While I was studying the book of Matthew, for my last two posts, I was struck by something I hadn’t noticed before. As I read the account given by Matthew, of Jesus’ baptism, I was somewhat puzzled by the people’s reaction or should I say lack there of?
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.
This portion of scripture ends chapter three of Matthew and then we go right into chapter four where Jesus is lead into the wilderness to be tempted. I don’t know about you but it seems like this was a great occasion to worship almighty God. And yet, there is no mention of anything resembling worship in this account from Matthew, or for that matter, any of the other gospels.
Let me see if I got this right, I said to myself as I was studying this out. You mean to tell me that … Jesus rises up out of the water and the people witness the Holy Spirit descending upon Him as a Dove … the heavens open up to acknowledge it … and the very voice of Almighty God speaks … yet there is no mentioning of anybody falling to their knees in awe of God? There is no mention of John or anyone else’s reaction to this miraculous event? Did the crowd of witnesses just go on about their merry way as if this was no big deal?
Now, perhaps the people there were confused by all they had just seen. They thought that John the Baptist might be the Messiah. Luke 3:15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.
But even so, to see something so powerful, so supernatural, and not be taken over by the sheer awe of it … how can that be? How do we miss what’s right in front of us? Oh! How we would all do well to read the scriptures with the fullness of heart so that we may truly know what to celebrate and when to celebrate. Maybe if one or two people had fallen on their knees others might have followed suit. I say this because isn’t that just what happens for most us? We wait to see what others will do. Or, we miss what’s right in front of us. Let’s take a look at an Old Testament scripture from the book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 5:21-23 Here this, you foolish and senseless people, you have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear. Should you not fear me? Declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.” But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away.
If our hearts are not attuned to God we’ll miss who He is and the only true thing worth celebrating – Him. I thought this would be a good message to share this week since many families, including Christians ones, will participate in Halloween on Friday. But how many know what Halloween is truly about? Halloween looks a lot different today then it did centuries ago. But don’t be fooled by the cute pumpkins or seemingly harmless ghoulish characters. This celebration is rooted in occultism and evil. Halloween is a pagan practice that throughout the centuries has been influenced by various cultures. Even Christians in the Middle Ages compromised and accepted some of these practices in an effort to win converts. In the 1800s America was flooded with immigrants who brought their varies Halloween customs with them. In the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween became thought of as a secular, but community-centered holiday with attempts to limit vandalism often associated with some of the pagan practices. Today many consider Halloween just an innocent holiday and something fun to celebrate. But shouldn’t we make sure we know and understand what we’re celebrating? Especially when what we choose to celebrate may be taking away from our celebration and worship of the Lord.
To read about Jesus’ baptism and think, “Wow, the people standing there missed out on a chance to celebrate by worshipping God,” is powerful. But maybe even more powerful and applicable for us today is to think about all the fruitless, meaningless, pointless stuff we choose to focus on and celebrate with no thought as to why. So let’s think about it … celebrating Halloween is about celebrating DEATH and to celebrate God is to celebrate LIFE! In listening to a very revered pastor, Charles Stanley, I heard him share, It’s all about choice. But don’t enter into your choices ill-advised. I hope this week’s post gets you thinking and researching for yourself, not just about celebrating Halloween, but about all the things you choose to celebrate.