Friday, April 22, 2016

"Let Your Light So Shine," Matthew 5:3-16

Matthew 5:3-16

These verses are ringing out in my ears this morning as a cry for repentance.

Alma 60:23 - "...Remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also."

Revisiting these brief statements of hope, I paused on "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." The Savior doesn't offer much explanation on how this would happen or why or anything of the sort. But then I cross referenced footnotes until I arrived at Isaiah 60:20. I went back and read the entire chapter. Doing so, it becomes clearly evident that those who ever had cause to mourn, will -- in some great future day-- never have cause to mourn again.

Understanding this also gives pause to lessen the pains of present challenges.


This brings us to consider one of the great oxymorons of  Christ's teachings:
  • "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
  • "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)
So on the one hand Christ teaches to let our light so shine that men may see our good works, and on there hand, he warns us to not do our alms before men to be seen of them. He even goes on in later verses to say: "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth... That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."

The condition of the heart and the motivations of our intents is what is being drawn into focus by these verses. It makes me think that there are some things that we ought to do to allow others to see God's light in us. While on the other hand, there are other things that we ought to do secretly, so that no one may know them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"To Proclaim the Acceptable Year of the Lord," Luke 4:19, Isaiah 61:2

Luke 4:19(15-30), Isaiah 61:2

In the the book of Luke, the Savior proclaims His divine sonship and he is rejected by those of his hometown. The verse of scripture that he chooses to quote from Isaiah compels me to consider just how merciful our God really is with us.

I cross-referenced the Spanish translation of "acceptable year of the Lord." In Spanish, it is literally translated as the "year of the good will of Jehovah." I had wondered what this might have meant. Then there is a footnote from the reference in Luke that confirms what Christ is saying: "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47)

There it is. Christ is come to redeem us. Judgment is not the purpose of our existence. Why do we feel the need to condemn, to criticize, and to destroy?

Friday, October 2, 2015

"For In Such an Hour as Ye Think Not," Matthew 24:36-51

Matthew 24:36-51,

At the end of this chapter, the Savior is discoursing on the time of his Second Coming. This proceeds the three parables about the end of times: the virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goats.

In JST-Matthew 1:39-40, it talks of how the elect will see the signs of his coming, but that ultimately, no one knows when that day shall come except that we are told that it will come when we do not expect to see it. It will be "business as usual" until the day of His Coming. That is humbling because today is a day of "business as usual." And so what Christ is saying is that it will be a day, just like today, when He comes again. 

Vs. 48 sums up the whole of it: "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."

Monday, May 25, 2015

A House Divided, Luke 11:14-26; Matthew 12:31-42

Luke 11:14-26; Matthew 12:31-42 (see also Luke 12:9-10)

There is a passage here that discusses blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and thanks to a Joseph Smith translation, I now understand the connection between that topic and the passages that discuss the effects of an unclean spirit going and coming from a man's house.

So here is the doctrine--

Christ in several different places talks of the comparison between blasphemy against himself as compared with blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. For example:
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)
The Joseph Smith Translation on Luke 12, also clearly states the difference between blasphemy against the Son of God, which with repentance is pardonable, and blasphemy against the Holy Ghost:
But he who denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God.
Now his disciples knew that he said this, because they had spoken evil against him before the people; for they were afraid to confess him before men.
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, He knoweth our hearts, and he speaketh to our condemnation, and we shall not be forgiven. But he answered them, and said unto them,
Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, and repenteth, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him who blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him. (JST, Luke 12:9–12)

In Luke 11:24, there are footnotes to the Joseph Smith Translation that suggest a simple switch of one pronoun:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, it walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, it saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
The changed focus is not on the man in whom the unclean spirit dwelt, but rather on the unclean spirit itself. So the scripture helps to illustrate what the unclean spirit finds in a man who denies the Holy Spirit. At first he is cast out of his house -- the body of him who once was possessed of the unclean spirit. Because of his denial of the Holy Spirit, the man has made of himself an empty house, ready for occupancy. So when the evil spirit returns, he brings others with him, and final state of the man, who has denied the Holy Spirit, is much worse than the first.

A combination of verses from Matthew and the Joseph Smith Translation, also illustrate the same:

Then came some of the scribes and said unto him, Master, it is written that, Every sin shall be forgiven; but ye say, Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. And they asked him, saying, How can these things be?
 And he said unto them, When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and findeth none; but when a man speaketh against the Holy Ghost, then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth him empty, swept and garnished; for the good spirit leaveth him unto himself. (JST, Matthew 12:37–38)
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:45)

Mark 12 - The Final Week, At the Temple in Jerusalem

Mark 12

Here are a collection of videos that depict some of the exchanges between the Savior and those he encountered while teaching in the temple that final week before his suffering, death, and Resurrection.

Render unto Caesar and unto God

The Greatest Commandment

The Widow's Mite

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"A Sower Went Forth to Sow," Matthew 13:1-23

Matthew 13:1-23

The parable of the sower as taught in these verses I feel is fairly well known. What follows the Savior's initial instructions however is notably decisive in explaining the difference between the true disciples of Christ, and those who will casually pass by to listen, but with no intent to act on what is heard.

There is much to study here, but what is curious about this passage is that I find there are distinct parallels between these fundamental teachings of Christ, and in the early recorded scriptural documents in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For example, compare Matthew 13:11 with Doctrine and Covenants 6:11-12

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"The Harvest Truly Is Plenteous, but the Laborers Are Few," Matthew 9

Matthew 9

I read through this passage of scriptures this past week while I was on vacation, and was much impressed by the need for organization that the Lord Jesus observed after doing his work for a small period of time and observing the great success that resulted. (see Matt 9:36-38)

Indeed, Christ can do his own work, but in the sheer numbers of those who would believe, there must be organization. There must be other laborers called to the work, to do the works of Christ.