In chapter twenty-three, Jesus continues to speak to the crowds in the temple courts. He condemns "the teachers of the law and the Pharisees" as "blind guides" and "hypocrites." He condemns their demonstrative shows of holiness ("they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues.") Seven times, he begins a statement with "Woe to you!"
Matthew twenty-four is apocalyptic in nature, as the disciples ask Jesus, "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" He warns that "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." He tells them that "false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect." Despite that, he says that "no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father," and that they must be faithful and keep watch. And when the time comes, "at the coming of the Son of Man, two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left."
In chapter twenty-five, he illustrates for them the importance of keeping watch and being faithful stewards with the parables of the ten virgins and the talents. And he talks about the people being separated "as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." The righteous will have eternal life, the cursed will not. And he tells them that "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me...whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
Thoughts, questions, issues
- Matthew 23 is an extended passage that clearly places Jesus in the Jewish prophetic tradition. It sounds as if it could have come from Isaiah or Jeremiah.
- Much of chapter 24 reads as if it could have come from Revelation.
Psalm 56 is another with a tune specified.
Some of these I'll need to re-read after I've gone through 1 & 2 Samuel again. I don't remember the Philistines seizing David in Gath, so I'm not certain of the context of this psalm.
For the director of music. To the tune of "A Dove on Distant Oaks." Of David. A miktam . When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me;
all day long they press their attack.
2 My slanderers pursue me all day long;
many are attacking me in their pride.
3 When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
5 All day long they twist my words;
they are always plotting to harm me.
6 They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
eager to take my life.
7 On no account let them escape;
in your anger, O God, bring down the nations.
8 Record my lament;
list my tears on your scroll —
are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise-
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, O God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.