Thursday, June 10, 2010

278: Know Jesus, No Peace

Matthew 9-10
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' " - Matthew 10:34-36

Jesus again crosses over the lake and comes back to "his own town". The people bring him a paralytic. Instead of immediately healing him, he tells the man that his sins are forgiven. Some of the teachers of the law say that Jesus is blaspheming. Jesus responds to this by saying that he will prove that he has the power to forgive sins by healing the man.

If we assume for the moment that Jesus can, somehow, heal people. I'm not sure how that proves anything about his ability to forgive people's sins. Supernatural powers have never meant that you're the "good guy" in biblical terms. Remember the Pharaoh's magicians that could turn rods into snakes? The text of the bible, if taken at face value, seems to only prove that Jesus has supernatural powers. Not necessarily that he's the son of God, or that he has the power to forgive anyone's sins. Of course, stage magicians seem to have supernatural powers too, and priests claim that they can forgive sin.

The next paragraph is about Jesus meeting "a man named Matthew". I guess Matthew talks about himself in the third person. Matthew is a tax collector. Jesus tells Matthew to follow him and they have dinner at Matthew's house. The Pharisees ask Jesus's disciples why Jesus hangs out with sinners. Jesus overhears this question and says that he has not come to call the righteous, but the sinners (which is everyone by Jesus's definition).

John's disciples ask Jesus why his followers don't fast. Jesus says that it doesn't make any sense for them to fast (mourn) while he is with them. But they will fast when he is gone.

Next, a man comes to Jesus and says that his daughter has died. He asks Jesus to come and revive her. At the same time, the bible mentions that a woman is healed by touching the edge of Jesus's cloak. Jesus continues on to the mans house. Jesus, upon seeing the girl, says that she is just asleep, and awakens her. Did Jesus lie? I only say this because I'm not sure why Jesus waking up a girl would make it's way into the bible.

Jesus heals some more people, and drives out some more demons to end the chapter. The Pharisees, upon seeing this, say that only the prince of demons can drive out demons. It makes sense that they think this, considering Jesus did drive demons into pigs upon their request yesterday.

Chapter 10 considerably lowers my opinion of Jesus.

In the first part of the chapter he imbues all of his disciples with his powers of healing and exorcism. He sends them out with orders to visit all of the cities in Israel and heal everyone they find. Jesus says something strange upon sending them out. He says that they will not be finished going through all of the cities when "the son of man comes". Comes from where?

This is where the trouble starts for my opinion of Jesus. Jesus says that whoever acknowledges him before men, he will acknowledge before God. If you don't acknowledge him, you're screwed. Why does the act of acknowledging Jesus make you a better person? This isn't the worst part.

Jesus goes on to tell his disciples to not suppose that he's come to bring peace. What? Turn the other cheek, love your enemies, but screw peace? Jesus says that he has not come to bring peace, but the sword. He has come to turn son against father, daughter against mother, and to turn all the members of your family into your enemy. I guess this is one of those passages where Christians plug their ears and say "lalala".

Jesus isn't done yet. He says that anyone who loves his father or mother more than Jesus isn't worthy of him. Anyone who loves his/her child more than Jesus is also not worthy of Jesus. Whoever "finds his life" will lose their life, but if someone loses their life for Jesus, they will find life. I must be reading this wrong, because Jesus sounds like an egotistical douchebag right now. Why have I heard "love your neighbor" and "turn the other cheek", but none of these things (yes, I've been to church, and had plenty of opportunities to hear these revelations)?

I'm quickly losing respect for the people in my life that have tried to convert me. When were they going to spring this shit on me? "Oh, by the way, if you love your parents or your children more than Jesus, you are unworthy of Jesus". The common Christian is either ignorant of what is actually in the bible or is deliberately trying to deceive me about the nature of Jesus.

*News*
Following the theme of uninspiring condemnation, the Christian Post decided to go on yet another superiority trip.
If you are right with God, then hearing that Jesus could come back at any time will motivate you. It will purify you. It will cause you to want to be right with God. And so it should. But if you are not right with God, then hearing about end times events will frighten you. It will alarm you. The person who is not where he or she ought to be spiritually will not be looking forward to the return of Jesus at all.
To summarize, if hearing about the utter destruction of humanity in any way alarms you, then you're a shitty Christian that isn't right with God. There's something fundamentally wrong with looking forward to the end of the world. How can someone on one hand be horrified at the destruction of 9/11 (killing 3000+ people), while at the same time be looking forward to the destruction of all of humanity?

To any of the Christians out there (or anyone else for that matter) who is not looking forward to death and destruction. Let me personally assure you that you are a well balanced, rational individual.

2 comments:

  1. Matt 9:2-8. How is Jesus blaspheming here? The phrase "son of man" had several meanings in Aramaic. Originally, it just meant "a man," "the man," or "someone." Sometimes it meant "I." This appears to be the original usage in expressions such as Matt 8:20 ("Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head"). Later, the term was used in Jewish apocalyptic literature in designate the being in Daniel who will come at the end of time (but in Daniel he just stated that "one like a son of man...," i.e., the phrase just described how this being looked). In Q, the expression seems to shift from having the first meaning to having the latter, but there are some phrases where it is difficult to which usage was intended. This is one of those cases where it seems that there was some confusion on the author's part:
    In 9:2, Jesus says, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." Then, in 9:3, the teachers of the law say, "This fellow is blaspheming!" They must be presuming that only God can forgive sins and thus Jesus is claiming to be God. But even that is debatable whether it would qualify as blasphemy under Jewish law (commentators are divided on this). As an aside, note here that Matthew somehow knows what they were thinking to themselves - did one of the teachers of the Law tell Matthew (or Mark, from where he got this) later?

    Next (in 9:4) it says that Jesus could read minds. But how would Matthew know what Jesus was thinking?

    Then we come to another one of Mark's "gar" clauses: 9.6 "But so that you may know that the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins." Did Jesus actually state this, or is it an aside by the narrator to the reader? Don't be deceived by the translator's choice - it is ambiguous in the Greek. In any event, even if this is being presented as a remark to the teachers to the Law, it seems to be directed at the reader (the real "you" here).

    Note that it is not certain at this point which meaning is intended for "the son of man," but one may be tempted to regard this as a self-reference by Jesus, explaining why he can forgive sins (and explaining why this was thought to be blasphemy, although that was actually stated before his remark about the son of man).

    But the final remark (9:8) disproves this: "When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." Not to Jesus, but to men! So the son of man here just means people in general, and Jesus is not making any kind of divinity claim after all.

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  2. Matt 9:14: Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

    Note that this is question from John's disciples about not Jesus, but his disciples. This question does not go back to Jesus but must've arose at a later time during debates among various groups.

    Matt 9:20. How does Matthew (or more properly, Mark) know what the woman was thinking to herself? For that matter, what does it mean that she was "bleeding for 12 years," and how did Matthew know this, too?

    Matt 9:26. News of what spread? That he had woken up a sleeping girl? No wonder he had a hard time winning over the Jews.

    Matt 9:30. Why does Jesus want to keep this one healing a secret, but not all the others? He fails miserably anyway, so I guess he is not as omniscient as he thought.

    Matt 10:2: Simon the Zealot? Jesus had zealots among his inner circle?! And in some old manuscripts, Judas Iscariot was also called Judas the Zealot.

    Matt 10:5-6. Jesus tells his disciples to go only to the Jews, not the Gentiles. Did he change his mind later?

    Matt 10:8-16. Jesus tells the disciples to condemn towns that don't support them. How convenient.

    Matt 10:17-21. Another bit of post-Easter tradition. Would his disciples have been flogged in synagogues in his name while he was preaching? That describes the conditions at the time when Matthew (and Mark) were writing, and the instructions are to the readers, not Jesus' disciples.

    Matt 10:23: "I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes." A prediction that the apocalypse would occur before the disciples had time even to visit all the cities of Israel. Another failed prediction of the end times; one of many by Jesus, in fact, as we will see.

    Matt 10:24. One of the numerous places in the Bible where the idea of masters and servants is accepted uncritically. Apparently it's not just confined to the OT.

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