Bible reading for Jan 22: Genesis 23; Matthew 22.
Death and burial of Sarah (Gen 23). The first piece of land Abraham officially owns in the land promised to him and his descendants is a burial place for Sarah, near Hebron. Even though Ephron offers to give the land to Abraham it was probably only a Mideastern formality, for he adds, "...a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me?" (23:15) He slips the price in there very smoothly. Nevertheless, Abraham insists on paying full price with no haggling. He honored his wife in her life, death, and burial.
My take-away: as believers we should observe the customs of our land. The Apostle Paul wrote, "...but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Rom 12:17-18). And, "Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed." (Rom 13:7) Just because we are children of God we shouldn't expect a free ride from the country we live in. Christians should pay a fair price, give fair wages, and tip well.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:36-37 ESV)
Confrontation in Jerusalem (Matt 22). Jesus gives a parable portraying the gracious and lavish invitation of a king, and the insolent reactions given from those invited. He answers several questions that his opponents designed to trick him and discredit his authority. He answers plainly that the greatest commandment is to love God wholeheartedly, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Finally, he turns and asks them a question that stops them cold. Psalm 110 is the most quoted passage from the OT cited in the NT. In it King David says, "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool'" (Ps 110:1).
Traditional Jewish thought was that a son was not greater than his father, or his grandfather, etc., and that those who went before were greater than those who came after. See John 1:30, for example, where John the Baptist explains that though Christ came "after" him he actually was "before" him. Likely, many thought that the Messiah, the "son of David" might be a great king but not necessarily greater than David. Jesus points out that King David calls his son, "Lord." This really increased the gravity of the discussion. If Jesus was the true "son of David", they would be rejecting One with greater authority than King David himself, one who is called "Lord". By this time the opponents of Jesus stop asking him any more questions. As Will Rogers once said, "Never miss a good opportunity to shut up."
My take-away: Jesus is Lord! There will always be those who have a clever question that they think will trip him up. In this age there will always be those who think they understand better, or have greater learning, or can dismiss Jesus with a wave of the hand. But all objections against the Lord have, or will be, answered decisively. There is no one like Jesus in his mercy, his power, his authority, and his wisdom. May we rest in the "full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge... in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments." (Col 2:2-4)
Image above: photograph I took in 1997 of the south wall and steps of the temple mount in Jerusalem. These steps and the Huldah gates there would have been the way Jesus and his disciples went in to, and went out from, the temple courts.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule found here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.