Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Monday, December 28, 2020
He says, "Come unto me all you who are exhausted." His invitation is to those who are exhausted with the search for the truth. The Greeks had said, "It is very difficult to find God, and, when you have found him, it is impossible to tell anyone else about him." Zophar demanded of Job: "Can you find out the deep things of God?" (Job 11:7). It is Jesus' claim that the weary search for God ends in himself. W. B. Yeats, the great Irish poet and mystic, wrote: "Can one reach God by toil? He gives himself to the pure in heart. He asks nothing but our attention." The way to know God is not by mental search, but by giving attention to Jesus Christ, for in him we see what God is like.
He says, "Come unto me all you who are weighted down beneath your burdens." For the orthodox Jew religion was a thing of burdens. Jesus said of the Scribes and Pharisees: "They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders" (Matthew 23:4). To the Jew religion was a thing of endless rules. A man lived his life in a forest of regulations which dictated every action of his life. He must listen for ever to a voice which said, "Thou shalt not."
Even the Rabbis saw this. There is a kind of rueful parable put into the mouth of Korah, which shows just how binding and constricting and burdensome and impossible the demands of the Law could be. "There was a poor widow in my neighbourhood who had two daughters and a field. When she began to plough, Moses (i.e. the Law of Moses) said, 'You must not plough with an ox and an ass together.' When she began to sow, he said, 'You must not sow your field with mingled seed.' When she began to reap and to make stacks of corn, he said, 'When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it' (Deuteronomy 24:19), and 'you shall not reap your field to its very border' (Leviticus 19:9). She began to thresh, and he said, 'Give me the heave-offering, and the first and second tithe.' She accepted the ordinance and gave them all to him. What did the poor woman then do? She sold her field, and bought two sheep, to clothe herself from their fleece, and to have profit from their young. When they bore their young, Aaron (i.e. the demands of the priesthood) came and said, 'Give me the first-born.' So she accepted the decision, and gave them to him. When the shearing time came, and she sheared them, Aaron came and said, 'Give me the first of the fleece of the sheep' (Deuteronomy 18:4). Then she thought: 'I cannot stand up against this man. I will slaughter the sheep and eat them.' Then Aaron came and said, 'Give me the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach' (Deuteronomy 18:3). Then she said, 'Even when I have killed them I am not safe from you. Behold they shall be devoted.' Then Aaron said, 'In that case they belong entirely to me' (Numbers 18:14). He took them and went away and left her weeping with her two daughters." The story is a parable of the continuous demands that the Law made upon men in every action and activity of life. These demands were indeed a burden.
Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon our shoulders. The Jews used the phrase the yoke for entering into submission to. They spoke of the yoke of the Law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the Kingdom, the yoke of God. But it may well be that Jesus took the words of his invitation from something much nearer home than that.
He says, "My yoke is easy." The word "easy" is in Greek chrestos (Greek #5543), which can mean well-fitting. In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood; the ox was brought, and the measurements were taken. The yoke was then roughed out, and the ox wigs brought back to have the yoke tried on. The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox.
There is a legend that Jesus made the best ox-yokes in all Galilee, and that from all over the country men came to him to buy the best yokes that skill could make. In those days, as now, shops had their signs above the door; and it has been suggested that the sign above the door of the carpenter's shop in Nazareth may well have been: "My yokes fit well." It may well be that Jesus is here using a picture from the carpenter's shop in Nazareth where he had worked throughout the silent years.
Jesus says, "My yoke fits well." What he means is: "The life I give you is not a burden to gall you; your task is made to measure to fit you." Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.
Jesus says, "My burden is light." As a Rabbi had it: "My burden is become my song." It is not that the burden is easy to carry; but it is laid on us in love; it is meant to be carried in love; and love makes even the heaviest burden light. When we remember the love of God, when we know that our burden is to love God and to love men, then the burden becomes a song. There is an old story which tells how a man came upon a little boy carrying a still smaller boy, who was lame, upon his back. "That's a heavy burden for you to carry," said the man. "That's no' a burden," came the answer. "That's my wee brother." The burden which is given in love and carried in love is always light.
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
[Matthew] 4:1 led by the Spirit...to be tempted. This testing of Jesus (the Greek verb translated "tempted" can also be rendered "tested"), which was divinely intended, has as its primary background Dt 8:1-5, from which Jesus whether or not you would keep his commands.” Here at the beginning of his ministry Jesus is subjected to a similar test and shows himself to be the true Israelite who lives “on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” And whereas Adam failed the great test and plunged the whole race into sin (Ge 3), Jesus was faithful and thus demonstrated his qualification to become the Savior of all who receive him. It was, moreover, important that Jesus be tested/tempted as Israel and we are, so that he could become our “merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb 2:17) and thus be “able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:15; see Heb 4:15–16). Finally, as the one who remained faithful in temptation he became the model for all believers when they are tempted.
[Matthew] 4:2 forty days and forty nights. The number recalls the experiences of Moses (Ex 24:18; 34:28) and Elijah (1Ki 19:8), as well as the 40 years of Israel’s temptation (testing) in the desert (Dt 8:2–3).
[Matthew] 4:3 If you are the son of God. Meaning "Since you are." The devil is not casting doubt on Jesus' divine sonship, but is tempting him to use his supernatural powers as the Son of God for his own ends.[Matthew] 4:4 Just as God gave the Israelites manna in a supernatural way (see Dt 8:3 and note), so also people today must rely on God for spiritual nourishment. Jesus relied on his Father, not his own miracle power, for provision of food.
Concordia Self-Study Bible, New International Version, p. 1453-1454
Friday, October 30, 2020
The Sermon on the Mount is the first of five great discourses in Matthew (chs. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25). It contains three types of material: (1) beatitudes, i.e., declarations or blessedness (5:1-12), (2) ethical admonitions (5:13-20; 6:1-7:23), (3) contrasts between Jesus’ ethical teaching and Jewish legalistic traditions (5:21–48). The Sermon ends with a short parable stressing the importance of practicing what has just been taught (7:24–27) and an expression of amazement by the crowds at the authority with which Jesus spoke (7:28–29).
Opinion differs as to whether the Sermon is a summary of what Jesus taught on one occasion or a compilation of teachings presented on numerous occasions. Matthew possibly took a single sermon and expanded it with other relevant teachings of Jesus. Thirty-four of the verses in Matthew’s Sermon occur in different contexts in Luke than the apparently parallel Sermon on the Plain (Lk 6:17–49).
The Sermon on the Mount’s call to moral and ethical living is so high that some have dismissed it as being completely unrealistic or have projected its fulfillment to the future kingdom. There is no doubt, however, that Jesus (and Matthew) gave the sermon as a standard for all Christians, realizing that its demands cannot be met in our own power. It is also true that Jesus occasionally used hyperbole to make his point (see, e.g., note on 5:29–30).
Concordia Self-Study Bible, New International Version, p. 1456
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
"It should be noted that 1 Timothy 3:1 does not use the term "office." The term ἐπίσκοπος ("office of overseer," NASB) is rare in secular Greek and never has the sense of "office." Knight (The Pastoral Epistle, 153) has "position of overseer." The NIV is perhaps best: "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer...." As Schweizer (Church Order in the New Testament, 171-80) notes, nowhere in the New Testament do the apostles refer to elders or deacons as "officers." This is striking in that the Greek language has a wealth of terms for “office” or “officer,” e.g. ἀρχή (“one at the head, ruler”), ἄρχων (“ruler”), τιμή (“position of dignity”), τέλος (“power of office”), λειτουργός (“priestly office”), πρᾶξις (“public office”), ἱερατεία (“priest’s office”). The caution of the apostles is due to the fact that they viewed the work of elders and deacons as tasks, functions or ministries, not as official platforms that distinguished the leaders from the people in a clergy-laity fashion. If by office, however, one simply means a formally recognized position with appropriate duties, then the elders and deacons were “officers” in the church. Cf. David Mappes, “The New Testament Elder, Overseer, and Pastor,” BS 154 (April 1997): 169."
Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 41
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Would Jesus Have Us Submit To The Roman Catholic Magisterium In Order To Properly Understand Scripture?
The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says the following in regards to the role of who interprets Scripture:
"The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." (CCC # 100)
"The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates." (CCC # 890)
The reasoning comprising the above quoted excerpts runs contrary to how Jesus Christ Himself addressed people and false teaching. He made individuals interpret Scripture for themselves and held them accountable when they applied them wrongly.
Jesus Christ expected an expert in the Law to properly interpret Scripture for himself (Luke 10:26). He asked His challenger, "What is written in the law?"Jesus held the Pharisees accountable for their misinterpretation of the Scriptures in regards to working on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:3-5). He asked them, "Have you not read in the Law?"
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:6-12 subjugated angels and apostles themselves to a standard of divine revelation as he said "even if we" in condemning false gospels. We clearly must resort to the use of our own reasoning faculties in order to test the messages of ministers. The substance of teaching has greater weight than the one who teaches.
Christ defeated the devil by appealing to Scripture three times, "It is written" (Matthew 4:1-11). Why not emulate His perfect moral example in spiritual discernment? If a child like Timothy could understand Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15), then why cannot the same be true of us?
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 132