Many of us are praying for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recover from COVID-19 after he was moved to intensive care yesterday. As of this morning, he is not yet on a ventilator but is receiving oxygen support.
Meanwhile, the “biggest, brightest supermoon of 2020” is rising tonight. April’s full moon is a supermoon, meaning that it is full while also in perigee (its closest approach to us). During a supermoon, the moon is about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a normal full moon.
The April full moon is called the “pink moon” because it coincides with the blooming of the moss pink wildflower. The best time to view it will be tonight after the sun goes down.
A trick question and a transforming answer
On Holy Tuesday, Jesus returns to the now-cleansed temple to teach the people. His enemies cannot find a way to arrest him due to his popularity, so they try to lure him into committing blasphemy and defaming himself before the crowds.
Among their attempts is this question asked by a lawyer: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36). If Jesus names one of their 613 laws, they will accuse him of rejecting the others.
Our Lord replies: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (vv. 37–40).
Focusing our moon on the Son
What does Jesus’ answer on Holy Tuesday have to do with the “biggest, brightest supermoon of 2020” that will appear tonight?
Tonight’s moon is a full moon because the sun, earth, and moon are on a direct line in that order so that the moon is fully visible to us. It is a supermoon because it is especially close to us, reflecting the sun’s light even more brightly onto our planet.
When we are focused fully on the Son and visible to others, we will reflect the light of his love to our dark world. And just as the moonscape is clearer to us as it draws nearer to us, the closer we are to others, the more they will see Jesus’ light in us.
Note that Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves is “like” the command to love our Lord; the Greek word means “of the same nature.” We love our Lord to the degree that we love our neighbor. However, we cannot truly love our neighbor unless we first love our Lord, since his love for us enables us to love others as ourselves.
Trappist monks are giving away pine caskets
Now let’s ask a second question: What does any of this have to do with the coronavirus pandemic dominating our lives and world?
People are looking for good news anywhere they can find it. For instance, a man in England ran a marathon in his twenty-foot backyard. Thousands of people tuned in to watch him run in circles; soon he had raised the equivalent of just over $32,000 for the UK’s National Health Service.
An auto-body worker in Virginia and his daughter went to the grocery store but ended up spending nearly $2,600 to buy groceries for thirty strangers. A Dallas waitress displaced by the pandemic is working at a food pantry for a third as much money but now plans to keep volunteering in her community once the economy recovers. And a Virginia restaurant owner had to lay off almost 80 percent of his staff, so he is feeding them for free.
Such generosity especially advances the gospel when it comes from Christians who serve others in Jesus’ name. When we reflect his light into their darkness, they cannot help but notice. In fact, the darker the room, the more obvious the light.
For instance, Trappist monks in Iowa are offering pine caskets to financially strapped families whose members have died from COVID-19. They are prepared to give away all their caskets, even if it means shutting down their business and rebuilding.
And Samaritan’s Purse has set up a field hospital in New York’s Central Park, providing and funding sixty-eight beds and several dozen personnel to assist COVID-19 patients from Mount Sinai Health System hospitals around the city. The ministry’s president, Franklin Graham, says, “We will pray for every patient that lets us. If your loved one is with us and they do pass away, they will not be alone. Our doctors and nurses will surround them and pray for them.”
God’s call to “do business in great waters”
Days of crisis are powerful days for the gospel.
One of the most influential Christians I have ever known came to Christ when his family lost everything during an oil crash in the 1980s. He was sitting at home watching television one Sunday morning, saw a local pastor’s sermon, called his office, and later came to faith in Jesus.
If you’ll focus on the Son and reflect his light into our world, you will make a difference that will far outlive this crisis. In fact, you may meet people in heaven who are there because of your influence in these days.
Such compassion in Christ’s name may come at a risk, but the eternal benefits of your faithfulness far outweigh their temporary cost. Charles Spurgeon noted: “They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks know but little of the God of tempests; but they who ‘do business in great waters’ see his ‘wonders in the deep.’”
Will you “do business in great waters” today?