The valley around the Sea of Galilee is lush and green, and you can see the haze that hangs over this large lake in the middle of a desert (I've been there, and I stood on the side of the Decapolis, looking across to the other side). This scripture says that Jesus traveled around the kingdom, preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and great crowds followed him.
As we see from the introduction, Jesus called these men out of more than a few systems. First, their immediate family dynamic was interrupted. John and James, the scripture makes a point to say, left their boat and their father. Second, they left the guild -- a kin-based economic system (similar to a fisherman's union) that was a larger part of empire rule. And third, they left a sphere of social class as the working peasantry to go and become the student of a rabbi.Read More
I can't wait for you to (watch) this week's essay, a sermon by Terry Wilson. In it, she talks a little about this moment when Jesus calls the first disciples, and how odd it really is (you'll have to watch to understand what's so weird about it!). As I began to study for this devotional, however, I came across an interesting note in the scholarship around this verse: fishermen were despised. I knew tax collectors were not popular people, but I never knew that about fishermen.Read More
If you're familiar with scripture then you are probably familiar with the idea that in this part of the text, Jesus is restoring Peter -- he gives Peter the chance to affirm his love three times (to Peter's annoyance!) -- one for each time Peter had earlier denied him during his interrogation.
Jesus came to serve, not to be served, and here we see him serving the disciples breakfast. It is a beautiful act of nurturing, and indeed, very often a woman's role to prepare a meal. But Jesus doesn't seem to care about hierarchies -- at least not man made ones. And if he does, they're all flipped around.Read More
The interesting part to this scripture, for me, is that they recognize Jesus by his abundance. By his where there was none, now there is plenty. They recognized not his physical body, but the impact he had on their environment and their circumstances. Suddenly they were able to see fish where there had been none; suddenly their nets were full.Read More
Have you ever felt Jesus's absence? Life feels flat without him, as if some of the color were drained from everything made of matter. When Peter says, "I'm going fishing," it feels almost as if he has resigned himself to a colorless life -- a life without JesusRead More
Read John 20:24-29
Jesus seems to come back specifically to visit Thomas, the doubter. Again, his first greeting is "Peace be with you." Then, he carefully answers Thomas's unbelief with proof. Put your finger here, and see my hands, Jesus says. Reach out your hands and put them into my side.
Read John 20-19-23
Jesus (and the whole story) is so lusciously weird, that it's hard not to believe. He offers them peace, and while he says this, he breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
When Jesus, the Word that was with God in the very beginning, breathed on the disciples, it is reminiscent of God's breath of life in Genesis 2:7, and this, in turn indicate a new, spiritual beginning -- a rebirth, of sorts.
Read John 20:19-23
In this scene, Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection. Like many scenes that include Jesus, the narrative is frustratingly short and lacking. I want to know more about what he said and did, because surely, "The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord," is an understatement.
Rebeckah was a woman who practiced hospitality and kindness in her everyday life, and yet she was also subversive and rebellious in order to carry out God’s will. How do you think she knew when the time came for obedience, or when it was time for resistance?
Read Romans 15:1-5
This verse encourages us to please others before ourselves. How might the practice of putting others first impact our daily lives, and help us to be an answer to the prayers of others?
How can this practice become unhealthy and idolatrous? It is an important boundary to consider. There is a difference between self-flagellation and service as an act of worship. Which do you practice more regularly in your daily faith walk? What, if anything, needs to change?Read More
Read Romans 12
My study Bible’s commentary here says, in part, “A Christian self-concept is achieved not in isolation but by participation in the one body in Christ, in which diversity of gifts contributes to unity of purpose.”
In light of this scripture, how can we now view Rebekah’s willingness to participate in God’s plan? How can we now view our own willingness to participate? Do you need to make changes? Or are you fully being who you were created to be?Read More
Read Romans 15:7
As we can see from this week’s essay, Rebekah’s story is layered and complex, including political dynamics as well as spiritual and familial ones. If we consider this in both our personal lives, and on a larger scale, as citizens of a godly nation (and what that means for our politics), consider how we might be the answer to someone’s prayers in light of this verse. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7, NRSV).
Read Romans 13:8-10
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments...are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As we stay here in Genesis for another day, consider destiny. It was Rebekah’s regular way of being that allowed the servant to recognize her as Isaac’s wife — and that helped Rebekah fulfill her own destiny as a matriarch in God’s salvation story.
This week’s devotional will be a little different, in that we’ll jump back and forth between Rebekah’s story and other parts of the Bible to understand how we might become the answer to someone else’s prayers.Read More
Rachel and Leah were products of a culture that demanded more of each of them, and so they, in turn demanded more too. Leah wasn’t beautiful enough, but she had plenty of children. Rachel was beautiful, but had no children...
In Genesis 30:14-21, we see Rachel go to her sister and ask her to share her madrakes. The text makes this seem adversarial, almost, but I can’t help but wonder if it was. I do think that it took great humility on the part of Rachel to go to this, the sister who had everything she wanted. And it took grace and mercy on the part of Leah to say yes. She could have come from a place of vengeance and said no.
We come back to Leah today, who in Genesis 30:9-13 has finally called herself happy in God’s abundant blessings. She has gone from naming her sons “I am hated” to “I have prevailed”, and finally, “Happy am I!”