Monday, September 22, 2014

Honor Thy Father and Mother

I've read the passage below many times over the course of my life, but for some reason I was fascinated this time with Jesus' interaction with his mother.

"The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother told him, 'They have no more wine.'
'Dear woman, that's not our problem,' Jesus replied. 'My time has not yet come.'
But his mother told the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.'
Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus told the servants, 'Fill the jars with water.' When the jars had been filled, he said, 'Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.' So the servants followed his instructions."  John 2:1-8  NLT

Here is the Son of God, a grown man, having a "Yes, Mom" moment.  He actually objects briefly.  Clearly he doesn't want to do it, but Mary doesn't even respond to him.  She simply ignores the protest and goes to chat with the servants to get the ball rolling.  So, with nothing more to say, Jesus promptly turns water into wine.  He submitted Himself to her and He honored her.  He didn't have to, obviously.  I'm sure He had plenty of things He could have said to justify not doing what she asked Him to do.  It wasn't exactly in line with His mission statement.  And yet He chose to honor this request anyway.

When I consider that, it seems clear that how we treat our parents (even as adults) is very important to God.  They deserve our honor and respect.  If your parents are still living, what does honoring them as an adult look like?  It's true that we could never repay them for all of the sacrifices they made on our behalf.  But honoring them?  That we can do.

Leading or Following

Matthew 14 contains one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible.  Jesus tells the disciples to feed five thousand men--an impossible task for them.  

"They said to him, 'We have only five loaves here and two fish.'  And he said, 'Bring them here to me.'" (Matthew 14:17-18)

He gives them instructions, they follow them, a miracle happens.

He then performs what amounts to a practical joke, immediately sending them across the lake in a boat without Him.  Their trip was a disaster.  They rowed and rowed all night and couldn't make any progress because of the wind blowing against them.  It turned out to be a second impossible task.  Finally in the middle of the night, as they rowed and rowed they suddenly see Jesus walking (not toward them, but past them) on the lake (Mark 6:48)!  In my head, I picture him whistling to himself as he strolled by.

Then Peter makes an incredible request.  "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."  He didn't say "Look out Jesus, here I come."  He didn't decide for Jesus what miracle he was to perform.  He wanted the command to come from Him, knowing that if Jesus asked then He would provide the power.

Don't we sometimes run on ahead of Jesus and then look around wondering why He's not empowering us to do what we've decided we want to do?  Are we sure that what we're doing is what God has asked us to do?  He is with us, if we have accepted His forgiveness.  We're not out in the boat rowing by ourselves anymore.  That much is settled.  So now the question is, whose idea was this anyway?  Is it me, saying like a child "Daddy, watch me!"  Or is it God lovingly providing the light for our path?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Compelled to Love

"...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." Mark 10:43-44

Jesus lived that, didn't he?  The Son of God Himself put our needs ahead of his own.  He submitted Himself and became a servant, when He, more than anyone, had the right to get His own way.  His entire life and ministry was characterized by three words: "You then me."  He shredded the standard and then wrote a new one.  For the first time in history, the world was able to see what perfection looked like.  The view was intimidating.  He loved intensely, he spoke truthfully, he served freely, he forgave completely, he accepted unconditionally.  Like the pharisees, we may be tempted to get Him out of the way so we can continue on as we are, unchallenged.  But He didn't do those things for other people.  He loved us; he accepted us.  His love compels us to love.  His acceptance compels us to treat prodigal children with acceptance even before they've turned around fully.  We humble ourselves because He did.  We are compelled to say "you don't owe me", because He did.

The bottom line is that I don't forgive you because of you.  You really don't have very much to do with it.  I forgive you because of Him.  How could I do anything less?