We read about people that we want to be like and sometimes try to copy the way they dress or talk, if you want to be like Jesus then you should study His life! Doesn’t it seems fitting that we should be well acquainted with the very One that came to give us salvation, full and free? This is the time of year leading up to the day we celebrate His Resurrection!
In reading Matthew 15 & 16, you find Jesus feeding four thousand people with 7 loaves and a few fish, healing the demon possessed daughter of a woman, the disciples told him to send her away, because of their prejudice. He gave lessons about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees and the disciples thought He was actually talking about bread!
There were two things I haven’t mentioned as yet that stood out to me most. Growing up in the home of a minister and watching how my parents received un-merited, un-kind words from church members, who strongly resembled the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, I identified with how the disciples might have felt being chided and embarrassed about not washing their hands before they ate! There are people who can find fault with any thing; whether it’s the sermon, the shoes on my mother’s feet, or the way daddy sung his prayers.
Jesus spoke and showed them how THEY were being the hypocrites, and when they didn’t understand Him, He said in verses: 17-20 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’
When people make judgments on you or make you feel less than, while “looking down their nose” at you, think of Jesus’ words and know that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”, and know that they will be judged by the Father. Let’s speak to US now, it doesn’t look any different when YOU are the one issuing the negative, critical remarks, than it looked on that person you overheard gossiping! In chapter 16, something happens we need to take to heart. His disciple and good friend Peter answered a question that Jesus asked them, He said, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?” They answered “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some of the prophets”, then He directed it at them, “Who do YOU say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From that Jesus told them of His coming death. Peter was upset and said “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” That is when Jesus turned and looked Peter dead in the eye, I can almost see that as I type it, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
How many of us would be willing to look our best friend in the eyes and say something like that to them when they have offered you a plan for something wicked, or, better yet, when they try to put you down for being spiritual? You have to stand up for what you believe, even in the face of ridicule from your “best old buddy”, Jesus did.
Reading these scriptures, Jesus and His band of followers become so real; their words are almost audible. I can offer comments and thoughts on these scriptures, but the best way for you to get that same feeling is to open the Word and read it ALL for yourself! This year Ash Wednesday will be on March 5, 2014 so it isn’t too soon to begin thinking about whether you will fast, give something up. If you really want to give the Lord something special this year you could give Him the pleasure of your company in an extra time of prayer and worship!
There is an old hymn that says “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the Cross-“, so try standing up for Him, He was lifted up for you!