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!!
As he did so often, in today’s Mark reading, Jesus takes one of the religious leaders’ questions and flips it on its head. The religious leader asks about whether or not he should have to pay taxes. Jesus responds brilliantly! If the image of Caesar is on the coin, sure, give it to him, but where is the image of God?
- Just like the homes were supposed to face the Tent of Meeting, certain Jewish prayers are supposed to be said in the direction of the place the temple was.
- 38 – Interesting that part of the priestly duty was to guard the temple. This seems like a strange task for priests.
- 44-51 – The Levites weren’t killed in exchange for the first born of each Israelite family, they were simply set apart for service to God and the Lord allowed that commitment to redeem the lives of all the first born.
- 27-33 – Jesus was adept at sidestepping the religious leaders’ attempts to incriminate him.
- 1-12 – This parable describes God sending prophet after prophet to the Israelites trying to get them to repent and follow him. Over and over the prophets were rejected. Finally God sends Jesus and Jesus too is rejected and killed.
- 13-17 – The image of Caesar is on the coin but the image of God is on us. We can pay our taxes as designed but give our lives to God.
- A reminder that we serve a God who can overcome anything and thus deserves praise.
There’s a lot to look forward to this week! Finishing Leviticus and starting Numbers, getting into some of Marks parables, and some beautiful psalms that are relatable and noteworthy, and, of course, more wisdom and folly.
There are still a few significant laws to read through in Leviticus, but don’t be deterred! Think of God’s law like bumpers on a bowling lane. The laws keep you in the area that’s good for you and benefits the overall goal. For instance, this week, there’s a law teaching a certain way to reap your harvest. It may seem irrelevant to us, or could be construed as bossy or restrictive, but it actually was designed as an ancient way of feeding the poor. You just got bumped back in the lane.
In Mark, this week, we get to start delving into parables – Jesus’ somewhat cryptic stories that, when understood, help explain the nature and kingdom of God. We also continue through a number of miracle stories. One, in particular, depicts the disciples not being able to heal because of their lack of faith. Jesus steps in and completes the healing. Isn’t it comforting that in this story, as well as others like Peter walking on the water, when our faith falls short, Jesus steps in and fills the gap? I wonder what faith gaps of mine he’s filling?
Finally, be encouraged! After this week, we will have completed 4 books of the Bible. That may sound small considering there are 66 total, but a lot of them are very short and you’ve already learned a huge chunk of the history of how we got where we are today. You’re doing great!!