The Lectionary readings for this week include Exodus 33:12-23 and Matthew 22:15-22. (Another text for the week is I Thess.1:1-10, which will be used for those following the “Feasting on the Word” Sunday school curriculum.)
We have been traveling through the wilderness with Moses, who has been called to lead God’s people from captivity into freedom. Along the way, there have been many desert moments—with the people of Israel continuing to try the patience of both Moses and Yahweh. Along the way, Moses has proven himself to be a man eager to seek God’s favor, come what may.
In this week’s reading, Moses intercedes for the people, willing to continue to lead them ONLY if God’s presence continues with them as well. Then Moses makes a seemingly outlandish request: “Show me your glory, I pray.” Moses bravely asks God for the impossible. Why?
I hope you will take time to read this beautiful and touching Scripture passage from Exodus. Read it slowly, carefully, and, perhaps, more than once. Then consider the following:
- What do you find striking about this text?
- Imagine you are Moses and you have been in close contact with God for some time. Why might you want to see God’s glory?
- What do you think Moses is really yearning to see? Can you relate to Moses’ desire? If so, how?
- How does God respond?
- What does God’s response tell you about God’s character?
The reading from Matthew places us near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Following his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus cleansed the Temple (much to the dismay of the religious authorities) and he responded to the religious leaders with 3 parables to help them get a different perspective on the things of God. In essence, for too long the religious elite had used their authority for their own desires, rather than for the desires of God. It’s time for God’s kingdom to break in through God’s Son. It’s a new day and now the poor, the outcast, and the sinner have gained a welcome seat at the Table of Grace.
Not surprisingly, things are heating up—so much so that the Pharisees join up with the Herodians to trap Jesus. Although we don’t know a lot about the Herodians, one thing is certain: Because the Herodians are likely supporters of Herod Antipas, this union is caused by one thing and one thing alone—a common desire to stop Jesus in his tracks.
Read the text carefully and then consider the following:
- How do Jesus’ enemies act toward him at first?
- In verse 18, what does Jesus call them because he knows their hearts?
- What question do they pose?
- The Pharisees taught that possessing anything with a graven image was idolatrous. Yet, when asked to provide a coin on which an image was clearly evident, one was immediately provided, there in the temple, no less. How is this significant?
These have been just a few thoughts from your pastor on the journey toward Sunday. I look forward to seeing you in worship.