Tag Archives: obeying God

Matt 28:16-20

In Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus commissions the disciples to go out and make more; that’s what they are to do. It’s just a few lines, and many of us have heard these lines many many times. So it is┬ásurprising to me all that I am finding in them. On first glance, I honestly thought it was Jesus way of just keeping the disciples busy until the grief of His leaving them was less. When someone dies/leaves, just keep busy. Clean the fridge. Wash the windows. Plan a new garden. And for the prime person left, of course in our world the paperwork alone can be overwhelming. So I thought, well they likely didn’t have paperwork back then. And maybe the Romans would hold a grudge against the disciples, maybe it was for the best if they leave town for a while. So Jesus got them to Galilee, to the mountain, and then is sending them off to all the nations. Keeping them busy and keeping them safe.

All that may be true.

But of course, the disciples did go to all the nations. There is Christianity, however robust or fragile, everywhere, I think. And the task was not just busy work for them. They were given the power to tell their story — and have it believed. I mean really — elsewise who would have believed: your God had a son, okay lots of Gods do, carry on. Oh but your God’s son died. Okay, well that happens too, so sorry. Oh wait, he came back? To forgive us? To defeat death? What sort of crazy talk is this guy; look let’s just feed him and treat him gently and get him out of town, eh?

But they persisted. They did as Jesus said — went, baptized, taught, and remembered. It may be the first time the disciples did anything right!

I was going to write about Mountains in Matthew and how surprising and mystical and full circle it is that Jesus met them, for the last time, on a mountaintop. Next time!



God asks Elijah another question

I woke up today after falling asleep to very blustery winds. The weather men said some gusts were up to 50 mph — very strong fierce winds indeed. Yet though it was a little unnerving, the wind posed no real danger. We knew it was coming — thank you weather men — so we were snuggly home. Our walls and roof are sound.

So suddenly I realized that for Elijah, tucked in a cleft of the rock, wind so strong “it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks”; earthquake; fire — all very dangerous. For the people below in a valley, any of these events would have been unpredictable, dangerous, terrifying. My study bible’s footnote on this whole passage is really complex. In part, essentially, wind, earthquakes, fires: this was traditionally how you knew a God was about. The power of destruction.

So our God, Elijah’s God, could have been saying: see what I can do? But “the Lord was not in the wind”, or the earthquake or the fire. And then in the aftermath, when there was “a sound of sheer silence”, God could be saying: and see I am there. I am.

Or God could be saying: I’m not in the silence either. I’m quite different from any human understanding.

Or maybe: I, God, can use all these tools, but “I am” not the tools.

Regardless of exactly what all this means, what God does is this: he asks Elijah another question. He had already asked, before all the sound and fury on the mountaintop, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Now God asks: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Yep, He asks the same question again. He gives Elijah a second try — Elijah kind of muffed the first one.

But Elijah replies exactly the same as he did the first time, word for word! I’ve done all this for you God, but it is useless and I am alone and they are going to kill me.

This time God doesn’t respond with displays, or a lack of display, of power. He doesn’t respond with words of comfort. He just gives Elijah his marching orders: Go, anoint Hazael as king over Aram; Jehu son of Nimshi as King over Israel, and Elisha as prophet in your place, and some other orders. I’m stripping it down, read it for yourself 1 Kings 19:15-18. It’s almost like God is really tired of Elijah and moving on.

However Elijah felt about any of this, he obeys the Lord. He goes out and finds Elisha and they do the anointing. There are more run ins with Ahab. I think it worth noting in 2 Kings 1:11-12 Elijah calls on god to send fire and “Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed [the king] and his fifty.”

My next step will be to look at 2 Kings, where Elijah is taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. Then I think I’ll take another, comforting, look at John the Baptist.