Today is the second day in our 32nd week, reading the Bible through in a year. Our scriptures today* are: Hosea 4-6; Matthew 17; Psalm 58.
This morning, I want to share with you Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," which was first released in 1977 on Marley's "Exodus" album.
In this charming video, a little girl who lives in an undrivable car that's parked in the ghetto wakes up, stretches, and proceeds to skip carelessly through her day. Though she finds herself in otherwise depressing circumstances, her three little imaginary birds fill her life with magic and song. At the 1:30 mark in this video, notice that an imaginary shark swims up to her, but once it gets close, it changes into the jubilant birds. Nothing harmful can even get near the girl, because of her happy attitude. We watch her playing with people in the street, learning to hula, and driving her wrecked car, oblivious of it fallen headliner and the fact that it's going nowhere. At the 2:00 mark, she kneels down to find a coin on the street. When she picks it up, it turns to gold. Her gray world is filled with life and color as she listens to the music of these three little birds.
Though Marley was not a Christian and certainly did not intend this, I can see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as those three little birds. When we let the music of those three little birds into our lives, we know that even in the midst of difficult circumstances, "every little thing is gonna be alright."
In Matthew 16, Peter professes his faith only to have it immediately dashed by Jesus predicting His own crucifixion. Peter rebukes Jesus and receives a harsher comeback from his Lord. Jesus says that anyone who would pursue Him must take up their cross in order to be His follower. Peter must surely feel deflated after this, and Jesus Himself needs encouragement. So in chapter 17, God leads them to a mountain where they share a glorious transfiguration experience. However, this spiritual high doesn't last long. As they descend the mountain, they encounter a demon possession so strong that the disciples are unable to cast it out. With a word of command, Jesus frees the poor soul from bondage, but the disciples scratch their heads, wondering why they had been incapable of exorcism. In verse 20, Jesus says that the reason is:
“Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
What a beautiful promise--that through faith, nothing is impossible. Like the girl experienced in today's video, faith can turn even the bleakest situations into enlivening experiences.
But the disciples don't remain encouraged for long. Again, in verses 22-23, Jesus predicts His death.
22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him,“Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
In just six verses, Jesus says that two things are certain: death and taxes. But God is in control of them all. Death is overcome by God's almighty power. Taxes are covered by our great Provider. And "every little thing is gonna be alright."
I wonder--what's worrying you today? Death? Taxes? Demons that are riding your back, that you just can't shake? Jesus says that we should answer every fear with faith. It's been said that fear and faith can't exist in the human heart at the same time. When you respond in faith, fear must flee.
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
"And every little thing is gonna be alright."
*All scriptures taken from the ESV.