ. When commenting on the coming of John the Baptist he said And he (John) himself will go before Him (Christ) in the spirit and power of Elijah (not in the body of Elijah). Luke 1:17

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Mat 11:15 is A kind of proverbial expression; requiring the deepest attention to what is spoken. [Wesley].  It is as if Christ is saying, Since you can't believe what your forefathers have taught you, think outside the box and pay attention.  

1.  From your childhood, till now, you have believed that Christ was crucified on Friday.   so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. John 12:40; Mat. 12:40.  How is it possible that Christ could have been put into the grave on a Friday evening, spend three days and three nights in the grave and arise on a Sunday morning.  Think it through it is illogical.  See:           

2.  From your childhood, till now, you have believed that Christ is the second person of the Trinity.  Don't believe everything your preacher tells you; Study it for yourself - that doctrine is unbiblical.  See: