Daily Devotion for February 24, 2014
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.
For a Steady Mind While at Prayer
O Lord, take from me idleness of spirit, which destroys time; and vanity of thought, which hinders Your presence and distracts my attention to prayer. And if, while in prayer, I turn away from You in my thoughts, help me to return to my purpose; so that I might not avert my heart from You, during the few precious moments I dedicate to talking with You.
And grant me this day, dear Lord, that You may never be completely out of my thoughts. Let me carry you as a voice to guide my every step as I slip down the path of this precious day, that I might always remember Your will, and lighten the world around me. Help me to make every moment of my day, every word from my mouth, a prayer, that I might live in Your presence.
[Make every word from my mouth a prayer.]
Prayer for The Unsaved
O God, the everlasting Creator of all things, I pray for the souls of unbelievers, for they were made by you and formed in your image. Jesus, your Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation. Permit not, I beseech you, Holy Lord, that your Son should be any longer despised by unbelievers, but accept the prayers of those who remember them and be mindful of your mercy. I pray you to forgive their idolatry and blasphemy, in the hopes that they too may some day know Him whom you have sent, the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may yet be redeemed and delivered, as was always the deep desire of your Son.
All through this day, O Lord, by the power of your quickening Spirit, let me touch the lives of others for good, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I speak, or the life I live.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.
~ Martin Luther
Matthew 20:29-34 (ESV)
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
Notes on the Scripture
This incident seems a bit generic, just another healing, but there is something to it. Let us first cast our eye all the way back to Matthew 1:1-17, and that long boring genealogy that first-time readers skip over. Remember what distinguishes Matthew from the other four gospels. This is the gospel to the Jews. In addition to showing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ who has come to save the world from its ins, Matthew's purpose is to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the specific Messiah predicted by the prophets, the culmination of all that is in the Jewish Scripture, which is our Old Testament. And, as such, he is the rightful King of Israel.
These two men are not following Jesus around. They are just two blind Jews sitting by the road which he happens to take, as he heads for Jerusalem. Yet they know of him, and what do they call him? “Son of David!” Not Son of Man, not Christ, not Son of God, but Son of David. (In this context, the Greek word for son means “descendant” and “heir” — they used a single word for both meanings. The Jews would call themselves sons of Abraham, if they were blood descendants, because all of them were heirs to the covenant with God.)
Thus this passage shows that a considerable portion of the populace had, by this time, accepted Jesus as the King. They did not fully understand the implications of it, because they did not know the nature of the king they now recognized. Nevertheless, they recognized him, and this legitimation of his kingship is part of the reason he will be executed.
By contrast, Herod had no inherent claim on the throne. He was from a nation south of Canaan and not even a legitimate Jew by birth. He was touchy about this; Judaism taught that David and his heirs were the kings appointed by God to rule the Jews. Herod, a client king imposed on them by Rome, had a built-in cadre of intransigent opposition. Thus, the Herodians will combine forces with their despised enemies, the Sadducees and Pharisees, to rid Israel of Jesus. The Herodians fear him as a political revolutionary, just as the Pharisees and Sadducees fear him (with more truth) as a religious revolutionary.
The men petition Jesus, “Let our eyes be opened.” The double meaning is intentional. They want to be healed physically, of course. But their wording also shows a willingness, even a desire, to be taught. This is what Jesus called “poverty of spirit” in the Sermon on the Mount; it is the first thing he teaches. (Matthew 5:3)
It is the first thing anyone must say before they can begin to find Christ: “Whatever I'm doing now is not working”. Poverty of spirit is a realization that we are blind to something crucially important, combined with a willingness to have our eyes opened. So these verses are telling us, symbolically, that many Jews have come to the point where they are ready to learn and accept a major change in their life; they are ready to receive Christ.