Lord of mountain and valley

Today’s Bible readings are Isaiah 25.6–10a; Psalm 23; Matthew 15.29-37.

It is difficult to know whether, in presenting the healing and feeding miracles of Jesus, Matthew had texts like Isaiah 25 in mind but I think it’s a good bet. Matthew’s Jesus ascends the mountain and great crowds gather before him. In keeping with Isaiah 25, Jesus heals their sick and, in effect, dries their tears, rolling back the forces of death. He sets them a sumptuous feast and the people praise ‘the God of Israel’. The words from Isaiah are not used but we can imagine that it was said on that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.’ (Isaiah 25.9)

If we see in the ministry of Jesus a fulfilment of the promises of old, we also await a further, complete fulfilment yet to be revealed. We wait, with John the writer of the book of Revelation, for the day when God ‘will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away’ (Rev 21.4). In the meantime, we can take the psalmist’s words on our lips, ‘though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’

Gracious God, please be with those of your children who today walk in the valley of the shadow of death; let them know your presence and in it find strength and consolation. Amen

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