Today, we begin a new chapter in our online blog with a look at lectionary reading which will go through the end of August. There are basically 2 types of lectionary reading options – a two year option and a three year option. Both have the same desired goal that being a more thorough reading of the Bible. You can find more details and the entire ongoing lectionary at: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/devotion/daily/2014/6/23/
If you go to the lectionary reading for today, you will find the following texts listed – this is standard: morning psalms, OT reading, NT reading, Gospel text and evening psalms:
- Morning Psalms 123; 146
- First Reading Numbers 16:20-35
- Second Reading Romans 4:1-12
- Gospel Reading Matthew 19:23-30
- Evening Psalms 30; 86
Each day, the author of the blog will pick 1 text and look at it…today’s text that I choose to look at is the one from Matthew. Why? Because it is filled with phrases that are often used as in everyday language. This passage follows on from the discussion with the young ruler and entry into the kingdom of God.
The incident with the young ruler prompted this brief message from Jesus to His disciples. He remarked how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Since the man was trusting his riches rather than the Lord to save him, he could no more enter the kingdom than a camel (one of the largest animals used by Jews) could go through “the eye of a needle” (a sewing needle; not a small gate within another gate as is sometimes suggested). This needle’s eye was an extremely small opening.
“Who then can be saved?” This is the response of the astonished disciples. It shows the influence of the culture, more importantly the Pharisees, on them (remember that the Pharisees said God bestows wealth on those He loves following a broad OT understanding that wealth was generally understood as a mark of God’s favor). So if a wealthy person cannot make it into the kingdom, seemingly no one can! Jesus answered that salvation is a work of God not of human capability.
For the young ruler it was a test of his willingness to place God’s priorities first in his own life. This is the point Jesus is making to his disciples…it is our message for today. In our crazy hectic lives, priorities are important…although it is impossible from a human standpoint to overcome the powerful attraction of wealth and all those other things that distract us from a focus on the Living Christ, with God’s help anything is possible. Amen.