Aloha Friday Message – June 7, 2013 – The Other Side of the Mountain

1323AFC060713 – The Other Side of the Mountain

Read it online here, please. (Once again, special links are provided to broaden your experience.)

Exodus 24:15-18 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

John 13:34-35  “I’m giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.”

This past Sunday our Pastor’s homily centered around a story about a hunting dog napping with the others of his pack when he spotted a rabbit a short distance away. Immediately he was off, baying out the call for his pack-buddies to follow in the chase. They too jumped up and ran to follow his lead, responding to his call with a chorus of howls and barks. The pack soon slowed, stopped, and quieted because they didn’t know what all the commotion was about now that they had been awakened. Only the first dog kept up the chase because only he had seen the rabbit. Only he knew the reason for the excitement, and only he pressed on in the hope of catching that “wascally wabbit.” I like that story, and it certainly helps me think about the excitement of seeing and understanding what the Lord is doing. I was reflecting on that when the time for “That Healing Word” came up. Once again I stood with my notebook in one hand, my red pen in the other, and waited for that word from the Word. It didn’t take long, and as soon as I saw it, my first comment was “Of course! That makes perfect sense!” What I had written was “The other side of the mountain.” The dog had seen the rabbit. The bear saw … The other side of the mountain.

Piece of pie! (I like pie better than cake.) I am going to be writing about The Other Side Of The Mountain. “Ah…,” said the tiny little pragmatist in the right-rear corner of my brain. “And what mountain would that be, Laddie?” I didn’t stay stumped for long – less than 24 hours I’d say – before I got my answer: The Mountain of God where Moses got the Ten Commandments. Now the question is, what is on the other side of that mountain? You already figured it out, didn’t you! It’s a new commandment that confirms and fulfills all the law and the prophets. My commission today is to look at what Jesus was saying there clearly enough that we all get the urge to get up and go after the rabbit. We’ll be dipping into the Greek lexicon three times, but I think you’ll find it rather more fun than intimidating. Ready? Here we go. I’m going to emphasize the English words we’ll be studying in Greek:

I give you a new [καινὴν] commandment [ἐντολὴν], that you love one another. Just as I have [καθὼς] loved you, you also should love one another.

First up – new. The Greek word here is καινὴν [kainós] (kahee-nos) – absolutely and uniquely new and without precedent. It is something that is completely different from anything anywhere anytime because this instant is the first time it ever existed and it is incomparably first-and-only.

Next – commandment. That Greek word is ἐντολὴν [entolé] (en-tol-ay) – a fixed rule which stipulates how something is to be done to achieve a specific outcome. The rule is axiomatic in the sense that the command is so clear that it sounds self-evident.

Finally, just as or in the same way as καθὼς [kathos] (kath-oce) – in exactly the same manner, to the same degree, to the complete extent, in a way that is identical to. We could go back to the identity expression we have used in the past to say

LIGHT ≡ GOD ≡ LOVE ≡ TRUTH ≡ WAY ≡ LIFE ≡ FOREVER

We can therefore say

YOUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER ≡ MY LOVE FOR YOU

Now the question arises, “How is this new? Didn’t Jesus say that ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself?’ are the greatest of the commandments?” Yes, he said that. In today’s passage he is saying something bigger, something intense, something mind-shattering. He is saying, “Love your neighbor as I do.” When we say, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we assume that we love and care about our own well-being. It’s the basis for the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself.” Treat others the way you want to be treated. Jesus isn’t saying that. He’s saying something new. He’s saying to love your neighbor in precisely the same way Jesus loves you and your neighbor – without selfishness, possessiveness, jealousy, pride, without holding anything back, completely abandoning any claim to be loved in return, sacrificing all for the good of another rather than your own good.

That is a lot to ask! It was, and is, Jesus who asks that of us now – right now.

Perhaps across geography and time there are a handful of people who can do that. By all accounts, I am not one of them at this time and place. I know some people who are way closer to being able to love others like that than I am, but I bet if you ask them, they, too, would say they are nowhere near being close to that quality of love. For all of us it might as well be … on the other side of the mountain. That’s one long and arduous climb to get to the other side. Moses went up (עָלָה – alah = ascended) the side of the mountain and into the cloud which was the presence of God. For 40 days and nights the mountaintop radiated light as from an intense fire. Moses came down on that same side of the mountain with the Ten Commandments. Later, with the whole of Israel assembled, Moses read the words of the LORD. He set up an altar as the LORD has commanded and there offered up the Blood of the First Covenant, a covenant that would last thousands upon thousands of years but was nonetheless short-lived, transient, temporary. Jesus made that covenant complete by replacing it when he said, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.” Moses and the LORD established a covenant. Jesus confirms it with his Blood in a new and everlasting covenant by which we gained full access to the Trinity and to the capacity to love one another in ever-increasing selflessness – if only we will to do so.

Sinai

Look upward. Travel onward. Do not be afraid. The other side of the mountain is only steps away. It is the home of God’s Salvation. It is there all of us will be recognized as His disciples.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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