Jesus Excoriates the Pharisees – Matt 22-23

The parable of the wedding feast in chapter 22 is a difficult passage in some respects. All of the “players” obviously are representative of God and the people of the world who are “invited” into His kingdom. And it all makes perfect sense until you get to the part where the guest is found with no wedding garment. While it may appear that all of these “secondary” guests were just rounded up and brought in, the fact is that they had been invited (verse 9), which infers that they did the necessary to appear at the wedding feast in proper attire. The guest with no wedding garment could not answer how he had gotten in without one because he had no excuse for not being prepared. He had tried to slip in without doing what he knew he should do.

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. Fr...

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. French School. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 3861. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section Q. disputes with the establishment. Mark 10:2-12, 11:27-33, 12:13-27, 12:35-37. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-the-gospel-of-mark-section-q-to-r (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In chapter 23, Jesus continues relentlessly, pronouncing seven “woes” on the Pharisees and scribes. These 36 verses are his longest recorded criticism of these religious leaders. they are specific, and encompass a range of hypocrisy and downright evil behavior that leaves no doubt that Jesus is completely condemning them. It would not be any stretch of the imagination to believe that this likely “pushed them over the edge” where their intent toward Jesus was concerned.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Matt 21, Matt 22, Matt 23, Matt 24, Matt 25

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Obedient Son – Matt 21

In chapter 21, cane into Jerusalem in the “triumphal entry,” cleansed the temple, and cursed he fig tree. Then in verse 23, the Pharisees challenged His authority, asking by what authority He did the things that He did. Jesus proposed that they tell Him by what authority John the baptist did his baptisms, and they would not answer, fearing the crowds if they said that it was not from heaven. Jesus then told them that He would not answer their question about His authority then.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then He told a parable of two son, who were each told be their father to go work in the vineyard. The first one said that he would not, but later decided to do it. The second said that he would do it, but never did. Jesus compared the tax collectors and prostitutes to the first son, saying that they would go into the kingdom of God before the Pharisees, who He compared to the second son. The Pharisees put on an appearance of obedience to God, but their works belied that public claim they gave to righteousness.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Matt 21, Matt 22, Matt 23, Matt 24, Matt 25

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Paul Transported to Caesarea – Acts 23-24

The high priest (in Acts 23) unlawfully ordered him to be struck. Paul predicted Ananias’ demise in verse 3, and he actually was killed by his own people at the start of the Jewish war. Paul”s accusers were to point out Paul’s disrespect for him, yet ignored the willful violation made against Paul. At that point, he would have no question about whether he would receive a fair hearing from them.

The excution of the Pharisees by Alexander Jan...

The excution of the Pharisees by Alexander Jannaeus, by Willem Swidde, 17th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul then played the Pharisees and Sadducees against each other — with the truth. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, but the Pharisees did. Paul’s statement in verse 6 makes that division so sharp that it became violent. The Roman tribune then feared that Paul would be torn to pieces, and had the soldiers remove him and take him to the barracks. Paul’s statement that set it in motion was “brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Paul had been raised a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5-9), and it was indeed because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope, that he was on trial. The following night, the Lord stood by him for encouragement and told him that he must go to Rome to testify the facts about Him (verse 11).

The Jews then feared that Paul’s fate was slipping away. More than forty of them conspired to kill him, taking an oath not to eat or drink until they had done so. In verse 14, we learn that the chief priests and elders were involved in this despicable plot. But Paul’s sister learned of the plot and sent her son to warn him. Paul then sent his nephew to tell the tribune (whose name was Claudius Lysias). Lysias then composed a letter to Felix the governor (verse 26-30), putting himself in a favorable light. At his orders, Paul gets an escort of two hundred soldiers to deliver him and the letter to Antipatris by the dark of night. Upon reading the letter and questioning Paul as to his birthplace, he ordered Paul held in Herod’s praetorium (one of Herod’s palaces that the governor used for his quarters).

In chapter 24, Paul had been escorted to Caesarea. He finally appeared before Felix after Ananias and the rest of his accusers arrived.  When Felix gave Paul his turn to speak, he laid out his defense, disputing the accusations with the obvious truth – which his accusers were unable to counter.  In verse 14, he “confessed” that he is a part of “the Way” (which Tertullus called “the sect of the Nazarenes,”), through which he worships “the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”   Thus, Paul not only makes the case that he is a “good Jew,” but that Christianity is God’s divine will.

Felix seemed to be aware of Paul’s innocence. But he was more interested in the possibility of getting some money from him over a period of time (verse 26), as well as garnering support from the Jews.  After two years had passed, he left Paul in prison as a favor to them when he was replaced by Porcius Festus.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 23, Acts 24, Acts 25, Acts 26, Acts 27

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Forgetting What Lies Behind – Philippians 3-4

Chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi contains only 21 verses, but it is some of Paul’s finest writing. Paul really “gets it,” when it comes to the gospel, and he tells us what it is all about for us right here. He starts out comparing Christians to those of the circumcision party that suppose their status under the old law makes them chosen (having confidence in the flesh). He makes the point that if such things mattered, he has more reason than those of that party to be confident.

Philippi theater.

Philippi theater.

Paul then lists his credentials as a Jew, and as a Pharisee. Though a persecutor of the church, he had been in a position that was respected and honored. But all of that he says he counted as loss for knowing the Lord Jesus Christ:

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

He has not attained perfection, he knows. And he has not done anything on his own.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

Paul knew, and he was trying to make them see, that this world is not our home. We must set our minds apart from those who wish to be of this world — those who make themselves enemies of the cross:

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

He closes the letter in chapter 4, sending encouragement and prayers with two of the best passages for advice for Christians of all time. The first, in verses 4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And the second in verse 8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Philippians and Hebrews

Phil. 3, Phil. 4, Heb. 1, Heb. 2, Heb. 3

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Be Not Ashamed – Mark 6-8

Continuing with our reading of Mark this week, we read in chapter 6 of Jesus being rejected in His home town and how Herod had John the baptist killed. He was afraid of him, but he had made an oath around witnesses to give Herodias’s daughter whatever she wished. To his dismay, she followed her mother’s wishes and asked for John’s head on a platter. Jesus then went on to feed the 5,000.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In chapter 7, the Pharisees confront Him because his disciples did not follow the washing rituals they prescribed as though they were God’s laws. Jesus exposed them for their many hypocrisies, such as how they manipulate words and deeds to shirk their duty to take care of their parents.

In chapter 8, He feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish– ending up with more food than they started with in the first place. In Dalmanutha, the Pharisees confronted Him again and demanded a sign from heaven. Jesus, of course, gave them none; and he even said that no sign would be given to “this generation.” God’s people were given all the signs they needed.

It was after this that Jesus told His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees and of Herod. As they wondered about bread, jesus became impatient with them. They still did not understand, it seems. But in verse 29, Peter did make it clear that he knew that Jesus was the Christ.

He finishes the chapter with a sermon to the crowds; and verse 39 says:

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Those words are easy to read, and they are just as easy for us to nod our heads and say “that’s right.” But we must beware living in an increasingly pagan land, as we do. How easy is it to keep our mouths shut, when perhaps we should be speaking up for the Lord?

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Prodigal Son, Part 2 – (Luke 15)

The younger son traveled back home to ask his father to take him in and let him work as one of his servants. But his father saw him coming from a long way off, and he ran to meet him. Though his father embraces him, he has come with a contrite heart and acknowledges his guilt. But his father had his servants to clothe him in the best manner he could, and he arranged for a feast to celebrate the return of the son, who for all practical purposes had been dead. But now the lost one had been found.

It is just so with God. There is no sin that we can do that, with a repentant heart, God will not eagerly forgive us. As His children, He joyfully accepts us back, no matter what. And Jesus has told us twice in this chapter how much joy there is in heaven when one sinner repents.

Return of the prodigal son

Return of the prodigal son

But the older son hears the celebration, and does not come to His father, but instead speaks to a servant to find out what is going on. What does that say about his relationship with his father, especially when he, in his anger, refused to go in? Though his father comes out and “entreats him,” he still will not relent, and he makes his displeasure, disdain, and even jealousy known to his father. He degenerates his younger brother for his sins, and cannot understand why the father is treating him so well. His father wants the elder son to join them, but he also wants him to understand that it is most appropriate to be joyous and to celebrate the return of one who was lost to him.

When the chapter started, back in verse 2, the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” because Jesus was consorting with known sinners. Jesus had explained in two previous parables how much joy God has for the lost returning to him. But now He is describing the elder brother with the same attitude that the Pharisees had. They felt that they were entitled to a higher degree of regard because they had given years of service to keeping God’s law, as passed down through Moses (albeit, with much of their own agenda thrown into the mix).

God had entreated them to come in by sending his Son, but they had thus far rejected the idea in their anger and disdain for the sinners Jesus receives. The same would be true, even of other Jews, when Gentiles were openly received. The parable ended with the elder son still not coming in. Would he finally come in? The question for those Pharisees, if they heard and understood, was whether they would put away their foolish anger and pride, and come into God’s kingdom as well.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Luke 5 – Levi, the Tax Collector

Luke gives us just five verses in chapter five about the tax collector Levi. As was true of many others in those times, he was known by another name – one that is more familiar to most of us, Matthew. One might wonder why people with the occupation of being a tax collector are spoken of so harshly by people in the Bible (particularly the pious Pharisees).

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. Fr...

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. French School. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 3861. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section Q. disputes with the establishment. Mark 10:2-12, 11:27-33, 12:13-27, 12:35-37. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-the-gospel-of-mark-section-q-to-r (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These tax collectors were part of a system of “tax farming.” Although the practice existed in other countries, it was set up in the Roman Empire by the Roman tribune, Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 B.C.  In Roman provinces, the taxes owed to the empire by an entire region might be paid by one wealthy individual, who in turn would “farm out” the collection of taxes from the people. It was a system that fostered corruption and fraud; and any Jew that involved himself in the practice was especially despised by the people.

We are not told specifically that Matthew was guilty of any of those practices, but are left with that impression; and the company he keeps (verse 29) certainly suggests it as well. Just as was true of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, we should not assume that this was Jesus’ first encounter with Levi (Matthew) in his Capernaum “home base.” This was likely a relationship that he had begun to nurture some time ago, and the feast that he prepared for Jesus suggests this as well.

Of course, the Pharisees were scandalized that Jesus was eating with Levi and his tax collector friends, and they and their scribes “grumbled” at his disciples because of his propensity to eat with sinners of all types. His answer was “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” And it is that love that Jesus has for the lost that we must always remember. If Jesus had come to earth today instead of then, what sorts of people would he have been seen with? And what would the reaction be from those of us who try to serve God? Do we spend enough time and energy on, or associate at all with people we believe to be lost?

The Pharisees question the lack of fasting by Jesus’ disciples in the final verses of the chapter. It must be remembered that the frequent fasting that was especially characteristic of the teaching of the Pharisees was not based on any Biblical authority. The Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:29-31 was the only Scripture that appeared to require fasting. His answer comparing Himself to a bridegroom, and the reference to being “taken away,” would be mysterious to them, but Luke’s readers will understand it in relation to His crucifixion.

It is doubtful as well that they understood the meaning behind the parable that followed. The new garments and new wineskins are obvious references to the new kingdom and the new covenant. Those like the Pharisees, who are so heavily invested in the old law, will have a difficult time accepting the change.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Extraordinary Things

Luke brings us the story of Jesus healing a paralytic man. This one is told in all three of the synoptic Gospels. In verse 17 of chapter 5, Luke is illustrating just how much Jesus’ notoriety had increased following the cleansing of the leper. Among those who were listening to Him teach were Pharisees and “teachers of the law” (scribes) who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea, as well as some from Jerusalem. So the size of this gathering was quite substantial.

Jesus healed a paralyzed man who was let down to Him through a roof (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:12-26).

Jesus healed a paralyzed man who was let down to Him through a roof (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:12-26).

Each of the Gospels holds some details not contained in the other two concerning the account of this event, which only serves to make the independent accounts more credible. Though Luke does not say what city Jesus is in at this time, by reading about it in Matthew 9:1-8 and in Mark 2:1-12, we find that He is “at home” in Capernaum. Capernaum was where He lived then – at least “home base.” Luke does not tell us at what home or building He was teaching when this occurred. Wherever they were, the crowd was so large that the men who had brought a paralyzed man on a bed could not get through the thick of it. So they went on the roof and removed enough tiles to lower the bed down to Jesus so that He could heal the man.

Surely, the men that went to all this trouble were relatives of the paralyzed man. Their desperate act of faith certainly got the attention of Jesus. When He told the paralyzed man that His sins were forgiven, it provoked a reaction from the Pharisees and scribes that were present. They were thinking that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, since only God can forgive sins. It was the thought Jesus expected from them, and He then demonstrated His divine authority by having the paralyzed man walk – not just get up and walk, but carry his own bed with him.

This left the Pharisees and scribes there with the conclusion that Jesus had given them – He has the authority to forgive sins.  Almost everywhere that we read of Pharisees, we read of a negative response from them toward Jesus. But this was not universally the case. It is estimated that there were literally thousands of Pharisees in those days – and though many were blind to the truth where Jesus was concerned, not all of them were. Consider Nichodemus, for example (John 3:1-2).  Here in verse 26, Luke says “…amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe…”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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