If you have ever attended a little league baseball game you have a sense of just how insane parents and coaches can get over trivialities. The kids seem to roll with the punches, but the parents just come unglued! Any hint of injustice or unfairness, or even just losing a game can cause some people to come to physical blows. Watch social media and other forms of communication and you will witness brazen and blatant assaults by the emotive and unrestrained. It can be downright embarrassing. It has gotten so bad that one trend that emerged among teens and young adults was to walk up to a complete stranger and punch them hard enough to knock them out. These incidents would be filmed and posted on YouTube for the public to enjoy–the modern day Roman Coliseum! And yet no one seems embarrassed. No one seems concerned. And certainly no one seems to be retracting or apologizing.
I was recently at a competitive event for children where there was such a blow up. Each party was so confident of their own position that neither was willing to give or compromise. Is it no longer possible to live peaceably among men? Are we all so driven by our own selfishness the we can no longer “bury the hatchet” somewhere other than someone else’s back?
In the Christian scriptures, we find this teaching by Yeshuah Ben Josef:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Yeshuah was in Galilee when he made this statement. He was standing in the side of a mountain on the shores of the Sea of Galilee as he taught.
Jewish men living in Galilee MUST travel to Jerusalem at least three times each year to make an offering: Passover, sukkah, and Shavuot.
“Three times a year shall all your men appear before the Lord your God in the place that God will choose [referring presumably to the Temple in Jerusalem], on the festivals of Pesah (Passover), Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (the Festival of Booths). They shall not appear empty handed. Each shall bring his own gift, appropriate to the blessing which the Lord your God has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Jerusalem is the ONLY location where offerings can be made. Men would make the four day journey to Jerusalem from Galilee with their offering in tow to make their offering while mothers and children remained behind to prepare for the seven day festival.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, the man would make his way to the temple to present his offering to the priest for sacrifice. The pilgrim would find thousands of other pilgrims standing in line to make their offering as well. After waiting in line for hours or even days he would finally approach the altar with his sacrifice for the priests to offer. If at that moment he remembered that someone back in Galilee was upset with him, Yeshuah COMMANDS that the pilgrim leave his prized possession behind, make the four day journey back to Galilee and be reconciled. And ONLY after reconciliation may he make the four day journey back to Jerusalem to offer his sacrifice.
If you break this down to the basic facts, if a man leaves his offering to be reconciled with his brother or sister, he will completely miss the festival and will have violated Torah Law. This significant point emerges:
Reconciliation is more important than religious observance.
Not only does Yeshua make the shocking suggestion to walk away from the required sacrifice, but also seems to mandate that reconciliation be so important that we are willing to place ourselves in physical and financial hardship to make peace with our enemies, as well as violate religious law and observation to do so.
This is one of those sticky areas where the Messiah of the “New Testament” places a MUCH higher demand upon his disciples than the Torah imposes. The question that becomes most obvious is this: Can any one really do this? Can we really regard peace and reconciliation as so significant that we would pursue it without regard for personal expense and possibly our lives?