Daily Devotion for November 8, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This rendition of Bach’s famous cantata Wachet auf (Sleepers Awake)(1st movement) is performed by the J..S. Bach Foundation of St Gallen, Rudolf Lutz conducting. The piece is based on the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13).
Music by J.S. Bach
Prayer for the Day (inspired by Jane Austen)
Give me grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address you with my heart, as with my lips. You are everywhere present, from you no secret can be hidden. May the knowledge of this, teach me to fix my thoughts on you, with reverence and devotion, that I may not pray in vain.
May I now, and on each return of morning, consider how I will spend the day ahead; what thoughts will prevail in my mind? What words will I speak? Will my actions reflect your will, or my own? How far can I acquit myself of evil, and live in the goodness and beauty of my Lord Christ?
Will I think irreverently of you? Will I disobey your commandments? Will I neglect and make excuses for any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline me to ask my heart these questions oh! God, throughout the day, to save me from deceiving myself by pride or vanity.
And give me always a thankful sense of the blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear me almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
For Those Making All Kinds of Journeys
I pray for all who will be making journeys today: For those who are going to a new job and for those who are going to work for the last time today; For the emergency services who will travel at high speed on land, water or in the air, to bring help to others; For those starting a new life as they move into a new home; For those travelling to or from prison; For people who will go into hospital today; For young people on their way to school, college and university; For those who are lost on the journey of life; For those who will die today and make their final journey. I remember all these people now, and ask your blessing upon them, Lord.
For the Philippines
Heavenly Lord, look down with mercy upon all those in the Philippines who have suffered the terrible devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. Have mercy on the souls of those who have died; comfort and heal those who are injured; and be with all who have lost homes, friends or relatives, or otherwise suffered from this catastrophe. Soften the hearts of the world's people, and encourage them to give of their prayer, their substance and their time to help those who have suffered from this extraordinary storm. In the name of Jesus, your merciful Son, I pray.
Blessing for the Day
Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Matthew 12:14-21 (ESV)
God’s Chosen Servant
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
Notes on the Scripture
The quote is Isaiah 42 1:4. Matthew quotes it in perfect context, for this was one of Isaiah's great prophecies of the Messiah. Christ does not act as instructed by the prophesy, for Matthew added this long after the Ascension; rather, it is more accurate to say that Isaiah correctly predicted Christ's behavior.
We have watched, over the past week, as the authorities built a case against Jesus. Every miracle has been met with some sort of criticism or accusation; he is in league with the devil, or violates the law of Moses, or commits blasphemy. Now, they have built their case sufficiently, at least in their own minds, to begin plotting his death.
Annas and Caiphas
The authorities here are generally described as Pharisees, but this is because Jesus is teaching in the north, in and around Galilee. The Pharisees were the progenitorsProgenitor: something (or someone) that comes before something else and that often leads to or influences its development. of modern Judaism and tended to be “rabbis”; they were the teachers of the common people, more democratic than the Sadducees, and tended to be found in synagogues away from Jerusalem. The Sadducees were very much aristocratic and were political leaders; they tended to congregate in Jerusalem. The lines were not hard and fast, however; some priests at the temple were Pharisees, and many did not belong to any sect.
The point being, Jesus was equally unpopular with Pharisees, Sadducees, other sects, and non-sectarian priests and scribes: They all were offended by him and, ultimately, wanted him dead. The Sanhedrin (the religious high court in Jerusalem), which would eventually bring about his death, was dominated by Sadducees, particularly the high priest, Caiphas, and the powerful Annas, his father-in-law.
But to the point of the passage, Christ acts as Isaiah had prophesied. God had a plan for his Son, which would occur gradually over three years. For Jesus to have worked miracles, claiming loudly to be the Messiah, would no doubt have caused a huge mob-dominated frenzy with political overtones. So, he repeatedly asks those he heals not to speak of it. He did not want “PR”. He wanted time to teach, so that there would be a body of people who had absorbed his message when he departed.
So, he does not “quarrel or cry out.” He disputed the claims of the Jews, often and with authority, but he did not get into loud verbal fights that would polarize audiences into emotional action. Nor did he take physical action. A bruised reed will snap at the slightest touch; thus, saying that he would not break a bruised reed is equivalent to our saying “he wouldn't hurt a fly”.
Similarly, a “smoldering wick” is a nearly extinguished flame. The most common interpretation of this metaphor is to a person who has almost no hope, no light, no learning; someone who is on the edge of simply giving up. Christ will not give up on anybody, as long as there is the smallest spark of faith in them.