Engaging the Word: Readings for 10/25/15 (22nd Sunday after Pentecost)

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By Barbara Klugh

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52. Go to www.lectionarypage.net to read or print the weekly lectionary text. Our readings this week are about restoration. God restores Job’s life and fortunes, answers the psalmist’s cry for deliverance, Jesus is shown in Hebrews to be the perfect high priest who intercedes for us, and Jesus restores sight to blind Bartimaeus.

Job restored to prosperity by Laurent de LaHyre (1606-1656). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Job restored to prosperity by Laurent de LaHyre (1606-1656). Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Job 42:1-6, 10-17: This week’s reading is the last of four readings from the book of Job. Now Job responds to God. But he is humbled and almost speechless. He’s has come to understand that God’s transcendent purpose is beyond what he (or any human) has the capacity to understand: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know….therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

In the part that the lectionary omits, God rebukes Job’s friends for their ungodliness; he directs the friends to offer sacrifices, and tells Job to intercede for them. The friends sacrifice, thus admitting their errors, and Job prays for them. This opens up the way for forgiveness and reconciliation.

After Job prays for his friends, the Lord restores his fortunes to him, giving him twice as much as he had before . He blesses Job with seven more sons and three more daughters, and Job lives another 140 years.

Two things I take from Job’s story is that living a life of faithfulness doesn’t mean that we can’t question God—or even rail against God—especially when we, or those we love, are suffering. Also, when our family or friends are suffering, we should be careful not to jump to conclusions or to offer easy answers.

Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22: Attributed to David, this week’s psalm reminds us of God’s constant presence. The psalmist offers praise because God has answered the cry for deliverance and preserves those who seek God’s refuge. I love verse 8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him!”

Christ by Titian, c. 1530. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Christ by Titian, c. 1530. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrews 7:23-28: In this week’s reading, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells about the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood in comparison to the Levitical priesthood. The former priests were transitory because individual priests died; Jesus continues forever, and therefore holds his priesthood for all time. What that means for us is that Jesus’ ministry of intercession will never end  and he is able to save those who draw near to God through him.

Another comparison is that the high priests who served under the law were subject to weakness and sin, whereas Jesus is “holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” That’s why Jesus has no need to sacrifice continually for his own sins and those of others. Jesus’ sacrifice is a perfect once-for-all-time offering of himself to God. By the oath of God the Father, Jesus has been appointed for eternity and “has been made perfect forever.”

Jesus healing Bartimaeus, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jesus healing Bartimaeus, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Mark 10:46-52: This week’s reading is the narrative of the healing of a blind man, the beggar Bartimaeus. It takes place just as Jesus is leaving Jericho on the way to Jerusalem. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was there he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd tried to shut him up  but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then “Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’” The people called Bartimaeus and Bartimaeus threw off his cloak “and came to Jesus.” When asked by Jesus what he wanted, he said, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus immediately restored Bartimaeus’ sight saying, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Bartimaeus’ response to his healing was follow Jesus “on the way.”

What popped out at me was the phrase, “Jesus stood still.” So if we want to imitate Jesus we need to stand still and listen to those that the world usually ignores or tries to silence.  Yet, I think I’m more often like blind Bartimaeus, begging for mercy and healing. And Jesus will stand still, listen to my cries, and heal me.  Then once again, I will resume following Jesus on the way.

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