1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Context – This passage was, for the first century Jews and Christians, the basis for their looking for The promised prophet, deliver, Messiah. It refers back to the time at Mount Horeb/Sinai when the people proclaimed that they wanted Moses to be their prophet and him speak with God because they did not want God to speak directly to them. God was frightening, Moses was just a regular guy. So, as prophets were appointed by God to speak for God, the people found that they didn’t really like these prophets either – unless, they spoke affirming and agreeable things. This brought about the false prophets, who made a successful practice of only speaking what the people wanted to hear. There is a lot of concern throughout the book of Deuteronomy regarding the detection of a false prophet and many criteria are listed for discovering a when a prophet is speaking deceit.
Insight – In our gospel passage for this week, we see Jesus begin to become famous by speaking, and acting, with authority gaining the attention of the religious leaders. Confidence and authority often gain our attention and trust in a leader. Moses was neither, God gave him Aaron to do the speaking. What is it about this quality of confidence that gets our positive response and why is that dangerous?
Context – Psalm 111 is often considered a simple Psalm that is written in a form that is easy to read and provides simple yet vital truth to the regular human. It, along with Psalm 112, is written in an acrostic fashion, meaning that each verse begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Psalm 111 is a teaching about God and then 112 is a teaching about believers/followers of God.
Insight – Take a moment to consider Psalm 111:10, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Context – While it is foreign to us, the topic of eating meat sacrificed to idols was heavy on the minds of the believers fifty plus years after the birth of Christ. There are those in the church at Corinth that are causing division and animosity by their ‘knowlege’, a confident legalistic teaching to a typical people easily moved by confident and secure convincing voices. Paul specially uses the word Knowledge and not Wisdom here to point out that this is ‘knowledge’ of a human rather than truth from God. Paul, very intentionally, stresses that love trumps such knowledge.
Insight – Take a moment of consider the US capitol riots that occurred a couple of weeks ago. Consider how many of those involved were convinced of conspiracies by strong confident voices. This same impact of being misguided is what Paul was confronting in Corinth.
Context – As I said last week, Mark crams a lot of happenings in this first chapter of Mark. Context is very important to follow in this text because Mark presents these initial events of Jesus ministry in an orchestral manner with this week being a crescendo. So, let’s begin with a list of what has already taken place:
- John the Baptizer, the messenger proclaiming the coming Christ, is preaching a message and performing a baptism of repentance (mentenoia, a change of mind, perspective; a new person).
- Jesus comes forward to be baptized by John.
- ‘Heavens torn apart,’ God breaks into human reality.
- Jesus hears God’s voice ‘This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.’
- Holy Spirit Descends and lands on Jesus.
- Spirit drives Jesus into wilderness.
- Satan personally attacks Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days tempting him, under extreme and dire circumstances, attempting to turn Jesus away from God.
- Jesus, stepping out of wilderness, hears of John the Baptizer’s arrest.
- Jesus proclaims that ‘That is enough’; he has seen all the evil of, and on, humanity, ‘it is time’ for him to do something.
- Jesus picks up the message proclaimed by John the Baptizer, repent, mentenoia.
- Jesus finds his disciples, they drop everything to follow him, and community begins to be built.
- Now, this week, we have Jesus stepping forward in a very public and revealing way.
Insight – last week I called Jesus statement, ‘it is time’ a huge statement…especially for those who had been waiting for him. Now he is stepping before a public who has been religiously look for him but not really open to seeing him, this also is huge. Jesus, begins this phase of his ministry by stepping into the middle of it all, he goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath, where he is confronted by a demon. Remember, this is the second spirit that has attempted to land on him, the first was the Holy Spirit who Jesus welcomed, this spirit, however, is confronted by Jesus and given no power. As you read, consider the significance of Jesus first public venture being a visit to the community holy building on the holy day of the Sabbath and then, there, encountering evil. His last encounter with this level evil was in the wilderness when Satan left Jesus for a ‘more opportune time.’