from Old English, gōd spell "good news"
a writing that describes the life of Jesus

Saturday, January 30, 2010

matthew 4:1-11 | temptation

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " [Deut. 8:3]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
[Psalm 91:11,12]

Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " [Deut. 6:16]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' " [Deut. 6:13]

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

wilderness | the picture bible for all ages

deuteronomy by heart

Jan Luyken, from The Bowyer Bible

It strikes me that, while Jesus was in the desert, he had Deuteronomy on his mind. The devil quotes Psalms, but Jesus recalls Deuteronomy.

I suspect he had it by heart. I doubt whether he took a scroll with him into the wilderness. I've heard it said that Jewish children of Jesus' day memorized vast swaths of scripture.

I wouldn't have thought to pick Deuteronomy. Genesis, Exodus are great, but don't most people bail at that point? After those two don't things bog down? Endless pages of arcane rules, genealogy, record keeping.

Deuteronomy. A book of the Law. Not the way I'm inclined, having grown up Lutheran: we're Gospel all the way. But Jesus obviously found it helpful.

He quotes Deuteronomy Chapter 6 twice in his dialogue with the devil, so I look it up. And there it is, just before the part Jesus quotes: The Shamah. The holiest text of the Hebrew nation. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." Followed immediately with Jesus' Great Commandment: "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Which is followed in turn by the Crosby, Stills and Nash injunction: "Teach your children these things. You who are on the road." Which is probably why Jesus learned Deuteronomy 6 by heart: Mary and Joseph made him. "It says memorize: might as well start here."

More likely, nothing so casual. I wouldn't be surprised if a Jewish child learned the Shamah before anything else. The way a Christian kid learns John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son..." When I really dug in on Biblical studies myself, in my twenties, I took Greek so I could study the New Testament: our professor had us memorize John 3:16, and it's all the Greek that sticks with me three decades later: "Houtos gar eigapeison ho theos ton kosmon..."

When I'm starved and in the wilderness, that's probably what I'll hold on to.

If I'm forty days without food, what I'm probably thinking about even more than John 3:16 or Deuteronomy anything is food. In the desert, Jesus thinks about Moses, how God sent them manna every morning. So when the devil sees Jesus hungry, that's where he starts in on him. Only with his mind on Deuteronomy, Jesus has it fresh in mind: when it talks about the desert, when he talks about manna, that's just a set up for God going one step further: all of that was just "to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

How frightening was the wilderness? How dangerous? Lions, cobras, serpents? So how much did Jesus lean on the Psalms, especially the reassuring ones? Like Psalm 91: fortress, refuge, shield, rampart, no fear, dwelling. No harm, no disaster. All that. So the devil brings it up. And Jesus shoots it down: stern Deuteronomy trumps the comforting psalm. (I wonder if Jesus pointed out to Satan that he stopped quoting just before the part in the psalm about treading on the serpent? A little close to home, remembering the Garden and all that.)

And then Satan grossly overplays his hand. The teleporting, the Google Earth views, and the straight up, mask off craving revealed: "Bow down and worship me." What was he thinking? With Deuteronomy 6 fresh in Jesus' mind? And Jesus, who so far just resisted, now insists. Commands. Names the guy, who before he maybe didn't entirely recognize? "Away from me, Satan."

Words Jesus will say again, more or less, about twelve chapters from now, when he'll get another glimpse of the tempter. "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." [Matthew 16:21-23]

And the devil left, as he had to, just like the demons always left when Jesus told them.

Then, unbidden, the angels came, whose help Jesus refused to command. Bringing the bread Jesus refused to order. Sometimes even when we don't ask, it shall be given.

Bernardino Passeri, from the Bowyer Bible

deuteronomy 8:1-10 | not by bread alone


Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

psalm 91 | angels will lift you up

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

deuteronomy 6:4-9,13-20 | shamah, testing, worship

(can be viewed in the Frick Gallery, New York)

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. . . .

Worship the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the LORD's sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers, thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the LORD said.

In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

matthew 4:12-17 | repent, for the kingdom is at hand

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned." [Isaiah 9:1,2]

From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

isaiah 9:1-7 | galilee of the gentiles

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Thou hast multiplied the nation, and increased their joy:
they rejoice before thee as at the harvest,
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden,
and the staff across his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor,
as in the day of Midian.

Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

matthew 4:18-22 | peter, andrew, james, john

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

matthew 4:23-25 | jesus heals

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis ["the Ten Cities"], Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010