I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:11-12)
Reading aloud has always been a part of the bedtime routine in our house. Sharing books is special, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
With libraries currently closed, my son and I are running out of books. So we decided to try something new -- a read aloud by a wonderful teacher online. She has set up her YouTube channel with such passion, a real desire to nourish children with good stories. As she reads, there is always a chair beside her, and she reads chapter after chapter, all the while standing up.
At first this practice of hers annoyed me a little, because I kept expecting her to sit down but she wouldn’t. As we began our second book with her, I found myself even more frustrated and fixated on her standing, but I was still able to dismiss it because of her enthusiasm. The third read-aloud we started with her we find out she is expecting a baby, and she’s visibly pregnant and would likely enjoy a seat! Yet, she still stands throughout the whole book.
The chair. It’s there. She knows it; she put it there. She understands its purpose and has tried it out. She knows its benefits and has probably enjoyed using it. The chair is always in her midst, always at her side, at her disposal -- hers for the taking; yet, she continues to stand -- on her own, with no support -- page after page, chapter after chapter, book after book.
The teacher is really missing out. I was aching just watching her for a couple of chapters. My son and I were pulling for her to JUST SIT DOWN!
In this passage of Scripture, Jesus talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth. My best bet is that misery will be brought on by missing out on the good, the light, the love, giving up the opportunity for something great, being surrounded by something helpful, but just not seeing it for what it is or taking advantage of the relief, support, pleasure and comfort it might bring. In some small way, this teacher and her unused chair can give us a picture of what Jesus means when we realize with deep regret how much we’ve missed out on. Regret. If only …. I wish I had….It’s been all around me all the while. If only.
The centurion recognizes Jesus for who He is. Unlike many Israelites, he discerns Jesus’s character and true nature and hence reaches out to Him to access all He has to give. For this, the centurion is recognized as a leader. “This man is the vanguard of many outsiders who will soon be coming from all directions -- streaming in from the east, pouring in from the west, sitting down at God’s kingdom banquet alongside Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith will find themselves out in the cold, outsiders to grace and wondering what happened.” (verses 11-12, The Message) …. If only they’d taken hold of what had been there all along!
Lord, please give me eyes to see who you are and all that you want to do for me. Help me to reach out to you as the centurion did. Help me know you want to help me, support me, give me pleasure and comfort. Don’t let me dismiss your presence or power. I don’t want to live without you. Thank you.