Day 296 (Oct 23): Woman praised by Jesus for anointing Him with perfume, Jesus enters jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus foretells His death, God speaks

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.

Mark 14:3-9

Matthew 26:6-13

John 12:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Matthew 21:1-11

Luke 19:28-40

John 12:12-19

Luke 19:41-44

John 12:20-36

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-11): I understand what Jesus is saying that this woman is so honored to anoint Jesus with this wonderful perfume.  But, I understand the other’s response that it was using perfume that could have been sold to help the poor.  We have talked before about how different churches use their money to glorify God: some build ornate buildings and have huge choirs, others put their resources to mission work.  So, I think both responses to how the perfume is used are honorable.  I know you will likely say that this is Jesus and there is nothing more important.  I am not arguing about that!  I’m just saying I can understand why their knee-jerk response was that the perfume could have helped others.  And, they had no idea Jesus was about to be buried, thus the anointing was appropriate.  And, why did Jesus say, “there would always be poor among you”?

A. I think the disciples were put off by the lavishness of the gesture, and their reaction might also had something to do with jealousy — likely they could not afford to make such a gesture to their exalted Rabbi.  But Jesus sets things straight — you can hardly blame ME for just following what Jesus told them!: He will only be with them a bit longer, and He is surely right about the gesture being remembered — look what we’re doing here.  As to why Jesus statement about the poor, I honestly don’t know what to tell you here, except to say: Jesus is right, there has always been those who were poor or had need, in Jesus’ day and in ours.

Q. (Mark 11:11): Why did Jesus look at the temple and then leave?

A. I do not know, but He will return on Monday.

Q. (Mark 11:2, Matthew 21:2, Luke 19:30, John 12:14): Why a young donkey?  I guess that John tells us it was in a prophecy.  Where was the prophecy?

A. It’s from Zechariah 9:9: a humble King will come riding on a donkey.  The donkey was a symbol of peace and the simple life: It was a burden animal, not an animal of war like a stallion or a warhorse.  It cast an image of a humble king, one who came in peace, not in an image of impending war and conquest.

Q. (Luke 19:41-44): I guess you are going to make us wait to see the destruction come to Jerusalem that Jesus is talking about in v. 44?  This must be very upsetting for Jesus to know that the very town that holds the beautiful Temple and had all the potential to be God’s beacon, never happened.  This is a very heavy passage.  There is so much emotion here.  All of the ancestors who could have turned Israel’s fate around, failed.  All of the kings who should have ruled the people justly and taught them about the Lord’s laws are now at a juxtaposition with Jesus, the true King who is riding on a donkey to set Jerusalem straight.  And, remember that God never wanted Israel to have a King because He was supposed to serve as their Light, but they failed to keep their faith.  When they came to the Promised Land out of Egypt they failed to conquer all of the kingdoms.  And, thus, the idols that they worshipped infiltrated Israel and it never was the same.  This is a sad, sad culmination of centuries of discord.

A. Not only will I have more to say, but Jesus will too.  Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem that will take place in 70 AD, which the Romans will level the city down to its foundations in most places during a war with the Jews (they will do so again in 135 AD as well).  You can pretty clearly see the bittersweet thoughts Jesus is having, and it must have been so difficult for Him, but the offer He was making was being ignored and will continue to be.  It’s just one more place where the free will that God gives us and wholly respects comes into play: Jesus had no desire for the residents of the city to perish, but they made their choices and God respects our decision making too much to interfere.

Q. (John 12:20-36): I noticed in this passage that Jesus never answered the request that the Greeks wanted to talk with Him, nor did he answer the crowd’s question of who He was.  Instead, he offered the best advice He could offer them which is to trust in Him.

A. You’re catching on.  I couldn’t have said it better.

Day 293 (Oct. 20): Jesus resurrects Lazarus, Caiaphas plots to kill Jesus, 10 healed but only one is grateful, Kingdom of God is coming, persistent prayers get answered

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.

John 11:38-57

Luke 17:11-18:8

Questions & Observations

O. (John 11: 46-48): It would have been much easier if the Pharisees had taken what they had seen for good instead of a threat.  I think they still saw Jesus as a Jew (meaning a “lesser” person) and he was a mere carpenter from Nazareth.  So, this undeserving weakling (to them) was a threat that they needed to squash.  I know I have this same kind of mentality toward some people and some toward me.  I have a friend who is going through all this nutritional cleansing and at first I thought it was just a hoax — but it held my interest because I am always interested in nutrition and have open ears for some of my own medical issues — and then she recently shared how she had woken up the last three days at 6 a.m. with her alarm and she felt bright and ready for the day.  My brain tells me to not believe it, but my heart can’t deny that she does look brighter and I would like to feel awake in the morning.  So, I can see how you can’t see the forest for the trees or whatever that saying is.  Also, I think I’ve said this before that when I told several of my family — even my mom — that I was doing this blog, they seemed to me to kind of shrug at it, like “we’ll see.”  I think dreams are often squashed — not intentionally — by those closest to us.  I don’t know why humans have made affirmation so important, but we need to rise above it, pay attention to our talents and what Jesus has commissioned us to do.  I know this is a little off to what this Scripture is about, but I think it’s an important point that we judge people because we think we know them.  Instead, we should lift them up whole-heartedly!

Q. (John 11:55-57): I can see the drama building.  Jesus is the talk of the crowd and they are wondering — probably wanting — Him to show up, either to see Him for themselves or to see the drama build between Him and the church leaders.

A. It’s not just that.  One of the expectations of the Messiah is that He would arrive in Jerusalem (as described in Zechariah 9) and from there, change everything.  Two things: Jesus will fulfill this prophecy on Palm Sunday, but the crowd will greatly misunderstand what Jesus has come to do.  They expected Him to lead a bloody, violent overthrow of the Roman oppressor, and establish God’s Kingdom that way.  Obviously, we know that Jesus had something else in mind.  But nonetheless, it is no surprise that the people were on tip-toe, so to speak, waiting for Him: they had great expectation that Jesus, if He was the true Messiah, would usher in a new age.  Hold this imagery in your mind for when we read the reactions to Jesus’ entry into the city on Palm Sunday.

O. (Luke 17:19b): I like the footnote version better, “Your faith has saved you.”

Q. (17:31-36): Is this scripture talking about the resurrection or Jesus coming again to judge? Leaving all your possessions — and your loved ones — behind would be very hard.  We have talked about this before.  Since my husband and I are both believers, we’d both be walking toward Jesus.  I think there would be some gathering of children — although, I know Jesus would take care of them.  I think this picture is more of what the end result will look like.  Families will be divided, coworkers staying behind, checkerboard neighborhoods with some gone and some staying behind, etc.

A. This passage and others like it are images of what we call the Rapture: people just disappearing in the midst of their daily lives.  To be honest, I am unsure how to interpret this passage in light of other stories of Christ’s return and the Final Judgment that will be ushered in by Jesus’ return.  It is a mystery of the faith, but it is one we will continue to explore.

Q. (18:1-8): Just believe that God will take care of us.  But, keep believing in Him by praying and praying persistently, which keeps your faith focused on him.

A. I think it serves as a reminder that there is great value in being a person who prays daily with faith in the idea that God is listening and desires to hear from us.  What an amazing thought: God DESIRES our input!

Day 292 (Oct. 19): Disciples must give up their life, lost sheep parable, lost coin parable, lost son parable, shrewd manager parable, resurrection of Lazarus, severe punishment for those who tempt

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.

Luke 14:25-17:10

John 11:1-37

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: is of emotional pain (not anger), and being deeply moved by the death of His friend.