Father… there is so much that we do not know of You, and there is even more that we do not fully understand. But yet there are those moments when we know that you have intimately shared with us everything about who You are. Search our hearts and know that our questions about You come from our deep love for You, and an even deeper desire to fully know and to honor You in all of our ways. Since You have sent us Your Son Jesus – we have a teacher to teach us… Move upon us Lord, and with Holy Spirit lead us into the truth for our lives. Our world is filled with many who resent You, and reject Your love. They question and doubt Your Word on every front, and hate those who speak Your message. Your enemies are still Your enemies—evil is still evil! Lord! Deliver us from evil… and let us boldly proclaim Your power and hope to those who are powerless and hopeless. Give us grace and wisdom as we—feed those who are hungry, pray for those who are sick, and visit those who are lonely. Help us Lord, to faithfully do the work of Your Kingdom so indeed Your Kingdom will come! For Yours is the power and glory forever… Amen
Jesus, Rabbi Teacher… Jesus had more than His share of religious critics, so it did not take long for the Pharisees in their arrogance and jealousy to plot against Jesus the Rabbi and teacher. Remember how on Sunday, His first day in Jerusalem, Jesus had “shown the passion of His mission” by abruptly clearing the temple of money-changers, healing the blind and the lame, and publicly ordaining that the children be allowed to praise Him. By Tuesday, everything that He said and did had become confrontational and a personal offense to the Pharisee world of “religious fraud.” In a planned attempt to stop their own public embarrassment and exposure, the Pharisees followed Jesus around the city and openly called Him out trying to discredit Him with the people while He taught them. But they really only succeeded in discrediting themselves. Next, they attempted to catch Jesus in some kind of a heresy or blaspheme towards the Law of the Prophets (this would give them just cause to silence Him, or better yet, have Him arrested). But Jesus calmly quieted each scheme by using their attacks as an opportunity to give life, bring hope, and create and understanding of the spirit of the Law. They also tried to trick Him into a committing a public offense against the Roman law; but Jesus quickly saw through their deceit, and in a very matter of fact style endorsed Caesar’s money as Caesars. The people followed and gathered around Him for hours, and He continued to teach them in parables so His teaching would bring relevance and new life to the words of the prophets and those things that were yet to come. The Rabbi Jesus found favor with the people, further confounding and infuriating the Pharisees. They did not like this messenger or His message; and so their pride and arrogance kept them from hearing the truth that He taught. They did not want their authority or positions challenged by anyone; particularly someone who was now in the Temple and on the streets claiming to be God. After this day, the Pharisees would no longer just be antagonists or religious critics, they would now become evil conspirators – knowing they must stop Jesus, and end the threat to their place of power and piety.
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Pondering the Path
- How do we respond when critics confront our own faith; and how can we change our response when it is less than we know it should be?
- When we hear the truth do we accept it, or do we fight against it, much like the Pharisees?
- What has been our strategy for dealing with our enemies?
- What does your response look like compared to the strategy of Jesus?
The Father’s Wisdom
“Persist with patience in your prayer and meditation with Me. Push away the overwhelming cares and senseless doubts that fill your thoughts and rumble around within you. Push them away because they only disturb, distract, and trouble you. Push them away because they weaken and lessen the intensity and focus of your prayer. Reach forward into Me, focus and insist on Me, and you will find the prayer and strength you desire. Persist with patience in Me.”