Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blogging toward Sunday

The Lectionary texts for Sunday, October 23 include Deuteronomy 34:1-12 and Matthew 22:34-46.

The passage from Deuteronomy is the setting of Moses' death and burial. What an interesting man Moses was...from the beginning when, as a baby, he floated in a the basket down the river, to being called by God from out of burning bush, to going up against Pharaoh repeatedly, to leading the people across the Red Sea on dry land, to leading the people through the wilderness for 40 years...  Yes, by any standards, Moses was an extraordinary man; an extraordinary prophet.  But before we begin to feel small and  insignificant, let's stop and remember that Moses was great, but it was not because of anything he did on his own.  Moses was great because God worked through him. It was God who made Moses what he was. 

Deuteronomy 34:10 says, "Never since has there risen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face." Since we know that "no one can see the face of God and live," the meaning of this verse is not to be taken literally. Instead, the implication is that Moses had as full a knowledge of God as was possible. No doubt, God and Moses had a special relationship. One interesting story that demonstrates this is found in Numbers 12.  It's a short chapter and if you take time to read it you will find that Moses' brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, became jealous of their brother. And when they spoke against Moses, God showed up in a powerful way.

Regarding the life and death of Moses, consider the following:
  1. What did the LORD show Moses up on the mountain?
  2. Where did Moses die?
  3. Why do you think Moses' burial site was not revealed?
  4. What was his physical condition when he died?
  5. Overall, what stands out for you in the character of Moses?
In many ways the life of Jesus hearkens back to the days of Moses. Jesus speaks with authority as a prophet. Jesus does many signs and wonders, which would have reminded the people of the plagues brought against the Egyptians because Pharaoh would not let God's people go. Jesus feeds the 5000, which must have reminded the people of the manna raining down from the heavens. And while Moses brought The Ten Commandments to the people as a gift from God, Jesus was able to reframe the commandments into two essential laws by which to live. Yet, in every way, "Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself (Hebrews 3:3, NRSV).

In the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus interprets the Law as hinging on two central commands: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." In Jesus' interpretation, we hear echoes of Micah 6:8, "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

Jesus does not come to the earth as a man only to speak words of wisdom such as "Love God and love your neighbor." Jesus embodies this way of life. In everything Jesus says and everything Jesus does, he provides an example for us as we walk this old earth in human form. Day in and day out, Jesus had a way of keeping "the main thing the main thing." O, that we might do the same.

After reading the passage from Matthew, consider the following:
  1. What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul and mind?
  2. Can we possibly do this without God's help?
  3. Jesus is God incarnate. In what way does that effect your faith?
  4. Of course, the heart is the organ beating in our chest and keeping us alive, but in this text, what is a likely meaning of "the heart"?
  5. How does Jesus model loving our neighbor?
  6. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. The implication is that we do love ourselves. In what ways to you take care of your body, soul and mind?
These have been just a few of my thoughts on the journey toward Sunday. As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship.


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