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September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur, rebirth, and a late night conversation...

Last night I was privileged to attend the evening Yom Kippur service at my rabbi friend's temple. Even as a pastor I didn't have much more understanding about the "high holidays" than the average "gentile" in the US. My friend described it from a clergy perspective by saying "it's like Easter or Christmas for Christians - when people who don't attend church regularly attend for these services." The first is Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year. It's the day that the Jews believe the world was created on. Then there are 10 days of contemplation ("Aseres Yemay Teshuvah"), much like the time when one waits for his trial before the judge. Men are encouraged in this period to reflect, repent, and "seek God when He is to be found" (Isaiah 55:6).Yom Kippur, "the Day of Atonement" (Leviticus 16:30), is not only the day of forgiveness, but of restoration. Well, that's some basic background.

I didn't know what to expect, but I went to the service anticipating it to be a little like Good Friday; contemplative, reflective, somber. In a sense, it was and the service did include some of those elements. But it was also like Easter - celebrative, thankful, and light. The point of my friend's message was that Yom Kippur provides each the opportunity to once again discover the beauty around us and in doing so, finding what is beautiful that God has placed in us. But the theme that stuck with me from the evening, in the songs, the prayers, seemingly the the whole evening was about rebirth...hmmm.

On my way home this idea of rebirth kept tumbling around in my head. It bounced off a memory of an opportunity I had to interact with rock star Marilyn Manson who once described a recent reinvention of his image/music was "like being reborn." Then I remembered a conversation Jesus had with a religious man named Nicodemus late one night about the same topic.

Recently I started looking into the Talmud and started to learn about Rabbinical thought. Much of what Jesus taught has a foundation in this way of thinking, but then He flips it and it becomes something different, something that opens up one's understanding. With the topic of this late night discussion with the Pharisee being re-birth, or being "born again," I wonder...it's just my own speculation, but I wonder if they were having this discussion around the time of the Yom Kippur holy-day. This same religious leader later protests Jesus' trial. I wonder if he had a premonition that this was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world...He who imparts justice and imputes righteousness, He who is our advocate and who has made atonement possible as the propitiation for our sin.

I haven't even scratched the surface of this topic. I did want to take a quick moment to record my thoughts. I'm also interested in doing a little more study on the subject. Mostly, I hope to have some evening conversations with my friend.

October 11, 2010

Supreme Court Justice Hamilton

John 8:15 (NKJV)
You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

OBSERVATION
The context for this passage is extremely interesting. Jesus has snuck up to Jerusalem for Sukkot. And after making a public announcement about who He is (7:37-38; 8:12). And now he's teaching in the temple on Simchat Torah (8:2) and we have the story of the woman caught in adultery. According to v4, it appears they have the required amount of witnesses to confirm her sin and pronounce judgment. Instead, her accusers depart, and Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you" (v11). At this point the Pharisees challenge Jesus on the authority of his "witness" - the corroboration required by an additional party. While presenting his defense, Jesus makes this interesting statement in v15.

APPLICATION
Immediately I'm brought back to the words God spoke to Samuel while looking at Jesse's sons for the next King of Israel: "Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). This woman, seemingly caught in the act with all the necessary evidence to condemn her, Jesus gets off. It again demonstrated the fallibility of my motives for and abilty to render accurate judgement.

Jesus defended this woman in a manner that causes her accusers to walk away. It as if they were forced to judge themselves before they would have the authority to render judgment. It's no wonder we're admonished by Christ:
"“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

We understand this concept. But what did Jesus mean when He said He didn't judge anyone? First we need to understand Jesus' purpose in coming. He said "I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 12:47). He came to save. But the words He spoke form the basis for which the Father will judge. And it's those words we can use to judge ourselves. The Holy Spirit bears witness with our own soul as the authority to evaluate our own lives. Yet often I'd rather join forces with others to pronounce judgment on another persons visible transgressions. If I truly desire to be like Christ, it's time for me to take off my robe, come off the bench, relinquish my gavel, and turn my efforts to obedience and mercy.

PRAYER
Lord, thank you for not condemning me. Thanks you for the sweet words, "go and sin no more." Help me not to live so judgmentally of those around me and walk in the freedom that comes from knowing you.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Forgiveness category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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