September 28, Wednesday

Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT Devotionals from September 26-October 2 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.), is married to Grace, who is a teacher.

Devotional Thought for Today

John 18:28-32

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 

28Of all the mistakes I’ve made so far in my life, the one I’m most ashamed of occurred during my senior year of high school. A friend of mine had just accepted Christ and he started coming out to my youth group. But one day, when I found out that he smoked cigarettes and furthermore sold cigarettes to the underclassmen, I distinctly remember telling him, “If you’re going to keep smoking, and selling cigarettes to the freshmen, don’t bother calling yourself Christian!” Oh, how the heavens must have wept when I said what I said. I wish I could go back and undo those words, because since that day, my friend stopped attending church. Ironically, I thought I was being righteous, but in my self-righteousness, I had neglected the most important thing—the gospel. I was so caught up in following the “rules,” that I missed the whole point of what Jesus did on the cross.

I wonder if the Pharisees and officers recognized the tragic irony of their actions. These men were so caught up in following the “rules” of God, that they couldn’t even recognize God when He showed up. They preferred to maintain the image of cleanliness, while executing the Lord of Lords.

How important to you is the image of cleanliness? How gracious are you when someone doesn’t quite fit your description of what a Christian should look like?

Prayer: Lord, we repent of all the times when we’ve placed rules above the gospel. Teach us to obey faithfully without becoming self-righteous. Teach us to pursue holiness without forgetting mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 1

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Lunch Break Study 

Read Luke 5:27-32: After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” 

Questions to Consider:

  1. Why were the Pharisees and scribes grumbling at Jesus?
  2. How does Jesus respond?
  3. What does Jesus’ response tell us about His ministry?

Notes:

  1. The Pharisees and scribes grumbled because Jesus, being a Rabbi, was not supposed to associate with “sinners,” such as tax collectors, much less invite them to become His disciples.
  2. Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” This is contrary to tradition. In those times, Rabbis would only select the cream of the crop from among the students of God’s Word. Candidates for discipleship under any other Rabbi were required to have extensive knowledge/memorization of Scripture. Furthermore, they had to be virtually blameless according to the law. Jesus, on the other hand, came for the sick and the sinners.
  3. Jesus’ response tells us two truths, two sides of the same coin. First, it tells us that He has come to minister to sinners. In His ministry we see that He welcomes tax collectors, prostitutes, women, men, children— people of all kinds. But there is one type of person that never comes to Jesus: the self-righteous—those who think they are already well. Ironically, these are the ones who need Jesus the most, but they are too self-righteous to come.

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Evening Reflection  

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5b).

Of all the sins we should be afraid of committing, pride may be the most dangerous. When we are caught in any other sin, the Spirit can convict us and lead us to humility and repentance. But the proud heart resists conviction; it resists humility and repentance. Tonight, do a spot check and ask the Holy Spirit to squash any residue of pride that exists within us.

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