I realized this morning, while spending devotional time with Becky for the first time in I don’t know how long, that I was somehow a day ahead in my little Lent book. I figured out what happened. I missed the fourth day because I combined the readings from that day with day three. This is all so confusing. Not really. I am just slow.
Here are the actual readings for day four. Just pretend we’ve used a tripped out DeLorean to travel back to February 24th. Also, pretend that the urban legend of the prediction about the Florida Marlins in Back to the Future is true.
I am beginning to love Isaiah, if for no other reason than his “if-then” statements. If I were more clever I am sure I could have made that into an “if-then” joke, but alas, no clever today. Throughout my love affair with Scripture, except Paul, I have always preferred the book of Jeremiah to Isaiah. But I must say, through these readings and my personal goal of reading through the Bible, I am gaining quite an affinity for Isaiah. Since I already read verses 9 and 10 when I wasn’t supposed to, I started with verse 11, but the verses that really touched me were 13 and 14. “If” you don’t break the Sabbath and do whatever you want to on my day and “if” you actually observe a willing and joy-filled Sabbath, without speaking idle words, “then” you will find joy in the Lord. Coupled with the readings from Leviticus 19, I can only think that Sabbath doesn’t simply mean not working. Sabbath is a way of life; specifically, Sabbath is a way of life that rebuilds creation, edifies people, and worships God. Sabbath is a way of life that is lived for the benefit of others. Sabbath is a life that constantly meditates on the Word of God. I want this Sabbath Life. I want my words to build up not to remain idle. I want to honor people. I want to treat creation like it is God’s artistic opus. Give me this Sabbath life! Bring on your rain, Lord, I want to be a well-watered garden!
After reading this passage, I asked myself:
“How many times in your Christian life have you shied away from someone because s/he did not look or act like a righteous person?”
“Would you eat with people who the Pharisees would consider unclean?”
“How many times in your Christian life have you questioned the people that other Christians hang out with because they aren’t Christian enough?”
“Do you shy away from people because they aren’t model citizens?”
“Would you really leave everything you know to follow Jesus? Would you?”
“Do you judge people? Why?”
“Are you righteous or are you a sinner?”
“Are you both? Can you be both?”
“If this happened today, would Jesus come up to you or would you be the Pharisee?”
By saying that he came for the righteous is Jesus saying that the Pharisees already have the law, so they understand, via the old covenant, what it means to have a relationship with God? Or is Jesus inviting them to admit they aren’t righteous and that they are sinners as well? I have never understood the meaning of that last sentence. Coupled with the following passage, I would say that Jesus is setting up the new paradigm: Christianity, through the old one: Judaism. The Pharisees are righteous, but Judaism is the old wineskin. Once the “sinners” taste the new wine, they realize they have come into the new wineskin. I think he is also saying that old wine is fine, but it belongs in the old wineskins. He is new wine pouring himself into new wineskins: the sinners and tax collectors. If he would try to put the new wine (tax collectors and sinners and Himself) into the old wineskin (Judaism), they would burst the skin and then everything would be a mess. As it is, Jesus and his followers are coming alongside the old wineskin in a new wineskin. I think Jesus is saying there is room for both at the party. Okay, I’m finished. Not really. I think that Jesus values the old wineskin, Judaism, enough to continue to participate in it and have a conversation with the Pharisees and the teachers. Jesus never says, throw out the old wineskin. To really throw things off, Jesus says: “No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.'” What do I make of that? Is Jesus saying that we should always leave the 1970’s curtains in the fellowship hall, because the new ones wouldn’t be as good as the old green and yellow paisley ones? Okay, really, my thoughts just got a bit too heavy there for a minute.
I don’t know. These are all random bits of conjecture.