Jesus continues what is often called the Sermon on the Mount. After the reminder that God views the world different than we do, Jesus reminds us that we must stay connected with God, or we will lose our flavor. Then comes important words. All of them are important, however these words need to be carefully read and obeyed. Jesus says he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law matters and we need to pay attention to it. At the same time Jesus hints that we must pay attention to the lay as God has given it, not simply are religious has taught and formed it over the years. In the next few sections Jesus will reinterpret the law for the people. Being that Jesus is in his very nature God, this would be God's perspective on the Law not humanities.
The trial of Stephen is underway and it is his turn to offer a defense. As a starting point Stephen selects the Abraham then moves to Moses. Remember the charges against him were that he was speaking against Abraham, Moses and the Temple. Quickly Stephen shows he knows the story of the people of God which had been handed down through the centuries. At the end of today's reading we see him pointing to a the person to come that Moses spoke about. In building his defense Stephen did not argue about what he was teaching or even beliefs, he simply told the story of the people of God. I wonder how often we argue and defend God when all we really need to do is tell the story God has been writing in our lives?
I am grateful for the imagery of God as a refuge and the Lord being in the Holy Temple. There are plenty of times when I need a safe place to go, that is the definition of refuge, and God is the ultimate refuge from all that I would need protection from. God being in the Holy Temple says to me that God is always ready to meet with me in worship. It does not have to be Sunday morning, I do not need to have music, liturgy or anything but a heart that is willing to reach out and sit in the presence of God. At any point in life God is in the Holy Temple offering refuge to all who would come.
Once again deception enters the family of Abraham. Jacob deceives his father Isaac in order to get the blessing intended for Esau the firstborn. The most confusing part is not the deception, rather it is the idea that God seems to be honoring it. Twice Jacob uses deception to steal from Esau and God continues to bring blessing to Jacob. However, from before they were born God had spoken to Rebekah about the fact the older shall serve the younger. It seems the events are fulfilling a plan God has. AS all this plays out it is interesting to note where each son turns following the blessing mishap. Jacob is sent by his mother to her family, which if we remember is Abraham's family. Esau goes to the household of Ishmael, still family of Abraham however not the family line of the promise. The roots of modern day Islam are traced back to Ishmael and Esau, while the roots of modern day Christianity and Judaism trace back to Isaac and Jacob. The root story is the same yet the branches take very different patterns. One through a prophet Muhammad, the other through a Savior, Jesus. The story that is your story makes all the difference.