Bible reading for Feb 21: Exodus 4; Luke 7.
But [Moses] said, "Oh, my Lord, please send someone else." (Exodus 4:13)
"Send someone else" (Ex 4). The Bible never whitewashes the failings of the heroes of the faith. Every portrait is painted with warts and all. Moses does not really want his assignment as deliverer of God's people. He gives excuse after excuse. My take-away: we can never exempt ourselves from obeying God by some limitation we have, or think we have. God says, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak." (Ex 4:11-12)
Killing Moses? Perhaps the most surprising (and abrupt) thing about this chapter is verse 24: "At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death." As God's leader, Moses is not exempt from obeying God. Apparently, in deference to his wife, Moses did not circumcise their son as the Abrahamic covenant required. Moses could not lead the covenant people of Abraham if he did not even practice the covenant sign in his family. It was a matter of allegiance. Like all of the Lord's people, God's appointed leaders do not get special permission to sin, even if it's for the sake of peace within one's family.
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." (Luke 7:9)
Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:49-50)
Faith in unexpected places (Luke 7). Luke notes that many people, including tax collectors, were believing Jesus (7:29). Luke says they "justified God", that is, they acknowledged God's justice and received John's baptism as a sign of repentance. The Pharisees and lawyers, however, rejected Jesus, as well as John's baptism (7:30). True faith is a turning from self-justification to God-justification. That is, God not only has a right to judge us but his judgment is completely right. The irony of salvation is that God then "justifies" the sinner in declaring him or her "right" in God's eyes (see Romans 3-4). In this chapter we see that even John the Baptist wavers. He may have expected Christ to do more in the way of political liberation, such as, releasing John from Herod's dungeon. Just a guess. Yet, Luke recounts for us in this passage some examples of faith in unexpected places.
Two shining examples in chapter 7 are the centurion (a Roman military officer) and an immoral woman. Each demonstrates faith, and Christ calls attention to it. The centurion (7:1-9) recognizes his own unworthiness, but believes that Jesus has greater authority than had been demonstrated so far. Namely, he believed that Jesus could heal at a distance by his word alone. This was not really a leap of faith on the centurion's part, but rather the logic of faith, whereby he reasoned upon the nature of authority as it related to the person of Jesus. The immoral woman (7:36-50) unashamedly poured out (literally) her love for Jesus. Observation: great sin receives great forgiveness, resulting in great love. Late in life John Newton said, “Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” We should not be afraid to acknowledge the greatness and seriousness of our sin, because we have a Savior who is far, far greater than our sin!
Saving faith is best seen when our love turns from ourselves, our sin, our world, and is drawn to, delights in, and pours itself out for the Lord Jesus. The Apostle Peter wrote to believers in the NT, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory..." (1 Pet 1:8). To each of us who comes to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, just as he spoke to the woman, so the Lord Jesus says to us today, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Note on the Rubens painting above. "During a feast in the house of Simon the Pharisee, at which Christ and his disciples were present, a repentant woman entered the house and washed Christ's feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and then anointed them. ... Rubens conceives the painting as a dramatic conflict between the Pharisees and Christ. The Pharisees' world of material values and religious dogmatism is opposed to the Christian world of sublime ideas and noble acts, a world of sympathy, charity and goodness. Certain of the justice and morality of his position, Christ, and his disciples as they take in the words of their teacher, stand against the Pharisees, on whose faces we can read lack of comprehension, annoyance and even anger. The conflict between two totally opposed approaches to life is emphasized by the structure of the painting and the arrangement of the color, at the basis of which lies the principle of dynamic contrast: the left side of the composition, occupied by Simon the Pharisee, is full of swirling movement and is marked by the uneven rhythm of small, broken forms; the right side, dominated by the figure of Christ, is composed of calm lines and large areas of color." (From the Hermitage Museum website: hermitagemuseum.org)
Image credit: "Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee" (1618-20), by Peter Paul Rubens. Courtesy of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here. http://www.edginet.org/mcheyne/printables.html
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.