Archive for June, 2019

The Sheep and the Goats

June 30, 2019 Leave a comment

31 “Now when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 And He will put the sheep on His right, but the goats on His left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger and invite You in? Or naked and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 “And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in; naked and you did not clothe Me; sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they too will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not care for You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ 46 These shall go off to everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.”

Keith Green’s 1981 “The Sheep and the Goats” song

Green rebukes traditional Protestant theology when he emphasizes that the difference between the sheep and goats is what they did.

In the book of James, we read

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,[e] if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder (chapter 2).

Jesus and his brother James allow no room for faith alone.

Christians will be judged by our actions, too.

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The Parable of the Talents

June 29, 2019 Leave a comment

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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Wise and Unprepared Bridesmaids

June 27, 2019 Leave a comment

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

It would be easy to replace “bridesmaids” with “fans” of a show that doesn’t allow late entrance.

Is setting a deadline for entry reasonable or harsh? Even devoted fans would probably have different perspectives on this issue.

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Outline of Matthew 25

June 24, 2019 Leave a comment

Three Powerful Parables

  1. Ten Bridesmaids
  2. Ten Talents
  3. The Sheep and the Goats
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Dismemberment and Power

June 23, 2019 Leave a comment

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51 He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Any decent CEO will demand that supervisors treat their teams well.

The problem comes when supervisors behave selfishly.

The middle manager–like Jephthah (whose unnamed concubine was brutally attacked by the Benjamites)–responds to violence by cutting up the body.

In this case, the middle manager at fault is dismembered. Jephthah cut up his concubine, the victim.

This feels so horrifying and unjust.

But just two days ago, reports of a journalist’s assassination was released.

Khashoggi’s Dismemberment

Even today, cutting up a body is used as a warning by people in power against those who would oppose them.

In Matthew 24, the parable of dismemberment warns people in power to treat the powerless well.

Jephthah’s concubine was dismembered to work the Israelites into a frenzy of war against the guilty Benjamites. However, as Phyllis Trible notes in her 1984 book Texts of Terror, Jephthah is at fault for throwing his concubine outside to the rapacious horde. He then used this violence to stir up more violence.

Sadly, the United States President has prioritized Saudi Arabia’s multi-billion dollar arms deals above the life of a human being. The Senate has rejected this perspective.

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June 21, 2019 Leave a comment

37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Like the Flood, the coming of the Son of Man will come as a shock.

Unlike the Flood, which destroyed everyone except for Noah’s family, the coming of the Son of Man will be targeted at select individuals.

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Jesus Didn’t Know

June 18, 2019 Leave a comment

36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Interesting to think about Jesus’s limitations.

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June 13, 2019 Leave a comment

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Jesus explains that his return will be obvious and soon.

Neither has been true.

That whole “day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day” thing applies here.

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The Bat Signal

June 12, 2019 Leave a comment

29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

I wonder how Batman’s signal compares and contrasts with “the sign of the Son of Man.”

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June 10, 2019 Leave a comment

28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

This is a curious proverb.

It sounds like people who follow false Christs are like vultures descending on a dead body.

I suppose this is true. For example, people who campaign against vaccines have huge, passionate followings.

Same for the latest and greatest dieting fads.

And some of the worst examples of Christian leadership have congregations of tens of thousands.

The road is wide, the gate is narrow…

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