March 16 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 18)
Submitted by Sharon K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
- The crucifixion was a fulfillment of everything that was written by the prophets about the Son of Man. How does this affect my view of my future, and my trust in God?
This affects my view of my future greatly. When I signed up to accept Christ into my life, I was signing up to follow Jesus wherever he leads me. And here Jesus made it very clear where he was going: “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Jesus knew the purpose of his mission and ministry on this earth. He came to bring about the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the death of the Son of Man, and toward this goal, his mind was fixed and it occupied his heart. Here he describes in details what will happen to him. He explains how he will be handed over to the Gentiles, how they will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. Bearing the cross and walking toward this goal was not something abstract for Jesus. He knew the details and specifics of how it was going to happen. His mind was prepared and ready.
How does this affect my view of my future today?
I signed up to follow Jesus and in the same way, my mind should be prepared and ready to go toward the cross as Jesus has done. I should be clear on the details and specifics of what it means for me to follow Jesus and what implications this has for my future. One clear implication is that instead of following my fleshly desires, I need to deny my flesh, deny my emotions and follow the example of love and sacrifice that Jesus has set before me. How will I relate to the people around me? How will I use my time and money? What are the hopes and dreams for my future? Just as Jesus had his mind focused on the cross for his future with faith that God will raise him up on the third day, my mind should be focused on the cross for my future with the faith that God will also raise me up and be my Comforter and Provider as I go toward the way of the cross.
- What may be the reason why Jesus told the disciples about His death and resurrection, even though the disciples would not understand what he was talking about?
One reason why Jesus told the disciples about His death and resurrection maybe that he regarded them as his friends, confidants, and trusted them as his closest people with whom he shared his heart.
Even though they did not understand what he was talking about, he continued to regard them as his closest people and he continued to share his heart. It seems that Jesus had hope and trust in these disciples that even though they do not understand what he is talking about now, that in the future, they’ll remember what he told them and will understand it at that time.
- What does this show about his relationship with his disciples?
This shows that Jesus’ relationship with his disciples did not stop even though they did not understand what was on Jesus’ mind. Even though the disciples’ thoughts and minds were on different things and they did not understand Jesus fully, Jesus still considered them his disciples and did not give up on them. He continued to share his heart and he continued give them his trust.
- What can I learn from the blind man’s refusal to be quiet?
The blind man recognized the preciousness of this opportunity to meet Jesus and he seized this opportunity with desperation and boldness. Being blind, he couldn’t see Jesus, he couldn’t find Jesus, and he couldn’t run up to Jesus on his own. But he did one thing that he was able to do and it was to call out to Jesus and shout out His name on the top of his lungs so that he can be heard. He desperately wanted mercy from Jesus. He desperately wanted be healed from his blindness and without caring about what others thought about him, he cried out to Jesus with boldness.
Why is it that this blind man is so bold and desperate to the point of refusing to be quieted even when he was rebuked by people? Blindness was something that he could not hide or ignore. It affected him every day and this must have drove him to such desperation. This might be the very reason why I do not cry out to Jesus with such desperation and boldness. I foolishly think that my sins are not too bad and think that they can be hidden or ignored. Unlike this blind man who insisted on getting Jesus’ attention, calling and shouting out his name, I put on little efforts here and there but as obstacles come in my way, I give up easily on my efforts to cry out to Jesus.
- What is the difference between those who were leading the crowd and Jesus?
Those who were leading the crowd were so focused on leading the crowd that this blind man’s loud voice was a nuisance. They were bothered by him because they had no intention of stopping what they were doing. However, when Jesus heard him, he stopped. He stopped what he was doing and listened. He ordered the man to be brought to him and unlike those who rebuked him, he asked “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man’s calling out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” was not something that Jesus wanted to ignore and move on. It moved his heart, it caused him to stop, it made him want to see him, meet him and ask him what he wanted. When this man asked for mercy, Jesus wanted to give him mercy. Jesus wanted to know what he exactly wanted and wanted to give him that.
This shows that Jesus is responsive to the people around him. Jesus wanted to give attention and love to someone who called him. Jesus was not too busy to ignore or dismiss this man’s bold and desperate request. Jesus gave him full attention and responsiveness which must have been such a surprise to this blind man.
- What would I answer if Jesus were to ask me, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man asked Jesus for something that he was not able to do for himself which was to have sight and Jesus gave this to him. I also want to ask Jesus for something that I cannot do for myself. I want to follow Jesus as he went toward the cross and I want him to give me ongoing, increasing desire, determination, focus and will to follow him in the specific details of my life. I want Jesus to give me the kind of responsiveness, compassion and love which Jesus displayed to this blind man. I want to be someone who would stop, notice and respond to someone who is desperately calling out to Jesus. I want Jesus to give me the kind of desperation and boldness of this blind man. I want Jesus to give me greater awareness of my sins so that I may also cry out with desperation and boldness “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Submitted by George H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER
· Everything written by the prophets
Everything written by the prophets will be fulfilled, everything in the word of God will come to pass. This is a promise from God, but is also shown to be true by the events of history. The word of God is trustworthy, and Jesus tries to tell the disciples that what is written is true—the Christ will suffer, but will also be raised. Therefore, I should not be anxious about the future, or worried that circumstances in my life don’t work out the way I want, or fearful that I won’t have enough. At the end of the day, my ultimate future is with Christ—as he died, but was also raised, and one day I will be raised with Him in heaven. I can depend on this truth, and therefore can live this life knowing that it’s temporary. I don’t need to fear for the future, or be anxious, but instead be free to love others, to sacrifice of my time and resources without regard to myself.
· Shouted all the more
When told to be quiet, the blind beggar shouts all the more, “Have mercy on me!” Today, there are many voices that keep me from taking a position of humility. The popular, postmodern wisdom of the world tells me to believe in myself, to trust my instincts, to not admit that I need help, to believe that I can do anything, that I am the master of my own destiny, etc. The beggar knows that he is in need of mercy, and this goes against all that is preached today. Today, we are bombarded by voices that tell us that we don’t need mercy, but instead what we need is more self-esteem, more self-confidence, etc. Today’s voices tell us that we “deserve” things—happiness, well-being, love, etc. These voices tell me that I am lovable, that I am entitled, that I am so special. It sounds good, but listening to these voices will result in a life of self-absorption, loneliness, isolation, constant dissatisfaction and self-pity when others inevitably do not have the same high opinion of myself. It sounds like such self-talk can be affective when we are faced with the truth of life’s problems, but in reality they are just attempts to deny the truth, attempts to preserve a false self-image. The truth was that the blind man needed mercy, and denying this would have only kept him in blindness.
· Have mercy on me
The character and desperation of the blind beggar really strikes me. The way that he addresses Jesus as the Son of David, indicating that he believes that he is much more than just some miracle worker, but recognizes Jesus true identity. This beggar, instead of asking directly for healing, asks for mercy. At the core, he recognizes that more than healing, what he needs is mercy—he sees that he does not deserve anything from Jesus, but instead can only beg for mercy from Him. I think that this attitude is so different from mine at many times. The same voices that shouted for the man to be quiet when he asked for mercy come not only from others, but also from inside of myself. At times I approach God with almost a sense of entitlement, and this is demonstrated by the fact that I fall so easily into self-pity and anxiety when circumstances don’t’ turn out the way that I want, or when my plans get upset. The blind beggar was only able to see because he first recognized his true condition as one that was not deserving of anything, but in need of mercy. In the same way, I tend to run away from the place of needing mercy. Any reminder that I am not, in fact, deserving of anything, but that I need mercy is difficult for me to accept because I want to have an image of myself as powerful and able. But the truth is, I am not. Just one day of life shows me that I am selfish, proud, etc. and shows me my sin so plainly. I cannot deny this and run away from this, but must shout all the louder and repent all the more before God in the face of all of the voices telling me otherwise. Only then can I truly experience healing that comes from a right relationship with God.
Submitted by Shufei L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
· The crucifixion was a fulfillment of everything that was written by the prophets about the Son of Man. How does this affect my view of my future, and my trust in God?
Among the many notable prophecies about the Son of Man was the one from Isaiah 53:3-6, which talked about how the Son of Man would suffer and, ultimately, die to pay the penalty of mankind’s sins—our sins. To know that the crucifixion was a fulfillment of this prophecy gives me a lot of hope about my future. First, I have hope because God has fulfilled his promise to deliver mankind from their sins by paying for our sins, which we cannot pay for ourselves. I know that I will never be able to pay for my own sins because I am still sinning everyday. In fact, the longer I walk with God and the more I reflect upon my life, I see my sinfulness and my sinful deeds more and more clearly. It would be hopeless for me to overcome my sins and become reconciled with God if I were left to deal with my sins on my own. The fact that God has provided a solution to my sin problem gives me tremendous hope, even confidence, for a restored relationship with my Creator.
Second, I have so much hope because God had been working out His salvation plan since the Fall of Adam, culminating to the crucifixion of His only begotten son Jesus. In other words, He loves mankind so much that He does not want us to perish in our sins and has been working toward saving us. In His infinite wisdom, He has provided Jesus dying on the cross to demonstrate His love to us as well as the solution to conquer sins and death. God’s tenacious love demonstrated through the cross gives me confidence that He will watch over me and take care of me not only in the ultimate level (i.e. eternal salvation) but also in the practical level, such as when I need to face difficulties and challenges in my life. Third, I can have so much hope because God is ultimately in control. Even the cross, which is seemingly God’s failure in the eyes of man, was ultimately all in God’s grand salvation plan. Therefore, I do not need to be in fear or feel helpless when I am confronted with the many uncertainties in life. God is sovereign, and He is in control; therefore, I can always have hope when I look into the uncertain future.
· What may be the reason why Jesus told the disciples about His death and resurrection, even though the disciples would not understand what he was talking about?
At one level, Jesus wanted his disciples to be prepared for what was about to happen even though they did not understand the meaning of what Jesus was saying at that time. What was about to happen to Jesus, Jesus knew that it would be very shocking to the disciples. It would turn their world upside-down. It would shake their faith in Jesus. Having compassion on his disciples, he wanted them to know what would happen so that they could at least have a bit of a warning.
At a deeper level, it is interesting that the passage says that the disciples did not understand the meaning of what Jesus was saying. They probably could visualize the scenes that Jesus painted about his persecution, but they did not understand the meaning, the why, of these things. Only Jesus knew that his death and resurrection was to accomplish God’s salvation plan for mankind: to defeat sins and death and to provide a bridge between man and God. Though his disciples did not understand the meaning, Jesus told them about what happened so that later he could fully explain to them. For example, Jesus opened up the eyes of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:31).
· What does this show about his relationship with his disciples?
With Jesus telling only the Twelve about his death and resurrection, it showed how much he has entrusted the secret of God’s salvation plan to them. They will be the first ones to understand fully, straight from Jesus’ own mouth, how God will save mankind through Jesus. And they are entrusted with the responsibility and the privilege to pass on this knowledge to others. And this knowledge of conquering sin and death through Jesus’ resurrection, according to Apostle Paul, is a mystery that God has revealed to the whole mankind (1Co 15:51-57).
Because of the faithfulness of the spiritual forefathers, amazingly, I now possess this immense knowledge of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ as well. I am now also entrusted with the privilege and the awesome responsibility to pass on this knowledge to others, so that more people will be saved from their sins and will restore their broken relationship with God. This is an incredible entrustment from God, and I pray that I may carry out this undeserved role and responsibility with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27).
· What can I learn from the blind man’s refusal to be quiet?
There are several important lessons that I learn from the blind man’s refusal to be quiet. The first one is that when he realized that Jesus was passing by, he seized the opportunity to cry out to Jesus for help regardless of what kind of discouraging and opposing voices that confronted him. In fact, he got tougher (louder) when the opposition was fierce.
In my struggle against my sins, I experience this kind of opposing voices in head a lot. These voices tell me: “I will never change. There is no use to go to God. You have prayed about this many times already. You have made resolutions in the past. What good is it to go to God? You think he really cares about your little problem? Who are you? You are not significant for God to notice. What good is it that you gain victory in these areas? Just remain the way you are because you have always been this way anyway.” These are the discouraging voices that make me feel like there is no use to struggle against my sins. When I give into these voices, I would literally lose energy and motivation to fight against these sins. My prayers become weak and few. But as I see how resistant this blind man was to these discouraging voices, I realize that I really don’t have to give into them. In fact, I should rise up against them. Like this blind man, I can get stronger, pray louder, and be more desperate about my sins so that I can indeed go to Jesus and God for help and receive healing. I have no excuse to give into these discouraging voices. It is my choice to give in and give up; it is also my choice to run to Jesus! Lord, I cry out to you now, confessing my sins before you. Though I may fail in sins, help me to never fail in crying out to you. That’s something that I can always do.
Another lesson from this blind man is that he has not made peace with his blindness. I don’t know how long he had been blind, but the desire to see was strong in this man. He was so clear about his desire that when Jesus asked him the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” he did not lose a beat in telling him exactly what he wanted: “Lord, I want to see.” Seeing was at the forefront of his mind because his blindness defined his identity.
As I struggle with my sins, I need to make war with my sinfulness. I cannot be at peace with my sins because they are offensive to God, destroying my relationship with God. I should not be settled with it also because it destroys me as well as my relationships with other people. I can recall the many times that I have hurt other people when I allow my emotions, my immaturity, and my pride take control of me. So to struggle against my sins, I need to be like this blind man by having my sin condition be at the forefront of my mind. Unless I do that, I will not be able to receive healing from God because I will always be distracted by the lesser things in my life. The lesser things come in the form of busyness, demands of life, or even good things in life. They make me unable to see my sinfulness and seek God’s help.
· What is the difference between those who were leading the crowd and Jesus?
One of the differences between those who were leading the crowd and Jesus was the crowd’s view of Jesus (by extension their view of God). They knew that Jesus was someone special, who could perform miracle, who taught the Scripture with authority, and who could bring healing and multiple food. In sum, they knew that Jesus was a powerful person and an important figure in their time and in their region. And the way they treated someone important according to the world’s value system was to keep them far away from the unimportant people. In this story, this unimportant person was the blind man. So they stopped the blind man from coming to Jesus. They probably thought that Jesus was thinking along the same line, so they thought they were doing Jesus a favor by opening the road for him. However, Jesus was not like men in this world. He had compassion on this blind man, so Jesus beckoned the blind man to come, asked this man about his needs, and right there responded his request.