Weekly Blessings: Week 32 with Sam Martin
Welcome to “Weekly Blessing!” Glad you could stop by!
This week’s blessing comes from my friend Sam Martin, blogger over at Musing God’s Word
. He is such a down-to-earth soul and very insightful when it comes to the things of God. Go check out his blog!
Are we there yet?
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth now seems just a distant memory. The New Year is in full flow and probably no longer considered to be that new.
If you’re like me, you’ll often think of Jesus in two distinct ways. The first is as a baby, the second as a grown man, from the beginning of His ministry and right up until His death and resurrection. It’s no surprise that we think like that, as both periods are probably the greatest blessings that the world has encountered.
Early last year I was reading through Matthew’s gospel. Very early on in chapter 2, I was struck by a brief passage, and I spent some time considering how Jesus might have been as a small child. If you’re familiar with the early life of Jesus, you’ll be aware that shortly after His birth, Mary and Joseph were forced to flee from Bethlehem to avoid their new born baby being killed by King Herod. Their destination was Egypt, where they would stay until instructed otherwise.
The passage that struck me was verses 19-23. In this passage, Joseph encounters an angel in a dream. The angel instructs Joseph that he is to return to Israel with his wife and their son as King Herod has died. They do as they’re told and leave for Israel. It’s easy sometimes to read over passages like this and not consider exactly what they were being asked to do. By my estimation, the shortest trip from Egypt to Israel is around 380 miles. It is also very likely that this entire trip would have been made by foot or on a donkey with little water separating the two countries. Firstly, I commend Joseph and Mary for taking on a journey like this. I think I’d have been a little apprehensive if I’d been asked to make the journey by car. What’s more, Joseph is given a warning that King Herod’s son Archelaus is now reigning over Judea, so they decide to travel to the city of Nazareth. This is likely to have added at least another 100 miles onto their journey!
Although the age of Jesus at this time is disputed, it is clear that he would have been anywhere between the ages of 2 and 12. As if a 480 mile journey wasn’t going to be difficult enough, Mary and Joseph had to do it with a young child. The reason I pondered this passage at such length was because it prompted a nostalgic thought I think most people can relate to in some capacity. If you’re a parent, or remember long journeys as a child, you’ll be familiar with the phrase ‘Are we there yet’? I wondered whether Jesus would have been that child!
Even as adults it is often tempting to ask God “Are we there yet?” or questions to that effect.
Having recently finished reading John’s gospel and coincidentally watching a number of sermons based on some of its chapters, I felt positively challenged by some of Jesus’ teachings. Chapter 15 verse 5 was a particular favorite of mine. In it, Jesus tells his disciples “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing”.
As we journey through life, it can be quite tempting to wish away certain periods. We become so focused on destinations that sometimes we forget or even neglect the journey. We might even find ourselves asking God ‘Are we there yet?’
Jesus’ teaching about abiding in Him had a message of perseverance in it. Before we can bear fruit, we must remain in Him. A sermon I watched recently used an analogy to this effect “if I want potatoes for dinner tomorrow, I don’t plant potatoes today”. In other words, if I want to taste the final product, I have to be prepared to wait.
My challenge to anybody reading this is that you don’t just focus on your destination, but take great strength from your journey.