Daily Devotions

Following Jesus into Ridicule

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In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him [Jesus] among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:31)

There are so many reasons to be impressed with the way Jesus lived his all too short life. One of the characteristics that made Jesus so special was his focus. Jesus was undeterred when facing struggle, or pressure from others. Crowds pressured him to respond a certain way. Powerful political and religious figures attempted to mold him into a proper, worldly image. Jesus never buckled and always knew the proper response, even when it wasn’t popular.

Jesus’ willingness to eat with tax collectors and other sinners left him open to ridicule, but he did it anyway. Jesus’ recognition, respect, and healing of women was considered inappropriate, and at times made him unclean, but he did it anyway. Jesus performed healings and exorcisms on the Sabbath, which technically broke a religious law, but that did not deter him. Over and over, Jesus ignored political expediency or what would make him popular or successful, in order to do what God required.  

The story of Jesus and Pontus Pilate is another remarkable example, because a Roman political figure seemingly had more respect and compassion for Jesus than his own religious contemporaries. While they are yelling “Crucify Him!” Pilate used his negotiation skills in an attempt to keep this itinerant preacher alive. Why wouldn’t Jesus just listen? Pilate was offering him an easy way out of a horrific and unjust situation. But Jesus was undeterred, knowing what God expected, even when it seemed to be a victory for his adversaries. 

Jesus’ example is one we would rather not follow. We like being popular and successful. Yet, sometimes God calls us to speak out against injustice, even when it isn’t popular or advantageous to do so. There are moments, out of a motivation for long-term benefit, one must say the hard words or make the hard decisions, even when you can expect ridicule. I did that with a dear friend, years ago when I felt his alcohol use was destructive. I got what I expected: ridicule. But it was the most faithful thing I could have done. The popular word isn’t always the faithful word. Be courageous, and seek God’s strength, when like Jesus, you are forced to do the unpopular for the greater good. God bless your courage.

Your Own Burning Bush Moments

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Moses…came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. (Exodus 3:1-2)

Recently, I was on Study Leave, preparing the outlines for each Sunday worship service from the first week of January through the end of September. It is a week of, “Darn, what am I going to do for Easter, when it isn’t Christmas yet?” It was cold out today, which made it hard to get in a Holy Week – spring –  state of mind. But as I went through week after week of lectionary Scriptures, a number of themes jumped out to me. One special recurring theme was how getting away from people and going off by oneself is most often where God speaks.

Moses learned of his sacred calling alone on the mountain, at the burning bush. Jesus’s transfiguration account was on the mountaintop. It was there that Jesus heard God say, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus regularly tried to get away and prayerfully commune with God. He, too, became frustrated when people would not leave him alone.

We all need some time alone with God. Jesus constantly had people to heal, sermons to preach, and questions to answer; but he also understood that time alone with God was a necessity. If Jesus needs to refill his soul, then what makes us think we can get by without it? Yet, this world of ours is loud and demanding. The demanding noise will take all of our time and our very lives, if we let it.

Today, stop the noise long enough to invite God into your morning. If you are reading this devotion, you are already trying to carve out a quiet moment with God. When you take time away with God, you are walking in the footsteps of Moses and Jesus. Like Moses and Jesus, God will respond to you as well. Now, if you wait around for a burning bush, you might get a little disappointed. But God will find a special way to speak words of motivation, compassion, and love. Trust God to make your quiet time alone with God the most important part of your day.

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