But What About You? Who Do You Say I Am?

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DEUTERONOMY 16:1-17:20 | LUKE 9:7-27 | PSALM 72:1-20 | PROVERBS 12:8-9

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Moses isn’t finished just yet with the recap of the instructions to the children of Israel even as they prepare to enter the “promised land”.  Today, he reminds them of the importance of celebrating the Passover, as well as several other feasts during the course of the year. 

Follow all these rules, he tells them, and you will live long and will prosper. 

Finally, he gives also instructions for the king that they might appoint for themselves in the new land.  It is noteworthy that the primary instruction for the king is not about military prowess or public administration but about holding dear to these laws by reading it “all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God…” 

Moses says: 18When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Turning to our reading in the gospel according to Luke, we encounter the amazing story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five fishes and two loaves of bread.  And if that wasn’t amazing enough, the record also states that there were twelve baskets of leftovers. 

Along with his twelve disciples, Jesus conducts his ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing to the people throughout the regions.  Given the nature of his miraculous works, there is talk about who he really is– could it be that he is the long-awaited Messiah? 

Even Herod, the Roman ruler wonders if this is John the Baptist that had been beheaded at his behest, or might this be Elijah, the prophet?  There is much speculation about the true identity of Jesus’ persona, and yet it is only Simon Peter  who definitively states that Jesus is the Christ, i.e., the Messiah.  

But Jesus forbids Peter from proclaiming this because this would clearly appear to be self-serving.  Peter was Jesus’ disciple, of course, and so why wouldn’t he say that Jesus was the Messiah?  If there was to be true recognition of Jesus’ identity, it ought to come directly from the people and the leaders of the Temple.  Jesus asks, 20 “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” 

But we have seen already how the people have rejected Jesus time and again—despite every inconceivable miracle that was performed before their very eyes, they have not believed and not realized that they were already in the presence of their Messiah.  Woe is unto them all!

We turn next to the Psalm of the day, and find David’s prayer for the king of Israel.  David says:

17 May his name endure forever;
   may it continue as long as the sun.

All nations will be blessed through him,
   and they will call him blessed.
18 Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
   who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;
   may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
            Amen and Amen.
20 This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.

Finally, our Proverb for the day is one to ponder upon:

8 A person is praised according to their prudence,
and one with a warped mind is despised.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

My Mouth Will Tell of Your Righteousness, of Your Salvation All Day Long

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DEUTERONOMY 13:1-15:23 | LUKE 8:40-9:6 | PSALM 71:1-24 | PROVERBS 12:5-7

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If it wasn’t clear enough already, Moses makes a particular point of reiterating yet one more time the importance of not worshiping any other gods.  Idolatry is strictly forbidden, as is being led by anyone at all including your own family to any other person who might claim to be a prophet or have divine powers. 

God’s command was pretty straightforward:  do not worship any thing or any person. 

This was a special people that had a special God: one who talked with them and walked with them, and brought them out of the most impossible of circumstances, and had provided for them for the last forty years, and was now preparing to establish them in a new land as per the covenant that was made with their forefathers.

But there were some things that needed to be made clear, chief among them being this business of holding fast to their faith in the one and only God.  And then there are other things that bear repeating as well:  things such as dietary restrictions and concessions, the making of tithes, the canceling of debts every seven years, the freeing of slaves also every seven years, and finally, the offering of the firstborn and perfect animal sacrifice to God which was commemorated in the feast of the Passover.  All these things Moses tells the people yet again so as to remind them once more on how to conduct themselves in the land that they are about to enter.

Turning next to Luke, we find the familiar story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and is instantly healed—so great is her faith!  

Also great is the faith of the man named Jairus who comes to Jesus with the plea that Jesus heal his dying daughter.  Alas, his daughter is dead by the time Jesus gets there, and upon seeing the grief and wailing of the people, Jesus tells them to stop crying because the girl is only asleep.  At this, some people laugh at him (they presumably were not aware of Jesus’ reputation in the region), but Jesus simply says to the young twelve-year old girl, “My child, get up”, and the young girl is raised to life!

The Psalm for the day is one of great praise.  David is unabashed in the high praise that he has for God Almighty.  Nothing and no one can dissuade him from the great hope and trust that he has placed in the Lord.  David says:

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
   though I know not its measure.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.

And despite all the many trials and tribulations that he has seen in his lifetime, he is steadfast in his belief in God’s provision for him.  It is this kind of faith that must truly please God!  David says:

20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again

Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs in which Solomon, wise king of Israel offers a contrast between the righteous and the wicked:

5 The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

6 The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the speech of the upright rescues them.

7 The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
   but the house of the righteous stands firm.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.