Saturday, December 29, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 90-92 and Matthew 16

Psalm 90 – “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home. Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God” (90:1-2).

“For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered” (90:4-6).

“Our days dwindle under your wrath, our lives are over in a breath . . . over in a trice, and then we are gone” (90:9-10).

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord, come back to us. How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants (90:12-13). “[L]et our children see your glory” (90:16).

Psalm 91 –  “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (91:1-2).

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday” (91:4-6).

“Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home” (91:7-10).

The Lord says, ‘I will rescue all who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation’” (91:14-16).

Psalm 92 – “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by the ten-stringed harp and the melody of the lyre” (92:1-3).

“[T]he godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (92:13-14).

Matthew 16 – “One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, demanding that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority” (16:1). Jesus replies that the signs are already there to see, but they just can’t discern them.  “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (16:4).

They go to the other side of the lake again, and again they realize they’ve forgotten to bring any bread. They get confused when Jesus talks about “the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (16:6). They think he is getting to them because they’ve forgotten the bread.  Jesus gets exasperated. He is talking about something more transcendent, and they are not “getting it.” “’Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread?” (16:11). He is speaking about the bad influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  I think this is Matthew’s attempt at the thought Mark conveys to us in 6:52 where he says “they did not understand about the loaves” just after he walks on water.  

When Jesus arrives in the region of Caesarea Philippi, “he asks his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’” (16:13). Simon Peter answers, “’You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (16:16). Christ rewards him with the famous words of commission – “’You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven’” (16:17-19). But he warns his disciples not to tell anyone this truth, not yet.

Jesus then explains that it will be “necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (16:21). Always the emotional one, Peter “began to reprimand him for saying such things” (16:22), and Jesus says “’Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s’” (16:23).

So we see in a matter of six verses the history of the Catholic Church – the faithful rock AND the body that trusts too much in its own human thinking.  Could it be that Jesus knew these two would define the church he built on Peter? We point to 16:18; Protestants point to 16:23.  I would point to both and remind people that this is what has ALWAYS been – blessing and curse, high mindedness and low behavior.

The gospel message is “deny [yourselves] and take up [your] cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (16:25). The Son of Man will come with his angels, and “will judge all people according to their deeds” (16:27). Then he says to them, “some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom” (16:28).


  1. Since Christ will judge all according to their deeds (16:27), the bad behavior that accompanies high mindedness will lead to the curse in the end. Even the high mindedness of Peter, in confessing Jesus as the Christ, includes the desire to save his life by becoming a top leader in Jesus' coming rule as Christ (the anointed king). Peter does not want to lose his life in the way Jesus says he will lose his: at the hands of the Jewish leaders. It is only after Jesus is risen and has given Peter (and the other disciples) his Spirit that they have a new high mindedness of Jesus as risen Lord (king), whom they follow to the death, faithfully witnessing to him before the same Jewish leaders that crucified Jesus.

  2. It's always sobering to me to see how much trouble Peter and the other disciples had understanding things and being completely faithful. And they had Jesus right in front of them. I am sure he will be patient with us.