Immediately she arose and served her guests

Monday Musings for May 27, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

I have a devotional thought today. It’s about one of the “walk-on” characters in the Bible — Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke chapter 4). We don’t know much about her, but what we know, I like. She served.

You see, Jesus worked many miracles in the few years he was with us — and many of them involved healing people. But the Bible records only a few of the responses. Now, God has his reasons for including certain stories in Scripture while not including others… even though that means we’ll never know the details of the vast majority… but why did he include this account? Was it that important that a walk-on character served? I'd say, yes.

For one thing, there’s only so much room in the Bible… I mean… whatever else it is, it’s also a book! But within that book, every word is important. This speaks to its verbal inspiration... and one of those important words was "serve." But also — because it is a book — not every word is equal to every task. This speaks to its confluence with its human authors… but what does that mean?

God used the native diction of real people having real experiences in real-time to create a work that would last forever. That’s the “how” of it… and unless you think that Paul’s telling Timothy to bring his cloak (2 Timothy 4:13) is as important as Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” (John 14:6, NIV), then you must admit that not every word is equally important to every task... but today, "serve" was.

Now, you notice (and I find this extraordinary) that theological commentators designate the whole universe as God’s general revelation — and here I must ask, isn’t that a rather mundane term for such an extraordinary entity? But look at what they call the Scripture: God’s special revelation — and in light of the universe, that’s some respect! But what is it that makes it that kind of special?

First, the Scripture was inspired by God. Paul tells us that he breathed it into existence… and this is simply extraordinary!

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
(2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)

But second, there is a certain way that he did this breathing. He allowed the human authors to write their stories… but they did so while being carried along by the Holy Spirit. This, too, is wonderful!

“We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19–21, NIV, emphasis mine)

So, if you were just reading along and engaging with the story in Luke chapter 4, you would see Peter’s mother-in-law as a walk-on. But our lesson today is that the kingdom of God doesn’t have any walk-ons! It only has people. God is in the business of redeeming them... and they should serve one another in return.

But God is also in the business of telling his story. So, how does he do this? He does this through the stories of other people. The “problem” with this is that, since the story is the basic organizing unit in the Bible, not every character can be the main character — this, by definition... even one who served Jesus personally.

But walk-on or no, God still had some things to teach us through this woman who opened her door to Jesus — so I have to ask: have you opened yours? … and I mean all the way? Let's serve in his kingdom today.

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