The Theology of Twilight?

October 4th, 2008 Matt Jones 9 comments

New MoonI’m not actually going try and link up Stephanie Meyer‘s Twilight novels to Christian Theology. That would be silly and, I’m sure, quite against the intent of those novels. That being said, there was an interesting comment by Bella about Edward in New Moon that actually made me think about Christology.

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It never made sense for you to love me.

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Throughout the novels Bella doesn’t see herself as worthy of Edward’s love. Her perceptions of herself and of Edward color her understanding of love. Now again, I am not suggesting that you look for theological points in Twilight, but I felt there was a bridge between Bella’s statement and our relationship to God.

We are a fallen people. We screw up, we sin, we hurt people, we hurt ourselves, we hurt God. It truly does not make sense for God to love us. By all accounts, we are not lovable because of our offenses against God and His people. But because our failures have been laid on Christ on the Cross, he has made us lovable. Because He is truly lovable, we are truly, once and for all, lovable. It is only through Jesus that it makes sense for God to love us.

I cannot believe I (1) admitted I have been reading the Twilight series and (2) talked about it in any sort of serious post! I’m kind of embarrassed…

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Categories: Reading, Theology

Space Saturday XXXII

September 13th, 2008 Matt Jones No comments

It has been almost a year and a half since my last Space Saturday! How horrible is that?? I thought I would resurrect it before it died for good. For the 32nd edition of Space Saturday I am going to bring us back to M8: Lagoon Nebula (I also used M8 for Space Saturday XV).

M8: The Lagoon Nebula
Credit: Fred Vanderhaven. Source.

While there are other, more colorful versions of the Lagoon Nebula, I found this version from Vanderhaven quite beautiful. Check out the APOD page or Vanderhaven’s website for more details!

Be sure to stop by my Space Saturday Archive for previous editions!

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Categories: Science

Bellevue on Strike: Part 2

September 8th, 2008 Matt Jones 1 comment

Bellevue is still on strike. There has been progress, but the gaps have not narrowed enough. My previous post has generated a lot more attention than I had ever imagined or intended. While I still find open and honest discussion to be extremely important I am also willing to put some of that on hold for the benefit of relationships with my new colleagues. I want to be as humble as I can when it comes to this decision and appreciate all the discussion (both positive and negative) on that post. For now, I am going to password protect that post. That means that all the comments and discussion will still be available for discussion at a later date, but not now. If you are a BEA member and for some reason or another have a burning desire to read that post and add more comments, I can give you the password. For the rest, you will just have to wait.

I hope that both the BSD and the BEA will be able to come to an agreement soon that will please both sides and promote the best learning possible for our students. We all want to get back to work as soon as we can. I would also ask that the parents in Bellevue be patient with us. You know that your children receive a top notch education, we want to keep it that way; your support means a great deal to us.


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Categories: Education

Bellevue School District: On Strike - My New Job

September 2nd, 2008 Matt Jones 37 comments

Last year while I was working on my masters from SPU I was sent into the classroom right away. Right off the bat I started observing and getting to know the students. As the year progressed, I started taking over more and more classes and responsibilities. Tillicum Middle School in Bellevue became my home. The staff was great, my mentor teachers were amazing, and the kids helped me grow a lot; a perfect first experience. To compliment that experience, I was able to fill in as a leave replacement at Tyee Middle School for the last quarter of the year. It was nice to be on my own and get a little taste of the “real” teaching experience.

Over the summer I worked on the 8th grade physics curriculum as a “content specialist.” We incorporated materials and ideas from what we had done during the year along with suggestions and helps from the special ed and ESL departments. The idea is that collaboration and resources will make the curriculum, the curriculum web and the lessons it contains that much stronger. While there, I was approached by one of my mentor teachers from last year. She let me know that she might be moving to the high school level to teach biology which would mean there was an open position back at Tillicum.

So last week I found myself at the newbie training for Bellevue School District! I have my own room! It is mostly ready to go. The walls look fairly bare for the most part… but it is functional and I will be working on it! It was pretty much the ideal situation for me. I know the school, I know the staff, I know the curriculum; that should help make my first year of teaching much more smooth and successful (hopefully for my students as well).

Today’s my first day… well it would have been had the Bellevue Education Association (our union) not decided to go on strike.

The Strike

The bargaining team on both sides have done a good job of working hard to get the contract hammered out, but there are still three major areas where agreement could not be reached. The three areas still being argued are compensation, health benefits, and the use of the curriculum web. I am all for higher pay and I think there is ground being made on the issue of compensation. Bellevue is paid well compared to other districts in the area, but the cost of living is higher and (some would argue) the quality of the teacher is higher as well. I believe that the district does need to be held accountable for where money has gone and why they think they cannot afford to pay us more. But I also understand that if that money truly is not there, they would have to fire personnel, which would not be a good situation either. Here is the comparison in pay proposals (from the district website… so there are other factors that may not be represented). I don’t have too much to say about the benefits issue. Personally I would rather have the money on the check than in benefits because all mine is covered already. But I also have to understand that most people are not single without kids and so have to pay more and should therefore have those benefits. At the same time, we have a pretty amazing benefits plan as it is.

The Curriculum
I have had problems with the language the union and many teachers use in talking about the curriculum web. Here is the memorandum of understanding regarding curriculum from the district (UPDATE: here is the current version). When I read that, I do not understand what the union could have problems with. Teachers are worried about autonomy in what kind of lessons they can teach. Fine, I get that. If they need to change or modify the lessons they teach, they can do that. Why wouldn’t they share that with their curriculum staff and their colleagues?

Some teachers are still under the impression that we have to teach scripted lessons. That we could just print a lesson off the web and read it. That is not the intent of the web, nor has it ever been the intent. I do not understand why this is still being propagated. I have never interacted with any administrator or curriculum coach who thinks the lessons on the web have only one way to be taught or that they should never be modified to fit the needs of our students. This is what “professional judgment” means. For my final, “official” observation to be entered into Bellevue’s job pool (in lieu of an interview), I was observed by one of the area directors. In that observation I did a lesson that was NOT part of the curriculum web and the observation went wonderfully because the lesson was student centered and was aligned with district objectives. It made sense. “I heard a teacher got in trouble for not using something from the curriculum web…” That is NOT sufficient to suggest that teachers actually are being written up for the reasons you think. Hearsay needs to be ignored and not propagated. If people have a problem with Bellevue’s educational philosophy or pedagogy, they probably shouldn’t be part of this district. Why would you join a company if you completely disagreed with what they did? And why does the union think they can control and dictate what the district deems important?

I understand this is a very complex issue, I just wish both sides would grow up a bit, stop using politically charged language, stop propagating inaccurate information, provide factual information that is relevant, make appropriate compromises, and just keep working to settle this strike so we can start teaching our kids.

To the teachers: stop thinking the district is trying to control and micromanage your classroom. They aren’t trying to do that. They don’t want to do that. They want you to be a professional.

To the union: don’t push an agenda that the entire union might not be in support of. The memorandum of understanding concerning curriculum makes sense and should be supported.

To the school district: you need to show specific numbers if you truly think you cannot afford the pay increase being asked for. You haven’t been completely honest in the past on this issue and teachers got burned. If you have mismanaged funds, you need to figure out how to deal with that, but not at the expense of quality teachers.

There is much more that could be said, but I will leave it at that. I will eventually have my first day of teaching. I just hope it will be soon!

Bellevue Education Association (the BEA, our union)
Bellevue School District

News Articles about the Strike:
Seattle P-I: Bellevue teachers set for strike
Seattle Times: School’s out in Bellevue as teachers hit picket lines
King 5 TV: Bellevue teachers walk picket line
KOMO News 4: Bellevue teachers on strike
KIRO TV 7: Bellevue Teachers Hit Picket Lines

If you would like to email the BEA bargaining team about your thoughts on the matter, they can be emailed here: BEAbargain [at]

Check out this Seattle Times editorial: Bellevue teachers strike is wrong. While the editorial can be a bit harsh in places, they have a lot of good things to say that should be paid attention to.

Teachers are taking standardized curriculum as a personal affront when it is not. Districts have always been empowered to set curriculum.

Bellevue has spent the past five years creating the curriculum with a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — an organization known for vetting academic initiatives. Meanwhile, the district continues to be recognized nationally for its quality schools and its emphasis on getting all students into high-level classes.

Here is a critical point the teachers union appears to want to ignore: Bellevue’s common curriculum is an evolving effort, far from completion. It was expected that best practices and teaching strategies from teachers would build upon the work already started. The curriculum would change as students change, creating a living rather than static effort. Teachers should know this.

You should read it.

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Categories: Daily Life, Education


August 17th, 2008 Matt Jones 3 comments

You are missed!

Shortly after dad died we planted a tree at our new house (that he loved so much and spent so much time and hard work on). I was back in Gig Harbor last weekend for my 10 year high school reunion and was able to stop by and see how the tree was doing.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

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Categories: Daily Life

Some thoughts on John 19:30

August 11th, 2008 Matt Jones 1 comment

This is a paper that I wrote for one of my classes. It looks at John 19:23-30, but I focus on 19:30. Enjoy… or something. ;)

John 19:23-30

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.



    Here at the climax of John, Jesus proclaims his ministry and life fulfilled and offers his spirit back up to God. The author uses the final verse (30) of the crucifixion story to show Jesus as a victor; one who has fully completed his mission and is about to do what he promised he would: conquer death. Matthew (27:50) and Mark (15:37) both note that Jesus’ final words, “It is finished,” were loudly cried out; they were not a sigh of defeat, but a victory roar. This paper will focus on verse 30: its meaning and implications.




    While there are no textual variants of note in verse 30, the meaning and wording of that verse are of particular interest to the pericope and the gospel at large. There are two important phrases in the verse that warrant further examination: “it is finished” and “he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The first phrase is a single Greek word, Τετέλεσται (tetelestai), and is in the perfect tense, a tense that loses meaning when it is translated into the English. This nuance will be discussed in the final section. The second phrase also warrants particular discussion in the interpretation section as the phrase is unique in terms of describing death; all four gospels provide a different-than-standard outlook of Jesus’ death on the cross.

    Historians place the authorship of this text by John (a disciple of Jesus) sometime around 90 CE. For this paper, the exact date is not crucial so not argued. The occasion for this book (most likely the last of the four Gospels and not one of the synoptic) is linked to its literary style: the Greek biography, or bioi (βιοι). A bioi is a modified biography (in its modern understanding); it does not intend to provide a full or complete picture of the person of Jesus, but a particular and specific picture that is intended to carry a particular message. Different from much of the narrative styles used in the Bible, the bioi was focused on the life and character of Jesus. John, in particular, focused on the messianic aspects of Jesus and the theological nature of his message. The bioi is also different from much of the epistles that appear in the New Testament that often serve as corrective measures, encouragement, and theological or doctrinal imperatives to specific churches, people, or groups.


Interpretation and Integration

    This section of John focuses on the death of Jesus and his last words. In keeping the theme of Jesus’ messianic and theological nature, John includes one such fulfillment of prophesy right at the end of Jesus’ time on the cross (v. 24). The soldiers keeping watch over the crucifixion were Roman guards sent to carry out Pilate’s orders. Pilate would only have agreed to the death sentence because of the claims of authority made by Jesus (especially seen throughout Mark and John’s gospels).

    After the note of prophesy fulfillment, John turns to the three Marys and “the disciple who He loved” (John himself). Two of these ladies, Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene, and John are three important people in his life who felt compelled to be there at the end of his life. They knew that Jesus was going on to something better (but even what that was was still not exactly understood). Jesus, recognizing that death was imminent, asked for liquid for his parched mouth and proclaimed his final word: Τετέλεσται – it is finished. After his mission was completed, he offered up his spirit. The story doesn’t end there as the remainder of John (and the other gospels) discusses; Jesus rises from the dead and eventually ascends to the right hand of God.

    Scholars all seem to agree that the “it is finished” statement does not just apply to the physical life that was fleeting but to the larger ministry that Jesus had been working on. “The rendering, ‘It is finished!’ conveys only half the meaning. For the verb τελέω fundamentally denotes ‘to carry out’ the will of somebody, whether of oneself or another, and so to fulfill obligations or carry out religious acts. ‘It is accomplished!’ renders that aspect of the word” (Beasley-Murray 1999). Other arguments have also been made about the implications the verb tense has for Christians today that will be discussed in the next section. As indicated by the parallel passages in Mark and Luke (27:50 and 15:37 respectively), Jesus’ proclamation was not a defeated whimper, but a cry out. “Jesus died with the cry of the Victor on his lips. This is not the moan of the defeated, nor the sigh of a patient resignation. It is the triumphant recognition that he was now fully accomplished the work that he came to do” (Morris 1995). Through Jesus’ death he had completed all the Father had charged him with; the redemption of Man could only come through this final act of selflessness and willingness to become the slain lamb.

    Jesus’ final release from life is also described differently than other deaths throughout the Bible; it is something distinctly different. “John does not say that Jesus died and then his head slumped over, but rather that he bowed his head, an attitude of submission, and then gave over (paraedoken) his spirit” (Whitacre 1999). Each gospel portrays his death as different from any other death. John makes special note of the act of will. Tertullian (a 2nd century Christian) noted in his Apology that, “Nailed upon the cross, he exhibited many notable signs by which is death was distinguished from all others. By his own free will, he dismissed from him his spirit with a word, anticipating the executioner’s work” (Elowsky 2007). “There does seem to be an element of voluntariness that is not found in the case of others” (Morris 1988). Jesus’ claims to authority are evidence here in his ability to offer back his spirit in a way that no other human can. His divine nature and the completion of his work here allowed him to fully return to be with God. His act of will signified something that no mortal is truly capable of: choosing when to let go.

    This passage is the climax for John. Everything that came before this was leading up to it. The events and proclamations of Jesus would inevitably lead him to the cross; humanity was in need of redemption. Everything after this point looks back to this very moment. The ministry and churches that follow are focused around the act of completion and selflessness on the cross. In this way the Gospels, especially John more theological focused version, are the climax to the entire Biblical narrative. The story of the Old Testament is the story of humanity and relationship, even conflict, with God. The fallen nature of man pointed to the need for a messiah, someone who would bring redemption from that which sin deserves. The climax comes in Jesus, his ministry and dual nature. At the cross he completes all that came before him and paved the way for all that is to come. The resolution of the story is painted in the remainder of the New Testament; Christians are called to bring people into the fold and climax of the story. We currently live in the resolution of John 19:30.



    The importance of John 19:30 comes in how we respond to it. It seems consistent with ancient Christian writers that Jesus’ final cry was firstly, not a cry of defeat, and secondly, not only concerning the end of his life. Eusebius, a 3rd century church historian, said it very poetically: “He did not wait for death, which was lagging behind as it were in fear to come to him. Instead, he pursed it from behind and drove it on and trampled it under his feet as it was fleeting. He burst the eternal gates of death’s dark realms and made a road of return back again to life for the dead bound there with the bonds of death” (Elowsky 2007). The flat reading of this passage that Jesus was merely welcoming his death was never intended by John. John being the theologian he was, included that as a part of verse 30, but as historians and theologians have kept with the tradition that Jesus was speaking to something more than his impending ceasing life. Saint Augustine writing in the 5th century comments that “The spirit of the Mediator has shown how it was not any punishment for sin that brought about the death of his flesh because he did not abandon it unwillingly. Rather, the spirit left because he willed it to, and it left at the time in the manner that he wanted it to leave. For since he is so commingled with the flesh by the Word of God as to be one with it…” (Elowsky 2007). It is clear that we should take Jesus’ final word and act with more than a surface understanding.

    The more complex reading of this passage can also bring modern day readers into its implications. The use of the Greek perfect tense implies that there is more than a
“past completion” reading of Τετέλεσται. The perfect tense describes an act that has been completed in the past but continues to effect the present. Jesus saying that his ministry has been accomplished is true, but it not only true for the past but it is being accomplished currently. “And as [Jesus] on the cross, having lived a sinless life, having paid the penalty for your sins and mine, Jesus uttered his last words before dying. Τετέλεσται (tetelestai) “It is finished” (John 19.30). This one word summary of Jesus’ life and death is perhaps the single most important statement in all of Scripture. … But the tense of the verb, the ‘perfect’ tense, brings out even more of what Jesus was saying. The perfect describes an action that was fully completed and has consequences at the time of speaking. Jesus could have used the aorist, ετελέσθη (etelestha), and simply said, ‘The work is done.’ But there is more, there is hope for you and for me. Because Jesus fully completed his task, the ongoing effects are that you are I are offered the free gift of salvation so that we can be with him forever” (Mounce 2003). Christ’s work truly was completed. It wasn’t simply a statement that Jesus thought he was about to die and his life was over, it was so much more than that. That completion has brought us into something very large. God has called us into something that we could never do on our own. He died for us, was battered for us, was a servant to us. It makes sense that we should live our lives for him. 1 Peter 2:24 and 25 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” That is very comforting and challenging and convicting. Because it has been completed in Christ, we have returned to the Guardian of our souls. His wounds saved us, not anything we could ever hope to do. We own him our lives and our daily walk and actions should reflect that.

    ”Only here in the entire gospel does the Evangelist speak of a teleioun of the Scriptures, an increase over the previous formulaic pleroun, which expresses the ‘ultimate fulfillment’ of all Christological prophecy in the Scriptures, which in turn reach their goal in the death of Jesus. The Evangelist consciously placed this hina teleiothe he graphe between the two tetelestai‘s, Jesus’ knowledge that the end had come in v 28, and his death cry in v 30. With Jesus’ death the ‘work of saving the world,’ which the Father had entrusted to him by sending him into the world, is ‘finished’” (Hengel 1990). We are a part of the completion that Jesus brought about. Since his cry was a victory cry, we should entry into that cry and live as he has called us to live.



Barclay, William (1975). The Gospel of John: Volume 2. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press.

Beasley-Murray, George R. (1999). John Second Edition: World Biblical Commentary (Bruce M. Metzger, Ed.). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Brown, R.E. (1970). The Gospel According to John (xii-xxi): The Anchor Bible (W.F. Albright, Ed.). Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Elowsky, Joel C. (Ed.). (2007). Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament IVb: John 11-21. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Fitzmyer, J. A. (1978). Crucifixion in ancient palestine, qumran literature, and the new testament. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 40(4), 493-513.

Hengel, Martin. (1990). The Old Testament in the Fourth Gospel. Horizons in Biblical Theology, 12(1), 19-41.

Miller, J. V. (1983). The time of the crucifixion. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 26(2), 157-166.

Morris, Leon (1995). The Gospel According to John: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Gordon D. Fee, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

________ (1988). Reflections on the Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

Mounce, William D. (2003). Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.

Whitacre, Rodney A. (1999). John: The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Grant R. Osborne, Ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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Categories: Religion, Theology

My Namesake

July 10th, 2008 Matt Jones 1 comment

I noticed that I was seeing a lot more traffic to my blog today. I couldn’t figure out what would cause that. I am used to getting search results for “Matt Jones” (even though there are some millions of us out there!), but today I was seeing more. Then I noticed that many of the search terms had “arrested” in there as well.


It turns out one of my namesakes, who plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was arrested early today on a felony drug charge.

Thanks Matt, I appreciate the press. If only I could somehow capitalize on it… nah.

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Categories: Around the World

Have a Happy Independence Day!

July 4th, 2008 Matt Jones No comments

Dave Scott saluting the flag on Apollo 15.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Independence Day celebration! And remember that our freedom isn’t free; this is a day to be thankful for all the rights we have been given!

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Categories: Daily Life, Politics