Advent: December 13

Read: Matthew 11:2–10
Thoughts for Parents:

I’ll admit it: sometimes I rejoice about the wrong things. Sometimes I smirk with glee when some ne’er-do-well gets his comeuppance. Even though I really love to think and talk about grace, I’m really a legalist at heart. I want certain people to get what they deserve. Not me, of course. That’s not what I want. I want mercy … but there are just other folks who I think deserve a swift kick. In this respect, I don’t think my thinking is that far from John the Baptizer’s.

John had been imprisoned for telling Herod the truth about his unlawful “marriage” and while he rotted there, awaiting execution for standing against the sins of his culture, he heard that Jesus was healing the blind, the lame, lepers, and the deaf. He heard that the dead were being raised up. And he heard that Jesus was preaching a message of good news. Good news? Yes, good news and he was preaching it to sinners! But, what about the message of repentance? Shouldn’t Jesus be focusing on what these people needed to do? Shouldn’t he be calling down fire upon them for their unbelief and idolatry?

John’s perspective on what should be preached to whom was being shattered by Christ’s great love and condescension to sinners. Jesus offended John. Why? Because Jesus was hanging out with prostitutes and tax-collectors. Yes, He was standing against the religious establishment but He wasn’t worried about being the morality police. He crushed the people by telling them they needed to be perfect and then He gave them good news: Perfection was here, in the flesh. This was the news that John and the rest of us needed to hear and yet hated to hear.

Here’s the bottom line: The only way to find joy in Christ’s work on our behalf is to stop being offended by grace. Grace is promiscuous. It’s utterly ridiculous. It’s unruly; because of it, those nasty folks who should get a whack get a blessing instead. Of course, once you realize that you fall into the “nasty folk” category, you’ll be more comfortable about grace. Happy is the one who is not offended by Jesus.

Thoughts for Children:

How would you feel if you had been blind your whole life and then suddenly you could see? Or what about if you couldn’t walk and then all of a sudden you could do flips and run? Or if you couldn’t hear a single thing and then your ears worked wonderfully? Or if you had a terrible problem with your skin and then all of a sudden you were healed? Or what about if you were dead, and then all of a sudden you were alive again? I bet that would make you so happy, so full of joy.

Well here is some crazy news for you; the Bible says that we are dead because of our sins. Not actually dead, but as far as God was concerned you were dead. You still might be dead to God because of your sins. You are probably wondering how to become alive to God.

All you have to do is believe, believe that all Jesus came to live the life you couldn’t live. You see God tells us we have to be perfect, we can’t do that, so Jesus came and did that for us. He also came and took all the punishment for your sin. So, because of Jesus’ work, we are alive to God. Jesus did all the hard work. He makes us alive. We just believe. We can smile all day today knowing that we were once dead and now we are alive.

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