Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The stumble trap

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 26:31-56

TO CHEW ON: "Then Jesus said to them, 'All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered."'
" - Matthew 26:31

Jesus predicts a sobering thing when He says that the disciples will stumble that night.

The Greek word translated stumble here is scandalizo. It means: 1] To put a stumbling block or impediment in the way to entice to sin; 2] To cause a person to begin to distrust one whom he ought to trust and obey so that he falls away, is offended, judges another unfavourably 3] To feel annoyed, displeased, indignant.

Matthew uses the same word:
  • When he quotes Jesus on plucking out an eye or cutting off a hand that makes us stumble (Matthew 5:29,30; 18:8,9).
  • In the parable of the sower as Jesus describes the shallow-rooted person as one who stumbles as a result of tribulation and persecution (Matthew 13:21).
  • As a description of the scribes and Pharisees' reaction to Jesus' teachings: Disciples: "'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended (scandalizo) when they heard this saying…" (Matthew 15:12; also 13:57).
  • To describe what people do who cause children to sin and lose their faith. Jesus: "… but whoever causes one of these little ones to believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck …'" (Matthew 18:6).

It's easy for us to fault the disciples for stumbling after the years they had spent with Jesus and especially after He told them to be alert to this happening. But we are hardly different.

A few weeks ago I broke my hip in a fall down some stairs. My reaction to this was not happy and faith-filled. In fact, I sensed in me some of the reaction of stumbling of the shallow-rooted person who falls away because of trial.

I see several applications for life here:

1. It is important that we are steeped in the truth about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and what our life on earth is about, so we don't have unrealistic expectations and thus stumble when they're not met—like the disciples did; like we so easily do when things don't go our way.

2. We can stumble others—children, our fellow church members, unbelievers—by our reaction to God's dealings with us and with others.

PRAYER: Dear God, I feel warned about having an attitude that causes me to stumble when you allow less-than-pleasant things in my life. Help me to be alert to times when I could stumble or when my attitude could stumble others. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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