Weekly Introduction to the Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (Proper 25b / Ordinary 30b)

Job 42:1-17

Job listened to the many questions asked him by God for which Job had no answer and Job was humbled.  He regretted the way he had came before God and demanded answers.  He then repented and declared, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” God accepted Job’s repentance and then turned against Job’s friends who spoke wrongly about God to Job.  Finally God restored Jobs fortunes–even greater than they were in the beginning.  Job once again became wealthy and prosperous, with a big family.  He died 140 years later, old and full of days.

It is of note that many scholars feel the fairy tale ending of Job is too good to be true.  They argue that Job 42:10-17 in which Job regains all the he lost is a later addition to the book, and not necessary to book’s message (and even counter to the message [i.e. God rewarding Job for his humility with riches and power]).  Whatever the case the restored fortunes of Job can have an important eschatalogical point.  When God sets the world to rights good will not only win over evil, but good will be restored.

Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22

Our Psalm this week is a Psalm of praise thanking God for deliverance from difficult times.  In this regard the Psalm is a fitting response to our Hebrew Bible reading.  The Psalmist writes, “This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.”  And again, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all.”  It is difficult at times to blindly sing and pray psalms of praise for deliverance–especially when deliverance is not on the horizon.  We are reminded in the reading the Psalter that both psalms of lament and psalms of praise are included.  In singing/praying them both we realize what is a proper response of faith in God during different circumstances.  When in the despair of a heart rending trial we cry out in lament as a protest against a world gone wrong, and when we find deliverance we praise God for the promise of a world set to rights.

Hebrews 7:23-28

Our epistle lection argues that Jesus is a fitting high priest in that Jesus can be high priest forever (i.e. Jesus is not removed from office because of death).  Jesus is also a fitting high priest in that the sacrifice he made for sin is “once and for all.”  Unlike the high priests in the Hebrew Bible Jesus does not need to continue to make sacrifices to purify himself for the sins of the people.  There is a connection here to our reading from Job, in that when God became angry with Job’s friends for speaking incorrectly about God they were told to go and see Job and have Job make sacrifices and pray for them that they may be forgiven.

Mark 10:46-52

Our gospel reading this week is the story of the healing of the blind Bartimaeus.  Bartimaeus hears of Jesus’ passing and cries out to Jesus with a very significant title, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.”  The title “son of David” had messianic and royal connotations.  Bartimaeus, in crying out to Jesus, was recognizing Jesus’ messiahship and kingly status.  Jesus heals Bartimaeus and declares, “Go; your faith has made you well.”  Immediately Bartimaeus becomes a follower of Jesus and travels with him, on the road to Jerusalem.

Jesus curing the blind in the gospels is a popular occurrence because of the double entendre in seeing the real world and seeing spiritual truth.  The blind seeking the help of Jesus give a sense of irony to the gospel story in that though they are blind they can still see, as did blind Bartimaeus, the messiahship and kingly status of Jesus, even while those who are not blind are unable perceive.

Celebration

As you prepare your hearts, minds, hymns, and prayers for Sunday consider what it means to “speak rightly about God.”  Job’s friends are held accountable for the speaking inadequately about God, and blind Bartimaeus is healed after making a correct statement about Jesus’ identity.  Why is it so important to speak “rightly” about God?  What are our limitations in speaking “rightly” about God?  When is it best to remain silent?

Consider how God delivers those who search for answers–and those who cry out to him. God’s forgiveness is predicated on the work of Jesus as the great eternal high priest, whose sacrifice is once and for all.

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