Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. So said Mike Tyson, one of the most ferocious boxers in the sport’s history. The same is true in baseball. My plan was always simple: follow the same routine each game, each at-bat, each fielding opportunity, each pitch…and I’ll win. If I stick to the plan, there won’t be any problems. Until that guy hammers my curveball. Until that ball takes a bad hop. Until that guy throws harder than I thought. Then, my routine of getting dressed the same way every game seems a little silly. Then, my routine between each pitch seems a little useless. Then, what has always worked seems a little outdated.
In Matthew 2:21-24, 41-50, Joseph did everything right. His religious routine was perfect. When Jesus was born, his earthly father followed the Jewish law to the letter. Whatever Moses had prescribed, Joseph did. Whenever it was supposed to be done, Joseph did it.
Then Jesus punched Jewish religion in the mouth.
That Law of Moses you love and try to follow? Yeah, it means nothing if your heart isn’t in it. And, by the way, you can’t really follow it anyway, but Jesus did so just trust him.
Circumcision as the sign that you’re “in” with God? Not anymore, and not ever, really. Unless your heart is changed, that religious ritual does nothing for you.
What you thought you understood about God? Jesus came to show you truly who God is. Just like Joseph in v. 50, you might not at first understand him, but he will change your life.
Over the years, I’ve learned that Jesus cares little for my religious routines and traditions if my heart is far from him. I’ve learned that those routines and traditions have no meaning apart from him. I’ve learned that much of my religious life needs to be transformed by him. I’ve learned that the routines and traditions aren’t always the problem. I am.
Lord Jesus, transform my religious life to be about you and not me. Help me to no longer just go through the motions, but to truly worship and know you. Amen.