Jesus gives us more practical application as we strive to live more like Him.
Jesus’ disciples were humans just like us, and they argued about who would be first in God’s kingdom. Jesus rebuked them and gave them an answer, and today he uses the parable of the wedding feast to do so. He reminds us that it’s better to consider yourself lowly and be raised by the host than to consider yourself important and be publicly rebuked. It’s still that way today. Church members fight over who has the “right” to sit somewhere, or to do something, or to sing or play or teach. It’s human nature to want to be considered important. Jesus reminds us that the ones who are truly important and the ones considered lowly. It’s the consistent worker bees that will be lifted up in God’s kingdom.
When we think of Jesus’ words, it’s sometimes hard to understand. We don’t know why we can’t be “important” in the world’s eyes. But think of a Broadway play. There are a couple stars, some co-stars, a chorus and an orchestra. You see all those people doing their jobs as they create a few moments of happiness for you.
For any of those people to be able to perform for you, they need the talented and unsung backstage people: seamstresses and fitters, dressers and prop maters, lighting technicians, sound technicians, people to move the sets around, people to take your tickets and change light bulbs and clean the theater and help you find your seat …
Who is truly the greatest on that stage, the star with the phenomenal voice or the sound technician who makes sure you can hear her?
And Jesus talked about giving alms and doing things for others with the parable of the great feast. He pointed out that offering dinner to a friend or family member was not charity because there is an expectation of repayment. Instead, He said, give to those who are less fortunate. He practiced what He preached! Instead of eating with the rulers of His day, He chose to eat with the sinners and tax collectors – those whose only way of reciprocation was to believe. This annoyed the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes. Honestly, Jesus existence annoyed them!
They tried to trip Him up by asking a controversial question regarding divorce. In Israel there were two factions, led by Rabbis Shammai and Hillel. The followers of Hillel permitted divorce for any reason; the Shammaites said that a man could only divorce his wife because of sexual immorality. “What do you say?”, they asked Jesus. They were hoping that His answer would divide the listeners. Instead, Jesus showed them their hypocrisy and brought His answer to them through Scripture.
Were some Jews using their position as “chosen people” to flaunt God’s law? Possibly. Like the Jews, we can’t expect to sin and get away with it, even though we are “under grace”. But Jesus took it further. He wasn’t so interested in the physical aspect as He was of the underlying reason for the adultery – the heart of the matter. He reminded them that looking at a woman with the intention of satisfying sexual desires was as much of a sin as the adultery.
Through His answer, Jesus reminded them that Moses gave only one commandment: the divorced wife could not return to her husband. This was a protection to the wife. A husband couldn’t become angry about some mistake she made, divorce her for it, and later bring her back into his household. Moses did not require divorce; he gave permission in only one circumstance.
Bottom line: Jesus affirmed that there is only one reason for divorce, and that is sexual immorality.
God made marriage between a man and a woman:
* A divinely appointed union established by God Himself. No human court can change
what God has established, even though they are trying.
* A physical union where the man and woman become one flesh.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Gen 2:24 (KJV)
* A permanent union. Since the two become one,
tearing apart the union tears apart the people.
* A union between one man and one woman. ‘Nuff said.
Jesus also speaks of the difficulty of following Him. The Rich Young Ruler had it all, and he came to Jesus ready to be saved. After he talked to Jesus, his ardor was cooled and he went away without salvation. Why?
Jesus showed this man that he was already serving a god – the god of money. Jesus didn’t want him (or us) to become destitute to follow Him. He was pointing out that in this man’s case, the love of money was so firmly entrenched that he would find it impossible to serve Jesus.
As I read this passage I thought about all the “gods” that I have in my life. I am fervently praying that Jesus will help me remove them so that I can follow Him more wholeheartedly. This was a very convicting parable for me – how about you?
And speaking of prayer … I close with the story of the persistent widow. When you pray, do you petition God once and then wonder why He isn’t doing something for you? Take heart! All you need to do is pray persistently! If we can beat down an unrighteous man with our persistent petitions, how much more will God give to a Christian who persistently prays?
But what does it mean to always pray?
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thess 5:17 (KJV)
It does not mean to repeat words for the sake of repeating them (Matthew 6:5-15). It doesn’t mean “centering” prayer (which is based on eastern religions and is not Christian). It means to make prayer as natural as breathing.
“Prayer is much more than the words of our lips; it is the desires of our hearts and our hearts are constantly desiring before Him, even if we never speak a word. So, to “pray without ceasing” means to have such holy desires in our hearts, in the will of God, that we are constantly in loving communion with the Father, petitioning Him for His blessing.” – Warren Wiersbe
I’ll talk with you tomorrow for the wrap up of our week. I realize that I skipped a lot of text in the past few days, and if there is a portion I skipped that resonated with you, please email me or leave a comment. I always want to know what God is showing you! It’s all about us learning together.
May your day be blessed.