Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

Don't let anything keep you from Jesus

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Monday James 2:1-9 (NRSV)
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the

scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

James says people in the church should not show favoritism. The example James uses is people giving favor to the rich. “If you show partiality, you commit sin.” The story about Jesus that we’ll look at this week has the same point, but uses the opposite example. In it, Jesus admonishes the crowd not to despise the rich or people they think are beyond God’s grace.

Who do you show favoritism to at church? In other areas of your life?
Who do you try to crowd out?

Tuesday Luke 19:2-4 (NRSV)
A man was [in Jericho] named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.

Zacchaeus is such an amazing example. He wanted to see Jesus.
He didn’t let the crowd stop him.
He didn’t let his own limitations stop him.
He didn’t let pride stop him.
He wanted to see Jesus, and he was going to do it!

What keeps you from Jesus?
What keeps you from doing good things you want to do?

Wednesday 2 Samuel 6 (NRSV)
When David became king, one of his priorities was to return the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. He organized a great celebration. But as they were moving the ark, tragedy struck. The oxen stumbled, a man reached out to keep the ark from falling, and he was struck dead. Afraid of the ark’s holiness, David abandoned his quest to move it and put it in the care of someone nearby.

When David heard how much the man was being blessed by the ark’s presence, however, David resumed his quest. This time he learned how the ark was to be carried: on poles, by priests who had been sanctified. The procession began again. 2 Samuel 6:14-16 says:

David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, [David’s wife] Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

When the celebration was over and David went home to bless his household, his wife chastised him:

"How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ maids, as any vulgar fellow might shamelessly uncover himself!"

David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD, that I have danced before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor."

Where the NRSV translation says “I will make myself yet more contemptible than this” the NIV translation reads “I will become even more undignified than this.”

Some people think they should be very dignified and solemn in the presence of Jesus (and certainly not contemptible!). Zacchaeus didn’t let such thoughts get in his way. He wanted to see Jesus, and he didn’t care what he looked like or what others thought. David also didn’t let such thoughts stand in his way. He wanted to honor God and celebrate, so he danced with joyful abandon.

How restrained and dignified are you?
When does your fear others get in the way of your glorifying and honoring God as fully as God deserves?
When does it get in the way of your getting close to Jesus?

Thursday Luke 19:5-10 (NRSV)
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner."

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."

In Tuesday’s reading, it might have appeared that Zacchaeus had a hard time seeing Jesus only because he was so short and the crowd blocked his view. But here we learn that it was more than that. The crowd was actively keeping Zacchaeus from getting close because they didn’t think a person like Zacchaeus was fit to be in the presence of Jesus. Fortunately for you and me, Jesus thinks differently. Everyone is welcome in his presence.

Who are some people you know that Jesus came to seek out and save?
How will you treat them today?

What are you doing this week because of Jesus?
What would you like help with?