I have a few short reflections based on the New Testament, our Sunday School course of study for this year at church, in my study notebook – so I’ve put some together here, and will write individual posts for a couple of slightly longer ones I want to share.
The Parable of the Supper: The excuses the invitees give in verses 18-20 of this parable are all ridiculous. No one would make such excuses if they were invited to a feast given by an important person. They would be making excuses elsewhere to be there! The contrast between the parable and what people would commonly do in such a situation is obvious. But in rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ, people do just this: make weak, temporal excuses for not coming and enjoying the great blessings of God, and for making eternal choices with myopic vision.
Mark 10:29 & 30
Perhaps the Lord means here the Church of God – that his disciples’ rewards for their sacrifices in following Him would come through their discipleship. Their families would become their fellow-saints; the houses they are welcomed into replacing their own if they have been lost. They would gain so many more brothers, sisters, children and parents than they ever had, and be blessed through their kindness – the goods of their houses and lands. They would ‘gain’ lands through missionary journeys, and the hearts of many. They would receive many things, but in a more lasting sense than they had them originally; and for it, they would gain eternal life.
John 5:39 & 40
In the KJV, verse 39 is translated as a direction: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. The French 1901 translation gives it a different meaning:
You search the scriptures, because you think that in them ye have eternal life: it is they which testify of me.
And you will not come to me to have life(!)
Remembering that the Lord was here speaking to those who accused him of breaking the Sabbath in order to heal a man, and then of blasphemy, because he spoke of doing His Father’s work (of healing), thereby ‘making himself equal with God’. (You can read along with me here – I’m summarising the chapter leading up to vv. 39 & 40). So the Saviour explained His mission, and how He worked under the Father’s authority; that honouring Him was honouring the Father. The Father had also testified already of Christ, and continued to do so (one way was through the healings He performed) – but those who now accused Him refused to see those evidences for what they were – the offer of salvation for a fallen world. So the Jews searched the scriptures and believed that by this they would gain eternal life; that the scriptures had the power to do this, or their observance of all the things. But the scriptures testify of Jesus Christ – the very One who stood before them, the evidences for whom, in front of their eyes, they couldn’t even interpret properly – and it is He who has the power to give eternal life. But they would not come to Him to gain it; instead, they used the scriptures to constest His declarations and actions, or they trusted in words – but not the real thing. The scriptures lead to Christ. Their searching was doing them no good if it didn’t lead them to the One of whom those scriptures testified.