I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa bay area.
Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-20
Here Jesus clearly tells His disciples that even though He will be put to death, He will rise the third day. This was to comfort them when He died, so that they would not despair. However, when that terrible night came, and He was crucified, His disciples gave up in despair, instead of remembering the promise. Does this happen to us as well? Jesus has warned us that bad things will happen to us as well but that He will always be with us to see us through and make us come out victorious. Let’s not be like the disciples and forget Jesus’ promises just because things get a little dark.
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34
After reading this, I paused and asked what the message was here for me. I then prayed that God would give me spiritual eye sight. I may be spiritually blind and not even know it. At least these two men in the story knew they were blind. Jesus tells me in Revelation 3:17, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” If Jesus says that I am blind then I must be blind! But I can ask Him for eyesight and I know He will have compassion and give it to me.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40
Several years ago, I was reading Mervyn Maxwell’s book “God Cares” on Revelation. I read about the 144,000 being sealed with the character of God. At this same time, I had a friend who was in a major spiritual crisis, and dealing with issues from their childhood that they had no control over. In my tiny little mind I was trying to comprehend how my friend would have a chance to have their character sealed before the second coming, after all they have been through. I guess I was like the people Jesus was talking to in Matthew 22:29 when He said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” The scriptures make it clear that God has the power to seal the weakest of humans with His character. Not realizing this, I picked up the phone and called Myervyn Maxwell. Even though I was total stranger, he gladly received my call. I told him my friend’s situation and how I wondered how they would ever have a chance if God is sealing His people right now. I loved his response and have never forgotten it. He told me that Jesus requires us to love Him with all of our mind, and whatever state my friend’s mind is in, all God asks, is that he love Him with all that is left of his mind after all he has been through. That sounds reasonable. Our God is very reasonable.
Matthew 23 is filled with warnings against hypocrites. Often we think of our adversary as the hypocrite and ourselves as being sincere. However, just this morning I ran across a quote of Facebook by C.S. Lewis: “”Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.” I think we all need to remember this when dealing with others.