Are you still on the “after Bethlehem” journey with Jesus? And, is it just me, or is Jesus looking like a bit of a rebel right now?
I’m wondering if I would have been quite comfortable being on the road with him, especially on the Sabbath. He seemed bound and determined to stir up trouble, plucking grain from the field and eating it, asking a man to stretch out his hand to be healed, and then going ahead and healing him, on the sabbath, in the synagogue no less!
Books have been written about why he did this. Perhaps to show a disregard for the old covenant in favour of the coming new; to establish himself as the authority; to highlight the hypocrisy and hard-heartedness that permeated the leaders of the day.
Whatever his reasons, I had to smile today when I read their response, “They were all filled with madness and discussed what they might do to Jesus,” (vs. 11) It occurred to me that there is nothing new under the sun. But I digress.
There are so many things in this chapter to chew on! Not all pleasant to the taste! But, nevertheless, good food.
There are the Blessings and the Woes, where we find out we shouldn’t be shocked, afraid, upset or vengeful when we are reviled for following Jesus. And if we are rich, filled with plenty, laughing at the plight of others and enjoying being part of the popular crowd while letting go of Jesus’ words, we need to reconsider our ways.
And that’s not all!
Judging Others? I guess the hardest part of this chapter for me to read was this. I’ve written a post on this before, where I say I have always considered myself a good judge—of character, at least. Can I say I am working on the definition of “judging”? 😉
And loving my enemies? In process, still.
But, today, what struck me as significant to all of these things is found, almost as an afterthought, in Verse 12, “In these days, He [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God.”
That right there might be the key, I thought, to all of this! Spending quality time with the One who “is kind to the unthankful and the evil” so I can “be, therefore, merciful as [my] father is merciful,” (vs 35-36).
Seriously, if Jesus, Son of God, filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, felt the need to get away and pray, why should I think it’s optional for me if I am to live the life he offered me? Should any of us, you think? Wouldn’t that fellowship make for a more peaceful day, every day, and make what Jesus said here an outflow of what’s in our hearts (vs. 43-45), not a discipline we follow?
It is a blessing, not a bondage, to have access to the wisdom recorded in the scriptures. It is as much a part of the New Covenant ushered in by Jesus as is the gift of righteousness we receive by faith. The more we honour it, the more easily and clearly we hear the still small voice at strategic moments in our life—another blessing of covenant. Jesus told us (vs 46-49) that doing what he said—even the parts that are hard—will make us unshakeable, living on solid ground, no matter what comes. That’s a good thing, and a blessing for everyone in our house.
“When the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against the house but could not shake it, for it was founded on a rock,” (Luke 6:48).