Sunday Verse 3

This is the third in a series of Sunday posts related to the Food for Thought award from Citizen Tom:

The Food for Thought posts

The Bible’s New Testament includes the same story of Jesus told by multiple authors, Matthew, Mark and Luke. These are called the “synoptic Gospels” where “synoptic” means “same view” (usually rendered as “seen together). Here is a diagram I’d not seen before of how much the three stories have in common:

The Relationship between the Synoptic Gospels

One part of this shared story, which I first encountered in Matthew 19, has always struck me as a rich harvest. It’s more frequently referenced, perhaps, in Mark 10. (St. Augustine considered Matthew to be the original, but others now disagree. I will have more to say about St. Augustine next week, and some writings of his I enjoyed.)

A rich harvest

From the words in this one moment in the life of Jesus, we’ve created well-known songs and derived many familiar expressions.  Remember Peter, Paul and Mary’s wedding song “There Is Love”? It is one of my favorites, as it is for my Lady Anne as well:

Paul — Noel Paul Stookey — was inspired by Jesus’s statement here:

5 For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh

Which, rendered into the beautiful words of the song and mixed with other verses, becomes:

Well a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and until the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love … there is Love.

There is more

But there is more, too, in this chapter:

  • The expression “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter Heaven” is from here.
  • So is “Suffer the little children to come to me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
  • You’ll likely remember this from wedding scenes: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”
  • The story about making a blind man see again is told here.
  • This famous expression appears: “With God all things are possible.”
  • The Bob Dylan song “The Time They Are a’Changin’” was also inspired by this chapter’s line “But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”
  • It is an early list of the Commandments recited by Jesus (six, here). The Commandments appear in partial lists in many places in the Bible.
  • And in one brief comment, Jesus foretells his own future: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles, aAnd they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.”

Religious freedom

And there is another clue from this chapter that is important. In this story, a young man comes to Jesus and asks “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”  Jesus lists the Commandments, which the man says he is already following. So Jesus advises him to also give up his possessions (leading to the quote about rich men and Heaven).

The young fellow, crestfallen as he was not wanting to give up his possessions, went away. The important part?  Jesus and his disciples let him go.

There was no compulsion, no mandate that he must believe or be killed or be subjugated into paying a tax. In fact, Jesus mentions here that not all will be given the Word.

This, along with many other verses particularly in the New Testament, reflects the Bible’s treatment of the issue of religious freedom. No one is compelled to believe; no one will be “saved” against his will. It is not the role of faith to take away your free will. The faithful Christians want you to believe, of course, and think that your future is dire in the hearafter otherwise. But the example of Jesus is that this remains your free choice.

That notion suffered some difficulty in the intervening centuries, but was eventually inscribed in the Bill of Rights as what Thomas Jefferson called “the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.” I agree with him, and it is part of the unique and marvelous system of government set up by the United States’ Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  And I note, looking around the world, that it is a right favored today in countries with a Judeo-Christian tradition, and no so much in those countries of other faiths … or none.

Not “freedom from religion”

I was recently involved in a conversation with a very religious friend. Biltrix found it hypocritical that a the atheist Richard Dawkins sought the protection of the freedom of religion clause in the First Amendment.  I don’t like Dawkins’ hostile approach to religion, as I’ve noted before, but I did voice a disagreement about the hypocrisy bit:

You and I, despite some differences in philosophy that I would bet seem larger to you than to me, are both defenders of the First Amendment including the freedom of religion clause. I think that certain modern groups such as the ACLU and “Freedom from Religion” and such take it in directions not intended by the founders, and that this is a mistake. You would agree there, I expect.

Where we seem to differ, based on how I read this, is that you perceive that the freedom of religion clause should not protect non-religious persons, and that it is hypocritical for them to seek this protection. If this is the case, I certainly disagree: The clause was intended to protect individuals from a state-enforced religion — a situation that the founders and their recent ancestors were all too familiar with.  The government can include religious aspects, and does, of course, from the 1792 church services in the Capitol to the 2012 religious references in the US Supreme Court and Congress. But it should not force these things.

The modern anti-Christian groups say it should not even be allowed to offer them — and I think this is folly.

But if you and I were to travel to certain Middle Eastern countries, you would be tolerated as one of the “people of the Book” and I would be guilty of a crime punishable by death, merely by dint of my philosophy (were I foolish enough to speak it aloud), because they do not have freedom of religion. That US invention protects you and I both from suffering harm because we don’t agree with the official state religion.

(I do travel to the Middle East from time to time, and I am circumspect indeed about such matters. Tunisia and Turkey, for example, have changed substantially, and not for the better, since I was last in those countries five years ago.)

I’m not aware of any non-theist who would do away with or weaken the freedom of religion clause, and I consider the ability to believe and speak as my conscience dictates — without fear of government reprisal — to be essential, just as you do.

It is not hypocritical, it seems to me, for non-theists to want this protection the same as theists.

May peace and contentment find you, and find you well, this Sunday.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

The text of Mark 10

Here’s Mark 10, in the King James version this time as most of the wording of modern Biblican expressions comes from this translation:

10 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, 33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

The Young’s Literal Translation version is visible here.