I need to make an adjustment in “routine” of sharing some reflections on scripture and updates on my recovery and health. After being an “every day” blogger of sorts, I will try to at least give a weekly report. Yesterday, Debbie and I attended the 50th-anniversary reception for my cousin Paulette George and her husband Bob. It was a busy weekend with us spending time in Lakewood with Christian and Bridget and family celebrating Eliana’s seventh birthday, and attending some sporting events.
I have been struggling with some severe pain in my left hip and leg. It has been debilitating at times and is impacting my energy, focus, and activity. So, that is something you can be praying about. I’ve been to therapy, chiropractor and doctors to try to figure out that best remedy.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers.” Matthew 21:45 NLT
Have you had those moments when the preacher seemed to be speaking directly “to you?” It is something that you can identify with or an issue that you have struggled with or a condition of your life and you realize that this is not just philosophical rhetoric, this is personal and it applies to me. You can usually feel it in the emotions that are solicited at that moment. How you respond can make all the difference.
The religious leaders had just listened to Jesus tell a parable of a “wicked farmer.” It was a story of a landowner who hired a farmer to tend to his fields. When the landowner sent his representatives the wicked farmer killed them. Finally, the son was sent, believing they would respect the son. But they killed the son.
Jesus included in this story the words of the Psalms, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” (Matthew 21:42 NLT)
Jesus went on and predicted, “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.” (Matthew 21:43 NLT)
Many of Jesus’ parables were indirect and often difficult to understand stories, and allegories. But the religious leaders did not miss the point of this one. “They were the wicked farmers.”
Now comes the moment of truth. How were they going to respond? Were they going to re-examine their position and attitude? Would they recognize the misdeeds of past generations towards God’s prophets? Would they “repent” of their closed minds and evil actions?
There is no indication of contemplation, just reaction, “They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.” (Matthew 21:46 NLT) Their conviction resulted in rejections of the message and condemnation of the messenger. It revealed how hard their hearts were and their destiny was one of their own choosing.
After the death of Billy Graham, I was listening to one of his old crusade messages. He began with a strong warning. He said, “Tonight your life will meet a crossroads. You will be confronted with the gospel message and you will either accept it or reject it, but your life will never be the same.” I think of the penetrating question of Pilate as Jesus was on trial. “What would you have me to do with Jesus, whom you call the Christ?” That question is a timeless question. Since Jesus walked the earth, taught, performed miracles, died on a cross and rose from the dead, people of all ages have had to face that question.
It is a point of decision. It is recognizing your role in the story of redemption. You may not be a “wicked farmer” but you may be a “lost sheep” or the “prodigal son.” You may be one who is (spiritually) blind and needs to see.
It is a divine moment when the Holy Spirit takes words spoken to the “masses” and allows them to be directed toward an individual. When that happens it is important to recognize it for what it is. To respond to the call of the Lord to stop, listen and respond. Not as the religious leaders did in anger and rejection, but with humility and surrender. That’s when new life begins.
This weekend we saw the movie, “I Can Only Imagine.” As the spiritual transformation takes place in the life of the father of Bart Millard, from a drunken abuser to a child of God, there is a scened where at the end of his life where with an oxygen tank in tow he makes his way to church. It may have been the first time in his life. As gets out of the pickup he says, “better late than never.”
It is never too late for the right response. It is never wrong to do what is right. The wicked farmer can change his ways, by submitting to the message of the master.