January 15: I Understand How They Felt
Genesis 26; Matthew 19:1–20:16; Ecclesiastes 6:1–4
“Allow the children, and do not forbid them to come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:14).
This is the type of Jesus I want to know. It’s easy for me to think of Jesus as a man I see in film or in Renaissance paintings—to make Him somehow distant in the process—but this Jesus is very compassionate and close. This Jesus takes the lowest members in society, outside of slaves, and promotes them to the ultimate status of equality: members of the kingdom of heaven, being God’s kingdom.
The disciples didn’t understand this yet; instead they rebuke the people bringing their children to Jesus (Matt 19:14). The people bringing their children simply wanted Jesus to lay His healing hands on them and pray for them; the disciples saw a threat to Jesus’ image. The image Jesus wanted to portray was the opposite.
It seems more often than not that I find myself worrying about the concerns of what others think, when I should be concerned about simply doing what these children were doing: scrambling to be close to my Lord, Jesus.
And that’s precisely what the young man in the next passage learns: Jesus wants him to be willing to give up everything and follow Him (Matt 19:16–30). The man knows what he needs to know, but he doesn’t feel about God the way Jesus desires for him to feel. Like the disciples, and like me, he is still in the process of recognizing what it means to follow Jesus.
For this reason, I’m seeking complete surrender to God—knowing that it’s not what gets me into the kingdom, but what makes me live life in a way that honors the kingdom.
In what ways is God asking you to obediently follow?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And there was a famine in the land besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. Wherefore Isaac went to Abimelech King of the Philistines unto Gerar. For the LOrd appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt, but abide in the land which I shall show thee. Dwell in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee: for to thee, and to thy seed I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father. Also I will cause thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, Because that Abraham obeyed my voice and kept mine ordinance, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked him of his wife, and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, she is my wife, lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me, because of Rebekah, for she was beautiful to the eye. So after he had been there a long time, Abimelech King of the Philistines looked out at a window, and lo, he saw Isaac sporting with Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Lo, she is of a surety thy wife, adn why saidest thou, She is my sister? to whom Isaac answered, Because I thought this, It may be that I shall die for her. Then Abimelech said, Why hast thou done this unto us? one of the people had almost lain by thy wife, so shouldest thou have brought sin upon us. Then Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man, or his wife, shall die the death. Afterward Isaac sowed in that land, and found in the same year an hundredfold by estimation: and so the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed mightily, and still increased till he was exceeding great. For he had flocks of sheep, and herds of cattle, and a mighty household: therefore the Philistines had envy at him, Insomuch that the Philistines stopped, and filled up with earth all the wells, which his father’s servants dug in his father Abraham’s time. Then Abimelech said unto Isaac, Get thee from us, for thou art mightier than we a great deal. Therefore Isaac departed thence and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac returning, dug the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham, and he gave them the same names, that his father gave them. Isaac’s servants then dug in the valley and found there a well of living water. But the herdsmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, The water is ours, therefore called he the name of the well Esek, because they were at strife with him. Afterward they dug another well, and strove for that also, and he called the name of it Sitnah. Then he removed thence, and dug another well, for which they strove not: therefore called he the name of a Rehoboth, and said, Because the Lord hath now made us room, we shall increase upon the earth. So he went up thene to Beersheba. And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. Then he built an altar there, and called upon the Name of the Lord, and there spread his tent: where also Isaac’s servants dug a well. Then came Abimelech to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the captain of his army. To whom Isaac said, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye have me and have put me away from you? Who answerd, We saw certainly tha thte Lord was with thee, and we thought thus, Let there be now an oath between us, even between us and thee, and let us mae a covenant with thee. If thou shalt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and sent thee away in peace: thou now, the blessed of the Lord, do this. Then he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and swear one to another: then Isaaac let them go, and they departed from him in peace. And that same day Isaac’s servants came and told him of a well, which they had dug, and said unto him, We have found water. So he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is called Beersheba unto this day. Now when Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith, the daughter of Berri an Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon an Hittite also. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and to Rebekah.. Genesis 26
- and it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. And great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there. Then came unto him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife upon every occasion? And he answerd and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, For this cause, shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they which were two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. Let not man therefore put asunder that, which God hath coupled together. They said to him, Why did then Moses command to give a bill of divorcement, and to put her away? He said unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your heart, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. I say therefore unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for whoredom, and marry another, commiteth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is divorced, doth commit adultery. Then said his disciples to him, If the matter be so between man and wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this thing, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born of their mother’s belly: and there be some eunuchs, which be gelded by men: and there be some eunuchs, which have gelded themselves for the kingdom of heaven. He that is able to receive this, let him receive it. Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus siad, Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And when he had put his hands on them, he departed thence. And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why called thou me good? there is none good but one, even God: but if thou wilt enter into the life, keep the Commandments. He said unto him, Which? And Jesus said, These, Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Honor thy father, and mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man said unto him, I have observed all these things from my youth, What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, and follow me. And when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. then Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And when his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? And Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter, and said to him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his Majesty, ye which followed me in the regeneration, shall sit also upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And whosoever shall forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my Name’s sake, he shall receive an hundredfold more, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first, shall be last, and the last shall be first. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain householder, which went out at the dawning of the day to hire laborers into his vineard. And he agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, and sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them, Go ye also into my vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you: and they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And he went about the eleventh hour, and found others standing idle, and said unto them, Why satnd ye here all the day idle? They sad unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He said to them, God ye also into my vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. And when even was come, the master of the vineyard said unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning at the last, till thou come to the first. And they which were hired about the eleventh hour, came and received every man a penny. Now when the first came, they supposed that they should receive more, but they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the master of the house. Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. And he answered one of them, saying, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take that which is thine own, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, as much as to thee. Is it not lawful for me to do as I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few are chosen. Matthew 19:1–20:16
- There is an evil, which I saw under the sun, and it is much among men: A man to whom God hath given riches and treasures and honor, and he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth: but God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a strange man shall eat it up: this is vanity, and this is an evil sickness. If a man beget an hundred children and live many years, and the days of his life be multiplied: and his soul be not satisfied with good things, and he be not buried, I say that an untimely fruit is better than he. For he cometh into vanity, and goeth into darkness: and his name shall be covered with darkness. Ecclesiastes 6:1-4