It’s interesting to look at (compare & contrast) the responses of the action’s / reactions between Jesus, the disciples, and the Pharisees. I’d say that by this time many of the Pharisees are getting a little fed up with Jesus. So they decide that they are going to respond to Him by testing Him. They ask Jesus for a sign that He is who He says He is. Of course you know that Jesus is not going to just make things easy for them. He already knows what’s in their hearts, so He criticizes them for not seeing (or ignoring) the signs that are there right in front of them.
So Jesus, understanding the Pharisees, turns around later and tells His disciples to beware of the leaven (teachings) of the Pharisees. They don’t get it at first, but after some prompting, they catch on. So Jesus finally comes to them and asks them about their response to who He is. Peter is the only one who seems to give a real and solid response. He tells Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus response is high praise of Peter.
So now, because of the response He is given, Christ begins to put a little more depth / meat into His teachings. He foretells His death and explains the cost of following Him. Of course we know how the (hi)story goes, but they didn’t at that time.
I wanted to touch on Peter’s “good’ confession here as it has some very interesting facets. I love the play on words that Jesus does here. Peter says to Jesus, “You are the Christ (Kristos) the Son of the Living God.” Jesus responds that this is not something that Peter discovered, but rather something that was revealed to him by the Father. It’s what Jesus says that is so interesting: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” The name Peter is the Greek word “petros”. It means a small stone. The picture that i get here is of a rock that you would use to skip on a pond. The word “rock” in this verse is “Petra” which means a very large rock, a bedrock, or a foundational stone. So we have Jesus telling Peter, “You are a small stone, and on this huge froundational stone I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will on overtake it.
So if the foundational stone is not Peter, then what is it? It is this truth; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is such an amazing picture, because out of the small stone, the pebble if you will, comes the bedrock of truth. The pebble speaks forth the mountain. Isn’t that an amazing picture?! The pebble is not the foundation / mountain, but out of the small stone / pebble comes that which is the foundation / mountain. It is an amazing picture!
Jesus and His disciples were being surrounded and pursued by crowds of people. They all wanted to be around Jesus because of His teachings and miraculous works. So He took His disciples aside, away from the crowds and took them up a mount to meet with and teach them specifically. As a result, we now have a discipleship primer… Discipleship 101 if you will.
“He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying“. It’s interesting because, the word “saying” here is a word that refers to continually repeating. These ideas and thoughts were not just things that Jesus said to the disciples one time. They were thoughts that were repeated over and over and over and over. These are basic lessons on what it means to understand the kingdom of heaven and how to be a disciple of Christ. These are the foundational responsibilities of discipleship. Without understanding and living out these foundational principles, a man cannot move on to the more complex aspects of ministry. Without these foundations, the reality of discipleship is nothing more than listening to some sermons, watching some miracles and going about your daily life. It is these principles and actions that separate a “crowd follower” from a disciple.
Have we made these discipleship basics the foundation to our walk in Christ, or are we just hanging around to get the free food, hear some good preaching, and see some amazing things happen? Are we here for a show, or are we here to be disciples?
After having gone through the book of Leviticus chapter by chapter, i see this book much as i did before. It is YHWH’s rules and regulation for the nation of Israel. It is a defining of His covenant with them. God both issues directives to obey the rules and promises to help and allow the people to obey and prosper.
Leviticus is an important book in that it sets the tone and direction for the expectations for the nation of Israel. It is the measuring rod by which the actions and motive of the nation are defined. Without Leviticus, there is no understanding of YHWH’s interactions with the nation of Israel. Without understanding that there are rules and what the rules are, we have no ground by which to judge the sin or righteousness of man. As such, we have no foundation for understanding sin and the need for salvation and a savior. While rules and laws may seem constricting and confining at times, they are actually more boundaries that when understood and followed allow us freedom to live happy, healthy, and satisfying lives without fear and stress of the aftereffects of our actions.
I really like C.S. Lewis’ quote from The Pilgrim’s Regress “When everything you eat is more or less poison, you need very strict rules to stay healthy” (rough quote). The point is that when sin abounds in the world, understanding where the rules and limitations are gives you the freedom to live life within those limitations and without fear of their destruction.
That is the beauty of Leviticus, or that should have been the beauty of Leviticus for the Israelite people.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
The establishment of religion clause. That is what this government is all about. It is government by YHWH for the people and for His glory. After having come out of Exodus and understanding that one of the primary things that YHWH was giving the Israelite people was a means and way of finally being able to worship Him, we find the first chapter of Leviticus giving instructions on how to offer up an offering from the flock or the herd.
This is the very base and foundation of offerings. It is the very cornerstone of the sacrificial system. The shedding of blood for the remission / covering of sins is what gives the people the ability to come before a holy God without being consumed by YHWH’s holiness in the form of fire. Within the sacrificial system there are three primary sacrificial animals; the bull, the sheep, and the goat. This chapter answers how to properly bring those sacrifices to the temple, priests, and YHWH. Secondarily, it also answers to how to bring the sacrifice of a bird.
This sacrifice is the very core of the sacrificial system. It is a necessary offering and it is complete… or about as complete as an imperfect sacrifice that only covers sin and does not remove them can be. The true and perfect sacrifice… The fulfillment of the sacrificial system, Jesus the Christ, will not come for millenia yet.
This is a chapter of foundations. After the flood, as each generation led the way to the next, there came a desire to protect and define each family. Cities and nations were built. Sons became fathers who had sons who became fathers who had sons… Some of these lines, families, and names were significant. Others were not. There were people who are defined by nothing more than a name. Others had legends and legacies that they left behind.
Many of the names i had to struggle to pronounce, but there were some that i knew well. It’s funny because as i was going through these lists of name and legacies and as i picked out those i recognized i began to realize something. Every name that i recognized, i recognized for the bad or evil that they did. I saw the Canaanites who lost their land to the Israelites because they were vomited out due to their own corruption and sins. The Philistines were enemies of the sons of Abraham for generation after generation. Nineveh was the capitol of the Assyrian empire which would eventually come through and destroy Israel. And of course Sodom and Gomorrah would be two cities destroyed by God in Abraham’s time due to their sin and corruption. They were so corrupt that we get the word sodomy from the name of the city of Sodom.
While there are many names and many people who started out on the right path with the right intentions and purposes, instead of holding to the true God that saved them in the flood, they pursued their own courses instead of God’s and they were overcome by their sins.
So that poses a question to think about. What prevents us, our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, and on and on from the same fate? How do we insure that we don’t become the next Nineveh? Can we? Is it even possible to do?
In all honesty (to be brutally honest) i don’t know as that we can. I thing that the only things we can do are 1) to pursue God and 2) to lay the right foundation. Even then, there is no real guarantee that our children will pursue Him as well. Look at the lives of Samuel and David. Samuel found favor in God’s sight. He did what God called of him even when his mentor / adoptive father’s own children would not follow God. King David had the same problem. Even Solomon turned away from God and the nation was torn apart in the time of Solomon’s son (David’s grandson).
Does that mean that there is no hope and that what we do doesn’t matter? Of course not! Just look at Boaz (Ruth). He was a righteous man who did what was right in God’s sight. He became the great-grandfather of King David. It was from the line of David that Christ was born. Paul took in Timothy and trained him.
We must do two things. We must pursue God, and we MUST lay the foundation necessary for future generations. We cannot guarantee that our children and grandchildren will make the right choices, but we MUST give them a foundation that will encourage them to pursue God… not on their own terms, but on His.