Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Health, Wealth, and the Life of Jesus

I was reading in the gospel of Matthew today was really struck by the following passage:

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. [1] Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

We follow Jesus and expect blessings and rewards. We complain when we suffer and question God's goodness, and yet, our Lord, was born in a feed trough and did not even have the money to pay the tax for the temple. This was not a great amount of money, maybe $100 (maybe even less), and yet our Savior did not have that money on him.

Of course, The Father provided to meet his needs and he will provide for ours, but should we truly expect to be blessed? Does God owe good to us, or will we not accept both good and evil from our God (Job 2:10)?

We serve a good God and that shall never change, but let us all beware when we believe that God owes to us better than even Christ had as he walked this earth. Luther writes it aptly this way:

Think of it, my kinsman, yes, my brother, the King of all creation in heaven and on earth, and of all creatures in them, lies there in such wretchedness! shame on me! Why am I so stuck-up? Why do I want to be so high and mighty that I never want to suffer anything? if the King of glory suffers as he does, for my sake, who do I think I am, anyway? Isn't it a fact, that I am a poor sinner who does not even deserve to lie on bristle. But here I am, lying on a bead of ease, while my Lord lies there on coarse straw in a manger for the cows!
But isn't this a disgusting deal? Here we see the humiliation and poverty in which our Lord Jesus lies for our sake, while w pretend to be aristocratic landowners who should get off with not punishment or suffering at all!

The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, volume V, 136.

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