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.
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.
I have been waiting for this chapter. I knew that it was coming, and to some extent i have been dreading it. After everything that has happened. After all of the preparing and anointing and consecrating, the time comes for Aaron’s grown sons to step up and do their part, and what happens? Immediately they mess it up. It’s not even like they just forgot something. It’s that they knew what they were supposed to do and purposely did the wrong thing.
We don’t know what they were thinking. We don’t know their plans, or their purpose, or their intent. All we know is what happened, and the response of YHWH God to their clear violation of his law. They “offered strange fire before the LORD (YHWH)“. Strong’s concordance describes this word “strange” as;
זוּר – zûr (zoor)
A primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery: – (come from) another (man, place), fanner, go away, (e-) strange (-r, thing, woman).
So the word “strange” here is defined under the context of foreign (not natural), profane, and adulterous. So we aren’t just talking about mixing up the spices differently than they were supposed to. We are referring to a completely inappropriate and sinful offering given to YHWH, the one HOLY God.
Here are the priests, the ones who are to stand before YHWH and represent the people. They are to be coming into God’s presence holy, bringing a holy sacrifice to cover the people and their sins, and what do they do on one of the first days of their job? They offer a profane and adulterous offering to YHWH! They insult YHWH and basically do their best to slap Him in the face. YHWH’s response? Fire comes out from His presence and consumes them! They are destroyed on the spot.
When those who are supposed to be standing before the LORD and ministering to YHWH and the people are purposely rejecting and disobeying Him, what does it say about Him, and what does it mean for them? Those who are leaders and ministers need to take His work seriously. If we don’t, what will His response be to us. Those who are leaders are held to a higher standard, but we also have the potential for a greater reward. However, we MUST pursue the holiness of the LORD.
John Camiolo Jr.
They have come to the Mountain of God (Elohim). All that has happened in Egypt and in the wilderness has been in preparation for this. When Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go, it was to bring them to this; “We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD (YHWH) our God (Elohim) as He commands us.” So now here they are (three months later) at the foot of Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.
God is getting ready to speak with the people of Israel, so he first meets with Moses in order to get the people prepared to meet with Him. The people are given a few simple instructions before they come near to God. God instructs Moses to consecrate the people, they must wash their clothes, and the men must abstain from a woman for the three days. When they do come to the mountain of God, they must not touch the mountain. Anyone who does must be killed and their bodies not touched… this is obviously very serious.
The third day finally comes and Moses goes up Mount Sinai to meet with God, but YHWH wants to make sure that the people are not going to break through to see Him. So, He sends Moses back down to remind the people that they cannot touch the Mountain of God, and for Moses to bring Aaron back up with him.
So that naturally leads to the question, do we prepare to meet with God? When we go to spend time with YHWH, do we prepare ourselves? Do we understand that our God is the God of such Holiness, that any sin we bring into His presence is a foul stench in His nostrils? Are we preparing ourselves to meet with Him, or is He of such little regard to us that it doesn’t matter what kind of state we are in? The beautiful thing is that we do not need two days of preparation and abstaining from sexual intercourse in order to meet with Him. With the blood of Christ through repentance we are made clean. We are able to come into the presence of God cleaned from the inside. We are prepared through repentance and the blood.
When you come to God, do you come prepared? I know that repentance is something that i just do not do as i should, so that is something that i need to work on.
Rev. John Camiolo Jr.
It is almost time. It is here. The passover is truly the most important festival for the Jewish people. It is about reprimand, redemption, & rescue. It is about reprimand in that the angel of death would come and take payment for the sins of the people. It is about rescue in that the Hebrew people would be rescued from the Egyptian in their slavery, as well as being rescued from the angel of death by the passover lamb’s blood painted on the door posts and lintel. It is about redemption in that the Jewish people are ultimately redeemed from slavery and from sin.
The Passover lamb is a prophetic representation of the work Christ would do and his purpose in rescuing and redeeming all people. His purpose is to draw all men unto Himself.
This first part of this chapter is all about getting the people prepared for what is about to happen. With every other plague, God tells Moses to talk to Pharaoh and give him a command from God. At this time, all of that begins to mean something more because God starts preparing the people to leave. It’s nice to hear that YHWH is going to bring them out. It is something else entirely when YHWH says, “It’s time! Let’s get prepared to move out.” Now that plan is beginning to come to fruition.
What about us? Are we living as if our sins have been removed as far away as the east is from the west? Are we celebrating God’s passing over our lives in destruction?
So Joseph does what he has learned to do. First he answers the question that Pharaoh poses to him. What does this mean? Then, without being asked and it appears without even a pause he answers the question that results from his answer. He starts out be telling Pharaoh what his dreams mean. There will be seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of great famine. Then he tells Pharaoh what needs to be done to prepare for and respond to the coming famine. One fifth of the produce of the land during the abundance needs to be stored away for the famine time.
As a result, Pharaoh sees God’s hand and blessing on Joseph and places him over the entire nation of Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old at this time. He spent almost half of his life as a slave in Egypt, and most of that time was spent in prison. But the whole time, God had a purpose for him. He wasn’t doing nothing and watching his life waste away. He wasn’t stuck with no hope and no future. God had a purpose for him, and this was that purpose!
God was preparing Joseph to not only excel, but to become the second in command of Egypt; to provide leadership and wisdom to prepare the people and nations for the coming blessings and famine; to save not just lives, but nations from perishing in the flood of famine that would hit for seven years. God had a plan, and that plan had a name. It simply took a life of disappointment and overcoming to prepare Joseph for that purpose… a purpose that was revealed and a change that was laid out, all in 1 day.
How do we see our lives? I know that i struggle sometimes trying to see how and why my life has turned out as it has. I have seen people pass and surpass me in life, and i wonder, ” Why do they get blessed, and it seems like i don’t?” Why do i so often feel rejected and pushed away by God. I know that that’s not really the case and that God has a plan for me as well, but i can’t help feeling sometimes that i have been abandoned and left to rot in prison for some unknown reason. I know it’s not really like that, but that’s how it feels sometimes. Ultimately though, I know that I have a hope, and that God has a plan. That it’s not really about me. It’s about Him, and i have to make sure that i don’t get myself in the way.
So what is your struggle?
John J. Camiolo Jr.