Things are starting to come together. The end is nigh and the countdown is beginning. This chapter begins with the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem for His / the final passover. The disciples find the colt as He predicts. He rides the colt into Jerusalem with the bystanders worshiping YHWH and giving Him adoration calling for Him to fulfill His mission as Messiah to save them and desiring Him to free them from Roman tyranny. However, as is the case quite often, our expectations of what YHWH should do, and what He does, are two different things. Even when we have the same message / prediction.
Christ comes in and begins the process of redemption and rescue from tyranny… He drives the money changers and the seats of those who were selling in the temple. Those who were turning His Father’s house into a den of thieves.
The next morning he was hungry and came upon a barren fig tree. It should have had fruit, but it didn’t. He cursed it, and it began to wither and die. This is a great analogy of the pharisees. They too are not bearing fruit to righteousness. As a result, they begin to wither and die as Christ sacrifices Himself to build the church.
The rest of this chapter is focused on this dynamic action – reaction of Jesus and the Pharisees. They challenge His authority wanting to know what right He has to teach preach, and do these things. Christ in turn He puts their actions and those of sinners into perspective. He shows that knowing the law and being sinless are two very different things, and He criticizes them for it.
Jesus continues with another parable about a landowner who builds a vineyard, rents it out to vine-dressers, and sends his servants out to collect the fruits of the vineyard. The vine-dressers instead beat the representatives and eventually kill the owner’s son. This is the final truth of their relationship. The pharisees will kill the landowner’s son, but the landowner will destroy the vine-dressers and redeem His people.
The relationship between Jesus and the pharisees is such a contrast. Jesus cares for the fruit of the vine, while most of the Pharisees care more about what they can get from the fruit than they do about caring for the fruit. They are killing the vineyard from the inside out, and they just didn’t seem to care. This dynamic seems to define and explain all that follows. It is the reason and purpose for all that follows.
This is a key turning point in Jesus ministry and the pharisees focus when it comes to Jesus.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
How lightly do we esteem divorce? How easily do we let it go? In the time of Christ, divorce was an easier process than it is now. You had just to get a certificate of divorce from the Scribes and/or Pharisees. I have heard it said that it was easier than that. I have heard it said that all a man needed to do was to tell his wife, “I divorce you.” three times together, and they were divorced.
Jesus makes it clear that once the marriage has been sealed, divorce is not in the design or the plan. Yet so often, we don’t see it that way. Men are looking for t he perfect wife, and women are looking for the perfect man. They marry the person that they think is “the one” or their “soul mate” and when things don’t quite go as expected, there is a running of the bulls. The couple flees and the marriage dissolves. Yet that is not how it is meant to happen. Yet we, in our selfishness and pride, would rather destroy what God made and blessed than admit that we may be wrong, or that we need to change in ways that we don’t want / like to… especially when we feel hurt by someone who was supposed to protect / respect us. There are so many things i could go into explaining and blaming for this mentality; the age of marriage, pre-marital emotional intimacy, a lack of marital support / mentoring, a lack of understanding of what marriage really is, but i need to move on.
I am very interested in this story of the rich young ruler. In Bible college I had a professor that put a very interesting spin / perspective on this story. The rich young ruler is a young man that clearly desires to be righteous and be a part of what God / Christ is doing. However, he gets so caught up in his own wealth, that he can’t let it go to pursue Christ. However, this story may not end here. From what i’ve heard, this young man reappears in the Bible in the book of acts. Apparently Josephus (the non-Christian Jewish historian) reports that the Apostle John taught his disciples that this rich young ruler was the same man that is named in Acts (4:36-37) “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Barnabas went on, partnered with Paul, and was one of the first missionaries. He did great things with the kingdom, but ONLY after he let go of his riches. I have not studied this in depth, but i believe this to be true because i have seen how God works. To have a man consumed by his riches and reject Christ / his call at first because of these things finally turn, reject the wealth, and become the true man of God he was meant to be. That kind of redemption can only be the work of God / YHWH!
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
Yesterday was on the 10 commandments and the Israelite’s reaction to God, so i don’t know what i expected for chapter 21, but it certainly wasn’t this. To put things in perspective a little bit; there were originally no chapters and verse in the scriptures. They were added later on to help people study and reference the Bible better. As a result when the text was originally written, there was no real division between what was commanded in 20 and then in 21. So, God gave the people the 10 commandments / promises, then almost immediately we get into the topic that opens chapter 21: slavery!
Now i know that back in the day both supporters of and those opposed to slavery used the Bible to prove their point of view. Ultimately though, it was those who understood that God’s view of humanity being created in His image and his redemption bringing equality to all that overcame and was a driving force in especially Great Britain’s move to make slavery illegal. But when i started copying this chapter over it hit me. Almost immediately after giving the 10 commandments / promises God begins the rest of the law and legal instructions with rules about slavery? Isn’t that a huge piece of evidence that God is in SUPPORT of slavery? Doesn’t that justify that abominable practice?
I was really struggling through this idea and concept for a good chunk of my writing this morning. It was really bothering me. Then, as i was writing, struggling with this, and questioning God about it; He brought an answer to my mind. It’s not that He supported slavery. It’s that He knew slavery was going to occur no matter what. He set His 10 primary promises / commands then immediately He set the rules to protect those who would end up as slaves. It wasn’t an attempt to encourage the mistreatment of His creation. It was making it a priority to protect those least able to protect themselves.
The chapter continues by dealing with how to respond to murder / accidental deaths from other people as well as animals. Obviously this is a very important aspect of the law to deal with. This theme of protecting the innocent continues with the instruction that if two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck resulting in premature birth but no harm is done, then the husband may demand any fine he requests. If there is an injury it is an eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, hand for hand, etc.
If we call ourselves Christians, are we protecting those less able to protect themselves? Do we live our lives taking responsibility for those around us?
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?
“According to all that God had commanded him, so he did” It’s quite the contrast between Noah and … well, everyone else.
Noah walked with God. In all that line of genealogy that defines Genesis 5, only one other man (besides pre-fall Adam) walked with God. That was Noah’s great grandfather. All of the world was falling apart. The people were consuming themselves with their own desires. The men of the line of Seth… those of the holy legacy, were intermarrying with the women of the corrupted legacy. The corrupt were corrupting the holy, and the legacy of the righteous were failing. Men did not know God, neither did they care to. All that God had built was being corrupted. There was little left.
Noah, however, was the exception to the rule. He walked with God and was righteous in His sight. “Noah was blameless in his time.” That’s a pretty big feat, even bigger when you consider his surroundings. It is difficult to be blameless when everyone else around you is not.
As i copied out this chapter, i found that it was easy to focus on the negative. I already know what God is going to do, and it’s hard not to focus on the corruption. However, in going through the chapter i found more and more of the focus was not so much on the corruption as on the redemption. What we are doing wrong is nothing compared to what is done right. This chapter is not on the corruption, it is on the redemption. It’s not that the world is falling apart and is coming to destruction. It’s that in the midst of that corruption… Noah. What do we look at? Do we tend to focus on the bad, or on the good? What does God call us to do?