33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23: 29-39
A poet by the name of Carl Wendell Hines penned these words…
Now that he is safely deadThe “he” in the poem is referring to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. How easy it is for us to build monuments, but not to build relationships. How easy it is for us to build monuments, but not to challenge unjust laws and systems that continue to perpetuate systemic racism, poor economic conditions for the masses, inadequate educational systems for the inner city.
Let us praise him
build monuments to his glory
sing hosannas to his name.
Dead men make
such convenient heroes: They
to challenge the images
we would fashion from their lives.
it is easier to build monuments
than to make a better world.
How easy it is for us to build monuments instead of speaking truth to power. How easy it is for us to glorify the past, and praise those who have gone on, yet make a mockery of their legacy by the way in which we live.
This was the tragedy of the religious leaders in this text. They declared that if Moses and Elijah, Jeremiah and Amos, Micah and Hosea had been with them in their day and time, they would have listened…they would have followed…they would have obeyed…they would have changed. But Jesus, in so many words said, “No you wouldn’t have. You’d be doing the same thing you’re doing now – rejecting the warnings and the words of wisdom and the messages sent from God because of the hardness of your hearts.”
I was watching a popular minister on TV yesterday afternoon…someone who I enjoy and have received a word from. But yesterday, his message was disturbing. He said that people will know that we are the blessed of God, in so many words, because of the things that we have. Now those weren’t his exact words, but he was sharing how he lost everything in a major storm – his church building, his car, his home, etc.
He said he told God, “How are people to know that I am a Kingdom representative if I don’t have anything?” …but that is not the barometer that measures if we are the “blessed of God.”
Jesus said “They will know we are Christians by our love!”
Even the blessed of God will have hard times. Even the blessed of God may have to walk a path through difficult financial struggles, bad health, unfair and unjust situations. That is just the human condition and we hold this treasure in earthen vessels. The bible says that if we faint in the day of adversity our strength is small. The day of adversity happens to us all.
The message of the Gospel has to be bigger than that!
What about the poor widow that gave all she had? Wasn’t she the blessed of God? What about Mary and Joseph, they were poor, yet God chose them to be the earthly parents of Jesus – were not they the blessed of God? What about Lazarus who was covered in sores and in abject poverty until he was called home and was given rest in the “bosom of Abraham.” Wasn’t he “the blessed of God?”
What about the men and women, boys and girls living right here in America… the working poor, the children living in homes where they have to take turns to eat, the mother that catches three buses to get to her minimum wage job, but gets up every Sunday, makes her way to church, pays her tithes, teaches her children the ways of God, sings in the choir and helps those who are in a worse condition than she…isn’t she the blessed of God? What is this mentality that we have developed in the church today?
We have rejected the message of the Gospel in exchange for the message of the world.
The message of the Gospel declares,
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.Matthew 16: 24-27
The message of the Gospel is sometimes hard to hear, hard to understand. The message of the Gospel will drive some away. The message of the Gospel will cause some to get angry. The message of the Gospel will cause some to want to kill you. For the Gospel calls us to walk in humility and love. The message of the Gospel calls us to deny ourselves and follow the way of Jesus. The message of the Gospel calls us to serve, to sacrifice and at times to suffer.
The message of the Gospel causes us to have to get up from our places of lethargy, causes us to get out of our comfort zones, causes us to stand up for truth and righteousness, causes us to sometimes say and do things that are not popular but are indeed righteousness. The message of the Gospel tells us to love when everyone else says hate. The message of the Gospel tells us to forgive when everyone else is saying take vengeance. The message of the Gospel says give, when everyone else says you better keep all you can for yourself.
The message of the Gospel says the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. The message of the Gospel says there is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is death. The message of the Gospel says if your enemy is hungry, give him some food, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… the message of the Gospel is foolishness to the natural man but to the one who is filled with the spirit, it is the words of eternal life!
God is tired of our meaningless religious rituals. The Lord is weary of our festivals and empty songs of praise. "He has shown thee oh man, oh woman what is good and what does the Lord require of us…to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God." God wants us to feed the hungry, God wants us to help the widows, God wants us to challenge unjust systems that continue to perpetuate ignorance and poverty. God wants us to get up and tell somebody that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!
That is the true meaning of the Gospel – that is the “Good News!”
Start seeking God about how you can really serve Him, really advance the Kingdom here on earth…really become a laborer in God’s harvest. Stop sitting with your arms folded and your mind closed declaring, “I can’t do that…I’m too old…I can’t do that, I got to keep this for myself…I can’t do that I’m too tired…I can’t do that it doesn’t make sense to me…”
Stop rejecting what God is saying. If you don’t understand, ask the Lord for clarity. If you are afraid, ask the Lord for courage. If you are weak, ask the Lord for strength.
Jesus encourages us to “Occupy" until he comes. May we embrace the true meaning of the Gospel message and not succumb to the worldly messages of what it means to "represent" the Kingdom of God.
Post a comment or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,