Monthly Archives: September 2014

09-30-2014 Matthew 8 (16)

We finished the Sermon on the Mount and are now reading about the continuation of Jesus’ ministry. Here we find Matthew asserting that Jesus really is the Messiah and fulfills the writings of the prophets. He therefore describes how Jesus came and healed and defined his ministry. In some cases, it appears that Jesus in Matthew’s view was regal like and almost egotistical. It was like Jesus demanded that he be treated like a King. It was harsh to say you should not bury his father. Jesus really comes off as egotistical in demanding so much of others to his benefit.This contrasts with some of the humility He later showed. Jesus uses Son of Man often. Jesus uses this terminology 32 times in Matthew, 15 times in Mark, 26 times in Luke, and 12 times in John. Overall in the New testament, there are references to Jesus as the Son of Man. “When Jesus used this phrase, He was assigning the Son of Man prophecy to Himself. The Jews of that era would have been intimately familiar with the phrase and to whom it referred. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the Messiah.” from:http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Son-of-Man.html#ixzz3Eo4hv2a6

It was essential for people in that day to have signs and so Jesus did miracles. Matthew was writing to show that Jesus satisfies the prophets. He healed the diseases of people. It was custom for the priest to verify that a man was free of disease. Does evil cause genetic disorders in life? Very little in scripture about euthansia, suicude, abortion for genetic problems of fetuses.  This leads to medical ethics. So many things we face without training. People don’t understood who Jesus really was. Matthew built up that Jesus was extraordinary and there was no limit to what Jesus could or would do. When did Jesus say son of god? Yes, he said this as reported in John 5:18, John 8:56, and John 10:33 among other references.

 

Sept. 23, 2014 Matthew 7 (19)

Today, we conclude our reading of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew. We started out talking about the parable of the man who paid everyone who worked for him the same wage no matter when they started to work. It was the lesson from last Sunday. Mark said that the parable was really talking about the kingdom of God as he did on Sunday. There is a reference to the fact that Jesus didn’t talk about the kingdom of God as if it were just a reference to a heaven somewhere that we go to at the end of our earthly life but that it is possible to have it as our life on earth.

We then discussed the Judge not that you shall not be judged. Does it refer to all of the talk that people do behind their friend’s backs and we need to avoid doing that. Everyone is in a different circumstance and this may determine what they do without anyone knowing why they do it. It is between them and God, not for us to criticize and judge.

Chuck V. read a nice summary of his thoughts about the verse Ask and you will receive. He said that to him it was an indication that we should continue to pray to God without ceasing. Persistence in prayer to God is important. But what should we be praying for? The Lord’s prayer is an indication. Tom mentioned that when Muslims pray they finish with the phrase “God Willing.” Many times we pray for relief or a cure from illness and several people in the room had experienced the death of a son or daughter. Why didn’t God grant them their wish of having the illness cured? It is sometimes hard to see the hand of God in times like that. Maybe that is the only way to give the person peace. When we ask for something from God, it is usually because it is beyond our ability to do it, so it becomes an act of humility for us to ask, like a man asking for driving directions.  We are excellent in taking buts of Scripture and make it doctrine.

The statements in the Sermon on the Mount are ruiles for how you should be here on earth. Is it wrong to take these passages like parental guidelines? We set the sermon in the mount apart and how it talks about the kingdom of God as heaven on earth. This is a collection of sayings  that Matthew put together based on what he knew about the philosophy of Jesus.

If false prophets come to us we seek them out. The broad way is the way of lots if distraction the narrow way is the path of obedience. It is the difficult way to follow Christ. Is the narrow way an easier way because it was restricted and because we don’t have the distractions that we otherwise face?

09-16-14 Matthew 6 (19)

This again is part of the Sermon on the Mount and am0ng a lot of other statements of our faith it includes the Lord’s prayer. We talked about giving for quite a while. We tend to not want to talk about our finances in public.

What about worry. Jesus says not to worry, but that is hard to do, as there is always something that can happen that presents a difficulty for us. Is it because we have too much and therefore worry it won’t be enough while maybe those who have little just want enough to get by from day to day?It is nice the scripture makes us uncomfortable.

Fasting was widely practiced in that day. There is an article about fasting in Wikipedia at the following link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting There is a quote from Shoghi Effendi discusses fasting and says the following: There is a nice quote in Wikipedia about the Baha about fasting.  “It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.”[

What about the Lord’s prayer. Should we be like the Baptists and not recite written prayers because a prayer must show a personal relationship with God. How can relationship with God be anything but personal? Here Jesus was telling the people about the relationship with God. Does the prayer of the day to call things to God’s attention. Lord you know our needs, meet our needs. Is the prayer of the day more for us than for God? We humble ourselves when we put our prayers out to the people. Is it part of our quest for a heaven on earth? Does the church give out too much info for people who give the people’s prayer.
What is the origin of the Lord’s prayer. It follows a Jewish tradition. Do you pray to Jesus or to god? I Thessalinians 5 says pray without ceasing. Did prayer become less corporate with these words of Jesus. In the early days, prayers to God were done for the people by priests and the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. The first three petitions address God while the other 4 petitions of the 7 relate to our needs and concerns. The Lord’s prayer also occurs in Luke 11:2-4. Here is a version of the Lord’s Prayer from Luke: “And he said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” There are many parallels to traditional Jewish prayers in both the Old Testament books of I Chronicles 29, Isaiah 63, Ezekiel 36, Ezekiel 38, Obadiah 1, Samuel 3, Proverbs 30, Psalm 119, Genesis 22, I Samuel 24, and I Chronicles 21.

 

09/09/2014 Matthew 5 Sermon on the Mount (17)

Today we read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It was seen as a statement of beliefs about what the life of a Jewish Christian at that time should be. There are many evidences of Matthew writing to the Jewish Christians of his time. He talked about how they should not be like the Publicans which can refer to either tax collectors or gentiles. He makes it sound like you had to be Jewish first to become a Christian. But yet, Jesus widens the scope of Christianity beyond the Jewish people by Paul.

The chapter starts with the Beatitudes which say Blessed are a lot of people, and maybe that is saying Hooray for these people. In another way, it is saying that it is better to be downtrodden or poor than it is to be wealthy. But then later in what has come to be called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to be generous to those who have less and may be in trouble.

Jesus talks about what it means to be in the Kingdom of Heaven as if it were something to be achieved here on earth rather than a place to go to at the end of life. Mark said in the quest to make the Bible less sexist, that people referred to the kingdom as the realm of heaven. So Jesus is talking about where we will be in the realm of heaven and it makes it somewhat more relevant.  In verses 21-22, Jesus talks about murder, saying that murder not only can mean taking a life, but can also mean saying evil things about or to someone. Peterson in the message says “if you call your brother an idiot or call your sister stupid that also qualifies us for the hellfire. ” This again suggests that Jesus was talking about the realm of heaven is here on earth not a place to go to upon our death.

There is a lot of discussion about how wrong it is to take an oath to a city, state, or another entity other than God. This probably refers to the fact that at that time, everyone was being urged to take an oath of obedience to Caesar as God. How does this apply to us? Is it more generally in the concept of Realm of Heaven, to mean believing in other Gods, like wealth, standing, proficiency in something, exercise, etc?

The discussion about adultery is interesting and Mark broadened it to mean a general statement about relationships. Thus it could mean that one should treat others in our personal, business, professional, and other aspects of our lives with respect and that adultery means not taking advantage of others. It means not enticing another away from their relationship into one with you. Again, Jesus is broadening the strict law about adultery into a more general stipulation about living in the Realm of Heaven and how that affects our relationships. John asked about what this meant about marrying a divorced woman? The general consensus was that this was more about things in the time of Jesus, not today when things are more in the realm of what the state allows, possibly.

09/02/2014 Matthew 4 (17)

There were two stories in our reading today, namely the temptation of Jesus by Satan and Jesus then starting his ministry by recruiting Peter and Andrew and other disciples and preaching and healing in Galilee. After we read about the temptation by Satan, there were several questions. One was who told about the temptations so that it could be written down? Jesus must have used as he taught about His kingdom. A second was why does God allow Satan to do this kind of thing. I had sent out a commentary about this passage to the Lost Boys. The link to that commentary, “God’s Son Passes the Test” is at https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Matt/Gods-Son-Passes-Test The commentary says that the tests underline the principle that God’s calling must be tested. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. Essentially saying that if God is calling you to do something, you must be tested first. This is a very Jewish think with the same or similar thing happening to Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Job. The first test is to turn stones into bread in a magical way. Jesus essentially says I will not be a magician, using words from Deuteronomy and I will not abuse the calling from God in a callous manner. Next Jesus is not a deluded visionary thinking he can do all sorts of daredevil things and God will save him. And thirdly, Jesus will not be let astray seeking other kingdoms like power, money, physical fitness, or any of the other diversions that we obcess about in our lives today. After Jesus had answered all of these temptations in a very Jewish way, quoting an appropriate response from Deuteronomy and reconfirming the commandments, the angels were sent from God to minister to him. Gene pointed out an interesting comment in the commentary, that it was stated that we could overcome any temptation and that is hard to believe. But maybe if we face the temptation with Jesus help, we can overcome it.

The second story in Matthew 4 is about recruiting Peter and Andrew. After Jesus heard of John’s death at the hand of Herod, he felt it necessary to go the Capernaum and preach in the area of Galilee. This is a long way from Jerusalem, up in the area of Syria.  I have included a map below to show the area he was in.  He followed this by recruiting James and John as well. These men were asked to follow and help Jesus. They may well have continued their fishing jobs during the day and worked with Jesus in the evenings or when Jesus had an important teaching job. Or at least that was the consensus in our group. It is interesting that although Jesus would not do the magical act of turning the stones into bread, one of the strong points of his ministry is to heal people. He developed quite a following. It was pointed out that even though Jesus was creating quite a stir, the people in Jerusalem didn’t appear to know too much about him.

map-of-samaria