Sunday, September 25, 2016

A couple of pet peeves

I know these songs are traditional, but they really aren't biblical.  "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuels' veins."  What an odd, grotesque song, like "I am washed in the blood."  The reference is to Revelation 1:5, but I think closer study would free us from these songs.  Blood stands for violent death.  The blood is not magical. Please.

Gullibility.  I don't know if this is true, but my Christian friends seem to be the first to share conspiratorial Facebook posts as long as they make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look bad.  Those two don't really need false conspiratorial posts to look bad to a lot of people.

Speaking of which, polls have HRC's support at about 40-42%.  Not exactly rousing victory, but her husband didn't have anything near a majority either.

I'll add a couple more:  smoke in worship services.  Unresearched sermon illustrations.


Control

Our pastor preached on James 2 today, a direct, no-holds-barred passage.  This post is related to questions my "Life" group had in response to it.

How far does love go?  I think the problem comes here because we think the command to love has some promise attached to it, a promise about the response to the loving actions.  I am not aware of any of those.  Scripture doesn't say, "Love your neighbor so that . . . ." some result will come.  It just says "Love your neighbor."  Somewhere in Christian teaching we were given the sense that love for another will get an outcome such as a perfect relationship with them, no more conflict, no more snarkiness and hurt feelings, the other person's conversion, the other person's repentance from sin, the other person's breaking of a bad habit that just happens to make us crazy.

The commandment is absolute; no strings attached, so to speak, either before or after. 

But love does not mean living someone's life for them.  It means kindness, attention, prayer, lack of partiality (the point of James), sharing the Word, treating them as fully human, and helping when they are in true need, but not paying their bills, answering the phone and talking for hours every time they call, serving as their personal chauffeur or laundress, or doing things they are fully capable of doing so that they will see our Jesus-like love and then . .  .well, do something wonderful in response. 

It also doesn't mean agreeing with them or taking abuse or not holding them accountable.  In short, we have gotten a really sick view of love, which then only piles on the guilt when we fall short of being able to do all this for someone.

Which brings us to the second question, one I really liked.  How do we know what sin is?  One member of the class works in a phone ministry and a woman called and asked why it was a sin not to go to church, since it wasn't in the Ten Commandments.  My answer was that first the person didn't understand the difference between what the Old Testament means for Christians and what the New Testament teaches.  The law brings us to knowledge of sin so that we see our need for Christ; the New Testament teaches us a new law, of love and liberty, that sometimes looks like the Old Testament law but really is of a different quality (not worse or better, but different purpose and source).  Hebrews 10:24 and 25 commands physical assembly with other Christians for clearcut purposes.

Furthermore, if one asks for God to show sin in one's life, it will become clear, most of them being rooted in the heart.  And if someone knows to do good and does it not, for him it is sin (James). But society, culture, and the media will also try to make you feel guilty about any number of things that have absolutely no connection to the holiness of God.  My house is currently rather dirty--dusty and dirty floors, primarily.  Does God care?  I think God cares more that I am exhausted and having trouble holding my head up right now.  He is more concerned that I spend some time with my husband, who needs encouragement. This is no excuse for the housework--it will get done, but an unmopped floor is not a sin.  If we confuse sin with violating some social norms we have lessened sin as well as elevated unimportant matters.

Control is the key word here.  Control is an illusion, but it is also one of our biggest problems.  It is the opposite of "radical dependence," which we are commanded.  A lot of my conflicts come from the mistaken idea that I have control over a situation, I should have control over it, and my control will be rewarded.  On Thursday I am having a nuclear stress test because of my fatigue and shortness of breath, something I can't control.  There is precious little we control, yet we cling to that illusion and then let ourselves be made guilty for not meeting an impossible standard.  

Who is Calling?

I read some starting information about one of the big bestsellers in the Christian publishing world, something with the name "Jesus" and the word "calling" in it. It's something like #57 on Amazon.

Sigh.

Double sigh.

The Church has overcome great persecution, the Middle Ages, the Black Death, and so much more.  I hope we can endure this book. But the whole thing, like The Shack, is disturbing and concerning.

Let me first say that I hope there isn't, and I don't believe there is, any envy of someone's publishing success that I have not achieved.  It's really about something deeper, three things in particular.

First, the gullibility of the church today.  Why buy a book based on supposed messages a middle-aged woman got from God?  How is this different from Ellen G. White or Joseph Smith? In addition, there is no understanding of how we got our Bible in the first place, that they were not tablets found in a cave or delivered to the apostles by automatic writing

Second, the failure of the church to read the Bible for itself, to study it despite all the available tools.  I am amazed by people who have sat in church for decades and can't find books in the Bible.  Who haven't memorized more than a random verse.  Who don't know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

Third, the dishonesty of the publishing industry.

But the fourth one takes a whole different angle, because I hear it from people other than those who might be taken in by false teaching about the origin of revelation.  It is the desire for "more."  More than what the Bible teaches and offers, more than what one's pastor can preach, more than the closeness of prayer, more than the comfort of the fellowship, more than the challenge of service.  It is rarely the more of intellectual stimulation, since that is fairly easy found in the historical writings of the church (can't get much better than Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Edwards, Lewis).  I believe it is an emotional stimulation or gratification that is desired, and that leads many to mysticism.

Centering prayer, tongues, deep knowing, contemplative practices, use of icons, to name a few.  I can't say that these are all bad, but they do seem to have three accompanying issues that are troublesome:
1.  where they come from (whether historically or contemporarily)
2.  why they are pursued (boredom?  narcissism?  desire to be accepted by another group?)
3.  where they might take one next, as into Eastern religion.
This link sort of says it all http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/view/20095/the-big-book-of-christian-mysticism

This is not to say I wouldn't read about this for informational purposes, because I am innately curious about these things, but there is something in my nature that would make me stop short of practicing them. Maybe it's laziness.  Maybe it's a tendency to distrust trendiness of all kinds (especially when money is involved).  Maybe it's a conservative bent and unwillingness to change.  Maybe it's natural cynicism.  Maybe it's emotional shallowness that doesn't need something deeper.  Maybe it's contentment with the relationships I have. Maybe it's a belief that we are here for service and love more than emotional self-satisfaction. 

But I tend to think it's an adherence to the Word and to the belief that the Word--made flesh and made verbal--is sufficient. 

Fresh Studies in Matthew: Chapter 5


The Beatitudes bear much reflection.  Does verse 1 of chapter 5 say the multitude heard him or just disciples?  That is key.  It’s not necessarily a large crowd.  The first one, verse 2, is a mystery.  Poor in spirit?  In another context, in Luke, it is only “poor.”  What does it mean?  Downtrodden?  Sad?  Those who lack self-will and self-reliance?  Andy why the kingdom of heaven?  What is the connection with mourning and the meek?  Perhaps the whole passage is saying, “God’s values are not those of the kingdoms of this world, which honors and privileges ruthlessness, self-seeking, ambition for power, and false happiness at the risk of ignoring real pain.”  This is starting to make sense.  This is why I cannot be all about my career and power, and leadership must come from a different mindset.  
I read the “servant leadership” book but people misunderstand the concept.  The core is not what one does specifically. but the overall goal of being a leader, i.e., that it is to serve a group of people.  Greenleaf in that book was more about the servants of the organization being leaders, a kind of democratic structure.  That is ok, but not what most people think about with servant leadership.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
The key behind it is that we will be comforted.  We are not blessed because we mourn (although maybe sometimes we are) but because we will be comforted.  The blessing is not inherent in mourning, but in what living with Jesus as king of one’s life provides in mourning
We might, however, be blessed in mourning.  First it means we have someone close enough to mourn over when we lose them. We have enough sensitivity of spirit to do so, a sensitivity I fear is being lost with an increasingly narcissistic generation (and I don’t mean millenials) and the everyday presence of news reports of mass killings somewhere at home and abroad.  For Jesus’ audience, mourning was a common experience because people were likely to die from medical conditions or die younger or even from political reasons.  They also had a stronger sense of community and family and a weaker sense of (if any) individualism and isolation. 
However, the emphasis here is being comforted, so we must ask what about the kingdom of God that Jesus is bringing in comforts those who mourn? 
  1. long-term view
  2. he cares
  3. community who cares
  4. he mourns too
I saw in my Bible that I had put the words “over sin” over the word “mourn.” (why do we feel the need to add words to the text?)  There seems no reason to add that, really.  Mourning is ultimately mourning over sin anyway; if there were no sin there would be no mourning.
However, we live in an age where mourning is feared; we are supposed to “move on,” which makes those who mourn longer feel like freaks who need therapy.  Let’s not move on so quickly.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew, 4:23-25

As I’ve said before you learn a lot about a religious faith by what its founder did.  In Jesus’s case it was healing, teaching, feeding, moving among the poor.  He also, which causes the problems for secularists who at least acknowledge that he did good works, take worship and claim to be deity, without any “disclaimers.” Now in the text he is popular but later will make it more difficult when the opposition to him comes from religious leaders.  The powerful are always worried by righteousness and social movements, and they are worried when they cannot control religious movements. The powerful's primary motivation is to retain power.
What did Mohammed do?  Conquer by the sword and amass wealth and wives, present the Q'ran but claim it was given him despite his being illiterate.  Buddha?  Denied suffering, sat under a tree; he did give up his inheritance to live poor, the opposite of Mohammed. On that basis alone, I'll stick with Jesus, but there are thousands of other reasons to stick with him.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew, 4:23-25


Matthew 4:23-25 summarizes a great deal of activity.  Jesus healed and taught, the two things the church still does pretty well today and the world doesn’t recognize.  One might wonder, why stop there, geographically?  Why not go on further to other lands and to more people.  Perhaps because that’s our job.  Perhaps because the healing was to show compassion and to verify Messiahship.  Perhaps because he was to go to the Jews first.  Perhaps because he would never have died for our sins if he kept healing and traveling and teaching and healing and traveling. 
What strikes me is that there is no sense of judgment, no sense of the spectacular. No money changes hands. There is no distinction of classes, poor are healed and rich are healed, and one is not counted more worthy than the other.  If they came, they came in faith, and therefore he healed them. 
Returning to this passage, which we overlook in the whole narrative.  What would these diseases be called today?  Were they genetic? Congenital (from the womb), from a virus or bacterium (leprosy is bacterial, but not all Biblical leprosy is what is called Hanson’s disease now), or from trauma?  Were they psychological (demon-possession) or physical?  Does this passage mean he healed all varieties? We add in the man born blind in John 9, the paralytic in Mark 2, the ten lepers, the fevered girl, the woman with a hemorrhage, etc., that yes, all varieties were included, based on their knowledge of medical science.  Was there anything he couldn’t or didn’t heal?  Apparently not, although his disciples were limited.  The healing brought the people in; what did the preaching and teaching do?  They verified the healing, that there was more to his presence than a physical, temporary blessing; there was also a call on their hearts. 
At the time the synagogues were open, but what was the message.  The gospel of the kingdom, the good new that the kingdom had arrived although it was not the one they expected.  I find Matthew hard to fit into our perfect American evangelical soteriology and eschatology.  The gospel of the kingdom is not the “Four Spiritual Laws.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 4:18-22

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One has to wonder about Matthew 4:18-22.  Jesus makes claims on these fishermen above their father and their father’s profession, the family livelihood.  In other passages, though, it appears they still were doing this kind of work.  Whether this calling is normative is the question.  Perhaps this was for a season to learn.  Perhaps it was an issue of priority. They did they leave their nets?  Wy was Jesus’ pull stronger than family and a job?  We know Peter was married.  This is not the first time they had seen him or heard of him.  But they went.
Perhaps the point is that when we follow Christ our work is transformed into something more externally significant.  I don’t think this can be taken that physical labor is to be denied, since Jesus did physical labor with his fathers and brothers (we have to assume that a healthy Jewish male would be working).  Jesus didn’t just float around on a cloud for the first thirty years.

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 4:11 and following


Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  This is one of the mysterious, hard-to-figure out concepts in the New Testament. 
  1. This phrase was the same as John the Baptist’s (3:2)
  2. “Kingdom of God” is used elsewhere in Jesus’ teaching but Matthew uses “Kingdom of heaven.”
  3. It has “drawn near” but how near?
  4. What is the kingdom of heaven?  The king has drawn near in this context, so is that it?  This simply does not fit our neat theologies. 
  5. Two things: 
    1. This is the announcement of extreme importance and it calls for repentance.  Why?  Because we are not worthy to enter it without a change of mind and being.  We give such a prominent part of the gospels so little attention.  Ultimately something new has arrived, something requiring a turning of wants to fit into it.
    2.  Repentance is not a work, but resting from works and work to please God, and from works of unrighteousness

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stereotypes and Boxes

I got a link in one of my seven email accounts to a survey by Gallup.  I had gotten it before and discarded it, but it came back so I took the survey.  I hope it was legit and not a scam.

Along with the typical questions about self-identification and demographics, there was one about practices, something like this: 
Do you regularly
  • Shop at Walmart
  • Watch Nascar
  • Go to church every week
OK.  I can hit two of these.  So I guess they know all they need to know about me.  But it doesn't ask me if I visit art museums, go to the theatre, study film, or listen to NPR every day.  I have three graduate degrees from state universities.  All those things would put me in a different box than the Walmart/NASCAR/church attender box.

No wonder we are in the shape we are.

Writing Life, Part 37

Sometimes I come across something that just plain resonates and makes me wish I wrote it.  Here it is.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2016/september/save-your-soul-stop-writing.html?start=1

The title of this blog is meant to be funny, because I have posts on the writing life frequently.  As compelled as I am to write, the world really doesn't need most of what I write.  I hope some of it finds an audience and blesses, edifies, educates, entertains someone, and blogging does allow that.  At the same time, there is a great danger in blogging, in thinking that my words need public attention just because the technology allows it and I'm glib and educated. I especially am uncomfortable with all this self-revelation. To reveal much about myself is to reveal too much about those around me, in my circle, who deserve privacy.

I will still continue my reflections on Matthew and occasional reflections and will devote my energy to writing that requires more thought than a flighty blog post that aggrandizes me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew - Matthew 4:1-11, Part 2.


A haunting question for Matthew 4:1-10 is whether these temptations are specific to Jesus or do they apply to us, too?  Well, yes and no.  Satan prefaces the first two with the phrase “If you are the Son of God” and hen asks for a magic trick, transforming rocks of loaves of bread and surviving a fall from the high point of the temple.  Jesus’ answer is particular to us, though:  we truly need more than bread and we don’t test God with stupid stunts to see if He will protect us. 
Perhaps frustrated, Satan’s third appeal is “I’ll give you all the world’s kingdoms if you will bow down and worship me.  Were they Satan’s to give and would he deliver on his promise?  Of course not, and that is the point.  He is the liar and father of it.  The kingdoms are the world are God’s, no matter how much they appear to be under Satan’s control.  It is that third temptation that applies most to us, false promises, deals Satan tries to make with us without warrant.

Fresh Studies in Matthew - Matthew 4:1-10, Part 1


 This is a seminal passage in terms of doctrine and practice but does not tell of the only time Jesus was tempted.  There are many instances of temptations of Jesus in the gospel; this one and the Garden of Gethsemane are perhaps the most intense or dramatic from our perspective, but Jesus was tempted in more mundane ways “like as we are” probably every day. As, I believe C.S. Lewis said, he was tempted more than we because he knew sinlessness.  I find this passage raises as many questions as it answers; in fact, I am not sure it answers very many, and that is good.  We are too enamored of easy answers anyway. 
I used to believe and teach that Jesus could not have sinned, but I would not be so adamant now. It is at least up for debate, although I can’t get my head around a Jesus who would sin.  He wouldn’t, of course, but could he?  Hebrews seems to disagree with my former position; logically, it would not have been a real temptation if nothing was at stake.  He was led by the Spirit to the desert, and Jesus was a Trinity team player; did he make choices of his own?  Would that not have been sin?  So the temptation was not of God but allowed by him.  Again, this whole passage is riddled with mystery, the Trinity being one of the main ones (perhaps we should use the word “Godhead?”)
Numerically, there are three temptations after forty days.  Jesus’ answers to Satan are cryptic but Satan gets the point pretty clearly.  Full meanings: Bread is not the only thing or most important thing I need now; I am not here to dance to your tune or test the extent of the powers of incarnation, and as a man I worship only God; as a member of the Godhead I live in obedience to the Father.  There is a great deal more, of course, but I am focusing on fresh things for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fresh Studies of Matthew: Sermon on the Mount

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Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
The key behind it is that we will be comforted.  We are not blessed because we mourn (although maybe sometimes we are) but because we will be comforted.  The blessing is not inherent in mourning, but in what living with Jesus as king of one’s life provides in mourning.
We might, however, be blessed in mourning.  First it means we have someone close enough to mourn over when we lose them. We have enough sensitivity of spirit to do so, a sensitivity I fear is being lost with an increasingly narcissistic generation (and I don’t mean millenials) and the everyday presence of news reports of mass killings somewhere at home and abroad.  For Jesus’ audience, mourning was a common experience because people were likely to die from medical conditions or die younger or even from political reasons.  They also had a stronger sense of community and family and a weaker sense of (if any) individualism and isolation. 
However, the emphasis here is being comforted, so we must ask what about the kingdom of God that Jesus is bringing in comforts those who mourn? 
  1. long-term view
  2. he cares
  3. community who cares
  4. he mourns too
I saw in my Bible that I had put the words “over sin” over the word “mourn.” (why do we feel the need to add words to the text?)  There seems no reason to add that, really.  Mourning is ultimately mourning over sin anyway; if there were no sin there would be no mourning.
However, we live in an age where mourning is feared; we are supposed to “move on,” which makes those who mourn longer feel like freaks who need therapy.  Let’s not move on so quickly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Recent literary review: People of the Book and The LIght Between Oceans

I finished the first on Sunday, and went to see the movie the same afternoon.

For me to have read the whole book shows I liked it, because I am not above setting aside novels I am half-way through because I just don't want to spend the time on them anymore.  My time is precious, and reading a novel takes me days. So that is a plus for Geraldine Brooks' book, the first of hers I have read.  On the other hand, it was anachronistic in a lot of ways. By that, the characters of the past were just too modern in their thinking and speech and actions.  There was the obligatory lesbian affair, lots of inconsistencies on religious practice, and some places where I raised my eyebrows.  It wasn't deep, but I couldn't put it down.  Would I recommend it?  I stopped recommending things a long time ago. But I thought the historical details about art, if not pure history, were fascinating.

As far as the movie goes, it was slow and contrived.  I got tired of its pace half way through and just wanted it to end.  Too many long shots of the ocean, zooming into the island (although the scenery was splendid).  Too many long silent close-ups.  Too many repeated scenes of everyday life.  It was half an hour too long, at least, such that one loses sight of the real conflict, which was sort of interesting if really implausible in its origins, if one thinks about it.  Why did the German get on the boat with an infant?  How did the baby survive?  How the boat appear on their island at just the right time?  How did Tom happen to see Hannah at the grave at just the right moment? Who is the bad guy?  Definitely not Tom, except for not putting his foot down.  His wife?  Well, they did save the baby's life, but Isabel was a total control freak from the first time she met Tom.  Hannah?  She wanted the wife to be disloyal to her husband in order to get the child.  It was good to see Bryan Brown in a movie; he sort of saved the day.

So, I have to stay away from long movies and novels for a while! 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 3


John the “Baptizer.”  It seems that theologians and scholars abstractize very human and particular experiences that are laden with cultural meanings.  John is truly one.  His message to the religious leaders is woe to those who fashion themselves as anything but pastors.  God expects certain behaviors and attitudes of care for the people from leaders.  A leader is not to put the burden of legalism on people.  These leaders were the worst offenders, according to John the Baptist and Jesus.  To abuse spiritual authority is a grievous sin.  So is using the scripture to make your own points and support your own causes.

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 2 continued


Matthew 2:3 verse says “all Jerusalem with him” in regard to Herod’s knowledge of the birth of Messiah.  This leads me to wonder if Jesus’ appearance and ministry were not as obscure as we assume it was.  My notes say there was expectation of a Messiah at that time.  If all Jerusalem was aware that the Magi were reporting the birthd of a Messiah, (a) were they were ok with the infanticide? And (b) why were they troubled instead of glad, unless they were troubled by Jerod’s being troubled.
“Divinely warned in a dream” seems to have been a shared dream.
Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt, which seems to symbolize a secular but prepared place of refuge when there is persecution or exile at “home.” We are called out of it to go home but it is not a bad place, not always.  It has its value in preserving and protecting, even if it is not home. 
The end of Matthew 2 makes it sound as if Nazareth was a new town for Joseph, but Luke 2 says that’s where they were from. 
Tradition tends to rule our perceptions of these first two chapters—the tradition of the medieval church, of Renaissance art, of Hallmark channel. 

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 2


It is interesting how each gospel takes the facts to meld and mold a different story. Matthew 2 starts with the story of a fake king versus the real king.  I’m sure there was some sardonic humor felt by the early Jews who read this and remembered the mistake that was Herod and their antipathy toward him.  These twelve verses were interpreted in various ways pictorially, but we know they weren’t in the barn (v. 11).   
Herod’s political duplicity is pretty stark.  This is probably the root of later fairy tales of evil kings trying to find children who would threaten their power.  Politically powerful people then were to be feared.  The incident is based on the prophecy that Bethlehem, house of bread and David’s birthplace, was a sacred birthplace.  Of course, who were the Magi?  Lots have been written, but they were Gentiles, the first to believe.  Herod doesn’t know the prophecies or Jewish teaching; he has to get some advisors to figure it out.  His only motivation is to stay in power because . . . well, what else is he going to do?

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 1 continued


Catholics ignore the Bible about Mary.  It clearly says they consummated their marriage.  Matthew gives Joseph’s side of the story since it’s focusing on kingship through an earthly heirship. The virgin birth was part of Jewish expectation.  Mary and Joseph were obedient and really didn’t get much say in the matter, although I’m sure they had plenty to talk about and complain to God over in their hearts.  It wasn’t going to be easy.  We are so whiny, so entitled, so unwilling to go through any inconvenience, and they went through a huge one.  IT was a form of suffering and shame, but at least the Jewish expectation of a miraculous birth was on their side—although probably from a wealthy family. 

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 1 continued


The Bible consistently places amazing and miraculous elements into the ordinary.  But maybe we have it backward.  The ordinary is pretty miraculous and amazing, too.  We might be the ones who separate them into distinct categories when there is no such thing as a strict separation between ordinary and miraculous. There are two “miracles” here—the virgin conception (In Luke we get Mary’s version and she is of course more scared about it) and a revelatory dream. 
The human elements:  shame, divorce, bodies, sexuality, poverty, culture, pregnancy, birth, marriage, and consummation.  Is the spiritual the backdrop of the human? No, the human took place because of God’s plans and the spiritual was fulfilled in the human and physical, which are good if the tools God uses.

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 1 continued


Matthew 1
We are told there are five women mentioned in the Matthew genealogy of Christ who were all Gentiles.  Only four were; Bathsheba is not mentioned by name, probably because of her sin, and we don’t really know if she was Jewish or Gentile, only that she was married to a Gentile.
Bathsheba lost a child, too. 
Is it important that there are 3 14-generation phases?  Is this a literary device?  I would think so, as it is too neat  and likely some generations are skipped.

Fresh Studies in Matthew, Matthew 1

I decided in June to begin to study the New Testament with fresh eyes, without assuming. I have a series of posts that I am going to start updating now. 


Matthew 1:1-17
Some scholars say that the rejection by the Jews caused Messiah to go to the Gentiles.  I reject that idea. From Genesis 3 on the promise was of a savior for all people, and in Genesis 12 Abraham was told that all the world would be blessed by his seed.  The Gentiles were included from the beginning; they were not second string, and God didn’t change the plan.
 So, even if Jews had accepted Christ at the beginning, even though it was foreknown that they wouldn’t, he still would have had to die.  This is somewhat paradoxical on the surface, but I think because of certain presuppositions we have and erroneous teachings.  I was taught by premillenialists that the center of it all is Matthew 12-14, that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit there by Jewish religious leaders mean that he now was “going to the Gentiles.”  But, would he have not gone to the Gentiles if they had accepted? 
No, Jesus came to die and rise again regardless of the Jewish response, and it must be remembered that it was Pharisees and Sadducees corporately that rejected, not Jewish people specifically.  Thousands of Jews converted at the beginning. 

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 28:1-8, second pass

The passage is unclear as to whether the two women saw the resurrection here, but I don’t think so.   They would probab...