Friday, December 15, 2017

73 - A New Path For Our Master

Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go off to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised the third day. 

And taking Him aside, Peter began to rebuke Him, saying, "God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!" 

But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block unto Me, because you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." 

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. Mat 16:20-24.

A Sudden Change

Christ suspects what lies ahead of Him.  He knows it will not be easy but it has always been His desire to please His Father and that is one thing that He will not allow to change.  

The Jewish people envisioned their Messiah coming as a king who would rid Israel of the horrible curse of Roman oppression and so it was too early to tell the populace that their Messiah must first die a horrible death.  So He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ (the Messiah).

From that time Jesus began to show (perhaps to explain from the Old Testament prophets or maybe it just means to explain; that is, with an explicitness and frequency He had never observed before.[JFB]

to His disciples (He was no longer ministering to the crowds; He was focusing on what the disciples needed to learn).

He informed them that He must go off to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes.  Till now the ridicule and the attempts on His life had been in small towns from people he probably knew.  Things were going to change; He will meet the high priest and other high synagogue officials in the capital city.

Not only will He suffer many things but He will be killed.  In our studies, we have run into such a scenario many times already.  If the religious leaders don't like what you preach there is a good chance they will arrange to have you killed.

He will be raised the third day.  Christ's death is not the end of His story, it is the beginning of the story of The Church!


Peter Rebukes Christ  


As a friend takes the hand of a friend and leads him aside for a private conversation so Peter taking Him aside began to rebuke Him, saying, "God be gracious to You, Lord! This shall by no means happen to You!"  There is just no way that God will let this happen to you.

Christ, however, did not think that this should be a private conversation so He turned and saw His disciples and in the presence of His disciples He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."
Mark 8:33  

There is no agreement as to how the word Satan, as it is used here, should be defined.   
  1. Christ is rebuking Peter by calling him Satan.  These are the same words as He had addressed to the Tempter (Luk_4:8); for He felt in it a satanic lure, a whisper from hell, to move Him from His purpose to suffer. [JFB]   Peter personified Satan.                                                                                   
  2. it seems ... to mean the devil, who took the advantage of Peter's weakness and ignorance; and put him upon dissuading Christ from suffering, for the salvation of his people.[Gill]  In this definition, Christ is not calling Peter Satan but He is speaking to the Devil who is using Peter's mouth to turn Christ from going to the cross.  Satan and his hordes well know what will happen if Christ dies on the cross and then comes back from the grave.  That will be the beginning of the end for them!                                           
  3. Get thee behind me, Satan - The word “Satan” literally means “an adversary,” or one who opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs. [Barnes]  According to this definition it could even refer to a friend who is concerned for our welfare and is trying to dissuade us from doing what we know we must do.
you are not mindful of the things of God - That is, dost not relish, ... or, thou dost not understand or discern the things of God - thou art wholly taken up with the vain thought that my kingdom is of this world. [Clarke]

At this point, Mark tells us that He (Christ) summoned the crowd together with His disciples. Mark 8:34.  Matthew records this story as though it pertains only to Christ and His disciples.  

We will follow Matthew's point of view. 

He said to them  If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  This phrase is often used to convince people that they must lay everything at the feet of Jesus and follow Him no matter what.  That is always a pertinent message to Christians but we must be careful not to wrest this verse from the rest of the story.  

Christ said to His disciples, I am going to Jerusalem to suffer and I will die on a cross, like a criminal.  If anyone of you desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (figuratively), and follow Me.  Here is your chance to turn back from being my disciple, think it through carefully and act according to your decision.


All of His disciples, including Judas, decided to go to Jerusalem with their master.  This was distinctly a decision to follow Christ "to the death" if it needed to be so.

In keeping with the Christmas season, I will interrupt this study for a week and in place, for next Friday's post, I will reshare an older Christmas post.

Friday, December 8, 2017

72 - The Leaven of the Pharisees

How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?" 
Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He was questioning His disciples, saying, "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be?" 
So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others say Elijah, and yet others say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 
He said to them, "But who do you pronounce Me to be?" 
And Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I shall build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in heaven." Mat. 16:11-19 

The setting:

Christ and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and too late realized that they had forgotten to bring along some bread.  In the meantime, Christ was thinking about spiritual things and He said to them, Look out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Mat. 16:6. Rabbinical writers regularly use leaven as a symbol of evil (Lightfoot). [ISBE] It seems that since Christ mentioned the leaven they thought He was censuring them for forgetting the bread.


T
he Conversation:


Christ corrected their false notion by saying, How is it you do not perceive that I did not speak to you about bread, but to beware of the leaven (evil teachings) of the Pharisees and Sadducees?"


After leaving the Scribes and the Pharisees behind He was curious to know "Who do men pronounce Me, the Son of Man, to be" so He asked His friends.  

In response they gave Him a list:

  • John the Baptist, 
  • Elijah, 
  • Jeremiah, 
  • or one of the prophets.
Now that Christ knew what others were saying about Him He zeroed in on His main point; But who do you (plural) pronounce Me to be?

Simon Peter, always the outspoken one, replied: You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God.

Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah (Simon son of Jonah) because flesh and blood (human teachers) did not reveal this to you. This is not something you can learn in seminaries or from books.  This is something you can only grasp by faith and then only when it is revealed to you by My Father who is in heaven.

I also say to you that you are Peter (in Greek Petros, meaning: rock).  This was not the name his parents had given him but it was the name Christ gave him when He called him to be His disciple.

upon this rock I shall build My church.  This statement wields a major point of contention.
  1. Some have supposed that the word “rock” refers to Peter’s confession, and that Jesus meant to say, upon this rock, this truth that thou hast confessed, that I am the Messiah and upon confessions of this from all believers, I will build my church.                                                               
  2. Others have thought that Jesus referred to himself. Christ is called a rock, Isa_28:16; 1Pe_2:8. And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.”                                           
  3. Another interpretation is, that the word “rock” refers to Peter himself.  This is the obvious meaning of the passage; and had it not been that the Church of Rome has abused it, and applied it to what was never intended, no other interpretation would have been sought for. [Barnes] 


Points 1 & 2 make the Scriptures say something that is not written there. Theologians have come up with these ideas because they do not like what the Roman church has done to the meaning of these words which Christ spoke.  Why not let the words of Christ mean what He said but let's rid these words of the false connotations which the third and fourth-century church forced on to them? 

To Peter, Christ said, “Thou art a rock. Thou hast shown thyself firm, and suitable for the work of laying the foundation of the church. Upon thee will I build it. Thou shalt be highly honored; thou shalt be first in making known the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.” [Barnes]

This statement is shown to be true in the Book of Acts where we find Peter preaching to both the Jews and to the Gentiles before Paul was even converted.

Christ did not mean, as the Roman Catholics say he did, to exalt Peter to supreme authority above all the other apostles, or to say that he was the only one upon whom he would rear his church.[Barnes]

Earlier we studied Christ's choice of the twelve disciples and there we learned that Peter was not mentioned as being superior to any of the other disciples. The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Rev. 21:14.   See:                  https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/08/55-choosing-foundation-stones-of-holy.html

More than all, it is not said here, or anywhere else in the Bible, that Peter would have infallible successors who would be the vicegerents of Christ and the head of the church. [Barnes]

and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.  In fortified cities of ancient times, the walls around the cities had "council" chambers at some of the gates.  It was in those "chambers" where the "council" members would make the major decisions for the city.  So the word gates represented the decisions or actions of the city's leaders.  Christ says the decisions or actions of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

Just a casual reminder: Hell (Hades) is the place where the wicked dead are kept until judgment day.  It is not taught anywhere in the Bible that Hell is a Lake of Fire.  This, of course, is not to say that the Bible does not speak of a Lake of Fire.

The Rules


I will give you the keys (the authority) of the kingdom of heaven (the Church on earth), and whatever you bind (the things which you forbid) on the earth (for the Church) will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose (permit) on the earth will have been loosed in heaven (permitted by heaven's decree).

With this statement in mind, we can look back to the first meetings held by the church council in Jerusalem.   It was there that the disciples laid the ground rules for the future of the church.  The rules they made were accepted in heaven and are not to be changed by any sect or off shot group who claim to belong to the church of Christ.   

We had a list of these rules in:                                               https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/11/70-clean-dirty-hands.html.

The church has not failed too badly in keeping most of the rules laid down by the disciples but it has really messed-up by making many more rules than the disciples ever dreamed off.  Note:

  1.  Many first-generation Christians insisted that all Christian males must be circumcised.  The disciples vetoed that teaching.
  2.  You must "keep the Sabbath".  The disciples did not say which day to gather to worship.
  3.   It is a sin to have electricity on your farm our in your house.
  4.   It is a sin to fly in an aeroplane.  Sailing on a cruise liner is not a sin.
  5.   It is a sin to wear a necktie.
  6.   You are not a spiritual person if you cannot speak in tongues.
  7.   Oh, why continue, the list is endless.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  I can't decide whether this following scene is from TV comedies, serious serials or movies, or some flippant jokes, maybe even from some unknowing Bible teacher, but I am sure it is not from the Bible.  

Saint Peter is standing at heaven's gate, with keys in hand, and when any human on earth has passed away that human goes up to Saint Peter and asks for permission to enter Heaven.  Peter checks the records and accordingly he makes his decision.  How uninformed can people really be?

Friday, December 1, 2017

71 - Water, Fish and Jonah

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. 
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Have courage! It is I AM; do not fear." Mat 14:26-27.

The Impossible is Not


The story of Christ walking on the lake has created a lot of debate.  From "it is impossible" to "Christ is God and God can do anything".   

First of all, it would not be necessary for Christ to be God for Him to be able to walk on water.  Here is a repeat from a former post; "when John baptized Christ 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."  https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2017/04/39-forerunner-meets-messiah.html

Since the spirit of Jehovah was resting on Christ, walking on water would not have been a problem for Him.

W
hen the disciples saw Him walking on water they thought they saw a ghost and were afraid so, to calm their nerves, Christ said, Have courage! It is I AM. In Greek "I am" is "EGO EIMI".  By writing, I AM, in capital letters, trinitarian Bible students falsely emphasize the idea that Christ is "the great I AM - Jehovah Himself".  The more exact meaning is Jesus said to them, "Don't worry! I am Jesus. Mat. 14:27, CEV.

T
hat Christ did not mean to imply that He was God is made very clear in a blog by Krista Mariia.  I quote, "John 9:9 is a similar verse. In this verse a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1), and was healed by Jesus, said the same Greek words, "EGO EIMI", "I am". Did he claim to be God?"

This removes all basis for trinitarians to argue that Jesus was trying to fit Exodus 3:14 to himself in Mark 6:50, or in any other scripture having the words "EGO EIMI".  
https://plus.google.com/113319691454674109629/posts/KrzZCur9HFJ

For much more good Bible teaching I suggest:
  https://plus.google.com/collection/IICTNE\

Enough Bread and Fish 


So they all ate and were satisfied, and they took up what they had left of the fragments, twelve baskets full. 

Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, apart from women and children. Mat. 14:20-21

So they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up what they had left of the fragments, seven hampers full. 
Now those who ate were four thousand men, apart from women and children.  Mat. 15:37-38


These two stories, side by side, have caused some to believe that it is the same situation with some random numbers changed.  Perhaps one storyteller rounded-up the numbers and another rounded-down the numbers.

However, Christ did not think that the two stories refer to the same incident.  He said, Do you not ... remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 
Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many hampers you took up? Mat. 16:9-10

The Sign of Jonah


Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him, they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven. 
... 

An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And leaving them behind He went away.  Mat. 16:1-4

came ... testing Him.  They wanted to ensnare Christ; perhaps they could catch how he did His "slight of hand" tricks; things like making the blind see or the lame walk. 

they asked Him to show them a sign out of heaven.  These earthly miracles you do are nothing compared to the miracles the "real" prophets "back then" did.  Moses gave us manna; Joshua made the sun stand still; there were thunder and lightning at the giving of the law.

The appearance of the rainbow, in a very extraordinary manner, is looked upon by the Jews as a sign of the Messiah's coming. "Says a certain Jew, when my father departed out of the world, he said thus to me; do not look for the Messiah until thou seest the bow in the world, adorned with light colours, and the world enlightened by it; then look for the Messiah, as it is written, Gen. 9:16.'' [Gill] 

Back then, already, Bible students put meanings into the Scriptures which were not even hinted at there.  And the rainbow shall be in the cloud. And I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. Gen. 9:16.

Do We Always Need to be Politically Correct


Christ well knew that they were not interested in believing Him.  With their request, they were just scorning Him.  So He bluntly said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It sounds as if Christ did not mind "stepping on the toes" of those who refused to believe Him.  He did not find it necessary to always be politically correct!  When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility. [Matthew Henry]   Why are we, The Christian Church, so eager to fit into the non-Christian's worldview?  

He said, I am not going to indulge you in your petty games; no sign will be given to it (an evil and adulterous generation) except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Christ walked away; leaving them behind.

What is the sign of Jonah?  Probably just the most impressive sign in the Old Testament.  Christ referred to that sign at another time, also.  He said, For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Mat. 12:40 

That sign has been shared with humankind.  There are more copies of the Bible in the world than any other book.   History has vindicated that sign's accuracy. Whether or not humans believe that Christ died and rose again is their choice.  However, the fact stands secure; historical studies attest to it; Christ died and after three days and three nights He came back to life.