Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mark 10

Teaching About Divorce

Jesus is teaching some people in Judea and the Pharisees if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. They say Moses allowed the man to write a certificate of divorce and send his wife away. Jesus said that rule was written due to the hardness of heart of the people. He then says that no one should ever get divorced. He says that if a couple gets divorced and either of the remarries, they are committing adultery.

Looked back at my notes on Matthew 19 and in that section there is an exception. If there is infidelity, then there are grounds for divorce. Here there is no such exception. Pretty big difference.

Now, what about the idea that you can't get divorced ever? At first it might seem good, getting divorced is generally bad I would say, but these absolute rules can be problematic. What about extreme situations, abusive husbands for example. There are certain times when the best thing is to get divorced. Some people would say if you have children you should never get divorced, which again, I think is a good rule of thumb, but there are situations where staying together can be worse for the children than the divorce would be. Imagine 2 miserable parents together versus 2 happy parents living separately. I would argue the second situation is better. 

One final note, I like that there is an equality between men and women here.

Let the Children Come to Me

Children tried to come see Jesus and the disciples tried to keep them away. Jesus saw this and said to let the children come to him. He said "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

What does it mean "like a child"? This seems like one of those things that is vague enough that everything will just read into it whatever they want. You could say it means with wonder, or with innocence or something. On the other hand, you can say like a child who believes things without good reason.

The Rich Young Man

A rich kid asks Jesus what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus says he should sell everything he owns and give it to the poor. He says rich people can't get into heaven.

I have a similar comment as above. A good rule of thumb is that you should give what you can to the poor. But you should also make sure you have a secure future, especially if you have dependents. If you give all of your riches to the poor and then go through hard times and you can't afford food for your children something has gone wrong. I suppose someone might counter that someone who truly believes would be provided for, but poor places where people go hungry all the time are often highly religious, so that argument holds no sway with me.

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

Title says it all

The Request of James and John

James and John ask Jesus to sit on either side of Jesus (on his throne?). He says no, then he says it is not his to give, those spots will be taken by those it is prepared for. The disciples heard this and got indignant, and Jesus said whoever is great among them must be servants, etc.

Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

Blind Bartimaeus asks Jesus to give him his sight back, Jesus says that since he had faith he will be healed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mark 9

The Transfiguration

Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a mountain. He was transfigured before them and his clothes became more white than anyone on earth could make them. The 3 guys with Jesus are terrified. Then the voice of God said that Jesus was his son and they should listen to him. Jesus tells them not to tell anyone else until he rises from the dead.

Why are Jesus' guys always afraid of him? What does it say about you if the people hanging around you all the time are terrified of you? 

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

When Jesus, Peter, James, and John got back from the mountain they saw a crowd around the disciples and they were arguing. The crowd was happy to see Jesus and they greeted him. Jesus asked what the arguing was about. Someone from the crowd said he brought his son who has a spirit makes him mute and gives his seizures. He said he asked the disciples to cure him, but they could not. Jesus responds "O faithless generation..."

Why faithless? he brought the kid to see Jesus, seems to me like he has faith. Or is Jesus calling his disciples faithless? In that case, why do they not have faith after seeing Jesus do all of those miracles?

So Jesus looks at the kid up close and the spirit causes the boy to convulse and foam at the mouth. The father asks Jesus to help him. Jesus said the father could do it if he just believes. "All things are possible for one who believes".

This I don't like. Just believing that you can heal people through wishing it to be true, this is why people skip going to the doctor for faith healing. People die from this.

The father cried out "I believe; help my unbelief!" Jesus saw a crowd running over and he commanded the spirit out and to never enter the boy again. The boy convulsed terribly and the spirit left and the boy looked dead. But he wasn't, Jesus took his hand and he arose. The disciples asked why they couldn't cast it out and Jesus said it could only be cast out through prayer.

What were the disciples doing if not praying? I guess they were forgiving sins?

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

Jesus told his disciples he would die and rise from the dead 3 days later. They didn't understand and were too afraid to ask.

Again, the people closest to Jesus are terrified of him. What does this say about him?

Who Is the Greatest?

When they got to Capernaum and Jesus asked his disciples what they talked about on the trip, they didn't want to say because they argued about which of them was the best. He said that whoever is first will be last and the servant of the rest.

Sounds to me like the disciples are jockeying for position and Jesus told them to shut up. Is the lesson here to not always try to one-up the people around you? That sounds alright.

Anyone Not Against Us Is for Us

Some random guy was casting out demons in Jesus' name, but wasn't one of the disciples. The disciples tried to stop him but Jesus said to leave him alone.

This could potentially be a command to different denominations of Christianity to stop fighting each other. Sounds good to me

Temptations to Sin

It is better to cut off your hand or cut out your eye than to have those things cause you to sin.

Not really sure what you are supposed to do with this.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mark 8

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

Jesus had a large group following him for 3 days with nothing to eat. They were in a desolate place so there wasn't any way to feed them all. It turned out they had 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. He blessed them and passed them around, at the end they had 7 baskets full left over.

The Pharisees Demand a Sign

The Pharisees demand a sign from Jesus to test him. He says he will give no sign and leaves.

What about all the miracles he is doing?

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Herod

Jesus and his disciples realize they have only one loaf of bread. Jesus says to watch out for the bread from Herod and the Pharisees. The disciples still say they don't have enough bread. Jesus reminds him that he just fed a bunch of people, twice, with barely any bread at all. They don't seem to get it and he seems upset.

Is he telling them to shut up because he can summon food whenever they want?

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

A blind man asks to be healed, Jesus takes him outside of the village and spits in his eyes. He asks if he can see, the guy says he can but it is blurry. Jesus lays hands on him again and now the guy can see. Jesus tells him to go directly home and not to go back to the village.

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. They reply John the Baptist, Elijah, and "one of the prophets". Then he asks who the disciples say he is. They reply "you are the Christ". And he said to tell no one about him.

This makes no sense to me. Aren't they telling everyone about him? Isn't that what this whole thing is about? I feel like I missed something here.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Jesus says he will be rejected by those in power and be killed and rise from the dead 3 days later. Peter took him aside to rebuke him and Jesus called him Satan. He gathers a crowd and tells them they should grab a cross and follow him. "whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

Seems a little harsh to Peter to me

Then he told them "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."

This last bit was mark 9:1 but it seemed to go with this story so I put it here. Again, Jesus pretty explicitly said that the end will come soon. I still don't know how people follow this 2000 years later. Is he speaking poetically and not literally? If so, how do you determine what in the bible is poetic and what is not?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Edition: Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People

I have been doing this blog for a little over a month now, and I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I decided to expand things a little bit and I have a few ideas on how to do it. One thought I had was to do a "why I am an Atheist" post in the same fashion as PZ has been doing over on Pharyngula. The problem I had with that was I can't summarize why I am an atheist in short post, I am an atheist because I thought about it...a lot...for like 10 years. So I decided to focus on one thing at a time that I thought about while in my transition to atheism. I figured a good start will be the first thing I can remember that got me thinking about this, the simple question "why do bad things happen to good people?" This is a fairly simplistic question to ask, perfect for me as I was not quite 10 years old when I started asking it. Not quite so simple to answer.

It is probably evident at this point that I am talking about the Christian God here. A God who is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving. He cares for us, wants the best for us, and answers prayers. This is the God I grew up with.

The first answer I ever got to this question was during a sermon of some sort. I was pretty young so the memory is fairly fuzzy, it might have been during a regular church service but I think it was during a youth group meeting. Anyway, he used an analogy of baby bees (or wasps maybe? whatever). Anyway, the larva are put into a little container and sealed, and the babies have to fight their way out, in doing so they gain strength from their struggles and they can be strong adults. On the other hand, if the box was opened for them, they would be weak and useless.

The point of the story is that going through hardships can help you in the long term. Through further discussion, we talked about how God has a much longer view than we do, and even if we can't see the benefit of a hardship we have to suffer, it doesn't mean it isn't there. So I thought about this for a bit, and it basically made sense. It certainly goes a long way toward explaining the kind of hardship a 10 year old is going to suffer through (at least in an average middle class family in america). I was satisfied for a while.

But then I started to think about things on a larger scale. What about something as big as the holocaust? I suppose it is possible that there is some larger tragedy that is avoided by it. Perhaps people saw the holocaust and then were more on the side of Jews afterwards, if it hadn't happened Jews would have been exterminated 100 years later or something. Perhaps in some round about way it kept something worse from happening. Anyone who has seen a time travel movie can imagine some complicated series of events like this. But God can do anything, it is hard to imagine that for whatever his ends, this was the best method.

One answer that I have heard to this problem is free will, God loves us and wants us to love him, but he doesn't want to force us to love him so he gave us free will. This is an attempt to explain away things like the holocaust. Free will is a complicated and difficult subject, which I don't want to go into much here, but even supposing for the moment that free will could explain away man made atrocities, it still does not explain natural disasters which kill millions of people. A big earthquake or whatever. It is similar to the above except the free will answer is off the table.

I remember another sermon about this topic. It was at a youth group while I was in high school. (strangely, I don't remember the pastor, but I remember the room we were in, which narrows it down to high school. Memory is such a funny thing) We were talking about this topic, and he was addressing the fact that I mentioned up above. That it seems crazy that God would use such extreme measures as the holocaust. That it is hard to imagine it being better than some alternative, and that this is the best way to do things. He said "I don't want a God that fits inside my head." I remember him saying it, I had an immediate revulsion to the idea, and I still do today. Not only is he saying that he doesn't understand God, he doesn't want to be able to understand God. The message is "shut up and do what you are told", the message is "understanding is overrated, you just need to have faith." For someone who loves science, loves understanding how things works, and likes to know the reasons behind things, this was possibly the worst answer he could have given me.

Now, as I said up top, this is not the reason I am an Atheist, but it did play a part in getting me here. It is the first thing I can remember where I started to really question things. A few times I got answers that satisfied me and placated me for a while. But I always came back to this topic later on, and really feel like I have never gotten a good answer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mark 7

Traditions and Commandments

The Pharisees criticize Jesus' disciples for not washing their hands before eating. (There is a footnote in my bible that says the reason this is a big deal is it is a tradition to wash your hands in a certain way before eating). Jesus replies that the Pharisees have a fine way of rejecting the commandments of God, for the book says to 'honor thy father and mother', and it also says 'whatever you have gained is given to God'. Thus you are permitted to do nothing for your parents directly.

So, were the Pharisees using this convoluted logic to avoid honoring their parents, or was Jesus just accusing them of doing that? It is unclear to me.

What Defiles a Person

Jesus declares that what goes into a person cannot defile them, in doing so he nullifies all food restrictions from the old testament. What comes out of a person comes from their heart and that is what defiles him. He lists the following things that defile "evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness."

As usual with these lists, it is a bit of a mixed bag. I like telling people not to steal or murder. I definitely don't like "evil thoughts" being included on the list, I just don't like the idea of a thought crime. As long as I don't act on it I don't see the problem. Some of the things on the list are context dependent. Pride can be good, it can motivate, it can also be harmful if taken to extremes. Foolishness can be fun, who doesn't like goofing around. I'm sure that is not what he is talking about, but the words here are clumsy.

The Syrophoenician Woman's Faith

A gentile woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter who has a spirit within her. He said to her "let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She replies "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" He says that this statement was good and the demon was gone.

I don't understand this story at all.

I'm taking a guess, the bread for the children is the word of Jesus. The children are the people he is trying to reach and the dogs are other people. He just called this woman and her child dogs, and she was like "yeah we are dogs, but can't we get some crumbs?" and he was like "wow, you have a lot of faith, you child is healed". Is the correct? I hope I am wrong, because if that is correct it seems pretty awful.

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

There was a guy who was deaf and had a speech impediment, Jesus healed him. He told everyone not to spread the word but they did anyway.

Why is this a recurring theme? That Jesus tells everyone to keep his healing quiet and they don't do it?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mark 6

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Jesus returned home to Nazareth and did his teachings like normal. People recognized him and said he was just the carpenter son of Mary. Why should we listen to him. He did a few healings and then took off.

Not much to say here except they explicitly said he is a carpenter, which I don't remember from Matthew. Not a big deal, just thought it was interesting.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Jesus sent his apostles out 2 by 2. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. He told them to take nothing on their journey except a staff, no bread, bag, money. Wear sandals and not to wear 2 tunics. They cast out many demons and healed the sick.

Why are they apostles now? They were disciples before right? What is the deal with that? Do they become apostles when they get power? Did this happen in Matthew and I didn't notice?

The Death of John the Baptist

Basically Herod did not want to kill John the Baptist, but Herodias did. He told her he would give her anything she wanted and she asked for John's head on a platter, so he was obligated to kill John. He didn't want to do it but felt honor bound.

Really strange story.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Jesus and his apostles tried to get away from the crowds by going to a desolate place, but it didn't work, people saw where he was going and got there before he did. He taught them for a while and everyone got hungry. The disciples said Jesus should send them to town but he said he should feed everyone. They discovered they had only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, he said a blessing and spread the food around. It fed everyone and there were 12 baskets full of food left over.

Jesus Walks on Water

Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat and leave before him. He dismissed the crowd and went up a mountain to pray by himself. When he was done he saw that the boat with his disciples was out at sea already and there was a storm so their progress was slow. He want on water intending to go past him, but they saw him and thought he was a ghost and were scared. So he went to the boat and calmed them down. When he got to the boat the winds died down. They didn't understand the loaves or the wind and "their hearts were hardened".

Now it is disciples again, is it just 2 different words that mean the same thing? what is the deal with that?

In the Matthew version of this story Peter walks on water with Jesus, this time it was only Jesus. Seems like an important detail to leave out.

The last thing I quoted was that their hearts were hardened. This means they were upset or they were afraid or something like that right? Why would they feel this way? They are afraid that he is performing miracles, but they performed miracles earlier in the chapter. This makes no sense to me.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

Jesus heals a huge number of people.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mark 5

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

Jesus came to Gerasenes and found a demon possessed man. He was very strong and couldn't be shackled by anyone, he would break free. He saw Jesus and asked him to help, he said "my name is legion for we are many". He saw a herd of pigs and asked to be sent to them. Jesus gave permission and the spirits entered the pigs and then drowned themselves. People saw what happened and were scared and asked Jesus to leave. The healed man went around telling what Jesus had done for them, and everyone marveled.

Something I find a little confusing about this, people who saw what Jesus did were afraid, but people who heard about it later marveled. I feel like this says something but I don't know what it is.

It seems strange to me that the demons are so desperate to kill themselves. Are the possessing the guy on accident? Did they get put in there by someone else and they are stuck? How is this supposed to have worked? This story is just strange.

One last thing, this story in Matthew has two people, not just one. Seems like a fairly important detail to me.

Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus's Daughter

Jesus came to a new place and Jairus came to him and asked him to come to his house and heal his daughter. On the way, a woman who had been sick for 12 years touched Jesus' garments which she believed would cure her. It did, and Jesus felt the power that healed her go out of him and he asked who touched him. She was scared but told him the whole truth, and he said that her faith made her well.

Very minor difference between  this and the Matthew 9 version, in this version she is healed first then Jesus notices, in the Matthew version she is healed before he is even aware of her. I feel like this is something that 2 different witnesses could see differently. On the other hand, it does make a difference and if it was divinely inspired they should be able to get it right.

While they are on the way to the first girl that he was going to heal, someone says that she is dead and there is no reason to bother Jesus now. Jesus heard this and went anyway, he asked why everyone was crying since the girl was not dead but asleep. They laugh at him, but he went to the girl and told her to get up and she did.

I still don't know why he said she is just asleep. Was she supposed to be dead or not? Is he saying effectively, "she isn't dead anymore."?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mark 4

The Parable of the Sower

Jesus had a lot of people listening to him, and he started teaching in parables. He told the story of a man sowing seeds. He threw some seeds on the path, and birds came and ate the seeds. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, they grew immediately but there was not much soil so the roots were shallow so they got burned up in the sun. Other seeds landed near thorns and they got choked out. Finally, some seeds fell on good soil and produced a large yield of grain.

This seems very similar to what was in Matthew, consistency is good although I'm not sure why it has to be in here twice. Maybe the explanation will be a bit different.

The Purpose of the Parables

Later Jesus was alone with his disciples and they asked him about the parables, he said "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables." The purpose of this is so that "They may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven."

Wow, he pretty much explicitly says that he is intentionally making his teachings confusing for the masses so that they won't be saved. "Lest they should turn and be forgiven" to me sounds like he is saying "if we give them all of the information, they will repent and be forgiven and we don't want that". Is there any other interpretation of this? I'm certainly open to the possibility that I am reading this wrong, but this looks very bad to me. 

Also wanted to mention I looked back at Matthew 13 where this story shows up and it said something similar but it didn't seem like it was quite so explicit. This time around it seems pretty clear to me. 

Next Jesus explains that the sower is people spreading the word of God, the seeds on the path are people who hear the word but Satan comes immediately and takes the word from them. The rocky ground are people who accept the word with joy but after a little bit of tribulation fall away. The thorns are people surrounded by deceitfulness and riches of the world.

A Lamp Under a Basket

You don't put a lamp under a basket or under a bad, you put it on a stand. If anyone has ears let him hear. Pay attention to what you hear, if you pay more attention you will get more out of it.

I think my summaries follow from what is in the bible, but I found it a bit hard to understand.

The Parable of the Seed Growing

The kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed on the ground. It grows without the man understanding how. When the grain is ripe he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.

Not sure I understand this. What does it mean that he knows not how it grows? Is this saying the person preaching doesn't understand what is happening in the mind of the masses listening? Also, what does it mean to harvest the ripe grain? What does that mean in the analogy where the people listening to the word of God are like the grain?

This passage is fairly puzzling to me, any help?

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed on earth but grows to become larger than all the garden plants.

This isn't the biggest deal in my opinion, but it is worth noting that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth. I have seen it argued that he didn't mean all seeds on earth but instead all seeds that these people would have seen, but that is not what is said. It explicitly says all seeds on earth. This mistake does not make much sense in a divinely inspired book. 

when speaking to the masses he spoke parables "as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything".

Here it is again. When he speaks to the masses he talks in parables, but when he talks to the disciples he explains everything. Why not explain everything to the masses too? It does say "as they were able to hear it" which could mean that he doesn't think they'd understand. I don't agree with this at all. In the parable of the sower from before, his explanation to his disciples made more sense than what he said to the masses. I can't image people following the parables and not following the explanation. That doesn't make sense to me. The explanations are less complicated than the parable.

Jesus Calms a Storm

They were travelling by boat and a big storm came up. The boat was taking on water and Jesus was sleeping in the back of the boat. The men woke him up and asked if he cared that they were all going to die. He stopped the storm with a word and then asked the men if they still had no faith in him. They were afraid because he had the power to stop the wind.

It is sad to me that Jesus' followers were afraid of him. If I was following someone around and he did something that scared me, it seems like a strange move to me to keep following him. Why would I follow someone who fills me with great fear?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mark 3

A Man with a Withered Hand

On the Sabbath, Jesus saw a man with a withered hand, the man asked if it was ok to "do good or harm, to save life or to kill" on the Sabbath. Jesus was angered by their hardness of heart, he healed the man's hand. The Pharisees went out and schemed on how to destroy Jesus.

Not sure what the message is here, maybe it is ok to break the rules if it is for a good reason. Or maybe for a good deed. Which actually seems like a fine lesson to me.

A Great Crowd Follows Jesus

Jesus is healing lots of people so anyone who is sick starts following him around trying to touch him for a healing. Jesus tries to get away so he doesn't get crushed.

The Twelve Apostles

Jesus picks his twelve apostles and gives them the power to preach and cast out demons for him.

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

The scribes say that Jesus is possessed by Beelzebub. They say he can cast out demons because he is the prince of demons. Jesus answers that Satan can't cast out demons because a house cannot stand if it is divided against itself.

This is terrible logic, it completely leaves out the possibility that Satan is crafty. Maybe it is worth sacrificing a pawn for a bigger goal.

Jesus says that all sins will be forgiven except blasphemes against the holy spirit. It ends with "for they were saying 'He has an unclean spirit'"

Wait a minute, that last bit makes it sound like the crowd was saying Jesus was unclean and he retaliated by saying they are going to hell and there is nothing they can do about it now. Last time this came up there was some talk about how it only counts as blasphemy if you really understand what the holy spirit is. But that isn't what is going on here. They think he is a demon using magic tricks to fool them, and he says they are going to hell for it.

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

Jesus' mother and brothers were outside and asked Jesus to come see them. He said that anyone who does the will of God is his mother and brother and sister.

I'm guessing this is supposed to make the reader feel like they are family of Jesus, but it just makes me think he is being bad to his family.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mark 2

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Jesus returned to Capernaum and people found out where he was so they came to see him. There was a great crowd that was impossible to get through. A few guys wanted to get a paralytic to Jesus for healing. They went to the roof, and lowered him down to Jesus. Jesus saw his faith and said his sins are forgiven. People said Jesus was blaspheming because only God can forgive sins. Jesus said he has the authority to forgive sins, he tells the paralytic to pick up his bed and walk and he does. Everyone is amazed.

I remember this story from those cartoons as well, it's so funny what sticks. Also, I have complained in the past about everyone watching Jesus being amazed when there is nothing to be amazed at, this time it seems warranted.

I do have a complaint here though, Jesus heals the paralytic by forgiving the man's sins. You don't get paralyzed by sinning, sometimes things just happen and it is out of your control. This implies that any affliction is your fault.

Jesus Calls Levi

Jesus gains another follower, Levi.

Jesus is hanging out with some tax collectors and sinners. The scribes are like, 'dude WTF'. Jesus says he is not here to save the righteous but the sinners.

A Question About Fasting

People asked Jesus why he wasn't fasting while John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Jesus says it is like wedding guests who don't fast while the bridegroom is there. They can fast later.

I don't really get this, but I also don't understand why you would fast in the first place, so I guess it makes sense that I am confused.

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus and his disciples were going through a grain field and plucking heads of grain and eating them, which was apparently against the law on the Sabbath. The scribes said it was no ok and Jesus compared them to king David and told the scribe to back off.

I was curious what my thoughts were last time these stories came up.

Pretty much the same, not my fault it is repetitive. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mark 1

John the Baptists Prepares the Way

Everyone thinks John the Baptist is really awesome, they come from all over the place to get baptized by him and confess their sins to him. He preaches that there is someone coming that is way better than he is. John is not worthy to untie his sandal. John says he will baptize with water but when Jesus comes he will baptize you with the holy spirit. (I should point out that Jesus' name is not used here, I just put it there because pronouns were getting jumbled).

Good start with some prophecy stuff. John predicts that Jesus will come. 

Something I find interesting here, it says "Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey."

What is this supposed to be telling me? Is John a high class guy or low class? Is camel hair common or rare? Is it rough and uncomfortable or nice? Eating locust sounds like a bad thing to me, but maybe it's a delicacy?

The Baptism of Jesus

Jesus came from Nazareth to be baptized by John. When he came out of the water the heavens opened up and the holy spirit came to Jesus like a dove. A voice from heaven says Jesus is his son.

The Temptation of Jesus

The spirit drove him out into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan.

This is much quicker with fewer details than the temptations in Matthew, probably for the better.

Jesus Begins His Ministry

John gets arrested and Jesus starts preaching in his place

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

Again, when Jesus starts calling disciples, he gets James and John the sons of Zebedee to leave their father in the boat where they were fishing. However, in this version, they don't leave him alone, they instead leave him with their hired servants.

I guess servants are unimportant and Matthew didn't see fit to mention them, but it makes a huge difference to me. They are still bailing on their father, but at least they are not leaving him alone.

Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit

They went to Capernaum and started teaching. People liked his teaching because he spoke with authority, the scribes on the other hand did not speak with authority. A man asks what Jesus wants and Jesus sees that his spirit is unclean.  Jesus says "Be silent, and come out of him" and the spirit left the man's body. Jesus' fame spreads.

Jesus Heals Many

Title pretty much says it all

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

Early in the morning Jesus went to a desolate place to pray. Everyone wonders where he is and starts looking for him. Eventually they find him and he is like "lets go to the next town". So they go to Galilee and preach and cast out demons there.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

Jesus cures some guy's leprosy and he tells him not to spread the word. But he does anyway so Jesus can't go anywhere or he gets mobbed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Matthew Overview

One of the reasons I am doing this blog is to see what lessons one could learn from reading the bible. Some of it I like, some of it I do not. I am just doing a quick summary here, I figured if I wanted to see any of the points more in depth I can easily go to my other blog posts or better yet, I have included the verse, I can go back to the source.

One thing I am not particularly interested in is the miracle claims. As far as I can tell, the reason for them is to convince the reader that Jesus is the real deal. I would prefer to focus on  what can be learned from the lessons in the bible.

The Good:

5:23-24 Family is a high priority

5:25-26 Try to work things out with each other before going to court

5:31-32 Divorce is bad

5:39 Turn the other cheek

5:44 Love your enemies

6:19 Don't be greedy

7:1 Don't judge other people

7:12 Golden Rule

18:4 Encourage Humility

18:22 Don't stop forgiving

18:23-34 Pay it forward

21:28-32 Don't just talk, get out there and do stuff

25:14-30 Don't be lazy

25:40 Treat the poor/needy well

26:52 live by the sword, die by the sword

The Bad:

4:18 Encourage people to abandon their family

5:22 Equate all crimes. Both murder and insulting someone results in eternal hellfire

5:28 thought crimes. Simply having lust is the same as adultery.

6:25-34 Don't prepare for tomorrow

7:7 Ask and you shall receive. (Unrealistic, sets people up to be disappointing)

9:5 Blame the victim for paralysis

10:34-39 Encourage violence

12:31 Blasphemy against the holy spirit is the worst possible crime. It is unforgivable

15:20 encourage people to eat without washing hands.

16:5-12 discourage the gathering of knowledge

23:31 held accountable for sins of your father

Matthew 28

The Resurrection

Mary Magdalene and 'the other Mary' went to the tomb and an angel came down, caused and earthquake, and moved the boulder from the entrance to the tomb. The guards were scared. The angel said Jesus has risen and shows them the empty tomb. They went to tell the disciples about it, and on the way they ran into Jesus. He was like "hey, hows it going". They worshiped him.

The Report of the Guard

The guards went to the city and told the chief priests what happened. They gave the guards some money and told them to tell everybody that the disciples came by night and stole the body.

These priests are terrible

The Great Commission

The disciples went to meet Jesus and he said that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to him. So the disciples can now go to all nations, baptize people, and repeat Jesus' teachings. "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age"

The last line is interesting, what does 'end of the age' mean? I suppose it is vague enough that people can interpret it to include now. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Matthew 27

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

The chief priests and elders worked together, bound Jesus, and delivered his to Pilate.

Judas Hangs Himself

Judas saw Jesus condemned to death and changed his mind. He tried taking back the money to the chief priests and elders saying he betrayed innocent blood. They said it isn't their business, he had to take care of it himself. He threw the money down and went off and killed himself. The chief priests said they couldn't put the money back in the treasury because it is blood money, so they instead buried it in a field, which was then called the field of blood. This was to fulfill a prophecy.

I remember this story from when I was a kid from the old cartoons we would watch in sunday school. I can close my eyes and see Judas dropping the coins on the ground. (It's funny, I haven't thought about that in years and it comes right back, memory is a funny thing). I don't recall him killing himself though. They probably left that out of the cartoon.
Also, more prophecy stuff, bleh.

Jesus Before Pilate

the governor asks Jesus if he is king of the Jews and he says "you have said so", but refuses to answer directly. Everyone is amazed.

Why is everyone so amazed at this? I don't get it

The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

The governor gets to release one prisoner of the crowds choosing. He didn't like the way things went down with Jesus, so he figured he would give the crowd a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, who was a notorious criminal. That way Jesus would go free. But the crowd chose to release Barabbas instead, shocking the governor. He then asked what to do to Jesus and they said to crucify him. He asked them what evil Jesus had done, but they were in a frenzy and just kept repeating to crucify him.

I remember this story too from those cartoons.

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

Pilate saw that he wouldn't win the fight to free Jesus, so he told the crowd he washed his hands of this innocent man's life, and they said "His blood be on us and on our children"

Ahh yes, sins of the father

Jesus Is Mocked

The soldiers took Jesus, dressed him up  in a scarlet robe and crown of thorns and made fun of him. When they were done they led him away to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

The crucified Jesus along with a few robbers. They put a sign over his head that read "king of the Jews". People came by and asked why he didn't save himself as he had saved so many others. "If you are the son of God why not come down off of the cross?"

A valid question in my estimation.

The Death of Jesus

When Jesus died, it went dark from noon to 3. The curtain in the temple was torn in 2, and many bodies of saints who had fallen asleep were raised out of their tombs. After his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Wait, so after Jesus was resurrected there were a bunch of zombies of saints running around? I never heard that before. 

Jesus is Buried

Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus from Pilate and put him in a tomb. He covered the tomb with a big boulder.

The Guard at the Tomb

Jesus said that he would be resurrected, so the guards of the chief priest and the Pharisees put guards at his tomb so the disciples couldn't steal the body and claim he had risen.

Seems like a prudent move.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Matthew 26

The Plot to Kill Jesus

Jesus said that 2 days after Passover the Son of Man will be delivered to be crucified.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper, a woman poured very expensive ointment on Jesus' head. The disciples say this is a waste, they should sell the oil and give the money to the poor. Jesus says to leave her alone, she is doing a great thing for me to prepare me for burial. "you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."

It seems to me like the disciples have the right idea. Why waste this, we could help the poor. Jesus is like "this is nice, don't think to hard about it, let me enjoy it." Honestly, I think Jesus kinda come off like a jerk here. I know I have my bias, but I can't figure out what the actual point of this story is. What is the impression that I am supposed have here?

"Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her."

Can't help but notice her name is not mentioned.

Judas to Betray Jesus

Judas took 30 pieces of silver from the chief priest to betray Jesus. From that point on he is looking for an opportunity.

The Passover with the Disciples

Jesus says he will be betrayed by Judas. He says it would have been better if Judas had never been born

Institution of the Lord's Supper

Jesus gives the disciples bread and says eat this, it is my body and he gives them wine and says this is my blood. Drink it for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial

Jesus says the disciples will all abandon him, Peter says he will never, even if he has to die with Jesus. Jesus says he will deny him 3 times before the rooster crows

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

Jesus prays for help from God. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". He prayed 3 times. He then wakes his disciples and says his betrayal by sinners is at hand, time to get going.

Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

Judas came with a great crowd from the priests and elders of the people. He identified Jesus so the crowd can go after him. One person went up to Jesus and grabbed him and one of people with Jesus cut off the guy's ear and Jesus said told him to stop "live by the sword, die by the sword". Jesus asks why they came to him under cover of night, he has been in the temple teaching day after day.

I don't remember the part of the story where Jesus' guy cuts off the ear of the person who touched Jesus. It's pretty cool.

Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council

They try to get some testimony to use to put Jesus to death. They ask if he is the Son of God, he says he is the Son of Man and he will be at the right hand of power coming on the clouds of heaven. They take this as blasphemy and decide to put him to death.

Peter Denies Jesus

Some servants claimed Peter had been with Jesus and he said not three times. Then the rooster crowed and he remembered that Jesus had said this would happen and he was sad.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Matthew 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

There are 10 virgins who are waiting to meet with the groom to go to the wedding feast. half of them didn't bring extra oil for their lamps and had to go out and buy more while they were waiting. During the time they were gone, the groom came and the 5 who were there went with him to the feast. When the others got back they were not let in.

Very strange story to me. I think the message is to be prepared. It seems we are still talking about the end times, so more specifically it is to be prepared for the end of days. I don't understand who these virgins are supposed to be, they are not the bridesmaids as they are not recognized when they come back. Why are there 10 of them?

The Parable of the Talents

Before I start this one, there is a footnote that a talent is a monetary unit worth about twenty years wages for a laborer. I'm glad I noticed that or this would probably be extremely confusing. It actually makes me wonder how many other things I miss or just don't understand are from such simple confusions.

A rich guy is going to go on a journey and he gives some money to his 3 servants. He gives the best five talents, the next three and the last guy one. When the rich guy returns he asks the servants what they have done with the money. The first 2 doubled their money and the rich guy is happy. The guy with only one buried the money in the dirt. He said that the master was a 'hard man' who reaped where he did not sow and gathered where he scattered no seed. He was afraid so he did not risk the money but rather buried it. The master then said he is wicked and slothful. You knew I reaped where I did not sow, therefore you should have invested my money with the bankers so I would earn interest. The servant was cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I remember this story as a kid, the moral being don't be lazy. Which seems good. But what about this whole thing that the master reaps where he doesn't sow. That is a bad thing right? And did he just compare banking to that? My understanding is that people didn't like finances back then.

The Final Judgment

When the Son of Man returns, he will divide people up as a shepherd divides sheep and goats. People who were good to him when he was needy and not obviously anything special are rewarded. People who didn't are punished.

Basically he is saying do good things for people in need.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Matthew 24

Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

As Jesus is leaving the temple his disciples point out the buildings of the temple. He replied that they will be destroyed

Signs of the Close of the Age

The disciples ask Jesus when the things he is saying will happen. Jesus replies that many will come and say they are Christ. There will be wars, famines, earthquakes. "All these are but the beginning of the birth pangs". He tells the disciples they will be put to death and hated for following Jesus. Many false prophets will lead many astray. Lawlessness will increase and the love of many will grow cold. But whoever endures to the end will be saves and the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world.

So Jesus is asked when the end of the age will come, he doesn't really answer them. He says a few times that there will be false prophets. He says there will be terrible things like wars and earthquakes. There are always natural disasters so this is not helpful. 

The Abomination of Desolation

When the "abomination of desolation" is spoken by the prophet Daniel, run to the mountains. There will be many tribulations, your days will be cut short. There will be many false prophets doing great signs and wonders to lead you astray. I have told you ahead of time, so if you hear of someone doing these things don't go see him.

I'm not sure what abomination of desolation is, but it sounds like a doomsday sermon, I guess. Sounds like what he is doing. I guess the message is "listen to me, but if other people say similar things don't listen to them". Also, other people will do miracles like I do, but don't believe them. If you follow Jesus because he does miracles, you might be liable to follow someone else who does "great signs and wonders", it makes sense. It seems he is trying to protect from that. 

This actually seems to touch on a theme from the bible that I dislike, don't investigate, don't try to have all the information, listen to me and no one else. I believe we are best served by having as much information as possible and evaluating. Seeing the point of view of someone else is good, this is saying not to listen.

The Coming of the Son of Man

After the craziness of the last section, the sun and moon will darken, the stars will fall from heaven. The Son of Man will be coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. He will send out angels from heaven.

He really paints quite a picture. I'll be honest, I don't really know what to make of this.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

I thought this was going to explain his anger at the fig tree in chapter 21, but it is not.

When the fig tree puts on leaves you know summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things you know that he is near. "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."

He explicitly says this will all happen in his lifetime. I ask again, how do you deal with passages like this 2000 years later?

No One Knows That Day and Hour

Nobody knows when it will all happen. Some will be taken up, others not. You should act as if he is coming all the time, like a man who knows when a robber is breaking in will stay awake and make sure his stuff is not stolen, you should always be prepared even though you don't know when it will happen. If you think it will not happen for a while and start acting up it will surprise you and you will go to hell.

More prophecy stuff, just from the other end. Again, I don't really know what to make of this, and honestly, I have trouble caring about it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Matthew 23

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

In a variety of ways, Jesus says the Pharisees and scribes are hypocrites and that they try to look good on the outside but are bad on the inside.

Lament over Jerusalem

Jesus says that Jerusalem kills prophets who are sent there. He would have protected the children and they wouldn't let him. He says they won't see him again until they say 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'

Not much interesting to say about this chapter I'm afraid

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Matthew 22

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

A king has prepared a great wedding feast. He sends his servants to tell the invited guests it is ready, and they ignore him. Some of them even murder the messenger servants (wtf!). The king then tells his servants to just go get anyone off the street and invite them. But then the king is unhappy with some of the guests, saying they are not dressed well enough for a wedding. So he had them bound and threw them into the darkness where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth"

So this guy invites a bunch of random people, but when they don't live up to his expectations he throws binds their feet and throws them into harm. This seems unbelievably harsh.  This is what heaven is like? Doesn't sound like a loving God to me.

I'd also like to point out, the king did not tell his servants "Go find anyone dressed nice" or "Go find the best dressed on the street". He said "Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find." Then he is unhappy with some of the people who get invited. The guy who wasn't dressed nice enough, I wonder if he even knew dress was an issue. I really dislike this king. He is supposed to be the God character in this story right?

Paying Taxes to Caesar

The Pharisees want to catch Jesus saying something that will get him thrown in jail (I guess) so they ask him if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus knows what they are doing, so he asks them whose face is on the coin. They say Caesar's, so he says to give to Caesar things that are Caesar's and give to God things that are God's. They are marveled by what he said and went away.

He outsmarted them I guess. Is there a deeper meaning here that I don't get?

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

The Sadducees note that in the old testament, it says if you are married and die without having kids your brother must marry your widow and produce offspring for you. Suppose there was a family with 7 brothers, one gets married and dies with no kids, so the wife goes to the second, they also don't have kids, and so on. The woman winds up being married to all 7. What happens when they get resurrected? Who is she married to?

Jesus responds that there is no marriage in the resurrection, but they are like angels in heaven. He also said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Is the resurrection supposed to be heaven or is that something else? If it is heaven, does that mean our family ties no longer hold in heaven? This is definitely counter to what I understand to be the standard thought on the matter. I also don't know what it means that he is the God of the living, not the dead. Does that mean that when we die and are in heaven that he is no longer our God at that point? I don't get it.

The Great Commandment

The Pharisees heard that the Sadducees failed at tricking Jesus, so they decided to try be asking which commandment is the greatest. He said love the lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. The rest of the laws of the prophets follow from this.

Whose Son is the Christ?

Jesus asks the Pharisees whose son the Christ is. They say David. He then replies that David called him Lord, and how does it make sense then that he is the father. Everyone was so impressed by this that they didn't dare ask Jesus any more questions.

I don't understand.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Matthew 21

The Triumphal Entry

So Jesus is coming to Jerusalem, and on the way, he has his disciples go to a nearby village to get a donkey and a colt. He did this to fulfill a prophecy that the king will come mounted on a donkey and a colt.

This so perfectly illustrates my issue with the prophecy stuff. Jesus knew of this prophecy so he specifically asked for a donkey and a colt to fulfill it. If you are trying to fulfill a prophecy it seems so much less remarkable. If you are unaware of a prophecy and keep fulfilling it that might be interesting.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Jesus goes to the temple and kicks out all the people making profit in the church. Then the blind and lame came to him in the church and got healed.

Church should be for worship not for profit. Seems good. How do you square this with megachurches and televangelists?

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

Jesus tries to get something to eat from a fig tree, he sees there are no figs on it, so he curses the tree and it withers on the spot.

That seems like an overreaction

The disciples see this happen and ask how he did it. He says if they have faith and do not doubt, they can do the same thing, they can even say to a mountain "be taken up and thrown into the sea" and it will happen. "whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."

Does anyone really believe this is true? I think a lot of things are prayed for without doubt and don't come true. Do you honestly believe that everyone who has died of cancer (for example) has not had a single person praying for them who had no doubt?

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

The priests in the temple ask him where he gets his authority from. He asks them whether the baptism of John came from heaven or from man. They think from man, but refuse to speak because the crowd thinks John was a prophet, so they just keep quiet.

The Parable of the Two Sons

A man has 2 sons and asks them to go work in the vineyard. One son says he won't go but changes his mind and goes to work. The other says he will be doesn't go work. Jesus asks the crowd which son did the will of the father. The crowd responds the first. Then Jesus says the tax collectors and prostitutes will go into the kingdom of heaven before you because they believed John the Baptist but you did not.

This passage seems strange to me, he tells a story about 2 people doing a task or not, then compares it to believing something or not.

The Parable of the Tenants

A master of a house planted a vineyard and set it up very well. Then he hired some tenants to tend it while he was away. When it was time for the harvest he sent some servants to get the fruit and the tenants killed them. He sent more servants and they got killed as well, then he sent his son and they killed him. He then says the kingdom of God is like this, it will be taken away from them and given to those who produce the fruit.

I'm not a fan of this story at all. I get the idea of "the people producing should benefit from their work". If the situation is they do the work and get none of the benefits that is clearly bad. But should the guy who owns the place and did all the work to set it up get nothing? Also, what about the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing, the heroes in his story are murderers.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Matthew 20

Laborers in the Vineyard

Jesus tells the story of a guy hiring workers for his vineyard. In the morning he hires some guys and makes a deal for a fair wage for the day (1 denarius). Throughout the day he hires more people, including a few people that he hired just an hour before the day was over. At the end of the day when he is paying them, he starts with the people he hired last and gives them 1 denarius. The people who have been working all day think they will get paid a bonus, but they also wind up getting 1 denarius. They complain and the owner of the place says they got what they agreed upon, it is not up to them if he is generous with the other workers.

I remember this story from when I was a kid. I remember thinking about it a lot as it does not seem fair at all. The fact that the people who worked all day got paid the same as people who only worked for an hour is definitely unfair. On the other hand, they are getting paid what seemed fair to them in the morning, and they made a deal. Perhaps a fair deal would be them to get paid what they agreed and the latecomers would get paid less, but should the workers from the morning want this? That would be a dickish thing to argue for, is that what this story is about?

When it comes down to it, I guess it is saying not to begrudge someone else being generous to a third party, which is good. But it also feels so unfair. Perhaps the moral is to not compare yourself to others. If the early worker focused on what he thought was fair originally instead of looking at what the late worker got he would be happier. This seems like it might lead people to be taken advantage of, sometimes it is important to look around at the deals other people are getting to make sure you are getting a fair deal.

Clearly I am a little conflicted on this passage, anyone have input?

Jesus Fortells His Death a Third Time

Title says it all

A Mother's Request

A mother asks Jesus if her sons can sit at his right and left hand in his kingdom. He says it is not for him to decide. He says in his kingdom, those who are great are the servants, as Jesus has come to serve, not to be served.

Pretty sure there is a message here I have missed. I read it a few times but I don't get it. He says the rulers should be serving the people, this sounds a bit like (idealized) democracy. Is that just be grafting my ideals onto what I'm reading? I'd love some input here.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

Title pretty much says it all

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Matthew 19

Teaching About Divorce

The Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, is it ever ok? Jesus says that when you marry you become one flesh, and man should not separate what God has joined together. Then they say Moses allowed divorce, and Jesus replied it is only ok in the event of adultery.

I like the idea of discouraging divorce. But having such a hard and fast rule is a bit of a problem to me. Things change, people change, and sometimes divorce is the best thing for everyone. Plus, there is no mention of abuse. What if the man is beating his wife, should this not also be grounds for divorce?

Having adultery be the only rule allowing divorce reminds me of a story from This American Life (I'm almost positive that is where I heard it). They were talking to a private investigator who said a lot of his work was following people trying to see if they are cheating. He said sometimes a couple wanted to get divorced in the church (I don't recall which denomination) and it required infidelity, so the couple decided which of them would have an affair and hired the PI themselves so they would have evidence to bring to the church. Just a funny story, but this is the kind of thing that can happen when the rules are defined in too narrow a manner.

Let the Children Come to Me

People wanted to bring children to Jesus so he could "lay hands on them". The disciples try to stop it, but Jesus said to let the children in

What does "lay hand on" mean here? My first thought was it is a healing thing, but usually when he heals they just say it outright. Does this just mean he is praying for them?

The Rich Young Man

A rich young man asks Jesus how he could get to heaven, Jesus says to keep the commandments, specifically don't murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie and you should honor your father and mother. He asks what else he should do and Jesus said to sell all of his stuff and give the money to the poor. Jesus says "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God"

Two comments, why does Jesus specify a few commandments that must be kept, is he just giving examples or is he implicitly saying other commandments are unimportant. Second, if rich people can't get to heaven, what is up with megachurches and televangelists and stuff?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Matthew 18

Who is the Greatest?

Jesus' disciples ask him who is the best in the kingdom of heaven. He says the one who is as humble as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Encouraging humility, I like that. 

Temptations to Sin

Jesus says it is necessary for there to be temptations to sin. He says if your eye causes you to sin cut it out for "it is better to enter life  with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire."

This is interesting, it relates to a conversation I was just having in the comments of Matthew 4 about Satan. This passage does not say why there is a necessity for temptations for sin, but at least it acknowledges it. Also, there is some language that I found interesting (and highlighted). It contrasts being thrown to hell with "entering life". This seems to me to imply that the afterlife is the beginning. This could lead someone to think that this life does not matter, which seems like a bad thing to me. Is there a different explanation of this language?

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

I assume "little one" in this passage is referring to children

If a child is straying from God, you should spend time to bring him back. Just like a shepherd would leave 99 sheep on a mountain to go find a lost one.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

If your brother sins against you, first talk with him just the two of you. If that doesn't work, bring a few friends and detail the charges. If he still does not listen turn him in to the church. If he still does not listen treat him as a Gentile. "whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven"

I quoted that because I remember that phrase coming up before. At the time I thought it seemed to be in conflict the the idea of setting up treasures in heaven, but here it does not seem that way at all. This seems to be talking about setting up relationships here on earth and those being in heaven. It makes more sense to me here.

"If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven."

This sounds like it is saying if any two people pray for the same thing it will come true. Is there a different interpretation of this? Because it is clearly false, otherwise every team would win every sports game :)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a brother who sinned against him, suggesting 7 times. Jesus replied 70 * 7 times.

I'm guessing it was said in this way because he was saying, forgive him as much as possible. It's not supposed to be counting up to a really high number, but rather to keep forgiving forever. I'm assuming he is not actually suggesting to forgive 490 times :)

Jesus then tells the story of a king who releases a servant of a very large debt. The servant then goes out and find another poor person who owes him some money and insists he pays up and gets him put in jail since he can't pay. After hearing about this, the king is pissed because the servant should have had mercy in the same way mercy was had on him. (Is this grammar right? It sounds odd but I don't know how to fix it)

Pay it forward, I like it.
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