Did Jesus Lie?

MP3 Audio: WS330365_Dn-Joseph_Did-Jesus-Lie.mp3

This homily was preached on Sunday morning, July 13, 2014,
at Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, by Dn. Joseph Gleason.

Transcription by Maria Powell of Dormition Text Services. 

~

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. God is One.

“Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:39-40).

I’d like to read a prophesy from the Book of Isaiah which has a very important part throughout the Gospel of Luke. In Isaiah 61:2, it says:

“the spirit of the Lord is upon Me because of which He anointed Me. He sent Me to proclaim good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to declare the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

[This is] a prophesy of the Messiah, a prophecy of Jesus Christ. And centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was prophesied by Isaiah that Jesus would preach the Gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind. In the 4th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus Himself reads this prophesy from the Book of Isaiah, and He says that it is a prophesy of He Himself:

Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.  And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:14-21)

Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophesy and says that He Himself is the fulfillment of that prophesy. Then, throughout the rest of the Gospel of Luke, whenever Jesus heals blind men, He demonstrates that He is the fulfillment of that prophesy.

In the 7th chapter of Luke, John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus about His identity. They say, “Are You the coming one, or do we look for another?” They weren’t asking if Jesus is an amazing person. He could have proven that with just any old miracle. They were specifically asking whether Jesus was the Messiah, the fulfillment of the prophesies in Scripture. In the same hour that they asked this question, Luke 7:21 says that Jesus “cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:21-23).

Just like Jesus had done in the synagogue earlier in the Book of Luke, Jesus again points back to Isaiah’s prophesy which said that the coming Messiah would preach the gospel to the poor and give recovery of sight to the blind. In response to the disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus refers to Isaiah’s prophesy and demonstrates the prophesy’s fulfillment by healing blind men before their very eyes.

In the 18th chapter of Luke, as Jesus came near Jericho, there was a blind beggar by the side of the road who cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38) Jesus again heals the blind, demonstrating that He Himself is the fulfillment of the messianic prophesy in Isaiah.

In Luke 14, Jesus gives a parable of the kingdom of Heaven where “the poor, the maimed, the lame, [and] the blind” are invited to the great feast. Of course, their invitation to the kingdom implies their ultimate healing. Jesus doesn’t invite the blind into His kingdom so that they can stay blind. He invites them into His kingdom so that they can receive their sight.

There is one more place in the Book of Luke where Jesus discusses blindness. That is in today’s passage from the 6th chapter of Luke. Jesus says blindness is not only a physical problem, but also a spiritual problem. Just as physical blindness can make one fall into a ditch, spiritual blindness can make one fall into heresy and damnation:

“And He spoke a parable unto them: ‘Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher'” (Luke 6:39-40).

He’s not only speaking of physical blindness here, but of spiritual blindness. Just as Ron here would not hire a blind man to be his guide, physically, to take him around town, so none of us should look to spiritually blind teachers to guide us around.

Imagine that you are blind. Multiple people are vying to be your teachers. How do you figure out which teachers are blind and which teachers can see? Get each teacher alone in a room and try some simple tests. Hold up a certain number of fingers on your hand, and ask them how many you’re holding up. Get a booklet that you’re already very familiar with, and ask them to read it for you. If you were blind, and a person failed simple tests like these, would you accept that person as your teacher? Of course not! Then you would have the blind leading the blind and both of you would fall into the ditch.

Now, in the world of Christianity today, there are tens of thousands of teachers, and they’re all saying different things. Take ten different Christian teachers, and you’ll get ten different stories about who God is, how you should worship Him, what salvation is, and how you can be saved. You don’t want your teachers to be spiritually blind. They may be very charming, sincere people, and they may speak with great confidence, but if they are blind, they are still going to lead you into the ditch.

How can you weed out the blind teachers? How can you find a teacher that can actually see? How can you stay out of the ditch?

I propose a simple test. Let us check the accuracy of the Bibles that they use. If you were faced with 100 different Bible teachers, you might become frustrated and confused trying to figure out which teachers are trustworthy and which teachers are just blind guides. But suppose that these teachers all used different versions of the Bible. You’d begin to look at them carefully, and 99 of these Bibles have verses in them which say, “Jesus is a liar.” Only one Bible says that you can trust what Jesus says. Would that help you narrow down the playing field?

Would you trust any teacher who uses a false Bible, or would you rather put your trust in the one solitary teacher who has an accurate copy of the Scriptures? In Luke chapter 4, Jesus talks about healing the blind, and He quotes from the 61st chapter of Isaiah. We know that Jesus is trustworthy. We can trust that he quoted Isaiah accurately. But when we review various versions of the Bible, are they in agreement with what Jesus said? Or are there certain copies of Scripture that would make Jesus out to be a liar?

Let’s compare Isaiah 61 in various translations of the Bible:

The King James Version [is] the most popular version ever printed in the English language. Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” That sounds familiar doesn’t it? Did you notice something missing? It says nothing at all about healing the blind. It’s absent. It’s not in the prophecy. Yet when you turn to Luke chapter four in the same King James Bible, when Jesus reads from Isaiah, He says the prophesy does predict that the Messiah would heal the blind. Was Jesus lying? Was Jesus mistaken? Or do we have a false Bible on our hands?

The NIV [is] another very popular English translation of the Bible. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That sounds very similar doesn’t it? Did you notice anything missing? In Isaiah 61:1-2 of the NIV, it says nothing about healing the blind. It’s absent! It’s missing! Yet, if you go to Luke chapter four in the same NIV Bible, when Jesus reads from Isaiah, it does prophesy that the Messiah would heal blind people.

When John the Baptist’s disciples came to ask Jesus for proof that He was the Messiah, what good would it do for Jesus to heal a blind man as fulfillment of a prophesy that didn’t even exist? There is something very strange going on here. We could look at numerous other Protestant translations of the Bible and find exactly the same problem. Isaiah’s prophesy in those Bibles says nothing about healing the blind. And yet in the New Testament, when Jesus quotes from Isaiah, He quotes Isaiah’s prophesy differently.

Now let’s turn to Isaiah 61:2 in the Orthodox Study Bible:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He sent me to proclaim good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to declare the acceptable year of the Lord.”

The book of Isaiah prophesies of Jesus Christ, telling us that one of His defining characteristics will be His ability to heal the blind. This prophesy is referred to again and again throughout the New Testament as evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy. Yet, according to the King James Version, this prophesy is nowhere to be found in this passage from Isaiah. Likewise, according to the New International Version, Isaiah never prophesied this.

Was Jesus confused? Was the Son of God misquoting Scripture? Of course not! Jesus was not confused, and it would be silly to suggest that the Son of God would misquote the Scriptures which He Himself inspired. If Jesus reads a passage from the Book of Isaiah, then we can rest assured that He is providing an accurate quote from the Old Testament.

But if the words of Jesus are accurate, that means there are inaccuracies in the Book of Isaiah in both the King James Version and the New International Version, and a whole host of other protestant translations. Those versions of the Bible have tried to change the Word of God. Unanimously, every version of the New Testament agrees that the Orthodox Study Bible contains the correct reading from the Book of Isaiah.

There is more. . . .

In Romans 3, the Apostle Paul quotes from Psalm 14. Yet when you check Psalm 14 in the King James Version and NIV, the full quotation is nowhere to be found in the Book of Psalms. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right. In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul quotes from Psalm 4, yet the King James Version and NIV do not have this quotation. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right. The book of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 40 where the incarnation of Jesus Christ is prophesied. Yet in the King James and NIV, this prophesy is nowhere to be found. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right. In the Book of Acts, Deacon Stephen quotes from Genesis 46. Yet in the King James and NIV versions of Genesis, this quote cannot be found. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right. In 1 Peter, the Apostle Peter quotes from Isaiah 53, but the King James Version and NIV versions of Isaiah read differently. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul quotes from the tenth chapter of Isaiah, but the King James and NIV do not have this quotation. Only the Orthodox Bible gets it right.

There are many, many other examples that can be given where people in the New Testament quote passages from the Old Testament, and the Orthodox Study Bible is the only Bible containing the correct Old Testament reading. So, who are the blind guides and who are the false teachers? If we accept the King James Version, the NIV, or any other mainstream Protestant version of the Bible, we would have to assume that the Apostle Paul was mistaken, Stephen was inaccurate, Peter was confused, and Jesus was lying. That is the logical result of accepting a Protestant copy of the Scriptures. But if we accept the Orthodox Study Bible, we are not faced with these difficulties.

When Saint Paul quotes from the Psalms, you can actually look in the book of Psalms and find what he was quoting. When Saint Peter quotes from Isaiah, you can read the Book of Isaiah and find the verse he was referring to. When Jesus Himself quotes from Scripture, you can read the passage He was quoting from, and it actually matches what Jesus says in the fourth chapter of Luke.

The Bibles are different from each other because they are translated from different sources. Historically, the Orthodox Church has always accepted the copy of Scripture which is known as the Septuagint, and the Orthodox Study Bible has been translated from this ancient source. Meanwhile, Protestants have consistently accepted the copy of Scripture which is known as the Masoretic Text. These two versions of Scripture do not agree with each other.

When Jesus and the Apostles quote Scripture in the New Testament, they quote from the Septuagint, and not from the Masoretic Text.

Fr. Joseph's booklet is now available in print.

Fr. Joseph’s booklet is now available!

So today, we are faced with thousands of Christian teachers, all of them competing for your allegiance. So many of them are nice, charming, sincere, and they display great amounts of confidence. Which teachers are you going to follow? Will you follow the teachers who only use false Bibles, or will you follow teachers who recognize the accuracy of the Scriptures as they have been preserved for 2,000 years in the Orthodox Church?

“And [Jesus] spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”
(Luke 6:39-40)

When it comes to the Word of God, choose your teachers carefully.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. God is One.

~

This homily was preached on Sunday morning, July 13, 2014,
at Christ the King Orthodox Church in Omaha, Illinois, by Dn. Joseph Gleason.

Transcription by Maria Powell of Dormition Text Services. Dormition Text Services offers full-service secretarial support, including transcription and publishing services to Orthodox clergy and communities. 

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About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in 2014 Homilies, Fr. Joseph Gleason, Isaiah 61, Luke 14:7-14, Luke 18:31-43, Luke 4:14-21, Luke 6:36-42, Luke 7:19-23, Masoretic Text, Orthodox Homilies, Septuagint. Bookmark the permalink.

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