Weeds or Standards

Church it is time!  As Pentecost approaches, I think it is time for a check-up.  This post has been stirring inside of me for a while but a verse in Psalm 74 finally put a voice to what I have been feeling.

This started with a “kingdom parable” in Matthew 13: 25.  Good seed was sown, but while we were asleep the enemy came in and sowed weeds. The master of the field had an unusual response – leave the weeds alone so you do not pull up the wheat!  And all of the gardeners said, “What!”  And all the church people said, “But that is not how I read the Bible, my doctrine must be correct.” 

Weeds – a plant that is not wanted were it is.  Unfortunately, that is a huge definition when it comes to plants.  I have cut down some huge weeds because I did not want that tree there.  But I quit fighting the false dandelions in my lawn just because they are pleasant to look at when in bloom.   Another example is penny and dollar wort, I don’t like them in my lawn and they are a pain in a garden/flower bed.  To get rid of them I can pull them up or poison them.  One method may work in a flower bed and the other may be okay in the lawn, but it is a decision that must be made carefully.  Oh, if those plants are in a sand dune they are wonderful at helping establish the stability of the dune along the beaches here in south Texas. 

The weeds the enemy has sown come in many shapes and sizes.  Throw in the human condition of pride and it can be war in the printing presses.  The “weed” that set me off is found in Genesis 1. The problem was not that God created the world, a Christian should agree to that, but how long it took and how it was done.  I have followed this argument for many years.  Some of this “weed pulling” comes from what Study Bible you use.  So, the Church of my Living God has battled itself for truth and let evolution take over the education system!

The verse in Psalm 74 that divided weeds from standards is #4.  “Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs.” (NIV) Pick your favorite translation the meaning is clear!

Acts 2:36 needs to be a common point for all Christians – Jesus is Lord and Christ.  Unfortunately, weed seeds have been sprinkled into the rest of Peter’s sermon, that first birthday of the Church!  Verse 40 holds the last part of this post. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Church, they are in our meeting halls – roaring their standards.  New Age thought has been brought in, and we have let postmodernism change definitions in the Church.  Postmodernism works by changing (usually it is a slow change) the meaning of words!  Words they are changing or at least trying to change – Father God, Jesus, Christ, love, sin, family, and others!  The Great Commission has not changed and that needs to be the work of the Church.  Asaph is credited with writing Psalm 73 to 83; as I have read them recently, many sound like prayers against the foes of God and the Church of Jesus.           

Additional Thoughts – fellow Christians should not be an enemy, you may not agree with them on everything; the Seed is still good; Jesus has confidence in the Seed/Plants even with weeds trying to suck the life from the plants’ roots; Jesus still wins in the end! 

Joseph of Arimathea – Easter 2019


Reports!  Reports are coming in from Galilee!  Someone is telling the people to repent for the kingdom of God is near.  The Baptist is bad enough but he is by the Jordan.  The messages form Galilee also have stories of healings and large crowds.  

These reports produced two responses in the Council in Jerusalem – Fear and Finally:

Fear– Another crazy rabbi stirring the people!  Another revolt against Rome.  He is not part of the Council, Pharisees, or Sadducees.  God stopped doing miracles hundreds of years ago, this cannot be of God. This rabbi will have to be stopped or there will be trouble!  

Finally– The Baptist preached repentance but he had no miracles.  Many people are being healed just as the Prophets said.  Could the Messiah really have arrived?  Were the Magi after the census correct, our king had been born?  We need to see this rabbi and hear his message.

This is the ocean of emotions that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus found themselves in.  We know very little about these two men and their relationship with Jesus, but their ripple in the water is worth noting.  Luke 23: 50and Mark 15: 43 state that Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God.  Matthew 27: 57 and John 19: 38 add to Joseph’s story by identifying him as a member of the ruling council, a secret disciple, and one of the two men who asked for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.  Nicodemus, the other man, in the Easter story is only found in John 3, 7: 50, and 19: 39.  He realized that those miracles could only come from God.  Jesus explained the born again experienced to him, Nicodemus sought a proper trial for Jesus, and was a secret disciple.  Well, this is until they asked Pilate for, and prepared Jesus’ body for burial. 

Did Joseph and Nicodemus go on the missions, from the Council, to ask Jesus questions?  Were they part of the 120 in the prayer meeting on the day of Pentecost or were they part of the 3000?  How many miracles did they see Jesus do?  What kind of “Kingdom” was Joseph waiting for?  Since I can not answer any of those questions, I will settle for the statement that “Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God”.  Because Joseph choose to identify with a dead Jesus, I hope his view of the “kingdom” was more than a military/civil leader to free Israel from the Romans.  (If a military kingdom was what he hoped for, why bother with a dead man?)  I want to/have to believe that Joseph had heard Jesus teach on the kingdom and had grabbed a vision of Jesus’ kingdom.  

So, Joseph may have understood the parables and the “kingdom of heaven is like a____” statements.  I can even believe that he understood when Nicodemus talk to him about the “born again” experience in John 3 (you know he did).   These two learned and powerful men were certainly the exception rather than the rule in Israel!

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jesus-crucified-dies/

Jesus as the Master Teacher

As the master teacher, Jesus used a variety of methods and presentation styles but His course content was consistent; whether by parable, teaching, or preaching His message was the Kingdom of God.

Jesus knew who He was speaking to and used examples that were at His audience’s level. With the crowds, He spoke parables using examples that they saw every day. Yeast in flour, marriage feasts, and sowing crops are examples of things He used in parables to illustrate the Kingdom of God. His parables could be taken on multiple levels of understanding but I think the meanings were always hidden because Jesus wanted people to ask questions. Isaiah had talked about this fact when he said that they would be “ever hearing but never understanding”; just because you enjoy a story does not mean that you understand the symbolism and metaphors that are written into it by the author.  With the leaders, His meanings were still veiled but they knew when he was talking about them; the example here is the Good Shepherd vs. the hired help.

He used current events as part of His teaching like when he talked about the tower that fell or when Pilate mixed pigs blood into the sacrifice.

Jesus used various strategies for where He was and whom He wanted to reach. He talked to massive crowds, small groups, and even one-on-one when the people or persons needed that in order for His message of the Kingdom to be gotten out and understood.  He would launch a discussion question like, “Who do the people say I am” or He would ask a question and patiently wait for an answer like when the woman was about to be stoned for adultery. (Of course, that could be Him as a Master Judge also.)

He had chosen the disciples they got special treatment. He would explain parables to them but He knew that He would have to send the Holy Spirit (re-teach) because they were not progressing fast enough. They got quantity and quality time with Jesus and I think He even gave them tests. If I may, the teaching that God can provide was the feeding of the five thousand and their test was the feeding of the four thousand. (see Test Revisited)

The picture was taken at Houston Baptist University.