Wednesday, May 3, 2017

careful little heart what you feel

(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Luke 22:1-13
mark this: Luke 22:5
"and they were glad"
There is a well known children's song that goes like this:
"O be careful little eyes what you see,
O be careful little eyes what you see
There's a Father up above and He's looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see
It goes on to other parts of the body including:
O be careful little ears what you hear
O be careful little hands what you do
O be careful little feet where you go
O be careful little mouth what you say"
Good advice. We'd be wise to follow it. But may I add one more verse?
O be careful little heart what you feel
In today's passage, we are given a little insight into the hearts of the chief priests and their company. There are no shortages of villains in the New Testament. Jesus and His followers experienced opposition from the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even the Romans. But perhaps the most dastardly of them would be the chief priests and their crew, because they, of all Jews, had the most power, and they, more than any of the other groups, sought to destroy Jesus and His message.
While we can certainly condemn them for their actions, I wanted to instead focus on what is written about their hearts, or at least what's said about their emotions. I think that it speaks volumes to us. In today's passage they are said to be both afraid and glad. They wanted Jesus dead, but they were fearful of the crowds that, at least temporarily, supported Him. Then, when Judas comes forward , they are glad of his offer of betrayal.
Other accounts in the New Testament show several different emotions, and none of them good. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Psalm Sunday, we see the chief priest indignant (1). Why? They were offended at the children who cried out "Hosanna to the son of David!" What grumps. When Judas, full of guilt and regret, attempts to return the coins he received from them, we see their indifference, as they basically tell him, "your on your own buddy (2) ." And perhaps the most damning emotion expressed occurs right at the foot of the cross:
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, `I am the Son of God (3) .' "
Now I am not trying to equate anyone with these chief priests. But they open a can of worms that many of us would rather not deal with, emotions. The point is not that any of the emotions felt by them are in themselves, wrong (except, perhaps mocking). There are times when fear or rejoicing or anger or even indifference are appropriate. The real issue is the "what."
What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What makes you angry? What makes you afraid? Those answers, more than anything you can say or profess, will tell you where your heart is really at. In this country, we are trained from early on to make a mockery of what matters, to get furious at what doesn't, to cry only if it's some sappy movie, and to be afraid of every latest threat as reported on the nightly news. If you are anything like me, you'll find yourself having the wrong responses all the time.
Why does injustice move me to indifference instead of indignation?
Why do I laugh at things that really I should mourn about?
Why do I fear anything except God?
No wonder the Word of God says:
"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it? (4)"
In today's passage, we see ample evidence of that fact in the chief priests. But have we ever stopped to consider the fact that our hearts and feelings and emotions are also often in need of a dramatic renovation as well? All I can do is join in with the prayer of David and say "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (5)"
May it be so. Amen.
(1) Matthew 21:15
(2) Matthew 27:4
(3) Matthew 27:41
(4) Jeremiah 17:9
(5) Psalm 51:10

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