Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: Douglas Hare

Jesus Said: Follow Me

“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people'” (Matthew 4:19).

Remember playing the game “Follow the Leader” when you were a kid? I used to work in an after-school children’s ministry setting. At the end of the day, before the parents had arrived and when there just was not enough time to do another activity, we would play Follow the Leader.

I would be the leader to start, and we would go up and down halls; circle tables and chairs; tumble over couches. It was fun! And it usually always lasted the right amount of time.  Continue reading

Bible’s Major Players: Joseph the Carpenter

Slide2The Bible is filled with some major players.  The carpenter Joseph is one from the New Testament.

Though there is not much said about this man, I would argue that Joseph played a significant role in the birth narratives. It took an enormous amount of risk and faith for Joseph to stay married to Mary after she told him that she was pregnant. According to the society of the time, Mary would have been labeled as a woman of the street and could have easily been stoned to death. Joseph, according to Matthew’s birth narrative, was “a just man” and decided to divorce Mary quietly. This implies that instead of acting our of anger towards Mary, Joseph still loved and respected her.

The fact that Joseph decided to quietly divorce her suggests that he made this decision out of his love for God, which is greater than his love for Mary, suggests scholar Douglas Hare. Joseph, Hare writes, “determines to do it secretly, so as not to cause her public humiliation.” This is the kind of compassion that Jesus would grow up with. This is the kind of compassion all of humanity should have towards each other.

family_5337cJoseph, however, changes his mind. An angel appears to him in a dream informing him that the child Mary’s carrying is from God. The text says that when Joseph woke up, he did as “the Lord commanded him” (Matthew 1:24) and did not know her until “she had borne a son” (Matthew 1:24-25).

I think we can each find ourselves in Joseph. When he was first told that Mary was going to give birth to the Son of God, he was not ready to go out on that limb. He did not want to step outside of his comfort zone and accept what God was doing in his life. The reality is that when God calls us, it is to call us out of our comfort zones. Joseph went out of his comfort zone and embraced Mary and the unborn child.

How is God calling you out of your comfort zone?

Resources: Hare, Douglas R. A. Matthew. John Knox Press, 1993.

A Time of Grace

Read Matthew 24:36-44.

Advent PonderingsEvery Advent there is a “the word is going to end” text. That’s because we are in a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of the Christ. This next coming of Christ is often called the Second Coming. And despite what the Left Behind series of books has told us, nobody knows the day or the hour. Jesus said so himself.

In Matthew 24 Jesus has told his disciples about signs of his returning, tells them what life will be like until he returns, and counsels them to live faithfully until he returns. And the natural question that the disciples ask is, “When?” When will all of this happen and when will You return?

Jesus’ answer? “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36, NRSV).

Jesus doesn’t want the disciples to focus on the when. Jesus wants them to consider how they will use the time they have until he returns. Jesus gives a few examples, including things like there will be two in the fields working and then there will be one. There will be two women grinding meal and then there will be one.

These things are ordinary, every day things. And in the midst of the ordinary, Jesus says, he will return. In the midst of working in the fields, Christ will appear. In the midst of cooking dinner, Christ will appear. In the midst of the partying, Christ will appear.

In the midst of everyday, ordinary, mundane life, Christ will appear. Just like he did before. Christ arrived on Earth in the midst of the ordinary and the mundane. And nobody noticed, but a few lonely shepherds and traveling wise men.

So, it kinda begs us to think about our own everyday, ordinary, mundane lives a little different, huh? As we drive to work or school every day, write papers, grade papers, clean the yard, cook dinner, wash the dishes, change diapers, mop floors, volunteer, pay bills . . . Christ may appear.

Douglas Hare calls this time of waiting – the time between now and when Christ returns –  the “time of grace.” He writes, “God was postponing the last judgment so that many more might have a chance to hear and accept the gospel. It was a time for worldwide evangelism.”

We are still living in the time of grace. Though there are wars, there is peace. Though there are threats of destruction, there is hope. Though there is depression and anxiety, there is joy. Though there is hate, there is love.

And where is this peace, hope, joy, and love?

The answer is you and I. We bear peace, hope, joy, and love. The question is, what will we do with this time that we have? How will we use this time of grace?

The Time You Have

Slide3This video was to be included in a Bible study I taught this morning. We were discussing the scriptures for the first Sunday in Advent (year A). The texts, as are common for the first Sunday in Advent, dealt with the second coming of Christ. Douglas Hare calls the time between the present and the coming of Christ, “time of grace.” The question raised was, “What do we do with the time we have?”

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