Merciful Lord, by the power of Your Spirit, infuse this day with songs of praise to You.
Consider: The true measure of how much we love is not what we give of ourselves and our resources, but how much we hold back.
Jesus moves from one setting to the next, bringing healing, freedom from demonic oppression and quiet words of challenge and invitation. These three stories focus on priorities in relation to family, personal security and the choices that shape the outworking of our discipleship. As busy Christians, perhaps in leadership, it is easy for us to overlook the people closest to us (Isa. 58:7). Consequently, they may only get the dog-ends of our day or indeed of our life. In contrast, as Jesus enters Peter's house he immediately heals Peter's mother-in-law. Probably tired (Mark 1:29), but with no fuss, he recognizes that she is important to Peter. Later that evening he gives attention to the needs on their doorstep. What priority do we give to the well-being of those closest to us?
Speaking words of commitment can be easier than putting them into practice, especially when it's costly. The first person here (19) is unrealistic in his enthusiasm and the second (21) wants to follow Jesus on his own terms, only after some unknown future date when his father dies. Responding to the first, Jesus points out his homelessness, with the implication that any disciple of his is likely to experience similar insecurity. The second person's position would have seemed reasonable to his contemporaries. Jewish piety based on the fifth commandment expected sons to bury their parents (Exod. 20:12; Gen. 25:9; 35:29; 50:13). But Jesus' reply, using paradoxical language, powerfully underlines his later statement (Matt. 10:37) that even the closest family ties mustn't take priority above allegiance to him.
In choosing to be Jesus' disciples, we opt for him to shape our lives, walking with him into the unknown, leaving behind what is personally important. In this we can be totally secure because we know he is with us and loves us.
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die" (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945). How does this statement strike you? How can your faithfulness and devotion to Jesus be deepened?
Lord, I don't want to neglect the responsibilities of this life, but I don't want the demands of this life to crowd You out. Give me clarity and obedience to You.
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