Wed, 19 February 2020
(Jas.2:1-9; Ps.34:2-7; Mk.8:27-33)
“You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s!”
This is a most important statement Jesus makes; it really cuts to the heart of His teaching, and to His sacrifice for our sins.
He has just finished asking His apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” and for perhaps the first time heard their belief that He is the Messiah. This is a critical moment. But there is no time to sit back and enjoy it, for “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later.” He knows they will not understand. He knows they will not hear “rise three days later” but “suffer” and “death” and be appalled that the Son of God should be treated so. The sacrifice is here beyond their comprehension. And He knows, too, that Peter does not only speak for all when he declares Jesus the Messiah, but also when he “remonstrates with Him.” And so the Lord turns around from where Peter had led Him privately, and makes a point of “eyeing the disciples”; for in His reprimand of Peter as “Satan”, He reprimands them all. Their minds must be utterly changed; they must see things as God – they must look upon heaven and not earth.
James, of course, speaks of the same matter in his discourse condemning favoritism or the judging of others by appearance. For if we favor the rich man with the gold rings, we are showing our preference for the mark of the beast “who blaspheme[s] that noble name which has made us God’s own.” If we judge against the faith of the poor in favor of the wealth of the rich and powerful, what are we saying? That we desire the riches and power of this world and not the treasure God holds in store for us in heaven. We are indeed “as judges who hand down corrupt decisions,” for we are nothing but false to the faith we profess.
Again we must ask ourselves what our hearts are set upon. The Lord’s challenge to our souls is severe. Is it Satan’s realm we prefer, or are we as “the lowly” of whom David sings, who find salvation in glorifying the Lord. It is a clear choice with which we are presented: to judge as God or to judge with the limited and ultimately deadly vision of man fallen under the sway of Satan. It is from just such judgment the Lord has come to release the apostles, and all His Church, in His Name.
O LORD, let us not be plunged in the sea
or herded into the nether world,
but let us set our hearts and minds on you
and so find life everlasting.
YHWH, let us be poor, poor in spirit, poor to this world and its deadly passions. Let us put no hope in the riches that rot, or we shall rot with them. Let us seek, rather, the riches of your kingdom by giving our poor cup of water for the upbuilding of your Church.
Take from us, LORD, all that keeps us from you. Let us not steal or walk in the paths of the unrighteous or look with lust upon anything or anyone. Take hand or foot or eye from us instead; keep us from all sin. Let our salt not rot, our lives not be worthless, but let us bear fruit in your NAME.
LORD, our God, take especially from us our foolish pride, our belief that we can do anything of ourselves. O let us not trust in ourselves or in the things of this world but only in you and help rather than hurt the just man you bless in your holy will. Let all souls be led to your kingdom.