Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, day, 8 April 2022:
Leviticus 6:2 — “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor….”
Sins against our neighbors are in fact breaches of faith against the Lord.
Leviticus 6:2-6 — “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor…. He must make restitution in full… to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering… to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering.”
We have forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, but we maintain a responsibility to make full restitution to those we have offended, even if they are not aware that we have deceived them in some way. This is hard, and Christians often neglect this responsibility, thereby living a lie. Moses relayed to the people that they had to both make restitution and provide a guilt offering to the Lord. Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Matt 5:23).” I am reminded of the Prophet Samuel’s farewell speech (1 Sam 12:1-4) when he says, “Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.” Today is a good day to “strive…” to clear your conscience “before God and man (Acts 24:15-17).” Let no debt remain but the debt of love (Romans 13:8).
Mark 14:9 — “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
“We may assume that our expressions of devotion to God are small and insignificant, but in God’s eyes they may hold much meaning. Our love and dedication to Christ may even create memorials to God for future generations.
This woman performed a profound act of love for Jesus. She did not do it to impress His disciples or to gain public attention or to gain praise from Jesus. She simply sought to express her love for Jesus. She did nothing spectacular; she performed no miracles; she preached no sermons. Yet Jesus was so moved by her selfless loyalty that He deemed it worthy of remembrance throughout the remainder of history.
We do not know all that God finds most pleasing, nor do we know what acts of our love He may choose to honor through our children and future generations. Abraham could not have known that the day he demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice his only son would be memorialized and would bless many generations who heard of his obedience. David could not have known that his walk with God would please Him so much that David’s example would bless generations who followed him.
God can take your faithfulness and begin a spiritual legacy, making it a blessing to others for generations to come. You will never know until eternity all who received a blessing because of your righteous life. That is why it is so important that you daily express your love and devotion to Jesus.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Mark 14:13 — And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city. . .”
“The two disciples were given very detailed instructions to go to a certain town and look for a particular man performing a specific task. He would have a large room, furnished and ready to observe the Passover. These instructions might have seemed unusual had it not been their Lord speaking, but the two disciples obeyed and found everything just as Jesus had said. Jesus knew exactly what they would find, and so He guided them specifically. One of the most memorable and precious times the disciples would spend with their Teacher hinged on the obedience of these two.
Obedience to Christ’s commands always brings fulfillment. When the Lord gives you instructions, obey immediately. Don’t wait until you have figured it all out and everything makes perfect sense to you. Sometimes God will lead you to do things that you will not fully understand until after you have done them. He does not usually reveal all the details of His will when He first speaks to you. Instead, He tells you enough so you can implement what He has said, but He withholds enough information so that you must continue to rely upon His guidance. Your response will affect what God does next in your life. Your obedience may affect how others around you experience Christ as well. If there is any directive God has given you that you have not obeyed, obey that word immediately and watch God’s perfect plan unfold in your life.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Mark 14:27 – “And Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away.’”
Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt knowing all His closest friends would betray Him when He needed them the most? From the Scriptures, Jesus had been prepared for this betrayal (“for it is written”), and Jesus knew His disciples better than they knew themselves; but nonetheless, their unfaithfulness undoubtedly hurt Him more than we can imagine. Though one by one they all proclaimed, “Surely not I,” even courageous Peter failed Jesus miserably. Notice, by the way, that before the infamous rooster crows, Peter had already begun to “fall away” by failing to “keep watch” and by “following at a distance” (Mark 14:37, 54).
Christian brothers and sisters, let’s pay attention to the process of falling away: following at a distance is a half-hearted commitment that only lacks enough heat and pressure to become total betrayal. The passive, silent or chameleon Christian is the one described by James and the Psalmist as double-minded, “unstable in all his ways,” and pronounced by Jesus as “lukewarm,” uncommitted, unsuitable, unprepared to stand the test. (Psalm 119:113; James 1:8, 4:8; Revelation 3:16) As Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23)
What is truly amazing is that despite knowing that His disciples would all betray Him, Jesus never quit on them or distanced himself from them. Rather, He humbly washed their feet! As for Judas, the most infamous betrayer who “having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it,” Jesus never kicked him out of the small, intimate group, never fired him from his role as treasurer, but rather continued to break bread with him as a close friend. (John 12:6) Also, despite knowing their weakness, Jesus still took Peter, James, and John to Gethsemane.
Would you take relationship advise from Jesus? Is this how you would treat your unfaithful friends? I think most Christians would call a person foolish if that person were to model Jesus’ behavior today. We would be quick to take Matthew 10:16 out of context “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” and we would justify putting up relational walls by quoting from theological sea lawyers who say, “Forgiveness is a gift, but trust is something you earn.” After all, God doesn’t want us to be doormats, right?
By continuing to remain vulnerable to His unfaithful friends, Jesus wasn’t being naïve or foolish, nor was He engineering the fulfillment of the Scriptures, He was modeling true love as is described in 1 Corinthians 13:7, 8 – “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)
When Jesus told his disciples to forgive their brothers “not seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:22),” He understood that this type of forgiveness would open the door to continued maltreatment but would also keep the door open for the Gospel and potential reconciliation. Jesus understood that the closest relationships would often hurt the most.
There is a famous story about the childhood of Thomas Aquinas which highlights the trusting heart: His classmates, who mocked his trusting spirit, decided to play a joke on him. They all got together in the classroom and stared excitedly out the window. Thomas asks what they are looking at so intently. “Thomas, come quickly,” the students responded, “there are pigs—FLYING!” Thomas rushes to the window, only to be met by the uproarious laughter of his fellow students. As the laughter died down, Thomas gently but potently exposes their sin by saying simply, “I would rather believe that pigs could fly than that my friends would lie to me.”
By remaining loving (and trusting) to the disciples, Jesus exposed to them the truth of themselves which previously they could not see in themselves. His costly display of love to them convicted all but Judas to change their lives forever. How much different would their lives have been if Jesus demanded that they earn His trust and if Jesus kept up protective relational barriers between them and Himself until they did?
What would happen if you gave unconditional grace to others in the Name of Christ, forgave unconditionally in all situations, and only returned good for evil? How might your radical behavior serve to proclaim the love and grace of Christ to others?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 April 22: In your relationships, make yourself vulnerable for sake of the Gospel, and appreciate the opportunity to fellowship in the suffering of Christ as an act of worship.