Posts Tagged Matthew 11:28

Unwed Shame

Luke 2: 4 – 5

And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

Mary, the mother of Jesus; venerated, adored and even prayed to, alas was an unwed, pregnant woman.

The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is such a heartwarming tale. I love to read it every year and try to imagine the glory of the Lord shining over the shepherds. What was it like to see the angelic and heavenly host singing praises to God. Wow! Just Wow! It is epic and I want to be translated back to that lonely field and witness the glory of the Lord. As I read, again, the glorious account of the arrival of Messiah, I am struck by the reality Mary, Joseph and others had to live in order to bring this miracle into the earth. I am humbled and whisper softly, “Thank you Father for these obedient servants.” I do not pray to Mary, but I sure am grateful and praise the Father that she hearkened to His voice and His will.

Consider for a moment, people all over this globe have heard the story of the Virgin Mary. She has been depicted in art probably more than any other person in history save Jesus himself. The truth is, though, she was an unwed mother. Now how does that truth play in your neighborhood? What do you think the neighbors said over 2000 years ago? Do you think everyone rushed to her side when her pregnancy was revealed? How celebrated do you think she was then? Think of all of her neighbors. I bet she had one of those judgmental, gossipy old crones living just down the street from her family’s home. Can you for a moment imagine what her parents endured? And bless Joseph, he hung in there with her but at first he wanted to put her quietly away. How familiar does that sound?

There is not going to be another virgin birth but what these matriarchal heroes endured for the glory of the coming king, gives me pause. What would I have said about Mary if I lived down the street from her when her pregnancy was exposed? As much as I do not wish to admit it, I can tell you that I would have judged her. I would probably have thought less kindly towards her and Joseph. I certainly would have assumed I knew how they came to be in that unfortunate circumstance.

I am condemned; not they. They obeyed God at great personal cost. The result of their obedience and shame is my own salvation. I must consider my judgmental attitudes and repent. Who is it today that I judge? Are they not also the beloved of God? Is God’s heart grieved when I judge and criticize His child? “Oh Lord, my God, save me from myself! Help me, help us all to have tender hearts towards all your children, especially, Father, those who appear far from you for we can never know their hearts or circumstances but we do know that you love them as much as you love precious Jesus. No matter how damaged and broken we are, regardless of how far we have wandered from the path, your heart is for us. Help us all to remember the pregnant, unmarried mother of the savior of the world when next we think harsh, judgmental words about one of your own.”

No minister and no ministry is perfect; I least of all. Nonetheless, I wish to echo Jesus’ beckoning statement, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Do you know someone who feels shunned or branded as an outcast? Is there someone in your life who feels they have been let down by the church? Jesus took all judgment onto himself so that the grace of God could come on us. Let those people know that God loves them and so do we. In the famous words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.” And Scrooge, that means you too.

Care Giver

Psalm 55: 22

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Jesus made us the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5: 21). That means we need not ever be shaken. That is good news, yes? But there is another aspect of this right standing with God that we need to appreciate. Peter wrote about it in 1 Peter 5: 7, “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” The King James Version says to cast all your care upon Him. The promise of God is that He will sustain us but we must first cast our care upon Him. How can He sustain us if we are carrying the burden? We have to give Him our cares if we want Him to carry them.

 It may sound like a small thing but I really do cringe when I hear Christians telling each other to “take care.” I have said that for so many years myself and now I try to arrest myself and even correct that expression when I hear it coming out of my mouth. It is unscriptural, unbiblical and it kinda bugs me because while it may seem like a small thing it still is undermining the operation of the Kingdom of God. There are properties of the Kingdom of God just like there are the properties of physics. If you try to defy the laws of physics you will get a revelation in a hurry. When we violate the Kingdom principles we will experience the ramifications of those choices as well. Then many of us end up saying, “This faith stuff doesn’t work” or “God didn’t come through for me.” That is like saying God threw me down on the pavement when you jumped out of the third story window. Hello! The laws always work. Gravity doesn’t turn off just because we pray. The Kingdom laws are the same way. We cannot concurrently take care and give our care to the Lord. It is one or the other. And the Lord cannot sustain us if we don’t give Him the care of things. Do you see how the package all fits together? Really it is about our relationship with Him and trust. We are encouraged to cast all of our burdens on the Lord and let Him take care of them. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Implied in there is that you are supposed to give him the weight of those heavy burdens. It is all consistent. God wants to be our care taker. He wants to sustain us and carry our heavy burdens but we must first release them to Him. Then we will not be shaken because He is the keeper of our souls, the bearer of our burdens and the sustainer of our lives.