Jesus goes up the mountain to teach. The writer of Matthew’s
Gospel addresses a Jewish audience for whom Moses’ teaching
from Mount Sinai loomed large in both geography and
self-understanding. Commentators suggest that Matthew places
this interaction on the mountain in order to make this very connection.
Matthew’s report of Jesus’ message makes a claim about
Jesus’ authority and his prophetic role in salvation history.
Micah’s description of salvation history directly refers
to Moses, as well as to Aaron and Miriam. The inclusion of
Miriam is unique to Micah, as is his claim that she, like her
brothers, was sent by God. The Hebrew Bible records pieces of
her story: Her mother sends her to protect the baby Moses. She
is a prophet and leads in worship. She is punished with a skin
disease and isolation when she and Aaron play politics; she dies
in the desert and is buried there.
Both Matthew and Micah curate the narrative of God’s
power in action. They claim that God is at work in the world
through these particular people. Making these sorts of claims
is risky. Miriam, like Moses or Aaron, did not perfectly follow
God’s call. Jesus doesn’t claim to be a new Moses—not abolishing
the law but fulfilling it—and overt comparisons would
surely have inflamed the religious leaders.
However, being a disciple, just like being a prophet,
involves seeing the work of God and making some risky claims.
We claim that God is still at work. We claim that God works in
and through people in this time in history. We claim that God
speaks through unlikely people, men and women. We claim
that we can receive new understandings that express and fulfill
the message God has been telling since the world began.
Inspire us, O God, as disciples and prophets, to see how you call people today, and give us wisdom and courage to keep telling of your work of salvation in and through us. Amen.
The four texts for this Sunday join in warning the people of God that they should not be confused or intimidated by appearances or by how the larger society values this or that. A faithful hearing and responsiveness to the God of the Bible may not fare so well or look so good in terms of the world’s standards of judgment. But what is required and blessed is a community ordered according to the covenantal commitments, shaped by God’s gracious promises, and attuned to what Paul called the “foolishness” and “weakness” of God.
• Read Micah 6:1-8. When have you sensed God’s anguish over human injustice?
• Read Psalm 15. Where do you need to speak truth from the heart, do what is right, be without blame, or be reconciled?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. How have my limited expecta- tions of how God works caused me to miss God’s action in my life or the lives of others?
• Read Matthew 5:1-12. Which of the Beatitudes do you feel most blessed by? Which best describes your life of faith?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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