EXODUS 35:10-36:38 | MATTHEW 27:32-66 | PSALM 34:1-10 | PROVERBS 9:7-8
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The work on the Temple as commanded by God to Moses begins. The master designers and craftsmen are identified, and the resources come pouring in from the people. These are what are called “freewill offerings” that are made by the people of their own accord. They are not specifically required to give, but they give anyway. It is an amazing thing to see how the human mind and heart works.
When laws are set forth and demands are made, what is done is done out of a sense of duty, even drudgery, but when there are no forced laws, what is done is out of a sense of sincere love. The account says that the people kept bringing in their offerings every day, so much so that soon there was more than was required, and Moses had to put out word to halt their donations!
These are the same people who had not too long ago lost faith in God, had turned to building themselves a golden calf, and had begun to worship it. These same idolaters see the light when Moses comes to them and tells them of what the Lord has commanded they do, which is to build the Temple. But this time Moses does not demand anything of them. It is the people themselves who are moved to rise up and offer to help in this great endeavor.
Turning now to our reading in Matthew, we are now in the thick of the crucifixion story. Jesus carries the monstrosity of the cross all the way up a mountain in order to be hung up on it– the common and most cruel form of Roman execution of the time. Every insult is hurled at him, and he is left to bleed to death with his wrists and ankles nailed to the wooden cross.
We see a small glimpse of the humanity within Jesus’ divinity at this time when he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Is that not the plaintive cry that all of us have cried at some time or the other?
And we hear this cry from Jesus’ lips at this gruesome hour. But God has not forsaken him–or us–and we will soon see the miraculous outcome of Jesus’ crucifixion. But before that, the people present at that place witness a supernatural act of God — a terrific earthquake that occurs at the time that Jesus breathes his last.
Incidentally, “Act of God” is the proper and common term used to this day to describe an act of nature that is sudden and severe.
I would have liked to meet Joseph of Arimathea, the man who goes to Pilate and asks for custody of Jesus’ body. He was a new disciple of Jesus is all we know of him. I wonder where all the other eleven disciples were; or even the women who were at the foot of the cross during the ghastly ordeal. Did it not occur to any of them to get the body down and conduct a burial in the custom of the day which meant embalming the body and placing it in a tomb.
We don’t know where any of those people were. But what we do know is that this almost virtual stranger by the name of Joseph steps forward and takes upon himself the responsibility of tending to the body of Jesus for burial.
But after this is done, it dawns upon some people that perhaps they should keep watch over the tomb just in case the body is stolen and subsequently claims are made to a resurrection. Pilate is duly informed and immediately orders a guard to be placed. But woe is unto all of them, because the record is now clear for all to know, and read, and see for themselves: the tomb could not hold him; the grave could not keep him!
The Psalm for the day is a beautiful one that showcases yet again David’s great trust in the Lord. Some beloved and oft-quoted verses are the ones mentioned in this psalm. They are:
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Finally, some food for thought in this one proverb penned by Solomon, wise king of Israel:
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.