"Glory to God in the highest!" (Exuberant multitudes shout their acclaim.)
Reading:

Matthew 21:1-16

A week from today, this passage anchors the Sunday School lesson (“The King as a Servant”) in the quarterlies by Christian Light Publications. Here’s a four-verse chunk out of the middle:

  1. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
  2. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
  3. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
  4. And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

When I read the passage a few minutes ago, this expression clicked for me: “in the highest.”

Such a familiar ring… Could it be…? I looked it up. Sure enough! Continue reading

The ample sufficiency of unmerited generosity
Reading:

Matthew 15:21-31

All year I have been working my way through 2 Peter (by “accident”), but this morning I detour with Jesus to the region of Tyre and Sidon. I read the heart-stirring incident of magnificent faith and wonder about my own faith…and about Jesus’ generosity toward me.

Here. You read it. The telling of a great faith that moved…a Phoenician woman:

  1. Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
  2. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
  3. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
  4. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
  5. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
  6. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.
  7. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.
  8. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
  9. And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.
  10. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:
  11. Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

I know the record here hits a high point, skipping over many details. But I’m blessed that “Jesus went thence” (21), made a Canaanite woman’s daughter whole, and “departed from thence” (31). Browsing backward through Matthew to find His last stated geographic location, I find “the land of Gennesaret” (Matthew 14:34). That’s on the east side of the Jordan River. It looks to me like Jesus skipped a direct route to the Sea of Galilee and made a big, long loop out close to the Mediterranean Sea in order to give a crumb to a dog, as it were. Wow!

My heart sings at the woman’s faith and tenacity. She didn’t turn away from Jesus’ “insensitive, rude, racist rejections” — nope, none of that quitting stuff for her. Listen… Continue reading