Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Facing Mt. Kenya - Economic Life

I found the last chapter pretty fascinating. This one was more basic. It starts with the basic division of labor. Men have certain roles in the homestead economy; women have others. If a man does women’s work, Kenyatta says the women will wonder why they need him. They need him to do man’s work. Women are the food managers of the family, too. They seek to keep the food supply balanced so they use up those resources they have the most of. If they don’t, they’ll have to barter a little more at the market. Children are also involved in the farming process. They worked alongside the family so they could be part of what they’re doing, but they also learn how to farm by doing it with their family.

Agriculture is important. There are two seasons – rainy and reaping time. They come twice a year. While everyone was responsible for their own land, there is a community aspect to their work yet again. They would help each other weed by working together joyfully as they went from one field to another each day. Kenyatta makes a point from here that Europeans often think Giyuku lazy, but he contends that the Giyuku don’t look at the clock. Rather, they get up early and work hard together before the heat of the sun.

After the harvest, people will go to market for barter or money. Supply and demand of certain goods at harvest time depend on what you can get and what it will cost. The Giyuku, at the time of publication, placed higher value on goats than money. If they were saving money, they would bury it and it would ruin. On the other hand, goats even multiply themselves! Kenyatta seems to long for his countrymen to think ahead and make advancements with regard to currency.

Cattle are a luxury, but rarely used for food. Having cattle and drinking milk is a status symbol. Sometimes cattle will be slaughtered for a festival, but often just babies and the wealthy could enjoy the milk of cattle. The rich were expected to take care of warriors because the milk and meat would give them sustenance.

Finally, the Giyuku trade with other tribes. The Masai believe farming to be an offense to the land, but they eat Giyuku crops. At the time of publication, there were trading posts being developed, but you had to pay the government a handsome price to have a shop at the trading post.

* The sharp distinction of gender roles is something looked down upon by us, culturally, but, while details might be different, the difference in gender and their complementing of each other is a biblical truth.
* Family training is valuable. I don’t know the extent of child labor here, but there’s clearly a model for training up children to do the family’s work of agriculture. We are called, biblically, to train our children in the way they should go as well.
* Again, there’s the emphasis on helping each other and celebrating provision together. This isn’t addressing the spirituality stuff, but their shared work and celebration is a biblical response to God’s provision. The hope is that they give thanks to God in Christ.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Facing Mt. Kenya - Land Tenure System

Our Kenya team is leaving in mid-June. One of the things we're doing to prepare is reading chapters of Facing Mt. Kenya, a anthropology study by a Kenyan (Jomo Kenyatta). Our assignment is to read our chapters, offer some kind of summary, and contrast this view with the biblical worldview. This will help us in our interactions in Kenya, particularly our teaching. (Just a note: I found myself contrasting the Kenyan worldview, at times, with how we live in America. Even that is a lesson that we need to be humble and open to correction when we're formulating our biblical worldview as we can easily confuse "American" with "biblical." Anyway, here it is, Giyuku (major tribe) Land Tenure System (chapter 3)...

I imagine this will come out more in Greg’s system, but there seems to be an animistic element to African culture (over-generalized, I’m sure). The land itself is seen as sacred because it feeds the child for life and nurses the dead for eternity (22). This sacred nature of the earth is also evident when someone wanted to buy land from another. They would approach it as if a man was seeking another’s daughter in marriage. They would respectfully haggle over the “dowry.” There would be a ceremony to ratify the agreement in front of the elders, but it was approached “matrimonially” rather than some kind of legal contract event as it would be in our culture.
Despite this sacred nature of land and the European misunderstanding of Gikuyu culture, the Gikuyu did believe in private property, but it was more communal than we’re used to. We’re used to one owner of space. Here the family will own the area communally, but that does not mean it is “government property” (27). The land was first claimed by the men who would clear and cultivate it. He could say it was “my property.” When the family grew, the men could say it was “our land,” but only the patriarch could call it “my land.” Once the men outgrew the current land, the most prosperous men would be sent out to purchase other lands. What’s important here is that there never was any tribal land, let alone “government” land. When tribal chiefs were given as “trustees” of land, it was in appropriate because the chiefs had no more authority over the land than the Europeans. It was the clan’s land, or the family head’s, not the tribe’s.
There are lands that appear undeveloped and there was a community aspect to its usage, but not its ownership. If there was land that was good for grazing, the landowner had no right to kick grazing animals out. This lack of development led Europeans to think they needed to develop this real estate. To the Giyuku, however, there was no unused land. They just had different values and usage for the land than the Europeans. He then concludes with a prophecy and a parable that described European creep and eventual conquest.

Helpful Insights
* As Europeans (once removed), we need to humble ourselves and come in as learners. I imagine we’ll have some credibility because of our association with Rich and Kathy, but it will be important to exhibit appropriate humility and respect.
* The land is “living.” This isn’t biblical, but there’s respect for land that we don’t have.
* Family matters. Even above tribe, it seems. When we teach and communicate, the family relationships may be important to apply Scripture to. And to consider what costs people have paid to follow Jesus if their family doesn’t agree with it.
* Even beyond the family angle, there’s a community values and hospitality that is more pronounced than our culture. Makes me think we should stay in homes, if available.

Contrast with a biblical worldview
* The strong relational ties are good to an extent, but not if they keep someone from following Jesus. They know better than our individualized culture, I imagine, what it means to leave father and mother for Jesus.
* Their respect for creation is admirable, but not biblical. The land isn’t “living;” it’s God’s creation that we’re stewards of. We would do well to have their respect for their land, but it can’t be overly-sacred to remain biblical.
* The community aspect of how they function has much to teach us when it comes to biblical community. I think we might learn a bit of what it means to hold things in common rather than grasping onto “our stuff.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Book of Revelation, Part 2: Canon & Background

This is the final installment of Cook’s book, The Apocalyptic Literature. It’s a helpful book, but, honestly, I’ll have to look it over again when I teach apocalyptic literature again in the future. I hope this was helpful to someone.

Reading Revelation as Canonical Scripture
The application, it seems, of Cook’s view of recapitulation is that the canon of Scripture is revealed (at multiple levels = polyvalence) in Revelation. It also applies to the challenges the church faces in the present time. Specifically, the liturgical worship in Revelation is strewn throughout the book – and it serves as central to the church’s worship today.

Cook takes an interesting walk through the biblical storyline and how Revelation fits it at different levels. For instance, Revelation 12 breaks the rules of apocalyptic by showing how the earthly realities shape what is happening in heaven (it’s usually the other way around). This defining moment of the cross has secured the defeat of Satan. Everything else in Revelation is waiting for the consummation of the defeat. Another example of the canonical perspective when it comes to looking at Revelation is seen in the woman of Rev. 12 who could be Eve, Israel, Mary, or all of God’s people. The canon informs our reading of Revelation.

Group Origins and Social Background
Cook’s insight on Revelation concludes with his belief that it is written by John of Patmos, not John the apostle (he speaks of apostles as one outside their number in Rev. 21.14). He was a Jewish prophet from a guild, according to Cook. Regarding the context of the recipients, Cook also denies the conventional wisdom that Revelation is written to a church dealing with extensive persecution. Domitian did not undertake wide scale persecution. While there was local persecution (Rev. 2.13), Domitian’s time was one of extensive celebration and building of the Roman Caesar cult to unify the empire. The church would obviously be in a difficult place where they were to call Jesus Lord, not Caesar – the one who unifies.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Book of Revelation, Part 1: Issues, Allusions, Contents & Theology

Issues in Reading
Cook believes Revelation to be “the most intricate and sophisticated” of apocalyptic literature. Regarding some of the basic issues of Revelation, Cook notes that it was a “coherent, relevant letter for the members of each [of the seven] church[es in Rev. 2-3]” (p. 193). Whereas much of the NT apocalyptic literature is from an earthly perspective (see gospels & 1 Thess.), this is the view from God’s heavenly throne room. This helps people know the here and now is related to what is happening in heaven and, because God is in control, they can live faithfully today, not just wait for the future. And it is an all-encompassing sovereignty, not just political. So, while it seems heaven is silent, Revelation makes it clear that God is “relentlessly aggressive” and believers should relentlessly live faithfully for God by His values, which may mean unconventional methods like humility, selflessness, and suffering (Rev. 5.5-6, 9-10; 12.11).

Scriptural Allusions
One cannot understand Revelation without understanding the OT and the extensive usage of it in Revelation. Cook underscores the importance of allusions, not careful quotation and notes the locusts in Joel (Rev. 9.1-12), the olive trees in the temple in Zecharaiah 4 and the two witnesses of Rev. 11, and the beast of Dan. 7 and Rev. 13. This is a brief sampling.

Contents and Theological Highlights
Revelation has prophetic elements, but it is a “full-blown apocalypse” that has a deep dimension to all of its parts. For example, the seven churches aren’t incidental; they are “lampstands of God in the world.” These churches also underscore the regular theme of perseverance in a difficult world.

Regarding structure, some dismiss Revelation as having no structure. Cook, however, sees it as interlocking, which makes divisions challenging, but, given that he lays out an outline, he sees coherence and organization in the letter.

In fact, the structure points to the central theme – Rev. 11.15. God and His Messiah will reign forever! Everything prior points to the rise of Satan and the ultimate conflict before God’s reign is established. After this central point, there is a correlation – in reverse order – where Satan’s work is undone and the New Heavens and New Earth are inaugurated. Interludes are also part of the structure and they give pause so people can repent.

He ends this section cautioning us when it comes to reading Revelation strictly chronologically. He holds to a pattern of “recapitulation.” One reason is that there is more than one “radical climax.” Sometimes the language makes it difficult to see the recapitulation because it can be “ambiguous and elastic,” which leaves the book open to varied interpretations (note the history of interpretation!). Many of them seem to be legitimate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Christ & Culture Revisited: Critiquing Niebuhr, Part 2

Carson argues that cultural engagement for Christians cannot neglect the key turning points in the Bible. He now sets out his non-negotiables of biblical theology and then he’ll give further critique of Niebuhr in light of these non-negotiables. What are the non-negotiables?

Creation and Fall
Every person is precious and created in God’s image. We were created innocent, but have fallen into sin. Sin isn’t just doing the wrong thing, but rebellion. The greatest commandment is love God; the second is to love your neighbor. Rebellion against God, idolatry its varied forms, has social consequences as well. We see goodness around us, not because we’re mixtures of good and evil, but because of God’s common grace.

Israel and the Law
The basic storyline is this: God chose His people and gave them a law that touched on every part of their lives, pointing out that God’s call applies to every bit of their lives. Carson says it “…turn[s] the fundamental idolatry into detailed transgression” (p. 50). While we get hung up on the laws for living, there is much more space given to the tabernacle and temple – the way God’s people stand before Him and have their sins atoned for. Israel is a theocracy. There’s no separation of church and state, but there is a difference between priest and king (contrary to most of their neighbors of the day). Finally, all of this is embedded in the larger story of Abraham and his seed, which is embedded within the story of fall and redemption.

Christ and the New Covenant
Jesus is incarnate. He is God in the flesh to dwell among us and He comes proclaiming the Kingdom of God. The kingdom is God’s reign as evidenced in the arrival of the King, His preaching, and the preaching of His disciples – and works of power. And yet it is has not come in fullness. There are still weeds among the wheat (Mark 4). The Kingdom has come, but it will still come in fullness when the King returns. Jesus’ death fulfills the OT sacrifices and is a ransom for many (Mark 10.45). This death establishes the new covenant in Jesus’ blood (1 Corinthians 11.23-26). When Jesus ascends, He sends the Holy Spirit and builds the community of the new covenant, the church. It is built with every tongue, tribe, and nation and has to deal with God’s and culture’s claims. The rest of the book is devoted to navigating this tension.

Heaven and Hell
God has called us to be responsible in the here and now, but Scripture speaks often of heaven and hell. Christ and culture issues, then, are not resolved simply on a temporal plane. We need to take eternity into consideration as we navigate these challenging issues.

Final Reflections on Niebuhr
Carson concludes this chapter with some more critique in light of these biblical theology non-negotiables. He says these need to be considered “simultaneously” and “all the time.” With this in mind, Carson disqualifies Christ Transforms Culture and almost disqualifies Christ of Culture (but not totally). But he is generally critical of rigid patterns of Christ and culture. Instead, context needs to be taken into consideration and all of these elements need to be considered “simultaneously” and “all the time.”

Finally, communities of faith must live in tension. Christ is sovereign over all, in one sense, but we also live in small communities committed to Him where His reign is realized more fully. We are both residents of the New Jerusalem and Los Angeles or Houston or Minneapolis. So we live in this tension all the time – at least until Jesus returns. The rest of the book looks, I believe, at living this tension in the different contexts Christians might find themselves in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Christ & Culture Revisited: Critiquing Niebuhr, Part 1

The last of my Christ and Culture posts was March 8. I walked through most of Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr. (Search the Culture posts or go back to March 8 and trace them backwards, if you’re interested). In some of those summaries I leaned on the work done by DA Carson in his book Christ & Culture Revisited. Carson is grateful for Niebuhr’s work, but seeks to build on it. After spending his first chapter summarizing Niebuhr, his second chapter serves to correct Niebuhr. After this chapter, Carson will build his own theology of Christ and culture, but he takes at least two chapters (out of six!) to deal with Niebuhr’s seminal work because he recognizes it has framed the conversation for more than fifty years. This post will look at some issues in Niebuhr’s work – strengths and weaknesses. The next post will deal with how biblical theology needs to fit into the discussion of Christ and culture.

Carson applauds Niebuhr’s comprehensive spectrum while at the same time recognizing he is a man of his times, leaving out the Two-Thirds world perspective. Admitting Niebuhr can’t be blamed for writing fifty years ago, Carson does question his inclusion of Christ of Culture liberalism and Gnosticism. Quite simply, Carson says they go so far afield of confessional orthodoxy as set forth in the Bible that he finds it hard to call them Christian at all. He cites texts that make it clear orthodoxy and heresy did, indeed, matter in the early church (see Galatians 1.8-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 1 John). Carson concludes this section wondering if it should be a fourfold paradigm rather than five.

He next moves to Niebuhr’s use of Scripture. While it is noble that he attempts to ground each view in Scripture, he finds little to support Christ of Culture liberalism and he forces John’s gospel into Christ Transforms Culture Universalism. Carson takes him to task for making John say what he clearly did not say – and even Niebuhr recognizes John doesn’t go far enough in the end. This view gives up too much of the non-negotiables of biblical theology (next post).

Finally, Carson discusses the historical examples and canon. The point being that the historical examples don’t fit neatly into any of the five paradigms themselves and Niebuhr’s attempt to ground each of his examples in Scripture over-emphasizes a “canon within the canon.” Instead of picking an over-emphasis and running with it, Carson argues for a contextual approach that takes the engagement of Christ and culture from the perspective of the entire canon and letting that speak to the parameters of the engagement and letting the context decide which elements of the fivefold pattern should be used in a given situation.

Next … biblical theology!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Daniel, Part 2: Contents, Theology, & Canon

This is the second in a study of Daniel as apocalyptic literature. The first post is on April 4, before the Easter Week posts.

Cook doesn’t believe Dan. 1-6 is straight history, but should be appreciated for its literary skill and humor, showing the impotence of human power in light of God’s sovereignty. It isn’t just the historical leaders that are fools, but it looks forward to the foolishness and wickedness of future leaders as well. These powerful political machines must be stood against by God’s people if they attempt to usurp the place of God. Daniel instructs, until the end actually comes, how God’s people are to declare apocalyptic gloom (like AD 70) and when to have apocalyptic caution and wisdom (Y2K virus).

Finally, Cook discusses how many have sought to look at Daniel as a history book whose use is exhausted. But that is not how Jesus, or those who put it together in the 2nd century BC (according to Cook). Even if it is describing history, it looks forward. Cook shows how the beasts of Daniel 7 don’t match, exactly, the beasts of Daniel 8. There’s yet another beast to come. Daniel still looks to the horizon for fulfillment.

Daniel is as useful today as it ever has been.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: He is Risen!

Resurrection Witnesses

Matthew 28:1-8 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. 5 Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you." 8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel's message. (NLT) – See also Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12
Resurrection Appearances

Luke 24:13-53 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were
going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!" 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise
from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." 50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (ESV) – Matt. 28:9-20; John 20-21

Friday, April 10, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: Good Friday

Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested

Mark 14:43-50 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard." 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, "Rabbi!" And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled." 50 And they all left him and fled. (ESV) – See also Matthew 26:47-56
The Jewish Trial


John 18:13-24 …and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. 15 And Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought in Peter. 17 The slave-girl therefore who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." 18 Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. 19 The high priest therefore questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21 "Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; behold, these know what I said." 22 And when He had said this, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying, "Is that the way You answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?" 24 Annas therefore sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (NAS)

Matthew 26:57-68 Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. 58 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest's courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end. 59 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. 60 But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone's testimony. Finally, two men came forward 61 who declared, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'" 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Well, aren't you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?" 63 But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, "I demand in the name of the living God-- tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God." 64 Jesus replied, "You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, "Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?" "Guilty!" they shouted. "He deserves to die!" 67 Then they began to spit in Jesus' face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, 68 jeering, "Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?" (NLT) – See also Mark 14:53-65

Mark 15:1 Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. (NKJ) – See also Matthew 27:1-2
The Roman Trial (three phases)

Matthew 27:2-14 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me." 11 Meanwhile
Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-- to the great amazement of the governor. (NIV) – See also Mark 15:2-5
The Crucifixion (approximately 9:00am to 3:00pm)

Mark 15:16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews." 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 28 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!" 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the
cross that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also reviled him. 33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "Behold, he is calling Elijah." 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (ESV) – See also Matthew 27:27-54

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: Thursday

Preparation for the Passover and Passover Meal

Matthew 26:17-25 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" 18 He aid, "Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" 19 And the isciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" 23 He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." 25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, "Is it I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "You have said so." (ESV) – See also Mark 14:12-25
Upper Room Discourse

John 14 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. 25 "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. (ESV) – See whole discourse in John 13-17
Prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane

Mark 14:32-42 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!" (NIV) – See also Matthew 26:36-46

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: “Silent Wednesday”

Jesus and His disciples presumably stay in Bethany

Judas makes arrangements to betray Jesus

Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief
priests, 15 and said, "What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?" And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him. (NASB) – See also Mark 14:10-11

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: Tuesday

Jesus debates with the religious leaders and is teaching in the Temple

Mark 11:27-33 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you authority to do this?" 29 Jesus replied, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 John's baptism-- was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!" 31 They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' 32 But if we say, 'From men'...." (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) 33 So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things." (NIV) – See also Mark 12; Matthew 21:23-23-39
Olivet Discourse

Mark 13:1-37 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" 2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?" 5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child.
Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong-- let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now-- and never to be equaled again. 20 If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--
if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. 24 "But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' 26 "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned
task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-- whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: Monday

Cursing the fig tree on the way to Jerusalem

Mark 11:12-14 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it. (ESV) – See also Matthew 21:18-22
Jesus cleanses the Temple and returns to Bethany

Mark 11:15-19 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city. (ESV) – See also Matthew 21:12-13

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walking With Jesus Through Passion Week: Palm Sunday

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Wilkins, gave us a resource, that is now found in his Matthew commentaries (NIVAC and Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary). It is a list of the Scripture references that help us walk through Easter week with Jesus. I know it’s late in the day, but I thought this might be a nice tool to help us walk through this week and focus on what was happening in Jesus’ life as we consider the great work He accomplished at the cross … and resurrection. I hope these will help draw you nearer to Him this week.

Triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Matthew 21:1-9 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (ESV) – See also John 12.12-18
Jesus surveys the Temple and returns to Bethany

Mark 11:11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Daniel, Part 1: Basic Issues

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged this book. We dropped the Daniel series in college group. People weren’t engaging with it and I haven’t had much opportunity to get back to this book. Many sane people would put the book on the shelf until later, but I think I have some kind of mental condition that requires me to finish books – whether I want to or not (and whether I like them or not). So it’s been a while and I’m probably only going to blog Daniel and Revelation, but I may jot some notes on the chapters in between. But I may not. Either way, let’s get to Daniel.

Issues in Daniel
Cook begins with his perspective on Daniel’s composition as well as some unique elements that Daniel brings to apocalyptic literature. He thinks the final form of Daniel was composed in 164 BC, based on the persecutions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It is the latest book in the Hebrew Scriptures. While apocalyptic explodes in ch. 7, Dan. 1-6 also serves to “revision reality” where discipleship is possible even in a hostile world.

The visions show a dualistic worldview where good will ultimately rule over evil. Apocalyptic cannot be domesticated. Rather, the heavenly realities are at work among the political and social realities. Supernatural intervention is happening all the time. Heaven regularly invades earth.

He also discusses “mantic wisdom” and the interweaving of Near Eastern mythology with Scripture in Daniel. Both are the building blocks in Daniel. Some have been slow, it seems, to recognize the biblical foundations in Daniel. He states, “An apocalyptic imagination took shape as the Daniel group pored over the Scriptures, especially lapsed or unfulfilled prophecies” (p. 129).

The next few pages discuss how Daniel uses – and reinterprets – other OT texts. Most time is spent on how Daniel takes a literal understanding of Jer. 25.11-12; 29.10 (that would make sense for the rebuilding of the temple in Jeremiah’s context) and re-works it in a way that gives it a longer term application/understanding in the “seventy-sevens.” Daniel stretches out 70 years (that will result in a Sabbath rest) into 490 years based on Sabbatical cycles.

Apocalyptic isn’t my strong suit, but it was really interesting to see how dependent Daniel is upon other OT texts.