Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Day 64: Love and the Least of these

Leviticus 19, 20 and Mark 9:30-50

These chapters give us the origin of Jesus’ greatest commandment, to love. They also chow us how Jesus turns things upside down with his teachings by elevating the least of these.

Leviticus 19

This section continues more prohibitions and rules for faith and practice. This is also where we get one of the most profound statements about the reality of God’s character. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is a key aspect of God and as people who are seeking to become more Godlike we should seek to love. This verse specifically speaks to loving the alien in your midst.
Lending weight to the cultural verses descriptive for all times nature of some of these passages, in verse 20 we get a specific punishment for men who sleep with slaves that are not their property. They will not be put to death, because she was not free, not really a woman but property. It is hard to imagine that this is attempting to bring justice to a situation. The man is guilty and is to offer sacrifices, but the woman is not addressed. We hopefully see women as individuals, as creations of God, and as not property. Unfortunately, slavery is still alive and booming in our world, so would this section still apply to a person in these situations? I would say no, because even if someone else considers slavery acceptable we who profess in Christ’s lordship over all would have to find it detestable.

Leviticus 20

This chapter addresses punishment and penalties for those found to have broken statues. These include death for those who have sacrificed their children to other gods. These punishments serve to focus the people on the establishment of rituals and cultic practices unique to the nation of Israel.

Mark 9:30-50

Jesus speaks again here of his death and resurrection and the disciples do not understand. It makes me wonder how many times God tells me something before I actually believe it as truth?
There is an argument that starts about who will be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. This argument shows us a little bit about where the disciples thought things were headed. They expected a revolution and the positions of power that might come with a new regime. Jesus turns the table by telling them that the least of these is the greatest. Children had no special status in the ancient days, no value in and of themselves. I wonder who Jesus might pull forward today to demonstrate this truth to us?
Jesus then begins a litany of sins and actions. I don’t think Jesus is advocating self-harm or self-mutilation. I believe these are hyperbolic in nature. The idea here seems to be that we cannot acknowledge our sins and then do nothing to correct them. We must be prepared to make changes, even ones seen as drastic, to live kingdom lives.

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