In our minds, we’d love to have it…the perfect Christmas, complete with bells and mistletoe, gifts and family. But it usually doesn’t work out that way, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas stress takes over and we find ourselves focused on the wrong things. We’re worshipping the problems by worrying…we’re devoting ourselves to a crazy schedule out of desperation…and we’re putting up on a pedestal the to-do list only we think must get done. Quit fretting and stewing over the small stuff…Christmas will happen with or without every detail being done and it will be perfect in its imperfect way. For if you think about it…there has been only one “perfect” Christmas…and it happened in all places – a cow shed.
In this story, a Canaanite woman has approached Jesus asking Him to heal her demon possessed daughter. At first Jesus is kind, but firmly tells her, “I’ve been sent to help the Jews.” But she’s undeterred with her request, so He then says to her, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” For most, that kind of rebuff would have stop them…but not her! Yes, she thoroughly understands what Jesus is saying, but she also knows that He’s the only one who can save her daughter. It’s by her tenacity and tremendous faith…a faith that Jesus recognizes in her, that her request is granted.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.
To me, doubt is the most debilitating and controlling weapon Satan uses against us. We can be the strongest of Christians with absolute trust and confidence in our Savior…but when the tiniest bit of doubt creeps into our minds, suddenly we’re filled with questioning, uncertainty, and apprehension. And a lot of these times it’s not that we’re doubting God …we’re doubting what God can to do through us. Self-doubt will stop God’s plans and purposes for our life…self-doubt is like telling the Lord, “You don’t know what you’re doing, I know better.” As Jesus told Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
The crowds were getting larger and larger that followed Jesus and His disciples. In these verses, many have crammed themselves into a private home to hear Jesus teach. No wonder Jesus’ family sent word into the house they were outside wanting to see Him…there was no way they could get into the packed house! When Jesus asked this question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He wasn’t showing disrespect, but rather saw it as a teachable moment. The story goes on in verses 34-35, ” Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s Will is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus wanted the crowd huddled around Him to see that they were just as highly regarded to Him as part of “The Family of God” as His own kin were.