Good morning. I hope you are having a great Monday. Today we will return to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter seven. There is so much to gleam from this gospel. Last week I mentioned the particular text that I want to deal with in detail today.
"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:6)
Long ago when Melody and I lived on the family farm I decided to buy some pigs and fatten them up. I then sold them to folks and then I had them sent to the meat packing place in the area. I enjoyed doing this, but after a while realized I was losing money doing it. I never did it again. I would throw their feed out to them and they would go to town eating. Of course, in their eating frenzy they would scatter lots of the feed on the ground and trample over it. Jesus uses such an analogy in an interesting way.
The Jews regarded both dogs and swine as unclean animals. If someone called you a dog it would be an extreme insult. Is Jesus talking about literal dogs and swine in this passage? We must realize that Jesus is using proverbs here in this passage. The statements above are similar to our "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Another question comes to mind; why did Jesus make this statement at this point and time? It immediately follows the passage on judging others and precedes the passage where Jesus instructs to "ask, seek and knock." Well, most of this sermon seems to follow no specific outline. Jesus is just giving instruction as he goes. He is also speaking to the disciples. Jesus is preparing his disciples. We must also remember that the Gospel of Matthew is an instruction book to the church.
So what is this verse saying? I believe it is asking the question: "How do you treat that which is holy?" Another question that emerges is: Do you just throw that which is holy out and see what happens?" (like throwing feed out to pigs) I believe that behind this lies two interesting ideas. If the Gospel of Matthew was used as an early church manual then there is the possibility that this passage would be used during the communion service. The early church was careful about who came to the Lord's table. They would begin by announcing: "Holy things for holy people." During the communion service only professing, baptized believers could stay. This text became a basis for exclusiveness. Why? They did this to guard against impurity (from outside) and assimilation (on inside). Now, does this mean that we should exclude certain people from taking communion? In the United Methodist tradition we celebrate communion with what we call "an open table." This means that we welcome all to come to the table of the Lord. We understand that if only those who are worthy to take communion may take communion then none of us may take it. When Jesus served the last supper and instituted the act of taking the bread and the cup he served and ate with who? Sinners, those who would leave him and betray him. In fact, one of them left the table after he ate in order to turn Jesus over to the authorities. We understand the table (communion) to be a means of God's grace. The table is where we can experience God.
Another possible idea behind this text is this: Can everyone handle/accept that which is holy? There are those who will show outright contempt for that which is holy. To hand some people a Bible would be the equivalent of throwing that Bible in the garbage. There is nothing that irritates me more than to walk into a men's bathroom and seeing a gospel tract stuck behind the pipe on top of the urinal. Really? That, to me is called, "Hit and run witnessing." The tract is thrown at a person, the giver of the tract says, "Here, read this!" and then runs.
So, again this deals with how to handle that which is holy. Here's a thought to ponder: "Don't waste a good testimony!" You may ask: "What?" Yes, there are people who will not listen to a word you say when speaking of Christ. They will "turn a deaf ear." Does that mean we do not witness to them? No! We just have to know how to do it. Perhaps, there are times when the best testimony is the one that is lived out.
O.K., now just for fun. *Yes, when it comes to fun, I'm no expert. LOL. Looking back at our passage we find something interesting: Again, Jesus uses proverbs. In fact, he uses something called parallelism.
"Do not give that which is holy to dogs"
"Do not cast your pearls before swine."
*Notice the underlined words. Now, here is what is interesting. In Hebrew at one time there would be no written vowels. O.K., the Hebrew word for holy is kadosh (KDSH) The Aramaic word for pearls (or ear-ring) is kadosha (KDSH)
Well, that's enough fun for one day. Join me tomorrow as we continue our journey together. Have a blessed day! -Pastor Rick