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. (Matthew 21:28-32): This is what I think is the “moral to this story”: So, Jesus is saying that, in their hearts, the tax collector and prostitutes believe in Him, but were not following yet. And, the ones who followed God, were not committed in their hearts. So, the ones who believe are better off with God than the ones who follow Him by sight alone.
A. I would call that is pretty close. The younger son is the one paying lip service to obeying his Father, but ultimately does not do what the Father says — this is the way that Jesus has repeatedly described the religious leaders. The older son represents those who are truly following the wishes of the Father, even if they aren’t on the “inside.” They are doing what is right, which is what the Father ultimately desires.
Q. (Mark 12:1-12, Mathew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19): So, I got this one. The farmers are obviously the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, the landowner is God, the servants are prophets and Jesus is His favored son. The farmers don’t listen to the prophets, so God sends His son to see if they will obey Him. They still don’t, they reject Him. So, Jesus puts the question to the farmers, or church leaders, as to what will happen next. You would think this would open the leaders eyes to their evil ways. Then, Jesus gives them another example of them rejecting Him, but then He becomes the cornerstone. I like Luke’s version where he says that anyone who stumbles over the stone — fails to see Jesus’s teachings — will be destroyed. I also noted that those who have thought they were the heirs to the Kingdom of God lose their inheritance because of their assumptions that, by default, the kingdom is theirs. But, they are not following God’s intentions. They are following their own selfish ways. So, the Kingdom of God will be granted to those who they have trampled on.
A. Spot on. Nothing to add here.
Q. (Matthew 22:1-14): God and Jesus use a lot of wedding imagery between them and their followers. Can you talk about that? Also, this is an easy story to understand. But, how about explaining the last verse, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” I’m not sure what “chosen” means. I would guess it means, “For many are called, but few are worthy.”
A. If you think weddings are a big event here, then you would REALLY be impressed by the wedding feast imagery Jesus is talking about. Weddings in the ancient world were huge festivals, especially when a ruler such as the king in this story was throwing it. As we mentioned a few days ago, the festival could go for days, and the exact “end” of the wedding was not entirely known. One other note that we find humorous: after the actual ceremony, the new happy couple would leave the group and go to, uh…consummate the union. The wedding party itself literally WOULD NOT BEGIN until they had returned. Isn’t that something?
We need to compare the two sections of the story in order to understand what Jesus is telling us at the end. First, the call: the call is one that, metaphorically, goes out to all humanity. But many do not answer, mostly because like the people in this story, they are too busy with their own business and internally focused. But the man who is in the midst of the party and not in a wedding outfit — you were expected to wear your best clothes to a wedding, just as today, and many times the host would prescribe or even provide an outfit — brings into focus the last section of the story. It points back to Jesus’s message in Matthew 7:21-23: not everyone who comes to the party will be able to partake of it. The image that I have seen used to help us understand the passage is the wedding clothes represent the work of Christ covering up our sins (the “dirty” clothes). Those who arrive at the “party” without the proper garment (the blood of Jesus atoning for their sins) will, sadly, be cast out. Without the proper attire, which can only come for the true King, we are lost on our own. Without a proper outfit, you cannot be “chosen”.
Q. (Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26): What does Jesus mean by “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”
A. The clue is in what Jesus asks for: a Roman coin called a denarius (the equivalent of the pay for a day’s wages). In Jesus’s day, this coin would have borne the stamped image of the Emperor Tiberius. That is, the coin had the “image” of Caesar. And if we go back all the way to Genesis 1, we note there that man and woman were made in the image of God. So Jesus is basically making a simple and profound statement about our loyalties: give to Caesar, He says, the things that bear the image of Caesar (the coins), since they “belong to him.” But, He also says, the things that bear the image of God (us) belong to God, and by extension…not to Caesar. In summary, Jesus is saying it is right to give to earthly leaders what is owed to them (taxes), but that their leadership pales in comparison to He who made US in His image.
Q. (Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40): Obviously, Jesus is much wiser than me because I don’t understand this one. All I can guess is that He is saying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not dead. He is the Living God. And, if He lives in us, we are eternally alive. But, we do die an earthly death and then, when Jesus comes, we will rise again to be alive. Right? So, we would be dead for a time.
A. Our bodies are mortal, and will die, but our souls are immortal, and can be given the gift of eternal life from faith in Christ. We will talk more about what the NT says about our resurrection when we get into Paul’s letters, but that’s enough for now.