April 5, 2011

Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday of Lent


Morning - Psalm 94, Genesis 47:29-31, 46:8-20, 1 Corinthian 14:1-12
Evening - Psalms 97 & 98, Jeremiah 15:1-9, Mark 12:38

Mark 12:38
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:  Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.


The intent of the Lenten readings in the Gospels has been to follow our Lord's journey to Jerusalem and the cross.  Thus, let us put the recent readings into their chronological perspective.  In Mark 10 we saw Christ cross the Jordan and enter Judea.  He crossed the river near Jericho in the company of a great crowd of pilgrims going to Jerusalem for Passover.  In Mark 11 He arrived in Bethany, a small village just outside of Jerusalem.  It was Friday, and He spent the night and following day in Bethany observing the Jewish Sabbath.  On Sunday He went into Jerusalem, boldly announcing His arrival in what has become known as the Triumphal Entry (Mk. 11:1-11).  He returned to Bethany that evening.  Monday morning found Him in Jerusalem again, as we read in Mark 11:12-26.  He went again to Bethany for the night, returning on the following day, Tuesday (Mk. 11:20).  Tuesday was an exhausting day spent in confrontation with the priests and Pharisees in the Temple.  The confrontation ended with our Lord's scathing condemnation of them, found in Matthew 23.  Having completed this, He took the disciples to the Mount of Olives to teach them about the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  This is found in Matthew 24 and 25 and in Mark 13.  From there He returned to Bethany again to spend the night.  Our reading for today, starting in Mark 12:38, continues to relate the events of the Tuesday before the crucifixion.  Still in the Temple, Christ contrasts the religion of the Pharisees with the faith of the widow.  The Pharisees' was a religion of pretense.  Their religion was all about them.  The widow's faith was real and Biblical.  Hers was all about God.    


Prayer is not simply a list of requests.  It is also an expression of our trust in God. As we take our concerns and needs to Him in prayer we also rest ourselves in the faith that He hears our prayers and answers us according to what is expedient for us.  The very act of prayer implies trust in God. It assumes that He is willing to meet our needs and to care for us.  Would you pray if you believed God would not listen?  Would you ask Him for your daily bread if you thought He would not give what you need?  Would you trust Him with your life and soul and heart if you did not believe He works all things for your good?  Most people would not.  But, believing He loves you and is doing better things for you than you can even imagine, you gladly take your needs and requests to Him in prayer.  Thus, prayer is an affirmation of your faith in God.