Daily Devotion for March 27, 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.
With my head bowed low,
In the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart felt alone
and I cried, oh Lord,
Don't hide your face from me.
Hold my hand all the way,
every hour every day,
From here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand,
Where no one stands alone.
Like a king I may live in a palace so tall,
With great riches to call my own;
But I don't know a thing
In this whole wide world
That's worse than being alone.
Music and Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong,
Frank E Wright, III, and Michael Pritchard.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes, that I may see the returning light of the your day. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, nor into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
[Let me remember what You have taught me.]
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Preach the gospel every day; if necessary, use words.
~ (St.) Francis of Assisi
Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Matthew 24:1-2 (ESV)
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Notes on the Scripture
If you look at Matthew 23 from beginning to end, this final section shows a definite change in tone. Christ has been chastising the Pharisees in the harshest possible language; but He does not sound angry here. He sounds wistful; He is sorry about something.
The construction of the opening reminds us of King David, whose son Absalom led an armed rebellion against him and was killed. Even though Absalom's treason required his death at the hands of David's army, he still mourned the death of his son:
Would I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:33)
In the section just before today's passage, Matthew 23:29-36, Christ condemned the Pharisees, holding them guilty for the murder of God's prophets centuries before, calling them “snakes and vipers” and asking how they expect to escape hell. And yet, despite all that, He cannot help but let His love show for them. Christ does not want anyone to go to hell for their sins, even the worst of sinners: the Pharisees and their colleagues, who had spilled the blood of the prophets, who had killed God's very messengers and would soon kill Christ himself.
Jewish literature often used the metaphor of a hen gathering chicks under her wings as a symbol of God protecting those who were faithful to Judaism. Christ might even be referencing an apocryphal book, 2 Esdras 1:30-33, wherein Ezra wrote: “I gathered you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. . . . I sent to you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and slain them . . . . Your house is desolate.”
The underlying message in this teaching is that the covenant with the Jews is ended. Indeed, Christ seems to be speaking as (or for) God the Father in the first paragraph, for He is announcing that Jerusalem will no longer be a holy city. Jerusalem will be left to the Pharisees desolate; God will be gone from it. (And, in fact, the Temple building will be physically destroyed by the Romans before too long, never to rise again.)
Then, He speaks as Christ again. He follows “your house is left to you desolate” with the words for “you will not see me again until . . .” This can only mean one thing. He is the new Temple. God's “temple”, the place where the salvation of humanity dwells, is changing from a building in Jerusalem to the body of God made man, Jesus Christ. Both of them will be “torn down”, but Christ's body will rise again and then leave Jerusalem. And the Jews — like everyone else — will not see the Temple again until Christ's second coming.