While is an interesting concept, have you every though about it? Its an abstract concept, like zero , that probably wasn’t formally enunciated until well after the invention of written language, even though everybody sort of knew about it. While means that when certain conditions exist other stuff is happening. It gets even more complicated to think about when you realize that the two elements (the certain conditions and the other stuff) may be dependent or independent of each other
While is very important in computer programming. Here is an example of a while loop in the C language.
int x = 0;
while (x < 5)
printf ("x = %dn", x);
The bible is replete with examples of weddings and references to weddings or marriage. And when there are no actual weddings under discussion they seem to be a favorite form of reference, particularly when used by Jesus, to describe the relationship between God and his people. This week we are going back in Matthew, prior to the Olivet Discourse we discussed last week to a parable told by Jesus regarding a royal wedding. This is another in my series of highly unpopular and disquieting parables (at least for me).
This particular parable in Matthew 22:1-14 and is sort of the darker, more sinister and brooding twin of the parable in Luke 14:15-24. It seems to me, like all good preachers, Jesus had a set of preacher stories that he told when he talked and modified them each time to fit his audience and/or make a particular point. In the text from Matthew, the story is pointed indeed.
The last time I led our discussion we talked about the last few chapters of Matthew 24, and Jesus discussion of the coming of the Son of Man. Our conclusion was that, since the time of His return was known only to the Father, we should stay busy about the Father’s work, like the slave in the parable was busy tending to his master’s business while the master was away. But just exactly what is the Father’s business? What should we be busy doing and how should we go about it?
First a brief word on the passages we have been reading. It is known by bible scholars as the Olivet Discourse, the Olivet Prophecy or the Little Apocalypse. It is found in all of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, 24 Mark 13, and Luke 21) and in Matthew it is the last of 5 Discourses of Jesus. In all three recountings of the discourse begins with someone commenting on the excellence of Herod’s temple in some form. Jesus tells them clearly of the coming destruction of the temple (which occurred in 70 AD at the hand of the Roman General (and later Emperor) Titus, who sacked the city and burned the temple to put down a revolt by the Jews. All this was recorded in minute detail by the Roman/Jewish historian Josephus.)
But Jesus’ comments about the temple were only prologue, meant to move peoples’ minds from the reality of the there and then to the reality that was to come. From the reality of the Kingdom ruled by Herod, and ultimately Caesar, to the reality of the Kingdom of God. And so in addition to the end of the Temple He spoke of the coming of the Son of Man and the end of the world as it has been known.
Last week Bruce led us in an excellent discussion of the first chapter of Revelation. I admitted that I don’t like Revelation, but not because it bothers me like James does. James bothers me because it points out the flaws in my life. It says to me,”So, you have faith in God. Prove it by how you live.” It is definitely a portion of scripture, for me, that cuts sharper than a two edged sword.
Revelation, on the other hand, bugs me not because of what it says, but because of what everyone says about it. It is one of those portions of scripture that everyone has an opinion on and are willing to fight over. Are you pre-trib or post-trib. Premillennial or postmillennial? Just what do all the symbols in the book mean? And it drives me nuts because most people are reading the book to find out the answer to one question: when is Jesus to return and what will be the events leading up to His return.
So is this kind of attempt bad? Well not per se, its just a waste time. Let me be clear, all scripture is valuable, including the parts that make me feel uncomfortable or bugs me or that I find just plain boring, and this applies to Revelation. The problem does not lie in Revelation, it is in us. Jesus knew this and he had the answer to the problem. Frankly the answer is more of the same sort of stuff I find unsettling in James.
The passage we are going to talk about this week has a lot to teach us and while I want us to focus primarially on one aspect I don’t want us to ignore its other applications to our lives. As always when studying scripture, it is important to consider context, and that is seldom more true than when considering Matthew 7:7-12. In order for us to keep what I consider to be the primary thrust of the passage in mind, we are going to start at the end of the passage and work our way forward.
As we have discussed before, the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ description of the Kingdom of God, and a discussion of the nature and actions of its Citizens as compared to the Religious Establishment of the Day and the people of whom it was comprised. As such, it was also an explication of the Law by its author. Matthew 7:12, which we will examine first, is the summary statement of that explication. And what is Jesus summary of the Law and the Prophets? Treat others as you would be treated.
Happy New Year. After your discussion leaders compared notes, we decided you are stuck with me until January 29 when competent and intelligent leadership will return. My sincere apologies. And since I am much in need of your forgiveness for my horrible grammar, convoluted thought process, possible heresy and myriad other offenses I thought I’d start our year looking together at a trio of parables on love and forgiveness.
I believe these are two of the distinctives of Christianity, in no other religion are love and forgiveness the goal. Islam tells you its goal in its name, the word in Arabic means submission or obedience. If Buddhism or Hinduism speak of love it is not in terms of a God who loves us and seeks us because of His (or perhaps her) love. No, Christianity is unique in propounding a God who cares for us, loves us and forgives us.
Matthew was apparently a pretty straight forward kind of guy, not the sort to beat around the bush or hide things in elegant language. He tells us upfront, in the first sentence of his Gospel what he is trying to accomplish by writing. He says,”This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…”, and then begins the begats.
What, that wasn’t all that clear? Sure it was. Matthew is telling us that he intends to present Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of prophecy, as the Priest/King of Israel. And to do so he starts, not as John did at the very beginning of the world, but at the very beginning of the Jewish people, with Abraham.
Did you watch Superman when you were younger? I’m not talking about the Christopher Reeve movies or any of the myriad cartoon versions, but the black and white live television version staring George Reeves, the real Superman. The close of every show had a picture of a waving American flag superimposed on a rotating globe with Superman off to the side striking an heroic pose while the announcer intones “Truth, Justice and the American way”. I loved it. That montage still makes a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
But how committed are we to Truth and Justice? In Matthew 5:33-42 Jesus addresses these issues. He first points to the Law’s definition, or better yet, to the Lawyer’s definition of Truth and Justice. People then and now have been taught that if you make an oath, especially one in God’s name, you need to fulfill it. This leaves open the possibility that if you take no oath, or if you craft the oath in such a way that it leaves you an escape where you can appear to mean one thing while committing to something far less, then you are not bound.