Not One Stone Left Upon Another

Bible:

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, [Jesus] said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” Luke 21:5-6, 20-22 ESV

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44 ESV

Reflection:

When Jesus had entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he cried over it and said that the days were coming when enemies would come and tear the city down to the ground. This was going to be God’s judgment on the city that did not believe in the promised Savior who had come to them. Now a few days later some people were talking to Jesus about their beautiful temple, and all the offerings and the lovely stones that had made it such a wonderful building. But Jesus said again that the time was coming when every stone of the temple would be torn down. He warned the people who were listening that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, they should run away out of the city and into the mountains. If they were outside Jerusalem, they shouldn’t try to go back into the city, because it wouldn’t be safe there.

In 66 A. D., a little more than 30 years after Jesus’ time, the Jewish people started a rebellion against the Roman empire. The Roman army came against the city, and in 70 A. D., Titus, a commander of the Roman army, surrounded the city. He dug trenches and built a wall around the city so that he could put it under siege. Then the Romans used a battering ram to enter Jerusalem and the troops fought their way from street to street. Some people had gone into the temple thinking they would be safe there, but the Roman army burned the temple down. The city and the temple were destroyed, and over one million Jewish people died. Some Christians who had remembered Jesus’ warning escaped the city when they saw the trouble start, and they fled to a place called Pella and survived the attack.

God’s judgment on Jerusalem was a picture of his judgment on the whole world that has turned against him in sin and rebellion and refused to believe in Jesus as their Savior. When God brings the world to an end, there won’t be any place that anyone can run and hide. But we have a safe place that we can hide now, and that is with Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to take on himself all of God’s judgment against sin and evil, and everyone who believes in Jesus will be safe from God’s final judgment. We are always safe when we run to Jesus for forgiveness and life.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross and being our safe place from God’s final judgment. Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Jerusalem-70

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O Jerusalem!

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39 ESV

For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.” Isaiah 66:12-14 ESV

Reflection:

Many different kinds of animal mothers love their babies very much, and they do amazing things to protect and care for them. For example, did you know that mother alligators carry their babies in their jaws until they are big enough to learn how to defend themselves? Mother polar bears build a den in the ice and snow and keep their babies safe during the cold winter until they are big enough to come out in the spring when it is warmer. The mother polar bear nurses her babies, but she doesn’t get to eat anything herself for eight months! Mother wolf spiders carry their eggs and also their new babies on their back even after they have hatched. After a mother octopus lays her eggs, she will protect them from predators and starve herself rather then leave them. She might even eat one of her arms!

After Jesus spoke harsh words of judgment to the religious leaders, he became very sad. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” he said. The city with its religious leaders had had a long history of resisting God’s mercy and of being rebellious against him. Jesus said that so many times he had wanted to help and protect them just like a mother hen protects her baby chicks. He said he so often wished he could spread his wings over them and gather them close to him, but they didn’t want that. They kept on being stubborn and going their own way, and the time for judgment was coming soon. They were rejecting the promised Savior, and soon they wouldn’t see him again until the very end of the world. Jesus said someday they would have to say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This is what the crowds had said on Palm Sunday. When Jesus comes again in glory, everyone will have to say that he is the Lord, including people who have rejected him.

God is our Heavenly Father, but he is as loving and tender and protecting as a mother to us. He sent Jesus to be our Savior and to bring us back when we had wandered away from him. Jesus died on the cross to make us God’s children, and God loves us very much. He keeps us close to him and protects us from the sin and evil that would hurt us. We can trust in his loving care, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful love and protection. Please keep us close to you and help us never to turn away from your mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/top-10-animal-mothers.aspx

Telling a New Story

Bible:

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Luke 20:9-18 ESV

Let me sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?

And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness,
but behold, an outcry! Isaiah 5:1-7 ESV

Reflection:

A few hundred years ago William Shakespeare wrote a play called Romeo and Juliet, a story about a young man and woman who fell in love with each other even though their families were enemies who were feuding with each other. Many people have loved this story through the years, and in the 1950s this story was told in a very new way in a play by Arthur Laurents called West Side Story. Instead of the two lovers being from feuding families in Italy in the 1500s, in West Side Story the lovers were named Tony and Maria, and they were from two different gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, in New York City in the 1950s. The Jets were white, and the Sharks were Puerto Rican. In retelling the story, Mr. Laurents brought out some new characters and ideas, especially about racial tensions and gang violence in New York.

Jesus took an old story and told it in a new way, also. Do you remember when the prophet Isaiah talked about a vineyard that a man had planted? He did everything he could do for this vineyard, but it only grew wild, sour grapes. The prophet Isaiah said that this vineyard was a picture of God’s people, and that God himself was the man who had planted the vineyard. When Jesus told the story, he added some new characters. He talked about the people who rented the vineyard from the owner, and were supposed to give him some of the harvest to pay the rent. But when the man sent people to get his share from the tenants, they kept beating these messengers up and sending them away without paying anything. Finally the man sent his own son, but instead of respecting the son, the tenants decided to kill him so they could keep the vineyard for themselves. Jesus said that the owner of the vineyard would come to judge and punish the tenants of the vineyard.

The religious leaders understood what Jesus meant by this story. He was saying that they were the tenants who were supposed to take care of God’s people, and that they hadn’t done their job. When God had sent them prophets to warn them, they had treated these prophets very badly and hadn’t listened to them. Finally, God had sent Jesus, his Son, and they were planning to kill him. Jesus warned the religious leaders that God would punish them for this, but all they could say was, “Surely not!” Jesus told them that the stone that the builders had rejected had become the most precious stone in the whole building. Jesus is a stone of judgment for people who keep on turning away from God, just as a stone can crush someone or hurt people who fall on it. But for people who believe in Jesus, he is the beginning of a brand new building. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins of turning away from him, and everyone who believes in him becomes part of the new story of God’s love for all people.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and for sending Jesus, our Savior, and making us a part of your story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sources:

Shakespeare, William Romeo and Juliet
Laurents, Arthur West Side Story: a musical New York: Random House, 1950.

The Fig Tree

Bible:

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. Matthew 21:18-19 ESV

Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among the fallen;
when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
When I would gather them, declares the Lord,
there are no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them. Jeremiah 8:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

A family went camping next to a rushing river, and the father wanted his children to understand that it would be dangerous for them to play too near the river or to try to swim in it. So he brought his children to the edge of the river and broke a branch off of a nearby tree. Then he threw the branch into the river, and they watched as the water quickly swept the branch away. The father said to his children, “That’s what would happen to you if you fell into the river or tried to swim in it.” He hoped that showing them an example from a tree branch would get their attention and teach them to stay safe.

Jesus did something similar with a fig tree. He wanted to eat some figs, but there weren’t any, so he spoke the word, and the fig tree withered. Jesus wasn’t really angry with the fig tree, but instead he was using the fig tree as a picture of the judgment that was coming to the people of Jerusalem and their city and their temple. Long ago the prophet Jeremiah had compared the people of Judah to a fig tree that didn’t have any fruit, and Jesus was making the same comparison. The people had turned away from God and not showed the fruits of living by faith in him. So the Lord was going to judge them for this. Jesus also showed God’s judgment against the temple by driving out the moneychangers and the people selling animals, and this was another picture of God’s anger. The time was running out for the people to repent and to turn to the Lord.

God loves all people, and he doesn’t want to come to anyone in anger or judgment. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior, and on the cross Jesus took all of God’s judgment and anger on himself. Because of this, all our sins are forgiven, and we are God’s people. He calls us to live by faith in him, and sends us his Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance every day. God works in us to help us produce the fruit of new lives lived in love to him and in service to others.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior. Help us to live lives of repentance and faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God’s Judgment in Hell

Bible:

“And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:24-31 ESV

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

Reflection:

Many years ago a man named Dante wrote a poem about hell. In this poem he visited what he called the inferno and wrote about what he saw there. He saw nine circles in hell, each one inside the next, and the deeper a person went into the circles, the more miserable hell would be. People who were in each circle were punished according to the sins they have committed. For example, one circle is the circle of gluttony, or eating too much. People in this circle were stuck in a horrible, stinky mud with icy rain falling on them and a three-headed beast punishing them. People who were in the circle of wrath were either constantly fighting each other, or else they sank into a sullen, black existence where they nursed their grudges.

Dante used his imagination to try to understand hell, but what he wrote was only a story. The Bible sometimes uses the picture of fire to talk about hell, but hell is really a place of God’s judgment on sins and of separation from him forever. This separation from our Heavenly Father is much worse than any punishments our imagination could think of. Jesus described the rich man in hell as being in torment, and of there being no help for him. He saw, far away, Lazarus being comforted next to Abraham in heaven, and he wanted Lazarus to come and just give him a little water to cool his tongue. Abraham said that that wasn’t possible, because there was a great chasm between heaven and hell that no one could cross. Then the rich man wanted Lazarus to go and warn his brothers so that they wouldn’t come to that horrible place. But Abraham said that they should listen to the prophets, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t listen even if someone would rise from the dead.

Jesus died to take away our sins, and then he rose again from the dead. But some people won’t even listen to Jesus, and if they keep on refusing to trust in him for forgiveness and life, they will suffer God’s judgment in the end. It can be very scary and sad to think about hell, but God sent Jesus to die for us because he doesn’t want anyone to go there. Because Jesus took all of God’s judgment on himself, we don’t have to worry about going to hell. Jesus loves us and keeps us as his own people, and when we die we will go to heaven and be at his side forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us from hell and winning a place for us at your side in heaven. Amen.

Source:

Alighieri, Dante Divine Comedy “Inferno.”

The Great Banquet

Bible:

When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” Luke 14:15-24 ESV

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise. Psalm 36:7-12 ESV

Reflection:

Sometimes people are supposed to go to work, but they don’t want to. So they might give their boss an excuse. There are many funny excuses for not going to work. Here are some of them: “I have to help my grandmother bake cookies.” “I’ve got my fingers stuck together with super glue.” “I’m being sent to the moon by NASA.” “My hair aches.” “I have to get my big toe calibrated.” “I have a bunch of old parking tickets, and if I don’t pay them I’m going to be arrested.” “I’m having my head examined.” “I’m breaking in my shoes.”

These are very silly excuses! Jesus told a story about some other silly excuses. He said that a man once gave a banquet for his friends and sent invitations to them. They knew when the party was going to happen, and then, as was the custom in Jesus’ day, on the day of the banquet the host sent out his servant to tell the friends that everything was ready. All of his friends gave excuses for not coming. One said that he had bought a field and had to go look at it, and another said the same thing about some oxen. Why would they buy important things like these without looking at them first? Then the third said he had just gotten married, and couldn’t come for that reason. But he would only be away from his new wife for a few hours! All of these excuses were not only silly, but also an insult to the man who was giving the banquet. They thought they could ruin his party by not coming. But the man wouldn’t let his party be ruined. He sent his servant out to find other people, people who were poor or disabled, and people who were traveling along the highway or sheltering in the hedges, and urge them all to come. He was going to have his party, and they would be his honored guests.

In this story Jesus gives us a picture both of God’s judgment and of God’s love. Some people, including many of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, turn away from God and reject what Jesus has done for them. God has invited them to be part of his heavenly kingdom, but they don’t want any part of it. They are like the people who thought they could ruin the man’s party by not coming. If they continue to refuse, they will miss out on what God has prepared for them and know his judgment and anger instead. But God’s love and mercy go out to everyone, and there is room for everyone in his kingdom. Jesus’ death paid the price for all sin, and no one needs to think that they are not good enough to be one of God’s people. God sends us his Holy Spirit to bring us to faith in him and to bring us into God’s heavenly kingdom, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting us and for making us part of your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/89q3/skipwork.605.html

A Fig Tree with No Fruit

Bible:

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9 ESV

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath. Hosea 11:8-9 ESV

Reflection:

Ken had a little horse named Flicka, and he loved her very much. But Flicka was wild, and his father was afraid Ken wouldn’t be able to gentle and train her. One day she tried to get away by jumping a high barbed wire fence. The fence caused some deep cuts on the horse, and Ken spent his summer tending to Flicka and keeping her company and hoping her cuts would heal. Instead, the cuts became badly infected and Flicka became more and more thin and weak. Ken’s father knew it would be best to shoot the horse and put her out of her misery, but Ken couldn’t bear the thought of this happening. The night before his father was going to shoot Flicka, Ken saw her fall in a shallow brook. The horse was too weak to get up again, so Ken spent the whole night sitting in the cold water and holding Flicka’s head out of the water so she wouldn’t drown. His father had mercy on Flicka and didn’t shoot her, and the horse got better and instead of being wild she became a gentle horse for Ken to train.

Jesus told a story a little like this about a fig tree growing in a vineyard. The little tree wasn’t doing very well. Year after year the owner came by looking for figs, and year after year there weren’t any figs growing on its branches. So he finally told his vinedresser to cut the tree down. Why should it keep taking up space on his property? But the vinedresser said that they should give the little tree another chance. He promised to dig around it and give it a lot of fertilizer, and if it still didn’t produce fruit, then they could cut it down.

This story is a picture of the way God deals with people. He loves everyone very much, and he wants everyone to come to him and to find life and forgiveness with him. But sometimes people keep turning away and refusing his love. This story is a warning that the day will come when God’s judgment will come to people who never come to him in faith. But the beautiful part of this story is the patience God shows. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer his judgment, so he sent Jesus to take all the punishment for all the sins of the world. Everyone who believes in Jesus has life forever with him. Even when people turn away from him, he still has patience and mercy. He calls to them in love and sends his Holy Spirit to bring them to faith in Jesus and eternal life in heaven.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the patience and mercy and love you show us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

O’Hara, Mary My Friend Flicka Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1941.

 

Why?

Bible:

There were some present at that very time who told [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5 ESV

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV

Reflection:

Back in 1982 near Houston, Texas, some workers were putting an antenna on a television tower. The metal television tower was over 2000 feet tall, and while the men were up on the tower a cable on the antenna snapped and caused the antenna to fall. The antenna fell against one of the guy wires that supported the tower, and when that guy wire broke, the tower collapsed. Five of the men up on the tower died, and three more were injured and taken to the hospital. It was a terrible accident.

Disasters and accidents like this happen now, and they happened back in Jesus’ time as well. A tower near a place called Siloam fell and killed eighteen people during that time. Sometimes people in authority also do cruel and wrong things, and that happened in Jesus’ day too. Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Judea at that time, had put some people from Galilee to death while they were in the temple offering sacrifices. Some people came and told Jesus about it. They might have been wondering, why? Why do terrible things like this happen? They might have been thinking that people who have these terrible things happen to them must be especially wicked and sinful. But Jesus said that that wasn’t true. He said that everyone is sinful and deserves the punishment of death for their sins. When disasters happen, we shouldn’t think that the people they happen to were worse sinners than others. We should take it as a warning that we need to repent of our sins and know God’s forgiveness so that we escape his final judgment.

We can’t know why things happen the way they do, but we do know that God loves all people and wants them to come to him for the help and forgiveness Jesus won for all of us on the cross. While disasters and injustices can be seen as signs of God’s judgment on the world, we also can look at the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross for the greatest sign of his love. Sad and frightening times are times that God works through for the good of his people, and they can also be times for us to show our love and concern to others for Jesus’ sake.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to save us from your judgment. Help us to share your love and concern for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/12/07/A-huge-2-million-metal-television-tower-collapsed-today/1050408085200/

No Fire from Heaven

Bible:

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village. Luke 9:51-55 ESV

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

Capaneus was a very strong man, and he was proud of his strength. He fought as a warrior against the city of Thebes, and he boasted that he would climb to the top of the city walls and carry on the battle from there. He bragged that no one could stop him, not even the powerful god Zeus. But Zeus was angry with Capaneus for his boasting and his pride, and as Capaneus began to climb up the city walls, Zeus hurled a bolt of lightning from the sky that knocked him down and killed him instantly. Zeus punished the proud man for his disrespect and arrogance.

This is only a story, but when a Samaritan village was disrespectful to Jesus, his disciples James and John thought that Jesus should punish its people like that. They were ready to help him by calling fire down from heaven to destroy the village and everyone in it. Jesus had begun a journey to Jerusalem, and he and his disciples were traveling through Samaria. He had sent messengers ahead of him to arrange for them all to stay in one of the villages, but the people in that village remembered the old feud between Jews and Samaritans, and they wouldn’t welcome a group of Jewish people on their way to Jerusalem. This made James and John angry, and they wanted the Lord to punish the people, but that wasn’t what Jesus did. Instead he scolded James and John, and then they went on to stay somewhere else.

The time for God’s judgment was coming, and that’s why Jesus had set his face to go to Jerusalem. He knew that he would die on the cross there, and take all the judgment for the sins of the world onto himself. Because of what Jesus has done, there is mercy and forgiveness for all people. The only people who will know God’s judgment are those who turn away from the blessings Jesus has won for them, and until that final judgment, God calls us to be people of mercy. He wants us to remember the mercy and forgiveness he gives us every day, and to share it with other people, so that they will know the love of God as we do.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us mercy through Jesus, our Savior. Help us to share that mercy with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Capaneus/capaneus.html

 

Herodias Gets Her Wish

Bible:

But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 5:21-29 ESV

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. I Corinthians 2:6-8 ESV

Reflection:

Irma told a lie to the other kids at school. She said that she had a doll as big as she was, with hair the color of ripe oranges and cerulean blue eyes. Her doll could wear her own clothes and sat in her closet across from her bed. The other kids wanted to see her doll, and they wanted her to bring her doll to the Harvest Home Carnival. Irma didn’t want to disappoint them, so she promised that she would do that. Making such a rash promise was very foolish, and Irma ended up stealing a mannequin that modeled clothes at a department store, a mannequin that looked like the doll she had imagined and lied about. Her rash promise ended up causing her and other people a whole lot of trouble.

King Herod also made a really rash promise. When Herodias’s daughter (the Bible doesn’t tell us her name, but we know from history that her name was Salome) danced for Herod and his guests, he was so pleased with her dancing that he promised to give her anything she wanted, even if it was half of his kingdom. Salome went and asked her mother what wish she should make to the king, and Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a plate. This made King Herod sorry, because he didn’t want to kill John, but because of his promise he felt he had to. So he had his executioners cut off John’s head, and they gave it to Salome on a plate, who gave it to her mother. Herodias had gotten her wish. John the Baptist, who had spoken words of God’s judgment against her, was finally dead.

Herodias thought that she could be rid of God’s judgment on her life if she put John the Baptist to death, but there is no escaping from the Lord. Jesus was soon to suffer the same fate as John when the religious leaders put Jesus to death. They thought they could silence Jesus and his teachings and his words of judgment against him, but they couldn’t. Jesus didn’t stay dead, but instead he came to life again. People through the years have tried to stop his teachings and put an end to his people, but Jesus is alive forever. When Jesus makes a promise, no matter how wild it seems, we can be sure it will come true. He promised that through his death we have forgiveness, and through his resurrection we have life forever with him. We can count on everything Jesus promises us, and know that nothing, not even death, can separate us from his love.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your promises to us, and thank you for defeating death by your death and resurrection. Amen.

Source:

Brink, Carol Ryrie The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1972.