The Shocking Truth about The Passover Lamb (Easter Series Part 4)

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 7.36.32 AMIf I lived in Jesus day, I would have picked this little guy —–> to be my lamb. He is perfect. I would name him Buttercup.

He would eat with my family. He would sleep at the foot of our beds. My children would play with him. He would be treated like a beloved pet.

Then, we would kill him and eat him.

Wait… WHAAAT?!

For the very first Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded by God to choose a perfect lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nissan. They kept it for 4 days, then killed it.

Each family knew their Passover lamb.  It had to be perfect, without defect.  Each chosen lamb was kept in the home to make sure nothing happened to it.

This practice continued for hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s all right there in Exodus 12:3-8. See for yourself:

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lambfor his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. (NIV)

In Jesus day, the people would treat their lamb as we would a family pet. In those four days, the family would become attached to their lamb. When it was time to slaughter the animal, each person would feel the loss.

Killing the lamb was personal.
It was their lamb.
They loved him.

In Egypt, the lamb had to die so they could live.
Do you see a parallel?

Curly Chips and Cleansing the Temple (Easter Series Part 3)

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 7.58.07 PMWhen I was young, my brother convinced me flat potato chips were better to eat than the doubled over, crunchy, curled-up awesome kind.

Big Brothers can be so mean.

Because I trusted him, I agreed. He was older, and obviously knew more about the vast potato chip world that I.

The deal was, every time I found one of the lacking potato chips (the doubled over, crunchy, awesome ones) I would pull it out and save it for him so we could trade. He explained with a sigh since he loved me he would eat the lesser appealing ones and give me the pretty flat ones.

I think I’m still bitter about it.

I didn’t figure out the truth until five years ago.

Siblings didn’t invent unfair trade, although we may have perfected it. Uneven deals have been made since Jacob and Esau. And for the record, Jesus doesn’t like unfair trading either.

My last blog showed the cleansing of the Temple was not a temper tantrum by Jesus. He may have been angry, but he wasn’t out of control. He was cleaning house, and preparing the temple for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

To catch you up, here is the story again: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.”

(Matthew 21: 12-16)

The Bible says Jesus quoted scripture after he overturned tables. The money changers heard him. The animal dealers heard him. And you know the chief priests ran over during the ruckus and heard him too.

Jesus is referring to Isaiah 56:7. However, in context of the chapter, we learn even more. Isaiah 56:1 says, “Be just and fair to all. Do what is good, for I am coming soon to rescue you and to display my righteousness among you”.

The money-changers weren’t being just or fair. And Jesus was about to display the ultimate righteousness on the cross. Remember, the crowd had just been yelling Hosanna (meaning save or deliver) in honor of Jesus. He was indeed about to rescue, just not the way the people were expecting.

The salesmen would cheat people with an unfair exchange rate.  They had a monopoly on the temple money. And contrary to what you have been taught, changing money in the temple wasn’t the problem.

It was HOW they were changing it that was the issue.

The money had to be changed from Roman (or other) currency to Jewish currency for it to be allowed in the temple at all.
Roman coins were a  “graven image” because they had a picture of Caesar on them.
The Jews saw this as an idol.  Idols were not allowed in the temple.

Coins from other lands could have been made with impure metals.
This also was unacceptable to God for worship, as the temple coins had to be of pure metal.
Had there been a fair exchange rate of these items, things would have been fine.

But it wasn’t.
The sellers were cheating.

Jesus’ point continues in Isaiah 56:6-7, “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

The money-changers and animal dealers were taking up valuable space in the Court of the Gentiles. It was the only place in the temple Gentiles were allowed to worship.

I imagine it smelled like animals. It was loud. The site was more barn-like than church-like. And the “business men” were lying, stealing, and taking advantage of everyone.

The atmosphere wasn’t in line for a “holy” place of worship.

The temple had been altered from a House of Prayer for all nations to a “Den of Robbers”.

Jeremiah 7:8-11 says this: But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. ‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury,burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!’ declares the Lord.”

What they were doing was detestable. It showed no regard for God, or His people.

When Jesus cleansed the temple, he made his actions and reasoning known. The story concludes with the chief priests and scribes asking Jesus if he was going to put up with people praising him for being the Messiah.

Jesus, without missing a beat, basically says Yep boys… what they are saying is true.

He quotes Psalm 8:1-2 which says, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

And that was Jesus getting the last word that day.

Unfortunately, some use today’s main passage as a rally cry against youth car washes or church fundraisers. That is not the point… at all.

Our body is the temple of God.  We are to seek after Him with all our hearts.

If there is something in your temple that needs to be tipped over, trashed, or cleaned up, allow God to take over that area of your life.

We are to love God, and love others. Treating others fairly is one way we show our love for God. It puts others first, ourselves second. Forgetting whom God made us to be is dangerous. Trading integrity for wealth, power, or importance is useless and empty.

So don’t forget what you are created for.  Or who you were created to be.

Why Jesus REALLY Cleansed the Temple… (Easter Series Part 2)

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 4.19.46 PM“Honey, when you’re house looks like this you really should close the blinds”.

This quote is from my laughing sweet southern momma when she stopped by unexpectedly.  She knew I had been dealing with a sick kid, a full morning at the doctor, and an afternoon working from home.

Pillows were everywhere. Socks, magazines, pens, pencils, various glassware, random papers, mail, several remotes, and a plate of half eaten baked potato were all covering what I’m pretty sure was my coffee table.

Normally I like a clean house. Things had just gotten way out of hand.

I think Jesus liked clean houses, too. Can you imagine how he felt when he walked into the Temple? Animals, vendors, and beady-eyed cheating money changers were filling the Court of the Gentiles in his father’s house.

Things had gotten out of hand there, too.

Before we go any further, you need to understand Jesus was not in an uncontrollable rage. He had not let anger get the best of him.

Jesus was cleaning.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven day feast that begins the day after Passover. It is a reminder of God delivering the Jewish people from Egypt. Because they fled Egypt in the middle of the night, there was no time for their bread to rise.

Exodus 13:7 explains what is expected from the people. “Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.

In preparation of this seven-day remembrance, the Jewish people start a week early by cleaning every room of their house. No leaven is allowed in their “borders”.

In homes, they searched for crumbs under furniture, and scrub rooms from top to bottom. They turn pockets inside out and washed all their clothing. Window sills, behind bookcases – nothing was (or is today) left untouched.

Why would they go to so much trouble?

Leaven symbolizes sin.

In Hebrew, Leaven is known as Hametz, which literally means sour. Leaven produces fermentation. Not only is eating leaven during the feast forbidden, having it anywhere in your house is seen as breaking this command.

Once added to flour, leaven quickly permeates the dough. It brings souring that is a first stage of decay. Once the leaven is in the dough, it cannot be separated from it again.

Avoiding leaven reminds the people to avoid sin, because sin decays our lives. Even a small evil thought or intention can grow, thus changing a person’s character. Cleaning is a tangible reminder to inspect ones life for anything that does not need to be there.

Jesus went into his Father’s house and “cleaned out” the leaven (sin) that was so rampant. The Jews of the day would have connected this act immediately with the cleaning preparation time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Here is the passage that tells us what happened that day: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”  (Matthew 21: 12-16)

Notice Jesus didn’t tip everything over and storm out.

He STAYED.
He healed.
He even lingered long enough for children to really make the temple leaders angry.

When they said Hosanna, they were implying that Jesus was going to deliver them.
When they said the Son of David, they were calling him King of the Jews.
And instead of being excited that the King of the Jews would deliver them into righteousness, the leaders became indignant out of jealousy.

Instead of cleansing their hearts from pride and selfishness, they allowed the “leaven” in their lives to grow.

And there’s even more to this story in my next entry…

4 Things you Don’t Know about the Triumphant Entry

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.07.13 AMWe take for granted the little headliners in our Bible. You know what I’m talking about. The “Jesus turns water into Wine” or “The Wise Men” at the top of a paragraph or two. It helps us find what we are looking for in a jiffy.

You know those weren’t in the original text, right?

They were added hundreds, and even thousands, of years later when the Bible was getting translated into English, and other languages. What can we say, we like our shortcuts.

It’s weird we call Jesus’ last entry into Jerusalem “The Triumphant Entry”. The gospel writers never called it that. Neither did the disciples. I have yet to see a quote from Jesus saying, “I remember at the triumphal entry when…”

Somehow what happened got lost in translation. Literally.

#1. The people were confused as to who Jesus was. Some people believed Jesus was the Son of God. But most people saw him as an amazing prophet who healed people. Many thought he was the Messiah, but I mean that in the Jewish sense and not the Christian one.

The word Messiah means “the anointed one”. In Judaism, it refers to one who is anointed as an earthly King. The Jews were and are looking for a Messiah that is a great human leader, like David. Not a heavenly leader who is the Son of God.

The Messiah also was the title for leaders of the zealots. They were people who were trying to overthrow the Roman government so Israel could have control again. There were other “Messiah’s” before Jesus. To most people, Jesus the Messiah coming to town meant Jesus the political prophet was coming to deliver them from Roman oppression.

#2. People waving palm branches at Jesus was a statement. Palm branches were a symbol of justice and political freedom for the Jewish people. Waving them for a Jewish leader was a way to show defiance to Rome in a non-violent way. It was a nanny nanny boo-boo to all the Roaming Romans who were guarding the crowds. And I guarantee they weren’t happy about it.

#3 Look at what Hosanna means. The crowds yelled it, and it means “Save now” or “Deliverance”. The people yelling these things weren’t making a religious statement of deliverance from sin, even though they were quoting Psalm 118.

They were cheering for a “new Solomon”. A national king. The throne Jesus was about to ascend to used the cross as his royal step stool. They had no idea.

The people loved their temple and their God. They didn’t need deliverance from sin because the sacrificial system already did that for them. In essence, most of the people were saying,  “Here comes deliverance from the Romans”. Jesus was going to be their political powerhouse.

How do we know this?  They were waving organic political signs and shouting deliverance to their Messiah as a rally cry.  They even said Blessed is the King of Israel.

I bet the Romans loved that one.
And the religious leaders.

#4 Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the King riding in on a donkey. But they didn’t see it as the King of their lives, just the king of their region.

John 12:15 quotes Zechariah 9:9 and says: Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (NIV)

Jesus fulfilled this Messianic prophecy when he came just as it is written. This is a great example of the phrase “You only see what you are looking for”. The Jews were looking for an earthly King to make them into a great nation.

So, the Triumphal Entry of Jesus, who saves us from sin and death, wasn’t exactly… triumphant.

No one knew the Lamb of God was coming to be sacrificed.
No one understood who Jesus was.

When they called Jesus the King of Israel, they meant a political king, rather than King of their souls.

When they cried, “Deliver us”, they meant for their nation, and their “now”.

When they waved palms of justice, it was in defiance of oppression, not a celebration of freedom from the bondage of sin.

When murmurs of “the Messiah” went through the crowd, God’s anointed and holy son wasn’t even on their radar.

Now that you’ve got this information, what do you do with it?
Buck up little camper. They didn’t know who Jesus really was, but I hope you do.

Celebrate God incarnate. The Son of God came to show us how to love and how to live. He beat sin and death so we can live with him forever when we believe.

Make your entry into this Easter season triumphant.

Realize what it is all about. Contemplate it. Breathe it in.
See Jesus for who he is in the Bible, and in your life.

And above all… please… make sure you get it.

Some Serious Coinage

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 11.29.15 AMThe tax deadline for Americans is April 15th. I know no one likes to talk about taxes, but we are looking at them from a Biblical perspective.

That makes it ALL better, doesn’t it.

In Matthew chapter 22, some religious leaders sent their cronies to ask Jesus what he thought about paying Roman taxes.

If Jesus answered to pay Caesar, he would be called a traitor. Any Jew who was pro-Rome was seen as a collaborator for the very government that was oppressing them. This would have easily turned the people against him.

If Jesus said not to pay taxes, they could report him to the Romans where he would be labeled a rebel.

Rebels were punished by death.

So, the Pharisees sent their disciples along with some Herod loyalists to try and trap Jesus. They asked the question. Here we see Jesus’ response, after he calls them hypocrites for trying to trap him…

Jesus said, “Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”  “Caesar’s,” they replied.  Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. (NIV)

Caesar asserted his authority over conquered nations in every way possible. He would destroy their financial system and incorporate the country under Roman currency. Thus, they were expected to pay Roman taxes. One of the taxes was one denarius a year (a days wage) per person.

This bothered the Jewish people a great deal for many reasons. The most prominent was the coins had Caesar’s face engraved on them.

This was repulsive to the Jewish people because they considered the coins a “graven image”.

Graven images were not allowed in the temple. They were against God’s commands. People worshipped graven images then, as some do today. But today people aren’t as aware they are doing it.

When the leaders asked Jesus the tax question while in the temple, they had a coin available to show him.  This alone shows us the twisted hearts of the questioners. And the fact that they had been… busted.

They had forgotten to fear God and instead were clinging to graven things.

In that day, everything under Caesar’s rule was considered his. Coins had his face on them. There were temples where people were expected to go, toss a coin in and say “Caesar is Lord”.

But the Jewish people knew everything was not Caesar’s, but God’s.
Jesus was well aware of the true pecking order, even if Caesar and the Romans were not.

When Jesus said give Caesar his due, he was saying respect those in power. This concept is echoed by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Jesus was not about overthrowing the government as some suspected.

But then he also said give to God what is His.

And God has claim to everything.
He created the earth, moon, stars, and space.
He created power structures, families, and time.
He created our minds, bodies, spirits, and personalities.

We are created in His image. That is what defines us. Not some cheap engraved something that can de destroyed, or worse, destroy us when our priorities get out of whack.

So be sure to pay your taxes to the government.
But more importantly, remember in whose image you were made. And make sure you give to God all that is His.

To learn more about this passage, go to http://jcstudies.com/resourceDetail.cfm?productId=234&quicksearch=true&searchForm=In%20Whos

Did Jesus Ever Eat a Dog?

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.07.38 AM

If I said, “Let’s go catch a show and eat some dogs”, you would understand what I was saying. A thousand years from now, someone might read that and think, How does one “catch a show”, and oh-my-word they ate a dog!!!

Matthew 6:22-23 says, The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good,your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

The same principle applies to this scripture. We take Matthew 6 and apply it to being careful what we watch, or read, or view on the internet. And although be careful little eyes what you see is a great life lesson, it is not what this scripture is talking about.

This verse uses Hebrew idioms everyone knew in Jesus’ day.

If someone had a good eye it meant they were generous.
Having a bad eye meant someone was selfish.

It says when a person is generous their whole body is filled with light.  In Hebrew, the whole body means your whole person. Not just your physical body, it’s your spirit – who you are.

When you are generous, your spirit lives in the light. Your spirit is seen, exposed. It is good, and Godly.

When a person has a bad eye, they are selfish. As a result, their spirit is full of darkness. They are not being Godly because they are not thinking of others.

You could paraphrase the first verse like this: How you give to others shows who you are. If you are generous, you are Godly. If you are selfish, you are not Godly.

Brutal, right?
Let’s do the same thing with the next verse.

It says, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness. Using what we have learned about this verse, it could be paraphrased as…

If the good you do comes out of a selfish spirit, then your selfishness is worse than you realize.

We need to be sure the good we do is not for our benefit. We should never give out of manipulation or a desire for power. That is not true generosity. It is selfishness.

And selfish generosity isn’t generosity at all.

To read more about this verse, see http://www.studylight.org/ls/ds/index.cgi?a=505

He Calls me Fred

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 9.22.15 PMMatthew 11:28-30 says, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and  humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Have you ever sung the wrong words to a song and not known it? When my son was four, I heard him singing “Friend of God”. His version went like this:

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of Ga-aahd
I am a friend of God
He calls me Fred.

Fred!!!
The real lyric there is friend. He calls me friend.

My son thought he knew the song, but he had gotten it wrong. His version really didn’t even make sense. Why would God call everyone Fred?

We’ve done this with certain scriptures. We put in a meaning of what we think it is, or what we’ve heard it might mean and run with it.

The above verse is quoted a lot. For years I heard people explain the word yoke as a yoke for Oxen. But when you read it in context, it doesn’t make sense. The previous verse said Jesus was going to give us rest. He was going to take our burdens. Why would he load us down if he had just freed us up?

In Jesus’ day, a rabbi’s teaching was called his yoke.

Everyone in Jesus’ day who heard this knew exactly what he was saying. We however, have lost the meaning in translation. We don’t have a name for what people teach. They are just… teachings.

Jesus was a rabbi. His teaching, or yoke, was a line of thought and belief about the law and the scriptures. These yokes had most things in common, but could vary, like our denominations today. Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians all believe in the Bible, each just defines a few things differently.

Following Christ is never a burden.  It does however bring responsibility in the way we should live. When we follow his yoke in our lives, we love God and love others. We will be obedient, and forgiving. We will be humble, and gentle and bear with one another in love.

When we apply Jesus’ teaching and worldview to our lives, we are his followers. A yoke is not something only to be found in your heart. If it is not lived out, it isn’t really a yoke at all.

It’s just something you heard and thought was really cool.

 

What’s in a Name?

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 12.32.40 PMPoor John Travolta.

The press is hounding him for screwing up Idina Menzel’s name. If you missed it, he was an Oscar presenter Sunday night. His only job was to introduce Idina before she sang “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen. But the press can’t let it go. It’s just too cool to forget.

John pronounced her name wrong. I mean, WAY wrong. He called her Adele Dazeem. In his defense, he did add a Middle Eastern accent to it.

Now you can go to various sites on the web and “John Travolta-ize” your name. Not that I would ever encourage such behavior, but… here’s a link:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/low_concept/2014/03/john_travolta_called_idina_menzel_adele_dazeem_what_s_your_travolta_name.html

Just as Bill Shakespeare asked “What’s in a Name” the answer is actually… kind of a lot.

Psalm 113:3 says, From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.

We know the Bible has all kinds of names for God. I AM, Adonai, Alpha and Omega, the list goes on. But did you know in Hebrew when it says “the name of the Lord” the word for name by itself gives honor?

The Hebrew meaning of name used here holds the idea of a definite and conspicuous position. It’s kind of like a title to “of the Lord”. It is descriptive, implying honor, authority, and character. The psalmist could have just said the Lord is to be praised. But instead, he wanted to stress the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Why?

God’s name means something. It is power, truth, and peace. All the names of God represent his character, which is perfect, eternal, and unchanging.

The Bible records people being healed in Jesus name.
Praying in the name of the Jesus brings power.
Our salvation comes through confessing Jesus’ name.

The mere mention of God’s name can change lives. Many Christians today in Israel will write G-d, rather than God, out of holiness and respect. This way they know they won’t profane His name.

They know we need to guard the name of the Lord. It should be revered and held high. It should never be used flippantly or as an exclamation.

We need to remember God is so great, even his name is holy.

To learn more about this, go to Biblehub.com.

Invisible Obedience

When my daughter was three, she had an imaginary friend named Galleria. Galleria lived in a stick house and had a cat that would jump out of the car whenever we were in a hurry.

Stupid cat.

Galleria was awesome, but that cat had a mind of its own. Several times the world had to stop so we could find the cat. The problem was the cat wouldn’t listen to anyone. We couldn’t just call for the cat, we had to go and get it.

The invisible,
imaginary,
cat.

My daughter would explain it wasn’t a bad cat, it just couldn’t hear well.

In our culture, hearing and obeying are disconnected. A person can hear, but not obey what they heard. In ancient Hebrew culture, it was very different.

To hear was to obey.

The Hebrew word shema can be translated as both.  When we read obey in the Old Testament, it usually comes from Shema. In other places, it is translated as hear.  The meaning however, is the same.

A great example of this is Exodus 24:7. The people are responding to Moses after he read God’s covenant with them. Their reply to Moses was “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey”. Literally in Hebrew, this is written “All that God had said we will do and we will hear”.

When you see the word “hear” in scripture, don’t read it as hearing with your ears. Read it as hearing with your heart like you are going to do something about it.

This idea helps us respond from deep within ourselves. When we hear something in our head it can go in one ear and out the other. Not so when our soul has been touched by the finger of God.

Hearing with your heart propels a person to sincere obedience. It’s not shallow, or forced by peer pressure, pride, or expectation. There is no underlying sigh of, “I need to do this” or “I guess it’s the right thing”. Sincere obedience is an intimate, inner response to the living God.

Sadly, some views of Christian obedience can be compared to Galleria’s cat. It’s fun, free, and is really only bothersome when we have to do something about it.

But sincere obedience is found in relationship with the one, true God. In that relationship we listen and respond out of love. It costs us something, but it is worth it

…because it is real.

To learn more about the meaning of the word Shema, check out the book “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus” by Lois Tverburg.

Peace, Love, and Matt Lauer

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 10.11.02 PMI don’t know when it happened. The word Peace has developed into an image.

It’s a brand of sorts, defining people, giving the bearers something to yell as they drive away from friends after a fun weekend, or a word for television when they are behind Matt Lauer and have already said hi to their mom.

Peace is one of the few words to have its own symbol. That image is found on cheap jewelry, pajamas, lunch boxes, air brushed t-shirts, and front bumper license plates. Peace even has its own hand gesture. My favorite use by the masses is pairing it with what I lovingly call, the duck face.

This solidifies my point our translation of peace has thrust the original meaning into oblivion.

Folks, that’s tragic.

The best translation for peace from Hebrew is more than an emotion, which is how I often hear it described. The Hebrew word is Shalom. It means “complete wholeness”. Did you get that?

COMPLETE.

WHOLE.

Shalom is the thought of total wellness. A person’s emotional, spiritual, and physical health, safety, and every other aspect of life all rolled into a tight package.

Numbers 6:24-26 says May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you His Shalom. This is a blessing asking God to supply for a person’s need in every area of his or her life. It’s much more than a feeling, and infinitely better than an environmental calm.

When Jesus says Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27) he is telling the disciples he is leaving them complete and whole. To see what I mean, read the above verse and replace the word peace with complete wholeness.

It packs a punch, doesn’t it?

This was an important message at an important time. Jesus said this literally hours before his arrest, leaving his disciples feeling confused, scared, and alone. They needed these words and this message, because it was going to be okay. Jesus had left them complete, and whole, even though they didn’t feel that way.

He came so you can have complete wholeness too. Don’t settle for the shallow Christian version of peace, and definitely not the societal one.

After all, who wants to end up in a cheap t-shirt?

To learn more about the Hebrew word Shalom, see Lois Tverburg’s book, “Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing It Through Jesus Ears”. Also, a huge shout out to the awesome teenagers who posed for this week’s post photo, you guys are awesome!