Servant (Mark 10:32-45)
James and John asked Jesus for places at His right and left in His kingdom (Mark 10:32-45), and why not? They were Jesus’ closest friends, in the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) of the larger group of twelve. They were with Him when He gave life back to a twelve-year-old girl who died in her sickness. He took them up on the mountain where they saw Him in His glory with Elijah and Moses. He called them, even after this discussion, to leave the twelve and stay with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed drops of blood before He suffered and died on the cross. It seemed natural for them to seek positions of authority in His kingdom.
Yet, their request came immediately after He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. Why did they skip over the suffering and go to kingdom thinking? Maybe they didn’t understand the suffering part. Maybe they were afraid to ask. Jesus’ response to their question was not what anyone would expect. "To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant," He said. "These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared" (Mark 10:40). Then Jesus told the disciples, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:41-43). They had to understand what it meant to be servants, not servant-leaders. We might think Jesus meant that being a servant was to lead with a servant heart. God knows we need people who govern with love, humility and compassion, but in this passage Jesus meant servant.
Jesus set the example at the Last Supper when He took off His robe and wrapped a towel around His waist to wash the disciples’ feet. He left His place in Heaven to come to Earth to serve—to heal the sick, to make the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute talk. He cleansed lepers and delivered people from demon possession. He raised the dead and fed the hungry. He suffered rejection, persecution, and execution, not what we would expect of a leader, especially King of the Jews.
Think About It
Why did Jesus serve this way? Why would He want us to follow Him, to be servants. He wants us to show love and compassion to a lost and dying world. His kingdom begins with Him, His ways and His teaching. We, His followers, can learn from Him how He loved. He loved us so much He laid down His life for us so we could experience forgiveness for our sins and inherit the hope of an eternity with Him. This incredible hope changes who we are. It makes us people of God, people who will reach out to others, people who will reign with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth. What amazing love! What glorious hope!
Pray About It
Thank you, Jesus, for your word that transforms us into servants for your glory in your kingdom, now and forever. Amen.
Wise Men Still Seek Jesus (Jeremiah 29:13)
June 6 is the 12th day of Christmas AND Epiphany, a holy day, which celebrates the visit of wise men to Jesus. They brought gifts of Gold, for a King, Frankincense for a Priest, and Myrrh for a Savior.
Gold is precious across all nations and cultures. Frankincense is a sap from the boswella tree and is known for its calming, restorative and meditative properties. Ancient people burned frankincense and believed it carried their prayers to Heaven. Myrrh is resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree, which grows in semi-desert regions along the Red Sea. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and healing agents. Following Jesus' death on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus anointed Jesus' body with myrrh for burial.
The wise men lavished these precious gifts on Jesus before He was a man. How did they know He would be a King, Priest and Savior?
Think About It
Wise men still seek Jesus and they will not be disappointed. The Bible says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). What gift should you bring? God does not need gifts or sacrifices except a broken and contrite heart. If you will humble yourselves before God, He will lavish His gifts on you, gifts to accomplish His purposes. He can use the ashes of your past as well as your abilities to further His kingdom. It does not make sense to us. It is a mystery.
Pray About It
Heavenly Father, let Jesus be born in us that we might inherit the Kingdom you have prepared for us. We do not yet understand how all this works, but accept it by faith in the promises in your word. Teach us how to be more like Jesus. In His name, Amen.
Bread from Heaven (John 6:41)
Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven" ( John 6:41), but the Jews who heard Him grumbled. They didn't believe Him and said Moses gave the Israelites manna (bread from heaven). They asked Jesus to give them a miraculous sign to prove who He was. This was soon after Jesus fed more than five thousand people from a boy's lunch of two fish and five small loaves of bread. What more proof did they need?
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and they grumbled because they didn't think they would have enough food to eat. That's when God provided the manna, bread that fell down from heaven (Exodus 16). He did this every day for forty years and instructed the people to gather only what they needed for the day, not to worry about tomorrow. Have you wondered what the Israelites did? Did they cherish the presence of God? Did they hold some of the manna in their hands and praise God for His provision? The Bible says some gathered more than they needed for each day, but maggots grew in the portion they hoarded.
God provided food for physical needs through Moses. He provided spiritual food for believers through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" (John 7:37-38). He was talking about the Holy Spirit when He said "streams of living water." The Holy Spirit is the part of the triune God that comforts, counsels and teaches us God's ways.
Think About It
In both Bible stories about bread from heaven, people grumbled. The Israelites with Moses didn't believe God would take care of them, even though He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Many of the Jews in Jesus' time on earth did not believe He was who He said. He looked like an ordinary man, but He was all God and all man, and mystery we cannot understand but believe by faith.
Pray About It
Holy God, thank you for Bread from Heaven in the person of Jesus our Savior. Thank you for providing for our physical and spiritual needs. Open our eyes to see more of your truth every day. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Be Thankful (Philippians 4:6-7)
Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee to Jerusalem. Ten men with leprosy called to Him, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When He saw them, He said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests" (Luke 17: 13-14). On their way, they looked at themselves and noticed they were healed. One of them, a Samaritan, went back to Jesus praising God. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him. Jesus looked around. "Were not all ten cleansed of their leprosy? Where are the others? Rise and go," He said to the man, "your faith has made you well."
How often are we like the other nine who were healed? We grow anxious about our circumstances and go to God, begging for mercy and healing. When He rescues us from our suffering and heals us, we go on our way without a thought of thankfulness.
God doesn't want us to be anxious. His word says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). Wow! Peace with God comes from a thankful heart.
Think About It
How many people in history could have been different if they had been thankful? Think about Adam and Eve. They lived in the Garden of Eden. God's beautiful creation surrounded them. They did not worry about anything. God protected and provided for them. Had they been thankful, I wonder if they would have been tempted by Satan to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. How many of us are like them? The more we have, the more we want, but are not thankful.
Pray About It
Change our hearts, O God. Help us to recognize your presence in our lives and be thankful in every situation. Help us to find our hope in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.