Sunday, May 08, 2016

This week's lesson (May 7-13): Lord of Jews & Gentiles

[Jesus said,] "Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' " 
After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean.' For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")
-- Mark 7:14-19, NIV
Some things are just "icky."
My wife, for instance, is from New Zealand -- and like many Kiwis, she enjoys nothing more than a peanut-butter and catsup sandwich.
What's more, she thinks peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches are disgusting. "It's like putting maple syrup on a hamburger," she says.
(Which actually sounds pretty good, now that she's mentions it!)
Fortunately, Matthew 14:1 - 16:12 covers situations like this: I like to think of it as an extended commentary (or midrash) on Psalm 23 -- one that tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd of both Jews and Gentiles). An outline of these verses might looks something like this:
A. A Bad Shepherd (King Herod) - 14:1-12
   B. The Good Shepherd of the Jews (Jesus) - 14:13-21
      C. Miracle: Jesus saves his unfaithful disciples - 14:22-26
         D. Argument: clean/unclean - 15:1-20
      C. Miracle: Jesus saves a faithful Gentile - 15:21-28
   B. The Good Shepherd of the Gentiles (Jesus) - 15:29-39
A. More Bad Shepherds (the Pharisees & Sadducees) - 16:1-12
As you can see, the center of this section is the argument about clean and unclean -- and Christ's conclusion is pretty much the same one that's kept my wife and I together for 31-years.


Here it is: some things are more important than others.

And yes, that's just as true in churches as it is in marriages.
You see, the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us.
No matter how "icky" they are.

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