Why Did John the Baptist Doubt Jesus?

To watch other Voice of the Martyrs videos, visit the Voice of the Martyrs Video Page!

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Today’s scripture is about a real mystery. The mystery involves Jesus and a man named John the Baptist. But in order to understand what the mystery is, we need to understand a little bit about John the Baptist.

Who was John the Baptist? The Bible tells us a lot about him:

  • In today’s scripture, Jesus says that John the Baptist was “more than a prophet” (Matthew 11:9).
  • In today’s scripture, Jesus also says this about John the Baptist: “among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11).
  • The mothers of John the Baptist and Jesus were related (Luke 1:36).
  • What made John great? Actually, that’s the wrong question. The right question is: Who made John great? The answer was God. John was not great because of something he did. John was great because God gave him the most important job in human history: He was to prepare the way for the Messiah, God’s chosen one (Luke 1:16-17). The way God had John do this was to send him to baptize in the Jordan River. Many came to be baptized by him. (Luke 3:3).
  • But that wasn’t the most important part of preparing the way for the Messiah. The most important part was that the Messiah himself showed up to receive baptism! Jesus came to John to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, not the other way around!” But Jesus insisted (Matthew 3:13-15). When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he saw the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus. And then John the Baptists said, in John 1:32-34:

I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.

So when Jesus says that no one is greater than John the Baptist, he is not simply being polite. Who could be greater than the one chosen and prepared to baptize the Son of God?

With this context in mind, we can understand the mystery that is presented in today’s scripture. In today’s scripture, John the Baptist is in jail. Well, that part is not the mystery: John had criticized the king for marrying his sister-in-law (Matthew 14:3-4).

When John the Baptist was in jail, he sent two of his students to Jesus to ask him this question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)

So the mystery is this:

Why did John the Baptist doubt Jesus? He had spent his whole life preparing the way for God’s chosen one. He had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus. God had told him, “Whoever the Holy Spirit descends on, that’s my chosen one.” After all that, how could John come to doubt that Jesus was the one?

Maybe we could just say, “Well, that’s what happens when you end up in prison and suffer: You lose your faith.” Not too long after John the Baptist sent the messengers to Jesus, John’s head was cut off (Matthew 14:10). Perhaps he knew the end was coming, and he was simply scared.

But according to today’s scripture, that’s not what Jesus thought. Jesus said that John the Baptist was not “a reed shaken in the wind” (Matthew 11:7). In other words, nothing scared John. And in today’s scripture, Jesus didn’t rebuke John. That’s a very important clue to our mystery. Even at the moment that John seemed to be doubting Jesus, Jesus still praised him as “more than a prophet” and “the greatest born of women.” Jesus said that his mission and John’s were inseparable. He told a parable about children in the marketplace to explain that the crowds had rejected not only Jesus but John also. No, there is no rebuke for John from Jesus; only praise and empathy.

So why did John doubt Jesus, then? If fear wasn’t the cause of the doubt, what was?

The key to solving our mystery is Jesus’ prayer in verses 25-27 of today’s scripture. Here is what Jesus prayed to his father:

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

From Jesus’ prayer we learn one of the most important truths about the character of God that we need to remember every day of our Christian lives: God is not subject to human perception. Nothing about God can be known by anyone unless the Son chooses to reveal it to them. Nothing! You can read the whole Bible; you can even memorize the whole Bible; but unless God chooses to reveal himself to you, your reading will be fruitless. You can go to church. You can pray 24 hours a day. You can dedicate your life to God. But you still cannot know anything about him unless he chooses to reveal himself to you. God could stand right in front of you, two centimeters away from your nose, and you still cannot see him unless he permits you to see him.

But Jesus’ prayer tells us even more than that. It says that being wise and prudent is no advantage in knowing God. God reveals himself to whomever he wants to reveal himself. He chooses to reveal himself not to the wise but to the babes. In Christ, God chose to reveal himself to tax collectors and sinners, shepherds, lepers, children, divorcees, and uneducated men. He did not choose to reveal himself to the righteous or the religious leaders or the political leaders. God does not reveal himself to you because you are important or because you are interested. He reveals himself to you because “it seemed good to him” to do so. And God does not reveal himself to you because you are holy. You are holy because God chooses to reveal himself to you.

This is a theme that runs all the way through the Bible. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:20-21:

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

But we should not hear these things and say, “Aha! So it is not my fault that I don’t know God. It is God’s fault. He has not revealed himself to me. If he had, then I would have understood him.”

But that is not what Jesus says. In today’s scripture Jesus pronounced woe on all the cities of Galilee (Matthew 11:20-24). But he did not pronounce woe on John the Baptist. Why?

Because John had been faithful to everything God had revealed to him. He had prepared the way for God’s chosen one. He had not wavered from his task. But the cities of Galilee had not been faithful. He had revealed himself to them, and they had rejected him. So in Matthew 11:21-22, Jesus said to those cities, “If the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be much more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

Why will it be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for the cities of Galilee? Because God knows what he revealed to them. In the cities of Galilee, he revealed himself—in human form! Standing two centimeters in front of their noses, teaching them and healing them!

But Jesus did not say that Tyre and Sidon would not be judged. In fact, in Ezekiel 26-28, God pronounces one of the harshest judgments in the Bible against Tyre and Sidon! In Ezekiel 26:21, God says to Tyre, “I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more.” So in today’s scripture, Jesus is saying to the cities of Galilee, “You thought that judgment was bad? The judgment against you will be much worse!”

In fact, no human being in any city can say, “It is not my fault that I don’t know God. It is God’s fault.” In Romans 1:18-20, Paul writes,

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

So not even North Koreans can say to God, “Oh, we didn’t know about God in North Korea. It was Kim Il Sung’s fault. We were educated in materialism. We have an excuse.” But Paul says: No excuse! God has revealed enough of himself to each human being on earth who has ever lived that no one of any nation has any excuse.

But now we have two ideas that seem to contradict each other. On the one hand, we say that we can only know God if he reveals himself to us; we can’t force that to happen. God reveals himself to the babes, not to the wise or learned. But on the other hand, we say that God has revealed himself to everyone, so we are without excuse. How can we connect these two ideas together?

And this is the focus of today’s scripture: We must accept God’s revelation the way he wants to give it, when he wants to give it. But instead, we insist that God reveal himself the way we want it, when we want to receive it. In Jesus’ generation, the people rejected both John and Jesus. Neither revealed a God that they were willing to receive. Jesus said in Matthew 11:18-19, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man [Jesus] came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” We are blind to God because we have a certain picture of God in our mind. When God reveals himself to us, it does not match the picture. So we do not see the real God, or we reject him.

Even John the Baptist had this challenge. He had a picture in his mind of the kind of messiah Jesus would be. In Matthew 3:12, we can see the picture John had in his mind. John says, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” But during his lifetime, the only fork Jesus seemed to have in his hand was a feasting fork. No wonder John was confused. John had the right picture of the Messiah, but the wrong timing. In Matthew 25 we can see that one day he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. John the Baptist wanted that day to be today. But it was not the right timing. So he struggled to understand Jesus’ ministry, and this is why he sent messengers to ask Jesus.

But notice that John the Baptist did not reject Jesus. He doubted, but he brought his doubts to God. As long as our doubts take us to God, not away from God, he is honored, and he does not rebuke us.

But when our picture of God causes us to doubt the true God, or when our human wisdom leads us away from God, we can expect hell, not acceptance of our excuses for why these things happened.

So what did Jesus tell John? What is Jesus telling us? You can see the answer in Matthew 11:6: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” In other words, blessed is the one who accepts God in the way God wants to reveal himself, whenever God wants to reveal himself. Hebrews 1:2 tells us how God wants to reveal himself: by his son. In fact, according to Jesus in today’s reading, the Son is the only one who can reveal the Father, and the Father is the only one who can reveal the Son.

Do you know who struggles to accept that? The wise.

Do you know who accepts that without struggle? Babes.

Let us be humble to accept God the way he wants to reveal himself—by his Son—when he wants to reveal himself—which (as the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 3:7) is today. Respond as humbly and as receptively as a babe as you hear his voice saying to you by means of the Holy Spirit,

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

Posted in Lectionary Year A | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing as Infants through the Nicene Creed: An Excerpt from Living in the Underground Church

Each time we open the Bible to read a passage of scripture, we should begin by asking, “How does the Nicene Creed help me to see the Triune God here?”

 

In Matthew 11:25, Jesus speaks of those to whom the Father and Son are revealed. He praises the Father, saying, “you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”[5]

Picture a wise and learned person entering a room, or a subway car, or a street, or a home. What will the wise and prudent person do? Instinctively they will look at the whole space and try to get a sense of who is present, what is happening, and what if anything they should do in response.

Now, picture an infant entering the same space. What will the infant do? Instinctively, the infant will look only for the face of the parent. Until the infant finds the parent and is in the arms of the parent, the room remains a blur and an uninteresting mystery. The mystery for the infant is always: Where is my parent? Until that mystery is solved, little else about the room is noted or engaged.

In the same way, each time we take up the Bible to read a passage of scripture, even on the very first reading, we should see it with the heart and eyes of an infant. We should ask, Where is my parent, the Triune God? The words and the whole passage of scripture should remain a blur for us while we search urgently for God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit therein. We should not rest on any other word or question or insight or theological truth about a scripture passage even for a moment. Otherwise, the Triune God will be a blur for us in the scripture while the rest of the passage will command our focus. We must first find him, always. Scripture will not serve its purpose in us until we rest in his arms within it.

That is the purpose of the Nicene Creed for those living in the underground church. It gives our lives an unwavering, uncompromising attentiveness to the one true God.

When we read the Nicene Creed carefully, we will see that it is not the work of the wise or learned, but of infants, for infants. This is quite a different perspective than how we may have previously been taught to regard the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed is often and mistakenly regarded as a work of deep theology, an intrusion of Greek philosophy into the simple beauty of scripture. But that is simply not true.

In fact, the Nicene Creed was formulated even before the infant church finalized the list of books that compose the New Testament.[6] The infant church established the Creed as a commitment to always read the Bible in a certain way: Dominated by the fullness of the Triune God, with all else as blurry backdrop. The Nicene Creed is the infant church’s joyful cry: Here is the Triune God—we have seen him! Let no part of him ever escape our sight, not even for a single moment or a single verse! Early Christians were required to memorize and thoroughly understand every statement in the creed even before they were baptized and fully admitted to the worship of the church.[7] Only in this way could the infant church be assured that an infant believer—and the infant Christian faith—would remain infants and not become captive to the wise and learned, and to all the things that hold the wise and learned captive.

The Nicene Creed tells us all the things about the nature, character, and activity of God that are necessary and sufficient to identify him in the Bible and in the world around us. Every statement in the Creed is a statement that is only true of God, and always true of God. Even the statements in the Nicene Creed that are about baptism, the church, the final judgment, and the world to come are ultimately statements about the Triune God; they gain their right meaning only in relation to him. Because the Triune God never changes, all of the statements in the Creed are always true of God in every passage of scripture and at every moment in history and eternity, including this one.

Here is what has always been most important: The Nicene Creed is what opens our eyes wide enough to see the fullness of the Triune God in each passage of scripture, and in our own lives.

Consider an example from Matthew 8:23-27.

Then [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”[8]

If we read this passage of scripture as wise and learned people, we might be drawn to examine the experience of the disciples, since we, too, are Jesus’ disciples. We might think about whether we would respond the same way as they did. We might think of situations in our own lives when we experienced metaphorical storms and waves and wondered if Jesus was present. We might wonder about why Jesus was sleeping, and how it was possible for him to sleep through a storm at sea (especially while his disciples were working so hard around him). We might decide that the purpose of this scripture is to teach us about faith and to challenge us to have more of it. We might struggle with this kind of natural miracle and whether such an event really happened, since we are so wise and learned and have never seen wind and waves calmed like this.

But if we read this passage of scripture with our infant eyes trained by the Nicene Creed, we will read it entirely differently. We will begin by looking urgently in this scripture for the Triune God as described by the Creed. Our attention will first be drawn to the words in this scripture that we have memorized from the Creed: Jesus. Lord. Save. Man. There are also words here like storm, wind, and waves that remind us of heaven and earth and their Creator, which are also mentioned in the Creed. So when the disciples ask, “What kind of man is this?”, we are already ready to give an answer, even without yet reading the rest of the passage.

The Nicene Creed says that God the Father is “the maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.” Because he is the maker of the wind and the waves, he is the only one they obey. But the Nicene Creed reminds us that Christ is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.” The wind and the waves that appear in this passage of scripture know this, too, and thus they obey him. They know what the Creed teaches us: The Son is not less than or lower than the Father; he is his exact visible image. The Creed tells us, “For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven. By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and become man.” What kind of man is this? He is God the Son, who is fully God. The Son has come to save us. He can save us because he is God. All of creation bears witness to this and submits to him.

Through the Nicene Creed, we like infants have entered the scripture passage and first, with great urgency, found our parent, the Triune God. Having found him in his fullness, we can then go on to look at the rest of this scripture using the questions detailed in subsequent chapters in this book. Through his Holy Spirit, he will then guide us to hear the word the way he wants us to hear it and to do it the way he intends: Embraced by him, with his power pouring through us.

 

[5] Matthew 11:25, NIV.

[6] Cf. http://www.scborromeo.org/papers/nicenecreed.pdf.

[7] E. Ferguson. “Catechesis, Catechumenate.” In The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 1999, p. 224.

[8] Matthew 8:23-27, NIV.

Posted in Living in the Underground Church | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Is God Jealous?

To watch other Voice of the Martyrs videos, visit the Voice of the Martyrs Video Page!

Here’s a story for you: It’s about a darling married couple who are madly in love with each other. Well, at least the husband is madly in love with his wife. The wife, however, has wandering eyes.

Wherever the wife goes, suitors follow. Even when the husband is present, these suitors knock on the door to the couple’s home and woo the wife. The husband, of course, isn’t pleased, but he respects his wife and is certain that she’ll make the right decision.
But the wife doesn’t make the right decision. She sleeps with one (or several, take your pick) of these suitors—despite his trust in her. The husband is outraged and, most of us would say, rightly so. Why, then, do we think God is overreacting towards us when we do the same exact thing?

Today’s passage of scripture takes place immediately after Jesus has sent the twelve disciples out in a frenzy [link to Second Sunday of Pentecost blog]. His heart was moved within him when he saw that the crowds following him were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Today, however, we learn that these sheep, despite lacking a shepherd, still followed something around and, just like the wife, what they were following wasn’t any good.

During our lifetime, four things will compete for primacy in our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our inner being can only have one master, as Jesus warns us in Matthew 6:24. To love Jesus, then, we must reject the primacy of all four suitors—or we may relegate Jesus to a lower love and elevate one of the other suitors.

As Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37, we must “Love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind.”

In this passage, Jesus shows us that our punishment is assured: Give your whole being to Jesus and you will certainly be punished in this lifetime by one or more of the other suitors. Choose one of the other suitors and you will certainly be punished body and soul in hell.

Who are these suitors? The first may surprise you.

  1. The Religious Authorities (Including our church or pastor) (Matthew 10:25)

As Christians, our religious authorities include the church, our pastors, our priests, our Bible study leaders—any Christian leader, denomination, or congregation can fit into this category.

Religious authorities aren’t bad in and of themselves. Many want nothing more than to help us grow in Christ. On a good day, they’re servants and shepherds: they direct us away from themselves and toward God.

On a bad day, however, they can be the ones who woo us away from our husband.

Sometimes our church may ask us to make an unbiblical sacrifice. Say, for example, that your family is a little dysfunctional. You are constantly arguing with your spouse and the two of you are close to splitting up. Your children (who know about the possible divorce despite your best efforts) have become reserved and fearful. Your family needs help.

Your church, however, has another plan for you. There is a new opening in the church’s ministry—and you’re the perfect candidate. Sure, they know about your marital troubles, but who else can do the work? God has called you to do it, and the church tells you that if you make sacrifices for God, God will make sacrifices for you.

We know that God tells us in 1 Timothy 3:5 that we cannot manage his church unless we know how to manage our own households. But we also know that the church has given us so much. And the ministry is for a good cause…

So we take the job. Our family suffers, but we don’t have the time to deal with the problem. When people ask, we just say that we’re sacrificing for God. But, really, we’re just making a sacrifice for the church.

As for our pastor, sometimes we think that whatever our pastor preaches (whether it be sermon, politics, or practical advice) comes straight from the mouth of God. But God doesn’t need to give his word to our pastors—he’s already given his word to each of us through the Bible!

Can our pastors help us understand the Bible? Certainly. But our pastors still struggle to understand the Bible, themselves. So we have a responsibility—to ourselves, to our pastors, and to God—to compare our pastor’s sermon with God’s living word. If the two do not match, we should speak with our pastor.

Sometimes, we are tempted to limit God to our denomination or our local church. However, in the Bible we see that God routinely chooses not to restrict himself to specific sects or groups. Whenever we show loyalty to sects, we place religion above God. Our method of religion or our specific local church becomes our idol.

From the Reformation through European wars of religion, Christians learned that the institutional church is very different from God. We learned that the church is NOT God on Earth; it is the servant of God on Earth.

When we regard religious authorities as God, we forget what happened to Jesus in the gospels. The religious leaders of the day called Jesus a servant of the devil (Beelzebul). Their voices were the loudest during his crucifixion. Religious leaders, whether they be Jewish or Christian, can see Christ as a threat to their way of understanding the world.

Yes, you can serve the Christ through the church, and yes, you can learn about the Bible through your Pastor’s sermon. BUT you must always be aware that neither of these things are God. Paul once told us that if an angel came down from heaven and told us something contrary to the Bible, we should not believe him (Galatians 1:8)—how much less a religious leader!

  1. Our Country or Culture (Matthew 10:28)

Government and culture will always compete for our heart. After all, if we are good citizens of our country, then aren’t we a good witness for Christ? The Bible even tells us that if we are “irresponsible to the state, then [we’re] irresponsible with God, and God will hold [us] responsible” (Romans 13:2)!

When we decide to put our country or culture first, we preach political sermons on Sunday and rally behind war and destruction. Christianity becomes a religion that belongs only to our country (and perhaps those of our country’s allies). We divide our sermons along ethnic or cultural lines. We conflate service to our country with service to God.

Jesus, however, tells us that if we have to choose between what our government wants and what God wants, we should always choose the latter. If we blindly follow what our government wants us to do, we will break several of God’s commands. If the government, for example, tells us not to evangelize in public places and we obey this, we are disobeying God!

Furthermore, just as God does not limit himself to any one denomination, he does not limit himself to any one country: he is just as much the head of North Korea as he is the head of South Korea!

When your country and Christ don’t see eye-to-eye, you’ll have to choose one or the other. Either way, you will be punished. If you evangelize, you will be punished by “those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” However, if you choose to “be a good citizen” you will be punished by “the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Choose wisely.

  1. Our Family (Matthew 10:35)

Just like our churches, it is easy to put our families before Christ. After all, the Bible commands us to take charge of our families and manage them well! There is a difference between managing your family well and putting your family before Christ.

The difference is Christ, himself.

What is the foundation of your family?

Christ tells us that he did not come to make peace in our families—he came to create conflict.

Why is this?

Almost all families have been built upon the wrong foundation. Some families cannot come together without violent outbursts—so we’ve chosen to avoid one another to create the semblance of peace. Other families experience a deep trauma and, instead of dealing with this trauma, they lapse into unhealthy habits (eating in separate rooms, feigning happiness, drifting apart). But these unhealthy habits make the trauma the foundation of the family.

If we are to put Christ before our family, it means making him the foundation of our family—something that is easy to say, but difficult to do. If Christ really is the foundation of our family, it means that when conflicts arise, we resolve them in the way he intended. If Christ really is the foundation of our family, it means that we will have to confess our own faults and imperfections. If Christ really is the foundation of our family, it means that we will respect our parents and direct them to Christ.

When we try to make Christ the center of our family, everyone will resist. Man will be set against his father and daughter will be set against her mother. We may be kicked out of our own homes. Our children may tell others all sorts of nasty things about us. We may even be permanently disowned by the rest of our extended family. But Christ does not consider family to be a valid excuse not to follow him.

“If you deny me before your family,” Jesus says, “I will deny you above my family—my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33; man changed to family, Father changed to family)

  1. Our Self (Matthew 10:39)

Jesus tells us that if we wish to follow him, we must first take up our cross (Matthew 16:24). However, that is the last thing that our self wants to do. When we do this, our flesh raises every objection it possibly can:

“But we’re already on bad terms! If I don’t lie, it might end things for good!”

“But if I don’t tell everyone I did it, no one will notice!”

“But this is what pleases me sexually! Research has shown that it’s actually unhealthy for me to restrict myself sexually.”

“But if I do that, it will be dangerous. I have a family. God tells me to take care of them. I need to keep myself safe.”

“But I won’t be spiritually mature until I get married! I need to find a boyfriend right now!”

“I know this woman isn’t my wife, but I don’t want to marry her or leave her! If I marry her, I might marry the wrong person and if I leave her, I might be lonely!”

 

If we let these voices rule us, then Christ has only one thing to tell us: “You are not worthy of me.” He’s deadly serious about this. Just like the spurned husband, Christ respects us. As our suitors woo us, he remains silent and trusting. If we choose to sleep with other lovers, he is, just as rightly, outraged and shall cast you out into the “outer darkness where there will be weeping and much gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).

How do we love Christ? By putting himself above everything else and ignoring the sweet calls of your suitors. Their calls never stay sweet for long, after all. The moment you turn away from them, the suitors are outraged and do everything in their power to punish you—but the power they have is negligible when compared to God.

If you think this message is too strong, I encourage you to re-read this passage. It isn’t a weak passage. In it you will find words like “sword”, “disown”, “hell”, and “deny.” It’s certainly a passage that deserves your careful consideration.

However, there is good news: Alone, you’ll never be able to love any of these things more than God. As human beings, we naturally tend to love the things we can see (our churches, our governments, our families, and ourselves) more than the God we cannot see. But Christ came to put a new heart in us.

God can give you a new heart that loves him more than anything. The first step is to repent, be baptized, and enter into Christ’s death. When this happens, you will receive the Holy Spirit and the Father and son will come to make their home in you. Then, you will be able to love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

Posted in Lectionary Year A | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment