Sunday, 21 February 2016

Where your treasure is

When word reached Jesus of the fears some people had of the hostility of Herod towards him, Jesus refused to go into hiding, but continued as he intended, to Jerusalem to bring his prophetic ministry to a climax, which he knew inevitably meant laying down his life. Herod's power base was in a mountain fortress south of Roman occupied Jerusalem. After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to Herod to be interrogated, as a perverse gesture of good will on the part of the governor Pilate towards the warlord who accepted Roman domination and exercise power under it. 

When Herod met Jesus he was driven more by curiosity than hostility, even perhaps willing to be impressed if he could see a display of miraculous power. Earlier Herod feared Jesus was in fact John the Baptist, whose murder Herod ordered, returned to haunt him. Once he'd put this thought to rest, he lost interest and dismissed Jesus with an arbitrary punitive flogging. Jesus remained silent throughout. There was nothing he could do about this tyrant. His heart was already set on achieving his destiny, back in Jerusalem.

'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' (Luke 12:34)

'My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.' (Psalm 57:7)

'I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.' (Psalm 40:8)

Psalm 40 is quoted in accounts of early apostolic teaching, regarding Jesus' fulfilment of his mission. The opposite of a heart surrendered to God is a hardened heart, and whenever the people of Israel become rebellious and resentful against God, they are thus accused.

'The house of Israel will not hearken unto you; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted.' (Ezekeil 3:7)

Yet God always appeals to his children to change their attitude, to repent and return to him.

'O that today you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts' (Psalm 95:8)

It can sometimes seem impossible not to react negatively in the face of painful, difficult and trying circumstances, ending up harbouring resentment, 'the poisonous root of bitterness' as it is called in Hebrews 12:15, which does us no good whatsoever. The reluctance or inability to let go of experiences which have thus caused us to suffer, leads to the hardening of heart scripture refers to, and estrangement from God. 

Prayer enables us to re-orient our lives, so they are again fixed on God. Thanksgiving and praise are a sure remedy for healing the hurts life inflicts.

'Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.' (Psalm 42:11)

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