“Why Knock?” ( Matthew 7:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Jesus says, Ask, and take; seek, and find. But He also says, knock, and watch the door open. Presumably He implies for us to go in once the door is open. Who stands in an open doorway and doesn’t enter the room? I can tell you a story — in hospital, often I stand in the door frame to speak quickly to a nurse about some piece of information without entering the room; I am half-in, half-out. This is to avoid having to put on a gown and gloves. Inconvenience and legitimate caution keep me from going into the room. Most of the time, however, when we knock on a door and it opens, we enter the room. Jesus tells us:

“Ask ye, and it shall be given to you; seek ye, and ye shall find; knock ye, and it shall be opened to you. For each that asketh, taketh; and he that seeketh, findeth; and it shall be opened to him, that knocketh.”

Jesus also tells us:

“Lo! I stand at the door, and knock; if any man heareth my voice, and openeth the gate to me [if any man shall hear my voice, and open the gate], I shall enter to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19-21, WYC)

Here Jesus knocks, and we open the door. Jesus asks, and takes. Jesus seeks, and finds. We open the gate, and He “enters to [us]”. He “sups with [us], and [we] with [Him].”

I want to focus, for just a moment, on the use of “take” for “receive.” Receipt of a thing is passive, but taking of a thing is active. I like the choice of the word “take” in the Wycliffe translation. Jesus always means for His people to be active, never passive! We are asking, taking, seeking, finding, knocking, going in.

What are we asking to gain? What are we seeking to find? What door are we knocking to open? The Word of God is the best answer I’ve come up with this morning.

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“Back to Egypt” ( Matthew 2: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Only the Lord knows — and perhaps some biblical scholars — if there is symbolism in Mary and Joseph escaping Herod by going back to Egypt. But the oddity of this event struck me this morning. God, through an angel, commands Joseph to take Mary and the child, Jesus into Egypt because Herod is searching for them in order to kill the child. In Herod’s attempt to kill Jesus, he murders all the boys who are two years and under “in Bethlehem and its vicinity.” (Matthew 2:16) God’s people are not safe even in their own land under their own government, a government desirous of power and money.

Jesus escapes an early death by fleeing with his parents back into the land that enslaved His people for years and years. Joseph remains in Egypt until Herod dies at which time the angel of the Lord calls him back to Israel but warns him not to return to Judea but to live in the district of Galilee in a town called Nazareth.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Hosea 11:1)

 

“Not By Flesh And Blood” ( Matthew 16: 17, NIV ) by Carley Evans


People are wondering who this man Jesus is. Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) Some people think Jesus is John the Baptist come back from the dead after being unjustly beheaded; others think Jesus is a resurrected Elijah or Jeremiah or some other well-known, well-respected prophet of God. Then Jesus gets personal. He asks His disciples, “What about you? Who do you say I Am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Peter answers first. He says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this is not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)

People do not recognize the Holy Christ in the man, Jesus. They are perfectly willing to accept that this man may be a resurrected prophet, but in their logic, it does not occur to them that He may be their long-awaited Messiah, the Son of the living God. Only Peter, also known as Simon, knows Jesus is the Christ.

Why is this? Because, God reveals this knowledge to Peter.

“[Jesus] is in the world, and though the world is made through Him, the world does not recognize Him. He comes to that which is His own, but His own do not receive Him. Yet, to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-13)

“I Will Not!” ( Matthew 21: 29, NIV ) by Carley Evans


A father with two sons, says Jesus, comes to his first son and tells him to go work the vineyard. The son defiantly responds, “I will not!” I can imagine the anger and disappointment of the father. Later however, the man’s son changes his mind, goes to the vineyard and works it. In the meantime the father, who doesn’t know his first son is going to obey, goes to his other son and says the same thing, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.” This son responds positively, saying: “I will, sir.” I can imagine the joy and pride of the father when he hears these words.

Like the first son, the other son does not follow his own words. Unlike the first son, however, he is disobedient. The father only finds out later which son is true, not to his own word, but to the word of his father.

We who are parents or managers or couples or friends – hey! that’s all of us – need to pay attention. Just because our spouse, child, employee, or friend appears defiant in what they say does not necessarily make it true. Or just because our spouse, child, employee, or friend appears compliant in what they say also does not necessarily make it true.

James indicates words are cheap. Actions are expensive.

“Whoever Is Kind” ( Proverbs 14: 21, 31; NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”

“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Jesus speaks of the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. To the sheep, He says:

“Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.” (Matthew 25:34-36)

“I tell you the truth, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you do for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

What a frightening thought: to show contempt for the Maker of the poor, the “least of these brothers of [Jesus].” When we are given what matches our abilities, we are then expected to use those resources to show kindness to the needy, to those who have less than we do.

I find these scriptures very convicting this morning, as I approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, some churches, some grocery stores are sending out pleas for money.

Perhaps you have money as the resource God has provided to you; or perhaps you have time. Maybe you have both money and time. Consider giving generously this year to those who are needy. Remember as you give to the poor, you give to Jesus.

“What Do You Want?” ( Matthew 12: 32, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Two blind beggars in Jericho hear that Jesus and His disciples are leaving. As they become aware that Jesus is passing them by, they shout out to Him, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 12:30) A large crowd is following Jesus; when the people hear the beggars, they rebuke them, tell them, “Be quiet.” The two blind men shout even louder. They want to be heard over the noise of others; they want Jesus to notice them. They desire mercy.

Jesus hears them. He stops. He asks the two, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He doesn’t ask them, “What are you going to do for Me?” or “Why should I be concerned about you over all these others?” or “Why do you deserve My attention, My time, My power?” Instead, He asks them for what they want.

Immediately, the men answer, “Lord, we want our sight.” (Matthew 12:33)

Jesus has a keen awareness of their suffering coupled with a wish to relieve it. With Jesus, the wish is not a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ wish, but a desire He can fulfill. He touches their eyes. At once, their sight is restored. The two men get up and follow Jesus.

“Don’t Be Afraid” ( Matthew 17: 7, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


On the mountaintop, Jesus is transformed before Peter, James, and his brother John. His face and clothing glow as white and as bright as the sun; Moses and Elijah converse with Him. Peter wants to build three tabernacles: one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Peter is explaining himself when “a bright cloud covers them, and a voice from the cloud says: ‘This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!'” (Matthew 17:5) When Peter, James and John hear the voice, they fall down onto their faces terrified.

Jesus touches them. He says, “Get up; don’t be afraid.”

If ever there is a time for fear of the Messiah, this is it. God the Father speaks from within a cloud; two great patriarchs chat with the Lord, and Jesus transforms Himself into the heavenly being He is, right before the three men; yet, Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

No need to fear Me, He says.