Quite a few of you guys told me that you really liked the “Hag Story” the other day. We were experimenting and actually recorded it. If you’d like to download the audio file and listen again sometime, here it is:
Hag Story – An fun allegory/story I heard from Rob Morris (who heard it from Dave Reaver) depicting the life/pursuit of a Christian.
Read Numbers 15 – 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ “
God tells Moses to tell the people that they are supposed to put tassels on the corners of their clothes so that they can be constantly reminded that they are supposed to live like God has told them to. Anyway, if you were a Jew in those days, you’d see people wearing these tassels all throughout the day and when you saw them, you remembered that you were one of God’s people.
The Hebrew word for “corners” is “kanaf” and the Hebrew word for “tassel” or “fringe” is “tzitzit.”
Many Jews wear a prayer shawl today in order to keep this commandment. The tassels today have 5 knots in them representing the 5 books of the Torah (Our first five books) and the four spaces between them represent the four letter for God’s name YHWH. Along the shawl there are also 613 knotted strings to remind them of the 613 laws of the torah.
Now check out Malachi 4 – But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.
The Hebrew word translated “wings” is “kanaf.” Now what do you think?? This means that the verse could be translated “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its ______.” (Tassels.)
Now because of this there was a legend that people began to believe about the coming Messiah which said that there would be some kind of mysterious almost magical healing powers in the tassels of his prayer shawl.
Now read Luke 8 – As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Pretty cool huh? Did you catch it? The woman believed the legend and actually touched Jesus’ “tzitzit,” His tassles, His “kanaf.” In her actions she was proclaiming that she believed He was the Messiah. This is why Jesus was so quick to say “Your faith has healed you!” Her action alone was a huge expression of faith.
I know. I know. Palm Sunday is over and I’m a little late in this post, but here’s the deal: I was listening to Rob Bell’s sermon on-line from that day and feel like I’ve just learned a lot. Anyway, I’ve just gotta share it ’cause it’s so cool. So here we go.
Palm Sunday is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the week prior to His crucifixion and resurrection. Anyway, here’s what I learned about the culture of this whole event:
During Jesus’ day, Pilate ruled over Jerusalem as a Roman governor. Pilate’s superior would have been Caesar. Caesar believed that he literally had come from heaven to earth and that he was the son of God incarnate on earth. He wanted to show people his power by spreading propaganda. Some of the sayings of his day were: “Caesar is Lord! There is no other name under heaven by which people can be saved than that of Caesar.” He also had a 12-day celebration of his birth called the “Advent of Caesar.” You could even give him offerings so that your sins could be forgiven. He was “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Caesar also minted coins with his face to help spread his name. When Rome conquered Jerusalem he also required a tribute in the form of a tax from that country. This is a huge deal to the Jews ’cause Caesar was claiming to be
god. If they paid the tax, then they would be breaking the first two commandments – no other gods before me, and you shall have no graven image. (coin itself was an image) When the religious leaders try to trap Jesus with this issue he asks them for a coin – this means that Jesus didn’t have one (He wasn’t carrying a graven image) When the religious leaders pull one out, they have already broken the second commandment. Jesus is so cool!!!
During Jesus’ day, there were a few times a year that all Jewish people were supposed to go to Jerusalem to celebrate specific holidays together. The Romans were in charge and ruled over Jerusalem, but during these celebrations, the Jews would certainly have outnumbered the Romans who were present in the city. Pilate (the Roman governor) would probably have felt pretty weary about these festivals. I mean, there was always a big mess to clean up, fights to break up, and simply more people to govern and take care of during these times. It would have been a stressful time in government and there was also the ever-present threat that if the Jews decided to all get together, they might be able to overtake him. Pilate lived in a mansion in Caesarea, but during these festivals and specifically this week (Festival of Unleavened Bread or Passover – this festival celebrated that God heard their cry during a time when they were oppressed by a foreign government.) Anyway, Pilate would march into Jerusalem to keep things in order during these festivals. His procession was designed to be authoritative and show his power. It was designed to scare the people so that they would never even dream of uprising against Rome. The procession began with the Roman emblem which was an eagle.
Sidenote: A teacher of the law, says Jesus I’ll follow you wherever you go, and Jesus responds “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) He was speaking about Rome as the “bird” and the word “fox” refered to the Herods who were corrupt kings who lived in palaces but didn’t care about the people. Jesus’ answer spoke saying “These other movements are about power, mine is different – I don’t even have a place to sleep.”
Behind the the eagle in the procession would have been the Roman soldiers carrying etchings of the Caesars with all kinds of things reminding the people of all the power they had and all the battles they had won. The etchings were all about power, strength, and domination. They also marched with metal shields which made sounds which would have brought about fear and terror to the people watching. Pilate would have entered next on a horse – a huge stallion – again a symbol of power, strength, and military conquests.
Now, PILATE ENTERED JERUSALEM ON A HORSE FROM THE WEST!
Luke 19 describes another event which happened the same week. Jesus went to Jerusalem and from the Mount of Olives (east of Jerusalem) he sent some people ahead of him to get a donkey. As you look west from the Mount of Olives you can see Jerusalem just past the Kiddron Valley. They brought the donkey to him and people spread their cloaks on the road as He went past them. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” This word “King” might not have been a good one to use in light of Pilate who had just come in himself. Some of the Pharisees ask Jesus to rebuke the disciples and to kind of “keep it down.” Jesus responds, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!” Now, there were a bunch of stones/graves on the Mount of Olives, because the Jewish belief was that the Messiah would raise from the dead all the good Jews who had died. From there they believed He would lead them all into Jerusalem where there
would be peace and prosperity. Therefore, they all wanted to be buried near Jerusalem. So anyway, the Pharisees told them to be quiet, but Jesus says basically, “I’m the Messiah who will raise these people from the dead!” The Pharisees lightbulbs came on ’cause they certainly knew what Jesus was talking about.
Jesus doesn’t walk into the city, but rides a donkey. (Matthew 21) Zechariah had said years ago that the King would come “gentle and riding on a donkey.” Jesus used the donkey to say, “Hey, I’m the guy you’ve been waiting for.” Now the way Matthew quoted this verse is called a “remez” – where Jews would quote the first part of a verse knowing that the other Jews would know the 2nd part of the verse. (Remember, they all had to memorize the Old Testament)
Here’s the whole verse: Zechariah 9:9-10 “See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey.(That’s the part Matthew quoted – next is the part the Jews would have known.) I will take away the chariots from Ephraim (Jews) and the war-horses from Jerusalem and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations.” Now check this out: Pilate came from the west proclaiming his war abilities, Jesus comes from the east and takes the peoples weapons away so he can proclaim peace. Jesus’ kingdom is totally different than the kingdom of Rome. His kingdom is about peace, not war. His parade is humble rather than proud.
JESUS ENTERED JERUSALEM FROM THE EAST ON A DONKEY!
Why did Jesus weep as He entered the city? In the year 70AD the Jews decided to do it all Pilates way and they took up arms against Rome – they got destroyed! The temple was also destroyed. Jesus knew that Jerusalem would fail to do things His way, even though they were quick to follow Him now. In the city of Rome todaystands the “Titus Arch” in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem. Can you hear Jesus? “You guys don’t realize it, but you’re gonna end up falling into the trap of war too.”
OK – here’s the point for you and I: THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO ENTER A CITY – the way of Pilate or the way of Jesus. There are two ways to enter a conversation. There are two ways to treat your family. There are two ways to deal with conflict in a relationship. There are two ways to deal with pain. There are two ways to treat your friends. Which will it be for you? Horses or donkeys? From the West or from the East? The way of Pilate or the way of Jesus?
The miracles of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 are interesting. My new insight is this:
The first miracle – Matthew 14:13-21 – takes place in what the Jews called the “land of the twelve.” (The place where devout Jews from the 12 tribes of Israel continued to worship the Lord.) There were twelve baskets full of leftovers. Representing enough food to feed God’s people!
The second miracle – Matthew 15:29-39 – takes place in the Decapolis area east of Galilee which the Jews called the “land of the seven.” (There were 7 pagan nations driven from Israel by Joshua) There were seven baskets full of leftovers this time. Representing enough food to feed the pagans too!
Jesus is the Bread of Life and Savior of not only the Jews, but of the whole world!
In Matthew 14:22 and Mark 4, when Jesus tells the disciples to go to the “other side” of the lake, the disciples heard “other side” differently than we do. “Other side” culturally meant to the “land of the seven” where the devil lived and the sea was the place where evil spirits lived. This explains why they were terrified and called Jesus a ghost when they saw Him walking on the water. Jesus was showing them that He had power over these evil spirits and in a way kind of setting them up for the miracle which was to come, where He fed the 4,000 in the “land of the seven.”
Am I taking bread to people in the “land of the seven?” Do I love people who scare me? Have I gone to “the other side” with the Gospel?
I don’t know about you – but I’ve grown up knowing Jesus as a carpenter. I’ve even seen the bumper sticker – “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter!”
Today I read that the word translated “carpenter” in the new testament is actually “tekton” which means a “craftsman who builds.” Most scholars agree that Jesus was more likely a stonemason who helped construct the buildings in the nearby town of Sepphoris. (only 2 miles from Nazareth) Israel’s buildings are made of stones, so Jesus’ father probably had taught him how to shape and cut stones. Archaeology has shown that Sepphoris was also constructed during the time that Jesus would have been in Nazareth, so it’s logical to think that He probably spent quite a bit of time working there.
Anyway – all this is to say – Jesus probably cut stones not wood!
I was listening to a sermon by Paris Reidhead called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” He explains how we Christians have become humanists without even recognizing it. By coming to Christ because of heaven or some promised “better life” we are coming to Him out of our own selfish desires. We are really only after what we can get out of God – this is humanism. He goes on to suggest that God is still God and still worthy of us giving our lives for even if there was no heaven. More simply – God deserves to receive the lives that He paid for on the cross regardless of anything we might get out of the deal.
As I reflect, I wonder if it’s possible? Is there any way to give Him all I am without expecting anything or does my humanity mess that up for me. I do believe He should have what He deserves, but can’t seem to give myself totally selflessly either. If there was no heaven or any kind of reward, I would hope that I could still serve Him wholeheartedly simply because He deserves it, but. . . .would I???? How can I love selflessly?? How can I give myself unconditionally??
Only by His Spirit. Only by His power.
Lord, help me to be yours.
This link will get you to sermonaudio.com. From there you can search by speaker (Paris Reidhead) and find the download for this sermon. (Ten Shekels and a Shirt)
Why are Christians making such a big deal about the use of “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas!” I guess I understand the concern about taking Christ out of the season, but is that really possible? To those of us who are Christians, it’s certainly not possible and to the rest of the world, well, how can they celebrate the birth of a Savior they don’t know?
I guess I just feel like if you’re gonna be upset about something, why not worry about the guy you work with who doesn’t know Christ? It seems like a much more worthy concern to me.
This whole thing just seems like something that’s “not worth the fight” to me – I’m not apathetic to the gospel, but rather I am passionate about it, and want the opportunity to communicate Christ to others without more hurdles to jump than are neccessary. These kinds of fights just throw up more walls between people and Christ. It just seems to me that our efforts should be spent serving and sharing Christ with individuals, rather than fighting over words on some billboard. Maybe even the perceptions that the world has of Christians could actually be changed by people truly loving and serving the world???
By the way, if you want to complain about the words in a phrase – Mark O from Youth Specialties says this too – is “Merry Christmas” really the best thing we can wish people during this season? “Merriment” (is that a word?) certainly isn’t at the top of my list. What about wishing them a “Peaceful Christmas” or an “Ever-Aware Christmas?” Wouldn’t it be better if people experienced the “peace that passes understanding” during such a hectic time or if they were somehow able to be “ever aware of Jesus’ presence?”
I dunno – just some random thoughts I’ve been having lately.