When my oldest child entered fourth grade, he was tasked with learning to play the recorder. He would retreat to his room, squeaking out something that sounded like notes, while the rest of us tried to drown out the noise. Steadily, his playing improved, and by the end of the year he was adept at “Hot Cross Buns” and other songs. He had begun to learn to play an instrument—his fingers and breath knowing what to do, his ability to read the notes and translate them to action sharpening.
In this second giving of the law in Deuteronomy, we discover how people are to be instruments of God, supple and obedient to their God-given vocation and message. Prophets are to be communicators of God’s word to God’s people, sounding clear notes of truth. At Mount Horeb, God had given the law to Moses. The mountains smoked and shook. Fire and thunder accompanied the holy God of heaven and earth. God’s people were awestruck, and afraid; they wanted a person—someone like them, like Moses—to tell them God’s word.
In kindness, God gives them Moses and a whole line of prophets to speak God’s word in extraordinary ways to God’s people. Ultimately, God comes to humanity through the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the savior of the world and a prophet like Moses. In Jesus, the authority and love of God are intertwined. In Jesus, we have the Son of God, full of power and authority, and the Son of Man, a person who understands our humanity. In Jesus, power and authority become accessible. Because Jesus has borne our sin, we shall not die; instead we are welcomed into a fuller life.
Thank you, God, for sending Jesus as the prophet who would communicate your truth, goodness, and love. Help me to recognize your authority as you welcome us into true life. Amen.
This week’s readings center on God’s authority. In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet to guide the people, and God warns the people not to listen to voices that do not speak for God. The psalmist overflows with praise for God’s great works. God is powerful and awesome, yet also gracious and merciful. Paul instructs the Corinthians to place the rights of others before their own rights. A person’s conscience may allow one to exercise freedom in Christ; however, with this freedom comes responsibility. We must surrender our own rights, if necessary, for the good of others. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shows his power over the forces of darkness: Even the unclean spirits recognize and obey him.
Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20. To whom or to what setting do you turn when you yearn to hear God’s voice?
Read Psalm 111. For what are you praising God today? How have you experienced God’s steadfast love recently?
Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. What do you think of Paul’s statement, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”? Can you think of examples of this in your everyday life?
Read Mark 1:21-28. How do you react to the concept of authority? How does the authority of Jesus differ from the authority we may encounter in the world?
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