Daily Devotion for February 24, 2011
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.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
John 7:1-9 (NIV)
Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.
But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
Notes on the Scripture
In this passage, Christ interacts with some people that appear to be his actual siblings (although there is some disagreement about this). The saying "a prophet is without honor in his own land" appears to apply to his family as well. His own brothers do not believe in him.
The effect of his brothers' statements to him is that he should put himself at risk of death, but this does not seem to be intentional on their part. Their reasoning is perfectly logical, and despite their lack of full committed belief in him, there is no other indication of actual malice. The passage really comes across like a family conversation. They could almost be a group of brothers today discussing a trip to a rock festival.
But Christ, knowing that he is at risk of death in Judea, will not go. Even though he fully realizes that his fate is to die at the hands of the Pharisees in Jerusalem, the time for his passion has not arrived. John's perspective on the life of Christ is very much like an ancient Greek tragedy, where the entire audience knows in advance how it will turn out; only, unlike a Greek tragedy, the central figure himself knows the outcome. He might be saying, "I'm not going to Jerusalem; that occurs in Act IV and we have just begun Act II".
It adds so much to our emotional connection to Jesus, to understand how long in advance he knew about the terrible suffering he was to endure. When we forget, or find it difficult to conceive of God's love being infinite, here is a finite demonstration of how vast it is. There are certainly regular people who give up their lives out of love for others; but it is a rare and marvelous thing that a person should choose the certainty of a horrible death by torture, years in advance, and live in potential freedom with his sacrifice hanging over his head.
But God became human to do exactly that: to show us the extent of his love, by volunteering for a nearly inconceivably difficult and painful sacrifice.