Like in today’s reading from John, Jesus and the religious authorities were in a continual battle and a great deal of it revolved around priorities. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew God’s word and it said you could not work on the Sabbath. Jesus, on the other hand, believed the law’s importance and authority had limits, particularly in light of the suffering of another human. Today, Jesus prioritized a crippled man’s healing over the law. The religious authorities did not approve.
1 Samuel 1:1-2:21:
5 – It was not unusual for a man to abandon a barren wife.
1-8 – Note the similarities between these two women and Rachel and Leah. The less loved wife is able to bear children. Rivalry ensues. But notice how differently Hannah deals with her situation than Rachel.
8 – Elkanah sounds like a wonderful, loving man.
11 – Hannah is offering the son she hopes for up as a Nazirite, dedicated to the Lord’s service, like Samson.
19-20 – Obviously a huge answer to prayer! Note that in ancient Israelite culture, name’s had deep meaning. We’ve seen this a lot. Name’s were not given frivolously, but with great purpose and thought.
24-28 – What an incredibly difficult follow through! Hannah desperately wanted a son, but promised him to God’s service. She follows through with her promise and gives Samuel to the Lord. I’m not sure that I could do the same.
1-10 – The deep faith and commitment to God expressed in her prayer makes it a little more clear how she was able to keep her promise.
12-17 – The sons of Eli would have been priests as well and were not following the laws of how to sacrifice, but instead, taking the parts of the sacrifice that were meant for God.
2-9 – We often read these stories and think they’re neat or nice but fail to feel the weight of it. The man beside the pool had been an invalid for 38 years! 38 years is a long time to be sick or disabled! And then suddenly, with just a word, he is able to walk. That’s incredible!
9-17 – The religious leaders were very intent on keeping the law. Note that they did not rejoice that the crippled man was healed, they noticed his infraction of picking up his mat. We can tend to be pretty bad about that too. “Sin no more” is also an interesting statement because you wonder what sin of this man Jesus is referring to. He says the same thing to the woman at the well, but he was addressing a specific sin.
The continuation of this Psalm tells more of the story of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites through their escape from Egypt and his provision for them in the desert. If you were an Israelite reading or hearing this, it would be a great reminder of the lengths to which God was willing to go to save you.
Quick reactions, decisions, and emotions continue to be associated with folly.
Like the argument of the chicken and the egg, one of the biggest points of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees was whether Sabbath laws trumped human need or vice versa. Today, in our Luke section, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. He clearly chooses human need over Sabbath Law.
Moses offers blessings to each of Israel’s tribes based on the role they tended to play. Some were larger, some had great warriors, some were set aside for teaching God’s law to the rest of the people.
29 – He rounds out his blessing with a reminder of how adeptly God cares for them and that they are truly set apart.
10-17 – The synagogue’s authorities yet again become enraged by Jesus’ actions because he “does work” by healing on the Sabbath. Jesus reminds them that they do too do work on the Sabbath, but have found a way to justify it, while he does work on the Sabbath to bless and love people.
18-19 – There are many interpretations of why the mustard seed is a good comparison for the Kingdom of God. Some say that it’s because a mustard seed is tiny and grows quickly into something great. Others say it is because a mustard seed grows in a wild, uncontrollable fashion. Others say it is because the birds make nests in the mustard tree just like we can make a home and be welcomed into the kingdom of God.
20-21 – Leaven activates ingredients do to what they’re supposed to do. Leaven also makes dough rise.
There are several times in Scripture where it describes God as silent. Before he calls Samuel and when there were no prophets for 400 years before John the Baptist arrived are some examples.
68 – Judah was the tribe that both David and Jesus came from.
Anxiety is normally equated with worry. The Bible often equates worry with a lack of trust. God continually gives us reason to trust as he continually proves himself faithful.
As has been a continual theme throughout the first 5 books of the Bible, known as the Torah, God asks the Israelites to go to any and every length to avoid temptations that would draw them towards other gods. We think some of them sound extreme, but we could probably stand to cut a few things out of our lives that tempt us away from God.
1-3 – We often wonder if God puts us through tests. Though our theology would lean towards “no”, this is an example of the Israelites’ faith being tested through false prophets.
6-11 – The Israelites were instructed to go to any length to not be led away from God. We could probably cut certain things out of our lives in order to avoid being tempted by other gods.
The rules Moses is telling the Israelites are not new ones. He is reiterating ones that were given in Leviticus.
28-29 – Their tithe was used to take care of those who could not take care of themselves.
1 – The 7th year was known as the Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and possessions were returned to their rightful owner.
6 – It was important for the Israelites not to borrow from anyone else so that no one else could boast that they had contributed to Israel’s wealth or prosperity. God alone was the giver of their blessings.
13 – This continual reminder should keep Israel from ever having pride in their own accomplishments but in God’s alone.
48 – Here Jesus attributes the woman’s healing to her own faith. Sometimes he would attribute the miracle to the person and sometimes to God. What makes this difference?
Jesus tells Jairus and his wife not to tell of the miracle he performed but he did not tell the bleeding woman not to tell anyone.
20-21 – Often we feel alone and desperate when we are at our lowest, but this reminds us that God raises up again in time.
A theme you may have noticed, which will be prevalent this week, is that God did not want the Israelites to associate with other people groups in any significant way. To us this may seem exclusive and even hateful towards those people. Entire people groups were wiped out in order to avoid these associations. But these people groups weren’t victims of McCarthyism. God wasn’t accusing or attacking these people without substantial evidence. We see, over and over, the Israelites engaging with other nations and beginning to take on their customs and even worship their gods. God knew the Israelites would be easily swayed and would lose their loyalty to him. Setting the Israelites apart was a way of protecting them.
This week’s Luke readings will definitely keep you engaged with parables, healings, and tons more! Two cool things to look for and think about for a while are:
1) Peter’s recognition and admission of Jesus as the Messiah – Peter’s admission is the first of any of Jesus’ followers. People were still saying he might be Elijah or some other prophet, and obviously many people were thinking he was a heretic. Peter, as he tended to do, steps out in faith and declares Jesus’ identity.
2) Jesus telling a woman that her faith has healed her – Throughout Scripture there are different explanations of why people are healed. Some just seem to be miracles from God without any other explanation. Some are based on the faith of someone else asking for a friend or loved one and others, like the healing we’ll read about on Thursday, are attributed to the faith of the person healed. What do you notice as the difference between the healings? Is there any? If so, why?
Finally, some of our Psalms this week are very raw. They are filled with rage and malice and can be jarring to us. Try to remember that these Psalms are not God talking, but a human, like you and me. This is not necessarily something to model ourselves after, but to remind us that God knows us at our best and worst, and we are sinful.
This may be what comes to mind when you think of “confession”, but today’s psalm is one of confession and is not given through a screen to a priest. Instead, this psalm shows us David pouring out the sins of his hear to God and ultimately remembering God as his hope and salvation. What if we approached confession that way today?
Though these eating instructions may seem tedious, it is good for us to have order and design of what we can and cannot do. And, as we’ve said before, following the instructions allowed the Israelites to remain clean and able to be in the presence of God.
The differences between clean and unclean are based on what is good for us. This is somewhat reminiscent of when God gave the garden to Adam and Eve but designated one tree as not good for them.
28 – Clearly Jesus’ reputation preceded him if she had that much confidence in just touching his garment.
30 – Jesus had great perception of his connection to God and his power that came from him because he knew when any left him.
34 – Faith is often attributed with effectiveness in healing, miraculous acts, etc.
35-43 – The first time we read of Jesus raising someone from the dead. Certainly Jairus had lost hope. Once again, Jesus tells them to keep quiet.
A Psalm that is helpful when we need to confess. Note that it still ends in praise addressing God as “my salvation”.
Before Abraham Lincoln spoke these words about our nation divided between pro-slave and pro-free, Jesus said them. Jesus spoke of the impossibility of him serving both God and demons. The religious authorities tried to explain his exorcisms and miracles away saying he was working for the demonic. Jesus makes it very clear, that was simply impossible.
26 – Interesting that priests are to eat the meat of sin offerings. It seems that it would be considered unholy or untouchable.
19-21 – There were a variety of things that could make a person or thing unclean. Anyone who was unclean had to undergo a ceremonial washing and/or a period of time for them to return to cleanness.
10 – Could be explanation why he tried to silence anyone he healed.
19 – Spoiler alert.
22-27 – Jesus explains that he can’t be rooting for both teams. For Beelzebul to be successful, he would first have to stop Jesus.
1-16 – Abraham was unwilling to accept a burial spot for Sarah as a gift from the Hittites. He insisted on paying. Like in the story where he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham knew and believed that all his blessings were from God. He could not allow someone’s gift to disrupt that.
1-4 – It was important to God, and thus Abraham as well, that Isaac not inter-marry with a Canaanite, which would have been easy since that was the land they lived in.
14 – Watering camels was a long, laborious job since camels drink so rarely, but when they do it’s in high volume. Offering to water someone else’s camels would have been a big commitment.
10-33 – In this society, meeting at wells often led to marriage. Laban was pleased that his sister had met a man at a well for this reason.
This section is filled with 3 healing stories. It is important to notice when anything in the Bible comes in 3s. This means it is being emphasized.
Note that of the three healings, one is a leper, who is considered unclean and is often outcast, another is a centurion, who is a gentile’s, servant.
10-13 – Israelites, because of their covenant with God, sometimes considered themselves above others. Jesus is explaining that this man, though not part of the chosen people, would be with Jesus because of his faith, while some Israelites were banking on their heritage.
There are several terms like “Higgaion” and “Selah” whose meanings are not certain. They are presumed to be some sort of musical term since the Psalms often have instructions such as that they are “for the choirmaster”.
3 – In Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses encourages the Israelites to bind God’s word around their head and wrists and to write it on their hearts. This is a similar command and purposely mirrors that of Moses.
5-6 – Familiar, encouraging verses reminding us to trust in God first and we will be rewarded with straight paths.