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Today in Matthew chapter 13 verse 54 we read about Jesus going to his hometown of Nazareth where he was raised as a child. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as we know, but raised in Nazareth, where Mary & Joseph met and married and returned after their flight to Egypt after Jesus' birth. Below is a NASA photo courtesy of ebibleteacher.com that shows where Nazareth is located in comparison to Bethlehem and Jerusalem:
In verse 57 we read this when Jesus was in Nazareth: "Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."" This verse reminds me that sometimes when we really move forward in our faith, our friends (“hometown” from the verse above) and our relatives can sometimes not understand what is going on with us. I think there are phases of our walk with God where really it becomes very personal – between us and God – and through that process God will transform us. And our friends and relatives sometimes may not appreciate our change for various reasons – just as Jesus’ friends and relatives did not appreciate his ministry in this verse. I hope that this verse can be of comfort to you if by chance you are having challenges reconciling your faith and your changed heart with your friends & relatives expectations of who you were in the past. Know that you are on the right path. As long as you are staying focused on God and his will for your life, you may have to accept some loss of “honor” (per the verse above) in your status with your friends and relatives. You may not seem to be as “cool” or “fun” or whatever as you once were in your friends’ eyes. But – if in God’s eyes you are loving Him with all of your heart and you are loving your neighbors as yourself, then you are eternally cool and fun in the Kingdom of Heaven. And that’s where it really counts. Where are you seeking “honor” in your life today? In the eyes of your friends and relatives – or in God’s eyes?
Today we read about the beheading of John the Baptist. I found this painting below by the Italian artist Caravaggio from the year 1610 titled "Salome with the Head of St. John the Baptist." I almost hesitated to post this painting up, but I think it's worth us considering. This is what happened to the man who proclaimed Jesus' ministry was coming. This is what happened to the man who baptized Jesus in the Jordan. And of course this brutality pales in comparison to what Jesus went through on the road to Golgotha. This painting below and thinking about Jesus' passion, suffering, and death just made me think that sometimes following God does not lead strictly to "health and wealth." But sometimes truly following God leads to suffering and poverty. But - and here's the key but - it also leads to eternal life! So, no, perhaps many/most/all of us will not go through what John went through in today's readings or in this painting below. But you know what, if we are truly following God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I think we need to realize that this type of thing can happen. But if this type of thing happens while pursuing and loving Jesus with all that you are, then it's of course worth it because Jesus will raise you up on the other side!
Worship Video: Our readings today reminded me of the fantastic Charlie Hall song "Marvelous Light:"
Are you running into the Marvelous Light? Click here and run!
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on my comments above in Matthew, have you ever lost some "honor" with your friends or family as you've moved forward in your faith? If you did lose honor with your friends did you gain honor with God? Do you think you sometimes base your decisions more on what other people will think? Or do you base your decisions on what God will think? At times in your faith walk have you had to distance yourself from some old friends so that you can move forward in your faith walk? Has this been hard? Has it been worth it? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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