Reflections on Today’s Readings:
Over the summer I am going to try a little different method with the Daily Bread. Each day I am going to reflect on the readings, and see if there is a single theme, we can take with us on our way. Hope you enjoy it!
Today, we see the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. In Deuteronomy 5, we see Moses’ account of the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb). This was part of the Covenant (or Promise initiated by God) with His People, the Israelites. If you remember, there have been two other covenants, one given to Noah, and also one to Abraham. Covenants were a common way of nations making treaties with each other with conditions for how they would act in relationship. God’s covenants were different in that God initiated them, yet the receivers of the Covenant still had their part to play!
The Ten Commandments provide the framework for how the Israelites would relate both to God, their neighbors, and to each other. As they lived by these commands, they would have life and life abundantly and be a testimony to the pagan nations around them. As verse 16 says, “If you live by them it will go well with you in the land you will possess, and you will live long.” But we will soon see, as is the pattern throughout the Old Testament that the Israelites do not keep the commandments and suffer the consequences repeatedly.
When Jesus comes some 1,200 years after the giving of the 10 commandments, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law were the ones in charge of making sure the Jewish people lived by the laws. The studied them and made practical applications for people for daily life. We see Jesus’ respect for the law when he heals a man from leprosy, and tells him to go report it to the priest in keeping with the Law. (Leviticus 14)
In the next story the Pharisees (scholars tell us there were about 6,000 of them spread over the Holy Land) come to see Jesus heal a paralytic, and more importantly, he announces upon seeing his faith (and possible the others that lowered him it says “their faith”) that his sins are forgiven. The Pharisees immediately challenge Jesus that it is only God who can forgive sins, a seemingly logical challenge. Jesus wants to show them that his being able to heal the man is evidence of who he really is, the Son of God.
It is important as we read the bible to be able to distinguish between Law and Gospel. The Law is good and holy and Jesus affirms it. But ultimately due to our sin, we can’t measure up to the Law. The first use of the Law is that it drives us to Christ. That is why we need more power and authority which Jesus came to bring us. As we trust in faith in Jesus and are given the power of the Holy Spirit, though we are still sinners; as we live by the Spirit we can begin to keep the Law and see the abundant life Jesus has for us.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
66 He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
67 Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
70 He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
5 Moses summoned all Israel and said: “Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: 6 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 “You shall have no other gods before me.8 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. 16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 17 “You shall not murder. 18 “You shall not commit adultery. 19 “You shall not steal. 20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.14 Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
Christ says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11
God of abundance, we hear your familiar voice and draw near to you, the one who leads us through verdant vales of vitality. May the still waters of your presence comfort our anxious spirits. In the name of Jesus. Amen.