Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Slow Down, Look Closely

Matthew 21:42 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
42-44Jesus said, "Right—and you can read it for yourselves in your Bibles: The stone the masons threw out is now the cornerstone. This is God's work; we rub our eyes, we can hardly believe it!"This is the way it is with you. God's kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone falls on gets smashed."

Do you ever find God emphasizing something he wants you to notice? It happened to me this morning. I love the way God's Word is woven together in such a mystical way. We can read but miss that, or if we care to look closely, a world of wonderful echoes and patterns emerges. I've come to believe that not one word is there by accident.

This morning I read Matthew 21, which starts out with the account of Jesus' triumphal entry to Jerusalem. He'd already tried to prepare his twelve close followers for what lay ahead, telling them that he was going to be crucified (Matthew 20:17-19), although it's hard to believe that the truth of that really sank in. The chapter goes on to describe Jesus throwing the money changers and sellers of doves out of the temple and ends with the parable of a vineyard, a story that was an allegorical account of how Jesus' own people, the Jews, would kill him, and ending with Jesus' reference back to a verse in the psalms, saying that he would be a stone that they would stumble over.

I turned to Acts 4, and reading about Peter's address to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish rulers, elders and teachers of the law, there it was again, in verse 11, Peter saying of Jesus, "He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'" I decided to look more closely, slow down a bit and listen for anything God might be trying to get through to me! I looked up the psalm that Jesus quoted from; 118. Suddenly I saw it; this psalm is a prophesy about his crucifixion, it is linked with all of the events recorded in Matthew 21, including the cleansing of the temple, and even verse 26 of the psalm, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," is exactly what the crowds shouted to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey (Matthew 21:9). How perfectly it all fits together.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for revealing the perfection and unity of your Word and for showing me that you have more and more to show us if we look more closely. How I love you.

Psalm 118:17-25 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
17-20 I didn't die. I lived! And now I'm telling the world what God did. God tested me, he pushed me hard, but he didn't hand me over to Death. Swing wide the city gates—the righteous gates! I'll walk right through and thank God! This Temple Gate belongs to God, so the victors can enter and praise. 21-25 Thank you for responding to me; you've truly become my salvation! The stone the masons discarded as flawed is now the capstone! This is God's work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted— let's celebrate and be festive! Salvation now, God. Salvation now! Oh yes, God—a free and full life!

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