Turn on Christian television and you’ll likely hear what God wants for you. He wants your best life now. Or he wants your money. Or he wants you to go to church.
But in today’s reading, you’ll see what his desire is for your life, which may not be what you were expecting. But know this: it’s not about us.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Genesis 35:1. In light of Simeon and Levi’s actions in chapter 34, Jacob moved his family because he was concerned they would be attacked by the surrounding peoples (see also verse 5). Altars commemorated significant events, but in this case, it also marked the territory of Jacob’s God.
Genesis 35:22. According to the Bible Background Commentary, “Since a concubine [Bilhah] has been a sexual partner, a son who used his father’s concubine was seen not only as incestuous but as attempting to usurp the authority of the family patriarch.” Reuben was born to Jacob’s unloved wife Leah and Bilhah belonged to Rachel, so he also may have slept with Bilhah to prevent her from replacing Rachel as Jacob’s favorite. Undoubtedly, this undermined the relationship between Leah’s sons and Jacob.
Matthew 12:1-14. In the effort to help their fellow Jews avoid breaking the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8), the Pharisees crafted 39 basic actions that were forbidden, one of which included picking grain.
Psalm 15. This psalm was known as an “entrance liturgy” which was used when a person prepared to worship God. The worshipper asked “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?” The priest then answered with the rest of the psalm.
THE WORD MADE FRESH
On my initial read of Matthew 12:1-14, I quickly jumped to a very judgmental perspective on the Pharisees. What’s wrong with them? I thought to myself. They were so fixated on the rules. Why didn’t the Pharisees realized Jesus and his disciples were picking grain because they were hungry!
But as I thought more about the passage, I realized Jesus was offering a new definition of worship. The Pharisees defined worship as keeping the rules and ensuring no one breaks a sweat on the Sabbath.
Jesus, however, defined worship as mercy. Quoting Hosea 6:6, he said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Then he entered the Jewish synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand.
True confession: I find it extremely easy to define my worship as going to church or spending one-on-one time with Jesus (which often finds its way to this blog). Then I leave him there. It’s about my “designated” time with Jesus.
True worship, however, is lived out in my everyday life.
I realize this seems extremely basic, but I find it so difficult to live. I may sing out to God from the depths of my heart on Sunday morning and pray for the earthquake victims during our prayer time, but then last Friday night I walked by two homeless people on the streets of Denver and felt no compassion for them. I couldn’t even look them in the eyes!
What does Jesus want? Mercy, not sacrifice. That doesn’t mean I give money to every homeless person, but it does mean feeling compassion for them and treating them with dignity.
- What jumped out to you in today’s reading?
- Do rules ever get in the way of your worship? How?