Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Sa 24:18-24
"On that day Gad went to David and said to him, 'Go up and
build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.' So
David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad.
"When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming
toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the
ground. Araunah said, 'Why has my lord the king come to his servant?' 'To buy
your threshing floor,' David answered, 'so I can build an altar to the LORD,
that the plague on the people may be stopped.' Araunah said to David, 'Let my
lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the
burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O
king, Araunah gives all this to the king.' Araunah also said to him, 'May the
LORD your God accept you.'
"But the king replied to Araunah, 'No, I insist on paying you
for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me
nothing.' So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty
shekels of silver for them" (2Sa 24:18-24).
Likewise, our service to God should not cost us nothing! "He
who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion that is worth nothing"
"One of the greatest paradoxes in all of Scripture is that the
greatest of all gifts in life, our salvation, comes as a FREE gift that costs us
EVERYTHING. Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his
life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.'
Perhaps time and familiarity deny us the full impact of this metaphor that Jesus
uses. Jesus is telling us we must take up his mission. This is not a mission
that costs nothing. Anyone who is carrying a cross off to his own brutal
execution in the metaphorical manner of Christ is committed to the fullest
extent possible. It is to this complete dedication which the Apostle Paul refers
in Rom 12 when he says, 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that ye present your bodies A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.'
"King David understood that had he accepted Araunah's
sacrifice, Araunah would have made a sacrifice, but David would not have given
anything. David, a thousand years before his 'greater son', knew that he must
take up his cross. Do we?" (Kyle Tucker).
Reading 2 - Jer 27
"This chapter contains a prophecy of the subjection of the
king of Judah, with five neighbouring kings, to the king of Babylon; signified
by bonds and yokes on the prophet's neck, which they are exhorted patiently to
bear, as being most for their good; and not to give heed to false prophets, who
would persuade them to the contrary:
The order to make the yokes, and send them to the several neighbouring
princes by their messengers at Jerusalem: vv 2,3;
What they should say to
their masters from the God of Israel, who is described from his power in the
creation of the earth, and the disposal of it: vv 4,5;
...as that he had
given all their lands into the hand of the king of Babylon, whom they should
serve, or it would be worse for them: vv 6-8;
And therefore they should not
hearken to their prophets, who prophesied lies; if they did, it would be to
their hurt; whereas, if they quietly submitted, they would dwell in their own
land: vv 9-11;
Particularly Zedekiah king of Judah is exhorted to submit;
and both he, and the priests and the people, are advised not to hearken to the
false prophets: vv 12-15;
Particularly as to what they said concerning the
speedy return of the vessels of the temple, which were carried away to Babylon;
but might assure themselves they should remain there; and the rest also should
be taken, and not returned until the end of the seventy years: vv 16-22" (John
Reading 3 - Mar 1:9
"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was
baptized by John in the Jordan" (Mark 1:9).
Why was Jesus baptized (Mat 3:13-17; Mar 1:8-11; Luk 3:21-23)?
The most obvious answer is the Scriptural one: in the words of Jesus himself,
"to fulfill all righteousness". This calls to mind Mat 5:17: "I am not come to
destroy [the law], but to fulfill." The work of Jesus, in all its aspects, was
to fulfill, or complete, the righteousness of the law of Moses. The law of Moses
was a "shadow" (Heb 10:1), pointing forward to the substance, the reality, which
was Jesus. As Moses washed Aaron (Exo 30:20,21; 40:12), to sanctify and cleanse
him for his mediatorial work, so John washed Jesus. If Aaron had entered the
Most Holy without washing, he would have failed; if Jesus had offered himself as
a sacrifice with no public baptism (signifying the denial of the flesh), he
would likewise have failed.
Jesus was absolutely without personal sin -- he could not be
baptized for the forgiveness of what he did not have. Nevertheless, the
necessity of his baptism shows how far even sinful flesh alone separates man