Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29

Exodus 7:25-9:35; Matthew 19:13-30; Psalm 24:1-10; Proverbs 6:1-5

God is a God of the unexpected; he's a reverser, an upside-down-er, a status-quo-changer.  Look at the difference between Jesus' response to the children and the disciples' response (Mt. 19:13-15).  Jesus is no smooth-talking, baby-kissing politician here.  He's going completely counter-cultural in his notice and acceptance of these "little children," and his welcome extends likely into blessing (remember how placing hands on a person preceded a blessing in our recent OT readings?).  This is radical switching, where an ultimate good (heaven) belongs to the least significant recipients (these children).  And Jesus goes even further.  Not only are these children inheritors of the kingdom, if the adults want to inherit the kingdom, they, too must "change and become like little children" (Mt. 18:3).  An uncomfortable thought for these grown men, who have finally established themselves as acting agents in their world, gaining power and the right to speak by virtue of their gender and age.  Yet Jesus calls them to such an idea; he challenges them to turn their lives upside down, to take what is not and turn it into what is.  It's very much a reversal of what would be commonly understood.

Today's New Testament reading ends with another expression of this expectation: "Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first" (Mt. 19:30).  Hasn't Jesus ever seen a race run?  Doesn't he know that the first are...well, first, and that the last are last?  How can he say such a crazy thing?  Jesus not only says this oxymoron, but he lives it.  He, the great master, will wash his followers' feet.  He, the creator of the world, will die the death of a criminal.  He, completely holy and pure and righteous, will eat and spend time with tax collectors and sinners.  Jesus's life, just as much as his words, shows us that God loves to use the unexpected to work out his will.

I'm so grateful for this.  I need these reminders, bogged down like I can be in my own failures and uncertainties.  I need to remember that God loves to flip things upside down.  It gives me hope for repair in broken relationships between friends, for renewal in marriages darkened by betrayal and bitterness, for restoration of communication between estranged parents and children.  It lets me believe that miraculous cures are possible, that addicts can recover.  It means that the war and sex trafficking and famine that garner so much press - the brokenness of this world - are not all there is.  It reminds me that God is making all things new and that I can rejoice and hope.  Thank you, Lord, for working this way!

- Sarah Marsh
How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment