Series: Unsettled: Asking the Tough Questions
Sermon: The Leading Question
Scripture Reading: John 1:35-42, Matthew 18:1-5
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:1-5)
Monday June 25 — John 1:35-42
The Bible is full of questions. In the Gospels, Jesus asks and is asked questions throughout his ministry. Jesus uses questions to both challenge and encourage. In today’s passage from John, we read about an exchange of questions between Jesus and his first disciples that concludes with an invitation from Jesus to “come and see” (John 1:38-39). Many of us have questions. We need to remember that Jesus takes them seriously and invites all of us into a relationship with him, where we too can “come and see” for ourselves. What questions do you want to ask Jesus?
• Prayer: Loving God, thank you for inviting me to follow Jesus? Thank you for the ability to learn and grow. Help me to trust you and go wherever Jesus wants me to go. Amen.
Tuesday June 26 — Matthew 18:1-5
When Jesus’ disciples asked him, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1) they were probably hoping he would affirm their own status as leaders in God’s Kingdom. This is a very human request. We all want to feel like we are important. (See Matthew 20:20-28 for another example of this theme.) In his response, Jesus’ challenged them (and us) to cultivate humility. It wasn’t easy then. It is not easy now. How might you cultivate the kind of humility Jesus requires?
• Prayer: God of Grace, forgive me for seeking recognition instead of humility. Help me to trust that true greatness comes from following Jesus’ teaching and example. Amen.
Wednesday June 27 — John 6:60-69
The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel describes Jesus’ feeding of the multitude and the conversations that follow. The final paragraphs of the chapter, as in John 1, contain an exchange of questions. The power of John’s Gospel is that it invites us into the Gospel story – into our own conversation with Jesus. So, how would you answer Jesus’ questions? Do you ever want to “go away” (from Jesus)? Do you believe that Jesus has the “words of eternal life” (John 6:68)?
• Prayer: Holy God, like Simon Peter, I believe that Jesus has the words of eternal life. Give me the courage I need to trust him, even when I am tempted to “go away.” Amen.
Thursday June 28 — Mark 10:17-22
Today’s passage begins with a universal question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). The man had lived a good life, but according to Jesus he lacked one thing, “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor …” (Mark 10:21). Like the man in the story, we may struggle with Jesus’ response. After all, we are saved not by good deeds, but by God’s grace accepted in faith. But we also know that God’s grace has the power to transform our lives – if we let it. How have you applied Jesus’ response to the question to your own life? What might be holding you back from completely following and obeying Jesus?
• Prayer: Eternal God, like people throughout history, I long to spend eternity with you. I accept your saving grace and ask you to help me obey and follow you completely. Amen.
Friday June 29 — Luke 9:18-27
It seems clear that when Jesus asked his disciples, “but who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20) he knew that they had no real conception of what kind of Messiah Jesus would be. Even after telling them about what would happen to him, they could not grasp the meaning and implications of a crucified Messiah. Knowing all that you know right now, how do you answer Jesus’ question, “who do you say that I am?”? What does it mean to you that Jesus is, “the Messiah of God” (Luke 9:21)?
• Prayer: Merciful God, I confess that like Jesus’ first disciples, I struggle to comprehend the meaning and implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Help me understand. Amen.
Saturday June 30 — John 14:1-7
Thomas is a hero for many of Jesus’ followers. According to the Gospels he was unafraid to express his doubts and ask questions that others might not be willing to ask. When he didn’t understand what Jesus’ meant, he asked for directions, for clarification. Many of us are afraid to acknowledge our doubts, our fears, our uncertainties, or even our questions. But Jesus honored Thomas. He loved him, and taught him, just as he loves and teaches us. What questions do you have for Jesus today?
• Prayer: Almighty God, I believe that you can handle my doubts, fears, questions, and even my lack of faith. Increase my faith today. Use my questions to help me learn. Amen.