Good Intentions Gone Awry
Today’s reading: Exodus 22-24; Matthew 20:17-34
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:7-8
22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” Matthew 20:22
Here we see a clear parallel between human nature under the old covenant and the new covenant. In both cases, people swore to do certain things: to be obedient, to drink the cup of suffering with Jesus Christ. In both cases, as we will see, they failed to live up to their promises and good intentions. They fully intended to carry through. There was not a trace of doubt in their minds or voices. “We will be obedient, we will do ALL the Lord has spoken,” they said.
The Israelites were moved by the thunder and lightning and smoke and trumpet sounds on Mt. Sinai as the Law was given. They trembled. Motivated by fear, they were willing to promise anything, but their good intentions proved insufficient.
The sons of Zebedee, James and John, had aspirations to a place of honor in the coming Kingdom. Their mother supported or, perhaps, instigated this appeal. She asked for this honor to be assured by the Lord. The three were certain they could handle the cost of drinking the cup, but when it came time to sip, they all fled and left Jesus alone.
I am not very different from the Israelites or the Zebedee family. I, too, have had great intentions of serving God, of obeying Him, of doing all that He has commanded, of drinking the cup of suffering with Him, but my follow through has fallen far short. How about you?
What does this tell me? It tells me I need forgiveness. Like the Israelites, upon whom the blood of the covenant was sprinkled, I have broken His covenant and stand guilty as charged. I need someone to bail me out, but I do not deserve it and I cannot earn it. It is by grace alone that God Himself would make atonement for my sins.
The Apostle Paul wrote, that in His Son, we have “…redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7). This forgiveness covers our empty promises and every other failure to do and be what we should do and be. Think about that. If you know this applies to you, praise God for His forgiveness of your good intentions gone awry.