Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Matthew, Day 3 Readings

The Last Shall Be First... 

Today's reading is another example of Jesus' teaching confounding expectations, particularly the expectations of other religious leaders.  First, he insists on blessing children who had come to him, which even his own disciples thought was a waste of his valuable time.

Then, when faced with a righteous young man, who is very wealthy -- and collective wisdom of the day would have assumed that his wealth was God's reward for his good behavior -- Jesus does not praise the man for obeying the teachings of Torah.  Instead, he instructs him to give away all of his wealth -- not to the Temple treasury, but directly to the poor -- which wasn't what anyone really wanted to hear.  (Remember, now is the time to consider your financial contributions to the church in the coming year....)

Next, Jesus offers a parable about God's generosity of spirit.  Comparing the faithful to day laborers in a vineyard, Jesus suggests that the same invaluable reward -- welcome into the Kingdom of God -- is available to all of the workers, even those who join the effort in (and yes, this is where the phrase comes from) the 11th hour.  While people of faith are pleased with God's forgiveness, they don't understand why they don't get extra rewards, based on their extra service -- and their expectations are confounded.  Perhaps some peoples expectations are confounded even to this day, if they actually read the often radical teachings of Jesus.

Read Matthew 19:13-20:16  (NIV)   (NRSV)   (CEB)
[links to Bible Gateway open in a new window]

Reading the Bible in Its Entirety

If you are planning to read the Bible in its entirety, you should read Matthew 13-18 today.