Friday, July 14, 2017

52 - Grainfields, Disciples, and Pharisees


1. Now on a sabbath he happened to be passing through grainfields, and his disciples were plucking and eating the heads of grain, rubbing them with their hands.
2. At this some of the Pharisees said: “Why are YOU doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”
3. But Jesus said in reply to them: “Have YOU never read the very thing David did when he and the men with him got hungry?
4. How he entered into the house of God and received the loaves of presentation and ate and gave some to the men with him, which it is lawful for no one to eat but for the priests only?” Luke 6:1-4 NW

5. Or, have YOU not read in the Law that on the sabbaths the priests in the temple treat the sabbath as not sacred and continue guiltless? 
6 But I tell YOU that something greater than the temple is here. 
7. However, if YOU had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice,’ YOU would not have condemned the guiltless ones. Mat. 12:5-7 NW

27 So he went on to say to them: “The sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the sabbath;
28 hence the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28 NW

I Am The Boss of My Sunday


Christ and His disciples were passing through a field of grain and eating the grain from a farmer's field and, according to Jewish law, this action was not to be censured.  The Pharisees following along with the disciples took exception to what the disciples were doing. 

This was not a violation of the Mosaic law, but of scribal traditions, which had precisely determined that to pluck the heads of grain was to “harvest.” To rub them between your hands to separate the chaff was “milling.” To blow away the chaff from your hand was “winnowing.” All of this was forbidden on the Sabbath - even for personal use. Guzik

The Pharisees said, Why are YOU doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”  I imagine Christ might have been thinking, You and your rules! You are all bound up in "the law" but if you would listen to Me, I would make you free, and you would be free indeed from your man made rules. John 8:36

But, Jesus said, let Me give you a few examples: “Have YOU never read the very thing David did when he and the men with him got hungry? How he entered into the house of God and received the loaves of presentation and ate and gave some to the men with him.

Christ knew very well that the Pharisees were aware of that story from the Book of 1 Samuel.  Perhaps Christ's meaning was, have you never paid attention to the meaning of that story?  He said, But go and learn what this is, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Mat. 9:13. Jehovah is much more interested in mercy than rules. 

David and his soldiers went into the temple and ate the bread which was designated for the priests only. Mat. 12:4. It was against the law for anyone else to eat it, and yet it is much better to feed the hungry than it is to be hung up on religious rules.

You Pharisees are so hung up on what you think the Sabbath should "look like" that you completely miss the point that Jehovah had in mind. The law of Moses gave you one day a week in which to rest but you have changed it into a net by which you catch people doing something that you think is wrong. 

Jesus continues, Here is my second example; on the sabbaths the priests in the temple treat the sabbath as not sacred and continue guiltless? Mat.12:8  On the Sabbath the priests are "breaking the law hand over fist".  That is, to treat the Sabbath as any other day. They did so by carrying on butchering and other work in connection with the animal sacrifices.—Nu 28:9,10. NW study Edition.  They work all day long and yet they continue guiltless.  What they did is not called breaking the law because it was necessary.

Our preachers do their hardest work on Sundays and yet none of us accuses them of sinning because they preach on Sundays.

The sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the sabbath.  Christ continues, I, a human, a son of Adamam master even of the Sabbath as it pertains to me.

The Son of man (Adam), any man is Lord of the Sabbath; i.e. it was made for him, for his ease, comfort, and use, and to these purposes he is to apply it. Clarke.


But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. Mat. 12:6.  Some versions use the word some one in place of something.  Those who want to foster the teaching of the Trinity use this to refer to Christ. They have Him saying that because He is God He is greater than the temple.

However, the more trustworthy translations use the word something.   Since Christ called it a "thing" He certainly was not speaking about Himself.  I think that the "thing" He was speaking of was mercy because it is greater even than the temple.  Notice how Christ's statement flows, I tell YOU that something greater than the temple is here. However, if YOU had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice,’ YOU would not have condemned the guiltless ones. Mat. 9:7.

MERCY WILL OUTWEIGH RELIGIOUS RULES EVERY TIME!

My disciples are totally innocent of breaking the Law of Moses they broke only your interpretation of it.

Any application of the Sabbath Law which operates to the detriment of man is out of harmony with God’s purpose.” (Morgan)
Guzik

Friday, July 7, 2017

50 - A Woman and a Daughter


Now one of the presiding officers of the synagogue, Jaʹi·rus by name, came and, on catching sight of him, he fell at his feet
and entreated him many times, saying: “My little daughter is in an extreme condition. Would you please come and put your hands upon her that she may get well and live.”
At that he went off with him. And a great crowd was following him and pressing against him.
Now there was a woman subject to a flow of blood twelve years,
and she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse. 
When she heard the things about Jesus, she came behind in the crowd and touched his outer garment; 
for she kept saying: “If I touch just his outer garments I shall get well.”
And immediately her fountain of blood dried up, and she sensed in her body that she had been healed of the grievous sickness.
Immediately, also, Jesus recognized in himself that power had gone out of him, and he turned about in the crowd and began to say: “Who touched my outer garments?”
But his disciples began to say to him: “You see the crowd pressing in upon you, and do you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 
However, he was looking around to see her that had done this. 
But the woman, frightened and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.
He said to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be in good health from your grievous sickness.”
While he was yet speaking, some men from the home of the presiding officer of the synagogue came and said: “Your daughter died! Why bother the teacher any longer?”
But Jesus, overhearing the word being spoken, said to the presiding officer of the synagogue: “Have no fear, only exercise faith.”
Now he did not let anyone follow along with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
So they came to the house of the presiding officer of the synagogue, and he beheld the noisy confusion and those weeping and letting out many wails, 
and, after stepping in, he said to them: “Why are YOU causing noisy confusion and weeping? The young child has not died, but is sleeping.”
At this they began to laugh scornfully at him. But, having put them all out, he took along the young child’s father and mother and those with him, and he went in where the young child was.
And, taking the hand of the young child, he said to her: “Talʹi·tha cuʹmi,” which, translated, means: “Maiden, I say to you, Get up!”
And immediately the maiden rose and began walking, for she was twelve years old. And at once they were beside themselves with great ecstasy.
But he ordered them again and again to let no one learn of this, and he said that something should be given her to eat. Mark 5:22-43 NW


The Very Sick Daughter of Jairus


He (John the Baptist) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him.
Mat. 3:16. This statement may well be the key to defining the ministry of Christ.


In a previous post we learned that Christ was talking to the people about mending coats and saving wine and while He was still speaking one of the presiding officers of the synagogue, Jairus, by name, hoping against hope, kneeled at the feet of Jesus and  said, I suppose by now my daughter, who is only twelve years old, must be dead; but just in case she isn't would you please come and put your hands upon her that she may get well and live.


A Woman With the Von Willebrand Disease


So Christ and His disciples left the feast at Matthew's house and as they were going to the home of Jairus to heal the daughter, a woman with a flow of blood snuck up behind Christ hoping that she might secretly touch the hem of His cloak and thereby be healed.  It is possible that she had a severe case of what medical science these days calls the "Von Willebrand disease".  According to the Mayo Clinic, this disease still can't be cured.


She had endured her problem for twelve years; she had suffered much at the hands of doctors and had spent all her resources.  To make the matter worse was the fact that according to the law of Moses she was perpetually "unclean".  


This meant that she may never attend the synagogue and worship with her neighbours; she may never intermingle with people in such a way that she touches anyone; if her husband, if she is married, touches her, even he will be unclean till evening.  Her uncleanness continues for seven days after the issue of blood has stopped, but her's never stopped. Leviticus 15.  Being in the state that she was in it is no wonder that she did not want Christ to notice her touch His garment. 


He did notice, and kneeling before Him she admitted what she had done and Christ said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace, and be in good health from your grievous sickness.


The Sick Daughter is Cured



While he was yet speaking, some men from the home of the presiding officer of the synagogue came and said: “Your daughter died! Why bother the teacher any longer?”  

Christ overheard the conversation and said to Jairus, Have no fear, just believe!  So Christ dismissed the crowd which had been following Him and took only Peter, James and John with Him.


When He got to the house He heard a lot of noise, weeping, and wailing for the dead child.  Christ said, why are you all making such a commotion, The young child has not died, but is sleeping.


When the mourners heard this they began to laugh scornfully at him.  Christ told the mourners to get out, and taking the girl's parents with Him they went to the sick child, He touched her hand and said, “Maiden, I say to you, Get up!”

She got up and walked about and they (the parents) were beside themselves with great ecstasy.


Christ repeatedly told the parents not to talk about this healing to anyone.  Christ did not want to be known as a healer - He came to be a teacher!

Friday, June 30, 2017

49 - Old Wine Skins


They said to him: “The disciples of John fast frequently and offer supplications, and so do those of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.”
Jesus said to them: “YOU cannot make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can YOU?
Yet days will come when the bridegroom will indeed be taken away from them; Then they will fast in those days.”
Further, he went on to give an illustration to them: “No one cuts a patch from a new outer garment and sews it onto an old outer garment; but if he does, then both the new patch tears away and the patch from the new garment does not match the old.
Moreover, no one puts new wine into old wineskins; but if he does, then the new wine will burst the wineskins, and it will be spilled out and the wineskins will be ruined.
But new wine must be put into new wineskins.

No one that has drunk old wine wants new; for he says, ‘The old is nice.’” Luke 5:33-39 NW


No Fasting At A Wedding Banquet


They said to him: The word they refers back to the scribes and Pharisees in the former post; those that found fault with Christ for eating with the sinners.

The disciples of John fast frequently and offer supplications.  In the post, "The Locust-Eating Preacher",  we learned that John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded.  His disciples, however, still continue to do what John had taught them to do. The Pharisees also fast and pray and so the contention is this; Christ's disciples do not.

Jesus said to them: “YOU cannot make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can YOU?  Let's be reasonable, you can't expect anyone to fast at a wedding feast, can YOU?

During the weeklong wedding feast it was understood that joy was more important than conformity to religious rituals. If any ceremonial observance would detract from the joy of a wedding feast, it was not required. Jesus says that His followers should have this kind of happiness. Guzik

Yet days will come when the bridegroom will indeed be taken away from them. After about 3.5 years of ministry and teaching His disciples, Christ was indeed taken from them:

1. First when Christ was taken to the cross to be crucified.  That certainly would have been a time of mourning and fasting.

2. When Christ was taken to heaven and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Acts 1:9. 
 

Perhaps there are still some segments of the church that fast, but it seems to me, most of us North American Christians are much too casual about our spirituality to bother with fasting.


Two Examples



No one cuts a patch from a new outer garment and sews it onto an old outer garment.  Imagine this: You have an old woollen winter coat and time has worn a hole into one of the elbows.  Now, the logical thing to do would be to go to a clothing store and buy a new woollen winter coat and cut a patch out of the elbow of the new coat and sew that new patch into the old coat.  Absurd!

First of all, the new patch will shrink and the new patch tears away from the old garment and you are left with two useless coats. Secondly, the colour of the new garment does not match the old.


Perhaps Christ is implying that He did not come to fix up the old Jewish religion, (that old worn out coat).  Your old shabby man made rules need to be discarded.  I came to bring a new "robe of righteousness".  The righteousness I bring is not attained by obeying myriads of rules; it is based on faith in Jehovah and love to fellow humans.


He continues, Here is another example. No one puts new wine into old wineskins.   The old wine skins have deteriorated due to the acidic liquid in them. How much longer can they last?  You could find out by filling them up again and seeing a lot of wine spilt on the floor because the new wine will burst the wineskins.


But new wine must be put into new wine skins.  The Christian's new life in Christ just will not fit into any other religion.  On the day of Pentecost, when Jehovah's spirit descended on the first Christians they were so ecstatic that they were accused of being drunk.  However, different ones mocked at them and began to say: “They are full of sweet wine.” But Peter stood up ... and made this utterance to them: “Men of Ju·deʹa ... give ear to my sayings. These [people] are, in fact, not drunk, as YOU suppose Acts 2:13-15.   There is just something about real Christianity that cannot be explained to an unbeliever.  

However, Christianity is not, and never has been a set of rules!  Even though some have tried to make it such.  For example, 
  • You must not eat meat from warm-blooded animals on Friday,  
  • You must "say the rosary",  
  • You must go to confession,  
  • You must not eat pork,  
  • You must keep the Sabbath day holy.  It is interesting that of all the Ten Commandments this is the only one that is not repeated in the New Testament.
Certainly, Christians still have rules, but let's not make up our own and force them on Christendom.  The gist is to lay on you no greater burden than these necessary things: Acts 15:28

Nine of the Ten Commandments are still applicable to all Christians.  Besides that there is this list decided on at one of the first church counsels:

1. to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols
2. and from blood, do not drink blood,
3. and from things strangled, do not eat meat with the blood still in it,
4. and from fornication. Acts 15:28-29; Acts 21:25.

Christ said, Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36.   Having said that, it goes without saying that a Christian is, in all cases, bound by the rule of brotherly love.