Do You Love Me?

Fishing often took place at night and the Bible records that some of the disciples had fished all night without catching anything. – Slide 18
Morning on Sea of Galilee from Free Bible Images

Jesus to Peter asked “do you love me?”

He asked him not once, but three.

Peter replied that he truly did,

Jesus said “then my sheep please feed.”

Three times asked, three times reminded

Of when Peter, denials of friendship did plead.

Thus was he forgiven for his fears

A thing for which he did grieve.

We too our mistakes have made,

Whether it’s lust or greed,

But we to will be forgiven of whatever it is

For which of pardon – we are in need.


Padre

John 21

Catch

Fishing Nets, Background, Fishing, Pattern, Desktop

Pixabay

I’ve seen it all before

But it is not an exact match

How after toiling away at sea

I returned without a catch

 

I have seen it all before

Returning from fishing

Jesus waiting on the shore

But this time no ride wishing

 

I have seen it all before

A miraculous catch of fish in store

But this time of my feelings He did implore

Then the question of love – asked two times more

 

I have seen it all before

He with tasks and goals for me

Despite my failings and sins

My life – Jesus willing to restore

 

Luke 5; John 21

 

Padre

 

FOWC with Fandango — Catch

 

August Bible Poem 5

This is the fifth of my August Bible Poems. I have set the goal of writing 15 scripture inspired poems in the month of August.  I hope they will touch something in your hearts.

Forgiveness

Woman in Gray Tank Top

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

“Forgive you?” Tammy screeched. “How in the hell do you get off asking me to forgive you?  You ruined my life.”

“I really am sor . . .” Dana began.

“No! Don’t you even dare,” Tammy interrupted.

“I really didn’t know,” Dana tried again.

“Did you even bother to ask?  I thought you were my best friend, and then – then you did this.  You are such a bitch.”

“But,” Dana started yet again, now in tears.

“No, in fact we aren’t friends anymore.  I am moving out, and you can get another roommate,” Tammy snapped.   She then stomped off to her bedroom and slammed the door.

A moment later she opened door again and shouted, “You are unbelievable.  You know I love that programme, and you go and tell me how the finale ends, you spoiler bitch.”

 

Padre

 

Tale Weaver – #285 – Forgiveness

Complicated Contradictions

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“Sorry I’m late,” Susan said.

“Love is never having to say you are sorry.  Well that’s what they say,” Joe said.

“But what does that really mean?” Susan asked.

“I guess it is about unconditional love.  If someone does something, even a terrible thing, those who love them will love them despite it.   It’s like they are forgiven before they ask, so it’s not necessary,” Joe explained.

“But just because someone is willing the bear hurt silently, and let it pass, doesn’t mean that the other person, if they are truly loving them back, doesn’t want to mend their feelings.”

“It’s like in the Bible,” Joe said. “The Prodigal Son.  He rips off his dad, then wastes everything, then he goes back to say he was unworthy to be a son.  But before he even gets a chance to give his prepared speech, his dad has come and hugged him and put clean robes and an a ring on him.  His dad loved him so much that he didn’t need to hear the apology.”

“Okay,” Susan retorted, “But he still went there with the expressed purpose to say he had failed.  So maybe you’re right, ‘Love means you don’t need to say sorry,’ but that’s not the same to say a person who loves should never feel sorry, or acknowledge regret.  Otherwise they will never grow.  Or worse still they might cause the hurt all over again.”

“You know,” Joe said.  “I think you are right, its about attitude not words.  I’m sorry I disagreed with you.”

Padre

Tale Weaver – #241 – Sorry

Prayer Among the Candles

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Prayer Among the Candles

“God, go with you” had been uttered –

Now I stood alone,

In a dim corner of the cathedral –

To face God on my own.

 

I stood by the flickering tapers,

Far from all the rest,

And there I offered up my prayers,

Or tried my very best.

 

I was filled with the memory,

of things for which I should atone,

“Grant me mercy,” was my only plea –

As He smiling, nodded from His throne.

 

Padre

—————————————–

 

Haunted Wordsmith Challenge

Memory, best, “go with you”

“Untouchable”

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Jesus Heals a Leper (freebibleimages.org)

The world has a sad history of treating certain individuals as “untouchable.” Whether these “outcasts” are ones bearing disease, or whether they are considered morally or spiritually inferior, they have borne the burden of exclusion.

At what cost are people excluded? Mother Theresa of Calcutta remarked “Being unwanted is the worst disease any human being can experience.” She set out to serve the “poorest of the poor,” those with disease, and hardship that others shunned, but who she saw as “Christ in disguise (a reference to the parable of the sheep and goats).”

She was not alone in this compassion shown to the unwanted.  The Hindu caste system had long held that the lowest social grouping were “untouchables.”  These people who carried out the most menial and dirty tasks in society were beneath contempt. Mahatma Gandhi called for an end of such a status, and said that rather than being seen as “untouchable,” that they should be instead be seen as “children of God (Harijans).”

While Theresa and Gandhi’s views are admirable, they fall short of the marvelous example of Jesus when dealing with outcasts. First Century Jewish culture was replete with those who were at the margins of society, whether as literal lepers (unclean owing to disease) or those who conduct or life circumstances made them “unclean.”

Let me first look at the attitude of many of the religious elite of Jesus’ day.  In Luke 10: 25-37 Jesus presented a parable we call “The Good Samaritan.” Verses 30 to 32 are telling,

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.” 

Both the priest and the Levite avoid the injured man, and it is postulated that they were doing so in order not to come in contact with “the dead” and thus become ritually unclean.

Yet, we see a very different attitude from Jesus, Himself.  Luke 7 gives us an insight again into Jesus’ heart in contrast to that of a Pharisee.

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner (vs 36 -39).”

Jesus’ response to the situation, is not to be repulsed, or to reprimand her for her actions, but to praise her (presumably to the shock of His host).

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet,but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head,but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven (vs 44 – 48).”

This encounter with “a sinner” is interesting as He shows an acceptance of her, and does not seem concerned at “being tarred with the same brush.”  But this event prefigures and encounter with another outcast, who again touches Him.  On this occasion, however, the ceremonial uncleanliness is manifest.  Yet, the response the same.

In Luke 8 we find the account of the woman with the issue of blood.

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 (vs 43 -48).”

Leviticus 15 makes it clear that women’s discharge of blood is “unclean,” and those encountering are made unclean as well.

“Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. Anyone who touches her during that time will be unclean until evening.  Anything on which the woman lies or sits during the time of her period will be unclean.  If any of you touch her bed, you must wash your clothes and bathe yourself in water, and you will remain unclean until evening. If you touch any object she has sat on, you must wash your clothes and bathe yourself in water, and you will remain unclean until evening. This includes her bed or any other object she has sat on; you will be unclean until evening if you touch it (vs 19 – 23).
Jesus is not upset by her action. But acknowledges her faith, and seals her healing.
In these two cases Jesus is touched by those perceived as unclean, but He brings this to a new level in His encounter with the Leper of Matthew 8.

“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them (vs 1 – 4).”

 

Leprosy is a terrible nerve and flesh disease.  It is highly contagious, and in ancient times those with it were excluded from living within society.  Scripturely Lepers were not only social, but religious outcasts as well.  But, Jesus heals the man.  But the order of events is absolutely powerful.   The man asks for healing, and acknowledges Jesus’ ability to do it.  But while the man was yet “unclean,” Jesus touches him, and says “I am willing.”  Only then does He cure him.  He touched “the untouchable.”  He showed human compassion, beyond that of the priest, Levite, or Pharisee.  He touched first, and healed later.  Think about Mother Theresa’s words, that being wanted and loved, are as important as food or shelter.

This compassion, and disregard of “uncleanliness” was also shown at Nain.

 “Soon afterwards he [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him.  As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother (Luke 7: 11 – 15).”

Jesus touched the bier.  He was not like the those who passed by on the other side, as had happened on the road to Jericho.  He was in no doubt as to the man’s state (unlike the priest and Levite), but nonetheless, “touched.”

In God’s love their are none that are “untouchable.”  None are so diseased, sinful, or unlovable that the hand of God is unavailable to them.  Nor should our touch be withheld.

Padre

 

 

 

The Prodigal Father

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Image source: infograph.venngage.com

Pastor Brett Crosson brought a powerful message on our loving Father this week.  He drew his text from Luke 15, the three Lost parables. He noted that the lost sheep was indicative of that which is lost by nature.  The lost coin that which is lost by circumstance, and the lost son as one who strayed by choice.  In each case a loving God labours to have relationship restored.  The Shepherd leaves the 99 for the sake of the one.  The householder sweeps for recovery.  And the Father, so much more.

Brother Brett noted that from the beginning of the son parable, the father (clearly representing the Father) is noted as loving, and giving. The pastor rightly noted that the tale, often called “The Prodigal Son” has an dual application.  Prodigal can in the negative mean that which is wasteful (as the son clearly was), but it can also mean “having or giving something on a lavish scale.”  The father in the parable is manifestly that!  The prodigality of the father is everywhere in the story.

Verse 12 gives us our first example.  The younger son goes to his father and asks for his portion of the inheritance.  This was unheard of, and was culturally an insult.  It insinuation is that he literally couldn’t wait for his father to die. How does his father respond? No, not with a rebuke or physical punishment, or even disinheritance, but with granting the request!  Brett made a really sound point that Jesus’ Hebrew auditors would have been waiting for anything but this.  Here is a man who puts insolence, and insult aside to give he son his request.  More than generosity, this is love.

When the son is away he squanders his wealth, and is left at rock bottom.  He is starving, and muses about home, and “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger (verse 17)!” These hired servants were day labourers, and had no true expectation of anything beyond their agreed wage, but here his father’s prodigal generosity shines again.  They have more than enough.

The son makes his mid up to go beg for a hired position.  This is not repentance, but rather desperation.  As he approaches home, his father sees him.  This father who has given his lot to the son, who has then deserted him has never given up on the boy.

“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (verse 20).”  Brother Brett noted to us several other expressions of the father’s love in this single verse.  The father runs to his son.  What is overlooked in our 21st Century worldview is that such an act was beneath the dignity of an elder in Israel.  So why did he do it?  Yes, because he was excited to see his lost offspring returning, but there is more. He was getting to the son before anyone else could that might seek to humiliate him for his folly.  What love is that?

The he kisses his son, more than a peck, “he falls upon his neck . . . .”  He is showing live before the sons confession of verse 21.  And once the son begins his speech (prepared in verses 18 and 19) the father calls servants to attend to the son.

Much has been made in the past about the fatted calf prepared to celebrate his return. Yes, this is gracious.  But little comment is made abut what precedes that.  “‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet (vs 22).”

The best robe was the of dignity, a garment worn by the father in meetings of the elders, or at worship.  Here he is clothing his lost (but now returned) child with his own dignity and honour. This is the giving of the best.  And then the signet ring the mark of the fathers own authority. This is a son forgiven, a son restored, a son loved.  As are we!

Our Father in heaven is a Prodigal Father.  No matter “how far a country” we have wandered to, or how wasteful of His love we have been, He will welcome us back.  He will bestow blessings upon us.  God is good.

Padre

Thank you Brother Brett for sharing this powerful word.

 

Bible Ladies (Part 5), The Foreign Women (b): Rahab

Tissot_The_Harlot_of_Jericho_and_the_Two_Spies

The Harlot of Jericho and the Two Spies by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

As in the case of Zapporah and Ruth, Rahab in the Book of Joshua is a foreign woman of note.  She is presumably a Canaanite, or at least lives in Canaan.  She lives on the border of the Jordan in the city of Jericho, the first place of conquest by the Israelites within the Land of Promise.

The main account of Rahab is found in Joshua chapter 2. She offers refuge to the Hebrew spies, and takes great risk in hiding them within her home.

“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land,’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, ‘Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.’ But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.  At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.’  (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut (verses 1-7).”

Okay, the account tells us she is a prostitute. It could be argued that her protection of the men in her house was a occupational or “professional” decision.  The details, however, do not stack up to such a narrow line of thinking.  She not only gives them shelter, but vital intelligence as well.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof  and said to them, ‘I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.  We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts sank and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below (verses 8 – 11).”

This information is valuable militarily (as it shows the low morale of the people of Jericho).  It also, however, shows her clear belief in the power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Herein, lies a dilemma.  She as a Canaanite is marked for destruction (Deuteronomy 20:17).  Yet, she has just expressed a faith in God, and has aided the cause of the Hebrews.  Her redemption is promised in the following passage.

“‘Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them – and that you will save us from death.’  ‘Our lives for your lives!’ the men assured her. ‘If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.’ So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall.  She said to them, ‘Go to the hills so that the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there for three days until they return, and then go on your way.’ Now the men had said to her, ‘This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.  If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.’ ‘Agreed,’ she replied. ‘Let it be as you say.’ So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window (verses 12 -20).”

Okay, life spared, and her household.  But there is more! Let’s look at some details.

While some Evangelicals have tried to sanitise Rahab’s reputation by noting that she was some sort of weaver (thus the flax bundles on her roof), this does not diminish the testimony of several scriptures to her being “a harlot” (Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25, and others).  This view is also found within rabbinic tradition as well. In fact, rabbinic literature not only acknowledges her prostitution, but her repentance and conversion to the faith.

The texts have a conversion process mentioned for Rahab, “Master of the Universe! I have sinned with three things [with my eye, my thigh, and my stomach]. By the merit of three things pardon me: the rope, the window, and the wall [pardon me for engaging in harlotry because I endangered myself when I lowered the rope for the spies from the window in the wall].” (Babylonian Talmud, Zevahim 116a-b).”

And now, what about the woman herself?  In Joshua, Rahab is apparently in her forties or even aged fifty, but still able to bear children as she is cited as being the mother of Boaz in some traditions. There is a spelling variant (Rachab/Rahab) in Matthew 1: 5 which various interpreters have argued makes her a different woman. If she is the same, she would be the wife of Salmon and therefore an ancestor of Jesus. Rabbinic tradition suggests, however, that Rahab married not Salmon but Joshua himself (Midrash: Eccl. Rabbah 8:10:1).

Rabbinic sources state she was 10 at the time of the Exodus and therefore 50 when the spies came to her.  This does seem to be supported by the knowledge she possesses in Joshua 2: 8-11.

Whether she is in the line of the coming Messiah, or the wife of the leader, Joshua – Rahab remains a woman of faith.  She was willing to risk her life, forsake her nation, and defy her king in the service of the King of kings.  She is an inspirational “Bible Lady” who shows that no matter what one’s background, and past sins, that God is willing to accept and use them for the kingdom.

Padre

 

Other Bible Ladies posts:

See also:

 

A Second Mile

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How far shall we go?  To what degree do we, in good humour and good faith, face insult, perceived wrong, and out right hostility?  The human reaction, and one that the “me centred” society in which we live would support is “not far.”  In fact, I need to stand up for my rights, my honour, my self-esteem . . . “my, my, my.”

Yet Jesus put forward a different example.  He was wounded for the transgressions of others. He suffered insult without uttering a reply (Matthew 26:63).  This should not be surprising to us.  Jesus had made this approach an ideal in His public teaching. Matthew 5:38-48 reads,  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”

Do not respond to evil with evil.  Do not shirk unpleasant responsibilities.  Go beyond what is required or asked of you.  A hard order!  But, one He put into practice, even to death.

It has been said that under the Roman occupation, a soldier could compel a non-Roman citizen to carry his kit for a mile.  This was a deeply unpopular expectation, and one which accentuated the conquered, and subservient status of a proud Hebrew people. But even this “institutional” discrimination was not exempted in Jesus’ model.  In fact, a second mile was metaphorically (and indeed actually) set as a standard.

And to such a person who wronged you, whether in a slap on the cheek, or the taking of your property; what should be your attitude to them?  Forgiveness.  Matthew 18:21-22 reads, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

If we are to be true disciples we need to move beyond the “me” and the “my.”  We need to remember the “He” and the “Thy.”  Jesus literally took up His cross.  Let us at least in attitude bear ours.

Padre