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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 5, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Micah 5:2–4

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. (NRSV)

In his book Tell It Slant, Eugene Peterson suggests that Jesus often spoke in “slanted” ways that were intentionally indirect, creating parallel layers of meaning and inviting his audiences to interpret his words beyond what was being said on the surface. Jesus carefully chose words that were true on multiple levels, but not everyone listening caught the most important theology being communicated. Peterson argues that this was a key dynamic in Jesus’ teaching and discipleship, as it works to reward with enhanced insight those willing to dig deeper into what was being shared.

In these words of prophecy from Micah, it strikes me that this theme of “slanted” language is at work here. Everything the prophet spoke would eventually come true, but not all would unfold as Micah’s audiences would have likely expected. The reality would be “slanted”—and even better than what was predicted on the surface.

Jesus fulfills the prophecies of Micah and more, but not through political power or tangible monarchy, as the people might have hoped. Rather, the coming Christ would “feed his flock” and help God’s people “live secure” both physically and spiritually. The same Jesus who multiplied fish and bread for the masses would also become the Bread of Life that sustains us beyond our day-to-day needs. The same Jesus who performed countless acts of physical healing to enhance the lives of the marginalized would also become the Resurrection and the Life. And now, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ continues to renew our world both physically and spiritually through the faithful following of his church.

Understanding the depth of how Jesus delivers on God’s promises is an ongoing journey, one that is still taking shape in full. May we look for those realities with anticipation and hope.

Promised One, please help me recognize your good works both physically and spiritually, and shape in me a spirit of never-ending anticipation for the life you provide. Amen.

Written by Michael Mirza, Director of Worship

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