The Good Samaritan is probably the most famous story Jesus ever told. Even people who don’t know much about Jesus can often tell you all about the good Samaritan. They’ll tell you it’s a simple story: A guy gets beat up and left lying on the road. Some supposedly good guys walk right around him … Continue reading How Do You Treat a Stranger?
One of the really hard concepts to understand in the Christian faith is the idea of the trinity: What does it mean, really? Are there really three people who are God, or is there really only one God the way the Bible says? If both three and one are true, how can they both be … Continue reading What Is the Trinity and Why Does It Matter?
I have some friends who aren’t Christians, who simply don’t understand the nature of the Holy Spirit. They don’t understand that the Spirit’s a person and not a thing. Mostly they get their theology out of movies like “Star Wars,” and they think that the Holy Spirit is just the “Force” with a different name. … Continue reading Who Is the Holy Spirit?
On Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, come to live with all those who follow Jesus. Jesus told his followers what it was going to be like, to have the Holy Spirit in the world. He said, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all … Continue reading What Happened on Pentecost?
Have you managed to avoid ever getting angry? … Let me try something easier. Have you managed to avoid getting angry this week? … Well, have you managed to avoid getting angry so far today? After all, Jesus said, “I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will … Continue reading Advice from Jesus about Anger
Right in the middle of his busy ministry, Jesus comes into a time of transition, and this always makes me wonder what life was really like for him. Transitions aren’t comfortable times. Change isn’t easy. Things ahead are going to be different. Up to this point Jesus has had an exciting and successful time of … Continue reading What Was Jesus Looking for on the Mountain?
Jesus is wandering along the shoreline where men are at work. Making a living from the water takes two tasks—making the gear work and using it. For fishermen in those days, this means making nets and fishing . Both are smelly, strenuous, and involve being out in all kinds of weather. Jesus, usually busy at … Continue reading Do You Want to Be a Disciple?
The Jewish environment Jesus grew up in had a rich variety of city folk and village dwellers, from the local neighborhood and from many foreign settlements around the Roman Empire. Was Jesus a country boy, raised in a remote village, or was he more like a modern suburbanite, with lots of exposure to urban life … Continue reading Where Were the Jews during the Lifetime of Jesus?
Following Jesus was just one of many ways of being Jewish in the first century. The New Testament focuses on one group, but there were many others, each with its own ideas about how to live faithfully. Jesus interacts with Pharisees, priests, and legal experts in events we know about. There were Pharisees and Sadducees, … Continue reading Factions in First Century Judaism
At the time Jesus was born, the people of Israel as a group were pretty isolationist. They refused to participate in the religions or even the customs of the Roman empire. You might think that the Jews of the day were hostile to all outsiders, but that wasn’t necessarily true. Among the non-Jews who interacted … Continue reading What Did Jesus Expect of Gentiles?