Word for Today Archive

Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 9
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie

If you've read my blog you've probably seen the picture at the bottom of the page. It's a picture of the fantastic bike that I ride as often as possible. It'a bike I could have never hoped to own. That 2008 Trek Madone 6.5 is a VERY expensive bike. It was a gift from my congregation in Tacoma, WA. I continually tell people about this gift. It's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received in my whole life. Totally unexpected. Totally over the top. Totally wonderful to enjoy for many, many years. I just can't keep it to myself.

Matthew 9 tells us about a number of people who experienced that same sort of gift from Jesus, one they just couldn't keep quiet about. "When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." (v. 8) "After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." (vv. 25-26) "Jesus warned them sternly, 'See that no one knows about this.' But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region." (vv. 30-31) "And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." (v. 33)

Notice in particular how Jesus warned the blind men not to say anything, but they couldn't help themselves. It's actually in Mark's Gospel that we learn that Jesus instructed Jairus and his wife not to say anthing about their daughter being raised from the dead. (Mark 5:43) He gave them "strict orders" not to let anyone know about this. Yet Matthew tells us "News of this spread through all that region." They couldn't help themselves.

For years I've loved a song by Don Francisco that tells the story of the raising of Jairus' daughter. At the end of the song is this passionate chorus, sung over and over again.

I got to tell somebody, I got tell somebody
I got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me...

You know he gave me life when my hope was dead
When there was grief he brought joy instead
I got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me...

I think it captures beautifully what Jairus and his wife must have felt. They couldn't help themselves. They just had to tell somebody what Jesus did for them.

I hope that the same is true for you and me. I hope that we cannot help but tell others what Jesus has done for us. I hope that we display his grace in our lives to others over and over again. Because there is no greater gift than the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 9
Author: Pastor Zach

This past Friday was the last day of school here at Concordia. In celebration, my wife Melody sent me on a mission to pick up Taco Cabana breakfast tacos for her first grade class. I sampled a bean and cheese taco. Those kids got some good eats.

There seems to be something about celebrations that demands food. Thanksgiving demands a fat turkey. Christmas demands a luscious ham. Birthdays demand a decadent cake. And Super Bowl parties demand mounds of wings, bags of chips, and coolers full of every conceivable drink. Food and good times go together.

In our reading for today from Matthew 9, the disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus with a question: "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast" (verse 14)? John the Baptist had been recently thrown in prison (cf. Mark 1:14) and his disciples were accordingly fasting and praying for his release. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were fasting out of an arrogant self-righteousness. Old Testament law commanded only that a Jew fast once a year (cf. Numbers 29:7-11), but the Pharisees would often fast twice a week (cf. Luke 18:12) as a conceited display of their rigid piety.

In this instance, John's disciples come to Jesus and, to paraphrase, say to him, "We're fasting, the Pharisees and their disciples are fasting, everyone is fasting! Why aren't you and your disciples fasting?" Jesus responds, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them" (verse 15)?

In the first century, weddings were particularly joyous occasions. Like today, weddings would often be accompanied by a reception where guests would eat, drink, and celebrate. Jesus' analogy, then, is this: Jesus is like the groom come to love his bride who is his disciples (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27). Therefore, we, as disciples of Jesus, live not in a time of fasting and somber faces, but in a time for feasting and celebration! For Christ is with us as our bridegroom! So eat up!

In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah foresees a day when God will be with his people and writes thusly of God's celebration with them: "On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine - the best of meats and the finest of wines" (Isaiah 25:6). I think the King James Version does better when it translates, "In this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." "Fat things full of marrow." Now there's a word picture for you. In our day, we think of fatty foods as sinful, embarrassing indulgences which cause diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But the biblical authors are writing out of a culture of scarcity. That is, famines were common and fat was good. It kept you from starving to death. And so, Isaiah says, "There will come a day when we can all celebrate and praise our God around a big plate of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Chili's Awesome Blossoms, Domino's stuffed crust pizzas, and Sonic Oreo milkshakes. We'll even throw in some Taco Cabana breakfast tacos for good measure." And then, one day Jesus comes and says to his disciples, "Now is not the time for fasting. Now's the time to pile your plate high! For I am God come to be with you. I am the fulfillment of Isaiah 25."

So today, as you eat your meals, remember to regard them as special celebrations of God's provision and God's presence in Christ. Maybe even treat yourself, being cognizant of health concerns, of course. Speaking of which, I think it's time for breakfast. Here's to a great Jesus feast!

Read Today's Scripture and Commentary on the Concordia website.

2020-07-10 17:55:03