11 April 2010

Apr 11

Reference links:
Old Testament

The Israelites cross the Jordan. To make their crossing easier and to demonstrate his power, God stopped the flow of the Jordan.
So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
Everyone passes safely over, they take some rocks to build a memorial and build another memorial in the river itself, and no chasing armies are drowned as the river goes back to normal.

New Testament

Upon seeing many people vie for a seat of honor near him at a dinner, Jesus teaches that instead they should sit in the lowest seat.
Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
The section title labels this a teaching about humility, but I do not think that it quite right. It does not seem humble to sit at a lower place to ensure that you are honored if asked to move up and not embarrassed if asked to move down.

Today's reading also contains a discussion of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
The generous way of interpreting this, I think, is that Jesus is claiming that you should love him and being his disciple much more than everyone and everything else. However, the problem with that interpretation is that "hate" has a negative connotation that is not captured by "love much less".

Based on other passages in the gospels, I think that Jesus really does mean to convey some of the negative connotations of the word hate. Earlier in Luke, as well as in the other gospels, we read about Jesus' expectations of those who follow him:
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
If we use these passages to interpret the passage from today's reading, it really does sound like Jesus wants his disciples to neglect and ignore their families and friends. He really does expect them to treat them with characteristics more associated with hatred than lesser love.

Psalms and Proverbs

Good proverb!
Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch,
but the diligent make use of everything they find.
It is good to make good use out of all the resources you have.