Monthly Archives: August 2011

Matthew 27 – 1 – Trials

Wow!  These Jewish leaders!  They seem like such bitter and angry people!

Judas comes and seeks remorse and a restitution of sorts for his involvement in this situation.  He knows he is wrong and that he is at fault.  So he comes in remorse and repentance, and they basically say, “Yup!  You da man!  You are at fault and in judgment, and we’re not lifting a finger  to help you.”

They bring Jesus before the secular, gentile law because they cannot sentence Him to death on their own.  If they could have avoided Pilate and dealing with the spited gentiles, they would have.  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, they could not sentence Jesus to death on their own.  Pilate, having dealt with these Jews before, had some major issues with what was going on.  He knew that the Pharisees and religious leaders were doing this because they were so angry and bitter, and they hated Jesus for what He did and stood for.

Pilate knows that this is a sham trial, and he tries to stop it.  But what God / YHWH has put into place, Pilate certainly cannot stop.  So Pilate does what he can to help end this fiasco, but to no avail!  He risks a riot and if that happens again, he could lose his jurisdiction and even his life if Caesar is in a foul mood when he hears of it.   His wife even sends him a message telling him to have nothing to do with this man because of a dream she has, but in all truth, there is nothing that he can truly do to stop it.  It’s all going forward like a train wreck, and all he can do is stand back and watch.  “Let it be…”

It’s sad when i consider the Pharisees.  They go through all of this work and trouble.  Why?  Because they truly believe that Jesus is a threat to God / YHWH; because they are constantly trying to fight the Roman invasion and raping and pillaging of their culture, religion, and people and are taking it out on Jesus; or because their pride has been hurt hurt by this teacher that makes them look like fools and idiots when they are the most dedicated and learned men of their times?  Here are “men of God” doing everything that they can to destroy what they should be rejoicing to have.  The Pharisees have spent all of their lives pursuing the truth the only way they know and have been taught how.  Now this young upstart turns around, is attempting to destroy so much of what they have worked so hard to build, and the only way to stop him is to break the very laws that they have spent their lives dedicated to studying, understanding, living and teaching.  I look at that, and I come to the conclusion… “If not but for the grace of God, there go I”

Christ is on trial, but the trial is not His.  It is theirs.  It is mine.  They have been placed in the balance and have been found lacking.  Yet, if not for a 2000 years difference, and they could have been me.  “If not but for the grace of God…”

Rev.  John

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Matthew 26 – 2 – Revenge of the Pharisees

Preparations have been made and the time has come.  There is only to wait, and rest, and meet the promised fate.  Jesus takes the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  The disciples, having had a very busy week, having just completed a big meal, and being unaware of what is about to happen simply cannot keep their eyes open to pray.  Thus Jesus last moments alone with his disciples end up with Him being truly alone.  Just Him speaking with His Father, YHWH.

It’s rather sad that Jesus, the Son of God, is being betrayed by one of His own.  These 12 disciples have followed Him for three years now.  They have seen the miracles He has done.  They have seen Him walk on water, heal the blind, cast out demons, raise the dead, and more.  They have heard Him teach.  They have heard all the stories about the Kingdom of Heaven, that it is at hand, what it is like,  the need for repentance, and what role they will play there.  They have even gone out and done and taught the same things with people healed at their hands.  Yet, one of their own.  One from the big 12 is in the process of betraying Him…  of betraying them all.  Yet there it is.  Not only does he betray Jesus, he betray’s Him with a kiss… and they all go tumbling down.  His disciples, including His closest three, all scatter.

What happens next is absolutely amazing.  The Pharisees, high priests and elders have Him arrested.  That’s a great idea!  Only they don’t exactly have their act together.  They are fumbling around trying to figure out what to charge Jesus with, and even bringing forward people bear false witness against Him (the 10th commandment).  Yet even with all of this, they still can’t seem to get their act together.  There seems to be a bit of a spirit of confusion about the place.  It takes Jesus Himself giving them the ammunition that they need before they are able to clearly bring a case against Him.

Meanwhile, Peter is watching all of this from the sidelines, full of fear of what is going to happen and what could happen to Him if he is caught.  In the process, he is caught.  People recognize him, and call him out.  So while Judas, the least of the Apostles, betray’s Judas to the Pharisees; Peter, the greatest of the Apostles deny’s Him for fear of the Pharisees.  It looks like the Pharisees are getting their revenge.

Yet, there is always hope…

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Matthew 26 – 1 – Preparation (Last Supper)

Well, I’m a few days further behind on my writing than on my copying.  I’m actually in Matthew 27 today in my copy work, but I’m writing about the beginning of Matthew 26.

Time seems to be speeding up here.  Final preparations are being made.  Jesus is where He often seems to be.  He is with His flock; at the home of Simon the leper.  A woman comes and pours out over his head a vial of very costly perfume.  This is so very significant in so many ways.  This kind of vial of perfume is often used as a life savings.  When a person has extra money that he / she wants to save long term (for when they are old / retired) they would invest it in perfumes and burying spices.  It held it’s value well, and was less likely to be stolen than Roman coin.  When this woman pours this perfume / burial incense & spices out on Jesus, she is giving up her best, her future for Him.  She is preparing Him for burial, and trusting God to provide for her future.  This is a huge sacrifice on her part, and everyone knows it.  Thus what she has done is remembered.

Next we see Judas preparing as well.  The Passover meal is coming, and he goes to the chief priests to sell out his master.  He takes the silver, and provides the direction to allow the leaders to take out their wrath through the destruction of something beautiful.

Finally, we come to an extremely important event.  One that is celebrated at least monthly in churches around the world.  The last supper and communion.  It’s funny that we use this official word “Communion” for this process.  What is communion?  Communion can be defined as: “The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings”.  It is two or more people coming together for a common purpose to share / celebrate together with one another.  It is a process of celebration, joy, hope, sharing, and intimacy.  When i think of taking part in communion at church, i do not think of celebration, joy, hope, sharing, or intimacy.  It is more like seriousness, melancholy, monotony, dividing up, and self-focus.  That’s not to say that it is those things, but that certainly is what it seems like at times.

This Last Supper is that final time that Jesus has to share and be in relationship with His disciples.  He knows that this is His last chance to just be able to relax and spend time with them.  Imagine what it would be like if you knew that your next meal would be the last meal you would spend with your family.  The last chance you had to really BE with them, and enjoy their company.  Would you want it to be remembered as a stuffy occasion in which everyone passes around little tiny crackers and little tiny cups of juice and they sit there holding their little  tiny cups trying not to spill them and stain the carpet?  There are a whole lot of things that the church does really well, but I really think that we miss the target on this one.

Celebrate communion with someone today.

 

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 25 – “The End is Near…”

This is the last chapter of teaching in Matthew before Passover comes, Jesus has His “last supper” with His disciples, and He is betrayed by Judas.  There are three parables here.  All three deal with Christ’s relationship with His people at the end of the age.  All three are preparation for the kingdom to come.

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to 10 virgins…”  Are we living our lives in preparation for the kingdom to come?  Are we ready to work and be prepared for the bridegroom to come any time?  Are we pursuing God’s / YHWH’s purposes for us, or are we simply living life as if it doesn’t matter.  Christ is returning, and He could return at any time.  Are we foolish virgins who have not prepared for a long wait and sudden entrance, or are we the wise virgins who are expecting Him at any time and living life as if it matters?

For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.  To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”  We have each been given talents and financial provision.  What are we doing with those gifts?  What is our purpose and what does it mean?  Are we investing what we have and helping it to grow, or are we ignoring and burying our gifts and finances using it only for our own good?  God is expecting a return on what He has given us.  He is expecting us to use what we have for something more than we started with.  He has not blessed us for our sake, but rather for the growth of the kingdom.  If we are not working towards kingdom growth (not our own), all that we have will be taken away.

All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left…”  The judgment is coming; what’s the difference between the sheep and the goats?  Christ says that the difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep don’t just sit on what they have been given.  The difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep have passion / compassion for others (or just obedience towards God).  They reach out and help those in need.  They step out of their own lives and into the lives of others.  They do the opposite of what our culture teaches.  They reach out and touch the lives of those around them.  Do We?

John

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Matthew 24 – Be Ready

The time is coming near in which Jesus the Christ’s earthly ministry is to end.  He has taught His disciples so much and has been preparing them for His being gone.  Now, He needs to help them understand and prepare for what is to come in the much further future.

It’s interesting to me how CEO Jesus thinks and works.  He starts His ministry, but he doesn’t do it alone.  First He preps and plans, but it’s not just His plan.  He takes on the plan of the Master Architect.  He sees the need (the people’s need for a redemptive relationship with the Father / YHWH) and works toward providing for that need.  He brings along a team of people to help Him do the work, and in the process He is also training them up (mentoring them) to take over the work when He leaves.  He trains and prepares them to rise up, take the reigns, and make the work succeed.  He brings in not just the front runners, like Peter, James and John, who are continually involved as part of the face of the work, but also those who are behind the scenes making things happen like Mary, Martha, Simon the Zealot, Judas, etc.  He genuinely cares about what He is doing and the long, long-term of what He is building, even if it means stepping on some toes and going toe-to-toe with some powerful people.  He sacrifices everything He has for this work, even to the point of giving up His own life to make it happen.  Yet when He does this, He does not leave His followers unprepared or without the support that they need to make the work succeed.  He knows what is going to happen and He is prepared to send “the helper” to them at the right time.

Yet what we see here in this chapter is Jesus forecasting.  He is looking to the future.  He understands what He is building and what His people need to prepare for future problems and trials.  He is giving them insight into the long-term plans and goals, the overall vision of the work, and what kinds of problems and trials they can expect in the decades to come.  He gives them an overall understanding of not only what the work is, but WHY the work needs to be done, and what they can expect to see and do.  He needs His people to look to His return; to see the BIG picture and to Be Ready!

Are we looking at the BIG picture?  Are you ready?

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 23 – Pharisees (Conclusion)

This appears to be the third and final chapter explaining and critiquing the Pharisees and Jesus wrath on them.

It’s interesting because after spending the past two chapters criticizing the Pharisees and their many problems, in the first part of this chapter Jesus strikes a different kind of tone.  He had been telling the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and He had been comparing them to disobedient sons, wicked men who lease a vineyard, subjects of a king who refuse to obey the king, and more.  Now however, Jesus instructs His disciples differently.  “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”  So even though the Pharisees have been evil in so many different ways, the disciples are still to have obedience towards them (to some extent).  They have been placed in a place of leadership.  The disciples are still to observe them and obey them, but they are to disregard their actions and life application.  That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear from Jesus after so much lambasting.  However, it does parallel Old Testament commands to obey the leaders of the people, but that we should obey God / YHWH over them.

Jesus then continues on to speak eight woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees (hypocrites): Woe to you…

  1. … you prevent others from entering the kingdom of heaven, and you refuse to enter yourself.
  2. …”you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers
  3. … you travel all over to make one disciple and make them twice the son of Satan as you are.
  4. … you make a big deal about the treasures of the temple and the sacrifices (that give them wealth), and you disregard the purpose and reason for it.
  5. … you focus on the minuscule details of the law, but you ignore the major points like justice, mercy, & faithfulness.
  6. … you clean and make pretty the outside of the cup, but you ignore what is important inside.
  7. … (directly related) you appear / act righteously, but you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
  8. … you build the tombs of the prophets and honor them saying, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.“, but you are going to do exactly as you say you would not do!

There is such a contrast here!  Christ says to follow the law and the leaders of the law, yet in the very next breath He is condemning the very same people!  I don’t know how well most American’s in today’s world can understand and relate to this principle.  Too often we feel that if the leader is unjust we should not have listen to them or  to do what they say.  That somehow the leader’s obedience / disobedience to the law or even our own expectations some how precludes our loyalty or obedience.  That does not fit with what Christ is saying here.

What do you think?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 22 – Gauntlet Pie

Matthew 22 is a direct extension of Matthew 21.  In my Bible i have actually crossed out the chapter number for 22 to de-emphasize the separation.  Overall, the day that these chapters represent would have been a day to sell tickets to, pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show!  Things are starting to get interesting!

Jesus begins the discussion with a parable.  A kings son is getting married and he invites the important people to the wedding feast, but no one is willing to go.  Rather they abuse and kill his messengers.  So he destroys them, and he invites strangers from the street… anyone willing to come.  The Pharisees know that this parable is directed towards them, so they fire a couple of volleys back.  They try to trap Jesus between the law of the land and the sentiment of the people.  Jesus walks through that trap pretty easily.  Next the Sadducees (who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead) test Him.  Jesus not only clears that trap, but He also answers to and clarifies the truth / theology to respond to their confused beliefs.  So instead they send in a legal expert to test Him.  The legal expert questions Jesus, and of course He answers beautifully.  Finally, Jesus asks them a tough question about the Messiah and how the Messiah does not fit their viewpoint / expectations.

All of this silences the pharisees… “No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.”  He wins the debate.  He wins the day, and many of His enemies are now solidified against Him.  Ultimately though, it’s all part of the plan, and He prevails.

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