Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week 3 Loud Farts

By now you have heard that Pastor Eugene Peterson calls metaphor..and thus parables, "a loud fart in the salon of spirituality."  So always look for the part of the parable that would have that same effect:
It surely will offend someone somewhere.

Right now, think of something you could do that would offend/trip someone up in a similar way.
It can be anything in any area of your life: home, school, work, in public.  Just think of something you could do in a certain setting that would be received like a loud fart in a salon, library,  church, etc.. You can make it funny if you like, but remember your story, you may get a chance to use it in an assignment coming up very soon.

Week 3: 12 Points about Parables

You have some assignments about parables.  So it well help a lot to ask what a parable is, at least the kind Jesus told.
Watch below your crazy teacher's two part video, "12 Points about Parables"
Here is his outline:

week 3 Trilemma

Lewis's trilemma

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lewis's trilemma is an apologetic argument traditionally used to prove the divinity of Jesus by arguing that the only alternative was that he was evil or deluded.[1] One version was popularised by University of Oxford historian and writer on religion C. S. Lewis in a BBC radio talk and in his writings. It is sometimes described as the "Lunatic, Liar, or Lord", or "Mad, Bad, or God" argument. It takes the form of a trilemma — a choice between three options, each of which is in some way difficult to accept.
This argument is very popular with Christian apologists, but largely ignored by theologians and biblical scholars, who do not view Jesus as having claimed to be God. Some argue that he identified himself as a divine agent, with a unique relationship to Israel's God .[2] Others see him as wanting to direct attention to the divine kingdom he proclaimed. [3] The current majority opinion among Biblical scholars is that the proclamation of the divinity of Jesus was a product of the Christian communities in the years after his death.[4]


This argument was widely cited in various forms in the nineteenth century. It was used by the American preacher Mark Hopkins in his book Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity (1846), based on lectures delivered in 1844.[5] Another early use of this approach was by the Scots preacher "Rabbi" John Duncan (1796–1870), around 1859–60:[6]
Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.
Other preachers who used this approach included Reuben Archer Torrey (1856–1928)[7] and W. E. Biederwolf (1867–1939).[8] The writer G.K. Chesterton used something similar to the Trilemma in his book, The Everlasting Man (1925),[9] which Lewis cited in 1962 as the second book that most influenced him.[10]

Lewis's formulation

C. S. Lewis was an Oxford medieval Literature scholar, popular writerChristian apologist, and former atheist. He used the argument outlined below in a series of BBC radio talks later published as the book Mere Christianity.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.[11]
Lewis, who had spoken extensively on Christianity to Royal Air Force personnel, was aware many ordinary people did not believe Jesus was God, but saw him rather as "a 'great human teacher' who was deified by his supporters"; his argument is intended to overcome this.[1] It is based on a traditional assumption that, in his words and deeds, Jesus was asserting a claim to be God. For example, in Mere Christianity, Lewis refers to what he says are Jesus' claims:
  • to have authority to forgive sins—behaving as if he really was "the person chiefly offended in all offences."[12]
  • to have always existed, and
  • to intend to come back to judge the world at the end of time.[13]
Lewis implies that these amount to a claim to be God and argues that they logically exclude the possibility that Jesus was merely "a great moral teacher", because he believes no ordinary human making such claims could possibly be rationally or morally reliable. Elsewhere, he refers to this argument as "the aut Deus aut malus homo" ("either God or a bad man"),[14] a reference to an earlier version of the argument used by Henry Parry Liddon in his 1866 Bampton Lectures, in which Liddon argued for the divinity of Jesus based on a number of grounds, including the claims he believed Jesus made.[15]

The Other Side

Become familiar with the concept of 'the other side.'

First, watch this from Dave:


Soo,, when you see this sign... It's called THE OTHER SIDE....The circle is  the Sea of Gallilee.  On the NW corner, you see the "Orthodox Triangle" of Three Jewish Villages (Capernaum, Korazim, Bethsaidada)

vs. the SE side (OR "THE OTHER SIDE")...the "pagan" side of the lake, which includes  "Decapolis"/Ten Cities and the 7 Pagan Nations .

Notice the RECURRENCE OF THE PHRASE "the other side" IN CHAPTERS 8-10 of Matthew:


This is all leading up to these two videos by Ray Vander Laan that together help with this idea of "the other side,"  Watch them carefully, enjoy, and be prepared to talk about them in teh forum.
Remember Dave said this lesson on the other side is often the one students find most helpful to use in their case study/signature paper.

First video: "When Storms Come":

  Here is a nice slideshow summary of this first video (just click each part):

If slideshow links don't work, click or paste this link:

Part 1: Sea of Galilee 
Part 2: Perceptions of Water 
Part 3: A Terrifying Night 
Part 4: Peter's Courage 
Part 5: Facing our Seas 
Part 6: Courage in the Storm

--Second video: "Piercing the Darkness":

click here,

with love (must be logged into Moodle) to watch

or click  or paste this  link below


Here is a nice slideshow summary of the second video (just click each part..or  click  or paste this link for full slideshow:



  • Note the cross-cultural implications of Jesus' two feedings of  the multitude:
  • see:

    (diagram below by John Stevenson, see 2nd link above)

    Feeding of the 5,000
    Feeding of the 4,000
    Mark 6:34-44
    Mark 8:1-9
    Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for one day.Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for three days.
    The multitude was mostly Jewish.The multitude would have been mostly Gentile.
    Took place near Bethsaida  on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.Took place in the Decapolis on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
    Jesus used 5 loaves and 2 fish.Jesus used 7 loaves and a few small fish.
    There were 12 small baskets of leftovers.There were 7 large baskets of leftovers.

    Q>Who is Jesus in Matthew?  
                  A>The one who is not afraid to go to "THE OTHER SIDE"

Context: The Three Worlds of Caesarea Phillipi/Gates of Hell

1)Watch this, and try not to laugh(:

2)Watch "The Day Metallica came to church:

3)Answer in your mind (remember your answer for the later): If you saw this headline--"Jesus asks church to host anti-Christian concert"--what would you think?  Note your answer, and then watch this.

4)Read Matthew 16:13-20



(click "this")
Ray Vander Laan video on "Caesarea Phillipi:Gates of Hell"  (You'll need to be logged into Moodle)

3)Glance at these study notes...and these study notes; they are both commentary on video in #2 above 

4)Read this:
The Gates of HadesBy Lyons A number of people have recently asked me – directly and indirectly – why context is important in studying scripture. Or to be more accurate, why the original Hebrew context is important. In Rabbinic fashion (how appropriately), I would like to answer this question in the form of a story. One that many Christian readers will be familiar, yet unfamiliar, with. It begins like this:
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. (Mark 8:27)
For the casual reader with no geographical context, this sounds no different than “Jesus took the disciples down the road to the neighoboring village”. However, having just come from Bethsaida, this means that Jesus decided to take his disciples on a 32+ mile round trip to Caesarea Philippi, the only recorded trip Jesus took to that region or anywhere remotely like it.
Rock of the GodsCaesarea Philippi, the modern day reserve of Banias in the Golan Heights region of Israel, was established by Ptolemaic Greeks as a hellenistic city, where the worship of the god Pan was centered. By the early first century, Caesarea Philippi (named in 2 AD by Herod Philip in honor of Caesar Augustus) was reviled by orthodox rabbis, and it was taught that no good Jew would ever visit there.
This city, which sits at the foot of Mount Hermon, butts up against a large cliff, referred to as the ‘Rock of the Gods’, in reference to the many shrines built against it. Shrines to Caesar, Pan and another god (possibly the fertility goddess Nemesis) were all built up against this cliff. In the center of the Rock of the Gods is a huge cave, from which a stream flowed (after 19th century earthquakes, the stream began flowing out from the rock beneath the mouth of the cave). This cave was called the “Gates of Hades”, because it was believed that Baal would enter and leave the underworld through places where water came out of it.
Pan NicheIn first century Israel, Caesarea Philippi would be an equivalent of Las Vegas – Sin City – but much worse than the modern city in the American West. In the open-air Pan Shrine, next to the cave mouth, there was a large niche, in which a statue of Pan (a half-goat, half-human creature) stood, with a large erect phallus, worshipped for its fertility properties. Surrounding him in the wall were many smaller niches, in which were statues of his attending nymphs. On the shrine in front of these niches, worshippers of Pan would congregate and partake in bizarre sexual rites, including copulation with goats – worshipped for their relationship to Pan.
And so, one day, Jesus took his twelve disciples, most likely all of whom were in their teens or early twenties (but that’s a story for a different day), and said “we’re going to Caesarea Philippi” (if he even told them where they were going).
he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16)
Nymph NicheNow, we don’t know for sure where they were standing in the Caesarea Philippi region, but Jesus’ next statement gives us an idea that they may have been standing within sight of the Rock of the Gods.
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:17-18)
Jesus continues his short lesson, ‘calling’ (the greek literally meaning shouting at the top of his voice) to the crowd and his disciples.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
This begs a few questions: What crowd did He call to him? Could it have been the Pan worshippers? Any crowd from this region would NOT have been religiously Jewish. Was the last statement aimed at his disciples, who might have been embarrassed at the spectacle Jesus was creating?
So What?
The Catholic tradition has taken Jesus’ pronouncement in Matther 16:18 to mean that Jesus was declaring that the church was to be built on the authority of Peter and the other disciples. It is true that they led the early church, so this would be a possible interpretation.
The Protestant tradition has taken Jesus declaration here to say that His church was to be built upon the confession recognizing Him as the Messiah and the Son of the living God. This is a valid interpretation, as well, and is a practice supported by other scriptures.
Pan ShrineRay VanderLaan and other Hebrew contextual scholars suggest a third interpretation which may be just as – if not more – powerful as the others, based on the context. Why would Jesus choose this place, the filthiest (morally) place within walking distance of his earthly region of ministry?
Might it be possible that he took histalmidim to the most degenerate place possible to say to them “THIS is where I want you to build my church. I want you to go out into the repugnantly degenerate places, where God is not even known. I want you to go out to places that make Caesarea Philippi look tame, and THAT is where I want you to build my church.” Because that is exactlywhat they did. They went to places in Asia Minor and the ends of the earth, where “gods” were worshipped in unspeakably awful manners and where Christians would be persecuted in horrific manner, and they gave their lives doing EXACTLY what they were told to do by their Rabbi.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the story of Caesarea Philippi and understand it in its context, it comes to life in ways it never had before.
Special thanks to Dr. Tim Brown and Ray VanderLaan for background material from this post.  LINK

-5) Watch this VanDer Laan video also at Ceaserea Phillipi/Gates of Hell: 

Monday, May 18, 2015

baptism/testations/mighty deeds

THREE SECTIONS:  baptism/testations/mighty deeds.
Scroll down to the  color-coded section you've been assigned


review Dave's  baptism video, if needed:

Remember on Dave's  baptism video, he talked about sign   #11 below?  


This means one text quotes another text.  When both texts are biblical, this is often called cross-referencing.  When we get into today's theme, we;ll see intertexting between The Ten Commandments (OT) and The Sermon on the Mount (NT)
One of Chris Harrison's projects is called "Visualizing the Bible":

"Christoph Römhild sent me his interesting biblical cross-references data set. This lead to the first of three visualizations. Intrigued by the complexity of the Bible, I derived a new data set by parsing the King James Bible and extracting people and places. One of the resulting visualizations is a biblical social network. The other visualization shows how people and places are distributed throughout the text."  Chris Harrison-

But why should I tell you when I can show you?:

"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect." .More info about this chart, and charts of the Bible as a social network  here.

In Jesus' baptism, you may remember from Dave's video, and your baptism worksheet, you may remember that several scriptures were quoted. 

-- Tell me what these clips from "The Matrix" have to do with today's
 topics: Jesus' birth, call,  baptism...or anything connected to the Bible or Jesus,  Watch all five short parts in a row,

part 1: white rabbit  (click to view)
part 2:  Neo meets Trinity
part 3:  choose your pill:
part 4: waking from the dream:
part 5: immersion into the Matrix
If interested in Christian symbolism in The Matrix, click:

Resources on "The Matrix"


Remember the Big Rich Texas Style Stylish Baptism: 

REMEMEMBER This "literary technique"  above (of two phrases being so related as to be almost synonymous/interchangeable is called, in computer language,
a "DROP DOWN BOX.  We will picture it by this symbol/sign
In the same way as  when you encounter a drop-down menu on a website, and you know you can choose different options, when we talk about "drop-down boxes" in the "text message" of the Bible, will mean a place where you can choose between two options/terms.

IN our passage, tonight we dropped down
kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven.

See notes from class on why this difference>\

  • Kingdom of     God
  • Kingdom of     heaven
is itself a drop-down-box.
Both refer to the same reality.
You  may remember why the two terms:
  • heaven
  • God
  and why only Matthew uses the first.
In fact, the first person to post in the comments below this post the reason why wins a prize.


Joel Hofman has a great point:

All Bible translators have to confront the problem of words that don't convey the same meaning to a modern audience as they did to an ancient one, said linguist Joel M. Hoffman, author of "And God Said - How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning."
"For example, `John the Baptist' was really like `John the Dunker,'" Hoffman said.
John was doing something new by submerging people in water to cleanse them of their sins, but that is lost on people 2,000 years later, Hoffman said. Today, people hearing John's title might think it refers to a Baptist denomination rather than his then-strange behavior.  -link


What are the THREE Scriptures  quoted, paraphrased are alluded to   in the "Text message from God" at Jesus' baptism:

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  

Notes from FPU faculty Camp/Roberts:

All four gospels contain a version of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew records the story of Jesus’ baptism in chapter 3, Mark begins his gospel with the story in 1:1-11, Luke has the story in short form in 3:21-22, and John’s version is in 1:19-34.  How does this text further answer the question “Who is Jesus?” in Matthew?
 Read Matthew 3:1-17 Matt transitions to Jesus’ adult ministry by introducing him at his baptism. Mt uses a common ancient literary device called syncresis, which means to make a judgment about something or someone by comparison. It is, in that sense, a simple comparison/contrast. There are 2 comparisons that are being made in chapter 3. One has to do with Jesus and John, the other with Jesus and the Pharisees/ Sadducees. The passage is structured in 3 sections. vv. 1-6 is a description of John and his message. John is presented as a fulfillment of a passage from Isaiah 40, where Israel is being called to return from exile. John is engaged in the same ministry as Isaiah, that of recalling the people. One might conclude that Mt is insinuating that whileIsrael returned from exile in they never fully returned to God. John’s appearance and location set him the liminal space of the wilderness, apart from Jerusalem society. He stands in the Jordan River, where Israel also would have crossed into the land as they returned. The place of baptism in the Jordanmay draw the reader’s attention to the fresh start crossing the Jordan into the land represented for Israel.
 vv. 7-10 is a description of the Pharisees, Sadducees and others coming to John for baptism. John confronts them with a message of repentance that specifies the repentance must include acts of righteousness that demonstrate their repentance. The reference “God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham” may draw the readers attention to the 12 stones piled at the Jordan when Israelentered the land under Joshua’s leadership. The implication is that even stones can be made into children of Abraham. The difference is their acts have to reflect the righteousness characteristic of true repentance and change.

A brood of vipers refers to a hole in ground where snakes would lay eggs and cover them with dirt for incubation. The newly hatched snakes would remain in the ground undetected by those passing by. A misstep into such a nest could be fatal. The threat is unseen; the passerby thinks the ground is safe, but it is not.The reference to cutting down plants that do not bear fruit is a common analogy used throughout Matthew (for example 7:16-20, 13:24-30). vv 11-12presents John comparing himself to “the one coming.”  The comparison is based on a greater than/ lesser than logic. John is lesser because he baptizes with water; the one coming is greater because he baptizes because he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John is lesser because he is not worthy to carry the sandals of the one coming. John announces judgment, the one coming is actually able to bring judgment.
 vv 13-17 draws a comparison between Jesus and the Sadducees/ Phar and between Jesus and John. Note the way that the Sadducees and Pharisees are greeted vs. how Jesus is greeted. (see worksheet) The comparison between Jesus and John involves John putting himself as the lesser in Jesus’ presence. Jesus’ enigmatic response allowing John to baptize him is said to “fulfill all righteousness.” How is this to be understood? Does Jesus need to be baptized in the same way others do? John’s is a baptism of repentance; is this what Jesus thinks he needs to do?
Repentance doesn’t only mean turning from inappropriate action, but also involves going in the direction you ought to be going. Jesus aligns himself with God’s purposes. The dynamics between John and Jesus would seem to indicate that part of God’s purpose is for J not to take the greater position but to place himself in the subservient position to John.  This is a crucial, initial assertion that we will see reiterated through Mt’s gospel, which links righteousness to a reversal of power relationships, and Jesus being the faithful, humble servant. Immediately following this action, the divine voice announces affirmation of this action and of Jesus’ identity as beloved son. This is what is expected of the son.

Check out these fish in the Jordan River, who nibbled at my feet (or somebody did(:...)as a pastor from Africa and I baptized some folks in the Jordan River:

Watch Dave's 2-part video on testation

Then watch Ray Van Der Laan's

video "Into The Desert To Be Tested"
Watch it by clicking 

here (You'll need to be

signed in to Moodle.  If it doesn't work, you may need to be signed into Firefox and have downloaded the free VLC videolan player here.
Problems playing? Call FPU COL here)

(Note: it may help to use the study guide here, especially the outline on page  132)

-- Just as we might see the theme of "subversion of empire" (remember Matthew 2:1 and  the video, "In The Shadow of Herod") being repeated, recast and remixed throughout Matthew's gospel..

We might also suggest that the same three temptations Jesus faced in Chapter 4 were

              recast and
                            remixed throughout the rest of the gospel, at different points in Jesus' life...

 --------------the baptism of Jesus  (chapter 3) and the temptations (chapter 4) should be read together as one literary unit or paragraph 

Especially helpful is the suggestion by Donald Kraybill ("The Upside Down Kingdom") and Ray Van Der Laan  that throughout  his earthly life, Jesus was revisited by remixes of the original three temptations ("testations" ) of the devil"in chapter 4.

Kraybill provocatively proffers the following taxonomy of the temptations; suggesting that any later temptation Jesus faced (or we face) is at heart in one of these three spheres:

1=  Bread into stones: Economic 

2=Jump from temple and test God:Religious 

 3=Own all kingdoms: Political

Henri Nouwen ("in the Name of Jesus" )breaks it down this way:

1=  Bread into stones:  temptation to be relevant

 2=Jump from temple and test God:   temptation to be spectacular  

3=Own all kingdoms: Political  temptation to be rule over

So, it may be useful to plot out various temptations along your life timeline, and ask which of Jesus' temptation are each is  tied to.

Nouwen himself,  one of the most profound writers on the temptations of Jesus, was both Catholic (gasp!) and struggled with homosexual temptation (!!!)..

And....Uh, on that last temptation, the homosexual one, he was in good company, according to a good Book I read:

"Jesus was tempted in every single way humans are..."(click here for the shocking source...but warning, it's a dangerous book for religious folk!) 

SO..if every temptation can be filed under one of the three categories:

Economic    Religious   Political..

Relevant    Spectacular   Rule over

..under which does sexual temptation occur?

Note Rob Bell's definition of "sexuality," biblically defined:

"For many, sexuality is simply what happens between two people involving physical pleasure. But that's only a small percentage of what sexuality is. Our sexuality is all the ways we strive to reconnect with our world, with each other, and with God." (Rob Bell, "Sex God," p. 42)...

How might virtually all temptations (the three Jesus faced, or others you could name) be fundamentally economic?  Kraybill, you'll remember, calls the bread temptation "economic," but how might any/all others temptations trace to this root/'garbage"?
HINT: We noted that he term economics comes from the Ancient Greekοἰκονομία (oikonomia, "management of a household, administration") from οἶκος (oikos, "house") + νόμος (nomos, "custom" or "law"), hence "rules of the house(hold)".[1

Note  that the baptism of Jesus  (chapter 3) and the temptations (chapter 4) should be read together as one literary unit or paragraph ( a "coupling" or "particularization") as two items connected.

Remember how important repeated words this case,  "SON":


-The segue is direct..."Then after his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit  into the desert for temptation by the devil."  (Matt. 4:1)

-In light of that, ask In what other ways do the baptism and temptation connect?
How does baptism prepare for temptation?

NOTE: we'll use (as Van Der Laan does) 
 drop-down box 
for the biblical word
which could be translated
Temptation                               and/or                                           Test

This of course makes it possible to create a fuzzy set, and call it a


NOTE: a drop-down box  also in the temptation  scene:

The devil's text ,

you are the son of God.."

might better be translated
(according to the Greek word used) as:

you are the son of God.."

What difference might it make?  Is the devil wondering/questioning asking Jesus if he is son of God?  Or is he assuming it; he and Jesus both know that he is...and thus "Since you are the Son of God, what kind of ways can I tempt you to use/abuse that Sonship?"
Van Der lann, in "Jesus Our Desert – The Three Temptations") proposes that the three "temptations" Jesus met in Matthew 4 were the same three  that show up  (repackaged, revisited) throughout Jesus' timeline on earth...right up to, and especially including the cross (as in, not avoiding it) .Several examples:

  • Jesus put God ahead of family ("Who are my brothers and sisters?"  "Whoever loves father and mother more than me cannot be my disciple."-Matthew fact, how many ways can you find in that whole chapter  where Jesus re-encounters versions of one of the testations?
  • When people reported Herod wanted to kill him, he was not concerned (Luke 13)
  • When people wanted to make him king by force, he walked away  (John 6:15)
  • When the crowds were hungry, the disciples  wanted Jesus to feed them.  He refused (Feeding of the Multitude)
  • The "get behind me, Satan" comment to Peter when Peter suggested Jesus should bypass the cross (Matthew 18)
  • "go ahead and use Your power; the cross is going to hurt" 



The  Van Der Laan video offered lots of help on how the Testations of Jesus are related to/equated to/hyperlinked to the Testations of Israel in Exodus, Numbers. Deuteronomy.  It is no accident that all three testations of Jesus were found in different form in the OT, as well as the Scriptures Jesus used to counter the testations.

Though it is obvious who "The Son (of God)" is in Matthew (Jesus), unless we know the literary/historical background, we miss that in the Old Testament, that phrase is used for Israel/God's people.   (see  Exodus 4:22-23 and especially the way Matt 2:15 quotes Hosea 11:1) Thus...remember this chart :

Now we realize that God tested/the devil tempted the first "SON" in a similar way.
Jesus the Son succeeds (in 40 days) in "reversing the curse" that Israel the Son inherited by not passing it (in 40 years).

Jesus is not only (in a sense) the
New Moses,
 but (in a sense) the New Israel
 (for help on that important point, see this  article,
and this).

VanDer Laan suggested that the heart of Jesus' "success" was consistently  and persistently keeping the "Shema,"   and not caving into a (mis)use of power.  This is the "binder" of the testations: Love God and neighbor.Thus

Q).Who is Jesus in Matthew?
A.) The One who, unlike Israel, passed the wilderness testations by loving God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength....and refusing to give into using "right-handed"  (a la Capon) power.
VanderLaan prefers to translate "tests" instead of "temptations."
You have seen that I have coined the word "testations"  It would seen that in Scripture that God tests, and the devil tempts...and sometimes both are going on simultaneously. 

HERE are some helpful questions you might think about if you want to pursue this topic::

  • 1)What were the three temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, Compare any ways Mark's account,  Mark 1:12-13  and  Luke's account, Luke 4:1-13 differ, and suggest any reasons why.
  • 2)How does Nouewen summarize the three temptations(1=to be relevant  2=to be spectacular 3=to rule over). H?  How do you (use your own words)?
  • 3)How do the three temptations connect to the historical and literary world of the Hebrew ("Old')Testament?
  • 4)How do the three temptations connect to the contemporary world of Jesus and the disciples?
  • 5)List and discuss several possible ways that versions of the three temptations reoccur and are revisited  throughout Jesus' life in Matthew's gospel?  (How is Jesus tested/tempted elswhere in Matthew, and how are the temptations versions of a similar one (two, or three) that he faced in the original temptation passage?  (see Kraybill, p. 34)
  • 6)What are the three core temptations you face, and how have they revisited you  throughout your timeline?  How would you categorize them using Nouwen's categories?  Using the three categories of the "Shema"  (heart/mind/might) a la  Vander Laan'?  Using Kraybill's three categories (1=Economic 2=Religious  3=Political; see chapters 1-4 of "Upside Down Kingdom")
  • 7)What have you learned about passing these tests/resiisting these temptations?
  • 8)What does all of this  (the Matt 4 Scripture, and testing/tempting) have to do with the Kingdom?
  • 9)Discuss how the passages that deal with Jesus not being immune to temptation( Hebrews 2:17-18Hebrews 4:14-16,  and Hebrews 5:7-9) affect your views of  "Who is Jesus?" and of Jesus' divinity and humanity.

It has been moving,, revelational and (even) fun to, have students plot out (on the whiteboard) their life timeline (ups and downs).  Here's what a few cohorts have looked like.

Imagine your timeline, its ups and

 downs, and ask  how you have been revisited throughout your 

life with  different remixes of the same core temptations at different points

Notes from  FPU faculty Camp/Roberts:

There are 3 temptations which parallel the groups with whom Jesus interacts in MatthewFamished - provide food – crowdsUpon temple - protection - leadersseize world - authority - disciplesWhat is it that each group expects, and how does Jesus meet that expectation, both here and later?  It is important that these are real temptations.  What would be the result of each if Jesus failed?  Tie in the expectation from Isaiah 53. What kind of Christ was expected? Will Jesus prove worthy (a true Son)? The temptations represent and initial test, much like an academic pre-test. Jesus will be tested during his ministry on these same issues by the three groups.

Famished - provide food – crowds
Upon temple - protection - leaders
           seize world - authority - disciples
 The temptation to satisfy physical needs is a very real and necessary temptation. The temptation account does not denigrate this need, but raises the question of what it means to be fully human. Rulers in the ancient world would often provide bread for people to keep them under control, while not treating them as fully human in other ways. Jesus’ response to Satan is that there is more to being human than meeting physical needs. It also includes being able to make choices about life, where one might need to defer gratification or make choices to the detriment of one’s physical well-being (i.e. selling possessions, death on a cross). Jesus does do miracle which do address real physical needs (food, healing). But he also challenges people in the crowds to go beyond equating physical, material well-being with being fully human.
 The second temptation to leap from the temple has 2 components, The first is to draw attention to himself in the center of Jewish life, thereby gaining the approval of the temple leaders. The second aspect involves having the authority to call upon angels to protect him. The temptationis to use authority as a means to demonstrate one’s power and privilege. In Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, temple authorities, he is most frequently questioned about his authority to represent God, and is repeatedly asked to provide a sign demonstrating that authority. Jesus steadfastly refuses to do so. Jesus will not ‘force’ God to provide a sign of Jesus authority beyond the faithfulness Jesus himself demonstrates. The accusations at Jesus’ trial hinge on this question of authority. The third temptation is to receive power without effort. It would entail bowing down to Satan. There is no equal exchange of goods, with Jesus receiving kingdoms in exchange for bowing to Satan. Rather, in the ancient world bowing down indicates a permanent subservient relationship. Satan is offering the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus will submit to Satan’s will and way of doing things. This temptation is linked to the disciples, who frequently are seeking greatness, seats of authority and power, exalted places in Jesus’ kingdom. They are confronted by Jesus about the true cost of gaining those positions.  -Camp/Roberts

mighty deeds


 Note: Matthew doesn't call them "miracles" or "signs"   

en Mighty Deeds

 In all JCC classes, we call these "mighty deeds"  In this article below, you'll see David Bauer calls them "mighty acts"/  What's interesting is Matthew calls them this, and not "miracles" (as some other writers do, or "signs" as (John's gospel does.)  This is in one sense a "drop-down box," but also is on purpose.  Any thoughts on why?

And what do the deeds witness to?  How is Jesus able to do these deeds?  What are they "signs" of/to?
From FPU faculty Camp/Robets:

It is time to consider one aspect of Jesus’ public ministry: the wonders & mighty deeds. This section in chapters 8-9 of Matthew comes immediately after the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7.  Traditionally, these acts have been called “miracles,” which potentially predisposes the reader toward a particular understanding that is not necessarily represented in the gospel.  Mark calls them “deeds of power.”  Luke calls them “deeds of power” and “paradoxes.”  John calls them “signs.”  Matthew calls them “wonders” and “mighty deeds.”  Each gospel differs in the number of stories they tell.  Matthew, Mark and Luke all have around 20, John only 7.  All have some which are unique to their gospel and some which appear in others.  As we learned this morning, each gospel is different.  Even in talking about the same event, the writers will emphasize different things.  By Matthew’s characteristic description of these actions as “wonders” or “mighty deeds,” one question to keep in mind is cui bono? or for whose benefit?  On one level, Jesus is serving and ministering to people.  On another level, throughout the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is constantly locked in a power struggle.  With whom is the conflict in these chapters?

Discussion: LOOK AT PAGE 9 at this link.

1.   What kind of mighty deed?

a.    Healing. Most are healings of physical disability (in all gospels around half of miracles are healings!)  The ailments are permanent and limiting; these are not healings of a common cold.

b.   Exorcisms.

c.    Resuscitations. (Explain not a resurrection, keep same body and will die again.)

d.    Other, misc., ‘nature’

2.   What is the context for the mighty deed?

A quick survey of settings should show there is no predictable place, person, or situation.

3.   How does Jesus perform the mighty deeds? (method)

Jesus’ method is difficult to categorize - sometimes touches, sometimes not, sometimes because asked, sometimes he seeks out, sometimes because of faith, (sometimes faith seems to result, but usually not in Matthew or other Synoptics). Jesus’ method is not formulaic. In thinking of healings and exorcisms today we often seem concerned over having the right formula, saying the right words. But there is no one formula or method that Jesus uses. At points it is hard to categorize or generalize about the mighty deeds, but Jesus has this enigmatic quality in general, so no real surprise.

4.   What is the response? (limit to recorded response in text)

a.    Varied

General reactions of the crowd are amazement, wonder, fear and glorifying God. Response of persons healed is to tell everyone they can find, even when Jesus has told them not to do so. After Jesus turns the water to wine John records “and his disciples believed in him.” What does this mean? Some of the mighty deeds involve demons, and upon their immediate recognition of Jesus as the Holy One of God Jesus silences them. The Pharisees, either when they see or hear about the mighty deeds, are incensed and counsel against him.

b.    Raise questions about who Jesus is (his identity)

What they reveal about his identity is that he has power from God—that is how he explains how he can do what he is doing, and that is why he is such a problem for the religious leaders (doing things only God or the power of God can do). Be careful, mighty deeds do NOT reveal Jesus’ divinity. Other people in the Bible do miracles and they are not divine (Moses, Elijah). And many would say mighty deeds and wonders happen today, but the person who God uses to make them happen is not thought divine, but is simply thought to have God’s power, being used by God.

5.   Why does Jesus perform this mighty deed? (Limit to purpose recorded in text, if any)

Jesus’ motivation is often left unassigned. We draw our own conclusions. Jesus responds to people who come to him and ask for healing, either verbally or by virtue of their being where he is. People are always bringing the sick and possessed to Jesus. It is NOT to draw crowds. Mighty deeds do bring the attention of the public, but this cannot be the primary reason, if it is a reason at all, because Jesus does some in private, silences some recipients, refuses to do them on command. The feeding of the 5000 happens because the crowd has gathered while listening to his teaching, not because he was doing mighty deeds. In general, Jesus does not seem overly concerned with PR. The relationship between faith and mighty deeds is complicated. That Jesus did these solely to generate faith is not an adequate answer when we look at these stories in Matthew—more often faith is a precondition rather than a result (in Synoptics).

6.  What does Matthew emphasize in the stories of Jesus’ “mighty deeds”?    

It is best to try to make sense of purpose in the broader context of each Gospel. Jesus’ mighty deeds are closely connected to the kingdom of heaven and to Jesus’ teaching/proclamation in Matthew. We mostly see Jesus teaching/preaching and doing mighty deeds together. They are presented as a manifestation of the kingdom. The kingdom is present in Jesus’ words and deeds. Faith is usually a precondition (vs. result) for miracles in the Synoptics. The connection between faith and struggle appears frequently in these stories. Faith is demonstrated when one who is seeking a mighty deed encounters a barrier and overcomes it.


Earlier in this course, the case was made that the miracles are connected with the first temptation that addresses whether the definition of wholeness in God’s kingdom is limited to physical well-being. The miracle narratives demonstrate clearly that Jesus responds to physical needs and that these are important. But it is also important to note that these accounts move beyond being limited to physical well-being to a fuller-orbed sense of wholeness (restored hand, can work; leper can be around people). Also, these reflect the limits of the Roman peace, the realities of malnutrition, difficult working settings which may lead to injury, no’ social services’ etc.

Why does Matthew tell us miracle stories about Jesus?

a. Jesus’ miracles are closely connected to Jesus’ teaching/proclamation in Matthew. We see Jesus teaching/preaching and doing miracles together mostly (summary statements that Jesus taught, preached, healed in 4.23-25, 9.35-38).

b. Faith is usually a precondition (vs. result) for miracles in Mt. 

c. Mt’s concern to show Jesus asfulfilling scripture is evident in the way he handles the miracle stories. Jesus’ healing ministry is underscored in Mt’s gospel (4.23; 9.35; 10.1, 7-8;  12.15-16; 14.14; 15.30; 10.2; 21.14-15), as healing is one of the most striking aspects of the prophcied messiah’s ministry.  Mt identifies specific prophecies as fulfilled via miracle in his gospel:  Mt 1:22-23 explains the virgin conception fulfills Is 7.14.  Mt 8.17 explains Jesus’ exorcisms and healings fulfill Is 53.4.  Jesus’ miracles in Mt 11.5 correspond to the miracles described in Is 29.18-19, 35.4-5, 61.1.

d. Miracles show God’s power and God’s kingdom

They show that Jesus is God’s anointed, that he has been anointed with God’s power/Spirit.

Jesus’miracles are one mode of God's assertion of the power of the kingdom.  The kingdom in fullness still future, but has become reality in J's words and works. 

What is striking about Jesus as a miracle worker is its de-emphasis.  It is debatable that we ever see Jesus perform a mighty deed to demonstrate his power for his own sake.  Miracles are performed for the restoration of the person and to the glory of God, rather than as proof of anything.  Jesus miracles are in fact generally recognized as glorifying God not Jesus, just as Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God not of himself.  The deeds are signs of the in-breaking of the kingdom, it is true, but they are not the only or "best" sign.  Striking is the restraint of the gospel writers in recording the miracles.  There is little made of them (they simply describe them and go on), and so one must conclude that while these deeds were one aspect of Jesus' ministry they were not its essence or climax.  The miracles are done as a sign of the kingdom of God breaking in, the reality of God's kingly rule present.

Jesus' miracles show God's power and God's kingdom.  How, in relationship to the 4 kinds of miracles we've identified in the gospels? 

i. resurrections show God's power over life and death.             

            ii. healings and exorcisms show God's power as well, and beyond that are unquestionably tied to the coming of the kingdom.  Isaiah talks about coming age of healing when kingdom comes in fullness all will have full healing.  Jesus heals some but not all--genuine manifestation of kingdom, of power of God, but not fullness.  J's mighty works aimed at restoration and release: leper was unclean, unable to mingle. body is healed but person also restored to fellowship with people. (J's table fellowship restores those who are outcast) woman with flow of blood is ritually unclean, cut off from all that is important in Judaism.  Demoniac is unable to relate, uncontainable.  Exorcism restores him to a state of mind which allows him to relate to people, relate to the community.  The kinds of cures in J's healing miracles  are restorative.  They heal conditions which were debilitating, limiting, marginalizing.  People are often made whole in a way that allows them back into the community, so that they are no longer unclean or no longer have to beg but may work and contribute.  The healings and exorcisms reveal the kingdom as an whole, inclusive community.

iii. The last category, of "misc" miracles is where the teaching connection is the most clear I think.  There is symbolic meaning in Jesus' miracles too--they are signs which reveal something about who Jesus is (the one who brings the kingdom) and about the shape of the kingdom itself.  These misc miracles have an "object lesson" quality I think.  Feeding of 5000, J is bread of life.  There is this symbolic thing in the miracles too, the place where the teaching of the kingdom is most visibly a part of what the miracles are accomplishing--Jesus teaching in word and deed, sometimes in these mighty miraculous works.
-by Camp/Roberts


kenosis (Greek word for self-emptying):


In thinking about  living selflessly like Jesus did...

fill in this blank:
The Scripture suggests that Jesus was able to do miracles, and have 

supernatural knowledge, because he was ___________.

Here are some answers students have given:
If you answered "God" ...
and not 'human (trusting in God)" on:

Some theologians call this "Spirit Christology" or "kenosis",  whether or not  this proposed theology is consistently true. If it is, it would almost move this question into the realm of "essential" doctrines, because it then provides the very key to how we are to live in relation to daily Christian life, walking in the power and possibilities of the Spirit; doing the "greater works than Jesus" that Jesus flatly and unapologetically predicted we would do. Now, not every proponent of "Spirit Christology" or "kenosis theology" is biblical or orthodox, so hear me when I say that I know I don't agree with everyone using these categories. The basic argument would be this; to put it bluntly, as one preacher did for shock value:

"Jesus did nothing on earth as God! "

Wow, better unpack that! Now, that statement doesn't have to imply He was not God.. He was, is and always will be fully God in my Book! It's just that He didn't. during His earthly ministry, anything out of His innate, inherent and intrinsic Godhood. He voluntarily surrendered the rights to use and access His God hood's attributes... such as omniscience, or power to do mighty miracles. Several
Scriptures come into play: John 5:19 and 30 offer that Jesus did nothing in and of Himself, but only did what the Father and Spirit told/led/empowered Him to do. Philippians 2:6-11 asserts that Jesus didn't take advantage of, or even access of the rights and power of His Godhood, which would be "robbery," and a violation of the whole point of His incarnation; His coming to earth. Instead of functioning out of His eternal power and prerogative as Almighty God, He "emptied Himself". A by-product of this, is as Hebrews affirms "Jesus know every temptation we have endured by His own experience" (2:18 and 4:15). I also love to shock congregations by asking "When Jesus did miracles on earth, how was He able to do those miracles?" Well-trained evangelicals of course automatically answer, "Because He was God!" When actually, that may be the wrong answer all together. Of course He was God, no debate. But the only Scriptural answer to "How did He do those miracles?" is "in the power of the Spirit". And witness Matt. 12:28: He cast out demons; not because He was God and could do so, but as a human "by the power of the Spirit." Thus, that is the "key" key, crucial catch, and ancient but overlooked secret as to how we, mere humans, are to do the same works He did, even greater. (Jesus said that, not me. Blame Him: John 14:12) 

Answer: We do them through "checking in" with the same Father Jesus checked in with while on earth; and trusting,...radically; to the point where the supernatural almost becomes natural and norm... the same Spirit Jesus trusted. (Note Jesus, a few sentences later, suggests that is His secret, and ours. He simply passes the torch to us, but not without the sharing the same equipping Holy Spirit: verses 16-17).Such deep trust and dependency doesn't make us Jesus, of course, but they do position us to trust the timing and voice of the Father, and prompting and power of the Spirit, as radically as Jesus did...with similar and "even greater" results! If JESUS never did anything in and of Himself (John 5:19 and 30), who do we think WE are?

When Jesus asked, in Mark 5:30, "Who touched me?," did He mean it, or was this a test? If "Spirit Christology" is true, one could answer the former, without sacrificing an iota of essential, foundational evangelical theology. When Jesus said even He (Matthew 24:36) did not know the day or hour of His return, was that a lie?. No, and this "lack of knowledge" on the part of a member of the all-knowing Trinity poses no problem. I would propose that He knows now, but He chose not to know on earth. This was all part of His modeling a complete self-emptying. This, though, is core to my third question:" How consistent and complete is this theology.? Did Jesus ever do anything 'on earth as God', even though He was God? And Lord, is this profound truth so profound that to miss it allows us to miss the 'normal' life you have intended for us?"

Whatever the ultimate answer to this question the Lord would give me, the bottom line question I keep hearing in the meantime. and "real time" is haunting: "Have I yet trusted as completely and recklessly as I could in the leading of the Father and the power of the Sprit? I almost don't even care if I do a greater work or not, I just want to be found faithful, and be an answer to Jesus' wild and waiting prophecy of John 14:12. 

I love Dwight Edwards' penetrating, "must-be- wrestled- with" self-questions :

1. What have I done recently that could not be duplicated by an unbeliever, no matter how hard they tried?

2.What blatant evidence of the supernatural God has leaked out of my life?

Questions indeed!

Craig Keener on miracles:


Extra credit?

Remember, when we talk about tHE Kingdom in the Bible

the Kingdom that

  • Kingdom of     God
  • Kingdom of     heaven

is itself a drop-down-box.

Both refer to the same reality.

You  may remember from your reading why the two terms, and why only Matthew uses the first.

In fact, the first person to post in the comments below this post the reason why wins a prize,