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One Year Bible: January 5, 2023

One Year Bible: January 5, 2023

by Dr. Darren McClellan on January 05, 2023

January 5–What a day for reading! The dispersion at the Tower of Babel, the call and covenant with Abram and Sarai, the beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew…there is enough material here to inspire a lifetime of devotion. 

Read together, one simple theme that cannot be missed is the Divine initiative that drives these stories. While human initiative is focused merely on the question of how to “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4), God is still working in the interest of the whole of creation.  

Thus, we notice that Abram and Sarai did not volunteer for their position. There is no mention of their ambition to apply, much less any sign of a résumé or specific credentials. God said “go” and to their credit, they went. But before they had time to question what was in it for them n this deal, God spelled out the terms of the bigger picture.  

“I will show you…I will make you…I will bless you…” 

In other words, this is not about you or your doing. This story—the story into which we are called and most graciously invited to participate—is about God. 

The psalmist said it well:  But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house… (5:7). There’s your ticket! 

My favorite commentary on the Sermon on the Mount is still The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ll leave you today with his brief reflection on the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:7, Blessed are the merciful…  

“These men without possessions or power, these strangers on earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation and sin of others. 

They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves. They will be found consorting with publicans and sinners, careless of the shame they incur thereby. In order that they may be merciful they cast away the most priceless treasure of human life, their personal dignity and honour. For the only honour and dignity they know is their Lord’s own mercy, to which alone they owe their very lives. 

He was not ashamed of his disciples, he became the brother of mankind, and bore their shame unto the death of the cross. That is how Jesus, the crucified, was merciful. His followers owe their lives entirely to that mercy. It makes them forget their own honour and dignity, and seek the society of sinners. They are glad to incur reproach, for they know that then they are blessed. 

One day God himself will come down and take upon himself their sin and shame. He will cover them with his own honour and remove their disgrace. It will be his glory to bear the shame of sinners and to clothe them with his honour. Blessed are the merciful, for they have the Merciful for their Lord.”

Where do you see a need for mercy today? In yourself, your family, the church, or the world?

“Lord, have mercy” we often say.

“I do” says the Lord. 

What about us?


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