Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday, September 8-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Colossians 1, Proverbs 8, Isaiah 17-18
Today's scripture focus is Mark 3:1-6 

A Man with a Withered Hand

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus,[a] to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

Sometimes our anger is misplaced because we don't want to examine our own lives and see our faults.

At first glance, it might be difficult to see why the Pharisees were so angry. They "went out immediately" and made a plan to destroy Jesus. Not quietly gossiping about Jesus. Not making a plan amongst themselves. But gathering with others for the sole purpose of plotting against Jesus. 
Why? Why were they so outraged? What about it if had been their relative that was healed? What did it matter anyway because Jesus was healing the sick...if someone demonstrated that power, why did it matter that he chose to use that power for good on the Sabbath? 
Why would the claim so infuriate the leaders of Israel? Why would it drive them to want Him dead? And wasn't the good news good news? Wasn't it good news that the spiritually blind could receive spiritual sight, the spiritually dead could receive spiritual life, the spiritually oppressed could receive spiritual liberation? Wasn't it good news that the Kingdom of God was open to all who would repent and believe?
It should have been good news but there was a tremendous barrier to that because the message of Jesus was that this salvation which He offered was not available by human works. You couldn't earn it. You couldn't merit it. You couldn't deserve it. You couldn't achieve it. No matter how many morally good things you did, and morally bad things you avoided, how many rituals you performed, or how many ceremonies you observed, this salvation was apart from works, apart from merit, apart from worthiness, apart from human achievement by grace through faith. And in their religion, spiritual pride reigned. You earned your spiritual status. Jesus said, “That won't do it. You need to humble yourself, confess your unworthiness and repent of your sin.”
In essence, His message was in complete, direct opposition to the apostate Judaism that dominated the nation and was pervade by the religious leaders, namely the Pharisees and scribes. It was for this they hated Him. They hated His theology. They hated the fact that He attacked them at the point of their spiritual pride. It's an age-old story, folks, but the more religious people are and the more proud they are of their religion, the more proud they are of their spiritual achievement, the more proud they are of their accomplishment religiously, the more resistant they are to the gospel of grace. That's why the people that responded to Jesus were the tax collectors, prostitutes, criminals, low-lifes who had no spiritual pride, who were not allowed to go to the synagogue, who were not allowed to go to the temple, who were the outcasts, the unsynagogued, they had no pride to hold on to. They came to Jesus.

"You couldn't earn it. You couldn't merit it. You couldn't deserve it. You couldn't achieve it." That was the problem for the Pharisees. They didn't like that message one bit. It wasn't fair. The Pharisees felt entitled to their religion and their position and they didn't want to let go of their pride.

How often to we feel this in our own life? We have earned our place. We are better than others because we work harder/have more money/are more attractive/don't have the bad habits of others/or any multitude of silly reasons. We are not better. We all need grace. We are undeserving of it and yet God pours it out freely. 

I know I get hung up on the "unfairness" of life sometimes. I can even think of times when I have been so angry and I "went out immediately" and with my gossip set out to destroy them. Why is it so hard to focus on what has been done and be happy for them instead of immediately focusing on the "why is it not fair to me" part of it? I have so much to learn...

Lord, you are the lord of the Sabbath. You are the lord of healing. You are the lord of everything. You freely pour out your mercy and grace to the very undeserving....and we are all undeserving. We can't earn salvation. We don't deserve it. It is a gift-an expensive one- paid in full by the blood of Jesus. Thank you for this reminder today. Help us to humble ourselves and not be like the Pharisees. Allow us to rejoice in the blessings of others and not focus on how it's not fair to us. Remind us that we are not getting all we deserve and that is a reason to be thankful. Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focusMark 3:7-12 
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Colossians 2, Proverbs 9, Isaiah 19-20


Miriam said...

Great post! Thanks for the reminder about the dangers of the better-than attitude.

Tammy said...

I need to fight the tendency to have that attitude as well!