What Did I Think?

Called to ministry,

What did I think

Back in the day

When I did not want to jingle keys

And pray at picnics?

That it was about what lasts

Past death and

Endures through generations

That it was from the ground up as seed

Slow and organic like yeast,

Growing from depth

and not about appearance.

It was going where others did not

And helping others thrive.

What they say that it is today

Is filled with numbers



And is about control


from the top

The wise and

The resourced

Taking over what was built

  building newer and better

Next to what has been.

Corporations for God

With chief executives



And customers.

Those who have much

Are given more

Fame and platform

Name and success.

While most never achieve

By faithfulness

to the book

Or by stubbornness of


Did I take the path

That is narrow

Or wide?

David Carlson, 4/21/2105  Fresh Read

Is this a Thing? Matthew 26:6-13

alabaster-jarThe woman who anoints Jesus with oil in Matthew seems to be Mary of Bethany,if we agree that Matthew, Mark and John are speaking of the same event. Luke’s similar story has enough differences of place, time and details to indicate that it was a different story. (Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8; Luke 7:37-39)

This comes at the start of the Passion Narrative, where one event flows into the next in rapid fire succession. Matthew, however seems to continue his collecting method; the chronology of the event may not have happened right then. So then we wonder what is the thematic link.

Mary gives an extremely valuable gift, so much so that there is opposition to it. she breaks open a vial of aromatic oil and pours it out completely on Jesus head (Matthew) and feet (Mark, John).  It is an act of devotion from a disciple who expresses love.  Jesus points out that it is preparation for his death and burial.  He has been talking about that since Peter’s confession

Jesus, at the Passover meal, institutes the Lord’s supper.  He breaks bread and pours out the wine.  There is also opposition, all around this act, there are the machinations of the religious leaders and of Judas.  Jesus gives his most precious gift (his life) symbolized in every day food (bread and wine).

Are we to see these two acts of devotion together?  Broken, poured out, forgiven, love, complete, death.

Mary acted first in the narrative, but the grace of the Lord preceded any act that she offered.

That’s Harsh! Matthew 23


John Stott wrote a book called “Christ the Controversialist” which captures the section of Matthew from chapter 21 to 23.  In chapter 23 Jesus is recorded as laying into the religious leaders who opposed him and lays down a series of 7 “woes” on their brand of religion.

In the 21st Century we are supposed to be accepting.  Jesus does not model universal acceptance.

In the realm of spiritual conversations, we are not supposed to engage in diatribes, but that is one commentators description of the literary form and vocabulary Jesus uses.

Some say that this passage is anti-Semitic.  That is hard to hold in that Jesus himself and the apostles and the first generation of Christians were all Jewish.

What are we to do with this?

First, let’s avoid spending our time identifying all the others we can blame.  I could preach a long sermon against the 1st Century Pharisees, but that has the aspect of a history lesson, and not a very relevant one at that.

Second, lets try to point the finger at ourselves.  What in these accusations apply to me?

Here is a short list

  • You do not practice what you preach. v. 3
  • Everything you do is done for people to see. v. 5
  • You shut the door…in people’s faces v. 13
  • You make the trivial into the essential (v. 16-22)
  • You clean the outside…but the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence. v. 25
  • You hypocritically honor the prophets of old. v. 27

This is not a finger to point at others, but at ourselves.