Leviticus 21 What does it mean to be holy in an unholy world? It means that we stand apart from that which is profane. It means that we see ourselves as saved by His grace and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It means we are to ask ourselves if we are partnering with those who do not believe. It means we are to come out from among them and be pure, which seems like a strict order as we move and live in a godless society, but so did Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, Ruth, and Jesus.
So back to our question: what does it mean to be holy? It means that we are to remember that we are part of the priesthood of believers only because of the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It means what God gave Aaron and the High Priest as a standard applies to us in our present age. We do it when we present Christ as His ambassadors and implore them to be reconciled to God in the same way we were. It means that we mirror Christ in our walk and talk, and we can only do that when we know God. We know His character, His motives for our holiness, His standards of purity and righteousness.
God has said over and over: you should be holy because I am holy. You are my people, and thus you stand before an unholy world. The question before us is; are we a holy separated people? Only through Jesus can we have the missing puzzle pieces of purity, righteousness, and honor.
Christ came to “seek and save the lost” and we have seen how that has been accomplished right up to the very moment of his death when he gave the cup of salvation to the criminal beside him. And now behold the women who come first to the tomb where supposedly his body lay interred but what a glorious gift of resurrection awaits: Pro 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seekme find me.
All through Luke we have seen the power of Christ’s love bestowed upon the many and women in particular. It is these who have been shunned; interrogated; castigated by the religious leaders and society that Christ bestows equal status in the kingdom. We saw the woman caught in adultery, the faith of the Canaanite woman, the service offered by the women of the court, those who stood by the cross weeping and now at the tomb seeking to serve once again the Master.
It is with great honor that step by step we walk in the hush of the early morning hours before the dawn of day with these women. They have risen early, prepared their person and the aromatic spices even though their hearts are heavy. They are the true Proverbs 31 women: “She also gets up while it is still night; She begins her work vigorously; She extends her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy;and does not eat the bread of idleness.” With great anticipation that someone would be ready to assist and help in their time of need, they step forth into the hush of the city streets with resolve to anoint the body of their Lord. Imagine their shock to see not a sealed tomb but one open! With great bravery they enter and because of their fearless boldness are greeted by two angelic visitors: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” It is only then that their grief is startled and their memories recall the words of Jesus.
Beloved, are we are as bold, resourceful, faithful as these women whom God has honored? Or are we like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who hear from the risen Christ: “You foolish people – how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” May we resolve to pray that our spiritual understanding is awakened in the hush of the early morning hours when we may meet heaven speaking to our hearts. It is these that receive the glorious news. Oh, Beloved how precious is our Lord to fulfill to us his followers, His love and forgiveness.
In Matthew 15 we meet the Lawyers of the Lips..that is the Pharisees and Scribes who lived by the Oral Law not the written Law. Many today follow the same code of rules. Do not taste, do not touch, do not…do not..you fill in the blank. Jesus rightly called them hypocrites. And so He might of me as well when I become so rule oriented that I am neither earthly good nor heavenly blessed. They were offended by what Jesus told them in Matt 15:8…their heart was far from God. They spoke the words but lived a lie. How often do I also hold the traditions and ways of my church or even my interpretation higher than what God says. God says “Obey Me, Follow Me, and I will bless you.”
Leaving the offended…even Jesus could not stomach these lip lawyers any more. Does Jesus find that I am too causing him a stomach ache? Is my heart rightly attune to the Father or more oriented to my “to do” list?
We find he retreats to Sidon and meets a woman who is “unclean.” The Lip Lawyers had called him Unclean because he did not wash his hands as “they did.” Now he meets a true “unclean person” …a Canaanite. The key word in this passage is “me.” The woman sought mercy for herself: “have mercy on me” and “Lord help me.” She did not live by the words of the lawyers but lived on faith alone as Jesus noted. Busy as a mom ministering to a child who was demon possessed she came and begged for help–not for the child but for herself. She asked Jesus: Help me to know what to do. Help me be strong in this adversity. Help me have wisdom to help my child. Sometimes it is not the healing, although that is a prayer we should offer and seek, but it is the present need for help in this difficulty that we should offer. Healing is secondary to our personal challenge of the present moment. Unlike the Pharisees her heart was near and dear to God. She not only honored God with her lips but also with her heart.
May I remember her faith and echo her words when I am at my wits end.
PS I love this drawing done by Pastor Jared Hollier. *jaredhollier.com* It captures it fully just as Jesus might have drawn it.