Daily Devotion for September 28, 2009
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer from the First Epistle to Timothy, Ch. 3
Lord God, I pray that this day my conduct will be like that you have set for your clergy, above reproach. May I be this day termperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle; not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. I pray that I manage my own family well and keep any children I may have charge of under control, acting with proper respect. Grant me a good reputation with outsiders, so that I will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
Gospel of Matthew 9:27-33
Jesus Heals the Blind Man in Capernum
[As Jesus was returning from healing the official's daughter], two blind men followed him, crying out, "Have mercy on us, son of David."
When he arrived at the house where he was staying, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"
They replied, "Yes, Lord."
Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith, let it be done"; and their eyes were opened. Jesus strictly charged them, saying, "See that no man knows it." But when they left, they spread his fame in all the land.
As they left, a mute man, possessed with a demon, was brought to him. When he had cast out the demon, the mute man spoke; and the crowd marvelled, saying, "This was never seen in Israel."
But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the power of the prince of the demons."
At the time of Christ, Judaism splintered into religious and political factions, causing much strife and occasional bloody civil wars. (Anyone who has studied European history between 1550 and 1800 will understand how bloody the civil wars between religious factions can become.) The two most prominent Hebrew factions in this period were the Saducees and the Pharisees. The Pharisees — from whom modern Judaism would largely emerge — were in some ways more liberal, and some ways more conservative, than the Sadducees. They were a mixture of a religious movement and a political party.
In general, the Pharisees were:
- Less authoritarian. They tended to favor, or at least allow, worship in a more local setting, led by teachers (who would develop ultimately into "rabbis"), in synagogues and schools. The Sadducees were more oriented to traditional worship and sacrifice in the Temple, overseen by a High Priest.
- More separatist and culturally conservative. The Hebrews continually had disagreements over adopting the cultures of empires that conquered them. The pre-eminent culture of the Classical world was Greek; even Roman culture was largely second-hand Greek. At Christ's time, for example, some Jews would use the Greco-Roman bath and gymnasium facilities in Jerusalem (although they were scorned by true Greeks and Romans due to their circumcision, which Greek culture considered to be a defilement of the beauty of the human body).
- More populist. The Hebrew scribes and sages (wise men) tended to downplay the authority of the High Priest and spread authority to interpret the Law more widely. Similarly, they placed more responsibility on the people. The Talmud of modern Judaism developed from their philosophical or theological principles.
At the time of Christ's ministry, the Pharisees were a powerful movement in Galilee. They are often depicted as the "bad guys" — hypocritical and defensive in reaction to Christ's revolutionary gospel, eventually causing his crucifixion. Many of them, however, were the most devout and godly people of their time. Any Christian would do well to consider his or her own hypocrisy and moral self-righteousness. Christ was not so much killed by the Pharisees or Romans as by humanity's inherent sinfulness, which we all share; this is important to understanding his teachings.