The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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April 24

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - Deu 8:2

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands" (Deu 8:2).

"This is the lesson of chastisement. Not forsaking but purifying, not casting down but building up. Had Israel but seen these things and turned to God instead of to mourning, murmuring and despair, then would she have blossomed in the wilderness, the Lord would have opened the windows of heaven for her and brought her early to the land. The Lord had withheld food and drink but not to starve and shrivel His people. He asked simply that they would know that 'man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.' Have we learned the lesson? In this affluent age have we been tempted to rely on the abundance of sustenance to be had by daily work, rather than the increase of faith which comes by daily prayer?" (Harry Tennant, "The Man David" 173).

Reading 2 - Ecc 3:11

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end" (Ecc 3:11).

"Eternity" is the Hebrew "olahm" -- the age, or the hidden time: in essence, the concept if not the hope of life everlasting. "If a man is not conscious of 'eternity in his heart', he ought to be" (LG Sargent). Although each person has at least the concept of eternity in his heart, only Christ can provide ultimate satisfaction, joy, and wisdom.

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be" (William Hazlitt, 1819).

This is something of the meaning, surely, of man being created in the "image" of God. Physically, he is nothing more than another beast (Ecc 3:18-21), but mentally and spiritually, he is a special creature, made in the "image" of God, and capable of understanding and appreciating eternal things!

Those men and women who are believers must live in the "border land" between what is and what will be! Seeing the day-to-day world for what it is -- the place where daily bread must be found, where practical choices must be made, where ordinary life must be lived. But especially seeing the invisible world, the world which is hidden, but right around the corner, or just over the horizon -- the "real" world of all hopes and aspirations, the world of "our better natures", the world of the coming King. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2Co 4:17,18).

Reading 3 - John 20

"Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb" (John 20:10,11).

Now Mary, following behind the men, returned the second time to the tomb (still unaware of the angel's appearance to the other women: Mar 16:2-7). There was no reason why she should linger here, except that this was the spot where she had last set eyes on her friend. In the past two days she had shed tears as never before, and now more than ever they refused to be restrained. If only she might be able to express her love in some last act of devotion to his poor dead body! But even this was denied her, for apparently his body had been stolen away. To this pathetic figure of sorrow and despair was soon to come one of the greatest privileges of all time: the first sight of the resurrected Lord! Within moments, the deepest despair was to give way forever to the greatest joy! (Cp with Song 3:2-4.)


"...And saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot" (v 12).

The tomb of the risen Christ is the true mercy-seat, the true Most Holy Place. Here is the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat, flanked by the cherubim, where the blood of the one true sacrifice has been poured out.


"They asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she said, 'and I don't know where they have put him.' At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 'Woman,' he said, 'why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?' Thinking he was the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary.' She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher)" (vv 13-16).

She seems to have expected no help nor comfort in response to her appeal, for she is already moving away when one spoken word ("Mary") stops her in her tracks. Does not that voice have a strangely familiar ring? She turned around, stared in shock, and then in a moment was at his side -- grasping for the evidence by which to turn the impossible into certainty, and all the while incoherent with joy. There was nothing to say except one exultant word of greeting and self-reproach: "Rabboni!" The silent road from which no traveler returns had yielded back the one whom she longed to see above all others, and how blind she had been not to recognize it sooner. A wild jumble of emotions rushed through her mind, and all the while she sought added assurance by the evidence of her senses.

"My Lord, who dead and buried lay, of late
Made void this tomb and stood before my face;
And I was first of all his ransomed race:
At first I knew him not! nor pondered there
By what strong means at that unseemly hour
The gard'ner should with some uncanny power
Have borne him hence beyond my reach.
But when he spoke, calling out my name,
And I beheld my Saviour standing there,
My heart did leap with sheer and utter joy;
'Twas then, O Lord, that recognition came:
With tear-dimmed eyes my precious Lord to greet,
I knelt in the dust to grasp his feet."

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