The eleven disciples, having spoken to the Marys, headed to Galilee, to the mountain where they were to meet Jesus. When the disciples saw Jesus there, many of them fell down and worshiped, as Mary and the other Mary had done. But a few hung back. They were not sure (and who can blame them?). Jesus came forward and addressed His beloved disciples.
The disciples don’t know what to think or how to act. Nothing like this has ever happened before.
Jesus: I am here speaking with all the authority of God, who has commanded Me to give you this commission: Go out and make disciples in all the nations. Ceremonially wash them through baptism in the name of the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then disciple them. Form them in the practices and postures that I have taught you, and show them how to follow the commands I have laid down for you. And I will be with you, day after day, to the end of the age (The Voice).
[Jesus said,] “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (NIV).
Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it (GNT).
When I first started a two-week study of hell and judgment right before Christmas, it felt awkward and out-of-place.
After yesterday’s tragic shooting, this topic has become timely.
It is not my place to feel anger for others’ losses. This is my first reaction.
But even as I type these words, I’m not convinced.
Maybe it IS my place to be angry.
Maybe anger is an important step toward action.
What got Jesus really angry?
Crooks in the Temple courts. Hypocritical religious leaders.
Jesus reacted much more strongly to others’ suffering than to his own.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”(Jesus, quoted in Matthew 18:6-7, NIV)
Woe to the Webster shooter. Woe to the Sandy Hook shooter. Woe to the mall shooters.
Woe to the thug, the bully, the abuser.
Woe to the selfish, the self-centered, the self-righteous.
When it comes right down to it, woe to me when I do the wrong thing.
The more deeply I reflect upon what made Jesus angry, the more carefully I consider my own faults.
Thank God for the forgiveness present in the Incarnation of Christ.
Woe to the killers.
Peace and humility to those of us who remain. Teach us to live lives of love, not of woe.
If we take Matthew 5:43-48 seriously, then there is no room for hating our enemies.
Jesus makes it clear that we will have enemies.
But we are not to hate them. We should be praying for them, just like Jesus.
Matthew 26:36-44 describes Jesus’ prayer time right before being arrested on the night of his betrayal.
It is especially interesting to me that God the Father’s answer to Jesus’ humble prayer was “No.”
So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised or upset when God tells me “No.”
And I should pray more humbly, especially when I already have the sense that I’m asking for something that’s outside God’s will.
Jesus uses the phrase “word of God” to refer to the Old Testament law in Matthew 15:6 and Mark 7:13.
He argues with the Pharisees and teachers of the law that it is hypocritical to allow adult children to devote property to God to avoid using the funds to care for ailing, elderly parents.
Speaking against Jesus is forgivable, but speaking against the Spirit has consequences in this life and the next.
What makes this sin so serious?
In Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33, we read that John the Baptist drew an important distinction between his own ministry and Jesus’.
John says that he baptizes with water, but Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 1:18, we read that the Holy Spirit is involved in Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ conception.
And in Luke 1:15, we learn that John the Baptist “will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.”