Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God of reversal

"Jesus Teaching" by Gustave Dore

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 19:16-30

TO CHEW ON: "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." Matthew 19:30

The kingdom of heaven, by Jesus' account, will be full of surprises. Perhaps some of the biggest He tells His disciples to expect are who they will find in and who out, who will be honoured and who humbled. Over and over He says, in effect, 'You're in for a shock. It will be just the opposite of what you expect.'

My Thompson Chain Bible puts today's focus verse in the category of "Reversals: changes in position because of God's intervention." Examples of reversals at God's hand span all of Scripture.

  • God is the mover and shaker behind rulers coming to power and losing it (see Psalm 75:7; Isaiah 40:22-23; Ezekiel 21:26, and who could forget the dramatic story of Nebuchadnezzar's descent into madness after he makes his prideful pronouncement in Daniel 4: 29-33).
  • God is also active in reversing the fortunes of ordinary people (see Psalm 107:41; Psalm 147:6).
  • And, as mentioned, Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God is full of warnings to expect such reversals. In our Matthew reading today Jesus clearly states that riches, instead of being an asset to entering the Kingdom, can be a liability, and that those who have no earthly status, having impoverished themselves for Kingdom pursuits, will be honoured (Matthew 19:27-28).

We are wise to pay attention to the kingdom reversals Jesus tells us to expect (see also Luke 6:25; Luke 13:24-30 and Luke 16:25). We do well to tune our hearts and set our sites on the lifestyle that promises a kingdom future: "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.... Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Matthew 5:3, 10.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to understand what is important to You and to expend my life on those things. Amen.

MORE: The Beatitudes and the kingdom of God 
"...the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10) .... are an announcement of how fortunate people are who already possess, as it were, the power of the kingdom. You might say: "Blessed! Blessed! And fortunate are you who have the kingdom power at work within you, for you will inherit the kingdom with all its infinite pleasures forever and ever."....

But that is not all. The beatitudes also contain an implicit invitation to become this kind of person....

"... the beatitudes are words of celebration for disciples—people who have been awakened by the present power of the age to come. And they are words of invitation for the crowds—the people who come to worship out of tradition or curiosity or skepticism. And for some they are words of transformation—by the power and mercy of God" excerpts from "The Beatitudes and the Gospel of the Kingdom," by John Piper © Desiring God. Website: (emphasis added).

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