Healings occur frequently in the New Testament. They testify both to the power and compassion of God. Acts 3 describes the first healing after Jesus’ resurrection: Peter and John’s healing of the lame man at the temple and the speech Peter gave immediately afterward.
The same people who hated Jesus hated Peter and John for this deliberate act of subversion. It’s easy for us to understand its life-changing impact on the beggar. It’s less easy to notice it’s meaning in the life of the church.
Have you ever wondered about what Jesus meant when he gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven? It can be confusing.
Somehow, the phrase has been turned into “keys to the kingdom,” which incorrectly suggests that Peter somehow had authority to decide whom to allow into the kingdom. God, not Peter is the ultimate judge.
Use of the wrong preposition isn’t the only way Christians have interpreted the passage in Matthew 16:19 in ways Jesus probably didn’t intend.
Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In Matthew 28:20, he specifically said to “make disciples of all nations.”
It took a while for them to understand that he meant for more than just Jews to become disciples. Finally, God prepared a very special person, Cornelius, to become the first gentile Christian.
The Jews had long suffered under Roman occupation. So isn’t it just like God to choose a Roman centurion to hear the gospel first?
No one has any trouble understanding Jesus as a man. It’s the concept that Jesus Christ is God made man that causes problems. Peter, the first person to declare that Jesus is the Christ, had the same trouble.
Jesus first asked the disciples who men said he was. They could have mentioned that the Pharisees and others thought he was a menace to the community and unqualified to teach on Scripture, but apparently they didn’t.
All of the gospels record what the disciples had heard from the adoring crowds that had followed them. Some said John the Baptist, returned from the grave after his beheading.… Read the rest
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, but stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” — Acts 4:29-30
I keep reading of prophecies, or at least predictions, that American Christians face persecution like it has never happened here before. Quite a variety of people have written about it, and they offer a variety of evidence. Frankly, the writers exhibit quite a wide range of credibility, too.
As I read this passage from Acts, it struck me that, while I have no idea how likely we are to face systematic persecution, the Bible has already told us how to face it.… Read the rest
“The night before Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread. . .” We have probably heard that every time we take communion, but what about, “The night before Jesus was betrayed, Jesus took a towel. . .”? Why is that towel not as much a symbol of Christianity as the cross or the communion elements?
Jesus always surprises because he refuses to act like the rest of us. Before the feast of the Passover, when he knew he would be seized, tried, and executed illegally, he remained calm. He knew that Judas would betray him, but he remained loving. He chose an especially dramatic way to demonstrate his love.… Read the rest