Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Day 92: Creeds and Life Giving Words

Deuteronomy 26, 27 and Luke 7:1-30

These chapters of Deuteronomy turn us toward some of the creeds and liturgy of the Israelites’ worship. Creeds are a way of rehearsing what we believe in our faith communities. They are life affirming words. Likewise in Luke we get Jesus’ words which also bring life to those who hear them.

Deuteronomy 26

The editors begin this section with Moses reciting one of the creeds of the people. This creed, like other creeds, is designed to help people remember the mighty works of God. Hearing these words in worship would have been powerful, and in fact these words should still hold power for us today. That is the beauty of creeds of faith, they do not lose their ability to return you to God’s activity in the world over time.
Moses helps the people remember and ratify the covenant each time they meet. The phrase “This very day” is not only used to speak of the present tense but also as a remembrance that even now, we are committing ourselves to God.

Deuteronomy 27

Moses tells the people to set up memorial stones, again a way to remind them of God’s activity. These could be the stones talked of in Joshua 4.
The crowd of Israel stands here from one mountain to the other, six tribe leaders on each side. All of the people are called to respond to Moses’ words. The curses in verses 15-26 serve as a public code of conduct or the ethos of the People of God. Again these rules are to separate God’s people, to hold them as holy.

Luke 7:1-30

We have here the healing of the centurion’s slave. Jesus would have been unclean if he had gone into a gentile’s home. If the Centurion was really a “friend to the Jews” he would have been aware of this rule. In an act of compassion to Jesus the centurion tells him not to come, because he believes Jesus can heal just by speaking the words of life. Jesus interprets the man’s response as faith- faith he finds lacking in the children of Israel.
In verses 11-17 we have the story of the widow of Nain. Here Jesus shows compassion and is drawn to act. He touches the bier, or coffin, an act which would have made him ritually unclean. He then tells the man to rise and “gives him to his mother.” (The same words used in 1 Kings 17:23 when Elijah returns the widows son to life. Elijah has to do all sorts of bowing, begging, etc. to bring the boy back. Jesus only says Rise.)
The people respond to these acts of Jesus with fear. Fear is often the response to God breaking into our midst.
Verses 18-30 talk about John’s questioning of Jesus. John sends his disciples to ask “Are you the one who is to come?” John needs a reassurance that Jesus is the one he has been waiting for, and Jesus gives him that reassurance. John is here called greatest among men, but even he is lower than the least in heaven. Jesus here places himself above John the Baptist, essentially claiming his Messianic status.

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