Apostle Peter | Matthew 14:28-31
9:40 And some of the Pharisees which
were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but
now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
These verses summarize the attitude of Jesus
towards the Pharisees and the Mosaic
Law. He claims that they are perfectly aware they are interpreting the
Mosaic Law to their personal convenience and not following the way God's
expects us to. This theme is deeply related to others I touched in other occasions
about the attitude of the modern State of Israel; this attitude is what
brought the atrocities we saw in Gaza in January 2009.
I would like to speak
today about Jesus teachings about the Mosaic Law.
In other occasions we saw that these laws can be divided in three groups:
ceremonial, dietetic and moral. We will see one example of each, see what is done
in the modern State of Israel and what Jesus taught us.
most obvious example of the ceremonial laws is the one related to the Sabbath:
20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it
thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy
manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that
is within thy gates:
20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all
that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed
the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
In the modern State of Israel most shops are closed
by state law during that day. Strangely enough, ultra-orthodox Jews communities - the modern
successors of the Pharisees - connect neighboring communities with threads. They
explain the law saying that although walking is a type of work, it is permitted to
walk the "length of a thread." Sometimes the thread is several kilometers long
and allows them visiting friends on Saturdays. That's a perfect example
of an interested, biased interpretation of the original text.
Jesus answer was clear:
12:1 At that time Jesus went on
the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred,
and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.
12:2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy
disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he
was an hungred, and they that were with him;
12:4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread,
which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with
him, but only for the priests?
12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the
priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the
12:7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not
sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
analyzing, let's look at the dietetic laws. Many exist, I chose this one:
17:10 And whatsoever man there
be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you,
that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that
soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to
you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the
blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
17:12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you
shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you
17:13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the
strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast
or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof,
and cover it with dust.
17:14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life
thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the
blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood
thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
text; in the modern State of Israel that means that all the meat
supermarkets and Jewish owned shops is "kosher," that means the poor
beast was killed in a way that its corpse is left without blood. Yet
my fork pierced the cooked meat, invariably a drop or two of blood
appear. There is no technical way of separating all the blood from the
This is yet another example of law that cannot be fulfilled, unless we
vegetarians. The purpose of these laws is to humble us and to bring us
recognition that there is nothing we can do for our redemption, except
having Faith in His Grace. As Apostle Paul taught:
7:7 What shall we say then? Is the
law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I
had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
What about the moral laws?
19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor
bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Here, Jesus reaction is different:
22:34 But when the Pharisees had
heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered
22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question,
tempting him, and saying,
22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
And here, also the reaction of the State of Israel
is different. There is nothing so cheap there as Palestinian blood; their neighbors life. We saw the
testimonies of assassin-soldiers given at Beit Oranim on the
newspapers. Grandmother, mothers, and children were killed by snipers. A mother and
her two children were killed in such a way. What was the order? Did the mother
see her children killed and then she was killed, or was it the other way
around? Is that the behavior of proper soldiers? Why aren’t they punished? Why
isn’t the tractor driver that killed Rachel Corrie brought to court? (His
identity is known, no soldier can move a vehicle in the IDF without a special
they cheat themselves on the ceremonial and dietetic laws, nobody
cares. However, cheating on the moral laws leads to the violation of human
laws and to the suffering and death of many people.
is no error here, they act as the spiritual blinds we saw at the
beginning in John 9:40-41. They know what they are doing. And Jesus answer?
23:1 Then spake Jesus to the
multitude, and to his disciples,
23:2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and
do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them
on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of
23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad
their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the
23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi,
23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ;
and all ye are brethren.
23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your
Father, which is in heaven.
23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that
shall humble himself shall be exalted.
23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut
up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves,
neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour
widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall
receive the greater damnation.
23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass
sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him
twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
23:16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear
by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of
the temple, he is a debtor!
23:17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the
temple that sanctifieth the gold?
23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but
whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
23:19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the
altar that sanctifieth the gift?
23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by
all things thereon.
23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him
that dwelleth therein.
23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God,
and by him that sitteth thereon.
23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe
of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of
the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and
not to leave the other undone.
23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make
clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are
full of extortion and excess.
23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup
and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like
unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are
within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within
ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build
the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not
have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the
children of them which killed the prophets.
23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the
damnation of hell?
23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and
scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them
shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to
23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the
earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son
of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this
23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and
stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her
wings, and ye would not!
23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall
say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
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