Healing and Feeding

Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan. – Matthew 15:29‭-‬39

Jesus continues his “Lake ministry” walking beside the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Gennesaret) in this passage. As I have pondered this passage a question has occurred to me, why did Jesus choose this location near the lake to begin sharing the Good News about the kingdom of God? Part of the reason may have been merely geographic in that Jesus was familiar with this area and it was close to where he grew up in Nazareth. I wonder if there were other reasons as well.

The lake provided easy transportation, especially for someone who can walk on water in a pinch. Numerous times Jesus and His disciples have relied on a boat for transportation and sometimes to provide a venue for teaching to a large crowd. My wife pointed out that this unique venue for teaching may have provided favorable acoustics for teaching to a large crowd as well. Fortunately many of Jesus’ disciples were fisherman experienced in lake navigation and tending a boat.

The lake was where people washed both their bodies and their clothes. They collected food in the form of fish from the lake. The lake provided for them. So it was very fitting that Jesus who came to provide Living Water and food for the soul chose this place to meet, teach, heal, and feed.

I suspect the lake was a community focal point where people met and gathered. Similar to the role of community wells in dryer areas away from the lake. Mountain springs in Haiti are a place where people from all directions gather once or twice a day to fetch water. There is much communication and sharing that takes place at these springs. I suspect the Sea of Galilee was also a place where people met and shared about family news and local events several times a day. Interesting news about a young man who claimed to be the Son of God who could heal the sick and give sight to the blind.

In this passage Jesus leaves the lake to move up onto the mountainside. I am not sure why he does this except that perhaps he is reaching a different set of people than those who frequent the lake. I am not sure. I suppose that if one of His main reasons for going there was to heal the lame and sick it makes sense to go to them since they may not have been able to go to the lake. Whatever the reason Jesus shows compassion for the people in several ways. He heals them, then he feeds them. This is the same process that Jesus promises for all those willing to faithfully follow Him. Healing then feeding.

The healing that takes place in modern day Jesus followers may be physical as described here, but I think even more often the healing is a spiritual cleansing of the soul that takes place if we allow the healer to heal us. He changes and channels our hearts in new directions and feeds us as we continue to learn about this new way of living.

Prayer: God heal the broken and battered parts of our souls so we can move in the new directions You have for us.

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Cleansing for Contaminated Souls

Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” – Matthew 15: 15‭-‬20

So here is the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. Jesus provides the explanation for his disciples of the previous conversation with the teachers of the law about hand washing and human traditions. Jesus is not so impressed by the reasoning abilities of the disciples asking them “are you still so dull?”

Jesus goes on to explain that what enters the mouth passes right through the body, but the things that come out of a person’s mouth, words, are what can defile them. The words that a person chooses reflect the state of their heart, and by analogy, their soul. It is the heart and soul of a person that results in “defiling” not what they eat or whether they wash their hands before they eat.

From a secular perspective the washing of hands on a regular basis can prevent all sorts of physical illness and contamination from the food and water we consume, but Jesus knows this. Yet He still makes this point that it is not physical illness or contamination that we should worry about — it is soul defiling or contamination. So what is soul contamination? What are the symptoms of it? More importantly how do we prevent it from happening?

Jesus provides a list of some of the symptoms of soul contamination. I am pretty sure this is not exhaustive, but He specifically lists “evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” If everyone could avoid this list of soul contamination symptoms the world would a pretty different place. Just the sort of place that Jesus was trying to usher into the world through the disciples and His teaching.

It turns out the list is pretty comprehensive in that it includes that all encompassing first item, “evil thoughts”. This would include all thoughts that are out of sync with the will of God for our lives. I think Jesus was trying to make the point that following God in this new way is much harder and more comprehensive than the list of rules and practices that the teachers of the law were practicing. They were stuck hoarding their “old treasures” at the expense of a more effective way to follow and love God.

So back to the original question swirling about in this eddy of epistemology; do we need to wash our hands to be clean? Maybe from a purely physical perspective it is a good idea, but we should not fool ourselves that cleaning of that sort, or any other physical act, can take the place of the deep soul cleansing accomplished on the cross.

Prayer: God help us to accept the deep soul cleansing accomplished on cross that was freely given to all those willing the accept it.

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Hand Washing and Human Traditions

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ ” – Matthew 15:1‭-‬9

The purveyors of the “old treasures” show up again in today’s passage. They did not get the memo about sharing new treasures as well as old.  They are upset that the followers of Jesus are not washing their hands before they eat. They admit that this is a tradition rather than a command from God, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” So it seems they have tacked a human tradition onto the old commands and rituals about being clean and ceremonial cleanliness found in Leviticus and Numbers. Most of this washing was about gaining access to the temple and God’s presence. These teachers of the law have failed to recognize the “Godly Condensate” right in front of them.

Jesus does not answer their question directly.  Instead He bring up what would seem to be a somewhat strange topic given what the teachers just said.  Jesus brings up the command to honor mothers and fathers. Reading between the lines it sounds like there is a dispute about a practice that has risen up related to parental inheritance and caring for aging parents. Jesus seems to be calling these teachers out on a practice of using items or “treasure” that has been devoted to God to care for aging parents.  Perhaps the parents dedicated certain items or wealth to the church then found themselves needing some of these resources and the scribes and pharisees were reluctant to release them. They were holding onto the tradition of devoting items to God at the expense of a more important commandment to honor your father and mother.

Why does Jesus choose to bring up this seemingly tangential human tradition at this particular moment?  As I have thought and prayed about this it occurs to me that this command to honor their earthly mother and father is connected to honoring their spiritual Father, God. So what Jesus is reminding these teachers about is that they are not honoring their spiritual Father, who happens to be standing in front of them in the flesh. The reason they are doing this is that they are valuing human tradition over a heart to heart connection.

Jesus calls them hypocrites, which I have always thought is an interesting word.  Apparently, the word hypocrite is from a Greek word that essentially means a stage actor playing a role. So these “actors” were playing the role of religious teachers but their heart was not “all in” for God. Jesus quotes Isaiah “these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” The caution here is to avoid decorating the altar with things that don’t matter and distract from a vibrant relationship with God.

Our relationship with God is supposed to be heart to heart and soul to soul. It seems that human traditions have a way of getting in the way of this close connection and relationship. God wants to channel our hearts toward Himself and some of our human traditions can form barriers to this channeling process. Sometimes these barriers may need to be torn down in order for us to reach the connection to One River that God desires for us.

My take home from this passage is that one must be very thoughtful about the traditions in which we choose to invest our time, energy, and treasures. I am not saying we need to forsake going to church and hold up in a mountain top monastery. I think this misses the point Jesus is trying to make here. He wants all our human activities and actions to be take place within the context of a vibrant living relationship with the Living Water that keeps us healthy and fit.  Some traditions may seem to be very “God honoring” on the surface, but if they get in the way of an intimate relationship with God they must be set aside, at least until we are able to see them with the proper posture and perspective.

Prayer: God help us to keep our human traditions in proper perspective so that we can have hearts that are channeled by You. 

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Walking on the Lake

The Struggle

The Struggle Painting by George Richardson

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:22‭-‬33

This is one of the passages that inspired the title of this blog, “Walking on Water”. It has to be one of the most well known passages from the life of Jesus. The connection to water is clear, but there are many eddies and undercurrents to explore here that sometimes get lost in the familiarity. In the first part of the passage Jesus reveals His heart and need for alone-time to be with God and pray. As  someone who appreciates alone-time myself I can relate to the need for some space.

Jesus sent the people away, which it seems would have required divine intervention as it seems there was always someone who needed something from Him.  He sends his disciples away in the boat across the lake too. This must have been somewhat puzzling to them at the time. Did they think he would hitch a ride on another boat or walk around the lake on foot? I suspect the idea of him walking across the water on foot did not occur to them. Jesus sent them on a difficult and dangerous path but he did it for a reason.

So the disciples are in a boat that they apparently just spent the night in during a wild storm.  They may have been grumbling a bit about Jesus sending them out on the lake into a storm. It does say “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side”.  This is not the first time that Jesus has “forced” the disciples to do things that they thought were hard or out of their comfort zone. They are wet, tired, afraid, and probably unsure about their decision to follow this young man who sent them out on the lake alone.

It is at this time, in their darkest hour just before the sun rose, that God showed up. Jesus clearly shows up in a way, and at a time, that they were not expecting.  The Jewish people were also looking for the Messiah to show up. Jesus showed up in a way, and at a time, they were were not expecting.

The “walking on the lake” miracle has not been mastered by many other humans before or since. Clearly God wanted to use this suspension of the normal laws of physics for a reason. I do not think it was “rough magic” used simply to impress the disciples. He was pushing them to understand that not only do the waves obey Him, but He has mastery of the water itself. He is leading them by this difficult path to the only conclusion that is possible, that “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter, my namesake was called on to take a few extra steps down the difficult road.  His difficult road led him right out of the safety of the boat and into the arms of Jesus. As long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus the way was clear and he was able to walk on water. There have been many times in my life when God has called on me to do hard things. None so difficult as Peter when he stepped out of that boat, but I think I can imagine the way he was feeling. Sort of like standing next to a steep cliff looking over the edge. Maybe he was thinking is this really where you need me to go Lord?

What I find interesting about these times is that when I look back on them the reason I was sent on the difficult road, or given the challenging task, is usually different than the reason I thought I was setting out on the road for in the first place. The disciples set out across a lake because Jesus asked them to and they found the very God who had sent them in the first place. This is a reassuring thing indeed and gives me confidence when I find myself embarking on a difficult road being distracted by the waves.

Prayer: God You are both the maker of waves and the one who can calm them.  Help us to boldly set our where you need us to go. 

 

 

 

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New Treasures as well as Old

Amber sculptures

Artwork made of Amber displayed in the “Museo degli Argenti, now called “Tesoro dei Granduchi” in Florence, Italy

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” – Matthew 13:47‭-‬52

Jesus uses a parable again in this passage, but now His metaphor is fishing-related rather than farming. He was definitely targeting his message to the audience by the lake. I think this is for the same reasons that I explored in yesterday’s passage about parables and pastries.  The added twist here is that at the end of the passage He turns His attention to the old school God-followers in the crowd – the “teachers of the law”.  More on this in a minute. First let’s explore the fishing analogy a bit.

A few years ago I had the privilege, and challenge, of leading undergraduate students on a seven-week study abroad program to Ghana, west Africa.  Ghana is a beautiful and intriguing country full of many colors and contrasts. We spent the majority of our time in a beach town along the Atlantic Ocean called Winneba.  It was a wonderful place to call home as we explored and learned about Ghana. Winneba is really a fishing village that grew into a town and the fishing culture is alive an well.

Many mornings I would awaken early and walk down to the beach to watch groups of people of all ages already hard at work casting a net into the sometimes angry Atlantic Ocean. The nets were very large and were ferried out into the ocean by either a power boat or a human-powered boat.  The net created a loop out into the surf with the ends on shore.  Believe it or not this was the easy part. Once the net had been out in the surf for some time the ends were drawn together on shore and a group of people manually pulled the ends of the net in to slowly close the “purse” on the fish in the surf. This tug of war with the net could go on for hours as they slowly made headway and brought in the the net.

Once the net was on shore all the people who helped pull it in gathered to observe what their hard work had brought.  Sometimes the net was bulging with writhing fish, while other times the net was almost empty.  Unfortunately, retrieving th net took almost same amount of work wither it was empty or full.  The catch certainly contained “all kinds of fish” including some “fish” that looked suspiciously like water snakes that made me opt against swimming in the ocean.  There was also a discouraging amount of garbage in the catch.  Mainly plastic bags and bottles which washed about in the surf.

I learned from my observations of fishing in Ghana that casting and retrieving a net is hard work; it can reward the people fishing with lots of fish or almost none at all; the net captures all manner of things including fish, both good and bad, and garbage; and the amount of work involved is not always related to the reward in fish that you gain. I think Jesus would agree that fishing for people with the Good News of the Gospel can have similar problems.  The consequences of the “fish sorting” that Jesus is describing here are pretty dire.  Those deemed to be “bad fish” will not be just cast onto the sand to die, but placed into a blazing furnace where they will remain with “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. I suspect it was descriptions like this that have led people to envision hell as a place of fire and torment.

Now to return to the interesting transition here to speaking to directly to the teachers of the law who have “become disciples of the Kingdom of Heaven”.  I assume He means Jewish teachers and leaders who have accepted his identity as the Messiah and the ruler of God’s Kingdom on earth. Jesus tells them to bring “out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old”.  What an interesting hidden well here in Matthew.  Jesus is describing the confluence of the old and the new, a theme He will return to again many times.

Just like a sculptor takes a very old piece of marble and fashions it into a new and beautiful sculpture, Jesus is instructing these teachers to do the same with all of their knowledge of the God of the old testament. They are not supposed to jettison all the old wisdom and knowledge, but they do need to refashion it in light of the arrival of the Messiah.  They are called upon to “bring out”, or teach about, “new treasures as well as old”. This means taking their old ideas and knowledge and applying them to their pursuit of God as He has helps them fashion the old into the new.

I think this message applies to all God-followers as they attempt to pursue God while being pursued by Him.  We all have our own “old treasures” from our life before we chose to follow the way of Christ.  Some of these “treasures” may look like trash to other people, but not to God. He can use every bit of us, even the “broken pottery” of our lives that we might otherwise want to leave on the beach.

Prayer: God thank You for guiding us in using our old treasures as we pursue new treasures in Your Kingdom.

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Pastries and Parables

Survivor tree at Pictured Rocks, Michigan

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” – Matthew 13:1‭-‬9

Well it has been a long time since I was “on the water” exploring water-related passages from the bible. I have no good excuse for my secular sojourn. I think I just allowed myself to drift when I should have had my sails up so I could move toward the destination that God has set before me.

I think part of what shook me awake was reading a book about C.S. Lewis call the Inklings by Colin Duriez. This book describes the conversion of C.S. Lewis and his steadfast search for truth even when he was pursuing an atheistic path.  I confess I have been lazy in my pursuit of God for the last several months.  Time to get back on the water and continue the journey.

This passage marks the beginning of the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.  I thought that when I arrived in the new testament that the number of water-related passages would be greater.  I am somewhat surprised that I am already to well into the gospel of Matthew and I am only on the ninth water-related passage.  Perhaps this is because the need for analogy has somewhat lessened as the Godly Condensate has arrived.  No need for conversations about God veiled in clouds and dew,

Jesus is teaching by the lake and his listeners become too numerous so He has to get into a boat so that all can see and hear Him and His teaching.  Jesus was teaching in parables.  Parables are a bit like juice concentrate.  They are a condensed version of a much bigger teaching that is “reconstituted” in the hearts and minds of all those who are listening. One of the interesting things about about teaching with parables is that a given parable can have almost infinite shades of meaning depending on the perspective and experiences of the listener.

I do a lot of work in Haiti and one of the things that I have learned as I have struggled to learn Kreyol is that although the language of Kreyol is somewhat limited by the number of words in common usage it is rich with proverbs and parables. These proverbs are rich with many layers of meaning and can be applied to many different situations. I have many favorite proverbs, but one of my favorites is “Deye mòn gen mòn”. The literal meaning is “Behind mountains there are mountains.”  I have had many interesting discussions with Haitians about the meaning and application of this proverb. It could mean behind troubles there are more troubles, or it could mean there is always another vista or view beyond the one you are currently seeing. The interpretation and meaning of the proverb is determined by the experience and context of the listener.  The same thing is true of the parables of Jesus.

Jesus is taking a very common event, seed planting, and giving it whole new layers of meaning.  Why does he do this?  I think there are many possible reasons, but the ones that immediately come to my mind are to: 1) make complex spiritual concepts more understandable; 2) give the people a word picture that will stick with them and become part of their “spiritual DNA”; 3) provide a teaching that can be heard and interpreted in unique and important ways by each person hearing it.

The first reason is perhaps the one I can relate to most easily as a teacher by profession.  Complex concepts are always easier to understand if one can use analogies and metaphors that listeners can relate to. This has become more challenging as the age gap between my students and myself has widened. What would seem to me to be a clever and relevant metaphor can sometimes fall flat if the students have no experience with the chosen metaphor.  Jesus knew his audience and that many of them were in fact farmers and could relate to his metaphor about planting seeds.

The relevance of the metaphor ensures that the next time these people are planting seeds they will remember and reflect upon this deeper spiritual truth Jesus is teaching about here. This contextualization of the deep spiritual truths is what allow the people to ingest this teaching and make it part of their “spiritual DNA” so that it becomes a part of them that cannot be removed when trials and tribulations come.  The form of the parable is such that it is compatible with all those who “have ears to hear”.

One thing about ears is that they vary quite a bit from person to person. Some people have large ears that stick out like wings, and others have very small ears that seem to almost disappear into their heads.  What Jesus is saying near the end of the passage is that it is OK, and in fact expected, that people will “hear” different things in this parable.  That is a feature not a flaw. The many layers of meaning is what makes this type of teaching so rich and “tasty”.  A bit like a pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) in baking. This layered pastry is created by layering butter and dough in a time-consuming process involving much rolling and refrigeration. This pastry is “tasty” because of the many layers. Multi-layered parables like the one Jesus is sharing here are the same.

So what are the take come messages for me from this passage? Parables are a rich, tasty, and relevant way to communicate complex spiritual truths (and other complex things). Jesus was clearly a master “baker” in this respect. He was really good at using parables. I have a lot to learn from Him both about this specific parable and crafting metaphors for my students that will allow them to learn the complex concepts that I am teaching.

Prayer: God thank You for providing deep spiritual truths in a way that makes understanding easier 

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A Cup of Cold Water

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” – Matthew 10:37-42

So this passage contains some of the most confusing and challenging statements that Jesus made. The water reference comes toward the end, but one must traverse the rapids to reach the place of rest at the end, so here goes.

Jesus starts off with a very hard teaching from a worldly perspective. We are to love Him more than our own parents and children. I think Jesus makes this point not because loving our families is inherently bad in some way. It is is merely one of the most powerful substitutes for Him. The one that most effectively ensnares our souls in a seemingly sanctioned love that we are clearly supposed to possess for our parents and children. I think the key here is perspective and posture. As long as we look first to our families for love, acceptance, and meaning we will not be able to allow God to channel our hearts in the direction he needs us to go.

The rapids continue….”Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Jesus is looking for followers who are “all in” for Him. It just occurred to me that the reference to a cross here must have been a bit confusing to the people listening to Jesus. At this point they did not know where Jesus’ cross carrying would lead Him.

Class IV rapids ahead…”Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Jesus is sharing a whole new spiritual “math” here. If you “win” from a worldly perspective you actually “lose” from God’s perspective. If you spend your years on this earth pursuing a career, knowledge, or wealth, you fill your soul with something that in God’s economy is worthless. In order to “win” we must give ourselves away in pursuit of faithfully following Jesus. People should be able to look at our choices and lives and be able to say “that person is a real sell out for Jesus”.

Phew almost time for a cup of cold water, but we have one more topsy turvy teaching. Jesus finishes this hard teaching by saying “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Jesus is telling us something that would seem both blasphemous and beautiful – we are the only version of Jesus some people may be able to see, at least at first. If Christ is not in us in a tangible way that is obvious to others then we are missing an opportunity to share His love with others.

I don’t know about you but I need a cup of cold water, perhaps one to drink and one to the face. So why does Jesus leave us with this somewhat odd admonition, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” I think Jesus knows that what He is asking of all of us “little ones”, those who would follow Him (disciples), is hard. It will take a supportive community willing to care for one another to pull it off. So the next time a fellow follower of Christ struggles to succeed in “selling out” for Jesus give them a cup of cold water. We all need one at times.

Prayer: God help us to willingly sell out our souls for You and seek to support those trying to do the same.

 

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