Yesterday I wrote that the prayer of my heart is an increased understanding of the revelation of God in Jesus. I want to swim in the deep waters of his love for me and all people.
As is my custom, I read a blog or two first thing Thursday morning. The one writing focused on renewing our minds, hungering and thirsting for Jesus. The writer says this is accomplished by reading and meditating on the Word. As we read the Word, we will be changed. As we believe the Word, new life will come. I heard it as a message for me, a response to my prayer.
As I reflected on the blog, I sensed the invitation to engage the Word, specifically the gospels, to increase my understanding of Jesus. So, that is what I did. Obviously, I didn’t read all four gospels today. I am, after all, taking care of my granddaughter. But I started.
I invite you to join me. Discarding any obligation to begin at chapter one, verse one, I jumped to the end of Matthew 4. This is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after his 40 days of temptation in the desert.
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. “Matthew 4:17
The first thing I confronted is Jesus’ message, but more specifically, his tone. I have been watching a PBS Masterpiece Classic and in the street scenes, there is a doomsday preacher holding a sign proclaiming all kinds of “repent or burn” dogma. As he walks the streets, he shouts out warnings and judgments. When I read that “Jesus began to preach…” I read his message in the tone of the doomsday preacher. And I paused. Is that how Jesus sounded? Was his tone harsh and full of judgment?
I paused and asked Jesus to help me hear him, to perceive across the centuries what his voice was like. Several verses later it says this, “Large crowds followed him wherever he went…” I compared that to the doomsday preacher and knew. No one was following the doomsday preacher, no one even acknowledged his presence. But Jesus was different. He invited a response, he drew people in, caused them to stop and listen. He was unlike any other.
I paused to hear his message again, this time in gentler tones. I looked into his eyes and saw only love. My first takeaway…
He didn’t come to condemn me, but to save me.John 3:17