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Imagine the Disciples of Jesus around the Thanksgiving table. Obviously they wouldn’t have celebrated American Thanksgiving, but just use your imagination. All of the disciples start saying what they are thankful for, each trying to one-up the person before them in front of Jesus…
“I’m thankful for Lazarus, Mary and Martha providing us with a place to stay,” says John.
“And this beautiful meal Martha slaved over for hours while Mary watched the parade with us all morning,” responds James.
“Well I am thankful for the money we collected at that last spot outside of Galilee,” smirks Judas.
“I’m super thankful for that miracle Jesus worked! Making one Butterball turkey feed 7,000 people? And there were 12 baskets of crescent rolls left over! So rad!” Peter as he shoves more bread into his face.
I can see Jesus watch each of his friends trying to show off just how thankful they are. Sure they mean well, but deep down He could tell the disciples were grandstanding, not truly being grateful.
Even though first century Palestinians didn’t celebrate Turkey Day, there were dozens of Jewish feasts that would have presented this opportunity and in the Gospel of John we find out that the supernaturally powered Jesus could see right through the posers:
“No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” John 2:25
This is simultaneously so awesome and so scary. Jesus knows my heart but still loves me – thank God! But also: Jesus knows my heart … and it’s awful – I’m ashamed. And this is where the dueling concepts of Grace and Mercy swoop in to save the day! Grace, because I need what I cannot earn. And Mercy because I cannot bare what I deserve.
As we get ready for a season filled with thanksgiving (and lights and parties and music), what better time to take stock of our hearts? What can we leave for dead at the foot of the cross? If we let God prune the dying things off of our souls we will truly experience a season of thanksgiving like never before!