Friday, October 30, 2015

Psalm 40 Realization

"In sacrifice and offering you take you no pleasure (you have given me ears to hear you)." - Psalm 40:7

"[Jesus said,] 'Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.' And he said, 'Let anyone with ears to hear listen!'" - Mark 4:8

A realization ... Jesus said many times that those who have ears should listen. What an odd expression, right?

Yet there it is, right in Psalm 40, a verse from a song that all Jews knew well, having been raised with it all their lives. Every time Jesus used this curious phrase, his hearers would have been brought right to Psalm 40, and to the phrase that precedes it: "In sacrifice and offering you take no pleasure."

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus is more direct: "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.'" This is a direct quote from Hosea 6:6.

Jesus is drawing stark lines between the temple sacrifice system, which honors God, and embodied practices that honor human beings. To do the one while ignoring the other -- to sacrifice to God as an individual without being a part of the community -- is to participate in injustice.

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