Jesus and the Torah

Matthew 5:38-42 contains Jesus’ famous words on the lex talionis, the law of retribution. Here are the words and then I have one reflection: Matt. 5:38   “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. [Read More...]

A Good and Beautiful Life

Not that long ago I blogged through the first volume of James Bryan Smith’s The Apprentice Series. Volume two, The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ (The Apprentice Series) , is now available and I’d like to draw your attention to it and raise a question or two for us to [Read More...]

What is wisdom?

As a child in Sunday School we lustily sang the always boisterous song, “The Wise Man Built His House on the Rock and the Foolish Man …”. The song was acted out, and our favorite part was falling onto the floor. And we had no question which side we were on. I have no truck [Read More...]

Talk about closing a sermon

Very few sermons close off as forcibly as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus summons people to follow him, and the way he does this is to clarify the sort of followers he has in mind (beatitudes), the salt and light vocation, the surpassing righteousness he expects, and the simplicity of doing things with integrity [Read More...]

Follower or Fraud?

How can you tell if a prophet is true or false? Jesus has a very simple solution: “By their fruits you can recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20). False prophets deceive in appearance but inwardly are ferocious wolves. Fruit, Jesus says, is what enables us to discern them. And fruit has to do with behaviors. [Read more...]

How narrow is that gate?

There are, the famous opening lines of the Didache state, “two paths: one of life and one of death, and the difference between the two is great.” These were some of the lines I was asked to translate when I entered seminary, and we were slotted into an Exegesis class on the basis of such [Read More...]

The Jesus Creed Lite

All of the Torah and all of the Prophets, Jesus says, are summed up in this simple golden rule: “do to others what you want them to do to you.” Allison says no one called this the “golden rule” before the 18th Century, but what I would call it is the Jesus Creed Lite: it [Read More...]

Does persistence pay in prayer?

The famous “ask-seek-knock” (ASK) passage — is it teaching persistence or not? And is it saying that persistence will pay off with answered prayer? I doubt it and I doubt it. Instead, I think this passage (Matthew 7:7-11) teaches simplicity: that is, ask God because God is good. [Read more...]

Hogs and Dogs

The little parable of Jesus’ about the hogs and dogs, in Matthew 7:6, can be read as a context-less saying or a context-ual saying. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; do not throw your margaritas [Greek word for "pearls"] before the hogs.” But what might this saying mean? Which view below do [Read More...]

Sharp eyes, dulled awareness

Humans, Dale Allison observes, have an “inbred proclivity to mix ignorance of themselves with arrogance toward others.” Jesus spoke of this with the image of the “speck” and the “log.” Jesus intends to be funny and serious, to jab at the ribs and wound the heart all at the same time. And what Jesus sees [Read More...]


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