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. (Luke 14:27): Ok, what does “carry your own cross” mean exactly? I think it’s going to be a good answer!
A. It was part of the burden of the person who was going to be crucified to carry their own cross, kind of like if you were required to carry a noose to the sight of your hanging or your own electric chair. This was part of the humiliation involved in the crucifixion process — more on that later). Jesus is using an image His audience was familiar with (and they would be VERY familiar with it soon) to describe the burden (easy and light as Jesus tells us, but still a burden) that must be considered before starting to follow after God. It is actually a problem I have experienced first hand in our evangelism efforts: we who share the Gospel message often proclaim it in such a way as to mask the cost of following Jesus. There is a cost to be considered, and it is wrong for us to make any sort of claim otherwise. Count the cost, Jesus says, then follow Me.
Q. (14:34-35): So, basically, if you are not ready to follow Jesus it would be like dead weight tagging along with him. Accurate?
A. Don’t forget what we have established when Jesus uses the word “salt”: salt is the essence of the Gospel, that which preserves and flavors life. Without the salt of the Gospel, life will ultimately end up without meaning: that’s how it ends up on the manure pile.
Q. (14:7, 15:8-10, 15:11-22): This isn’t to say that the one is more important than the 99, right? Just that there is more joy because the lost sinner has returned.
A. The parable says nothing of importance, just of joy and celebration at repentence.
Q. (16:1-18): I had to read this several times to understand you have to read the whole passage to get the message. Basically, the Pharisees are honest on paper, but not in their souls. And, just because a Pharisee appears to be godly, God’s laws are firm and not blind to the Pharisees injustices. How’s that, Rob?
A. This is a tricky passage, no doubt about it. In my reading and studying this passage, I have found that there is NOT a deep theological meaning contained in it: Jesus is basically saying, “you have got to be shrewd like the people of this world, but do so in a way that you are thinking of the next world, not just this one.” That’s it.
Q. (16:19-31): So I take it that the rich man was an Israelite and would know God’s laws. There had to be people who didn’t know them. As I heard in a sermon, only 4% of the population could read. And, the Bible manuscripts wouldn’t have been available to many at all. So, the rich man had to be sent to the place of the dead knowing he was not compassionate.
A. The rich man most likely represents a king or other ruler (possibly Herod Antipas, who was known to wear purple robes during his rule. Purple was the most expensive color of that day. So if it is Antipas, then he was not a Jew, but would have been familiar with Jewish customs. He is in torment not for being rich, but for his lack of generosity. Note that the rich man does not deny his crimes, but rather looks for mercy from Abraham. A few other notes: the concept of Abraham’s side was something of a short-hand for “heaven” or “paradise” in Jesus’ day (they used it the way we use the image of the pearly gates and St. Peter). As with our understanding of these images, they did NOT treat them as literal, just as we don’t believe that heaven is a gated community with a doorman. It’s just an image of our culture. Jesus is using this familiar image to warn people about the reality of a lack of generosity, and what it can cost. Note the powerful image of the great chasm in the story: there is a gap between those in paradise and those in torment, and no one can “move” unless the gap is overcome. Jesus also cleverly inserts a frankly brilliant line about not being convinced even if someone comes back from the dead. Both of those lines are major foreshadowing on Jesus’ part. I love the deep images of this parable.
Q. (17:1-2): To me, someone who is tempting another to sin is like Satan himself.
A. Satan is sure not above that type of thing.
Q. (17:7-10): So, this story paints a picture that as Jesus servants, we are to serve Him without expecting a “thank you” — he doesn’t need to thank us anyway after he died on the cross. This picture sounds bleak. But, in reality, I see the opposite: Following Jesus brings joy.
A. This parable is meant to be a lesson on knowing our place and being humble before the One True King. Jesus is basically telling His disciples, who are a little too eager for power, that they are merely servants. For the moment, that is enough.
Q. (John 11:33-37): In v. 33-34, I don’t understand why Jesus was angry. I take it he is upset because his friend is dead and because Mary is wailing and He doesn’t like to see her like that.
A. I don’t think He was, and I dislike the way they have translated that word. The image I get (see for yourself: http://biblehub.com/text/john/11-33.htm) is of emotional pain (not anger), and being deeply moved by the death of His friend.