King on the Mountain, King on the Cross

Scripture Focus: Exodus 20.18-23
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” 
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” 
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. 

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold. 

Luke 23.38-43
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Reflection: King on the Mountain, King on the Cross
By John Tillman

God presents himself to the former slaves as a glorious heavenly king.

There are many linguistic similarities between ancient vassal treaties between kings and subjects and the covenant language given to Moses. God tends to speak to us using language we are familiar with. 

Moses calls this a test. Will the people be faithful to this king? Will they trust God? Will they become God’s “firstborn son” that he calls them to become? (Exodus 4.22) The desert experience and hundreds of years of judges and kings would prove that Israel would fail to live up to the covenant until God sent the true “firstborn son” to fulfill the covenant. 

Israel fell into sin in the desert. Jesus would resist sin in the desert. Everything that Israel had lost or failed to do, Jesus would accomplish, including being a light to the Gentile nations.

When Jesus was on the cross, Pilate wrote “King of the Jews” and placed the sign over Christ’s head. The religious leaders objected to this. They did not want this naked, abused, bleeding man to be called their king. They wanted the intimidating king from the mountain, not the homeless carpenter from Nazareth.

If only their eyes could be opened and ours as well. The king on the mountain and king on the cross are the same king. 
 
The King from the exalted mountain, was exalted on the cross.
The king on the mountain demanded righteousness. The king on the cross provided it.
The king on the mountain made it a holy place by his presence. The king on the cross made it a holy altar by his blood.

Our God is a king, unlike other kings. 
Israel expected a king fitted for war. He came fitted to serve. 
They expected a king observing their laws. He came pointing out their sins.
They expected a king to cast out the Romans. He cast out the moneychangers.
They expected a king to banish the cursed outcasts and sinners. He brought them in and blessed them.
This is the kind of kingdom God is building because it is the only kind of kingdom we could be allowed into, sinners that we are.

The days of peering at God on a distant mountain top are over. Now, Jesus calls us close to his cross that he may save us and take us into his kingdom.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal anything from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are as one.” — John 10.27.30

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Exodus 20 (Listen – 3:21)
Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)

Read more about Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss
My sinful self, my only shame,
My glory all the cross.

Read more about Way of the Cross 
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you assess your level of comfort, your level of acceptance of the suffering Christ…

The Context of The Widow’s Mite

Luke 20.47; 21.2-4, 6
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely…
He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.””…
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”…

Reflection: The Context of The Widow’s Mite
By John Tillman

Many lessons about the widow’s mite focus on how beautiful her faith is. 

The widow’s faith is beautiful because it is centered on God, not on an institution that is corrupted by sinful leadership. Her gift is beautiful because it shows how deep her faith goes—all the way down to her last pennies. Her gift is beautiful because it shows where her treasure truly lies.

We should praise the widow’s faith, as Jesus did, but taken in context, this scripture has more to say about unscrupulous religious leaders than about generous poor people. It tells us that judgment is coming on leaders who take advantage of the poor. 

In Luke and in Mark, the widow enters in the middle of a scene where Christ is confronting the religious leaders’ materialism and hypocrisy and, just afterward, tells his disciples that the Temple they value so much will be torn down and destroyed.

Luke includes the detail that Jesus “looked up” and saw the widow’s deed in the midst of his teaching. The words just off of his lips are ones of judgement on religious leaders who “devour widows’ houses.” When Jesus points out the widow, he is showing us that his meaning is not metaphorical. The widow’s story gives us someone to emulate in faith, but also points out someone we should serve with action.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened to the widow. Some propose that God would miraculously provide for her. If forced to conjecture, I pray that one of Christ’s disciples, being as concerned about the destruction of the widow’s life as about the destruction of the Temple, would take her in. Sometimes miracles are simply disciples taking practical action. (I like to imagine that perhaps it was Mark.)

The bright light of the widow’s faith shines within the darkness of hypocrisy and abuse. What does the Spirit of Christ speak to you in the light of her faith? 

Are we like the religious leaders? Are we projecting piety while living extravagantly?

Are we like the rich? Are we giving because it looks good or until we feel good?

Are we like the disciples? Are we over impressed with wealth and success, equating it with God’s favor?

Can we learn to live like the widow? Are we able to live in faith, despite our systematic victimization, despite our poverty, and despite the existence of corruption? 

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, as you have promised to your servant. Let your compassion come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight. — Psalm 119.76-77

Today’s Readings
Exodus 19 (Listen – 4:04)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 20 (Listen – 3:21), Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)
Exodus 21 (Listen – 4:44), Luke 24 (Listen – 6:16)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more from A Cry to God for the Poor from Zimbabwe :: Worldwide Prayer
It grieves us and must grieve you that so many defenseless people live without shelter, clean water, primary healthcare, education, food. Help us, Lord Jesus, to care and share with the less privileged the material resources you have graciously blessed us with.

Read more about Good News to the Poor
Our manifestation of Christ will be in direct proportion to our acknowledgement of needing him more than we need our comforts, our possessions, our luxuries, or even our daily bread.

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.