Holy Monday 2020
This is post #21 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Today’s Lectio Divina: “If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, ‘Here’s the Messiah!’ or points, ‘There He is!’ don’t fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I’ve given you fair warning. So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see Him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see Him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. The Arrival of the Son of Man isn’t something you go to see. He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds. Following those hard times,
Sun will fade out,
moon cloud over,
Stars fall out of the sky,
cosmic powers tremble.
Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, He’ll dispatch his angels with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.” Matthew 24: 23-31 (MsgB)
Thus far, in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (that’s the proper name given to Matthew’s text we are discussing here in chapter 24), the Master is presenting some pretty scary stuff. Now today, we go from bad to worse. Apparently, at some future point in time, creation itself will become so discombobulated that the sun will stop shining, the moon will grow dark (which makes sense if the sun stops working), and stars will begin to fall out of alignment.
That’s one hell of a crisis, don’t you think?
Yet unlike disaster movies made in Hollywood, these activities will be real, and apparently, there is a very good chance you and I might be living our everyday lives down here on planet earth when it all happens. You see, my suggestion is that you don’t buy that theological nonsense that proclaims, “Don’t worry. Be happy. When troubles come, we will all be raptured right out of here!”
Movies and books like the “Left Behind” series want to make us believe that all the “good” people will escape the trials and temptations of the Last Days. But here’s the truth, folks. The Last Days started two-thousand years ago with the ascension of Christ. All of us, to varying degrees, live in tumultuous times. So, as I see it, it’s not an issue of us escaping hardship, but paying attention so that we become ready in season and out for that final day when Jesus splits the sky, ushering this fallen creation into a whole new dispensation called Kingdom Come.
Paul, wrote about all this upheaval when he was trying to encourage his friends in Rome. Do you recall his words?
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8: 22-23 (NIV)
You see, all of creation, including our earth, our sun, our moon, and the stars, are all in a state of transition. We, ourselves, are in a transformation as well. Everything, from the smallest molecule to the largest galaxy, is being transformed from fallen creation into restored and reconciled creation. We are all moving from Kingdom Distant (the rule and reign of God here in part) to Kingdom Come (God’s rule and reign right here, right now).
So, despite all the press about an angry, pissed-off God who just can’t wait to destroy this sinful place, wreaking havoc on world civilization, my suggestion is that you look at this whole thing in a different way. You see, Jesus is telling us all these things because He wants us to listen, learn and turn. Turn from our evil ways that run contrary to the goodness of God and run into the arms of a loving Father who will embrace and love “the hell” right out of us, even in the midst of unspeakable trials and hardships.
So, today, which direction will you choose?
In Jesus’ warning, He paints a picture of two types of people living in the midst of such hard times.
Not Ready People and Ready People.
Which are you today? Are you Not Ready because you’re way too busy living life for your own self-interests? Or are you Ready, because you’re choosing to life your life out of the amazing love of a good, good Father?
My Prayer: Jesus, as I see it, You didn’t tell us all these frightening things so that we live in fear or run from the truth. You told us these things so that we become a Ready people. People who no longer live our lives out of selfish desires or egotistical nonsense, but out of a deep awareness that God, my Creator, has a much better way for me to go. Today, Holy Spirit, I chose to live out of a hope of reformation and transformation rather than hunkering down in fear and self-centeredness. I choose to be Ready, for the greater glory of God. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions to Ponder: So, where do my thoughts and emotions go when I read the frightening details found in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse? Do I get caught up in fear? Do I try to escape the reality of it all by living in a fantasy world where none of these hardships will touch me? What might it look like for me to accept the reality of these coming days, turn my eyes upon Jesus, and live out of the readiness He has for me in times such as this?
So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?
Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ.
A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.
Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!
Pingback: Session 20: When Big-Time Troubles Come. | The Contemplative Activist (TCA)