Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Luke 9:22-25 - World English Bible
22 Jesus said (to his disciples), "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up."
23 He said to all, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self?"
In Luke 9, Jesus addressed two different audiences in the wake of the question, "Who do you say I am?" To his disciples, he announced his fate; he would suffer in Jerusalem, die and rise on the third day. If Jesus faced that future, what did it mean to follow him? He answered that question before everyone. Discipleship cost the follower, for they would share in the persecution the Lord endured. But like him, the disciple would share in divine glory. Whoever lost their life for the Savior's sake would save it forever.
What pain do you suffer for the sake of the Lord?Top of the page
Friday after Ash Wednesday
Matthew 9:14-15 - World English Bible
14 John's disciples came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don't fast?"
15 Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."
In these two verses from Matthew, Jesus answered a question of spiritual practice: fasting. Abstaining from food was a popular exercise; many Jews (especially Pharisees) fasted twice a week. They went without food to atone for sin, mourn for past loss (destruction of the Temple, for example) and shared gratitude for divine blessings. Like the Pharisees, the disciples of John fasted to atone for sin, but they also fasted, implicitly, for another reason: to prepare for the Messiah. Here, Jesus responded to their criticism with a wedding feast analogy, and, with it, proclaimed himself the Christ. That analogy resonated among Jews, since they viewed the Kingdom of God as an endless wedding feast, filled with wine, song, choice foods and laughter. Why should his followers fast when the Lord made the Kingdom present?
When have you celebrated the presence of Christ in your life?Top of the page
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Luke 5:27-32 - World English Bible
27 After these things Jesus went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, "Follow me!"
28 He left everything, and rose up and followed him. 29 Levi made a great feast for him in his house. There was a great crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining with them. 30 Their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" 31 Jesus answered them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
After the healing of a paralytic in Luke's gospel, Jesus called a tax collector named Levi (Matthew).. These two images helped to define the audience of the Christ and set up a controversy with his enemies: the scribes and the Pharisees. In response to the invitation to follow Jesus, Levi held a banquet in his honor with the sinner's friends; his enemies questioned that wisdom. The Lord replied with a medical proverb: the sick need a doctor, not the healthy. Of course, those who refuse to see their own illness will also reject the physician; that corollary was actually the point. Jesus did not come to call the self-righteous, but the sinner to repentance. The immoral and shunned realized their need to change, for they were honest with themselves. But, the self-righteous did not need to repent, because they did not see the sin in themselves. Ironically, the scribes and Pharisees had the greater need, due to their blindness and pride.
Has pride blinded you to your need for the Lord?Top of the page