Friday, June 23, 2017

48 - Tax Collectors and Sinners

   Again he went out beside the sea; and all the crowd kept coming to him, and he began to teach them. 
   But as he was passing along, he caught sight of Leʹvi the [son] of Al·phaeʹus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: “Be my follower.” And rising up he followed him.
   Later he happened to be reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many of them and they began following him. 
   But the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, began saying to his disciples: “Does he eat with the tax collectors and sinners?” 
   Upon hearing this Jesus said to them: “Those who are strong do not need a physician, but those who are ill do. I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.” Mark 2:13-17 NW

The Tax and Toll Collector

It seems that Christ was an outdoorsman; when possible He was out in the wilderness, or walking along the seashore, or teaching as He was walking along the road with His friends or even strangers.

The tax collector's office, very conveniently, was standing on the sea shore and the tax collector was also the man who sold the tickets to take a boat across Galilee. 

This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. It(s) surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet.

We know that Christ already had four distinct followers. Namely, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John.  Now He met a man who was not in the same category as the first disciples.  Mark and Luke call him Levi but the Gospel of Matthew calls him by the more familiar name, Matthew.  This is the same Matthew that later wrote the Gospel of Matthew.

The fishermen could be supposed to have been hard working, honest men but Matthew was a tax collector.  Back then, in the Roman culture, the tax collectors were known to be shysters.  Many of them would collect as much from the public as they could get away with and then probably give to the government as little as they absolutely had to.

Christ called him to follow And rising up he followed him.  Upon meeting Christ, Matthew became a different man.  He left his "shady" job.  After that, he invited Christ and His disciples to his home for a meal and many of Matthew's tax collecting friends and other sinners also came to enjoy the feast.

This great feast very likely was made some time after his call, though recorded here; for it is not reasonable to think there could be time enough that day to get ready so great a feast. 

Levi, it should seem, was a rich man else how could he afford to feed so many people?  Can't help but wonder if, in his case, his riches were ill-gotten. Gill.

The NW writes the scribes of the Pharisees.  This statement at least makes sense but unfortunately, it is not like that in the Greek text.  In Greek, it is this way, the scribes and the Pharisees.

Many translations have And there was a great company of tax-collectors and of others who were reclining with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against His disciples. Luke 5:29-30 MKJ.  It sounds as if the tax-collectors and sinners have their own scribes.  

Not the Scribes of the publicans and sinners that sat down, but the Scribes of the people in general; the Scribes of the Jewish nation: all the eastern versions leave out the word "their" so that it would read But scribes and pharisee's murmured. Gill

when they saw he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors.  To keep the scribes happy Christ could have foregone eating with the sinners and tax collectors and stood at the end of the room and preached while the meal was going on.  Really though, is there a better way to break down barriers than to eat together? 

The scribes asked Christ's disciples does your master really stoop down so far as to eat with such lowlife?  

Upon hearing this Jesus said.  Maybe Christ overheard the scribes whispering to the disciples.  Or perhaps, the meaning here is that the disciples told Christ what the scribes were upset about.

I can picture the following rebuttal. Upon hearing this Jesus sarcastically said to them: “Those of you who are morally strong do not need a physician, but those who are ill do.  Just look at these people I am eating with.  If they hear Me, maybe they will change their lifestyle, but you are so much better than they are.  You will probably never see your need to change because you were "brought up" in a synagogue.

I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.” Mark 2:17.  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.1 Timothy 1:15.  The church is the only group in the world where you have to be unqualified before you can join. Guzik

Matthew is the only one to include the following statement in this story.  Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, 'Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.  Mat. 9:13  CEV.   Or, in other words, You are overly strict about following all the man made rules you have been taught since childhood.  Why don't you spend some time providing food for the hungry, or visiting the lonely; then you will be following the Scriptures.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

47 - A Paralyzed Young Man

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

   And getting into the boat, He crossed over and went into His own city. Mat. 9:1 

   And He entered again into Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in a certain house. 
   And immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no longer any room, not even near the door. And He was speaking the word to them. 
   And they came to Him, bringing a paralytic being carried by four men.
   And not being able to get near Him because of the crowd, they removed the tiles from the roof where He was, and having dug through they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. 

   And Jesus, seeing their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins have been forgiven you." 
   And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,
  Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who is able to forgive sins except God alone?" 

   And immediately, when Jesus recognized in His spirit that they were reasoning thus among themselves, He said to them, "Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts? 

   Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins have been forgiven,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? 

    But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins"--He said to the paralytic, 
   “I say to you, arise, and take up your bed, and go to your house."
   And immediately he arose, and taking his bed, he went out before them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!" Mark 2:1-12

Getting Medical Attention 

As was said earlier, not all the synoptic gospels have the stories arranged in the same order.  This is just the same as any modern storytellers will not always repeat all their stories in the same order.  This is not a problem while studying the Gospels except that it can become confusing when trying to keep the continuity going.

According to the Gospel of Matthew Christ had just cast out demons in the country of the Gadarenes but the people there did not want Christ to stay in their area so He getting into the boat, He crossed over and went into His own city. Mat. 9:1.  We recall that when Jesus left His home, in Nazareth He moved into Capernaum; this is where we find Him now, in  His own city.

It was in Capernaum that Christ had cast a demon out of a man in the synagogue.  The fame of that act must have spread all over town and the countryside. A few days after Christ returned to His home town many were gathered together, (they came to hear Him preach) so that there was no longer any room, not even near the door. And He was speaking the word to them. 

After the house had become totally crowded four men brought a paralysed man to be healed by Christ.  Because they could not get through the crowd, they hoisted the man, sleeping mat and all, onto the roof.

Here is one theory: Now, in these roofs, there was a door, ... "the door of the roofs"; now when they had brought up the sick man to the roof of the house, by a ladder fastened on the outside, which was common; they took up this door, and let him down in his bed into the room where Jesus was: and because they wrenched the roof door open with violence, therefore it is said, ... and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. Gill

Dr Luke disagrees with Mr Gill.  He writes, And not finding a way by which they might bring him in through the crowd, going up on the housetop, they let him down through the tiles with his cot into the midst, before Jesus. Luke 5:19 

Here is a different theory: Because of the crowd four men bearing a litter might well despair about entering the house.  But with palsied paralysis at stake, they would not be repulsed. They gained the roof by an outer staircase.  Then they uncovered and broke up the roof, by which strong phrases St. Mark means that they first lifted the tiles which lay in a bed of mortar or mud, broke through this, and then tore up the poles and light rafters by which all this covering was supported. Then they lowered the sick man upon his pallet, in front of the Master as He taught. Expositors Bible Commentary

And Jesus, seeing their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Child, your sins have been forgiven you." Mark 2:5.   The argument is made that since Christ forgave the patient his sins Christ must be divine because Who is able to forgive sins except God alone?"  The Jews and the "church" both believe that to be true. 

the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins.   This authority was given to Christ by the Father.  For as the Father has life in Himself, so He ... has given Him (Christ) authority to execute judgment. John 5:26-27.   

We must be careful that we do not read the word judgment as condemnation.  The Greek word is kree'-sis (Subjectively or objectively, for or against); by extension a tribunal; by implication justice. Strong G2920.  It means "a fair judgment" - leading to punishment or forgiveness.  In this case, Christ decided to forgive; the choice was His.

Those who use this story to validate the divinity of Christ seem to overlook this one important point.  The authority was given to Christ by The Father, therefore, the Father must be superior to the Son and so Christ cannot be an equal with God; or as the church loves to say, Christ is God of very God.  If the two were equal one would not be giving authority to the other!

Then Christ said, Just to prove to you teachers of the Law that I have the authority to forgive sins I will heal this paralytic.  And He did.

Friday, June 9, 2017

46 - Death By Degrees

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

And He proclaimed in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons. 
   And a leper came to Him, begging Him and kneeling down to Him, and saying to Him, If You will, You can make me clean. 
   And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I will; be clean! 
   And He having spoken, the leprosy instantly departed from him and he was cleansed. 
   And He strictly charged him and immediately sent him away, 
   and He said to him, See that you say nothing to anyone. But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer those things which Moses commanded for your cleansing, for a testimony to them. 
   But going out, he began to proclaim it very much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was outside in deserted places. And they came to Him from every quarter. Mark 1:39-45
   And Jesus said to him, See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest. And offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them. Mat. 8:4

The Curse of Leprosy

After Christ left Capernaum where He had cast a demon out of the man in the synagogue He went throughout Galilee and preached in various synagogues. Remember preaching, not healing or casting out demons, was Christ's main calling.

However, a certain leper came to Him, begging Him and kneeling down to Him. Mark 1:40  We well might imagine that he knelt to show his humility.  No doubt, as a leper he was humble.  He was scorned by all in his community.  The Jews believed that a person would get leprosy only as punishment for sins committed. 
The story is told of a Jewish rabbi who was walking down the street to buy some eggs but when he saw a leper on the same street he refused to buy eggs from anyone on that street.  Perhaps the rabbi thought he was too holy to deal with anyone who had a leper walking their streets.
The account in Matthew indicates that his purpose for kneeling was to worship; a leper came and worshipped him. Mat. 8:2.  However, the word worship, as it is used here, has a variety of meanings.  It can mean as little as to fawn or crouch too. Strong G4352

Leprosy begins as small, red spots on the skin. Before too long the spots get bigger, and start to turn white, with sort of a shiny, or scaly appearance. Pretty soon the spots spread over your whole body and your hair begins to fall out - first from your head, then even from your eyebrows. As things get worse, your finger nails and toenails get sort of loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of your fingers and toes begin to rot, and they start to fall off, piece by piece. Your gums start shrinking, and they can’t hold your teeth anymore, so you lose each of them. It keeps eating away at your face until literally your nose, your palate, and even your eyes rot - and you waste away until you die. Guzik

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him.  No doubt Jesus could have healed him by simply saying the words but He knew how lonely this man must be.  Luke tells us that there was a man full of leprosy.  This statement tells us that he was not recently diagnosed with the disease; he had been sick a long, long time.  Once it was known that he had leprosy no one would touch him anymore.  

Lucado@ writes a very emotional, imaginary story about this man and his contact with the Saviour.  Here are two snippets from that story.  

Five years ago my wife stepped toward me.  She was the last to do so.  Now, he did.  I did not move, I just spoke.  "Lord, you can heal me if you will."  Had he healed me with a word, I would have been thrilled.  Had he cured me with a prayer, I would have rejoiced.  But he wasn't satisfied with speaking to me.  He touched me.  Five years ago my wife had touched me.  No one had touched me since.  Until today. ...
He cupped his hands on my cheeks and drew me so near I could feel the warmth of his breath and see the wetness in his eyes."

Our society has taught us that it is "not proper" to touch?  Would we put our arms around an unkempt homeless man?  Jesus Christ knew the value of the human touch.  

Jesus said to him, See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest. Mat 8:4.  This was required according to the law of Moses. 

 And so that is where I am going.  I will show myself to my priest and embrace him.  I will show myself to my wife and embrace her.  I will pick up my daughter and I will embrace her.  And I will never forget the one who dared to touch me. He could have healed me with a word.  But he wanted to do more than heal me. He wanted to honour me, to validate me, to christen me.  Imagine that ... unworthy of the touch of a man, yet worthy of the touch of God.  

Christ said to the man He had healed, See that you say nothing to anyone. But the man was so excited, and who wouldn't be, that he disobeyed Christ and he began to proclaim it very much.  Wasn't he speaking well of Christ, was Christ not being glorified?  So often we think we know what is best and so we do not follow instructions.

Because this healed man disobeyed Christ Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was outside in deserted places.  No doubt everyone in the city would have clamoured to be healed.  Christ's mission was not to heal but to preach the gospel of the kingdom.

   Max Lucado, Just like Jesus, copyright 1998, p.35

Friday, June 2, 2017

45 - Two Boats Full of Fish

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

   And it happened that the crowd pressed on Him to hear the Word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret
   And He saw two boats standing by the lake. But the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 
  And He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, He asked him to thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people out of the boat. 
   And as He stopped speaking, He said to Simon, Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a haul. 
   And answering, Simon said to Him, Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing. Yet at Your word I will let down the net. 
   And doing this, they enclosed a great multitude of fish. And their net was being torn. 
   And they signaled the partners, those in the other boat, to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they were sinking. 
   And seeing, Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord. 
   For he and all who were with him were astonished at the haul of fish which they had taken, 
  and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not fear, from now on you will be taking men alive. 
  And bringing their boats onto land, forsaking all things, they followed Him. Luke 5:1-11

The Setting

the lake of Gennesaret is more commonly known as The Sea of Galilee. 
He entered into a boat, and passed over, and came to His own city. Mat 9:1 After Christ moved from His home in Nazareth He made His home in the town of Capernium which stood on the North Western shore of The Sea of Galilee.

Christ had been preaching and the crowd got so intense that they pushed against Him, or maybe were pushed against Him.  To avoid the pressure He stepped into Simon's boat but He kept on preaching.  

Many people have found fault with Christ for not healing all the sick or all the demon possessed which He met but Christ's main mission was to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.  It was not to heal the sick or to cast out demons.  He stayed true to His calling!

When Christ was finished preaching He told Simon to row the boat to the deep part of the Lake and lower the nets.  Simon objected and said, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing.  But because you say so we will do it again.

Well they caught so many fish that the nets broke from the weight.  They called their partners, James and John and they came to help and both boats were full of fish to the point of sinking.

The term And seeing is easier to understand like this When Simon Peter saw this happen. CEV

The Human Messiah

Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus, I can just imagine that most of us would have said, We sure did good this time, didn't we?  While we are trying to take as much credit for ourselves as is possible.

Bible teachers who are hung up on the idea that God is a trinity often find that teaching even in places where the Bible just barely hints at it.  Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.   

Trinitarian Bible teachers tell us that the word Lord, as it is used here means the second person of the trinity, or, put in more dramatic words, God of very God.  Why don't they consider this fact?  The word Lord as it is used here is from the Greek "kurios" Strong 2962.  One of the meanings of the word Kurios is Mr. - used with respect; another meaning is master

The Trinity doctrine is a false teaching, a lie, that originates with ancient BABYLON and EGYPT and ASSYRIA where they worshipped triads of deities, trinities, for example, Sin + Shamash + Ishtar; Osiris + Isis + Horus; Anu + Bel + Ea.

The Greeks picked up on this idea with their myriads of gods and the Roman Catholic church, in an effort to get more converts to Christianity, allowed the Greek converts to hold on to their belief in multiple gods. However, the church re-shaped the Greek philosophy to fit into the idea that Jehovah is actually three persons.

That the Roman Universal Church fostered that teaching is perhaps not too surprising because they hold tradition to be superior to the Bible but what is so disgusting is that Protestants, who say they base all their teachings on the Bible, still preach the doctrine of the trinity.

For he (Simon) and all who were with him were astonished at the haul of fish which they had taken, and so also were James and John ... who were partners with Simon.  That they were astonished that they had two boats full of fish is understandable but it does not prove that Christ is divine as some commentators tell us.

Friday, May 26, 2017

44 - Pope Peter: The Married Pope

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

   And rising up from the synagogue, He entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was being seized with a great fever.  And they asked Him for her. 
   And standing over her, He rebuked the fever. And it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. 
   And the sun sinking, all, as many as had sick ones with different kinds of diseases brought them to Him. And laying hands on each of them, He healed them. 
   And also demons came out of many, crying out and saying, You are the Christ, the Son of God! And rebuking them, He did not allow them to speak; for they knew Him to be the Christ. 
   And day coming on, going out, He went into a deserted place. And the crowds looked for Him and came to Him, and held Him fast, not to pass away from them. 
   And He said to them, I must proclaim the gospel, the kingdom of God, to other cities, because I was sent on this mission. 
   And He proclaimed in the synagogues of GalileeLuke 4:38-44 

It should be noted that not all three synoptic gospels record the same events in the same sequence and at places this can cause some confusion.  However, as far as I can tell these differences do not cause any major changes in the truths that are taught.

The Married Pope

Especial interest attaches to the mention of the mother-in-law of Peter, as proving that Jesus chose a married man to be an apostle, the very apostle from whom the celibate ministry of Rome professes to have received the keys. EBC 

Even if one believes that the church is to have a human leader (pope), which is a teaching the Bible opposes, the teaching that that leader (pope) should not be married is in direct opposition to the teaching of the Bible.  It is totally ironic that the Roman Catholic church chose Peter, a married man, to be the first pope of the church.  

For more on the leadership in the church see:

After Christ had spoken in the synagogue He and His four disciples went directly to Simon's and Andrew's house.  

And they asked Him for her.  This could mean that she wanted to ask Christ to heal her but she was not feeling "up to it" so the sons-in-law ask Him.  

Some versions have, they asked Him concerning her.  However, if this is the right wording it seems that it should have been asked after Christ had seen the patient, not before, as we have it in the book of Luke.

I wonder if Simon asked Christ to come to his house because his wife's mother was sick.  As soon as they arrived at Simon's home they told Christ about his wife's mother's sickness; probably a local fever for which that lake shore was notorious, and which was bred from the malaria of the marsh. EBC

Simon had never seen Christ heal anyone and maybe he was thinking, Well if this man can cast out demons maybe He can also heal the sick?  I will just find out for myself.

Not only did Christ heal her but she felt "as good as new".  Immediately after the healing she arose and served them.  

Dr. Luke

Luke was a medical doctor and it is interesting that of all three writers of the synoptic gospels he is the only one that mentions;
  1. Simon's mother-in-law was seized with a great fever.
  2. Christ was standing over her bed, as a doctor would.
Here are a few ideas about the involvement an apostle's wife might have had in her husband's ministry:

When St. Paul’s apostolic authority was impugned (assailed by words), he insisted that he had the same right to bring with him in his travels a believing wife, which Peter exercised.  Have we not power, (Privilege, Strong G1849) to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 1 Cor. 9:5  (Read Cephas as Peter or Simon).

And Clement of Alexandria tells us that Peter’s wife acted as his coadjutor (a co-worker), ministering to women in their own homes, by which means the gospel of Christ penetrated without scandal the privacy of women’s apartments.

It is interesting that Christ healed the mother-in-law on the Sabbath but He did not heal the crowds of the sick until after sunset. On the Jewish calendar, Shabbat ends at nightfall, when three stars are visible, approximately 40 minutes after sunset and the first day of the week begins. Wikipedia, Judaism 101

It is sad that so often religious rules stand in the way of human welfare.  Christ had been in Peter's house ever since "church was out" but no sick people were brought to Christ for healing before sunset.  

This might have been either because the distance was further than "a Sabbath day's walk" or because carrying a sick person was more weight than was allowed to be carried on the Sabbath.  

Cold religion can be so unfeeling, murderous even, as we see in the history of the church.  Fortunately many Christians have stepped outside the restraining church walls and have become involved in humanitarian agencies instead.

as many as had sick ones with different kinds of diseases brought them to Him. And laying hands on each of them, He healed them.  

also demons came out of many, crying out and saying, You are the Christ, the Son of God! And rebuking them, He did not allow them to speak; for they knew Him to be the Christ.  One thing Christ did not need is some demons going about associating themselves with the Son of God.  It might have spread Christ's fame, with negative consequences, but He was not looking for fame; His mission was to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Christ had been working miracles ever since sunset and now after a little bit of sleep rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there. Mark 1:35 

the crowds ... came to Him, and held Him fast, not to pass away from them.  They tried to hang on to Him but He made it clear to them that His mission was to proclaim the gospel, the kingdom of God, to other cities also. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

43 - Christ's Ministry Branches Out


   And walking along beside the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 
   And Jesus said to them, Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men.  
   And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 
  And when He going farther from there a little, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 
   And immediately He called them. 
  And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after Him. Mark 1:16-20

The First Four Disciples 

Matthew and Mark both tell about the choosing of the first four disciples and according to them, it happened before Christ, for the first time, cast out a demon.  Christ did not choose "nose in the air", pompous, known for their riches men;  He chose the common working man to start with; four fishermen - two sets of brothers; namely, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John.

Many great men look down on the “common” people, but Jesus never did. He was not like British playwright George Bernard Shaw, who said: “I have never had any feeling for the working classes, except a desire to abolish them, and replace them with sensible people.”

Luke makes a scant reference to the choosing of the first four disciples.  He simply writes And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. Luke 5:10-11

An Amazing Message 

Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mar 1:14-15  

And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone! What is to us and to You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know You, who You are, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet and come out of him! And when the demon had thrown him into the midst, he came out of him, not harming him. And they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out. Luke 4:31-35

It was Christ's style to go to the synagogue on Saturdays and preach.  Of course, He preached only from the Old Testament because the New Testament had not yet been written.

The method in the synagogue is different than it is in our churches where we have only one sermon in a service.  In the synagogue, the presiding elder, after reading the Scriptures, invited anyone who chose to address the people. ... we find him (Christ) often availing himself of this privilege, and delivering his doctrines to the Jews. Barnes. The people were astonished at his message and His style.

If His preaching astonished them just imagine how they felt after the next incident.

in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon.  Bible commentaries agree that at times this man must have been lucid because if he wasn't he would not have been allowed to enter the synagogue.  So while he was in the synagogue the demon, using the man's voice cried out

Here is an interesting note about being demon possessed.  In describing the man who is demon possessed, Mark uses the same grammar Paul used to describe the Christian’s being “in Christ” (But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, 1Co_1:30). This unclean spirit was the evil “lord” of this poor man’s life.

i. The similarity in the wording between the Christian having Jesus and this man having a demon demonstrates that He is in us, we are in Him. We are “Jesus possessed” in the right sense, because His filling and influence is only for good.

ii. Even as Jesus can live in us, so one uninhabited by Jesus can be inhabited by a demon if the invitation is extended, either consciously or unconsciously. Exposure to things such as spiritism, astrology, occult practices and drugs are dangerous. They open doors to the demonic which are better left closed.

The demon ... cried out ... Let us alone!  The demon spoke in the plural; he did not want himself and other demons to be cast out of their hosts. 

The phrase Let us alone is absent in many translations.

What is to us and to You.  Very few translations use this confusing term.  Much more common are words with this meaning; Ah! what have we to do with thee?

Have You come to destroy us?  The idea expressed in some commentaries is that the demon said that since the earth is Satan's domain Christ had no business meddling with them.

I know ... who You are, the Holy One of God.  The demon knew that Christ was the Holy One of God but this was a fact that the Jewish leaders just could not grasp.

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet and come out of him!  And when the demon had thrown him into the midst, he came out of him, not harming him.

  1. A synagogue is a place of worship, not bedlam, so demon, be quiet and  
  2. leave this poor man alone.  The demon came out of the man without harming him although there a case recorded in the New Testament where the demons actually hurt the host.
Again, the witnesses were amazed at what this man could do.  

He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him. Mat 3:16.  This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ. 

If we were to put the proper emphasis on this statement, in Mat. 3:16, it would answer a lot of questions concerning the ministry of Christ.  For example: How could Christ walk on water? How could Christ raise the dead? How could Christ cast out demons?  How could Christ ........?  The answer to that kind of question is answered in Matthew 3:16.

Friday, May 5, 2017

41 - A Prophet is Not Without Honour

   But when Jesus heard that John was thrown into prison, He went back into Galilee. Mat. 4:12

   And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. And a report went out throughout all the neighborhood concerning Him. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And, as His custom was, He went in to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 

   And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And unrolling the book, He found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." 

   And rolling up the book, returning it to the attendant, He sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears. And all bore witness to Him and wondered at the gracious words which came out of His mouth. And they said, Is this not Joseph's son? 

   And He said to them, You will surely say this proverb to Me, Physician, heal yourself. Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in your native-place. And He said, Truly I say to you, No prophet is accepted in his native-place. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. But Elijah was not sent to any of them, except to Zarephath, a city of Sidon, to a woman, a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian. And hearing these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and thrust Him outside the city, and led Him up to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, in order to throw Him down. But passing through the midst of them, He went away. And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. Luke 4:14-31

The  Upstart Preacher

   After Jesus had been tempted by the devil he went back to the neighbourhood around Nazareth, His hometown, and preached in various synagogues in the power of the Spirit.

   He was glorified by all. 3:15.  The word glorified, in this sentence, does not mean to worship but to be held in high esteem. Strong #1392.

   He came to Nazareth ... And, as His custom was He went in to the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.  

   The attendant brought to Him a copy of Isaiah from which to preach.  He read The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to:
  • proclaim the Gospel to the poor. 
  • heal the brokenhearted, 
  • to proclaim deliverance to the captives, 
  • give and new sight to the blind, 
  • to set at liberty those having been crushed. Isaiah 61:1-2
   After He had read the Scriptures He returned the scroll to the attendant and sat down to preach.  Everyone in attendance was fixated on Him.  He said, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.  They listened carefully and liked what He said.  Never the less they could not figure it out.  They were almost sure that this preacher was the son of a certain carpenter they knew.  "But where did He learn to speak so well?"

   Christ continued speaking, You will surely say this proverb to Me, Physician, heal yourself.  Also, you are going to say to me, Miracles like you did in Capernaum, do them here too, we want to see for ourselves if what we have heard is true.  Then Christ spoke those words which have become a proverb of their own, No prophet is without honour except in his own country. 

   Then Christ gave them some examples to verify His statement:
  • In the days of Elijah, there was a great famine but Elijah was not sent to feed widows; except the one in Sidon in the country of Phoenicia
  • During Elisha's time there were a lot of lepers all over Israel but only Naaman, a Syrian, was cured of leprosy.  So you see what I'm saying, a prophet cannot work miracles among his own people.
   Well, this rubbed the listeners the wrong way, in fact, they were filled with wrath.  Some were satisfied to oust him out of the city, others thought, no way is he getting off that easily.  So they forced Him to the brow of the hill ... in order to throw Him down.  Pushing someone off a small cliff was often the first step in the process of stoning. Once the victim fell down, they were pelted with rocks until dead. Guzik.  One can imagine that while the two opposing groups of people were arguing about what action they should take, Christ escaped by passing through the midst of them.

    He left Nazareth and went back to Capernaum and continued His preaching there.  Later on, when the Lord appointed seventy others He said, into whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, going out into the streets say, Even the dust of your city which clings to us, we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near you. Luke 10:1+10-11.  I wonder, was Christ thinking of this incident in Nazareth.


Friday, April 28, 2017

40 - The Saviour is Tempted

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to Him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone." Jesus said to him, It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve."  Then the Devil left him. And behold, angels came and ministered to Him. Mat. 4:1-11 

Forty Days of Fasting

when He had fasted forty days and forty nights.  While it is unlikely, but probably not impossible, to go without food for forty days, what is interesting about the number forty, in the Bible, is that it is much overused in Bible stories.  Way more than the "law of averages" would allow. 

We know that not every stated fact in the Bible is expected to be taken literally. Some statements and numbers are symbolic.  Writing about Noah's flood, in another blog, I wrote: remembering that numerology was important to Jewish scribes, it is perhaps not surprising that the writer chose the number forty as the length of time it rained. 

Todd Denis and Richard Anthony write: Of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, none is as pervasive and important as the shadows revealed in the relationship between "forty," and the fulfillment of promises.

For a comprehensive list of the number forty in the Bible I suggest:

Soon after His baptism, Jesus was led, (Mark uses the word driven,) into the wilderness.  Matthew is the only one who says that the purpose for this was so that Christ could be tempted by the Devil. Mat. 4:1. Mark is the only one who mentions the wild beasts. Mark 1:13.

Matthew and Mark write, the Spirit; Some translations do not capitalize the word spirit.  Luke writes the Holy Spirit.  It is difficult to believe that God drove His Son into the wilderness that so that He could tempt his Son.  

As I have written many times, Bible translators frequently add words to the Bible to propagate their own theology.  It seems this is especially true if they can foster the idea of a trinity.  Maybe it was not the "Holy Spirit" that drove Christ into the wilderness but rather His own driving force (spirit).  Perhaps He just needed to be alone to meditate and pray.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Jehovah would drive Christ into the wilderness just to tempt Him.  In speaking of Jehovah James wrote, neither tempteth he any man. James 1:13. 
Another vital point that is brought up here is if Christ is God how is it possible that He could be tempted; God cannot be tempted with evil. James 1:13 

After Christ had eaten nothing for forty days the Devil came to Him and tempted Him.  Matthew has a different arrangement of the temptations than Luke does and Mark does not mention them at all.  

Satan Tempts Christ

The areas in which Christ was tempted are familiar to all of us:
  1. Bodily comfort - those of us who have everything we need to live a comfortable life find it very easy to complain if our comfort level drops even a little bit.
  2. Riches - we are willing to destroy our happiness and our relationships so that we can afford more toys or vacations.
  3. Prestige - "climb to the top" and when you get there you see plenty of reasons why you should commit suicide.
  4. Idol worship - our world has gone crazy worshipping movie stars, singers, and sports heroes.  Does the human mind really have nothing better to learn than all the useless trivia about all the screen heroes and starlets? Will it ever matter to anyone who won the 1997 football game?
      This idol worship has gone so far that in the hockey teams in Canada there are two players that are "so good" that one is called "Jesus Christ" and the other is called "God".  And still, the Christian church supports professional sports. 

For each temptation that the Tempter came up with Christ had the appropriate Bible verse with which to refute the Devil.  This may have been because Christ did not spend His time learning all the useless trivia and sports scores.

After Satan had finished tempting Christ in the wilderness, He left Him because Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! Mat 4:10.  However, Luke points out that it was not the last time that Christ was tempted, he says, Satan departed from Him for a time.  Luke 4:13