October 11, 2009

Envisioning Nazareth - from Matt.6

This inversion of Matthew's sixth chapter is more creative than careful, but it's an exploration. The Lord's teachings must reflect his own past life somehow. Therefore, here is one possible sketch of what Matthew's Testimony might actually imply.

In Nazareth, Jesus practiced righteousness but not so that anyone would notice. He cared much more about pleasing his Father in Heaven. Jesus gave to the poor, but he did it in secret. Jesus sometimes closed himself in his room when he prayed. He didn't use lots of words or repeat words meaninglessly. Jesus prayed for the sake of his Heavenly Father. God's name was sacred to Jesus. He prayed for God to take charge on Earth. Jesus prayed that people would be content with God's forgiveness and do what God wanted, forgiving each other. Jesus prayed for God to lead Him. Jesus followed his Father. Jesus focused on God and avoided all evil. Prayer helped a lot.

In Nazareth, Jesus forgave those who wronged him, because he knew forgiveness was pleasing to God. Jesus fasted sometimes, and kept himself looking healthy while fasting, so that no one around town would know he was fasting. The Heavenly Father saw Jesus' secret devotions and rewarded Him with Heavenly blessings. God's Life increased in Jesus to even greater abundance. God's Spirit grew inside Jesus to fill Him even more fully. So Jesus' reward for pleasing the Father was that the Father gave Jesus more of Himself.

Jesus stored up these treasures in God's Heavenly realm, and Jesus valued his treasure far more than anything he knew could be stolen or destroyed. Jesus' treasure was the light and glory of God in Heaven, and Jesus' heart was fixed fully on Him. Jesus looked at birds finding food on the ground, and he thought about God. Jesus saw flowers growing in a field, and he thought about God. That is how focused He was.

Jesus kept himself focused on God and so his whole body was filled with God's light. Therefore, he did not really worry about his life or his health, about having enough for his family to eat and drink. He worked hard every day as a carpenter, to earn these things, but he did not worry about the results. Jesus knew everything in his life was centered and dependent upon his heavenly Father. So when Jesus helped Joseph earn the family's daily bread, he thanked God for every ounce of their provisions.

Jesus did everything he did from a desire to do what God wanted and what God thought was right. It was so clear to him that when he turned around and looked at certain people in Nazareth, Jesus could tell they were not seeking God.

In Nazareth, Jesus saw people doing good works in a showy way, in the streets and the Synagogue, just to get the approval of people in town. He saw hypocrites stand up and pray in the Nazareth Synagogue and pray out loud in words they wanted everyone to hear. He saw people refuse to forgive one another, and they carried those grudges for years. Sometimes Jesus saw people fasting, and everyone could tell they were fasting because they tried hard to look hungry and weak. Jesus saw people approve of those people. He saw them getting their social rewards. But he did not see them trying to please God.

In Nazareth, Jesus saw people storing up earthly treasures like expensive clothes and decorative metals. But he knew moths would eat the clothes and the metals would tarnish and decay. Jesus also could see that rich people got robbed more often. Jesus thought about these people and concluded their eyes were bad. Since they did not look at God's light, their body was full of darkness. They worried all the time about food and wine, health and clothing. They spent all their energy sowing and reaping to feed themselves, and they did not honor God as the true provider of all the food they had gathered. They wore out their clothes and worried about replacing them. They did not even have enough faith to believe God would provide them with new clothes when their old ones wore out.

Jesus must have seen people in his hometown who feared God, but he also saw many who failed to live life with a mind to please Him in these areas. Still, somehow, Jesus kept his opinions a secret, along with his devotion to God.

The Lord waited for decades to share what these observations with anyone else. Until then, Jesus continued growing in favor with the people of Nazareth despite his great difference from them. Most amazing of all, at the very same time he was being gracious to them, Jesus was also growing in favor with God.

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton