From Pastor's Perspective


My article for this month comes from Pastor Kerry Nelson’s Daily Devotions. Pastor Nelson serves Faith Lutheran in Bellaire, TX.      —PT

Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”         Matthew 4:5-7

(Matthew 4:5-7 is part of the gospel reading for the first Sunday in lent.)

See what happens when you slow your reading down? You notice little details that you have probably skipped over for years. Notice now that the devil, having just been stung by Jesus with a Bible verse after tempting to meet his most basic need, food, now ups the ante and HE comes at Jesus with a Bible verse.

(Note to self: Just because someone comes at you quoting from the Bible doesn’t mean that anything they have to say lines up at all with Jesus!) (Further note to self: Don’t try and out Bible Jesus…)

But coming at Jesus with a Bible verse isn’t going to win the day. Not that we don’t try. We’re not above throwing Bible verses at God, expecting to hold God to keep up God’s end of the bargain. “But God, it says that ‘where two of you agree it will be done for you’ [actually it does say that in Matthew 18:19…we’ll get to that later]…well, we got a whole bunch of people down here agreeing on stuff that just isn’t happening! What’s up with that?”

The devil doesn’t get anywhere with that one. Which shows us two important things.

First, it shows us a Jesus who is going to slog through life just like we do. No short-cuts. He might feed 5000 people as an object lesson but there will still be days when he and his disciples go hungry. When the soldiers come at the end, Jesus gives himself up.

And second, Jesus teaches us that one of the best ways to interpret the Bible is to hold the Bible up against the Bible. When we do that we are forced to consider the source. To realize that real live flesh and blood people just like us put pen to paper, or quill to papyrus, in writing down their experiences and understandings of God. The world, the moment out of which they wrote, and their own development are important to our understanding of what they wrote.

When we hold the Bible against the Bible we aren’t disrespecting the Bible. We are instead showing the highest respect for the Bible. And we are trusting in the on-going work of the Holy Spirit to teach us just like Jesus said would happen in John 14:26 and John 16:13.

I mix fabrics in my clothing. I like bacon (but it’s not on my current diet.) And I applaud gay marriage – FINALLY – but that doesn’t mean that I am selling out the Christian faith or I’m a heretic or I’m trying to destroy the Christian church.

I’m just trying to follow Jesus to the best of my ability, to follow grace where it leads, and I’m willing to take lots of steps without being able to see the staircase.

Let us pray:
Dear Lord, the voices are all around us.
Loud and soft, they call our names.
They want us to follow. They want what we have.
They tell us that we aren’t good enough
or that we are better than others.
They tell us we have to be rich to be good
or that poor people are somehow holier than people who pay a lot of taxes. All these voices tempt us.
Speak to us. Clearly and frequently, lest we go astray.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.