Daily Devotion for December 6, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Den Leib in seim Schlafkammerlein
Alsdenn vom Tod erwecke mich,
Herr Jesu Christ, erhoere mich,
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Lyrics by Martin Schalling (1571)
Celtic Prayer for the Morning
I will kindle my fire this morning in the presence of the holy angels of heaven; Without malice, without jealousy, without envy, without fear; without terror of any one under the sun, but the Holy Son of God to shield me.
God, kindle thou in my heart within a flame of love to my neighbour, to my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all; To the brave, to the coward, to the man in the street, O Son of the loveliest Mary, from the lowliest thing that lives to the Name that is highest of all. In the name of Christ, I pray.
Thanks for the Word of God
I thank you, loving God, that we have the Scriptures to search and may find in them eternal life; that they are given by your inspiration in total truth, and the profit of salvation we may gain from them. I give thanks for all those who toiled to preserve your Word for our learning, that through patience and comfort of the Bible we may have hope and a light of prophecy and truth, as sure as a bright light shining in the darkness; and that on the most ordinary day, both I and any other person who seeks you may hear in my own tongue the mighty works you have done.
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
~ Mark Twain
Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV)
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Notes on the Scripture
The three Synoptic Gospels have full accounts of the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth, although they differ both as to timing and details. Even John makes passing reference to it. To analyze the similarities and differences would take many pages, and we have set out to study Matthew, so we will end the discussion of the other gospels with links to the parallel passages, for anyone interested: Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:16-30; John 4:43-44.
We discussed the nature of Jesus' signs in reading Matthew 12, when the Pharisee opposition demanded to see a miracle. (See Devotion of Nov. 14) In a nutshell, Jesus generally did not do miracles to attract followers, but as signs of divinity to those with faith in him. Hence the final sentence of today’s verses; finding little faith in Nazareth, He did little healing.
We must also remember, in Matthew’s account, that Jesus has already stated that his followers, not his blood relatives, are his “family”, when his mother and brothers sought to speak with him. (Matthew 12:46-50) Accordingly, Matthew is the only gospel to include the words “and in his own household” in the famous line, most often quoted as, “A prophet is without honor in his own land.”
The Difficulty of Change
The people of Nazareth, including Jesus' family, have fixed him in their minds as a working-class boy, respectable but not in any way prominent. Like societies everywhere, there is a tendency to keep him in his place. Having the idea of him fixed in their minds, they cannot consider evidence to the contrary.
What do we learn from this passage? One great lesson for meditation is the difficulty of challenging a preconception. It is a trick of the human mind, and a fault. Once we get an idea in our head, our mind rejects even compelling evidence to the contrary. For some reason, we identify our selves with an idea, and we take evidence that might challenge or modify the idea as a personal attack against us.
An offshoot of this principle is especially appropriate for Bible study. There are few (if any) people in the world who can read what is written in the Bible, for we come to it with contrary ideas so deeply implanted in our personality that we cannot bear to read what is actually written. If and when we do manage it, it is very painful. Our eye skips over the plain meaning of some passages. Other passages we expand to support something we want them to say, even though it is a fabrication.
Jesus would not heal in Nazareth. How, then, will He treat people who will not read his Word with an open mind? It is imperative that we set aside what we think we know, and try to read what is actually written in the Bible, without allowing our minds to add to it or subtract from it. We must allow it to change us, not vice versa.