The Ministry of Jesus (Matthew 4:12-23)

Jesus Calls His Disciples by He Qi

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (New International Version)

What is “ministry”? 

For some, ministry is only about the souls of people; it is seeing as many people respond to the message of salvation in Christ as possible. 

For others, ministry is meeting the tangible needs of people because there is such a breadth and depth of human social and physical problems. 

And, for others, ministry is defined in terms of what takes place within the four walls of a church building, led by pastors and church leaders.

“Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.”

Warren Wiersbe

Problems, however, arise whenever we:

  • Focus on one dimension of ministry. Because, in reality, ministry is multidimensional.
  • Fulfill the outward, administrative demands of ministry – without going after the relational heart of what ministry entails. 
  • Forget about whole groups of people who are different than us. Ministry is for everyone, not some.

We need to look at the ministry of Jesus – what he did and why he did it. Christ’s purpose is to be our purpose: Minister to the total life of all people.

Jesus Preaching

Before there were newspapers, CNN, and 24 hour news cycles, ancient people heard what was happening from heralds or preachers who loudly announced in the streets the important news of the day.

Jesus had a ministry to both Jew and Gentile. Although his ministry was chiefly directed toward his fellow Jews, Christ went out of his way to engage Gentiles, as well, with a message of repentance.

Repentance is turning the whole person – body, soul, mind, will, and emotions – from sin and disobedience to God in obedience to the message of Christ. It involves humility, sorrow for sin, and a commitment to following Jesus.

To repent doesn’t mean to manage sin or clean up parts of my life; it’s a radical conversion from an old way of life to a new way of life. Repentance is not simply adding Jesus to our schedule but is a complete change of how we live.

Christianity is a life, not just an event. Following Jesus is a journey, a life-long process of inner transformation; a complete forsaking of anything that does not please God; and a desire to reorient my life around what’s important to God. 

To illustrate this in a contemporary context, I ask, “What does it mean to follow the Green Bay Packers football team?” A fan not only watches all the games from start to finish, but cheers loudly for the Packers; talks about the Packers with everyone, even strangers; and doesn’t cheer for the Chicago Bears! Fans are committed to their team.

The difference, however, between football and Christianity, is that followers of a team are fans, whereas followers of Jesus are not fans in the stands or watching the television. Instead, Christ followers are on the field of play as teammates with Jesus.

So, when it comes to repentance, we turn from being fans of Jesus to followers of Jesus, doing what he did and saying what he said. We are active participants in the kingdom of God – embracing and embodying a message of repentance to new life in Christ.

Jesus Calling

Jesus calling the first disciples illustrates the kingdom message: a radical break with the old life. Each disciple walked away from a good life and embraced of a new life following Jesus.

Some understanding of Jewish culture in the time of Jesus is helpful here. Central to the life of any Jew was the Torah, the Law. Around age 6, Jewish boys would begin to go to the synagogue for schooling in the Torah by the local rabbi. 

This first level of education was called Beth Sefer (“House of the Book”) and would last until about age 10. In those four years, the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, were thoroughly memorized.

By age 10, some of the boys would distinguish themselves as good students and able to handle Torah. So, they would continue on in the second level of schooling called Beth Talmud (“House of Learning”). Those that did not continue with school would then learn the family trade and become an apprentice. Those that went on with school would then memorize the rest of the Old Testament.

At about age 14, only the best of the best were studying Torah. At the completion of their studies, they would apply to a well-known rabbi in order to become his disciple. The goal of this third level was to become just like the rabbi. This was called Beth Midrash (“House of Study”). The rabbi essentially interviews the teenager to find out if he has the stuff to become like the rabbi. 

If the rabbi believes the kid doesn’t have it in him, he tells him to go back to the family business. If, however, the rabbi grills the kid and finds he has what it takes, then he will say to him, “Come, follow me.” It was considered a great privilege and opportunity, and the teenager would leave everything to literally follow the rabbi everywhere he went.

Now, let’s return to Christ’s disciples. Jesus calls Andrew, Peter, James, and John. At the time, they were fishing because they were fishermen. That meant somewhere along the line they didn’t have what it took to further their education, or to follow a rabbi. 

Let’s, then, not miss the import and impact of Jesus saying to them, “Come, follow me!”  Jesus is expressing a belief that these men can become just like him. Well, of course you drop your nets and follow him! Jesus believes I can be like him! Jesus took a group of young men who couldn’t make the grade and used them to change human history. 

Jesus also says the same thing to you and me: I choose you. Come, follow me. 

Christ believed in us before we believed in him. Yes, Jesus believes you can do all the work of embodying the very words of God and becoming like him.

The attitude here is not, “Oh, geez, I have to go do ministry,” as if I were a teenager who was just asked to do the dishes. Rather, the attitude is of privilege and opportunity. If we fail to view ministry in this way, then we must come back to the message of repentance and have an attitude adjustment. People who follow Jesus do so because they get to, not because they have to.

Jesus Healing

            Envision yourself walking with Jesus and following him. You observe several things about his ministry of healing:

  • Jesus heals every problem. Christ has the power and authority to do so.
  • Jesus heals the whole person – not just the physical, or just the spiritual.
  • Jesus heals people whether they repent or not. Christ never made repentance a prerequisite for healing. He heals simply because he wants to.
  • Jesus heals to defeat the devil. Christ continually looks to reverse the hold that sin has on people.
  • Jesus chose to focus on healing the destitute, the poor, and the disadvantaged – rather than directing ministry to the higher classes and royalty to mediate his wishes to the people.

Who are the people – the least, the lonely, the lost – in need of healing in your family, neighborhood, and community?

  1. Those who are ill with various diseases
  2. Those suffering severe pain – of body, mind, emotion, and spirit
  3. The demon possessed or demonically influenced
  4. Prisoners and ex-convicts
  5. The working poor, and the elderly poor
  6. Those in the hospital with no one to visit them
  7. Those who grieve alone
  8. Those with addictions and behavioral issues
  9. Victims of verbal or physical abuse
  10. And many, many more….

Jesus had a ministry of both word and deed. To follow Christ is to become like him and pass on what we have learned to reliable people who will do the same.

A Reality Check (Hebrews 10:1-4)

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (New International Version)

Sometimes, we silly people confuse the sign for the real deal. It’s important to distinguish between the two. We discern the difference all the time when it comes to more mundane affairs.

People generally know that looking at a movie poster is not watching the actual film; that wearing a string of cheap pearls is only mimicking the real and expensive ones; or that sitting in a doctor’s waiting room isn’t the same thing as being in the appointment.

However, when it comes to our religion, we seem to blur the lines between sign and substance. Praying a “sinners prayer” or making a profession of faith isn’t the same as growing, maturing, following, and living a committed Christianity.

Knowing some Christian lingo and/or going with the flow of cultural Christianity doesn’t necessarily mean that Christ’s words and ways are being followed.

And today’s New Testament lesson is a reminder, and not a guilt trip, that the law points to the actual substance of religious life – and is not life itself.

The laws surrounding the old system of animal sacrifice were never meant to be an end in itself. It pointed forward to the real deal and was, therefore, completely inadequate to bring deliverance from sin, death, and hell to anyone.

The very fact that sacrifices needed to be repeated year and after year demonstrated that they were ineffectual in saving a person. Rather, those sacrifices were designed to cause the worshiper to long for a sacrifice to end all sacrifices – to anticipate that the sin issue would be settled once and for all.

The only thing the sacrifices did was remind people they were sinners in need of a savior. Just as a slap on the hand is grossly inadequate for handling a murderer, so offering an animal was never going to do the trick in taking care of divine justice.

And besides, God has never been pleased with a bunch of sacrifices anyway. So, what is God really pleased with? The Lord is pleased with a heart devoted to obedience and fealty to Jesus Christ; God cares about inner attitudes and dispositions of the spirit which are inclined toward righteousness, holiness, mercy, humility, and justice for all.

Sacrifices, in and of themselves, have no power; they are like a toothless lion who couldn’t bite into you if he tried. The way to set things right is through the once for all mighty sacrifice of the Son – an offering to end all offerings.

God doesn’t want a checklist of daily sacrifices, any more than a spouse only wants supper on the table at night, or a paycheck every month. It’s nice but falls short of the full scope of marital interactions and relations. A marriage built on law won’t stand. It needs real flesh and blood relationship, complete with a devoted heart, sincere attitudes, and loving words and actions.

Since Christ has ably and permanently taken care of the sin issue, what sort of impact ought that to have on the Christian’s life? What kind of people are we to be?

To begin listing things to do is to go back to law and fail to grasp the gospel. And that’s where many churches and believers get tripped up and miss the grace of God altogether. Observing rules of cultural Christian activities or holding to some accepted Christian norms isn’t going to cut it.

Christ’s Sermon on the Mount by Jorge Cocco Santángelo

Jesus described the sort of people who go beyond ritual regulations and rules to embrace the true spirit and end of the law:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of competing or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. (Matthew 5:3-10, MSG)

That describes folk who have embraced faith as the fulfillment of law. It’s a summary of the law’s intended purpose and end.

So, let’s worship Christ; and not some caricature of him. Maybe carefully reading through the entire book of Hebrews in one sitting will help.

Blessed God, purify your people by your abiding presence. Enlighten the minds of your people with the light of your good news. Bring wandering souls to an awareness and knowledge of Jesus Christ; and those who are walking in the way of life, keep them steadfast to the end. Guard those who are strong and prosperous from forgetting you. Increase in us your many gifts of grace and make us all fruitful in good works for the sake of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Remember Your Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17)

John baptizing Jesus with the Holy Spirit’s affirmation

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (New International Version)

Baptism is important. Remembering is important. Put together, remembering our baptism is highly important. Here’s why….

Baptism is important to Jesus

Baptism is the distinguishing mark or symbol of being a Christian. 

The New Testament actually knows nothing of an unbaptized Christian. That’s because the practice is tied to our identity as believers. Our baptisms are based in the baptism of the Lord who, in his Great Commission, told us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (who were all present at Christ’s baptism). 

The absence of baptism is like a bride without a wedding ring; a football player not wearing a uniform; a motorcycle gang without tattoos; or like an Iowa farmer without a Pioneer seed corn hat!

Baptism is the outward sign that we belong to God. It is the distinguishing symbol that we have been adopted by God and will receive all the promises of salvation in Christ.

Christ’s baptism fulfilled all righteousness through identification with repentant people

John the Baptist was understandably hesitant to baptize Jesus; he knew Jesus had no need of repentance. Although Jesus had no sin to confess, his baptism is a powerful symbol of his humility. It anticipates his ministry to people who recognize their need for God. 

It was necessary for Jesus to be baptized in order to communicate solidarity with people who are coming to God. “Righteousness” means having a right relationship with both God and other people. By being baptized, Jesus is proclaiming that a renewed and right relationship with God will become a reality through himself. Baptism is the sign that we belong to God and that our righteousness is tied to our union with Jesus.

It was important for Jesus to identify with sinners; it is important for us, as well. We remember our baptism – that we belong to God – by identifying with “sinners.” Here are 7 ways of doing it:

  1. Practicing hospitality (love of strangers)
  2. Using our spiritual gifts of speaking and serving on their behalf
  3. Getting to know people very different from ourselves
  4. Meeting people on their turf (not just ours)
  5. Showing respect and upholding dignity
  6. Asking thoughtful and caring questions
  7. Listening with focused attention

It isn’t what we “do” for people that’s as important as affirming our shared humanity with them; thus leading folks to the ultimate person who can address the needs of their heart:  Jesus.

Christ’s baptism fulfilled all righteousness through the affirmation of witnesses

Before Jesus began his ministry, it was necessary to receive validation of what he was about to teach and do. In ancient Judaism, one of the protections guaranteeing that Scripture would be taught according to the way of God, was through an ordination, of sorts. In order for a new rabbi to become a new rabbi, he needed the laying on of hands from two other rabbis who had authority to do so. 

That’s why Christ’s baptism is important. John the Baptist was a powerful teacher and prophet who was recognized by the people as such. John publicly said he wasn’t worthy to carry Jesus’s sandals, that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. So, a baptism by John validated Jesus and inaugurated his ministry. 

Baptism of Christ by Dave Zelenka

A second voice – another witness from heaven – affirmed Jesus: “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him.” And then, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came upon Jesus. This further affirmed that Jesus would save people, not through arm-twisting and great shows of power, but through humility and gentleness.

Baptism was Christ’s first recorded act as an adult. In some ways, it was his first miracle – the miracle of humility in identifying with sinners.

Remember your baptism

Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s grace. Just as Christ’s baptism focused all the promises of God in salvation as being fulfilled in one person, so in our baptism we claim all the promises of God as found in Jesus. Water symbolizes new life, God identifying with us – Immanuel, God with us.

In baptism, God promises and seals to us our union with Jesus so that identity is not found in my past and my profession of faith, but in Christ’s past of bringing redemption to us.  Baptism does not so much express faith as call one to a life of faith and sets us apart as belonging to God.

Baptism is a visible declaration of an invisible reality: union with Christ. Just as circumcision was the outward visible sign of the old covenant, so baptism is the sign of the new covenant in Christ – available to both male and female – thus opening the way for women to participate fully in the ministry of the gospel.

In particular, infant baptism confirms that salvation is not initiated by us, but by God. It affirms that one is betrothed to God. As a child, then an adult, grows into the faith, it is our task to remember our baptism, to be reminded that God’s mark is upon us, that we belong to the Lord. 

God has set us apart to be a holy people, given to Jesus to live as he did. We must never forget that baptism is God’s identifying mark upon us; that our union and solidarity with Jesus is affirmed through this practice.

We are not solitary Christians; we belong Christ and to one another. Baptism is the initiation rite that takes a lifetime to complete. Therefore, we must struggle together in working out our salvation.

Because of our union with Jesus Christ, we must remember:

  • I do not belong to the world. So, I will not live selfishly, only seeking my own comfort agenda. Instead, I will give and serve others from a pure and humble heart.
  • I do not belong to sin. So, I will not give myself over to shameful words or actions, to bullying or manipulating people, to throwing fits and pity parties to get my way, nor using my tongue to speak gossip, slander, or suck-up to others. Instead, I will use my speech wisely, building up others through thoughtful and heartfelt encouragement.
  • I do not belong to the devil. So, I will not seek his agenda of lying, cheating, stealing, and being bitter. 

I belong to Jesus, so therefore:

  • I will uphold biblical justice by championing the cause of the fatherless and the widow, the poor and the needy, the least and the lost among us.
  • I will love others with all the grace God gives me.
  • I will forgive others because Christ has forgiven me.
  • I will consider others better than myself by embracing the humility of Christ.
  • I will hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  • I will seek peace and pursue it.
  • I will, give myself to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord – completely and thoroughly, unabashedly and unreservedly.
  • I will live into my baptism and remember it always because I belong to Jesus!

Seek the Least and the Lost (Matthew 18:1-14)

Child of God by Suzi Olson

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. (New International Version)

“A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Horton Hears a Who! By Dr. Seuss

Jesus sees, honors, and protects little people. 

Horton the elephant spoke to people completely unconcerned for all the residents of Who Ville that lived on a clover. Dr. Seuss chose to make Horton an elephant, a large creature able to hear with big ears and be attentive to the small. Bigness can only come from becoming small.

Little people, the ones others fail to notice, matter to Jesus. And so, they ought to matter to us, too. Since Jesus sees and hears them, we should, too. 

Jesus often mingled with little people – children, women who had no rights, social misfits like lepers, the chronically ill, religious outsiders, tax collectors, and prostitutes. 

Our world is filled with similar people – angry adolescents, unwanted babies, forgotten old people, the mentally ill, moral failures, immigrants and refugees. If we have eyes to see and big ears to hear, we will notice the poor whom no one else hears. They are around us, even if they are invisible to us.

We’re all just little people before God. So, let’s be humble enough to see the little people around us. 

Who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

That question drips with a desire to position and posture oneself in a place of prominence and power. In other words, the questions really is, “How do I climb the ladder in God’s kingdom to be the most important person?”

In response, Jesus graciously and calmly called a child to him and answered that unless we become like a little child, we have no future with God. There’s only one way to have what you want, and it’s through humility.

Children had no status or rights in the ancient world. Ancient culture was not remotely youth or kid oriented. Kids were generally viewed as just potential adults. They were seen as weak, small, and unable to contribute much of anything until they grew up. 

Disciples of Jesus are to become like children, that is, lowly. Followers of Christ must give up their status and desire to be important. They can only be big if they become small.

Only by getting on the same level as little people can we ever welcome Jesus.

Why become like a little child?

Because a person who is attentive to the lowly is actually attentive to Jesus himself. 

We are not to welcome people because they are great, wise, rich, powerful, good-looking, and just like you and me – but because they are noticed by Jesus.

The proud person who seeks prominence is always looking for greener pastures and things to do that will impress people who will help advance them up the ladder of success. They do not care who gets stepped on along the way. 

The Christian, however, is to give all people, including the little ones and the marginal ones, the time of day and treat them as important.

How does one become humble and avoid sin?

Those who receive these little ones receive Jesus; those who reject these little ones reject Jesus, and by their lack of loving them cause them to sin. This, according to Jesus, is damnable behavior, and, so, must be dealt with in a radical manner because hell is worth avoiding at any cost. 

So then, the proud person must hack off part of themselves because it is better to be maimed for the rest of your life than enter hell. This is just one reason why a lot of folks stopped following Jesus.

Yet, Jesus insists that if, for example, your pursuit of money consumes you and you hold onto it and avoid the poor, give it away! If you hold onto your time like a clock miser and let it become your “precious” then you must get rid of it, you must give it away! It is better for you to have nothing than to have plenty of time and money and be thrown into hell fire!

In short, we should seek the lost.  

Instead of waiting for them to show up, or to seek us out, we must go get them.

The lost matter to God.

Those who are on the fence and are half-hearted in their devotion to Jesus and the mission of the church, matter to God. So are the spiritually indifferent and the not very committed. 

Coptic Church icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd

The temptation for spiritually serious persons is to look down on these lukewarm people. Jesus knew how easy it is to berate and despise such persons in our hearts:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV)

If we are willing to humble ourselves, we can learn the hard practice of not hating others for what we hate in ourselves. 

We hate it when we are lax in our devotion to Christ; fail to accomplish what we want; miss opportunities to do good; and neglect to pray, give, or serve. So, when we see this as a pattern in someone else’s life, we may easily despise them in our hearts.

Turns out that many serious Christians must be converted as well – to seeing God’s heart for these despised little people.

What should be done about lost people?

Human reasoning might say, “Ah, let that one go; we have 99.” But God’s reasoning is, “I really care for that one.” Jesus wants to convert us to the statistically unimportant. 

If a person does not contribute to the life of the flock, do we care?

The parable contained within today’s Gospel lesson has become so familiar that it no longer shocks us. What kind of shepherd would be so stupid to abandon the entire flock and expose them to the dangers of wild animals and the harsh environment in order to search, maybe even unsuccessfully for one stinky, messed up, knurly, ugly, eats-too-much, sheep? 

And then, what’s more, when finding such a sheep, that shepherd rejoices more about this one sheep found than over the more dependable and attractive members of the flock? 

Only such a “foolish” shepherd can represent God’s concern for each one straying child.

Our Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little people should be lost. Therefore, we are to seek the lost.

Conclusion

Antonio Stradivarius (1644-1737) was an Italian violin maker. His violins are now the most prized violins ever made because of the rich and resonating sound they produce. The unique sound of a Stradivarius violin cannot be duplicated.

Surprisingly, these prized violins were not made from treasured pieces of wood, but instead were carved from discarded lumber. Stradivarius, who was very poor and could not afford fine materials like his contemporaries, got much of his wood from the dirty harbors where he lived. He would take those waterlogged pieces of wood to his shop, clean them up, and from those pieces of trashed lumber, he created instruments of rare beauty.

It has since been discovered that while the wood floated in those dirty harbors, microbes went into the wood and ate out the center of those cells. This left just the fibrous infrastructure of the wood that created resonating chambers for the music. From wood that nobody wanted, Stradivarius produced violins that everybody wants.

God has a plan. It is a plan to build a benevolent realm using not just the big and important, but the lowly and despised. 

May we all participate with the Lord and humble ourselves for kingdom purposes.