Showing posts from May, 2018

Mark's Perspective On Jesus

Mark begins his Jesus story with the words, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God." Then, after briefly mentioning John (the baptist), he jumps to the baptism and temptation of Jesus. For Mark, that's the beginning.

But what about the Christmas story? Where is the manger? What about the wise men? The shepherds? The angelic visitors? What about tiny Jesus in his golden fleece diapers with his tiny little fat balled up fists... oh wait. My bad. That's the gospel according to Ricky Bobby.

Mark just isn't interested in the birth of Jesus. For Mark, the beginning of the Jesus story isn't about the beginning of his life but the beginning of his ministry. That's when the gospel begins.

Let's talk about the word "gospel" for a minute. The Greek word is euangelion. This isn't a word the Church invented. Lots of people used this word back then. Not like today. Today, if you hear the word "gospel" it's probably …

Matthew's Perspective On Jesus

I love the story about the three wise men visiting the child Jesus. I know, I know. The Bible never says there were three of them. In fact, the Greek text of the New Testament doesn't call them wise men. They're simply identified as magi in Matthew 2:1, a word which is translated as magician or sorcerer in Acts 13:6 and 13:8. Kind of funny if you think about it. If they're the good guys in the story, English translations call them wise men. If they're the bad guys, then they're definitely sorcerers.

Still, I love the story. Visitors from a distant land follow a star to a child who they deem worthy of their worship. The regional ruler attempts to gather information from the visitors so he can squash this potential threat in the form of a child. The visitors choose to deliver their gifts to the child (three gifts, which is why we came to think of three visitors) and circumvent the ruler on their way back home.

Did you know if it wasn't for the gospel of Matthew, …

Perspectives on Jesus

This is one of my favorite pictures. It's dated to the 6th century AD and is called Christ Pantocrator, which means Christ Almighty. Take a good look at the picture before you continue reading. What do you see?

Maybe you've noticed some things about the picture. Look at it again, focusing on the right side of the face of Jesus. Let me help with the cropped image below. What do you see now?

Now one more. Look again, focusing on the left side of his face. I'll help again with a cropped image. Describe what you see.

Go back and forth between the two cropped images. Fascinating, isn't it? One side depicts Jesus full of grace and love, his hand raised in the sign of a blessing. The other side, however, shows us the righteous judge, holding the Word of God. On one side, the skin is almost porcelain. The other side, not so much. Not only that but notice the raised eyebrow, the sneer on the lip, the sharper, downward slope of the mustache. Hippie Jesus on one side and, dare I …

Yes LORD (Part 2)

We have it easy today. You can login to Amazon and buy your favorite Bible translation in English, Spanish, Korean, Arabic... you name it. That wasn't always the case. A long time ago, reading the Hebrew Scriptures meant reading them in, well, Hebrew.

Legend has it that one day a guy named Ptolemy II (the P is silent) thought he would build a vast library of the world's most important books. He decided that the Hebrew Scriptures deserved a spot on the shelf and had them translated into Greek, the popular language of the day. This happened somewhere around 250 BC and they eventually called it the Septuagint. By the way, that's a great word to use with your friends and family if you want to sound like a pompous know it all.

Translating old books into new languages isn't always easy. Heck, translating basic signs into English seems to be troublesome at times.

One issue that came up was how to translate yahweh, the divine name of God. Eventually, the Septuagint chose to us…

Yes lord. I mean, yes Lord. Wait, no. Yes LORD. Yeah, that's it.

Lord is a word that has fallen out of use in day to day English. A long time ago it was a term of respect for someone held in honor or thought to be in a position of authority. Think Medieval Times: "Yes, my lord."

In the Hebrew scriptures, the word adon (pronounced ah-DŌN) had this same sense. It could also mean master (1 Samuel 20:38), owner (1 Kings 16:24), or husband (yikes, awkward, but see Amos 4:1 for an example). Now and then, adon was even used for God (Psalm 114:7). When it is, it's translated "Lord" in our English Bibles.

Usually, however, a special form of adon is used for God: adonai (pronounced ah-dōh-nigh). Adonai is different from adon in two ways (get ready for some grammar, people). First, it includes the 1st person singular possessive pronoun -- simply put, it means "my Lord." Also, it's plural. If you've been with me for the last few weeks, you know this doesn't mean "my lords." It's more likely this is w…