April 4, 2011

Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Day Twenty-four


 Lectionary

Morning - Psalms 93 & 96, Genesis 45, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Evening - Psalm 92, Jeremiah 14:1-10, Mark 12:28-37

Mark 12:28-37
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.  

Commentary

Our Gospel reading for today is a very sad portion of Scripture.  It tells of a man, a religious leader, to whom our Lord said, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."  At first this seems very complimentary.  "Not far" appears to mean, very close, perhaps even, on the brink, or, at the very gate.  But, "not far" does not equal "inside."  In life, many have perished on the brink of safety, and in spiritual things, many have perished on the brink of faith.  To loose your soul at the gate of Heaven is still to loose your soul.

Devotional

Christianity is often wrongly viewed as an experience rather than a way of life. Thus, it is no surprise that prayer is often viewed the same way, and, therefore, turned into an attempt to have experiences rather than communicate with God.  But in the Bible, prayer is content oriented, not experience oriented.  Like Scripture, prayer is communication, not feelings.  Biblical prayer has no use for pretensions or emotional manipulation.  It is simply a reverent conversation with God on the basis of Biblical truth.  Does the Bible say "all have sinned?" In prayer we confess, "we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep."  Does the Bible say all who believe in Him have are fully forgiven?  In prayer we reaffirm our faith that "He pardoneth and absolveth all those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel." Does the Bible tell us God watches over us?  In prayer we entrust our day, and our lives into His providence, saying, "Grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by thy governance, may be righteous in thy sight."  Does the Bible tell us to make prayers and intercessions for all people?  In prayer "we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men."  Does the Bible tell us to give thanks?  In prayer we give thanks for His "goodness and loving kindness to all."  In short, Biblical prayer asks God for the things the Bible tells us to seek from Him. Yet prayer is more than asking for things.  Prayer is also an expression of trust.