Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday, January 30th: Isaiah 23-25, Mark 6:1-29 ~ Elizabeth

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 23-25, Mark 6:1-29.

Good morning! Tammy asked me to give a short introduction of myself. I'm a married mom of 3. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Lutheran, to quote Grandma. While I've never lived outside of my home state stateside, I lived in the Middle East for 5 years. I also visited Tyre and Sidon years ago, carrying a 1 year-old all over ancient ruins and ducking into a cave to get a look at the tomb of a Phoenician king.

In our Isaiah reading today we find that the Lord will lay waste to Tyre and Sidon because of their pride. Lively commerce and fair trade are blessings from the Lord. But the wealth and prosperity they generate must never be treated as a source of security. With repentant faith in Jesus, who for our salvation became poor, our trade and commerce can be carried out fairly and with honor. In the next chapters the Lord now addresses the whole earth instead of individual nations.

No one, and not even the earth itself, is spared the coming devastation. Along with all of earth's other inhabitants, we stand before God as poor miserable sinners. In thought, word, and deed, we have transgressed, violated, and broken His covenant. Although we deserve to suffer for our guilt, we can sing for joy that the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, has suffered in our place. "He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities."

On Mount Zion, the Lord of hosts will prepare a feast and will swallow up death forever. Death is what we deserve as the just penalty for our sin. No human efforts or resources can shelter us from this reproach. By Jesus' resurrection, death has been swallowed up in victory. As we await the day of our bodily resurrection, we are invited to eat and drink with the Lord in His Holy Supper, a foretaste of the feast to come.

In Mark, two very different astonishments stand side by side: Jesus' teachings amaze His hometown neighbors; yet their close-mindedness and hardheartedness leave Jesus amazed. We see similar contrasts today as people experience so much goodness from God and yet remain unthankful and and unbelieving. But Jesus didn't retaliate or write people off, even when they scornfully dismissed Him. He took the world's rejection and, through His sacrificial death, reconciled all people to God.

Later the disciples multiply Jesus' healing and revealing ministry, building on the foundation laid by John the Baptist and anticipating their own ministries, which will bear full fruit after Jesus' ascension. Even as Jesus sends the Twelve, he anticipates that not everyone will welcome the Gospel, as is still true today. Nevertheless, God unfailingly opens hearts and doors to their ministry, and He promises to do the same until the end of time.

Then we have the tragic story of John, which gives an unmistakable foreshadowing of what awaits Jesus: rejection and even violent hostility. But rejection and violence cannot overcome the risen Lord. His victory over death and the grave shows how wonderfully He can turn such antagonism into life and salvation.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 26-27, Mark 6:30-56


Nathan said...

Great post!

A great reminder, again, of how God loved us so much he sent His son to die for poor sinners like us. How could we not want to give our best for Him?

Tammy said...

Great post Elizabeth - and thanks for introducing yourself!

I love some of the imagery in Isaiah 25....
a stronghold to the needy in his distress
a shelter from the storm
a shade from the heat

I love this promise....
And he will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces

Such glorious hope! All for undeserving sinners like us. His grace truly is amazing.

Conrad said...

Great post, and I agree with the comments too.

Something that stood out for me was the beheading part of John. I didn't realize before that it wasn't Herod's wish to have him beheaded. Unfortunately, Herod's unwillingness to lose face with his guests, caused him to crumble and he granted the beheading.

It made me question myself how much of an importance do I place on pleasing others when it doesn't align with my values?

Pamela said...

Again, Conrad and I picked up on the same portion. I thought about it from the point of view as watching what we say because what we speak cannot be undone. When we speak in haste (as Herod did) there can be serious repercussions (as there was for Herod). As a parent and a teacher I need to be very careful that I mean what I say and say what I mean because it makes me lose credibility when I have to go back on my word.