More than once, a verse or passage in Genesis has done little more than remind me that we live in a vastly different culture than the people of the ancient Near East. And yes, we have just such a chapter today. Genesis 23 covers the death and burial of Sarah. Two verses are devoted to Abraham’s mourning over her, and fifteen verses–75% of the chapter, by verse–are devoted to the negotiation by which Abraham buys a burial plot. If you or I were recording this event, we would probably approach it somewhat differently.
In yesterday’s chapter, as a consequence of humanity’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, death became a fact of life. Today, we witness the first recorded human death, and not only is it a murder, it’s a fratricide.
Is it fair to call Lazarus’ resurrection the second-biggest resurrection in the Bible? If you’re going by volume, absolutely. John devotes an entire chapter, 57 verses long, to Lazarus’ death, return from the dead, and the fallout of his resurrection. The only resurrection that gets more scriptural air time is, of course, Jesus’ own. And coming back from the dead is kind of a big deal in itself, so Lazarus’ return is a big deal among big deals.
We all know we’re going to die someday, but life goes on. And in today’s chapter, although Jesus is well aware that he’ll meet an untimely end at the hands of his enemies and has said as much to the disciples, he goes on teaching and telling parables. Facing our limited lifespans has a way of making us prioritize what we do here on earth, but Jesus…kind of takes an interlude here to tell his disciples stuff about sheep and debts and stuff.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 12:2. It describes Jesus as “the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” I’ve said before that there’s a fine line between Christianity and masochism, and it’s not difficult to fall into spiritual self-flagellation (or physical, if you’re a 13th-century monk). At times, to varying degrees, I’ve succumbed to the temptation to embrace and pursue suffering for its own sake.
There’s a lot happening in any given chapter of Luke. Consider, for example, Luke 7, which just so happens to be the chapter for today: Jesus heals a centurion’s slave, restores a recently-deceased man to life, preaches about John the Baptist, and gets invited to a Pharisee’s house, where he tells a parable about two debtors. Which of these shall we look at in today’s post? We certainly aren’t going to look at all of them. I love you guys, but not that much.
Happy Thanksgiving, Chocolate Book fam. If I were smarter, I would have thought ahead and planned out a Totally Hip Gratitude post in keeping with the holiday. And I suppose it’s not too late to set Zechariah 10 aside, dig out my word search for “thanks,” pick a reference, and continue my study on gratitude. So why don’t I do that? Seriously, why don’t I do that? I’m going to do that.