Todays readings… Genesis 31, Psalm 35, Matthew 20
The mortal life of Jesus, as recounted by Matthew, is now moving towards its’ climax. Today’s 20th chapter tells us that Jesus “took the twelve disciples aside” as they were “going up to Jerusalem” and told them “the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death….” [v.17,18] The reality of his words did not seem to penetrate into their minds. There is some comparison in this with those who claim to believe and serve Christ today? What really are our reactions to the warnings of Jesus about the climax of our world – words we know and are familiar with?
On Monday we will read ch. 24. We are quite familiar with this chapter. Parts of it are a warning of the judgements of God on Jerusalem and the nation (v.15-20), but the rest is a wide ranging picture of the world’s future godlessness – a spirit of mind that will reach its climax at the time of his return: and how soon now!?
The minds of the disciples were focussed on the future positions of prestige they were looking forward to. In at least one case, they were encouraged in this by a parent. In v.20 we read that “the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked … that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Can we see a lesson for us here? Her question led Jesus to make the challenging statement “whoever would be great among you must be your servant … even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. “ [v.26,28] We may be so focussed on the wonder of immortality and coming roles of relative glory in the kingdom Jesus will return to establish – that the traumas that will precede it are given much lesser consideration in our thoughts? Is that so with you?
What traumas awaited the mother of James and John in her mortal life? She may well have been alive when Herod “killed James” [Acts 12 v.2] What traumas await us? Will our faith be strong enough to live through them? Oh the wonder when our faith is turned to sight? The writer to the Hebrews said, “we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end” [6 v.11].
Let us develop more of that “earnestness” – a foundation for a genuine spirit of “full assurance.” Remember how Jesus, in his final message in Revelation said, “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.” [2 v.26]