One thing the Church is known for is its banquets. I've heard them called pitch-ins, carry-ins, pot-lucks, and now "covered-dish." One fellow in a church always brought a bucket of Colonel Sander's because, as he always reminded the group, "Preachers always like fried chicken." Fried chicken is almost always the centerpiece of the church banquet or after-church buffet. And fried chicken is the reason why there are so many fat preachers.
One corpulent preacher I know came to do a revival at my church. The church ladies put together a pitch-in dinner for him, and on his plate he stacked up home fried chicken. In front of everyone his wife got on him about his diet. He blustered, “It’s only because I'm trying to follow scripture perfectly. Haven’t you ever read 1 Corinthians 9:26-27? It says, ‘I’m not beating the air when I fight: but I buffet' (buf-FAY) my body, and bring it into bondage’? I take that literally and buffet΄ my body as often as I can.” Of course, the scripture doesn’t say buffet΄ but buffet. Buffet means beat, not eat.
Since I moved south years ago, I learned
to enjoy the fleshpots of Southern Fried Chicken. In
fact, if the
combination of eating and worshiping, is endemic to our Judeo-Christian
heritage, going back to the Passover meal (Exo
12:1-14). Yahweh decreed the Passover to
be a “feast for all time, and many Jews and even Christians observe it, reliving
their protection from the death angel in
Yahshua and the Dead Sea Scrolls
By James Charlesworth / Random House, Inc
In opposition to the popularistic simplifications of the many would-be scholarly books now on the market, this volume is a brilliant example of the best of international scholarship on Yahshua and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Yahshua and the Dead Sea Scrolls
By Yahshua's time, the Hebrew people celebrated the notion that, when the Messiah arrived on earth, he would throw a great banquet for those who had faithfully awaited him. The banquet story is actually found in The Dead Sea Scrolls, possibly the greatest archaeological find of all time. In the Scrolls is a little book called The Messianic Rule. Dating to only a generation or two before his birth, Yahshua was certainly familiar with The Dead Sea Scrolls and The Messianic Rule. Here's an excerpt from that text. Listen carefully and see if it rings a bell with you:
This is the rule for all the congregation
Note the setting for this text is the "last days." There are some important characters mentioned here – the Messiah, the Messiah’s brothers, the Priest and the congregation or community. Also mentioned is the common table, new wine and bread. There are also actions: orderly seating, a spoken blessing, a hand extended over the bread. Of course, the implication is that eating will eventually take place (after the seder).
There is an uncanny similarity here with the
later institution of the Last Supper.
Yahshua certainly fits in the role of the Priest, and his
brothers James, Jude, Simon and the rest were Yahshua’s Messianic successors to
the leadership of the Nazarene Assembly in
Yahshua might have cone on the scene to fulfill the priestly role in this Dead Sea Scrolls narrative. He died as the last Passover sacrifice, offering his own body as the perfect fulfillment of the slaughter of bulls, goats and sheep. These animals, after they were sacrificed, were eaten. Likewise, Yahshua’ flesh and blood is also offered up and eaten and drunk for the remission of sin in the token form of bread and wine. Yahshua is said to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:6); it’s the priest’s function to release sin, and the Priest sacrificed himself so as to carry out his role properly.
As for the role of Messiah in the
banquet story, Yahshua may also make his public appearance as King
and Messiah with vast armies to subdue and rule the world, putting an end
to all evil and restoring the earth to
Moreover, it was exciting to discover this prophecy from the Dead Sea Scrolls and understand it as doubly fulfilled in Yahshua, for "people from east and west, from north and south, will come and sit down at the feast in the kingdom of Elohim" (Luke 13:29). But it’s even more exciting to believe that he will seat me at his great banqueting table then use me to help him set everything in this world aright. I hope you can be excited, too. And, if you are an overcomer, your seat is reserved; your mission is resolved! All you must now do is continue in the faith and show up to claim your seat.
from the famed discovery
The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public. You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek! To read it in English, you need the only English translation we know. The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.
THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.
Also known as
Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes? Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built? In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3). Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded. This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time. Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?
Mealtime always brings important moments in
the Scripture, especially in the life of Yahshua. He buffet'ed his way across
But because of some of the company with whom he ate, Yahshua was called a drunkard, a glutton, a low-life and a liar. The company he kept ruined his reputation. It’s poetic justice that he ends his earthly mission with a supper featuring wine, promising later a great end-time banquet in which all these companions of all these dinners would sit at a common table, whether they liked the company or not. As for me, I’ll be thrilled to be at table. And I won’t complain no matter where I sit!
In today's banquet text, Yahshua is back in
The Pharisees at the table are listening closely. Yahshua is speaking to them about the resurrection of the dead, and that was the Pharisees’ pet doctrine. One of these guys was so enthralled that he blurted out, "Blessed is he who'll eat that feast!" Yahshua realized that the outburst hadn’t come from faith, but from the emotion of religious brainwashing. You can become brainwashed when you put your hope in teachings you’ve heard all your life but never verified with serious study. But Yahshua seizes upon this opportunity to teach the truth of resurrection by using his own radical rendition of the banquet story.
Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their True Meaning for Judaism and
By Lawrence H. Schiffman / Random House, Inc
Dead Sea Scrolls expert Lawrence H. Schiffman shifts attention away from the sensationalism surrounding who has control of the scrolls by focusing on how these texts shed light on the history of Judaism and early Messiahianity.
Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their True Meaning for Judaism and
There is deep meaning in Yahshua's hagaddah (retelling), for Yahshua himself is throwing the banquet. The slave who was sent out with many invitations is a true disciple, like you and me, completely dedicated to doing the will of our Master. The invited guests are all those good, upstanding religious folk who are highly respected and publicly pious; those who say “yes” just to get you gone. They have no real intention to attend and their word is not their bond. The banquet represents The World Tomorrow, reserved for those who have overcome in The World Today. When the banquet is ready, Yahshua invites those chosen a second time, as was customary in those days. To accept the first invitation but to reject the second was one of the greatest tests of friendship, because not showing up when expected indicated a deep disrespect. It's like calling in an RSVP for an expensive shindig, promising to bring the southern fried chicken, then just not showing up.
Every one who accepts the first
invitation rejects the second. There are plenty of serious excuses. Getting
married, for instance - and even men exempted
from the draft in those days. Yet
not even marriage is an adequate excuse for breaking one's word.
When the slave reports this, the Master gets
mad, and tells the slave to invite the unlovely, the diseased, the unkempt, the
ignorant, the lame, the poor, the homeless, and the blind, the stinken -- instead. The Pharisees called
poor people “sinners” in those days much like some folks call others
"trash" today. But this story informs us that the common folk have an
uncommon place at the Messiah's banquet table in the
Before the table is full, Yahshua bids his disciples to go even outside the city, to the roads of the country, to compel people to "Come and Dine." These new invitees represent people outside Judaism -- Gentiles and foreigners like us -- maybe even space aliens -- who didn't naturally belong there. Indeed, the last shall be first and the first last at this banquet.
The table is full when Yahshua says it is --
whether there are seats left or not. And not one of those religious, upper
crust folks would attend, even though they were the first invited, because
they were too busy with trivial pursuits and too dishonest to be real. They
will not get to dine upon the dainties and delicacies that the Master prepared
for them -- people they wouldn't even approve of will take their places.
And, since they won’t share the table, they'll not share the
Yahshua's story must have been a showstopper. One of these guys probably sneezed his dentures clear across the room. To think, Yahshua dared to tell these holy, high-class preachers that sinners and rabble, harlots and traitors, Gentiles and foreigners, "town trash" and “black birds” would sit in their place at a function to which some had devoted their entire lives. Not one Pharisee would get to sit! He said it all right to their faces! If I were a Pharisee, I'd have thrown him right out, because he would have been talking to me.
It's an easy mental jump from then to today. Many folks have taken Messiah up on his first invitation -- an invitation to Yahweh’s grace. Everyone wants grace – favor – attention -- many think they're going to be saved because they went up to an altar rail or were baptized or “paid the preacher.” Folks come to church, shul and to dinner because maybe they're seeking truth or assurance in their lives, that’s true. And some find truth. But there are other reasons for coming. Religious habit. Religious hobby. Religious pastime. Religious hatred. Some come to tear down rather than build up. Some are involved in what they consider religious work, but it is really their own work wrapped in a chittlin’ of religion. Even great people who are busy, busy, busy with church-work can be off-track or distracted when it comes to the heavenly calling on their lives. Then again, some just come to eat.
Chicken Little and Porky Pig were
snowbirds and big eaters. They checked the newspapers to see when
local groups had pitch-in dinners before they went so they could eat for free. Chicky gleefully read one advertisement for the
Until the actual Kingdom Banquet takes place, all those who have responded to the first invitation must be totally committed to show up at the end. You will have a choice and unless you remain ready, prepared and in expectation, you may make the wrong one. In the meantime, we who are committed are like slaves who are engaged in passing out invitations. But often, when it comes down to action, we're dining when we should be doing; feasting when we should be fasting; too caught up in our own me-ality to get on board with Yahweh's reality for The World Tomorrow. We are often too embarrassed to promote Yahshua Messiah by inviting others to his table, but we seldom have problems promoting anything else. To tell the truth, for the most part, aren’t we just ashamed of Yahshua; ashamed of being religious? Let’s be honest about it. Thank goodness we are always very resourceful when it comes to making excuses. In the meantime, souls slip away; and as sands from the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.
After Yahshua told this story, he preached a radical message directed to his followers --
Luke 14:26-27 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
This teaching is so unacceptable to modern people that Bible teachers tell us Yahshua isn't serious, but using hyperbole to make a point. They say he is merely exaggerating. But whether you interpret this literally or not, it makes its sharp, stinging point without the need of explanation. The question is, how does the story of the banquet and a teaching about hating others speak to our hearts? What does it say for those who actually do make the choice of attending the banquet? What must they have done to get there? Who must they have hated? How does this set here at home? It doesn’t set well with our concept of cultural religion, where the livin’ is easy and everything comes naturally. Yet both story and teaching call for radical revision of either the words or our lives.
(The sermon here ends.)
This church is something of an exception, but very seldom have I encountered people in the churches I’ve served who actually invited others. No matter how I asked, cajoled, preached or threatened, there was seldom anyone motivated through my work to become an invitation slave. But sometimes the Father raises someone up, often an unusual kind of person. Sometimes it’s the kind of person who actually hates mother and father. One church I served was located in a bad suburban area that featured drugs and youth gangs.
One Sunday morning a miracle happened. A 13-year old girl walked into the service from the neighborhood and sat down in a pew. Some of the church people began to whisper about her. I found out that this young lady was a member of a “trashy” family, that her father made and sold drugs, that her mother was a prostitute, that her many siblings all had different and unknown fathers. Though tender in years, she was not carnally innocent. She had been sexually victimized and used in drug experiments by her mother’s live-in. This young lady started coming to church every Sunday. I asked her why, and she said, “It’s quiet here. I can sit and think.” Soon she took part in praying with the congregation.
Then over the next six months, this girl personally brought in over two dozen visitors – mostly teenagers – including family members, gang members and an ethnically diverse crowd. We baptized many of these kids. We trained youth leaders and formed a youth group in the church. The first night of the group we had 35 youth from the neighborhood. At the next event, we held a banquet featuring a well-known youth speaker and every urchin and gang members in the neighborhood came – nearly 80! The Holy Spirit was moving mightily in that meeting, and many of these kids left in tears of repentance. Of course, the devil was also moving. Who do you think the devil would use in a situation like that?
It wasn’t long before the church board and some members took action. They didn’t want to see themselves in mission. They didn’t care what the Father wanted for the church. They only thought of themselves. The church wasn’t quiet enough anymore. These kids were not family members. They did not come from the right kind of families. There was not enough money for everybody, for programs and utility bills and pizzas and chairs. Besides, these neighborhood kids were dangerous to their own kids and grandkids. They were even marking up the floor with their tennis shoes!
How do you think this story ended? How would it have ended had this happened here? Think.