Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 58: Matthew 26:1-25 & Psalm 59 - Can We Trust Jesus When Things Don't Look Good?

Today's Reading: Matthew 26:1-25 & Psalm 59

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Can We Trust Jesus When Things Don't Look Good?

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” - Matthew 26:1-5, ESV
Both Matthew and Mark tell us something specific, clear and surprising about Jesus' crucifixion: The religious leaders who conspired to have Jesus executed did not want it to be done during Passover or in public. They feared an uproar from the people. But Jesus told His disciples ahead of time that this is exactly what was going to happen.

How do we respond when our plans start falling apart and things aren't going the way we thought they would or should? What do we do when things just aren't looking good? Are we tempted to doubt God, to try to handle things on our own or to be angry with God? Maybe we think that if we feel like things are spiraling out of control, God must have either lost control or turned against us.

The crucifixion of Jesus shows us very clearly that all of our doubt and angst is misguided: God is indeed always in control, and He is always doing what is best for His people.

Jesus saw the whole plan of redemption, conceived before the world was created, unfolding exactly on schedule. His disciples did not understand anything that was happening. Some of what Jesus said confused them. The actions of Mary in anointing Him with expensive ointment seemed like a waste, especially to Judas the thief. The disciples had no idea who would betray Him or why. Through it all, Jesus was calm, resolute and fully in command, even as He marched forward to His death.

Our anxiety, fear, doubt and anger all reveal something very clear: We are not God, but we wish  we were. When we have these feelings, we need to confess lack of faith and ask for the grace to trust the Lord and let Him rule our lives.

Prayer Based on Psalm 59:

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
    protect me from those who rise up against me;
 deliver me from those who work evil,
    and save me from my soul's enemies- the world, my flesh and the devil.
For they lie in wait for my life;
    fiercely seeking to stir up strife against me.
Even when I have not sinned, O Lord,
     for no fault of mine, they run and make ready,
       bringing fear and doubt and shame to plague my mind.

Awake, come to meet me, and see!
     You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all those who treacherously plot evil.
Each evening they come back,
    howling like dogs
    and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths
    with swords in their lips—
    for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
    you hold all the rebellious nations and demonic hordes in derision.

O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
    God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

But I will sing of your strength;
    I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been to me a fortress
    and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.

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