THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Friday, February 19th
But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 8:22 (NRSV)
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24 (NRSV)
Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
John 11:16 (NRSV)
Today we have three Bible passages in which we are invited to follow Jesus with increasing love and devotion. We are invited to let God first move us to become more spontaneous, then more selfless, and then sacrificial as we journey on with Christ. These are our spiritual invitations for today.
Let Jesus call us even when we are not ready.
In Matthew 8, Jesus has been healing people and is beginning to draw large crowds of followers. When he decides to move to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, one of those followers says, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus’s response to him is simply, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
In looking at several Bible Commentaries, I found a number of different, beautiful intentions in Jesus’s seemingly callous words. But our message for today is that we are to be about following Jesus now, about answering his call even when we do not feel ready.
Have you ever felt a nudge to do something, but thought that you needed to wait until you had the right conditions or plans in place? How many dreams or nudges have been missed because we have hesitated?
May we let God remove any reluctance that hinders us from spontaneously answering the call to follow Jesus.
Let Jesus call us even when we have other plans.
In Matthew 16, we hear Jesus’s familiar words, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Now we are not just being asked to move with Jesus to the other side of the Sea. We are being called to release any of our ambitions or agendas that would keep us from letting Jesus guide us forward in faith. We are also being called to take on those things that Jesus would have us do and be.
My goal of writing a book is taking longer than I had planned, because I have been called to serve in other ways over the years. But now I see how God may be changing my purpose for the book. One day, I hope that what I write is truly what God has given me more time to discover and share.
Could you be continuing to pursue some plans that are keeping you from God’s plan? What might we set aside today? What new thing are we being called to begin?
May we let God remove any self-determination or stubbornness that would keep us from selflessly pursuing our journey with Jesus.
Let Jesus call us to perfect and complete love, more than life itself.
Finally, in John 11, we see the full fruits of devotion through the disciple, Thomas. Jesus has just told the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again” (vs. 7). Knowing that Jesus was not welcome there – that the people had even tried to stone him – the disciples question his judgment. But Jesus is determined to go, no matter the risk. And dear Thomas then says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Thomas’s sacrificial love and devotion certainly can inspire and surprise us all. And yet, when we feel a need to keep a safe distance, when we want to commit to Christ but not too much, when we are afraid of where Jesus might lead us, we can miss out on the greatest joy, purpose, and journey of our lifetimes. We may lose the most challenging, delightful, joyful, sorrowful, surprising, and meaningful life, all because we are afraid to lose our safe, controlled, planned, and predetermined one.
Will you choose the agenda, or the adventure? How might dying to ourselves bring us more fully into life?
May we let God help us to surrender our vision of a perfect life for the perfect life God envisions for us.
The Bible reading for Monday is Matthew 13:1-23.
My dad painted this watercolor of Jesus on the Mount of Olives for me years ago. I love that even as I cannot see what is around the bend, Jesus is waiting for me to follow him… and I know that he will be with me all the way. (Photo by Karen.)
Bible verses are from BibleGateway.com