Tag Archives: Messiah

Can I Do It or Not?

Illustration by jbrown67 (DeviantArt)


Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28 


Mark barely began his Gospel account when he recorded Jesus violating the Law of Moses. Granted, most of the people in the synagogue did not consider what Jesus did as work, but it was a violation. Healing is not to be done on the Sabbath unless the person’s life is in danger. The man possessed by a demon could wait until Sunday to be healed.

As a follower of the Messiah, I need to understand why Jesus would say—in Matthew 5—Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill themNIV and then violate the Law. Not once, but many times. He even did it again that same day by healing Peter’s mother-in-law. The other healings in the next verses were accomplished after sundown, meaning Sunday on the Jewish system, so were legal.

There is no easy answer. Accepting that Jesus is the Son of God simplifies the problem somewhat. But, accepting that Jesus was the fully human Messiah complicates the issue even more.

One of the most basic Christian concepts about Jesus is that he came, in part, as a shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd. In Jesus’ day, and in some parts of the world today, a shepherd worked all day, every day—even sleeping with the sheep at night. So, why would the Good Shepherd refuse to tend his flock on Shabbat?

Paul dealt with a similar issue in his letter to the church at Corinth. The Law of Moses considered all food used to worship false gods to be an abomination. The Jews living in Corinth, therefore, never bought meat from anyone who might be selling left-overs from such sacrifices.

One special worship days—with all the gods there were plenty of them—meat would be piled up and offered at fire-sale prices (pun intended). The poor could afford to buy some of that meat, something they could not do most days. What they wanted Paul to tell them was that it was all right to eat the cheap meat.

Paul answered much the way Jesus would have. It is not easy to think that we “know” over problems like this, but we should remember that while knowledge may make a man look big, it is only love that can make him grow to his full staturePhillips Paul also made it clear that the meat sacrificed to an idol is just as pure as any other meat, because idols are nothing.

Paul might have said something like this: if a store owner says he worships money, my buying his produce does nothing to me in my relationship to God. The owner may have to answer to God, but not me.

Every forum (marketplace) in the Roman Empire collected a fee to shop there. It was actually an “offering” to the god Caesar. We do not know how Jews and Christians dealt with that in the First Century or what Paul had to say about it. I guess that he said, ‘We know Caesar is just a man and this is another tax, so pay the tax.’ Besides, when the Christian shopper looked at items in every shop, she also saw the idol representing that owner’s beliefs on display in the shop. In the early days, a Christian who boycotted such shops would have gone hungry and naked.

What is the bottom line? Jesus makes it clear that people come first. In all cases, ask what is best for the other person. If what I do may cause another person to become weaker in faith than I should not do it. I can argue that I have the right to do it, but that is not the Jesus way.

Always do what is best for those around us.

Here is a link to a good video about Corinth.



Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

1 Corinthians 2-6


I will be using the work of Kenneth E. Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, for much of this study on the letter to Corinth

Monday, June 9, Chapter 2

Paul has to make a point with the Greeks especially, but also with the Romans and to some extent the Jews and others.  The Greeks loved philosophies and philosophical speakers.  They loved a good, hard-nosed debate in the classical logical style.  Philosophers were the rock stars of Greece.  Paul wanted the Corinthians to understood that he stayed away from that kind of speaking when he was with him.  He wanted them to see the simplicity of the Cross of Christ.

He had just arrived from Athens where he was invited to speak on Mars Hill, the center of the intellectual world in the Empire.  He gave an impressive speech that juggled the logical Greek with the story style of Jews.  He successfully bridged two worlds.  He did not found a church that day in Athens, but the city was ready and became the home of today’s Orthodox Church.

Paul walked from there to the city of slaves and sailors and assured them he would not use the ivory tower language of Athens with them, only the language of the Cross.

Notice the pattern in verses 7-10.  In 7, God’s Wisdom is hidden, but in 10, it is revealed by the Spirit.  In the second half of 7, God destined His Wisdom for us and in the second half of 9 He prepared it for us.  In both 8 and 9, it is not understood by the people.  They would not have crucified the Lord of glory, is of the Cross, right in the center of these matching statements.  This is a pattern Paul uses throughout his letters.

In verse 11, Paul says we cannot know the thoughts of God.  Only the Holy Spirit can know those thoughts.  If we allow the Spirit to dwell in us, the Spirit will share that knowledge.  Verse 13 is the central statement that we share that knowledge of God with others who do not have the Spirit.

Paul is talking about the three parts of man and the three parts of God.  Humans are body, thoughts, and soul; or physical, mental, and spiritual.  We control all three, but in doing that, we are unable to communicate with God.  Only when we allow the Holy Spirit to replace our personal spirits can we know God.

Tuesday, June 10, Chapter 3

Go back and look at verse 1:4 where Paul is thankful for the gifts given.  Now, in 3:1-3 Paul is saying that they failed to take in the gifts.  The divisions and infighting are sure signs that the Holy Spirit has not taken over the worldly spirits.

Had they been filled with the spirit they would be showing love to one another, not jealousy.  Let me quote from Kenneth E. Bailey.  As children of the Enlightenment we have largely come to see the acquiring of truth as a head trip, and that a good mind and a willingness to work hard is all that is required to understand any form of truth, including theological truth.  Paul disagrees.  He was not willing to feed the Corinthians the “solid food” of theology because of broken relationships in their community….

The ancient Eastern churches did not have scholars or theologians, but rather “Fathers of the church.”  The assumption behind that language is:  Only when we see the authenticity of your piety, and your commitment to the church, will we take your scholarship seriously.

Read Isaiah 28:9 and apply it to Paul as a father feeding the Corinthians milk.

Paul tells them it does not matter who plants the seed, it comes from God.  He uses images that come from Isaiah 41:19; 44:3-4; 60:20; and 61:3.  You Corinthians need to grow and fill out the image of that which was planted within you.

Paul calls himself a diakonos, a minister/servant.  He uses the same term for Apollos, Phoebe, and Timothy.  He has no ownership of the people or the church, he is their servant.

In verse 5, Paul uses the image of farming and the farm, changing in verse 9 to buildings.  What we add to the foundation will be shown on the day of Christ’s return, be it gold or straw (verse 13).

Verses 16-17 make up the central thought of this section.  We, you and I, are the Third Temple.  God dwells within us.

Theodore of Mopsuestia (410 AD) writes:  The one who believes in Christ receives the Holy Spirit, who dwells in him by the washing of rebirth, and thus he is spiritual.  But if such people then turn around and serve worldly passions, in that respect they are carnal.  Paul says that those who have become spiritual according to their confession of faith may nevertheless still live as though they were carnal so as to become an insult to the Holy Spirit who dwells in them.

Ambrosiaster adds (370 AD):  Paul says this in order to prick the consciences of those who have corrupted their bodies through evil living, especially the man who was having an affair with his father’s wife.

Paul ends the chapter and begins the next with one parallelism.  It was the style of much of the Old and New Testaments.  Jesus used parallelism in his parables and Paul uses it throughout his letters.  This particular one is called an inverted parallelism because the lines that match one another end up looking like the March Madness bracket


A  18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this            age,he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.  19 For the wisdom of this          world is foolishness in God’s sight.


B  As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord                       knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”  21 So then, no more boasting about               men!


C  All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or                           death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and                             Christ is of God.


D1  4:1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those                                              entrusted with the secret things of God.  2 Now it is required that those                                            who have been given a trust must prove faithful.


D2  3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I                                          do not even judge myself.  4 My conscience is clear, but that does not                                                make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.


D3  5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord                                           comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose                                           the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise                                               from God.


C’  6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your                                   benefit,


B’  so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what                   is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.


A’  7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not               receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?


Notice how A’ is a part of A or built on A.  That is parallelism.  The center three statements are of equal value, matching ideas rather than a building of ideas.  In parables, the center is often the central point, even the climax of the story.  With Paul in this letter, it is the Cross several times.

Wednesday, June 11, Chapter 4

Paul’s whole argument for the Corinthians is that they assumed only Paul knew the truth, or only Apollos, just as we often believe that only Baptists or Methodists or Lutherans or Catholics have the truth.  Either we belong to Paul or to God, not both.

Starting in verse 8, Paul cranks out the sarcasm.  It is a small parallelism with 8 and 10 matching and 9 the center.  It is all sarcasm.

Yet the center contains an image of Christ.  When a Roman general returned to Rome from a successful battle, the parade would always end with the captives in chains who would then be executed for the public’s enjoyment.  That is what Paul is referring to, and it is what happened to Jesus, marched through the streets to a public execution.

Paul reminds us, backhandedly, that we should suffer with God.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in a letter from prison:  Christians stand by God in God’s suffering, and that distinguishes Christians from Pagans.  Could you not keep awake with me one hour? Jesus asks in Gethsemane.  This is the reversal of everything a religious person expects from God.  Human beings are called to suffer with God’s own suffering caused by the godless world.

In Philippians 3:10, expresses the idea more strongly.

In verses 11-13, Paul speaks of the Apostles as traveling preachers in the language of Isaiah 58:7.  And then in verse 16 he says to imitate him.  Imitate the way he follows Christ.  Imitate his willingness to suffer for Christ, even to die for him.

Verse 17 actually begins the new essay, this on sexual immorality.  He tells them he is sending Timothy, and they would understand that Timothy carried a stick and a carrot.  They could choose which it would be.  Timothy is to lead them back into the way that Paul first taught them.

But he also tells them he is coming soon to deal with the arrogant people and he will bring the whip.  Take care of the problem now, before I get there.  That is a threat and a promise.

Thursday, June 12, Chapter 5

Given the nature of the City of Corinth, it should surprise no one that sexual immorality was so common, even in the church.  This chapter will give us a description of the problems they faced and chapters 6-7 will get into some solutions.

Paul opens verse 1 with a strong statement: Everyone is reporting to me.  The Old Testament penalty for immorality is stoning.  It is one of the BIG sins and Paul wants it taken care of NOW!

People in the church were saying, I am saved, so I am free.  If I am free, then nothing I do is a sin.

Paul has heard that a man is having sex with his father’s wife.  Even Paul cannot come up with strong enough words to express his disbelief at this action.  AND the man is proud.  No wonder Paul called some arrogant.

In verses 3-5, Paul is saying the man must be excommunicated, kicked out of the church.  He is not a follower of Christ.  Perhaps living with the Devil again will remind him he needs to repent.

In verse 9, Paul mentions a letter already sent to the church.  That letter has been lost.  There seems also to have been a letter written between what we call the first and second letters.  This church was so troubled that Paul sent a stream of letters to help them.  We should also note that church leaders of the late first century and early second century wrote letters to struggling churches and many of them are preserved, but not considered scripture.

Paul does not tell us to avoid non-Christians; that would go against the Great Commission.  Rather, we are to avoid people within the church who are arrogantly sinning.

Friday, June 13, Chapter 6

Remember that Paul had an unfortunate experience with the court system while he was in Corinth, even though he was released.  It may be because Sosthenes is co-author that Paul is so upset that people in the church are going to court to resolve disagreements.  Instead of acting in a considerate, loving relationship, these people are acting like street thugs.

In verses 7-8, Paul tells them to throw in the towel, it is over for them.  Salvation will not be theirs because they take pride in their sins.  Verse 9 leaves no wiggle room.  And that is what you are.

Verse 12 is a powerful statement for the Corinthians, and for us; not everything is beneficial.  Sometimes Americans forget that freedom cannot be absolute.  I should not do anything that harms another person or anything that harms me.  I cannot harm the body of Jesus, for that is what I am.  I belong to my Master.  WWJD?


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

All That The Prophets Have Spoken




Acts 2:14a,36-41
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17

Adam is like the Messiah; both were born without sin and the bride for both is a part of their bodies.

Abel is like the Messiah in that he was righteous and he was murdered by his brother as the Messiah was murdered by his brothers.

The name of the Messiah is Yehoshua (Hebrew), meaning, God Saves.  (Matt. 1:21)

Noah is like the Messiah; he provides comfort and peace in a wicked world.  (Gen. 5:29)

Abraham is like the Messiah in his faith.  The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.  The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.  (Gal. 3:16)

Malachi (3:1) promised that a messenger would be sent to announce the coming of the Messiah.

Micah 2:12-13 describes the Messiah.  “I will surely gather all of you, Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.  I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people.  The One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out.  Their King will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.”

Gen 38:27-30 describes the Messiah breaking out.  When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.”  But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.  Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

Perez leads the way out of the womb into life.  The Messiah leads the way to life with God.

Perez was the ancestor of Nahshon, the prince of the tribe of Judah during the Exodus.  He always led the people as they wandered for forty years.

Perez brother, Zerah, means rising light, is like the Messiah who brings light to the world.

Ruth 4:18 records the generations of Perez down to David, son of Jesse.

The very word, “Generations,” in Hebrew is a sign of the Messiah.  It is written, right to left, as Heb

The first and last letters are “tav”, meaning a covenant or cross.  The second and fifth letters are “vav” meaning nail or secure.  Letter three is “lamed” meaning shepherd’s staff, leader.  And letter four is “dalet” meaning door or pathway.  The very meaning of the word when we read the individual letters is, the Messiah (Shepherd) leads through the doorway as promised in the covenant.

In addition, the above spelling occurs in Genesis 2:4, but the next eleven times the word appears in the bible, it is spelled Heb 2 with the second “vav” missing.  It is an imperfect spelling and the number eleven is considered an imperfect number.  That imperfection is corrected only in Ruth 4:18, the twelfth use of the word, when David is listed as the forerunner of the Messiah.

Matthew chapter 1 lists the generations of Jesus in three groups, three being a number of perfection.

Numbers 20:8.  “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

Moses, however, struck the rock, twice.  Because he failed to obey God he was not allowed to enter the land of milk and honey.  The Messiah has come to give us Living Water that will never cease.

A second lesson regarding Moses and the water:  Numbers 20:1-2, In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.  Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.

By verse 8, Moses became angry enough with the people that he sinned by striking the rock.  But the importance of Miriam’s death is twofold:  she was the prophet to Aaron’s priesthood and Moses’ kingliness.  The three together foreshadowed those three roles of the Messiah.  When the prophet died, the living water (Holy Spirit) dried up.  Yes, Moses did get water from the rock, but it was no longer the Living Water provided by the Spirit.  The Messiah returns with the Living Water.

There are a number of references to water throughout the Old Testament that often refer to the coming Messiah, such as Psalm 23:2.

The selection of a bride for Isaac by his father Abraham is the forerunner of God selecting the Bride of the Church for his Son, the Messiah.  As Rebecca had to be willing to reject the gods of her family, we have to be willing to reject our false gods and follow only the Messiah.

This abbreviated list is borrowed from Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah Vol. 1 by Dan and Brenda Cathcart.  There are dozens of others to study, all pointing to Jesus.  This is what Jesus spoke of as he walked along the road to Emmaus with Clopas (by tradition) and the other man.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence