Sunday, January 29, 2023

Cana, Nicodemus, and Jacob’s Well (John 2-4) QUESTIONS

The Marriage in Cana

READ John 2:1-11

Why did Christ’s mother Mary ask Him to help the wedding party that had run out of wine?

Why does Christ answer Mary “what have I to do with thee?  Mine hour is not yet come?”

Why does Christ make use of the waterpots used for ceremonial purification in religious observances?

How did Christ change water into wine; did it actually change its molecular nature or was this a “Jedi mind trick” on Christ’s part?

 

 

Nicodemus and Being Born Again

Christ travels from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover and cleanses the temple.  While He is there He is visited by Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin.

READ John 3:1-2

Who was Nicodemus and what assumptions can we make that could give us insight into why Christ answers him the way He does?

How did Nicodemus know Christ came from God?

 

READ John 3:3-7

In light of Nicodemus’ acknowledgement that Jesus had descended from the High Council of Heaven with authority, why did Christ tell him that he must be born again – as he would already have been baptized, to be holding the position he was holding in Israel?

Can one be born the second time from the mother’s womb? Why did Christ not answer this question?

What is the difference between being born again to “see” vs being born again to “enter” the kingdom?

Why must we first be “born to see”?

What are we when we have been born again to see?

How do we become “born again to see?”

 

READ Ezra Taft Benson quote:

“As we seek to qualify to be members of Christ's Church -- members in the sense in which He uses the term, members who have repented and come unto Him -- let us remember these principles. The gospel is the Lord's plan of happiness and repentance is designed to bring us joy. True repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other way. True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior (see Alma 5:13). Part of this mighty change of heart is to feel godly sorrow for our sins. This is what is meant by a broken heart and a contrite spirit… It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute "godly sorrow" (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.” (E.T. Benson; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 71-72)

What does it mean to be “born of water and of the Spirit”?

What is an ordinance?

Is it possible to perform the baptism of water and be confirmed without receiving the baptism of fire or gift of the Holy Ghost?

 

READ D&C 132:7 (minus the insertion)

“All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise… are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”

Is ANYTHING binding unless it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?

Why did Nicodemus “marvel” at Christ’s answers?

What does it mean to be born of God?

How does one receive the baptism of the Spirit or Fire – to be born of God?

 

READ Omni 1:26, 3 Nephi 9:19-20, Alma 22:18, and Moroni 4:3

What are the terms of the covenant that we must offer up?

 

In a new translation of the Testimony of St John (TSJ), the interchange is slightly different.

READ: “Nicodemus said to him, If I believe this, can I ascend in this life, or will it be accomplished only in the afterlife? Jesus answered, In the name of Father Ahman I say to you, except you receive the ordinance of baptism to join the new dispensation, and thereby forsake your sins and receive forgiveness and an outpouring of the Spirit, you will not ascend to God’s presence in this life or the life to come. All who are devoted to the ambitions of the flesh remain imprisoned by the flesh, and those who are born anew through the ordinances, receive the Spirit of Truth, and are able to know the record of heaven by the Spirit of Truth. Do not question if what I say is true because the Spirit of Truth confers light, knowledge, and understanding of the mysteries of heaven within every soul who receives it.”

What insights can you gain from this translation?

What does it mean to remain imprisoned by the flesh?

What is implied by Nicodemus’ questioning if what Christ says is true?

 

READ John 3:8-15

Why does Christ say the person who has been born of the Spirit is like the wind?

Why did the masters of Israel not know that a new dispensation had begun?

What sign did Moses (who the Pharisees greatly revered) give to Israel regarding the Messiah?

 

READ John 3:16-21 and John 3:32-36 (JST)

Why did the Father send the Son?

If you were assured the eternal rewards of a god, and knowing what you know about the hell that can be this life, is there anything that would cause you to risk all of that by coming (back) down to an Earth?

Why did God send prophets prior to Christ’s birth to testify of Him?

 

 

Living Water to the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well

After this early Judean ministry is completed, Christ leaves Judea for Galilee, by way of apostate Samaria.

 

READ John 4:5-14

What happens when we run out of water on a hot day?

What can happen if you are out in the hot desert and you aggressively ration your water?

How would you compare the natural water and the “living water” that Christ is talking about?

What similarities and differences exist between drawing the water from Jacob’s Well and obtaining the living water?

 

READ D&C 63:23

Christ tells the woman that the living water is His to give; how does He give us that water?

 

READ D&C 84:19-23

What are the mysteries of His kingdom that yield this living water?

 

READ John 4:15-19

What can we learn from this exchange between Christ and the woman?

 

READ John 4:20-26

What is Christ teaching her about how, where and what to worship?

 

READ John 4:27-38

Christ had not eaten; what was the “meat to eat” that the disciples didn’t know about?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

John the Baptist (Matthew 3-4; John 1)

John and the Kingdom of God

READ Matthew 3:1-6

The Jews were looking for a Messiah to save them from the Romans, but what Kingdom did John preach was at hand?

The kingdom of heaven.

What constitutes the kingdom of God or Heaven (on earth)?

God has given His oracles (revelations) to man (see TPJS 306:2).

They have authority to perform saving ordinances that are recognized in heaven and can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (see TPJS 308:2).

Did John have the keys of the kingdom of God or did the Jewish leaders, who had legitimate authority to perform the temple sacrifices, have them?

According to Joseph Smith, John wrested the keys of the kingdom from the Jewish leaders, and they didn’t even know they had lost their authority (see TPJS 276).

The Jewish leaders still had the temple, the ordinances, the fine trappings of wealth and prestige that came with priesthood office but they were rejected by God. Yet the multitudes still followed them and John was killed.

 

READ TPJS 307:2-308:2

“As touching the Gospel and baptism that John preached, I would say that John came preaching the Gospel for the remission of sins; he had his authority from God, and the oracles of God were with him, and the kingdom of God for a season seemed to rest with John alone. The Lord promised Zacharias that he should have a son who was a descendant of Aaron, the Lord having promised that the priesthood should continue with Aaron and his seed throughout their generations. Let no man take this honor upon himself, except he be called of God, as was Aaron; and Aaron received his call by revelation. An angel of God also appeared unto Zacharias while in the Temple, and told him that he should have a son, whose name should be John, and he should be filled with the Holy Ghost. Zacharias was a priest of God, and officiating in the Temple, and John was a priest after his father, and held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, and was called of God to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. The Jews, as a nation, having departed from the law of God and the Gospel of the Lord, prepared the way for transferring it to the Gentiles.  But, says one, the kingdom of God could not be set up in the days of John, for John said the kingdom was at hand. But I would ask if it could be any nearer to them than to be in the hands of John. The people need not wait for the days of Pentecost to find the kingdom of God, for John had it with him, and he came forth from the wilderness crying out, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand,” as much as to say, “Out here I have got the kingdom of God, and you can get it, and I am coming after you; and if you don’t receive it, you will be damned;” and the scriptures represent that all Jerusalem went out into John’s baptism. There was a legal administrator, and those that were baptized were subjects for a king; and also the laws and oracles of God were there; therefore the kingdom of God was there; for no man could have better authority to administer than John; and our Savior submitted to that authority Himself, by being baptized by John; therefore the kingdom of God was set up on the earth, even in the days of John.”

What is God’s message through the “oracles” to man?

Repent.

Come and be baptized.

 

READ Matthew 3:7; JST Matthew 3:7-9; Matthew 3:10

What is at the heart of the problem that the High Priests and Pharisees have with John?

They will not soften their hearts to believe his words.

They jealously guard their “right to preside” in the priesthood and the gate of salvation (only they have the power to bring seed unto Abraham).

They will not humble themselves and repent.

The fruits of repentance do not flow from them, despite their priestly titles or outwardly misaligned religious piety.

Is God’s forgiveness dependent on your good works or “fruits of repentance” or are those good works proof of your repentance and His forgiveness?

They are proof that you have genuinely and humbly repented and that He has forgiven you – and you are now filled with the Holy Spirit.

You cannot do enough good works to qualify for forgiveness – we are unprofitable servants.

 

 

Baptism of Water vs. Fire

READ Matthew 3:11-12 (JST 3:38-40) and 2 Nephi 31:12-13

If John was baptizing by water but not by Fire and the Holy Ghost, what was his baptism for?

It was a witness unto the Father that those baptized were willing to take upon themselves the name of Christ.

What is the difference between the baptism of water and the baptism of fire?

Baptism of water is an outward ordinance (via Aaronic Priesthood); it is an ordinance with a covenant whereby we promise we will be willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, keep His commandments, and always remember Him (a commitment to offer a broken heart and contrite spirit) – it is a “gate” we must enter.

Baptism of fire is an inward ordinance (via Melchizedek Priesthood); it is the “sealing” of the ordinance of baptism by water whereby one’s sins are actually burned away and the individual is sanctified and receives a mighty change of heart through receiving the Holy Ghost; but if the terms of the covenant are not kept, the baptism of fire will not happen, as God is not bound by a broken covenant (see also 2 Nephi 31:17).

So, is it possible to be baptized of water and not receive a remission of sins?

Yes, if you do not live the terms of the covenant, you will not receive the baptism of fire and you will remain in your sins.

However, you have your entire life to put your whole soul on the altar of the Lord – but do not procrastinate the day.

The ordinances, like baptism, are outward signs or witnesses to God of an inward change.  Ordinances are an authorized invitation to go to the Lord and receive the blessings promised in the associated covenants.

 

 

The Baptism of Christ

READ Matthew 3:13-14, JST Matthew 3:43-46, and 2 Nephi 31:5-7, 9

Why was Christ baptized by John?

John was the legal administrator (held the oracles – which is different than “being” an oracle – which is a wrong interpretation of the word, if you believe Joseph Smith in the “Teachings” section quoted above).

Christ’s baptism was also a witness or covenant, but His was to the Father – that Christ would be obedient unto the Father in keeping His commandments.

Christ is our example in all things (to be saved we must be “precisely what He is, and nothing else” see LoF 7:9).

Who was the “sign of the dove” for?

For John, it was a physical witness to him of the successful administration of the ordinance – which was his calling: to baptize the Messiah.

The dove is an emblem of truth and innocence which the devil cannot copy (see TPJS 311:4).

Why was the dove chosen to represent the Holy Ghost?

The bird in Egyptian iconography represented awakened single-pointed consciousness or Akasha or the “primary substance” out of which all things are formed – the space or ether or energy which extends from God to fill the immensity of space – the holy spirit (see King Tut’s mask as an example of how it was used).

“Not from what moves in the waters nor from what creeps or prowls on the ground and hardly ever from four-footed beasts is this imagery borrowed; but, in the main, only from winged creatures that can lift themselves above the earth and, as it were, live between us and heaven. Angels before God's Throne are pictured with wings as Seraphs. With the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Son of man, there is mention of the form of a dove. That it might have wings to fly upward is the secret prayer of the soul that is bound to the dust. And so it conforms to the order of creation, it corresponds to the Divinely ordained state of things, and it therefore appeals to us as something that is entirely natural that in order to express the most tender and mystical kind of religion, the winged creature is held up to us as a symbol and that boldest imagery serves to picture to us what it is "to be near unto God," to make it, as it were, visible to our eyes and perceptible to our feelings.” (Donna B. Nielsen)

 

READ Hebrews 5:5, Psalms 2:7, Mosiah 5:7 and D&C 11:28-30

There is an argument that the actual words spoken by God at Christ’s baptism were those found in Psalms 2:7; what are the similarities and differences between being physically begotten and spiritually begotten?

Christ was physically begotten when Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost – the Father was the co-creator of His physical body.

Christ was spiritually begotten when the Father proclaimed Him “clean from the blood of this wicked generation” unto all the Earth (see D&C 88:74-75).

Why would the Father tell Christ that “this day have I begotten thee” at the time of Christ’s baptism?

When a soul condescends to enter a tabernacle of clay on a mortal earth, they must ascend back to Heaven again – following each “rung on Jacob’s ladder” until they arrive back in God’s presence to reclaim the blessing of exaltation they had attained to previously but had laid aside.

The Father is acknowledging Christ as a “Son of God” at His baptism, which is a necessary rung on the Ladder.

The whole idea of condescension is that these “souls” (spirit and celestial body) have already attained to an exalted status on previous earths in prior eternities but are condescending or going below their “station” by taking upon themselves a mortal body again to perform some mission and/or to attain to further glory on this earth (like Christ attaining to the resurrection of the dead for Himself, for example).

Why might have these verses been changed by later Church leaders?

During the Third and Fourth Centuries the debates over "adoptionism" were causing doctrinal havoc for the Christian movement. 

As they solidified control over the movement, the leaders of the developing Historic Christian faith had a plan to cure the schism involving arguments that Christ was just a man who had been "adopted" at His baptism to become the Son of God. 

The original words spoken at His baptism came from (see Psalms 2:7); these words seemingly supported the "adoptionists" arguments. 

The answer was simple - change the text of the Gospels.  So, they edited the words and changed them from saying, "Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee" to instead, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (see Matthew 3:17). 

That drove a stake in the heart of the "adoptionist" arguments. Bart D. Ehrman has shown how this, and other controversies, affected the text of the New Testament in his book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament.

 

READ D&C 93:19-20, 27-28, 36, 39; and D&C 50:24

How does one become a “Son of God”?

Keep the commandments.

Receive “grace for grace”.

Grow in truth and light.

Come unto the Father.

Receive a fullness of His glory.

 

 

Communion with God & Temptations from Satan:

READ Matthew 4:1-2 (JST)

What was Christ doing with God in the wilderness for 40 days?

Communing with God through meditation.

Receiving heavenly messengers to prepare Him for His ministry.

Ascending the fiery portal and entering the presence of God for light/knowledge, comfort and ordinances (covenanted promises).

What does it mean to “commune” with God?

To be in His presence.

To KNOW Him – it is intimate.

To remember the “kingdom of God is within you”.

Eventually to know Him as you are known, which requires being sanctified, purified and like Him so that you can comprehend Him.

 

READ Matthew 4:3-4

What is Satan tempting Christ to do?

Satisfy His physical needs.

End the fast on Satan’s terms instead of God’s.

Doubt His divine sonship.

Prove that He was God by doing what only God can do (turn “stones” into “bread” or give life to an object that would be “dead” without it).

 

READ Matthew 4:5-7 (JST)

What was the second temptation?

Become famous by showing a sign to the people of Jerusalem of His power.

Create a crowd of sign-seekers as disciples instead of humble followers who heard God’s message from an otherwise uncredentialed and unlikely source and had to exercise faith.

 

READ Matthew 4:8-10

What was the third temptation?

To “partake out of season” in what was really Christ’s birthright anyway – to be the King of Kings - to trade “suffering servant” for His coming in glory earlier than He should have.

It was an offer Satan couldn’t really deliver except short term.

What is the overarching theme in Satan’s temptations to Christ?

All of Satan’s temptations were designed to sow seeds of doubt in Christ – “if thou be the Son of God”, even though He had received the High Priesthood with its sealing power and had just communed with God in His presence for 40 days.

Satan wanted Christ to prove in a miraculous way that He held God’s power.

Since Christ held the sealing power and since that power can only be employed as directed by His Father, Satan was trying to get Christ to lose that power by misuse and by so doing, lose the ability to be our Savior.

If he had succeeded, our chance for atonement and resurrection would have been destroyed and we would have become angels to the devil – which was Satan’s plan from the beginning.

Were these temptations legitimate or was this just an exercise in futility on Satan’s part?

They had to be legitimate temptations for Christ to win a victory over sin.

Christ suffered temptations just as we all do, but owing to His gifts, the level of temptation was much higher than we will ever encounter here.

There is an interesting implication here about how the mortal veil or flesh affected even Christ – if there could have been no doubt at all in Christ’s mind regarding who He was and what He had just received, it would have made no sense for Satan to have even tried – so either Satan is stupid (untrue) or the nature of this mortal condition made it possible for even Christ to be tempted by Satan’s specific temptations – the idea that one might be losing one’s mind when one rends the veil and sees the heavens (and must prove to others and even themselves that it was all real by doing something miraculous in the physical world as proof), is possible.

 

 

Christ Calls Disciples

READ John 1:35-51

Why did the disciples ask Christ “where dwellest thou” – that seems like a random question of no consequence to have made it into the Bible?

They were really asking “are you really the Lamb of God descended here from heaven?”

Do you dwell on earth or in heaven or both? 

If both, how do you ascend to heaven and yet abide here on the earth in a body?

It is interesting that Christ replied “come and see” and led them to a physical dwelling of some kind – but the next day told Nathanael that he would see the heavens open and angels “ascending and descending” – proof that Christ knew the “way” to heaven from this mortal world or dimension. 

 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

John the Baptist (Matthew 3-4; John 1) QUESTIONS

John and the Kingdom of God

READ Matthew 3:1-6

The Jews were looking for a Messiah to save them from the Romans, but what Kingdom did John preach was at hand?

What constitutes the kingdom of God or Heaven (on earth)?

Did John have the keys of the kingdom of God or did the Jewish leaders, who had legitimate authority to perform the temple sacrifices, have them?

 

READ TPJS 307:2-308:2

“As touching the Gospel and baptism that John preached, I would say that John came preaching the Gospel for the remission of sins; he had his authority from God, and the oracles of God were with him, and the kingdom of God for a season seemed to rest with John alone. The Lord promised Zacharias that he should have a son who was a descendant of Aaron, the Lord having promised that the priesthood should continue with Aaron and his seed throughout their generations. Let no man take this honor upon himself, except he be called of God, as was Aaron; and Aaron received his call by revelation. An angel of God also appeared unto Zacharias while in the Temple, and told him that he should have a son, whose name should be John, and he should be filled with the Holy Ghost. Zacharias was a priest of God, and officiating in the Temple, and John was a priest after his father, and held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, and was called of God to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. The Jews, as a nation, having departed from the law of God and the Gospel of the Lord, prepared the way for transferring it to the Gentiles.  But, says one, the kingdom of God could not be set up in the days of John, for John said the kingdom was at hand. But I would ask if it could be any nearer to them than to be in the hands of John. The people need not wait for the days of Pentecost to find the kingdom of God, for John had it with him, and he came forth from the wilderness crying out, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand,” as much as to say, “Out here I have got the kingdom of God, and you can get it, and I am coming after you; and if you don’t receive it, you will be damned;” and the scriptures represent that all Jerusalem went out into John’s baptism. There was a legal administrator, and those that were baptized were subjects for a king; and also the laws and oracles of God were there; therefore the kingdom of God was there; for no man could have better authority to administer than John; and our Savior submitted to that authority Himself, by being baptized by John; therefore the kingdom of God was set up on the earth, even in the days of John.”

What is God’s message through the “oracles” to man?

 

READ Matthew 3:7; JST Matthew 3:7-9; Matthew 3:10

What is at the heart of the problem that the High Priests and Pharisees have with John?

Is God’s forgiveness dependent on your good works or “fruits of repentance” or are those good works proof of your repentance and His forgiveness?

 

 

Baptism of Water vs. Fire

READ Matthew 3:11-12 (JST 3:38-40) and 2 Nephi 31:12-13

If John was baptizing by water but not by Fire and the Holy Ghost, what was his baptism for?

What is the difference between the baptism of water and the baptism of fire?

So, is it possible to be baptized of water and not receive a remission of sins?

 

 

The Baptism of Christ

READ Matthew 3:13-14, JST Matthew 3:43-46, and 2 Nephi 31:5-7, 9

Why was Christ baptized by John?

Who was the “sign of the dove” for?

Why was the dove chosen to represent the Holy Ghost?

 

READ Hebrews 5:5, Psalms 2:7, Mosiah 5:7 and D&C 11:28-30

There is an argument that the actual words spoken by God at Christ’s baptism were those found in Psalms 2:7; what are the similarities and differences between being physically begotten and spiritually begotten?

Why would the Father tell Christ that “this day have I begotten thee” at the time of Christ’s baptism?

Why might have these verses been changed by later Church leaders?

 

READ D&C 93:19-20, 27-28, 36, 39; and D&C 50:24

How does one become a “Son of God”?

 

 

Communion with God & Temptations from Satan:

READ Matthew 4:1-2 (JST)

What was Christ doing with God in the wilderness for 40 days?

What does it mean to “commune” with God?

 

READ Matthew 4:3-4

What is Satan tempting Christ to do?

 

READ Matthew 4:5-7 (JST)

What was the second temptation?

 

READ Matthew 4:8-10

What was the third temptation?

What is the overarching theme in Satan’s temptations to Christ?

Were these temptations legitimate or was this just an exercise in futility on Satan’s part?

 

 

Christ Calls Disciples

READ John 1:35-51

Why did the disciples ask Christ “where dwellest thou” – that seems like a random question of no consequence to have made it into the Bible?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Nativity (Luke 2; Matthew 2)

Christ’s Birth

READ Luke 2:1-7

Why was Jesus prophesied to be born in Bethlehem?

It was the “city of David”, the place where Israel’s greatest king had been raised – Christ would be the King of Kings.

It means “House of Bread” and Christ was the Bread of Life.

Like all aspects of his humble birth and upbringing, Bethlehem was a small village, not a sophisticated urban metropolis.

With Christ’s birth occurring in April and not December, why else was there “no room in the inn”?

There was a Roman census.

It was also the Passover season where 2 million Jews descended upon Jerusalem (usually a city of 200k to 300k).

Why may have Christ’s birth in a stable cave have been preferable to the “inn” for Mary?

These “inns” were not like the Prancing Pony in Bree or the Westin downtown.

They were “khans” or “caravanserai” which were fortress-like buildings with an open square in the middle for livestock and rooms that were open to that square, so that people could keep an eye on their animals.

There was little privacy there to deliver a baby.

 

READ Matthew 2:1-3

Where did the Wise Men go to find Christ?

The king’s palace.

Because the heavenly sign pointed to a “king of the Jews” being born.

Why was Christ born in such humble circumstances when He could have been born in a palace?

God’s ways are not our ways – accepting Christ was not designed to be easy.

He condescended to leave heaven and to descend below all things.

He was to go forth suffering pains and afflictions of every kind, so that he could know how to succor His people (see Alma 7:11-12) – it started at birth.

 

READ Luke 2:8-14

Why do we not have a record of angels appearing to others around Bethlehem to proclaim Christ’s birth?

It was important that the “glad tidings” be proclaimed to these shepherd witnesses, who would take the word to others.

The lowly shepherds were soft-hearted believers while the Chief Priests and leaders of the Church were prideful, wicked men only interested in priestcraft and organizational/political power.

What flock were these shepherds watching over and what is the significance?

These shepherds likely were at the Migdal Eder (“watchtower of the flock”) guarding the lambs that had been born late that winter and were earmarked to be sacrificed at the Passover Feast.

They were the lambs that would be sacrificed in similitude of the sacrifice of Christ, the true Lamb of God.

What does the name “Jesus” or “Yeshua” mean?

God saves.

One who brings salvation, especially from sin.

To rescue or deliver from harm or danger.

Savior.

So, when the angel says, “is born a Savior”, he could have said “is born Savior”.

What does “Christ” mean?

The anointed one.

Consecrated or made sacred, usually in a ceremony with oil.

The Messiah.

Who does “the Lord” refer to?

The translation says “Lord” but that’s because of the traditions of the Jews and the translators – they used “Lord” or “Adonai” to represent another word – the name of God.

Lord = Yahweh or Jehovah.

What is the actual translation of the angel’s message to the shepherds?

“For unto you is born this day, in the City of the King, Jesus/Yeshua/Joshua, who is the promised Messiah, and also the Lord God Jehovah!”

Why is the sign of the birth of the Lord God Jehovah that He will be lying in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager?

Because that is the last place you’d look for His birth.

It can be a valid sign because it is so unbelievably unexpected.

 

READ Luke 2:15-20

Why did the shepherds decide to leave the flocks immediately and make haste to find the child?

When you are given an invitation authorized by heaven to come unto Christ – you do not delay, and you do not let anything get in your way.

It was the deepest desires of their hearts – to seek and find the living Christ.

What do you think Mary and Joseph’s reaction was to a bunch of shepherds running into the cave and falling at their feet to worship their newborn?

Initially, it was probably surprise – who were these strangers and how did they know about this special, albeit obscure, baby.

It was a reminder that while the world did not know about this birth or this baby, the heavens did.

It was a reminder of the greatness of this child - despite His humble birth, this was not an ordinary child – if either of them (Joseph…) had any doubts, this would have gone a long way to resolve them.

Why did all that heard the shepherds’ testimony “wonder” at it?

It was a crazy story from a bunch of humble shepherds – the likelihood that the Messiah, not to mention God Himself (Yahweh), would be born into the world like this was unthinkable.

The message didn’t come from a credentialed source – not from the High Priest or the Pharisees or the Scholars (scribes) but from regular “members”.

It would be normal to wonder – many of us assume we would recognize the Lord – but back then, when it actually occurred, few did – there is a lot we should ponder about this for each of us and it should start with “Lord, is it I?”

His coming and His ministry required those who elected to follow Him to ignore tradition, to reject many of the tenets and creeds of the religion they believed in, to disregard the priesthood leaders who presided over them and who railed against Him, and to accept a vastly different gospel from what they had been taught since childhood and was believed by all of their family and friends.  They were required to become “revolutionaries”.  And they had to do it all based on “hearing His voice” through His message – everything else was not the way they expected it to be. 

 

READ Luke 2:25-30 and 2:36-38

Who else added their testimony to the shepherds?

Two elderly people filled with the spirit of prophesy.

No one of any consequence or credence to the royal, religious, learned, powerful and rich of the day.

 

 

The Magi from the East

Skipping ahead in the narrative, we already read the beginning of the account of the Magi from the East…

 

READ Matthew 2:4-12, 16

How did the Chief Priests and scribes know where Christ was to be born?

In their study of the scriptures.

So why did their study of the scriptures not lead them to recognize and accept Jesus as that Messiah?

Scripture study is necessary but not sufficient.

They must obtain within themselves the same spirit that animated the prophets who wrote the scriptures, in order to truly understand, believe, and be changed by them.

What else where the Magi studying that the Chief Priests had missed and what is implied?

The stars.

The lights in the heavens were to be for signs and for seasons – all things testify of Christ including the movement of the stars, moon and sun throughout the day/night, month, seasons, and the year (see Genesis 1:14; Moses 2:14; Abraham 4:14; Abraham 3).

These signs in the heavens cannot be touched or changed by man (like written scripture can) and the only way they can be apostatized from is if their meanings are forgotten or changed.

The Chief Priests no longer looked to the stars as signs but the Magi had retained that sacred knowledge and knew what the convergence and movement of certain heavenly bodies meant.

Why did the Magi bring these specific gifts to the Lord?

They were given to Mary to safeguard until the time of Christ’s atoning sacrifice (see John 12:1-8); the royal oil used to coronate a king contained spikenard, frankincense and myrrh.

Frankincense – used to anoint people entering into new phases of their spiritual lives; it is associated with enlightenment and inspiration; a symbol of Christ’s role as our Intercessor and Redeemer.

Myrrh – used as an embalming ointment to purify the dead; it has a bitter smell; a symbol of Christ’s suffering and death – the Suffering Servant.

Spikenard – extremely expensive oil or ointment used to anoint royalty; symbolizes His role as King of Kings; the “gold” associated with the gift could have been used to buy the spikenard or perhaps the text was changed over the years to gold but was actually this very expensive oil (since the other gifts were part of the royal anointing oil recipe). 

These three oils were used to anoint the Lord by Mary prior to His atonement, death and resurrection; this anointing was critical to Christ’s ability to be resurrected as the King of Israel and God of the Earth.

They were also part of the recipe for the incense offering used in the Holy Place of the Hebrew temple.

How long had the Magi been traveling to get to Christ and what does this imply?

Two years.

Other sheep He had, that were not of this Palestinian fold, indeed.

Two years is much farther East than Persia (where the Jews had been taken after Babylon) – it makes one wonder about some of the core truths taught in Eastern Yogic traditions, we may revisit some of these through this year of study as they are taught by Christ during His ministry.

It is interesting to note that frankincense and myrrh are sourced in Africa, and spikenard (thought to be another of the kingly gifts) is found in India, Nepal and China.

Remember that Christ visited all of His other sheep after His resurrection – this group (or groups) would have been among them.

What does the Magi’s error in judgment with regard to Herod’s character and their subsequent revelatory dream teach us?

Good, inspired people can make mistakes – no human is infallible.

Because they were open to revelation (which led them to Christ in the first place), they received revelation again, when it counted.

We should not be accusers of each other for making mistakes – if we are humble and seeking the Lord, He will intercede such that we can learn from our mistakes without causing undue damage to others.

 

 

Christ’s Childhood

READ Luke 2:40-52 (including JST v46)

What does the fact that the scribes and priests were astonished by the answers Jesus gave them to their questions imply?

By twelve years old, He had already been instructed by His Father.

He already knew His Father and “His business” – the immortality and eternal life of man, enabled by the atoning sacrifice.

What is the difference between one who studies the scriptures for thousands of hours and one who “gazes into heaven for five minutes”? (see TPJS 365:1)

One has actual knowledge while the other has speculative conjecture masquerading as truth – the first speaks with “authority” and not as the “scribes” (scholars).

One has been changed by their experience while the other tries to change others’ opinions to align with their own understanding of their research.

 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Nativity (Luke 2; Matthew 2) QUESTIONS

Christ’s Birth

READ Luke 2:1-7

Why was Jesus prophesied to be born in Bethlehem?

With Christ’s birth occurring in April and not December, why else was there “no room in the inn”?

Why may have Christ’s birth in a stable cave have been preferable to the “inn” for Mary?

 

READ Matthew 2:1-3

Where did the Wise Men go to find Christ?

Why was Christ born in such humble circumstances when He could have been born in a palace?

 

READ Luke 2:8-14

Why do we not have a record of angels appearing to others around Bethlehem to proclaim Christ’s birth?

What flock were these shepherds watching over and what is the significance?

What does the name “Jesus” or “Yeshua” mean?

What does “Christ” mean?

Who does “the Lord” refer to?

What is the actual translation of the angel’s message to the shepherds?

Why is the sign of the birth of the Lord God Jehovah that He will be lying in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager?

 

READ Luke 2:15-20

Why did the shepherds decide to leave the flocks immediately and make haste to find the child?

What do you think Mary and Joseph’s reaction was to a bunch of shepherds running into the cave and falling at their feet to worship their newborn?

Why did all that heard the shepherds’ testimony “wonder” at it?

 

READ Luke 2:25-30 and 2:36-38

Who else added their testimony to the shepherds?

 

 

The Magi from the East

Skipping ahead in the narrative, we already read the beginning of the account of the Magi from the East…

 

READ Matthew 2:4-12, 16

How did the Chief Priests and scribes know where Christ was to be born?

So why did their study of the scriptures not lead them to recognize and accept Jesus as that Messiah?

What else where the Magi studying that the Chief Priests had missed and what is implied?

Why did the Magi bring these specific gifts to the Lord?

How long had the Magi been traveling to get to Christ and what does this imply?

What does the Magi’s error in judgment with regard to Herod’s character and their subsequent revelatory dream teach us?

 

 

Christ’s Childhood

READ Luke 2:40-52 (including JST v46)

What does the fact that the scribes and priests were astonished by the answers Jesus gave them to their questions imply?

What is the difference between one who studies the scriptures for thousands of hours and one who “gazes into heaven for five minutes”? (see TPJS 365:1)

Cana, Nicodemus, and Jacob’s Well (John 2-4) QUESTIONS

The Marriage in Cana READ John 2:1-11 Why did Christ’s mother Mary ask Him to help the wedding party that had run out of wine? Why doe...