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Showing posts with the label #ChristAlmighty

Completing the cities of Israel before the second coming.

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Matthew 10.23. In the middle of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, there’s this verse, only found in Matthew , which goes like yea. Matthew 10.23 KWL “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another! Amen amen! I promise you, you might not finish the cities of Israel before whenever the Son of Man might come.” Because translators tend to automatically convert any sentence with οὐ μὴ / u mi , “never,” into absolute statements (like Luke Skywalker’s “I’ll never join you; you killed my father!”) they dismiss all the subjunctive verbs Jesus uses in such statements. He said might never , but they translate it as if he said never . Because people find comfort in absolutes. Especially when the absolutes promise ’em something they want. We want Jesus to return! (Well, most of us.) So here, Jesus promises, with “amen amen,” that his students might not have to be chased through every city in Israel before he returns for them. And Christians nowadays, who want Jesus to return

Family members and loved ones may turn on you.

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Mark 13.12-13, Matthew 10.21-22, Luke 21.16-18, John 16.2-3. In Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, he warned his students of the tribulation they’d undergo. Not just the Romans destroying the temple, but how Christians would be persecuted. It’s something the students needed to hear. Something all Christians need to hear. ’Cause the assumption most people would come to is when God’s on our side, we should never, ever suffer. Suffering’s for losers; for people who lack God. Our God’s a winner, so his followers oughta be winners—people who call down fire on their oppressors 1Ki 1.9-12 or when people just try to put ’em to death, God always supernaturally rescues ’em. Da 3.24-25, 6.19-22 It’s an assumption Christians still make: “I’m working for God, so he’ll keep me safe.” God guarantees no such thing. The only thing he does guarantee is in this life, we have tribulation. Jn 16.33 Suffering happens. Happened to Jesus too. Imagining that the righteous, the obedient, “good people

You’ll be persecuted. Get ready to not defend yourself.

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Mark 13.9-11, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 12.11-12, John 14.26. After Jesus said the temple’d come down, his students wanted to know what that looked like, so Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse. How the Romans would destroy the temple in the great tribulation. And while he was at it, how Christians would be persecuted too —advice we’ve used throughout the Christian era, because we’ve been persecuted since the beginning. In many parts of the world, still are. As a result a number of Christians are steeling ourselves for it. “When they come for me, here’s what I’m gonna do.” And many Americans are planning to do some pretty violent things. Simon Peter with a machete type things. They got their gun stockpiles. They got their armor-piercing bullets and 50mm rounds. Peter only cut off an ear; they’re planning to mow down as many cops and soldiers as they can. Even though many of ’em claim they “love” our police, “love” our troops. Sure, when politically convenient. But those sentiments

Simon Peter denounces Jesus.

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Mark 14.66-72, Matthew 26.69-75, Luke 22.54-62, John 18.15-18, 25-27. After dinner earlier that night, Jesus told his students they weren’t gonna follow him much longer; they’d scatter. At this point Jesus’s best student, Simon Peter, got up and foolhardily claimed this prediction didn’t apply to him. Mark 14.29-31 KWL 29 Simon Peter told him, “If everyone else will get tripped up, it wo n’t include me.” 30 Jesus told him, “Amen, I promise you today , this night, before the rooster crows twice, you’ll renounce me thrice.” 31 Peter said emphatically, “Even if I have to die for you, I will never renounce you.” Everyone else said likewise. And y’know, Peter wasn’t kidding. I’ve heard way too many sermons which mock Peter for this, who claim he was all talk. Thing is, he really wasn’t. When Jesus was arrested, Peter was packing a machete, and used it. Slashed a guy’s ear clean off. You don’t start swinging a work knife at a mob unless you’re willing to risk life

Judas Iscariot sells Jesus out to the authorities.

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Mark 14.41-46, Matthew 26.45-50, Luke 22.47-48, John 18.1-3. In St. John Paul’s list of stations of the cross, the second station combines Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and Jesus of Nazareth’s arrest. ’Cause they happened simultaneously—they, and Simon Peter slashing one of the head priest’s slaves. There’s a lot to unpack there, which is why I want to look at them separately. Getting betrayed and getting arrested, fr’instance: That’s two different kinds of suffering. Psychological and physical. So right after Jesus prayed in Gethsemane (the first station), this happened: Mark 14.41-46 KWL 41 Jesus came back a third time and told his students , “Now you’re sleeping, and resting— and that’s enough. The hour’s come. Look, the Son of Man is getting handed over to sinful hands. 42 Get up so we can go: Here comes the one who sold me out.” 43 Next, while Jesus was yet speaking, Judas Iscariot approached the Twelve. With him was a crowd carrying machetes and sticks,

Can’t see; pretty sure they can.

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Matthew 15.12-14, Luke 6.39-40, John 9.39-41. Jesus’s saying about “the blind leading the blind” is pretty famous. So much so, people don’t remember who originally said it. I once had someone tell me it comes from the Upanishads. And it is actually in there; Yama the death god compares the foolish to the blind leading the blind. Katha Upanishad 2.6 But ancient, medieval, and modern westerners didn’t read the Upanishads! They read the gospels. They got it from Jesus. Jesus actually doesn’t use the idea only once, in only one context. We see it thrice in the gospels. It appears in Matthew after Jesus critiqued Pharisees for their loopholes; it appears in Luke as part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Plain; and in John it appropriately comes after the story where Jesus cures a blind man. So let’s deal with the context of each instance. Matthew first. Matthew 15.12-14 KWL 12 Coming to Jesus , his students then told him, “You know the Pharisees who heard the word are outrage

The Golden Rule.

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Matthew 7.12, Luke 6.31. “Do as you’d be done by.” That’s C.S. Lewis’s wording. It’s probably the briefest form I’ve found of the “Golden Rule,” as it’s called. I grew up hearing it as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”—and it actually doesn’t come from the King James Version, which has it, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Lk 6.31 KJV I tried tracking down the other wording, and the earliest I’ve found it is 1790. My translation of the two different ways Jesus taught it: Matthew 7.12 KWL “So as much as you want people doing for you, you do that for them: That’s a summary of the Law and the Prophets.”   Luke 6.31 KWL “Just as you want people doing for you, do likewise for them.” It’s “the Law and the Prophets,” as Jesus put it—meaning the bible of his day, the Old Testament. (Yes the OT consists of Law, Prophets, and Writings. But back then, when Sadducees and Samaritans insisted the bible only cons

The widow’s mite, and ancient money’s value.

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Mark 12.41-44, Luke 21.1-4. On the temple grounds there’s a room called the treasury; Greek γαζοφυλάκιον / yadzofylákion , a “guarded vault.” Thing is, the treasury’s in a place inaccessible to women. And since there’s a woman in this story, throwing an offering in, it simply can’t be what the writers of these gospels meant by “treasury.” It has to be in some other place. Hence most commentators are pretty sure yadzofylákion actually refers to the lockboxes which the priests set in the Women’s Court. Each of these boxes were at the end of a big metal funnel—which looked like a shofar , a ram’s-horn trumpet, and may very well have been what Jesus was thinking of when he talked about trumpeting your charitable giving. Mt 6.2 Because throwing metal into a big metal funnel made a loud noise. And throwing lots of metal—like a big pile of bronze coins, as opposed to, say, far fewer silver or gold coins—made a big ol’ noise. Probably too noisy to teach! Yet that’s what the gosp

Double standards.

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Mark 4.24, Matthew 7.1-5, Luke 6.37-38, 41-42. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is a really popular verse for people who don’t wanna condemn anyone. But I already wrote an article about how people take it out of context. People use it to avoid making judgment statements, or to rebuke those who do… and it’s not at all what Jesus means. So today I get to what Jesus means. This bit of his Sermon on the Mount comes right after Jesus taught us about worry. Which is appropriate: Don’t prejudge circumstances indiscriminately, and don’t prejudge people unfairly. Matthew 7.1-2 KWL 1 “Don’t criticize. Thus you won’t be criticized. 2 For you’ll be critiqued by the very criticism you criticize with. The measurement you measure with, will measure you.”   Luke 6.37 KWL “Don’t criticize, and you won’t be criticized. Don’t judge, and you won’t be judged. Forgive, and you’ll be forgiven.” Obviously I translate κρίνετε / krínetë, “criticize,” differently than the KJV ’s “jud

The Talents Story.

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Matthew 25.13-30. Nowadays when we say talent we mean a special ability; something one can do which most others can’t. The word evolved to mean that, but in ancient Greek a τάλαντον / tálanton meant either a moneychanger’s scale, or the maximum weight you put on that scale. Usually of silver. Sometimes gold… but if the text doesn’t say which metal they’re weighing, just assume it’s silver. Talents varied from nation to nation, province to province. When Jesus spoke of talents, he meant the Babylonian talent (Hebrew כִּכָּר / khikhár , which literally means “loaf,” i.e. a big slab of silver). That’d be 30.2 kilograms, or 66.56 pounds. Jews actually had two talents: A “light talent,” the usual talent; and a “heavy talent” or “royal talent” which weighed twice as much. But again: Unless the text says it’s the heavy talent, assume it’s the light one. And of course the Greeks and Romans had their own talents: The Roman was 32.3 kilos and the Greek was 26. Using 2020 silver rate

The Five Stupid Girls Story.

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Matthew 25.1-13. When Jesus talked about his second coming, sometimes he’d share parables. Dude loves his parables. Dense Christians won’t get them, and commonly get suckered into dark Christian interpretations where they’re all about doom and death and hellfire. But Christians who seek wisdom, who know Jesus is returning to save the world instead of destroy it, know these parables are about hope : Jesus is returning! For everybody . Be ready to join his entourage. Otherwise you’ll be left out of the fun parts. The “parable of the 10 virgins,” or as I prefer to call it, “The Five Stupid Girls Story,” is one of those warning parables. Dark Christians like to compare it to missing the rapture, and therefore going to hell. But the stakes are nowhere near that high in the story. Let’s start with the story. Matthew 25.1-13 KWL 1 Then heaven’s kingdom will be like 10 teenage girls, who took their own oil lamps to go out to meet the groom. 2 Five of the girls were stup

Deliver us from evil.

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Matthew 6.13. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus has us pray not to be led to temptation —properly, not put to the test, whether such tests tempt us or not. Instead, in contrast, we should pray we be delivered from evil. Matthew 6.13 KJV And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The original text is ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ / allá rýsë imás apó tu ponirú , “but rescue us from the evil.” Now. The Greek τοῦ / tu is what grammarians call a determiner , although I’m pretty sure your English teachers called it a definite article , ’cause that’s what English determiners usually do: This noun is a particular noun. When you refer to “the bus,” you don’t mean a bus, any ol’ generic interchangeable bus; you mean the bus, this bus, a specific bus, a definite bus. So when people translate tu ponirú , they assume the Greek determiner is a definite article: Jesus is saying

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught… assuming we know what Jesus taught.

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John 14.25-26. Most Christians figure Jesus’s students followed him three years. It might actually have been longer than that. The idea of three years comes from the fact three Passovers get mentioned in John , Jn 2.13, 6.4, 11.55 the last one being the Passover for which he died. But just because John mentioned three particular Passovers doesn’t mean these were the only Passovers which took place during Jesus’s teaching time. Coulda been nine for all we know. No I’m not kidding: 7 BC : Jesus was born. 24 CE : Jesus’s 30th birthday. Luke states he was ὡσεὶ / oseí , “like,” 30 when he started teaching. Lk 3.23 Didn’t say exactly 30, but let’s start from there. 33 CE : Jesus died. And woulda been about 39. Time for some basic arithmetic. If Jesus started teaching in the year 24, and “like” just means he was a few months shy of 30, by the year 33 he’d’ve been teaching nine years. If “like” instead means he was already in his thirties; say 33… he’d’ve been teac

The Holy Spirit of truth… and dense Christians.

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John 14.15-17. Christians take for granted that we receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of being Christian: When we say the sinner’s prayer and claim Jesus as our individual savior, we individually, automatically get the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guarantee us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. Right? Right. But the assumption Jesus makes when he says as much to his students in John , is his students don’t just passively believe in him. Don’t just passively believe all the correct things about him, and have the proper “faith”, and that’s what saves us. And once we die after a lifetime of taking God’s grace for granted, we get to use the Holy Spirit as our entry fee to heaven. The Holy Spirit’s been granted to us to help us continue to follow Jesus. John 14.15-17 KWL 15 “When you love me you’ll keep my commands, 16 and I’ll make a request of the Father, and he’ll give you another Assistant, because he’ll be with you in this age: 17 The truthful Holy Spir

Mammonists versus God.

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Luke 16.8-15. the Shrewd Butler Story, Jesus commended the butler for using his boss’s money to generate goodwill instead of profits, and his moral was for his followers to do likewise. Mammonists stumble all over this story. To them the point of money isn’t to use it as a resource, but to accumulate it and gain power by it. To their minds the butler was completely untrustworthy. He was already accused of squandering it, Lk 16.1 and then he turned round and deliberately squandered it by changing his boss’s debtors’ receipts. Lk 16.5-7 He made it look like he collected more money than he actually had; like his boss was owed less than he truly was; and he did it to benefit himself instead of enriching his boss—which was his job , wasn’t it? He embezzled from his boss. He stole . He’s a thief . There’s a command against theft in the bible somewhere; it’s one of the bigger ones! So Mammonists really don’t know what to do with Jesus commending this butler… except to conclud

Mammon in the Shrewd Butler Story.

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Luke 16.1-9. As you know, Jesus said you can’t be a slave to both God and Mammon, Mt 6.24 and as a result people tend to think of Mammon as a person. It’s not really. Whenever Jesus and the Pharisees spoke about mammon, they meant money, and they were speaking of it negatively. Exactly like we do whenever we describe money as “lucre.” Nobody ever talks about clean lucre; it’s always filthy lucre; it’s always money used wrong, used for evil. Same deal with mammon, which is why I translated τῷ ἀδίκῳ μαμωνᾷ / to adíko mamoná ( KJV “the unrighteous mammon”) as “filthy lucre.” You come across lucre in this story, it means mammon . Got it? Good. Jesus tells this story right after the Prodigal Son Story, Lk 15.11-32 if that context helps: A man squandered all his money, and when he came home his father threw him an expensive party; and his brother objected to the wastefulness (or to use old-timey English, the prodigality ) of both the wasteful man and his extravaga

The Spirit empowers us to speak.

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Mark 13.9-10, Matthew 10.17-20, Luke 21.12-15. When Jesus warned his students about the coming tribulation in his Olivet Discourse, he told ’em he (or the Holy Spirit, depending on the gospel) would have their back when it came time to testify before kings and leaders. He put it this way. Mark 13.9-11 KWL 9 “ Now look at you yourselves. They’ll turn you in to the Senate. They’ll cane you in synagogues. They’ll stand you before leaders and kings because of me, to witness to them. 10 You have to first declare the gospel to all the gentiles. 11 When they turn you in, don’t premeditate what you might say: Instead whatever’s given you at that hour, say it, for you aren’t speaking; the Holy Spirit is .”   Matthew 10.17-20 KWL 17 “Watch out for the people: They’ll turn you in to the Senate and their synagogues. They’ll flog you. 18 They’ll take you to leaders and kings because of me, to testify to them and the gentiles. 19 When they turn you in, don’t worry abo