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Friday, November 22, 2013
Today’s Reading | Matthew 19:23–30
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. (NRSV)
Don’t worry, Jesus isn’t talking about you. This was only directed toward some specific people a long time ago. And it’s all metaphorical anyway, so don’t even think about taking this literally. Jesus doesn’t want you to change anything about your priorities or how your use your resources. You’re doing just fine. Amen.
That’s what we want to hear, right? When we encounter a difficult passage of scripture like this, we try our best to figure out a way to conclude that it doesn’t really say what it says or it is really isn’t about us. We try our best to strip Jesus of his provocative challenges. We like our comfortable way of being disciples and don’t want to think too hard about the kind of commitment Jesus asked of his followers.
But maybe we shouldn’t dismiss these passages so quickly. Maybe we should take a harder look at the kind of life Jesus lived and the way of life he encouraged among his disciples. Maybe we should think about what this kind of Christian life would look like in today’s world, different as it is from the world Jesus knew.
Instead of explaining this teaching away or ignoring it altogether, let’s challenge ourselves to really engage it. Instead of putting aside this passage until it appears again in a devotion or a sermon, months or even years from now, let’s live with it for a while. What if we read it three times a day—morning, noon, and night—for a whole week? What might we hear God saying?
Challenging God, don’t let me off the hook too easily today. Let these provocative words haunt me as I try my best to follow the way of Jesus. Amen.
Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry
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