Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, July 28, 2008

When God Tore His Robe?

Why do people tear their robes in the Bible?

In the Jewish world, when a man hears blasphemy, he is supposed to tear his robes. You see this in the actions of the high priest during the trial of Jesus who believed He was hearing blasphemy from Jesus when He spoke of returning in power.

But that’s not the only reason a Jewish man would tear his robes. In Job, when he heard the barrage of news of his children’s deaths, Job tore his robes in grief. Typically, at least as I imagine it and have seen it depicted, the man would grab the top of his robe, the collar area, where his head sticks through, and pull, thus tearing the fabric and breaking the pattern of woven cloth. Eventually, the whole thing would fall apart, the tear would worsen.

When a man tore his robe it was to demonstrate or protest or convey the magnitude and impact of what has just happened before them. It was symbolic—his life would never be the same because he could never wear that particular clothing again—it would be forever ruined, a testimony to that moment, and was then useless for its intended design.

Now, I’m playing with an idea that I haven’t even quite worked out with. It’s the idea that there is a moment when figuratively speaking, God tore His robes. And it’s a new take on a passage that is very familiar with us and may be very ingrained into our thinking.

That moment is the tearing of the veil from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus’ death. I understand the traditional way of looking at this passage and I love it. I even wrote a song about it. The idea that through the death of Christ a way was made into the Holy of Holies—the veil that separates us from God is removed from top to bottom, by His hand. Our sin is atoned for and so we are granted access to the Almighty, most Holy God of the Universe.

What I’m proposing here shouldn’t take away from that understanding at all. It’s just adding a different angle to it. Figuratively speaking—the veil in the temple was a covering, a barrier protecting the holiness of God’s presence, preventing eyes from seeing what was not meant to be seen.

The veil was torn from top to bottom, as if, the hands of God had grabbed the top and pulled—ripping the fabric to the bottom. It was now useless for that purpose. The veil could never be used again.

What would God have seen in that moment that would have caused Him to “tear His robe”? A great tragedy and loss—the death of His One and Only Son. Even though it was the Father’s will to crush Him, even though it was pleasing to lay the sins of the world upon Jesus because it purchased our redemption—it was still a great and painful moment. The weight of sin, the forsakenness of Jesus, the wrath of God poured out on One who is Innocent and undeserving. Upon hearing the death of His Son, God tore His robe—the veil was torn from top to bottom never to be used again.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Always Hope--Sunday's Coming

Today I took my own jump off the High Dive--my son helped give me courage. This is a troubling day for my family and for University Baptist Church. We all need prayer. But we have hope:

Sunday's Coming

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

12 Years of Bleeding, 12 Years of Living-- Mark :24-34

The previous sermon from Mark 5:24-34 where the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years was a blessing to study. God showed me some things I had not noticed before, applying them in ways I had not seen.

There was one thing that I was not willing to put in the sermon. It’s because it’s highly speculative and one of those, “I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in heaven that….” kind of moments. I was struck by Mark’s emphasis of numbers in the passage. The woman had been bleeding for 12 years, the daughter was alive for 12 years. That could easily be to emphasize to Jairus, Jesus’ power.

Again, what I’ll be saying is highly speculative and is likely to be wrong (i.e. don’t build a theology on it), but we serve a God who surprises us sometimes with His connections.

In 5:40, Jesus kicked out the mourners and took the father (Jairus) and the girl’s mother into the room where her body was. I addressed the story of Jairus and his daughter on Father’s Day. I had always assumed and read the account as if the girl’s mother was just waiting at home for Jairus to return with Jesus. Of course, she wouldn’t want to leave the girl’s side. That is the likely explanation—sometimes, simpler is better.

However, I was struck by the fact that the woman had been suffering her bleeding for 12 years and the little girl was 12 years old. What if, the bleeding woman was the girl’s mother and Jairus’ wife, who had complications from delivery that never fully healed?

Mark does not call her as such and most of the descriptions of her describe her as if she is cut off and depending on her own resources; without the protection of a husband. But I had thought that if she had been married before the bleeding started, that the husband may have put her out. Someone in Jairus’ position may have felt even more pressure to do so as a leader in the synagogue. How could he be such a leader if everything his wife touched was unclean, rendering him unclean?

So her coming to Jesus and experiencing healing, even going in peace and wholeness would have restored her to the community. Where could she go to? What if it also restored her to her husband and just follow him home to their daughter? What if in these healings, Jesus was restoring the life of the whole family? Raising not only a daughter back from the dead, but a marriage?

It was a touching thought, totally speculative, but one of those things that I want to ask about when I get there.

What would this add to our understanding of the passage? I can't say for sure. Why would it be hidden and concealed if true? I don't know that either. Like I said, just a thought that came to me that made me say, "hmmmm".

There’s a couple of others, like the location of the ram caught in the thicket, but if you want to know about that one, you’ll have to ask!

Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life