By Pastor Tim Burt
In Matthew 21:28-30 Jesus told a parable. It went like this: “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.”
Coming up with the answer to Jesus’ parable wasn’t rocket science was it? It’s not always hard to figure out what the Lord wants us to do. Obeying Him is the challenge. If you were forced to spend a day alone in quiet place and figure out how God really wanted you to structure your day and the days of your week—adding the things you know are missing and stripping all the things you know keep you from obeying God—you could figure them out. You could write them down. You could build a new plan. Then on the side of that plan, add the types of unscheduled things God might want you to do as they come up in your day; for example: sharing His good news or doing something kind for someone at work. You could do that, so why don’t you? Maybe it’s because you don’t want to change? Maybe you don’t want to be held accountable? Maybe you don’t think you can do it. Maybe you don’t want to do it. Now you understand why the first son said yes but didn’t go into the vineyard to work. As Jesus said to His disciples, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
There are so many parts of Easter that we could reflect on as we appreciate Jesus’ love and what He did for us. But for me, I have a tendency to focus on how do I appreciate and bring what Jesus did for me into the now. As we saw in the parable, Jesus isn’t impressed by what you say but by what you do.
In Isaiah 53 we read the most sobering and—if you really meditate on it—horrific scriptures prophesied by Isaiah about Jesus and His life and death.
Isaiah 53:1-5 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
What Isaiah prophesied then could never be pictured or imagined in the mind of a man—with the exception of Jesus. When He read those verses as a child He knew those were the words describing His life and death. He knew they were the destiny He would face. So how could be possibly find the strength to obey? He was not walking as God in this earth, but as a man living by faith like you and I. Where did He find the strength?
These sobering verses described His ordinariness in appearance. They describe the rejection He would face most likely because of His commitment to live such a separated life for the Lord. He was probably looked at as oddly. He was beaten to a pulp only because He allowed it so that He could take our punishment upon Himself and so we could be forgiven and healed. How does anyone achieve this level of strength to obey the things God wants of us—even the simple things like work a day in the vineyard? Jesus gave the answer—the only answer to the strength we need to be obedient. Again He said, Matthew 26:41 41 KEEP WATCH AND PRAY, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Easter represents many stories and truths God wants us to learn, but if there is one relevant truth that stands out to me for today that I may walk out, it’s this: If we want to be like Jesus and be more obedient to His voice and leading in our life, it will not happen without our lives invested in prayer. And in all likelihood, for most, more praying won’t happen unless you pray to ask God to help you pray more.
More to come…
In His love,
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2010 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.