Return of the prodigal son -- Guercino
Return of the prodigal sonGuercino

This is the fourth in a series of posts that proposes to answer the following question.

Can you name a single thing Jesus said which was genuinely new, original, or useful?

We had The Presentation Of The Question in part 1. If you wish to understand why we are considering this question and how we intend to answer it, please visit part 1.

With respect to the question above, here we will examine the following.

What Was The Result?

To some extent, the last post in this series, that one that answered the question Why did He do it?, also spoke to the result. However, that post focused on motive; this one will focus on the result.

What was the result? Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf involved two things: redemption from death and the forgiveness of sins. Why do we need redemption from death and the forgiveness of sins. Genesis 3 explains the necessity, the disobedience of Adam that brought God’s wrath upon us and the sentence of death.

Genesis 3:17-19 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”


The theme of redemption runs throughout the Bible. Some form of the word occurs about a 150 times. Even Job, as he sat scrapping his boil-blistered skin on a smoking garbage heap, yearned for his redeemer.

Job 19:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

With Jesus’ death upon a cross, we finally have our redeemer.

However, the Bible teaches that God Himself has provided the only means through which His wrath can be appeased and sinful man can be reconciled to Him. In the New Testament, the act of propitiation always refers to the work of God and not the sacrifices or gifts offered by man. The reason for this is that man is totally incapable of satisfying God’s justice except by spending eternity in hell. There is no service, sacrifice or gift that man can offer that will appease the holy wrath of God or satisfy His perfect justice. The only satisfaction, or propitiation, that could be acceptable to God and that could reconcile man to Him, had to be made by God. For this reason God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world in human flesh to be the perfect sacrifice for sin and make atonement or “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). (from here)

Jesus’ death appeased the wrath of God. Only Jesus’ willing sacrifice could appease the wrath of God. Only Jesus could pay our debt for sin. Only He could reconcile us with God. Because Jesus sacrificed His own life for our sake, in God’s eyes we are now forgiven.


What does it mean to be forgiven?

Have you ever lived with dread, knowing that you have wronged someone severely and there was nothing you could do to “take it back” or “undo it”?  Do you avoid the person you have wronged, knowing every time you see them you are reminded, and guilt stricken, at what you have done?  Do you ever wish you could start all over and be freed from this burden of guilt and shame? Thanks to a small, eleven letter word we can begin again, freed from the awesome weight of our guilt.

That word is “forgiveness”.  Although a small word, “forgiveness” has a very huge meaning…. “to release, to let go, to send away.”  Forgiveness is saying that we no longer hold the offense against the offender, instead it will be put away; we no longer desire retribution for the offender’s actions, but now seek a restored relationship with them. (from here)

Some form of the word forgive occurs about a 100 times in the Bible. Since we need God to forgive us of our sins, it seems like that word should occur more often. Why doesn’t it? If we want to understand what Jesus accomplished with His death and resurrection, then then we need to read the Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:5-10 New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’”

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Once and for all. Because of Jesus, we can have forgiveness from God and for all eternity. We never have to ask to be redeemed or forgiven again. We have the forgiveness told of in the The Parable of the Lost Son.

Luke 15:32 New King James Version (NKJV)

32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.

Willing Slave To A New Master

We have a habit of complicating things. Some people have this idea. With Jesus’ sacrifice, we can sin all we want, and there is no price to pay. Wrong! Romans 6 explains the conundrum, but the gist of it is that we have chosen a new master, one who loves us.

Romans 6:20-23 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Back To That Question

Was Jesus trying to do anything new, original, or useful? Imagine you were on a rescue mission. An evil man has kidnapped a child. He intends to confine and abuse that child for as long as he can, and you have the opportunity to stop him. How are you going to react if someone asks whether you are doing something new, original, or useful? Well, I suppose you might consider freeing that child from the clutches of an evil man useful. Nevertheless, I suspect you are also going to wonder why anyone would ask that question.

Additional References


  1. What was it about kcchief’s interaction with Matthew that struck you as “unsympathetic”? kcchief has a different reaction to projects like the OReilly one than does Matthew (I don’t think either one has seen the work yet, so both are guessing a bit at what its content will be), but I didn’t detect anything “unsympathetic” about his response. I guess one might stretch things a bit and say each commenter is “unsympathetic” with the other, given that they have differing opinions. However, to me, “unsympathetic” implies a degree of incivility, something that one does not find with kcchief. He seems, to the contrary, to be rather carefully polite.

    1. I have no clue who you are scout and I’m not sure I have ever run across you before today. Yours words have been very kind and well thought out. To this I say Thank you ! I told Tom earlier I would not comment on his site any more because it obviously upsets him, but I couldn’t let your words go without a comment.
      Be well !
      Ken aka kcchief1

  2. Huh? Did anyone advocate taking “the Bible out of the study of Jesus”? No one in this thread, at least.

    I wasn’t ignoring the points made by either kcchief or Matthew. I was suggesting that the difference between them might not be as great as either thinks – that a deeper understanding of Jesus, both in history and in spiritual life, is enabled by an active understanding of each of those disciplines or aspects of the Jesus message.

    The Bible (particularly the NT) is an extremely important source for guiding us both historically and spiritually. Jesus was a man, and he is almost universally accepted to have been a real historical figure, even by non-believers. Trinitarian Christians also believe that Jesus was God himself. That belief does not require rejection of historical information about Jesus the Man.

    1. The difference between kcchief and Matthew is what it is, and I don’t know how to quantify it. We both observed what Matthew thought might be missing from O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”. We both formed our own conclusions of kcchief’s unsympathetic reply. Otherwise, we agreed.

  3. This isn’t an issue of “accuracy” particularly, Tom. The scholarship of the historic Jesus attempts (among other things) to fill in areas about which the Gospels say little or nothing. There are great gaps in the Biblical accounts. My suggestion in my previous comment is that both Scripture and historical research in many ways complement one another. They are not necessarily antipodes on the map of Faith. You seem to suggest that they are. I hope that is just my misimpression of your last comment.

    1. In the context of the discussion established by Matthew and Chief, the historical Jesus presents Jesus as man. The theological Jesus presents Jesus as God.

      Does that invalidate any effort to study Jesus as a participant in our history? No, but what you wrote ignores the points Matthew and Chief sought to make, and you failed to clearly establish your point. So if your point is that it serves a useful purpose to study Jesus as a participant in our history, we get back where we started, to Matthew’s point and why he responded to you as he did.

      If we take the Bible out of the study of Jesus, we are not studying Jesus.

  4. Either we trust the New Testament, or we don’t. Those who wrote the New Testament either accurately documented firsthand accounts of Jesus or they did not.

    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.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  5. My reaction to the discussion between Matthew and kcchief1 (and it has been a valuable discussion) is that the divide between them is not, in fact, very great and may be a bit artificial (although both are obviously quite sincere in their presentation of their views). There has been a great deal of scholarship over the last 100 years or so into the historic background of Jesus. This information illuminates Jesus’s religious teachings (the subject that Matthew wishes us to focus on), it does not obscure or detract from them. (Matthew uses the term “theology”, and we know what he means, but, in fact, much of Christian “theology” post-dates Jesus’s earthly life and is the product either of Paul’s writings (or of adherents of Paul, such as the author(s) of the Pastoral epistles or the Church of the first millenium or so following Jesus’s death). I would think one would gain immensely from knowing as much as can be known (and there is much that cannot be known at this remove) about Jesus’s earthly life, his cultural and political surroundings in Palestine, and the religious heritage into which he was born when trying to comprehend his teachings. As kcchief points out, Jesus himself left us nothing written and we know his words only through the writings of mortal humans. Those accounts are enriched by a deep understanding of the context of Jesus’s life. If the O’Reilly work (or any other modern film or television production) adheres closely to what we know of the factual history of Jesus, interested viewers are more likely to explore closely the more profound meaning of Jesus’s teachings than if these modern works simply invent fairy tales that have no basis in either Scripture or modern scholarship.

    1. As kcchief points out, Jesus himself left us nothing written and we know his words only through the writings of mortal humans.

      Jesus, who is God, left us a written record of His own words. Do we actually need a personal epistle titled, “Book of Jesus,” and opening statement, “I, Jesus, true living God, write this . . .?” No, we do not. I countered Chief with Scriptural authority and theological doctrine, see above. God used man as an agent to write His Word. So, who actually wrote the Word of God? Mere mortal and feeble minds of men? Or, God Himself through men? This is a theological conundrum, which is highly debated among liberal and conservative theologians and scholars.

      I subscribe to the conservative view. The Word of God tells us the following:

      All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

      “. . .[K]nowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pete 1:20-21).

      “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His Word is on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2).

      “. . .as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old. . .” (Luke 1:70).

      “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (Acts 1:16).

      “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).

      Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Prov. 30:5).

      The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Ps. 12:6).

      “This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 18:30).

      The Holy Scriptures, both Old and New, are God’s own words, as He claims. Either God is right, or He is wrong. Do you, Scout, venture to call God a liar? They (the Scriptures) are Jesus’ own words. We do not need a personal letter from Jesus Himself to be His “own words.” The Word of God, the Bible, is Jesus’ own words (John 1:1). This is why orthodox theology is critical.

      1. Matthew – it is somewhat offensive for you to suggest that I am “ventur[ing] to call God a liar”. Whatever would lead you to say such a thing? Certainly nothing I have said in my comments here (or anywhere else).

        The words in the Bible are, I believe, words written by men. They recorded their recollections and perceptions. I do not believe that any of them intended to be inaccurate or misleading. None of the Gospels were written, as far as we can know, by eyewitnesses to Jesus life, although they may have had access to writings or statements from people who did see and hear Jesus. Even Paul, whose authentic letters are the earliest components of the NT and thus have the advantage of being closer in time to the earthly life of Christ of any of the books of the NT, never saw or heard Jesus in His earthly ministry. I think it is a bit circular to cite books written before the Gospels as proof that the later-produced works are inerrant. (In other words, 2 Timothy may have been written before the Synoptics or without awareness of the existence of the Synoptics. The “scripture” cited therein was almost certainly the Hebrew Bible as it was compiled at that time).

        The validity of New Testament writings has to be proved in each believing heart and mind. It is not inerrant because it claims to be, it is inerrant if it unfailingly moves men to a deeper understanding of God.

  6. “Who is Jesus? Sadly, that question and answer is lacking in O’Reilly’s book, and will be lacking in his movie. Pity.”

    “However, if I wish to know the theological understanding, or let us say the divinity, of Jesus, I shall rely on His own words and deeds, not mere feeble minds of men.”

    And so should the audience who watch O’Reilly’s movie. So there should be no pity at all.

    1. You are clever, Chief. I like that. 😉 I would say touché but that depends on what words and deeds will be displayed in the movie. If the movie depicts Jesus’ humanity, then the audience loses. If the movie depicts Jesus’ divinity, then the audience gains. It also depends on what words of Jesus will be used. The jury is not out, yet.

      1. Thank you (I think) Matthew 🙂

        As I have stated here before, I am not an Atheist but a Deist. I visit blogs such as this not as a troll, but to observe and question. I’m not here to attack. I will always try to be civil and respectful.

        1. Chief,

          You are welcome. I do welcome your craftiness and challenge. Why do I say that? Unlike Atheists, you want to understand. Atheists, I would argue, wish not to understand; instead, they attack everyone, even their own elk! (Trust me, I know. I am a former rabid Atheist, which was a miserable period of my life.) You keep me on my toes and force me to think, which is a good thing. Frankly, I enjoy having conversations with Deists. I am aware of Deism. Though Christianity and Deism have a common belief in a Creator, they differ in that Creator’s involvement, namely, Christianity claims God is active, whereas Deism claims God is inactive. I never had a terrible conversation with a Deist. I have a few Deist friends and I love our conversations. My joke with Deist friends is this: Deism is “Atheism lite,” that is, God created everything, but walked away and let the creation operate according to certain principles, so there is a God, yet there is no God. 😉 Cheers.

  7. Anyone watching O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” this Sunday? From my understanding, O’Reilly examines the historical view of Jesus, not the theological view, which, in my opinion, is deficient because one cannot truly understand Jesus without the theological view. Without the theological knowledge, Jesus becomes another “historical figure.” There is no doubt — owing to vast written testimony — concerning Jesus’ historicity, but why is or what makes Jesus different from others? Who is Jesus? Sadly, that question and answer is lacking in O’Reilly’s book, and will be lacking in his movie. Pity.

    1. “From my understanding, O’Reilly examines the historical view of Jesus, not the theological view, which, in my opinion, is deficient because one cannot truly understand Jesus without the theological view.”

      Here are 2 theological views among many, I doubt you would want O’Reilly to mention. Maybe it’s better that he just presents his historical view.

      Church Theologian, Justin Martyr, “And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter” (Chapter XXI.—Analogies to the history of Christ.)

      Geza Vermes, wiki says, “He was a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and ancient works in Aramaic such as the Targums, and on the life and religion of Jesus. He was one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research,[1] and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time” Vermes described Jesus as a 1st-century Jewish holy man, a commonplace view in academia but novel to the public when Vermes began publishing.[4] Contrary to certain other scholars (such as E. P. Sanders[17]), Vermes concludes that Jesus did not reach out to non-Jews. For example, he attributes positive references to Samaritans in the gospels not to Jesus himself but to early Christian editing. He suggests that, properly understood, the historical Jesus is a figure that Jews should find familiar and attractive. This historical Jesus, however, is so different from the Christ of faith that Christians, says Vermes, may well want to rethink the fundamentals of their faith” (wiki)

      1. The historicity and humanity of Jesus Christ is well settled, even a rabid atheist knows that fact. However, if I wish to know the theological understanding, or let us say the divinity, of Jesus, I shall rely on His own words and deeds, not mere feeble minds of men. Go to the actual source, Jesus Himself. Jesus’ words and deeds speak for Himself. As Jesus told His skeptics then, and His words are telling skeptics today (there is nothing new under the sun [Eccl. 1:9]), “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (see John 5:30-47).

        1. “However, if I wish to know the theological understanding, or let us say the divinity, of Jesus, I shall rely on His own words and deeds, not mere feeble minds of men.”

          Where are Jesus’ words you have read that have not been written by mere feeble minds of men ?

        2. Crafty one, I see. Study ipsissima verba Iesus and ex ore Christi. Additionally, study Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

  8. Hey chief, how the heck are ya?

    Are you familiar with the word feign as it applies to scripture?

    —And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.—-

    Surely you are aware of people who want answers from scripture while pretending to have a sincere interest, yet they believe none of it. Their desire is to devour like a jackal, while they appear to have pure motives, hence the word ‘feign.’

    Need proof if you are not sure? Just be honest, and peruse certain sites who have attacked Tom. The commenting is some of the most perverse, depraved, and animalistic, (my jackals look rather well mannered in comparison) so much so, that the screen needs wiped after reading such things.

    Back to this post. ‘Jesus never gave them what they wanted.’ Why? Because He knows the hearts of men, and today, there is also this thing called discernment which is pretty handy, lest the blogs be filled with words not suitable for a dung heap, as they are so toxic

    Granted, nobody is being delivered to the governor here, but the secondary interpretation: some have nothing better to do than to steal, kill, destroy, and malign good people, using words.

    The word of God contains ALL that pertains to life and godliness. Choose ye this day who you will serve………the difference is clear as light from darkness..

    1. Hi Colorstorm ! I’m doing well, thank you for asking !
      ” Back to this post. ‘Jesus never gave them what they wanted.’ Why? Because He knows the hearts of men, and today, there is also this thing called discernment which is pretty handy, lest the blogs be filled with words not suitable for a dung heap, as they are so toxic”

      But what you don’t see is you and Citizen Tom did give them what they wanted. They did use some facts which you both dismissed by saying , “I have faith in the Bible therefore it must be factually true” and any evidence you have to the contrary must be false.

      I have no dog in this fight. I’m a Deist. I don’t have to deal with dogmatic theology. I do have to deal with reason and logic however.

      Be well !

  9. “I still don’t have to apply your standards to my behavior, and that is basically what you are insisting I must do.”

    You’re missing the point again, Tom. They aren’t my standards. I thought you were a “Bible reading Christian”

    Now you can call me “silly”

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