Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (John 6:37): What does Jesus mean by “those the Father has given me”?
A. It would appear to be saying those God has selected for salvation. You can take it as a mark of predestination or not (I personally do not, but understand why people do), but the most important thing that both sides agree on is salvation comes from God’s actions, not ours.
Q. (6:41): I can imagine that these people think Jesus is telling wild stories because they know he is Joseph and Mary’s son. So, we can see that they have to be hit on the head — meaning they have to be shocked by Jesus being crucified and resurrected — to acknowledge that Jesus is special. You said a day or two back when Mary and her children came hollering for Jesus to come out and join them that they thought He was “losing” it. I would think that Mary would be fully supporting Jesus because she knows how He came to be. I would think that she would validate that Jesus was sent from heaven to those who thought He was delusional.
A. No one (even Jesus’ family) had any idea the steps that Jesus/God would take to have Him fulfill His role as Messiah and be “crowned” eternal King in a deadly ceremony (watch for coronation imagery in the crucifixion story). Even if Mary obviously understood Jesus’ origins that would be no guarantee she would understand what God was doing in the long term. Don’t worry, the family comes around!
Q. (6:46): I guess this means that no one has seen God in full form; He always appeared as an angel (but we don’t know what He looks like, so it could have been Him.) Moses was with God on Mount Sinai and He saw Him in the burning bush, Jacob is thought to have wrestled with Him, Abraham saw Him. But, if Jesus says that no one has seen God but Him, I would take His word for it and think that these other OT occurrences were not God himself.
A. I think Jesus means no one has seen the full deity of God, and it would be impossible for the finite to absorb the infinite. We have encountered places where we have seen messengers, and glimpses of God, but never the whole Person.
Q. (6:52, 60): This is what you have said about the crucifixion making everything make sense? Without the crucifixion and resurrection, none of Jesus talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood would make sense. And, this is the answer to v. 60: Most will not understand nor accept who Jesus is until they see Him nailed to the cross.
A. Even then they won’t understand it. Only after His resurrection will it become clear.
Q. (Mark 7:7): So, their laws, like hand washing, are not ordered by God. But, because the priests hands had to be cleansed — washed — before making sacrifices, they made a law that everyone had to wash their hands before they ate. Then, they put authority to it and made it an offense to eat with dirty hands. When, it’s not even God’s law, but they get bent out of shape by the offenders. Thus, they are losing site of God’s purpose.
A. They would not have called it law, they called it tradition as we see in this story. But you’ve got the idea right: they adapted portions of the Law and expanded them in ways that God never intended. In doing so, they stripped away the meaning that the sense of compassion central to the Law and just kept to manmade traditions.
Q. (Mark 7:15, 19): Jesus is addressing the “meat” and “kosher” rules here, right? I don’t think he’s saying you can stuff your face with Little Debbies and be OK with it. He is saying that the food laws about what animals you can and can’t eat are no longer an issue.
A. He is altering the course of subsequent Christian understanding about eating various foods. It has nothing to do with what kind of food you choose (a radical break, frankly, from Jewish tradition), but rather was His way of addressing the more pertinent issue here, as Matthew emphasizes: the Pharisees were convinced that the most important issue was the WASHING. This, as Jesus reminds them, has NOTHING to do with holiness, only man’s tradition. I suspect that was what He was getting at, but in doing so, He demonstrated a first step in the move from legalism to freedom (something Paul will take up later).
Q. (Matthew 15:13): Jesus is talking about false prophets here when he says, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted?”
A. Nope, He’s talking about the religious leaders that are opposing Him here. He correctly notes that their rule will soon be at an end (the city will be destroyed within a generation of Jesus’ death). So in that regard, Jesus’ followers should follow what He is teaching them, rather than those who will soon lose their seat of power.
Q. (15:19): Rob, would you say that an accurate definition of defile means “being unworthy of God’s love”? Notice that all the things listed here — evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander — are things that would hurt others physically and emotionally. Thus, if you hurt others, you hurt God. Another word for not having these sins is “pure at heart.” That’s what I’m striving for, but wow, does it take some soul searching to get rid of some learned and innate thought processes, and focusing on God. How many times have you said something negative about someone? You don’t know their full story. God made them and He loves them just like He loves you. So, what right do you have to say anything negative about anyone? Besides, it’s His place to judge, not ours! How many times have you took a trip down memory lane thinking about an old love. That hurts your spouse. Even if he or she doesn’t realize it, your thought processes are not engaged with him or her and you can start questioning your affections for him or her. So, see it’s not just the murderers, thieves and liars, we all need to keep watch on our heart!
A. Even on our best day, we are unworthy of God’s love, but this does not prevent Him from choosing to love us. I think defiling here means something more like, “choosing to go our own way, against the desires of God”. Watch for the way that Jesus will pull together some of this language when we get to Luke 15. But regardless of my semantic disagreement with you, I feel that you have soundly grasped the danger and inherent ugliness to many of our sins. It is hard to change our ways: it is in our nature to keep going back and making bad decisions, but God has offered us a way out, and from there it is not just knowing the way out, but choosing to walk it.