Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Interruptions of Value: Part 2

Interruptions, anyone? No, we don’t include them in our plans, or do we? The reality is that interruptions happen; how we respond is crucial. 

Last week in the blog post were several examples of Jesus allowing interruptions into His daily life. As Jesus traveled the areas of Judea and Galilee teaching the crowds about the kingdom of God, many people interrupted Him in order to receive blessing and healing. Imagine how awesome for Jesus to stop and focus entirely on you and your problems? (Here’s a little secret about Jesus today - He is focused on you and your problems right now. The Bible says so in Hebrews 13:5-6)

Now consider the feeling of being ignored. What must it have felt like to be the interruption He didn’t tend to. In the eighth chapter of Luke, we are told that Jesus again preached and proclaimed the kingdom of God to His followers. While others crowded around Him, He began using parables in His teaching. He soon received word that His mother and brothers had come to see Him, but the crowd kept them from getting through to Him. His response was, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21) 

Can you imagine being His mother and brothers? Wouldn’t you feel as though you had just been snubbed by your own flesh and blood? I think I might have been furious at first, until I understood the meaning behind His words. Jesus knew His mother and her faith. His concern centered on those who never heard about the kingdom of God. He came to earth to offer it to all who would believe, so instead of allowing an interruption at that moment, He continued preaching. Even though we’re not told what His family did, we might assume they either went back home or followed Him silently. Sometimes God’s work comes before family, but it takes prayer and discernment to make the right decision. 

Besides His family, it seems Jesus even ignored an interruption from His friends. How hurtful would that be? Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were among Jesus’ best friends; they are the ones He regularly visited when He needed rest. One day Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus lay extremely ill. They probably said, “Tell Jesus to come quickly. Lazarus is dying!”

Guess what happened? Scripture tells us when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Then the Word goes on to say how Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. What? You mean He didn’t go running to their house to heal Lazarus? (Have you ever felt as though Jesus didn’t come running to you in your immediate hour of need?) 

When the two days were up, Jesus said to His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 

The Bible tells us that Jesus and His disciples went to the tomb of Lazarus. When He saw the tears of the sisters and their friends, He wept. Jesus cried with them (and He cries with you as well). Then Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and thanked His Heavenly Father for the opportunity to display His glory! He wanted people to believe that God sent Him to earth. So He said with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he did. Jesus healed Lazarus; He actually resurrected him from the dead. Praise God! Then we’re told many of the Jews saw what He had done and believed in Him (John 11:1-45). Wow—praise God some more! By not tending to an interruption immediately, Jesus used the situation to give God glory. Jesus understood the bigger picture; He knew many would see and believe at that moment He was sent by God. (Do you believe that He understands your situation and sees the bigger picture?)

Jesus permitted interruptions at times and other times He ignored them. But remember—Jesus prayed and stayed close in spirit to the Father; He knew whether or not to allow an interruption into His daily mission. What about us? What is our response if we feel as though Jesus ignores our immediate need? How do we react to interruptions in our personal lives?

Below is a story of my own reaction to an interruption one Sunday morning when my family and I were off to church. As you read it, think about church. Is it all about making sure we attend services because that’s what we’re supposed to do on Sundays (that is, if you’re a believing Christian)? Or is it about following Jesus and His plan for your life? Do you make the most of your opportunities to share the love of Christ with others? I hope my own failure to allow an interruption from God causes you to consider the will of the Heavenly Father for your daily life. 

Years ago on a cold Sunday morning, my family and I rushed to get out of the house in time for church. Getting two small children fed, dressed, and out the door usually included complications, making us late. We lived about twenty minutes from our church and on this particular day, we still planned to stop by and drop off old newspapers into a recycle bin. Arriving at the recycling location, my husband positioned the car next to the bin. I got out of the car and began to unload newspapers from our trunk. Opening the bin door to throw in the newspapers, I discovered a man sleeping inside. I jumped back in horror! Recoiled at his appearance, I quickly threw in the papers and returned to the car. “Hurry, we’re going to be late for church!” I said to my husband, followed by an explanation of what I saw. 

Late for church, huh? Would Jesus have allowed the interruption? Consider what the Word has to say about our man-made traditions, our sacrifices. We are called to obey the Word of God. We are called to follow Jesus’ example of compassion and grace. 

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:13 (NASB)
And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?  Matthew 15:3 (NASB)
But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

So I leave you with several questions and thoughts. Do you feel as though Jesus is ignoring your circumstances? He may be dismissing your interruption temporarily for the bigger picture to display His glory. Do you feel as though He doesn’t care? Jesus is compassionate; He cried with Mary and Martha and He’ll cry with you. Do you know what to do with an interruption? Stay close to Jesus and follow His plan. The interruption could be an intrusion or it could be an interlude with a story to tell. I heard a quote on the radio that says it all—let today’s test be tomorrow’s testimony!

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