The Promise

Yesterday, we contemplated the first command with a promise. It is #5 on the top 10 list and is found in Exodus 20:12~Honor (כָּבַד kabad) your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (NIV) Now the penalty for breaking this command is truly severe and it is found in Exodus 21:17~Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. (NIV) Boy, now that is tough to hear after the holiday gathering some of us just had? So, in a good spiritual exercise, today will take place after our devotional time together. Where we will answer why our stones are tossed at us in the driveways of our homes. We will gather to cast, lob, and hurl stones in an act of penance. Or perhaps we will pray and ask God to forgive and then call as we make amends. 

Now the Pharisees and scribes know these commands well. We read in Matthew 15:5-6~If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father. So for the sake of tradition you’ve made void the word of God. Christ Jesus reminds them, just because you say it is ok, doesn’t make it right. These were telling mom and dad, I can’t help because I gave to God. Hear me, honoring parents included financial support and care in old age, if necessary. The Scribes and Pharisees were eliminating their financial obligation to parents.

Jewish tradition permitted people to declare what they owned as Corban Mark 7:10-11~Moses said, Honor your father and mother…But you say, If a man tells his father or his mother…Corban (κορβᾶν korban) (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by tradition…(κορβᾶν korban) was an irrevocable oath, thus money and property were exempt from God’s command to honor parents. This claimed their wealth could only be used for spiritual purposes, though they still benefited from it. 

Jesus says, for the sake of tradition, they’ve revoked God’s Word, and He calls them hypocrites. Have you been a hypocrite recently? No, you say, perhaps it is the fact that we are standing in a shiny new year. A wonderfully wise mentor once told me that when starting a new year it was best to lay to rest those things that trapped and tripped me up in the previous year. Today, take time to let go of last year and embrace the year you have been given by God. A lot can happen in a year, so don’t be afraid if it takes a little bit of time.

Truth or dare?

What matters more to you, truth or tradition? As we arrive at the 15th chapel of Matthew’s gospel, we are met by that very question. Do we revere truth over tradition (15:1-9). The people pressed to touch the tassel, but the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to confront. When you come to Christ Jesus, why do you come? Is it for truth or tradition? Many have just celebrated some of the deepest traditions of our family or our in-laws. Perhaps one tradition is dry turkey. Why do we celebrate with dry turkey? Because they, do you have a “they” in your family? They cook it every year, it is tradition. Maybe the current cook would serve better as a wrapper? But alas it is tradition. 

Matthew 15:1-2~Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands…(ESV) I mean come on, sounds like a perfectly fine tradition. Anyone here today against washing hands? Yeah, a good 30 seconds of sudsing and rinsing. So, what is the big problem? Scribes and Pharisees aren’t talking hand washing, but hand washing. Ceremonial hand washing wasn’t a hygienic need or even part of Ole Mo’s Law. No, it’s a man-made tradition. Good men who loved God, develop a new process that became a cumbersome part of daily law. Where one was required to have water be poured on both hands with the fingers pointing up. A symbol of recognition that we need cleansing from above. Then the whole process got repeated with fingers pointing down, signifying humility.

In the New Testament, Paul writes about such traditions saying I was an up and comer. Galatians 1:14~I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for tradition (NIV). Not the Father who is our Heavenly Father, but those who taught him as fatherly figures in the faith. The Pharisees and scribes had more reverence for man-made traditions and give them precedence over God’s Word. Therefore, Christ Jesus responds by asking, why do you break Ole # 5? 

Matthew 15:5~He answered them, And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (ESV) Well, what is the 5th command? You have: 1) No other before God, 2) No idols, 3) No name using or calling, 4) Keep my day holy, 5) is found in Exodus 20:12~Honor (כָּבַד kabad) your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (NIV) Christ continues in Matthew 15:4-5~…Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die. But you say, If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, (ESV) This command does not just apply to young children, but also to anyone whose parents are still living. The Hebrew (כָּבַד kabad) translated honor includes speaking respectfully to parents and showing care for them as long as they live. 

Is there anything that you need to say to your parents. For those of us who have lost one or both, we have lots of things we would like to say or hear them say. The Bible not only teaches us to respect them, but it also teaches us that we are not to leave things undone. Take time to pray today and ask God if there is something you need to say to someone or if you need to ask for forgiveness. Today is a great day to do just that, do you know why? It is the last day of 2019 and you can leave it and the whole situation behind you in the last year (2019), just by doing it today and starting truly fresh tomorrow, in a brand new year. Happy New Year to you.

Can you carry your weight

I still am awed each Christmas that Christ has come to save us. Then challenged to know that our hearts will remain restless until we embrace the crucified life, where we begin our journey through life and faith moving ever and always towards the cross. Where hearts burn with the passion of Jesus Christ who launches us like arrows, ceaselessly seeking the target God has set before us. Yes, Christ is enough for me, the cross before and the world behind. 

Our story begins where Jesus has brought the disciples to a safe landing, north of Tiberius, in the land of Gennesaret, another name for the Sea of Galilee. He calmed the stormy seas of great waves rising and falling in a battery of tests, Christ Jesus has crossed over the gunnel, to enter the boat. It could only be exclaimed as a miraculous and marvelous moment. As the disciples immediately… John 6:21~Then they were willing to take him into the boat and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (NIV) Miles from where they need to be strained and tested yet Jesus Christ found them and immediately they arrived. Coming out of a test often causes us to rethink and reassess.

Consider the disciples who disembarked the skiff leaving the battery of test in their wake, they arrive at their Galilean seaside destination with Jesus Christ. Most certainly their minds were spinning trying to process the unfolding events, like a mystery this seaside caper unfurls. Perhaps they titled it The Lost Art of Rowing. It is not often the abridged version is no shorter or longer than the unabridged, for Christ Jesus navigated them 3.5 miles in what is only described as, immediately. Allow the Good Dr. Luke to set the stage for us. Luke 5:1~One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.

When the people of the region recognize this as Jesus, they bring Him all their sick. Picked up in Matthew 14:35-36~…they sent around to all that region and brought him all who were sick and implored him they might only touch the fringe of his garment and as many as touched it were made well. (ESV) When was the last time you pressed Jesus, reaching out to just touch the fringe? These were people in need and they touched His (צִיצִת tsiytsith) (Numbers 15:38) the tassels at the corner of His garment with a blue thread, which reminded them of God and His commands. All of the promises of salvation, healing, deliverance there in plain sight, O to touch Jesus Christ. In our pericope today, we find a question. Can you carry your weight? Life, it is so cumbersome, revealing our need of a Savior who can help carry. 

How heavy is your life? Is there a care you need to cast on the Lord who will help you shoulder life’s many burdens? Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:7~Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (NLT) As our year draws to a close, I want to remind you that Jesus is here with you in the old and will lead you and guide you in the new. Why not take time to consider what the Lord wants you to adjust as you enter into a new year with Him.