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bible reading mar 11

Bible reading for March 11:  Exodus 22; John 1.

"If ever you take your neighbor's cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate."  (Exodus 22:26-27) 

Response and restitution (Ex 22).  We are continuing to read of the case laws in God's covenant with Israel.  These are the particular applications of the Ten Commandments to actual life situations.  For example, the laws dealing with theft are the outworking of the eighth commandment, "You shall not steal" (Ex 20:15).  The law considers the circumstances of our reactions, as well.  The qualification regarding striking a thief at night or in the daytime (22:2-3) is meant to prevent victims from killing those who are seen stealing, which would be excessive, as opposed to the situation at night, striking out in the dark against someone who might believe to be intending bodily harm. Intent and circumstances matter. Note also the laws for restitution. It is not enough to say, "I'm sorry." Things must be returned and compensation given. In the pastorate I've found that a person's sincerity in repentance is often revealed by how willing he or she is to make actual restitution for offenses. Some years ago I was glad to see and to help a young man make financial amends to the store from which he had shoplifted.  That's true repentance. 

Social justice.  One thing we see in God's law is how often ethical issues are mixed together. In this chapter there are case laws regarding theft, idolatry, sorcery, bestiality, charging interest to the poor, and cursing a ruler.  Often in our culture, when people mention "social justice" they are selective, for example, in thinking of how we treat the poor, the widow, and the immigrant. Others, when they think of justice, think of sexual purity and property laws. In fact the law combines all these in the category of social justice.  God is serious about all injustice.  How we treat the poor is a matter of justice.  And how we conduct our sex lives is a matter of justice, too.  Also, verse 28 seems timely to me: no matter which political party has its candidate in the White House, or in Congress, we should speak respectfully of those in positions of authority (Rom 13:1-7).   


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2)

A new creation (John 1:1-18).  How many wonderful truths are packed into this one chapter, this prologue to the Gospel of John!  Christ's deity, pre-existence, eternality, incarnation, and his work of redemption, as well as, grace, faith, and becoming children of God. Many themes here will re-appear later in this gospel. This is the Apostle John's personal account, likely written some years after the other gospels, but no later than AD 90. The opening verses call us back to Genesis 1 and teach us that, not only was Christ co-creator with the Father at the beginning, he himself is the fount of the new creation. He is the Son who ever beholds the Father's face. He comes as light and life from God into the dark world. He takes on flesh (a human nature); he is rejected; and in his death as the sacrificial Lamb of God he will take away the sin of the world (1:29).  A Jewish hearer would quickly pick up that Jesus as the Lamb of God would not cover sin, the meaning of atonement in the OT sacrifices, but that in fulfillment of all the promises he would take away the sin, not just of Israel, but of the world. 

Ministry launch (Jn 1:19-51).  John the Baptist gives his testimony about Jesus (1:19-34) and disciples begin to follow him. "What are you seeking?" is a question the Lord Jesus would ask each of us.  And, "Come and you will see," is the invitation he gives to all of us. Like God naming Adam, and Adam naming the creatures in the first creation (Gen 2), so Jesus gives a new name to Simon (1:42; cf Isa 62:2; Rev 2:17). Nathaniel learns that Jesus, like God the Father, has seen him alone under the fig tree, likely while praying or meditating on Scripture (1:48).  Further, we learn that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob's dream in Genesis 28: Christ is the dwelling place of God (Jn 1:14) and the gate to heaven (Jn 10:9). Nathaniel confesses Jesus to be the "Son of God" (Ps 2) and the "King of Israel" (Isa 9).  Jesus refers to himself as the "Son of Man" (from Dan 7), all of this demonstrating the marvelous inter-relation between the Old and New Testaments.  God's word is a tapestry of truth from beginning to end!

Receive him as offered (Jn 1:12).  "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."  The "him" here is the Lord Jesus as presented and described in the gospel.  Some scholars say that the writer of this gospel holds to a "high Christology".  That is, this exalted view of Jesus goes beyond him being a teacher, miracle-worker, or disturber-of-the-peace. He is the pre-existent, eternal Son of God who comes into the world, combining sinless humanity and deity in the incarnation, fulfilling Old Testament hopes, and in his work as the substitutionary sacrifice removes the guilt and power of sin from all who believe in him.  This gospel-writer, John, is a trustworthy eye-witness to the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus (Jn 21:24).  All of the writers of the New Testament would reject the notion that people are free to pick and choose what they believe about Jesus, or to receive him merely as they conceive him to be.  We receive Jesus as he is presented to us in the Bible, or we do not really receive him as he truly is.    

We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Download a copy of this plan 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.


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