Did Jesus say…

A quick look at the Good Samaritan parable

good-samaritan

In the time of Jesus, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for its danger and difficulty, and was known as the “Way of Blood” because “of the blood which is often shed there by robbers.”
Wikipedia.com

Picking up the story after the man had been set upon by the robbers…

Luke 10

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Jesus asked – “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Jesus agreed with the expert on the law that the Samaritan was the neighbor to the injured man… BUT did He say that the others, the ones who passed him by on the other side of the road were bad, wrong, uncaring?

No. The point he was making to do with neighbors.

A word in favor of the priest and the Levite.

Numbers 19: 11 He who touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days NASB

 

Leviticus 21: 11 adds a bit more detail

nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother NASB

According to the account, the Samaritan was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, but it does not say whether the priest or the Levite were going to, or coming from, Jerusalem.

Whichever it was, does not really matter. Had this naked, or nearly naked, man been dead – and either the priest or the Levite touched the unfortunate victim, the priest or Levite  would have been unclean for seven days.

So, to answer the question posed in the title – No, Jesus did not say… that those two were bad, wrong or uncaring.

Jesus’ point was ‘who was the neighbor’ to the injured man.

Perhaps another ‘barb’ to the expert in the law who had questioned Jesus – Jews hated Samaritans. The town of Shechem, where Jesus spoke to the woman was nicknamed Sychar.

“Sychar is only another name for Shechem (“Sychem”). It is suggested, e.g., that it is a nickname applied in contempt by the Jews, being either shikkor, “drunken,” or sheqer, “falsehood.”  http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sychar/

This post has been a short look from a different angle at the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the same time, these are the kinds of attitudes I have had to research and be aware of when writing the Christian, historical fiction series – The Apostle John series.

miniAnd that is where I have been since the last post here… preparing book 4 in the series, Keep the Flame, for release.

 

Release date is 4th October, although it is available for pre-order on Smashwords.

Check it out here – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/663318

There will be one more book in the series.

Covers of books in the Apostle John series

Hold the Faith recently received a ‘Finalist’ Award in Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

I look at the images above and am awed and humbled. That is God, I have been blessed to be the tool for writing this ‘fiction based on fact’ series.

Susan

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The ten commandments image

Sometimes We Forget

When we read of people like Moses, Abraham, David – and many other ‘heroes’ of the Bible – they didn’t have the Bible.

reed pensThey were writing it!

So too, with the writers of the New Testament… Peter, James, John, Paul and the others. They didn’t have the New Testament. They spread the gospel by teaching from the Old Testament. They had the words written by the people in the Old Testament.

They were writing what would become the New Testament.

As regular readers know, I have spent a lot of time in the 1st century AD in the last few years. No, I am not delusaional and think I can time travel *smile* – but I have done a great deal of research in order to make the series I have been, and still am writing, as true to the time as possible.

What I discovered led me off on tangents, and I looked at the lives of men and women that are considered ‘faithful’.

Why were they faithful?

Was it easier for them to be faithful and obedient than for us with all the pressures we have?

I don’t think so.

feet waling in sandy soil

They walked everywhere, they had no phones, no Internet, not even snail mail. (They either walked and delivered the message themselves, or sent a messenger.)

Their obedience was remarkable – well, considering the world we live in now it seems bred into people to disobey, to refuse and object. (Road rage; violent protests, and mass murders.)

Abraham, (Abram at the time) whom most commentators suggest was a rich man in a prosperous city, obeyed…

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
Genesis 12:1

Obedience costs.

(And that was just the beginning!)

This was reiterated in Acts 7: 3 when Stephen addressed the Sanhedrin.

This resulted in Stephen being stoned. (Rocks were thrown at him till he died.)

What about Moses? Brought up in Pharaoh’s court, possible successor to Pharaoh, and after some complications which resulted in him living as a shepherd, brought back to challenge the current Pharaoh – and lead the tribes of Israel through the wilderness. That task was a lot more difficult that looking after sheep!

I haven’t mentioned Jesus yet. He came into the world to be our Passover Lamb. No matter how difficult the lives of any of those before or after Him – or our lives seem, nothing could compare with what He went through. We often gloss over His life, thinking – well, He was the Son of God, He had the Holy Spirit in full measure.  But I think He must have had far more temptation than we have ever had to endure, more loneliness, and more opportunities to be offended… but He remained faithful and completed His task.

After Him, many of the Christians in the 1st century AD were put to death, cruelly, for their faith.

How could they do it? Pay the cost.

They had a relationship with God.

They lived what they believed every day, and that was not easy.

The featured image for this post is the Ten Commandments – because I was thinking of Moses.

How many of us know the ‘10’. And if you are one of the many people who believe that Jesus did away with them, and gave us the ‘2’. Those two summarize the ten.

How much obedience is in our lives? Where do we fail? (And we all do to some degree.)

The Christians of the 1st century AD didn’t call themselves Christian.

They called themselves followers of the Way. (No doubt because it was a way of life, not a religion.)

Followers of the Way – “and [Saul who became Paul] asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem,” Acts 9:2
http://carm.org/early-christians-called

Also…

“Kenneth Samuel Wuest holds that all three original New Testament verses’ usages reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The city of Antioch, where someone gave them the name Christians, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian

 

Even today, Christian people pay for their beliefs with their lives. Is the reward worth it?

Millions of believers have paid, and are paying, the cost because they believe it is!

To quote the book of Joshua…

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24: 15

(Emphasis mine.)

Just thinking again

Susan


Dear Reader,

I am experimenting with my Reader’s Circle Newsletter. This list is open to a few readers and fans. I invite you to sign up for the monthly newsletter. It contains interesting research tidbits I found while researching Hold the Faith and other books in the series. There are links in the newsletters to download the free PDFs.

The link to the sign-up is below. It would be great if you joined me.

Susan’s Reader’s Circle News

Fruits worthy of repentance

What is ‘fruit worthy of repentance?’ Interesting question. Where would it sit on the continuum between grace and works?

Black line: continuum

  • Why does it have to be grace one end and works the other?
  • Why is one seen as legalistic and the other a gift?

Okay… so what was it that John, the Baptizer meant?

He was addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to ‘check him out’. John was announcing the first coming of the Messiah.

As these men were the rulers of all things religious – why were they told to bear fruits worthy of repentance? They did not think they needed to repent. (From the vast amount of research I have done for my fiction-based-on-fact series under the sub-title ‘The Apostle John series’ people who were born Jews did not think they needed to repent, and certainly not be baptized, that was for the proselytes.) They already were God’s chosen.

Or were they?

Their record was not all that impressive.

Yes, they had Abraham, Moses, David, and a few good kings – but not many. Into the bargain they could not even stay the one nation. After Solomon’s death, as prophesied by God, the kingdom split into Israel and Judah. (Judah basically is the remnant that survives today – and to confuse matters, is called Israel. The original part called Israel went into captivity) – but unlike Judah, the original Israel did not return to their ancestral lands – they were ‘sifted among the nations’.)

For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth.
Amos 9: 9 ASV

At the time John was calling the nation to repentance things were not ‘good’ in Jerusalem. As Jesus would later confront them – they honored their own traditions more than the word of God.

Could that have been what John was seeing, and castigating them for?

You assess the situation.

What are ‘fruits worthy of repentance?’

As mentioned last time – repentance is not just saying “sorry” and soon after going back to the same behavior.

fruit of the spirit image
Most of us have read Galatians 5: 22 & 23 where the ‘fruits of the spirit’ are listed, and many of us are well aware of how easy it is to ‘lose’ the fruit.

So, if we wanted to heed John the Baptizer’s warning, and line up with the words of Christ what do we need to do?

 

How long is it since we read the 10 commandments?

Oh, they are done away with!

By whom? Who has the authority to countermand God?

They were fulfilled by Jesus.

Most of us have heard that – perhaps even used that statement. But is it true?

Well, I am very familiar with the gospel of John – although my series is fiction, I stuck to fact where it is available. In John’s gospel you will find recorded…

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14: 15 NASB

He changed them, though.

Oh, you mean where He said –

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
John 15: 12

Or when He answered the question about the greatest commandment…

And He said to him, “‘you shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Matthew 22: 37 NASV

Well, in my mind that summarizes ‘the 10’.

Loving the Lord my God… suggests to me – the first four commandments. When He goes on to say…

“The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22: 39

That suggests the second part – the last six commandments.

I guess this is a start to finding out what ‘fruits worthy of repentance’ might be.

What are your thoughts?

Till next time,

Susan

 

What is Passover?

It is NOT the Exodus from Egypt.

(This post interrupts the sequence started last week, and was triggered by a newsletter saying that the Passover celebrates leaving Egypt.)

According to the Bible – where the original instructions are – it is to be kept in remembrance of God ‘passing over’ the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

·

“It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households’.”
Exodus 12: 25, 26. (NKJV)

The Exodus from Egypt was the next evening, after the people had gathered in Rameses and assembled themselves for the journey out of the land of their captivity.

These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.”
Leviticus 23: 4 – 6 (NKJV)

They are two distinct days. The fourteenth at twilight – Passover. The fifteenth at twilight – the Exodus. Those are GOD’S instructions.

“For I am the  Lord, I do not change:”
Malachi 3: 6a

Yes, many things have been changed over the centuries, both Israel and Judah went into captivity and much was lost, But in trying to work things out – is it not better to go to the word of God, rather than man’s calculations, no matter how intelligent, or qualified they are?

Examining some of the discussions to disprove the fact Passover is on the fourteenth and the Exodus on the fifteenth, some notable scholars have based their writings on theorizing.

A complication for us in the 21st century is the fact we count time differently.

On a first read, with my Western time frame understanding – Passover is at evening time on the fourteenth.

Wrong!

The Hebrew slaves were Israelites and their time was as God had created it.

“God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So, the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Genesis 1: 5 (NKJV)

To the Israelites therefore, the fourteenth began after the sun set on the thirteenth.

Confusing?

Clock, Roman numerals

We are used to the Roman clock where the day officially begins in the darkness of night time.

Why they chose to have the day change as soon as it passed midnight is a mystery but the Roman calendar was not in use  – it had not been ‘invented’ then.
(The various Roman calendars are an interesting read. You will find all the different versions listed on Wikipedia.)

So, to answer the question posed in the title – What is Passover?

It is a remembrance of God ‘passing over’ and sparing the households of the children of Israel, who were the Hebrew slaves, in Egypt.

(There is a great deal of information online about the New Covenant Passover celebration.)

Some ‘food for thought’ –

Susan

 

you brood of vipers

Brood of Vipers!

A ‘tongue-lashing’ by John the Baptizer was not what the Jewish officials coming to check him out expected.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones!  Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matt 3: 7 – 10

So, why did they go to see this son of a Levitical priest? A man who had not followed his father and trained for work in the temple. Were they curious about why he had walked away from such an important hereditary role serving (in his ‘course’) at the temple, instead choosing to live alone is a desert?

·

Undoubtedly they heard that he was baptizing people and telling them to repent.

There were a few things wrong with that –

Jews did not need to be baptized, they were born into the faith. See this note from the Jewish Encyclopedia…

According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism (Yeb. 46b, 47b; Ker. 9a; ‘Ab. Zarah 57a; Shab. 135a; Yer. Kid. iii. 14, 64d)
(Emphasis mine.)

Did the Pharisees and Sadducees come to correct him? He was telling the Jews that they needed to repent and be baptized. Baptism was for proselytes – people who chose the Jewish faith.

At the same time – they could read the prophecies and count. They knew the Messiah was due!

They came to see who he was that he would do such a thing…

They knew the scriptures, and prophecies – they were expecting His coming.

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,
Luke 3: 15

Comment from Barnes Notes on this verse… “The great council of the nation, or the Sanhedrin, had, among other things, the charge of religion. They felt it to be their duty, therefore, to inquire into the character and claims of John, and to learn whether he was the Messiah. It is not improbable that they wished that he might be the long-expected Christ, and were prepared to regard him as such.”

But what did John – the Baptizer mean – “Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance?”

I will explore that next time. If you have any thoughts about this, please share them.

Thank you

Susan

For information on the temple ‘courses’ see this link

Priestly service at the temple

Hold the Faith – update

Hold the Faith in print is finally coming to Western Australia.

Photo, Hold the Faith, print cover

 

Seems as if it has been a long time since I did any ‘Hold the Faith’ updates… and that is true. So, here I rectify this with an update. As it says above, the print edition of Hold the Faith is coming to Western Australia.

It has been available in the US and through Amazon for some months now, and is in Koorong books online catalog. However – on the 19th May, 2016 there is a book launch for the folks of the Perth area.

Let me tell you about the book – after all, it has been a long time since this blog started, and I have been making a bit of a potpourri of posts.

Hold the Faith is the first book in a fiction series about early Christianity. Although all the books are linked with the sub-title – ‘The Apostle John Series’ – he is not the focus of the series. The focus is the people in the early to mid-nineties AD. Yes, that far back. <smile>

In a flyer put out by the publisher it states, “To be a Christian in 1st century Ephesus, under Roman rule, is dangerous.”

flyer

In Hold the Faith readers have their first glimpse of the ways in which this is true.

First – the tension between Jews and Christians are demonstrated when Benjamin (fictional great-grandson of the Apostle John) arrives at a Jewish wedding to execute a commission for his father, Samuel the oil-seller.

As the book progresses readers have a window into the distrust, even hatred of the Roman overlords, and the antagonism between pagans and Christians.

Join the Apostle John and Benjamin on their walk around the other churches of the Roman province of Asia Minor and meet some of the leaders and brethren in the churches named in Revelation 2 and 3.

Churches of Asia Minor

The near death of Benjamin’s mother cuts short the tour, which has already lasted more than a year, but while waiting for her recovery, Benjamin finds his love interest. Then a jealousy within the fellowship starts to show and Benjamin is cruelly spurned – but not by the young woman.

The story continues in book 2 – Grow in Grace, which will be available in print in May 2016.

At the same time I have been reading and correcting galley proofs, as well as reviewing book 4 – Keep the Flame, ready for my wonderful editor to check. It has been an interesting experience trying to keep separate these two different parts of the story.

A ‘glutton for punishment’ some would say – but during March 2016 I was privileged to be part of the Blogging Challenge which focused on International Women’s Day. The commitment was a post a week for four weeks. It was outside my ‘normal’ area of research, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the diversity of the posts from the other bloggers.

You can read the posts on the blog on my author website page

http://susanprestonauthor.com/blog

Stay tuned for other news about the book series – and if you missed the early posts on this blog and might be curious about some of the interesting facts researching the series turned up… please ask.

I have yet to fully set up my Reader’s Circle newsletter – in the meantime you can subscribe to the ‘Behind the Book’ brochures by emailing me at this link.

Tread softly – they are someone’s dreams

tread-softly-because-you-tread-on-my-dreams

Susan

 

 

 

 

Rejection… Ours

John’s series comes to a close – so I will turn this post over to him…

John Reiss, image

For the final example of rejection I am going to talk about our rejection.

1 John 3:13 says, “Do not marvel, if the world hates you.”

Matthew 10 cautions us that even members of our own families will turn against us., and John 15 Jesus tells us that, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…”

In John 15 Jesus tells us “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…”

I think that it is a pretty safe bet that most of us have felt at least some of this hostility.

1 Peter 2:4 calls Christ “…a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.”

Luke 20:17 says that the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone in the temple of God. The cornerstone is the principal, and most carefully constructed stone placed at the corner of a building

1 Peter 2:5 calls Christians living stones in this very temple.

“You yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

But at our best we are stones in the process of being cut and shaped.

Looking back to Jephthah as an example, God did not choose someone who was what we would call perfect to deliver Israel.

What does He say about us?

1 Corinthians 1:26 tells us that “…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. “

The word noble means well-born!  Many of us were in our own way just like Jephthah.  God calls us “the low and the base,” and He is using us to put to shame the mighty!

1 Peter 4:13-14 in the NASB, “…to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…”

To sum it up, when we are rejected by our co-workers, friends, neighbors, and even our families, we share in the rejections of Jesus Christ and the rejections of godly men and women since this age began.  Although our affections have been spurned by the world, they have been accepted by God.

We were not born royalty; we are being made royalty, and in our future positions as Kings and Priests in God’s Kingdom (Revelations 5:10), we will need to have true empathy for those we lead.

Jesus’ sufferings helped make Him perfect in His role as High Priest and King of Kings, and our sufferings will help make us perfect in our new responsibilities with and under Him.
(Hebrews 2:10).

Susan M B PrestonIn view of John’s last comment, a fitting note to end his series is the verse below.


And he shall reign forever

His throne and crown shall ever endure
And he shall reign forever
And we shall reign with him
First verse of a song by Graham Kendrick (Available on iTunes)

As John said at the start of this series “Rejection is defined as “the spurning of a person’s affections.”

Whatever the cause, rejection hurts – I imagine there are few of us who have not been touched by it.

Susan