Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Pointe Du Rad, the western most point of France

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 16, Mt 14, Mk 6, Lk 9

Today's readings are Mt 14, Mk 6, Lk 9. Tomorrow's reading is Jn 6.

In the first half of Mt 14, we hear that the concept of resurrection is not totally alien to the culture as Herod is convinced that Jesus is John the Baptist come back to life and performing miracles. While we learn that resurrection is not unheard of, we also see that Herod has't a clue of who Jesus is or what He's been doing.

Jesus miraculously feeds approximately 20,000 people by multiplying the loaves and fishes. When the ancient Jews mention the number of men, they do not include family members who would likely have accompanied the men. 

The message of the loaves and fishes is fairly simple. Jesus is the bread of life. He nourishes and sustains supernaturally. God had set the stage for this over a thousand years prior when He rained down manna on His people in the wilderness providing a type of bread to live on, "bread for life." The miracle of multiplication is also a response to the idea that Jesus is only another in a long line of prophets. He is far more. Moses brought them manna that lasted only a day. But Moses clearly did not create the manna, God did. Jesus multiplies the food in front of their eyes, then feeds them with enough left over to feed His disciples for quite some time.

The scenario in the boat (Mt 14:22-33) is significant for a few reasons. We see that Peter, in faith, actually walks on the water! This is frequently overlooked in interpreting this story. Still, Peter's faith is not yet fully developed. He gets distracted and begins to sink but Jesus helps Him. The lesson is that Jesus is there when Peter walks on the water. But, He is there also when Peter fails to walk on the water. Another significant revelation occurs when the disciples worship Jesus and, for the first time, call Him "The Son of God."

This sets the scene for the broader ministry Jesus has when they come ashore, one that emphasizes His Sonship.

We see a similar lesson on Mk 6 with the calming of the storm. The tendency is to focus on the storm and mistakenly interpret the lesson to be one that assures us that Jesus is here to calm the storm in our lives. The real point of the story is that Jesus was with them in the storm. He had promised they would make it to the other side. We see that Jesus is with them in the storm just as He is with Peter when he begins to sink. 

Jesus is rejected in Nazareth, His hometown. He performs few miracles. It's not that He is unable. He does not perform miracles because the people do not believe in Him. They are far too busy admonishing Him as merely a local boy than accepting Him as the only Son of God.

In Lk 9, as in Mk 6, the Apostles are sent out and told to take nothing with them. Their ministry of the gospel will be totally dependent on God for their provision, protection and power. The implication, which is easy to miss, is that God will provide for them in and through the people they minister to. 

Peter call Jesus "The Christ of God." With this revelation, a turning point in Jesus' ministry occurs. He begins talking of His death. He also begins to enumerate the cost of following Him. 

With His death prophesied and the high cost of being one of His followers established, we see the transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36). It is an assurance that this is the work of God and an encouragement to His followers that any sacrifice they may have to make is worth the glory to come. To put an emphatic coda on the victory believers will have in Jesus, we see the "majesty of God' in the healing of the boy with an unclean spirit (Lk 9:37-42), assuring His followers that Jesus has all authority and power and that the glory of God is not only for the mountain top but the valley as well.  

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