Friday, January 12, 2018

76 - Don't Mess with Evil Spirits

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

Casting Out Evil Spirits

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

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

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

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

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

Moving Mountains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

75 - Moses, Elijah, and Christ

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

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

Three Disciples

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

The Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why The Transfiguration

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose Of The Visit

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

74 - A Treasured Life is a Waste

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 
For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it. 
For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul? 
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to each according to his works. 
Assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Mat. 16:24-28.

Christ, our example

If anyone desires to come after Me.  The choice belongs to the human. Jehovah's act of predestination will not decide for anyone whether or not he or she will follow Christ. 

Let him deny himself; Some in the church have taught that if we will follow Christ we must give up all pleasures; deny ourselves everything except the barest essentials to stay alive. If we do that we become useless in this life and probably not fit for the next.

That Christ enjoyed some of the pleasures of life is shown by the fact that he enjoyed the companionship of friends; both male and female.  He enjoyed going to public affairs, and while there, being of some service.  He enjoyed eating and drinking so well that those that hated Him even accused Him of being a glutton and a tippler.

As society changes, so do the pleasures of life.  Christ never needed to ask Himself "what may I watch on TV" but, in this situation, we can always ask ourselves, "What would Jesus watch?"  It is safe to surmise that the shows He would watch would not include violence or blasphemy!

let him ... take up his cross, and follow Me.  For some who take a stand for Christ, the situation may arise where they are publicly shamed, tortured or even killed.  To them, Christ says, follow my example.

Death to Self is Essential

whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of Me shall find it.  This is the irony of life.  If we hang on to what we have we cannot go any further but to the extent that we give ourselves in the service to others we ourselves find a new reason to live.

Christ said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24.   Without dying to our own selfish desires we will never bear the fruit of service to others and consequently never attain our potential.  Our pastors have taught us that in order to follow Christ we must learn religious words and know when to say them; Christ's idea of true Christianity was much more "hands-on".

Here is an interesting biological fact: Before a crawling caterpillar can become a gorgeous butterfly the caterpillar in the cacoon must completely change into a soupy mess.  To all appearances, it has become totally and forever wasted.  However, out of that seemingly deranged mess emerges a butterfly which can still remember exactly on which milkweed it began as a butterfly one generation ago.  The point of the story: death to self-precedes a beautiful life.

what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?  If you insist that you will spend your life getting rich, maybe you will or maybe you won't, but in the end, you will have wasted your life for short-range indulgences.

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels. This is a promise that Christ made many times and the Christian church is looking forward to that event in spite of the fact that it is then that He will render to each according to his works.  Notice again that Christ did not say that we will be rewarded for having the right "statement of faith" or for attending church regularly.   He said that we would be "paid" according to our works.

Will Some Disciples not Die?

there are some standing here who will by no means taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  As is usual, in almost all aspects of Bible study, there are a number of different opinions as to what it means:
  1. This refers to Christ's Transfiguration which is the very next episode recorded in the Book of Matthew.  In that story, three of His disciples saw Him in His kingdom.  Guzik holds this theory.  This, however, does not seem like the right interpretation, one reason being, none of His disciples died before that happened but Christ had indicated that some would.                                                                                                       
  2.  Some say that this happened when Rome destroyed Jerusalem.   And as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see the Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom, with great power and glory, by the increase of his Church, and the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews. [John Wesley]  The old covenant: slaughtering animals as sacrifices, worship in the temple, etc, all came to an end and, with the Jewish religion out of the way, the New Covenant, The Church, could take its place. 

  3. The reference, beyond doubt, is to the firm establishment and victorious progress, in the lifetime of some then present, of that new kingdom of Christ, which was destined to work the greatest of all changes on this earth, and be the grand pledge of His final coming in glory. [JFB]   According to this theory this new kingdom would have started on the Day of Pentecost when the spirit of God descended on the earliest Christians and the Church was born.  It did spread rapidly, for a little while, before the last of the disciples had passed away.
Throughout our studies, we have seen that Christ preached the Gospel of the kingdom, here it is surmised that that kingdom is found in the people who decide to accept Christ as their Redeemer; He is the King of that kingdom.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." Luke 17:21.  Or, as the KJV has it, the kingdom of God is within you
From Biblical history, we know that Judas was dead before the day of Pentecost.