Tag Archives: Devotion

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Read Luke 1:1-4

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)

TheFourGospels“Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed that I lie on. Four corners to my bed, four angels round my head; one to watch and one to pray, and two to bear my soul away.” There is nothing quite like children’s nursery rhymes, is there? Especially religious ones that point to a God that all little children had better fear. I grew up reciting this rhyme as young boy, subconsciously digesting it’s grim and rather creepy message. This rhyme basically says that you had better be in line with the four Gospels if you would like God’s protection when you sleep, and it doesn’t hesitate to remind you that you could die in your sleep. So if you would like angels to guard you and/or carry your soul to heaven, you had better be blessed by the Gospels. That’s rather funny being that the word gospel literally means “good news” and is the “good news” of Jesus Christ, not Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

It is amazing to me that so many people claim to be Christian in this country and, yet, few people are literate to what the Gospels actually say. We recite quaint little rhymes, we remember the Sunday School stories taught to us at young ages, and we even watch movies that are, when you think of it, only loosely based on the Gospels; however, most people do not pick up the Gospels and read them for themselves. And, when people do pick up the Gospels and read it, they read it as if they are a cohesive, singular story that were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who were sitting side by side and consulting with each other on what they remember the Lord saying and doing. Here’s an example. Tell yourself what you know about Jesus’ birth. You will probably think of Mary and Joseph journeying to Bethlehem, being forced to sleep in a manger because there was no room at the inn, and being visited by 3 wise men who brought gifts, as well as by shepherds who got a full choral performance by the Vienna Boys’ Choir of angels.

Yet, I bet you didn’t realize that Mary and Joseph only get put in a manger in Luke, not Matthew. And the Wise Men are only mentioned in Matthew and not in Luke, not to mention the author of Matthew (we don’t actually know his real name, as he never actually gave it) never numbered the wise men to three. What’s more the shepherds only show up in Luke and not in Matthew. Let me also point this out, the birth narrative is ONLY found in Matthew and Luke. It is absent in Mark and John. Is your head spinning yet? What do we make of this? Should we question the accuracy of the Gospels?

The answer, in short, is absolutely not! If the authors were looking to write a 21st century, scientific, history textbook, then we should definitely question their accuracy; however, that is not what they were writing. They were writing a Gospel which combines loosely recorded historical figures and events that are combined with narratives woven around what were the known sayings, teachings and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth, who they witnessed and experienced as the Christ. To simplify this a bit, what the authors were writing was a THEOLOGY on WHO JESUS IS and WHY THAT IS GOOD NEWS. That is what these authors were concerned with, reporting the GOOD NEWS of JESUS CHRIST to their communities.

My challenge to you is for you to read the Gospels. Read them in the order they were written Mark (ca. 68-70 CE), Matthew (ca. 80-90 CE), Luke (ca. 80-90 CE), and John (ca. 90-100 CE). Read them separately, taking each one on its own terms. Get a feel for what truths each author would like to convey to you about Jesus, the Christ, the son of God. Let them inform you, rather than you trying to inform them, and be amazed at the dynamic, living, and powerful Christ that will meet you in the process. There are no books in the world more influential that the Gospels and there is a reason for that. Read them as they are and be transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“While facts are beholden to truth, truth is not beholden to fact.” – Rev. Todd R. Lattig

PRAYER
Lord, speak the truth of your good news to my heart so that I may see you as you wish to be revealed to me, through the faithful witness of others as well as through my own experience. Amen.

Disciple

Read Luke 8:1-3

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” (John 20:1)

Mary MagdaleneIn the film that came out a little while ago, Son of God, the story of Jesus of Nazareth was chronicled. It started off with Jesus walking toward the Sea of Galilee, heading to its shores to recruit a certain fisherman by the name of Peter. From there he gathered up more disciples, twelve in all. Of course, Jesus also had many followers who followed him around from place to place as he traveled the Galilean countryside.

In this film, they actually have an extra disciple. Now, I bet you are pausing here and questioning: “An extra disciple? If Jesus had an extra disciple there would’ve been thirteen disciples, but the Bible clearly says twelve.” But you did hear me right. In this film, the extra disciple was a woman by the name of Mary of Magdala (also known as Mary Magdalene). In the film, they show her following Jesus around, handing out the loaves and the fish, sitting in on his lessons to his disciples, and even questioning him on how they should pray. “Mary Magdalene,” you might be asking, “wasn’t she the prostitute who followed Jesus and ended up witnessing his resurrection at the tomb on Easter morning? How could she be considered a disciple?”

If you are questioning that I would like to pause here for you and explain. Mary Magdalene is often mistakenly identified as a prostitute; however, if one reads the Gospel accounts you will not find such a description of her anywhere. The most one can find of Mary, prior to her knowing and following Jesus, is that she was among the women whom Jesus “cured of evil spirits and infirmities.” In fact, the author of Luke says that Jesus had cast “seven demons” out of her (Luke 8:2).

Luke’s Gospel, which was the third one written (circa 80-90 C.E.), is the only Gospel to mention that Mary was possessed by demons, so it is hard to tell whether or not Mary was known for being demonically possessed in the time of the earlier accounts of Mark and Matthew (Note: Mark 16:9 also mentions that Mary was possessed by seven demons; however, Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition to Mark and not in the original manuscripts), or if it is a later addition to the story. Regardless, Mary was certainly not a prostitute and was certainly a close follower of Jesus as she is mentioned as such multiple times throughout all four Gospels.

With that said, being a follower does not necessarily make one a disciple. Disciples were students, and thus as Jesus students the disciples had greater access to the Jesus than the mere follower did. They learned from him, they aided him in his ministry and they were given an inside look at his parables and at Jesus’ messianic plan. While the Gospels do not explicitly name Mary as a disciple of Jesus’ in the formal sense, they do show her being among the women following Jesus. Not only that, but she and the other women were supporting Jesus’ ministry with their resources (Luke 8:3). What’s more, it is to Mary Magdalene and the other women, that Jesus reveals himself to immediately following his resurrection. It is Mary and the other women who first get the command to go and tell others of the Good News (aka Gospel) of Jesus’ resurrection.

Again, while the Gospels may not explicitly call Mary a disciple, I feel there is little doubt she was. The Gospels, ALL FOUR OF THEM, have Mary being the first witness of the risen Christ and the first one to spread the Good News to the rest of the disciples. If Mary, in a time when women were considered little more than property, can be considered a disciple of Christ, who can’t be? That is, indeed, the GOOD NEWS! Jesus Christ has risen and ALL are called to be in on what he’s about to do next! ALL are called to be a part of his messianic plan of redeeming the world and returning it back to a paradise where all creation lives in love and peace! Are you ready for what God is going to do? Be like Mary and respond to that call!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“It is only because he became like us that we can become like him.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

PRAYER
Lord, I wish to be your disciple. Teach me all that I need to do your work in this world. I give to you my time, my presence, my treasures, and my all. Amen.

Daily Reminder of God’s Love For you

God__s_love_and_glory_by_imruiFor the next couple of weeks I will be away on a retreat, followed by a family vacation. While I will not be writing new devotions until I return, I wanted to leave you with daily reminders, for the next ten days, of God’s unconditional love for you. Read on per day and meditate on the scriptures (New Living Translation) throughout the day. Let them be a reminder to you that you are God’s special Creation, that you are loved unconditionally, and that God is calling you to do the same.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Cry out, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation! Gather and rescue us from among the nations, so we can thank Your holy name and rejoice and praise You.’” (1 Chronicles 16:34-35)

Daily Reminder of God’s Love For You

God__s_love_and_glory_by_imruiFor the next couple of weeks I will be away on a retreat, followed by a family vacation. While I will not be writing new devotions until I return, I wanted to leave you with daily reminders, for the next ten days, of God’s unconditional love for you. Read on per day and meditate on the scriptures (New Living Translation) throughout the day. Let them be a reminder to you that you are God’s special Creation, that you are loved unconditionally, and that God is calling you to do the same.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders? With Your unfailing love You lead the people You have redeemed. In Your might, You guide them to Your sacred home.”(Exodus 15:11, 13)

THE WAY, Part 2

Read Matthew 4:17-25

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:3-4, NLT)

the-way-1Just the other night I watched a film that I had been meaning to watch for the past couple of years. Being a busy person, I kept forgetting about it until the other night. I was perusing Netfilx and I came across the movie, “The Way,” and remembered that I wanted to see it. The film was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and stars his father, Martin Sheen.

The film is about a father who discovers that his son died during a storm while backpacking on the Camino de Santiago (“The Way of St. James”), which is of various lengths depending on where you start. The father, who spontaneously decides to complete his son’s trek, started in France and traveled by foot approximately 800 km or 497 miles. Along the way, the father meets and, eventually befriends, several people along the way.

In a flashback scene, the father is remembering an argument he had with his son. He wasn’t happy with his son’s life choices, and he thought his 40 year old son’s passion for world travel was frivolous. In the argument his son questions him on why he doesn’t just go on the trip with him. He also questions why his dad insists on basing his life around work and other such things. His father replies, “You may not think much of my life, but it’s the one I choose.”

At that moment his son replies, “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” Wow, what words of wisdom. His father didn’t reply to him that day, which would be the last day he ever saw his son alive, but those words forever echoed in his head. “You don’t choose a life dad, you live one.” His son had hit upon something that would take him an 800 km trek to discover.

We often go about our daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines as if we have chosen the lives we have. But have we? Did you choose to be born? Did you choose what family you were born into? Did you choose what schools you were first educated in? Did you choose every last detail of your life? The fact is, while we do have and make choices that affect our lives, we do not choose our lives. They are a gift given to us by God through our parents. Life is a gift that is meant to be used, and used abundantly.

Along The Way, the father discovers that life is meant to be lived and he discovers that living life means living it in the company of others, even those who seem worlds apart from who you are. We do not get to choose our lives, but we do get to choose to live them and to be a presence of hope and faith, of love, support and encouragement for others along the way of our life’s journey.

Christ calls us, as his disciples, to live life through sharing in the journey with others. Jesus was not just one person out in the country side, choosing his life all by himself; rather, he chose to journey with and encourage others who rather different than him. Sometimes their differences were downright frustrating; yet, Jesus chose to love them. From that loving bond came an even larger community of people who chose to join in with them, a community that continues on to this day through the Church. Today’s challenge is for you to stop pretending you choose your life and start living it. Live it in the presence of the people around you and live it in, through and with love! That is THE WAY to the Kingdom of Heaven.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Make Jesus the way you live your life.

PRAYER

Lord, I want to be more like you. Though I do not choose my life, I choose to live my life for you. Amen.