(The Lectionary, oddly, omits vv.17-18; they are retained in the above link.)
Jotham’s parable is powerful, and, like all parables, demanding wisdom in its application. Contrary to the propaganda from the far right, both olive trees and bramble are to be found in government—just as both are present in corporate headquarters. The bad news, as Qoheleth observed: “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor” (10:1).
In yesterday’s Acts reading (bumped by Transfiguration), Peter and John were arrested in the temple and hauled before the religious leaders, where Peter gave testimony. Particularly noteworthy: the church responded to their experience with a prayer (vv.24-30) which concludes: “And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” In light of persecution in multiple countries (see here and here), this is a prayer we might pray—often.
Jesus: the Word, the True Light, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Israel. After all of these designations in the first chapter, what does Jesus do? Provide about 150 gallons of first-class wine for a local wedding. This is what the High King does: set a generous table. This, the first of Jesus’ signs, announces the endgame: “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).