Chap. 19 - The Shape of Desire
This chapter today is very familiar to me. I have made extensive study of what's said in the first half of the chapter about marriage and Jesus' definition of it (based mostly on the Mark parallel), and there is a lot I could say. For those reading this, I won't do that, since the project here is for me to respond personally and devotionally to the Word, not to learn more about it.
I am struck by the juxtaposition of marriage and money in this chapter, and in the money section, a footnote from Ruden opens up a new thought. In her footnote on the Mark parallel, she says that Jesus appears to be making a lighthearted joke about the person who give up one farm and will receive 100 in return at the end of days. After all, 100 fields need to be ploughed, and then think of the other implications: 100 children, 100 brothers, 100 mothers. Thinking literally, it becomes comic.
Thinking about the last category in historical context, I'm sure it was enough to make a man's blood run cold. An elderly mother would have to be supported, provided for. Jesus's subtle message may be, "be careful what you wish for". The more important message may be around the nature of desire, and the way God wants to shape and renew our desires into something very different than comes naturally for us. The world tells us to always want more more more, but Jesus appears to be saying that more may not be fulfilling, in fact it may be a burden.
I will say that since I have gone into ministry I have had plenty of moments of struggle with the radical change in my financial situation. My income dropped and I went from being a salary man to being someone who has to raise support. I don't like this, and there are days when I wonder if I made the right choice. I sense Jesus' invitation this morning to havee my desires changed, to not always be wanting the vacations, cars and larger house, but to be content with the work He has given me. This is difficult.
Lord, shape my desires to be what you want.