SOTM: Matthew 5:24-25 (Court)



(Mat 5:25-26 ESV) 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Now — and this is important — it sometimes helps to read Jesus as speaking with a twinkle in his eye and a wink. This is something of a joke. Jesus is being a bit hyperbolic (he’s exaggerating) to make a point. After all, sometimes when you go to court you win. It’s been known to happen.

Jesus is speaking in very pragmatic terms to make a more theological point. The point isn’t to calculate the risk/reward ratio and decide whether to compromise. Jesus is no pragmatist or utilitarian philosopher. No, his point remains the one he’s been making all along: be a peacemaker! seek reconciliation! even if you expect to win the lawsuit, it’s better to settle and be at peace than to win! Continue reading

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One Thousand E-Mail Subscribers!

1000This may not be a big deal for some bloggers, but I’m pretty excited to have just hit 1,000 email subscribers to OneInJesus.

The crazy thing is that I began 2014 at around 600 email subscribers — meaning I was adding less than 100 subscribers per year on average. Now, I’m adding about 25 a day, starting just a few weeks ago. I couldn’t be more astonished.

I have no idea why things have changed so dramatically. The WordPress stats package and Google Analytics don’t show any activity regarding the site that would generate this kind of increase. So I’m clueless (an all-too-familiar feeling).

(And I’ve checked the database. It’s not spammers. They all seem to be real people.)

Anyway — I’m flattered, humbled, and more than a little surprised. Thanks very much for reading.

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SOTM: Matthew 5:23-24 (Be reconciled to your brother)


(Mat 5:23-24 ESV)  23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Jesus speaks in terms of his audience. He was speaking to Jews under Torah, and so he speaks in Torah terms.

Shortly before Jesus’ time, Judaism had been heavily influenced by two great rabbis, Hillel (the Elder) and Shammai. They disagreed about some core issues, including  which of God’s commands is the highest. Shammai considered the Temple observances to be of the greatest importance, whereas Hillel taught that loving for one’s neighbor is a higher command. Thus, when a conflict arises, the higher command is the one to obey. Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 5:21-22 (Anger and insults)


(Mat 5:21-22 ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Now, it’s important to recall that Jesus had just said,

(Mat 5:20 ESV) 20 “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 5:17-20 (Torah)


(Mat 5:17-20 ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

This a challenging passage indeed — largely ignored by exegetes. Those who don’t ignore it often rationalize it into nothingness. Kudos to McKnight for taking it head on. He outlines it as follows: Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 5:14-16 (Light)


(Mat 5:14-16 ESV) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This passage is clearly parallel with the preceding verse on the salt of the earth. But now Jesus is less cryptic, explaining his metaphor in some detail.

As is so often the case, Jesus is referring back to the prophets — Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 5:13 (Salt)


(Mat 5:13 ESV) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

Commentators struggle with this passage, because the idea of disciples being “salt” is not found elsewhere. What is it about salt that Jesus considers important?

Theories include —

* Salt as a preservative.

* Salt as a flavoring.

* Salt as an essential nutrient. Continue reading

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River Whyless: Woody Guthrie’s “Airline to Heaven”

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SOTM: Reflecting on the Beatitudes

SOTMBy now, it should be clear that these aren’t commands. Jesus isn’t telling us to be persecuted to earn blessings. He’s not telling us to be among the anawim. We aren’t to seek out insults.

Rather, he is declaring —

* The Kingdom promised by the prophets is about to appear.

* The Kingdom will be for those people that society overlooks, even despises — the poor in spirit, the anawim, and the persecuted. The last shall be first.

* God will bless the subjects of the Kingdom in ways that the world cannot defeat and that will more than compensate for today’s sufferings. Continue reading

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SOTM: Matthew 5:10 (Persecution)


(Mat 5:10-12 ESV) 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

These two Beatitudes are essentially one. Jesus promises the persecuted not only the kingdom of heaven but also great rewards in heaven. In fact, this is the first time Jesus promises more than the blessings available to all who are part of the Kingdom. The persecuted will be rewarded with an extra measure. Their suffering doesn’t earn them salvation, but it does earn them a greater reward in heaven. Continue reading

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