Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27

Judges 7:1–8:17; Luke 23:13-43; Psalms 97:1–98:9; Proverbs 14:7-8

Today’s reading about Gideon, interesting though it is with men lapping water (Judg. 7:5-6) and a dream about a loaf of bread demolishing a tent (vs. 13), pales in comparison to the reading about Jesus and the cross. In Luke 23, Jesus has been tried by Pilate who reluctantly acquiesces to the rant of the crowd and surrenders Jesus to the bloodthirsty crowd who desire to crucify Him (Lk. 23:23-24).

Women are among those who are following Jesus. They draw His attention by their wailing and mourning. He turns to speak to them, tenderly calling them, “Daughters of Jerusalem.” He says they should not mourn for Him but reserve their pain and sadness for themselves.  A dreadful time is coming when the barren woman, previously scorned in Israel, will be envied because she has no children to lose and therefore doesn’t experience the sorrow of loss as the mothers do when their children die (vs. 29-30).

He goes on to say in verse 31 that if when He is present with them (i.e. “the tree is green”) and they are set on crucifying Him, how much worse the situation will be when He is not present (i.e. “when it is dry”). Jesus is speaking prophetically of the judgment that will come on the nation of Israel when Jerusalem falls to Titus in 70 A.D.

This passage is one of many in Luke where he notes the role of women in Jesus’ ministry. I’m always interested when women appear in the Bible. I teach a class at Talbot School of Theology on Biblical Women. Perhaps you, too, noticed references to women that emerged as we read through Luke—1:39-56; 2:36-38; 7:11-15; 8:1-3, and more.

Jesus is crucified at the place call the Skull (vs. 33) along with two thieves. Even as He is dying Jesus speaks words of forgiveness, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (vs. 34). The thief on the cross says to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and Jesus, faithful to His mission right up to His death, says, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (vs. 42-43).

Jesus is doing what our psalm writer says in Psalm 98:1: “…The Lord… his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” His death on the cross accomplished our salvation.

Maybe there is a connection with Gideon. Gideon’s story is one of reversals, God taking the weak and using them as if they were strong, using a loaf of bread to crush a tent, using a handful of men against an army of over one hundred thousand soldiers. Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate story of reversal—He died that we might live, He who made the universe submitted Himself to those who scorned His might and power. He died, but that’s tomorrow reading.

“Thank you, Lord, for the power of reversals. We think we can count on the strong, but you work through the weak. And through your own ‘weakness’ which you took on Yourself at the cross, we become strong through the salvation You give us.”

- Nell Sunukjian

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