Week of April 28

How to Live Life Outside the Bubble

Read: 1 Samuel 28-29; Psalm 109; Matthew 11
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:6, ESV


Sometimes we miss important messages because we have screened the call! If you are like me, then you will often not take a phone call because it appears to be “spam.” This one statement could begin a paragraph of discussion on a variety of conversations! The consequences of screening such a call depends upon the context. I have missed, on occasion, some important messages about helpful resources because I failed to receive a call. Christ teaches His disciples a critical lesson about a different type of call and the supreme importance of responding to it in a timely and proper fashion.

Matthew 11:1-12:50 opens a new window for us to view Christ’s ministry. The growing opposition directed toward Jesus begins to come into clearer focus in this section of Matthew’s Gospel. One commentator has aptly entitled this section “Opposition Experienced” (HCBC). Let’s listen in on the conversation today.

The Meaning of the Text

Staying on mission despite opposition
The underlying reason for opposition. Have you ever sensed “below-the-surface” opposition to your faith? We should not be surprised that this occurs. Our context helps us to see this today. Matthew has been following the current of human history that will take us to the Cross and the empty tomb. He shows us that, regardless of the age, there are those who have opposed God’s reign (11:12). It was true then, and it is true today. For example, John was arrested by Herod, and it is a current reality that many Christians in the world suffer brutal treatment today at the hands of oppressive regimes (11:2; Cf. 14:1-12).
Challenges to the Gospel. Notice the different ways that opposition to the Christian message will surface. There was stiff opposition to Jesus’ teaching by the religious establishment, which can be seen even today. By this claim, I mean that a careful biblical approach to the Kingdom of God often meets with scholarly dismissal, whether polite or outright derision. The people in Jesus’ day also grew more and more discontent with His refusal to promote revolution. Interestingly, there are many people today who become increasingly disgruntled with those who challenge a marriage between the church and government. You have given me your attention, but you may be wondering about the solution to this circumstance. Jesus teaches us that the answer is wrapped up in God’s important call. Here is how it comes to us.
Here’s the point: heed Jesus’ call to readiness
Humility is key. Jesus requires a certain type of personal readiness so that the call will go through; namely, humility (11:25-26). “Little children” indicates that a person must respond to Him with humility and dependence (cf. Matthew 18:4). In contrast, “the wise and understanding” are those who feel no need of God. Just so we understand Him, in these verses Jesus does not teach us to become “anti-intellectual.” In Ashlock speak, do not think Jesus wants you to be as “dumb as a stick!” But Jesus does seriously warns us against thinking we are too smart for God.
God beckons us to answer the call to new life through His exclusive agent, Jesus Christ (11:27). It is as simple as that. I would not have screened the call I mentioned earlier, had I known that it came from our mayor! The required response is simply to recognize one’s desperate condition and to come to Jesus. The daily laboring of carrying a spiritual load on one’s back is satisfied in the Christian life of discipleship. Therein is rest. As Craig Blomberg writes, “Christians are not promised freedom from illness or calamity, but they may experience God’s sustaining grace so that they are not crushed or driven to despair (2 Cor 4:8–9)” (NAC). Let’s apply the passage.

The Message for Your Heart

I stumbled across a new extreme sport when I found a video online of people who climb inside a large, inflated, clear plastic beach ball. This description is the best way I can help you to visualize this eye-catching activity. There is more to this story than getting dizzy inside a huge beach ball. They roll around a rodeo arena where they are vaulted into the air by a stampeding bull! The bubble safeguards them for all I can tell. I cannot stop watching this phenomenon.

Slow your mind down for a moment. Jesus never promised us life inside a protective bubble (cf. Matthew 6:19-34). First, many of Christ’s followers experienced lifelong food, clothing, and shelter needs. Jesus’ disciples, additionally, encountered great harassment for being Christ-followers (Hebrews 10:32-39). Knowing that these pressing human needs were a daily reality makes His invitation even more meaningful. He teaches us that we must not miss the call to submit our whole lives to the Father—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Despite the burdens that people are forced to bear, God calls people to invite Him to bear those burdens while fulfilling the mission He has given to them (1 Peter 5:6-7). Do not despair today; instead, depend fully upon God.

For Thought and Action

1. I assure you that other crises will follow the one you now face (whatever it may be). So make certain that you are “fully” prepared to face them. God calls us first to address the most pressing crisis of life—where we will place our trust—by responding to His call to commitment. Have you made that life decision? Make it today.
2. How are you handling your present crisis? Write down your crisis plan. Where does God factor into your daily approach? How will your decision to give the crisis management over to Him improve your daily life?
3. For Families: Parents, this is a wonderful verse to memorize together as a family! See if your children can memorize it in one sitting of five minutes.

Be sure to explain it, using the information from the devotional for today. Make sure they understand the word, “offended.” (In a negative way: Happy is the one who does not think he is so smart that he is angered, or frustrated, or dislikes Jesus. In a positive way: Happy is the one who gives Jesus his whole heart, including all of his burdens.) Then, prepare a check list with your kids’ names down the left-hand side of the page.

At ten or fifteen random times throughout the next week, surprise your kids with the question: “What is our verse for this week?” If they can say it, then give them a hug and a check-mark next to their names on your record page. If they have forgotten it, give them a hug, and then take a moment to remind them, and let them repeat it until they know it. At the end of the week, spend a couple of hours with them doing something they enjoy. Here is the verse again:
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:6, ESV
May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock