Promises in God’s Name

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a poor monk named Martin decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome, the holy city, the capital of the Roman Catholic Church, which was the only church in all of western Europe.

On his way to Rome, he  met many other monks and would stay over at their monasteries. Martin was shocked to see that other monks did not live like he lived. To be monks meant they were to give up all money and luxury and live a simple life so they can better serve God and the people.  Martin tried to live that way. But many monks he met along the way lived the opposite of how they were supposed to live. They were cheating the people in the name of God. These wicked monks took the people’s money and lived in luxury on money meant to do God’s work.

Martin hoped the Roman Catholic Church would clean up its act, but it got worse. The church began selling certificates for the forgiveness of sin so they could make even more money.  The people from the RC Church even sold forgiveness for future sins.  So a person could buy forgiveness, then go and do the wrong and use that certificate as God’s promise of forgiveness. The RC Church gave false promises on forgiveness, in God’s name, and that was how they made money.

Martin protested against the Church making false promises on God’s behalf. From this, the Christian Church was born. Eventually, the Roman Catholic  Church cleaned up their act because everybody got to know their swindling of the people in God’s name. In the meantime, some chose to remain   Roman Catholics, and some became Christians.

Today, some so-called Christians are doing what the Catholic Church used to do. They make false promises on God’s behalf and ask for money in return.  The false promises they make in God’s name are not limited to forgiveness of sin. They promise health and wealth to the person who would give one tenth, and more, of what they make.

They  use  the  money  the  people  give to live a luxurious lifestyle exactly like the wicked monks during the time of Martin. They live in luxurious homes and do it openly, saying that it is the right thing to take the money people give to live that way. They say it is like a business. Since their church is big, it is like a big successful business and the one who makes the business successful deserves to get more money.

Dear children, people forget the past and repeat their mistakes. There were many willing victims during the time of Martin as there are many willing victims today. Do not believe any false promises given in the name of God in exchange for money. Seek out the true Church of Jesus Christ and enjoy your Christian life there.   PE


Peter’s Home, Jesus’ Base

We don’t usually pay attention to place names in the Bible because there is no image in our mind’s eye when these places are mentioned, and we do not move from one place to another as we read the story.  If I were to tell you I left Pasir Ris and went to Tampines, those of you who know these places would know it is only one subway stop. But when we read that Jesus left Capernaum and went to Bethsaida, it makes no impression on us because we don’t know these places.

When you read the gospels, you will constantly come across the town called Capernaum.  This is because it was Jesus’ home base when he first started his ministry. When Jesus began his ministry, he spent time in Capernaum and Nazareth (his own hometown). But the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus (Luke 4:23ff; Matt 4:13).

Capernaum was the hometown of many of his disciples. From what we know, it was the hometown of Peter and Andrew, James and John, Matthew, and others.

What escapes some of us is that Jesus was operating from the home of Peter, the leader of the twelve disciples of Jesus.

In Mark’s gospel, you will notice a constant reference to Capernaum. This is because Peter was recounting the things closest to his heart and home.

Peter and Andrew were not rich people. They shared a home, which was usually not large.  You should not expect anything larger than a two bedroom apartment of today. Andrew was probably not married but Peter was. We do not know how many people lived in this house, but we know Peter’s mother-in-law lived there with him.  His father-in-law might be expected to live there if he were alive. Perhaps his own parents also lived there. Perhaps Peter had children and they also lived there. At least 4 adults lived there (Peter, Peter’s wife,  mother-in-law, and Andrew), perhaps there were as many as 7 adults.  If Peter had children, say 3 of them, with 7 adults, the home could have as many as 10 people (Mark 1:29f).  

It is almost certain that the place Jesus used as home base in Capernaum was Peter’s home.  It is therefore likely that Jesus lived in the home of Peter and Andrew and the ministry of Jesus operated mainly from Peter’s home.

After Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, we notice Peter’s home became the place from which Jesus taught and healed (Mark 1:29-34).  When  he   left   and  returned  “the house he was staying” probably Peter’s home, became packed with people (Mark 2:1-2).  So the story of the men who dug a hole through the roof to let in their invalid friend, dug through Peter’s roof (Mark 2:1-5).

We do not know all the details in Peter’s home.  Perhaps we can indulge in a little imagination.  

Peter’s mother-in-law might have been quite pivotal in how the home was used.  She was severely sick with fever and after Jesus healed her, she was so well, she got up and prepared food for Jesus, and his disciples. If she had objected to the intrusion into their life, we get the sense that from that time, she facilitated the use of Peter’s home.

There is an important take-away for us.  In Singapore, we are limited in how we can use our homes for religious purposes.  But the lesson of Peter was how his home became a vital resource in Jesus’ ministry.

We can imagine Peter telling Jesus, “Come to my home and stay with me. Use my home as the base for your teaching.”  Peter did not emphasize his sacrifice but we can see that he was leading the others by example of how he used his resources to promote Jesus’ ministry.

Gaulanitis Capernaum Bethsaida— Click on map to get clearer picture —

Capernaum, in Galilee was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, the Herod who executed John the Baptist. Bethsaida, Peter’s  hometown before he moved to Capernaum, was in Gaulinitis, under the jurisdiction of Herod Philip.  Antipas had stolen Philip’s wife and you can guess that they are not on friendly terms. When Jesus wanted to get out of the way of Antipas, he would go to Bethsaida  which was under Philip’s control. PE

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