When Inoculations Go Horribly Wrong

The New York City streets are barren, overrun by sagebrush and wild animals. And to his knowledge, only one person remains: Dr. Robert Neville.

In the movie I Am Legend, the cure to cancer is discovered. After proving 100% effective in over 10,000 clinical trials, everyone in the United States is given the breakthrough treatment, which would also serve as an inoculation against all forms of cancer.

But the ionoculation went horribly wrong.

In this thriller, starring Will Smith, we learn that not all inoculations are created equal. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. And pay close attention to the ending–because it offers a different inoculation with rich spiritual overtones.

In today’s reading, we’re going to look a little closer at a deadly inoculation that may hit close to home. It does to me.

TODAY’S READING

Genesis 42:18-43:34
Matthew 13:47-14:12
Psalm 18:16-36
Proverbs 4:7-10

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INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Genesis 42:36-43:2, 23. By refusing to send Benjamin with Reuben, Jacob chose to keep Simeon in house arrest in Egypt. From the appearance, Jacob must have given up hope that he would ever see Simeon again (see verse 36). I wonder what Simeon did while waiting to be released? But also, consider this: the sons hid this family secret about Joseph from their father for 20 years.

If karma was true, these brothers would have died for their sin.

Matthew 13:54. Jesus was living in Capernaum at the time, which is why a big deal was made about Jesus’ return to Nazareth.

Matthew 14:2–4. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “The first-century historian Josephus also reports Herod Antipas’s affair with his sister-in-law Herodias. The tetrarch and his paramour divorced their spouses to marry one another, and Herod thereby offended his former father-in-law, the Nabatean king, ultimately leading to a war in which Herod’s honor suffered greatly.”

Matthew 14:7. Herod was obviously drunk because he didn’t have the authority to grant any of the Roman Empire’s territory to anyone.

Psalm 18:30-36. What a beautiful passage—but do we really believe it? Do we believe that all God’s ways are perfect? If so, then we must trust that he’s in control regardless of the circumstances.

Proverbs 4:7. This is convicting. I don’t value wisdom like Solomon. No matter what the cost, attaining wisdom is of supreme importance.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Reading the last part of Matthew 13, I couldn’t help placing myself in the story. In his triumphant return home, Jesus began teaching in the synagogue—likely his first time in Nazareth—and praying for the sick. So how did Jesus’ family and friends respond?

“Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?”

“We know Jesus’ family—who is he to teach us?”

“Who does Jesus think he is, calling God his father and asking him to heal people? He acts like he has a special connection to God.”

Matthew tells us that the people who knew Jesus best, “took offense at him.”

Proving the adage that familiarity breeds contempt, Jesus encountered minimal success among his family and friends.

Sometimes I get concerned that I’ve become inoculated with the Gospel. You know how inoculations work—you take a small dosage of a virus, which over time, makes you immune to its affects.

Having spent my life in the church, I readily admit that I easily become immune to the Gospel. I take just enough to build a resistance to it. Jesus then becomes so…familiar.

I especially battled this in seminary. All day long we studied the Bible. We prodded and examined it so much that at times I wondered if we had killed it. Rather than the living word, we handled Scripture as if were a corpse to be examined.

As a result of a few mission trips overseas, I’ve seen the incredible affects of the Gospel on people. Changed lives. Freedom from addictions. Dramatic healings.

Perhaps they don’t occur as often here because we’ve become overly familiar with Jesus.

Lord Jesus, please forgive us for becoming overly familiar with you. We need new eyes to see you again for the first time.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you think Joseph was justified in his treatment of his brothers? What would you have done? Why?
  3. How do you break free from being inoculated with the Gospel?
  4. Describe a time when you encountered a difficult situation, only to discover that God really was in control.

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