What Is Blasphemy? (Y1.T1.D38)
Updated: 2 days ago
Pexels, "Brett Jordan"
The Merriam-Webster definition of blasphemy hasn't changed since the Middle Ages—it's "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God" or "the act of claiming the attributes of a deity."
Understanding the meaning of blasphemy is essential to understanding Christianity. This is the death sentence the supreme court of ancient Isreal, known as the Sanhedrin, cast upon Jesus (Matthew 26:65–66). A sentence he accepted so we might live (Luke 9:22–24).
In yesterday's post about who can forgive sin, we read about how the religious leaders of Jesus' time accused him of this capital offense when he did what only God could do.
Today we will explore more of the Old Testament law in relationship to blasphemy. We will read Jesus' strong proclaimation, "For as [God] the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him" (John 5:21–23).
Jesus clearly claims the attributes of God, which gives the teachers of the law a right to accuse him of blasphemy. In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis says it this way:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
In the end, Jesus was an arrogant blasphemer—or he was God incarnate.
You Can Decide for Yourself
1 After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; 4 for an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”
9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked.
Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat and walk’?”
13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place.
14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:1–18)
10 The son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel; and the son of the Israelite woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name, and cursed; and they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 They put him in custody until Yahweh’s will should be declared to them. 13 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring him who cursed out of the camp; and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 He who blasphemes Yahweh’s name, he shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him. The foreigner as well as the native-born shall be put to death when he blasphemes the Name.
17 “‘He who strikes any man mortally shall surely be put to death. 18 He who strikes an animal mortally shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, it shall be done to him as he has done: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. It shall be done to him as he has injured someone. 21 He who kills an animal shall make it good; and he who kills a man shall be put to death. 22 You shall have one kind of law for the foreigner as well as the native-born; for I am Yahweh your God.’”
23 Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they brought him who had cursed out of the camp, and stoned him with stones. The children of Israel did as Yahweh commanded Moses.(Leviticus 24:10–23)
19 Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. 20 For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. 22 For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him.
24 “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 Most certainly I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. 27 He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man. 28 Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, 29 and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. 30 I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me. (John 5:19–30)
I believe You are Father (2 Corinthians 6:18) and Son (John 3:16) and Holy Spirit (John 14:26). I acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (1 John 4:2) because of Your great love for me. Please keep my eyes open to your miracles. I don't ever want to be so deceived that I miss even one magnificent expression of Your love for me and the entire world.
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