Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 2 and Luke 6:1-26

2 Kings 2 – The Lord is “about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind” (2:1). They are on their way from Gilgal. Elijah tells Elisha to wait for him, that he has been told to go to Bethel, but Elisha refuses to leave him.  In Bethel, a group of prophets comes out and tells Elisha that Elijah will be taken up.  Elisha says he knows, that they should keep silent.


They go on in the same pattern to Jericho and there they again meet prophets who say the same thing.  Then they go on to the Jordan.  There Elijah strikes the water and it parts so they can walk through.  On the other side, Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before he is taken up.  Elisha asks for a “double share of your spirit” (2:9). Elijah tells him that if he sees him (Elijah) taken up, his request will be granted, but if not, it will not (2:10).


As they walk along, “a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven” (2:11). Elisha watches the whole time, and when he can no longer see Elijah, he tears his clothes. He picks up Elijah’s mantel and strikes the water with it, and again it parts the waters so he can pass through.

A company of prophets in Jericho see him and greet him. They volunteer to look for Elijah, but Elisha says no.  They urge him “until he was ashamed” (2:17), and he finally agrees to let them try.  But they search for three days and do not find him.
Elisha makes the water of Jericho wholesome (2:22). In Bethel, boys make fun of his bald head, and he curses them in the Lord’s name.  He has a weak side – I think he’s a little insecure in his status. Two she-bears come out and maul 42 of the boys.  He returns by Mt. Carmel to Samaria.

Luke 6:1-26 - Here we see and hear Jesus trying to clarify the Sabbath obligation.  He and his disciples pick and eat corn from a field and incur the displeasure of the Pharisees who claim this is a violation of the Sabbath.  He angers them even more by claiming that the “Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (6:5) and presumably can rule upon how it should be observed.

The account here differs from Mark only by leaving out the principle enunciated there, that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).  When he also heals a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees again are upset to the point where they continue to plot against Jesus. Again, just to point out the subtle differences between this account and Mark’s, here the allusion to Jesus’ “anger” (Mark 3:5) is omitted - the “fury” here (6:11) is attributed to the Pharisees and scribes, not to Jesus.
Following this Jesus goes to a quiet place to pray and prays all night.  When he returns, he picks the twelve who will be his apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon Zealot, Judas (son of James) and Judas Iscariot. 

There follows Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, here called sermon on the plain.  He comes down from the mountain and “[stands] on a level place” with a great crowd that has come from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon to hear him and be healed

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on 
     account of the Son of Man. 
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their
     ancestors did to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false 
    prophets (6:20-26).

Those who lack now will receive a reward in heaven, but the rich have their reward now. 

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