Lenten Devotional 2020

TUESDAY, MARCH 17

Matthew 12:46-50

This text might seem dismissive of familial bonds, but when we read it in tandem with Mark 3, we get a clearer picture of what has transpired, what Jesus had just experienced, and what the focus text is meant to convey. In Matthew 11, we are told that Jesus had been traveling to various cities, teaching and preaching, yet the people would not repent (11:20). People had heard him and observed miraculous healings, yet their hearts remained hardened. Both Matthew 12 and Mark 3 tell us Jesus left those cities, entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and encountered a man with a withered hand whom Jesus healed out of pure love and compassion (12:9-10).

Then, Jesus had a confrontation with the Pharisees. Matthew 12:15 tells us that when Jesus departed he was followed by a great multitude and he healed them all. Mark 3 fills in some details that Matthew omits. In Mark 3, we learn that Jesus departed the synagogue and went home (3:19-21) followed by a large crowd, and his family heard the commotion. His family went to restrain him because people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind!”

Now our text makes more sense. Jesus is surrounded by people who left everything to follow him despite the possible objections from their own families and friends. Jesus’s own biological family is trying to get him to stop saying and doing the things he was born to do. When Jesus is told that his mother and his siblings are outside wanting to speak to him, Jesus asks, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Jesus is doing two things.

First, he is making it clear that following him will bring tension between us and our families if they are not Christ-followers. And while the tension might be hurtful, we must remember what else Jesus did in this passage: he pointed out that all who choose to follow him are part of a much larger family. Things are no different today than they were then.

Have you ever had friends or family members chastise you or ridicule you for choosing to follow Jesus? You are not alone. Stay faithful and stay encouraged. Remember that being part of Christ’s family means we are never alone and never forgotten.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for accepting us into your family. Grant us the strength to face any obstacle with family or friends who don’t understand why we love you and want to follow you. Help us remember that we belong to you and we are forever loved. Amen.

RUBY WAYMAN

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18

Matthew 13:1-53

Before last summer, every time I opened my Bible to Matthew 13, I thought of wheat, tares, mustard seeds, and a whole bunch of hard work.

But this year, it made me think of a funny inside-joke between my family and me while we were on a road trip through Wyoming. We were all piled in a van, gawking at the beautiful plains. About 100 miles outside of Wyoming, we saw a large, brown historical sign that read, “Point of Interest”. Later, we saw the same sign about 50 miles out and again 10 miles out. By then, we were at the edge of our seats, excited to see this incredible piece of history. One mile out was the last tin sign. We began slowing down, peering out of the van, noses pressed up against the windows ,and then we saw...a big pile of dirt. There was absolutely nothing in or around it. It was, literally, just a pile of dirt.

My family and I looked at each other in disbelief. “Did we miss it?” we asked. We looked back and again, for miles, there was just land...and a big pile of dirt.

For over 100 miles, God had us on a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed adventure, and in 13 days of beautiful nature, wildlife, and mountains, I will not ever forget the excitement we all had leading up to the infamous,“Point of Interest,” also known as a pile of dirt.

What amazes me is that when I saw this huge, dusty pile of dirt, in my spirit, I saw rich, beautiful soil. My mind later wondered, what is going on underneath? What exactly is that soil for? Who is building it? What is it going to be?

All I know is that someone, somewhere, knows there is something underneath that will eventually have numerous people in awe over it. Someone has bought this piece of land and has begun creating something wonderful for the world to see. Someone has sown seeds below and is now in the process of watching it grow.

In Matthew 13, we read numerous parables, most of them about sowing good seed in good ground. There are a few things that resonate with me after reading these passages.

It’s apparent to me that we do not put seeds in the ground and instantly dig them up to make sure they are growing how they should be. We trust what’s going on underneath by God’s grace. We know if God has requested us to do something, we must only obey his request and keep going forward. There is no need to go back every day to try to figure out what God has planned.

Another revelation I received is that God encourages us to be good, fertile ground so we can bear much fruit. If we are full of weeds, stones, and thorns, we’re not going to be able to produce what God has called us to do. We can be confident that every seed sown is being watered, nurtured, and well taken care of. All we must do is abide.

Lastly, we must be honest, loyal, and obedient to God’s word and not be distracted by the enemy. We are encouraged to sow wheat instead of tares. Yes, they both might look the same in the beginning, but when the fruit begins to mature, it is quite apparent that the tares will eventually end up in the furnace of fire. Fortunately for us, the sons and daughters of the Most High God, we have eyes to see and ears to hear, and we begin to whole-heartedly abide—even if it takes a little more time.

CAROLYN SOTO JACKSON



 

 

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