Singing, “Let the weight of Your glory fall on me.” Would I be able to take that from you? The weight of your glory? Feels it would crush me.
“Every moment you spend with Me is precious. It is precious to you because that is the closest you can come to all that is Good. But it is precious to Me as well. Every child of mine who receives My word and hears Me his precious to me. That is what I am working towards. That you first listen – with no preconceived agenda, no attention focused on how you should respond. Just waiting on Me and with Me. If you seek Me you will find Me – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst. That is the sound beginning of our relationship every day – leading to a life which is totally fulfilling. ‘If you believe – you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’.“
In Ch 22 of Matthew, we see the continuing fencing between the Pharisees and the teachers of the law with Jesus, as they go on trying to discredit and trap Him. There is a lot of information in this section but underlying it remains the main theme, “Who is this Man?”, climaxing in the last paragraph with the revelation of the Messiah. And secondly, “How should we respond to Him?”
These religious men have clearly made up their minds that Jesus is an imposter and needs to be taken out, at all costs. There appears nothing He can do or say that will cause them to change their minds. Time and again they come back at Him to test Him eg v18, Their attitude is not one of genuinely seeking the truth, but of trying to prove Jesus is wrong.
Stop there now and think. How much of the world’s attitude today towards Jesus is made from a position of pre-judgement, for whatever reason. This holds for the total pagan who has written Jesus off to the modern religious leaders, who often have their own agendas and preconceived ideas. Beware for you and me, if we have prejudged and predicted in our own minds what Jesus is saying, you may not hear what He is really saying to you. Passages you know well may actually be holding much more for you if you don’t immediately apply your previous understanding to them instead of standing back and listening from scratch.
The parable of the wedding banquet is a deep well. Clearly Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees’ belief that they were the prime members of the real Israel. However they had not understood the nature and urgency of God’s invitation, preferring to do it their way rather than Jesus’ way. How many people believe that they will be part of His banquet without responding in the correct way to God’s call? Ignoring Him at first and later wanting to come on their own terms, without the wedding clothes of true repentance. This is of course, a beautiful view of God’s universal call and His effectual call. Everyone in the world is called, “God so loved the world“. However there are many who will not listen, the call is wasted on them.
The chapter and indeed the whole gospel almost reaches a climax in vv 34 – 39. Way back in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has already set God’s standard. 5:48 “Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect”. Echoes of the first of the 10 commandments: “You shall have no other God’s before me”. That command always seemed to say to me, “Don’t go and carve a little effigy and worship it”. However it is actually saying that you may not love and desire anything else in creation more than Yahweh himself. You are expected to give Him all your heart, soul and mind.
The positioning of this reminder just before Jesus’ crucifixion, should shine a bright light on that event, as we understand that His death came specifically because we cannot fulfil this in our own strength, as the whole of the Old Testament has shown us.
While one may be struck by these facts in the beginning, it is easy for them to become “old hat”, as it were. You know, everyone knows we cannot keep that standard, so we just accept the forgiveness Jesus has won for us and go on as usual. However Jesus’ death on the cross not only won forgiveness for our inability to be perfect, He also has given us a way forward to live closer and closer to God’s perfect standard. That is what the gospel is after all. We aim to follow Jesus in the power of His Spirit and when we fail, we repent and cast ourselves back on His grace and guiding power. We may never give up this aim and we may never take His grace and forgiveness for granted. After all it cost Him His life to win it for us.
So friends, what a call and a reminder to us of the path of the gospel for each of us every day. “Take up your cross daily and follow Me”, He said. This should never be a burden. It should be a delight as we walk with joy with Him every day. And keep our ears open to hear every word He is speaking to us as He draws us deeper into this love relationship He is offering everyone of us. May God bless you this coming week as you draw closer to Him. .