There are many people who would take issue with traditional Christianity’s using the Scriptures to show that Jesus claimed to be God. Modern theological criticism has done much to undermine traditional strongholds in the faith. Some Christians and modern critics assume that Jesus actually denied that he was God. For example,
Monthly Archives: October 2009
For the past few days I’ve been speaking of the Parable of the Sower. Today, I wish to finish up by speaking of the seed that fell among the thorns (Luke 8:14). The first thing that I notice here is that there is no mention of hard ground or a hard heart. Now the problem the believer experiences is not hardness of his heart but that his heart is fertile ground for anything that grows. It is competition for the nutrients of the soil (one’s time and energy) that is the problem, and the heart “brings no fruit to perfection.” Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, I looked at the Parable of the Sower. Today, I want to focus upon the second heart condition in that parable, namely, that of the rocky soil. It is similar to the wayside type of heart in that both are hard hearts. I know of nothing that grows on a rock. Life grows between rocks, but never on one. A seed needs soil in order to grow. I am reminded of seedlings growing between rocks in soil that one would never believe could be enough to nourish a flower, never mind a tree. Yet, not only does the seedling grow into a tree, but in the process the constant pressure of life growing in a little crack will eventually break up the rock! I can hardly believe it, yet I know it is true. The tree, consisting of wood breaks up the hardest of rocks. Such is the power of the word of God. Given the slightest bit of loose soil (softness of heart), the seed of the word of God (Luke 8:11) will begin to break up the heart and make it more and more sensitive. Read the rest of this entry »
The Parable of the Sower is given in Luke 8:4-8, and explained in verses 11-15. It is a parable concerning the condition of one’s heart (v.12). At one time I believed that this parable discussed four different types of hearts or people who heard the word of God. However, I heard a sermon years ago where the speaker showed that there is only one thing keeping each of the first three problem cases from being good ground. For example, the wayside needs to be broken up with a plow, and the rocks must be removed, and the thorns or weeds need to be pulled up. Any ground could be made fertile in order to yield a good crop. It was at this time that I began to believe that this parable speaks to each of us about four stages of our own hearts, as we grow in Christ. There is a great danger that anyone of us could get stuck in any one of these stages for a season at any time in our walk with Christ. Any one of these stages may characterize one’s life for a period of time, just as they do for the world that does not believe. On the other hand, there may be one or two stages that any particular person may skip entirely or spend such an insignificant amount of time there that it is hardly noticeable that a problem ever existed. Read the rest of this entry »
Before I lay aside the Jewish Targums and go on to something else, I think I should mention that the targumist saw the Word of the Lord as the Savior of Israel. Notice two pertinent Scriptures:
45:17 JPS O Israel, that art saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
Hosea 1:7 JPS But I will have compassion upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen.’ Read the rest of this entry »
For the past few days I have been writing about the ancient Jewish Targumim (Targums) and how the targumist expressed implications of plurality within the Godhead. Another example is found in Genesis 16. Here Hagar, the bondwoman who bore Ishmael to Abraham, addresses God. The Scripture reads:
Gen 16:11-14 JPS And the angel of the LORD said unto her: ‘Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. (12) And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.’ (13) And she called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, Thou art a God of seeing; for she said: ‘Have I even here seen him that seeth Me?’ (14) Wherefore the well was called ‘Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. (emphasis mine) Read the rest of this entry »
I often find when reading the Bible that I had read over something without really considering its implications. For example, in Genesis, chapter one, it was only after years of reading that I suddenly recognized the implication of plurality in the Godhead right there in the act of creation. It is not so apparent in the beginning verses but it is there in verse-2 where the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. Plural implications are certainly apparent there, but in verse-14 and onward it is almost like poetry. First God said “Let there be lights in the firmament…” Then “God made two great lights…” in verse-16. In verse-20 God said “Let the waters bring forth…,” and in verse-21 “God created great whales…” Then in verse-24 God said “Let the earth bring forth…,” and in verse-25 “God made the beast of the earth after his kind…” Read the rest of this entry »
The ancient Jewish Targums are interesting literature and useful in helping us understand Jewish thought about God during the times of Jesus. The Targums are ancient Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text of the Scriptures. One of those really interesting sections involves the Targumist’s understanding of Genesis 4:1-2. Immediately after the rebellion in the Garden of Eden, God promised a Redeemer before expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden (Genesis 3:15). In chapter 4 Adam and Eve began to populate the earth. According to the Targum, Pseudo-Jonathan, Eve seems to believe that her first child, Cain, is the Messiah: Read the rest of this entry »
For awhile Jesus had been planting seed about himself (compare the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13). He cast the seed all over Galilee, the Decapolis, Samaria, and parts of Phoenicia and Syria. Many just didn’t get it. Their hearts were hard. Others received it with joy, but fell away when things got too rough (John 6:66). Still some received his word like Judas, who was probably a Zealot like Simon his father. Judas received Jesus as a useful figure for his own political ends, which also is most likely the reason he stole from Jesus (John 12:4-6). Nevertheless, the other disciples held on to Jesus just as Jacob did with the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 32:24-30). They endured the violence the word of God did to their traditional beliefs and the violence of shame for being associated with Jesus, when all others forsook him (John 6:66; cf. John 17:14 and Luke 22:28). The seed was planted in the good ground of their hearts and began to bear fruit at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus posed the question, “Who do you say I am?” The evidence of one’s feeding on Jesus as our Bread of Life is made manifest in the revelation of an inner fellowship with our Father (cf. Luke 9:20; Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; John 6:69 with Matthew 16:17). Read the rest of this entry »
The spiritual condition of man before he comes to Christ is revealed in the miracle of our Lord’s healing of the paralytic in Luke 5:18-20. Without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) and before Christ we are without strength (Romans 5:6). This is seen in the fact that the paralytic didn’t come to Christ under his own strength or even his own faith. On his own he was without power of any kind to affect his condition. This was also true of the spiritual leadership at that time. What Jesus did that day completely unsettled the safety of their religious understanding. Read the rest of this entry »
I often wonder if anyone really reads what I have to say. But it really isn’t about me, is it? It is about Jesus. We never know if and when we would be used by him to glorify God. I doubt if 13 year old Logan knew his thoughts about his relationship with a ‘special’ calf would be used so powerfully to preach the Gospel message. It is amazing what God can do when your not even looking. I was really touched by this Nebraska teen and what he had to say about God. Perhaps you will be too, if you haven’t already seen it. Even if you have, it is one of those videos one could watch over and over again.
Enjoy, and God bless!
If I were to write in my Bible a title for Luke 5:17-26, I would write above the healing of the paralytic: “Opportunity Lost!” This incident occurred at the very beginning of our Lord’s ministry, the first three weeks to be exact. Jesus had been offering himself to the people as their Messiah. Up to this point, his home town of Nazareth had rejected him, and Capernaum, his new residence, didn’t seem to be all that happy with him either. It was autumn in Galilee and the time of the Fall Festivals (Leviticus 23). Nearly all of the Sabbaths that are mentioned in these chapters (Mark 1-3; Luke 5-6) indicate the Holy Day Sabbaths that fell in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus’ public ministry began with being tempted. This immediately followed his baptism, which is clearly shown in the Synoptics, but not so clearly in John. In the Gospel of John Jesus’ public ministry began with the marriage feast at Cana, immediately following his baptism (implied) by John in chapter one. Read the rest of this entry »
During the Biblical era, there was no cure for leprosy, but Jesus had no problem curing the disease, and Luke 5:12-13 records such a healing. A leper was declared unclean by the priest. His clothes were torn as though he was in continual repentance, and his head was covered to express submission and mourning (cp. 2Samuel 15:25-26, 30). The leper was to cover his beard with his mantle and cry out, “Unclean, unclean” to anyone along the way. As long as the leprosy remained in the man, he was defiled and was to dwell outside the city, alone (Leviticus 13:44-46). Read the rest of this entry »
In Luke 5:1-11 we read that the crowd pressed upon Jesus to hear him speak. I get a picture of Jesus being thronged by the people who wanted to touch him or to be near him, as he was pressed toward the lake. This behavior does not necessarily indicate one’s love for Jesus. On the contrary, people have been hurt as a crowd thronged celebrities in our own time. I have read of celebrities themselves being in jeopardy as their fans tore clothing from them to gain the smallest memento of their hero. Read the rest of this entry »