He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain;’ and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat;’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
Put most simply, Jesus asks how we can know so much yet miss what is essential.
A reminder of the context may be helpful, as it clarifies why it appears the frustration Jesus is experiencing is only growing. At this point in the story, Jesus has just admitted the stress he’s under as the one who bears the kingdom message that sets even family members at odds. He’s on his way to Jerusalem to meet the cross. And as he travels he meets more resistance and his message grows only more insistent, even desperate.
And so he wonders how we – his audience than and now – can know so much but miss what’s essential. The examples he uses are taken from the everyday. We see clouds and prepare for rain; we sense the south wind blowing and expect heat. Why then, do we miss what he is trying to tell us about love – about God’s love for all of us and the invitation and command to love each other in response?
Instead of embracing and sharing God’s love, we take each other to court rather than treating each other with respect. Or talk behind each other’s backs rather than guard each other’s reputation. Or grow jealous of another’s accomplishments or possessions rather than give thanks for all the good things in our lives.
Here’s the thing: we do, way more often than not, know what is right, but fail to do it. The reason? Out of our insecurity and fear we end up trusting ourselves rather than each other or even God. And believe me, the culture we live in will only amplify our anxieties and encourage us to look out for ourselves all the more.
Which is why we look to Jesus. Why we go to church. Why we read these devotions and the Scriptures. Because when we do, we see God’s love for us and all the world poured out. Because this same Jesus – frustrated, exasperated, desperate to get through to us – this same Jesus will soon embrace his destiny and show us in his own body just how much God loves us.
Prayer: Dear God, keep our eyes fastened on Jesus, so that as we comprehend more fully your love for us we will in turn share that love with those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.