OT: Leviticus 1:1-3:17
Wow, I honestly had no idea until I just typed the reference that we had crossed into Leviticus. Apparently, I need to start reading the scripture references as I read the scriptures!
What I really need to do is research all about the different sacrifices. I want to know how many kinds there were, what each of them were for, and what each of them entailed. Alas, I have a Valentine's date in two hours, so that is not going to happen. (Alas is probably the wrong word. I may be a nerd, but I would much rather go out with my baby than research OT sacrifices!)
It does make me wonder, though, did the people keep up with all these sacrifices in Jesus' time? I know that there was some sacrificing going on. Joseph and Mary make a sacrifice at Jesus' birth, and people were selling animals for sacrifices at the temple. If I recall correctly, however, the full OT instruction on sacrificing makes it sound like a continual slaughterhouse. There needs to be a lot of dead animals to keep people's sins forgiven. Reading this also makes me wonder why Jews don't sacrifice animals today. According to them, Jesus was not the Messiah, and thus, He has not made the ultimate atoning sacrifice. Shouldn't they still be killing animals then? I wonder how they got around that one. PETA would be none too pleased!
It must have provided a powerful image to the people when they had to slaughter their own animals. I paid close attention to what the people had to do themselves and what the priests did in today's reading. The people had to get down and dirty; they couldn't just give their animal to the priest and say, "Here--take care of this for me." Killing an animal for one's own sins must have helped convey the wages of sin in a dramatic way.
NT: Mark 1:29-2:12
My "family values" meter always perks up when I read about Simon's mother-in-law. The disciples say that they have "left" all of their family, but at least in the beginning, they were still in contact. Which reminds me: Peter took along a believing wife with him after Jesus arose, so Jesus didn't break up all of his disciples' families.
Maybe it was the bold print that drew my attention to it, but I loved how Jesus was "filled with compassion" when he healed the leper. I also find it interesting that, despite a stern warning from the Messiah, the former leper completely defies Jesus' instruction and goes and tells everyone. I wonder how Jesus felt about that. Surely, He wasn't too angry. I also find it a little ironic that Jesus has told me to go and tell everyone about Him, and yet I often find myself tongue-tied. What a contrast.
Because I am apparently a shallow person, I have always been dazzled by Jesus' physical healings, more so than His forgiveness of people's sins. I guess it is because I've always heard that Jesus forgives sins, but I've never seen a healing. Thus, I think healings are something special. When I read about the paralytic being lowered through the roof today, however, Jesus' declaration of forgiveness for the man's sins seemed nothing short of miraculous. After reading in the OT about all that forgiveness entailed, it is amazing to me that Jesus can just speak forgiveness even before He died. What's more, the man didn't even ask for forgiveness! Don't you have to ask first? Don't you have to repent? Jesus' forgiveness of this man was an amazingly lavish display of grace! No wonder the teachers of the Law were put off! No one has the authority to forgive sins but God Himself! Who does this clown think he is??
Psalm 35: 17-28
I don't have too much to say about the second part of this psalm. David continues lamenting over the deviousness and malice of his enemies. He continues to cry out to God for help.
Uh-oh! We have a new figure! The Adulteress has been replaced by "the woman Folly." Clearly, they represent the same concepts, but this figure is described even more as the mirror opposite of wisdom. When we read the Proverbs in such little bits, it is hard to keep the sense of "flow," but keep in mind that Wisdom has just finished her entreaties to people in the street. She started in the beginning of chapter 9 by building her house and preparing her meat and wine. Then, she goes out and calls from the highest point in the city, "Let all who are simple come in here! Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding" (9:4-6). All that we have read for the past couple of days make up the rest of her speech.
Now, it is Folly's turn, and she echoes Wisdom in a lot of ways. She sits at the door of her house, at the highest point in the city. She, too, calls out to passerby with similar language as wisdom: "Let all who are simple come in here! Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret taste delicious." Like Wisdom, she invites the simple in to eat and drink. Unlike Wisdom, though, she seeks to lure them into participating in forbidden things. I have to give it to Folly: she hits the nail on the head with the whole "stolen water" bit. It is an odd quirk of human nature that we are drawn to what is forbidden. Even if we know clearly that it is wrong and that things will not end well for us, we are still tempted to break rules and cross lines. Folly appeals thus to the dark side of human nature, while Wisdom appeals to the good side, to our logic and intellect and our desire to know God.