Friday, April 13, 2018

Matthew 11:25-12:29 #eebc2018

One of the challenges we have in reading the Bible comes from something added to the text as a helpful tool: the chapter and verse markings. Apart from the Psalms, there are no divisions like this within the original text. The Psalms are all individual, and the strange case of the titles is for a post on the Psalms.

The chapter divisions, if we are not careful, can lead us to make a separation that does not belong. For example, in this section of text, the well-known phrase "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) is in a different chapter from the events of chapter 12 where Jesus both reasserts the importance of the Sabbath and clears out the additions that the Pharisees had added to it.

If we do not read carefully, we will make an artificial and unhelpful division between those two sections and miss an important point. Take a look at how these go together: Jesus promises a burden but one that is restful. The Sabbath, under the structures of the cultural situation, was anything but restful. There were many details to follow--but there was no way around it!

Jesus re-emphasizes the idea of mercy, rather than stringent legalities, as worship. Which, when the Gospel breaks out into the Gentile world, will also push against the Roman world. The Roman world ran constantly, with never a break or moment to pull back. A Sabbath of mercy would be a challenge to their system, and being people who participated and encouraged others to rest would have been a challenge to that world.

Then we see a natural break: Matthew 12:15 where it speaks of His withdrawal from the crowds. Here is a natural shift in the events, a place where one segment of the story fades into another. Matthew cites Isaiah 42 and applies it to Jesus. This passage speaks of the Servant of YHWH, and talks of His compassion.

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