Rev’d Jonathan Gale
Ruth 3: 1 – 5, 4: 13 – 17
Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing-Floor
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. 2Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. 3Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing-floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.’ 5She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’
The Genealogy of David
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin;* and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.’ 16Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17The women of the neighbourhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’ They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Hebrews 9: 24 – 28
24For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Mark 12: 38 – 44
Jesus Denounces the Scribes
As he taught, he said, ‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’
The Widow’s Offering
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
You know what puzzles me?
Now before I answer that I just need to know that you know what typology is about.
When I say that the journey of the Israelites through the Red Sea is a type of baptism I don’t mean a kind of baptism – though I guess that depends on what sort of baptism you’ve experienced – I once heard of a Bible Belt preacher who almost drowned someone when baptising him!
A type is a symbol. So the escape of the Israelites through the Red Sea is a symbol of Baptism. You can look at characteristics of the Red Sea story and it will teach you something about baptism. That’s a type.
Now, back to my puzzlement.
What puzzles me is when someone behaves in a quite normal way only to have someone else make out they are a hero for doing so. Boaz is a case in point – as are any number of politicians throughout history. We have people today who make this alteration of perspective their profession. They’re called spin-doctors and mostly their job is to ensure that the wrong people are rewarded.
Many people have made much of the fact that Boaz is a type of Christ. He rescues Ruth (and Naomi) from a life of poverty. In other words he’s redeemed them (literally in terms of the Law of Moses) because the Law makes provision for a near relative to marry the widow of a kinsman so that she is not abandoned to a patriarchal society that would cast her in the role of a second class citizen.
Boaz is no hero! He was kind – and rich and powerful. He realises he has a duty to perform for his kinsman Naomi so he makes sure Ruth gets good gleanings of wheat so that they don’t starve.
Then one night a young and virtuous woman creeps into bed with him indicating she is available for marriage. I’m not sure there was much sacrifice involved here. The stigma of his marrying a Moabite was lessened by his status. The wealthy in any society have always managed to get away with things ordinary citizens could not. And the marriage was not against the Law either. If a stranger married an Israelite they had a ritual to go through and all would be good.
No, Boaz is no type of Christ. He gained a young, loyal and caring girl into his bed and family; and gained some farm land to boot.
If anyone is a type of Christ in any of today’s readings it is the poor widow who places two small copper coins into the Temple treasury.
Jesus is watching the giving worshippers carefully and, as she places her offering into the treasury, he calls his disciples and says, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
This is someone to be praised for their sacrifice, and Jesus picks it up.
Why I say she is a type of Christ is because the critical element in the life and work of Christ is sacrifice.
Paul says to the Philippians 5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2: 4 – 8)
Jesus gave up his claim to divinity and risked it all for us. That is sacrifice.
As Hebrews tell us he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9: 26b)
He didn’t just sacrifice, he was the sacrifice. The very source of life, the person through whom the universe was created, lays it all down for you and me. That is a love that you and I are simply incapable of understanding no matter how hard we try.
When Jesus says take up your cross and follow me (Mark 8: 34), he means to the death! A cross is not an ornament. It is a gallows with one purpose only. On it, you die.
And Paul says 5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2: 5a)
He’s expecting us to follow this example of self-sacrifice.
So the real hero is Jesus and what he has done for you and me.
Philippians of course goes on to say, 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9 – 11)
Our story has a happy ending as Christians because what we give up today, we will more than gain in the life to come.
Paul tells the Corinthians That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9)
So I say to you, don’t be impressed by the deeds of those who can afford to do them without giving up a great deal themselves.
What God blesses is weakness – and it is the kind of weakness that comes upon us when we think we have given everything we can. It is then that God steps in, for as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12: 9, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Boaz grabbed some farmland and a lovely young girl. The widow gave all that she had. She is the one praised by Jesus.
God will one day reward us for how we have lived.
Our Hebrews reading makes that clear. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
None of our sacrifices, none of our labours is in vain.
Someone once said, “Read the end of the book. We win.” We certainly do. In the last chapter of the Scriptures, in the words of the glorified Jesus as he appeared to John, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. (Revelation 22: 12)
God bless you
- Naomi says to Ruth: ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you.
What do think motivated Naomi to implement her ultimate plan of marrying Ruth to Boaz?
- Ruth responds by saying, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’
Was this a wise thing to do?
- Boaz has been hailed as a hero for ‘rescuing’ Ruth and Naomi.
What is Boaz’s socio-economic standing? Discuss why he may have acted as he did. What were the risks and benefits to him in doing so?
- In the Gospel reading Jesus identifies an unlikely hero.
Who was she, who is she contrasted to and why is she heroic?
- Contrast the two heroes from the Book of Ruth and the account in Mark 12.
How do they differ and who do you deem to be the greater hero and why? (You might want to refer to the Sentence and Collect in Day One)
- Our Hebrews reading says the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own.
Who is he contrasted to and describe the sacrifice the writer is referring to? (You may want to refer to verse 26)
- In the second to last verse of our Hebrews reading we read, 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement,
What two things are a certainty for all humans? (Vs 27).
- Our final Hebrews verse reads: 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Why will Christ appear a second time?
- Judgement implies consequences for actions i.e. reward.
With reference to our earlier discussion about the kind of person Jesus identified as a hero, what sort of people do you think will be richly rewarded by God in this scenario?
- Given what you have learnt from these Scriptures and your discussion, what are you going to change about how you think about God and how you will live from now on wards?