Advent Devotion for January 4
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “He taught with real authority.”
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 78:1-4
1 O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
2 for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
3 stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
4 We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:28-29
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
SOME THOUGHTS: The phrase, “I will teach you hidden lessons from the past…stories our ancestors handed down to us” is a deceptively significant declaration. Throughout the Old Testament, the telling of the history of what God had done with, for, and to his people was prominent in the life of the nation. History told the people again and again who they were as God’s people. Where there is no history, the identity of a person or a people struggles. Great respect was afforded to those persons who spoke with authority in relaying these stories and parables. The speaker of parables mentioned here will be prophetically fulfilled in the coming Messiah.
Very gifted young men studied with rabbi’s daily, in fact, a gifted rabbi would have a dozen young men who followed as closely as possible in his footsteps in order to do everything just like the rabbi. Very, very few men by age thirty would have attained to the level as one who could speak with authority in interpreting and explaining the law. Note that when Jesus had finished speaking, the people recognized that this thirty-year-old was not just another follower of a wise rabbi. He spoke with authority-unlike anyone they had heard before. He spoke in parables and he spoke wisdom. This Sermon on the Mount is a commentary on the heart both then and now. May I suggest that when this Advent/Christmastide daily devotional ends in a couple of days, that you commit to working your way through Matthew 5-7 and Psalm 119 at the same time, reading the words of Jesus as a commentary on Psalm 119. Continue the pattern of spending time with the Lord in the Scriptures every day. It’s how we find the mind and heart of our great God, and most of all, commune with him. It is also the best and clearest way to find our personal identity as God created us.
MUSIC: As with gladness men of old. (YouTube)
PRAYER: Gracious heavenly Father, we love and adore you for the gift of your Son. We thank you for the written word and for revealing yourself to us in your glorious Son, Jesus the Christ. We praise you Jesus, for the words you spoke so wonderfully recorded by Matthew. Thank you for the wisdom and clarity of helping us to see our own hearts. Praise you Holy Spirit, our Teacher, and Guide as we read your words. Thank you for reminding us of your faithfulness to your people through the historical accounts of your people through the centuries. Help us to add our part this day to the story you are weaving through history. These things we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. — Dan Sharp