A Meditation on Matthew 17 : 24-28

Kevin J Youngblood
 

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel.7 Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (Matt 17:24-27)

What a curious vignette we find in Matt 17:24-27. The incident is recorded only in Matthew’s gospel and, unlike any other miracle story related by Matthew, gives no indication as to whether or not the miracle actually occurred. The amount Jesus tells Peter to extract from the fish is only enough to pay for himself and Peter. What about the other 11 apostles?


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A Meditation on Psalm 78

Kevin J Youngblood
 

Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

18 They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved.

19 They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed.

Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?”

(Psalm 78:17-20)

Psalm 78 recounts a time when Israel raised the very question that many are asking today, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” With prices skyrocketing in grocery stores everywhere and parents struggling to even find, much less buy, baby formula for their infants, we find ourselves panicking like Israel in the desert and questioning God’s ability to provide even our basic life necessities.


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A Meditation on Revelation 19

Kevin J Youngblood
 

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

(Revelation 19:7-8)

“The bride has made herself ready,” says John. This is the first of four references to the bride of Christ in Revelation. The others are found in 19:7; 21:2, 9; and 22:17. This first mention of Christ’s bride is ambiguous. Little in the immediate context helps us identify precisely who this bride is. The prophetic tradition of the OT would suggest that it is a reference to the people of God. As we come to the later references, however, we get the impression that the bride is more than just the people of God, it is the divine city itself – the New Jerusalem, the New Creation, the New Heaven and New Earth. This certainly includes the people of God but cannot be limited to them. The Lamb joins in holy matrimony with all creation.

This is probably hard for us to imagine without sufficient reflection on the rich OT background of this imagery.


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A Meditation on Psalm 107

Kevin J Youngblood
 

He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;

37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

The closing line of Psalm 107 is a sobering admonition to those who consider themselves wise or who want to be wise to pay special attention to the way YHWH rectifies this world’s inequities. According to the psalmist, this is a function of YHWH’s hesed (boundless mercy, fiercely protective love).

It is a well-known fact that those who lack power are often forced to take the “leftovers” in this world and the “leftovers” are almost never enough in and of themselves to live on.


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A Meditation on Psalm 107

Kevin J Youngblood
 

33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;

37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

(Psalm 107:33-43)

I find that it makes more sense to read certain portions of Scripture backwards. Such is the case with Psalm 107:33-43.


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A Meditation on Psalm 146

Kevin J Youngblood
 

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the sojourners;

he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

(Psalm 146:7b-9)

I was struck this morning by the repetition of the divine name in this brief space of two-and-a-half verses. Five consecutive occurrences of YHWH as subject in five consecutive clauses is unusual for Hebrew syntax and thus catches the eye. Much more common is the syntax of v. 9 where the first clause introduces YHWH as subject and the subsequent clauses in the verse refer back to YHWH with the pronoun “he.”


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