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Showing posts with the label #ChristAlmighty

Jesus cures a demonized boy.

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Mark 9.14-29, Matthew 17.14-21, Luke 9.37-42.First time I was ever taught this story, it was called “Jesus heals an epileptic.” At the time I didn’t know what epilepsy was; now I do. So I object to that description every time Christians bring it up. This isn’t epilepsy whatsoever. The boy was possessed by an evil spirit.Matthew and Luke go so far as to identify it as a demon, a “guardian spirit” ancient pagans believed in, much like Christians believe in guardian angels. If you were sick, sometimes pagan “physicians” (really witch doctors) would try to put demons in you, hoping they’d root out the illness. Instead these critters would take you over and make your life miserable. That‘s why there were way more cases of demonization in Jesus’s day than in ours: Our physicians don’t do that. (I don’t know about your favorite “spiritual healers” though.)Christians have misidentified this boy as epileptic for centuries… making life miserable for epileptics all that time, and even today. Peo…

Jesus explains Elijah’s second coming.

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Mark 9.9-13, Matthew 17.9-13, Luke 9.36.In the previous passage, Jesus took his students up a hill, where they saw him transform into a glowing being, and Moses and Elijah appeared to have a chat with him. Various Christians love to interpret this as Jesus showing off his divinity; I prefer the alternative idea that this is a ὅραμα/órama, “vision,” Mt 17.9 of the glory of God’s kingdom, as indicated by Jesus in the verse right before the transfiguration story.Probably because this vision is so open to utter misinterpretation, Jesus decided to have his kids keep it to themselves for a while, just till the context of his own resurrection helped make it make sense.Mark 9.9-10 KWL9 As they were going down the hill, Jesus commanded the studentsso no one who saw these visions would describe them till the Son of Man might rise from the dead.10The students kept this word to themselves—though arguing, “What’s ‘to rise from the dead’ mean?”Matthew 17.9 KWLAs they were going down the hill, Jesus…

The transfiguration of Jesus.

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Mark 9.2-8, Matthew 17.1-8, Luke 9.28-36.Jesus’s transfiguration refers to the day he took three of his students up a hill for prayer, and started glowing like a space alien, two Old Testament prophets showed up to chat with him, and the Father Almighty ordered the kids to listen to him—freaking them out, as it would pretty much anyone who saw such a thing.It’s a story which confuses a lot of Christians. We teach Jesus is totally God, yet at the same time totally human. Problem is, Christians read this story and ditch all the ideas about him being totally human. I’ve even heard one pastor call this story “When Jesus took off his human suit”—as if his humanity is just a costume Jesus could unzip and climb out of, like aliens in certain Doctor Who episodes, or the devil in this one extremely stupid End Times movie.Theologians call it “God incognito.” It’s not just a Latin word; we have incognito in English too. When you’re incognito, you’re going by a secret identity, like when Batman d…

Karma: How we imagine the universe seeks justice.

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Matthew 5.38-42, Luke 6.29-31.KARMA'kɑr.mənoun. The sum of one’s deeds in this life (and previous lives), used to decide one’s fate in future lives or the afterlife.2. The sum of one’s deeds in this life, used to decide one’s fate in this life.3. One’s destiny or fate, seen as the result of one’s deeds.[Karmic 'kɑr.mɪkadjective.]Karma is a Hindi word, from the Sanskrit karman, “fate.” Because Hindus and other eastern religions believe in reincarnation, karma has to do with why you’re born into your particular family, class, comfort level, or caste: You deserved it. Not from anything you did in this life; it’s the actions of your previous life, and when you got reborn, the universe assigned you to the place you deserved. If you were good in your previous life, now you’ve been rewarded with a blessed life; if your life sucks, it’s your own fault for being bad in your past lives. Be good now, and maybe next time you’ll be born into a better caste. ’Cause evil means the universe w…

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus.

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Mark 8.34 – 9.1, Matthew 16.24-28, Luke 9.23-27.Christianity embarrasses a lot of people.Which I get. I have a coworker who’s one of those dark Christians who’s all about judging sinners, ’cause she thinks their sins are gonna trigger the End Times. She thinks she’s just keeping things real and telling the truth, but my other coworkers think she’s a loon. I think she’s a loon. I don’t wanna be associated with that.Thankfully I know the difference between that particular brand of angry, blame-everybody-but-ourselves doctrine, and Christ Jesus and his gospel. So when people ask what I think, I can tell ’em I don’t believe as she does; I believe in grace. My Lord isn’t coming to earth to judge it—not for a mighty long time—but to save it. I proclaim good news, not bad.Other Christians… well they don’t know there’s a difference between dark Christianity and Christ Jesus. Or they do, but don’t know how to articulate it. So they mute the fact they’re Christian, and hope they can pass by unn…

That time Jesus called Simon Peter “Satan.”

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Mark 8.31-33, Matthew 16.21-23, Luke 9.21-22.Most people are aware Simon Peter was Jesus’s best student. That’s why he’s always first in the lists of the Twelve—even ahead of Jesus’s cousins!—and why there’s all the stories about him in the gospels and Acts. Thing is, because there are so many stories about him, we regularly get to see how he screwed up.And certain Christians wind up with the wrong idea about him—that he was nothing but a screwup till the Holy Spirit empowered him. Nope; sometimes he got it right. When Jesus asked what the students thought he was, Peter correctly answered, “You’re Messiah,” and Jesus blessed him for it. Blessed him so good, Peter’s fans still venerate him. Maybe a little too much, but that’s a whole other article.Today’s story is about one of the times Peter screwed up, and it comes right after the story where Peter identified Jesus as Messiah and got blessed. But bear in mind the stories come after one another. The time these two stories occurred mig…

What do people think Jesus is?

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Mark 8.27-30, Matthew 16.13-20, Luke 9.18-21.Provincial leaders in the Roman Empire liked to suck up to their emperors, which is why there were cities named Καισάρεια/Kesáreia, “Cæsarea,” dotting the empire. Ancient Israel had two. The usual city referred to in the New Testament as Cæsarea is also called Cæsarea Maritima; it’s on the Mediterranean coast of northern Israel. The other is in Philip Herod’s province, so it got called Cæsarea Philippi. Today it’s called Banias.Banias is actually an Arabic distortion of its original name, Πανειάς/Paneiás. It was named for the pagan god Pan. Likely Pan was originally Baal-Gad, one of the many Baals in the middle east, and when Alexander and the Greeks attached Greek names to everything, they referred to this Baal as Pan. The Greeks depicted Pan as a goat-man with a flute, but Pan comes from πάντως/pántos, “everything”: It’s a nature god, and therefore the god of everything. It’s considered a minor god because it didn’t have a large following…

Jesus is the good pastor: The sheep come first.

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John 10.11-21.Roman Catholics tend to call their clergymen “father,” but Protestants prefer “pastor,” which means “shepherd.” Some Protestants are okay with “father” too, but some of ’em really aren’t. Usually they’re anti-Catholics, who like to argue we’re not to call one another “father” because Jesus said so; because we only have one Father, in heaven. Mt 23.9 Fine. But in today’s bible passage, Jesus points out we only have one pastor, namely him, Jn 10.16 so if they wanna be so literal about the one passage, it’s kinda hypocritical for them to ignore the other. But I digress.If we’re using Jesus as our example (’cause duh) we need to look at the ways in which he’s our pastor, and should expect the same of our various church leaders—whether we formally gave ’em the title “pastor” or not. And when Jesus speaks about being the good pastor, he defined it in pretty much one sentence, the one right after “I’m the good pastor.”John 10.11-18 KWL11“I’m the good pastor. The good pastor put…

Prayer’s one prerequisite: Forgiveness.

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Mark 11.25, Matthew 6.14-15, 18.21-35.Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer we gotta pray,Matthew 6.12 BCPAnd forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us.He elaborated on this in his Sermon on the Mount:Matthew 6.14-15 KWL14“When you forgive people their misdeeds, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15When you can’t forgive people, your Father won’t forgive your misdeeds either.”And in Mark’s variant of the same teaching:Mark 11.25 KWL“Whenever you stand up to pray, forgive whatever you have against anyone.Thus your Father, who’s in heaven, can forgive you your misdeeds.”And he elaborated on it even more in his Unforgiving Slave story.Matthew 18.21-35 KWL21Simon Peter came and told Jesus, “Master, how often will my fellow Christian sin against me,and I’ll have to forgive them? As many as seven times?”22 Jesus told him, “I don’t say ‘as many as seven times,’ but as many as seven by seventy times.23This is why heaven’s kingdom is like a king’s employee who wante…

Jesus is the gate: Don’t go around him!

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John 10.1-10.Right after Jesus cured a blind guy on Sabbath, for which the guy’s synagogue threw him out, Jesus commented some folks only think they can see, but they’re blind as well. Then he segued straight into talking about sheep. Like so.John 9.40 – 10.10 KWL40Some of the Pharisees were listening to these things, and told Jesus, “We aren’t blind too.”41 Jesus told them, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t have any sin.You now say ‘We do so see’—and your sin remains.1Amen amen! I promise you one who won’t enter through the sheepfold gate,but gets in some other way: This person is a thief, a looter.2One who enters through the gate is the sheep’s pastor.3The gatekeeper opens up for this pastor, and the sheep hears the pastor’s voice.The pastor calls their own sheep, and leads them out.4Whenever the pastor drives out their own sheep, they go on ahead of the pastor,and their pastor follows, for they know their pastor’s voice.5The sheep will never follow a stranger, but will flee from the…

Jesus’s discussion falls apart.

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John 8.45-59.So Jesus was trying to explain how if we stay in his word, we’re truly his students, and this truth’ll set us free. Jn 8.31-32 True to the Socratic-style way Pharisee instruction worked back then, Jesus’s listeners tried to pick apart his statements, and resisted the idea they weren’t free—that they were still slaves to sin. Jesus pointed out this was because they were still following their spiritual father, Satan… and you don’t need to be omniscient to predict they didn’t take this well.So why’d Jesus say something so provocative? Well I used to think it’s because he was kinda done with them; they weren’t listening to a thing he said anyway. But we have to remember Jesus is patient and kind—’cause God is love, 1Jn 4.8 and those are the ways love acts. 1Co 13.4 So he did mean to provoke, but not to antagonize. Some in his audience heard what he was saying (like John, who recorded it) and repented and followed him. And others decided these were fighting words—and that’s wh…