Van Gogh: The Sower (1888)
"He condemned sin in the flesh"
Oh, which did God in Christ condemn?
The sins we know so well, in them -
That is, in others not like us -
Or in ourselves, which make less fuss?
Or is it not those sins themselves,
But maybe God in Christ rebels
Against the notion that sins "count"
Against some magical amount
That at love's bar would cut you off?
("No more for you!")
To that, God scoffs.
The mind that's still set on the flesh,
That is, on me, just doesn't mesh
With what the law of love can do;
It throws the system all askew.
For neither doing nor believing
Is any match for your receiving.
Scott L. Barton
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
(After) Rembrandt: Esau Sells His Birthright
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Scarred for life by that trip up Moriah,
His father tries to make it up to him
By getting a girl for him from back home.
But like father, like son, and the wife can't conceive.
Like father, like son, and the promise is in jeopardy.
Like father like son, and young Isaac tries to pass off his wife.
Like father, like son, and old Isaac prays.
And now a new wrinkle - twins,
And the right of the first-born out the window!
A dullard and a grabber, hardly the best of friends;
Father and mother each with their own favorite.
I'll bet it wasn't what old Isaac had in mind.
I hope someday he had the last laugh.
Scott L. Barton
These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
one shall be stronger than the other,
the elder shall serve the younger.’
When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterwards his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!’ (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
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Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
The Happy Sower
We misconstrue this parable
To say where people fail
To let the word take hold, as if -
"Oh God! It won't prevail
Without more folk like us - good soil -
To make a healthy yield!"
Except - this sower's joy's so full,
The point is not the field,
But that he flings it everywhere,
And that he won't hold back;
"Huzzah!" (It's there!) "Hurray!" (And there!),
With each dip in his sack;
Think back four weeks to Genesis,
Day one, day two, day three,
God throwing out things here and there,
"That's good!" he cries with glee!
Thus by the sea our Lord assures
The crowd all gathered there -
And all of us - to know again,
That way beyond compare,
Are all the possibilities
Created by this sower,
Just take it in, and it will grow,
Because of this grace thrower.
Scott L. Barton
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’
‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’