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The Bible In A Year: Day 112

Ruth 1-2
Psalm 112
Luke 23:1-25

Ruth 1-2

The story of Ruth is set in the time of the Judges, that era of lawlessness and departure from the Law. And yet, we have good people doing what is right, and caring for each other. This story shows that even in the darkest days there is always light somewhere.

A man, his wife, and their two sons set out for Moab because there was a famine in the land. This is similar to how Abraham and Jacob both sojourned to Egypt during Canaanite famines, but unlike them, they will not come back better than they left.

The man dies first, and then both sons die leaving behind widows that they had married while in Moab. Naomi pleads with these young women (we have zero indication of their ages so you can assume from mid teen to mid twenties probably) to go back home and seek new husbands, because she has no more sons to give her as is the custom when a young married man dies without children.

One of the women leave, although not without tearful goodbyes, and the other one stays and promises to be with Naomi till the end.

When they return to Bethlehem, they tell the people what happened and how Naomi left with husband and sons, but now returns with just a daughter-in-law.

Under mosaic law, certain people could graze through your fields and eat what they plucked, or after the field was harvested they could take whatever was missed by the harvesters. Now that’s the law in theory, but in practice many of the field owners would chase off people who attempted to glean their fields. So Ruth goes to the field owned by a kinsman of her late father-in-law, and when he comes back to his fields he asks the harvesters who is the stranger in his field.

Boaz is moved by the love and compassion that Ruth has shown to her mother-in-law. She was under no obligation to stay with Naomi, even had they stayed in Moab, but to accompany her back to her own land and the go out and work in the field to provide for them both was admirable. We have to remember that women couldn’t just go get a job back then, and a widow would be cared for by her sons, but since Naomi had nobody left she would possibly die of starvation without the charity of others.

He instructs his workers to allow her to glean as much as she wants and for nobody to lay a hand on her. Considering the abuses we read about in the previous chapter, without protection she may have been in danger out in the fields. When she returns home and fills Naomi in on the days events she is overjoyed. Ruth is filled in on who Boaz is and told to stay in his fields, because she’s very unlikely to get such a welcome reception and offer of protection anywhere else.

Luke 23:1-25

Jesus is brought before Pilate and his accusers levy false charges against him. They say he forbade tribute to Caesar, when in reality he answered that trap question by saying “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…” and not once did Jesus call himself king. But they know charges of blasphemy would be a no go for Pilate to administer the death penalty, because the Roman state wasn’t interested in getting involved in sectarian squabbles. That’s a can of worms they knew that they wanted non part of.

Pilate might’ve knew they were falsely accusing him, and that is possibly why he declared his finding of innocence so quickly. But only in Luke’s narrative do we see that Pilate tries to pass the responsibility for this political hot potato to Herod upon hearing that Jesus is accused of crimes in Herod’s territory.

When Jesus arrives at Herod’s court he is again questioned, but Jesus gives no answer to him at all. So after a short time he’s shipped back over to Pilate. He calls together the accusers of Jesus and declares to them that he found him innocent, as did Herod, and then Pilate says he will be whipped and released.

What’s interesting is that if you believed someone was innocent, why would you have him whipped at all? The reason was because he was afraid of the kind of fury the religious leaders could and would whip the crowds into. It was a tumultuous time in Judea, and Pilate’s worst fear was not whipping an innocent Jew, that wouldn’t bother his conscience at all. His worst fear was being recalled to Rome in shame and being replaced by someone else.

This fear of failure in the eyes of the emperor was played up in John’s gospel when the accusers imply that to let Jesus go would be to let go a rival to Caesar, and Caesar would not consider such a person a friend. It was a thinly veiled threat, but effectively sealed the verdict against Jesus. Three times Pilate tried to declare his innocence, but he was drowned out by the shouts of the mob.

Giving in to the pressure, he handed over an innocent man to be brutally put to death.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Ruth 3-4
Psalm 113
Luke 23:26-56

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