“and Peter …”

Two little words. One, a conjunction. The other, a proper noun. Yet, these two little words are powerful, restorative, and they allow us to see the heart of our Messiah.

Peter gives me hope. He should also give you hope. Why? He often said the wrong things, did the wrong things, and acted more like a fisherman than an apostle. He could be stiff-necked, short tempered, and bold about the wrong things; but God.

Two little words show us the heart of Yeshua/Jesus after His resurrection for His friend; his lost friend.

One of the angels at the tomb said to Miriam, “But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before them to the Galilee…” (Mk. 16:7). Amplified: “Go and tell the disciples where He will be Miriam, and tell Peter!”

There is a distinction. The disciples. And Peter.

We all know Peter denied Yeshua (Mk. 15:66-72). His denial disqualified him. Peter attempted to stand for Yeshua in his own strength. His strength failed. This was Peter’s mistake. Peter, not yet empowered by the risen Messiah, could not stand against a simple question or assertion. This strong man fell by the words of a young girl.

I am sure most of you are familiar with Peter’s restoration in John 21:15-17; but Yeshua already revealed His plan for restoration, even before Peter’s repentance.

“But go, tell His disciples, and Peter…”

Mark, who is recording his gospel according to Peter’s testimony, is the only one to record “and Peter.” Matthew had no need to. Luke would have closely investigated the matter and found it an accepted fact. John has his own restoration of Peter. The angel announced what others might have doubted – that Peter, who publicly denied Yeshua, would be restored.

Before Peter could announce the Gospel to Jerusalem in Acts 2, to Gentiles in Acts 10, and defend the inclusion of those who should be excluded in Acts 15, Peter – the one who should be excluded, but was not only included, but used mightily – he, personally experienced the power of Messiah’s restoration.

When things are not going the way we had hoped, it is easy to believe that perhaps we have done something, intentionally or unintentionally, to deny Messiah. Thus, we are excluded from the family of disciples. What Peter did not do was separate himself from “the disciples.” He was there in the upper room. He was there on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He was there at the Great Commission. Perhaps he was thinking that his time as a disciple was over, but he stayed in fellowship: but God, and Peter.

When you feel disqualified, excluded, unloved, forgotten, whatever it might be, think of Peter. He denied Yeshua, to His face. He failed. Yet, Jesus made sure it was announced, via heavens messenger, that Peter knew where He would be. He wanted Peter there, with them.

In times of crisis, remember God’s promises, and learn to say, “tell his disciples and ______ …” put your name in there. Personalize it. He wants you to know where He is, because He is preparing a place, with Him, just for you: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2).

Be well. Shalom.

A Storks Kindness

Reading the lists of clean and unclean foods and animals found in the Bible can seem pointless, even extremely antiquated. Yet, there is a rabbinic teaching that says the lists of clean and unclean food are not so much about the food, but about us. We should not take on, as we might say, the qualities of forbidden foods.

But what of the stork? It’s on the forbidden list (Deut. 14:18), but why?

Stork in Hebrew is חֲסִידָה/ḥăsîḏâ, meaning: the kind bird, stork. It’s from the root חָסִיד/ḥāsîḏ, meaning pious, godly, holy, merciful, saint. Aren’t these good qualities? Well, yes. We are to be holy disciples of Messiah, saints. Appearances, however, can sometimes be deceiving.

The stork identified in the Bible was recognized for its kindly, compassionate behavior, but only to storks of its kind. Towards other birds, they were noted to be cruel at times.

The message is simple, our kindness, godliness, mercy, and grace is to extend beyond those of our own “kind,” beyond those like us. We cannot adopt a storks faith. We must recognize the image of God in the human other, even those we do not know, recognize or relate to, and respond according to His Word.

Messiah examples this for us in John 4, by His interaction with the Samaritan woman of unsavory character, delivering a message of forgiveness and recovery. Also, in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10), making a recognized enemy the hero of the drama. Messiah warns against acting hypocritically, directing us to act faithfully (Lev. 19:18, 34).

It is easy to act in a kindly manner toward those most like ourselves; but we do not live righteousness in a vacuum. We live His Word in a complex world, with many different peoples, and customs.

Take the kindness the Living God has shown you, show it to those close to you, but also to those you do not know, probably would choose not to know, and there, you will learn the depths of His amazing grace. Difficult, but God. Hallelujah!

Be well. Shalom.

Little Big Things

I recently thanked someone for the little, unseen things that they do. Most people would never know that they were being done, except me. As those little things help me to make ministry and communal life better. The little things done that few notice, really says that we care.

I was meditating on one word recently: if. From the Torah portion of Ekev, meaning “because of,” or “on the heels of,” or “as a result of.” וְהָיָה עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן, “And it shall come to pass, if you listen…” (Deut. 7:12).

One little word, עֵקֶב/Ekev, translated “if” or “because.” This word is often translated as “heel,” and is the root of the name Jacob, or יַעֲקֹב, so named because he grabbed the heel of his brother Esau.

Why translate עֵקֶב/Ekev as “if” in this instance? Just as the heel is a small, but important part of the human body, there are commands of God that seem small, but are also important. They can easily be overlooked, left out, not thought of, but as Moses explains:

“He, God, will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you” (Deut. 7:13).

As we walk along the way in life, using that seemingly insignificant heel to stabilize our steps, even as we do those seemingly insignificant acts along the way that few will notice, God will. In the doing of the small things, we demonstrate not only a love for God, but also our fellow: seeing, noticing, and helping.

“If,” “heel,” as you walk, do, even if it seems unimportant, if God commanded it: it is. If the community or your family needs it, do it. It’s not only the grand gestures that demonstrate our love, but those little things tended to that really say: love.

As Messiah Yeshua/Jesus taught us, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Lk. 16:10).

Be faithful with the little things, and they will add up to greater things than we could have imagined.

Be well. Shalom.