ReNew Questions & Testimonies


Many of those who listened to Jesus during his public ministry found some of his sayings “hard” and said so. Many of those who read his sayings today, or hear them read in church, also find them hard, but do not always think it fitting to say so.There are two kinds of hard saying: there are some that are hard to understand, and there are some that are easy to understand but difficult to live out. (Hard Sayings of Jesus)


Matthew 10:11

  • How would the disciples determine ‘worthy person’, especially vv. 7:1-2 tell us not judge?

The word for “worthy” in Greek is axios – meaning deserving, we see this a couple of verses down, if the house is “deserving.”


So worthy here, is not making the determination about the morality or religious involvement of the person, but rather – if they responded positively to the disciples’ message.


I see this throughout the Gospels, Jesus wants to bring the message to those who are willing to hear – not to those who think they don’t need it.  He isn’t forcing the Good News on others, but looking for receptive people.



Matthew 10:20

  • Holy Spirit is not supposed to be around until after Jesus’ Ascension. 

Is the ‘Spirit of your Father’ the same as Holy Spirit? If yes, does it mean it was gone after the disciples return and would not return until Pentecost?

-parallel passages in Mark 13:11 and Luke 12:12, use Holy Spirit – it is synonymous, don’t worry about what you will say, the Holy Spirit will guide you.


Good question – what was Pentecost, we will see this in Acts – when the Holy Spirit descends on the believers.  So where is the Holy Spirit before this?


We see the Holy Spirit at work all over Scripture, but just two examples for now:

OT – Samson, Judges 13:25, Samson was filled with the Holy Spirit showed great strength

NT – John the Baptist, Luke 1:41, He was filled with the Holy Spirit.


So we see these special times of filling by the Holy Spirit, doesn’t seem to be normative for God’s people until Pentecost though, when we read that all Christians have the Holy Spirit.


John 14:17

17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.


1 Corinthians 12:13

13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.


Romans 8:9

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.



Matthew 15:21-28

  • Why did Jesus say, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  when in previous chapters he has already sent his disciples out and gave the command to make disciples of all nations.
  • And also why the reference to taking the bread of children and throw to the dogs?  Gentiles referred to as dogs here?

Do you ever notice that Jesus seems to get annoyed at times?  Especially when others want to speed up the timeline of his mission.


We first see this with Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding at Cana, when the host runs out of wine and Mary, Jesus’ mother asks him to help. He tells her that it isn’t his time yet, but goes ahead anyway.


Similar thing here:  We see throughout Scripture the Historic Order of God’s Salvation Plan.  First to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.  These started back in the OT ( Genesis 12:2-3, 22:18) Israel was to be a blessing to all of the nations.


Jesus emphasizes this in Matthew 10:1-5, the disciples aren’t to proclaim the Good News to the disciples yet.


Paul, tells us in Romans 1:16, 2:9-10, it was to be First to the Jew, then to the Gentile.


This is to fulfill the promise made to Israel in Isaiah 53:6-8.


But, we see by the end of Jesus’ mission, that does send the disciples to all nations.  Matthew 28, the Great Commission.


So this woman, huge act of faith.  Lord, Lord, Lord… Jesus humbles here a bit and uses the metaphor of the dog and that its no the Gentiles turn yet.  But the woman, persists with Jesus and takes the metaphor Jesus used and uses it to her adavantage…. Jesus is moved.  Even though, it’s not the time yet, Jesus cannot turn her away and provides the healing.



  • Why does Jesus continually refer to himself in the third person? “The son of man will…..” is the manner in which he refers to himself.


[Answered in Sermon]



  • For the parable of the workers in the vineyard, I think I understand that God can give salvation to whoever He wants to give as He is sovereign. However how does this relate to Matthew 19:30 and 20:16? 

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, some were hired in the morning and offered 1 denari for their work.  The owner keeps going out and looking for more workers during the day and hiring them.  Finally hiring the last lot during the last hour of work, but they are all paid denari at the end.


Mt. 19:30

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.


Mt. 20:16

So the last will be first, and the first will be last.


Later in this passage….there’s dispute about who will be the one’s right next to Jesus, the second in command.


Jesus says,

Mt. 20:26

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…


Jesus is always turning people’s worldview upside down.   The way things worked, was the first are first, the last are last.  If you were a servant, you were the last, not first.


If you were rich, you were first – you were the blessed ones.  Jesus says, Blessed are the poor.


He is inviting people to a completely new way of thinking.  –This is the first will be last.


For the workers in the Vineyard – this gets back to the earlier question.  First, the kingdom was for the Jews, they were the first ones invited.  But now, the Gentiles will be invited and they will receive the same inheritance as those who were first invited.


The generosity of God doesn’t always make a lot of sense, but this is his grace.




Matthew 18:21–35

  • We understand that one of the messages of the message is asking us to be merciful as God is being merciful to us. However, the master had already cancelled the servant’s debt (v. 27), but evidently changes his mind later (v. 34). Does this imply that even God forgives our sins, he could change his mind and count the sins he already forgave against us? Isn’t this not consistent with other scripture serves suggesting that God does not keep records of wrongs (Ps 103:3, Jeremiah 31:34 or Romans 8:1)?


Mercy and Forgiveness are hugely important to Christ and so is the converse of those; those who are unmerciful or unforgiving – Jesus has some of his harshest words.  (Forgive as you have been forgiven or 15“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Mt. 6:15)


Mark 1:8

I baptize you withwater, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


  • What does it mean to be baptised with the Holy Spirit? Why do we still baptise people with water, if we have the Spirit already?

This is John the Baptist speaking and he is talking about the type of baptism he is doing and then he refers to the coming Messiah and the type of baptism the Messiah will do.


We need to go back to the Old Testament to get the context for this verse.


According to Isaiah 63:11, God sent his Holy Spirit among Israel as they passed through the sea.  Several of the prophets declared that in the last days God would pour out his Spirit upon his people (Isa 32:15, 44:3; Eze 11:18-19, 37:14, 39:29; Joel 2:28-29).  The combination of God’s people going into the wilderness, passing through the water (the Red Sea), and the promised Holy Spirit suggests to some that John’s baptism is a reenactment of the exodus, inanticipation of God’s pouring out of the promised Holy Spirit.


Water was a symbol of means of purification in the Old Testament, so John is calling the people to repent, to be made clean – and the fact that he was in the wilderness and in the water – you get this idea of an reenactment, but he also knows that Jesus has arrived and the Holy Spirit is very near to being poured out on the people.


So today, when we become a Christian, we receive the Holy Spirit.


Why do we baptize with water today?  Water is a symbol of cleansing and new life.


Baptism is an assumed part of the Christian journey in the Bible.  We read over and over again that the people believed and were baptized.


Jesus in fact says, go to all nations…  Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


Identified w/ Christ in baptism (Col 2:12)

-buried with him in baptism

-raised to new life

*this is the symbol in baptism when we are lowered into the water and raised out again


Identified with the church


We make a public commitment to God in Baptism.


  • Why did Jesus asked the impure spirit NOT to reveal His identity? (Appeared a few times)

I think this gets back to what Pastor Steve said the prior week about the Messianic Secret.  Jesus is often telling people to not tell others of the healing they received.  He has a sense of timing for his mission and doesn’t want the word to get out too quickly.


Mark 3:34-35

  • Was Jesus not honoring his mom at the end of Chapter 3?  (Which broke one of the ten commandments)

I think Jesus is using hyperbole here to emphasize just how close his followers will be in the future; we will call each other brother and sister and bond of Christ will be even stronger than biological ties.


  • Was Jesus really asleep before He calm the storm? 

I take the Scripture at face value here and believe he was asleep, at least the disciples seem to think so.


  • Why did the disciples terrified after Jesus calm the storm? They woke Him up and had certain expectation from Him, right?? 

I think to see him have command over the waves and wind was something they had never seen before.  I would probably have reacted the same.  I think it was one more step for the disciples to realize that he really was the Son of Man.



Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36

  • Jesus said no one know when will be his 2nd coming only Father knows, however, Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit are three in one, Jesus is part of God, then why doesn’t He know when his 2nd coming will be?

Good question, we find this verse in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 – so it could be this week’s question as well!


While on earth, even Jesus lived by faith and obedience was the hallmark of his ministry.  This is part of the mystery of the incarnation, that Jesus was both fully God and fully human.   This doesn’t undermine his deity, it instead reflects Jesus’ role as the obedient-servant Son who lived in submission to the Father.


I think Jesus wanted to emphasize that no one knows, if not him, then surely no one else on earth would ever be able to predict it.


Mark 11:12–14

  • As it was not the season for figs (v. 13), it not somewhat unreasonable Jesus to expect otherwise and curse it? 
  • What message lies in this passage?

I learned a lot about fig trees as I researched into this question.  Generally, the leaves of the tree come out first, and are in full foliage in one week.  During this time, little nubs also appear, which are not the real figs but a forerunner to the figs.  These nubs grow to the size of green almonds, and are eaten by peasants or others wandering by who are hungry (like Jesus was).  When these nobs, called “taqsh” in Palestinian Arabic, grow to maturity they fall off, and the fully formed fig will appear six weeks later.  So – though it was not the time of the figs, there was still the expectation that there would be these little “taqsh” on the trees to eat since the leaves were present.


If there were no taqsh, then this means there would be no figs.  In vs 14 Jesus says “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”, which is an accurate statement based on the lack of taqsh.  It is Peter who uses the word curse in vs 21, when they come across the tree the next morning.


As for the message, this is certainly a passage where a variety of people have pulled out a variety of messages.  Some say it links to the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-9, and perhaps Jesus is setting the stage for that parable, or reminding the disciples of that parable (be fruitful).  Others think Jesus knew the disciples would be surprised how quickly the tree withered, and therefore he used it as a teaching opportunity of faith (Mark 11:22-24).  Still others see it as a condemnation of the Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc) who put on a good show (leaves), but bear no fruit.  I think it is one of those passages which we should not base our theology on and  it needs to be read in light of the whole gospel, and all of scripture. It does not appear to be a parable as it does not start with the common phrase “And Jesus taught them in parables, saying….”.  It appears to be a glimpse into Jesus’ earthly life, and Jesus leaves it open for us to think about. Perhaps it is a reminder to bear fruit, but that would be us pulling that meaning out.


Mark 12:18–27

  • Is this passage saying that marriage, and implicitly family relationship, would be different in heaven?
  • How would we related to our earthly families in heaven?


As for the good old Sadducees and their question, they are trying to use logic to both argue against the Pharisees (who believed in the resurrection) and draw Jesus into this ongoing dispute.  Jesus would not be drawn in, however answered clearly that there will be a resurrection (…when they rise vs 25, as for the dead being raised, vs 26). Jesus also knew that the Sadducees only relied on the Pentateuch,the first five books of the Bible,  and that is why he talks about Moses and the burning bush as an example of the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God uses the present tense, and if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not alive again, then it should have been past tense.  That is the kind of logic and discussion that the Sadducees seemed to thrive on.  Jesus was also very clear about the message we will not be married.


However, what we will exactly be like when we are raised is not completely known, though we will be like him (Jesus) (1 John 3:2). We know from scripture that, though different, we will recognize people.  At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognized by Peter, James and john (Matt 17:1-8, Luke 9:26-38).  We know from Revelation that when we dwell with God, it will be a place of hope, of happiness and joy, and all the bad things will be gone (Rev 21:4). Just as our beings will be new, redeemed, I believe that since God is a God of relationships, that those also will be different, elevated, redeemed, in heaven. This is one of those mysteries, John, that will be a mystery until we get there.  It appears we will know people, but relationships will be in a manner that our earthly minds cannot comprehend fully.



Luke 12:51-52

  • The Christmas carols sang “peace on earth and mercy mild”.  Why did Jesus say “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.”  


This verse sounds like a contradiction to Isaiah 9:6 (“Prince of Peace”) and Luke 2:14 (“on earth peace to men”) and in John 14:27 (“Peace I leave with you”).  It is true that Christ came to bring peace – peace between the believer and God, and peace among men.  Yet the inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict – between Christ and the anti-christ, between light and darkness, between Christ’s children and the devil’s children.  This conflict can occur between members of the same family.  (v 35-36).


Once again Jesus was speaking of his divine mission. “I have come”; “I have a baptism”; “I came to bring.” Luke clearly understood Jesus as the one who has come in fulfillment of the OT. He was also the one over whom all humanity is divided. Not only did Jesus bring division in this life, but this division continues in eternity, for the final judgment is dependent upon one’s attitude toward Jesus (Luke 12:8–9; 9:26).[1]


Luke 14:26, 33


25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.3In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.


  • Surely we don’t have to hate our parents and siblings or give up everything to follow Jesus? Do understand we have to put Him first above all but Hate our loved ones and give up everything? Just a matter of speech?

I think starting at the beginning of the passage is helpful, especially in verse 25, when it says, “Large Crowds.”   When the crowds get the biggest, we usually see Jesus giving some of his most challenging teaching.


Clearly Jesus, who summarized all God’s commandments as loving God and one’s neighbor (10:27–28), could not here have been demanding blind, raging hatred of one’s family. The confusion is due to Jesus’ use of a Semitic idiom. To love one person more than another is described in OT language as “loving one and hating another” (cf. Gen 29:30–31, RSV). In contrast to Luke’s “word-for-word” translation of Jesus’ words, Matthew gave a “thought-for-thought” translation in Matt 10:37, revealing that Jesus’ demand is for his followers to love/obey him more than anyone else, even their own families. Being Jesus’ disciple entails primary allegiance to Jesus. No one and no thing can usurp his supreme position.[2]


“Hate” could function as a hyperbolic, Semitic way of saying “love less” (Mt 10:37), but this point hardly diminishes the offensiveness of this saying in a society where honor of parents was considered virtually the highest obligation and one’s family was usually one’s greatest joy.[3]


Hate. This is the first condition. From Matt 10:37 we know that this means to “love [one’s family] less.” This is evident from Gen 29:30–31, where Jacob’s greater love for Rachel (29:30) is phrased as hating Leah (29:31, RSV). Compare also Deut 21:15–17, where the same love-hate dichotomy is used. A person who commits himself or herself to Christ will develop a greater love for both neighbor and family, although at times loving and following Christ may be seen as renunciation, rejection, or hate if the family does not share the same commitment to Christ.[4]


Jesus would sound like one of the radical teachers, because he claims that anyone who values possessions more than people—and so holds onto them rather than meeting known needs—is not being his disciple[5]



Luke 16:1-15

  • I’m confused about the passage on the shrewd manager. Why is master commending him for doing something devious & self-centered?

This is a very challenging passage to interpret.


A manager in the midst of crisis shrewdly uses his wealth.  Jesus’ followers must also shrewdly use their wealth and worship God rather than money (v. 13).   While the main lesson is clear (one should use wealth shrewdly and by extension gain friendship with God), scholars disagree on how to interpret details in the parable.  One problem is that the “dishonest manager” is praised for acting “shrewdly” (v. 8) when he reduces the debt of his master’s debtors (v. 5-7).  Suggested possibilities include:


1) The amount taken off the account is not pat of the original debt, but is the commission or interest that rightly belongs to the manager.

2) Since the manager earlier shamed his master (v. 1), hi distributing his master’s wealth may restore his master’s status as an honorable benefactor.

3) The manger uses “wealth to gain friends” (v. 9) and thus can form a network that provides for him when he is unemployed.  (Zondervan Study Bible)



The manager is not commended for his dishonesty but for his shrewdness. He is commended for acting and preparing himself for the judgment awaiting him. He is commended essentially for being a shrewd scoundrel and taking care of his future[6]


Luke 15-16

Where Jesus is driving home the message of repentance and living fully for him (in today’s reading there were 3 parables about how those who repent are received and two about how we manage Heavenly and earthly resources) the following verses seem a bit out of context. Why are they included here and what is the significance in the context?


Luke 16:16-18

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Also verse 18 above is jn3particularly difficult to reconcile with abusive situations that result in divorce but years later restoration and grace lead to another marriage. Is this verse to be taken literally or is there a different interpretation that I’m missing?



Luke 19:11-27 “Parable of the Ten Minas”

  • V 14 – are these the Pharisee type who don’t want Jesus??


It has two meanings, first it is probably a historical reference to an event that happened 30 years prior.  Archelaus traveled to Rome to petition to be king, but his subjects opposed it.  Jesus is using this story in reference to his own “kingship” and the Jews who will reject him.


  • V21 – this doesn’t seem like an appropriate description of God’s character – why does Jesus include this ?? Showing false perception of Pharisees??


Correct, this wasn’t a fair description of the king by the 3rd servant.  The listener’s of this parable would’ve know the 3rdservant wasn’t representing the king accurately, because the king rewarded the first two servants beyond what their accomplishments warranted.  They multiplied the investment 10 times or 5 times, but were rewarded with 10 and 5 cities, a huge reward!


Luke 20:14, 16

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’….,,

  • How could they think they’d get the inheritance if they killed the son? 


Jewish law provide that a pie of property unclaimed by an heir would be declared “ownerless,” and could be claimed by anyone.  The tenants assumed that the son came as heir to claim his property, and if he were slain, they could claim the land.


16 When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

  • Don’t get this statement 


This was said in response to the landlord killing the murderous tenants and giving the vineyard to others.  The “other tenants” refers to the Gentiles.  So when most of the Jews rejected Christ, the message then went out to the Gentiles.  It was hard for the Jews to imagine this as they were God’s people.


John 3:5

Jesus told Nicodemus “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

  • What does born of water and the Spirit means?


Keep in mind that he is talking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, so Jesus is speaking into a context that he would understand.  The phrase “born of water and Spirit” is parallel to “being born again” and being “born of the Spirit” in the following verses.  Water in the Old Testament often refers to renewal or cleansing, and the most significant Old Testament connection bringing together water and spirit is Ezekiel 36:25-27, where water cleanses from impurity and the Spirit transforms hearts.  So “born of water and the Spirit” signals a new birth that cleanses and transforms.”


John 4:25

  • How is it in all the Gospels, the disciples were be able to write about it in full details of the conversation and incident between Jesus and the Samaritan woman when they were not there to witness it?


Both Matthew and John were written by disciples who were a part of the twelve.  So most of their accounts were written from eye witness experience.  Mark, was not one of the twelve, but does appear to have witnesses some of what he is writing about.  Luke as well, had some first hand experience.   Luke, in his introduction, refers to the traditions concerning Jesus being “delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.”

He is not claiming to have been an eyewitness himself but to have based his account on a careful study—“having followed all things closely for some time past”—of what the eyewitnesses and ministers of the word reported.So the Gospels seem to contain a mix of materials. Some of the events recorded were witnessed firsthand by the Evangelists themselves, but some of them were not.


In the case of the Samaritan woman, I imagine Jesus talked to his disicples about the specifics after the event.


John 5:14

  • Why does Jesus say,”See, you have been made well. Sin no more lest a worst thing come upon you.”
Does it mean our infirmities are due to the weight of our sins? Is Jesus referring to a retribution?


Something worse may refer to the final judgment, so the eternal consequences of sin are more serious than the physical ailment he was just healed from.    The disciples had a worldview of cause and effect.  Disabilities were caused by sin, either the person or their parents.  However, Jesus rejects this cause and effect relationship  (see John 9:1-3).  So, in this verse, I think he is referring to the final judgment.


John 6:60

  • the disciples say “THIS  is a hard saying” – what does “this” refer to?


This is one of “hard sayings” that isn’t hard to understand, but hard to accept.   It is referring to the teaching immediately preceding in verses 53-58, where Jesus says that “unless you eat of the flesh and drink his blood” you will not have eternal life.  Jesus is emphasizing the need for faith, for belief and trust in Jesus in order to have eternal life.


John 6:65

– Jesus says, “This is why I told you” – what does “this” refer to?

  • Why does Jesus make it sound like unless the father does something in your heart, you will not be able to follow Him? This makes it sound like God only allows some people to enter the kingdom of God and not everyone, which contradicts other parts of the bible which says he died for all and all are welcome.


Christ did in fact die for all and all are invited to believe and trust Christ.  However, people are unable to come to Christ completely on their own initiative.  The decisive cause of their “coming” is the Father (John 6:37, 44).  The Father gives the desire and ability to come to Christ, we can never do this completely on our own power.

[1] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, pp. 365–366). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 396). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Lk 14:25–26). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 397). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Lk 14:33). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Stein, R. H. (1992). Luke (Vol. 24, p. 412). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.