Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More powerful than water

John 6:15, when Jesus walks on the water, leads us into a pivot point in John, in that Jesus doesn’t use an instrument to perform a miracle – He is the instrument in the miracle.

By walking on the water Jesus shows His disciples – the twelve that choose to continue following, not leave Him as the coming crowds are to do – water is nothing more than a bi-product of the earth. He is showing that as one with the Creator of such things as water, He too has control over it. Yet, water is something paralyzing to Peter, while also serving as something that man needs in order to survive. By Jesus exercising His supreme authority over even water, what more evidence must the disciples need that He is the Messiah?

We are powerless over things of this world without Jesus Christ. Case-in-point: when Peter steps out of the boat, the water begins to drown him. But he stepped out of the boat in faith; a faith that was not exhibited by any other disciple because Peter knew that Jesus was there for him.

Is the teaching a hard one to follow? Absolutely! Will we be able to fall even after we accept to choose it? You better believe it! Does Jesus substantiate through His Word that He is powerful enough to overcome anything in this world? Most definitely! Therefore, we can rest in the promise of Christ Jesus and His testimony that He will never fail us. The Holy Spirit that guided Him through the world can still, to this very day, come into our lives and sustain us.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (NIV, emphasis mine). The word, here, that so beautifully harmonizes with what Jesus teaches in much of His ministry is μεμύημαι (it is a passive indicative verb – learned). It reveals to us just how Paul has “learned” the secret: it is through the Spirit alone. It is the only occurrence of it the New Testament, hence its importance. Praise be to the Holy Spirit, for it is through Him alone that we have learned all.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Behold, or look? (John 1)

While the introductory statements in John 1:1-13 serve as ambiguously bold claims about Christ Jesus by John the evangelist and author, let us take a moment and reflect further on the importance of the pivot point in this chapter as a whole: vv. 29-34. For the purpose of this interpretative work I will not be using the adjective “look” as is presented in the NIV. Instead, I will look at the first person singular aorist imperative (Biblos, 2011) “behold” as is found in numerous translations (cf. ESV, NASB, KJV). Behold is a:

1. First person: spoken by John the Baptist

2. Singular: speaking only about Jesus

3. Aorist (verb tense): “said to be ‘simple occurrence’ or ‘summary occurrence’, without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action (NT Greek, n.d.).

4. Imperative (verb mood): “The imperative mood is a command or instruction given to the hearer, charging the hearer to carry out or perform a certain action” (NT Greek, n.d.).
Who? What? When? Where? Why? These are still the best questions to ask because they reveal all sides of every story. John uses seemingly non-technical language, but it is masterfully used in a technically brilliant manner. The understanding of the text takes on new dimension when seeing it with the word “behold” rather than “look.” To look at something could infer (in modern understanding) to look, and then to look away. This action could be a glance, or a stare, but none-the-less, it does not always imply a sustained action. Behold on the other hand draws the reader to understand that which is to beholden. While behold may be an adjective with some antiquated feeling, it serves to better-convey the Baptist's mood when the Christ was drawing near. Let us take a peek into the etymological Greek foundations of behold.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When is Easter?....

So here I sit. I gave up coffee for Lent this year. It's not the first time I've fasted, but it's the first time I've given up something that really hurts. Yes, I'm not like all biblical fasters: go into a closet, pour oil on your face and hide from everyone I am fasting. I cannot wait until Easter and I miss Starbucks, a lot. I used to think that Dave Ramsey was the enemy of Starbucks. Whenever I him talking about cutting back just a little on  a budget, Starbucks is the first thing that gets axed. Well, that being said, I love budgeting $2.09 a day to get my heart rate up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Genesis 11:1-8 | Part V (historical context & summary)

Historical context

The story of the Tower of Babel in its historical context is still, in the opinion of this author, a little easier to comprehend. However, with some supplemental research, we can better-understand the motives behind the migration and settlement of these builders. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Salihamer, 2008) says this, “As early as Genesis 3 the author has shown an interest in marking the directions of travel taken in humankind’s search for a home” (p. 143). Perhaps one key aspect is not in specifically where this tower was built. But rather, why this land was settled. Salihamer continues by citing several references to the settlements of Adam and Eve upon banishment from the Garden of Eden; Cain and his settlement east of Eden; Abram and Lot as they migrated and then separated from one another. All of these help us to understand that even these builders sought a virgin, fertile land; a place where they could call home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Genesis 11:1-8 | Part IV (implications)


1. What are the implications in making choices based on internal desires? We see that making choices based on internal desires is not pleasing to the Lord. The builders did not seek council from God (vv. 3 and 4), and as was the case with Adam and Eve, the Lord saw this self-reliant nature mixed with a very strong desire to rule perhaps all of mankind. This is, in the opinion of this author, a precursor to what would happen years later when Rome would grow and rise in power, and the promised Messiah would come to the earth to scatter and disrupt the monarchial rule of single taught; single speaking; single governmental authority over the land.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Genesis 11:1-8 | Part III (inductive Q&A)

Inductive questions
1. Can we define where this land was? We don’t know where they were, exactly, but we can see what scholars have had to say on this matter. While the text itself does not lend us to understand where the land is located, it does tell us that men were moving “eastward” (v. 2) so we can begin to make some guesses; perhaps near Mesopotamia? Gill (1746) says this, “This plain was very large, fruitful, and delightful, and therefore judged a fit place for a settlement, where they might have room enough, and which promised them a sufficient sustenance.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Genesis 11:1-8 | Part II (structural observations)

Structural observations (immediate context)

1. Contrast

The contrasting nature of this story is very prominent with two very important aspects: common language and unity. In v. 1c, the whole world had a “common speech” and in v. 4c they did not want to be scattered. However, the Lord came down from the heavens to confuse their language (v. 9b) and also scattered them across the earth (v. 8a).

2. Recurrence

There are several phrases that are used more than once. This denotes the importance of what the author wanted us to learn. “Come, let’s make” (v. 3a) and “come, let us build” (v. 4a) denotes the independent nature of the builders; likewise, the Lord says, “Come, let us go down” (v. 7a). From this we could infer the two forces, the builders and the heavens, were working against each other. Also, there are multiple references to language and speech (cf. 1b, 6a, 7b, 9a) which forces the reader to understand the importance of what the people were doing.

3. Point of cruciality

The point of cruciality is marked by the sudden shift in the storyline at v. 5. “But” is a key identifier, as well, we see the story shift from only the builders and their plans to God and His plans. The story also shifts from the execution of the Babylonian’s plan to that of God’s, which ultimately prevails as supreme.

Placement of the Tower of Babel (literary context)


The story of the Tower of Babel in the immediate context is part B of an intercalated A-B-A storyline relating to establishing the table of nations. This storyline is in the middle of a developing genealogical account leading to the birth of Abram. The placement of this story could perhaps lead us to understanding at least part of the larger picture at work: God’s preparation in the world for a righteous leader.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Genesis 11:1-8 | Exegesis Part I (observations & inductive questions)

The following is part I of an exegesis on Genesis 11:1-8; observations and inductive questions. This work will seek to examine the larger story at work here within the story of the Tower fo Babel. Observing text, subsequent to prayer, is critical; first, and foremost to everything we do when we approach the Bible and attempt to understand what God is revealing to us. I'm not sure at this point how many parts this exegesis will be broken into, so keep looking every couple of days. And please, feel free to comment below with not only critique, but also supporting literature to help me further engage in this research!

Observations & Inductive Questions

1. One language ruled the whole world, as did a common speech. (11:1)