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Jesus’ Mother and Brothers April 7, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 12:46-50.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus is informed that His mother and half-brothers are waiting to speak with Him. He responds by declaring the primacy of spiritual bonds over earthly bonds, as those who are spiritually bonded to Him obey His Father.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus stresses the importance of spiritual relationships. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Who can conceive the depth of our dear Lord’s love towards his blood relatives? It was a pure, unselfish love. It must have been a mighty love, a love that passes man’s understanding. Yet here we see that all his believing people are counted as his relatives: he loves them, feels for them, cares for them as members of his family, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh.

When we sense that we are fulfilling God’s will in our lives, we can draw strength from this passage. Indeed, we know that He delights in our submission to His will. Moreover, He enables us to sense His delight and to share in it. We know that fulfilling His will in our lives can be wearying; thus, whenever we experience weariness, we can return to this passage and experience His pleasure in our efforts, knowing that He will not forsake those whose lives reflect their eternal bond to Him.

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The Baptism of Jesus October 22, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 3:13-17.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus goes to the Jordan River in order to be baptized by John the Baptist. Although John is baffled by His request – knowing his standing in relation to Jesus – He persuades him to conduct that sacrament. Upon His baptism:

  • God the Spirit rests on Him
  • God the Father declares His approval of Jesus – His Son.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

This was his first step when he entered on his ministry. When the Jewish priests took up their office they were washed with water (Exodus 29:4), and when our great High Priest begins the great work he came into the world to accomplish he is publicly baptized.

Now believers agree that Jesus was not baptized to display repentance, since He never sinned. Thus, Ryle offers a neat perspective on His baptism, as it dovetails with Matthew’s emphasis on the continuity between the Old and New Testaments. I had always assumed that Jesus wanted to model that sacrament for us, since He calls us to observe it – though we display repentance in observing it. Perhaps His actions that day were designed to make multiple points; thus, I hope to query Him on this issue in the next life.

Strolling Through the Book of Galatians December 2, 2012

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I’ve recently started reading through the Epistle to the Galatians with the aid of a commentary by Martin Luther. I should note that I’ve previously read through Galatians. As in my recent stroll through the book of Colossians, I hope to comprehend Galatians as a whole. In particular, I would like to learn more about Luther himself through reading his commentary; does his alleged obsessive-compulsive disorder influence his commentary?

I plan to blog about this experience as I read through both the epistle and Luther’s commentary. Each post will correspond to a specific section in the NIV translation.

For starters, here are my thoughts on Galatians 1:1-5.

Summary: In this passage, Paul asserts that he was called to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and God the Father – who raised Christ from the dead; he neither called himself to that office nor was called to it by others. The other believers with him can testify to the authenticity of his calling; together they greet the believers in Galatia.

Paul wishes the Galatians 1) forgiveness of sins and 2) a quiet conscience from God and Christ Himself. He notes that Christ has given Himself as a ransom for them due to their wickedness – to deliver them from the kingdom and tyranny of Satan; this stems from the good pleasure of God the Father. Paul concludes with a burst of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Thoughts: We see that Paul – in the first passage of this letter – presents the following arguments:

  • he is a genuine apostle who has been called by God to that office
  • he has already preached the true Gospel to the Galatians.

Luther addresses the latter point in his commentary on verse 1:

Paul is here so inflamed with zeal that he cannot wait until he comes to the matter itself but immediately, in the very title, bursts out and utters what is in his heart. His intention in this letter is to deal with the righteousness that comes by faith and to defend it, and to beat down the law and the righteousness that comes by works. He is full of such thoughts, and this great burning fire of his heart cannot be hidden; it will not let him hold his tongue.

As I have studied Paul’s epistles more carefully, I have gained a greater appreciation for the “zeal” that guided his life. Whether he was persecuting the early church or spreading the Gospel that formed the basis of the early church, he carried out his responsibilities with passion and drive. This zeal can be seen in his letters; for example, here we see that he does not dally with pleasantries: he gets to the point and presents a central theme of the true Gospel in the first verse – the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection. While Paul’s zeal made him a convenient target, it also spurred him to grow the church during a critical phase of its existence.