Today's Lectionary Text
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
It sends a warm feeling through me every time I read these verses, especially the beginning of verse 21: “At that time, Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit …”
With Lent and Easter just around the corner and the sadness that it brings at first, thinking of Jesus being full of joy just makes me feel good. I hope when you read these verses you suddenly fell that joy within you too. Prior to these verses, Jesus had sent out the 72, giving them instructions for their journeys. And when they returned with joy, this was such a blessing to Jesus who had sent them out “among the wolves.” Even Jesus could feel their joy and take pleasure in it. Yet this also makes me realize there are so many who do not take pleasure in something, who do not feel joy at all. How sad is that. This makes me think of the suicide rate — among the military veterans, among teenagers, others who commit suicide. Obviously, they are not feeling any joy in their lives. What are we doing —or not doing — that so many do not have joy in their hearts? What are our churches missing that we are often not growing or reaching the “lost?” Are we just complacent behind our big doors and stained-glass windows that we don’t even have joy in our hearts? If that is so, then of course we cannot share it with others.
As a caregiver for a dear friend who has recently had health setbacks with hospitalization and rehab therapy, yesterday was a joyous time when I could bring him home to his own home again. We don’t know for how long, but the joy is still real and felt. And you know what? My friend’s first name is Joy!
Yes, we do have those times when joy seems far away. But it is only far away if we forget about Jesus. He is with us, no matter what. Which takes me back to suicides and languishing churches … if we have joy in our hearts and feel that joy, why are we not sharing it? What am I not doing that God wants me to do? Each of us is given at least one gift, a gift from God of which He wants us to share. As Jesus says to the Seventy-two earlier in Luke 10: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
After the General Conference in St. Louis, the United Methodist Church is in turmoil. Perhaps we think this is not a joyful time. Yet my heart is joyful because God still reigns! And He reigns forever and ever. So, let’s share that kind of love and joy with others in our everyday lives. Remember, the main thing is the main thing: Jesus!
Certified Lay Servant
Nehawka (Nebraska) UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Lord of all, help us to see what you want us to see, to hear what you want us to hear, and to show others what you want us to show. Open our hearts to the joy from the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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