Monthly Archives: July 2019

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #154

I have been in a somber mood lately, and this passage from the Book of Wisdom inspired some deep but troubling thoughts:

12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child[a] of the Lord.
14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
15 the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
16 We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
17 Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture,
that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

(Wisdom 2:12-20)

I wonder if there is a corollary in life between how righteous someone is, and how much he or she will suffer in life. I mean, there is always suffering in life. Sometimes good people suffer a lot, and sometimes bad people suffer a lot. But at the same time I think that those who are really good people seem to suffer more. Looking through the people I know in my life, and others I have read accounts of, I just see that as a thing. Suffering and righteousness are just connected. I am also reminded of this passage from the Gospel of John:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.[c] 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant[d] is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

(John 15:18-27)

The world will always hate those who belong to God. It makes sense to me that the closer one is to God, the more the world would hate you. Perhaps my readers will feel like chiming in and offering their thoughts. Perhaps there are some other passages from scripture which would further illuminate the matter.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #153

Today I wanted to cover the same passage from two different perspectives- that of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Here is Matthew’s perspective:

As he entered Caper′na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even[c] in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Matthew 8:5-13)

Then we have Luke’s version:

After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Caper′na-um. Now a centurion had a slave who was dear[a] to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.

(Luke 7:1-10)

There are two significant differences between them, which I will mention below in bold.

Matthew: “I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,  while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Matthew includes an admonition by Jesus against the Jews, informing them that many Gentiles will make it to the Kingdom and many Jews will not. This fits in with the character of Matthew’s gospel, which was clearly written with a Jewish audience in mind. It would make sense to use a passage which contains a righteous Gentile to give this message. I would not at all be surprised if Jesus said this at another time, but Matthew thought that this was the best passage to put that particular saying of Jesus. Or maybe he did say it here, and Luke omitted it because his primarily Gentile audience wouldn’t need it.

Luke: When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave.  And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,  for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.”

Here we have other individuals, Jews in fact, speaking on behalf of the centurion (who was probably a Gentile or maybe a monotheist “God-fearer”). What I find interesting is that these Jews speak highly of this non-Jew. They give him high praise indeed, which I cannot say I can recall seeing elsewhere regarding a Gentile in the gospels (readers feel free to correct me in the comments below). I think there are a couple of meanings to be drawn here. The first is the role of the Jews as the early messengers of the gospel. They helped bring Jesus towards the Centurion. The second is that intercessors can have a powerful effect, and should be used when one wants to petition God. Here the Centurion didn’t come himself, but used others to reach out to Jesus. This ties in with Church teaching regards the saints, that they too can help intercede with God on our behalf. Jesus of course knew the centurion’s need, just as He always knows our needs. But it never hurts to have others speak on our behalf. Especially if those individuals are highly favored in God’s eyes.

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