LUKE13 – THE PERFECTING OF JESUS

King Herod “the fox”

31 [On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to (Jesus), “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ (Luke13:31-32 NKJV)

As referred to in the previous post, many ordinary Jews delighted in Jesus’ words and actions, but their leaders wanted Him dead or at least out of their hair. They tried to persuade the Teacher and Miracle-worker that if He remained in their territory King Herod would have Him killed.  Jesus’ response is typically direct yet the analogy He uses in describing Herod as a fox is drawn from biblical sources. As in many agricultural circles, the fox does not receive a great press in the Bible. In Song of Solomon (2:15) the writer refers to the foxes that destroy the vines of tender grapes, referring either to problems that might arise within a loving relationship or as some think, more figuratively to false prophets who deceive God’s chosen people often depicted as God’s vineyard (e.g. Isaiah5). The latter is certainly the case in Ezekiel (13:4), Israel’s false prophets being described as “foxes in the desert”. Whatever else they may be foxes are inclined to be devious and destructive.

Yet Jesus is determined and confident that neither Herod nor the often equally devious Pharisees will thwart His purposes or destiny. He vows to continue to heal and cast out demons until the time comes for God’s purposes and indeed He Himself to be perfected (Greek teleioumai). Unlike the New King James Version quoted above some versions translate the last phrase in verse 32 along the lines that Jesus’ work will have been perfected (e.g. ERV), whereas  parsing the Greek text affirms the writer to be indicating that it is Jesus Himself who will be perfected (i.e. made complete for purpose) through His work and by His suffering.

This may present a theological problem to some but seemingly not to the writer to the Hebrews. For He declares that “It was fitting for (Jesus), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering (Heb2:10NKJV). This speaks of a great mystery which I examine in my book*, pertaining as it does to the purpose of suffering for humanity as a whole within God’s munificent purposes for His creation.

  • The Fellowship of the Secret – a free PDF available HERE

Lk13 SICKNESS & DEATH -SATAN’S DOMAIN

The anatomy of a virus

The Lord then answered (the ruler of the synagogue) and said, e]“Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. (Luke 13:15-17NKJV)

The Bible-hub study website comments on this passage “The words imply the belief that there was another source than mere bodily disease for the infirmity–in part, at least, the belief that all disease–or very many forms of it–is directly or indirectly traceable to the power of the Enemy”.

My sentiments exactly, and as the writer to the Hebrews affirms, Satan’s realm and authority extends to death itself (Heb2:14). The biology and outworking of viruses, cancers and the like is ingeniously malevolent. Who or what is behind it? Ultimately our sovereign God is behind everything but in this case some distance removed. For extraordinary as it seems, His arch-enemy and ours has been granted substantial authority in the affairs of this world in the current age, which is why Jesus designated him “archon tou kosmou” – prince of the world order (Jn12:31), in which sickness and death along with what Paul refers to as spiritual wickedness in high places are a present reality (Eph6:12). Contrary to the wishful thinking of some, that is and will continue to be the case until Jesus returns in glory; that in spite of the fact that He has already done everything necessary (through His Passion) to defeat the realm of evil and death, at least in principle (Jn12:31-32). The reason such a regime continues for the present is one of the themes of “The Fellowship of the Secret” (a free PDF is available HERE).

My other observation on this short passage pertains to the last verse (17). The multitudes, who will predominantly have been Jewish rejoiced in Jesus’ teaching and practice concerning the Sabbath as a day not just for worship and relaxation but for doing good. Their religious leaders on the other hand appeared to understand the latter with regard to the welfare of their own working animals but not their fellow human beings as Jesus so effectively pointed out – to the shame of the leaders  and the delight of the masses. It again highlights that it was primarily the religious leaders of the Jews who facilitated Satan’s plot to destroy the Prince of Life and Glory, albeit as ever, even this was according to “the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts2:23).

LUKE 11 – THE PHARISEES’ HYPOCRISY

And as (Jesus) spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 “Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 “But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone (Luke 11:37-42NKJV)

More telling words from Jesus as recorded by Luke. As usual I have highlighted the phrases that particularly came to my attention following my renewed perspective on the Bible’s teaching that resulted in writing “The Fellowship of the Secret” *. Previously such passages had confused if not positively contradicted my understanding of the gospel but now they make better sense. In this narrative, the Lord is using the idea of cleaning the inside and outside of dishes to teach that a person’s heart is more important than what appears on the surface–whereas the Pharisees got it the wrong way round, as many people tend to do. Jesus is warning us to be less concerned about “the outside” and give more importance to “the inside” – not least in the practice of religion.

Giving alms to cleanse the soul

Almsgiving in the proper sense means realizing the needs of others and letting them share in one’s own goods. The Greek word for alms (ἐλεημοσύνη) is derived from ἔλεος  meaning compassion or mercy, which implies more than a mechanical act of donating or tithing. It may be a theologically alien concept to many (including myself in the past) that almsgiving can cleanse the soul or cover sin, but not to Jesus Christ (v41) or indeed his lead disciple (cf. 1Pet4:8). The Pharisees had meticulously tithed herbs according to the requirements of Torah but had neglected vastly more important issues: social justice and “the love of God” (v42). I have come to understand the latter phrase as a genitive of origin. It refers not so much to God’s love for us (a fact, but not the context here) or even ours for Him (hopefully true but only half the story); it pertains rather to the impartation of the divine quality of love (cf. Jn17:26) engrafted by the Spirit such that we come to love others more as God loves them (cf. 1Jn2:5).  That is more clearly indicated where John refers a few verses later in that passage to those who are worldly not having “the love of the Father within them” (1Jn2:15). It is in the context of partaking of the divine nature by which we come to possess more of what God possesses, especially holiness aligned with love; God being love and thrice holy.

The Pharisees, or at least the ones Jesus was addressing, were religious for sure, but they failed to grasp the inner meaning and purpose of the religion JHWE had instituted for the good of their souls and the social wellbeing of the people they led: intended to be a pattern for the society of God’s inaugurated kingdom on Earth.

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LUKE 9 – THE DISCIPLES’ IGNORANCE OF THEIR MESSIAH’S EARTHLY FATE

(Jesus) said to His disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”  But (the disciples) did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement (Lk9:44-45NASB).

It’s a theme I constantly refer to for in my experience many, including those who regard themselves as Bible-believing Christians, are unaware of its significance. For a key to unravelling the mystery of God’s providential intentions towards His earthly creation (cf. Rev10) and the historical errors concerning it is to recognize that even Jesus’ closest disciples were not aware that their Messiah was destined to die and be resurrected (see also Lk18:33-34 & Mt16:22; 17:22-23). It re-affirms the point made in my earlier post concerning the “gospel of the kingdom” and the fact that that particular mission statement cannot have incorporated any soteriology pertaining to the Cross.

Of course the apostolic writers and the churches founded by them have rightly focused on the latter, but such could not have been contained within “this gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus was referring to in the Olivet discourse (Mt24:14 Greek), for that same “gospel” had been preached by His disciples (Mt10:7-8) whom Matthew and Luke affirm were at the time clueless concerning their Master’s future Passion or its purpose.

This simple incontrovertible observation has radical implications: it nullifies the fearsome Augustine’s proposal that people in Old Testament times were condemned to Hell except they had “believed in the incarnation, passion and resurrection of Christ as a future event” [a].  Nor, referring back to Genesis could righteous Abel have been “anticipating the Passion” when he sacrificed an animal whilst his brother offered the dregs of his fruit harvest. Cain happened to be a fruit farmer, Abel tended livestock (Gen4:2); but comparing scripture with scripture the key point is that Abel’s offering had been accepted because his works were righteous; Cain AND his offering were rejected because his works were evil (1Jn3:11,12). The one was a child of God, so feared His Creator (i.e. had faith) and did what he knew to be right, the other was described by the apostle John as wicked and satanic (Greek:ek tou ponerou), derived from the Evil One (1Jn3:12). Cain as the first man to be born of woman was the archetype of what Jesus, John and Paul refer to as children of the devil, whom, to put it mildly, are to be ignominiously dealt with at Christ’s coming (cf. Rom9:21,22; 2Thes1:8; Mt13:49; Mt15:13; ref: Enoch1:1). Similarly, Abel will not have “got saved” by anticipating Calvary, for I say again, even Christ’s disciples were ignorant of His future Passion or its purpose. Rather, Abel was justified within the eluded universal covenant of life (explained in FOTS* ch.2).

So the Cain and Abel story is primarily concerned with the reprobation of the elder brother, who showed himself to be a God-hating homicidal maniac. He became “cursed from the earth” (Gen4:11 – note the “NOW”) and alienated from God’s loving care (Gen4:14 – note “THIS DAY”), i.e. his reprobation was affirmed after killing his brother and was not directly related to his offering (cf. the mystery of evil – FOTS* ch.6).

Thankfully, Cain’s fate is not the fate of man by nature, for man is “in Adam”, not Cain. Natural man’s condition is nevertheless perilous, for his God-given soul/spirit (that which returns to God at death) inherits what Paul refers to as “the body of this death” (somatos tou thanatou toutou Rom7:24) from his parents, ultimately from Adam. Paul’s “this” (toutou) is important as it refers to the “death” Paul is describing in the passage (Rom7:14-24), i.e. what the person he was depicting was currently experiencing; not the fact that he was mortal or was “to go to hell when he dies” as many understand the matter. As a result of such Pauline anthropological dualism (which Augustine dismissed, partly as a result of his wariness concerning the heretical  cosmic dualism expounded by Manes), most people by nature aspire to do good and genuinely admire noble qualities such as compassion, generosity, bravery and integrity in others. Indeed, in view of his conscience (which fails to function in the likes of Cain), fallen man exhibits by nature some of the qualities prescribed in God’s Law becoming a law for himself (Rom2:14,15 cf. Greek). At the same, there is within man another law or guiding principle “within his members” (i.e. his physical senses as processed through the brain) “warring against the law in his mind (the conscience Rom2:15), bringing him into captivity to the law of sin (concupiscence) which is in his members (Rom7:22-24). Such is the nature of “original sin” or Pauline “death”, and unless remedied, it radically damages the relationship with God for which man was created – hence the Passion, hence the Gospel.

It is remedied in the present (albeit for a minority) by responding to that gospel and experiencing sacramental participation with Christ (Jn6:55-57). By such means of grace allied with corporal discipline (1Cor9:27), those who are called, chosen and faithful are “saved” from the corrupting influences of their disordered senses, becoming “free indeed to serve the living God” even whilst inhabiting Paul’s “body of death”; their souls being progressively healed so as to be fitted to share an immediate and right royal inheritance with the Son of God when He comes to establish His eternal Kingdom (cf. Rom8:17-23).  As Paul jubilantly referred to this mystery, for the Christian it becomes a case of“Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col1:26,27NKJV)

[a] Augustine: “Against two letters of the Pelagians” Book III Chap. 11 

* i.e. The Fellowship of the Secret – free PDF HERE

LUKE 7 – JESUS AND HIS HERALD JOHN: REVERED BY ORDINARY JEWS; SNUBBED BY THEIR LEADERS


Continuing the review of passages that particularly came to my attention during the writing of “The Fellowship of the Secret” * –

Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”   And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region [vv16-17 NKJV].

When all the people and the tax collectors heard this (Jesus’ acclamation of His herald), they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John [vv29-30NASB]

The Man Christ Jesus was foretold to be “despised and rejected by men” (Is53:3); and so He was ultimately, for as the Lord had observed, His people (i.e. the Jews) were like sheep without a shepherd (Mt9:36). For many of their spiritual leaders were ravenous wolves who succeeded in persuading and cajoling the people who a few days earlier had acclaimed their Messiah’s prophetic entrance into Jerusalem to demand His crucifixion. As the account in Mark makes clearer, the chief priests had handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities out of envy and succeeded in stirring up the crowd to call for Barabbas’ release in His place (Mk15:10-11).

  But as the verses from Luke 7 quoted above indicate, the Jewish people were not instinctively hateful or derisory towards either Jesus or His herald John. They had “glorified God” after Jesus resurrected the widow’s son at Nain (v16) and “acknowledged God’s justice” at Jesus’ affirmation of John’s greatness as a prophet (v29). Their leaders on the other hand being many (not all) of the Pharisees, priests and interpreters of the Law “rejected God’s purpose for themselves“, refusing the baptism of repentance offered to them (v30). That “purpose” would have been to take forward the work of the Kingdom, supporting their Messiah as leaders and teachers of the people, but that same Messiah deemed them unfit for purpose and selected His dozen from amongst artisans, fishermen and tax collectors. Yet Jesus went on to insist that those same leaders were still to be obeyed by the people since “they occupied the seat of Moses”, albeit “Do what they say, not what they do” (Mt23:1-3).

This affirmed that Jesus did not regard Himself at this point as “instigating a new religion”, or else why would He require the people to whom He was ministering to continue to obey their appointed leaders? (The answer pertains to the subject of my book*, i.e. what Paul was alluding to in Eph3:9-11). And it suggests that even the princes and people of the true Church should take care that they are not to be snubbed by their Master at His return, observing the sentiments behind the herald’s warning recorded in Matthew3:8-9:

So bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I (John) say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these very stones!

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LUKE 6 – REDISTRIBITIVE JUSTICE

“Woe to you who are rich! you have already received your consolation. Woe to you who are full! You shall hunger. WOE TO YOU THAT LAUGH NOW! YOU SHALL MOURN AND WEEP.”

Jesus’ teaching of final judgement is dealt with more definitively in Matthew’s account (chapter 25 – considered a few posts ago). Luke, a companion of Paul [note 1] recorded Jesus as teaching that an individual’s status and suffering during their lifetime is taken into account at Judgement, both in his rendering of the Beatitudes and particularly in what is effectively the only account we have of an individuals’ experience in Hell [note 2]: the account of the rich man and Lazarus, the text of which requires careful attention (Lk16:19-31).

The only stated criterion distinguishing these two men was that one had had a life of ease and comfort whilst the other had been poor and wretched (Lk16:25). It may be deduced (from vv27-31) that the rich man was suffering because of the way he had utilized his wealth; living wantonly whilst failing to show care and compassion for miserable beggars like Lazarus (with whom Jesus personally identifies – Mt25:45), yet no reason is given at all why Lazarus should be comforted after his death other than that he had experienced a life of poverty and sickness (Lk16:25); thus had he been salted (cf. Mk9:49). The redistributive or compensatory aspects of judgement at death are also emphasized in the letter of James who exhorts the oppressive rich to weep and howl for the miseries that are to come upon them (Ja5:1KJV). It is clear from subsequent verses that he is referring to the materially wealthy who obtained their wealth by defrauding and exploiting of the poor. James (as ever) is reflecting the teaching of Christ, who also had a word of warning for the well-to-do:


Alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now. Alas for you who have plenty to eat now: you shall go hungry. Alas for you who are laughing now: you shall mourn and weep (Lk6:24,25).

I now understand this to be partly a question of redistributive justice but that it also relates to the role and necessity of human suffering (salting) explained in the theodicy (chapter seven of my book [3]). For sure, Luke’s interpretation of Jesus’ teaching needs to be taken alongside Matthew’s emphasis on more spiritual and moral qualities (Mt5): poverty of spirit, hunger for righteousness, kindness, compassion and purity. For a lousy crook may be poor but is hardly fitted to be a prince in God’s Kingdom. So life experience, moral and spiritual integrity, and especially how one has treated the poor with whom Christ personally identifies (Mt25) will determine how one fares after death, and also when Christ’s kingdom is consummated, resulting in a change of fortunes for many (cf. Mk10:31).

Notes

[1] Some biblical scholars question whether the author of Luke-Acts could possibly be the Luke referred to as Paul’s companion in three of his letters; partly in view of seeming differences in the account of Paul’s conversion and subsequent events (Acts9:1-31 cf. Gal1:17-24); more particularly in view of their understanding that Luke’s theology was different to Paul’s, whereas I am in the business of demonstrating that Paul’s theology (once properly understood) does not contradict that of any other contributors to Scripture.

[2] strictly “Hades” being the place of the dead, an intermediate state between death and resurrection in which, according to Luke’s interpretation of Jesus’ teaching, disembodied spirits are nevertheless conscious and aware of either pain or comfort.

[3] A free PDF available HERE

LUKE 6 – CHRIST’S TEACHING: FOUNDATION FOR LIFE

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:   He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)

A children’s chorus comes to mind as I read this passage: The wise man built his house on the rock HEAR CHORUS. But what is the rock? “So build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ” concludes the chorus, but Jesus is not here referring to Himself as the rock but His teaching. He is referring to what we are to do, not passively resting upon what He has done on our behalf. Hence, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say?  He who hears the Lord’s sayings and does them is the one who builds on the rock (v47).

Such is the obedience of faith and our active participation in it. Similarly, back in Matthew – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  Such people will have imagined they had built their life on the LJC – His name was ever on their lips and He was at the heart of what they perceived to have been their ministry, yet their hearts were far from Him. That may well have been because they were unaware they were expected to fulfil what James refers to as “the royal law” – to love one’s neighbour as oneself (Jam2:8).

This will appear to some to contradict the teaching of Paul but I endeavour to show in my book* that such is not the case. Once Paul has been rightly understood both he, James, Peter and the rest will be seen to affirm the teaching of the Master, the spiritual Rock which in Paul’s allusion is indeed referring to Christ Himself (1Cor10:4).

*A free PDF is available HERE 

JOHN’S PARENTS – “RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD”


 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:5,6 NKJV)

Continuing into Luke, I am highlighting verses and passages of the New Testament that particularly came to my attention during the preparation of “The Fellowship of the Secret” (often because I used to believe quite the opposite of what I now understand them to be indicating!) Here we have an example of an individual or in this case a couple regarded as “righteous” in God’s sight. On what basis were they righteous? – According to Luke it was simply that they had faithfully observed the commandments and ordinances they had received as practicing Jews. But perfect they were not – a few verses later Zacharias was rebuked and punished by Arch-Angel Gabriel for his reluctance to believe the good news concerning his wife’s pregnancy.

But how does Luke’s description concur with what Paul writes in the opening chapters of Romans, especially 3:10 “As it is written there is none righteous, no not one”, etc?  One should observe that he then he goes on to write in reference to the Jews: “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (3:18). Would anyone believe that Paul considered that no Jewish individual had ever feared God?  Acts13:16,26 confirms the contrary; likewise, Luke’s account of righteous Cornelius before his conversion to Christianity, confirming that his prayers and alms giving had been noted by God (Acts10:2,4,22). The apostle in his letter to the Roman churches had been utilizing a typically Jewish literary technique, linking together OT scriptural references, in this case to adduce universal sinfulness, i.e. that both Jew and Gentile were under the reign of sin and fall short of God’s glorious holiness (Rom3:23); he was not intimating that it is in the nature of all people to be godless and hateful so as to act in the depraved manner described in those concatenated excerpts, which themselves need to be examined in context. Rather it refers back to Rom1:18 and his assertion that individuals (not all humanity as some translators’ insertion of a comma intimates) who wilfully suppress the truth God has revealed to them in creed or conscience will come under condemnation.

This is not to deny that Paul is indeed in the business of affirming that to keep the law of God perfectly is quite impossible for fallen man – rather he is to submit to “the righteousness of God”, provided through the faithfulness of Christ [pisteos Iesou Christou – often translated “faith in Christ” – Rom3:22] for the benefit of all (including Cornelius) who even before he knew Christ “believed”, i.e.  feared God and did what he knew to be right (cf. Acts10:35). Such “believers” are justified, not on the basis of their law-keeping or accrual of good works but freely through God’s kindly favour (grace) and the faithfulness of Christ, i.e. by the merits of His atoning death which avail for all the scattered children of God. Such people effectively exercise godly fear when they pay heed to the light of Christ provided through the faculty of conscience, being as Paul himself affirms, the law of God written in the heart (Rom2:15; cf. Jn1:9 Greek). These principles are worked out in a more comprehensive manner in chapter three of the book “The Fellowship of the Secret” a PDF of which is freely available HERE

MARK 3 – THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.”So (Jesus) called them to Himself and said to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to age-enduring condemnation”— because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”.

According to One who should know, the only sin that will not be forgiven either in this age or the next (cf. Matthew’s account 12:22-32) is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The above passage indicates that relates to knowing or sensing in one’s heart that something is of God working through the Spirit but asserting it to be wicked or satanic, precisely as these scribes did with regard to Jesus’ miracle which they wished to discredit in order to preserve their own status and traditions. 

One may well have challenged the working of the Spirit in ignorance, but what is done in ignorance cannot be the unforgivable sin, which is why even blasphemy against Christ can be forgiven but not what is said against the direct working of the Spirit where the matter is perceived within the conscience. In such cases the Spirit Himself convicts the person of their error yet they are determined to persist with their accusation.  In the field of activity that I’m currently concerned with, writing and blogging and of necessity challenging some established Christian teaching (and esteemed teachers) as a result of what I believe the Spirit has shown me, I have to be very careful to pay heed to the dictates of conscience before asserting my ideas or challenging others. But so also would anyone determined to defend a particular theological position or tradition against what they sense might in fact be divine light. If they do sense as much, it is because the Spirit affirms it in their mind and conscience, yet they rebel against it. Such a  sin is a form of intransigence being an unwillingness to be persuaded of the truth by any means. Heretics and false prophets can be sincere but simply mistaken or deluded for which they will no doubt be punished for their presumption, but those who directly revile or obstruct the workings of the Spirit are in still greater danger. Such were these scribes and Pharisees who will have known in their hearts that the Saviour’s acts of compassion and miraculous healing were never the devil’s work, but were determined to malign them for their own ends, wilfully speaking evil of the work of the Spirit.

A free PDF of “The Fellowship of the Secret” HERE

MARK1 – COMPASSION NOT A WEAKNESS


Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Mk1:41-44NKJV)

The fearsome Augustine had once insisted that charity should be exercised “in serenity” rather than an emotional empathy. Those who were moved by compassion to help others he believed lacked wisdom. He concluded on the matter: “There is no harm in the word ‘compassionate’ providing there is no passion in the case” [A]. Such stoicism is surely misplaced: it is noble enough for an individual to endure misery without complaint but any who remain unmoved by another’s pain or distress show themselves to be inhumane and spiritually dead. Jesus Christ provided the pattern for genuine stoicism: silent resilience in the face of personal suffering and abuse; yet filled with heartfelt (literally bowel-felt) compassion (Greek: splagchnistheis) towards others who were in need, as with the leper in the quoted passage.

Neither is Jesus merely reflecting  “the human face of God”: YHWE’s character even as it is revealed in the Old Testament exhibits both passion and compassion; the Father’s nature that we are to emulate (Eph5:1) is thoroughly animated in the face of human wickedness, cruelty, injustice, lies and hypocrisy: He does not exhibit a placid, deistic indifference to these matters but is filled with righteous anger, as was often expressed through His prophets (e.g. Jer6:11). Yet equally He is compassionate towards those who fear Him and who suffer through the wickedness of others, and has promised to punish the latter firmly and proportionately, recompensing the offended at the expense of the offender (cf. Is59:18KJV). Those who are pained by the suffering of others, far from “lacking wisdom” show themselves to be truly human by reflecting the definitive quality of the divine, being Agape   (1Jn4:7,8).

[A] Augustine – “On the morals of the Catholic Church” chap. 27 (para 53)

Exploring the mystery of divine providence