Today is the last day of the marathon psalm, Psalm 119! But isn’t it a great one!?! It becomes so obvious the deep and abiding love the psalmist has for Scripture. It is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. Throughout the psalm, the writer makes it clear that he believes the law of God’s word is perfect and can guide us to live in a righteous manner. What would it look like if our love of Scripture was this deep?
2 Samuel 18:1-19:10:
- 33 – David is deeply grieved at the loss of his son. Just like with Saul, he is able to forgive Absalom for wanting to kill him.
- 1-8 – Joab is angry with David and explains to him that it won’t sit well with his followers that he is more saddened by Absalom’s death than happy for their hard work in victory.
- 4 – Like at Jesus’ trial, this disciple other than Peter is unnamed, but present.
- 6-7 – An interesting note on Jesus’ burial cloths being left behind in the tomb is that when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came out of the tomb still wrapped in burial cloths. Whether significant or not, it’s an interesting contrast.
- 14 – No one who encounters Jesus after his resurrection recognizes him immediately.
- 24-29 – We, like Thomas, often need proof in order to have faith. Jesus reminds Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed.
- 30-31 – It’s powerful to think that the gospels were written so people like you and me would believe in Jesus.
- Psalm 119 is, by far, the longest psalm in Scripture. Over and over again, in a variety of ways, the psalmist explains his deep love and commitment to Scripture. This truly must have been a great, devoted love.
Welcome to John! He starts his gospel off with a bang. Clearly referring to the beginning of Genesis, he starts off with, “In the beginning…”. John’s gospel, from the beginning, and throughout the entire book, is very different from the other three gospels. While each gospel has a specific purpose, John’s is stated at the end. He explains that this gospel was written so that we would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. So…read carefully.
- 1 – Being the son of a prostitute was shameful in their culture, but it’s clear that God is willing to use him anyway since he was a mighty warrior. You may also notice that people’s tribes are mentioned quite a bit in this book. Because the Israelites had mixed with other people groups so heavily, it was important to differentiate who were actual Israelites by mentioning their tribe.
- 24 – Ancient cultures believed that the side with the mightier god would win a battle. This is why Jephthah calls out the Amorites god, Chemosh.
- 30-40 – Note that God does not ask for this sacrifice from Jephthah, he foolishly offers it up and it costs him the life of his daughter. This is why we are to give and do what God asks of us, not decide for ourselves what God wants.
- John’s gospel is different from the other 3, which are known as the Synoptic Gospels. They all draw from each other, while John’s gospel does not as much. John’s gospel is where we find the “I am” statements. These are statements where Jesus says, “I am…” and reveals something about himself.
- 1 – “The Word” is Christ. This explains to us that Christ has been present from the beginning. He did not enter into existence at birth, but always been just as God the Father has always been.
- 6-8 – This refers to John the Baptist. Many wondered if he was the one they had waited for, but he was not, he simply came to prepare the way for Christ.
- 9-13 – Christ came first to save the Jews, his own people, but many did not recognize him or believe that he was the Messiah. All who did were made children of God.
- 14 – “The Word became flesh” explains the coming of Christ as a human. Instead of the birth narrative we read in Matthew and Luke, this explains the coming of Christ.
- 17 – Moses gave the law. Grace and truth came through Jesus. The law did not make room for grace, but God offered that through Christ.
- 20-23 – John does not claim to be anything he’s not, but quotes Isaiah, a verse the religious leaders would have certainly known, and explains that he’s preparing the way for the Messiah to come.
- This Psalm of David would be an excellent one to read or recite when faced with temptation or to start your day with the intent of living righteously. “I will ponder the way that is blameless.” “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”
- 14 – There are a number of references in the New Testament to bad sources only producing bad fruit and good sources only producing good fruit. We cannot expect to produce great things if our hearts are not great as well.
Though Luke is doing a great job of telling the story, here are a few things to think about as you finish up the third gospel.
Do you ever long for something you used to complain about? Like naps as little kids, now we would die for one in the middle of a long afternoon! In this week’s Numbers readings, the Israelites continue to long for what they begged to get out of. Their wanderings in the desert prove difficult and they think they’d rather be back in Egypt. You’ll also hear a talking donkey, learn the purpose of the Levites, and much more!
This week we also start a new gospel! Luke begins his gospel by explaining that he will provide an orderly, organized account of Jesus’ life and ministry. You’ll recognize his birth narrative from every Christmas Eve service you’ve ever been to. But you may never have noticed that there’s something different from the birth narrative in Matthew. Matthew focuses more on Joseph’s perspective while Luke focuses more on Mary’s.
Some other cool fun facts about Luke:
- Luke also wrote Acts, which we’ll read after John.
- Luke is known for its wide array of Jesus’ parables. Parables are found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but Luke has the most.
- In Luke, women play a larger role than in any other gospel.
- Luke contains both Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s song – both beautiful praise pieces.
Enjoy this week! We’re making great progress! This is the 9th book we’ve started, so we’re doing great!!
Now that we’re a week into Mark, you’ve probably noticed that some stories are repeated in multiple gospels while others are only in one. The reason something is or isn’t included in a gospel is based on whether the writer felt it was significant in explaining to people the identity and importance of Jesus.
- 9 – What it meant to be “cut off from your people” is uncertain. Some thoughts are that it entailed the death penalty, or a curse to die young and childless, or to be excommunicated from your people.
- 4-5 – The reason we should follow God’s laws is simple – because he is the Lord our God.
- 26-30 – The Syrophenician woman was a gentile. While Jesus’ statement sounds harsh, Jesus makes it very clear he came first for the Jews. Note that he still heals the woman’s daughter.
- Both Matthew and Mark record two large feeding stories, one of 4,000 and one of 5,000, which makes it more likely that it was not simply one event they were trying to emphasize.
- 4 – Was David’s sin not considering the poor? This makes sense considering the first few verses.