All of mankind can agree….”I have strayed like a lost sheep.” (Psalm 119:176) But the wonderful thing about these verses in Ezekiel is how proactive the Lord is. It’s Him that is searching us out, looking after us, and rescuing us from the thick darkness of sin. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd who gathers and watches over His flock and tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” And like the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus will leave the 99 on the hillside to go looking for the one that has wandered off. (Matthew 18:10-14) Have you strayed away from the Lord? Know that Jesus is actively looking for you today.
The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had watched the disciples of Jesus eating without first washing their hands…a real defilement of tradition in their eyes! So they confronted Jesus in what they believed to be a breaking of the Law. To answer them, Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” For anytime the Good News of the Gospel is pushed aside for man-made rules, our focus changes from Jesus to religion. But remember, religion in and of itself will never save us. Nor will man-made traditions and teachings ever get us to heaven. It’s only by the blood of Jesus that we are saved…not any rule.
During His ministry here on earth, Jesus often sought out quiet places to pray. But why? It tells us in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” The answer to “why He did this” is in what happened the night before. The town of Capernaum had witnessed Jesus healing someone in the Synagogue…and so later that night the entire town converged at the house where Jesus was staying…bringing in tow every sick and demon-possessed person they could find. And it says Jesus healed them. When we give much, our emotional gas tanks gets low. And the only way to fill them is to find a place of quiet reflection so that God can renew us . Jesus was practicing the discipline of silence in order to replenish, restore, refresh, and revive His soul…and it’s something we could do well to imitate.
It could have been me doubting the unbelievable story the women were recounting about the empty tomb, the angels, and their words – “He is Risen!” Now we usually just give the apostle Thomas the bad rap of doubting the resurrection…but in Luke 24: 9-11 it tells us that when the women came back from the empty tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others…but no one believed them, for their words seemed like nonsense. How many times had Jesus told the apostles about what was to happen? How He must suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead three days later. Still they did not believe it when it really happened. Yes, I could have easily been among those doubters when the words, “He is risen!” echoed across that room.
It could have been me speaking with such irreverence towards Jesus. The Greek word for “hurled insults” in this verse is Blasphemeo, where we get the word blaspheme from. The robber who reviled Jesus, mocked Him by saying, “If You call Yourself the Messiah, then show us by rescuing Yourself from Your own impending death!” So any time I operate in disbelief and mistrust of the Lord…I’m basically hurling insults His direction also. Yes, it could have been me.