Genesis 49–50, Psalm 17, Matthew 17
Gathering around the bedside of someone dying is an important moment. This poem, where Jacob blesses his sons, plays a crucial role in the Genesis narrative. Here we have the fortunes of the different tribes anticipated; the older sons have fallen out of favor and one of the younger sons, Judah, is described in very positive terms. The author of Genesis invites us to recognize how the past shapes the future and how decisions now can impact generations to come. The narrative stresses how interconnected we all are. For this author, Reuben’s actions during his life (see Genesis 35:22) had an impact for centuries. The ripples from a certain action can extend a long way.
The past meets the present in a very striking way in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. These three disciples then witness the Transfiguration of Jesus, who is then joined by Elijah and Moses. Elijah is important as a prophet; Moses is important as the giver of the law. This is Matthew’s way of letting us know that Jesus stands on the achievements of the past; Jesus is in continuity with the past. In the same way that sin has consequences that can shape generations to come, so faithfulness and service to God can create opportunities for good in the future.
Jesus in this passage is very conscious of the passing of time. This is the second predication of his betrayal “into human hands,” which will lead to his death. He has so much to teach the disciples. The need for them to cultivate a faith sufficient to bring God’s presence to a difficult situation is stressed. Jesus wants us to grow in our relationship with God so we can be a vehicle for God’s grace.
Every second that passes is a second that has gone forever. The invitation today is to reflect on the passing of time and use every moment to build possibilities that God can use in the future.
What would you like to say to loved ones when you are near death? What is stopping you from saying some of those things now?
Think a little on your use of time. Set yourself the goal of using every moment for God.
Holy One of love and light, I give you this moment and this day. Please use every moment of this day for your glory. May your Son be seen in me. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
-The Very Rev. Ian Markham
Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary