Devotional for March 18, 2021

Greetings in Christ,

  Why do we act or react the way we do when we do what we do?  This may sound weird when you say it out loud, but it does make sense to some degree.  We often do things based upon our belief, or we do things based upon our past experience.  We have a hard time setting our past experiences or beliefs aside so it does not influence our present and future actions which have an impact on our spiritual growth.

  A good example of why we do what we do when we do it is in Mark.  Mark records Jesus confronting the disciples about their unbelief.  Jesus and the disciples are getting away from the crowds so they could relax.  The crowds have surrounded them all day with requests for healing and the Pharisees have bombarded them with questions.  They are tired and they escape in a boat to go to the other side of the lake, but they forgot one thing.  The disciples in their haste forgot to bring enough bread to eat. 

  The disciples begin to argue about whose fault it is for not bringing enough food, and how they were going to satisfy their hunger.  My guess is they were very tired and hungry (which is not a good combination), and none of the disciples wanted to quince their hungry.  Someone had to give up their portion or at best eat a small portion and remain hungry, but no one was willing to budge.  Jesus overheard their arguing, and He stopped their discussions with questions.

  Jesus posed two questions asking them why they argued about the lack of bread, and do they remember what they had witnessed just some time back.  Jesus was concerned they had become so focused on the lack of bread they had forgotten just what they had witnessed when Jesus blessed the bread and the fish on two occasions a few weeks back which fed thousands of people.  Jesus became concerned they still did not fully understand what Jesus was capable of doing for them, and He was concerned they had not grasped the concept of the freedom Jesus was offering them.

  Jesus was trying to get them to realize they did not grasp the whole concept of what was possible through Him.  Jesus wanted them to understand there were more important things to life rather than arguing over the lack of bread.  This is not to say Jesus did not have any regard about their hunger, but rather He understood their hunger, and He was not going to let them go hungry.  They needed to trust Jesus to provide for their sustenance.  Jesus wanted to change their mindset and their thinking.  They felt they were in bondage to their physical need, and they needed to grasp the freedom Jesus was offering them.

  Paul writes in Galatians about the idea of being under the law or being under grace.  He compares Hagar to Sarah and the birth of their sons.  Hagar’s son Ishmael was born under the law, and Sarah’s son Isaac was born under the promise of God.  Hagar and her descendants will be under the law, which is slavery; while Sarah’s descendants will be under the promise, which is freedom.  “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?  For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.  But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh and the son by the free woman through the promise.  This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.  Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.”  Galatians 4:21-26

  Jesus was concerned the disciples were still trying to live under the law instead of living by faith.  He was even more concerned because they had witnessed the miracles Jesus was performed, and they did not grasp the depth of what they had witnessed. 

  We too have the tendency to hold onto our old habits of understanding, and we do not grasp the full depth of what Jesus can do for us.  There is an illustration of an elephant which was trained to stay in an area so it would not wander away.  The trainers chained the elephant to a stationary object so it would become acquainted with the distance the chain would allow the elephant to travel.  The elephant depended on the chain to define the area of travel, it would not go past the area of travel even after the chain was removed.  Even though it was free from the chain the elephant still acted like it was still bound by the chain.

  We too let the chain define our limits even though we are free from the chain.  Jesus’ concern for the disciples was to fully grasp the power which was available for them to tap into.  They no longer had to be bound by earthly things which entrap, but rather reach towards heaven to attain the freedom being offered.  Jesus still has this concern for us today; for us to grasp the full concept of freedom in Him.

  Why do we do what we do when we do it?  Do we still feel bound to the chain even though we are free?  With Jesus we can reach beyond what we know, and experience what He knows.

  “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.  In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course.  Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.  The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous together. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.  Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19

  Lord may we fully embrace the freedom You offer us in Your name, and allow Your power to enable us to great things for You.  Amen


  Mark Johnson 
  Psalm 19,46,66,67; Jeremiah 14:1-9, 17-22; Galatians 4:21-5:1; Mark 8:11-21

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