from Old English, gōd spell "good news"
a writing that describes the life of Jesus

Sunday, July 11, 2010

mary gordon | the jeffersonian temptation

All Christians read like editors, holding in our hands a pencil that we do not fear to use whenever we see fit. Perhaps it is more true to say: all Christians are bowdlerizers. When we come to something we cannot or will not accept, we skip over it, hoping to find something we are happy to hold on to in the next chapter, the next verse, the next page, the next Evangelist.

Perhaps the most famous and audacious bowdlerizer of the New Testament is Thomas Jefferson. He simply took out all the parts of the New Testament he didn't like and put together his own. As a recreation from the pressures of the presidency, he took a pair of scissors to the editions of the New Testament in the four languages he knew - English, French, Latin, and Greek - reconstituting the Gospels so they would be a force for good. And not just generalized good: he was particular in his intentions. The original title of his compilation was "The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, extracted from the account of his life and doctrines, as given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; being an Abridgement of the New Testament for use of the Indians, unembarrassed with matters of faith or fact beyond the level of their comprehensions."'

He had the enviable certainty of an Enlightenment thinker. He knew what were really the words of Jesus and which were not. How could he tell? Well, it was obvious. He could tell. After all, wasn't he the author of the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident"? With the same faith, he wrote to John Adams, "We must reduce our volume to the simple Evangelists and select, even from among them, the very words only of Jesus, pairing off the amphiboligisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions of his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his and which is as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dung hill."


One identifies with and envies the bowdlerizing Jefferson. I like thinking of Jefferson, his bewigged, pigtailed head (or did he take his wig off for what might have been sweaty labor - and do we see, rather, an unkempt redhead?), president of the ridiculously young United States, tall, lanky, fifty-plus years old, in shirtsleeves, intent on the pagees he is to ravage, taking a pair of scissors in his hands, the delicious shush shush of the scissors on the heavy rag paper, leaving behind him gaps in the text, letting the Enlightenment through, and the silver air of the newly dawning ninetheenth centruy, the air of post-revolutionary America and France. Looking forward to an age in which there would be no more bloodshed, only rationality and moral behavior. And he will see to it that Jesus, decoupled from magic and mystery, and "leaving out everything relative to his personal history and character, this Jesus, a walking tablet of the law, will be our guide."

But what does he do with the residuum? With the spoiled books, the incarnation of the unacceptable? Does he burn them? Bury them? Hide them away? They were costly and he was a lover of books, the creator of a great private library, which he sold to replace the Library of Congress, whose destruction by the British so enraged him that, according to his biographer, he suggested paying incendiaries in London to set British buildings afire in return.

It is tempting, then, to speculate: did he take pleasure in the blatant destructiveness of such an act, joy in it as a sadistic thrill, a bibliophile's black mass?

The pleasure of this kind of destruction and re-creation is connected to the pain and difficulty of a reading which attempts to be complete. It is this pain, or painfulness, that makes all of us secret sharers of Thomas Jefferson's enterprise. . . .

Which of us would be sure that, in Jefferson's words, we could "pick out the diamonds in the dung heap"? Isn't it one of the limits of Jefferson and his Enlightenment cohorts that they were so insistent on denying the importance of the dung? After all, without dung there would be no nourishment, no life. You can't eat diamonds.

I think one reason I prefer Jesus to Jefferson is that he understands there's no point in the separation. With Jesus, the mixed lot of humanness, the paradox of our nature, is, rather than being lamented, insisted upon, named and renamed.

So how do we as readers reject the Jeffersonian temptation? How do we read without a pair of scissors or a shovel or a match? How can we read the words that are there, all of them, and not even succumb to the temptation of a linguistic fudging or contortions that reduce the impact of actions prompted by an understanding, or misunderstanding, of these semiotic marks?

Mary Gordon, "Reading Jesus"
xvi-xviii and 91-94

Monday, May 3, 2010

chapter, verse & song

matthew 3:5 | prepare ye
matthew 3:7-11 | you vipers' brood!
matthew 3:13-15 | do you come to me?
save the people
matthew 5:17 | do not suppose i have come to abolish the law
matthew 5:18-20 | so long as heaven and earth remain
luke 18:1-8 | there once was a judge who cared nothing for god nor man
luke 18:9-14 | two men went off to the temple to pray
matthew 5:21-25 | do not commit murder
matthew 18:21-35| there once was a king who decided to settle accounts
day by day
matthew 5:29-30 | if your right eye offends you
matthew 5:38-42 | an eye for an eye
luke 10:25-37 | a man was on his way from jerusalem to jericho
matthew 5:43-48 | love your enemies
matthew 6:1-4 be careful not to make a show of your religion
luke 16:19-31 there once was a rich man who dressed in purple and the finest linen
learn your lessons well
matthew 6:22-23 | the lamp of the body
learn your lessons well
matthew 6:22 | slave of two masters
luke 12:13-21 | there once was a rich man whose land yielded heavy crops
o bless the lord my soul
matthew 6:2 | put away anxious thoughts about food and clothes
matthew 6:28-34 | consider the lilies of the field
matthew 5:3-12 | blessed
all for the best
matthew 7:3-5 | the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye
all for the best
matthew 7:1-2 | judge not
matthew 13:1-23 | a sower went out to sow some seed
all good gifts
matthew 6:19 | so don't store up your treasures on earth
all good gifts
matthew 7:6 | don't give to dogs what is holy
luke 15:11-32 | once upon a time there was a man who had two sons
matthew 7:9-12 | is there a man among you who will offer his son a stone?
matthew 5:14-16 | light of the world

learn your lessons well
turn back o man
matthew 21:23-27 | by whose authority?
matthew 21:28-32 | my son, go and work in the vineyard today
matthew 22:16-21 | taxes to the Roman emperor?
matthew 22:36-40 | the greatest commandment?
matthew 23:1-10 | the doctors of the law and the pharisees
matthew 23:13-36 | alas for you
matthew 23:37 | o jerusalem!
matthew 24:4-8 | take care that no one misleads you
matthew 24: 37-44 | in noah's day
matthew 24:45-51 | who is the trusty servant?
john 8:1-11 | the woman caught in adultery
by my side
matthew 26:14-16 | what will you give me to betray him to you?
matthew 25:31-46 | sheep and goats
we beseech thee
matthew 26:20-29 | one of you among us will betray me
on the willows
matthew 26:36-38, 40-41 | gethsemane
matthew 26:33-34 | everyone else may fall away
matthew 26:39 | father, if it be not possible for this cup to pass me by
matthew 4:1-11 | temptation
matthew 26:50-56 | arrest
long live god

...under construction...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

matthew 1:1-17 | son of david, son of bathsheba

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.

After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah [Jehoiachin] was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph,
the husband of Mary,
of whom was born Jesus,
who is called Christ.
["The Christ" (Greek) and "the Messiah" (Hebrew) both mean "the Anointed One."]

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

matthew | genealogy | women

It seems important to Matthew - a Jewish tax collector for the Romans, a numbers man as well as a traitor - to show that Jesus' family tree was nice and symmetrical, numerically speaking. Abraham + 14 + 14 + 14 = Messiah. I wonder if it was actually that tidy?

What seems important to me - and to the Roman census takers, who just before Jesus' birth would order every descendant of David to travel to Bethlehem, "the city of David," to be counted - is that Jesus (who just before his death the Romans would call "King Of The Jews," scrawled on a board above his head, nailed to the same post he was nailed to) was from a line of kings, including David, the other great king of the Jews.

What seems amazing is that Matthew - a traitor, as well as a numbers man, who left both behind to follow this new king of the Jews - makes a point of mentioning all those women. He's tracing the lineage of Jesus from his father, Joseph the carpenter, through all the fathers and grandfathers and not so great great-grandfathers right back to the father of the nation, Abraham himself. Father after father, begetting tribe after tribe, like stars in the sky, grains of sand in the desert. Only he doesn't stick just to the men, that symmetrical procession of fathers and sons stretching like the kings Banquo's prophecy off beyond the chronological horizon. No, Matthew - an outcast, a sinner, an enemy to his own people, unfit to be looked upon - can't help mentioning the other ones who might usually get left off the official register.

Tamar: Genesis 38. Tamar married Judah's eldest son, Er, who (according to the text) God killed because he was wicked. Judah asked his second son, Onan, to have sex with Tamar, to make an heir: he performed coitus interruptus so that there wouldn't be any offspring he couldn't claim as his own, so (according to the text) God killed him. Judah viewed Tamar as cursed, so he won't give her to his remaining son. After Judah's own wife died, he went to a prostitute: Tamar, disguised behind a veil. She asked for his staff and seal as security, then made her pregnant. Three months later, Judah learns that Tamar had prostituted herself and gotten pregnant, so he orders her burnt to death; Tamar produces the staff and seal, Judah is busted, calls her righteous. And their son, Perez, joins the royal lineage.

Rahab: Joshua 2. A Jericho prostitute who betrayed her people into the hands of the Israelite army, who destroyed her city and massacred her people but spared her life. She married Perez's great-great-great-grandson Salmon. Their son Boaz, who was a much more likeable guy than family tradition might indicate.

Ruth deserves him. She's in trouble. There's famine, she's a foreigner, her Jewish husband died, her father-in-law died, she's a no-status alien in Bethlehem who keeps her mother-in-law alive by gleaning in the barley fields. There's a bunch more complicated Jewish marriage stuff, but Boaz ends up marrying her, and another Gentile is grafted onto Jesus' family tree. And their son is the grandfather of David.

Who lusts after Bathsheba, and arranges to have Uriah her husband killed in battle so he can get away with seducing her and making her pregnant. Their first baby died. Another of David's boys, Absalom, led the country into civil war, claimed the kingship and had public sex with ten of his dad's concubines. Ultimately it was Bathsheba's son Solomon who slipped past David's eldest son to succeed him in the throne. Solomon, portrayed in Ecclesiastes as a man at the end of his days, sated with wives and concubines and wealth and power, weary of a life spent chasing after wind.

Then there's exile. Then there's a girl who gets pregnant, but not by her fiance. So he's going to break it off, only the law-obsessed ultra-orthodox neighbours might stone her to death. And he loves her, so he decides to do the right thing - with the help of an angel bearing good advice. So Joseph bears her off to Bethlehem for the aforementioned census, and she bears the aforementioned son... Details to follow.


Chester Brown

Robert Crumb

Sunday, April 18, 2010

matthew 1:18-25 | take mary as your wife

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." [Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means "the LORD saves."]

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" [Isaiah 7:14] —which means, "God with us."

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

joseph | w.h. auden | for the time being

CHORUS. Joseph, you have heard
What Mary says occurred;
Yes, it may be so.
Is it likely? No.
Mary may be pure,
But, Joseph, are you sure?
How is one to tell?
Suppose, for instance... Well...

JOSEPH. Where are you, Father, where?
Caught in the jealous trap
Of an empty house I hear
As I sit alone in the dark
Everything, everything,
The drip of the bathroom tap,
The creak of the sofa spring,
The wind in the air-shaft, all
Making the same remark
Srupidly, stupidly,
Over and over again.
Father, what have I done?
Answer me, Father, how
Can I answer the tactless wall
Or the pompous furniture now?
Answer them....

GABRIEL. No, you must.

JOSEPH. How then am I to know,
Father, that you are just?
Give me one reason.


JOSEPH. All I ask is one
Important and elegant proof
That what my Love had done
Was really at your will
And that your will is Love.

GABRIEL. No, you must believe;
Be silent, and sit still.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

matthew 2:1-12 | five kings

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi [traditionally wise men] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east [or, "when it rose"] and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ [Messiah] was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 

"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; 

for out of you will come a ruler 
who will be
the shepherd of my people Israel.' " [Micah 5:2]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east [or, "when it rose"] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

matthew 2:13-23 | egypt, ramah, nazareth

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." [Hosea 11:1]

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 

"A voice is heard in Ramah, 

weeping and great mourning, 

Rachel weeping for her children 

and refusing to be comforted, 

because they are no more."
[Jeremiah 31:15]

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." [not found in the Old Testament]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

shem | david kossoff | book of witnesses

butcher's stall with flight into egypt | pieter aertsen

I'm not a religious man, you understand, and I didn't have much in the way of an education, but I'm not young and I've travelled a lot and listened a lot and you learn, you know, you learn. I was born in Samaria in the same year that Herod became King. Herod the Great he was called. Well, maybe he was great. He didn't do much for us in Samaria. All right, we are a mixed lot but we are not lepers. Our law is based on the same rules as the rest of Israel. The Law of Moses. One of those Laws is that the children shouldn't suffer for the sins of the fathers. That's a joke. All my life I've suffered for some nonsense generations ago about my people wanting to help in the rebuilding of the Great Temple and being refused because our religion wasn't holy enough. You'd have thought a few extra gods and idols would have made it more religious. And Samaritans are good builders. My family have been joiners and carpenters for a long time. I think that's what first drew me to Joseph.

I'm a journeyman; I work anywhere. My tools are my luggage. When I first met Joseph and his little family in Bethlehem it was the first time I'd ever been there and I've worked all over; Phoenicia, Syria, Parthia, Egypt. Not a big place, Bethlehem. One big inn, a decent synagogue, a meeting hall. Anyway, this inn had been damaged by some sort of religious demonstration. There'd been crowds of people who'd broken things off for souvenirs. A lot of the timber in the stables needed replacing. I heard about it and was taken on. I found a room on the edge of the town. And met Joseph, who lived next door. When he told me he was also a joiner, I told him about the inn and he smiled and said he'd like to help with the repairs. So I put in a word for him and we worked together.

Very quiet man he was. His wife was younger. Her name was Mary. They had a baby boy. Joseph and I worked together for some weeks before I told him I was a Samaritan. 'Oh,' he said, 'I've never been in Samaria. Will you eat with us this evening?'

One night I got in very late. It was pay night and I like a drink. The street was quiet and dark. As I got ready for bed, Joseph knocked on my door. 'Can you help us?' he said, 'We have to leave right away.' We went next door. Mary was packing and the baby was fast asleep in his crib. We have been told by God to go down to Egypt. Right away. Tonight. We know nothing of long journeys. Please help us.'

I went next door and packed my tools. We were out of the place in an hour. We joined a trade caravan of merchants and we kept to ourselves. If people got too inquisitive I used rough talk and said loudly I was a Samaritan. That got rid of them. Sins of the fathers can be very useful sometimes.

Now you might ask why did I go with them. Well, there was nothing heroic in it. I've moved around working in different places all my life. And Joseph had hardly been out of his town. Also we were both joiners, and carpenters can pick up work anywhere if you know the way. Another thing, as I told you, I'm a Samaritan, which at that time, thirty five years ago, just before Great Herod died, was the same as being a leper nearly. No one had a good word for you. You walked by yourself. Well, Joseph was an orthodox Jew and he accepted me like a brother and so did Mary. Even the baby liked me. I was one of the family. Of course I went with them. I looked after them.

We stayed with no one long, for Joseph and Mary were afraid. My gentle friend, who never raised his voice, was a wanted man. Mad King herod himself was after him. Well, not him so much as the baby. I don't know all the ins and outs of it even now, but somehow or other Joseph and Mary had got an early warning that Herod was going to kill all the baby boys under two in Bethlehem. They were not hysterical people, and when they went I went with with them, but I didn't really believe such a thing would happen. But it did. We heard about it. Mary wept for days, and Joseph was quieter even than usual.

We didn't go deep into Egypt. We stayed this side of the great delta of the Nile and found a little house in a village. There was enough work round about and the village people were used to travellers. Joseph never spoke much. Once, when I said I'd no idea how he knew about the order to kill the babies, he said, 'I didn't know. I was told in a dream by an angel of God to leave immediately. My little son was given to Mary by God. I did as I was told.' He was quite serious. I made a sort of joke, I remember. I said, 'Well, when the angel tells us to go back home, let me know I'm not too fond of Egypt.' Joseph laughed.

I forget now exactly how long we lived in the village but one morning I came down and Joseph had the little boy on his knee. Mary was my the stove, Joseph smiled. 'Good morning,' he said. 'we can go home.' 'Another angel?' I said. 'Same one.' said Joseph. 'Herod is dead. It is safe now.' Well, it wasn't so safe really. There'd been riots and disturbances and mass executions, so he would not go back to Bethlehem, but farther north to Galilee, where it was more peaceful. He knew Galilee, he came from Nazareth, and that is where we finished up.

I went with them and helped them find a place and get it fixed up, but then I moved on. Nazareth was a very religious, very orthodox place. Joseph fitted in well, me not at all. I was sorry to go. I saw them from time to time. Then I worked in Syria and Cyprus for a long time and lost touch. But I think of that time often.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

hidden messiah

Matthew was a Jew who ended up a quisling who ended up a Christian Jew. And like so many converts, the faith of his fathers lit on fire when he returned to it. To judge from the book that bears his name, he became fascinated by the way the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible began to be played out in his new Master's life.

So when Jesus, who grew up in Nazareth, relocated to Capernaum, a fishing town and travelers' way-station in the region of Galilee, Matthew heard echoes of Isaiah's prediction that salvation would come - even to the Gentiles! - out of Galilee. And right in that same passage, though Matthew doesn't include it here, the proclamation that it would be the Messiah himself who would come out of Galilee to bring this kingdom that would extend beyond the Jews - the passage that rings out in Handel's "Messiah":

King of Kings
and Lord of Lords
and the government shall be upon his shoulders..

And it's that passage that goes further than some Messianic prophecies, saying not only that "his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor," but also that the Messiah will actually be "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." I'm not sure the Jews of Jesus' time, so desperate for political liberation, were ready to acknowledge that. Messiah would be a political revolutionary, who would throw off the yoke of the Roman oppressor ("thou has broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff across his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor"), a new Great King in the line of David - but even his disciples were slow to recognize this man before them, probably the Messiah, as God Himself.

Curious also that the people of Jesus' day could read this scripture about the coming Messiah and miss the fact that it wasn't about destroying the gentile oppressors, but rather it announced that they would see a great light, would be delivered from the shadow of death, perhaps that they would be counted in this "multiplied" nation, the new Israel, rejoicing. Indeed, the whole passage is embedded in a section where God brings judgment against His own people, and sends a Messiah who will bless the Gentiles. As spake the prophet Paul (Simon), "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest..."

Intriguing to pick up the echoes of King David's most famous Psalm in the language of Isaiah's proclamation of liberation:
"On those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned. . . .
For thou has broken the yoke of his burden,
and the staff across his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor. . . ."

Psalm 23
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Monday, February 15, 2010

matthew 3:1-17 | prepare ye

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' " [Isaiah 40:3]

John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

prepare ye / god save the people | godspell

Prepare ye the way of the Lord. . . .

You vipers' brood!
Who warned you to escape from the coming retribution?
Then prove your repentance by the fruit it bears;
and do not presume to say to yourselves,
"We have Abraham for our father."
I tell you that God can make children for Abraham
out of these stones here.
Already the axe is laid to the roots of the trees;
and every tree that fails to produce good fruit
is cut down and thrown on the fire.
I baptize you with water, fro repentance;
but He who comes after me is mightier than I.
I am not fit to take off his shoes.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


You come to me?

I want to get washed up!

I'd rather be baptized by you.

No. We do well now to conform with all that God requires. . . .

you sons of snakes | cotton patch gospel | tom key

You sons of snakes! Tell me, who put the heat under you to run from the fury about to bust over your heads? You got to reshape your lives, because God's new order of the Spirit is confronting you.

You got to give me what? You got to give me what? You got to give me proof! Proof that you have had a changed life.

And don't you go feeding yourselves none of this "we good church folk" nonsense. I tell you right now: God could make good church folk out this pile of rocks right here. Hallelujah!

The chain saw is set at the trunk of the tree. And every tree that does not perform some worthwhile function, it's going to be cut down, it's going to be thrown into the fire, it's going be burnt up, hallelujah. Hallelujah! Can I hear a hallelujah?

I indeed dip you. I dip you in water. I dip you in a changed life. But he that's coming after me, he's so much more powerful than I am, I'm unworthy to shine his shoes, hallelujah! He's going to dip you ! He's going to dip you in fire! He's going to dip you in the Holy Spirit!

His combine's already running. He's going to give this field a thorough going over. He's going to store up the grain in the bin, and burn off the stubble. He's going to do it! Praise God. Amen.

hypocrites! | chester brown

you vipers' brood!

You vipers' brood!
Who warned you to escape from the coming retribution?
Then prove your repentance by the fruit it bears;
and do not presume to say to yourselves,
"We have Abraham for our father."
I tell you that God can make children for Abraham out of these stones here.
Already the axe is laid to the roots of the trees;
and every tree that fails to produce good fruit
is cut down and thrown on the fire.
I baptize you with water, fro repentance;
but He who comes after me is mightier than I.
I am not fit to take off his shoes.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Friday, February 5, 2010

prepare ye | chester brown

Canadian cartoonist

Saturday, January 30, 2010

matthew 4:1-11 | temptation

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " [Deut. 8:3]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
[Psalm 91:11,12]

Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " [Deut. 6:16]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' " [Deut. 6:13]

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

wilderness | the picture bible for all ages

deuteronomy by heart

Jan Luyken, from The Bowyer Bible

It strikes me that, while Jesus was in the desert, he had Deuteronomy on his mind. The devil quotes Psalms, but Jesus recalls Deuteronomy.

I suspect he had it by heart. I doubt whether he took a scroll with him into the wilderness. I've heard it said that Jewish children of Jesus' day memorized vast swaths of scripture.

I wouldn't have thought to pick Deuteronomy. Genesis, Exodus are great, but don't most people bail at that point? After those two don't things bog down? Endless pages of arcane rules, genealogy, record keeping.

Deuteronomy. A book of the Law. Not the way I'm inclined, having grown up Lutheran: we're Gospel all the way. But Jesus obviously found it helpful.

He quotes Deuteronomy Chapter 6 twice in his dialogue with the devil, so I look it up. And there it is, just before the part Jesus quotes: The Shamah. The holiest text of the Hebrew nation. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." Followed immediately with Jesus' Great Commandment: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Which is followed in turn by the Crosby, Stills and Nash injunction: "Teach your children these things. You who are on the road." Which is probably why Jesus learned Deuteronomy 6 by heart: Mary and Joseph made him. "It says memorize: might as well start here."

More likely, nothing so casual. I wouldn't be surprised if a Jewish child learned the Shamah before anything else. The way a Christian kid learns John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son..." When I really dug in on Biblical studies myself, in my twenties, I took Greek so I could study the New Testament: our professor had us memorize John 3:16, and it's all the Greek that sticks with me three decades later: "Houtos gar eigapeison ho theos ton kosmon..."

When I'm starved and in the wilderness, that's probably what I'll hold on to.

If I'm forty days without food, what I'm probably thinking about even more than John 3:16 or Deuteronomy anything is food. In the desert, Jesus thinks about Moses, how God sent them manna every morning. So when the devil sees Jesus hungry, that's where he starts in on him. Only with his mind on Deuteronomy, Jesus has it fresh in mind: when it talks about the desert, when he talks about manna, that's just a set up for God going one step further: all of that was just "to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

How frightening was the wilderness? How dangerous? Lions, cobras, serpents? So how much did Jesus lean on the Psalms, especially the reassuring ones? Like Psalm 91: fortress, refuge, shield, rampart, no fear, dwelling. No harm, no disaster. All that. So the devil brings it up. And Jesus shoots it down: stern Deuteronomy trumps the comforting psalm. (I wonder if Jesus pointed out to Satan that he stopped quoting just before the part in the psalm about treading on the serpent? A little close to home, remembering the Garden and all that.)

And then Satan grossly overplays his hand. The teleporting, the Google Earth views, and the straight up, mask off craving revealed: "Bow down and worship me." What was he thinking? With Deuteronomy 6 fresh in Jesus' mind? And Jesus, who so far just resisted, now insists. Commands. Names the guy, who before he maybe didn't entirely recognize? "Away from me, Satan."

Words Jesus will say again, more or less, about twelve chapters from now, when he'll get another glimpse of the tempter. "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." [Matthew 16:21-23]

And the devil left, as he had to, just like the demons always left when Jesus told them.

Then, unbidden, the angels came, whose help Jesus refused to command. Bringing the bread Jesus refused to order. Sometimes even when we don't ask, it shall be given.

Bernardino Passeri, from the Bowyer Bible

deuteronomy 8:1-10 | not by bread alone


Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

psalm 91 | angels will lift you up

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

deuteronomy 6:4-9,13-20 | shamah, testing, worship

(can be viewed in the Frick Gallery, New York)

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. . . .

Worship the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers, thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the LORD said.

In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

matthew 4:12-17 | repent, for the kingdom is at hand

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned." [Isaiah 9:1,2]

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

isaiah 9:1-7 | galilee of the gentiles

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased their joy:
they rejoice before thee as at the harvest,
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden,
and the staff across his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor,
as in the day of Midian.

Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

matthew 4:18-22 | peter, andrew, james, john

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

matthew 4:23-25 | jesus heals

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis ["the Ten Cities"], Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

matthew 5:1-12| blessed

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

matthew 5:13-16 | salt and light

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

light of the world | godspell

You are the light of the world!
You are the light of the world!
But if that light is under a bushel,
Brrr, it's lost something kind of crucial
You got to stay bright to be the light of the world

You are the salt of the earth
You are the salt of the earth
But if that salt has lost its flavor
It ain't got much in its favor
You can't have that fault and be the salt of the earth!

So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine
So that they might know some kindness again
We all need help to feel fine (let's have some wine!)

You are the city of God
You are the city of God
But if that city's on a hill
It's kinda hard to hide it well
You've got to stay pretty in the city of God

So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine
So that they might know some kindness again
We all need help to feel fine (let's have some wine!)

You are the light of the world
You are the light of the world
But the tallest candlestick
Ain't much good without a wick
You've got to live right to be the light of the world

Saturday, December 26, 2009

matthew 5:17-26 | righteousness, anger, murder

Do not suppose that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder [Exodus 20:13], and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother [some sources add "without cause"] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca' [an Aramaic term of contempt, like 'fool'] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

matthew 5:27-48 | lust, oaths, revenge, love

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' [Exodus 20:14] But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' [Deuteronomy 24:1] But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' [Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21] But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18] and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies [some lat manuscripts add 'bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you'] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

matthew 9:9-13 | matthew

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' [Hosea 6:6] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

my name is matthew | stephen adly guirgis | the last days of judas iscariot

My name is Matthew. I was a Jewish tax collector for the Empire. My job was to take the food out of your mouth and see it shipped off to Rome. Roman tax was exorbitant and non-negotiable. If you had six geese, I took three. If you had a flock of sheep, I took fifty percent. If you had only one sheep, I cut that sheep in half. If you had no sheep, I took a child -- your child -- and had him or her sold into slavery to settle your debt to the Emperor. This is not a made up story. This is history. This is fact. We were a conquered nation and I was a traitor to my people. I was a Jew stealing from Jews. According to our laws, I was a sinner and a traitor, I was unclean -- unfit to be gazed upon. That's who I was.

I was a scumbag, and it was against the law to look me in the eye. Jesus, he looked me in my eye. That's all he did. He looked me in my eye and he said; "Follow me". And before I knew it, I had. And before we broke bread that night, I was clean again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

matthew 13:1-23 | a sower went out to sow some seed

The Parable of the Sower

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
10The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"

11He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.'[a] 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

matthew 18:21-35 | there once was a king

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. [or "seventy times seven"]

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents [millions of dollars] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. [a few dollars] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Friday, April 25, 2008

matthew 25:31-46 | sheep and goats

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

matthew 26:14-16 | what will you give me?

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

why did judas betray jesus?

matthew 26:20-29 | one of you among us will betray me

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." [or, "You yourself has said it."]

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

Friday, March 21, 2008

zechariah 13:7 | the sheep will be scattered

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is close to me!"
declares the LORD Almighty.
"Strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered,
and I will turn my hand against the little ones."

Matthew 26:31-41 | betrayal, gethsemane

Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' [Zechariah 13:7]
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

matthew 26:47-56 | arrest

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss is the man; arrest him." Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed him.

Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for."[or "Friend, why have you come?"]

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"

At that time Jesus said to the crowd, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

luke 10:25-37 | a man was on his way from jerusalem to jericho

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' [Deuteronomy 6:5]; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' [Leviticus 19:18]"

28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins [two denarii] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

luke 12:13-21 | there once was a rich man whose land

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

luke 15:11-32 | a man who had two sons

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21"The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[b]'

22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

luke 16:19-31 | there once was a rich man who was dressed

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell, ["Hades"] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "