Friday, March 11, 2011

Was Jesus Calloused and Hard Hearted?


Was Jesus Calloused and Hard Hearted?

Matthew 15:21 "Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

Since Jesus seemed to be completely ignoring her, the disciples picked up on that.

"She is a nuisance, Lord. Send her away. She is making a ruckus and it is annoying. Just get rid of her. She is a problem!"

Then Jesus engages her.  But his statement and questions seem more calloused and hard hearted than his silence!

24 "He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

This woman was persistent!

And desperate!!

She would not go away.
She would not keep silent.
She answered every apparently cruel statement with a rebuttal!
28 "Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment."

Wow!

And Jesus healed her daughter.

What a lesson for us all in faith, in persistence, in perserverance.

Sometimes God seems to ignore our prayers. Sometimes we pray and things only seem to be getting worse!

Yet he hears... He knows... He cares...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Inside Out



Inside Out

What matters most? The inside? Or the outside?

If you ask our culture, the outside matters most. Whether music, sports, movies or even politics, your good looks open doors, and your poor looks close doors.

But to God, the inside matters most.

The religion of the day put a lot of emphasis on obeying religious rules. Jesus says it is the heart that matter most to God.

Matthew 15:10 "Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jesus Doesn't Like Religion!


Jesus Doesn't Like Religion!

If you are unfamiliar with the life of Jesus this comes as a shocker.
Jesus Doesn't Like Religion!

But, but, but, you say... Didn't he claim to be God? Is that not the source of ALL religion?

Yes and no. Yes he did claim to be God. Repeatedly, in many ways and to many people. The entire New Testament agrees that Jesus is God Incarnate - God in flesh.

But God and religion have issues. Jesus came to bring people to God.

But he considered religion to be a gate to keep people FROM God. I'm pretty sure he feels the same way today.

Matthew 15:1 "Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

9 They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.’”

Jesus is not against the JEWISH religion. He is against ANY and ALL religion that makes rules about how to get to God, and ends up keeping people away from God.

God wants your heart. He wants your life. He doesn't want your performance, your ritual, your adherence to "religious" rules.

He wants YOU! And he wants to have a relationship with you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Storm!


Storms are scary things.
You are uncomfortable, out of control, and you literally don't know if you are going to live or die.

"the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it."
These guys were experienced boaters. But this squall had caught them off gaurd, and now they had been in it all night long. They were tired and afraid.
25 "Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear."

I have no idea why Jesus decided to walk to them on the water. To show his divinity? To help them believe? Did he know what Peter was going to do?
27 "But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed."

Certainly a dramatic story! Perhaps one of the most oft told. Not of how Jesus walked on the water, but how Peter walked on the water - however briefly that was!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An exhausted Jesus Says Goodbye


An exhausted Jesus Says Goodbye

The story of Jesus walking on the water has more paintings made of it than any other event in his life.

Yet it is a footnote to the real story.

Jesus cousin was senslessly murdered by a wicked polititian. When Jesus got the news, he went away with his friends to grieve.

The crowd anticipated where he was going, and there was a huge throng. He healed them, and fed them.

Then, worn out emotionally and physically, he sends his disciples on ahead in the boat.

He says good bye to all the people, then he went up the hill a ways and poured his heart out to the Father. He prayed until late into the night.

THAT is the real story. His catching up with the disciples was an appendage to the real story...

Matthew 14:22 "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it."