New Testament Notes 108-111

New Testament Notes 108-111 March 15, 2019

 

Sea of Galilee map
A political map of the Sea of Galilee at roughly the time of Christ

 

Matthew 11:20-24

Luke 10:12-15

 

It surprises people to see how small the area is in which the Galilean ministry of Jesus was concentrated:

 

Magdala, from which Mary Magdalene derived her name, is on the western shore of the lake, and its ruins are still plainly visible today.  (Whenever we bring a tour group to Israel, we always drive by Magdala two or three times.)

 

Magdala Stone, close-up
The so-called “Magdala Stone”   (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

Bethsaida, possibly the birthplace of the apostle Peter, is at the north, while Chorazin and Capernaum are in between.

 

Really big stories don’t necessarily require really big areas in which to take place.

 

We should all remember this, as we create our own stories.

 

Verrocchio, "Baptism of Christ"
“The Baptism of Christ,” by Andrea del Verrocchio (1472). Note the presence not only of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (represented by the dove), but of the Father, whose two hands appear at the top of the painting.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

Matthew 11:25-27

Luke 10:21-22

Compare John 3:35; 7:29; 10:14-15; 13:3; 17:2, 25

 

I understand that orthodox Nicene Trinitarians can read these verses without seeing a contradiction of their notion of a Triune God.  But, seriously, it seems to me that the Latter-day Saint understanding of the Father and the Son as two distinct divine personages (rather than as two persons within a single metaphysical “substance,” whatever that might actually mean) is far and away the more natural way to read it (and many other such passages).

 

An ancient Christian image of Jesus as Good Shepherd
Jesus as the Good Shepherd (from the third century AD crypt of Lucina, in the Roman catacomb of Domatilla  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

Matthew 11:28-30

 

These are three of the most pleasant and reassuring verses in the gospels.

 

Perhaps something of the nature of the “learning” that Jesus wants us to receive from him (“learn from me”) can be discerned in the fact that the Greek imperative verb “learn!” used here (mathete/μάθετε) derives from the same root as the Greek word “disciples” (mathetai/μαθηταὶ), as in Matthew 12:1, which follows immediately.

 

Israeli grain
A field of grain in Israel    (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

Matthew 12:1-8

Mark 2:23-28

Luke 6:1-5

 

Latter-day Saints take the concept of the Sabbath very seriously, though I sometimes think that we can easily clutter it up far too much and often do so.

 

But we don’t make a fetish of it.

 

For that matter, I might add, neither do many Orthodox Jews, whose punctilious observance of the Sabbath some non-Jews like to mock as merely formal and legalistic.  Such mockery is unfair.  I’ve seen examples of passionate Jewish love for the Sabbath that have moved me, and from which we Latter-day Saints could learn a great deal.

 

Jesus’ claim, in these passages, to be “lord of the Sabbath” is extremely important, as is his statement, preserved in Mark, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

 

The teachings of the Gospel don’t exist for their own sake.  They exist for the sake of God’s children.

 

“For behold,” the Lord has said, “this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).  “I am come that they might have life,” Jesus declared, “and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

 

 

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