Day 315 (Nov. 11): Cornelius Calls for Peter, Peter’s Vision, Peter at Cornelius’s House, Peter Explains His Actions, The Church in Antioch, Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

Day 315 (Nov. 11): 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.

Acts 10:1-12:5

Questions & Observations

Q. I enjoyed today’s reading and thought it was very easy to follow.  To me, the central theme of it was that God is erasing the lines between Jews and Gentiles.  He is fading out many of the old laws that were just for the Israelites.  The disciples and other believers in Jesus are now allowed to preach to the Gentiles.  However, it appears that there is still plenty of dissent out there from those religious leaders with hardened hearts who are standing by the old law and using it to persecute others.

A. Yes there are, and there are also Christian Jews who continue to question exactly how God is moving among the Gentiles, but we will see that the Spirit will guide Paul in preaching to the Gentiles and also to the Jewish Christians to bring them around.

Q. (Acts 10:9-16): So, for anyone, including the Jewish religious leaders, to understand that God was making food clean to eat that once was unclean and for them to know that God’s kingdom is for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, they would have to listen to the disciples preaching about it.  They were not privy to this information even though they were in a high position.  I can see how this would manifest jealousy and anger in the Jewish leaders.

A. The Jewish leaders who have not proclaimed faith in Jesus, frankly, will not be a part of this story much longer.  This is about what God (specifically the Spirit) is doing through these few thousand Christians and their leaders.

Q. (Acts 12:1-5): The disciples must have been somewhat discouraged by Stephen and James’ death.  Jesus sent them to spread the Good News, but now two followers have died.

A. He warned them about that repeatedly — specifically in John 15:18-25.  The world kills what it hates, which is why millions are still dying for the Gospel today.  But, Jesus reminds us, that He has already won the victory, and that nothing that happens to His true followers — including death — can change that. (From Leigh An: Our pastor spoke about the Bible Hall of Fame on Sunday.  He mentioned “this cloud of witnesses” — Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, etc. — in Hebrews 12:1-3.  I think it says everything I need to say about the disciples having the right mindset to continue their mission. (Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)

Day 314 (Nov. 10): Believers spread after Stephen’s persecution, Philip preaches in Samaria, Philp and the eunuch, Saul’s converts to Christianity

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.

Acts 8b-9:43

Questions & Observations

O. (Acts 9:10-18): God is so smart to use Saul, the very many persecuting Christians, to spread His message.  Just when I think I may understand the ins and outs of following and understanding God, I lose it.  He is so many steps in front of me that it’s crazy to try to figure out my future.  Yet, I struggle with it daily.  I thought I was in control of my life, pretty much, until I had kids.  I graduated from college, moved to Hawaii, worked super hard and found a great job, got married, had children, stopped working, moved around with military hubby, have two great kids, a house in a great neighborhood, but we are struggling financially.  I used to be able to control my own state of being by working hard.  I work hard and make good money.  Now, my skills are outdated and my attractiveness to employers is nil, as far as I know.  My point is that it’s hard to leave all of what you know behind, the control, and give it to God.  But, like we see with Ananias and Saul, you can never predict how God will orchestrate your situation to help you and others.  It’s so hard to let control go!

Q. (9:36-41): Did Jesus pretty much give the disciples all of the miraculous abilities that He had.  They must have proclaimed Jesus extensively for the people to look past the disciples’ miracles and give that credit to Jesus.  I wonder if the disciples’ ever struggled with any of them thinking that they were powerful themselves and not so much from Jesus — they were taking the glory instead of giving it to God?

A. The text implies that their power is coming by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but since He is part of the Godhead, it is the same “powers” that Jesus had during His time on earth.  One of the most important things to understand about Acts — and the writer Luke keeps reminding us — is that the Gospel is being proclaimed everywhere the Apostles and followers went.  This story contains numerous powerful stories of God using terrible circumstances to turn people to Him.  God used the death of Stephen and the persecution of the Church to force God’s people to move in all new directions, and as the text tells us, they proclaimed their message everywhere they went.  One in particular is the encounter between Philip and the eunuch.  A cool bit of history with one of the stories: the largest church in Ethiopia, called the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Orthodox_Tewahedo_Church), one of the oldest in the ENTIRE WORLD, traces its origins all the way back to this encounter between Philip and this ambassador, probably a Jewish convert.  Now imagine how many people have heard the Gospel proclaimed throughout the ages because of Philip’s faithfulness to the Spirit during that day.  That, I think, gives you a glimpse into the long game that God is playing, and we rarely receive more than a glimpse into how that plan is moving along.  Those glimpses are simply amazing to me!

Day 308 (Nov. 4): Simon ordered to carry Jesus cross, Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, devoted women followed Jesus to the cross, crowd jeered at Jesus, crowd mocked “king of Jews” sign, Jesus treated like a nobody, soldiers gambled for His clothes, Jesus cries out to God and dies, Temple curtains torn from top to bottom

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 15:21-24

Matthew 27:32-34

Luke 23:26-31

John 19:17

Mark 15:25-32

Matthew 27:35-44

Luke 23:32-43

John 19:18-27

Mark 15:33-41

Matthew 27:45-56

Luke 23:44-49

John 19:28-37

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 15:40-41): I have noticed that these accounts have made it a point to mention all the women that were at the cross.

A. Yes, and to me, it is a great tribute to their inner strength that in the midst of all but one of Jesus’ disciples fleeing in fear (John was there — “the disciple Jesus loved” is John’s humble way of referring to himself), these women are there to witness this awful event.  The fact that multiple Gospels mentions their presence only adds to the authenticity of this detail.

Q. (Matthew 27:51): Why were things splitting apart?  I assume God was reacting to the scene?  And what, people were raised from the dead?  I have never heard that before.  It sure pays to read the Bible myself.  Why were the dead raised and went to Jerusalem?

A. I’ll address the curtain splitting in half below, but the basic answer I can give you is that the Earth itself is reacting to Jesus’ death: the sky grows dark, the earth shakes, etc.  We are not given any more details on the raised bodies, since none of the other gospels mentions them, so we don’t know who it was (or if it is even names we would recognize).  Matthew is pointing to the power of resurrection in Jesus’ death, and giving us a “mini” Easter.  The raised people were probably from Jerusalem, so that is most likely why they went there.

O. (John 19:31-37): Glad I didn’t live back then.  These people were ruthless!

Q. (John 19:32-33): Why did the soldiers break the legs of the other men who were being crucified?

A. To answer that, you have to understand what happens during a Roman crucifixion.  The body is not simply on display (though that is part of it) and you don’t bleed to death due to the holes in your hands/wrists and feet.  A Roman crucifixion is a torturous death indeed: you die slowly by suffocation.  With your arms spread on the cross and nailed down, your diaphragm muscle cannot pull in air, so you can’t breathe.  But its not a simple as that: your body WILL NOT LET YOU not breathe, so you are forced to pull up on your hands in order to raise your body and breathe.  That would be easy…except that your feet are nailed down as well.  So you can spend hours (like Jesus, who died in “only” six hours) or even days (imagine that…) going through an endless cycle of torture in which you pull your own weight up in order to breathe, and then “relax”, and over and over and over.  (Leigh An: I can see why saying that “Jesus breathed His last breath” — because it was excrutiatingly laborious — was a big deal.) The entire point is to torture and to cause the death to take as long as possible.  It is one of the cruelest methods of execution ever devised.

So in order to speed up the process of dying, the soldiers would break your leg bones, at which point you can no longer push up on them, and your death comes fairly quickly, which is what the Jews requested of Pilate.  The brutality of such an execution is hard to even fathom.

Q. (Question from Rob): This is where I said I would discuss it…why DID Jesus have to die?

A. In discussing this question, we have to remember the ritual sacrifice system that was at the heart of Jewish Law.  In order to atone for sin (that is, to transfer the effects of sin from a person to another being), there had to be a sacrifice of blood (“This is my blood, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sin” is the way Jesus put it).  In the OT, this was done by sacrificing a lamb or other animal: a perfect specimen was offered for the sin.  The sinner laid hands upon the animal, signaling the acknowledgment that this animal was about to die for their sin, and then the animal was killed and the blood spread on the altar.  The spilled blood symbolized the atonement for the sin because sin causes death, and therefore requires a life — either the life of the sinner or the life of the animal.

So in Jesus, we see what John meant when he referred to Him as the “Lamb of God” in John 1: Jesus entered into suffering and death not merely on behalf of one sin, but for ALL sin.  He willingly accepted the punishment that was rightly due to us: suffering and death.  This is the central concept of what is called atonement theology: Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice, that we might be reconciled to God, just as the Jews had done with animals for centuries.

Now when we say that God and man were reconciled, we mean that they were reunited, the way that God had originally intended before sin separated us from Him.  We can see this reconciliation in one of the most important descriptions of the Passion story: the rending of the Temple curtain.  Nowhere was the separation between God and man more clear than at this point: the massive, forty-foot curtain that separated the Holy place (where the priest would burn incense day and night) and the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant used to reside).  Now after the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC, there is no record of the Ark again, but the great stone upon which the Ark was traditionally rested (called the Foundation Stone) was still behind this curtain, and it was here upon that stone that the High Priest would offer his sacrifices on behalf of the community once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).  So though the Ark was gone, the divide remained.  But the narrators of our story tell us that when Jesus died, something changed in the world, for all time.  At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain split in two (note that it tells us it was from top to bottom- showing this to be an act of God), signifying that the separation between God and man had been breeched.  Because of Jesus’ actions, God and man no longer needed to be separated to protect humanity: they had been reconciled by the work of Jesus.  This reconciliation will be central for our understanding of the whole of the remaining NT theology: God has done a new thing in Jesus.  Because of this, we can become adopted as children of God, who are free to receive the blessings of the Kingdom: most notably, the very Presence of the Spirit of God within us.  So our reading today is paradigm shifting: after this moment, the gap between God and man has been bridged, and because of that, everything else that will take place in the NT will become possible.

Day 303 (Oct. 30): Jesus predicts Peter’s denial, reach God through Jesus, Jesus tells of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the true vine,

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 13:31-38

 

Mark 14:27-31

 

Matthew 26:31-35

 

Luke 22:31-38

 

John 14:1-14

John 14:15-31

 

John 15:1-17

Questions & Observations

Q. (John 13:31-38, mark 14:27-31, Matthew 26:31-35, Luke 22:31-38): Why is it important that Peter deny Jesus three times?

A. It shows just how fearful Peter’s heart truly is.  He is not ready for this challenge.

OOOOOO.  (John 14:1-14): My new favorite passage.  Wow, does this bring comfort and joy!!!!!

Q. (John 14:6): This may seem very kindergarten, but I thought you may have a humdinger for an answer.  What does Jesus mean by “the way, the truth and the life”?  I take it as Jesus has shown us the WAY we should live, the TRUTH that means he is the son of God and the LIFE means living eternally.

A. I believe that He is telling us that He is the essence of God in human form, what John has been proclaiming all along: Jesus provides us the way to God in Himself and His sacrifice, He proclaimed the True way not just in teachings, but in His actions, and He shows that to be with God is to live, without Him we die.

Q. (John 14:9-11): So, why do some religions, like Judaism, not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  Why do they deny the NT?

A. Well, there are lots of reasons, but ultimately they come down to knowing who Jesus is.  Jews, for example, could not reconcile a Messiah as a suffering figure: They see the Messiah as a triumphant figure who will establish an earthly Kingdom.  Since Jesus was defeated in death, they reject Him as Messiah — their Messiah would never die.  So, since the death and resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the NT, it is little wonder that many Jews deny it, lock, stock, and barrel.  (I would be remiss if I did not point out that many Jews have never read it, and mistakenly assume it is a manual on how to attack the Jewish faith).  Many other religions stumble over Christ’s death and resurrection as well.  Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, but argue that the Messiah could never be defeated and die on a cross — they say he only appeared to die.  They also strongly align themselves with Jews in saying that there is only one God, and therefore Jesus can’t be God in human form.  I think this is a poor representation of the understanding of the Trinity (Christians are often accused of worshipping 3 gods by Jews and Muslims), but it is typically the reason.  Other religions have some important doctrines — such as reincarnation in Hinduism and Buddhism — that do not jive well with the NT, so they go elsewhere as well.  There are lots of critiques of the NT by scholars who seek to take it apart in order to find the “real” Jesus, as opposed to the one the Gospels describe — because He couldn’t possibly be real, dead men don’t come back!  It is little wonder that Paul will talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus as a “stumbling block” to many and “foolishness” to others, but note what he adds: but to those of us who have faith, it is the power of God at work in us.  The resurrection is typically the line in the sand.

Q. (John 14:12-14): How can anyone do greater works than Jesus?  And, what does Jesus mean by ask anything in His name?  When we pray, we are supposed to say “in Jesus name, we pray?”  My hubby says that’s just if you are asking God for something.

A. Because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, which is basically make us children of God via adoption (more on that in Paul’s letters), we are able to boldly approach the throne of God with our requests and make our hearts known to God in prayer.  That is what it means to ask for our prayers in the name of Jesus.  It is Jesus who has opened the door to the throne room that we might approach the King.

Q. (John 14:26): Am I right in saying that all who believe in Jesus are provided with the Holy Spirit which will show us the way?  When I talk to God or Jesus, many times I feel like I am picturing them while I am talking to them.  I have always just talked to Jesus and God though.  I listen to the Holy Spirit, but don’t request things from Him or discuss anything.  Are we supposed to talk to all three the same or differently?

A. Jesus is describing the Holy Spirit as our personal guide to God, and He works to remind us of Jesus’ words and the words of Scripture.  So with that mindset, I would say that addressing the Spirit with praise when He helps you remember a verse, for example, might be a good example of conversing with Him.  The Spirit is just as much God as the Father or Son, and our prayer life should reflect that.  We will see the Spirit really come into power in Acts, so let’s watch for how the Spirit leads then.

Q. (John 14:27): The peace Jesus leaves us with is Him showing us the way to live and that He is powerful and will come back to take us to with Him.  And, He leaves the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit leads us through life, if we let Him.  We talked about the Holy Spirit in the OT, right?  He has always been around, just like Jesus?

A. God, in the three Persons, is eternal, and not bound in time.  The Spirit is surely a big part of the OT: by my count, there were nearly 200 references to the Spirit being at work in the midst of Israel, from Genesis 1:2 and on down.

O&Q. (John 15:1-17): Another awesome passage.  Today’s reading feels like it’s changing my attitude — making me less pessimistic (taking out some of that yucky gray matter) and more filled with love and joy.  I do hope that this Scripture is for all of us and not just the disciples.

A. It is indeed.  John is recording these words that multitudes of people will benefit — wait until you see what Jesus prays for next.

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 273 (Sept. 30): Jesus fills fishing nets, Jesus heals leper and draws crowds, Jesus heals paralyzed man, Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) to follow Him, fasting appropriateness

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 5:1-11

Mark 1:40-45

Matthew 8:1-4

Luke 5:12-16

Mark 2:1-12

Matthew 9:1-8

Luke 5:17-26

Mark 2:13-17

Matthew 9:9-13

Luke 5:27-32

Mark 2:18-22

Matthew 9:14-17

Luke 5:33-39

Questions & Observations

Q. (Mark 2:5): Why did Jesus say his sins were forgiven?  I do understand that by saying that He was using God’s authority, which is something Jesus was trying to “prove” to the people.  But, what sins did this man have that caused him to be paralyzed?  There is something that Jesus knows about the man that is not revealed in the Scripture?

A. Jesus is not saying that the man is paralyzed because of his sin (if he had, then forgiving the sin would have brought about the healing!)  It appears that having this man know he was forgiven for his sin (whatever it was, we have no idea) was what Jesus knew was best.  Jesus looked at this helpless man, and began with his heart!  What an amazing insight into Jesus’ character.

Q. (Matthew 9:4): So Jesus knows our true self … what our heart seeks?

A. Yes.

Q. (Matthew 9:6): The scripture says that Jesus has God’s authority on earth.  So, when we talk to God or Jesus, how do we know which one to pray to?  I always pray to God, but I say “in Your sons name, I pray.”  I don’t know who to appeal or turn to with different issues — God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  Can you help me understand this?

A. Hum, I do want to address this, but let’s wait, because Jesus will have a lot to say about prayer, including whom we should pray to.  Patience.

O. (Mark 2:14): I think we are up to 7 disciples now.  5 more to go.

Q. (Mark 2:22): What’s a wineskin?

A. A wineskin was a storage device that newly fermented wine was stored in during ancient times.  It was typically made of (sorry in advance, this is a big gross!) an animal bladder or stomach.  The idea here was to put the new wine into a new “skin”, because as the wine continued to age, it would produce air and expand in the “bag.”  But, as you might imagine, you could only do this once: if you already had a stretched wine “bag,” you couldn’t put new wine in it and start the process over — the “bag” was already stretched out and you risked losing both the bag and the wine if the “bag” burst.  Yuck!  Moving on…

Q. (Luke 5:39): Do you understand what Jesus is trying to say in this passage about the old wine skins being “just fine?”

A. He is criticizing those such as the Pharisees who are content to keep the legalistic ways of the past, rather then “try” the Gospel.

Day 270 (Sept. 27): Spirit urges Jesus to wilderness where Satan tests him for 40 days, John the Baptist honors Jesus, Jesus finds followers, Jesus turns water to wine, Jesus clears the temple of sinners

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 1:12-13

Matthew 4:1-11

Luke 4:1-15

John 1:19-51

John 2:1-25

Questions & Observations

Q. (Matthew 4:1-11): Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the desert?  For the son of God (which is God himself by means of the Trinity) to spend 40 days in the desert very hungry and being tempted doesn’t sound like royal treatment.  Why was it important for Satan to tempt Jesus?

A. It is a divinely inspired test.  In Deuteronomy 8, Moses speaks to the people and tells them that these 40 years they had been in the dessert was a test to see if they would be faithful to God and keep His commands despite temptations not to, which they kept failing.  This is exactly the image that Matthew is painting for us: where Israel failed its test in the wilderness, Jesus successfully combats His temptations and confirms His role as God’s chosen or Messiah.  Note that the things that Satan tempts Him with are things that could only tempt the God/man: turning stones to bread, surviving a high fall, being ruler of the world.  What is behind each of these temptations — it may not be obvious — is the idea of Jesus using His power as God incarnate to circumvent the will of God the Father, which Jesus has come to serve.  Jesus could make bread out of the stones, but that would mean He did not trust God to bring Him through.  He could fall from a great height and survive (we presume), but that would have made Him a celebrity or even seen as a “freak” by His people: He would become famous, but not in the way God intended.  And lastly, Jesus will one day rule the world, but it will be earned by enduring the cross and dying, not by worshipping Satan.  Each of the temptations, then, centers around Jesus going His own way, and having power or fame or leadership outside of God’s plan.  That is, ultimately, the test He passed: He submitted these desires to the Father, rather then give in to them as Israel had before.

Q. (John 1:19-28): Is this bantering supposed to be a bit humorous?  The Pharisees have a hard time getting a straight answer out of John.

A. I think so.  One of John’s themes (the Gospel writer I mean) will be misunderstanding between two parties, so watch for more humorous examples.

Q. (1:35-51): So, we have four disciples here: Andrew, Simon-Peter, Philip and Nathanael.  Eight more ahead?

A. Yes, eight more.  They will be designated as His chosen Apostles at a later date; for now, they just follow Him.

Q. (2:12): Any idea how old Jesus is at this point?  Here it says he has brothers too.  Will we run into family information again to where we can talk about it?

A. The Gospels are actually very unhelpful in terms of family information on Jesus’ half brothers or other family (though there are lots of legends in Church lore).  Matthew 13:55 tells us the names of his brothers: James, Simon, Joseph (no doubt after their father), and Judas (which was a common Jewish name in this period).  The Church tradition is that two of these brothers became known for being followers of Jesus (which is not to say His other family didn’t): James, the writer of the NT letter, who is the same man as mentioned in Matthew, Jesus’ half brother.  Galatians 1:19 tells us that Paul met with Jesus’ brother, and that he was a leader of the early church in Jerusalem after the Apostles are scattered (coming soon!)  Judas was sometimes shortened to Jude, which is the name of the shortest letter in the NT, and the writer mentions that he is the brother of James, which we assume to mean the brother James in question.

His family will have a role to play in the unfolding story that I won’t spoil here, but suffice it say that they were not on board with Jesus’ mission before Easter Sunday.

Q. (2:24-25): Why couldn’t Jesus trust them?

A. I honestly think its because He knew that people would not understand Him, but also that the people’s desire would be for Him to continue doing miracles as party tricks or to show off, and that was never Jesus’ purpose.  He knew His mission, and entrusting Himself to people could have risked what He had come to do.