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Showing posts from February 28, 2021

Jesus at the Feast (John 7:10-24)

 After his relatives went to the feast, Jesus also decided to go. He wanted to observe it, but he didn't want to be the focus of all the attention. You can see it in the way people were talking about Jesus, that he would have been the focus. Also, there may be a mystery in the Father's plan, which meant that he had to go to the feast slightly later than he might have otherwise. Whatever Jesus hoped to avoid by not announcing himself came to pass anyway, when he taught in the temple. His opponents had to wonder where he got his knowledge, because they knew he wasn't trained like they were. Even though Jesus's knowledge is special and supernatural, we should take this as a lesson, that none of us has to be a trained expert to have knowledge of God. And our knowledge is meant to serve the love of God. Jesus grounds what he is saying in the fact that he was sent by the Father. His opponents wanted to get him on a technicality of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus appeals to the sp

Unbelief and Rising Opposition (John 7:1-9)

 One of the reasons to prefer the translation "Judeans" in verse 1--besides guarding against anti-Semitic attitudes--is that it better gets across who Jesus's opponents were. The main groups that were his opponents were the Pharisees, a group devoted to strict observance of the Torah (the law of Moses), and the Sadducees, who were picked by the foreign power of Rome to manage the worship of the temple. As a rule, they weren't particularly religious or observant; it's a bit like today, when we read about some country that has a state church. Most people realize that the people long since abandoned those convictions. In defense of the Pharisees, all the tragedy of the Old Testament--especially the sacking of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and the takeovers by foreign powers--convinced many people that it had all come about because people had not observed the Law closely enough. But again, even the receiving of the Law had at the heart of it God redeeming his people from slave

Do You Take Offense at This? (John 6:60-71)

 There were two parts of what Jesus had just said that were offensive: first, he invited people to eat his flesh and drink his blood, which would be a violation of the law of Moses in several respects. Second, Jesus talks about God the Father in a way that no one would do. It sounds like blasphemy, to call God your own father. He knew they were offended, on both counts. He essentially asked them, "Do you want me to leave?" Then he says the Holy Spirit is empowering everything that he is saying. Even if the idea of Jesus being God is a bridge too far, people have enough information from the Old Testament Scriptures to know that the Spirit of God can be trusted. Nobody could quite have known that He would be given to all kinds of people, but Jesus is saying, "If you don't believe me, believe Him, and the works that He does." And again, Jesus says that everything that is happening is according to the Father's will. We cannot believe anything concerning the Fath

The Privilege Of University Education

 As Providence would have it, I know a lot of university professors. I admire them. I've often wanted to be a university professor. My life path perhaps makes that somewhat unlikely at this juncture, but I wanted to tell you why I felt so privileged to be among those who attended and completed university education. I have also completed graduate work, so I am doubly lucky. I can't write anything like this without lamenting the fact that the purpose--and the very existence--of colleges and universities is in doubt. I do not intend to go too much into that, but it makes me sad when I think about it. What a noble profession, to be a teacher! It's not a surprise to me that so many aspiring teachers have big dreams about making a difference, because even if reality invades to show them that it's more difficult than they thought, the heart of teaching at any and every level, is the sharing of truth, and wisdom. If that doesn't inspire you, you shouldn't even think abo

I'm Going To Need A Better Argument

 You know, there are things that we might disagree with, but if we hear good arguments in favor of a certain position, we can at least say, "That argument makes some sense, or is defensible." I would not say that I love to catalog bad arguments on my own side, but that is mainly because I don't know what "side" I'm on, anyway. One of the bad arguments for the death penalty is this, and it's not even an argument: "Some people I don't like, and who probably don't even believe in objective truth, are opposed to the death penalty. Therefore, I am in favor." What sort of intemperate mental gesture inspires someone to ask me if I believe in objective truth, at the mere mention of the fact that I oppose the death penalty? Yes, I believe in objective truth; that's why I oppose the death penalty. I am tempted to say that entire sectors of ideological camps operate according to these intemperate mental gestures, as if I must be some sort of p