12.9.2021 – Reverend Rod Jameson – Knysna Methodist Church
In this passage Wisdom is speaking. Wisdom has found locations where she can alert as many people as possible to her message – noisy streets, public squares, and city gateways. The word used for Wisdom in Hebrew is plural and scholars agree this is to emphasise the many characteristics of wisdom. Wisdom declares that people have not been listening to her message. If they had there would have been good results. These people are called anything but wise. They are simple, fools and mockers and they reject all of Wisdom’s advice and correction. As a result, she will no longer respond to them when they call on her and they will suffer the consequences of their rejection. However, the wise, those who do listen to her, will be blessed and protected.
Psalm 19 may originally have been two psalms, the first (vv1-6) refers to the God of creation, calling Him by the Hebrew name Elohim (plural); and the second (vv7-14) refers to the Lord by the Hebrew name Yahweh as He reveals Himself through His Word. Verses 1-6 speak of creation praising God in silent but glorious witness of His power and wisdom. Since the psalm was written, science has taught us even more of the magnificence of God. All of creation helps us to appreciate the glory of God. In spite of this, creation does not reveal God’s purpose for our lives nor the way we should live in harmony with God and people. So, God has given us His Word, in which He lays out guidelines to give us life and wisdom. It directs, corrects, warns and restores us. It should be valued by everyone who reads it. Jesus summed it all up in two Commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and, Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus complemented the law by giving us the Gospel of forgiveness and eternal life.
James warns teachers to be careful what they say, for misguided teaching may easily lead people astray. James expands on the power of the tongue by comparing it to the bit in a horse’s mouth and the rudder of a ship. Even though they are small, the tongue, the bit and the rudder determine the direction to be travelled. The tongue can be as destructive as fire and do irreparable damage. James is warning that careless or misguided words are capable of doing great damage to the body of believers. But whilst the tongue can be dangerous, it is also an instrument of praise. Christ-followers should be careful they use their tongues to honour God and encourage others.
Jesus took His disciples to an area beyond Galilee known as Balinas (modern day Banias) which was a place where the god Baal was worshipped. On the hillside was a cavern which was believed to be the birthplace of the god Pan. Higher up was a white marble temple which Philip had built in praise of Caesar the Roman Emperor who was considered to be a god. One of the sources of the River Jordan, so meaningful to the Jewish people, gushed out of a cave on the hillside.
Here, surrounded by places where false gods were worshipped, even at that moment, on the banks of the Jordan which was a strong reminder of the history of their people, Jesus asked His disciples ‘Who do people say I am?’ Then, response to their answers He asks, ‘But what about you?’ This event takes place in the middle of the Gospel of Mark. It is as if Jesus knows matters are coming to a head and He wants to find out whether His message has touched those who follow Him. So, He asks His twelve closest companions. Peter gives His answer and Jesus knows He has passed His message on.
The command to be quiet about this revelation seems strange, but there was more to Jesus’ message than just recognising Him as the Anointed One of God. Jesus had to teach these ordinary men what His coming as the Messiah meant, for the Jewish concept of the Messiah was far removed from who He actually was. Their picture was of a Messiah who would come and violently conquer all the nations (ie any nation that was not Jewish) so everyone but the Jews would be destroyed. Jesus knew He had to teach a totally new idea to His followers.
When Peter denied that Jesus would suffer in the way that He was describing to them, Jesus immediately stopped him. Often it is a well-meaning friend who tries to change a person’s mind. Someone who loves us can stop us from following God’s call and command on our lives.
Peter spoke words of encouragement and then, moments later tried to dissuade Jesus, the Man he loved and followed, that God’s plan would not take place.
Points to ponder:
When do you find yourself struggling to say kind words?
How do you feel when unkind or angry words slip out?
What is God saying to you through these Scriptures?