Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Invitation - Privilege, but also Responsibility

We get invited to things all the time.

A lot of the invitations - we don't care about and totally disregard. No RSVP, no phone call. We just don't answer and don't go. A seminar, for example, where you know they are going to put pressure on you to buy something you don't want or need.

There are others that you agonize over. Don't really want to go, but really SHOULD. What to do? Depending on how important it is, you find an excuse not to go, but you definately communicate that "reason" that you can't attend.

A third level of invitation you want to go to very badly, and you move heaven and earth to be there. A birthday party, a wedding, a family event.

There is a fourth level of invitation. It is so important that to go is an unbelievable privilege. To not go is inconceivable. An invitation to see the President, or Queen or Prime Minister of your country...

Matthew 22
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
1 "Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This was an invitation that you disregard at your peril.

You also don't show up uninvited!

Jesus is saying the invitation into his kingdom is a big deal. Accept it. Don't reject it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quirky Story

Quirky Story

Today we read one of the oddest stories in the New Testament.
Jesus is hungry. He goes to pick a fig to munch on. No figs! Nothing but leaves...

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree
18 "Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered."

He wants figs. There are none. So he curses the tree and it withers right on the spot!

What is with that?

Was this a "right of way" tree, that was just by the road and no one owned it or took care of it?

If it belonged to a farmer, was he not hurting their livlihood? Was he cursing the tree because they should have been pruning it so it would be fruitful?

20 "When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked."

The disciples have no issue with him cursing the tree. They were all involved in the mechanics. "Whoa! He cursed the tree and it withered! Right on the spot, man! It just shriveled up... just like that!!!"

Of course, Jesus had a lesson to teach from the experiencce with the tree.
21 "Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

He keyed into what the disciples were amazed at - the power to do cool things.

A quirky story, to be sure...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jesus was a man's man.

Jesus was a man's man.

I have always objected to pictures of Jesus as the holy whimp. He was, after all, a carpenter in the era before power tools. Think of that! This guy was built.

And he was no coward. Taking on his enemies with wit and wisdom, never running or backing down from a confrontation.

Today it gets physical!
It was Jesus all alone against the merchants.
And Jesus won!!!

12 "Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves."

13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

I can just see the glint in his eye, feel the bite of the whip, hear the chaos of tables overturning, pigeons flying, coins rolling on the ground!

Yes, Jesus was a man's man!

14 "The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants

you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night."

This is a gentle man.
A spiritual man.
But also a very powerful man.

He goes from overturning tables to healing the sick from one moment to the other.

Jesus was a man's man...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Was this the high point?

Was this the high point?

It would seen that the high point in Jesus' "career" was when he came into Jerusalem, riding on the preferred steed of kings, hailed as a king, and adulated by all.

Matthew 21:1 "As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Of course, we know the end of the story.
Just a few days later, another crowd in the same city is saying, "crucify him!"

What are the lessons to be learned?

Positive public opinion is sweet!
But it is also fickle!

Jesus received it, but did not rely on it. He did not internalize it. It did not change him, or even affect him.

A truly humble person does not ever entirely believe or internalize the adulation of the masses, or the glory of fame.