Moses said to all the congregation: The Lord has commanded an offering. Let whoever is of a generous heart bring the Lord's offering. (35:4,5). And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought the Lord's offering (35:20,21). Robert Alter suggests that we look again at Exodus 32 and remember how quickly and how much the collection had been for the Golden Calf.
As we moderns read this ancient story, we can ponder how much is applicable to our lives.
Crucifixion was cruel and sadistic. Crucifixion was not only physically painful; it was intended to humiliate and degrade. Morna Hooker in Not Ashamed of the Gospel says that in the Roman Empire it was used primarily to punish slaves: the threat of crucifixion was used to keep slaves subservient, and the threat was no idle one, for the punishment was often carried out. But it was used also to punish traitors (even Roman citizens, who by their treachery lost their rights) and of course rebellious subject people such as the Jews.
As Jesus hung naked on the cross, the two others being crucified with him, taunt him, saying "You who are the Son of God, come down from the cross." The chief priests, scribes, and elders who are watching the painful, humiliating death also mock him saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself." Their words remind us of Satan's temptations in 4:1-11. Morna Hooker reminds us:
As there, so here, Jesus 'proves' himself to be the Son of God by renouncing power, not exercising it.
Also watching were the many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and have been providing for him.
After Joseph from Arimathea had received permission to take Jesus' body to the tomb, the women kept vigil there. Jesus' accusers also stood watch, in their case, to make sure that nobody tried to steal the body so as to be able to fake resurrection.
Psalm 34 is ascribed to David when he had escaped from a difficult situation. .
The psalm begins with testimony, "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord"
and turns to lesson, "Let the humble hear and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together."
Prayer for Today: choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website The Timeless Psalms.