Saturday, December 22, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 70-73 and Matthew 9

Psalm 70 – “Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me. May those who try to kill me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace” (70:1-2).

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘God is great!’ But as for me, I am poor and needy; please hurry to my aid, O God. You are my helper and my savior; O Lord, do not delay” (70:4-5).

Psalm 71 – “O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide” (71:1-3).

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood” (71:5).

“Now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing” (71:9).

His enemies say his God has abandoned him. “[P]lease hurry to help me. Bring disgrace and destruction on my accusers . . . But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more” (71:12-14).

“Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your might miracles to all who come after me” (71:18). May it be so, Lord.

Psalm 72 – “Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly” (72:1-2).

“May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth. May all the godly flourish during his reign. May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more” (72:6-7).

“The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts. All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him. He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them” (72:10-12). Seems like a little Christmas in these words to me.

“May the king’s name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun shines. May all nations be blessed through him and bring him praise . . . Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!” (72:17-19). It is noted that this marks the end of David’s prayers.

Matthew 9 – Jesus goes back across the sea to Capernaum, his own town. There he heals the paralyzed man and equates the healing with forgiveness of sin. Some are angry that he seems to think he’s God – claiming to have the power to forgive sins. 

Matthew, the tax collector, is called and there is a dinner in his home. This man is called Levi in Mark and Luke. The Pharisees ask why he eats with sinners, and Jesus tells them because “healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do” (9:12).  “’I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners’” (9:13).

The disciples of John come and ask why his disciples do not fast, and he tells them he is like the bridegroom and they like wedding guests—they will not mourn till he is gone. This is followed by the bit about not sewing a new piece of cloth on an old cloak and not putting “new wine into old wineskins” (9:17). You don’t want the old skins to “burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins” (9:17).

A leader of the synagogue comes and begs Jesus to raise his daughter who has just died. Jesus starts to go with him.

Then a woman comes up and touches his cloak so her hemorrhages will be cured. Jesus looks at her and tells her that her faith has made her well.

He arrives at the synagogue official’s home and sends the funeral musicians away; he goes in, takes the girl by the hand and raises her. “The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside” (9:26).

Two blind men follow him, calling him the “Son of David” and begging him to have mercy on them.  He asks them if they believe he can make them see, and they say yes.  He touches their eyes and cures them, but tells them not to tell (they do anyway).

Similarities with Mark’s Bartimaeus story (Mark 10:46) include the form of address to Jesus—“Son of David”—and the intensity of the plea for healing. But here there are two blind men.  Matthew also doubles the number of demoniacs in the Legion story too.  Is there some reason? To complicate matters – or make them more intriguing - Matthew has this story again later on in chapter 20:29, but specifically sets that story in Jericho—and again he has makes Bartimaeus into two blind men! Luke has the story at chapter 18—no name attached, but only one man and in Jericho.

Then a demoniac who was mute is brought to him and is cured.  The Pharisees say he is casting out demons by invoking the ruler of demons.

Jesus goes all around proclaiming the good news and curing every disease.  He had compassion for the crowds “because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). He tells his followers that the harvest is plenty but the laborers few. “So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (9:38).

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