Tag Archives: relationship

Matthew 21 – Jesus & the Pharisees

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.

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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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Matthew 5 – Discipleship 101

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?

John

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Leviticus 27 – Belonging to God

I was not expecting the last chapter of Leviticus (the book of the law) to be what it is.  I don’t quite know what i was expecting.  For some reason i figured it would be about some parting words the LORD had for Moses before leaving Mount Sinai, or that Moses and the sons of Israel packed up what they had and began to head out to Canaan.

Instead this last chapter is about value, ownership, dedication to the LORD, and tithe.  It starts out placing a monetary value on people of different ages.  Each has a different value depending on their age, sex, and the amount of time until the year of jubilee.  What i think is interesting about this is that it pushes this concept that ownership of people, animals, homes, and land only truly belongs to the LORD / YHWH.

When most things of true value are sold or redeemed, they are done so with reference to the year of Jubilee.  If a field is dedicated to the LORD, the priest places the value of that field at a certain price, related to how many years until the year of jubilee.  After which the LORD reverts that land back to the family that He initially gave it to.

Thus it is not slavery, but servanthood.  When a person is “sold”, they are done so in reference to the amount of labor that person would do between then and the year of jubilee.  It is understood that the “Master” is not “buying” a person.  They are simply paying for service from a person for a certain time period.  This would be similar to a person signing a contract to work for a company for a certain number of years.

The other major theme is that of tithe.  Of all of the animals that the people of Israel own, one out of every 10 must be returned to God.  As they go through the gate, every 10th, whether male or female, the pick of the flock or a little sickly one, the 10th gets dedicated to Him.  Also, the first that opens the womb is holy to YHWH.  Thus the first lamb, the first goat, the first bull, etc. that are born; they must be dedicated to YHWH and returned to Him.

The emphasis here is ownership.  Everything; the land, the people, the flocks, the fruit of the harvest, they all belong to YHWH.  We are simply caretakers receiving back a part of the profits from our hard work.  Do we view life and our work  that way?  Do we recognize that all that we “own” belongs not to us but to YHWH?  Do we treat people and our things as if this is the case?  Should we?

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Leviticus 25 – Understanding Ownership

During this time that my hand has been in a cast, it has not been totally useless.  As a result, i have been able to finally get chapter 25 finished.

As i am working through all of this, i’ve been starting to get a bigger / stronger picture.  Leviticus 25 has been about ownership, and understanding our place in the bigger picture of it.  The LORD promises to the people that He will give them the land of Canaan.  Yet at the same time, even while He is giving it to them, it does not belong to them.  The people of Israel are simply caring for the land and reaping of its harvest as a result.  They do not have true ownership.  God alone reserves that right.

Every seven years the people are to respect the land by letting it lie fallow / dormant for a year.  This Sabbath rest allows the land to rest and heal from use and prevent abuse due to over-use.  It is YHWH’s command to His people to not mistreat and abuse His land.

Then after every seven Sabbath’s is the year of Jubilee.  In the year of Jubilee the land rests for a second year, all debts are released, and all land ownership goes back to the original caretakers.  Anyone that has been paid for in slavery / servanthood is released and their freedom is returned to them.

It is a time of understanding that the land, the animals, the people; they do not belong to the people, they belong to YHWH.  They are His and they must be returned to His plans for them.  In the same sense, by understanding this concept, it means better understanding of and treatment towards others.

Outside of this project, i have also been reading about Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, and slavery.  In processing through all of this information, i think that i understand slavery a little bit better.  There will always be the wealthy and the poor.  There will always be those with more than they need, and the ability to improve on their financial situation.  There will also always be those who just can’t seem to break free of poverty.  Whatever the reason is, there will always be those who struggle to get by.

When the basis of a person’s understanding is that no one and nothing is truly owned by another.  That there is no one of more value than another.  That YHWH owns all and demands respect for His creation… Then, those who have more and have the ability to continually manage well what has been given them, can care for his fellow man by providing for them.  So the riches of the rich help to sustain the poor while the poor is having difficulty sustaining themselves.  The wealthy provide for the poor, in the meantime the poor work for and learn to manage that which belongs to the rich.  Thus slavery is not about abuse and mistreatment of man.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Slavery / servanthood becomes about taking care of and providing for those who cannot care for themselves.

However, this concept ONLY works when the wealthy (and everyone else) truly understand ownership.  When those who are prospering understand that all belongs to YHWH and not themselves, then respect of personhood prevails.  As a result there is not abuse and maltreatment, there is love, caring, and provision for those in need.  Slavery / servanthood becomes about love and compassion rather than abuse and maltreatment.

It all stems from understanding ownership… do we?

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Leviticus 23 – Celebrate

That’s one of the things that i like about YHWH.  It’s not all just about rules and regulations.  It’s about utilizing all kinds of aspects of life.  It’s about creativity and connecting the past, to the present, to the future.  Worship is not just about sacrifices and burnt offerings.  It’s also about bringing something before God that you are to consume in his presence.  It’s about festivals and rest as well.

There are a number of festivals that are to be celebrated throughout the year; the Passover, Pentacost, the feast of weeks, the feast of booths, etc.  They all have meanings and important interpretations.  For instance, passover is a celebration of freedom from bondage and slavery under the Egyptians.  It is a celebration of new life and hope.  It is a celebration of freedom.  Meanwhile, the feast of booths is a week long celebration in which the first day is a day of rest and the only work that can be done is the building of small booths made of the branches, boughs, and fronds of trees.  It is a celebration as a reminder of the Israelite’s time in the wilderness where they had to rely on God for protection and provision.  It is a time of blessing.  The feast of booths begins and ends with a day of rest to the LORD.  I mean honestly, how many religions do you know that celebrate rest?

Are we taking seriously what YHWH has done for us?  Do we make it a point to remember and celebrate together the ways that He has brought health and healing to our lives?  Do we remind one another and celebrate together His work and purpose in and through us?  How can we do this more?

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Leviticus 22 – Priestly Laws

The priestly laws continue.  It must be hard to be a priest in Biblical times.  The rules and regulations you had to keep track of.  Some of them are obvious of course… like if you touch something unclean you will remain unclean until evening.  No leaper of the sons of Aaron may eat of the holy sacrifices, and while the family may eat, the married daughters may not eat unless she is divorced or widowed with no children and returns home to her father’s house.  It just seems like the laws and rules never end, but they are there for a reason.  An important reason.  Because someone needed to represent the people to YHWH, and YHWH to the people.

So the priests were responsible for the sins of the people and their relationship with YHWH.  They are the ones who placed their lives on the line day after day to make sure  that the people’s sins were covered.  They are the ones who had to do everything perfectly every day and every time.  They had to teach the people the precepts of YHWH.  It is their responsibility and their honor.  YHWH is a holy and a jealous God.  To serve Him day by day is an honor and a responsibility of a lifetime.

Do we take YHWH seriously, or do we just use Him as a rescue raft.  Do we worship the Holy God, or do we demand assistance from a galactic servant.  Do we pursue a relationship with Him in awe and wonder, or do we attempt to flippantly use Him for our advantage and advancement?  We are the servants of the Most High.  Maybe we need to start acting that way… if that’s alright with you.

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