February 23, 2012: The Second Day of Lent
February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River. ~Matthew 4.23-25~
Though our study will focus on the Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5 and following, it helps us to be aware of what Christ did that led up to that teaching. Matthew 3 and 4 contain several events that illumine Jesus’ preaching in Matthew 5; we will touch on these briefly so that we will be able to see the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus had just been baptized by John the Baptist, officially beginning his ministry (Matt. 3). Immediately, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where he fasted and prayed and was tempted by the devil. The devil challenged Jesus, the one bringing the Kingdom of God, by suggesting to him all the perks of an earthly kingdom: provision, protection, and power. Jesus responds with Scripture in each case, demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is different than an earthly kingdom (Matt. 4.1-11). Jesus travels and begins to preach the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 4.12-17) and begins to call his disciples as well (Matt. 4.18-22).
Now we see Jesus traveling, teaching, and healing. He preached the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven had come and validated his teaching by healing. News of him began to spread, and people would come from all over to bring their ill ones so that they would be healed – and they would be healed, for Jesus did not turn those away. Jesus’ fame began to spread through Israel; people would sometimes travel for days just to follow him.
Today, still very early in Lent, picture yourself as one of those who has come to follow Christ. Perhaps you have traveled far just to hear the Master teach. Maybe you are one who has battled a sickness or an injury, knowing that if you can just get to Jesus, that you will be made whole. Where have you come from? Why have you come? What illness or question are you bringing to the Messiah? In prayer, see yourself as one who has finally met with Christ; he gives you his full attention and care. What is his response?
Lord Christ, I have come to you today because I see my own broken humanity; my mind is weak, my body is frail, and my spirit is tired. I have come because I recognize your divinity; the truth of your words, the power of your touch. Hear me, Lord, and prepare my heart to hear you respond. Amen.