Exodus 16: Second crisis for the Israelites: lack of food. God decides to rain bread on them, but he decides to test them. He tells the people that they need to gather as much food as they need for each day, but no more. Then on the 6th day, they will take enough for that day and the sabbath. At twilight they eat meat, and the morning they gather their bread for the day. Some people try to hoard some bread on the first day and it goes bad. Some also try to gather food on the sabbath. God gets angry because some people fail to listen to him. They seem to at least learn for now. We also learn that they are in the wilderness for 40 years.
Exodus 17: Third crisis for the Israelites: lack of water again. They question Moses and God again. This is where we get the story of water from the rock. Father Kevin preached on this during his first science and faith sermon back in 2014. His explanation was really impressive. I will have to listen to it again and see what he said. To set the scene in the Bible, God is telling Moses to go ahead of the people so he can get them water. Here’s what is actually said: “‘I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink’” (Ex. 17.6).
Now we get to the fourth crisis: military threat. Israel is attacked by Amalek. God intervenes through Moses. We see first mention of Joshua, Moses’ successor, here. He leads the fight.
Exodus 18: Moses’ family returns to him with the help of his father-in-law, Jethro. The notes indicate that this chapter is about Moses’ meeting with Jethro and how he solves an organizational crisis. He helps Moses understand that Moses can’t be doing everything and needs to get others to help him. Just normal stuff that impacts all of us.
Luke 20: Jesus is now in the temple in Jerusalem. As we saw at the end of the last chapter, other religious leaders are growing tired of Jesus. This chapter starts with them questioning Jesus, asking him who gave him the authority to teach to the people in the temple. He realizes the others are trying to trick him and answers their question with a question. Kinda clever.
This exchange was followed by the parable of the vineyard and tenants. I actually understand this parable. It was about a man who planted a vineyard, leased it to tenants, and left for a long time. When he felt it was time to come back, the man sent three slaves at three different times to get his share of the produce. Each time the tenants beat the slave and made him return with nothing. Finally the man sent his son. Realizing the son was the heir, the tenants killed him so they would be able to keep it once the man died. Of course this made the man mad so he came and destroyed the tenants, giving the vineyard to others. This parable was clearly about the God sending Jesus to Earth.
The others were angry with Jesus still. They sent spies to him so they could catch him doing something that he could be charged with. Being the smart guy that he is, Jesus figured this out pretty quickly. Others came to test him. This time it was some “Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection” (Luke 20.27). They presented a hypothetical problem (note: I tend to do that and it doesn’t always serve a purpose). It was a question concerning resurrection.
Side note on sadducees from the notes: “Sadducees were the elite class of landed Jerusalem gentry who operated the Temple and wielded power from that religious base of operations. Sadducees recognized only the Pentateuch (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) as authoritative, so they denied resurrection because they insisted that it was not taught there” (p. 1868).
Now I see why Jesus invoked Moses in his response to the Sadducees. It’s an effective way to counter their argument. Citing Moses, who clearly plays a key role in the Pentateuch, bolsters his argument and makes it tough for them to respond. This is followed by an interesting response from some of the scribes. They praise Jesus, saying “Teacher, you have spoken well” (Luke 20.39). The notes indicate this is there to let us know that not all scribes were against Jesus.
Jesus then tells a riddle about King David, but doesn’t give a solution. Kinda not fair to be honest. Oh well. Finally, this chapter ends with Jesus loudly telling his disciples (so everyone will hear him): “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. ⁴⁷ They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (Luke 20.46-47). If they weren’t angry with Jesus before, they probably were once they heard this statement. Yikes!
As I have said in other reflections about Luke, Jesus is there to push the envelope and challenge everyone! I like that!