Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 9, 2009 The Chosen Servant

READ: Matthew 12:15-32
15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: 18 Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. 19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope. 22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Can this be the Son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons. 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Until this very moment I was always troubled by Jesus telling people to keep his identity secret. Sort of reminds me of Superman trying to make sure no one found out he was actually Clark Kent. I just couldn't see the reason. First off, Jesus doesn't duck into a phone booth and come out with a red S on his outfit. Second, he's doing all this right in full view of everyone. Don't make him known? Pshaw... that's the rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

The story doesn't work like that, however. From the very start of Jesus' public ministry people were asking if this might be the promised Messiah. Our problem with understanding this is that we're looking backward at Jesus. We can't say the word "Messiah" without thinking of him. But they were looking forward and hoping in Messiah. Many, many teachers, healers, would-be prophets had come already in Jesus' day claiming to be Messiah, and there would be more after. The time simply was right for Messiah's coming.

It wasn't like it is today where every few years some crack-pot proclaims the end of the world or that California is going to fall off into the Pacific. Many faithful people of Jesus' day had read the Scriptures carefully and were convinced that Messiah would appear in their lifetime. Consider Simeon waiting in the temple because he had been told by God that he would not die before he saw the Lord's Christ.

It wasn't the miracles Jesus wanted kept secret. What he was asking was for those he healed not to spread the word that this was the Christ. From the very beginning this is what he was telling people to wait for. At his first miracle in Cana Jesus says so his own mother, "Woman, what do you have to do with me? My time has not yet come."

We might ask, "How come?" Here is Jesus. Let's get on with the coronation! But that wouldn't have been right. Jesus was waiting for THE moment, what the Word calls "the fullness of time". He could only save his people on a cross, outside of Jerusalem, at the Passover, in a particular year in a particular way. Any other way would not have satisfied the judgment of God, the justice of God, the righteousness of God, or especially, the love of God. It is like Jesus was Radar O'Riley of the old M*A*S*H series saying, "Wait for it..."

Jon

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