Humble Confession

Humble Confession

Nehemiah 9:1-37a

The passage is a sustained confession of spiritual failure and an acknowledgement that their history of exile was the consequence of their failure of loyalty to the God who had made them his people.

In our own daily lives there are ample occasions to be disloyal to the God who has called us in Jesus to be His children. Confession and repentance are not matters for the past only. Here now in Australia, Christians face a serious challenge to the universally and millennia held view of the nature of marriage. In the future it could well become a punishable offence (as it has in other places) to maintain that ancient and universal view and to express in public the Bible’s position on marriage and same sex unions.

 

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

Matthew, Mark and Luke each record this event while John has a similar account but placed earlier in the ministry of Jesus. There has been sustained discussion about the reasons for this difference.

Jesus drew on three Old Testament passages in this segment. The first is from Isaiah 56:7, the second from Jeremiah 7:11, and the third from Psalm 8:2.

The first quotation comes from a passage in which Isaiah speaks of God including in his people members of others nations who serve Him and love His Name. His temple will be a place for all nations. Jesus’ command to take the gospel to all the world and make disciples from the nations is the further expression of this same truth.

The second quotation is from God’s word to Jeremiah in which ancient Israel is challenged to begin to practise obedience to God and not to place confidence solely in the physical presence of the Temple. The applicability of Jesus’ words is obvious.

The third Old Testament passage quoted by Jesus links the gratitude and praise of those whom Jesus healed to the infants mentioned in the Psalm. Sadly the leadership saw the deeds of Jesus but would not accept what they conveyed.

Let us pray that we will be attuned to what God is doing in His world.

What Can I Do For You?

The readings set down for today are Nehemiah 7:4-73 and Matthew 20:17-28. (I am going to include the incident where the two men receive their sight in verses 29 -34, because it seems to me that it fits).

It is hard to get into our thick heads isn’t it? If we want to be great – then it will come through serving. We are slow learners, but so were Jesus’ disciples.

James and John didn’t understand. They asked their mother (or so the other disciples thought) to ask Jesus for the top positions in His Kingdom. We can just imagine Jesus shaking his head, and telling the two that they had no idea what they were asking. The high positions in the Kingdom of Jesus call for drinking His cup (vs. 22-23). That cup was for Jesus death on the cross (vs. 17-19).

Jesus explained that high position in the secular world means having authority: it means lording over people. Jesus on the other hand came to be a Servant and, like a slave, to put the good of another before His own (vs.25-28). I suspect the disciples still didn’t understand what Jesus meant. Perhaps we wouldn’t understand either, if it weren’t for the indicent with which this chapter ends.

Jesus led His disciples away from Jericho, up the road that led to Jerusalem and His crucifixion. How sad and distressed He must have been,  because He knew what lay ahead. As He left, two blind men, hearing from the crowd that Jesus was near, cried out urgently. The crowd tried to hush them. But they shouted all the louder. And Jesus stopped. He called them over to Him, and He asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

And at last we understand. Greatness in the kingdom of Jesus is stopping for the needs of others. It is setting aside for the moment our own hurts and concerns, to listen, and then to ask, “What do you want me to do for you?”

We may be small in the eyes of other people, but if we follow Christ’s example of servanthood, we will be great in the eyes of God.

 

John Wesley wrote, ” Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, and long as you can.”

Why not begin each day asking God for an opportunity to serve.

 

Have a great day,

 

Peteer Clark.