Orthodox Daily Devotional for August 5 – 11
Matthew 17… And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
22 Now while they were [g]staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.
Matthew 14:17 .. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. 12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
And He began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a boat, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And He taught them many things by parables. Although He seemed to have dismissed His mother, He is again obedient to her. For it is for her sake that He left the house and went out along the sea. He sat in the boat so that, facing everyone, He could speak and all could hear, and no one would be behind His back. And said unto them in His teaching, Hearken: Behold, there went forth a sower to sow. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell along the way, and the winged creatures of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth, but when the sun was up, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, one thirty, another sixty, and another an hundred. And He said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable. And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are outside, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
Commentary on the Sower: He first tells this parable of the sower, to make His listeners more attentive. Since He is about to say that the seed is the word, which is destroyed when it falls among those who are inattentive, He begins by speaking of these things, so that His listeners might make every effort not to be like that earth which destroyed the seed. Who, then, is the sower? It is Christ Himself, Who in His compassion and condescension towards man “went forth” from the bosom of the Father, without thereby leaving it. He went forth, not to bum up the accursed earth and evil hearts, nor to cut off the thorns, but to sow the seed. What seed? Surely not that of Moses or of the prophets? No, but Christ’s own; that is, He went forth to preach His Gospel. Thus, Christ sowed the seed; but some seed fell on a soul which had been trodden on by many. And the winged creatures of the air, that is, the demons who live in the air, ate up the seed. For the path, trodden by many, signifies those who strive to please others. For when a person does everything with the objective of pleasing first this one and then that one, then he is trodden upon by many. Mark this: He did not say, “The sower threw the seed along the way,” but that the seed “fell”. For when the sower casts the seed, he does so as onto good ground; but when the ground proves to be evil, it destroys the seed, that is, the word. Others say that “fell along the way” means that the seed fell onto an unbelieving heart. For the way is Christ, while the unbelievers are along the wayside, outside of the way which is Christ.*
Sower commentary continued…
Other seed falls upon stony souls, meaning, those who easily accept the seed, and then reject it. Those who are stony resemble, to a small degree, the rock which is Christ, inasmuch as they accepted the Word. But inasmuch as they accept it only for a time-and then reject it, they are dissimilar. Other seed falls upon a soul surrounded by many cares, for cares are thorns. But the fourth part of the seed falls upon good ground. See how rare is good ground, and how few are saved, for only a fourth part of the seed was preserved. To the disciples who asked Him when they were alone, the Lord said, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries.” But surely it is not by fate or by chance that it is given to some by their nature to know, and not to others? Far from it! But it is given to those who ask. For the Lord says, “Ask, and it shall be given you.”4 But the others, the Lord has blinded lest it be to their greater condemnation that they should understand what they ought to do, and yet not do it. There is another interpretation. Do you wish to understand that God has made all to see what it is they ought to do? Listen: that they see, comes from God; but that they see without perceiving, comes from their own wickedness. For God created them able to see, that is, to understand the good, but they do not see, intentionally shutting their eyes so that they will not turn back and be corrected. It is as if they despised their own salvation and betternent. So, then, it can be understood as follows: “To the others I speak in parables, so that seeing they may choose not to see, and hearing they may choose not to understand, for fear that by doing so, they would turn back and be corrected.”
And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they along the way, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they fall away. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
Sower commentary concluded… Here are three types of those who destroy the word: the inattentive, who are on the trodden path, preoccupied with pleasing all and sundry; those of little faith, who are among the stones; and the pleasure-seekers, who are among the thorns. There are also three types of those who accepted and preserved the seed: those who bear fruit a hundredfold, who lead a life at the pinnacle of perfection; those who bear fruit sixty fold, who live a life of moderate achievement; and those who bear thirty fold, who achieve small things, yet they, too, contribute according to their strength. For example, some are virgins and desert dwellers, others are monastics who live together in communities, while others are laity who are married. But the Lord accepts them all as good ground which bears fruit. Thanks be to His love for man!