Today's Readings: 2 Samuel 24 | Jeremiah 27 | Mark 1
Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Samuel 24:18-24
"On that day Gad went to David and said to him, 'Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.' So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad.
"When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, 'Why has my lord the king come to his servant?' 'To buy your threshing floor,' David answered, 'so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.' Araunah said to David, 'Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.' Araunah also said to him, 'May the LORD your God accept you.'
"But the king replied to Araunah, 'No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.' So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them" (2Sa 24:18-24).
Likewise, our service to God should not cost us nothing! "He who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion that is worth nothing" (Adam Clarke).
"One of the greatest paradoxes in all of Scripture is that the greatest of all gifts in life, our salvation, comes as a FREE gift that costs us EVERYTHING. Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' Perhaps time and familiarity deny us the full impact of this metaphor that Jesus uses. Jesus is telling us we must take up his mission. This is not a mission that costs nothing. Anyone who is carrying a cross off to his own brutal execution in the metaphorical manner of Christ is committed to the fullest extent possible. It is to this complete dedication which the Apostle Paul refers in Rom 12 when he says, 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.'
"King David understood that had he accepted Araunah's sacrifice, Araunah would have made a sacrifice, but David would not have given anything. David, a thousand years before his 'greater son', knew that he must take up his cross. Do we?" (Kyle Tucker).
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 27
"This chapter contains a prophecy of the subjection of the king of Judah, with five neighbouring kings, to the king of Babylon; signified by bonds and yokes on the prophet's neck, which they are exhorted patiently to bear, as being most for their good; and not to give heed to false prophets, who would persuade them to the contrary:
The order to make the yokes, and send them to the several neighbouring princes by their messengers at Jerusalem: vv 2,3;
What they should say to their masters from the God of Israel, who is described from his power in the creation of the earth, and the disposal of it: vv 4,5;
...as that he had given all their lands into the hand of the king of Babylon, whom they should serve, or it would be worse for them: vv 6-8;
And therefore they should not hearken to their prophets, who prophesied lies; if they did, it would be to their hurt; whereas, if they quietly submitted, they would dwell in their own land: vv 9-11;
Particularly Zedekiah king of Judah is exhorted to submit; and both he, and the priests and the people, are advised not to hearken to the false prophets: vv 12-15;
Particularly as to what they said concerning the speedy return of the vessels of the temple, which were carried away to Babylon; but might assure themselves they should remain there; and the rest also should be taken, and not returned until the end of the seventy years: vv 16-22" (John Gill).
Reading 3 - Mark 1:9
"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan" (Mark 1:9).
Why was Jesus baptized (Mat 3:13-17; Mar 1:8-11; Luk 3:21-23)? The most obvious answer is the Scriptural one: in the words of Jesus himself, "to fulfill all righteousness". This calls to mind Mat 5:17: "I am not come to destroy [the law], but to fulfill." The work of Jesus, in all its aspects, was to fulfill, or complete, the righteousness of the law of Moses. The law of Moses was a "shadow" (Heb 10:1), pointing forward to the substance, the reality, which was Jesus. As Moses washed Aaron (Exo 30:20,21; 40:12), to sanctify and cleanse him for his mediatorial work, so John washed Jesus. If Aaron had entered the Most Holy without washing, he would have failed; if Jesus had offered himself as a sacrifice with no public baptism (signifying the denial of the flesh), he would likewise have failed.
Jesus was absolutely without personal sin -- he could not be baptized for the forgiveness of what he did not have. Nevertheless, the necessity of his baptism shows how far even sinful flesh alone separates man from God.