Thursday, January 10, 2013

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 128-134 and Matthew 28

Psalm 128 – “Happy are those who obey the Lord, who live by his commands” (128:1). You will work and your needs will be met; you will be prosperous and happy. Your wife will give you children and “your children will be like young olive trees around your table” (128:3).

Psalm 129 – “From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me. Let all Israel repeat this: From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me, but they have never defeated me. My back is covered with cuts, as if a farmer had plowed long furrows. But the Lord is good; he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly” (129:1-4).

“May all who hate Jerusalem “be as useless as grass on a rooftop, turning yellow when only half grown” (129:6).

Psalm 130 –
“From the depths of my despair I call to you, Lord” (130:1). Hear my cry, please. Our sins are endless but you are a forgiving God and we are in awe of you.

“I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn” (130:6). I wait in hope that the Lord will respond to my cry. Trust in God. His love is constant.

“O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. Is redemption overflows” (130:7).

Psalm 131 – “Lord, my heart is not proud, my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—now and always” (131:1-3). That all of it.

Psalm 132 – “ Lord, remember David and all that he suffered. He made a solemn promise to the Lord . . . ‘I will not go home; I will not let myself rest. I will not let my eyes sleep nor close my eyelids in slumber until I find a place to build a house for the Lord’” (132:1-5).

In Bethlehem they learned of the “Covenant Box” [the Ark of the Covenant]. It was found in the “fields of Jearim.” I read that this psalm is called a “song of ascent” because it was read or recited as people went up the hill to the Temple at Jerusalem. It is about David’s devotion to getting the Ark installed in the Temple. Though he himself was not permitted to build the Temple, his son Solomon fulfilled the promise and hope of David. “The Lord has chosen Zion; he wants to make it his home: ‘This is where I will live forever; this is where I want to rule’” (132:13-14).

Psalm 133 – “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head” (133:1-2). This psalm celebrates the wonders of peace – God’s people living in eternal harmony.

Psalm 134 – “Lift up holy hands in prayer, and praise the Lord” (134:2). Very short and to the point.

Matthew 28 - The Resurrection – Instead of just having Matthews’s account, all accounts are here set side by side.  I think Paul is the only NT writer we have who writes about the risen Jesus Christ from his own experience.  But his credibility is so huge.  He is so convincing, so resonant even though he lived so damn long ago, that no one can fail to be at least tempted to listen to him.  In Matthew, only verses 1-8 are based on Mark.  The rest is unique:

Matthew 28 - The two Marys come to the tomb. There is a great earthquake and the coming of an angel “like lightning” with “clothing. . white as snow” to roll back the stone and sit on it. The angel is probably the same as Mark’s “young man.” The guards are shaken with fear and were “like dead men.” The angel tells them not to fear; he tells them Jesus “has been raised” and has gone ahead to Galilee. They leave in fear but are overjoyed. Jesus meets them on the way and greets them; they embrace his feet, and he tells them again not to fear but to go tell others to go to Galilee (28:10) where they will also see him.

The guards tell the priests and they are paid to tell everyone that his disciples stole the body (28:14).

The disciples then go to Galilee, to the mountain where they see and worship him, but we are also told “they doubted.” (28:17).  His last words to them are: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me [see Dan. 7:13]. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (28:18-20) An NAB note indicates this is meant to be a foretaste of the final Parousia when “the nations” will experience him in this way.

Mark 16 - Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bring spices; they come after dawn, worrying about the stone. It is rolled back. They enter and see a young man on their right in white.

“Do not be amazed!” he tells them. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised. . .Go and tell his disciples and Peter; he is going before you to Galilee where you will see him as he said.”

They flee, terrified, and say “nothing to anyone” for they are afraid.

In the longer ending [thought by some to have been an addition, by others to have been lost for a time and then re-added] has him appearing first to Mary Magdalene and her going to tell went his companions. Then there are also appearances to the two [on their way to Emmaus as in Luke] and his appearance to the Eleven.

Luke 24 - Unnamed women who had come from Galilee with Jesus – a wonder why only here they remain unnamed? – they take spices and go to the tomb where they find the stone rolled away. Puzzling over his disappearance, they see “two men in dazzling garments” and are terrified. The men ask, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?  He is not here, but he has been raised.”  They remind them of Jesus’ words to them. They return and tell everyone.

The women are then identified: Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James and “others.”

The disciples generally do not believe them, but Peter runs to the tomb and discovers the burial cloths but no Jesus.

Then comes the Emmaus story.

John 20 - Mary of Magdala comes early when it is still dark and sees the stone removed. So, she runs to Simon Peter and to the beloved disciple and tells them “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” Peter and the other disciple run out to look for him.  The “beloved disciple” arrives first, having run faster, but Peter actually enters the tomb first and sees the burial cloths – the head cloth rolled up in a separate place. They return home, but Mary stays and weeps.  Then she sees the two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. He asks why she is weeping; then she turns around and sees a man who asks “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for? She thinks it is the gardener, but when he says her name, “Mary,” she turns and calls him “Rabbouni”

He tells her to stop holding on to him and that he is going to “my God and your God.”

Mary goes and tells the others what she has seen and what he told her.

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