05 July 2015

John 9.35-41:
Seeing and not seeing.

Picking up right after the Judeans tossed a former blind man out of synagogue for believing in Jesus, our Lord finally re-enters the story and delivers the punchline, so to speak. While he’s in the world, he’s the world’s light, Jn 9.5 and as demonstrated in the part of the story where Jesus was absent, when he’s not around, dark things happen, and people embrace the darkness.

Jesus heard they threw the ex-blind man out. Finding him, he said, “Do you trust the Son of Man?” That man said, “And who is he, Master?—so I can trust him.” Jesus told him, “You’ve seen him. That man is speaking with you.” He said, “I trust you, Master,” and worshiped him. Jesus said,

“I came into the world, into judgment:
Those who don’t see, might see.
Those who see, might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this, and told him, “We’re not also blind, are we?” Jesus told them,

“If you were blind, you might not continue sinning.
Now you say ‘We see’—so sin remains.”

John 9.35-41 KWL

03 July 2015

James 4.13-17:
Don’t exclude God from your plans.

Listen up, those who say, “Today or tomorrow we’ll go to this town;
we’ll work there a year; we’ll do business and make money”:
You don’t know anything about tomorrow. Or your life.
You’re steam which temporarily appears, then disappears.
Say this instead: “When the Master wants, we’ll live and do this or that.”
Now you exalt yourselves—and your talk is cheap.
All such self-exaltation is evil,
so for the one who’s known what to do, and isn’t doing it, it’s sin.

James 4.13-17 KWL

It’s not wrong to plan for the future. It is wrong to worry about things which God doesn’t want us to get wrapped up in; Mt 6.19-34 it is wrong to make plans which enrich us but do nothing for God. Lk 12.15-21 And it’s wrong to make plans which don’t include God any. As Christians, we’re supposed to center our lives around Christ, and submit everything to him: Incorporate him into our plans, rather than squeezing him in at the last minute.

Problem is, we don’t submit. We shoehorn God into our existing plans.

02 July 2015

The Dead Sea Scrolls.

Around 1947 (most likely some years earlier), Muhammad edh-Dhib, a Bedouin goatherd, was chasing a stray goat through Khirbet Qumran, ruins near the Dead Sea. In the nearby caves, he stumbled across pottery which contained ancient Hebrew scrolls. Figuring they were worth a sheqel or two, he sold them to an antiquities dealer, who that November sold them to Eliezer Sukenik of Hebrew University. Word got out, hundreds of caves were searched, and 11 were found to contain tens of thousands of scroll fragments, which altogether make up about 875 books. Popularly, they’re called the Dead Sea Scrolls.

They’re considered significant because among them are the oldest Old Testament copies known to exist. Previous bible scholars had to work from a copy of the OT from the 900s, a much older Septuagint (copied between 250–100BC) and slightly older Vulgate (copied 385–420) for comparison, and later Hebrew OTs. Now scholars have a copy of the OT that’s 10 centuries older, from 100BC—arguably the same OT Jesus and his students read.

01 July 2015

Prayer.

Prayer pr(eɪ)ər s. Conversation with God; usually a request for help, or expression of thanks.
[Petitioner pə'tɪ.ʃən.ər n.]

Prayer is talking with God. That’s all.

Because “pray” is a different word than “talk,” people assume prayer is an entirely different thing. It’s not. “Pray” used to mean “beg,” as in the King James Version’s many uses of “I pray thee.” Most instances of “pray” in the Old Testament have to do with begging God; it’s why the term for a person who prays is “petitioner” (although lately folks say, improperly, “pray-er”). Sometimes it’s on our own behalf; sometimes it’s on another’s. Ge 20.7

But not all prayer consists of requests. Sometimes it’s thanksgiving. Sometimes we have questions for God. Sometimes we wanna praise him. Sometimes apologize. Sometimes vent. Sometimes just share what we’re going through. You know: All the reasons people usually talk with one another, we talk with God.

30 June 2015

Matthew 6.33, Luke 12.31:
Kingdom first.

“First pursue God’s Kingdom and its morality,
and you’ll all receive all these things.”

—Jesus, Matthew 6.33 KWL

“Instead pursue his Kingdom,
and you’ll all receive these things.”

—Jesus, Luke 12.31 KWL

Which things? All the things we worry about.

The context of the Matthew verse is Jesus’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which begins “Don’t stockpile your valuables on earth.” Mt 6.19-34 The Luke verse likewise: Our life isn’t the sum of our possessions. Lk 12.13-34

Lots of Christians trim the passage down to the last verses of Matthew 6, where Jesus tells his followers not to worry about food and clothes. Mt 6.25-34 They figure his instructions are only to prioritize the Kingdom above basic necessities. Kingdom before food. Kingdom before clothes. But bigger things, like valuable possessions, like favorite activities, like pet causes and pet peeves… well, aren’t those things part of the Kingdom? If they’re important to us, aren’t they likewise important to Jesus?…

Absolutely not.