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Daily Devotion for June 15, 2015
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.
If you ever get discouraged, this song can be an enormous comfort. Sung here live by the great Shirley Verrett, from a Broadway revival of Carousel.
For Each New Morning
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
I thank thee.
Freedom from Depression and Fear
O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and I feel my weakness and helplessness, give me the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help me to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry me, for, living close to You, I shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.
Prayer to Treat Others with Courage and Grace
Lord, this day and forever, may I have the courage never to be afraid of anyone. May I have the generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one. Lead me to live in such a way as to treat others in the same way as I would like to be treated. Inspire me never to be violent in thought, word or action, and lead me to conquer evil with goodness.
[Do I bear ill-feeling toward anyone?]
Let me not forget you as I go forth into the world this day, blessed Lord; may my every word be a prayer, and my every act be testimony to your love and truth, and may I know your presence every second of this day.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 121 (KJV)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord,
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper:
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil:
he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.
Matthew 12:9-14 (ESV)
A Man with a Withered Hand
He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” — so that they might accuse him.
He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.
But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
Notes on the Scripture
Matthew 12 starts with two successive stories about Christ transgressing the Jewish Sabbath laws, but this incident is quite different from the first, where his disciples were gathering corn to eat. Christ's defense in the former case was that men doing holy work were exempt. The Pharisees' interpretation of the law was correct, but they failed to realize that Christ fit under an exception. The theme of Matthew 12:1-8 was Christ bringing people to understand that he was the Son of God.
Here, the lesson is quite different. His reply is that the Pharisees are wrong in their interpretation and enforcement of the law. There is nothing evil or wrong with keeping the Sabbath; to the contrary, the fourth commandment is repeatedly and powerfully required by God in Exodus. Moreover, Christ has affirmed that the law is to be followed. As we saw in Matthew 5:
Jesus' crime, to the Pharisees, is that he claims not only a right to interpret the fourth commandment, but also, a right superior to theirs; and, he tells them, they have got it wrong. The Pharisees were not purposefully evil; they were dedicated to finding righteousness before God by following his laws.
They had, however, become strictly legalistic to the point of the tiniest distinctions. In the area of healing, Mosaic law allowed a person to prevent an injury from getting worse on the Sabbath, but not try to make it better. A bandage could be applied to a wound, but not a medicated bandage.
Christ tells them that these petty distinctions have blinded them to the greater messages of the law. But the Pharisees (or at least most of them) were also blind to something much more important: Jesus was the Messiah. Because they refused to recognize the signs, they conspired to destroy Jesus. Their cardinal mistake was failing to recognize Christ for who he was.
God knew they would not. God the Father, and Christ himself, knew that Christ would be executed by the Jews. One might fairly say that the opposition of the Pharisees was part of God's plan. He had given them the law, knowing that they would not follow it, to show them the sin of their actions; now he has given them a Messiah, knowing that they will reject and ultimately kill him, to show them the sin of their hearts.
On a more practical note, while Christ did not abolish the law, he certainly teaches a new way to interpret and enforce it. Love of our fellow man and service to others must be our guide when we read the law of Moses, second only to love of God. Christ will teach this explicitly later in his ministry, e.g. Matthew 22:34-40.