Monday, December 6

Advent Devotions: Week 2 Monday

Tonight's reading: Psalm 85: 9-14, Isaiah 35: 1-10, and Luke 5:17-26.

Isaiah foretells a time when the exiles return and the Messiah comes. The people of Israel went into exile and things were very hard for them for a long time. Have you ever waited a long time for anything. When I think of some of the times I had to wait for something I really wanted, I remember waiting a long time for you little ones each time your mother was pregnant. And to think of it, that was not really a long long time, it was less than a year. Israel waited generations, then they came home to Canaan. But when they got home, their time of troubles was not yet over. The times that Isaiah tells of still didn't come. Many generations later, Israel was still waiting. Now in Jesus time, the Romans were ruling them. And the Romans hadn't been the first people to conquer them after they returned from their exile. Greeks had come, conquered them, and were they too were gone only to be replaced by the Romans.

We know that Jesus is the Messiah. The long time of waiting is over. But when Jesus came, the teachers and rabbis in Israel were expecting something else. Last night I said they were expecting a man like Moses who would lead them in battle with God at the front like he did for them in Egypt. Jesus didn't do that, did he? In our gospel reading they see this man (Jesus), not leading them in battle, but forgiving their sins. Forgiving sins was a very surprising thing for an Israelite. For the only place they went to get forgiveness was in sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem. That's why the teachers were so surprised when he was forgiving peoples sins. Jesus was telling them he is the Temple, which was were God dwelt. But Jesus confounded them before they could collect themselves and say anything. He asked them which was harder, to say "your sins are forgiven" or "rise and walk". We all know what we think is harder, and our thoughts are the probably same as the rabbis on that! But before they could answer he said, "rise and walk" and the man did! The teachers were too amazed to reply.

And we who read of this, how do we feel about it? I think the teachers were too caught up with what they expected to see and missed what was in right in front of them. Do you think our preconceptions about God's plan might blind us to what he is doing in front of us? Let's think about that a moment.

And then, let us pray:

Lord Jesus, keep our hearts open to accept the surprises you have planned for us. Let us not be blind to your Spirit as it works it will in the world.