Monthly Archives: July 2011

Matthew 12 – The Changing of the Guard

In this chapter we really begin to see a different side of Jesus.  So far in Matthew, we have seen Jesus heritage and his ministry.  We have seen where He came from, His lineage and his birth, including how the prophecies were coming true.  We have also looked at His temptation and His ministry.  His message for his disciples and how He responds to the peoples needs.  His working of miracles and His compassion are key principles so far, but now we begin to really see a different side of Jesus in this chapter.

It starts out with Jesus and His disciples walking through some fields one Sabbath.  The disciples began to pick and eat the grain as they walked.  The Pharisees ever watching and lofty eye searching for something, began criticizing the disciples for this.  Jesus began to shine the light on the situation reminding the Pharisees that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  In response, Jesus comes into their synagogue and heals a man.

The Pharisees are furious, and seek to destroy Him.  They call Him the devil, and criticize all that He does.  Yet the people keep coming and Jesus continues to heal and minister.  Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and their actions.  He defines a tree by its fruit and a man by his actions.  Thus He condemns the Pharisees and flips the Israelite society on its head.  He shows that it is not about having lofty words and the proper lineage, it’s about obedience to the one to who obedience is due.  It’s about pursuing God and the truth, not about following a bunch of rules for the sake of the rules… that’s not to say that the rules are to be rejected.  Jesus, the Christ, did not reject the rules.  In fact He lived in them and embodied them… but rather pursuing the Father, the creator of the world and the rules.

Jesus goes even further by redefining the very nature of family.  He states that those who do his will are His brothers and mother, not those who He is born to / with.

We see in this chapter Jesus going from ministering to the people, to rejecting and correcting the sin and corruption of the leadership.  We see an outright attack against the Pharisees: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. ”  We see a changing of the guard.

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Matthew 11 – Reactions

When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.”  When i read this, I take it as Jesus instructing and sending out the disciples and while they are sent out to do the work of ministry, He is going to their home cities to teach and preach.  It seems almost like a mentality of, “You go take care of these places and meanwhile I have your back.  I am going to make sure your families and friends are taken care of. ”  It’s like His reaction to their stepping out is to take care of those they care about.

Meanwhile, John the Baptist, the one who recognized Jesus conception from the womb and leapt in his mother’s womb at His presence, the one who prepared the way for Jesus, the one who told Jesus that he couldn’t baptize Him because he was not even worthy to untie His sandals, the one who heard the voice of God (YHWH) speaking and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Jesus, the one who said, “He must increase, and I must decrease”, that John; He has set for too long and has come to the point of wondering and doubting that which He had previously known beyond a shadow of a doubt.  So he sends his disciples, the ones that are left, to Jesus to ask if He is the one.  Jesus reaction is not one of disgust that John is even asking such a thing and reacting in such a way, but His reaction is to tell them to observe and report.  That that is the answer for John’s doubt.  There is no criticism of John, only comfort.

Meanwhile, Jesus begins to respond to the reaction of the cities He has already been to.  He had preached, and taught, and healed, and done miracles, and called them to repentance, yet they had not.  They had continued doing what they knew was wrong and treating Jesus teaching like a passing fad.  So Jesus pronounces “Woe” on them.  They rejected the message, so that reaction is going to affect their standing on the judgment day.

Finally, Jesus calls for a reaction from the people.  The conclusion to the chapter is, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

So what is your and my reaction to His message?

 

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 10 – Sent Ones

The word Apostle in Greek is Apostolos which means a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.  The basic understanding is that it is one sent (with specific orders).  It is someone who has been directed to leave, go somewhere and do something specific.  In today’s church, our closest example would be a missionary.

Here in Matthew 10 we see Jesus sending out disciples, giving them specific instructions about where to go and what to do.  It is a primer for ministry.  Start with your own people, “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as you go, 1)preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  2)Heal  the sick, 3)raise the dead, 4)cleanse the lepers, 5)cast out demons. Freely you received, 6)freely give.  Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts…

With these commands we begin to see that basic ministry is one part preaching and a whole lot more parts “ministering” to people.  Being a disciple / apostle of Christ means not only preaching, but going and doing.  It’s not 90% teaching / preaching and 10% doing, it’s preaching, with a whole lot more reaching than anything else.

Is this what we are doing?

 

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 9 – Responses

As time goes on, Christ continues ministering.  It doesn’t matter where He is, or what He is doing, He keeps ministering.  However, as you will see, the people’s response to Him contrasts greatly.  A paralytic is brought to Him.  He tells him that his sins are forgiven, and not long after that, to get up and walk.  The scribes (educated folk) criticize him for the first thing, and the people were awestruck and praise YHWH for both.  Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners.  The Pharisees criticize Him for mingling with the rabble.  Meanwhile, the tax collectors and sinners come to repentance.  John (the Baptist)’s  disciples critically question him about why they and even the Pharisees disciples fast, but Jesus’ don’t.  Jesus replies that now is not the right time.  If you expect too much from someone or something at the wrong time, you can destroy the work that needs to be done.

Day by day, people keep coming to Him, in spite of the scribes and Pharisees criticisms.  We actually begin to see deep contrasts in who and how people come to Him.  A synagogue official (public VIP figure) comes boldly to Him pleading with Him to heal and revive his dead daughter.  Meanwhile an unclean woman with an issue of blood comes to Him secretly hoping to get a scrap from the master’s table.  She wants to be healed.  While she comes in secret, He heals her publicly.  While the leader calls to Him publicly, Jesus heals his daughter in secret.

As He goes on and casts out demons, the religious leaders follow along with the gentile beliefs and decide that the only way for a demon to be cast out is if you send in a stronger, tougher demon to kick the first one out.  But then you end up with a different, stronger, demon to deal with.

Yet none of this matters to Jesus.  He feels compassion for the people for they are like sheep without a shepherd.  So, what’s His response?  That answer is in chapter 10.

John Camiolo

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Matthew 8 – Ministering

It’s amazing how even simple daily chores and tasks can be so very different day-by-day when we are connected to other people.  Our lives can have set schedules and predefined plans, but once you add in the “other person” factor, everything we plan and do suddenly changes.  Our “set schedule” suddenly becomes a possible plan or a good idea or a guarantee of what WON’T happen.  This is the case while Jesus is ministering as well.

Jesus ministers to a leaper, and all is normal… or as normal as they can be when you heal a leaper with a touch.  Then along comes a Centurion, a solider, many of whom dislike and mistreat the Jewish people.  Only this one is asking Jesus for help.  Not only does Jesus help him, but Jesus then turns around and says that He has not seen such faith in all of Israel!  Next we see people desiring to be His disciples, but then Jesus pushes them away.  What kind of teacher doesn’t want students?

After a long day, Jesus and His disciples head out in a boat and cross the sea.  Suddenly a tempest strikes and it looks like they will all drown.  When His disciples wake Him to help with the boat, He rebukes them.  Then He rebukes the storm and it immediately stops!

They all reach the other side only to run into a pair of men who are demon possessed and who have been driving people out of the region.  They free them from the demons only to be driven out of the region by the rest of the people BECAUSE they freed these men from being held captive by demons!  (I have my own theories as to why they kicked them out, but i’m not going to say them here and now.)

When you minister day by day directly with people, these are the kinds of unusual days and situations you are going to run into.  If you are in the ministry, and your schedule is well defined and set.  If you don’t have days where your plans and schedule are messed up by people, then i would wonder if you you are “ministering”, or if you are “doing the ministry”.  If you are doing the ministry I would challenge you to consider what your call and purpose is.

Jesus did not sit in an office all day.  He was hands on, and if we are to be like Him, we need to reconsider what it means to “minister” to the flock.

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 7 – Understanding

I was going through this chapter, trying to understand and process all of this information in a relatively short period of time, and i was struck by this first couple of sections.  First off, Christ talks about not judging lest we be judged.  I was thinking about what that means.  I know that i do not want to be judged by God, but how does one go about not judging others?  Then we hit verse 6 that says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”  So, we are not to judge, but in order to not give what is holy to dogs and not cast our pearls before swine, we must judge and discern that they are dogs or swine.  How do we do that?  Do not judge lest you be judged, yet judge lest you cast truth before those who can not accept it.

So we need to judge whether someone is able to handle the truth, but we must be careful in judging as we will be judged in the same way.  Later on, Jesus talks about knowing a person by their fruits.  If you need to judge someone you can understand who they are, and the truth about them by looking at what they produce.  If they produce life, they are people of life.  If they leave a path of destruction behind them, chances are they are a bad tree.

Later in the chapter Jesus talks about how the road is broad that leads to destruction, and narrow that leads to life and many who seek it will not find it.  So many who pursue truth and life will never find it.  Those are pretty strong words in our “all inclusive” culture.  Yet, those are Christ’s words.

So in understanding all of these things, it is important to build a strong foundation.  When you do not have a strong foundation, the troubles of life WILL sweep you away.  The only way to remain strong is have a strong foundation and strong roots.

Do you understand?  I’m pretty sure i MIGHT understand…  “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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Matthew 6 – Religion & Relationship

Jesus sermon while on the mount continues through chapter 6 and into 7.  Here we get into more depth of life and ministry.  Jesus begins to deal with what it means to serve and worship Him.  Here we begin to see and get an understanding of what religion is, our purpose, and having a relationship with the Father.

From chapter 5 to 6 there is a transition from dealing with personal relationships to how we relate  to the world and to God.  Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and religious leaders because while they obey the letter of the law, they do so for personal and political gain.  It’s not that they care for the poor and orphans.  It’s that they desire to show the world that they are obeying the commands of God.  Meanwhile Jesus is saying here not that doing those kinds of things is wrong, they’re not.  In fact the pharisees are completely correct in giving to the poor and praying and fasting and everything else.  The issue is not so much in what they do, rather it’s in how they do it.

Jesus the Christ seems to be saying here that why and how we do what we do may be even more important than our doing it.  He tells the disciples that the pharisees have the action and obedience right, which was more than most, but at the same time He was very critical of them for how and why they were doing it:
Give to the poor, but do it in secret so you will have treasure in heaven.
Pray like this, but not in vain repetitions.
Forgive others so it may be forgiven you.
Make sure you fast, but don’t let others see or know you are fasting.
Don’t store up your treasures here on earth.  Store them up in heaven where they have real value.
You can’t serve God / YHWH and wealth.  You can either serve the maker or the tool.

Then last but certainly not least… Do not Worry!  God / YHWH is in control.  He provides all things for all.  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will continue and be added.  I honestly believe that this is one of the most accepted sins in the church.  When we worry, we live by works and not by faith.  We say, “We know You say You are in control, but I don’t really believe that.  Not fully.”  I know that this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.

John Camiolo

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