The carpenter on the other side of the table

“Which of these three…was neighbor?” (Luke 10:36, NASB).

Did you hear about Lizzie Velaquez from Austin, Texas, a.k.a., “The World’s Ugliest Woman?” who was searching YouTube and stumbled upon a video (which had been viewed over 4 million times) urging her to kill herself because she was so ugly?

She decided to leave her self-pity behind, and parlayed her new-found fame to become an anti-bullying advocate all over the nation! What an admirable way to turn the tables on her bullies! Continue reading “The carpenter on the other side of the table”

Are some of Jesus’ sayings too harsh?

“Unless you repent, you will all…perish” (Luke 13:3).

Most people cannot imagine Jesus saying, “You will go to hell if you do not change your ways.” I’m not sure if the scholars of the Jesus Seminar cut that phrase out, attributing it to some other source than the “real” Jesus, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Most people like the idea of what they deem to be God’s positivity – his love, his longsuffering, his grace – leading us to repentance. But can suffering and death do the same thing? Continue reading “Are some of Jesus’ sayings too harsh?”

Seven purposes of Jesus’ miracles

” ‘Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.’ And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak” (Luke 7:14-15).

There were several people who became instruments of God’s miraculous power in biblical history: Moses, Elijah, the apostles – including Judas – were all instruments of God’s miraculous power. Did this prove they were divine? Of course not.

What about Jesus’ miracles? Did they prove he was divine? Jesus’ miracles – taken alone – no more point to his deity than miracles performed by these other individuals of the Bible prove their deity. However, the miracles of Jesus do collaborate with other evidences to build the case for his deity. Interestingly, Jesus’ miracles also served several other purposes: Continue reading “Seven purposes of Jesus’ miracles”

The rise of Sabbath controversies

The Son of Man is Lord over the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5)

Palestine is a relatively small parcel of land on the eastern Mediterranean coast. The whole of the region is roughly the size of Rhode Island. The land of Palestine is also in a geo-political vice. Before the jet age, whoever ruled Palestine controlled the trade routes in and out the African continent. Therefore, every major empire of the world has had interest in Palestine – the very land to which God called Abraham, and planted his unique people.

In the 2nd century B.C. the region became particularly unstable and volatile for Hebrew residents, as Syrian rulers to the north and Egyptian rulers to the south (known as Seleucids and Ptolemies, respectively) struggled for control of the region [note: the map above reflects modern day, but the regions have basically remained unchanged]. Continue reading “The rise of Sabbath controversies”

Fifth Soil

“The sower went out to sow…” (Luke 8:5).

Some years back I was listening to a sermon by the late Roy C. Deaver. At present, I don’t recall the specific topic he was preaching on, but he said something in that sermon that has stuck with me. He referenced the Lord’s parable of the sower/soils (Luke 8:4-15). After listing each soil and what they represented, he asked, “But I want to know why our Lord didn’t say anything about the fifth soil.”

The fifth soil? Continue reading “Fifth Soil”

Six things Jesus shows us

“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me'” (Luke 5:27).

While in the construction industry some years back, I sometimes found myself in a pickle. I would come across something I had never seen or done before. A few times I actually went to the library and got out a book to try to understand what I needed to do (those were not pre-Google days, they were pre-internet days!). I usually struggled with the descriptions and diagrams in the book.

But when I had someone with me, actually showing me how, I was able to grasp the concept and duplicate it fairly easily. I would not be surprised if this was the very method by which Jesus learned his trade (Mark 6:3). Continue reading “Six things Jesus shows us”

Does sin really exist?

“Man, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20).

Most of us can identify with Charlie Brown. We set some goal: “This time, I’m going to kick that football!” then somebody pulls the ball away at the last second, and we fall flat on our back. But there was one man in the Bible who set his sights high, and got even more than he asked for. That was because his goal was to encounter Jesus. Continue reading “Does sin really exist?”