2 KINGS 4:38-44.
As the cold air and bitter wind persist this week, I search for satisfying and tasty recipes to brighten these miserable nights! I’m often tempted to throw into the pot extra herbs to enhance the flavours, so can well imagine the servant being sent out to gather herbs, only to find a patch of gourds as well – a real find he thought in time of famine, something with a bit more ‘body’. Perhaps you too can imagine him chopping them up and adding them to the pot. However the food that was meant to sustain the body was spoilt by this addition. Elisha, the man of God, without fuss, was able to reverse the dangerous element and the food became wholesome again.
The second incident v42-44 no doubt immediately reminds us of Jesus miraculously feeding thousands with little. Here Elisha is doing something similar on a smaller scale. It is worth noting that Elisha, the servant of God cared for the physical as well as spiritual needs of the other prophets, and is a great example of generosity. There was no suggestion that the gift of food in time of famine was only for himself and no suggestion that smallness could be a problem.
May we, like the prophets, gather under the teaching of those who can encourage our faith and witness and trust God who provides more than we need so that we can be generous sharers.
JOHN 16: 16-33
Whoops! We haven’t stolen someone else’s passage! It just seems to have been left off the printing on the bookmark! So read on.
It is no wonder that the disciples were mystified by Jesus’ words. They had become used to his method of teaching using parables, metaphor, aphorism but now he is using A RIDDLE! ‘In a little while you will see me no more and then after a little while you will see me. v16. This teases their minds and is not explained by Jesus – WORK IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES!. In trying to do so the disciples recall his previous teaching and they link ‘little while’ with his going ‘to the Father’ ch16:5 &10. However this riddle must refer to his imminent death and resurrection rather than to his ascension —- ‘ A little while’ v19 – just a few days, not years. ‘ Weeping, mourning and grieving’ v20 – is what his followers did between his crucifixion and resurrection. ‘Rejoicing‘ v20 – which is what the Jewish leaders did, being glad to have Jesus out of the way at his death.
The powerful birth parable that follows clarifies the ‘little while’ of grief, pain and struggle that would occur when Jesus died so dramatically, and the inexpressible joy that would come for all time from his resurrection.
Riddle and parable now make way for plain teaching about prayer v25-28 as the sign of a relationship of love with God who can now be known as Father (not the distant, awesome creator God who had become known to the disciples through the figure of Jesus.) God’s direct loving relationship becomes real now as we pray.
The disciples think they now understand v29. Do we?
Peter and Elizabeth Smart.