In the month of February, I read my bible every Sunday, picking the reading for that day from my devotional guide. My readings were picked from the books of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, in that order. The readings were varied and narrative. Mostly focused on the works and experiences of Jesus Christ. I read these verses with one eye on the guide book's intentions, and the other on my own personal takeaways... and I want to share these with you now.
Mark: 2: 1-12
First, I read Mark 2: 1-12, and in these verses, the Bible shared the story of how a group of 4 friends got together to take their paralyzed friend to see Jesus. It narrates how the house where Jesus was ministering was so full that to get to him, the friends had to climb up on the roof and dig a hole through which they lowered their paralyzed friend. Of course on seeing their faith, Jesus healed their friend, and directed him to pick up his mat and walk home - which he did, to the amazement of everyone present.
Now the devotional guide first of all, commended the friends of the paralyzed man who went to such an extent to help their friend and offered up a prayer that we may all be able to be friends like them. Friends in need and friends indeed. But I, thinking about the faithful healing of the officials son (John 4:46-54), felt that it would be better to have that kind of faith than have to carry the paralyzed man to Jesus. At least that way, the friends could just have asked for the healing of their friend, instead of going through all the trouble they went through. But maybe that’s just my laziness speaking 😏.
Mark 2: 13-17
Next, I read Mark 2: 13-17, and in these verses, the story was told of Jesus' dining with tax collectors and sinners where when queried about it, he simply answered:
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
For me, this reading drew my attention back to The Great Commission, and I realized that even if I get to a point in my soul where I can feel righteous, I am just one soul. I should endeavor to bring more souls than just myself to the Lord.
Then, I read Matthew 4: 1-11, where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. After being led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, a hungry Jesus is tempted multiple times by the Devil. First he is tempted with his hunger - to change stones into bread, then he is tempted with his power - to prove that he is the Son of God, and finally he is tempted with riches beyond measure - to worship the Devil.
To each of these temptations, Jesus finds guidance in the Word, and quotes it in response. "Man shall not live by bread alone...", "You shall not tempt the Lord your God...", and "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." That Jesus was able to fend off the Devil by quoting the Bible shows his mastery of Scripture. As I am today, I am not sure that I can quote scripture on demand. Not even my favorite verses. 😔
Finally, I read Luke 15: 1-10, where Jesus told The Parable of the Lost Sheep, and The Parable of the Lost Coin, in response to the Pharisees who were questioning his congregating with sinners and tax collectors. These parables, which he tells to show that God rejoices greatly over the repentance of sinners (even just one), again brought my mind back to The Great Commission.
If it is as Jesus says, and finding sinners who repent brings so much joy to the heavenly host, shouldn’t that be a primary objective of this life? What am I doing by not recognizing this in my everyday life? These questions were the haunting thoughts I had by the end of February.
Now, bringing it all together, what did I takeaway from my February readings:
- That I should be the kind of friend who is willing to go the extra mile to bring a friend in need to Jesus.
- That I should aim for the type of faith where effectively "bringing him/her to Jesus" could be as simple as a prayer.
- That bringing sinners to Jesus is what Jesus is all about.
- That the Word is the best way to fight against temptation. Even Jesus himself used it.
- That the best gift, I can give to God is a new repentant sinner.
- That I should make bringing sinners to Christ a priority in my life.
So boiling it all down to one statement, I've got:
Be a Great Friend; Master Scripture, and Honour the Great Commission.