Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from March 31-April 6 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), was recently married to Grace.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Manaen. His name is only mentioned once (right here) in Scripture. But there is something interesting about Manaen: he was “a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch.” Other translations read, “brought up with Herod the tetrarch.” This is the very same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist, and later handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. While Herod and Manaen grew up together, they chose very different paths. Herod heard the message of the gospel numerous times, having personal encounters with both John the Baptist and Jesus; yet at every turn, he rejected the word of God. Meanwhile, his friend became a prophet/teacher in the church at Antioch. Yet despite their differences, Manaen and Herod were “lifelong friends.”
There are at least two things we can learn from this short passage. The first is that salvation depends on our response to the gospel. The second is that friendship does not.
I have to admit that I’m guilty of severing more than a few friendships based on their lack of response to the gospel. Instead, I tend to draw ever nearer to those whom I deem spiritually mature. There’s a constant temptation we face to place value on people based on their spirituality. What many of us can learn from Manaen and Jesus is that while salvation requires faith, having faith (or lack thereof) is not grounds for exclusion. The real issue is how we can befriend the “Herods” of our lives without compromising our commitment to Christ. Today, let’s pray for the humility to live this way.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be salt and light in this world. Teach me to see people the way You see them. Holy Spirit, grant me the humility to love my friends and family as I love myself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 15
Lunch Break Study
Read: Matthew 9:9-13: As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. ’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
Questions to Consider:
- Why did the Pharisees find it strange for Jesus to call upon Matthew and also eat with “sinners”?
- What do you think “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” means?
- Who do you relate to in this story, the Pharisees or the “sinners”?
- Jesus was a Jewish teacher (a rabbi). During those times, rabbis did not associate with sinners. Furthermore, they certainly did not pick their disciples amongst sinners. Instead, rabbis would only select the elite students of God’s Word, who demonstrated outstanding knowledge of the Law and lived accordingly. But Jesus was a radical rabbi in that He not only spent time with the social/spiritual rejects, but also called upon them to follow Him as His disciples.
- Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Sacrifice and burnt offerings represent the ceremonial responsibilities of the priests. It was essentially the “program” of the temple, which the priests were in charge of administering. What Jesus is saying is that having good programs and good administration not as important as mercy/steadfast love.
- It’s easy to relate to the sinners, because we need only to receive grace. It’s much more difficult to admit that we are sometimes the Pharisees, because we need to receive humility. But Jesus’ words are crystal clear: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Spend a little time this evening praying for your friends, especially those who have yet to know Jesus. Perhaps God is asking you to have a shift in attitude towards these friends.