Why How A Leper Is Healed Matters

What difference does it make how Jesus healed a leper? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our look at the Sermon on the Mount was meant to not just teach us good ethics, but good eschatology. Jesus is telling us how people in the Kingdom are supposed to live. Now continuing our look at eschatology, we will keep going through Matthew and see what we can see in there.

One truth that will hopefully come out for you is that eschatology and Christology are closely intertwined. Finding out about the Kingdom coming and already present shows you a lot about who Jesus is. If you have a heretical eschatology, you will also have a heretical Christology.

So Jesus comes down the mountain and there’s a leper wanting to be healed and Jesus agrees to heal Him. Now we know that Jesus could have healed by the saying of a word. He does this with the ten lepers in Luke. However, in this case, Jesus does something amazing. He touches the leper.

What makes this incredible is that leprosy was unclean and if someone touched a leper or if a leper touched someone, that someone would be unclean. If they touched an object, that object would be unclean. The leper spread uncleanliness wherever he went.

However, when Jesus touches the leper, Jesus does the opposite. He takes His cleanliness and passes it on to the leper without receiving the leper’s unclean status. Jesus is still fully clean and now, so is the leper. In doing this. Jesus is acting as a purifier apart from the temple. This is the kind of thing He means when He says one greater than the temple is here.

This is also not just healing of a disease. This is healing of a status. Jesus is allowing the leper to be reintegrated into society. Jesus is telling us that in the Kingdom, there will be no social outcasts because no one will have a reason to be outcast. Leprosy will not be part of the Kingdom. The only ones not in the Kingdom are those who wish to have nothing to do with the King.

Jesus wants these people in the Kingdom and when His kingdom comes, those artificial barriers will be gone. People will be able to enter the Kingdom freely and live in it with King Jesus. Jesus will not be contaminated by uncleanness because He is greater than it is. Jesus is the purifier that undoes uncleanness. The cross and resurrection will eventually show He does the same with sin.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Building A House

Upon what do you build a house? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount, He talks about how to build a house. He says if you hear His words and obey them, you build your foundation on the rock. If you hear and do not obey, you are building on sand.

Listeners would think of the temple.

The temple had that kind of strong foundation. Jesus is telling His listeners then about how to build a new temple. What will the new temple be founded on? The words of Jesus.

Take a moment to consider how Jesus is speaking. He doesn’t say “Thus sayeth the Lord” or anything similar. He speaks on His own behalf. We could understand if someone like Isaiah or Elijah gave this message and ended it with hearing the words from God. Jesus doesn’t do that. He says “My words.”

As discussed last time, either Jesus has a massive ego trip, or He’s severely deluded, or again, He is claiming to speak as God and He means it. God is the one responsible for the temple ultimately and Jesus is now claiming authority over a temple structure. This temple structure won’t be something physical. The language is metaphorical and the temple is built on His words instead.

This is why when the message ends, the people are amazed. Jesus speaks as one who has authority. The teachers of the law could teach, but they did not speak on their own behalf. They would reference numerous others to back their opinions and authority. Jesus didn’t do that, save for when He pointed to God Himself.

Just picture what you would think if a new nominee for pastor of your church got up and spoke the way Jesus did. It would be seen as super egotistical or severely deluded. Jesus did speak this way. Every thing He says and does leaves us with a reminder that we must question who He is at every point. What manner of man is this?

As we end the sermon and go on to see eschatology in the Gospels, that is the question we have to ask ourselves.

What manner of man is this?

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Coronavirus and vaccines.

Should you be scared of a vaccine? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is a growing concern I see from some people on Facebook about the possibility of a vaccine for Coronavirus. Keep in mind nothing I say here is meant to be taken as medical advice. At this point, I am speaking only from the idea of Biblical interpretation and theology. If your concerns with the possibility of a vaccine are medical, I cannot speak to that.

Some people are posting concerns about a vaccine being related to the Mark of the Beast and government control. Now readers of this blog know that I think an eschatology that treats the Mark of the Beast as a real future event instead of being fulfilled in the time of Nero is highly incorrect. However, that is not the tact that I am taking here.

Some people think that if you get the vaccine then you are either taking the mark or at least preparing to take the mark. Even reading Revelation from a futuristic perspective, this is nonsense. People who take the mark do so willingly, yes, but they also do so knowing that they are doing it in service to the Beast. One does not accidentally get the mark.

The mark of the beast is also seen as something unforgivable. Does anyone really think that someone will take a vaccine and then God will never forgive them for that? Folks. It would be bad enough to have bad eschatology. That’s just bad theology. That’s saying God would rather condemn you than to forgive you even though you are repentant.

This is one of the big problems with bad eschatology. It eventually leads to bad theology. How you see God is influenced by your eschatology and if you see God as unforgiving to you because you took a mark that you didn’t really know was a mark and want to scare other people into thinking they could accidentally fall outside of the realm of God’s forgiveness, that is a huge problem.

Note that in all of this, I have not once said this is wrong because Preterism is true, although if Preterism is true, this is certainly wrong. I have strove to argue against this on the grounds of futurism. Some of you reading this I am sure are futurists and don’t go this route and I am thankful for that. Please keep an eye on your brethren who think otherwise.

If you have purely medical concerns, I cannot address those again. I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. From a theological perspective though, don’t let fear of the Mark of the Beast keep you from getting yourself treated.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deliver Us From Evil

Why should we be delivered? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is some debate on if this passage means evil in general or the evil one, meaning the devil, in particular. For our purposes, it really doesn’t matter. That’s a great textual debate I have no wish to dive into. Let’s just sum it up. We are to be delivered in some way.

Note that this comes right after the part about leading us not into temptation. Temptation is always to something that we shouldn’t do. This is why James says that no one should say that God is tempting them. God will test us sometimes, but He does not tempt us.

This is also a reference then to the coming kingdom. We are to long for that time when the Kingdom comes so that evil will be abolished. We are to eagerly anticipate that. We see evil all around us and we want it to be gone. Praying this part of the prayer is asking for that to happen.

Yesterday I saw a little boy with crutches walking because of some condition I couldn’t identify. I immediately thought about what a great day to come when that boy is able to walk normally. I wondered about how it might be difficult in the future to see all the kids running and not be able to yourself. Would he have a problem with getting a girlfriend in the future and marrying and having kids? This isn’t to say a physical disability can’t keep you from that. My friend, J. Parker, wrote something on that yesterday.

Many of you reading this blog disagree with me on various points. Some of you disagree with me on Christianity. What all of us will agree with I am sure is that we all have a problem with the way the world is. We all want something to be different. It could be a minor thing or a major thing. It could be political, religious, spiritual, physical, etc.

When we ask us for us to be delivered, we are asking for rescue. We are asking for salvation. Salvation is about more than just us though. It’s asking for recreation of the whole world. We are not wanting us to just be evacuated from the planet so God can destroy it because “Well, it was a good idea at the time but evil ruined it so let’s go to plan B of Heaven.”

God made this world to be lived on and He hasn’t changed His mind. He made this cosmos for Him to dwell in and He hasn’t changed His mind. The plan has never once been scrapped. If anything, everything is going according to plan. This is God’s story. It’s not ours.

We all long for that world. We long for some sort of perfection. C.S. Lewis said that if I have a desire so strong that nothing in this world can meet it, maybe I was made for another world. That’s true of us. We all seek deliverance from evil. That’s why many of us fight it regularly and why superhero movies are so popular. We all want evil to be stopped.

Yet we can’t do it on our own. It will require God to truly eliminate evil. While we are to do our part, the prayer is asking for God to bring His kingdom so that evil can be finally abolished once and for all. We do not give up or surrender to evil, but we do realize we can’t fight it without God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

How does God rule? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When Jesus finished the sermon, either a centurion in Israel or his servants, and I suspect the latter, came to Jesus. The centurion wanted a paralyzed servant to be healed and requested Jesus to do it. Jesus offered to see him, but if my suspicion is correct, this guy had told his servants what to say. He’s not worthy to have Jesus in his house, but he is a man of authority and understands how authority works. If he says something to a servant in his house, it gets done.

What does this man understand? He knows what Jesus’s house is. Jesus’s house is all of creation. If He says something, it gets done. If He says “Be healed”, Jesus doesn’t have to be present. It just gets done. This is truly a very high view of Jesus and Jesus rightly says this is greater than even the people of Israel.

Maybe the centurion heard about the Sermon on the Mount.

Maybe the centurion heard that Jesus had said that God’s will should be done on Earth as it is Heaven. What that means is in God’s domain, what He says goes. No angel talks back to God or offers a rejoinder. “Did you think about this part?” Nope. He says it. It’s done.

When we pray for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, we are saying we want the same thing. We want it to be that if God says it, it happens on Earth as well. Now here’s the concern. When we pray this, do we really mean it?

Let’s face it. If we’re Christians, we all know the “Christian answer.” We all know what we’re supposed to say, but talk is cheap. I recently saw someone on Facebook said that they are honestly scared to suffer even if it means suffering for Christ. I admired that. It’s honest. It’s easy for us to say, “If I had to die for my faith in Jesus, I would do it.” It’s easy to say that until the gun is pointed at you or you’re about to be thrown to the lions or something of that sort.

Want an example? Consider Peter. Peter bragged that he was willing to die for Jesus. What happened a few hours later? “Never heard of Him!” Peter had the talk, but he didn’t have the walk and he suffered for it.

So when we say that we want God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, let’s see if we really want it. Do we really want to sacrifice our sins so God’s will can be done? Do we want to be willing to give up everything for God’s will to be done? Do we want to do the work of loving our neighbor as ourselves so God’s will can be done?

If we don’t, then when we say God’s will be done, then we do not really mean it. What we might mean is we want all the goodies that come with a Christian life, but we don’t want the pain and sacrifice required on our end. We don’t want to have to make ourselves uncomfortable or exert ourselves where we don’t have to. Please let the will of God be done, provided it doesn’t interfere with my Netflix time. Okay?

But if you want the will of God to be done, you will have to demonstrate that. That means sacrifice on your end. It means forgiving your neighbor even if they don’t deserve it, and they don’t. You don’t either. It means loving your neighbor even if they’re often a pain, because you’re often a pain as well to those around you. It means going through suffering regardless, because Jesus went through suffering for you and He definitely didn’t deserve it. It means not thinking about what you deserve, but thinking about what is good for the kingdom first.

If you can’t say those things, and that applies to me as well as it’s a struggle, then you don’t want the kingdom to come on Earth as it is in Heaven. Perhaps you are still more invested in your own personal kingdom. Perhaps you want your will on Earth more than you want God’s will.

Only you know that one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Turn The Other Cheek?

Should we be pacifists? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue the Sermon on the Mount, the next section I will divide into two parts saving verse 42 for another blog post. This one raises the question of if we should be pacifists. Let’s take a look at chapter 5 of Matthew.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 

This was said to a people under Roman rule. Consider the last one. A Roman soldier could force a random Jew to carry his stuff for him for one mile. Jesus says at the end of that mile to go another one. Why is that?

Jesus is wanting to put to the end a vicious cycle. Rather than harbor hatred for your enemy, go out of your way to be kind to him. They want your shirt? Be super nice and give them your coat as well. However, if there is any part here that is really controversial, it’s the idea of turning the other cheek.

Some parents are scandalized, for instance, when they hear a child told that if anyone hits you on the playground, you hit him back hard. Doesn’t Jesus tell us to turn the other cheek? How could anyone encourage their child on the path of violence?

War is a reality in the Bible. It’s not just in the Old Testament. What do you think is going on in the book of Revelation? Jesus isn’t coming back to have a jolly good time with everyone on the Earth. He comes as the text says in righteousness to judge and to make war.

What is going on in the passage is a slap on the right cheek is not meant to be an aggravated assault. It’s not meant to start a fight. It’s meant to be an insult and it’s done privately. Jesus is saying in a private exchange, do not seek the path of retaliation. Be the bigger person.

This isn’t the case either in a public forum. This is why I don’t have a problem with people getting tough with opponents in a place like Facebook. Jesus did the same thing when He was publicly challenged. We often think Nicodemus a shameful figure because he went to Jesus at night. No. His going private showed him to be a better one. Asking questions in public was a way of challenging to shame the teacher. Going at night in private is a way of showing you want to learn.

Of course, if one uses self-defense, or defends another, one should not use disproportionate means. If you come to me and slap me on the face, I am not justified in pulling out a machine gun and blowing your head off. In a forceful exchange, one should use enough force to disable the opponent as much as needed. In some cases, that might mean that one has to take a life if absolutely necessary, but that should always be a last result.

To get back to the public exchanges, this was also known as challenge-riposte. In Jesus’s day, if someone challenged you in public, you had to defend your honor with a riposte. If you didn’t, you were shamed and the opponents were honored. Jesus was a master at winning. (The only one who ever bested Him was the Syro-Phoenician woman) He was so good His opponents went to crucifixion of Him, the ultimate public shaming. Bad news for them. His resurrection outdid that one as well. Thus, in a public forum, do not be afraid to challenge someone right back who challenges the gospel. It is for the honor of Christ that you contend.

In King Jesus’s world, the citizens don’t seek to retaliate for the sake of personal glory. However, that doesn’t mean they are doormats also. Servants of the king don’t let people walk on them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What about oaths?

Should we take oaths? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue looking at the Kingdom of King Jesus, we get to a lesson on oaths.

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Now this is not saying no oaths absolutely. This is talking about flippant oaths. Think about how many times you have made a deal with God as an example. Does it really help out? Also, how many times do you keep your oath?

Everyone in the ancient world took oaths seriously. If you broke an oath, it was inviting judgment from the deity on you. Flippant oath taking is not taking the deity seriously enough.

What Jesus is really saying is to be a person of your word. Make it your goal to have it be that if you say yes or no to something, you are so trustworthy that that’s all people need to hear. You don’t need to do something big and drastic. You can just state what your intention is and what your desire is and people will be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

This is one reason also I am very hesitant with making promises. Promises are made today often to be broken. If you promise something, you had better be serious about it.

If your word isn’t reliable, people have no reason to trust you. For evangelism, they definitely have no reason to trust you about Jesus. This is similar to what I have said about sharing things like conspiracy theories. You hurt your witness tremendously. Break your word consistently enough and people have no reason to trust you.

Sometimes, you will have to take an oath such as in court and making a marriage vow and it has to be serious. If you think an oath is necessary, treat it seriously. This is about your reputation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Divorce in the Sermon

What did Jesus say in the Sermon about divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s just jump into the verses in question.

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this comes after talking about lust. That would mean Jesus is saying that it doesn’t matter if your eye catches someone more appealing. You have a covenant that you are already in and you are to honor that covenant.

Let’s state the matter seriously. Divorce is an evil. Period.

“But Nick! You don’t understand! My wife was cheating on me!” “You don’t get it! My husband was abusive!” “The children were in danger from my spouse!”

Yes. All of those can be true and in a number of cases, divorce can even be sadly advisable, but it is still an evil. Why? Because it’s tragic that a case where two people vowed to love and remain faithful to one another until death was shattered because someone decided to break the covenant.

This is not to say then that everyone who has divorced is guilty of an evil. My parents were both divorced before their current marriage because both of their spouses were unfaithful. It’s good today that they’re together, but it’s tragic that both of them married spouses who broke their covenant.

That’s also something important to stress today. Marriage is a covenant. It doesn’t depend on your feelings or emotions at the time. If it did, marriages would shatter constantly. (Maybe that is why they are so much as many people do just that.) Marriage is a promise. How you treat it says less about your spouse really and more about you.

Also, keep in mind that not all of the above scenarios necessitate a divorce. Suppose there is a husband who is cheating on his wife. Some marriages can bounce back and be strong even after an affair. It does require therapy and repentance, but it is doable.

If you have children in a marriage, they will be the ones who suffer the most from divorce. Not too long ago I read a book called Primal Loss. It’s from a Catholic perspective and all the participants are Catholic, but all of them were still deeply hurt by what happened with their parents and it doesn’t matter what age they’re at.

Marriage is a covenant that requires work. In Jesus’s day, one school of thought said a husband could divorce his wife for anything displeasing, such as hypothetically if she burnt his toast in the morning. Jesus ups the ante tremendously and says marriage is for life entirely. Paul ups the ante and says that even if a believer is married to an unbeliever, if they are not being in danger, they should stay with the marriage. They may convert their spouse after all.

Fortunately, Shaunti Feldhahn has done some great research showing the idea that divorce is as common among Christians as non-Christians is a great myth. However, it is still way too common. All of us need to do what we can to honor marriage. That includes singles as well, such as saying if you’re not marrying that you’re going to remain celibate.

The rest of us, remember we made a vow before God and man. Let’s keep it. God will hold us all accountable after all for how we treated our spouses.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Fulfilling the Law

What did Jesus mean when He said He came to fulfill the Law? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is one of the most debated passages really. It leads to debates about the view of the Law in the Old Testament and its place in the life of Christians today. Let’s look at the verses. It’s Matthew 5:17-18.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Okay. Well did Jesus abolish the Law for us? One thing to keep in mind is that Gentiles were NEVER under the Law to begin with. This was a debate in Acts 15 and yet these words of Jesus were never brought up.

Okay, but what about Jews? Jews were under the Law and yet Paul and Peter both apparently lived like Gentiles at times at least. Why would they do that?

This gets us to the idea of the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus is not doing away with the Law. He is fulfilling what God really wanted. God really wanted righteousness in His people. The Law could change their outward behavior and while that can change hearts eventually, that normally doesn’t last long term. What is needed is a heart change.

This is what Jesus came to bring about. What He is describing in His kingdom is what happens when that heart change takes place. When we see the Kingdom coming, we will see more than just outward motions. Jesus’s commands in the sermon constantly talk about the status of the heart over the actions.

Jesus fulfilled the Law in that He met its righteous requirements. That doesn’t mean the Law is useless to us today. We see the nature of God revealed in the Law and there are still moral principles in the Law most everyone holds to today. Most of us do agree that you should not steal or you should not murder, for example.

In future entries, we will look at the righteousness that is demanded in the Kingdom. It won’t be my favorite part to look at either. We all fall short.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Salt and Light

What does it mean to be salt and light? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue looking at the sermon, we come to the account of salt and light. Both of these are things that stand out and enhance something. I still remember as a kid going to McDonald’s and getting the fries and going crazy with salt on them. It’s still a great treat to have. As for light, in our age we have more access to light in a way. After all, how many of us when we’re walking through our homes at night or outside at night pull out our phones and turn on the flashlight feature?

If a ship is out at sea and the crew is wondering where to go at night, a lighthouse can be seen from 20 miles away if its light is on. That can give great hope to those out at sea. Just a sliver of light can make a difference. Light is a way of representing hope.

And Jesus tells us we’re to be like salt and light.

Unless you have some dietary restriction, most of us like some salt on certain foods of ours. If I fix fillets at night, I put salt and pepper on them. Fix a pizza? Not at all. French fries without salt though seems unthinkable.

Light is specifically meant to be seen. That’s why we’re compared to a city on a hill. Many of us think that we should hide our good deeds. Now, we certainly shouldn’t do something to be seen, but that doesn’t mean we hide away and avoid doing good deeds. We need to do them and then in line with a proper interpretation of 1 Peter 3:15, explain that we do good deeds because of the example of Jesus.

Notably, Jesus says to do these things so people will praise your Father in Heaven. Those who do this are children of God. They are part of the Kingdom. They have not earned it. They have instead demonstrated where their loyalty lies.

Jesus’s call for citizens of the Kingdom is to go out and do something. Be an enhancement in society, as salt is on food. Be a beacon of hope, as light is in the world. Make the world a better place by your devotion to Christ. With all that is going on now, and as I type this there are riots going on over George Floyd, we need that indeed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters