Jesus and the Centurion

How did Jesus treat the centurion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had said I would do some talking on Jesus and the crowds. I wish to now speak a little bit more on the story of Jesus and the centurion in Matthew. To begin with, we need to try to see this from the perspective of a Jewish person living in Israel.

This centurion is said to be a good man as he paid for a synagogue for the people, but even today, in a similar situation we would be suspicious. “Of course that politician paid to get a new hospital put up! Look at how much press coverage he gets over it!” This centurion could have very well been noble in what he did, but some people will look with suspicion. Some won’t, but some will.

What was inescapable however was that this centurion is a reminder that the Israelites don’t own their own land. Who provided the synagogue? An outsider. What outsider? One that represents the ruling power in the world that hopefully, the Messiah will deliver us from.

Even if this guy has done a lot of good, Israel would by and large prefer to not have him around. They would prefer to have the land to themselves. They were still waiting on the deliverance of God.

So now here comes Jesus and how many could already be wondering if this guy is the Messiah? If so, well surely He’s going to deal with this centurion. He’s going to tell him he’s an intruder and needs to get off the land. Those who think in such a way will be highly disappointed.

This centurion has a simple request. He wants one servant healed. When he asks, he tells Jesus that Jesus doesn’t even have to enter his house. This centurion, a man or honor and prestige in Rome, is not worthy to have Jesus in his house. All Jesus has to do is say the word. The centurion illustrates this by explaining how he says a word to a servant and they do it.

This centurion is understanding that as he has authority over the realm of his servants, Jesus has authority over the realm of at least sickness. Who knows for sure how far this goes? Keep in mind this is a pagan gentile giving this statement. (He could have been a God-fearer, but we have no explicit data showing otherwise. Either way, he would have been seen as outside of the covenant.)

After the healing, Jesus turns to the crowd of people and what does He do? The exact opposite of I’m sure of what many people were expecting. He tells them He hasn’t seen a faith like this in all of Israel. Sorry guys, but this gentile here has you beat!

Not only this, but he pulls this over to the next world. He says that many will come from all over the world to join the feast of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but many of the Jews themselves in Israel will be cast out and not entering. If you are a Jew in the audience sick of Rome and wanted to see Jesus lay down the law on these guys, you got the exact opposite of what you wanted.

This is not a good day for you.

Something we can think about here is that Jesus did not say something to please the crowd. If anything, He said something extremely offensive to the crowd. Jesus in all His talks never apologizes. He never takes back anything that He says. He says it and it’s out there and that’s it. If you don’t like it, He’s not responsible for your feelings.

I am not saying we need to be needlessly offensive, but if Jesus was not afraid of offending His audience with the truth, why should we? A huge problem in our Western society today is that offensive statements are deemed unallowable because someone’s feelings could be hurt. Everyone’s feelings will get hurt sometime and the more we coddle this, the more we make it that we can’t handle anything. As a pastor I was talking to yesterday said, “The early church was willing to face death for Jesus Christ and we breakdown if our air conditioning goes out.”

Not only this, but Jesus is considered one of the greatest personalities and speakers of all time as well as one of the holiest and best men who ever lived. Now as a Christian, I think he’s the best of all time period, but even non-Christians can praise the life of Jesus in these areas and often do. Aside from the crazy position of mythicism, most everyone would tend to agree that Jesus is a figure that is admirable in many ways.

Jesus did not sway to popular opinion.

Perhaps we should be the same way.

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

Jesus and the Crowds

How did Jesus respond to the people? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m considering doing some research on the question of Jesus and the crowds. I started thinking about this because I was thinking more about the question of who Jesus is and not just the theological answer, but the more personal answer. What was Jesus like in His behavior? What is His personality like?

I have been going through the Sermon on the Mount in my nightly reading. I go through slowly, reading one verse every night and just thinking about it, so I decided to go right after that account to see how Jesus treated a leper. There’s something that’s easy to overlook.

Matthew 8:

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Did you notice it?

Great crowds follow Jesus, but when the leper comes forward, the crowds are nowhere to be seen. Jesus doesn’t even acknowledge them. All He cares about is the leper. The crowds could likely have been aghast that a leper would even approach Jesus. One can hardly imagine what they think when Jesus actually touches him.

Yet when do we see this crowd again? Immediately after this, we get the healing of the centurion’s servant. Here a Gentile comes forward wanting a servant to be healed and gives a great statement in the authority of Jesus. Jesus turns to the crowd, which consists not mostly if not entirely of Jews, and tells them that he has not seen such great faith in all of Israel.

Jesus doesn’t seem to care about winning over the crowds or what they think of Him.

I was intrigued and went back further. This crowd, or rather these crowds, start to follow Jesus in Matthew 4 after He does multiple healings. Then He climbs up on a mountain and gives a sermon that is one of the greatest messages of ethics the world has ever heard and yet one of the most difficult ones for anyone to follow. Jesus is not making it easy on the audience.

Naturally, I wanted to see if anyone had done anything on this that I could see. I went to Amazon and put in Jesus and crowds. Nothing. Now this doesn’t mean no one has written anything, but it means I couldn’t find anything specific. Perhaps if I look at this, it will be some of the first research done on this topic.

I still also do not want to lose sight of Jesus and divorce. Yes. That question still affects me every single day and every single day has a degree of pain to it because of that event. I was talking to my therapist about it today even and talking about some problems I have had lately and I have thought it could be boredom, but he said that could also be stemming from depression. I am sure some of that is still there.

I do find this question interesting. Jesus doesn’t seem to be a crowd-pleaser and He seems to care more about the individual in these matters instead of the people at a large who He doesn’t think are truly committed to the cause. There are sociological implications to this, but also as a Christian in daily living, gives me some thoughts on how Jesus sees us on an individual level.

Stay tuned. We’ll see what happens.

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

Sharing My Debate

Where can you find a debate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just wanting to quickly plug this debate I did for today’s blog. You can watch it here. Please leave a comment on the video as well and I appreciate any feedback.

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

Why Are They Not Fasting?

Should the disciples stay in joy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

After the events described in Matthew 9 concerning the calling of Matthew, Jesus is asked why He and His disciples don’t fast. This is not really a hostile question seeing as it comes from the disciples of John the Baptist. It’s a valid question to ask. Shouldn’t good Jewish boys be observing the fast?

Jesus’s answer is highly eschatological. How is it that His disciples can enter a time of fasting normally attributed to mourning and sorrow when the bridegroom is there with them? Wedding language is normally used in the Old Testament to describe the relationship of God and His people and the same happens in the New to describe Jesus and the church.

When the wedding is going on, there is to be joy and celebration. You don’t fast, but instead you feast. Jesus is saying that with His coming, the time of the marriage is at hand. The people are all there to celebrate.

This was typical for weddings in the time of Jesus. They would normally last a long time in the sense of the celebrations. The people gathered would celebrate the marrying of the couple and then the consummation of their marriage. To get an idea of that, just imagine spending your honeymoon with all your family right there and knowing what happened on the wedding night and celebrating that openly.

But Jesus does say there will be a time of mourning later. Here, He hints that His visit is just that, a visit, and He will not be there forever. We have no indication in the text that His disciples asked Him about this. We know a number of times they wondered about what He said without asking Him.

For now though, the celebration was on. Jesus was with His people, and not just His disciples but Israel. What is the good news about Jesus’s coming? That will be discussed more in the life of Christ as we continue later on.

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

The Calling of Matthew

Why does Jesus hang out with tax collectors? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a gameshow junkie. I sadly think gameshows are going to pass away with the advent of streaming, but I can still talk on and on about mainly older gameshows. As a teenager, I got a wish to come true when Gameshow Network went on the air. I was curious when I started seeing older ones from the 50’s and 60’s like What’s My Line?

In this game, a panel got to ask a contestant yes or no questions. Every no gave the contestant $5 for a maximum of $50 if he stumped the panel and they were told no ten times. The question every time was to guess what the person’s job was.

Normally, this would be met with applause, but I remember one time specifically where the applause had some boos thrown in. The panel noticed it too which led to the conclusion this must not be a well-liked job. What was it? IRS tax agent.

No one likes taxes. They and death are the two great inevitables in the world. If you rank right up there with death, you have to be pretty unpopular. Jews are no exception to this and the past is no exception. Jews of the past particularly hated tax collectors. They not only took the money, but they were seen as betraying their people by aligning with Rome and normally, they would also line their pockets with a little bit extra.

So when Jesus calls Matthew, it’s a shock to everyone, and no doubt Matthew as well. Keep in mind also that Jesus’s entourage also included at least one zealot so that must have been fun to have someone who was extremely pro-Israel and anti-Rome and someone seen as a collaborator in the same group.

Jesus is asked about this, and understandably so, though prostitutes are also included the mix. Jesus points out that it is the sick who need to see a doctor. He has come to call the sinners and not the righteous. Let’s look at that point of Jesus saying “I have come.”

First, there are shades of pre-existence here. It’s not a slam dunk by any means, but there is evidence of it here. If that is what is going on, this certainly is a high Christology going on and coming from the lips of Jesus Himself.

However, Jesus certainly has a view of Himself as a man on a mission. He is here for a specific reason. He has come to call the sinners. He also doesn’t speak of fellow sinners. He never indicates any need on His part. It is also as if He can provide righteousness.

With anyone else also, we would get concerned. Imagine if you heard your pastor had had a meal with several prostitutes, and this not even at a restaurant but at someone’s house. “Sure pastor. I’m sure that’s all you had. Say. What was served for dessert?”

Similar could have been said of Jesus. This was the scandal that the man Jesus was and still is. Yet we look at Jesus as not only hanging out with prostitutes, but leading a celibate lifestyle. It’s worth pointing out that when Jesus walked this Earth, he freely forsook one of the greatest joys He had created.

We’re not wrong in being suspicious of a pastor doing this necessarily. I know there are some guys who can actually do ministry in places like strip clubs. More power to them. I don’t want to risk it. However, even as I say that, some of you might be thinking that you’re sure they’re doing “ministry.”

Yet when God comes before us, who does He go to? Not the best of the best, but the lowest of the low. He goes to the ones who are cast out and the ones who see themselves as hopeless. We are told elsewhere that prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the Kingdom due to repentance. Prostitutes certainly don’t stay prostitutes, but Jesus has a heart for these women who are trapped in the sexual trade either willingly or unwillingly.

Jesus was a scandal then.

He still is today.

And we’re meant to show His love today, even to those tax collectors and prostitutes.

Maybe it would be better to pray for that What’s My Line contestant instead of booing.

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

Forgiving the Paralytic

What does it mean when Jesus heals the paralytic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Matthew 9, Jesus goes into a building to teach and a paralytic is lowered down to him. Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. When the Pharisees have indignant thoughts at this, Jesus calls them out on it and then shows who He is by telling the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, which he does.

This is more than just healing. We’ve all heard several messages about how Jesus could forgive and that shows that He is the one who thinks He has been sinned against. This is true, but I want to point out something else meant by the forgiveness.

Normally, if you needed forgiveness, you would need to go to the priest and make the proper offering. This would be centered around the temple. Jesus cuts out the middlemen entirely. Jesus plays the role of a priest and He plays the role of the temple.

Orthodox Preterists like myself stress the meaning of the temple being destroyed in 70 A.D. It was no longer needed. It was a sign of the old covenant and when that covenant was done, the temple that represented it had to go.

When Jesus heals the paralytic, He is not just showing that paralyzed people will not be in the Kingdom seeing as they will be healed and moving about, but He is also demonstrating more. His healing of the body backs His authority to proclaim healing of the soul. He is showing to His audience that there is no need of priests or the temple to obtain forgiveness. All that is needed is Jesus.

Why do we not have priests like that anymore? Because Jesus is our high priest. Why do we not have a temple anymore? Because Jesus is our temple. Jesus comes and shows the covenant system is fulfilled in Him. The new has come and there is no need for the old.

For a Jew, this is completely radical, and it should be for us as well. We need to really recognize what a major shift Jesus caused in the world politically and theologically when He came. The temple was seen as the emblem of Judaism. Now as Jesus says later on, one greater than the temple is here.

One greater than the temple is still here. Our true high priest and temple has already come.

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

Jesus and the Pigs

What do pigs have to do with eschatology? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jesus reaches His destination and is approached by two demon-possessed men. They beg Jesus not to judge them before the appointed time. Obviously, it’s the demons speaking at this point, but let’s notice what they say.

The appointed time.

What is that? It’s a time where the demons know that they will be judged. It’s a set day. This is not a secret idea. The only secret is when it’s going to be. When Jesus shows up on the scene, the demons fear that that time has come, but yet something tells them that this is not the time.

Now a lot of skeptics like to look at this chapter and think about how awful Jesus was to those pigs or how awful he was to the townspeople for depriving them of bacon. We’re not really going to tackle those today. We’re looking at Jesus and the demons.

It’s quite interesting that demons actually take theology much more seriously than we do. The Pharisees and priests weren’t scared to nail Jesus onto a cross. They didn’t know who He was to be sure, but His presence was one they thought they could dispose of. The demons, on the other hand, are terrified of Him.

We see this in James also. James says “You believe in one God? Good. So do the demons, and they tremble.” Most of us don’t tremble before God. I know the demons love to see us mouthing off to God, but I wonder if they see us do that sometimes and think “They are sure making things worse for themselves.” They have a better idea of who we’re messing with.

This should also show us that our idea of gentle Jesus meek and mild is not always accurate. These guys know Jesus is a judge. Jesus can lay down the hurt as it were. They are scared to death of Jesus. You never see a demon in the Gospels try to challenge Jesus at all. Jesus is calling the shots.

Note also Jesus never used formulas or anything close to what is called magic in doing this. Jesus doesn’t need to use artifacts of any kind to get a demon to go. He just has to say the word. Jesus is remarkable in this. This is why in other accounts the people are amazed at what Jesus can do and the Pharisees have to explain it away somehow.

What we see though is temporary. Judgment day is coming for the demons and it is coming for all of us. The demons are scared of what will happen to them on that day. Let’s make sure we’re not on the same side of them. As we’ll see later, Jesus says you are either for Him or against Him.

Choose wisely.

Preferably against the demons.

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

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)

I Never Knew You

How should we respond to this fearful announcement? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Towards the end of Matthew 7, Jesus tells the crowd that many on that day will point to many signs and wonders that were done in the name of Jesus and He will say to them, “I never knew you.” The only ones who go in will be the ones who do the will of the Father.

First off, before we get to the scary part, let’s consider something about this. How is it that Jesus gets up and speaks to a crowd as if He is the final judge that will tell people what their destiny is in the end? How is it that He speaks of people coming to Him and calling Him Lord? How is it that He speaks of people casting out demons in His name and doing miracles in His name and prophesy in His name?

Either Jesus is severely deluded in this passage, severely wicked, or He is rightfully in the place of God. It’s easy to point to explicit passages on the deity of Christ. I think a lot of these more subtle passages can be far more powerful.

So now let’s get to the concern. A lot of Christians get absolutely terrified. What if I am one of those on that day? What if Jesus tells me I never knew you?

So let’s ask a question.

Why does that scare you?

If your fear is never getting to be in Heaven because you won’t see your loved ones and you will be in Hell forever, then you have a wrong perspective. It doesn’t mean you won’t get in, but I have a fear that many of us want to see Heaven for so many reasons and throw in as an afterthought that God is there, or else we just want to avoid Hell.

If you say though because you want to be with Jesus, then I really don’t think you have to worry. In reality, most Christians I meet concerned about not being saved I have no doubt really are saved. The fact that they ask the question shows that they have a deep concern for Christian matters.

That being said, we should always examine ourselves to see if our behavior is being what it ought to be. Are we truly living a Christian life? Do we need to repent of anything? Are we loving one another as Christ loved us?

Note also that Jesus’s requirements are not seen in what we consider grand achievements. It’s seen in doing the will of the Father in Heaven. What is that will? Love your God and love your neighbor as yourself.

When people ask me what God’s will is for their lives, I always tell them the same thing, because it’s the same for everyone. “Conform you to the likeness of Christ.” “Yeah, but what about who I marry or where I work or what I study in school?” “Do what you will provided your goal is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ.”

Instead of worrying so much about if you are saved or not, which accomplishes nothing, live as Christ would have you live, which you should be doing anyway. When you fall down, repent and seek forgiveness and move on. There is a proper fear to have of God, but remember He prefers to show grace rather than judgment.

And if you think you have grace, show it. Even if you don’t think you have it and fear you don’t, show it anyway.

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

Don’t Hoard

Where should we store up treasure? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The next passage I want to touch on in looking at the Sermon on the Mount and its relation to Kingdom People is Matthew 6:19-24.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Money is really a means to power for many people. If you have the money, you have the power. You can do what you want and buy what you want. It makes sense that you would want to hold on to all the money that you can. Jesus, however, condemns that attitude.

Now not storing up though doesn’t mean for us not using a bank account or something of that sort. That wasn’t as much of an option in the ancient world, especially for most of Jesus’s audience who would have been day-wage earners. Today, it can make sense for us to plan ahead, especially for financial emergencies that will come up.

Today, we could say that it’s not good to hoard. It’s not good to be the rich man while Lazarus sits outside of your gate begging for food. If you have money, you should strive to be generous with it. I don’t think that means throw it away at anyone who says they need something, but it means to be a generous steward.

This is one area where we can definitely improve on. Churches should be some of the most generous places of all and Christians should be people of generosity. A Christian can certainly be rich, but if they are not giving money to those truly in need, then they are not storing up treasures in heaven.

It’s worth noting also that Jesus tells us that this will actually work for our benefit. It’s in our best interests to give away. If you give away your money then you will get true riches that will not last. Jesus is not opposed to our benefit. If anything, He is telling us how we can better benefit.

As someone in the church who is poor, this kind of generosity is greatly appreciated as well. I remember a post I made years ago on the Tekton Ticker ran by my ministry partner, J.P. Holding, about a hard time where my wife and I didn’t receive proper care from the church. To this day, we have not returned there.

However, the church can only be generous if its people are generous. If they are not, then the church has nothing. That means those who have should strive to be generous and build up the Kingdom of God.

You cannot serve two masters. If your master is money or anything else, you will not be a servant of the Kingdom. Your desire for Jesus must be greater than that of wealth.

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