Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 19: Matt. 8:18-34 & Psalm 19 - How Do You Respond to Jesus?

Today's Reading: Matthew 8:18-34; Psalm 19

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How Do You Respond to Jesus?

Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” - Matt. 8:22

And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” - Matt. 8:27

And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. - Matt. 8:34

In today's reading, we see differing responses to Jesus from different men. In verses 18-22, we see two men who express some desire to follow Jesus. In  verses 23-27, we see the disciples' response to Jesus' calming of the sea. And finally in verses 28-34, we see the response of a whole city of people to the power of Jesus. These three sets of responses are useful for helping us look at our own response to Christ:

Response #1: Half-Hearted Commitment: Two men want to follow Jesus, but on their own terms. The first man is apparently looking for comfort or status of some sort, because Jesus rebukes him by telling him, ". . . the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The second man wants to follow Jesus, but only after his father dies and he buries him. Some people are interested in Jesus if He can make their lives better or easier, while many others want to wait to follow Jesus when they're ready, when they've done the things they want to do first.

Response #2: Awe and Wonder: The disciples in the boat are at first scared, as they think that Jesus doesn't care about them. After all, He's sleeping in the boat while it's being swamped by a storm. Have you ever felt like God was distant or unconcerned while you thought you were perishing? The disciples woke Jesus up and pleaded with Him to save them. When He does, they're astonished and they marvel over who this man in their boat is. I'm not sure what they expected from Jesus, but clearly His response far exceeded their expectations. Maybe they just wanted sympathy and instead they got a display or awesome, divine power.

Response #3: Fearful Rejection. The people of the Gadarenes saw very clearly how powerful Jesus was. They saw Him deliver two men who had been held in absolute bondage by very powerful demons. They also saw Him confront and threaten their lifestyle with the drowning of the pigs, unclean animals that no Jewish community should have been keeping. They saw Jesus as a threat, someone they couldn't control, and they begged Him to leave them alone.

We can see these same three kinds of responses to Jesus today: Some people want nothing to do with Jesus. They don't like having their lifestyle threatened by someone they can't control. Others want to follow Him, but on their terms or when they're ready. And still other see Him for who He is and are filled with awe as they marvel at His greatness. So, what's your response to Jesus today - rejection, half-hearted semi-commitment or awestruck worship?

Prayer Based on Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,    
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.

Heavenly Father, this world is full of Your glory. Your skies spread Your praise from horizon to horizon. Your heavens declare Your awesome power and beauty in every star and planet. You have made this world so full of wonder and beauty, and it testifies to You in an unceasing universal chorus.

The law of the Lord is perfect,    
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple.

And then, Father, when we turn from Your creation to Your word, there we find salvation. It is only in the pages of Holy Scripture that we see the clear, convicting and converting truth of who You are and what You have done for us. In Your perfect word is perfect wisdom and the great reward of truly knowing You.

Who can discern his errors?    
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

Lord, it is not enough just to know about You. I desire to live a life that pleases You. I know my only hope of salvation in found in the perfect righteousness of Your Son. But still, O Lord, I desire to live a life of freedom and obedience, a life that reflects who You are. Please save me from my sins, from those hidden ones as well as the presumptuous ones. Purify my heart, O Lord.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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