Today we sung ‘Have you heard the voice of Jesus’ before considering the scriptures relating to this period of Jesus ministry on earth. Perea is located just north and east of the Dead Sea, although one of the most significant events actually took place in Bethany, the other side of the Jordan, i.e. the raising of Lazarus.
We looked at the material relating to that period found in all four gospels: Matt 19:1-20:34; Mark 10; Luke 9:51-19:27; John 10:40-12:11
We noted that there was an example of the type of supposed contradiction that some who hate the Bible like to point out in comparing Matt20:20 v’s Mark 10:35 Who was it that asked for a place at Jesus side? James and John or their mother? The text allows for both to be true.
We observed that Mark 10 is very similar to Matthew 19, but mentioned 10:45, which reads: ’10v45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ There was clear proof that the Saviour understood his purpose and linked with Old Testament prophesy, particularly Is 53.
Apart from that, the class considered the parables which Jesus gave at this time across in a significant number of the chapters of Luke especially. It seemed appropriate therefore to look at the parable as a form of discourse and how we can and should approach them when we read them in our Bibles. We came up with a series of eight items to help focus the mind when dealing with parables:
- Context (audience, what prompted it, other parables and how they relate to each other),
- Lesson/Crux – and are there many or one main point to the parable,
- Concealment – to what extent and why?,
- Conviction – i.e. purpose of the parable – one of which being to aid conviction of sin,
- Name/precis the parable – can help us get our mind around it,
- What does it reveal about God?
After applying this set of questions to Luke 14, we turned briefly to consider the doctrine of the Person of Christ from his conversation with Martha in John 11. The young man who asked Jesus, ‘Good Master, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?’ was certain that eternal life is earned through doing ‘good things’. When Jesus tells us, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:’, he is linking eternal life with himself. Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
In the mystic union of Christ and his own his resurrection is our resurrection, his ‘quickening’ makes ours so certain that Paul can write as if it has already happened.
In the previous class it became increasingly clear that Jesus was not offering political salvation but individual salvation and spiritual, people still today do not want to hear about their spiritual need and find the gospel unpalatable.
April in the year 29 Jesus enters the ‘retirement ministry’ as Hendriksen calls it. He goes to Phoenicians. Mark 7:24-30 fulfilling Simeon’s prophesy (Luke 2:25-38).
‘He went to his own but his own received him not’ (John1:11), but these Gentiles put the Jews to shame: was faith like her’s found in all Israel? She responds in the way God expects. God calls us sinners and we, at Tabernacle, are used to that but it is offensive to the people unused to it. But we come to God unworthy of even so much as a crumb, yet knowing that crumb would be grace enough. Mark 7 and 8:
We discussed the irony that Jesus charged them to not tell anyone about him and they did, whereas we are told to speak and are reluctant! But of course both are disobedient! His time had not yet come but also they misinterpret the signs.
Jesus takes the blind man by the hand v23: what must that have been like?! Trusting the Saviour to lead us blind. That is how we must go, trusting our whole soul into his care and leading. This two-stage healing was not a case of ‘trial and error’. The first stage was at least ‘better than nothing’, like conversion we are not perfected and so we have to go on honestly with God, admitting we need further grace.
God is not constrained to a few methods. Theology comes into focus gradually for many converts.
Still north in Caesarea Phillippi, Mark 8:27 is a partial revelation that he is the Messiah. From here we see him speaking of his sufferings. Matt 16 – Peter did not like that. Perhaps because of what it implied about his own life. The Catholics like this because Peter was thought to be the first appointed pope and those in succession. The most basic inspection of the way the words were framed in the original showed that Jesus is the Rock 1 Peter 2:4-8 is written by Peter who did not draw attention to himself there. ‘Petra’ only refers to Christ. Catholics counter that Matt 16:19 shows that Peter gets the keys! But in Matt 18:18 now he is speaking to all the apostles, so it is not just that Peter alone has the keys – ie. preaching the gospel and church discipline and government, for example, whether to loose or retain the moral and ceremonial law for the Church – they had the authority to take that kind of decision.
The light spread but the darkness comprehended it not.
Hendriksen suggests four events and four words to summarise this period :
Reformation: cleansing the temple – the prophetic office takes God’s word. Preachers deviate from that at their peril and the diminishing of their authority. His zeal would make us uncomfortable today. The temple was cleansed at the start and end of his ministry -no change! John 2:23-25 discussed with reference to the miracles and the shallow faith PhD these disciples
Regeneration: the necessity of this. There is then a responsibility on our part to believe – we are without excuse.
Recessional – John 3:25-30 John the Baptist’s humility. Any suspicion of rivalry is scotched by John 3:30 contrast with his disciples’ party spirit. There are dangers here for us but we must be discerning in a day of great confusion.