Do you prefer to receive gifts or give gifts? The older I get the more I enjoy giving. But aside from gifts, I love to give my time and experiences that will make a lasting memory. For gifts are often set aside and ignored. I can remember many a Christmas morning when the children would spend hours playing with new toys only to several days later see those same toys left abandoned in the corner.
Paul is warning us to be careful not to ignore God’s gift to us. God’s kindness, to me, is referring to his grace, mercy, and unfailing love for us. We don’t deserve such splendid gifts. We are sinners. We are selfish beings focused on instant gratification and being served. Many will take for granted this beautiful gift. Have we left it abandoned in the corner?
This may seem very similar to verses we read in the last chapter when Jesus fed 5,000 men (plus women and children). These are two distinct happenings. We see the number of people following Jesus expanding. In Jesus’ own words, “I have compassion for these people.”
For three days the people have stayed. Jesus has healed many. People were amazed and gave praise to the God of Israel. They understood that much, where the power came from. So what about the disciples? Having already seen a miraculous feeding, where was their faith?
What do you do on your Sabbath? I can’t say that I’ve never worked on a Sabbath. There are meals to prepare and shopping to be done. But I am definitely more intentional about spending quiet time with God. I rest my mind and soul as well to prepare for the week to come. David and I even have a “meeting” to discuss our goals and set priorities for the week. That activity alone brings me peace.
I’m not sure I could be as legalistic as the Pharisees. The disciples were hungry. Snapping off wheat while walking along is certainly not what I would consider “harvesting.” Sure, a few grains were gone, “harvested”, but it was to satisfy the human need of hunger. Didn’t you like Jesus’ response? He brought up the example of David and his men, eating the priest’s bread. That would certainly be a no-no, and yet he got away with it.
Are you a sinner? Of course, you’re thinking. Well, then Jesus came for you! We aren’t necessarily proud of our sinful nature, but we can be assured that Jesus’ arms are open wide to us.
Our reading today begins with Jesus calling Matthew, a tax collector to be one of his disciples. Tax collectors in that day were shrewd scoundrels, cheating people out of their money to make themselves rich. Yet, Jesus wanted Matthew in his group of guys. Of course, he did. Jesus said it himself, he didn’t come for those who were righteous but for those who know they are sinners.
We hear that after coming down from the mountain large crowds followed Jesus. Well of course they did. Jesus had just rocked their world and given people a deeper understanding of what they had known the “law” to be. There were probably a lot of “light bulb moments” for those listening on the mountain hillside that day. Word would spread fast about this man, Jesus, who had taught them with such authority.
We learn that in the business world leaders with authority do much better than those without it. What gives a leader authority? When we look at Jesus’ example, we see a man who took control of the situation. He wasn’t wishy-washy with his message. He spoke with boldness. He knew what he was talking about. Who better to know the law than the one who helped write it! With this authority, Jesus will attract a lot more people to himself. Including the leper.