I managed the first day of a 5 am alarm clock (I did hit snooze twice). Let’s see how long I can keep it going!
The end of Psalm 7 ends in reinforcing the idea of God’s righteousness. God’s righteousness is linked to is wrath, which is a troubling idea for snowflake millennial like myself. The psalm tells us God shows his wrath everyday. The psalm goes on to praise God for his righteousness in response to this. However, we must remember that a just God abhors evil. This all seems a bit strange and difficult to swallow. But it should not be a surprise to us. We cannot expect God to be holy and good and to be the god of justice if he is indifferent to suffering and sin. The psalm recognises that sin and evil have consequences. Sometimes, from an earthly perspective, it’s easy to think that those that cause evil get away with it. However, God does not turn a blind eye.
Matthew again repeats the idea of Jesus’ authority. In yesterday’s reading we saw Jesus’ authority in his words and his authority to heal. Today we see Jesus’ authority over the physical world, his authority over the spiritual world and then finally his authority over sin. Jesus calms the storm, showing his power over the physical world. I have to admit, Jesus does seem a bit nonchalant and indifferent to the fears and worries of his disciples here. However, we learn that Jesus doesn’t want us to fear or worry. That’s not his plan for us. Jesus wants us to know his power and have comfort in that.
Jesus is also able to drive out evil spirits. Sometimes Christians seem to fall into two camps when it comes to the spiritual world: we either fail to believe or acknowledge its existence or we become fearfully obsessed with it. Either way, Jesus has authority over it and we should respond accordingly. (Note: not like the townspeople in the passage!)
It seems that this assurance of Jesus’ authority is leading to the pinnacle of his power: his ability to forgive sin. Although people marvelled at Jesus’ teaching, healings and miracles, no one called it out as blasphemy. Those things are, it turns out, not godlike. What is godlike is the power to forgive sin. It perhaps gives an indication of how powerful and serious sin actual is. I think today we often forget that.
Genesis 21-23 are somewhat disturbing once again. Sarah’s joy is quickly diminished and turns to jealousy. This results in Abraham abandoning his son and concubine Hagar. However, God is still in the situation and again picks up the pieces.
I’ve always had trouble with God’s request to Abraham that he sacrifice his son Isaac. Nicky Gumbel in the devotion that accompanies the reading states that God hates child sacrifice, so would never actually allow it. Abraham just needed to have his priorities put to the test. I wonder how God tests or would test my priorities. Am I willing to lay down all my dreams and what I believe God has planned for me like Abraham is?
We praise you for your power and authority. You have power to heal and over spirits, but most of all, you have power over sin. You have power over my sin and you have forgiven it. Jesus, forgive me now, once again and make me clean. Keep me from evil; protect me from the evil powers of this world. Thank you that you were the perfect sacrificial lamb.