March 2: listening (Numbers 30-31; Mark 9)

Understandings change. Or another way to say this – we grow in our understanding. It may not be that we change our mind about something but we understand in a way we did not understand. Numbers 30 describes vows – who can make them and who can keep them (and how women are subject to the authority of their fathers or husbands; how we understand this will also change). But Jesus will teach in Matthew 5 that we should make no oaths (vows). Instead, always speak the truth. That makes sense! Why didn’t Moses think of that?

In Numbers 31, the Israelites were told to take vengeance against the Midianites as the consequence for their efforts to draw Israelites away from the worship of the one true God. But Jesus will teach another way – not vengeance but forgiveness. Several times in Matthew 5, Jesus says:You have heard that it was said, but I say to you.When we are listening to Jesus our understanding changes.

In Mark 9, the disciples catch glimpses of who Jesus really is, but they don’t understand. Perhaps the greatest surprise of the gospel of Mark is that the disciples finally do. They grow in their understanding. If I try to interpret everything that happens to me while it happens to me and then never allow room to change how I understand what happened, I’m in trouble. My life moves far too fast, I miss far too much, and I don’t understand until much later. Instead, I am called to do what the heavenly voice of Mark 9:7 said: This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!

Lord, speak for your servant is listening.

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