These blue cord tassels were to be a daily reminder of the Lord’s commandments and the fact that the Jews were a holy and separated people. But if we go to Matthew 23:5, Jesus is calling out the Jewish Leaders who had taken this Scripture to an excess by making their tassels extremely long in order to make a show of their “religiousness”. It’s called Legalism…and the Church over history has been really good at it. We’d rather focus on the strict and excessive conformity to the letter of the Law, than embrace grace and mercy. Or we’d rather obsess over external appearances than do the hard work of changing our hearts, minds, and attitudes. Legalism is taking God’s word to an extreme and then affixing human rules and regulations to it. Legalism lets us focus on things we can control and be proud of…the “Look at me, I’m so very religious!” But like white-washed graves, we look so nice on the outside, but hold so much decay within.
In both Exodus 23:24 and Leviticus 20:23 the Lord was emphatic…Don’t bow down to foreign gods, and you must not follow their customs and practices…and this included their response and rituals towards signs in the sky. The world has always reacted to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes with alarm…for there is nothing humanly possible we can do to control them. But as Believers, we know these types of signs are finger-marks of God…indicating His spiritual purpose…signs of the End of the Age. We only have to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:6-8 for clarification, ” You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
Jesus was implying that He was a sojourner here on earth. A stranger in a strange place only temporarily. That’s what it means to be in the world but not of it. (John 17:14) And as Believers, we too are sojourners in this foreign land…aliens and strangers just passing through…as we head to our heavenly home.
Jesus was back in His hometown of Nazareth…the place where He had been brought up, and where everyone knew Him and His family. We find Him on the Sabbath in the Synagogue where someone handed Him the scroll of Isaiah to read from. He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 …( Which was Jesus’ exact job description here on earth) and then sat down. Everyone spoke well of Him until He uttered 8 words, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” No wonder the people were furious! All they could see was Mary and Joseph’s little boy…and now He’s daring to claim to be the Messiah! Their minds refused to believe…their hearts were hardened by pride…their eyes were blinded to His Deity. Their long-awaited Messiah had come and was in their midst…yet they rejected Him.
Jairus was the President of the Jewish Synagogue in Capernaum, but at this moment in time all his power and authority meant nothing to him… for he had a little daughter dying. He was desperate enough to actually plead with Jesus to come to his house and heal her. But it would get worse. While they were headed there, someone from Jairus’s household ran up to tell him his daughter had just died…but it would get worse. When they got to the house the scene was utter chaos with people weeping, wailing and milling around. That’s when Jesus took control of the situation…moving all the people out except for the parents, Peter, James, and John. He then took a hold of the child’s hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And she did. So what practical application can we take from this story? When you’re going through tough times, position strong people of faith around you…people that can believe for breakthrough and won’t give up or become discouraged. It’s friends that will gather around you and pray when you may not have the strength or ability to. Finally, realize it may get worse before it gets better. But through it all Jesus is saying to you, “Don’t be frightened, just trust in Me.”
Even the early Church had problems with Church division, and here Paul was pleading with them to unite rather than split into factions. For if you think about it, if the local Church can’t come together and become one voice…how do we expect the world to follow suit? When Jesus called those first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) And if you look at the other meaning for the Greek word for “perfectly united”… it means to mend or repair broken nets. Now anyone knows you can’t catch fish with torn nets…so how can the Church expect to follow Jesus and be fishers of men when their nets are shredded with division and strife? We as a body of Believers need to become perfectly united together, and mend our nets.
Jesus spoke several times in John about this idea of water and thirst. John 6:35 says, “He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” and in John 7:38, Jesus quoted the Old Testament from Isaiah 58:11, when He said, “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Thirst is a very strong desire. It’s a longing to fill the dryness within us…whether with actual water, or spiritual water. For within us all is this God-shaped emptiness…but sadly, we will spend our entire lifetime trying to fill this emptiness with the wrong type of water. Arid and parched, we search for everything and anything to satisfy our thirst…but every time we think we’ve found it, the water dries up and we thirst again. It’s finally not until we find that Well of Living Water that we can drink and be fully satisfied.