Week 40 Devotion
This week we work our way into the New Testament and I couldn’t be more excited. All of the history, all of the ups and downs, all of the promises and anticipation from the Old Testament have built up to this. Something new is about to take place and we have a front row seat where we will read about it.
What is God going to do with Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem? Will God’s people ever have a new king? What about the New Covenant that God promised through Jeremiah and Ezekiel? All of these questions and more will be answered as we work out way through the New Testament.
Something to meditate on from Matthew…
The gospel of Matthew is the first book we will encounter as we turn to the New Testament and the purpose of this gospel is to give an account of everything related to Jesus (birth, life, death, resurrection) but Mathew is really focused on showing how Jesus fulfills the promises and expectations of the Old Testament. In fact, Matthew wants us to read his gospel as a continuation of the Old Testament, which is why he starts with a lengthy genealogy.
Have you ever wondered why that genealogy is in there? It’s in there because Matthew doesn’t want us to miss the fact that Jesus is not an afterthought but is connected to all the stories that have come before. Then moving on from the genealogy, Matthew wants us to see the connection between God’s work of redemption in the past to God’s work of redemption in the present.
Here’s what I mean. There are two key events in the Bible that help us to see the redeeming love of God more clearly than any others: The Exodus from Egypt and the Ministry of Jesus. Matthew wants us to see a parallel between what took place at the time of the Exodus and what is taking place as Jesus takes His place getting set to deliver the Sermon on the Mount.
We call this typology and it is extensive in Matthew. But here’s the point, as the gospel of Matthew gets underway there should be great anticipation as we get set to hear what the Messiah and new Moses will say about the Kingdom of God and our own redemption from bondage to sin.
Something to discuss from Luke…
There is plenty for us to think about and discuss as we begin reading the gospel of Luke. The birth narratives in this gospel are more extensive than the others. We get this great story in chapter 2 about Jesus as a 12-13 yr old boy who gets separated from His parents but he not only keeps calm but decides to go into the temple and teach the teachers. But for the purpose of this devotion, I want us to focus on what we see in Luke 3:24-38.
Yes, I want us to talk about the genealogy. Part of the reason that I want to draw this out has to do with the fact that we just finished reading the Old Testament and this list of names stands out as a solid reminder of key events that have taken place in Israel’s history. The Jews of that day could read this list of 77 names and be reminded of what happened just a generation ago and if they were paying attention then they could come to realize that everything from the past has been leading up to Jesus.
But let’s ask the question, what are the theological implications of what we read? One thing that I find intriguing about this genealogy is that though there are some big names and important people listed, we can’t forget that fact that these are also sinful men whom God has been gracious to forgive and to use for His good purpose.
Adam – Failed to protect his wife from Satan, sinned against God, blamed his wife and ushered all of humanity into rebellion against God.
Noah – Got drunk and passed out naked in front of his family
Abraham – Gave his wife away twice because he was afraid for his own life
Jacob –cheated his own brother out of his birthright and then he deceived his own father in order to steal the blessing
David – committed adultery and murder
These are all men whose particular examples we would want to avoid and we would not want our own sons to follow in their footsteps. But what this reveals to us is that God delights to use us for His good purposes as a means of showing His faithfulness and His grace. No one reads the genealogy of Jesus and praises these wicked men for doing their part to bring about the Messiah; when you read this list of capital sinners you can only be struck by the fact that even though these men were faithless, God remained faithful.
One more thing, this long list of sinful men lets us know that there is hope for every sinner who calls on the name of the Lord. Salvation is a work of God’s grace and not the result of our effort. Salvation is not about our covenant faithfulness it’s about God’s covenant love.
Something to pray about from Mark…
I don’t know if you noticed it or not but Mark seems to be somewhat fond of the word immediately. As I read the first two chapters I noted in the margin of my Bible that this word shows up 10 times. So I jumped on my bible software and did a little research to find that Mark uses this term 36 times in his gospel. But the question is why?
Are we to understand that Jesus was like a teleporter vanishing one second to appear in another? Nope! Was He just this breathless guy that went from one place to another, from one person to another, from one need to another? Maybe. But is there a better explanation for the frequent use of the term immediately.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I think. Mark uses this term as a way to speed us through from the good stuff to the really good stuff. Mark wants us to have a good and full picture of who Jesus is and of what Jesus said and did during His ministry; but he really wants to make sure that we don’t miss the cross. It’s as if Mark just can’t wait to get to the end of the story so that we see what his gospel story is all about.
We get distracted sometimes by all the details. We are prone to miss the forest because we are staring at and analyzing one really interesting tree. We have a tendency to miss the climax of the story because we are trying to figure out what to do with that one encounter Jesus had with that person in that place…but throughout this book Mark wants us to know that there is something coming that changes everything.
So, I think that Mark is trying to get us to the cross as quickly as possible and that is what I want us to pray about this week. Let’s pray that for all the questions we have about Jesus, and His teaching and His life, let’s not neglect to understand the importance of Jesus’ death. He came to die. He came to set us free from our slavery to sin. He came to lay down His life as a ransom for all those who believe in Him. So let’s pray that we would keep the gospel at the forefront of our minds not just this week, but always.