Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Music: Dare You to Move (Switchfoot)

I recently got around to burning Switchfoot's 2003 CD, "The Beautiful Letdown", onto my computer and iPod. When I first heard their single, "Dare You to Move", I liked it; it was not until recently, though, that I learned that they are in fact a Christian band. It puts their mainstream singles in a different light.

And so I've decided to share my interpretation of the song.

Welcome to the planet, welcome to existence.
Everyone's here, everyone's here,
Everybody's watching you now,
Everybody waits for you now.
What happens next, what happens next?

I see this in two ways: to a newborn and to a person receiving the unpleasant shock of reality. To the newborn, it's pretty literal: a child is born, is slapped to induce normal breathing ("welcome to the planet"), and is the center of attention for the family immediately. To the other person, it's pretty similar: a person is thrust into some situation, slapped on the back ("welcome to the planet"), and suddenly his reaction is the center of attention. Either way, the second verse converges on a single theme. But first, the chorus:

I dare you to move, I dare you to move,
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.
I dare you to move, I dare you to move,
Like today never happened,
Today never happened before.

To the infant, this is saying, "do something". Indeed, today never has happened before for this infant. It's his first day; everything starts from here. For the person in general, it starts to get interesting. Confronted with a situation in which we are in the wrong, we can either stay down (on the floor) or dare to fix things, which is often harder to do. And what's more, the person is challenged to go on living in spite of this situation.

Welcome to the fallout, welcome to resistance.
The tension is here, the tension is here,
Between who you are and who you could be,
Between how it is and how it should be.


Here it becomes much more focused on sin and redemption. The fallout is a reference to sin in general and its repercussions, and resistance is a reference to attitudes that are anti-Christian. For the infant who has grown into an adolescent, this verse calls to mind the point when he realizes his shortcomings and the general state of the world, and recognizes he can be a better person and the world should be a better place -- all this in face of the tension: peer pressure to conform and temptation to conduct himself however he feels like. For the other person, the examination is the same.

Maybe redemption has stories to tell.
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell.
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go, where you gonna go?
Salvation is here...


The prospect of running away from yourself, from your sins and faults, is brought up. There is no where to go to escape yourself, so how can we live with ourselves in spite of our pasts? Redemption, forgiveness, salvation. And not in some place light-years away, but right here, on earth. Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell makes me think of facing the person you have wronged.

That's all for now. Reflections and interpretations probably should be done with food in one's stomach...

Bible Study: Synoptics #16: Controversies

Relevant Readings

The primary readings for this chapter are Matthew 22:15-23:39, Mark 12:1-40, and Luke 20:1-47.

Additional passages are: Genesis 4:8, Genesis 26:24, 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, Jeremiah 3:19, Hosea 9:15, Mark 12:41-44, Mark 15:22-27, Matthew 20:26-27, Luke 11:42-54, Luke 16:24, Luke 24:18-21, Acts 12:1-3, 1 Timothy 5:1, James 2:21, James 3:1-2, 1 Peter 5:5-7, and Revelation 18:23-24.


  1. To whom was Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:1?
    [T]o the crowds and to his disciples.
  2. In Matthew 23:2-3, what did Jesus tell the disciples to do concerning the Pharisees?
    They do not practice what they preach, so listen to what they say but do not follow their example.
  3. Find a contemporary application of Matthew 23:4. How do people do this now?
    They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. This can be applied to...
  4. What does Matthew 23:5-7 identify as the motive of the Pharisee's good deeds?
    The Pharisees wish to be seen by others performing good deeds, so that they can receive "places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi'".
  5. How are Matthew 23:9-11 and James 3:1-2 connected?
    James writes that teachers will be judged more strictly, and Jesus is clearly judging the conduct of the Pharisees and other teachers of the law.
  6. Compare and contrast these verses: Genesis 26:24, Jeremiah 3:19, Luke 16:24, James 2:21, and 1 Timothy 5:1.
    These verses are related to Abraham. In Genesis, God tells Isaac that He will bless Isaac as He blessed Abraham and multiply Isaac's descendants. The quote from Jeremiah is God talking about Israel following Him and calling him Father. In Luke, the excerpt is from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, wherein the rich man calls to Abraham to send Lazarus to comfort him. James writes that Abraham's faith in God, combined with his works (offering Isaac as a sacrifice), justified Abraham. Paul writes to Timothy that you should not rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as a father.
  7. What do these verses teach: Matthew 20:26-27, Matthew 23:11-12, and Mark 12:38-40.
    The two excerpts from Matthew teach that whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever jumbles himself will be exalted and that the greatest among you must be your servant. In Mark, Jesus says that the scribes are shallow, doing what they do only for commendation by men, when they shall receive condemnation from God.
  8. Describe the situation in the following verses: Genesis 4:8, 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, Luke 11:49-51, and Revelation 18:23-24.
    Cain kills Abel; King Joash has Zechariah killed; Jesus recalls the sending forth of prophets who were killed by the people of Israel; an angel describes Babylon as the cause of the deaths of the prophets and holy ones.
  9. What type of death does Jesus foretell in Matthew 23:34?
    Jesus foretells the crucifixion of some prophets and wise men and scribes.
  10. Describe the scenario in Mark 15:22-27.
    This is the crucifixion of Jesus.
  11. How did the disciples explain their disappointment in Luke 24:18-21?
    On the road to Emmaus, Cleopas tells the stranger (Jesus) that it is the third day since Jesus was put to death -- crucified -- by the chief priests and rulers, and that Jesus was hoped to be the one to redeem Israel.
  12. What happened to these disciples of Jesus: Acts 7:54-60 and Acts 12:1-3.
    Stephen was the first martyr of Christianity, stoned to death by the Sanhedrin. King Herod had James (the brother of John and son of Zebedee) killed.
  13. After denouncing the Pharisees, to whom does Jesus point in Mark 12:38-44?
    Jesus denounces the scribes as well, and then extolls the virtuous poor widow who gave all she had, rather than the rich who give a mere morsel of their wealth.
  14. What is the response of the Pharisees to Jesus's criticism, recorded in Luke 11:53-54?
    The Pharisees tried to catch Jesus in a false teaching, by being hostile and constantly interrogating him, to catch him at something he might say.
  15. What terms does Jesus use in Matthew 3:7-12 as well as here in Matthew 23:33?
    Both John the Baptist and Jesus call the Pharisees a "brood of vipers".
  16. What emotion does Jesus show in Matthew 23:37-38?
    Jesus laments for Jerusalem, stubborn to hear the Word of God through His prophets. He is disappointed in Jerusalem.
  17. Compare Jeremiah 12:7 with Hosea 9:15.
    In Jeremiah is written I abandon my house, cast off my heritage, and in Hosea: Because of their wicked deeds I will drive them out of my house.
  18. How does Peter write you can avoid hypocrisy in your own life, in 1 Peter 5:5-7?
    By cloth[ing] yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bible Study: Synoptics #11: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

Relevant Readings

The primary readings for this chapter are Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39, Mark 6:31-44; 8:1-10, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-13.

Additional passages are: Exodus 14:21-30, Exodus 16:15-17, 1 Kings 17:8-24, 1 Kings 19:4-8, 2 Kings 4:14-37, Matthew 6:33, Mark 9:23-24, Luke 1:45, Luke 5:12-13, John 2:1-11, and John 6:14,26,31-32,35,51,53-54,66.


The additional accounts in Matthew and Mark have been placed in a second table.
Matthew 14:13-21 Mark 6:31-44 Luke 9:10-17 John 6:1-13
13 Jesus goes by boat to a deserted place, and the crowds follow him on foot 31-33 Jesus tells the apostles to "come away [to] a deserted place and rest a while"; they go by boat to a deserted place, but the crowds follow them on foot 10-11a Jesus and his disciples withdraw in private to Bethsaida; the crowds follow them 1-4 Near the time of Passover, Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee; he goes up a mountain and rests with his disciples; a large crowd follows him
14 Jesus sees the large crowd and has pity for them, and cures their sick 34 Jesus sees the large crowd and has pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he begins to teach them 11b Jesus speaks to the crowd about the kingdom of God and cures the sick among them 5a Jesus sees the crowd approaching
15 When evening arrives, the disicples suggest to Jesus that he should dismiss the crowds so they can buy themselves food 35-36 As it gets later, the disciples suggest to Jesus that he should dismiss the crowds so they can buy themselves food 12 As the day draws to a close, the apostles suggest to Jesus that he should dismiss the crowds to they can find lodging and provisions 5b-6 Jesus asks Peter, "Where can we buy enough for them to eat?"; he does this to test Philip
16-18 Jesus replies "give them some food yourselves"; the disciples answer that they only have five loaves and two fish; Jesus asks for them 37-38 Jesus replies "give them some food yourselves"; the disciples ask if they should buy 200 days' wages of food; Jesus asks what they have, and they answer five loaves and two fish 13 Jesus replies "give them some food yourselves"; the disciples say all the have is five loaves and two fish, unless they were to buy more food 7-9 Philip says that 200 days' wages would not purchase enough food; Andrew reports that a boy has five barley loaves and two fish, but Andrew doubts they will help
19 Jesus has the crowd sit down; he takes the food, says a blessing, breaks the bread, and gives the food to the disciples to distribute 39-41 Jesus has the crowd sit down; people sit in rows of 50 and 100; Jesus takes the fish, says a blessing, breaks the bread, and gives the food to the disciples to distribute 14-16 Jesus tells his disciples to group the crowd (with 5000 men) to sit in groups of 50; Jesus takes the food, says a blessing, breaks the bread, and gives the food to the disciples to distribute 10-11 Jesus tells crowd (with 5000 men) to recline; then Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, and distributes the bread and fish to the crowd, giving as much [as] they wanted
20 After all have eaten enough, the remaining fragments fill twelve wicker baskets 42-43 After all have eaten enough, the remaining fragments fill twelve wicker baskets 17 After all have eaten enough, the remaining fragments fill twelve wicker baskets 12-13 After all have eaten enough, Jesus has his disciples collect the remaining fragments, which filled twelve wicker baskets
21 At least 5000 men shared the food (not counting women and children) 44 At least 5000 men ate shared the bread
Matthew 15:32-39 Mark 8:1-10
32 The crowd has been with Jesus for three days, so he does not want to send them away hungry 1-3 The crowd has been with Jesus for three days, so he does not want to send them away hungry
33 The disciples ask Jesus where they can find enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy them 4 The disciples ask Jesus where they anyone could find enough bread to satisfy them [in] this deserted place
34 The disciples say they have seven loaves of bread and a few fish 5 The disciples say they have seven loaves of bread
35-36 Jesus has the crowd sit down; then he gives thanks and breaks the loaves and gives the bread and fish to the disciples to distribute to the crowd 6-7 Jesus has the crowd sit down; then he gives thanks and breaks the loaves and gives them to his disciples to distribute to the crowd; he also blesses and distributes a few fish they had as well
37-38 All eat and are satisfied; the left-over fragments fill seven baskets; there were 4000 men, plus women and children 8-9 All eat and are satisfied; the left-over fragments fill seven baskets; there were 4000 men
39 Jesus gets into a boat and sails to Magadan 10 Jesus gets into a boat and sails to Dalmanutha


  1. What is a miracle and what is its purpose?
    CCC 156 describes miracles as the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all, meaning that we believe in them because of the authority of God himself who reveals them. Miracles are credible means by which to show that faith is not a blind impulse of the mind.
  2. What was Jesus's first miracle (found in John 2:1-11) and what was the reaction?
    Jesus's mother told him that the wedding had run out of wine, and he instructs the servers to fill six jars with water, and then to draw some to give to the headwaiter. This was the first of Jesus's signs through which his disciples came to believe in him.
  3. What do the miracles of Cana and the multiplication of fishes and loaves signify?
    CCC 1335 explains that these two miracles prefigure the Eucharist: the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist and the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.
  4. Identify these Old Testament miracles: A. Exodus 14:21-30, B. Exodus 16:15-17, C. 1 Kings 17:8-16, D. 1 Kings 17:17-24, E. 1 Kings 19:4-8, F. 2 Kings 4:14-37.
    1. The parting of the Red Sea
    2. Manna from heaven
    3. The widow's flour and oil do not decrease
    4. God resurrects the widow's son at Elijah's prayer
    5. Elijah receives a hearth cake and water in the desert to strengthen him for a journey to Mount Horeb
    6. The young son of an old woman (who was conceived as Elisha had promised her) dies and is resurrected
  5. What did Jesus's life and the miracles he worked signify?
    CCC 515 says that his deeds, miracles and words all revealed that "in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily".
  6. What would you say to a person who did not believe in miracles?
  7. Identify the prerequisites for a miracle in these passages: Matthew 6:33, Mark 9:23-24, Luke 1:45, Luke 5:12-13.
    From Matthew, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. From Mark, everything is possible to one who has faith. From Luke, belief in the Lord's promises; also, submission to the will of God.
  8. Describe the sequence of events in Mark 6:31-44.
    See the Summary.
  9. Can you give an accurate count of the people fed in Matthew 14:21?
    The number of men was around 5000; since that doesn't include women and children, the total was probably several thousand more.
  10. About how many people did Jesus feed the second time (Matthew 15:38)?
    About 4000 men, plus women and children. Assuming some men came alone, some had their wives with them, and some had a child with them as well, the total was probably around 8000.
  11. What additional information can be found in Luke 9:10-17?
    Luke names the location, Bethsaida. He also describes Jesus as having the disciples split the crowd up into groups of about fifty.
  12. Although the synoptic accounts differ, do they contradict one another?
  13. Which apostles are named in John 6:1-13?
    Philip (John 6:5), Andrew and Simon Peter (John 6:8).
  14. Compare these responses to Jesus: Matthew 14:20, Matthew 15:37, Mark 6:42, Mark 8:8, Luke 9:17, John 6:11-14.
    The synoptic accounts all say that all ate and were satisfied. John says that all had their fill, and then they said that Jesus is "truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world".
  15. Why did some people follow Jesus, as reported in John 6:26?
    Some people looked for Jesus after the miracle simply because he had been able to feed them, not because they recognized him by signs and wonders.
  16. What does Jesus say about manna in John 6:31-32?
    Jesus tells the crowd that it was not Moses who gave them bread from heaven, but rather God the Father who gives them true bread from heaven.
  17. What are some of the things Jesus says after the miracle (John 6:35,51,53-54)?
    "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

    "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

    "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day."

  18. How do some of Jesus's disciples react in John 6:66?
    Jesus's message caused many disciples to disband from him and return to their old life. This was due to his message about his body and blood, and that no one can come to him unless it is through the Father.
  19. What would your reaction have been if you were present at this miracle?
    I would probably have been very confused and wondered where the food came from, and how there was so much of it, instead of concentrating on the fact that it was multiplied. I think trying to figure out how the miracle occurred detracts from the experience itself; that it happened is enough.
  20. Has there been a time when God miraculously met a need of yours?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bible Study: Synoptics #10: The Miracles of Jesus

Relevant Readings

The primary readings for this chapter are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, and Luke 8:26-39.

Additional passages are: Tobit 6:7-8:18, Matthew 8:1-4,14-15,23-27, Matthew 9:1-8,27-34, Matthew 12:9-16,43-45, Mark 1:21-31,40-45, Mark 2:1-12, Mark 3:1-12,22, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 11:14-15,24-26, Luke 17:11-19, Luke 18:35-43, Luke 4:33-39, Luke 5:12-26, Luke 6:6-11,17-19, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:45, Romans 16:19-20, 2 Cor 11:14, James 4:7-8, and 1 Peter 5:7-10.


Matthew 8:28-34 Mark 5:1-20 Luke 8:26-39
28 Jesus arrives in Gadarenes and two savage demoniacs coming from the tombs meet him 1-2 Jesus arrives in Gerasenes and a man with an unclean spirit, from the tombs, meets him 28-27 Jesus arrives in Gerasenes and a man posessed by demons meets him; he is naked and lives among the tombs
3-5 The man is described as being able to break the chains and shackles used to restrain him, and crying out and bruising himself with stones
29 The demoniacs cry out "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?" 6-7 The man prostrates himself before Jesus and cries out "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!" 28 The man falls before Jesus and shouts "What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!"
8 Jesus had said "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!" 29 Jesus had ordered the unclean spirit to leave the man; the man was reported to have broken his chains and shackles and fled to deserted places by the demon
9 Jesus asks the man his name, and he responds "Legion is my name. There are many of us." 30 Jesus asks the man his name, and he responds "Legion" because there were many demons in him
10 The demons plead not to be sent from the area 31 The demons plead not to be ordered to depart to the abyss
30-31 There is a herd of swine in the area; the demons plead to be sent into the pigs if Jesus casts them out of the men 11-12 There is a large herd of swine on the hillside, and the demons plead to be sent into the swine 32 There is a herd of many swine on the hillside, and the demons plead to enter the swine
32 Jesus does so; the posessed herd of pigs rushes into the sea and drowns 13 Jesus does so; the two thousand pigs rush into the sea and drown 33 Jesus lets them; the herd rushes into the lake and drowns
33 The swineherds flee into town to report what happened 14 The swinheherds report the incident in the town, and the people come out to see what happened 34 The swineherds report what happened in the town
15-16 The people see the formerly posessed man sitting clothed and of sound mind, and they become seized with fear; the incident is explained to them by witnesses 35-36 The people come out to see what happened, and find the man clothed and in his right mind, and they become seized with fear; the witnesses describe the events to them
34 The villagers beg Jesus to leave the area (on account of the loss of swine) 17 They beg Jesus to leave the district 37 All of Gerasenes asks Jesus to leave because they became seized with great fear; Jesus gets into the boat to leave
18 As Jesus is departing, the man asks to remain with Jesus 38 The man begs Jesus to let him remain with Jesus, but Jesus sends him away
19-20 Jesus tells him Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."; the man proclaims throughout the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all are amazed 39 Jesus tells him "Return home and recount what God has done for you."; the man proclaims throughout the town what Jesus had done for him


  1. How does Jesus demonstrate his divine sovereignty?
    CCC 447 refers to his life's ministry, full of works of power over nature, illnesses, demons, death and sin.
  2. Describe the only Old Testament reference to freeing a person from evil spirits, in Tobit 6:7-8:18.
    A woman, Sarah, is posessed by a demon that has killed every man who marries her. Tobiah follows the instructions of the angel Azariah (also named Raphael) and burns a fish's liver and heart as incense in the presence of Sarah; the demon flees and Tobiah marries Sarah.
  3. Describe the events in: Matthew 8:28-29, Matthew 8:30-32, Matthew 8:33-34.
    See the Summary.
  4. Describe the events in: Mark 5:1-5, Mark 5:6-13, Mark 5:14-17, Mark 5:18-19, Mark 5:20.
    See the Summary.
  5. Describe a time when you wanted to do one thing and God wanted you to do something else.
  6. What does Saint Luke specifically mention in Luke 8:26-39?
    Luke mentions that the man had not worn clothes for a long time (Luke 8:27), and that the demons posessing him had driven him to deserted places before (Luke 8:29). Luke records Legion as requesting not to be sent to the abyss (Luke 8:31). Finally, he reports the conversation between the man and Jesus: the man wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to stay behind and tell of what God had done for him (Luke 8:38-39).
  7. What do Jesus's exorcisms demonstrate?
    From CCC 550 we read that the exorcisms were a foreshadowing of Jesus's victory over Satan in the coming of God's kingdom. The exorcisms freed people from demons, much as Jesus would free everyone from sin.
  8. Identify these miracles of Jesus: A. Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39; B. Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16; C. Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26; D. Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11; E. Matthew 9:27-31, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43; F. Matthew 9:32-34, Mark 3:22, Luke 11:14-15.
    1. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law
    2. Jesus cures a leper
    3. Jesus forgives the sins of a cripple, and heals him as well
    4. Jesus heals a man's withered hand (on the Sabbath)
    5. Jesus cures two blind men
    6. Jesus drives a demon out of a mute man, curing him
  9. What were the various responses to Jesus's miracles: Mark 3:6,22, John 11:45, Matthew 9:33, and Luke 17:11-19.
    In Mark, the Pharisees plot against Jesus's life, and the scribes think that Jesus only has power over demons because he himself is obsessed by Beelzebul. John reports that some Jews who saw Lazarus resurrected began to believe in Jesus. The verse in Matthew shows people being amazed by Jesus driving out a demon, thereby curing the mute man; the next verse, however, has the Pharisees condemning the act: "He drives out demons by the prince of demons" (Matthew 9:34). The passage from Luke is about ten lepers cured by Jesus, only one of whom (a Samaritan) returns to Jesus to thank him and praise God.
  10. Has anyone witnessed to you a miraculous, life-transforming event?
  11. About how many healing miracles did Jesus perform, as reported in Matthew 12:15-16, Mark 3:7-10, and Luke 6:17-19?
    Hundreds, if not thousands. The numbers are not made clear in these passages.
  12. What miracle is exclusive to Luke's gospel, in Luke 7:11-17?
    Jesus resurrects a widow's only son during his funeral procession, out of the city of Nain.
  13. What does Jesus show in the miracle in Matthew 8:23-27?
    Jesus displays control over nature itself: the wind and the sea become calm when he commands them (Matthew 8:26).
  14. How do evil spirits respond to Jesus (Mark 3:11-12)?
    They would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." (Mark 3:11).
  15. In what unexpected place was a demoniac found (Mark 1:21-28)?
    He was in the synagogue.
  16. How did Jesus deliver people from demons and unclean spirits in Luke 4:33-37?
    He spoke to the demons and exerted his God-given power over them: Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!" Then the demon [...] came out of him (Luke 4:35).
  17. What caution does Jesus give about receiving deliverance from evil spirits in Matthew 12:43-45?
    Evil begets evil: the person because worse off than before.
  18. What happens to the person who allows evil to return and dwell with him (Luke 11:24-26)?
    This is essentially identical to the passage from Matthew.
  19. What do the apostles reveal about the devil in these passages: Romans 16:19-20, 2 Cor 11:14, James 4:7-8, and 1 Peter 5:7-10?
    Paul writes in Romans that God shall crush Satan under your feet, and in 2 Corinthians that Satan is deceptive and masquerades as an angel of light. James writes that, just as drawing near to God causes God to draw nearer to you, resisting the devil will cause the devil to flee from you. Peter writes that the devil is eager to find someone to corrupt, prowling around like a roaming lion.
  20. Explain what the Lord has done for you and how he has shown you mercy, as he does to the man in Mark 5:19.