This week we spoke about the Bible and how it is God breathed, or God inspired. This raises the question, did the Gospel writers, and the writers of the epistles consider their writings to be God breathed? Click here for an article that discusses that subject.
This past week we took a look at the 1st epistle of John, chapter 5. In that chapter John writes: "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death."
Now the natural question from John's statement is, "What sin leads to death and which sin doesn't?" Because if I am going to commit a sin, let it be the later (the non-death one).
Three theories have been suggested (and since John does not give details about which sin is which, we can only assume that the people he was writing to knew the difference.)
1. Moses' sin- These would be sins that Moses, in writing the inspired law, would have said were sins whose punishment was death. For instance, murder. In Genesis 9:6 we read this, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." In Leviticus 24:17 we read this, "Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death." So the sin of murder would bring about your own death.
2. Apostasy- this would be turning away from God and denying the faith. The sin of apostasy would lead to spiritual ruin and a spiritual death, much like we see in the Cain and Able story. Such a death would cause a rejection from a relationship with God.
3. Heretical Sin- This would be spreading false narratives about God and causing others to fall into a false belief. As the author of such sin, you would be held responsible for that, and, as Jesus said, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your next and to be thrown into the lake.
Since John is discussing number three to the people he wrote to in his letter, some commentators have stated that John is saying that the sin of spreading false information and causing others to follow a heretical path leads to your death. I would tend to agree.
Videos for Apostle's Creed Class
Please click HERE to read an article on the symbolism of the gifts from the magi
Click HERE to read an article about the theology of the Guardian Angel
In the gospel accounts, the woman who is linked to the washing of Jesus’ feet is described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke as a woman who enters the house, breaks open the alabaster jar, and washes Jesus’ feet. Here are those accounts:
Mat 26:6-13 KJV - 6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Mar 14:3-9 KJV - 3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
Luk 7:36-50 KJV - 36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
These accounts are known as the synoptic gospels because these three gospels are very similar in their accounts of the life of Jesus. Scholars have suggested that the reason these accounts are so similar is because they copied off each other (see the illustration below). Mark, it is believed, was the first gospel and was a collection of sermon by Peter (remember that Mark was not a direct disciple of Jesus, but a disciple of Peter). Mark’s gospel was followed by Matthew- written by the apostle Matthew, followed by Luke (also not a direct disciple of Jesus), who also wrote the book of Acts. In each case, the writer added a little more to the story of Jesus first recorded by Mark.
But the gospel of John is not synoptic to the other three gospels, and as a result the account is slightly different. Here is that account:
Jhn 12:1-11 KJV - 1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
So why the different accounts on the washing of Jesus’ feet? There may be a few reasons:
#1- There are two different incidents. One in which Mary anoints the feet of Jesus and one in which a stranger anoints the feet of Jesus. One incident occurs in Martha’s house and one in Simon the Leper’s house
#2- The name and the place of the anointed got lost in the oral tradition of the synoptic gospels, while John’s account retained the information
#3- The name and place was not retained in John’s account, but was retained in the synoptic gospel
#4- The incident occurs in Bethany, at the house of Simon the Leper, who may have been related to Lazarus, and who may have been a pharisee (remember that the pharisees are a sect of Judaism- and wildly popular in Jesus’ day). Or it may have taken place at the house of Martha, who was closely linked to Simon her relative. (We do not know, but they may have even lived in close proximity to each other, or even with each other). Mary is the woman who did the foot washing, and the synoptic gospels may have left her name out to protect her identity, or her name was simply lost over time. John chose not to exclude her name.
In my opinion #4 seems the most likely answer for a few reasons: 1) the people involved are the in all four accounts because they are probably related to each other 2) Mary is always pictured in Scripture as a very devoted follower of Christ, and 3) We often see Mary pictured at the feet of Jesus.
In all these cases where Scripture appears to be different between the gospels, always look for the similarities and explore the historicity before drawing your conclusions.
For a majority of people in the USA, food is not a huge daily issue. Most people have enough resources to get some kind of food on a daily basis. And while we should take time to note that there is plenty of the population that suffer from food insecurity issues, our government and social service agencies try to help those in need.
However, in the days of Jesus, this was not the case. In the days of Jesus, food was a daily struggle. In fact, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus prays for his “daily bread.” Food in the 1st century could not be taken for granted.
That is why the mention of food in Mark 6 is so important. The concept of food is mentioned in Mark 6 in both the sending of the 12 and the feeding of the 5000. In both cases, food becomes a priority issue.
But what makes it a priority issue? Well, take a look at what food does and represents: Does) We need food for survival. According to sources, one can survive without food for 21 days before the body becomes so depleted that it shuts down (as in stop breathing, because food gives our organs energy to function). No human being can survive without eating. Represents) We use food for gatherings/fellowship. Food is social, and people are social. For thousands of years people have been gathering together and eating a meal. It is something that makes us the human race.
What is interesting about food in Mark 6 is that in the sending of the disciples, they are told not to take food, and in the feeding of the 5000, they brought no food. In both cases, Jesus becomes the pinnacle point for the lack of food. The disciples obeyed Jesus and took no food, and the crowd followed Jesus with no food. What is this saying?
I think what this is telling us is that Jesus is the sustainer, even more than food. Food is something we chase after, but when we chase after Jesus, or when we obey His instructions, we are given what we need. Think about this: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear ...Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them…”(Matt 6:25-26).
While food is vital to our survival, Jesus is more vital. That is the lesson taught to us in Mark 6.
This week we talked about the sectarian divided among the people of God (the Samaritans and the Jews).
Before reading the article as to the causes of that divide, remember that Christianity has also experienced its fair share of sectarianism. We need only look at the great Catholic/Protestant problems in the late middle ages, the clash in Ireland between Catholics and Protestants (although this was more political than religious), or the persecution of pilgrims, Quakers, Anabaptist, and others by the church.
Here is the link that explains why the Jewish people of Jesus' day held a prejudice against the Samaritans: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/the-rift-between-jews-and-samaritans/