Matthew 8:18- 22
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the Lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, ” Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, ” Lord first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own.”
Matthew 12: 48-49
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ” Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
NO VISITORS ALLOWED.
That is the sign currently posted on many hospitals and nursing homes. No visitors. NO matter your relationship to the patient or resident, no matter the severity of the illness, no matter the joy of the visit ( New babies!), no matter what. In an effort to keep this silent enemy at bay for those most at risk – the boundaries have gone up and they are tight.
The vision for this series of blogs focused on Jesus Yes’s and No’s in his earthly life came long before COVID-19. I had no idea that we would be walking through this unprecedented time during LENT 2020. I had no idea that the hardest blog I knew I would be lead to write would hold such relevance on the day I posted. It is one of the most challenging statements I see Jesus making in these verses from Matthew. I want to pretend he didn’t say them. I want to skim over and skip to something challenging yet doesn’t touch…
Theres nothing that raises my blood pressure faster then knowing my family is in any type of danger or under any kind of persecution. I have written multiple blogs that all stem from my experience of 22 years of parenting and almost 27 years of marriage. I have learned more about sacrifice, unconditional love, forgiveness in my family than any other arena of life. I love my people deeply – to the point my heart aches in both times of Joy and sorrow in their lives.
And Jesus tells us today… that nothing can take his place in our lives… even our family. Anytime we have something we depend on for our peace… depend on… it has become an idol that wants to fill the shoes of Jesus. In Matthew 8 we see a man that wants to follow him and has what seems to me a legitimate reason for delay – the funeral of his father. And Jesus challenges him by stating the commitment to follow him must start immediately – no questions asked. Thats a hard pill to swallow.
You may be thinking, Beth, my family doesn’t take the place of Jesus in my life. Maybe not yours, but let me show you how this reality shows up in mine.
When I lose my peace over my child not getting the playing time, the position on the team, the place in the choir, the job opportunity because I think they deserve it. Family has jumped ahead of Jesus.
When I jump in to rescue my child from a situation that I know they probably need to handle on their own. Family has jumped ahead of Jesus.
When I lay awake at night worrying about my child’s future and devise a plan to “suggest” to them so they will live a trouble free life. Family had jumped ahead of Jesus
When I’m tempted to not follow God’s leading because I KNOW it will cause discomfort to my loved ones. Family has jumped ahead of Jesus.
See what I mean?
Years ago I was sitting at the kitchen table of a friend whose husband had lost a lucrative position at a pharmaceutical company. He had decided to invest in a franchise and was learning the ropes of building and running a business from home. She was sharing all the obvious concerns in their situation. She said these words…
“But everything will be fine ( I’ll be ok and in peace) if my family stays healthy.”
And I thought.. ‘But what if they dont.”
What if they don’t.
Just imagine for a moment. What if a virus comes and sweeps across the globe, impacting thousands. What if it creates job loss? What if it prevents people from gathering in groups leading to cancelled weddings and graduations. What if you walk to the door of the nursing home where you mother or father or aunt or uncle or friend are living… alone and you
Oh… thats right we don’t have to imagine. We just have to open our eyes.
We are LIVING the reality Jesus knew would come. He knew we would be asked to keep a distance from those we love. He knew we would watch family suffer. He knew we would see loved ones fall from grace and deeply disappoint us. Which is why he says…
Eyes on me…. alone.
Trust in me…. alone.
Depend on me alone.
Peace in me alone.
The ironic thing about this command that seems so hurtful to our family…
Is that it’s actually the greatest thing we can do for our family. Our unwavering trust in Jesus. Our daily time spent with him. Our loyalty to him above all else. This relationship – when placed first in our lives… will give us the ability , the energy , the strength the peace to genuinely love and serve those we love most…
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where he is.