March 19th, 2013: The Thirtieth Day of Lent

March 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

“On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’”

~Matthew 7.22~

Christ continues his teaching with a glimpse into Judgment Day. Many people keep personal tallies of why they deserve eternal life. In a way, don’t we all do this? We have an understanding of how Christ will judge, and so we strive to meet our understanding – or, we think that we’re doing alright, so we don’t bother trying. This teaching passage should strike at the heart of our comfort and certainty. It certainly did for Christ’s audience.

Here, we see people with the best of intentions running to the throne of the Almighty, where Christ sits and judges. They call out, either in pleading or in supreme confidence, and start rattling off their great and mighty deeds – prophecies, exorcisms, and miracles; all done in the name of Christ.

These people think they acted with Christ’s blessing and through his power. They point to the great things they did as evidence of their worthiness. However, as we saw yesterday, great and mighty acts do not guarantee entrance into God’s Kingdom. Only doing the will of the Father does.

It’s interesting – in our study of the Sermon on the Mount, we haven’t seen much mention of great and mighty acts. The Kingdom of Heaven is made up of more than these. Christ starts with little things that are harder than they sound. Things like true forgiveness, turning the other cheek, checking our spiritual egos at the door, and willingly going the extra mile for our enemy. Since we can trust Christ to teach us the will of the Father, we know these things are in the Father’s will.

Elsewhere in Christ’s ministry, we do see great and mighty acts. We do see exorcisms, prophecies, and miracles. Thus, we know that these are part of the will of the Father as well. But, as the next verse shows, such great and mighty acts do not amount to anything if the rest of the Father’s will remains undone. There’s more to the faith than the “shock and awe” experiences; there’s day in, day out realities that must be lived. The Kingdom of Heaven exists in the nitty-gritty of life. God’s work is done there.

This verse both gives hope and challenges. It gives hope, because this section of teaching shows us that we are not judged on the basis of our great and mighty acts, but rather on our doing the will of the Father. It challenges us for the same reason. It should make us ask ourselves: What am I counting on to gain entrance into God’s Kingdom?

Lord Christ, I confess that I am drawn to the shiny, the glamourous, and the glitzy things in faith. Please draw me to the will of the Father alone. 

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