Monday, February 29, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 28, 2016

“When Just Another is Not Again!”
Text: Psalm 85

Over the past few weeks in worship we have been talking about how Lent is just another 40 days.  While we may have a particular focus on repentance and faith in this season, they are not the only days they should be at the forefront of our minds.  In fact, every day should be a day of repentance and faith. So, Lent it’s just another 40 days.

But what happens when “Just Another” is “Not Again!”?

The “Not Again” moments seem to come all too often, don’t they?

Whether it’s the return of cancer or a change in career; the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship; for some it’s the call from the collection agent or the email from the IRS.  I don’t know all the “Not Again!” moments of your life, but I do know that you have them, and they are never fun.

Sometimes those moments come when we see what is going on in the world, a convoluted war in Syria, continued violence in the workplace, confounding political maneuvering by both sides of the aisle, racial tensions and a world that doesn’t seem to value human life.  Oh no!  Not Again!

It is further proof that in many ways we live in post Christian climate.   Of course, it is also further proof that in many ways we are not Christian leaders or citizens we ought or desire to be. 

Time and time again we go back to our own stupidity and find ourselves in need of restoration and forgiveness, which drives us to repentance and faith; it’s what the season of Lent is about.  It’s what every day is about for a follower of Jesus Christ.

God’s chosen people felt the same way.  They had experienced many “Oh no! Not again!” moments. Just a brief study of the Old Testament and one will see that time and time again God’s people returned to their stupidity and followed after other gods. 

Time and time again they felt the fury and the burning anger of the Lord of creation.  They too were in need of restoration and forgiveness and to be led to see that living a life of repentance and faith was necessary. 
Eventually they wound up in exile in a foreign land. 

But God had a plan.  Eventually the exiles would return.  Our text today from Psalm 85 is believed to be written in response to that return, but they are also fitting for our own “Oh no! Not Again!” moments.

You favored your land, O Lord.
You restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You removed your people’s guilt.
You pardoned all their sins. Selah
You laid aside all your fury.
You turned away from your burning anger.
Restore us, O God, our savior.
Put an end to your anger against us.
    Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you ever let go of your anger in the generations to come?
    Won’t you restore our lives again
        so that your people may find joy in you?
            Show us your mercy, O Lord,
                by giving us your salvation.
I want to hear what God the Lord says,
    because he promises peace to his people, to his godly ones.
        But they must not go back to their stupidity.
Indeed, his salvation is near those who fear him,
    and his glory will remain in our land.
  (Psalm 85:1-9)

We all need to be restored.  We all have done some stupid things and in reality we are all fragile, fallen, and frail. 

We confessed that exact thing at the beginning of this season.  As the ashes were imposed you heard the words, “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”  It is a truth not only these 40 days but every day.
We need to be restored, especially when we cry out, “Not Again!” When those moments risk to plunge our heads underwater and drown us with their contempt. 

But our Lord knows your every weakness; He knows all of your sinfulness, even the stuff you have never told anyone about.  We are called to live lives of repentance and faith and one day we will no longer have to cry out, “Oh no!  Not again!”

Eventually we will hear the words “Not Again!”  But this time they will not be uttered by human lips in fear or frustration, or failure.  They will be the final words of the Savior who will say “Not Again!”  From the lips of the Savior to the ears of the faithful, this phrase will break the cycle of sin and sadness.

Jesus says “Not Again!” to sin.  He says, “Not Again!” to suffering!

He says, not again will you have to experience the pain, the grief, the return of the disease, the death of a loved one, the empty seat at the table, and the ache of a heart that is filled with grief. 

“Not again!” is the cry of the cross that announces to you that your sin has been forgiven!  It is the cry of truth that is timeless even in this post Christian climate.  It is in the cross of Christ we glory. 

Even as we will all go back to our stupidity over and over again, we find restoration in Christ and a Lord…
…who shows His favor
…who restores fortunes
…who removes guilt
…who pardons sins
…who laid aside fury
…who turned away anger
…who showed mercy

Who promises never to leave you and never to forsake you.

Now, He never promises that those “Oh no! Not again!” moments won’t ever happen again in life.  In fact, they probably will.  But when they do we can know His strength, we can experience His grace and we can encounter his holiness as we live lives of repentance and faith not just these 40 days, but every day.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

The One Year Bible- February 29th

Congrats on two months of reading the Bible!  This is a big accomplishment and you should be proud.  We are in a tough stretch right now with our readings from Leviticus but hang in there.  I hope you have settled into a routine and that spending time in the Word is becoming a habit.  Before we get into the meat of the study I want to touch on one of the Psalms we read this week.  Psalm 40 has had a special place in my heart for a long time. It wasn’t that it spoke to me in a time of trouble; it wasn’t that I heard a great sermon about it; it wasn’t even the fact that it was written by David. The reason this Psalm is one of my favorite is because the rock band U2 has a song called “40” that uses the same words. If you are not familiar with U2 you might have heard of their lead singer who goes by the name Bono. When they started out as young musicians in Ireland in the late 70’s, their music was influenced by their faith. You can still hear the message of faith in many of their songs today.  The best way to share this song with you is for you to hear it. Thanks to good old YouTube here is a great version of the song:

Seth’s Thoughts 

The Old Testament
I want to spend some time talking about one of the most important days in the life of the Jewish people.  The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is the holiest of days in the worship life of God’s chosen people.  This was the day that the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies (the inner part) in the Temple and offer a sacrifice for the forgiveness of the people.  We read about its regulations this week.  Let me put it into some easier terms for you.  God had set up a system of blood sacrifice that was to be done for the forgiveness of sins.  Originally it was to be the one who committed the offence, but God in his mercy and grace said that he would take a substitute in the place of the person (most of the time this means a lamb or bull without anything wrong with it).  The people were to come to the temple at least once a year to make a blood sacrifice for the atonement of their own sins, and then once a year a special sacrifice was to be made for all the people.  On Yom Kippur, all the people were to fast and the High Priest was then to enter behind the curtain in the presence of the Ark and the other sacred objects including the mercy seat, which was the covering of the ark.  This is where the blood was to be poured to cover the sins.  This whole event is ripe with symbolism and New Testament parallels.  A few interesting things about the actual event: the High Priest was the one who represented all the people.  His sacrifice was sufficient for everyone in Israel.  He was the only one allowed to enter the presence of God and as soon as he went in he had to make a sacrifice for himself first.  Jewish tradition says that the High Priest would tie a rope around his midsection and another priest would hold the other end.  The High Priest would also have bells tied to his robes.  In the event that he did something wrong, or he angered God and was struck down, the other priests could pull him out without endangering themselves by going into the Holy of Holies.  This act of sacrifice could only be done at the temple and was the only way of forgiveness.  Let’s bring the forward to Jesus.  When Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  This was a physical symbol that the Day of Atonement was no longer necessary.  Jesus, who called himself a temple, became the High Priest and offered a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all people for all time.  The New Testament speaks of this as the fulfillment of the Old Testament requirements.  Paul, in Ephesians speaks of Jesus dividing the barrier of hostility, a possible image of the temple.  The book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus being the High Priest and that this sacrifice meets the requirements of the Law and that at the Temple (Jesus) atonement has been made.  Theologians call this Vicarious Atonement, meaning that we are now at one with God because Jesus was our substitute sacrifice.

One last thing, we have seen a lot of blood in Leviticus and we have talked about this before but to a Jew blood = life.  In fact the Hebrew word for blood can also mean life.  That makes some neat comparisons to Jesus.  We have life because of the blood (life) of Jesus.  We drink his blood in communion and that gives us life.  Once again, we see that understanding the Old Testament really brings the things in the New Testament to life (no pun intended).  Here is a picture and map of the temple that may help you get a visual of its structure:

The New Testament

In our readings in Mark we see more miracles and stories of Jesus. In Mark 7, Jesus makes reference to some of the washings we have been reading about in Leviticus. Jesus makes some people angry when he says it’s not all about keeping the laws and traditions. In fact, there is much more to it. We need to not only be clean on the outside, we must be cleaned on the inside as well. It is not what comes from inside that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our heart. Just a small aside here; the heart was seen by a Jew as the center of not only the emotions but also the entire soul, including the intellect. When Jesus says these things come from our heart, he is saying that our entire being is full of wickedness. This is something we all need to hear. We are all sinful and unclean. There is not one who does good. And we all fall short of the glory of God. We are in need of a Savior. Jesus has some words for the disciples about being a servant. The disciples were fighting about who was the greatest and once again Jesus turns conventional wisdom on its ear. He tells them that they must be a servant of everyone else. They must put the needs of others before their own. This was a radical way of thinking. We sometimes forget how radical Jesus’ words were.

Bits and Pieces

We will finish up the book of Leviticus this week and start with the book of Numbers.  The book of Numbers continues the story of the people from Mt. Sinai on to the Promised Land. Here are the vital stats for Numbers:
Purpose: To describe how the LORD preserves Israel despite the obstacles from Sinai to Canaan
Author: Moses
To Whom Written: The People of Israel
Date Written: 1450-1410 B.C.
Setting: The vast desert of the Sinai region, as well as the lands just south and east of Canaan
Key Verses: “Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” Numbers 14:22-23
Law Themes: Duties; uncleanness; punishment for complaining; rebellion; cursing.
Gospel Themes: Redemption, “I am the LORD your God”; consecration; purification; atonement; blessing.

Numbers records the story of Israel’s unbelief and should serve as a dramatic lesson for all God’s people. God loves us and wants the very best for us. He can and should be trusted. Numbers also gives a clear portrayal of God’s patience. Again and again he withholds judgment and preserves the people. But his patience must not be taken for granted. His judgment will come.  One of the recurring themes in Numbers is that of complaining. It is complaining that gets the people into trouble. Complaining and grumbling become very destructive for the people. Many of them even wanted to go back to Egypt. They had already forgotten that in Egypt they were slaves!!

Have a great week and let me know if you have any questions!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 21, 2016

“Just Another 40 Days: WJND… ‘What Jesus Never Did’”

In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul proclaimed that (through Jesus) our salvation has been procured, our citizenship in heaven secured, and one day all our ills will be finally and forever be fully cured!  He also reminded the Philippians that they we’re one through the power of the Spirit and so he encouraged them to be united in purpose as if they were one person. 

This past Sunday the voters of Bethany Lutheran overwhelmingly approved the motion, “to support, embrace and strive to realize the Renaissance Project, thus addressing facilities needs and improvements on our campus to better equip us to accomplish the ministry bestowed upon us by our Lord.  Subsequently, Bethany Lutheran Church will begin a capital funding campaign; using Lutheran Church Extension Fund to assist as our campaign consultant.”  As one people, in this one body, at this one place called Bethany we now move forward in our Renaissance Project. 

Of course, there may be more than one of us pondering that good Lutheran question, “What does this mean?”

Here are some ANSWERS:
·        We at Bethany Lutheran Church will embark on a capital campaign in the near future to raise funds to accomplish the Renaissance Project goals.

·        We at Bethany Lutheran Church will hire a consultant to lead us through this future campaign. 

*God be praised the interest from our endowment fund will cover this cost.*

·        We at Bethany Lutheran Church will move forward engaging an architect to do construction plans on the scope of the RP as presented.
*God be praised, funds already received for the Renaissance Project will go to cover fees and begin this process.*

Our leadership at Bethany Lutheran will keep us informed as to where we are at in this process through Chimes, announcements in worship, and the Bethany Bullet. 

The old “what does this mean?” question has an unspoken counterpart.  Here are some things “this does NOT mean:”

·        This does not mean that we at Bethany Lutheran are bound to take out a long term loan to accomplish the Renaissance Project (*).

·        This does not mean that we at Bethany Lutheran are bound or limited to the entirety of the proposed Renaissance Project (*).

·        This does not mean that we at Bethany Lutheran are finished with voter’s meetings regarding the Renaissance Project (*)

(***) God willing through our future campaign the Lord will provide far more than enough blessings to accomplish the Renaissance Project as envisioned and presented and we will hold a voters’ meeting to wrestle with the next “What Does This Mean” question regarding excess funds.  Of course, if the reverse is the case we will hold a voter’s meeting to wrestle with that “What Does This Mean” question.

You can still view the Renaissance Project as envisioned, presented and passed by voters on the Bethany website.

Renaissance Project
Click HERE for a link to the slideshow document that previews our anticipated Renaissance Project. If you unable to open link, please copy/paste this into your browser to view the link:

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 22, 2016

The One Year Bible- February 22nd

It seems like every year we get busier and busier.  Life seems to add things to our plates on a daily basis.  This past week I have been busy preparing for our new Youth Minister, moving furniture, gathering supplies, as well as doing some sermon prep, getting ready for Lenten family devotions, looking over VBS curriculum and gearing up for Mission Alaska and the National Youth Gathering this summer.  Right now time seems to be at a premium.  To put it mildly, I am busy.  The one constant this week has been my daily readings.  I have managed to read every day and it has been a source of strength and a blessing for me.  When you have days, or, weeks, or months like this I hope you will lean on the strength that you will find in God’s Word.  On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament

Not much to talk about from a theological perspective on this week’s readings from the Old Testament.  The big thing is the rules and regulations regarding offerings and health.  Last week I gave you some info on the different kinds of offerings.  Please refer back to that if you need to as we continue to read.  The other thing about this week is the copious use of blood.  I think we have talked about this before, but remember that this was a different time and culture.  In our day, blood is seen as bad and possibly containing diseases.  For the people of Israel the spilling of blood gave them life.  This all points to Jesus and we have talked about that time and again.  I got an email a few years ago at this time from someone who was reading The One Year Bible and I want to share the question and the answer with you:

Good Morning Seth,

In Leviticus 11:1-12:8 today the Bible states the following:

"And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you."  What does it mean when God says it is unclean?  Is it His law that we not eat pig or does it just make us unclean?  This was interesting this morning as I did not know that God has commanded us to eat or not eat certain foods.

Any insight you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


My Reply:

I just finished that reading myself.  The thing you need to remember about all these laws and regulations is that they are for the people of Israel in the wilderness as God is forming them to be his people.  All these laws were not written for us in the US in the 21st Century.  The reason that God placed some dietary restrictions on the people was two-fold.  First of all many of the animals that were considered unclean had problems with parasites and other things that could make the people sick if they were not cooked or handled properly.  God needed the people to be healthy.  Secondly, many of these animals were used by the pagan people they would encounter in the Promised Land in their worship of false Gods.  God did not want them to associate with them so he set them apart. 

Fast forward to today...some people still follow these dietary laws but they are no longer required.  The ceremonial law was fulfilled in Jesus and we now have freedom.  This does not mean that we can abuse our freedom, but we are not bound to all of the requirements of the Old Testament Law.  If it were so we would have many more things to do every day (like ceremonial washing, staying outside of the city until sunset if we are unclean, men not shaving beards, etc.)  Rest assured that eating pork, or lobster, or a cheeseburger (all would be unclean in the OT) is OK.  I hope this helps.


You may have had the same question and I hope this helps you as well.  Please feel free to email me your questions or better yet make a comment on the blog, I will answer it and others can benefit from the discussion.  You can always comment as “anonymous” if you would like. 

The New Testament
The book of Mark is filled with miracles and parables. It is no wonder many point new believers to this Gospel. Mark lays out the evidence that Jesus is the savior of the world and Jesus proves it by his miracles. Jesus also is a good teacher and as all good teachers he uses the power of stories. Stories teach in ways that other words cannot. Stories captivate our imaginations, they take us to places we have never been, they can help us understand complex ideas. Jesus knew the power of story and he used it. In our reading for the 20th we see that “He did not speak to them without a parable.” (Mark 4:34a ESV). What better way to teach to a bunch of uneducated people. I think at times we have lost the art of storytelling in our Churches. We do a good job of it in Sunday School but we often forget it with Adults. I feel that we all can benefit from a good story and what better story to start with than the story of Jesus Christ.

I also want to address one historical point today.  In the reading for Feb. 22nd we are introduced to King Herod.  We have not seen that name since Matthew’s Gospel.  What you need to know is that the Herod in Mark 6 is not the same one as in Matthew 2.  A bit of history here; in Matthew 2 we are talking about Herod the Great who was the king of Judea, Galilee and other areas at the time of Jesus’ birth.  He was the one who ordered all the baby boys killed to try to take care of the new king that was born.  When he dies his kingdom is split between his three sons, Herod Philip II, Archelaus, and Herod Antipas.  Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and is the one who puts John the Baptist to death and is mentioned in Mark 6 (And Matthew 14).  This is also the same Herod we will see in Luke 23 when Pilate sends Jesus to see him just before the crucifixion.  We will see two more Herods.  In Acts 12:1-24 we will see Herod Agrippa I who is a grandson of Herod the Great.  Herod Agrippa I is the one responsible for killing the apostle James, who put Peter into prison and was killed by an angel.  In Acts 25 and 26 we will see Herod Agrippa II who is the son of Herod Agrippa I.  This is the Herod who Paul has a trial with before he is sent to Rome.  If you didn’t follow all of that don’t worry.  Just remember that we are talking about one royal family with the same name. 

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 14, 2016

Lent is just another 40 days.  The “40 days” mantra has sprung an entire cottage industry.  While it is true that many “40 day” events took place in Scripture, Lent is just another 40 days.

Lent is after all, a season for us to draw near to God in repentance.  Repentance means that we will despair of ourselves, mourn our guilt that sent Jesus to the cross and seek to turn away from temptation and return to Him.  Confident that Christ died for us.   

Jesus death was both sacrificial and intentional.  Christ died to atone for sin.  He is the Lamb of God upon whom is cast our sin.  He is also the High Priest that meets our needs.   As both priest and sacrifice Jesus offers the perfect, holy gift (which is Himself) and then suffers the consequences of sin as if the guilt were His own, even though He is innocent of any transgression and we are the guilty party.

Lent is a season in which we are called again to cling to Jesus’ passion by faith certain that He appeased God’s wrath toward sin and through Him, God is favorably disposed toward sinners like us.  God isn’t a cosmic hot head.  He isn’t an intolerant, “over-bearing” being, nor does He have a pietistic exuberance that He enjoys condemning those caught transgressing.  God is holy and nothing, nor anyone who is, unholy can enter His presence; so the Holy one of God, Jesus Christ, becomes the Holy offering to God.  This holy sacrificial offering, Jesus, takes our unholy words, thoughts and acts upon Himself and in exchange grants us His righteousness, purity, His holiness through faith.

That is why Lent is just another 40 days.  That is, these days, are to be like all our days, or maybe all our days ought to be like these 40 days: Days of repentance and faith.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, February 15, 2016

The One Year Bible- February 15th

This week we will start the book of Mark, and right in the first chapter a verse jumps out at me, “News about him [Jesus] spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee” (Mark 1:28 NIV). Just think of the power of Jesus. Mark tells us “At once” everyone around knew about him. It reminds me of living in the Internet age. We can get information “at once” as soon as events happen. It is amazing how fast news travels. But what has happened to the good news about Jesus? Why is his fame not being spread everywhere? Well one reason is because the Devil doesn’t want it to. Satan is waging war against the good news of Jesus Christ and at times he seems to be winning. Satan is not happy that you are reading the Bible this year and he will work on your soft spots to get you behind and tempt you to give up. Don’t let his tricks get you down. You have the most powerful weapon in the fight, the Word of God. Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord and even though we may loose a few skirmishes here and there the ultimate victory is the Lord’s. Keep up the good work and fight the hard fight as you pick up the sword of the Spirit daily. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
The end of Exodus is just a foretaste of what is to come in the book of Leviticus. We will be taking a break from the narrative story for a while and read about many of the nuts and bolts of religious life of the people of Israel. We usually do not read these sections of scripture in Church so they may be brand new for you. Exodus ends with the building of the tabernacle and all the furnishings. This place (and later the temple) is the physical representation of Yahweh on earth. It is quite literally, God’s house. The building of this structure is important for many reasons. First of all, it gave the people something tangible in their relationship with God. Secondly, it was a place where God could interact with his people bringing mercy and forgiveness. Third, it sets up the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus referred to himself as a temple that would be destroyed and build again in three days. Jesus himself came down to be a physical representation of Yahweh on earth. In John 1:14 we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The word we translate at “made his dwelling” literally means that Jesus “tabernacled” among us. When Jesus came to earth he becomes another tabernacle, this one wrapped in flesh and poised to be the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Now the tabernacle had its own purpose in the days of the Israelites, and the temple as well for that matter, but they both point to a greater tabernacle and temple in the person of Jesus Christ.

One other thing I want to do this week is give you an introduction on the many different offerings that are mentioned in Exodus and especially in Leviticus.

Burnt Offering: Leviticus 1; 6: 8-13; 8: 18-21; 16: 24 The burnt offering was for unintentional sin. This was a blanket sacrifice for wrongdoing in general. The price was a male bull, lamb or goat. It had to be a perfect animal, without defect. The poor could offer a pigeon or dove. The penitent would present the animal at the entrance to the tent, which housed the altar and the tabernacle. After presenting the animal, the sinner would place his two hands on the animal and thus, it was accepted as an offering for sin. Probably this act transferred the sin from the human to the animal, which paid the penalty and was sacrificed. They would kill their own offering and then the priests took over. The priests bled the animal and cut it up ceremonially. The priests sprinkled the blood on the altar. Some of the internal organs and legs were washed. They then burned it whole on the altar. The aroma was said to be pleasing to God. The fire had to be continually burning and was never extinguished.

Grain Offering: Leviticus 2; 6: 14-23 Voluntary worship and thanks: A grain offering is just what it says. The grain had to ground into flour and could be put into loaves or cakes. Olive oil and incense were added to make a pleasing aroma when it burned. Yeast was forbidden for this offering. The cakes had to be salted. The offering was presented to the priests who burned a small portion of it on the altar. The rest was food for them and the Levites.

Fellowship Offering: Leviticus 3: 7: 11-34 A voluntary act of worship, thanks and fellowship: This is called a fellowship offering because the sacrifice is eaten communally instead of burned. Any clean animal, male or female could be offered. Bread, both with and without yeast, was also part of the offering. These were presented at the gate of the tent. The priests would sprinkle the blood on the four corners of the altar. The internal organs, the fat on them and the best part of the liver were burned as a food offering. The rest had to be eaten within two days or else it was burned also.

Sin Offering: Leviticus 4: 1-5: 13; 6: 24-30; 8: 14-17; 16: 3-22 Mandatory for specific sins: All of these offerings for sins are for unintentional transgressions. If you were guilty of premeditated infraction, these offerings didn’t help you. Your stature in the community determined the kind of sacrifice that you were required to offer. A young bull was required for the sin of a high priest or for a community sin. Leaders had to present a male goat. The common people could bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor were permitted to offer a dove or pigeon and the very poor could get away with a tenth of an ephah of fine flour. The bull’s fat was burned inside the camp but the rest was burned outside. Leviticus 5 records the sins for which a sin offering was required. These include unintentionally touching an animal that is ritually unclean, touching something unclean of human origin or making a careless promise.

Guilt Offering: (Repayment Offering) Leviticus 5:14 – 6:7; 7: 1-6 Mandatory for unintentional sin requiring restitution: This is a repayment offering for a sin committed against God, like holding back your tithe. A ram or lamb was brought to the tent to be sacrificed. The debt would have to be paid plus an additional twenty percent. These were the offerings outlined in the first seven chapters of Leviticus. God could forgive mistakes but intentional sins were another matter.

The New Testament
At the beginning of last week we saw the familiar words of institution as Jesus gives his disciples communion for the first time. Remember that meals were very important for the Jews and the connection that this new meal of remembrance first occurred during Passover is by no means a coincidence. Remember that Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and this new covenant made in blood would ring a bell with all his readers. This would cut to the heart of any Jew, hearing about this because blood equals life. It is not in our culture to think of that. In fact when people outside of the Christian faith hear about being washed in the blood of the lamb, they get turned off from Christianity. I guess my point here is we need to watch how we word some things. To a Jewish audience, Matthew does the culturally relevant thing; when we share the message of Jesus we need to be careful not to offend or even gross out someone when talking about blood.

I want to say a few words about the Great commission this week and I hope not to loose you when I start talking about Greek grammar. First of all every time we translate the Bible from its original languages we loose something. The phrase “Lost in translation” is really true. At times when we translate into English we then, without thinking place certain rules and meaning based on sentence structure and word order. Unfortunately many people, myself included, have misinterpreted portions of scripture because of our cultural bias toward English. In reading the Great Commission in English it seems to be that Jesus is giving us a command (called an imperative) in the word “go”, but in the Greek this word is an adverbial participle, not an imperative. What is an adverbial participle? The action described by an adverbial participle is primarily directed toward the verb. This kind of participle is usually translated with an adverbial phrase. “While studying for his Greek final...” or “While going through the world...”. So we see in Matthew 28 an interesting grammatical sentence that if translated properly is very poor English. A very literal interpretation would be, “As you are going, disciple all the nations, by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things...” The only imperative in the Great Commission is to disciple others—literally to make them learners. How do we do it? Well, Jesus tells us, we are to baptize and teach. Again these words are not imperatives but the natural flow of what will occur by discipling others. Don’t even get me started on the NIVs use of the word “obey”. What a poor translation that is. We are to observe the things of Jesus through his word and actions and they serve as a guide. They are descriptive on how we are to live not prescriptive. I could go on about this one but we don’t have time here.

One quick thing about the book of Mark. You will see the extensive use of the word “immediately” (or similar phrases such as “at once”, they are usually the same word in the Greek). This is a book of action. It hits the ground running and never stops. It is a good book to read as we slug through Leviticus. It will give us some balance to our readings for the next couple of weeks.

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