2 Samuel 7

Main point
The sovereign almighty LORD does not need or want David to build him a house. Instead, God will build his own house (13) through the house he will build for David (11b).

Main purpose
God does not need man, but we need God, and he has already done, and will do, all we need (cf. Acts 17:24-31). So let’s join with David in praising Him and praying, ‘Your will be done’. Continue reading “2 Samuel 7” »

Applying the 10 Commandments to modern Christians

You shall not murder

This law is applicable to modern Christians because it was well established before the 10 commandments (Gen 4:10-11, 9:6) and is continued into the New Testament (Matt 5:21-26, Romans 13:9).

This is a law against the willful taking of life, and perhaps also against negligence or carelessness resulting in death. For the modern Christian, this is a law against disregarding God’s design for living in a peaceful society (Romans 12:18).This is a law against rejecting the rule of the creator God by claiming authority over life that only God rightly has.

But perhaps most significantly, it is a law against an attitude of the heart that does not love others (See Matt 5:21-26). That is, if ‘you shall not murder’ is the negative command, the New Testament clearly makes the positive version of the same command to be ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Romans 13:9). For modern Christians, the law to not murder is trumped and fulfilled in Jesus’ teaching to love others (Matt 7:12).

Continue reading “Applying the 10 Commandments to modern Christians” »

Interpreting parables and Luke 15

Parables are brief metaphorical narratives that have two levels of meaning (1). My guidelines for interpreting parables from the synoptic gospels are:

  1. Understand the parable as a simple story designed to be easily understood by a 1st Century audience (‘1st level’ of meaning)
  2. Look for anything in the simple story that might be unusual or challenging for this original audience. This may be a clue to the ‘2nd meaning’.
  3. Look at the context of the parable for hints as to how to understand. For example, is any explanation given? Is the parable in response to a question? How did the original audience respond?
  4. Consider the main characters of the story. Is there something to be learnt from each character? Is there a ‘master’ character that might consolidate what you learn from each subordinate character?
  5. Develop an understanding of the main point of the parable
  6. Check how this understanding fits within and supports the overall message of the Gospel
  7. Think about ways to apply this understanding of the parable to yourself

Applied to parables in Luke 15:

  1. Everybody understands the experience of losing something of value, whether it’s property, resources or people.
  2. The sheep and the coin appear to be modest loses. The response of the man and the woman in finding what was lost appears to be excessive. The behaviour of the father in the Lost Son story is highly unusual according to the customs of that day. The father appears to be excessively gracious, compassionate and forgiving to the Lost Son.
  3. Jesus tells the parables to address the Pharisees and scribes who are grumbling about Jesus’ association with ‘sinners’. To be lost is to be a sinner in need of repentance. Jesus implies from the first two parables that his listeners should be joining with the angels of God in heaven and rejoicing over sinners who repent (15:7,10).
  4. The man, woman and father all appear to represent God. We learn that God cares for those who are lost, seeks the lost, and is compassionate and forgiving when the lost are found. The Lost son is another main character who presents a lesson on repentance. The older brother character represents the point of view of the Pharisees and scribes who do not share God’s joy at the repentance of sinners
  5. God loves to welcome repentant sinners into his family. I think Jesus is presenting himself as being the agency of God in seeking and saving the lost.
  6. Jesus repeatedly taught that his mission was focused on seeking and saving the lost (Luke 4:18-21, 5:32, 19:10). Jesus also taught the importance of repentance (Luke 3:3, 15:7).
  7. I don’t want to be like the Pharisees who took no joy from repentant sinners. I am a repentant sinner myself. I should take more joy in God’s calling of me to repentance, as well as much joy from others who repent and turn to God. My ministry should be more closely reflective of Jesus’ ministry with an increased focus on those who are lost rather that just on those who are already found. Will I be a follower of Jesus with the attitude of the older brother, or will I adopt the attitude of the outrageous radical loving Father?

References:
1. Craig Blomberg, Jesus and the Gospels, 299–309.
2. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth. 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 2014.
3. David A. deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament, 337–342.
4. Garwood P. Anderson, ‘Parables’, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, 650–663.

Overall purpose and shape of Mark

These are my 250 words on this topic from Week 1 of the subject NT501: Jesus and the Gospels.

How do you think Mark wants his readers to respond to his document? Can you outline something of the shape of his Gospel?

Mark wants his readers to respond with interest and awe at this compelling character who is clearly commissioned by God, with the authority and power of God to bring about the fulfillment of the good news of His kingdom, through his servant-like ministry.

Mark’s account is largely straight-forward and action-packed, devoid of flourish or poetry. Lacking also is much that would resonate with a Jewish audience as there is little in the way of explicit Old Testament references. The account appears not to be concerned with Jesus ancestry or background prior to his formal ministry commencing.

The pace slows down so much in the account of the last few days of Jesus’ life before his execution that it feels as though the action moves in slow motion. This is done by Mark I think to focus the reader on the significance of each scene and of the crucifixion and resurrection period in general as it is at the heart of the message of this Gospel about the purpose and work of Jesus in his earthly ministry.

Some other interesting aspects of this Gospel that influence the shape and impact of the message:

  • A ministry of healing both the body and the soul – and these are often linked in that Jesus readily responds to those that show faith.
  • A ministry in tension with Jesus not wanting his full identity to be known – that the crowds might hinder his ministry, that people might be attracted to him for the wrong reasons.
  • The kingdom of God is so challenging and counter-cultural character (first will be last, lose your life to save it, inside not outside, be like little children etc)
  • The disciples are accounted for in a few unflattering ways; They don’t seem to get the real meaning behind much of Jesus’ teaching and often appear to miss the point, particularly the big point of Jesus’ death and resurrection
  • The most extended direct teaching of Jesus appears to be about persecution, end times, Jesus return
  • Jesus is a character deeply interested and invested in people. Very busy doing good – teaching and healing

The masculine mandate: God’s calling to men by Richard D. Phillips

My highlighted notes below:

Very few of us fit stereotype of man’s man, but all of us can fulfill God’s mandate for men: bear fruit for his glory in this fallen world;

Be a Godly man, a loving husband, a good father and a faithful friend i.e. Be spiritual men placed in real-world, God-defined relationships, as lords and servants under God, to bear God’s fruit by serving and leading.

Work and keep i.e. Genesis 2:15 mandate.

Invest my time and energies and ideas into bringing good things into being. Work/build and keep/protect everything placed into my charge

Colossians 3:17

There can be no higher calling in live than to cooperate with God in being further conformed to his image.

Daily grind: read, pray, work, play

Greatest most powerful passion a father can give his children is passion for the Lord and his gospel of grace.

There will come a day when God will pull down the scaffolding of world history and then point to his masterpiece: Jesus Christ. So, fix your eyes on that day that all our labour is directed: when God will fully manifest his glory.