Sunday May 20, 2012

Matthew 23:29-39

Jesus pronouces His final woe upon the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees and reminds them that their actions make them just as guilty as their forefathers who killed or at least mistreated all the prophets He sent to them. He will, in fact, hold them responsible for the deaths of all these prophets, retribution is coming upon them for this and for their soon rejection and murder of Him as well.

In the Bible a generation is roughly forty years. His reference to “this generation” HAS to refer to those with whom He is speaking. He uses the near demonstrative (this). Had He meant a future generation He would have used the far demonstrative (that). Every instance of “this generation” in the Bible refers to the generation being addressed (just as the words would seem to indicate). This did in fact come to pass: Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Temple along with it, in the events surrounding 70AD. There is much fulfilled prophecy in these events – but our ignorance of history (and the Bible) often keeps us from seeing that fact.

Jesus would prefer that Jerusalem (the nation) repent, but He has given them free will. We must remember that along with free will comes the responsibility of its exercise.

Sunday May 13, 2012

Matthew 23:23-28

The Pharisees and their scribes were diligent to tithe (give ten percent of) off of the increase of even the small plants in their gardens. These would also have been of the smallest of plots as these plants were seasonings and not food crops. But Jesus said that they should have been paying attention to “tithing” in the “weightier” areas of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. They were seeming to be so pure as to strain out a gnat, but were in fact swallowing camels.

The examples that follow are much the same; they may appear to be good and clean, but inwardly they are vile, evil and filthy.

We choose what we are and how we act. We need to look to Christ and follow His example faithfully. This will entail much prayer for help, it also entails constant obedience; but it avails much satisfaction of a life lived right!

Sunday May 6, 2012

Sorry about this being down a week. I think they finally got things straightened out.

Matthew 23:1-22

Jesus told His followers that the religious officials were usurping the position of Moses. He further commanded them to obey that which these fellows taught (presumably as long as it did not counter Scripture) but NOT to do as they did. Their focus was on glory to self and not to God. To emphasize this fact, as He prounounces woes upon them, he calls them hypocrites. They in fact are sons of hell (v. 15).

Swearing is not what we want to say that it is, but it is what the words actually mean (v. 16). In all swearing (calling down an oath upon ourselves to verify the veracity of what we speak) we are calling God as witness. We must not be hypocritical in any way.

Sunday April 29, 2012

Matthew 22:34-46

The Pharisees had to try to show up the Saducees by silencing Jesus since Jesus had silenced the latter.  The Pharisees felt that they could only do this by setting a verbal trap for Him.  And so they had one of their brightest and best legal scholars (highly skilled in the Law of Moses) ask Him which commandment was the greatest.  Jesus didn’t hesitate, but quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5.  But He didn’t stop there, He also stated what the second greatest law was by quoting from Leviticus 19:18.  Note carefully that both of these are within the Mosaic Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy).  He then said that the entirety of the Law depends upon these two commandments.

Before they could recover from their surprise at His wisdom, He then, as was His privilege in such debate, asked them a question based on Psalm 110:1.   They were unable to answer His question and therefore, by the rules of debate, could no longer question Him.

It would behoove us to carefully contemplate the words of these verses that Jesus quoted.  His wisdom is not just for baffling the ungodly scribes, but more importantly for the life of His people as well.  Complete and whole hearted obedience to His commands is the beginning of a life well lived!

Sunday April 22, 2012

Matthew 22:15-33

In order to try to set a verbal trap for Jesus, the Pharisees and Herodians, working together, sent their disciples to butter Jesus up.  They thought there were only two answers to their question.  But He was aware of their evil intents and bluntly pointed out to all withing hearing range that they were hypocrites!  He asked for a coin that would be used to pay the poll tax and one was produced.  He stated that what belong to Caesar should be given to him and in the same way what belongs to God should be given to Him.  A good Jew would not have had a Roman coin in the Temple and He did not again address that issue (He had already prounounced “You hypocrites!”).

EVERYTHING belongs to God, therefore He must have been reminding us to be good stewards of that which He has entrusted to us, including tithing on the increase that He gives.

The Sadducees made their try at trapping Him and fared no better.  Rather than calling them hypocrites He merely pointed out their ignorance of God’s Word and of His power.  He is the God of the living!!  Those who die in Christ and not dead, but alive!

The first crowd marveled (v. 22) and the second crowd was astonished (v. 33).  Has He marveled or astonished you today?  If not you need to spend more time in His presence!

Sunday April 15, 2012

Matthew 22:1-14

A parable, unlike a riddle, is meant to be understood by its hearers, hopefully without further explanation.  This parable is about the Jews and their religious leaders and their rejection of the Son of the King, and the acceptance of the Son by the Gentiles, the non-Jews.  God the Father is the King and of course, Jesus is the Son.  The other servants/slaves are the prophets.  The pronouncement of judgment on them (verse 7) came to pass in the years and events surrounding AD70 and the destruction of Jerusalem.

The unmentioned (but implied) bride is the faithful Church of Christ the Son.  The last verse says: “For many are called but few are chosen.”  The word chosen could also be translated as “elect.”  Some would explain this as having nothing to do with the individual’s choice but solely God’s.  But in studying the Greek word used I found that as it is used in the New Testament (and especially here in Matthew) it always carries the conotation of “active obedience.”  That is to say, all (or nearly all) of humanity is invited to the feast (to accept the salvation freely offered through the blood of Jesus).  But many refuse to attend.  Some only go through the motions, perhaps even pretending to be happy.  But only those who live their lives for the Son are those who are “chosen.”

If you want to be chosen rather than merely called, check your attitude and your priorities and begin to order them according to the revealed Standard of God–His Word, the Bible . . . and His Son.

Sunday April 8, 2012 – Easter

Luke 23:50-24:35

Read the passage slowly, paying attention to details. Maybe you’d like to start at 22:54 which is where I began my text for Good Friday.  There is a ray of hope in the passage concerning that dark day–can you find it?!

Notice the courage of Joseph of Arimathea in asking for the body of Jesus when even His closest disciple’s had deserted Him.  That is faith in action.  The women showed faith in bringing the spices to the tomb even when they had no idea how they would get the huge stone out of the way.  Imagine their surprise and consternation when the stone was not only removed but they were asked by men in dazzling garments why they were seeking the Living One among the dead!

Wouldn’t you like to have received the lessons from the Scriptures that Jesus taught the two on the road to Emmaus that day?  Well, you can – read the Gospels carefully and study the writings of the Old Testament alongside them and use the brain that God has given you–and ask for insight.

“Is is not necessary that all of these things happened to the Christ?” (24:26).  YES!  And praise God for it.  Because of it you can have forgiveness of your sins, you can be a child of God . . . if you will believe (which also entails then living for Him, according to His commandments).

Sunday April 1, 2012

Matthew 21:33-46

“Listen to another parable.” This is a command from Jesus. “Listen” means not only to hear, but more so, to obey. The parable is an indictment against not just the majority of the Jews, but especially the religious leaders. God is the owner and they have not only failed Him, but Jesus is predicting that having abused God’s prophets, they will also kill His Son. They themselves provide the answer as to what the “owner” will do to the wicked tenants.

We need to work hard to study His Word and learn not only how, but to BE good stewards of His vineyard.

Sunday March 25, 2012

Matthew 21:18-32

The cursing of the fruitless fig tree is also an act of judgment. It is fairly easy for us to see it as being directed at the Jewish people and in particular at the leaders who themselves take it this way. But I think we need to realize that we are each to be ready to produce fruit any and every time our Lord so desires it. If not we are cursed forever, but if so we are blessed forever! It’s your choice.

Jesus does not answer the source of His authority because those asking do not have the courage to say what they believe, they therefore do not deserve an answer. Their intent is only to try to trap Him, not to learn from Him.

The responses of the two sons bothers me, and I think it is supposed to bother us. Shouldn’t one of the sons have not only said “Yes!” to the father and then gone and done as asked/told? I think so. We should be that obedient child.

Sunday March 18, 2012

Matthew 21:1-17

Jesus shows His divinity (godness) in this passage in His foreknowledge of what will happen as the disciples obey His orders for procuring the donkey and colt, but also in His use of the prophets to show that He is God’s Son and is fulfilling these very passages. The people welcome Him into Jerusalem as their king – but they are expecting a king who will deliver them from the Romans, not from their sins.

The cleansing of the temple is an act that on the one hand shows His physical power and prowess (have you ever tried to separate a Jew from his money?). On the other hand it is an act of judgment against the religious officials. They have NOT been fulfilling their duties toward God and have in fact turned His house of prayer into a meeting place for thieves.