Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 6 2013 - Mark 12:38-13:13 – She … put in everything

The Jewish leaders have now given up trying to trap Jesus in his own words. The last one to try went away acknowledging that Jesus had answered wisely and well.

But Jesus has not finished with his comments on the Jewish leaders. Speaking to the crowd who had gathered around him in the Temple courts, Jesus tells them to beware of the spirit that dominates these leaders. They love to parade around in their long robes, to be recognised, greeted and treated with honour. Many of them are devoted to a proud outward show of piety rather than the cultivation of a humble, contrite heart.

Jesus and his disciples were now sitting opposite the spot where people were putting their gifts into the Temple treasury box. Many who were well off made a show of throwing a large amount of money into the box. A poor widow then put in two small copper coins. Her gift seemed insignificant compared to the riches others had given and probably went entirely unnoticed by most of those in the Temple. But it did not go unnoticed by Jesus. He pointed her out to his disciples and said that she had given more than all the rest. “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).

As I read these words, I could not help thinking that Jesus was just days from his death. Jesus came into this world not just to share some of the excess of his riches with those in need. He came not in a proud show of glory, looking for recognition and admiration. He humbled himself and gave everything for us; he laid down his life for us. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). And Jesus calls us to follow him; to devote all we are and have to the service of our God and for the blessing of others. It’s a big call.

Do you recall the time when David had taken a census of the Israelites. It was an act of pride that angered the Lord and brought a plague that resulted in the deaths of 70,000 people. David wanted to build an altar and seek God’s forgiveness and plead that the plague might stop. He asks to buy the threshing floor of Araunah as a place to build an altar and make his sacrifice. Araunah offers to give the king his threshing floor and oxen for a burnt offering and their wooden yokes and threshing sledges as fuel for the offering. But David will not accept them as a gift. He tells Araunah, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). David recognises that the Lord calls for costly worship – for whole-life obedience and service.

I am aware that all too often I am like the rich who threw their gold or silver into the treasury. It’s easy to feel that we have given a great deal to the cause of the kingdom when what we have given has cost us little; we have given what we can spare; we have given what we do not really miss. It’s easy to make a show of following Jesus.

Lord Jesus, keep me from making a show of discipleship. You have given yourself for my redemption; help me to follow you in giving all I have for the furtherance of your kingdom and the glory of your name. Help me to be open-handed in my service of you, recognising that I have nothing which has not first been given to me. Keep me from cheap devotion.

Mar 6 2019 - Exodus 33:1-23 – God's presence and glory

Moses pleaded with God to spare the Israelites after the incident with the golden calf, and God had spared them. He now instructs Moses that they are to move on to the land he had promised them. God will send an angel to go before them and fight for them, driving out the Canaanites before them, but God himself will not go with them.

This is a strange act of God's grace. If God were to travel with this stiff-necked people their constant rebellion might stir up his wrath to their destruction. It is safer for them to live without God. What a tragic verdict on these redeemed but rebellious people.

But this will not satisfy Moses. Moses would go regularly to talk with God in the Tent of Meeting that was pitched outside the camp of the Israelites. Was this tent outside the camp symbolic of God's refusal to dwell among his people? When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud came down upon it as a symbol of God's presence; God had come to meet with Moses.

Here Moses pleads with God; "Remember that this nation is your people" (33:13). Moses cannot lead this people on his own; God must go with them, "What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (33:16). God agrees to Moses' request and gives him the wonderful promise, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (33:14).

The Lord has told Moses that he is pleased with him. This emboldens Moses to ask one thing more of the Lord; he asks that the Lord will show him his glory. It is a request which God cannot grant in full; were Moses to see the fullness of God's glory it would consume him. But, in his grace and goodness, the Lord hides Moses in a cleft of the rock and passes before him so that he sees something of his glory. God reveals to Moses the glory of his goodness – that he is a God who is full of mercy and compassion. It is because of his mercy and compassion that Israel is spared and will be led on into the Promised Land.

The mercy and compassion of God have been revealed in all their breadth and length and height and depth in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. And he is the one who has promised always to be with us, to the very end of the age. God has come to be with us in Jesus Christ, and because of Jesus, we are not consumed. He calls upon all who are weary and burdened to come to him and find rest. It is his presence that makes us his people. It is his grace and his presence which alone distinguish us from those around us. He is with us to lead us; he is with us to bless us; he is with us to make us a blessing until there is no longer any distinction, for the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

Lord Jesus, show us more of the glory of the triune God. Give us a sense of your presence with us and your gracious purposes towards us, for we know that without you we can do nothing. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you that we might be transformed into your likeness with that ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Bless us and make us a blessing. May your kingdom come and the day draw closer when your glory shall fill all the earth.

Peter Misselbrook