Thursday, January 31, Mark 6:35-42
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered, "You give them something to eat." They said to him, "That would take more than half a year's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?" "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five-- and two fish." Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied,
This is the familiar miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. But it is worth revisiting for often a different message can be realized each time we read scripture. I see more than a miracle but a lesson in being satisfied with what we have. It is stressed that Jesus and the Disciples did not have the money to buy food for so many people. And being in a remote location the people could not be sent away to take care of themselves. Therefore, they had to make do with the five loafs of bread and two fish, which I am sure were not large tuna. Jesus teaches us that even with a meager meal we give thanks to God, the source of all goodness. We share what we have with others even when what we have is a little. As this first month of the year ends let us give thanks to God the Father for all creation. Let us give thanks to Jesus Christ for His example of a Godly life, His teachings, and His sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. And express our gratitude to the Holy Spirit for bringing us faith and sanctification. Amen
Additional readings: Isaiah 49:13-26, Galatians 3:1-14, Mark 6:30-46, Psalm 150
Friday, February 1, Galatians 3:16-22
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced four hundred and thirty years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
This passage speaks to God’s promise to His people. The author tells us God sealed His covenant to Abraham and his seed and when Moses brings the Ten Commandments to God’s people this did not change or undo God’s promise to Abraham. Paul expanses why God gave us the law, that is for us to be able to identify what God fines displeasing and hurtful to Him our Creator. It is also a guide for us to live peacefully with each other and God’s desired relationship with humanity. But God did not give us the law to punish us. The punishments associated with the sins is to put an earthly deterrent on the sin and expressing the seriousness of the offense to God in real terms that humans can identify with. However, the main reason for God’s Law is to fulfill God’s economy or plan for humanity as expressing the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice. Without the law we have no need for Jesus and His sacrifice for there would not be anything to forgive. Let us first give thanks to God for the law to guide us in a relationship with Him, and to live a peaceable life with each other. Let us give thanks for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross saving us from sin, giving us salvation, and everlasting life. Amen
Additional readings: Isaiah 50:1-11, Galatians 3, Mark 6:47-56, Psalm 6
Saturday, February 2, Mark 7:5-6, 15
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?" He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them."
There are many customs and traditions associated with religious beliefs. The Jews had their ritualistic washing, for example. And the Christians have their bowing, and hand positions during prayers. Jesus’ message is that they are not necessary. There is a term for these practices that are not necessary it is, “adiaphora.” However, if these expressions of piety have meaning and a purpose for you, you are well within your rights to do what ever you need to make your religious experience real and giving it depth and meaning. In fact, I encourage it. Jesus’ message in this passage is that he is pointing to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that verbally speaks words of worship, but their hearts are empty of true devotion to God. Their depth of faith is shallow and without meaning. God sees what is in our hearts and cannot be fooled. As I said I encourage any practice that adds to your religious experience as long as it has meaning, purpose and it gives glory to the Triune God. I do not believe that a groundhog can forecast the weather, but it is fun; have a blessed Groundhog’s Day and gives thanks Spring is coming.
Additional readings: Isaiah 51:1-8, Galatians 3:23-29, Mark 7:1-23, Psalm 12