Read thru the New Testament 2018
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids
Bible Reading: Matthew 20:17-34
This can be a cruel world. People can be cruel. They say things and do things that hurt. As a result, we can feel both unlovable and unloved. Sometimes people go through their entire lives feeling like they don’t match up, they’re not as good as others, they don’t deserve to be loved…by people, or God. But that is just not true. God loves us. In this passage, Jesus showed His love to two blind beggars. Remember, beggars were often seen as the people who were at the very bottom of society. They didn’t contribute. They were in the way. Nobody could love a blind beggar. Nobody…but Jesus. The point is: if Jesus loves a blind beggar…then He loves me. Never, ever forget…you are loved by God.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
When I was in college at the University of Florida I went out for the Gator Track Team. I was a long-distance runner and some of the best runners in the world were either on the Team, or were part of the Florida Track Club (people who ran as professionals) that often practiced with the Team. That means that I had the opportunity to get to know some of the very best runners in the entire world. For instance, I practiced with Frank Shorter (won the Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics and the Silver Medal in the 1976 Olympics in the marathon), Kip Keino (won the Gold Medal in the 1500 meter in the 1968 Olympics and the Gold Medal in the 3000 meters steeplechase in the 1972 Olympics), Marty Liquori (in 1969 and 1971 he was ranked #1 in the world in the 1500meters/mile and in 1977 he was ranked #1 in the 5000 meters, he is also a track and field sports commentator for NBC). Now, those names may not mean a lot to you. But I’ll bet you are pretty amazed with people who set world records and win Olympic Gold Medals. I know that I am. Those are some incredible people. They were famous. At track meets crowds of people would follow them around wanting to meet them and to get their autograph. Their pictures were in magazines and they were interviewed on television. You cannot imagine what it was like for a young college freshman to practice with those guys. Just to be around them was inspiring.
A few years back, Patty and I were traveling and stopped in Gainesville to get something to eat. Back when we were in college there our favorite restaurant was a place called Leonardo’s Pizza. They had the best pizza…ever! It is still around, so of course, we decided to go there eat. When we got out of the car and started to walk in I saw a sign. I can’t remember the exact words but it said something like, “Appearing Tonite: Marty Liquori and His Band”. I thought, “Marty Liquori. Surely not ‘the’ Marty Liquori.” But sure enough…when we got to our table and I looked across the room…it was him. I didn’t know that he was a professional jazz guitarist and singer. He was on the stage by himself warming up to play. I told Patty that I was going to tell him “Hello” and thank him for being such a great inspiration. I walked up to him and said, “Hello, Marty. My name is Jim Pennington. Back in the 1970s I was in school here at Florida and had the opportunity to run with you, some.” Before I could go any further and tell him how much he had inspired and motivated me…he smiled stood up and said, “Well, sure Jim. I remember you.” I know that you cannot fully understand what happened in my heart and mind when Marty Liquori said that he remembered me. Me…little old me. A guy who never set a single world record. A guy who never went to the Olympics. A guy who ran with “the” Marty Liquori…most of the time looking at him from behind because he was so much faster. Me. Marty Liquori said he remembered me…Jim Pennington. Now, did he really remember me…or, was he just being kind? I don’t care. He said he did…and that’s good enough for me! Marty Liquori wouldn’t lie. And at that moment…my heart about exploded! I wanted to turn around and shout to everyone in the restaurant, “Marty remembers me!” Don’t worry…I didn’t. But I did think about it. We talked for several minutes, I thanked him for being an inspiration, shook hands, and I returned to our table. I could not wait to tell Patty that Marty Liquori remembered me.
Like those guys, Jesus was famous. Crowds followed Him everywhere He went. One day, He was in the city of Jericho. The Bible says that there was a “multitude” of people following Him. You can imagine all of the pushing and shoving…trying to get as close to Jesus as they could. They didn’t have smart phones back then so they couldn’t take a Selfie with Him. But, if they could get close enough to Him and a friend was there and saw it…when they got home and were around a bunch of people…they would probably say, “Hey, tell these guys about me walking down the road with Jesus, the other day.” As this multitude was leaving the city two blind men, who were sitting alongside the road, heard people saying, “It’s Jesus. He’s coming this way.” In those days, if you were blind, about the only way that you could get money to live on was to beg. These men were probably beggars. All day long they sat by the road and begged people passing by to give them some money…just a little change…pocket change. They would sit there all day, every day of their lives. They were completely dependent on other people. And most of those people looked down on them. They disrespected them. They didn’t think of them as being people…they were just beggars. But they had heard about Jesus. They had heard that He healed the sick…and they were sick. So, they began to shout at the top of their lungs, “Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on us! Help us, Jesus!” The people standing around them said, “Shut up! You stupid beggar. Shut up!” But they wouldn’t stop. “Jesus, Jesus, have mercy on us!” All of a sudden the crowd stopped moving. It got very quiet. Jesus said, “Bring those two men to Me.” It probably startled them, at first. They may have even been a little afraid. “What’s going on?” “Jesus is calling for you. Come on, I’ll take you to Him.” Someone led the blind men to Jesus. He said, “What can I do for you?” “Oh, Lord, we are blind. We want to see. Will You please heal our eyes?” As Jesus looked at these men His heart was filled with tenderness and compassion for them. He didn’t see them as blind beggars. He saw them as men that God loved. He reached out His hand and touched their eyes and immediately they could see. Once again, the crowd started to move down the road. But now, there were two more men in the crowd.
Marty Liquori…remembered me. A famous person…remembered me. He stopped what he was doing and took time to talk with me. That was amazing.
But what happened that day with the blind men was even more amazing. Like Marty, Jesus was famous. And yet, there is something more. Jesus wasn’t just a famous person…He was the Son of God. And get this…the Son of God stopped alongside a dirty, dusty road…to show His love to two dirty, dusty beggars. It is amazing to realize that God is interested in us. That He would stop what He is doing…to pay attention to me and my needs. That’s Jesus. His heart is full of compassion and love for us.
I want you to remember something. Don’t ever, ever forget it. God loves you. Sometimes you may not feel very loveable. There may even be some people who don’t think you’re very loveable. There may be some people who tell you that God doesn’t love you and is not interested in you. But don’t you believe it. God loves you. And whether you are at your best, or your worst…if you will call out to Him like those beggars did…He will stop whatever He is doing, or wherever He is going…come to you and ask, “What can I do for you?” At that moment, pour out your heart to God. Tell Him exactly what is going on. And ask Him, “Jesus, this is my problem. Would You heal me?” What did He do for the beggars? “And moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes.” In the same way, He will touch your life. Then, like the beggars…you follow Him. I wonder how many times those beggars told people the story about the day that Jesus healed them? Probably over, and over, and over. Now, it’s your turn. Go tell people what Jesus has done for you…over, and over, and over.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,