Sometimes a lot of different things happen in a chapter. In today’s chapter, for example, God tells Jacob to go dwell in Bethel, which Jacob does, and God has a message of blessing for him once he settles there. Also, people die: Rebekah’s nurse Deborah, Rachel as she gives birth to Jacob’s twelfth son Benjamin, and then old Grandpa Isaac. If you can find a common theological or spiritual thread through all these events, more power to you. But as far as I can tell, the only theme tying them together is “some things pertaining to Jacob’s family happened in Canaan.” Sometimes chapters are like that.
If you were reading through the New Testament in canonical order, starting with Matthew and ending with Revelation, then Acts 8 would be the last you’d see of Philip. Even in the first half of the chapter, he ends up leaving the limelight as Peter handles Simon the Ex-Sorcerer’s attempt to purchase distribution rights to the Holy Spirit. But in the latter half of the chapter, Philip gets a solo adventure and an opportunity to do some big kingdom work, and it all starts with an angel and a eunuch.
If you’ve ever wondered what the kingdom of heaven is like, you came to the right chapter. Matthew 13 is over 90% parables by verse, each one a simile comparing the kingdom of heaven to something else. So what is the kingdom of heaven like? It’s like a sower sowing seed, a man whose enemy sows weeds in his wheat field, a mustard seed, leaven, a treasure hidden in a field, a merchant seeking fine pearls, and a dragnet. Need an explanation? If so, you’re in good company, because the disciples ask for one as well.
In today’s chapter, no good deed goes un-disdained, at least where the Pharisees are concerned. They chew Jesus out for letting his disciples snack on grain on the Sabbath, conspire to “destroy” him when he heals on the Sabbath, and accuse him of using the power of Satan to cast out demons. And then some of them even have the audacity to ask for a sign from him. After all that, it’s no wonder that Jesus quickly gets short with them.
I guess I could continue the Nativity Story thing and tackle John 1 for this post, but I already read Luke 5 and ate the chocolate. I ended Christmas, everyone. Sorry. There’s nothing for it but to keep moving forward.
The horses from chapter one are back today. They don’t have anything to say this time around, but they’re accompanied by chariots coming from mountains made out of bronze. Also, Joshua the high priest gets crowned, but he doesn’t get crowned king. He gets crowned branch. In other words, the vision is still a little bit weird.
Today’s chapter introduces Joshua the high priest. Satan is prepared to accuse him, but the Lord steps in to his defense. Upon reading the passage, I wondered: who is Joshua? While I had some theories, I wanted to get my hands on reliable information about Joshua before I started speculating, and I have vast swaths of information from all over the globe at my fingertips because it’s 2017.