Reading Jesus

(Lent scripture blog #5)

The book of Matthew is filled with Jesus’ teachings and his interactions with people. If you have a red-letter Bible, most of Matthew is in red.  The faster you move through the book, the more intensely you are drinking in Jesus’ actual teachings.

The first time I read through the entire book of Matthew, I did it over two days and at the end I experienced the most amazing sensation. I missed him. I missed Jesus.  Toward the end of the book, when there is more narration and less Jesus-speaking, I got all uneasy, and then when he was gone, I felt a strange sadness. There would be no more red-letter words to read. Continue reading

the thread of the past: Matthew 1

Every time I read the first chapter of Matthew, I’m struck by how important it must be to trace the connections of the past to the present.

Matthew was inspired by the Holy Spirit to include Jesus’s family tree at the very beginning of his account of Jesus’ life, so, clearly, God wants us to notice.
There must be intrinsic value in us being reminded of how people in the past connect to those alive now… how a cultural past has created a current reality… how my own past has led to my own present.
But for Matthew, a genealogy like this isn’t a ‘wallowing’ experience. There is some serious drama hiding between the lines of this family tree (“Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers“? anyone?), but Matthew doesn’t elaborate beyond his task of tracing the thread. The stories exist elsewhere for us to read; his job is to document the chain, not drag up the brokenness within it. The connections themselves are valuable.
But we still must read the stories, for only then will we understand the phenomenal truth of these people’s lives being linked to the birth of our perfect Savior. We will understand that a thread of broken people who make bad decisions has always been God’s chosen medium for displaying his glory.
In a thread like that, I can find a place to stand.

a giant pile of trust?

In the history recorded in the Old Testament, God commissions a young man named Joshua to take over leading the Israelite people after Moses’ death. Joshua must have been a little nervous, as God tells him to ‘be strong and courageous’ three times. And for good reason. These people he was going to lead did not have a history of being great followers. In chapter 1, verse 3 God says to Joshua:

I promise you what I promised Moses:  ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you.’ Continue reading