Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reflecting on the Greatest Story

In the days leading up to Easter, I have been reading the entries in the little devotional booklet Our Daily Bread, published monthly by RBC Ministries, and have been challenged by the contents.

Last Sunday, the reading was from Matthew 21:1-11 ("Behold, your King is coming to you," verse 5), and the writer of short text that accompanied it discussed how "Hosanna" became "Crucify Him" in the span of less than a week.

It started to go bad when Jesus told the people what they didn't want to hear. Look at what He did. He threw the money changers out of the temple area (Matt. 21:12). He taught that tax collectors and prostitutes could enter the kingdom of heaven before the religious (21:31). He told the people to pay taxes (22:21). Then He pronounced a series of woes against the religious leaders: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisee" (23:13-31).

But this is Jesus. The righteous One. The only perfect Man. God in the flesh. He was not in town for a popularity contest. His task was to proclaim the truth and provide salvation. And it cost Him His life.

How many times do we know the right thing to do but do not do it, because it might cost more than we are willing to pay?

Monday's reading was in Mark 7:9-23, and discusses hypocrisy, the difference between appearance and reality: "'And He said, 'What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries...murders, thefts...deceit...blasphemy, pride, foolishness,'" (verses 20-22).

If we're not careful, we can become absorbed with looking good on the outside and forget what really counts. In fact, when we get to the place where we are keeping all the "right" rules, we may become proud of ourselves and judgmental toward others. But harboring bitterness, clinging to critical attitudes, and thinking too highly of ourselves are the kind of defiling stuff that makes us guilty of Jesus' charge of "hypocrite."
'Nuff said.

Tuesday's entry discussed Romans 9:1-5, and used the Coast Guard rescue swimmers' motto--"So Others May Live"--as an illustration of why one human would risk everything for someone else.

Wednesday concerned holy communion (I Corinthians 11:23-26): "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes," (verse 26). May we never forget what great sacrifice was made on our behalf, and may our lives reflect our gratitude.

Thursday asked hard questions: "Are you being called to taste some bitter cup of pain or loss? Are you temped to push it away? You may be wondering, Is God in this situation? If so, recall the dark and distressing experience of Jesus and His example on the night of His betrayal." The scripture reading was Matthew 26:36-46, the story of how Jesus prayed that night, asking God the Father to take away that cup, but then--in profound trust--accepting the cup of suffering from His Father's own hands, knowing it held redemption for mankind.

How can we trust unless we test the object of our trust? Why do we associate pain with evil? Pain may not be welcome, but how many of us undergo the pain of surgery because we hope the end result will be a cure? Why, then, when we experience pain in life, do we blame God or say He is evil or does not exist?

Luke 23:39-43 on Friday: "'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,'" (verse 42).

At Golgotha, an unnamed thief...understood that eternal life had nothing to do with what he had done--good or bad. It had to do with what Jesus was doing--giving His own life so that even the undeserving could be welcomed into heaven by God.

Tomorrow is the day we mark the resurrection of Jesus after His death on the cross, the day He "led captivity captive" and thus allowed us to ask, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

What have we to fear?


The Texican said...

Great post. At my age one should realize that looking good on the outside is not going to happen anymore, and should concentrate on those internal qualities that matter most. Happy Easter


And a Happy Easter to you, as well.

I can't get to your blog. Anyone else have difficulties?

The Texican said...

Hi Keanan,
I'm getting some comments, so I know some folks are getting through.

Eamon said...

A (late) Happy Easter to you Keanan.