Monday, June 15, 2015

Defining moments

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.' (Luke 11:47-51 NASB)

The section of Scripture today is a harsh denunciation of the scribes (lawyers) and their forefathers concerning their treatment of God's witnesses or prophets, as well as a prophetic word against them. The scribes were quick to enshrine the tombs of dead prophets, even though it was their forefathers who had killed the prophets. The honor they gave to the prophets was an honor in name only, however. 

From the beginning of time, God has sent His prophets to deliver His truth, knowing that the world would kill some and persecute others. Very few people would hear and obey the prophets. Even though His servants were treated shamefully, God continued to send people to deliver His Word and His warnings to a perishing world.

For a prophet, especially one willing to give his life for the Word of God, honor is not to be found in brick and mortar. To honor one committed to the Word of God, one has simply to obey the Word. "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4 NASB) The scribes' forefathers not only refused to obey the word of the Lord as given by the prophets, but also rejected the prophets, persecuted them, and even killed them. 

Jesus said that, although the scribes made a show of honoring the ancient prophets by building tombs (or mausoleums), they were no more committed to honoring the Word of God delivered by the prophets than their fathers had been. 

Jesus knew this to be true because of how they treated Him. He was God made flesh and dwelling among us, the beloved of the Father, sent for the redemption of the world. Despite His divinity and the truth He taught, Jesus was rejected by the ones who should have recognized Him, and He still is.

Even the scribe and Pharisees did not yet know that this was a prophetic word. Jesus knew that these men would be as faithless as their forefathers. Before the day was over, these men who took such offense against Jesus' words would be plotting to do exactly what their fathers had done to the prophets. Those plots would expand and deteriorate into murder before they were done.

What started as a luncheon and an opportunity to question the teacher in private was actually a defining moment for the scribes and Pharisees present that day. Jesus spoke truth to them. He knew their hearts and He told them what lay hidden within. They had the opportunity to accept truth or reject it, and they chose to reject it.

In rejecting His truth, they rejected Him and it put them on a path that led to destruction. These men would eventually kill Jesus and, in the murdering, would destroy their souls. 

Those defining moments come to us on a daily basis. We have opportunities to obey the Words of Christ every single day. Every obedience leads us closer to Him. Every act of rebellion leads us farther away. 

The problem I have is in recognizing my own rebellion. The Scribes viewed their interaction with Jesus as an argument. They simply disagreed. The problem was that they were disagreeing with God Himself. Sometimes, I have that problem. Maybe you do, too. Of course I don't call it an argument with God. I call it being practical.

I know that there are people in dire need in this world, yet those needs go unmet. I could do more, but I do not, even though God has called me to love my neighbor as myself. It seems like I'm being practical. There's only so much I can do, right? The problem is that I can do more, but I call doing a little enough. More requires sacrifice on my part, and who wants to do that? Apparently, not me. The closer I look at it, the more it looks like disobedience and it brings me to a decision point. Will I sacrifice to obey Christ or not?  

Every day, we encounter those decision points that are opportunities to draw closer to Christ by obedience or farther away by disobedience. Which will it be? Will we call doing a little enough? Maybe so, but will Christ be satisfied? The One who gave His all for a sin-riddled world expects no less from us. Decision points are no less than tiny defining moments that lead us where we will go. Let's be sure our decisions are ones that direct us to the life Christ died to give.