Today’s Scripture – December 23, 2016

Matthew 13:16-17 (NIV) “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Those who were squandering the opportunity to really see and hear Jesus had no idea what they were throwing away.  Jesus was the culmination of God’s promises to His people.  He was with them now, and for a limited time.

Those whom Jesus had chosen to follow Him had eyes that could see who He really was.  At times, their vision was flawed, due to previous teaching that sometimes washed over what Jesus was trying to show them, and sometimes by their own humanness, which caused them to see in Jesus what they wanted Him to be instead of who He really was.  But their eyes were wide open, and their sight was becoming clearer with each passing day.

They had ears that heard what Jesus was teaching.  Especially at this early stage, they didn’t always understand what He was telling them, but their hearts longed to know, so they asked Him when His meaning escaped them.

Jesus was always patient with the ignorance of His disciples, and answered their questions clearly and simply.  Theirs was not the stubborn refusal to understand of the Pharisees, because Jesus’ teachings contradicted their preconceptions about God’s kingdom.  It was not the feigned ignorance of the Sadducees, who were more worried about the appearance of subversion that might threaten their authority and position.  Instead, theirs was the innocent ignorance of young children whose inexperience with spiritual things made it hard for them to grasp the monumental truths that Jesus was speaking to them.

Jesus knew their hearts; that they were willing learners, not only willing to learn, but actually intent on learning about Him and His kingdom.  He knew that they would quickly respond to His teachings, so He taught them.

Jesus tried to help them to understand the privilege that they enjoyed.  Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and other spiritual giants had seen His day in the far distance, and had longed to see it for themselves.  But “they were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw and welcomed them from a distance.”  (Hebrews 11:13 NIV)  But the followers of Jesus were actually experiencing the things that the prophets had promised.  The future that those heroes of the faith had looked forward to was unfolding right then, and they all got to be a part of it.

Father, so often we strain so hard to see the future that has been foretold that we don’t realize when the fulfillment happens in our own time.  You did amazing things in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  But I think that too many of us feel like we are stuck in an “in-between time,” waiting out the clock until Jesus comes back to fulfill the rest of His promises.  We are slow to understand that You are fulfilling many of those promises right now, if only we will open our eyes to see like those first disciples did, and open our ears to hear.  Help us to live with You in the present, and not let a focus on the future keep us from experiencing the wonder of Your here-and-now kingdom.  Amen.

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