In today’s episode we begin with politics and the President of the United States.
To be honest, I had hoped to get through this entire season without mentioning POTUS, but Detective Small believes there is a link between the Church and Trump.
On that point we agree.
Racism in the Church
Anyone who listened to this series last season knows about Detective Small’s background on race training.
We began this series talking about his experience doing training for the Presbytery, so it is no surprise that this retired trainer sees race as a big issue within the church.
Why did the religious leaders hate Jesus?
We then begin talking about the Bible and Jesus’ run in with the Pharisees.
You can follow along as we begin with the book of Matthew.
23 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
2 The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. 3 So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.
4 They pile heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and won’t lift a finger to help. 5 Everything they do is just to show off in front of others. They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels[a] for everyone to see. 6 They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places. 7 And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.
8 But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. 10 None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. 11 Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. 12 If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
13-14 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in.[b]
15 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble!
The parable of the sower
Then we discuss Christ’s parable of the sower.
It is one of my personal favorites.
This is found in Matthew 13:1.*
A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4 While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5 Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn’t very deep. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. 7 Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked the plants. 8 But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants produced a hundred or sixty or thirty times as much as was scattered. 9 If you have ears, pay attention!
10 Jesus’ disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you use nothing but stories when you speak to the people?”
11 Jesus answered:
I have explained the secrets about the kingdom of heaven to you, but not to others. 12 Everyone who has something will be given more. But people who don’t have anything will lose even what little they have. 13 I use stories when I speak to them because when they look, they cannot see, and when they listen, they cannot hear or understand. 14 So God’s promise came true, just as the prophet Isaiah had said,
“These people will listen
but never understand.
They will look and look,
but never see.
15 All of them have
Their ears are stopped up,
and their eyes are covered.
They cannot see or hear
If they could,
they would turn to me,
and I would heal them.”
16 But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear! 17 Many prophets and good people were eager to see what you see and to hear what you hear. But I tell you that they did not see or hear.
Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer
18 Now listen to the meaning of the story about the farmer:
19 The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message about the kingdom, but don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the message from their hearts. 20 The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. 21 But they don’t have deep roots, and they don’t last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
22 The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. But they start worrying about the needs of this life and are fooled by the desire to get rich. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 23 The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and understand the message. They produce as much as a hundred or sixty or thirty times what was planted.
24 Jesus then told them this story:
The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and scattered weed seeds in the field and then left.
26 When the plants came up and began to ripen, the farmer’s servants could see the weeds. 27 The servants came and asked, “Sir, didn’t you scatter good seed in your field? Where did these weeds come from?”
28 “An enemy did this,” he replied.
His servants then asked, “Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”
29 “No!” he answered. “You might also pull up the wheat. 30 Leave the weeds alone until harvest time. Then I’ll tell my workers to gather the weeds and tie them up and burn them. But I’ll have them store the wheat in my barn.”
After this we discuss Peter and Jesus as found in the book of Matthew chapter 13.
Many Catholics use this passage to justify the existence of the Catholic church.
We discussed this in more depth in the last episode.
See the following post for more details on Peter and “the rock”.
Who killed Jesus?
Our conversation then turns to the thorny topic of who killed Jesus.
The Bible clearly states, in Matthew 27,* what transpires after Jesus is arrested and put on trial.
Pilate Questions Jesus
11 Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words!” Jesus answered. 12 And when the chief priests and leaders brought their charges against him, he did not say a thing.
13 Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 14 But Jesus did not say anything, and the governor was greatly amazed.
The Death Sentence
15 During Passover the governor always freed a prisoner chosen by the people. 16 At that time a well-known terrorist named Barabbas[b]was in jail. 17 So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, “Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 Pilate knew that the leaders had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.
19 While Pilate was judging the case, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man. I have had nightmares because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. 21 Pilate asked the crowd again, “Which of these two men do you want me to set free?”
“Barabbas!” they replied.
22 Pilate asked them, “What am I to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?”
They all yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
23 Pilate answered, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.
24 Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands[c] in front of them and said, “I won’t have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!”
25 Everyone answered, “We and our own families will take the blame for his death!”
26 Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.
It is clear the Roman governor did not want to kill Jesus and the religious leaders did.
I think it is important to realize much blood has been split and anti Semitic groups have been formed based on this misunderstanding of the Bible.
Let me just say, for one, it is unfair to blame a whole group of people on the actions of their leaders.
Number two, and I think equally important, is the passage that proceeds this.
In Matthew 26, when Christ is arrested, his followers try to defend him, but he does something extraordinary in verse 52.
52 But Jesus told him, “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting. 53 Don’t you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? 54 But then, how could the words of the Scriptures come true, which say that this must happen?”
55 Jesus said to the mob, “Why do you come with swords and clubs to arrest me like a criminal? Day after day I sat and taught in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this happened, so that what the prophets wrote would come true.”
All of Jesus’ disciples left him and ran away.
As I point out, and Detective Small agrees, Jesus knew he was supposed to die.
It was his purpose.
In verse 53, he clearly states, if he wanted to live he could “ask my father… and he would…. send armies of angles”.
Then he says in verse 56 “all this happened so that what the prophets wrote would come true”.
So, no matter by whose hand, Jesus was determined to die the night he was arrested.
And he would not have allowed anyone to save him.
Faith of Jesus or in Jesus?
Detective Small explains we are save due to the faith of Jesus not the faith in Jesus.
Jesus’ faith in God is why we are saved.
Jesus’s faith in God is exemplified in John 6:38-40.*
38 I didn’t come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, 39 and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day.[a] 40 My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.
In Matthew he tells his followers:
33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
The Most Important Commandment
34 After Jesus had made the Sadducees look foolish, the Pharisees heard about it and got together. 35 One of them was an expert in the Jewish Law. So he tried to test Jesus by asking, 36 “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus answered:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[c] are based on these two commandments.
What does it mean to be born again?
Finally we end on the concept of rebirth through Jesus.
He spends some time explaining what it is to be born again and what it means to accept the word and get ever lasting life.
In John Chapter 4 Jesus speaks to a Samarian woman and asks her for water.
She questions the request saying Jews and Samarians are not to interact with each other.
Jesus explains of another type of water…
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. 14 But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
The concept of being born again comes from John 3.
In verses 1-10* Jesus described the Nicodemus, a Jewish leader,
There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2 One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above[a] before you can see God’s kingdom!”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
5 Jesus answered:
I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6 Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7 Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8 Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied:
How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things?
* translated from Contemporary English Version