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Yom Kippur 5776/77 - Sermon

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Welcome to the campus of Beth Messiah. We are so glad to have you hear with us. We invite all of you to join us next Shabbat here at Beth Messiah.
If you were not here last year at Yom Kippur or the year before that then you may not know that we are in year three of a seven year series. This will be the longest series in the history of CBM.
This series is simply designed to answer one question, "Why in the World would God come and die for us?" Review Messages
Year 1: To secure and welcome individuals into the gravitational center of Israel’s hope.
Year 2: To usher in the beginning of a cosmic victory.
Year 3: To elevate the dignity of the individual.
In the coming years, if the Lord should tarry, 4.To put religion in its place. 5.To re-gather His scattered children. 6.To fill individuals with Ashrei.
This year, I want to take a look at the idea that God became one of us to elevate the dignity of all of us. I wish that I could tell you that I was inspired by some great Jewish rabbi for this message, some timeless book that I read or maybe a profound story from my life where the Eternal One intersepted me and showed me something amazing.
I was inspired about this message when I was thinking about the Joan Osborne song, "What if God were one of Us." The main chorus of the song says
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
I don't know if Joan and myself have arrived at different answers to this question and hypothetical situation but I think most of us have wonder at some time, "What if God really, really became One of Us, really like us." It is definitely not beyond Jewish imagination and midrash to think on this.
When I heard Joan's song it made me think that if God really did become one of Us and if He didn't just associate with the rich, the powerful and the influential but also with the poor, the powerless and the unknowns then that would change everything.
What if He just like You and Me faced discrimination because of something He had no control over. Wouldn't that change everything?
My daughter faced this last year at her Public School. A young boy was dared to walk up to her and say, "I hate all the Jews." She dealt with this incident marveously. She went to the person that issued the dare, questioned the person about why they would hate "all the Jews," and then she reported it to the school officials that basically gave the kids involved a reprimand and dismissed it as child foolishness.
If you ever been discriminated against over something you had not control over, you know the effects were much deeper on my daughter than just childish games.
You know, like she knows: it throws you off balance, it dehumanizes you, it makes you question your very existence and being.
As a result, you either power up or you try to become invisible. In the Jewish community we have a saying, "It is not a matter of 'if' you are going to be discriminated against but 'when' you will be discriminated against.
IN the US, this has become a national crises; unfortunately, being politicized for the sake of campaigns. This is not really just a problem in the USA, this is a global problem, it is a sin problem.
Respect for the individual (those not like "us") is not natural. Everybody has an "us" group that we associate with and consider the measure or standard. And, respecting people not like us is not like us not natural to us.
One of the least-thanked groups in our society is the people who empty the garbage. It’s not what you would call a high-class job. However, in New York a few years ago, the garbagemen went on strike. All of a sudden, these typically underrated people became the most significant people in the city because the whole place was stinking.
If you let a couple of weeks go by and your garbage doesn’t get picked up, all of a sudden, the nobodies become somebodies.
Here lies the problem: these garbagemen were always somebodies but you and I made them nobodies.
It is not natural to respect the individual. Here is what is natural. The original golden rule:
He who has the gold makes the rules.
Or, what is natural is that might makes right.
Natural is to power up, natural is take advantage of that person who has something we don't like for something they have no control over. Natural is to look around and label people as nobodies and somebodies based on the most artificial standards imaginable.
What if God did become One of US. What if He faced the most radical kind of discrimination. What if He did not do what is natural: did not power-up or put-down. What if He handled it differently than any of US. What if His discrimination led to a death that has the potential to bring about the greatest change to individual lives ever? Do you think that Should and Could change everything?
Transition to Text
Our text tonight comes from a world filled with discrimination. The world of the first century was a world of control and power. Rome was the dominant power structure in the World. It was the ruling Empire and it's hallmark slogan, "I came, I saw, I conquered."
There was a pecking order in this society. There were Romans and the Roman citizenry and everyone else was a barbarian and had little to no rights. Romans were somebodies everyone else nobodies.
Into this context, a Jewish citizen by birth, not a Roman, writes a letter to Jewish people living in Roman colonies in Asia Minor. Jewish people wanting to throw off the title of "nobody" and take on the title of "somebody." But, to become a somebody would mean doing what is Roman: powering up, leveraging against the weak, using people to get to position of power and authority.
This writer's name is Cepha. You might know him as Peter. He writes one of the earliest letters in the entire Brit Chadashah. Scholars jokingly say Shaul's letter jumped the que and went to the front of the line but the reality is that chronologically Cepha's first letter should occur somewhere after Acts chapter 12. Way before any of Shaul's letters.
Our section tonight in 1 Peter 2:21-25 is a text about a text about an event. Cepha cites the text of Isaiah 53 as being fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah. This is the longest quote of Isaiah 53 in the entire Brit Chadashah but it is not quoted in the correct order?
Cepha uses the language of Isa. 53, but the order of the sequence of events in the final hours of Yeshua's life: his trial before the Sanhedrin, before the Romans, His execution, His Resurrection.
As a Jewish eyewitness to Yeshua's final hours, he is saying, "Isaiah's prophecy has been fulfilled and here is the sequence of how it happened."
He is not just giving us a text about a text about an event for theological-apologetic value. He is not like so many people out there who would say, "Here take this text and now harass your Jewish friends with it, write books about it, start web-sites with it, print out t-shirts..."
During my Master's program, I paid about a $1,000.00 to take a class where I learned three words: context, context, context. When the author of a text gives you his applicational context, He would like you to apply his text the way he did but in your context.
In 1 Peter 1:21-24, Cepha says that our prophet Isaiah gave us a prophecy about Messiah's atonement but it is not just a prediction but a pattern to follow.


2:21 - For you were called to this, because Messiah also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in His footsteps...
I want you to look at your neighbor on your left and right and say, "You were called to this!" Cepha is not talking to just a special class of Rabbis or Shameshim or Ministry Leaders. In this section of 1 Peter he is addressing the whole kehillah, the entire congregation of men and women, slave and free, Jewish and Greek. All of you, everyone of you is called to this.
What if I don't feel the calling, still called to it. What if I just read it in the book but I don't sense it in my heart, called to it. This is a calling that every believer is always called to.
Let me give you my definition of calling. Calling - that which possesses, energizes, and unleashes you; your strategic heartbeat, the thing that keeps you up late at night and drives you of your slumber way to early in the morning.
What is this calling, this buzz in the heart? To follow the example of Messiah's suffering that led to death, that is the passion, the calling of every single believer.
I like how one translation handles this verse it says:
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Messiah lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
The Messiah's atoning death not only does something for us it also shows us what to do. Ironically, what he does for us elevating our standing from unrighteous to righteous is what he asks us to now commit to a life of elevating the status of others so they can also experience Messiah in and through our actions.
His suffering and death provide the model par excellence of God's love in this world, the model par excellence that every single believer should and could model because they are disciples of Yeshua demonstrating His love to the world.
So I see three clear steps of the Messiah that He left for us:
Step 1: He was straight as an arrow even when others were as crooked as a dog's hind legs.
He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth. - 1 Peter 2:22 (Isa. 53:9).
Cepha takes right into the moments of Yeshua's trial before the Sanhedrin. A trial that Cepha either saw and hear or at least heard from the courtyard where he was in with the servants of the High Priest (Mark 14:66).
A trial that was unfair and unbalanced. A trial where one of the eyewitnesses said that the testimony of those who came to accuse Yeshua "did not agree" (Mark 14:59) and that many were given false testimony but even there false testimony did not agree (Mark 16:56). That is the problem with telling lies because only the truth will agree amongst witnesses.
Cepha points that when Yeshua was on trial, remember the context is Messiah's suffering, he did not sin nor did He use any deceitful speech. You have to understand the Hebrew parallelism that Cepha is quoteing from Isaiah 53:9. In a Hebrew parallel statement like this one the second clause is meant to be a more precise specifying of the first.
The sin he did not commit was being deceitful when everything was on the line for Him. How incredibly different King Messiah's is from the current politicians of our day, leaders of our day that can never seem to speak the truth. It is like one person said, "In Washington there are facts and there are true facts." With Yeshua, he never retreated from anything he ever said about himself or others. He was not con-artist nor did he go about dodging questions or giving half truths.
How does telling the truth elevate the dignity of the individual; especially, when it works to your detriment? The example Yeshua is setting here is like an alien echo from another world. With everything on the line, Yeshua commits to the truth. When asked by the High Priest, "are you Messiah, Son of the Blessed One" he did not retract a word but answered, "I am" and " you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God coming on the clouds of glory!" (Mark 14:62).
It communicates to other people that you believe they have a right to share in the truth, they have a right to not be lied to, they have a right to live in the light and not in deceit. They are worthy of the truth and capable of handling the truth. Unlike Jack Nicholson in the move a Few Good Men who so famously said, "You can't handle the truth" Yeshua said, "Yes, you can handle the truth and should handle the truth."
The truth matters because without it how can words like honor, love, justice, mercy, goodness, faithfulness have any real meaning to anybody.
Listen, let's say I go to the doctor and I lie about all my eating habits, all my sleeping habits, all my work habits in order to impress my doctor and get a good health rating. Let's say the doctor can obviously tell that I am lying and being deceitful. Should the doctor then not tell me the truth about my health, should she not tell me that I am at risk for heart disease, or stroke? Of course not, the doctor has an obligation to tell me the truth regardless of my lies and deception.
The Messiah's suffering death shows us that flawed people deserve honest answers, even if, those honest answers turn up the heat on our lives. People need the truth to be free even if you are the one on trial, even if the Truth is the very thing they hate.
We know from the historical context of 1 Peter and the text of 1 Peter that these Jewish believers were persecuted for their belief in Yeshua as Messiah and Son of God. It would have been easy for them when their back was against the wall to just deny their faith. No one knew that better than Cepha the man who denied Yeshua three times.
When He speaks about Yeshua's commitment to truth he speaks as one choking back a little because he embelished the truth. After the resurrection of Yeshua, he would never embelish, play the con-artist again and eventually would give his life for his belief.
Step 1: Shoot straight even when others are crooked.
Step 2: He invites us to power-down while everyone else powers-up (2:23)
When He was abused, He did not return the abuse. While suffering, He made no threats. Instead, He kept entrusting Himself to the One who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23 [Isa 53:7, 6, 12, 8]).
How many in this room can remember a time you powered-up when facing opposition or criticism. You know what it is like when you power-up. You raise your voice a nice euphemism for yelling. You leverage your position as parent, as manager, as husband, as wife, as employer to get your way. You make threats and obscene comments.
Yeshua does what is not-natural, He powers down rather than powering up. Even though He has got the full authority of heaven at his side, legions of angels, an unlimited potential of energy. He powers down rather than powering up. This is the opposite of machismo.
He does not think that might makes right or that the one with the gold should rule. He has unlimited might and unlimited gold but He does not power-up with these things but he powers down.
It is not that He is wimpy or simply passive. He is strong in his faith but weak trusting in his flesh.
Do you know why HE does not power up? Powering up against somebody does not elevate the person, even if that person is your enemy. Yeshua did not just teach "love your enemy" he modeled love your enemy.
One of the greatest messages that King Messiah taught and modeled is this one idea: He did not call his disciples to executive suites but to an execution stake. To take up our execution stake and follow Him.
One of American's famous generals, Douglas MacArthur, was meeting his foe, a Japanese general. The meeting was set up for the Japanese general to officially surrender. The Japanese general stuck out his hand to shake MacArthur’s hand and MacArthur said, “I cannot shake your hand, sir, until you first surrender your sword. We can’t be friends as long as that sword is hanging by your side. Give me the sword and then we’ll shake hands."
A lot of us want to shake God’s hand while we carry our sword, the sword of our will, our desire to power up when we are called to power down. To walk on this path as King Messiah did we must surrender our wills, our desire to power up.
Some of you are saying, "I can't do that." I know what you mean it really does seem like Darwin and Nietzche are right that might makes right. But King Messiah says follow my steps
Step 1: Shoot straight even when others are crooked. Step 2: Power-down while everyone else powers-up.
Step 3: Everybody is a somebody worth dying for while everyone else feels they are a somebody other people should die for.
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we, removed from sins, might live for righteousness. “By His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24a [Isa 53:4,5 12])
Only Yeshua can bear our sins. Only Yeshua can bear my sins. Right away, we think that is not fair. How can anyone bear the sins of another person. That is right: this not about fairness but about justice and satisfying the righteous requirement of the Law. The Law that demanded the life of an innocent lamb in exchange for the life of an unholy, sinner.
He is the goat sent out to the wilderness on the Day of Atonement. Yet, our King Messiah was not sent to a barren wasteland, he was sent to a tree. He was sent like the goat to bear witness to Azazel (an ancient name for Satan) that sins were being carried away from God's presence and Israel was forgiven.
King Messiah carried Our sins. They were transferred to his account. He did not become sin or sinful. The legal status and judgment that was due to me and to you was transferred to him so that in history's greatest exchange, substitution we might now be free. He went to a tree and did not just bear witness about salvation but according to Shaul he also "triumphed over" principilaties and powers (Col 2:15).
He is also the goat that was slaughtered with no sins confessed over it. The blood of the second goat healed the breach that sin had caused between a holy God and His people. The blood of that goat went behind the veil and was placed on the mercy seat.
Do you remember what was in the mercy seat: the Ten Words, The Staff of Aaron that budded and the Jar of Manna. Do you remember that each of these items was placed there after a rebellion of Israel against God. They rebelled about God and worshiped a golden calf, put the ten words in the box. They rebelled against God and did not trust He would care for them, put a jar of manna in the box. They rebelled and did not accept his Priesthood, put the staff in the box. All year he was looking down not at symbols but at rebellion against his Torah, His Fatherhood, His Means of Atoning and Forgiving.
ON this day all he looked down and saw was atoning blood that healed the rebellion and set Israel free and cleansed the Tabernacle and the people. Messiah once and for all, forever took his blood and placed it on the heavenly mercy seat so that once and for all Atonement would be eternal and applied to all who trusted in this one great sacrifice of King Messiah.
ON this day all he looked down and saw was atoning blood that healed the rebellion and set Israel free and cleansed the Tabernacle and the people. Messiah once and for all, forever took his blood and placed it on the heavenly mercy seat so that once and for all Atonement would be eternal and applied to all who trusted in this one great sacrifice of King Messiah.
The goat did not know who or why it was dying. Yeshua knew why and who He was giving His life in exchange for. He valued you so much that He on-purpose gave His life in your place.
His atoning death enabled us to live differently. His death was not just a sad thing or perhaps a motivating inspiring thing. His death liberates people to live for righteousness.
Our following the Messiah's cut path may not atone for the sins of others. That would be foolish but it may be the very thing that causes others to trust in the Messiah's atonement.
Step 1: Shoot straight even when others are crooked. Step 2: Power-down while everyone else powers-up. Step 3: Treat Everybody as a somebody worth dying.
For you like sheep were going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:25 [Isa 53:6]).
Now Cepha completes the picture. We are sheep that were walking down all kinds of paths. Some of us were walking down crooked paths, some of us were walking down the path to powering up, some of us were walking down path thinking that other people should give everything for me not me give everything for the sake of other people.
Remember, Cepha was talking to mainly Jewish people who had put their trust already in the Messiah's atonement. The believed Yeshua had died for them but they did not think His death was a pattern for discipleship, that it was a path to follow.
IN one of the most paradoxical statements ever, Cepha say that to leave a life where you value others like the Messiah did, valuing even your very enemies, even when it costs you everything to shoot straight, power-down, and treat everybody as a somebody worth dying for; in the midst of that hardship, you will find your Shepherd and Guardian of your soul.
It is worth noting that this was the text on which Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s last sermon in Flossenbürg prison was based (April 8, 1945), one day before he was hanged by the Nazis (Doberstein 1954, 13).


We should be known by how well we treat other people.We are held not to a higher standard but to the atonement standard. We should be the best at finding a way to treat everybody like a somebody because everybody is a somebody that God loves. Everybody is a somebody Yeshua died for.
One of the reasons God became one of us, to die for all of us, to elevate the dignity of each of us. He did it by
Step 1: Shoot straight even when others are crooked. Step 2: Power-down while everyone else powers-up. Step 3: Treat Everybody as a somebody worth dying.
How will living like that make any real difference?
The story is told of a country in which the custom many years ago was that a man had to pay his future wife’s father in cows for her hand.
A man in this country had two daughters. One was young and beautiful, and the other was older and haggard looking. The father heard that a rich man in town was coming to select a wife from among his daughters and was bringing his cows with him. The father smiled inwardly as he thought of the high price that his young, beautiful daughter would bring, for he had no doubt that the rich man would choose her.
So the rich man came bringing ten cows, which was far above any amount that had ever been paid for a bride in that place. The father told his younger daughter to get herself ready, but to everyone’s surprise the man chose the older, very plain daughter and paid her father ten cows for her.
Some time later, the father went to visit his daughter and her husband, and he was amazed at what he saw. This was not the haggard daughter he had given away. She was beautiful and radiant. When he asked her what had happened, she said, “When I saw how much I was valued in the eyes of my husband, I decided to start looking and acting like a ten-cow woman.
Perhaps when you realize that King Messiah left the wealth of heaven, the power of heaven, to purchase you the old haggardly daughter because He values you. Maybe you will also start acting like a ten cow kind of women. Just maybe if you could follow, as a sheep, the path our Shepherd has laid before us a world, even a hostile world might come to see the high price he also paid for them and they would also start looking and acting like ten cow kind of wives.
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