Daily Devotion for December 2, 2016
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.
What have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I've known?
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving You
Or the kindness You've shown?
Lord help me Jesus, I've wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am.
Now that I know that I've needed You so
Help me Jesus, my soul's in your hand.
Tell me Lord, if you think there's a way
I can try to repay
All I've taken from you.
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I've been through myself On my way back to you.
Words and Music by Kris Kristofferson
The Love of Christ
Oh holy Christ, I thank you and love you for seeing who I really am. You know things about me that I don't even know myself, for you see with the clear eye of God, and not through the psychological tangle of human emotion and self-deception as others see me and I see myself. I most especially thank you, I fall upon my knees in gratitude, that you love me despite all of the sin and ugliness you see in me. You can see my beauty and heart, also, though, and love me as nobody else possibly could.
Like a father, you love me. Like a perfect brother, you love me. Knowing that you see me so clearly, and yet love me enough to suffer torture and death to save my soul, transcends my comprehension. I would be sick with shame, except that you have forbidden it, and by the power of God forgive my wrongdoing.
I give myself to you wholly, freely; every part of me blesses you. Take me to your bosom, holy Christ; let me live your love and reflect your light, that others may see a dim reflection of your magnificence in my lowly life, and that despite my many grievous faults, I might please you by doing better today, and every day. And this I vow: I will try, at least once today, to take a step closer to you, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
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.