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Job 23The Message (MSG)

Job’s Defense

I’m Completely in the Dark

23 1-7 Job replied:

“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground.
    My complaint is legitimate.
God has no right to treat me like this—
    it isn’t fair!
If I knew where on earth to find him,
    I’d go straight to him.
I’d lay my case before him face-to-face,
    give him all my arguments firsthand.
I’d find out exactly what he’s thinking,
    discover what’s going on in his head.
Do you think he’d dismiss me or bully me?
    No, he’d take me seriously.
He’d see a straight-living man standing before him;
    my Judge would acquit me for good of all charges.

8-9 “I travel East looking for him—I find no one;
    then West, but not a trace;
I go North, but he’s hidden his tracks;
    then South, but not even a glimpse.

10-12 “But he knows where I am and what I’ve done.
    He can cross-examine me all he wants, and I’ll pass the test
        with honors.
I’ve followed him closely, my feet in his footprints,
    not once swerving from his way.
I’ve obeyed every word he’s spoken,
    and not just obeyed his advice—I’ve treasured it.

13-17 “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?
    He does what he wants, when he wants to.
He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me,
    and whatever else he determines to do.
Is it any wonder that I dread meeting him?
    Whenever I think about it, I get scared all over again.
God makes my heart sink!
    God Almighty gives me the shudders!
I’m completely in the dark,
    I can’t see my hand in front of my face.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Job 24The Message (MSG)

An Illusion of Security

24 1-12 “But if Judgment Day isn’t hidden from the Almighty,
    why are we kept in the dark?
There are people out there getting by with murder—
    stealing and lying and cheating.
They rip off the poor
    and exploit the unfortunate,
Push the helpless into the ditch,
    bully the weak so that they fear for their lives.
The poor, like stray dogs and cats,
    scavenge for food in back alleys.
They sort through the garbage of the rich,
    eke out survival on handouts.
Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street;
    they’ve no place to lay their heads.
Exposed to the weather, wet and frozen,
    they huddle in makeshift shelters.
Nursing mothers have their babies snatched from them;
    the infants of the poor are kidnapped and sold.
They go about patched and threadbare;
    even the hard workers go hungry.
No matter how backbreaking their labor,
    they can never make ends meet.
People are dying right and left, groaning in torment.
    The wretched cry out for help
    and God does nothing, acts like nothing’s wrong!

13-17 “Then there are those who avoid light at all costs,
    who scorn the light-filled path.
When the sun goes down, the murderer gets up—
    kills the poor and robs the defenseless.
Sexual predators can’t wait for nightfall,
    thinking, ‘No one can see us now.’
Burglars do their work at night,
    but keep well out of sight through the day.
    They want nothing to do with light.
Deep darkness is morning for that bunch;
    they make the terrors of darkness their companions in crime.

18-25 “They are scraps of wood floating on the water—
    useless, cursed junk, good for nothing.
As surely as snow melts under the hot, summer sun,
    sinners disappear in the grave.
The womb has forgotten them, worms have relished them—
    nothing that is evil lasts.
Unscrupulous,
    they prey on those less fortunate.
However much they strut and flex their muscles,
    there’s nothing to them. They’re hollow.
They may have an illusion of security,
    but God has his eye on them.
They may get their brief successes,
    but then it’s over, nothing to show for it.
Like yesterday’s newspaper,
    they’re used to wrap up the garbage.
You’re free to try to prove me a liar,
    but you won’t be able to do it.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Mark 11The Message (MSG)

Entering Jerusalem on a Colt

11 1-3 When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs him, and will return him right away.’”

4-7 They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, “What are you doing untying that colt?” The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.

8-10 The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,

Hosanna!
Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!
Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in highest heaven!

11 He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

The Cursed Fig Tree

12-14 As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn’t yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: “No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!” And his disciples overheard him.

15-17 They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn’t let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then he taught them, quoting this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations;
You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.

18 The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.

19 At evening, Jesus and his disciples left the city.

20-21 In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, “Rabbi, look—the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!”

22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”

His Credentials

27-28 Then when they were back in Jerusalem once again, as they were walking through the Temple, the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to speak and act like this?”

29-30 Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. Answer my question and then I’ll present my credentials. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans? Tell me.”

31-33 They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John; if we say ‘humans,’ we’ll be up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they said.

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t answer your question either.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Mark 12The Message (MSG)

The Story About a Vineyard

12 1-2 Then Jesus started telling them stories. “A man planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, erected a watchtower, turned it over to the farmhands, and went off on a trip. At the time for harvest, he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect his profits.

3-5 “They grabbed him, beat him up, and sent him off empty-handed. So he sent another servant. That one they tarred and feathered. He sent another and that one they killed. And on and on, many others. Some they beat up, some they killed.

“Finally there was only one left: a beloved son. In a last-ditch effort, he sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’

7-8 “But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him over the fence.

9-11 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others. Read it for yourselves in Scripture:

That stone the masons threw out
    is now the cornerstone!
This is God’s work;
    we rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it!”

12 They wanted to lynch him then and there but, intimidated by public opinion, held back. They knew the story was about them. They got away from there as fast as they could.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13-14 They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

15-16 He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

“Caesar,” they said.

17 Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

Their mouths hung open, speechless.

Our Intimacies Will Be with God

18-23 Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”

24-27 Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”

The Most Important Commandment

28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”

29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”

32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”

34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”

After that, no one else dared ask a question.

35-37 While he was teaching in the Temple, Jesus asked, “How is it that the religion scholars say that the Messiah is David’s ‘son,’ when we all know that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said,

God said to my Master,
    “Sit here at my right hand
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”

“David here designates the Messiah ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”

The large crowd was delighted with what they heard.

38-40 He continued teaching. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”

41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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