Through the Bible, July 17

Reading: Matthew 20-21

Summary: Prior to His arrival in Jerusalem, Jesus continues with more of the same; miracles and teaching.  His teaching involves parables—as usual—and instruction elicited by interaction and discussion with His followers.  His miracle is another healing, this time of two blind men.

Finally, in chapter 21, Jesus arrives at Jerusalem for the final time.  This marks the beginning of the final week leading up to His crucifixion.  It is ironic that this week begins with crowds lining the roads as Jesus entered town riding on the colt of a donkey as they shouted out praise to Him; then, at the week’s close crowds are shouting out again, this time demanding His crucifixion.

Jesus’ days in Jerusalem were eventful, filled with opportunities to teach both the crowds that gathered and His disciples privately, as well as several confrontations with religious leaders.  This created a tension between His popularity with the masses and the leaders’ desire to apprehend Him (21:45-46).

Devotional Thought:

Do You Want Grace or Fair?

We tend to have a fairly fine-tuned sense of fairness.  When that get’s violated we get upset.  That’s not a bad thing.  God calls us to be fair and just, repeatedly.

But in God’s kingdom, it’s all about grace, not fairness.  Right?  Do I really want from God what is fair?  Not me.  If I understand anything about God and me—and I think I do—what is fair is that He would punish me for my sin.  Actually, if God gave me what is fair, I wouldn’t be around to write these words.  I need, and I desperately want, mercy and grace.

This is what’s behind Jesus’ parable of the laborers in Matthew 21.  The ones hired at the very end of the day received the same pay as those who had worked all day.  That violates our sense of fairness, doesn’t it?  We relate to those full-day workers who complained about this.

But Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like the scenario of this parable (see v. 1). This challenges me because of my sense of fairness.  If I’m going to be a part of this kingdom, what I need is a sense of grace that is as finely tuned as my sense of fairness.

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