September 29, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Monday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 41, 1 Kings 18:1-15, James 1:12-21
Evening – Psalm 33 Job 12:13-22, Mt. 13:53-14:12

Commentary, Matthew 13:53-14:12

The people of Nazareth were offended at Christ.  To them He was just the carpenter’s son.  They knew His family.  He was nobody from nowhere and they resented His apparent success.  How often we find that the people closest to us are the greatest barriers to success.  It is as though holding us to their level of underachievement somehow justifies their own mediocrity in their minds.  This is as true in spiritual things as it is in worldly things.  The one who seeks to live by the Gospel, rather than go along with the crowd, will be ridiculed for his “holier than thou” attitude.  How sad.  Even on a merely human level the people of Nazareth should have had a proper joy in “local boy makes good.”  Instead they resented Him.  Their attitude was like that expressed in the words, “Who do you think you are?  I knew you when you were nobody, and to me, you still are.”

Some have thought their lack of faith prevented Christ from doing great works in Nazareth, as He had done in other places.  Mark 6:5 seems to support this view.  But it is not that Christ was unable, as though their lack of faith arrested His Divine power and ability.  It was that they refused to accept mighty works from Him.  They refused to receive anything from Him because they did not believe He was the Messiah.  In exactly this way, those who will not believe in Christ today cannot be saved.  It is not that their unbelief binds the power of God.  It is that their unbelief binds their ability to receive anything from Him.

14:1-12 tells of the tragic execution of John the Baptist.  The opposition Jesus had spoken of in earlier chapters is clearly happening here.  Remember that in 12:14 the Pharisees held a meeting to plan a way to kill Jesus.  In 13:53-58 the people of Nazareth shout Him down and reject His teaching. Now John the Baptist pays the ultimate price for following Christ.  There has always been a price for following Christ.  There always will be.  We are seeing a growing opposition to Christ here, opposition that will eventually lead Him to the cross. 

Herod is doubly condemned in this passage.  His foolish promise to the dancing girl clearly was not meant to include murder, yet he lacked the courage to release himself from the evil request.  But a promise to do evil is not a valid promise.  To turn from such a promise is not called breaking a promise, it is called repentance from sin.  Rather than execute John, Herod should have rebuked the girl and released John.  But, like Pilate, he simply went along with the crowd, and another innocent man died.