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Friday, March 4, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 9:37–62   

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (NRSV)

I read this scripture three times. Each time I was struck by the startling dichotomy that was Jesus’ existence. A human being but also of God.

The scripture reveals Jesus’ humanness in the way that he is impatient with his disciples’ silly posturing and their lack of focus.

I acutely sense Jesus’ exhaustion in his words “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Pushed to his limit, he still can't rest because there is another crowd to navigate; one more soul to save, heal, or transform; one more follower wannabe, tugging on his sleeve, eager to join the cause, but with conditions.

I wonder, was Jesus overwhelmed at times by the spiritual distance he had to cover with his disciples, who had been handpicked to carry on after him but who couldn't perceive the significance of their time with him?

I witness the divine part of Jesus by the way he knows his disciples’ hearts and their hidden insecurities and accepts their limited perception of all that he is. When his words don’t reach them, he tries again: “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me . . . for the least among all of you is the greatest.” Jesus’ unrelenting message is always one of love.

Could I have been one of those disciples, caught up in the momentum that swirled around Jesus, fervent and devoted, yes, but also distracted and shortsighted? Am I still one of those disciples today?

Creator God, I am always trying to follow you like Jesus’ example. I am dedicated, but easily distracted and too aware of myself. Walk with me when I get it wrong and share my joy when I triumph. Thank you for knowing and still loving me. Thank you for the awesome gift of Jesus. Amen.

Written by Holly O' Mara, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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