In the stipulations of the Sinaitic covenant, Israel is accordingly forbidden from worshiping other gods (Exod 20:3; 23:24; 34:14; Deut 12:31; Judg 6:10; 1 Kgs 9:6–7; 2 Kgs 17:35–38; Jer 25:6)— not because God is some kind of jealous narcissist, but because of God’s passion for his own glory (Deut 4:24) and because of the dehumanizing effects of idolatry (12:31). In other words, the biblical materials witness to an exclusive monotheism.

Michael Bird, Evangelical Theology

This is one of the problems I have with Reformed theology. I don’t disagree with the conclusion, but I fail to see how “God’s passion for his own glory” is different from jealous narcissism. If I said I had great passion for my own glory, what would you think of me?

Discuss amongst yourselves. And leave a comment.

Matthew 9:27-31: Two Blind Men

Two blind men recognize Jesus as the Messiah (Son of David) and cry out for mercy. I think it’s interesting that Jesus makes them follow him back to the house before he helps them. I mean, they are blind.

Blindness is special. Healing of blindness is another sign of the kingdom. Healers of the day couldn’t help blind people, but Jesus did.

He probed their faith a bit and healed them with a touch.

He also asked them to keep it on the down low, probably because he didn’t want so much of the Son of David stuff and possibly because he didn’t want followers-on just because of the miracles. And blindness was definitely a special case.

They disobeyed. Which goes to show that people of faith don’t always obey. It would have been better, and expressed better faith, if they had obeyed.

The kingdom is coming and it is here.

People attending our church never really learn who Jesus is or what it means to follow him. All they learn is how to be saved and how to have a better life.

Matthew 9:18-26; Two Kingdom Miracles

While Jesus was teaching about wine and wineskins, an opportunity to demonstrate came along. A leader (of the synagogue?) came and asked him to bring his daughter back to life.

That is faith. Healing is one thing. Raising from death is another altogether.

Jesus went with the leader to do the miracle.

On the way, a woman with a longstanding female bleeding problem encountered him and expressed her faith in what seems kind of a magical manner. Her disease is physical with social ramifications; perhaps that has made her reluctant to have normal social interactions. But Jesus honors her faith and heals her. He looks at her and really sees her. He offers her a “take heart”.

Her faith—any faith—is not magic. Faith is an awareness of the kingdom at some level, and a willingness to accept Jesus and his kingdom. It is taking sides with Jesus. It is loyalty to him. The leader expressed his faith by bowing before Jesus and asking him to do the impossible. The woman expressed her faith by trying to be unobtrusive and to stay out of the way, as she had learned to do. Jesus honored both.

Mourning had begun for the dead girl. Jesus sent the mourners away and simply took the girl by the hand and raised her.

The kingdom has come. New wine.

I’ll side with Jesus.

What kind of church does the world need us to be? | Psephizo

The two big questions that a lot of people have been asking in the time of the pandemic are: What does this mean for society, and what will the ‘new normal ‘ look like? and What does this mean for the church—how can we rethink what we do? But I think there is a bigger question which I am not sure people are asking so much: what kind of church does the world in this situation need us to be?
— Read on

Matthew 9:14-17; Mourning

Good Pharisees fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. This was not required by the Law, but it was their custom. The followers of John must have had a similar practice.

Not Jesus.

We are not talking about a national day of fasting, required by the Law, or about private times of fasting for various reasons. We are talking about customs, not law.

Fasting was a tradition related to mourning. Specifically, the Jews of the first century were mourning while waiting for God to rescue them. Even though the exile was technically over, it wasn’t really over. They were waiting for a real reestablishment of Israel as a real, independent nation.

Jesus says it isn’t time for mourning any more. He has come. He is the bridegroom. There will be times for mourning and fasting, but not now.

The two homespun pictures of cloth to patch a cloak and wine in wineskins are powerful images. The trick is in how to apply the images.

It seems to me he is announcing a new regime. The old customs and traditions won’t fit any more.

It’s time for a party, not for a funeral.

Matthew 9:9-13; Tax Collectors and Pharisees

Let’s call this an elliptical pericope because it has two foci. Some of you will get that, and some of you won’t. Those who don’t get it should probably be more proud of themselves than those who do.

Jesus calls one of the despised tax collectors, Matthew, to follow him. This call is similar to the call of the fishermen and I take it to be a call to close discipleship, to be one of the Twelve. Any commentary will give you a list of reasons that tax collectors were despised, but those reasons did not slow Jesus down.

It looks like there was a party celebrating this new disciple, probably hosted by Jesus or one of the disciples. Naturally, Matthew’s (former) colleagues were invited, or at least showed up. Can you imagine what it would have been like to attend a dinner party with Jesus? The talk must surely have been kingdom-oriented.

You have to imagine a public or semi-public setting for the dinner. Privacy is for moderns; there wasn’t much of it in the first century. The dinner came to be noticed by a group of Pharisees.

I try to not be too hard on the Pharisees. Yes, Jesus gave them a lot of grief, but it seems like they were the closest to the kingdom of all the first century Jews. They were serious, even hyper-serious, about the law. They were separatists, in that they did not want to incur uncleanness. They extended the priestly rules to themselves and others. They were pointed generally in the right direction, but a little misguided.

They would not have eaten with this group of tax collectors and sinners, and they wondered why Jesus would.

Jesus answers with his famous saying about the sick and the well and about who needs a doctor. And he gives them an assignment to go home and think about, quoting Hosea.

Do our churches, on a Sunday morning, look more like a group of Pharisees or a group of Jesus, disciples, and sick people?

Jesus did not disparage the law. But he had his priorities. Doing his mission of the kingdom was the highest priority. We need to set our own priorities accordingly.