One thing that I have appreciated since getting back from my trip to Israel is a deeper understanding of the locations and journeys in the scripture. This week I have been thinking both about Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem (celebrated next week by Christians as Holy Week) and also about his last journey from Galilee to Judea (which likely would have started a week or less earlier).
The tribe of Jesus people my family regularly share our lives with has been working through the Gospel of John on Thursday nights. The thing about this unique account of the life of Jesus is that no matter how many times I engage with it, it surprises me with things I’ve never noticed and with things I have. I mean, I taught this book three times a day for an entire semester three years in a row, and it is still fresh, challenging, and life-giving!
What stands out to me in this Gospel is the mystical theme of the Spirit-led and God-revealed life. Jesus is very clear in this Gospel that his actions are simply and humbly based on this: “I can’t do anything on my own. I do what I see the Father doing…and He shows it to me because He loves me” (John 5:19-20 paraphrased), and, even though it isn’t explicitly stated, this revelation seems directly connected to the idea of being led by the Spirit.
Yesterday I made a post about “What Jesus Said About Church” and listed the only two passages where Jesus explicitly mentions church (Matthew 16.17–19 and Matthew 18:15-18). What’s interesting is that each of those passages appear to have two different expressions, with the first representing what seems to be a larger, more universal concept of Church, while the latter is more practical and descriptive of a local gathering or collective. Yet both end with the understanding that the ekklesia, in whatever form, has been given authority to “bind and loose”. Continue reading
It might surprise people to know that Jesus didn’t talk about church very much. While Jesus does spend a lot of time talking about what I would call “Kingdom oriented relationships and practices,” in all four Gospels, Jesus only mentions church (Greek ekklesia) explicitly in two passages, and both are in Matthew. Continue reading
The Gospel of Matthew:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately.
The most free person in human history came to be a slave of all.
(Meditation on Philippians 2)