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Matthew 11:7-15 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 3 John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

Matthew 11:7-15 – John the Baptist and the Kingdom Goal

|| Luke 7:24-28

MT11:7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus started to tell the crowds regarding John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?[1] A breeze rattling some willows?[2] MT11:8 But, what did you go to see? A human dressed in soft clothes? Look! Those who wear soft clothes[3] are in royal houses. MT11:9 But, why did you come out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.[4] MT11:10 This person is the one about whom it has been written,[5] ‘Look! I am sending forth My messenger[6] before your person. He will prepare your way ahead of you.’ [Isaiah 40:3] MT11:11 I tell you this truth: None generated by women have been raised up who are greater than[7] John the Baptist. But, a lesser person[8] in the Realm of the Heavens[9] is greater than John. MT11:12 From the days of John the Baptist right up until now the Realm of the Heavens is being zealously pursued[10] and those in energetic pursuit are grabbing for it. MT11:13 For the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.[11] MT11:14 And, if you wish to accept it – John is Elijah,[12] the one who was to come. MT11:15 Let the person with ears listen.”[13]

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File:Accademia - St John the Baptist by Titian Cat314.jpg

St John the Baptist by Titian, Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.

[1] What did you go out into the wilderness to see: We have learned earlier that all Judea went out into the desert to see this strange prophet who dressed primitively and eat honey and locusts.

[2] A breeze rattling some willows: Possibly a bit of sarcasm? Others render this phrase: KJV: a reed shaken with the wind; RIEU: a reed swaying in the wind; NEB: a reed-bed swept by the wind. As a metaphor John the Baptist could not be characterized like a reed-willow easily blown about (Ephesians 4:14). Rather, he was stalwart and firm – even dogmatic.

[3] Soft clothes: John was dressed roughly in harsh clothing. His clothes and manner must have attracted inquisitive crowds wondering about this strange man. The phrase is rendered by others: WMS: silks and satins; NJB: fine clothes.

[4] More than a prophet: The Bible is fill with “prophets” of the two types: the one foretelling events and the one declaring God’s righteous will. The word “prophet” occurs over 500 times in the Bible. Jesus makes clear the Baptist is more than just a prophet and he now explains what he means. The idea of saying that someone is more or greater than another is something Jesus uses several times. Compare Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.

[5] It has been written: Jesus quotes Isaiah 40:3.

[6] My messenger: Literally the Greek is “my angel.”

[7] Who are greater than: John the Baptist is at least equal to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, or Elijah.

[8] A lesser person: The Greek is MICROTEROS and is rendered: KJV: least; ASV: little; PME: humble.

[9] In the Realm of the Heavens: It is possible this phrase is limited to that Realm of Profession, or the territory or domain over which Lord Messiah reigns – his congregation of disciples. In other words: the most humble member of the Christian Church is greater than John the Baptist and therefore greater than all the ancient worshippers of God. See notes in Matthew chapter 13 on identifying the “kingdom of the heavens.” Some also believe this to mean John the Baptist and the ancient patriarchs would not attain to heaven but would be raised in the resurrection of the righteous on earth (John 3:13; Hebrews 11:39, 40; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24).

[10] Zealously pursued: This is a classically difficult text. Most translators tend toward the idea that the kingdom is attacked violently and the violent seize it. However, from John the Baptist to the present of Jesus’ statement there is little evidence of persecution against the King or his realm. The Greek word here is BIAZETAI and its root meaning is “violent.” Jesus repeats the word group in the next phrase (See Acts 2:2). The word is rare in this form. However, there are two verses in Luke which might shed light on the Nazarene’s intent. Luke 13:24 literally means, ‘agonize to enter through the narrow door.’ And, the parallel in Luke to Matthew here is, ‘everyone is violently forcing [BIAZETAI] themselves into (the Kingdom of The God).’ This could mean violent men force themselves violently into the kingdom; or, it could mean the agonizing struggle to enter the realm of profession. This is the first interpretation the New Jerusalem Bible gives in its footnote “f” – “1. The praiseworthy violence, the bitter self-sacrifice, of those who would take possession of the kingdom.” Strong’s (#971, #973) offers “vital activity, energetic.” Thayer’s (page 101) says: “a share in the heavenly Kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion… utmost eagerness.” Thus, the context and the parallel in Luke suggests the possibility that Jesus is describing the agonizing zeal his disciples have demonstrated in their pursuit of the “kingdom” – willing to make any sacrifice, willing to surrender their soul in the process.

William Barclay suggests a possibility: “‘The Kingdom of the Heaven is not for the well-meaning but for the desperate,’ that no one drifts into the Kingdom, that the Kingdom only opens it doors to those who are prepared to make as great an effort to get into it as men do when they storm a city.… Only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.” (Matthew, Volume 2. page 8)

[11] Prophets and the Law prophesied until John: The complete phrase linking the Law and the Prophets is used by Jesus elsewhere (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40). There is now to be a great transition. Hebrews 1:1 states that The God used to speak in a variety of ways to the prophets of old, but now speaks to us by means of a Son. With the coming of John the Baptist in the year 29 AD a new season, a new age begins to open up – a Messianic one. Grace and Truth will now come by means of Jesus the Nazarene (John 1:17).

[12] John is Elijah: Jesus explains this to his own disciples elsewhere (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Compare Luke 1:17. Elijah’s name (My God is Yah) occurs 100 times in the Bible and most importantly at Malachi 4:5 where the prophet is foretold to appear before the Day of Yehowah. The end of the Jewish Temple Age is upon that generation. The name Elijah only occurs twice outside the Gospels (Romans 11:2; James 5:17). Note Elijah is missing by name in the Book of Revelation. He is alluded to at Revelation 11:5, 6.

[13] Let the person with ears listen: This becomes in Revelation a phrase identified with Jesus (Revelation 2:7). PME: the man who has ears to hear must use them.

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Preceding

Matthew 11– Intro to The Nazarene’s Commentary: Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities

Matthew 11:1 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 1 Twelve Sent out to Teach

Matthew 11:2-6 Encouragement for John and Reproach for cities 2 Imprisoned Baptist Encouraged

Nazarene Commentary Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

The Beginning of the Evangel, by Mark

Chapter One:

Preparations for the Appointed time

Mark 1:1-8 – The Beginning of the Good News

Matthew 3:13-17[1]

MK1:1 This is the origin of the Good News about Jesus Christ the Son of the God.[2] MK1:2 Just as it is written in Isaiah the Prophet,[3] “See, I am sending My messenger before you and he will prepare your way … [Malachi 3:1] MK1:3 The voice of one crying aloud: ‘In the desert prepare a road for the Lord:[4] Make His highways straight.’” [Isaiah 40:3] MK1:4 So John the Baptizer came from the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. MK1:5 People of all kinds when out to meet him in the wilderness as well as the inhabitants of Jerusalem of all classes. These were baptized by him in the Jordan river, openly confessing their sins [against the Law of Moses]. MK1:6 John dressed in a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt. His food was locusts and wild honey. MK1:7 This was his message: “There is One coming after me who is greater than me. One whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop and loosen. MK1:8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy Pneuma.”[5]


[1] Matthew 3:13-17: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew.

[2] The Son of God: Now recognized as not adequately supported.

[3] Isaiah the Prophet: Two verses are quoted. [Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3]

[4] The Lord: Or, “the Lord’s way” or “YHWH’s way.” The Hebrew source of the quotation has the noma sagrada, YHWH [Yehowah; Jehovah]

[5] Baptize you with the holy Pneuma: On the holy Pneuma see notes on 1 Corinthians 2:16 and 1 Corinthians 12:13.

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Connecting articles:

Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:1-6 – A Wilderness Baptist Prepares the Way

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:7-12 – Opposition and Two Baptisms

Next: Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:3-6 – John Preaches Baptism of Repentance

The supposed location where John baptized Jesu...

The supposed location where John baptized Jesus Christ East of the River Jordan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  1. He has given us the Pneuma, the force, from Him
  2. Isaiah’s Book of the Messenger of Glad Tidings
  3. Baptism
  4. Were Apostles baptised
  5. True Hope

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    Even though the Temple is magnificently restored, and all the proper sacrifices are being made it’s all a bit edgy, it’s not quite right. A sign of trouble are communities of folks, who live in isolated communities, like the Essenes who live in Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, who preach a different relationship with God. Many of them practice a baptism that washes away sins. Perhaps the most dramatic of them is John the Baptist. Not only is John baptizing folks, he is declaring the kingdom of heaven has come near
  • What’s in the Water? Musings on Jesus’ Baptism (johncalvinpress.wordpress.com)
    Something very significant is happening here on the banks of the Jordan River where we find John the Baptist and Jesus together.  In Mark’s gospel, the oldest of the four, this text is the opening event.  All four gospel writers place the story at or near the beginning of their work, and in each case, it precedes their account of the public ministry of Jesus.
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    In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism, we find that all authority in heaven and on earth is given to Jesus through the dove that alights on him and the voice that speaks from heaven.
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    In the 2nd century, Ignatius of Antioch explained the event by saying that Jesus was purifying the water – not the other way around. Justin Martyr said that Jesus was baptized “solely for the sake of humanity.”*
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  • Let it be so now (experiencethewilderness.wordpress.com)
    Perhaps its that to him things seemed to be turned upside down, inside out and backwards, that Jesus is there submitting before John to be baptized.  And maybe that’s what seems to bother John and and maybe us too the most.  And so we try to bring order to that chaos we feel…those moments that don’t make sense.  And maybe its all John can do to hold back when he wants to switch places with Jesus.
  • New English Sunday: The Baptism of Our Lord (Epiphany 1, Year A) – Matthew 3:13-17 (bobobrizinski.wordpress.com)
    Then Jesus arrived at the Jordan from Galilee, and came to John to be baptized by him. John tried to dissuade him. ‘Do you come to me?’ he said; ‘I need rather to be baptized by you.’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so for the present; we do well to conform in this way with all that God requires.’ John then allowed him to come. After baptism Jesus came up out of the water at once, and at that moment heaven opened; he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove to alight upon him; and a voice from heaven was heard saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, on whom my favour rests.’ (NEB)
  • Baptism adorn us with a new attire (twocatholicfriends.wordpress.com)
    This is my beloved Son: this was the first few words that was uttered after Christ’s baptism. Much more, as followers of Christ that has been ransomed by his blood. Immediately after our baptism, the gate of heaven open down to us paralleling the way Heaven opened when Jesus stepped out of the water and the Holy Spirit is being outpoured into our life and we become instantly renewed.So, baptism for us Christians is a day of joy for we are adorned anew with a holy attire, the one we should preserve jealously till death(pure as white as snow before God),so, praises should not be found wanting on our lips.
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    Jesus does not need this baptism. He has no need for forgiveness.  He has nothing to repent of. Jesus comes to the baptismal waters of the Jordan fully righteous, perfect, without blemish or spot or stain.Yet Jesus comes to these waters loaded down with sin – “…the sin of the world…” as John put it. That’s why Jesus is here, to fully be a sinner with us. There is no distance between us and Christ, no separation. In His baptism, Christ makes Himself completely one with us. What John saw as necessary separation – sinner’s baptism only for sinners – Jesus gently puts aside and says “it is fitting for us…”Jesus’ Baptism is our Baptism. It is not the water that does it – it’s no mere water – but it’s the Word in and with the water that makes this Baptism. That is, it’s Jesus there in the water – being sinner for you – that makes it.
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    As we go to the water we forget the myth that we are perfect, that we have it all together, and we let our tears rise, and let our chin quiver on the shoulder of the one who created us.Jesus knew what it meant to be wounded. Throughout his life, he had a knack for finding the most broken hearted people in a community, whether they were full of disappointment, or shame, or in deep grief. He would seek them out, and spend time with them, learned what they were most vulnerable about and would meet them there in their vulnerability.
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