Thursday, February 18, 2010

Truth Project - Session 12 Community and Involvement - God Cares, Do I?

Subject: Truth Project - Session 12 Community and Involvement - God Cares, Do I?


Here are some thoughts about the passages used for this session.

First the Matthew 22:34-40 about Jesus being asked "Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Matthew 22:34-40 (New International Version)

The Greatest Commandment
 34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

  1. Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
  2. Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18
Notice that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments...

Now lets look at the other passage referenced:

Luke 10: 25- 29
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
 25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

 27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[c]; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[d]"

 28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

 30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

 36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

 37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
      Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Now this question asks: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  And that is the question Jesus was answering and also answering the question "who is my neighbor?"  The ironic thing about Jesus parable was that he used a Levite as an example of not being a neighbor and the guy who asked the question was most likely a Levite since he was an "expert in the Law."  And it is correct that he probably wanted a checklist to add to his other laws as suggested by the "Truth Project"... or he wanted to see how Jesus would answer the question and if Jesus would answer correctly.

Now to the point Jesus is making in the parable.  He is saying that the two that pass by the injured man are Jews who should have had compassion but contrary to the Levite and the Priest the "sinner" or "low-life" Samaritan would be the one who is showing mercy. And these Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans.  So, this goes against their whole idea of a neighbor and flips it on its head. And the only person to ever show that kind of mercy and to do it perfectly was Jesus Christ himself.  He was showing that NOBODY can justify themselves.  The Law is only a schoolmaster and a curse to all who try to do them but can never do them perfectly. Only one can do them perfectly and again that is Jesus Christ Himself.

So, nobody ever loves the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, or strength and nor do they love their neighbor as themselves.  Jesus says in His sermon on the mount that He has come to fulfill all the Laws and the Prophets. 
Matthew 5: 17
The Fulfillment of the Law
 17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18

Later he says "be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect"  so, I think that pretty much makes it impossible to do.
 So, this passage can be used to talk about 'community' as was presented on the "Truth Project" but that isn't the main point of the passage, and it seems that it is common to miss it.

Also, Jesus points out that everyone is needy.   The "Truth Project" only listed people in comparison to each other as "Needy"(poor, orphans, widows, sick, prisoners, outcasts, etc.) It is just a matter of comparison to each other vs. comparison to salvation.  So, if you compare to the earthly needs you can use this passage as it was in the Truth Project or if you are looking to the heavenly, eternal need.  You would find the needs that would apply to everyone not just those he listed under "needy"

Now lets look at the passage about Jesus washing the disciples feet.

John 13

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
 1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.[a]

 2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

 7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

 8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
      Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

 9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

 10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

 12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This passage is usually referred to as Jesus setting the example of being a servant.  That is there indeed.  But, there is more to this than being a servant and humbleness.  It is primarily about forgiveness and being humble enough to ask for forgiveness from each other and also to humble oneself and forgive the one needing forgiveness.  That is what is meant by washing the feet and why the whole person doesn't need to be washed.  It is only the feet as we walk in this life and travel.  We are brought to salvation and forgiven completely (completely washed) but it is only our feet that get dirty because we are still sinners.  Just like when our children sin or disobey us.  They don't cease to be our children they just get sent to their room or some other kind of punishment.  Then they will often draw a picture or come back out very humbly and say "I'm sorry Daddy" and we will reach out (I hope) and embrace them (washing feet).  And Jesus told Peter that he was already washed and only needed his feet washed and Jesus also told Peter that he is going to deny Jesus 3 times.  This is what Jesus was pointing to when he told Peter in vs. 7:

7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

Later on after Jesus is resurrected He approaches Peter and asks Peter 3 times "do you love me?" and Peter answers 3 times "you know I love you"  Jesus says... then feed my sheep.  This was the washing of Peter's feet again which is a way of repairing and restoring the relationship between Jesus and Peter.  And then Peter can be bold and preach in the book of Acts and have so many respond.

Now lets look at the Matthew 11:28-29 passage.

Matthew 11:28-29 (New International Version)

 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

This passage is about the burden of the Law.  Jesus is showing that He has taken the burden of the Law upon Himself and He has fulfilled it perfectly.  Now the Law becomes a delight to a believer in Christ because he is trusting in Jesus as Savior and is justified by the person and works of Christ.

I think the book of Galatians pretty much sums up the whole discussion, but here is some specific passages where Paul really goes after the Church in Galatia:  I would especially read all of Galatians 3 but this segment pertains to the previous, especially in regards to the Commandments or Law.

Galatians 3

Faith or Observance of the Law
 1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

 6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."[c] 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."[d] 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."[e]13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."[f] 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

As you know I'm completely compelled by the Gospel and the power of the specific message of the Gospel being preached from the pulpit and being ingrained in the followers of Christ.  When, I read Paul's charge to preach the word and that the Gospel is of "first importance".  Then I think we should be preaching Christ from all of scripture and we should always see how a passage is ultimately about the person and works of Christ.  This is the message that has always transformed societies and cultures.  And it will always be the message, especially in a post-modern age.  When really it isn't that much different from the times in Rome in Paul's day.

So, I would challenge any pastor to be very, very strong on the Gospel doctrine and continue to preach that Gospel when it is "in season or out of season".  When it is popular and not popular.  The Gospel message helps to make all things clear even marriage problems, family issues, the loss of a loved one, and even the culture issues like abortion.  This is the only message that can make a real impact in believers and non-believers.  The Gospel is for everyone no matter what stage they are in life.  As a child physically or as a child spiritually.  And even an elder or a pastor.  We all need to be fed this meal that Peter was charged to feed.  We are just supposed to put it on the table the meal that has already been prepared by the Good Shepherd.

Well, I guess that is about enough for now.  Sorry if I tend to go overboard.

Grace and Peace,

Coram Deo!!!

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