Be still

LJA130270This coming Sunday is the gospel of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38)  While the storm raged, Jesus lay sleeping in the stern upon the cushion that was customarily kept under the coxswain’s seat for those who were not involved in the actual sailing or fishing. The other’s aboard are having a much different experience. Given that at least four of the disciples were professional fishermen and must have experienced such storms before, their anxiety/terror indicates the severity of the incident. The usual pattern for a deliverance from a storm at sea involved a plea to the deity for help, but Mark’s version lacks such a formula. In Matthew the disciples’ words to Jesus to fit the anticipated pattern, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Matt. 8:25). In Mark, however, their cry carries an edge – rebuke? Disbelief? Incredulousness? It is hard to assign a meaning that leaves the disciples other than accusing Jesus of being indifferent to their plight. Continue reading

Reward and Righteousness

The gospel for today is from Matthew 6 and is part of the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29), but too often it is presented in isolation from the Sermon and thus the connection is not obvious to many listeners. Jesus has begun to preach in Galilee, as Scripture foretold (4:12–17), and large crowds are being attracted to his teaching (4:23–25). Matthew presents a lengthy collection of that authoritative teaching.

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