Posted by: Pauline | January 22, 2017

Scriptures for Sunday January 29

Luke 6:1-16

The Pharisees began as a group dedicated to preserving their Jewish identity in the face of great pressure to conform to the Greek culture around them. They also believed that Israel’s subjection to foreign nations was God’s punishment for not keeping the Law faithfully, so they were determined to do all in their power to earn God’s favor by their zealous adherence to God’s law.

So as to be sure of not violating the Sabbath, the Pharisees had developed a list of activities prohibited on the Sabbath. By the time of Jesus, this had been expanded into a lengthy catalog of just what was and was not allowed down to the tiniest detail. The Pharisees themselves were divided among the more hard-line conservatives who made adherence to these rules the highest priority, and those who gave priority to meeting human needs.

Jesus would have been seen more positively by the latter group, and we do see some situations in the gospels where he seems to be on good terms with some Pharisees. But even these may have been offended by Jesus’ claim of authority over the Sabbath. Previously his healings on the Sabbath had aroused no opposition, but once the Pharisees saw their authority threatened by Jesus, anything he did or said was seen as a potential threat not only to them but to the entire nation (since God’s blessing depended on their obedience to His law).

Psalm 92

Like many psalms, Psalm 92 draws a clear distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous. Other psalms speak more of the differences in their behavior, while this psalm focuses on the differences in their futures – blessing for the righteous and doom for the unrighteous.

But this is not really the primary focus of the psalm. It is praise to God for His goodness, shown in His steadfast love to His people. The psalm was chosen for Sabbath worship, a time when the people would particularly take time to reflect on God’s goodness to them.

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