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    • February 24, 2018 7:52 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 1

       

      OPENS WITH THE GENEALOGY AND BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST

       

       

      Verse 1 tells us Matthew presents his theme in the first verse: Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy and of Israel's expectation.

       

      The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:”

       

       

      The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…

       

      So Matthew begins his account of the life of Jesus Christ. The first two words of Matthew, biblos genseos, may be translated 'record of the genealogy,' 'record of the origins,' or 'record of the history.

       

      There is a sense in which EACH meaning is valid.

       

      1. In Matthew 1:1-17 we have the "record of the genealogy."

       

      2. In Matthew 1:18-2:23 we have the "record of the origins."

       

      3. In the entire Gospel of Matthew we have the "record of the history."

       

      As a FORMER tax collector (also called "Levi"), Matthew was qualified to write an account of Jesus life and teachings.

       

      WHY?

       

      A tax collector of that day MUST know Greek, and be a literate, well-organized man. Some think that Matthew was the "recorder" among the disciples, and took notes of Jesus' teaching. We might say that when Matthew followed Jesus, he left everything behind - EXCEPT his pen and paper.

       

      BARCLAY adds, “Matthew nobly used his literary skill to become the FIRST man ever to compile an account of the teaching of Jesus."

       

       

      We know that he was a tax gatherer and that he must therefore have been a bitterly HATED man, for the Jews hated the members of their own race who had entered the civil service of their conquerors.

       

       

      The Son of David, the Son of Abraham…

       

      In this overview of explaining the lineage of Jesus, Matthew clearly and strongly connects him to some of the greatest men in the history of the Old Testament. Matthew begins his account of the life of Jesus Christ with the record of the lineage of Jesus from the patriarch Abraham.

       

       

      There are many reasons why Matthew belongs first among the gospel accounts.

       

       

      1. In the early days of Christianity, many people thought that the Gospel of Matthew was the first written.

       

       

      2. The early Christians rightly saw the Gospel of Matthew as important, because it has some significant portions of Jesus' teaching that are not included in other gospels, such as a fuller version of the Sermon on the Mount.

       

       

      3. It was the only one of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) to have an apostolic author - Matthew (who was also known as Levi), who was a former tax collector before he followed Jesus as a disciple.

       

      4. The Jewish flavor of the Gospel of Matthew makes for a logical transition between the Old and New Testaments. For these reasons, the early church placed it first in order among the four gospel accounts.

       

       

      5. The Jewish character of this Gospel is evident in many ways. There are many indications that Matthew expected that his readers would be familiar with Jewish culture.

       

       

      6. Matthew doesn't translate Aramaic terms such as raca (Matthew 5:22) and corban (Matthew 7:11).

       

       

      7. Matthew refers to Jewish customs without explanation (Matthew 15:2 to Mark 7:3-4; see also Matthew 23:5).

       

       

      8. Matthew starts his genealogy with Abraham (Matthew 1:1).

       

       

      9. Matthew presents the name of Jesus and its meaning in a way that assumes the reader knows its Hebrew roots (Matthew 1:21).

       

       

      10. Matthew frequently refers to Jesus as the "Son of David."

       

       

      11. Matthew uses the more Jewish phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" instead of "Kingdom of God."

       

      Yet significantly, the Gospel of Matthew also triumphantly ends with Jesus commanding His followers to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). So the Gospel of Matthew is deeply rooted in Judaism, but at the same time is able to look beyond; it sees the gospel itself as more than a message for the Jewish people; rather it is a message for the whole world.

       

      We also see that Matthew is deeply critical of the Jewish leadership and their rejection of Jesus. To say that Matthew is "pro-Jewish" is incorrect; it is better to say that he is "pro-Jesus," and presents Jesus as the authentic Jewish Messiah, whom sadly many of the Jewish people (especially the religious establishment) rejected.

       

      Some early church commentators and modern scholars say that Matthew originally wrote his gospel in Hebrew, and it was then translated into Greek. Yet there is no concrete evidence for this theory, such as the discovery of an early Hebrew manuscript of Matthew.

       

       

      Son of David…

       

      Throughout his Gospel, Matthew presents Jesus as the kingly Messiah promised from David's royal line (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

       

       

      The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be the Son of David; in the very first sentence, Matthew points to Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

       

       

      Son of Abraham…

       

      Matthew not only connected Jesus to David, but back yet further to Abraham. Jesus is the Seed of Abraham in Whom all nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

       

       

      Verses 2-16 tells us Jesus' genealogy through Joseph.

       

      Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.”

       

       

      Abraham … Joseph…

       

      This genealogy establishes Jesus' claim to the throne of David through his adoptive father Joseph. This is NOT blood lineage of Jesus through Mary, but the LEGAL lineage of Jesus through Joseph. The Gospel of Luke provides Jesus' BLOOD lineage through Mary.

       

       

      We should remember Paul's warnings about striving over genealogies, and not get into arguments about them (1 Timothy 1:4 and 6:4; Titus 3:9).

       

       

      If the Jewish opponents of Jesus could have demonstrated that He was NOT descended from David, they would have disqualified His claim to be Messiah; yet they did NOT and could NOT.

      The Jewish interest in genealogies could sometimes be a dangerous distraction. Therefore Paul warned Timothy to guard against those who were fascinated by endless genealogies (1 Timothy 1:4), and he gave a similar warning to Titus (Titus 3:9).

       

       

      Tamar … Rahab … Ruth … her who had been the wife of Uriah…

       

      This genealogy is noted for the unusual presence of four women. Women were rarely mentioned in ancient genealogies, and the four mentioned here are worthy of special note as examples of God's grace. They show how God can take unlikely people and use them in great ways.

       

      1. Tamar: She sold herself as a prostitute to her father in-law Judah to bring forth Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38).

       

       

      2. Rahab: She was a Gentile prostitute, for whom God took extraordinary measures to save from both judgment and her lifestyle of prostitution (Joshua 2; 6:22-23).

       

       

      3. Ruth: She was from Moab, a Gentile and until her conversion, out of the covenant of Israel (Ruth 1).

       

       

      4. Her who had been the wife of Uriah: Bathsheba (who is mentioned by implication in Matthew 1:6) was an adulteress, infamous for her sin with David (2 Samuel 11). "Matthew's peculiar way of referring to her, 'Uriah's wife,' may be an attempt to focus on the fact that Uriah was not an Israelite but a Hittite.

       

       

      These FOUR women have an important place in the genealogy of Jesus to demonstrate that Jesus Christ was NOT royalty according to human perception, in the sense that He did NOT come from a pure aristocratic background.

       

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “These four women have an important place in the genealogy of Jesus to demonstrate that Jesus identifies with sinners in His genealogy, even as He will in His birth, baptism, life, and His death on the cross. "Jesus is heir of a line in which flows the blood of the harlot Rahab, and of the rustic Ruth; he is akin to the fallen and to the lowly, and he will show his love even to the poorest and most obscure."

       

       

      These four women have an important place in the genealogy of Jesus to show that there is a NEW place for women under the New Covenant. In both the pagan and the Jewish culture of that day, men often had LITTLE regard for women. In that era, some Jewish men prayed every morning, thanking God that they were NOT Gentiles, slaves, or women. Despite that, women were regarded more highly among the Jews than they were among the pagans.

       

       

      MEYER says, "Men and women, notorious for their evil character, lie in the direct line of his descent. This was permitted, that He might fully represent our fallen race."

       

      Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ…

       

      Matthew wanted to make it clear that Joseph was NOT the father of Jesus; rather he was the husband of Mary.

       

       

      Verse 17 tells us Matthew's organization of the genealogy.

       

      So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”

      Fourteen generations … fourteen generations … fourteen generations…

       

      With this Matthew made it clear that this genealogy is NOT complete. There were NOT actually 14 generations between the landmarks he indicates, but Matthew edited the list down to make it easy to remember and memorize.

       

       

      For example, Matthew 1:8 says Joram begot Uzziah. This was Uzziah, King of Judah, who was struck with leprosy for daring to enter the temple as a priest to offer incense (2 Chronicles 26:16-21).

       

      Uzziah was not the immediate son of Joram; there were three kings between them (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah). Yet, it is observed that omissions of this kind are not uncommon in the Jewish genealogies."

       

       

      So all the generations…

       

      The practice of skipping generations at times was common in the listing of ancient genealogies. Matthew did nothing unusual by leaving some generations out.

       

      Another of the royal line that Matthew passed over was in between Josiah and Jechoniah (Matthew 1:11), and his name was Jehoakim (2 Chronicles 36:5-8).

       

      Jehoakim was so wicked that through the Prophet Jeremiah, God promised that no blood descendant of his would sit on the throne of Israel (Jeremiah 36:30-31). This presented a significant problem: If someone was a blood descendant of David through Jehoakim, he could not sit on the throne of Israel and be the king and the Messiah because of this curse recorded in Jeremiah 36:30-31. But, if the conqueror was not descended through David, he could not be the legal heir of the throne, because of the promise made to David and the nature of the royal line.

       

      This is where we come to the differences in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. Matthew recorded the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ (Matthew 1:16). He began at Abraham and followed the line down to Jesus, through Joseph.

       

      Luke recorded the genealogy of Mary: being, (as was supposed) the son of Joseph (Luke 3:23). He began with Jesus and followed the line back up, all the way to Adam, starting from the unmentioned Mary.

       

       

      Each genealogy is the same as it records the line from Adam (or Abraham) all the way down to David. But at David, the two genealogies separated. If we remember the list of David's sons in 2 Samuel 5 we see that Satan focused his attention on the descendants of the royal line through Solomon - and this was a reasonable strategy.

       

      According to Matthew 1:6, Joseph's line went through Solomon (and therefore Jehoakim, the cursed one). Jesus was the legal son of Joseph, but not the blood son of Joseph - so the curse on Jehoakim did not affect him. Joseph did not contribute any of the "blood" of Jesus, but he did contribute his legal standing as a descendant of the royal line to Jesus. Mary's line - the blood line of Jesus - did not go through Solomon, but through a different son of David, named Nathan (Luke 3:31). Mary was therefore not part of that blood curse on the line of Jehoiakim.

       

       

      Verse 18 tells us Mary, while engaged to Joseph, is found to be with child as a result of a miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit.

       

      Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”

       

       

      Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows…

       

      Matthew doesn't really tell us about the birth of Jesus; Luke does that. Matthew instead tells us where Jesus came from, and it tells the story through the eyes of Joseph.

       

      After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph…

       

      There were essentially THREE steps to marriage in the Jewish world of Jesus' time.

       

      1. Engagement: This could happen when the bride and groom to be were quite young, and was often arranged by the parents.

       

      2. Betrothal: This made the previous engagement official and binding. During the time of betrothal the couple were known as husband and wife, and a betrothal could only be broken by divorce. Betrothal typically lasted a year.

       

      3. Marriage: This took place after the wedding, after the year of betrothal.

       

       

      She was found with child of the Holy Spirit…

       

      Matthew plainly (without the greater detail found in the Gospel of Luke) presents the virginal conception and subsequent birth of Jesus. However, the virgin birth was difficult for people to believe back then, even as it is also doubted now by some.

       

      We should consider what a great trial this was for a godly young woman like Mary, and for Joseph her betrothed. "Her situation was the most distressing and humiliating that can be conceived. Nothing but the fullest consciousness of her own integrity, and the strongest confidence in God, could have supported her in such trying circumstances, where her reputation, her honour, and her life were at stake.

       

      The truth of the supernatural conception of Jesus was disbelieved by many in that day, and was later twisted into lies about the parentage of Jesus. References are made to these suspicions in passages like John 8:19 and 8:41. Lies spread that Mary had become pregnant from a Roman soldier. Here, Matthew set the story straight - both then and now.

       

       

      SPURGEON adds, "There was no other way of his being born; for had he been of a sinful father, how should he have possessed a sinless nature? He is born of a woman, that he might be human; but not by man, that he might not be sinful."

       

       

      Verse 19 tells us Joseph seeks a quiet divorce.

       

      Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”

       

      Joseph her husband…

       

      The previous verse told us that Mary was betrothed to Joseph. This comment shows that even though they were not formally married, Joseph was still considered Mary's husband by betrothal.

       

      Being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example…

       

      Being a just man, Joseph knew that if Mary had been unfaithful to him it would be impossible to go through with the marriage. Yet his nature as a just man also did not want to make this an unnecessary hardship or stigma upon Mary. Joseph made the understandable decision to seek a quiet divorce.

       

      To put her away secretly…

       

      This refers to breaking an engagement by divorce. In Jewish culture of that time a betrothal was binding and one needed a divorce to break the arrangement.

       

       

      Verses 20-21 tells us An angel speaks to Joseph in a dream, convincing him to not divorce Mary.

       

      But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."

       

      Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…

       

      This was not THE angel of the Lord, but simply AN angel of the Lord. Perhaps it was Gabriel, who is prominent in the announcements made to Mary and Zacharias (Luke 1:19 and 1:26). Yet those were actual angelic visitations; this was presented to Joseph in a dream.

       

      The dream came while he thought about these things. Joseph was understandably troubled by Mary's mysterious pregnancy, her future, and what he should do towards her. Though he had decided to put her away secretly, he was NOT comfortable with that decision.

       

       

      Joseph, son of David…

       

      The address son of David should have alerted Joseph that something was particularly significant about this message. Son of David is a reference to Joseph's LEGAL lineage to the throne of David.

       

      That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit…

       

      It seems that Mary had NOT told Joseph that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This should NOT surprise us; how could she (or how could anyone except God) explain such a thing? This angelic word to Joseph was persuasive.

       

      There is NO DETAILED explanation as to HOW this happened, other than what we have in Luke 1:35.

       

       

      You shall call his name JESUS…

       

      The name JESUS ("The Salvation of Yahweh") was fairly common in that day (Josephus mentions 12 different men named "Jesus" in his writings), but it is supremely blessed in our day. As was later said by the Apostle Peter, there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved (Acts 4:12).

       

       

      For He will save His people from their sins…

       

      The angelic messenger briefly and eloquently stated the work of the coming Messiah, Jesus. He will come as a savior, and come to save His people from their sins.

       

      This description of the work of Jesus reminds us that Jesus meets us in our sin, but His purpose is to save us from our sins. He saves us FIRST from the penalty of sin, then from the POWER of sin, and finally from the PRESENCE of sin.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Salvation from sins is an element in the Old Testament HOPE (Isaiah 53; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-31) and in later Messianic expectation … but not the dominant one. Its isolation here warns the reader not to expect this Messiah to conform to the more popular hope of a national liberator.

       

      Wonderfully, it says "His people." If it had said, "God's people," we might have thought it was reserved for the Jewish people alone. But it isn't belonging to Abraham that brings salvation from sin; it is belonging to Jesus, being one of His people.

       

      Verses 22-23 tells us The virgin birth as the FULFILLMENT of prophecy.

       

      So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

       

       

      That it might be fulfilled…

       

      This is the FIRST use of this important phrase which will become a familiar theme throughout Matthew.

       

       

      "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel"…

       

      Matthew rightly understood that the supernatural conception of Jesus was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14.

       

      We know the Isaiah passage speaks of Jesus because it says the virgin shall be with child, and that conception would be a sign to David's entire house. Those who deny the virgin birth of Jesus like to point out that the Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 translated virgin (almah) can also be translated as "young woman."

       

      WHY?

       

      The idea is that Isaiah was simply saying that a "young woman" would give birth, not a virgin. While the near fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy may have reference to a young woman giving birth, the far or ultimate fulfillment clearly points to a woman miraculously conceiving and giving birth. This is especially clear because the Old Testament never uses the word in a context other than virgin and because the Septuagint translates almah in Isaiah 7:14 categorically virgin (parthenos).

       

      Immanuel…

       

      This title of Jesus refers to BOTH His deity (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

       

       

      In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.

       

       

      We can deeply meditate on the meaning of this name - Immanuel.

       

      1. It shows how low God bent down to save man; He added the nature of one of His own creatures to His own divine nature, accepting the weaknesses, frailties, and dependency that the creature experiences.

       

      2. It shows what a great miracle it was that God could add a human nature to His own and still remain God.

       

       

      3. It shows the compatibility between the unfallen human nature and the divine nature; that the two could be joined shows that we are truly made in the image of God.

       

       

      4. It shows that we can come to Him; if He has come to us, then we can come to Him. "Then, if Jesus Christ be 'God with us,' let us come to God without any question or hesitancy. Whoever you may be you need no priest or intercessor to introduce you to God, for God has introduced himself to you."

       

       

      Verses 24-25 tells us Joseph marries Mary after the angelic announcement.

       

      Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.”

       

       

      Did as the angel of the Lord commanded…

       

      Joseph's obedience is notable. He did not doubt nor waver; he instantly understood the validity and the importance of the angelic messenger that came to him in the dream.

       

       

      Did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son…

       

      The words did not know her till imply that Joseph and Mary had normal marital relations ONLY AFTER Jesus' birth.

       

       

      This emphasizes that Jesus was conceived miraculously. "Matthew wants to make Jesus' virginal conception quite unambiguous, for he adds that Joseph had not sexual union with Mary until she gave birth to Jesus.

       

       

      This also DENIES the Roman Catholic dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary. "The marriage was thus formally completed, but not consummated before the birth of Jesus. The Greek expression for not until would normally suggest that intercourse did take place after the end of this period. . . . There is no biblical warrant for the tradition of the 'perpetual virginity' of Mary.

       

       

      This is an unbiblical, doctrine, which did NOT appear earlier than the fifth century after Jesus. It should be placed with the dogmas of Mary's Immaculate Conception, assumption into heaven, and present role as a mediator for believers. Each one of these is man's INVENTION, meant to exalt Mary in an unbiblical manner.

       

       

      And he called His name JESUS…

       

      They did what God told them to do. Though it was a fairly common name it had a genuinely great meaning, and would come to be the greatest name, the name above all names.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:51 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 2

       

      OPENS WITH...WISE MEN FROM THE EAST, ESCAPE TO EGYPT AND BACK AGAIN

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The wise men from the east arrive in Jerusalem.

       

      Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

       

       

      AFTER Jesus was born in Bethlehem…

       

      Matthew actually tells us little about the birth of Jesus; Luke 2 records these familiar details. What Matthew tells us regards something that happened AFTER Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

       

      Instead of giving us the details of the nativity, Matthew had another purpose. The main purpose is to show the reception given by the world to the new-born Messianic King - Homage from afar, hostility & indifference at home.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Bethlehem was ancestral home of David, the great king of Israel and founder of their royal dynasty. However, it was NOT a large or significant town. Bethlehem was quite a little town six miles to the south of Jerusalem. In the olden days it had been called Ephrath or Ephratah.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "A stir begins is soon as Christ is born. He has not spoken a word; he has not wrought a miracle; he has not proclaimed a single doctrine; but 'when Jesus was born,' at the very first, while as yet you hear nothing but infant cries, and can see nothing but infant weakness, still his influence upon the world is manifest. 'When Jesus was born, there came wise men from the east,' and so on. There is infinite power even in an infant Savior."

       

      In the days of Herod the king…

       

      This was the one known as Herod the Great. Herod was indeed great; in some ways great as a ruler, builder, and administrator; in other ways great in EVIL politics and cruelty.

       

      The reign of Herod also gives us a chronological marking point. "Jesus was born BEFORE the death of Herod the Great, which is probably to be dated in 4 B.C.; the exact date of Jesus' birth is unknown."

       

       

      Wise men from the East came…

       

      These travelers are called wise men, which in the ancient Greek is “magoi”. Misconceptions and legends abound about these wise men. They were NOT kings but wise men, which means they were astronomers. There were NOT only three, but probably a great company. It was NOT safe to travel alone or in small groups. The trip was a long one. They did NOT LEAVE NOR ARRIVE on the birth night, but BEGAN THE 800 MILE TRIP probably several months AFTER FIRST seeing the star at Jesus birth.

       

       

      BARCLAY gives us a bit of history, “There was a general expectation of a messiah or great man from Judea. Not very long after Jesus was born, the Roman historian Seutonius wrote: "There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judea to rule the world." Tacitus, another Roman historian of the general period, wrote: "There was a firm persuasion … that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judea were to acquire universal empire."

       

       

      Came to Jerusalem…

       

      Guided by the astronomical phenomenon mentioned following, they came to the area and expected to find answers in Jerusalem. They expected that the leaders and people of this capital city of the Jews would be even more interested than they were. Matthew does NOT tell us specifically that the star guided them to Jerusalem.

       

      Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Significantly, they say this one has been born King of the Jews. It WAS NOT HUMAN RULING HIERARCHY THEN OR NOW, for a baby to be born a king usually they are princes for a long time before they are kings. Matthew wants us to know another unique thing about Jesus Christ. His kingly status was NOT conferred on him later on; it was Jesus’ from birth."

       

       

      For we have seen His star in the East…

      There are many different suggestions for the natural origin of this remarkable star. Some say it was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, some other planetary conjunctions; others suggest a supernova, and some think of comets or a specifically created unique star or sign. Whatever it was, it is significant that God met them in their own medium: He guided the astronomers by a star.

       

      This was also in fulfillment of Numbers 24:17: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” This was widely regarded by ancient Jewish scholars as a Messianic prediction.

       

       

      SPURGEON adds, “Notice, it was His star: "The star was Christ's star itself, but it also led others to Christ. It did this very much because it moved in that direction. It is a sad thing when a preacher is like a sign-post pointing the way but never following it, on his own account. Such were those chief priests at Jerusalem: they could tell where Christ was born, but they never went to worship him; they were indifferent altogether to him and to his birth. The star that leads to Christ must always be going to Christ."

       

       

      And have come to worship Him…

       

      The wise men came first to Jerusalem, assuming that the leaders of the Jews would be aware and excited about the birth of their Messiah. The wise men are about to find that this was NOT the case at all.

       

       

      Verse 3 tells us Herod is troubled at the news brought by the wise men.

       

      When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

       

      When Herod the king heard this he was troubled…

       

      Herod was constantly on guard against threats to his rule, especially from his own family. He assassinated many family members whom he suspected of disloyalty. His being troubled is completely in character.

       

      Herod wanted to be accepted by the Jews whom he ruled, was NOT a Jew at all but an Edomite, the Jews did NOT choose him, Rome did. Rome recognized him as a vassal king over Judea. The Jews tempered their great hatred of him with admiration for his building projects, such as the magnificent improvements made to the second temple.

       

       

      Barclay reminds us of what a bloody, violent ruler Herod was: "He had no sooner come to the throne than he began by annihilating the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews. Later he slaughtered three hundred court officers out of hand. Later he murdered his wife Mariamne, and her mother Alexandra, his eldest son Antipater, and two other sons, Alexander and Arisobulus."

       

      He was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…

       

      The fact that ALL Jerusalem was troubled WITH Herod is significant. This was due either to the fact that the people of Jerusalem DID NOT WANT THE MESSIAH, rightly feared what sort of paranoid outburst might come upon them from Herod upon hearing of a rival king being born, or because of the size and dignity of this caravan from the East.

       

      Verses 4-6 tells us Herod is instructed regarding the Messiah's coming by the chief priests and scribes.

       

      And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.'"

       

       

      All the chief priests and the scribes…

       

      This was the first contact the religious leaders had with Jesus. They understood the Biblical information correctly, but failed in application to their lives.

       

      Chief priests would especially include those who once held the office of High Priest; Herod changed the High Priest often because it was largely a political appointment.

       

      Scribes: "The 'teachers of the law,' or 'scribes' as other English versions call them, were experts in the Old Testament and in its copious oral tradition. Their work was not so much copying out Old Testament manuscripts (as the word 'scribes' suggests) as teaching the Old Testament."

       

       

      So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea": Quoting Micah 5:2, the chief priests and scribes understood that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea, distinguishing it from another town of the same name further north.

       

       

      From this passage in Micah, they understood not only that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but also that He would be a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.

       

      Sadly, these “Old Testament” EXPERTS had the right information but seem personally uninterested in meeting the Messiah for themselves.

       

      The scribes and Sanhedrin had the Old Testament and its prophecies, but the lowly shepherds had the HEART and HOPE. No wonder the angels appeared to them and NOT to the religious, political, nor social elites in that day.

       

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us True to character, Herod attempts to use wise men to find the child that he may kill Him.

       

      Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."

       

       

      Determined from them what time the star appeared…

       

      Because Herod later commanded that all boys two and younger be killed in the area, we can assume that the wise men first saw the star a year or so previously (on the night Jesus was born). Their journey from the East to Judea was not quick, and they may have left as soon as logistics allowed.

       

      Bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also…

       

      The irony is strong. Herod claimed a desire to worship Jesus, when he really wanted to kill Him.

       

       

      Verses 9-12 tells us The wise men present gifts to Jesus and leave without informing Herod.

       

      When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

       

       

      Behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them…

       

      The star continued to guide them, apparently re-appearing. We can surmise that the star appeared the night of Jesus birth, some months later, traveling 800 plus miles, guiding them to the general area, and then they visited Jerusalem to gain more information. Then the star appeared again to specifically guide them. This was an obviously supernatural phenomenon from God himself.

       

      They saw the young Child with Mary His mother…

       

      We notice that Jesus here is called a young Child, likely being between 12 and 18 months old. We also notice that (against false religion custom) the Child is mentioned FIRST & BEFORE the mother.

       

      When they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh…

       

      It was common - especially in the East - that one would never appear before royalty or a person of importance without bringing gifts. Considering who these wise men believed the young Child to be, it is not surprising that they gave such lavish gifts.

       

      The idea that there were three wise men comes from the fact that there were three gifts. We may say that gold speaks of royalty, incense speaks of divinity, and myrrh speaks of death. GOD KNEW THE SIGNIFICANCE, Yet it is not certain that the Magi KNEW; they simply wanted to honor the King of the Jews with their most valuable treasures to be had.

       

       

      They presented gifts to Him…

       

      The precious gifts were NOT presented to Mary or Joseph, but to Jesus Himself. Yet undeniably, the infant Jesus did not use or spend any of these precious gifts, but His parents used them, hopefully wisely, on His behalf and benefit.

       

      In the same way when we give to Jesus today we do not give to Him directly, but to His people, who use those gifts on His behalf and benefit - and, hopefully wisely.

      MEYER reminds, "How useful this gold was to Joseph in the following months! It helped him to defray the cost of the journey into Egypt and back, and to maintain his precious charges there. The Heavenly Father knew what those needs would be, and met them by anticipation."

       

       

      Fell down and worshipped Him…

       

      More important than their gifts is the fact that they worshipped Jesus. It must have been a curious sight to see these impressive dignitaries bowing before a young child.

       

      We see here THREE different responses to Jesus; one may say that all people respond in one of these three ways.

       

      1. Herod displayed an open hatred and hostility toward Jesus.

       

      2. The chief priests and the scribes were indifferent toward Jesus, all the while retaining their religious respectability.

       

      3. The wise men sought out Jesus, and worshipped Him - even at great cost.

       

      In comparing the visit of the wise men to the earlier visit of the shepherds (Luke 2:15-20), we see:

       

      1. Jesus came to the Jew first, then to the Gentile.

       

      2. Jesus came to the humble and ignorant first, then the honorable and learned.

       

      3. Jesus came to the poor first, then the rich.

       

      We should learn from the wisdom of these wise men.

       

      1. They were not satisfied with looking at the star and admiring it; they did something about the star, and set out and followed it.

      2. They persevered in their search and in following after the star.

       

      3. They were not discouraged in the search by clergy and doubtful religious leaders.

       

      4. They rejoiced at the star.

       

      5. When they arrived at the destination the star led them to, they entered in.

       

      6. When they entered in, they worshipped.

       

      7. They sensed an urgency to worship Him now and not wait until later.

       

      8. When they worshipped, it was to give something - not empty-handed adoration.

       

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “We see a wonderful pattern: "Those who look for Jesus will see him: those who truly see him will worship him: those who worship him will consecrate their substance to him."

       

       

      Being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way…

       

      Their worship is also manifested in obedience. They are obedient to the heavenly dream and leave without serving as Herod's informants.

       

       

      The flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth.

       

      Verses 13-15 tells us Joseph, Mary, and Jesus find refuge in Egypt.

       

      Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."

       

       

      Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt…

       

      The command was urgent, and came right when the wise men had departed. It would not have sounded completely strange to Joseph that they should find refuge in Egypt. There was a large Jewish community in Egypt. It was NOT strange that the Holy Spirit would guide Joseph to take the family there.

       

      CARSON tells us, "Egypt was a natural place to which to flee. It was nearby, a well-ordered Roman province outside Herod's jurisdiction; and, according to Philo (writing circa A.D. 40), its population included about a million Jews."

       

      Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him…

       

      This response is consistent with both the character of Herod and humanity in general. It doesn't speak well of humanity to notice that when God added humanity to His deity and came to earth - in the most non-threatening manner possible - the almost immediate reaction of one section of humanity was to try as hard as they could to murder Him.

       

       

      When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night…

       

      Joseph's rapid (leaving the very night of the dream) and complete obedience is impressive. It is unlikely that Joseph ever imagined such events when he first was betrothed to Mary of Nazareth.

       

       

      Out of Egypt I called My Son…

       

      In the process, another prophecy was fulfilled. At first glance, we might wonder how this prophecy from Hosea 11:1 is fulfilled in Jesus. But Matthew makes it clear that even as Israel as a nation came out from Egypt, so would the Son of God.

       

      Verses 16-18 tells us The Massacre of the Innocents.

       

      Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more."

       

       

      He sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts…

       

      "Incredible? Anything is credible of the man who murdered his own wife and sons. This deed shocks Christians; but it was a small affair in Herod's career, and in contemporary history."

       

       

      Especially in his last years Herod was cruel and suspicious. When he knew that his death was approaching, Herod had many Jewish leaders of Jerusalem arrested on false charges. He ordered that as soon as he died, they should all be killed - he knew well no one would mourn his own death, so he was determined that some tears be shed when he died.

       

       

      A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning…

       

      This quotation from Jeremiah 31:15 originally referred to the mourning of Israel's mothers during the conquest and captivity of the nation. Here Rachel is a representation of Bethlehem's mothers.

      Verses 19-21 tells us The return to Israel.

       

      But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead." Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

       

      Arise, take the young Child and His mother…

       

      God spoke to Joseph again in a dream, through an angel of the Lord. We also notice Joseph's quick obedience.

       

      The young Child … the young Child … the young Child…

       

      Repeatedly, the young Child is given first place in the account.

       

       

      And came into the land of Israel…

       

      The Messiah might spend a few years in Egypt, a refugee from the murderous Herod, but He would certainly come back into the land of Israel.

       

      DID YOU KNOW?

       

      There have been some who falsely teach that Egyptian magicians or sorcerers influenced Jesus and His later miracles were really just Egyptian tricks. It is important to note that there is no evidence for such claims, and significant evidence against such claims. Particularly, the teaching and style of ministry of Jesus is completely influenced by Old Testament Judaism, not by Egyptian mysticism.

       

      Verses 22-23 tells us Fearing the evil son of Herod (Archelaus), the family settles north in Nazareth.

       

      But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

       

      When he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea…

       

      Joseph had good reason to be cautious regarding Archelaus. This son of Herod proved to be such an incompetent and violent ruler that, at the plea of the Jews of Judea, the Romans deposed him for misrule and replaced him with a governor appointed by Rome in A.D. 6.

       

      This Archalaus was as cruel as his father Herod the Great, but without any of his greatness. "A man of kindred nature, suspicious, truculent (Jospehus, Antiquities, 17,11, 2), to be feared and avoided by such as had cause to fear his father."

       

      Being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee…

       

      Again receiving guidance by a divine dream, Joseph settled outside of the much more religious region of Jerusalem and Judea, and into the populous region of Galilee, which had a much more significant Gentile population than Judea or Jerusalem.

       

      And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth…

       

      It was remarkable that Joseph came back to Nazareth, the hometown of Mary and presumably Joseph (Luke 1:26-27). It was remarkable because Nazareth was an unremarkable town, and because it was where everyone knew Mary and Joseph and the strange circumstances surrounding their birth of their son.

       

       

      Nazareth was an unwalled, unprotected town with a somewhat bad reputation; Nathaniel wondered if anything good could come from Nazareth (John 1:46). In God's plan, Jesus came from small, insignificant place that, if it had any reputation, it was a bad one. This is where Jesus grew up and matured into adulthood.

       

       

      That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene": Of all of Matthew's references to the Old Testament and the prophets, this is one of the most interesting. There is no specific passage found in the Old Testament that says in the given words, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

       

      BRUCE says, “If there was any specific passage in Matthew's mind, it was likely Isaiah 11:1: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Hebrew word translated Branch sounds like "Nazir" (neser). "Jerome, following the Jewish scholars of his time, believed the reference to be mainly to Isaiah 11, where mention is made of a branch that shall spring out of Jesse's root. . . The epithet Nazarene will thus mean: 'the man of Nazareth, the town of the little shoot'."

       

       

      He shall be called a Nazarene…

       

      In the plan of God the Father, inspired by the God the Spirit, and embraced by God the Son, the Messiah grew up in the somewhat despised town. Indeed, Jesus would become known as "Jesus of Nazareth".

       

       

      When Jesus revealed Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus - obviously after His resurrection and ascension and seating at the right hand of God the Father in glory - He introduced Himself to Paul saying, I am Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 22:8).

       

       

      In Acts 24:5, the prosecutors of Paul said this to his judge…

       

      We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

      Growing up in Nazareth, Jesus would mature in boyhood and then in His young adulthood. He would fulfill the responsibilities expected of an eldest son; and then at some time Joseph died and disappeared from the scene and Jesus became the "man of the family." He worked His trade, supported His family, loved His God, and proved Himself utterly faithful in a thousand small things before He formally entered His appointed ministry. Yet no one would be intimidated to meet a man from Nazareth; the tendency would be to immediately think one's self better than a person from Nazareth.”

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:49 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 3

       

       

      OPENS WITH...THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The message of John the Baptist.

       

      "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

       

       

      In those days John the Baptist came...

       

      Matthew introduces us to one of the fascinating characters of the New Testament. This was the John born to Zacharias and Elisabeth, whose miraculous birth to this too-old couple was announced, along with his call to be the forerunner of the Messiah, in Luke 1.

       

       

       

      Preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent"...

       

      John's message was a call to repentance. Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. It is wonderful to feel sorry about your sin, but repent is NOT a "feelings" word. It is an ACTION word. John told his listeners to make a change of the mind, NOT merely to feel sorry for what they had done. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, NOT a sorrow in the heart.

       

       

      Is repentance something we must do before we can come to God?

       

      Yes and no; repentance does NOT describe something we must do BEFORE we come to JESUS, it describes what coming to God is like.

       

      If you are in New York, and I tell you to come to Los Angeles, I do NOT really need to say "Leave New York and come to Los Angeles." To come to Los Angeles is to leave New York, and if I have NOT left New York, I certainly have NOT come to Los Angeles. We can NOT come to the kingdom of heaven unless we leave our sin and the self-life.

       

       

      The call to REPENTANCE is important and must not be neglected. It is entirely accurate to say that it is the FIRST word of the gospel.

       

       

      1. Repent was the first word of John the Baptist's gospel (Matthew 3:1-2).

       

      2. Repent was the first word of Jesus' gospel (Matthew 4:14 and Mark 1:14-15).

       

      3. Repent was the first word in the preaching ministry of the twelve disciples (Mark 6:12).

       

      4. Repent was the first word in the preaching instructions Jesus gave to His disciples after His resurrection (Luke 24:46-47).

       

      5. Repent was the first word of exhortation in the first Christian sermon (Acts 2:38).

       

      6. Repent was the first word in the mouth of the Apostle Paul through his ministry (Acts 26:19-20).

       

       

      For the kingdom of heaven is at hand...

       

      John wanted people to know that the kingdom of heaven was near - as close as your hand. It was NOT as distant or as dreamy as they had imagined. This is why John was SO urgent in his call to repentance. If the kingdom of heaven is at hand, then we must get READY now.

       

       

      John's main message was NOT "You're a sinner, you need to repent." John's main message was "Messiah the King is coming." The call to repentance was the response to the news that the King and His kingdom were coming - indeed, already here in one sense.

       

       

      Some dispensationalists see a difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God, the dominant terms used in Mark and Luke.

       

      The idea is that the kingdom of God is a now-present spiritual kingdom, but the kingdom of heaven refers to the coming millennial earth in its splendor.

       

      A much better explanation is that Matthew simply used the term kingdom of heaven instead of kingdom of God so as to avoid offence to Jewish readers, who often REJECTED direct references to God and would refer to His dwelling place instead of Him directly.

       

       

       

      Verses 3-4 tells us The IDENTITY of John the Baptist.

       

      "For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.'" And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey."

       

      Prepare the way of the LORD...

       

      Matthew used this passage from Isaiah 40:3 to identify John the Baptist as the PROPHESIED forerunner of the Messiah. In this role, John's purpose was to PREPARE hearts for the Messiah, and to bring an awareness of sin among Israel so they could RECEIVE the salvation from sin offered by the Messiah (Matthew 1:12).

       

       

      Make His paths straight...

       

      The passage Matthew quotes from (Isaiah 40:3) has in mind building up a great road for the arrival of a majestic king. The idea is to fill in the holes, and knock down the hills that are in the way.

       

       

      The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture, because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are BOTH expensive, they BOTH must deal with many different problems and environments, and they BOTH take an expert engineer.

       

       

      Jesus was the coming Messiah and King, and John the Baptist was the one crying in the wilderness, and through his message of repentance, he worked to prepare the way of the LORD. We often fail to appreciate how important the preparing work of the LORD is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation.

       

       

      In Isaiah 40:3 the way Yahweh is prepared and made straight; in Matthew 3:3 it is the way of Jesus.

       

      This identification of Jesus with Yahweh is common in the New Testament (as in Exodus 13:21 and 1 Corinthians 10:4; Isaiah 6:1 and John 12:41).

       

       

      Clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt...

       

      In his personality and ministry, John the Baptist was patterned after the bold Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), who fearlessly called Israel to repentance.

       

       

      In the spirit of today's age, John's ministry would have been very different. He would NOT start in the wilderness. He would NOT dress funny. He would NOT preach such a straightforward message. He would use marketing surveys and focus groups to hone his message and presentation. John was NOT motivated by the spirit of today's age, but by the Spirit of God.

       

       

      It was NOT that John the Baptist was trying to be this Elijah-like forerunner predicted in Malachi 4:5, as if he decided on his own to make this his destiny and public image.

       

      John KNEW the words spoken to his father Zacharias before John was born in:

       

      LUKE 1:17 says, "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children," and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

       

      This is simply who John the Baptist was, and one might say he was this before he was even created in the womb.

       

       

       

      Verses 5-6 tells us The SUCCESS of John's ministry.

       

       

      "Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins."

       

       

      Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him...

       

      John's ministry met with wonderful response. There were MANY people who recognized their sinfulness, their need to get ready for the Messiah, and were willing to do something about it.

       

       

      BARCLAY explains, "Under the blessing of God, John's message of repentance and call to prepare for the Messiah bore great fruit. "Baptism was for sinners, and no Jew ever conceived of himself as a sinner shut out from God. Now for the first time in their national history the Jews realized their own sin and their own clamant need of God. Never before had their been such a unique national movement of penitence and of search for God."

       

       

       

      Josephus actually wrote more about John the Baptist than he did about Jesus. The influence of John the Baptist is evident decades after his ministry began, as seen in Acts 18:25 and 19:3.

       

       

      And were baptized by him...

       

      With baptism, John offered a ceremonial washing that confessed sin and did something to demonstrate repentance. Before we can gain the kingdom of heaven, we must recognize our poverty of spirit (Matthew 5:3).

       

      This type of awareness of sin is the foundation for most revivals and awakenings.

       

       

      Baptism simply means to "immerse or overwhelm." John did NOT sprinkle when he baptized. As was the custom in some other Jewish ceremonial washings, John completely immersed those he baptized.

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      Baptism was practiced in the Jewish community already in the form of ceremonial immersions; but typically, it was only among Gentiles who wished to become Jews. For a Jew in John's day to submit to baptism was essentially to say, "I confess that I am as far away from God as a Gentile and I need to get right with Him." This was a real work of the Holy Spirit.

       

       

      John's baptism might have been related to the Jewish practice of baptizing Gentile converts, or to some of the ceremonial washings practiced by the Jews of that day. Though it may have some links, at the same time is was unique - so unique that John simply became known as "the Baptizer." If there were a lot of people doing that, it wouldn't be a unique title.

       

       

      FRANCE explains, "John's baptism was an innovation. The nearest contemporary parallels are the self-baptism of a Gentile on becoming a proselyte, and the repeated ritual washings (also self-administered) at Qumran."

       

       

      Christian baptism is like John's in the sense that it demonstrates repentance, but it is also more. It is being baptized into Christ, that is, into His death and resurrection told to us in Romans 6:3.

       

       

      Confessing their sins...

       

      This was another important aspect, and is a partner to the call to repentance. These Jewish people were very serious about getting right with God.

       

       

      BRUCE reminds us, "The participle means, while confessing; not, provided they confessed. This confession of sins by individuals was a new thing in Israel. There was a collective confession on the great day of atonement, and individual confession in certain specified cases (Numbers 5:7), but no great spontaneous self-unburdenment of penitent souls - every man apart. It must have been a stirring sight."

       

       

       

      Verses 7-12 tells us John's CONFRONTATION with the Pharisees and Sadducees.

       

      "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

       

       

      When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming...

       

      This is our introduction to these TWO important groups in first-century Judaism. These two groups were VERY different and often in conflict. Together they represented the leadership of Judaism.

       

       

      THE PHARISEES WERE:

       

      1. They believed that one was made righteous by keeping the law, and they believed themselves to be righteous in this way.

       

      2. They often misinterpreted the law.

       

      3. They held many traditions to be of equal authority to Scripture.

       

      4. They were often hypocrites in their practice, neglecting the core and spirit of the law for aspects of outward observance.

       

      5. Legal precisians, virtuosi in religion.

       

       

      THE SADDUCEES WERE:

       

      1. Men of affairs and of the world.

       

      2. Largely of the sacerdotal class.

       

       

      Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

       

      John accused these leaders of wanting to appear anxious for the Messiah, but NOT truly repenting and preparing their hearts. Therefore John demanded fruits worthy of repentance.

       

       

      WHY?

       

      Many Pharisees and Sadducees CAME for baptism with the ostentation that characterized their other religious activities … they were showing the world ready they were for Messiah, though they had not truly repented.

       

      John reminded them that real repentance will show itself in life. It has to be a matter of living repentance, not just talking repentance.

       

       

      BRUCE explains, " Of course most of the Jewish people believed in the wrath to come; the difference was the targets of that judgment. "They conceived of the judgment as concerning the heathen peoples; he thought of it as concerning the godless in Israel."

       

       

      We can learn much from John the Baptist's preaching, "Flee from the wrath to come."

       

       

      1. This wrath is the wrath of God.

       

      2. This wrath is fair and well deserved.

       

      3. This wrath is often ignored or disregarded because it is not immediate; it is to come.

       

      4. This wrath is not any less certain just because it is delayed and is to come.

       

      5. This wrath is terrible when it comes because it is God's wrath.

       

      6. This wrath cannot be stood against; the only way to survive is to successfully flee from it.

       

      7. What John told them to do is also instructive: flee.

       

       

      WHAT DOES FLEE BIBLICALLY MEAN?

       

      1. To flee implies immediate action.

       

      2. To flee implies swift action.

       

      3. To flee implies straight movement, with no diversions.

       

       

      Do not think to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father." John warns them to stop trusting in their Jewish heritage because they must truly repent, not simply trust in Abraham's merits.

       

       

      It was widely taught in that day that Abraham's merits were plenty for any Jew's salvation and that a Jewish person could NOT go to hell, ONLY GENTILES/PAGANS WENT TO HELL!

       

      John points out that these Pharisees and Scribes are of a different family; they are a brood of vipers - meaning a family associated with serpents!

       

       

      I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance...

       

      John's baptism was one of repentance. In this regard, it was not identical to Christian baptism or baptism into Christ (Romans 6:3), which includes a demonstration of repentance and cleansing, but also recognizes the believer's identification with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

       

       

      Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry...

       

      John recognizes his own place before Jesus. He is one NOT worthy to carry the sandals of Jesus, and he did NOT consider himself far above those whom he is called to repentance, and he knew where he stood in relation to Jesus (instead of becoming proud of the crowds he drew and the response he saw).

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      In saying this John put himself lower beneath Jesus than a normal disciple of a normal rabbi. A Rabbi's disciple was expected to act virtually as his master's slave, but to remove his shoes was TOO low a task for even a disciple.

       

       

      He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor...

       

      John warns them to prepare for the Messiah's coming, because He is coming with judgment.

       

       

      Baptize you with the Holy Spirit...

       

      This is the promised out-pouring of the Holy Spirit promised with the New Covenant (Ezekiel 37:14).

       

       

      And fire: To baptize with fire means to bring the fires of judgment, which will purify the pure, but destroy the wicked like chaff.

       

      Chaff is the WORTHLESS residue of a wheat stalk after the kernel of grain has been removed. These proud and unrepentant leaders were just as useless to God.

       

      DID YOU KNOW:

       

      Purification by fire was also a prophetic hope (Isaiah 4:4; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2; cf. Isaiah 1:25). John therefore predicts a real cleansing, in contrast with his own merely outward token.

       

       

      The Jewish leaders thought that the Messiah would come with judgment, but ONLY against Israel's enemies. They were blind in their self-righteous confidence that ONLY others needed to get right with God.

       

      Many today have the same idea. John the Baptist is sadly needed to-day. Much of what we call Christianity is but christianized heathenism … we need that John the Baptist should come with his stern words about the axe, the winnowing-fan, and the fire. Nothing less will avail to prepare the way for a new coming of Christ.

       

       

       

      Verses 13-14 tells us Jesus comes to John for baptism.

       

       

      "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"

       

       

      Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized...

       

      This is a SIGNIFICANT emergence of Jesus from His many years of obscurity. These FIRST works in His public ministry carry great meaning in understanding the rest of His ministry.

       

       

      Jesus came...

       

      No one compelled Jesus to be baptized. He came to John of His own choice. There are some OLD & FALSE traditions that says Jesus was baptized because of PRESSURE from His mother and brothers. Since everyone else was doing it, they thought He should also.

       

       

      I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?

       

      John recognized the inherent irony in this situation. Jesus had nothing to repent of, and it would be more appropriate for Jesus to baptize John.

       

      Verse 15 tells us Jesus ALLOWS Himself to be baptized by John.

       

       

      "But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him."

       

       

      It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness...

       

      Jesus understood why this seemed strange to John, but it was nevertheless necessary to FULFILL all righteousness. It was NOT that this one act in itself fulfilled all righteousness, but it was JUST ANOTHER important step in the overall mission of Jesus to IDENTIFY with fallen and sinful man, a mission that would ONLY finally be fulfilled at the cross.

       

       

      Yet it would be easy for any onlooker to think that Jesus was just another sinner being baptized; so He identified with sinful man. Christ's baptism might create misunderstanding, just as His associating with publicans and sinners did. He was content to be misunderstood.

       

       

      Then he allowed Him...

       

      The purpose was for Jesus to completely identify Himself with sinful man. This is exactly what He did in His birth, His upbringing, and His death. So here, as John allowed Him to be, Jesus stood in the place of sinful man.

       

       

      SO WE UNDERSTAND PERFECTLY TWO THINGS...

       

      1. In baptism JESUS confessed, as His own, sins which He had NOT committed, and repented of them before God. He was numbered with the transgressors and bore the sins of many.

       

       

      2. There is also a sense in which this was an important NEW beginning for Jesus; not in the sense of turning from sin, but in making a break with His previous life.

       

      In accordance with the symbolic significance of the rite as denoting death to an old life and rising to a new, Jesus came to be baptized in the sense of dying to the old natural relations to parents, neighbors, and earthly calling, and devoting Himself henceforth to His public Messianic vocation.

       

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us The DIVINE WITNESSES to Jesus' status as the Son of God.

       

       

      "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

       

       

      The heavens WERE opened...

       

      It was important for God the Father to publicly demonstrate that Jesus' baptism was not just like anyone else's, in the sense of being a display of repentance. It was not a display of repentance, but instead it was a righteous identification with sinners, motivated by love, was well pleasing to the Father.

       

       

      The Spirit of God descending like a dove...

       

      This was a dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit of God coming upon Jesus in a way that could actually be seen (somewhat similar to the coming of the Spirit of God upon the gathered disciples in Acts 2:1-4).

       

       

      Luke 3:22 says it like this: And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him. In some way the Spirit was present, and "flew down" upon Jesus like a dove. Whatever exactly it was, it was real.

       

      John 1:32-34 indicates that John the Baptist saw this phenomenon and understood what it meant.

       

      HERE THE TRINITY IS TOGETHER IN ATTENDANCE FOR MAN TO SEE.

       

      This was NOT a temporary gift of the Spirit of God as some wrongly teach and proclaim.

       

      John the Baptist's testimony in John 1:32-33, when he said that he saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. Jesus was about to begin His public ministry, and He would do it in the power of the Spirit of God.

       

       

      How a dove represents the work of the Holy Spirit

       

      1. Like a dove, the work of the Holy Spirit can be swift.

       

      2. Like a dove, the work of the Holy Spirit can be soft and gentle.

       

      3. Like a dove, the work of the Holy Spirit brings peace.

       

      4. Like a dove, the work of the Holy Spirit is harmless.

       

      5. Like a dove, the work of the Holy Spirit speaks of love.

       

       

      This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased...

       

      When this voice of God the Father spoke from heaven, everyone KNEW that Jesus was NOT just another man being baptized. They KNEW Jesus was the perfect (in whom I am well pleased) Son of God, identifying with sinful man. By this, everyone knew that Jesus WAS different. Jesus was baptized so to be identified with sinful man, but He was also baptized to be identified to sinful man.

       

       

      In this God the Father also expressed His approval of Jesus' life up to this point. "By the divine proclamation at the baptism God announced the presence of the King, and set the seal of His approval on the years already lived.

       

       

      The Spirit of God descending … My beloved Son...

       

      We should not miss the obvious point...

       

      God the Father loves God the Son, and communicated that love by God the Holy Spirit. Here we see the love relationship and cooperation between the Persons of the Trinity, in one occasion when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were ALL manifested at the SAME time.

       

       

      THIS CHAPTER OF MATTHEW FOREVER CLEARS UP THE FALSE TEACHINGS AND FALSE BELIEFS THAT JESUS WAS JUST A NORMAL MAN AND THAT JESUS DID NOT KNOW HE WAS THE SON OF GOD UNTIL THIS EXPERIENCE. AND FOREVER CLEARS UP THE TRIUNENESS AND THE TRINITY OF GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY ARE ALL THREE UNIQUELY DIFFERENT, BUT YET ALL STILL OF ONE HEART AND ONE MIND.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:47 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 4

       

      OPENS WITH...THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS IN THE WILDERNESS AND HIS FIRST GALILEAN MINISTRY

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Jesus is led to the place of temptation.

       

      "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry."

       

      Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted...

       

      After identifying with sinners in His baptism, Jesus then identified with them again in severe temptation. This was a necessary part of His ministry, so He truly was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness.

       

      SATAN DID NOT COME TO JESUS STRAIGHT FROM HIS BAPTISM, NOR WHEN HE WAS IN HIS HUMAN BODY THE HEALTHIEST AND STRONGEST. SATAN WAITED, UNTIL JESUS' HUMAN BODY WAS AT ITS WEAKEST. AND THAT IS A LESSON FOR US. SATAN WILL NOT COME AGAINST US WHEN WE ARE STEADY, HEALTH, STRONG, RESTED. SATAN AND HIS DEMONS WILL COME AT US WHEN WE ARE TIRED, SICK, WORRIED, UNDER TRIAL, UNDER ATTACK.

       

      JESUS HAD TO BE A PERFECT SACRIFICE. SO IT WAS NECESSARY FOR JESUS TO FACE AND DEAL WITH EVERYTHING WE WILL EVER FACE IN THIS LIFE.

       

      It was a remarkable contrast between the glory following Jesus’ baptism and the challenge to be tempted by the devil.

       

      · Then the cool waters of the Jordan; now the barren wilderness.
      · Then the huge crowds; now solitude and silence.
      · Then the Spirit rests like a dove; now the Spirit drives Him into the wilderness.
      · Then the voice of the Father calling Him “Beloved Son”; now the hiss of Satan the tempter.
      · Then anointed; now attacked.
      · Then the water of baptism; now the fire of temptation.
      · First the heavens opened; now hell.

       

      Jesus did not need to be tempted to help Him grow. Instead, He endured temptation both so that He could IDENTIFY WITH US (Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15), and to demonstrate His own holy, sinless character.

       

      The Holy Spirit can NOT tempt us (James 1:13), but the Holy Spirit may lead us to a place where we will be tempted. This is not to prove something to God (who knows all things), but to prove something to us and to the spiritual beings watching us.

       

      Tempted by the devil...

       

      Temptation is a certainty for everyone. Yet Jesus’ temptation was more severe. It was more severe because He was tempted directly by the devil himself, while we contend mainly with lesser demons. It was also more severe because there is a sense in which temptation is “relieved” by giving in, and Jesus NEVER did yield. Therefore He bore levels of temptation we will NEVER know by experience.

       

      BARCLAY adds, "Many commentators believe it is improper to refer to this section as the temptation of Jesus, because the word "peirazo" is more often and more accurately translated TESTING instead of temptation. “Peirazein has a quite different element in its meaning. It means to test far more than it means to tempt in our sense of the word.”

       

      SPURGEON adds, “Luther’s remark stands true, that prayer, meditation, and temptation, are the three best instructors of the gospel minister.”

       

      He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry...

       

      Matthew points out both the barren desert (the Judean wilderness was and is exactly that), and Jesus’ severe physical condition after such a long fast. It is said that when hunger pains return after such a fast (He was hungry), it indicates the subject is beginning to starve to death.

       

      POOLE adds, “Here was the Divine power miraculously seen, in upholding the human nature of Christ without any thing to eat: this was a miracle.”

       

      Yet it was a miracle also evident in the lives of Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8). It was supernatural, but not beyond human capacity when enabled by the Spirit of God.

       

      Forty days and forty nights...

       

      This is a familiar period of testing in the Bible, both in the days of Noah and for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus will succeed where Israel as a nation failed.

       

      This wasn’t self-denial just for the sake of self-denial, or worse yet for the sake of building spiritual pride. This was a period of FORCED dependence upon God the Father.

       

      We remember...

      HEBREWS 5:8, "He learned obedience through the things which He suffered."

       

      Verses 3-4 tells us The FIRST temptation: an appeal to the LUST of the flesh.

       

      "Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

       

      When the tempter came...

       

      Notice that Matthew writes WHEN the tempter came. In our lives, it is NOT a question of IF the tempter will come, but WHEN he will come. We WILL face temptation until we go to glory.

       

      SPURGEON adds, “But let us do what we will, we shall be tempted. God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without temptation.”

       

      We should consider the circumstances that PRECEDED the temptation of Jesus:

       

      · He was in an especially devout frame of mind before His temptation.
      · He was engaged in an act of public obedience to His Father’s will before His temptation.
      · He was in an exceedingly humble frame of mind before His temptation.
      · He was blessed by a heavenly assurance of His Sonship before His temptation.
      · He was filled with the Holy Spirit before His temptation.
      · He was completely separated from the world before His temptation.

       

      If You are the Son of God...

       

      The question asked by Satan is more literally “since You are the Son of God,” instead of “if You are the Son of God.” Satan did not question Jesus’ deity; he challenged Him to prove it or demonstrate it through miraculous works.

       

      Command that these stones become bread...

       

      This was a temptation to use God’s gifts for SELFISH purposes. Satan suggested that Jesus use His miraculous powers to provide food for Himself.

       

      This wasn’t a temptation to miraculously create great riches or luxuries, only bread. The Bible has many accounts of miraculous provision, some at the hands of Jesus. Yet Jesus would NOT command that these stones become bread, especially at the instigation of Satan.

       

      We might say that Jesus was being tested through His strengths, through His gifts. Would He allow His strengths to become traps?

       

      SPURGEON adds, “He bids the Lord prove his Sonship by catering for himself; and yet that would have been the surest way to prove that he was not the Son of God.”

       

      We could say that the same temptation came to Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:40).

       

      But He answered...

       

      Jesus did NOT silently disagree with Satan, He answered him – and He answered him from the Word of God. When Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus shows that EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of God should be more PRECIOUS to us than food itself.

       

      What Satan suggested made sense – “Why starve yourself to death?” But what is written makes even more sense.

       

      BRUCE adds, “Hunger represents human wants, and the question was: whether Sonship was to mean exemption from these, or loyal acceptance of them as part of the Messiah’s experience.”

       

      It is NOT that Jesus REFUSED supernatural help in feeding Himself; He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought Him when the time of testing was over (Matthew 4:11). It was NOT a matter of refusing supernatural help; it was a matter of SUBMITTING to His Father’s timing and will in ALL things.

       

      It is written...

       

      By relying on the power and truth of God’s Word, Jesus was willing to fight this battle as a man; He could have easily rebuked Satan into another galaxy, but resisted him in a way that we CAN DO, we CAN imitate and identify with.

       

      Jesus used Scripture to battle Satan’s temptation, NOT some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. Jesus fought this battle as fully man, and He drew on no “special resources” unavailable to us.

       

      SPURGEON adds, “Out flashed the sword of the Spirit: our Lord will fight with no other weapon. He could have spoken new revelations, but chose to say, ‘It is written.'”

       

      He could have stood against Satan with a display of His own glory; He could have stood against Satan with logic and reason. Instead, Jesus used the word of God as a weapon against Satan and temptation.

       

      · He used a weapon that one can use when they are all alone.
      · He used a weapon to defend His Sonship.
      · He used a weapon to defeat temptation.
      · He used a weapon that was effective because He understood it.

       

      We effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan’s seductive lies by shining the light of God’s truth upon them. If we are ignorant of God’s truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation.

       

      Verses 5-7 tells us The SECOND temptation: an appeal to the PRIDE of life.

       

      "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”

       

      If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down...

       

      Satan tempted Jesus to “force” the Father into a supernatural event. Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly demonstrated.

       

      Set Him on the pinnacle of the temple...

       

      The pinnacle of the temple arose some 200 feet from the floor of the Kidron Valley. A leap from there, and the appearance of the promised angelic protection, would be a remarkable spectacle.

       

      BARCLAY adds, “This was the very method that the false Messiahs who were continually arising promised…These pretenders had offered sensations which they could not perform. Jesus could perform anything he promised. Why should he not do it?”

       

      Jesus just had this kind of spectacular demonstration at His baptism (Matthew 3:17), but that must have seemed far away after forty days and nights of fasting in the wilderness.

       

      For it is written...

       

      The devil can use this phrase also. We can trust that the devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Here the devil quoted PSALM 91:11-12, and took it out of its context to say, “Go ahead, Jesus; if You do this the Bible promises angels will rescue You, and it will be spectacular self-promotion.”

       

      SPURGEON adds, “Satan borrowed our Lord’s weapon, and said, “It is written‘; but he did not use the sword lawfully. It was not in the nature of the false fiend to quote correctly. He left out the necessary words, ‘in all thy ways’: thus he made the promise say what in truth it never suggested.”

       

      POOLE adds, "This text is falsely quoted, because the devil left out the words, “To keep you in all your ways.” To test God in this way was not of Jesus’ way; it was not of the way of the Savior or Messiah. “God had never promised, nor ever given, any protection of angels in sinful and forbidden ways. Satan used this text is WRONGLY applied, because it was not used to teach or encourage, but instead to deceive. “Making this word a promise to be fulfilled upon Christ’s neglect of his duy; extending the promise of special providence as to dangers into which men voluntarily throw themselves.”

       

      Jesus UNDERSTOOD from His knowledge of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) that Satan was TWISTING this passage from Psalm 91.

       

      Jesus KNEW how to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

       

      Sadly, many are willing to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible today. A preacher can pretty much say whatever he wants if he quotes a few proof-texts, and people will assume that he really speaks from the Bible.

       

      It is important for each Christian to KNOW the Bible for themselves, and NOT to be deceived by someone who quotes the Bible but NOT accurately or with correct application.

       

      It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”...

       

      Jesus replied with Scripture, but applied correctly. He knew that attempting to force or manipulate God the Father into such a demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures STRICTLY FORBIDS.

       

      This WARNS US AGAINST demanding something spectacular from God to prove His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more “spectacular” than that.

       

      Verses 8-10 tells us The THIRD temptation: an appeal to the LUST of the eyes.

       

      "Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

       

      All these things I will give You...

       

      Essentially, this vision invited Jesus to take a SHORTCUT around the cross. Jesus came to win ALL the kingdoms of the world and their glory back from Satan’s domain, and Satan offers them to Jesus, if He will only fall down and worship him.

       

      BRUCE adds, "It again may seem a small thing; Jesus could lay claim to all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and do so without enduring the cross. “The danger is greatest when the end is good.”

       

      All He would have to do is give Satan what he has been longing for ever since he fell from glorious to profane: worship and recognition from God Himself.

       

      This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

       

      Satan is still the one who said I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

       

      I will give You...

       

      Evidently, Satan BELIEVED HE HAS TOTAL authority over this world and its governments. The temptation could not have been real unless there is some real sense that Satan does “possess” all the LOST SIN-FILLED RULERS AND THEIR KINGDOMS of the world and their glory.

       

      Adam and his descendants gave the devil this authority. God gave Adam the earth as a stewardship (Genesis 1:28-30), and Adam willingly turned it over to Satan. After that, all Adam’s descendants cast their vote of approval by their personal sin.

       

      Of course, ultimately, all things belong to God; but God allows Satan to function as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) for a purpose. This is why the fallen world is in the mess it is.

       

      Away with you, Satan! For it is written...

       

      Jesus replied with Scripture again, and commanded the devil to leave. In the same way we can resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). It worked for Jesus (Then the devil left Him) and it will work for us.

       

      TRAPP adds, “The word of God hath a power in it to quail and to quash Satan’s temptations, far better than that wooden dagger, that leaden sword of the Papists, their holy water, crossings, grains, dirty relics…It is not the sign of the cross, but the word of the cross, that overthrows Satan.”

       

      The temptations of Jesus also remind us that it is NO SIN to be tempted, as long as the temptation is RESISTED. Even horrible temptations – Jesus was tempted to worship Satan – are not in themselves sin if they are resisted.

       

      Verse 11 tells us The devil leaves and angels come to Jesus.

       

      "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him."

       

      Then the devil left Him means that Jesus WON.

      Jesus WON because He recognized Satan’s mode of attack: lies and deception.

       

      Primarily, Satan is a deceiver, and for those who live in light of the cross, DECEPTION is his ONLY tool, because demonic powers were disarmed at the cross of their “real” weapons and power (Colossians 2:15). But deception is extremely effective at leading us into sin, and at causing us to live lives of fear and unbelief.

       

      Jesus showed the ONLY effective counter to deception: God’s truth, not man’s wisdom.

       

      FIRST, we must see temptation for what it is – a lie.

       

      SECOND, we must combat temptation with the Word of God.

       

      THIRD, we must always build ourselves up in the truth, and have it in our heart.

       

      Each passage Jesus quoted back to Satan in this section comes from Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Jesus was meditating on those very passages, and He fought Satan with the fresh bread He fed on. We should make sure we always have some fresh bread to answer Satan with.

       

      Jesus thought this was IMPORTANT for us to know; only He could have told the Gospel writers what happened when He was tempted in the Judean wilderness. We need to learn from this; to learn how we can overcome temptation, but even more importantly how Jesus overcame temptation on our behalf and succeeded as the sinless Son of God where Adam and Moses and all others had failed.

       

      Behold, angels came and ministered to Him...

       

      God never forsakes those who endure through temptation. Even as angels came and ministered to Jesus, God will find a way to minister to us and meet our needs as we endure temptation.

       

      Verse 12-16 tells us Fulfilling prophecy, The FIRST Galilean ministry of Jesus who brings LIGHT to the region of Galilee.

       

      "Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

       

      When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee...

       

      John 3:22 and 4:1-2 indicate that the first ministry Jesus did with His disciples was a baptizing ministry at the Jordan. Sometime after that and after the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus went to Galilee to begin His itinerant ministry in that region.

      J

      ohn’s Gospel (John 1:19-2:12) records an early ministry in Galilee and in Judea before Jesus went to Galilee as mentioned here. This early Judean ministry included the earliest call of the disciples and the wedding at Cana (in Galilee), and the first cleansing of the temple followed by His interview with Nicodemus (in Judea). Then John tells us what happened when Jesus traveled north to Galilee through Samaria, and met a Samaritan woman at a well.

       

      He departed to Galilee...

       

      The region of Galilee was a fertile, progressive, highly populated region. According to figures from the Jewish historian Josephus, there were an area of about 60 by 30 miles, Josephus says that there were some 204 villages with none having less than 15,000 people. Some 3 million people populating Galilee, an area smaller than the state of Connecticut.

       

      Galilee was predominately Gentile in its population, but with a large number of Jewish cities and citizens. Also, Galilee was known as an incredibly fertile region. Many successful farms took advantage of the good soil.

       

      Leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum...

       

      This was because the people rejected Jesus in His own hometown (Luke 4:16-30). It was significant that Jesus made His home in Capernaum and not in Nazareth.

       

      Matthew may have been particularly interested in Capernaum because it was where he himself lived (Matthew 9:1-9). Peter also had a house in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29 and 2:1).

       

      BRUCE adds, "Yet leaving Nazareth, Jesus did not go to live and make His home in Jerusalem or Judea. Going to Jerusalem would seem to be smarter career planning for the Messiah, but Jesus dwelt in Capernaum. “This migration to Capernaum is not formally noted in the other Gospels, but Capernaum appears in all the synoptists as the main centre of Christ’s Galilean ministry.”

       

      That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet...

       

      As is his custom, Matthew sees Jesus’ ministry in Galilee as a fulfillment of prophecy. Light has come to this region, largely populated by Gentiles, and Isaiah 9:1-2 predicted this of the ministry of the Messiah.

       

      Verse 17 tells us A general description of the message of Jesus.

       

      "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

       

      Jesus began to preach...

       

      One might say that this was the main occupation of Jesus. He did heal and minister to many miraculously; but on the whole, it seems fair to say that Jesus was a preacher and teacher who healed, more than He was a healer who also preached and taught. This is the priority of Jesus’ ministry as stated in Matthew 4:23.

       

      Repent...

       

      The gospel Jesus preached began the same place that the gospel John preached began – with a call to repentance (Matthew 3:2). In fact, since Jesus waited until John had been put in prison (Matthew 4:12), He probably saw Himself as picking up where John left off. But Jesus would go further than John ever did, because John announced the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus is the Messiah.

       

      For the kingdom of heaven is at hand...

       

      Some people make elaborate distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. There actually seems to be no difference at all, especially in light of the Jewish custom of often not even naming God directly, but referring to Him by the place where He lives heaven – a custom that Matthew, a Jew writing to Jews, often employs.

       

      Verses 18-22 tells us FOUR MEN are called as disciples.

       

      "And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him."

       

      Saw two brothers…casting a net into the sea...

       

      This was NOT the first time Jesus met these men, and other gospels describe previous encounters (John 1:35-42 and Luke 5:3), but this is when Jesus called them to leave their professions and follow Him with a full-time commitment.

       

      FRANCE adds, “Its fishing industry was prosperous, and its fishermen not necessarily poor (Zebedee’s family employed workers, Mark 1:20).”

       

      SPURGEON adds, "God usually calls people as they are busy doing something. Jesus called the apostles as they were casting a net into the sea or mending their nets. “They were busy in a lawful occupation when he called them to be ministers: our Lord does not call idlers but fishers.”

       

      · Saul was looking for his father’s donkeys.
      · David was keeping his father’s sheep.
      · The shepherds were guarding their flocks.
      · Amos was farming in Tekoa.
      · Matthew was working at the tax collector’s table.
      · Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock.
      · Gideon was threshing wheat.

       

      Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men...

       

      In that day, it was customary for a rabbi to have disciples; there was nothing cult-like about Jesus asking these men to be with Him constantly and to learn from Him. In some aspects, Jesus offered them a traditional education at the feet of a rabbi; in other aspects, this was very different from a normal rabbinical education.

       

      They immediately left their nets…And immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him...

       

      The immediate response of these disciples is a great example to us. Then the first disciples did what all disciples of Jesus should do: they followed Him.

       

      Following Jesus means leaving some things behind.
      The Samaritan woman left her pitcher.
      Matthew left his tax table.
      Blind Bartimaeus left his cloak to follow Jesus.

       

      Verses 23-25 tells us A description of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.

       

      "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him; from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan."

       

      Teaching in their synagogues...

       

      The customs of the synagogue in that day gave Jesus many opportunities to teach, because they would often give a visitor – especially a distinguished one – a chance to speak.

       

      BARCLAY adds, “After the address there came a time for talk, and questions, and discussion. The synagogue was the ideal place in which to get a new teaching across to the people.”

       

      Teaching…preaching the gospel of the kingdom...

       

      The difference between teaching and preaching is one of emphasis and manner, not of content.

       

      PREACHING is the uncompromising proclamation of certainties.
      TEACHING is the explanation of the meaning and significance of them.

       

      All kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease...

       

      Jesus’ ability to heal those with all different kinds of diseases demonstrates that He has authentic power over the damage done by the fall of man. His authority over demons (and those who were demon-possessed) shows He has authentic power over all creation.

       

      This is the FIRST mention of the demon-possessed in the New Testament, and the concept is rarely recorded in the Old Testament (Saul was one example, who was troubled by a spirit, as in 1 Samuel 18:10, 19:9). There is obviously much more record of demon possession on the pages of the New Testament than either in the Old Testament or in the contemporary western world. Many suggestions have been offered for this fact.

       

      1. Some believe that God gave the devil greater allowance to afflict man in this way, to give greater evidence of Jesus’ credentials as Messiah.

       

      2. Some believe that God allowed the devil a greater allowance to afflict man in this way to rebuke the Sadducees, who did not believe in supernatural beings such as angels and demons.

       

      3. Some believe that there was no greater allowance in those days at all, and that there is the same amount of demon possession today, although it is not recognized as such.

       

      4. Some believe that there is simply far less demon possession in cultures that have been under the influence of the gospel for hundreds of years, and far more in pagan and/or animistic cultures.

       

      5. Some believe that Satan himself is not interested in a strategy of widespread demon possession of humans in the contemporary western world, because he finds anonymity and spiritual skepticism more effective tools.

       

      Great multitudes followed Him...

       

      Jesus had a purpose for allowing such dramatic miracles to attract great multitudes. He wanted to teach the multitudes, not simply to impress them with miracles.

    • February 24, 2018 7:31 PM EST
    •  

      MATTHEW 5

       

      OPENS WITH...THE INTRODUCTION TO THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT

       

      Verse 1 tells us Jesus prepares to teach His disciples.

       

      "And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him."

       

      And seeing the multitudes...

       

      The previous section mentioned that great multitudes followed Him, coming from many different regions (Matthew 4:25). In response to this, Jesus went up on a mountain.

       

      It is WRONG to think that Jesus went up on a mountain to REMOVE Himself from the multitudes. It is true that Jesus gave this teaching to His disciples, but this use of the term is probably broad, including many among the great multitudes that followed Him mentioned in Matthew 4:25. By the end of the Sermon on the Mount, people in general heard His message and were amazed (Matthew 7:28).

       

      Luke says that this same basic material was, on a different occasion, spoken to a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases (Luke 6:17). Yet, in the beginning the teaching, Luke writes: Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said (Luke 6:20). The sense of this is much the same as in Matthew; that this sermon was spoken to the disciples of Jesus, but disciples in a broad sense of those who had followed Him and heard Him; NOT in the narrow sense of only the Twelve.

       

      BRUCE corrects it well, "Jesus was not monastic in spirit, and He had not two doctrines, one for the many, another for the few, like Buddha. His highest teaching … was meant for the million."

       

      When He was seated...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...This was the common posture for teaching in that culture. It was customary for the teacher to sit and the hearers to stand. Confirmed to us in Luke 4:20; cf. Matthew 13:2; 23:2; 24:3).

       

      Now in Matthew's record Jesus will speak and teach; it is God speaking but no longer through an inspired human personality like Jeremiah or Isaiah or Samuel; now the truth of God spoke through the EXACT personality of God.

       

      His disciples came to Him...

       

      This again probably has in mind a group much larger than the Twelve, who to this point have NOT been introduced as a group in this Gospel.

       

      Verse 2 tells us Jesus BEGINS to teach.

       

      "Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:"

       

      Then He opened His mouth...

       

      This means that Jesus used his voice in a strong way to teach this crowd. He spoke with energy, projecting His thoughts with earnestness.

       

      And taught them, saying...

       

      What they heard was a message that has long been recognized as the sum of Jesus' - or anyone's - ethical teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us HOW to live.

       

      It has been said if you took all the good advice for how to live ever uttered by any philosopher or psychiatrist or counselor, took out the foolishness and boiled it all down to the real essentials, you would be left with a poor imitation of this great message by Jesus.

       

      It presents a radically different agenda than what the nation of Israel expected from the Messiah. It does NOT present the political or material blessings of the Messiah's reign. Instead, it expresses the spiritual implications of the rule of Jesus in our lives. This great message tells us how will we live when Jesus is our Lord. "In the first century there was little agreement among Jews as to what the messianic kingdom would be like. One very popular assumption was that the Roman yoke would be shattered and there would be political peace and mounting prosperity for Israel.

       

       

       

      The Sermon on the Mount was Jesus' "standard" sermon. It was the core of His message: a simple proclamation of how God expects us to live, contrasting with common Jewish misunderstandings of that life. It may be that when Jesus preached to a new audience, He often preached this sermon or used the themes from it.

       

      Yet we can also regard this as Jesus training the disciples in the message He wanted them to carry to others. It was His message, meant to be passed onto and through them. "In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew shows us Jesus instructing his disciples in the message which was his and which they were to take to men. In the Gospel of Luke, the material similar to the Sermon on the Mount comes immediately after Jesus chose the twelve.

       

      It is clear that the Sermon on the Mount had a significant impact on the early church. The early Christians make constant reference to it and their lives display the glory of radical disciples.

       

      The Beatitudes: the character of kingdom citizens.

       

      The FIRST portion of the Sermon on the Mount is known as the Beatitudes, which means "The Blessings" but can also be understood as giving the believer his "be - attitudes" - the attitudes he should "be." In the Beatitudes, Jesus sets forth both the nature and the aspirations of citizens of His kingdom. They have and are learning these character traits.

       

      GUZIK adds, "All of these character traits are marks and goals of ALL Christians. There is no escape from our responsibility to desire every one of these spiritual attributes. If you meet someone who claims to be a Christian but displays and desires none of these traits, you may rightly wonder about their salvation, because they do not have the character of kingdom citizens. But if they claim to have mastered these attributes, you may question their honesty."

       

      Verse :3 tells us The FOUNDATION: poverty of spirit.

       

      "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

       

      Blessed...

       

      Jesus promised blessing to His disciples, promising that the poor in spirit are blessed. The idea behind the ancient Greek word for blessed is "happy," but in the truest, godly sense of the word, not in our modern sense of merely being comfortable or entertained at the moment.

       

      In Matthew 25:34, Jesus said that on the Day of Judgment He would say to His people, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. On that day, He will judge between the blessed and the cursed - He both knows and explains what are the requirements for the blessed one. We can also say that no one was ever blessed more than Jesus; He knows what goes into a blessed life.

       

      SPURGEON points out, "Note, also, with delight, that the blessing is in every case in the present tense, a happiness to be now enjoyed and delighted in. It is not 'Blessed shall be,' but 'Blessed are."

       

      The poor in spirit...

      This is NOT a man's confession that he is by nature insignificant, or personally without value, for that would be untrue. Instead, it is a confession that he is sinful and rebellious and utterly without moral virtues adequate to commend him to God.

       

      The poor in spirit recognize that they have no spiritual "assets." They know they are spiritually bankrupt. We might say that the ancient Greek had a word for the "working poor" and a word for the "truly poor." Jesus used the word for the truly poor here. It indicates someone who must beg for whatever they have or get.

       

      Poverty of spirit can NOT be artificially induced by self-hatred; the Holy Spirit and our response to His working in our hearts bring it about.

       

      For theirs is the kingdom of heaven...

       

      Those who are poor in spirit, so poor they must beg, are rewarded. They receive the kingdom of heaven because poverty of spirit is an absolute prerequisite for receiving the kingdom of heaven and as long as we harbor illusions about our own spiritual resources we will never receive from God what we absolutely need to be saved.

       

      CARSON reminds, "The kingdom of heaven is not given on the basis of race, earned merits, the military zeal and prowess of Zealots, or the wealth of a Zacchaeus. It is given to the poor, the despised publicans, the prostitutes, those who are so 'poor' they know they can offer nothing and do not try. They cry for mercy and they alone are heard."

       

      The call to be poor in spirit is placed first for a reason, because it puts the following commands into perspective. They cannot be fulfilled by one's own strength, but only by a beggar's reliance on God's power. No one mourns until they are poor in spirit; no one is meek towards others until he has a humble view of himself. If you don't sense your own need and poverty you will never hunger and thirst after righteousness, and if you have too high a view of yourself you will find it difficult to be merciful to others.

       

      Verse 4 tells us The godly reaction to poverty of spirit: mourning.

       

      "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

       

      Blessed are those who mourn...

       

      The ancient Greek grammar indicates an intense degree of mourning. Jesus does not speak of casual sorrow for the consequences of our sin, but a deep grief before God over our fallen state.

       

      This mourning is the godly sorrow that produces repentance to salvation that Paul described in 2 Corinthians 7:10.

       

      For they shall be comforted...

       

      Those who mourn over their sin and their sinful condition are promised comfort. God allows this grief into our lives as a path, not as a destination.

      Those who mourn can know something special of God; the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10), a closeness to the Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).

       

      Verse 5 tells us The next step: meekness.

       

      "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

       

      Blessed are the meek...

       

      In the vocabulary of the ancient Greek language, the meek person was NOT passive or easily pushed around. The main idea behind the word "meek" was strength under control, like a strong stallion that was trained to do the job instead of running wild.

       

      To be meek towards others implies freedom from malice and a vengeful spirit. The meek, who can be angry, but restrain their wrath in obedience to the will of God, and will not be angry unless they can be angry and not sin, nor will be easily provoked by others.

       

      The first two beatitudes are mostly inward; the third deals with how one relates to one's fellow man. The first two were mainly negative; the third is clearly positive.

       

      1. We are meek before God, in that we submit to His will and conform to His Word.

      2. We are meek before men, in that we are strong - yet also humble, gentle, patient, and longsuffering.

       

      For they shall inherit the earth...

       

      We can only be meek, willing to control our desire for our rights and privileges because we are confident God watches out for us, that He will protect our cause. The promise "they shall inherit the earth" proves that God will not allow His meek ones to end up on the short end of the deal.

       

      Through the first three beatitudes we notice that the natural man finds NO happiness or blessedness in spiritual poverty, mourning or meekness. These are only a blessing for the spiritual man, those who are NEW creatures in Jesus.

       

      Verse 6 tells us The desire of the one who has poverty of spirit, mourning for sin, and meekness: righteousness.

       

      "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."

       

      Blessed are those who hunger...

       

      This describes a profound hunger that can NOT be satisfied by a snack. This is a longing that endures and is never completely satisfied on this side of eternity.

       

      1. This passion is real, just like hunger and thirst are real.

      2. This passion is natural, just like hunger and thirst are natural in a healthy person.

      3. This passion is intense, just like hunger and thirst can be.

      4. This passion can be painful, just like real hunger and thirst can cause pain.

      5. This passion is a driving force, just like hunger and thirst can drive a man.

      6. This passion is a sign of health, just like hunger and thirst show health.

       

      Hunger and thirst for righteousness…

       

      We see Christians hungering for many things: power, authority, success, comfort, happiness - but how many hunger and thirst for righteousness?

       

      It is good to remember that Jesus said this in a day and to a culture that really knew what it was to be hungry and thirsty. Modern man - at least in the western world - is often so distant from the basic needs of hunger and thirst that they also find it difficult to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

       

      How does this hunger and thirst for righteousness express itself?

      1. A man longs to have a righteous nature.

      2. A man wants to be sanctified, to be made more holy.

      3. A man longs to continue in God's righteousness.

      4. A man longs to see righteousness promoted in the world.

       

      For they shall be filled...

       

      Jesus promised to fill this hungry one; to fill them with as much as they could eat. This is a strange filling that both satisfies us and keeps us longing for more.

       

      Verse 7 tells us Blessing to the merciful.

       

      "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

       

      Blessed are the merciful...

       

      When this beatitude addresses those who will show mercy, it speaks to those who have already received mercy.

       

      1. It is mercy to be emptied of your pride and brought to poverty of spirit.

      2. It is mercy to be brought to mourning over your spiritual condition.

      3. It is mercy to receive the grace of meekness and to become gentle.

      4. It is mercy to be made hungry and thirsty after righteousness.

       

      Therefore, this one who is expected to show mercy is one who has already received it.

       

      1. The merciful one will show it to those who are weaker and poorer.

      2. The merciful one will always look for those who weep and mourn.

      3. The merciful one will be forgiving to others, and always looking to restore broken relationships.

      4. The merciful one will be merciful to the character of other people, and choose to think the best of them whenever possible.

      5. The merciful one will not expect too much from others.

      6. The merciful one will be compassionate to those who are outwardly sinful.

      7. The merciful one will have a care for the souls of all men.

       

      For they shall obtain mercy...

       

      If you want mercy from others - especially God - then you should take care to be merciful to others. Some people wonder why God showed such remarkable mercy to King David, especially in the terrible ways in which he sinned. One reason God gave him such mercy was because David was notably merciful to King Saul, and on several occasions was kind to a very unworthy Saul. In David, the merciful obtained mercy.

       

      Verse 8 tells us Blessing to the pure in heart.

       

      "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

       

      Blessed are the pure in heart...

       

      In the ancient Greek, the phrase "pure of heart" has the idea of straightness, honesty, and clarity. There can be two ideas connected to this.

      1. Inner moral purity as opposed to the image of purity or ceremonial purity.

      2. Single, undivided heart - those who are utterly sincere and not divided in their devotion and commitment to God.

       

      For they shall see God...

       

      In this, the pure of heart receive the most wonderful reward. They shall enjoy greater intimacy with God than they could have imagined. The polluting sins of covetousness, oppression, lust, and chosen deception have a definite blinding effect upon a person, and the one pure of heart is freer from these pollutions.

       

      1. The heart-pure person can see God in nature.

      2. The heart-pure person can see God in Scripture.

      3. The heart-pure person can see God in his church family.

      4. The heart-pure person can see something of God's true character.

       

      SPURGEON adds, "One day, at an hotel dinner table, I was talking with a brother-minister about certain spiritual things when a gentleman, who sat opposite to us, and who had a serviette tucked under his chin, and a face that indicated his fondness for wine, made, this remark, 'I have been in this world for sixty years, and I have never yet been conscious of anything spiritual.' We did not say what we thought, but we thought it was very likely that what he said was perfectly true; and there are a great many more people in the world who might say the same as he did. But that, only proved that he was not conscious of anything spiritual; not that others were not conscious of it."

       

      Ultimately, this intimate relationship with God must become our greatest motivation for purity, greater than a fear of getting caught or a fear of consequences.

       

      Verse 9 tells us Blessing to the peacemakers.

       

      "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

       

      Blessed are the peacemakers...

       

      This does not describe those who live in peace, but those who actually bring about peace, overcoming evil with good. One way we accomplish this is through spreading the gospel, because God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). In evangelism we make peace between man and the God whom they have rejected and offended.

       

      We commonly think of this peacemaking work as being the job of one person who stands between two fighting parties. This may be one way this is fulfilled; but one can also end a conflict and be a peacemaker when they are party to a conflict; when they are the injured or the offending party.

       

      For they shall be called sons of God...

       

      The reward of peacemakers is that they are recognized as true children of God. They share His passion for peace and reconciliation, the breaking down of walls between people.

      He is blessed by God; though the peacemaker may be ill-treated by man, he is blessed by God. He is blessed to be among the children of God, adopted into is family, surrounded by brothers and sisters through the ages.

       

      Verses 10-12 tells us The world's reception of these kind of people: persecution.

       

      "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

       

      Blessed are those who are persecuted...

       

      These blessed ones are persecuted for righteousness' sake and for Jesus' sake (for My sake), not for their own stupidity or fanaticism. Peter recognized that suffering might come to some Christians for reasons other than their faithfulness to Jesus (1 Peter 4:15-16), and this is NOT what Jesus addressed here.

       

      The character traits described in the Beatitudes are not valued by our modern culture. We don't recognize or give awards to the "Most Pure in Heart" or "Most Poor in Spirit." Though our culture doesn't think much of these character traits, they do described the character of the citizens of God's kingdom.

       

      Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake...

       

      Jesus brings insults and spoken malice into the sphere of persecution. We cannot limit our idea of persecution to only physical opposition or torture.

       

      It did not take long for these words of Jesus to ring true to His followers. Early Christians heard many enemies say all kinds of evil against them falsely for Jesus' sake. Christians were WRONGLY accused of:

      1. Cannibalism, because of gross and deliberate misrepresentation of the practice of the Lord's Supper by other religions..

       

      2. Immorality, because of gross deliberate misrepresentation of weekly "Love Feast" and their private meetings.

       

      3. Revolutionary fanaticism, because they believed that Jesus would return and there would be an apocalyptic end to history.

       

      4. Splitting families, because when one marriage partner or parent became a Christian there was often change and division in the family.

       

      5. Treason, because they would not honor the Roman gods and participate in emperor worship.

       

      Rejoice and be exceedingly glad...

       

      Literally, we could translate this phrase to say that the persecuted should "leap for joy." Why? Because the persecuted will have great reward in heaven, and because the persecuted are in good company: the prophets before them were also persecuted.

       

      Yet the world persecutes these good people because the values and character expressed in these Beatitudes are so opposite to the world's manner of thinking. Our persecution may not be much compared to others, but if no one speaks evil of you, are these Beatitudes traits of your life?

       

      Verse 13 tells us The followers of Jesus should be like salt.

       

      "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."

       

      You are the salt of the earth...

       

      Disciples are like salt because they are precious. In Jesus' day, salt was a VERY valued commodity. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt, giving rise to the phrase "worth his salt."

       

      You are the salt of the earth...

       

      Disciples are like salt because they have a preserving influence. Salt was used to preserve meats and to slow decay. Christians should have a preserving influence on their culture.

       

      You are the salt of the earth...

       

      Disciples are like salt because they add flavor. Christians should be a "flavorful" people.

       

      If the salt loses its flavor … it is then good for nothing...

       

      Salt must keep its "saltiness" to be of any value. When it is no good as salt, it is trampled under foot. In the same way, too many Christians loose their "flavor" and become good for nothing.

       

      Verses 14-16 tells us The followers of Jesus should be like light.

       

      "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

       

      You are the light of the world...

       

      Jesus gives the Christian both a great compliment and a great responsibility when He says that we are the light of the world, because He claimed that title for Himself as He walked this earth (John 8:12 and John 9:5).

       

      Light of the world means that we are not only light-receivers, but also light-givers. We must have a greater concern than only ourselves, and we cannot live only to ourselves; we must have someone to shine to, and do so lovingly.

      SPURGEON says,"This title had been given by the Jews to certain of their eminent Rabbis. With great pomposity they spoke of Rabbi Judah, or Rabbi Jochanan, as the lamps of the universe, the lights of the world. It must have sounded strangely in the ears of the Scribes and Pharisees to hear that same title, in all soberness, applied to a few bronzed-faced and callous-handed peasants and fishermen, who had become disciples of Jesus."

       

      Jesus never challenged us to BECOME salt or light. He simply said that we are - and we are either fulfilling or failing that given responsibility.

       

      A key thought in both the pictures of salt and light is distinction. Salt is needed because the world is rotting and decaying and if our Christianity is also rotting and decaying, it won't be any good. Light is needed because the world is in darkness, and if our Christianity imitates the darkness, we have nothing to show the world. To be effective we must seek and display the Christian distinctive. We can never affect the world for Jesus by becoming like the world.

       

      Let your light so shine before men...

       

      The purpose of light is to illuminate and expose what is there. Therefore light must be exposed before it is of any use - if it is hidden under a basket, it is no longer useful.

       

      The figures of salt and light also remind us that the life marked by the beatitudes is not to be lived in isolation. We often assume that those inner qualities can only be developed or displayed in isolation from the world, but Jesus wants us to live them out before the world.

       

      A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden...

       

      Such a city is prominent and can't be hidden. If you see such a city from a distance, it is hard to take your eyes off of it. In the same way, Jesus wanted the people of His kingdom to live VISIBLE lives that attracted attention to the beauty of God's work in the life.

       

      Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand...

       

      The idea of a lampstand gives the sense that we are to be intentional about letting this light shine. Even as lamps are placed higher so their light can be more effective, we should look for ways to let our light shine in greater and broader ways.

       

      That they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven...

       

      The purpose in letting our light so shine by doing good works is so that others will glorify God, not ourselves.

       

      Jesus pointed to a breadth in the impact of disciples that must have seemed almost ridiculous at the time. How could these humble Galileans salt the earth, or light the world? But they did.

       

      The three pictures together are powerful, speaking of the effect of Jesus' disciples in the world:

       

      1. Salt is the opposite of corruption, and it prevents corruption from getting worse.

      2. Light gives the gift of guidance, so that those who have lost their way can find the path home.

      3. A city is the product of social order and government; it is against chaos and disorder.

       

      Verses 17-18 tells us Jesus' truth & righteousness in relation to the law.

       

      "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled."

       

      Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets...

       

      Jesus here began a long discussion of the law, and wanted to make it clear that He did NOT oppose what God gave Israel in what we call the Old Testament. He did NOT come to destroy the word of God, but to free it from the way the Pharisees and Scribes had wrongly interpreted it.

       

      I did not come to destroy but to fulfill...

       

      Jesus wanted to make it clear that He had authority apart from the Law of Moses, but NOT in contradiction to it. Jesus added nothing to the law except ONE thing that no man had ever added to the law: perfect obedience. This is certainly one way Jesus came to fulfill the law.

       

      Even though He often challenged man's interpretations of the law (especially Sabbath regulations), Jesus NEVER broke the law of God.

       

      1. Jesus fulfilled the doctrinal teachings of the Law and the Prophets in that He brought full revelation.

       

      2. Jesus fulfilled the predictive prophecy of the Law and the Prophets in that He is the Promised One, showing the reality behind the shadows.

       

      3. Jesus fulfilled the moral and legal demands of the Law and the Prophets in that He fully obeyed them and He reinterpreted them in their truth.

       

      4. Jesus fulfilled the penalty of the Law and the Prophets for us by His death on the cross, taking the penalty we deserved.

       

      The Apostle Paul wrote on this theme: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

       

      One jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled...

       

      The jot and the tittle were small punctuation marks in Hebrew writing. It is as if Jesus says, "Not one dot of an "i" or not one cross of a "t" will pass away till all is fulfilled. And indeed, Jesus did perfectly fulfill the law.

       

      Verses 19-20 tells us The disciple's relationship to the law.

      "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

       

      Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments…

       

      The commandments are to be obeyed as explained and fulfilled by Jesus' life and teaching, not as in the legalistic thinking of the religious authorities of Jesus' day. For example, sacrifice is commanded by the law, but it was fulfilled in Jesus, so we do not run the danger of being called least in the kingdom of heaven by NOT observing animal sacrifice as detailed in the Law of Moses.

       

      Whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven...

       

      The Christian is done with the law as a means of gaining a righteous standing before God. One passage that explains this is Galatians 2:21: For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. However, the law stands as the perfect expression of God's ethical character and requirements.

       

      The law sends us to Jesus to be justified, because it shows us our inability to please God in ourselves. But after we come to Jesus, He sends us back to the law to learn the heart of God for our conduct and sanctification.

       

      Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven...

       

      Considering the incredible devotion to the law shown by the scribes and Pharisees, how can we ever hope to exceed their righteousness?

       

      The Pharisees were so scrupulous in their keeping of the law that they would even tithe from the small spices obtained from their herb gardens (Matthew 23:23).

       

      The heart of this devotion to God is shown by modern day Orthodox Jews. In early 1992, tenants let three apartments in an Orthodox neighborhood in Israel burn to the ground while they asked a rabbi whether a telephone call to the fire department on the Sabbath violated Jewish law. Observant Jews are forbidden to use the phone on the Sabbath, because doing so would break an electrical current, which is considered a form of work. In the half-hour it took the rabbi to decide "yes," the fire spread to two neighboring apartments.

       

      The life of Paul shows what the righteousness of the Pharisees was like: Acts 23:6, 26:5; Philippians 3:5.

       

      We can exceed their righteousness because our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees in kind, not degree. Paul describes the two kinds of righteousness in Philippians 3:6-9: Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, [I was] blameless. But what things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed, I count all things loss … that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.

       

      Though the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was impressive to human observation, it could not prevail before God (Isaiah 64:6).

       

      So then, we are not made righteous by keeping the law. When we see what keeping the law really means, we are thankful that Jesus offers us a different kind of righteousness.

       

      In this section, Jesus shows the TRUE meaning of the law. But this isn't Jesus against Moses; it is Jesus against false and superficial interpretations of Moses. In regard to the law, the TWO ERRORS of the scribes and Pharisees were that they both restricted God's commands (as in the law of murder) and extended the commands of God past His intention (as in the law of divorce).

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us Jesus INTERPRETS the law against

    • February 24, 2018 7:28 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 6

       

      OPENS WITH...THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (CONTINUED)

       

      Verse 1 tells us Jesus' doing good to please God & warning against doing good to be seen by others.

       

      "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven."

       

      Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men...

       

      Charitable deeds is actually the word righteousness. Jesus tells us to not do righteous things for the sake of display or image (to be seen by them).

       

      Jesus has just clearly shown God's righteous standard; perhaps He anticipated the thought "Wouldn't everybody be impressed if I was like that?" So here Jesus addressed the DANGER of cultivating an OUTWARD IMAGE of righteousness. It is almost impossible to do spiritual things in front of others without thinking what their opinion is of us as we do those things, and how they are thinking better or worse of us as we do what we do.

       

      This does NOT contradict His previous command to let your light so shine before men (Matthew 5:16). Although the followers of Jesus are to be seen doing good works, they must not do good works simply to be seen.

       

      Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven...

       

      The idea is when we do righteous deeds for the attention and applause of men, their attention and applause IS our ONLY reward. It is much better to receive a reward from your Father in heaven.

       

      There are some who say, "All that is important is the doing of the deed. How I do it is much less important than the doing of it." It is true that in some cases it would be better to do the right thing in the wrong way or out of the wrong motive than to do the wrong thing, but Jesus' point is clear: God cares about HOW we do our good works, and with what MOTIVE we do them.

       

      Jesus thus begins to deal with THREE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES: giving, prayer, and fasting.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...THE REASON JESUS SPEAKS TO THESE THREE THINGS WITH ACUTE CLARITY?

       

      These three were (and are) the most prominent practical requirements for personal piety in mainstream Judaism … These same three activities, together with the specifically Islamic requirements of the Hajj and recitation of the creed, constitute also the Five Pillars of Islam.

       

      SO JESUS DOES NOT WANT US TO BE DECEIVED IN BELIEVING OTHER RELIGIONS/FALSE GOSPELS/FALSE IDOL PAGANISM PRACTICES THAT TRY TO MIMIC JESUS TEACHING TO GIVE THEM VALIDITY!

       

      Verses 2-4 tells us Examples of the WRONG kind of giving and the RIGHT kind of giving.

       

      "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

       

      When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      It was a custom for some in Jesus' day to draw attention to their giving so they would be known as generous. Today, people do not sound a trumpet to project the image of generosity, but they still know how to call attention to their giving.

       

      There aren't good examples in ancient literature of people actually announcing their giving with the sound of a trumpet. It may be what Jesus had in mind was the gifts given during feast times, which were signaled by the blast of a trumpet. These occasions afforded golden opportunities for ostentation.

       

      Yet the idea of doing a charitable deed - giving alms and charity - was deeply established in the Jewish mind and other Pagan religiosities. To give alms and to be righteous were one and the same thing. To give alms was gain merit in the sight of God, and was even to win atonement and forgiveness for past sins.

       

      As the hypocrites do...

       

      Such performers are rightly called hypocrites, because they are actors, acting the part of pious, holy people when they are not in the eyes of Jesus. It is not having a standard that makes someone a hypocrite; it is falsely claiming to live by that standard when you in fact do not, or when you have a double standard that makes one a hypocrite.

       

      INTERESTING ENOUGH...DID YOU KNOW...

       

      In older Greek a hypocrites ('hypocrite') was an actor, but by the first century the term came to be used for those who play roles and see the world as their stage.

       

      BRUCE says it well, "Sadly there are MANY religious actors still, and they draw good crowds who are deceived and fawn over their supposed holy largesse."

       

      Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward...

       

      Jesus tells the one who gives so they can hear the applause of others that he should enjoy the applause, the fame, the acclaim from the lost world, false religions, worldly icons, because that will be ALL the reward that they receive. There will be NO reward from Almighty God, nor Jesus Christ, nor in heaven for the one who did it for the motive of an earthly reward.

       

      It would be better to translate it: 'They have received payment in full.' The word that is used in the Greek is the verb "apechein", which was the technical business and commercial word for receiving payment in full.

       

      Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...

       

      Instead, our giving is to be - if it were possible - even hidden from ourselves. Though we can NOT really be ignorant about our own giving, we can deny ourselves any indulgent self-congratulation.

       

      That your charitable deed may be in secret...

       

      If someone finds out that we have given something, do we automatically lose our reward? The issue is really a matter of motive. If we give for our own glory, it does NOT matter if no one finds out and we will still have NO reward from God. But if we give for God's glory, it does NOT matter who finds out because your reward will remain because you gave for the RIGHT motive.

       

      Our Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly...

       

      Jesus pointed out the great value of doing good deeds for the glory of God. It is much better to receive our return from God, who rewards much more generously and much more openly than men do.

       

      We should not miss the strength of the promise - these things done the right way will certainly be rewarded. We can be sure of that, even when it does NOT feel like it.

       

      Verses 5-6 tells us Examples of the WRONG kind of prayer and the RIGHT kind of prayer.

       

      "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

       

      And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites...

       

      Jesus assumed that His disciples would give, so He told them the right way to give (Matthew 6:1-4). He also assumed that His disciples would pray, and it was important that they NOT pray in the same manner as the hypocrites.

       

      For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      There were TWO main places where a Jew in Jesus' day might pray in a hypocritical manner. They might pray at the synagogue at the time of public prayer, or on the street at the appointed times of prayer (9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.).

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...

      In synagogue worship someone from the congregation might be asked to pray publicly, standing in front of the ark.

       

      Prayer was NOT normally practiced at the street corners, but… one who strictly observed the afternoon hour of prayer could deliberately time his movements to bring him to the most public place at the appropriate time.

       

      That they may be seen by men...

       

      These hypocrites prayed NOT to be heard by God, but to be SEEN by men. This is a common fault in public prayer today, when people pray to impress or teach others instead of genuinely pouring out their hearts before God.

       

      WE ALL NEED TO KNOW AND REMEMBER...Such prayers are an INSULT to God. When we mouth words towards God, while really trying to IMPRESS others we then use God merely as a tool to impress others.

       

      They have their reward...

       

      Again, those praying to be seen of men have their reward, and they should enjoy it in full - because that is ALL they will receive. There is NO reward in heaven for such prayers.

       

      SO WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL WHOM WE ASK TO PRAY FOR US. IF THEY ARE OFFERING TO PRAY TO APPEAR HOLY, DEVOUT, AND GAIN ATTENTION...THEIR PRAYERS ARE NOT HEARD IN HEAVEN NOR ARE THEY ANSWERED.

       

      But you, when you pray, go into your room...

       

      Rather, we should meet with God in our room (or, "closet"). The idea is of a private place where we can impress no one except God. That private room, can be while we are driving, taking a walk, sitting outside, any place we talk to Jesus and share our hearts with Jesus alone can be our PRAYER CLOSET.

       

      The specific ancient Greek word "room" was used for a storeroom where treasures were kept. This reminds us that there are treasures waiting for us in our prayer closet.

       

      Jesus certainly did NOT prohibit public prayer, but our prayers should always be directed to God and NOT towards man.

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us The right way to pray.

       

      "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."

       

      When you pray, do not use vain repetitions...

       

      The right kind of prayer does NOT use vain repetitions, which is any and all prayer which is mostly words and NO meaning; ALL lips and NO mind or heart.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      One can pray long - but to the wrong god.

      1. In 1 Kings 18:26 the prophets of Baal cried out "O Baal answer us" for half the day.

      2. In Acts 19:34 a mob in Ephesus shouted, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" for two hours.

      The true God is NOT impressed by the length or eloquence of our prayers, but the heart.

       

      When we try to impress God (or worse, other people) with our many words, we deny that God is a loving, yet holy Father. Instead, we should follow the counsel of Ecclesiastes 5:2: "God is in heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few."

       

      The vain repetitions as "keep on babbling." That may be an accurate sense of the ancient Greek word "battalogeo", which may be a word that sounds like "babbling" and has the sense of "blah-blah-blah."

       

      Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him...

       

      Prayer is NOT designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind that THERE is his Father, his country, and inheritance.

       

      In this manner, therefore pray...

       

      Jesus here gave His disciples a model for prayer, prayer marked by close relationship, reverence, submission, and trust and dependence. Since Luke 11:2-4 has much the same material, it is reasonable to believe that this was NOT the only time Jesus taught His disciples on this subject.

       

      Verses 9-13 tells us The model prayer.

       

      "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

       

      Our Father in heaven...

       

      The right kind of prayer comes to God as a Father in heaven. It rightly recognizes whom we pray to, coming with a privileged title that demonstrates a privileged relationship. It was very unusual for the Jews of that day to call God "Father" because it was considered too intimate.

       

      It is true that God is the mighty sovereign of the universe, who created, governs, and will judge all things - but He is also to us a Father.

       

      He is our Father, but He is our Father in heaven. When we say "in heaven" we remember God's holiness and glory. He is our Father, but our Father in heaven.

       

      This is a prayer focused on community; Jesus said "Our Father" and not "My Father." "The whole prayer is social. The singular pronoun is absent. Man enters the presence of the Father, and then prays as one of the great family.

       

      Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven...

       

      The right kind of prayer has a passion for God's glory and agenda. His name, kingdom and will have the top priority.

       

      Everyone wants to guard their own name and reputation. But we must resist the tendency to protect and promote ourselves first and instead put God's name, kingdom and will first.

       

      Jesus wanted us to pray with the desire that the will of God would be done on earth as it is in heaven. In heaven there is no disobedience and no obstacles to God's will; on earth there is disobedience and at least apparent obstacles to His will. The citizens of Jesus' kingdom will want to see His will done as freely on earth as it is in heaven.

       

      A man can say, "Your will be done" in different ways and moods.

      He may say it with fatalism and resentment. "You will do your will and there is nothing I can do about it anyway. Your will wins, but I don't like it."

       

      Or, he may say it with a heart of perfect love and trust: "Do Your will, because I know it is the best. Change me where I don't understand or accept Your will."

       

      One might rightly wonder why God wants us to pray that His will would be done, as if He were not able to accomplish it Himself. God is more than able to do His will without our prayer or cooperation; yet He invites the participation of our prayers, our heart, and our actions in seeing His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

       

      Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one: The right kind of prayer will freely bring its own needs to God. This will include needs for daily provision, forgiveness, and strength in the face of temptation.

       

      When Jesus spoke of bread, here He meant REAL bread, as in the sense of daily provisions. Early theologians allegorized this, because they could NOT imagine Jesus speaking about an everyday thing like bread in such a majestic prayer like this. So they thought bread referred to communion, the Lord's Supper. Some have thought it referred to Jesus Himself as the bread of life. Others have thought it speaks of the word of God as our daily bread.

       

      Calvin rightly said of such interpretations, which fail to see God's interest in everyday things: "This is exceedingly absurd." God does care about everyday things, and we should pray about them.

       

      "The prayer is for our needs, NOT our greeds. It is for one day at a time, reflecting the precarious lifestyle of many first-century workers who were paid one day at a time and for whom a few day's illness could spell tragedy."

       

      The one who is truly forgiven will show forgiveness to others.

       

      Jesus will elaborate more on this idea in the following verses. Yet we notice that "Sin is represented here under the notion of a debt, and as our sins are many, they are called here debts. God made man that he might live to His glory, and gave him a law to walk by; and if, when he does any thing that tends NOT to glorify God, he contracts a debt with Divine Justice."

       

      Temptation literally means a test, not always a solicitation to do evil. God has promised to keep us from any testing that is greater than what we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

       

      "God, while he does not 'tempt' men to do evil (James 1:13), does allow his children to pass through periods of testing. But disciples, aware of their weakness, should not desire such testing, and should pray to be spared exposure to such situations in which they are vulnerable."

       

      If we truly pray, lead us not into temptation, it will be lived out in several ways. It will mean:

       

      - Never boast in your own strength.

      - Never desire trials.

      - Never go into temptation.

      - Never lead others into temptation.

       

      For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever...

       

      The right kind of prayer praises God and credits to Him the kingdom and the power and the glory.

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us More on the importance of forgiveness.

       

      "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

       

      If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you...

       

      Forgiveness is required for those who have been forgiven. We are not given the luxury of holding on to our bitterness towards other people.

       

      Neither will your Father forgive your trespasses...

       

      Jesus has much more to say about forgiveness (Matthew 9:2-6, 18:21-35, and Luke 17:3-4). Here, the emphasis is on the imperative of forgiveness; on the fact that it is NOT an option.

       

      Verses 16-18 tells us The RIGHT way to fast.

       

      "Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

       

      When you fast...

       

      Jesus spoke to these fundamental practices of spiritual life in His kingdom: giving, praying, and now fasting. Clearly, Jesus assumed that His followers would fast.

       

      The Old Testament commanded fasting on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32; Numbers 29:7).

      During the Exile, the Jewish people expanded the practice of fasting (Zechariah 7:3-5 and 8:19).

       

      When you fast, do not be like hypocrites..

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      The hypocritical scribes and Pharisees wanted to make sure that everybody knew they were fasting, so they would have a sad countenance and disfigure their faces so their agony of fasting would be evident to all and draw attention to THEM instead of to God..

       

      BRUCE tells us, "The Pharisees typically fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). "Twice a week in ordinary Pharasic practice: Thursday and Monday (ascent and descent of Moses on Sinai)."

       

      Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward...

       

      When hypocrites receive the admiration of men for these "spiritual" efforts, they receive all the reward they will ever get.

       

      When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting...

       

      In contrast, Jesus' instructed us to take care of ourselves as usual and to make the fast something of a secret before God.

       

      Verses 19-21 tells us The PLACE of material things: a warning against covetousness.The choice between two treasures.

       

      "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

       

      Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...

       

      The ancient Greek more literally says do NOT treasure for yourself treasures on earth. The idea is that earthly treasure is temporary and fading away (where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal), but heavenly treasure is secure.

       

      The issue isn't that earthly treasures are intrinsically bad; but they are of NO ultimate value either. If this is the case, then it is wrong for the disciple of Jesus to dedicate their lives to continually expanding their earthly treasures.

       

      To lay up for yourselves treasure on earth is also to doom yourself to a life of frustration and emptiness. Regarding material things, the secret to happiness is not more, it is contentment. In a 1992 survey, people were asked how much money they would have to make to have "the American dream." Those who earn $25,000 or less a year thought they would need around $54,000. Those in the $100,000 annual income bracket said that they could buy the dream for an average of $192,000 a year. These figures indicate that we typically think we would have to have double our income in order to find the good life. But the Apostle Paul had the right idea in 1 Timothy 6:6: Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

       

      But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...

       

      In contrast, heavenly treasures are everlasting and incorruptible. Treasures in heaven give enjoyment now, in the contentment and sense of well-being that comes from being a giver. But their ultimate enjoyment comes on the other side of eternity.

       

      It has been wisely observed that a moving truck full of possessions never follows a hearse. Every thing one might take with them to the world beyond is left behind. The pharaohs of Egypt were buried with gold and treasures to take into the afterlife, but they left it all behind. Even further, though gold is a precious thing on earth God uses it to pave the streets of heaven.

       

      Jesus once told a parable that has troubled some. In Luke 16:1-14, He spoke of a dishonest manager, who was about to be called to account. Knowing he would be fired, he began to settle accounts with his master's debtors at terms favorable to the debtors, so they would treat him kindly when the master fired him. The master ended up complimenting the manager for his shrewd tactics (presumably before he fired him). This dishonest manager was praiseworthy for two reasons.

       

      WHY?

       

      FIRST, he knew he would be called to account for his life and he took it seriously.

      SECOND, he took advantage of his present position to use our material resources right now for eternal good - even though we can NOT bring them with us.

       

      Our material treasures will not pass from this life to the next; but the good that has been done for the kingdom of God through the use of our treasures lasts for eternity, and the work God does in us through faithful giving WILL last for eternity.

       

      For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...

       

      Jesus drew the conclusion that you can ONLY have your treasure (and your heart) in ONE place; we can NOT store up treasure on earth and on heaven at the SAME time.

       

      Verses 22-23 tells us The choice between two visions.

       

      "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

       

      The lamp of the body is the eye...

       

      Simply, the idea is that "light" comes into the body through eye. If our eyes were blind, we would live in a "dark" world.

       

      If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light...

       

      The idea behind having a good eye is either being generous or being single minded. Both principles apply to the disciple's attitude towards material things.

       

      Being generous brings light to our lives. We are happier and more content when we have God's heart of generosity. But if we are NOT generous, it is as if your whole body will be full of darkness. Our selfish, miserly ways cast darkness over everything that we think or do.

       

      Being single minded brings light to our lives, and we are also happier and more content when we focus on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing that all the material things will be added to us (Matthew 6:33).

       

      But when we are double-minded, it is as if your whole body is full of darkness. We try to live for two masters at the same time, and it puts a dark shadow over everything in our life.

       

      Full of light … full of darkness...

       

      In any case, Jesus tells us that either our eye is directed at heavenly things (and therefore full of light) or it is directed at earthly things (and therefore full of darkness).

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      "An evil eye was a phrase in use, among the ancient Jews, to denote an envious, covetous man or disposition; a man who repined at his neighbour's prosperity, loved his own money, and would do nothing in the way of charity for God's sake.

       

      How great is that darkness...

       

      Building on the analogy of the eye, Jesus reminds us that if we are blind in our eyes, the whole body is blind. The darkness is then great in our whole body. In the same way, our attitude towards material treasure will either bring great light or great darkness to our lives.

       

      Often a materialistic, miserly, selfish Christian justifies their sin by saying "It's just one area of my life." But even as the darkness of the eye affects everything in the body, so a wrong attitude towards material things brings darkness to our whole being.

       

      Verse 24 tells us The CHOICE between TWO masters.

       

      "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

       

      No one can serve two masters...

       

      Having two masters is not like working two jobs. Jesus had the master and slave relationship in mind, and no slave could serve two masters.

       

      Jesus states that serving two masters is a simple IMPOSSIBILITY. If you think that you are successfully serving two masters, you are deceived. It can NOT be done. As ancient Israel struggled with idolatry, they thought they could worship the Lord God and Baal. God constantly reminded them that to worship Baal was to forsake the Lord God. To be loyal to the one is to despise the other.

       

      It can be simply said of money...Don't serve your money. Let your money serve the Lord and it will serve you.

       

      You cannot serve God and mammon...

       

      There are different opinions regarding the origin of the term "mammon". Some think it was the name of a pagan god. Others think the name comes "From the Hebrew aman, to trust, confide; because men are apt to trust in riches.

       

      The word was used in some ancient Jewish texts what showed this, translating Proverbs 3:9 as Honor God with your mammon and Deuteronomy 6:5 as You shall love the Lord your God with … all your mammon. Therefore mammon itself represents material things we possess or want, and those things can be used for God's kingdom and glory or as idols.

       

      Certainly, Jesus is talking about the heart here. Many people would say they love God, but their service of money shows that in fact they do not.

       

      How can we tell who or what we are serving?

       

      One way is by remembering this principle: you will sacrifice for your God. If you will sacrifice for the sake of money, but will not sacrifice for the sake of Jesus, don't deceive yourself: money is your God.

       

      We must remember that we do NOT have to be rich to serve mammon (money and material things); the poor can be just as greedy and covetous as the rich can be.

       

      Verse 25 tells us Therefore: because the Kingdom of God is so greatly superior to earthly pursuits, it deserves our attention.

       

      "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

       

      Do not worry about your life...

       

      We should not get tangled up worrying about the things of this world, because our life is more than those things.

       

      Do not worry...

       

      There is a difference between a godly sense of responsibility and an ungodly, untrusting worry. However, an ungodly, untrusting sense of worry usually masquerades as responsibility.

       

      We are to be concerned with the right things; the ultimate issues of life - and we then leave the management (and the worry) over material things with our heavenly Father.

       

      Is not life more than food...

       

      The worry Jesus spoke of debases man to the level of an animal who is merely concerned with physical needs. Your life is more, and you have eternal matters to pursue.

       

      Verses 26-30 tells us Example and arguments against worry.

       

      "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"

       

      Look at the birds of the air … your heavenly Father feeds them...

       

      The birds are provided for by God, and if He takes care of them. Therefore, we should expect that God will take care of us.

       

      Yet take careful note...

       

      the birds do NOT worry, but they DO work. Birds do NOT just sit with open mouths, expecting God to fill them.

       

      This argument presupposed a biblical cosmology without which faith makes no sense. God is so sovereign over the universe that event the feeding of a wren falls within his concern.

       

      Are you not of more value than they?...

       

      The worry many people have over the material things of life is rooted in a low understanding of their value before God. They do NOT comprehend how much He loves and cares for them.

       

      Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?...

       

      Worry accomplishes nothing; we can add nothing to our lives by worrying. There may be greater sins than worry, but there are none more self-defeating and useless.

       

      Can add...

       

      The ancient Greek may mean adding to life instead of adding to height, but the thought is the same. Indeed, instead of adding to our life, we can actually harm ourselves through worry.

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Worry and Stress are two of the great contributors to disease and poor health. In 2015, National Health Research stated in the US alone, 53 million people were prescribed anti-depressants, and the cost was almost a billion dollars. And that the prescribed anti-depressants caused MORE cases of death, suicide, and worse depression.

       

      If God so clothes the grass of the field...

       

      God even takes care of the grass of the field, so He will certainly take care of you. We are confident of the power and care of a loving heavenly Father.

       

      You of little faith...

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Little faith' is not a little fault; for it greatly wrongs the Lord, and sadly grieves the fretful mind. To think the Lord who clothes the lilies will leave his own children naked is shameful. O little faith, learn better manners!"

       

      Verses 31-32 tells us You have a heavenly Father that knows your needs.

       

      "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that y

    • February 24, 2018 7:26 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 7

       

      OPENS WITH...(SERMON ON THE MOUNT CONTINUED)

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us A summary statement on passing judgment upon others.

       

      "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

       

      Judge not, that you be not judged...

       

      Here Jesus moved to another idea in the Sermon on the Mount. He had primarily dealt with themes connected with the interior spiritual life (attitudes in giving, prayer, fasting, materialism, and anxiety over material things).

       

      Now He touches on an important theme related to the way we think of and treat others.

       

      We remember that Jesus called for a righteousness that was greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). In the way some people think, the way to make one's self more righteous is to be MORE judgmental of others. Jesus here rebuked that kind of thinking.

       

      Judge not, that you be not judged...

       

      With this command Jesus warned against passing judgment upon others, because when we do so we will be judged in a similar manner.

       

      Among those who seem to know nothing of the Bible, this is the verse that seems to be most popular.

       

      Yet most the people, priests, preachers, and others who quote this verse do NOT understand what Jesus said. They seem to think (or hope) that Jesus commanded a UNIVERSAL acceptance of ANY AND ALL lifestyles, actions, or teaching.

       

      Just a little later in this same sermon (Matthew 7:15-16), Jesus commanded us to KNOW ourselves and others by the FRUIT of their life, and some sort of assessment is necessary for that.

       

      The Christian is called to show unconditional love. But the Christian is NOT called to unconditional approval NOR UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. We really can love people who do things that should NOT be approved of.

       

      So while this does NOT prohibit examining the lives of others, it certainly prohibits doing in the spirit it is often done.

       

      An example of UNJUST judgment was the disciples' condemnation of the woman who came to anoint the feet of Jesus with oil (Matthew 26:6-13). They thought she was wasting something; Jesus said she had done a good work that would always be remembered. They had a rash, harsh, unjust judgment.

       

      1. We break this command when we only speak to others of their faults.

      2. We break this command when we judge an entire life only by its worst moments.

      3. We break this command when we judge the hidden motives of others.

      4. We break this command when we judge others without considering ourselves in their same circumstances.

      5. We break this command when we judge others without being mindful that we ourselves will be judged.

       

      For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged...

      Jesus did NOT prohibit the judgment of others FOR SEEN AND KNOWN offenses/wrongs. He only requires that our judgment be completely fair, and that we only judge others by a standard we would also like to be judged by.

       

      When our judgment in regard to others is wrong, it is often not because we judge according to a standard but because we are hypocritical in the application of that standard - we ignore the standard in our own life. It is common to judge others by one standard and ourselves by another standard - being far more generous to ourselves than others.

       

      With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you...

       

      This is the principle upon which Jesus built the command, "Judge not, that you be not judged." God will measure unto us according to the same measure we use for others. This is a powerful motivation for us to be generous with love, forgiveness, and goodness to others. If we want more of those things from God, we should give more of them to others.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...JESUS WAS CHASTISING THE POLITICAL/SOCIAL/RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THAT DAY.

       

      WHY?

      According to the teaching of some rabbis in Jesus' time, God had two measures that He used to judge people. One was a measure of justice and mercy for Jews and the other was a measure of justice for all other people.

       

      Jesus CORRECTED THEIR WRONG TEACHING/PREACHING/IDEOLOGIES. Which ever measure you want God to use with you, you should use that same measure with ALL other PEOPLES.

       

      Verses 3-5 tells us An illustration of Jesus' principle regarding judging.

       

      "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

       

      Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

       

      The figures of a speck and a plank are REAL figures, yet used humorously. Jesus shows how we are generally far more tolerant to our own sin than we are to the sin of others.

       

      Though there might be a literal speck in one's eye, there obviously would not be a literal plank or board in an eye. Jesus used these exaggerated, humorous pictures to make His message easier to understand and more memorable.

       

      It is a humorous picture...

       

      A man with a board in his eye trying to help a friend remove a speck from the friend's eye. You can't think of the picture without smiling and being amused by it.

       

      An example of looking for a speck in the eye of another while ignoring the plank in one's own is when the religious leaders brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus. She had certainly sinned; but their sin was much worse and Jesus exposed it as such with the statement, He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7).

       

      THEY SAID THEY WERE ALL WITNESSES WHO CAUGHT THE WOMAN IN ADULTERY...YET THE MAN WHOALSO COMMITTED ADULTERY WAS NOT NAMED AND NOT BROUGHT BEFORE JESUS.

       

      Look, a plank is in your own eye...

       

      Jesus indicates that the one with the plank in his own eye would not immediately be aware of it. He is blind to his obvious fault. It is the attempt to correct the fault of someone else when we ourselves have the same (or greater fault) that earns the accusation, "Hypocrite!"

       

      Our hypocrisy in these matters is almost always more evident to others than to ourselves. We may find a way to ignore the plank in our own eye, but others notice it immediately.

       

      ANOTHER GOOD OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLE OF HYPOCRISY WAS...King David's reaction to Nathan's story about a man who unjustly stole and killed another man's lamb. David quickly condemned the man, but was blind to his own sin, which was much greater (2 Samuel 12).

       

      First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye...

       

      Jesus did NOT say that it was wrong for us to help our brother with the speck in his eye. It is a good thing to help your brother with his speck, but not before dealing with the plank in your own eye.

       

      Verse 6 tells us Balancing love with discernment.

       

      "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces."

       

      Do not give what is holy to the dogs...

       

      After He warned us against judgmental attitudes and self-blind criticism, Jesus here reminded us that He did NOT mean to imply that the people of His Kingdom, THOSE WHO LOVE JESUS CHRIST AND CALL HIM LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, & FRIEND, suspend all discernment. They must discern that there are some good, precious things that should NOT be given to those who will receive them with contempt.

       

      The dogs and swine here are often understood as those who are hostile to the Kingdom of God and the message that announces it. Our love for others must NOT blind us to their hardened rejection of the good news of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

       

      Jesus also spoke in the context of correcting another brother or sister. Godly correction is a pearl (though it may sting for a moment) that must not be cast before swine (those who are determined not to receive it).

       

      Nor cast your pearls before swine...

      Our pearls of the precious gospel may only confuse those who do not believe, who are blinded to the truth by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and may only expose the gospel to their ridicule.

       

      The gospel is to be preached to every creature, Mark 16:15. But when the Jews were hardened, and spoke evil of that way before the multitude, Acts 19:9, the apostles left preaching them.

       

      Of course, Jesus did not say this to discourage us from sharing the gospel. Previously in this very sermon Jesus told us to let our lights shine before the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus said this to call us to discernment, and to encourage us to look for prepared hearts that are ready to receive. When we find such open hearts, we can trust that God has already been working upon them.

       

      Verses 7-8 tells us Jesus invites us & teaches us more about prayer: to keep on asking, seeking and knocking.

       

      "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

       

      Ask … seek … knock...

       

      We see a progressive intensity, going from ask to seek to knock. Jesus told us to have intensity, passion, and persistence in prayer. The fact that Jesus came back to the subject of prayer - already dealt with in some depth in Matthew 6:5-15 - shows the IMPORTANCE of prayer.

       

      In this three-fold description of prayer as asking, seeking, and knocking we see different aspects of prayer and different aspects of its reward.

       

      1. Prayer is like asking in that we simply make our requests known to God, and everyone who asks receives. Receiving is the reward of asking.

       

      2. Prayer is like seeking in that we search after God, His word, and His will, and he who seeks finds. Finding is the reward of seeking.

       

      3. Prayer is like knocking until the door is opened, and we seek entrance into the great heavenly palace of our Great King. Entering through the opened door into His palace is the reward of knocking, and the best reward of all.

       

      The idea of knocking also implies that we sense resistance. After all, if the door were already open there would be no need to knock. Yet Jesus encouraged us, "Even when you sense that the door is closed and you must knock, then do so and continue to do so, and you will be answered.

       

      Yet the image of knocking also implies that there is a door that can be opened.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, :Any uneducated man can knock if that is all, which is required of him. . . . A man can knock though he may be no philosopher A dumb man can knock. A blind man can knock. With a palsied hand a man may knock. . . . The way to open heavens gate is wonderfully simplified to those who are lowly enough to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance, and ask, seek, and knock believingly. God has not provided a salvation which can only be understood by learned men … it is intended for the ignorant, the short-witted, and the dying, as well as for others, and hence it must be as plain as knocking at a door."

       

      Ask and it will be given to you...

       

      God promises an answer to the one who diligently seeks Him. Many of our passionless prayers are not answered for good reason, because it is almost as if we ask God to care about something we care little or nothing about.

       

      God values persistence and passion in prayer because they show that we share His heart. It shows that we care about the things He cares about. Persistent prayer does not overcome God's stubborn reluctance; it gives glory to Him, expresses dependence upon Him, and aligns our heart more with His.

       

      No soul can pray in vain that prays as directed above. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus are pledged for its success. - Ye SHALL receive - ye SHALL find - it SHALL be opened. These words are as strongly binding on the side of God, as thou shalt do no murder is on the side of man.

       

      Verses 9-11 tells us Jesus illustrates the giving nature of God.

       

      "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

       

      Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

       

      Jesus makes it clear that God does NOT have to be persuaded or appeased in prayer. He WANTS to give us not just bread, but even more than what we ask for.

       

      Thankfully, the times we ask for something as bad as a serpent without knowing, like a loving parent God often mercifully spares us the just penalty of our ignorance.

       

      If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven...

       

      It is blasphemous to deny God's answer to the seeking heart. We then imply that God is worse than even an evil man is.

       

      Conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount: A partial summary and a repeated call to decision.

       

      Verse 12 tells us A summation of Jesus' ethical teaching regarding our treatment of others: the golden rule.

       

      "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

       

      Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them...

       

      The negative way of stating this command was known long before Jesus. It had long been said, "You should not do to your neighbor what you would not want him to do to you." But it is a significant advance for Jesus to put it in the positive, to say that we should do unto others what we want them to do unto us.

       

      In so doing, Jesus makes the command much broader. It is the difference between not breaking traffic laws and in doing something positive like helping a stranded motorist.

       

      This especially applies to Christian fellowship. If we would experience love and have people reach out to us, we must love and reach out to others.

       

      For this is the Law and the Prophets...

       

      Jesus shows that this simple principle - the golden rule - summarizes all the Law and the Prophets say about how we should treat others. If we would simply treat others the way we would want to be treated, we would naturally obey all the law says about our relationships with others.

       

      This makes the law easier to understand, but it doesn't make it any easier to obey. No one has ever consistently done unto others as they would like others to do unto themselves.

       

      Verses 13-14 tells us The decision between two ways and one of two destinations.

       

      "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

       

      Enter by the narrow gate...

       

      Jesus did not speak of this gate as our destiny, but as the entrance to a path. There is a right way and a wrong way, and Jesus appealed to His listeners to decide to go the more difficult way, which leads to life.

       

      He understood and taught that not all ways and not all destinations are equally good. One leads to destruction, the other to life.

       

      Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life...

       

      The true gate is both narrow and difficult. If your road has a gate that is easy and well traveled, you do well to watch out.

       

      Verses 15-20 tells us The danger of false prophets and the decision between two trees with their fruit.

       

      "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them."

       

      Beware of false prophets...

       

      Jesus just warned us of a path that leads to destruction. Now He reminds us that there are many who would try to guide us along the broad path that leads to destruction. The first step to combating these false prophets is to simply beware of them.

       

      Warnings against false prophets are necessarily based on the conviction that not all prophets are true, that truth can be violated, and that the gospel's enemies usually conceal their hostility and try to pass themselves off as fellow believers.

       

      Who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves...

       

      It is in the nature of these false prophets to deceive and deny their true character. Often they deceive even themselves, believing themselves to be sheep when in fact they are ravenous wolves.

       

      The basic fault of the false prophet is self interest.

      It can be expressed by a desire for gain or an easy life; a desire for prestige; or the desire to advance one's own ideas and not God's.

       

      Teachers who preach for hire, having no motive to enter into the ministry but to get a living, as it is ominously called by some, however they may bear the garb and appearance of the innocent useful sheep, the true pastors commissioned by the Lord Jesus, or to whatever name, class or party they may belong, are, in the sight of the heart-searching God, no other than ravenous wolves, whose design is to feed themselves with the fat, and clothe themselves with the fleece, and thus ruin, instead of save, the flock.

      TAKE A LOOK AT THE ICONIC/POPULAR MEGA CHURCHES AND MEGA MINISTRIES AROUND THE WORLD. YOU SEE THE LEADERS & THEIR FAMILIES ARE OBSCENELY WEALTHY, WITH COMPOUNDS, SEVERAL HOMES, PLANES, YOU NAME IT, WITH ALL THIS WORLD OFFERS, BUT ALMOST EVERY ONE OF THEIR OUTREACHES/MINISTRIES THEMSELVES ARE IN THE RED. HOW CAN ANY OF THESE PEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEMSELVES TO BE REPRESENTATIVES OF JESUS AND HIS WORD, WHEN THEY DEMAND THE GROCERY MONEY OF A SINGLE MOM, OR TO PUT DONATIONS ON A CREDIT CARD, OR ANY NUMBER OF THINGS TO INSURE THEIR PRAYERS ARE HEARD, THEIR SALVATION MET, THEIR NEEDS MET...WHEN THEY ARE IN DIRE STRAITS?

       

      You will know them by their fruits...

       

      We guard ourselves against false prophets by taking heed to their fruits. This means paying attention to ALL aspects of their life and ministry.

       

      We should pay attention to the manner of living a teacher shows. Do they show righteousness, humility and faithfulness in the way they live?

       

      We should pay attention to the content of their teaching. Is it true fruit from God's Word, or is it man-centered, appealing to ears that want to be tickled?

       

      We should pay attention to the effect of their teaching. Are people growing in Jesus or merely being entertained, and eventually falling away?

       

      Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit...

       

      This fruit is the inevitable result of who we are. Eventually - though it may take a time for the harvest to come - the good or bad fruit is evident, revealing what sort of "tree" we are.

       

      Every tree that does not bear good fruit...

      Not to have good fruit is to have evil: there can be no innocent sterility in the invisible tree of the heart. He that brings forth no fruit, and he that brings forth bad fruit, are both only fit for the fire.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "It is not merely the wicked, the bearer of poison berries, that will be cut down; but the neutral, the man who bears no fruit of positive virtue must also be cast into the fire."

       

      Earlier in the chapter Jesus warned us to judge ourselves first, to look for the speck in our own eye before turning our attention to the beam in our neighbor's eye. Therefore before asking it of anyone else, we should first ask: "Do I bear fruit unto God's glory?"

       

      Verses 21-23 tells us The decision between two claims of Jesus' Lordship, one false and one true.

       

      "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

       

      Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven...

       

      Jesus spoke here of a proper verbal confession, where these ones called Jesus Lord. This is vital, but never enough by itself.

       

      This warning of Jesus applies to people who speak or say things to Jesus or about Jesus, but do NOT really mean it. It is NOT that they believe Jesus is a devil; they simply say the words very superficially. Their mind is elsewhere, but they believe there is value in the bare words and fulfilling some kind of religious duty with no heart, no soul, not spirit - only bare words and passing thoughts.

       

      JESUS TELLS US THERE ARE MANY WHO KNOW THE BIBLE AND CAN QUOTE IT...THEY HAVE HEAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORDS, BUT NO UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORD. WE MUST HAVE HEAD AND HEART LOVE AND KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST. BOTH ARE ESSENTIAL.

       

      This warning of Jesus applies to people who say "Lord, Lord" and yet their spiritual life has nothing to do with their daily life. They go to church, perhaps fulfill some daily religious duties, yet sin against God and man just as any other might.

       

      Who says to Me … will say to Me in that day...

       

      It is staggering that Jesus freely claims He is the one people must stand before on that final day of judgment, and He is the one who is rightly called Lord. This obscure teacher in a backwater part of the world claimed to be the judge of all men in that day.

       

      By saying "in that day" Jesus drew our attention to a coming day of judgment for all men. "What is the chief object of your life? Will you think as much of it "in that day" as you do now? Will you then count yourself wise to have so earnestly pursued it? You fancy that you can defend it now, but will you be able to defend it then, when all things of earth and time will have melted into nothingness and you stand before The Lord Himself?

       

      Lord, Lord, have we not...

       

      The people Jesus speaks of here had impressive spiritual accomplishments. They prophesied, cast out demons, and had done many wonders. These are wonderful things, but they meant nothing without true fellowship; true connection with Jesus. They ARE deceived. Satan has limited powers and Satan whispers, speaks to, and misleads many and grants many short term, in the moment signs and wonders...but they do NOT last.

       

      Jesus did not seem to doubt their claims of doing the miraculous. He didn't say, "You didn't really prophesy or cast out demons or do miracles." This leads us to understand that sometimes miracles are granted through pretended believers, given to them by Satan himself, reminding us that in the final analysis, miracles prove nothing.

       

      Significantly, they even did these things in the name of Jesus. Yet, they never really had a relationship of love and fellowship with Jesus.

       

      If preaching could save a man, Judas would not have been damned. If prophesying could save a man, Balaam would not have been a castaway.

       

      I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!...

       

      In the end, there is ONE basis of salvation. It isn't mere verbal confession, not "spiritual works," but PERSONAL, ONE ON ONE knowing Jesus and being known by Him. It our connection to Him - by the gift of faith that He gives to us - that secures our salvation. Connected to Jesus we are secure; without connection to Him all the miracles and great works prove nothing.

       

      AND WE NOTICE SOMETHING ELSE IMPORTANT HERE...In addition, these are not people who lost their salvation. Instead, they never truly had it (I never knew you).

       

      Verses 24-27 tells us The decision between two builders and their destiny.

       

      "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

       

      I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock...

       

      In Jesus' illustration of the two builders, each house looked the same from the outside. The real foundation of our life is usually hidden and is only proven in the storm, and we could say that the storms come from both heaven (rain) and earth (floods).

       

      The wise and the foolish man were both engaged in precisely the same avocations, and to a considerable extent achieved the same design; both of them undertook to build houses, both of them persevered in building, both of them finished their houses. The likeness between them is very considerable.

       

      And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house...

       

      A storm (rain, floods, wind) was the ultimate in power to generations that didn't have nuclear weapons. Jesus warns us that the foundations of our lives will be shaken at some time or another, both now (in trials) and in the ultimate judgment before God.

       

      Time and the storms of life will prove the strength of one's foundation, even when it is hidden. We may be surprised when we see who has truly built upon the good foundation.

       

      It is better that we test the foundation of our life now rather than later, at our judgment before God when it is too late to change our destiny.

       

      Jesus may have had in mind an Old Testament passage...

       

      PROVERBS 10:25, "When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation."

       

      Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them...

       

      HERE IS ANOTHER IMPORTANT TRUTH.

       

      MANY RELIGIOSITIES TEACH, PREACH AND PROCLAIM THAT MERELY HEARING GOD' WORD SAVES.

       

      JESUS TELLS US THE TRUTH...MERELY hearing God's word is NOT enough to provide a secure foundation. It is necessary that we are also doers of His word. If we are not, we commit the sin that will surely find us out, the sin of doing nothing (Numbers 32:23) - and great will be our fall.

       

      Wherein lay the second builder's folly? Not in deliberately seeking a bad foundation, but in taking no thought of foundation … His fault was not an error in judgment, but inconsiderateness. It is not, as is commonly supposed, a question of two foundations, but of looking to, and neglecting to look to, the foundation.

       

      Yet no one can read this without seeing that they have not, do not, and will not ever completely do them. Even if we do them in a general sense (in which we should), the revelation of the Kingdom of God in the Sermon on the Mount drives us back again and again as needy sinners upon our Savior.

       

      WE NEED JESUS CHRIST. HE IS THE ONLY FOUNDATION, THE ONLY WAY, THE ONLY TRUTH, AND THE ONLY LIFE...THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN SAVE. NOT EVEN ALMIGHTY GOD CAN SAVE...ONLY JESUS CHRIST CAN SAVE.

       

      Verses 28-29 tells us The effect of Jesus' sermon on those who heard Him.

       

      "And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

       

      For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes...

       

      His audience could not but notice that Jesus taught with an authority lacking in the other teachers in His day, who often only quoted other Rabbis. Jesus spoke with inherent authority, and the authority of God's revealed word.

       

      JESUS QUOTED FROM THE BIBLE. HE NEVER HAD A WAGON LOAD OF SCROLLS TO READ FROM, TEACH OTHER, HE SIMPLY READ THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS, WHAT THEY KNEW AND WHAT THEY DID NOT. WHAT LIES HAD BEEN PREACHED TO THEM, AS WELL, THOSE WHO FOLLOWED HIM TO HECKLE, SNEER, SLANDER HIM. JESUS READ ALL HEARTS AND MINDS IN AN INSTANT. JESUS KNEW IN AN INSTANT WHO WAS ACCEPT HIM, WHO WOULD DENY HIM, WHO WOULD REJECT HIM, WHO FOLLOWED HIM FOR FOOD, PROTECTION, AND SADLY ENTERTAINMENT IN AN INSTANT. JESUS KNEW WHO REALLY WANTED HIM. JESUS KNEW THE HEARTS THAT WOULD ACCEPT HIM IN AN INSTANT.

       

      THAT IS WHY HIS SERMONS/TEACHINGS WERE DIVERSE AND FOCUSED ON THE LIVES, KNOWLEDGE OR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF THOSE AROUND HIM.

       

      Two things surprised them: the substance of his teaching, and the manner of it. They had never heard such doctrine before; the precepts which he had given were quite new to their thoughts. But their main astonishment was at his manner: there was a certainty, a power, a weight about it, such as they had never seen.

       

      The people were astonished at His teachings...

       

      Whenever God's word is presented as it truly is, with its inherent power, it will astonish people, and set itself apart from the mere opinions of man.

       

      THAT IS WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT NOT TO CHANGE ONE SINGLE WORD OF THE GOSPEL. IT WAS RECORDED AS IT IS BECAUSE JESUS KNEW WHAT TOUCHED HEARTS, CHANGED MINDS, HUMBLED, CONVICTED THE SINNER, AND BROUGHT THEM TO THE CROSS.

       

      I MEAN THINK ABOUT IT...WE HAVE ALL BEEN TO RESTAURANTS AND ORDERED FOOD, DRINK, DESSERTS. AND WE CAN INSTANTLY TELL WHEN THEY USED REAL NATURAL INGREDIENTS AND WHEN THEY USED FAKE/DILUTED MEAT, CHICKEN, MILK, EGGS, SUGAR IN THEM. THE REAL NATURAL INGREDIENTS TASTE & SMELL WONDERFUL. THE FAKE ONES TASTE LIKE CHEMICALS AND WORST MAINLY TASTELESS.

       

      When we really understand Jesus in this Sermon on the Mount, we should be astonished also. If we are not astonished, then we probably have NOT really heard or understood what Jesus has said.

       

      I DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT EVERY TIME I STUDY THE BIBLE, VERSE BY VERSE, I LEARN SOMETHING NEW. MY UNDERSTANDING GROWS, IT CLICKS.

      I AM ALWAYS ASTONISHED. BECAUSE I HAVE READ THE SCRIPTURES BEFORE BUT IT NEVER CLICKED... BUT THAT IS A GIFT FROM JESUS CHRIST. HE SAYS IF YOU SEEK ME YOU WILL FIND ME. IF YOU SEEK WISDOM, I WILL SHOW YOU GREAT AND MIGHTY THINGS.

       

      SO AS CHRISTIANS, ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS WE CAN RECEIVE, ONE OF THE BEST COMPLIMENTS ANY OF US WHO LOVE OUR LORD JESUS AND HIS WORD AND SHARE IT WITH OTHERS, IS TO SEE AND HEAR THE WONDER, THE AMAZEMENT, WHEN THE LIGHT BULB GOES ON, AND FOR THEM TO SAY I NEVER KNEW THIS.

       

      BUT REMEMBER THIS AS WELL...To have the hearers astonished was a good thing; but it was not good if that was the extent of the effect. A good preacher always wants to do far more than astonish his listeners. HE WANTS TO POINT THEM TO JESUS IN ALL THINGS.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:25 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 8

       

      OPENS WITH...HEALING, TEACHING, AND MIRACLES

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us THE LEPER makes his request of Jesus.

       

      "When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

       

      When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him...

       

      The miracles of Jesus attracted MUCH attention; but so did His teaching ministry. Matthew demonstrated this by his mention of the great multitudes that followed Him after coming down from the Mount of Beatitudes.

       

      We remember an important foundational VERSES for Matthew's Gospel...

       

      MATTHEW 4:23...Now Jesus went about all Galilee.

       

      MATTHEW 5-7...Matthew went on to tell us about the TEACHING ministry of Jesus..

       

      MATTHEW 8...Matthew now tells us more about THE HEALING ministry of Jesus, and how His works confirmed His words.

       

      Behold, a leper came and worshipped Him...

       

      In the ancient world, leprosy was a terrible, destructive disease - and still is in some parts of the world. The ancient leper had NO hope of improvement, so this leper came to Jesus with a great sense of need and desperation.

       

      BARCLAY shares, "Leprosy might begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulceration of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes, until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off. The duration of that kind of leprosy is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death in which a man dies by inches."

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      According to Jewish law and customs, one had to keep 6 feet (2 meters) from a leper. If the wind was blowing toward a person from a leper, they had to keep 150 feet (45 meters) away. The only thing more defiling than contact with a leper was contact with a dead body.

       

      In the middle ages, if a man became a leper, the priest donned his stole and took his crucifix, and brought the man into the church, and read the burial service over him. For all human purposes the man was dead.

       

      For all these reasons, the condition of leprosy is a model of sin and its effects. It is a contagious, debilitating disease that corrupts its victim and makes him essentially dead while alive. And it followed that almost universally, society and religious people scorned lepers. Rabbis especially despised lepers, and saw them as people under the special judgment of God, deserving NO pity or NO mercy.

       

      In Jesus' time rabbis sometimes boasted about how badly they treated lepers. One bragged that he refused to buy even an egg on a street where he saw a leper; another boasted that he threw rocks at lepers upon seeing them.

       

      Nevertheless, the leper came to Jesus by himself and despite many discouragements.

       

      1. He knew how terrible his problem was.

      2. He knew that other people gave up on him as having a hopeless condition.

      3. He had no one who would or could take him to Jesus.

      4. He had no previous example of Jesus healing a leper to give him hope.

      5. He had no promise that Jesus would heal him.

      6. He had no invitation from Jesus or the disciples.

      7. He must have felt ashamed and alone in the crowd.

       

      A leper came and worshipped Him...

       

      Despite his desperate condition, this man not only begged Jesus - he also worshipped Him.

       

      How did the leper worship Jesus?

       

      1. He worshipped Jesus by coming to Him, honoring Him as the one who could meet His otherwise impossible need.

       

      2. He worshipped Jesus with his posture, probably bowing or kneeling before Jesus.

       

      3. He worshipped Jesus with the word "Lord," honoring Him as master and God.

       

      4. He worshipped Jesus with his humility, by not demanding but leaving the request up to the will of Jesus.

       

      5. He worshipped Jesus with his respect of the power of Jesus, saying that all that was necessary was the will of Jesus, and he would be healed.

       

      6. He worshipped Jesus with his confidence that Jesus could make him more than healthy; Jesus could make him clean.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Those who call Jesus 'Lord,' and do not worship him, are more diseased than the leper was."

       

      Lord, if You are willing...

       

      The leper had NO doubt whatsoever about the ability of Jesus to heal. His only question was if Jesus was willing to heal.

       

      He believed in the power of Jesus.

       

      REMEMBER 2 KINGS 5:7...When a Syrian commander named Naaman was afflicted with leprosy, he came to Jehoram, the king of Israel because he heard there was a prophet in Israel whom God used to do miraculous things. When Naaman came to Jehoram, Jehoram knew that he had no power to help him, and he said: "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to heal me of his leprosy?"

       

      Leprosy was so hopeless in the ancient world that healing a leper was compared to raising the dead; yet this leper knew that all Jesus needed was to be willing.

       

      Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean...

       

      This leper sought more than healing. He wanted cleansing; not only from the leprosy, but also from all its terrible effects on his life and his soul.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      In addition, this is the FIRST place in the gospel where Jesus is called Lord. This title that was particularly meaningful in light of the fact that the word Lord was used to translate the Hebrew word Yahweh, and Matthew wrote his gospel to those who would be familiar with the Jewish context of that word.

       

      Verse 3 tells us Jesus touches the leper and he is cleansed.

       

      "Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed."

       

      He put out His hand and touched him...

       

      This was a bold and compassionate touch from Jesus. The idea is that the leper kept his distance from Jesus, but He put out His hand and touched him.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      It was against the ceremonial law to touch a leper, which made the touch all the more meaningful to the afflicted man. Of course, as soon as Jesus touched him, he was no longer a leper!

       

      Touched him...

       

      Jesus did NOT have to touch the leper in order to heal him. He could have healed him with a word or even a thought. Yet He healed the leper with a touch because that is what the leper needed. THE LEPER HAD NOT BEEN TOUCHED IN MANY YEARS...JESUS REACHING OUT AND TOUCHING HIM WAS A PRECIOUS GIFT TO THIS MAN.

       

      Jesus often varied the manner of healing, and usually He chose a particular manner that would BE MEANINGFUL to the afflicted individual.

       

      REMEMBER MARK 1:41, Mark says that when Jesus LOOKED upon this leper, He was moved with compassion. .It had been a long, long time since this leper had EVEN SEEN a face of compassion.

       

      I am willing...

       

      Jesus' assurance that I am willing simply answered the man's question, and gives us a starting point for the times we wonder if Jesus is willing to heal. We should assume Jesus is willing to heal unless He shows us differently.

       

      How can we know if Jesus is willing to heal us?

       

      By assuming that He is willing, but listening to Him if He should tell us that He does not. This is how it happened with the Apostle Paul.

       

      REMEMBER 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; it seems that Paul assumed that Jesus would heal his thorn in the flesh until word came to him that He would not.

       

      Immediately his leprosy was cleansed...

       

      The former leper's life was changed forever. He was not only healed, but as he requested he was cleansed. Jesus had recently said, ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7). This was certainly true for the now cleansed former leper.

       

      This is the first individual healing described by Matthew. Previously we were told of Jesus' healing ministry in a general sense (Matthew 4:23-24), but here in a SPECIFIC case.

       

      Verse 4 tells us Jesus commands the healed man to give testimony of his healing to the priests only.

       

      "And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

       

      See that you tell no one...

       

      Jesus often commanded people to be quiet about their healing or some miraculous work that Jesus had done for them.

       

      WHY?

       

      Jesus did this because He wanted to keep down the excitement of the crowds until the proper time for His formal revelation to Israel, which was an EXACT date as prophesied in Daniel 9.

       

      In addition, Jesus' miracles were NOT primarily calculated to make Him famous or a celebrity (though they certainly did give testimony to His ministry). More so, Jesus healed to meet the needs of specific individuals and to demonstrate the evident power of the Messiah in the setting of love and care for the personal needs of humble people.

       

      Therefore, Jesus was cautious about how the multitudes saw Him and why they followed Him. This is better understood as reflecting a real danger that Jesus could achieve unwanted popularity merely as a wonder-worker, or worse still as a nationalistic liberator, and so foster a serious misunderstanding of the true nature of his mission.

       

      Mark 1:44-45 tells that the leper did NOT obey Jesus and instead he went out and began to proclaim it freely.

       

      Show yourself to the priest...

       

      Jesus commanded the man to give a testimony to the priests, and what a testimony it was! The Mosaic Law prescribed specific sacrifices to be conducted upon the healing of a leper, and when the man reported it to the priests, they no doubt had to perform ceremonies that were rarely (if ever) done according to the rules in Leviticus 14.

       

      Going to the priest would also bring the former leper back INTO society. Jesus wanted the healing of the man's disease to have as much benefit as possible.

       

      Verses 5-6 tells us Jesus is approached by a Roman centurion.

       

      "Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."

       

      When Jesus had entered Capernaum...

       

      Matthew 4:13 tells us this is where Jesus lived; He came and dwelt in Capernaum.

       

      A centurion came to Him...

       

      The centurion was obviously a Gentile, because a centurion was an officer in the Roman Army. Most every Jew under Roman occupation felt a reason to hate this centurion, yet he came to a Jewish teacher for help. Significantly he came NOT for a selfish reason, but on behalf of his servant.

       

      Whenever the New Testament mentions a centurion (there are at least seven), it presents them as honorable, good men.

       

      This centurion had an unusual attitude towards his slave. Under Roman law a master had the right to kill his slave and it was expected that he would do so if the slave became ill or injured to the point where he could no longer work.

       

      Pleading with Him...

       

      This shows that the centurion did not make a casual request. Matthew describes him as pleading with Jesus on behalf of his servant.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "He seeks a cure, but does not prescribe to the Lord how or where he shall work it; in fact, he does not put his request into words, but pleads the case, and lets the sorrow speak."

       

      Verses 7-9 tells us The centurion's understanding of Jesus' spiritual authority.

       

      "And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

       

      I will come and heal him...

       

      Jesus did NOT hesitate to go to the centurion's house, and we half wish the centurion would have allowed Him.

       

      WHY WAS THIS AMAZING TO JEWS & GENTILES ALIKE?

       

      It was completely against Jewish custom, for a Jew to enter a Gentiles' house; yet it was not against God's law.

       

      The centurion sensed this when he said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof."

       

      Most Jews believed that a Gentile home was not worthy of them, and the centurion supposed that a great Rabbi and teacher like Jesus would consider his home unworthy.

       

      The centurion also showed great sensitivity to Jesus, in that he wanted to spare Jesus the awkward challenge of whether or not to enter a Gentile's house - as well as the time and trouble of travel.

       

      He did NOT know Jesus well enough to know that He would NOT feel awkward in the least; but his consideration of Jesus in this situation was impressive. In his concern for both his servant and for Jesus, this centurion was an others-centered person.

       

      But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed...

       

      The centurion fully understood that Jesus' healing power was NOT some sort of magic trick that required the magician's presence. Instead he knew Jesus had TRUE authority, and COULD command things to be done and completed outside His immediate presence.

       

      The centurion showed great faith in Jesus' word. He understood that Jesus can heal with His word just as easily as with a touch.

       

      For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me...

       

      The centurion also knew about the military chain of command, and how the orders of one in authority were unquestioningly obeyed. He saw that Jesus had MUCH MORE authority.

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us Jesus praises the centurion's faith and heals his servant

       

      "When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour."

       

      When Jesus heard it, He marveled...

       

      The man's understanding of Jesus' spiritual authority made Jesus marvel. His simple confidence in the ability of Jesus' mere word to heal showed a faith that was free of ANY superstitious reliance on merely external things. This was truly great faith, worthy of praise.

       

      Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!...

       

      Jesus considered the faith of this Gentile centurion - a living symbol of Jewish oppression - and thought it greater than any faith He had seen among the people of Israel.

       

      As a political entity, there was NO Israel; there was only a covenant people descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet Jesus STILL called them Israel.

       

      Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham...

       

      The fact that such faith was present in a Gentile caused Jesus to announce that there would be Gentiles in the kingdom of heaven. They will even sit down to dinner with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

       

      This was a radical idea to many of the Jewish people in Jesus' day.

       

      WHY?

       

      Jews WRONGLY BELIEVED AND TAUGHT that this great Messianic Banquet would have NO Gentiles, and that ALL Jews would be there. Jesus corrected BOTH mistaken ideas.

       

      These few words of Jesus tell us a little something of what heaven is like.

       

      1. It is a place of rest; we sit down in heaven.

       

      2. It is a place of good company to sit with; we enjoy the friendship of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven.

       

      3. It is a place with many people; Jesus said that many will come into heaven.

       

      4. It is a place with people from all over the earth; from east and west they will come to heaven.

       

      5. It is a certain place; Jesus said many will come, and when Jesus says it will happen, it will happen.

       

      But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness...

       

      As well, Jesus reminded his Jewish listeners that just as the Gentile's racial identity was NO automatic barrier to the kingdom, their racial identity was NO guarantee of the kingdom. Though Jews THOUGHT THEY WERE THE SOLE sons of the kingdom, Jesus CORRECTED THEM and told them that they might end up in hell.

       

      The definite articles with 'weeping' and 'gnashing' (cf. Greek) emphasize the horror of the scene: the weeping and the gnashing. . . . Weeping suggests suffering and gnashing of teeth despair.

       

      SPURGEON reminds, "We see that Jesus unafraid to speak of hell, and in fact did so more than any other in the Bible. "There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard of a minister who once said to his congregation - 'If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ you will be sent to that place which it is not polite to mention.' He ought not to have been allowed to preach again, I am sure, if he could not use plain words."

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law.

       

      "Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them."

       

      He saw his wife's mother lying sick...

       

      This clearly establishes the fact that Peter was married. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that all priests must be celibate and unmarried, but the man they would FALSELY CLAIM & CALL THEIR first and greatest pope Peter WAS certainly married. Marriage is one of the first institutions, and is a positive command of God.

       

      He touched her hand, and the fever left her...

       

      Jesus healed this woman with a gentle touch of His hand. Her sickness was much less severe than the leper, yet Jesus still cared for her. Jesus cares for smaller problems also.

       

      And she arose and served them...

       

      Peter's mother-in-law showed a fitting response for those who have been touched by Jesus' power - she immediately began to serve. Serving Jesus is a wonderful evidence of being restored to spiritual AND physical health.

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us Jesus, in fulfillment of prophecy, delivers MANY from sickness and demonic possession.

       

      "When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."

       

      They brought to Him many...

       

      Jesus' care for the individual is shown by the implication that Jesus dealt with each person individually, not in some cold, "assembly line" procedure.

       

      Many who were demon possessed...

       

      Josephus, their own historian, gives TWO sound reasons why Judea, in our Lord's time, abounded with demoniacs.

       

      FIRST, There was not (said he) a nation under heaven more wicked than they were.

      SECONDLY, because they were then strongly addicted to magic, and so, as it were, invited evil spirits to be familiar with them.

       

      That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah...

       

      Matthew rightly understood this as a partial fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 53, which primarily refers to spiritual healing, but also definitely includes physical healing. In this, Matthew showed Jesus as the true Messiah in delivering people from the bondage of sin and the effects of a fallen world.

       

      He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses...

       

      The provision for our healing (both physically and spiritually) was made by the sufferings (the stripes) of Jesus. The physical dimension of our healing is partially realized now, but finally COMPLETELY FULFILLED when we who love Jesus Christ walk through the gates of Heaven.

       

      He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses...

       

      This section of Matthew's Gospel shows FOUR different people being healed, each one different from the other.

       

      DIFFERENT people were healed.

       

      1. A Jew with no social or religious privileges.

      2. A Gentile officer of the army occupying and oppressing Israel.

      3. A woman related to one of Jesus' devoted followers.

      4. Unnamed multitudes.

       

      Their requests were made in DIFFERENT ways.

       

      1. A direct request from the sufferer, made in his own faith.

      2. A request from one man for another, made in faith on behalf of a suffering man.

      3. No request was made because Jesus came to the sufferer, so there was no evidence of faith from the healed.

      4. Sufferers that were brought to Jesus, with different kinds of faith.

       

      Jesus used DIFFERENT methods to heal.

       

      1. Jesus used a touch that was forbidden.

      2. Jesus used a word spoken from afar.

      3. Jesus used a tender touch.

      4. Jesus used a variety of unnamed methods.

       

      From all this we understand that physical healing is an area where God especially shows His sovereignty, and He does things as He pleases, NOT necessarily as men might expect.

       

       

      Verses 18-20 tells us Jesus speaks to an over-enthusiastic follower about the need to appreciate the cost in following Jesus.

       

      "And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

       

      When Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side...

       

      Jesus increased in popularity, yet He did NOT follow the crowds or even seek to make them bigger. In some ways Jesus seemed to avoid seeking out the great multitudes about Him.

       

      Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go...

       

      With the miracles associated with the ministry of Jesus, following Him might have seemed more glamorous than it really was. Jesus perhaps received many spontaneous offers like this.

       

      Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head...

       

      Jesus didn't tell the man "No, you can't follow Me." But He told him the truth, without painting a glamorized version of what it was like to follow Him. This is the opposite of techniques used by many evangelists today, WHO FALSELY TEACH AND PROCLAIM, IF YOU FOLLOW JESUS YOU WILL BECOME HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE AND A JOYFUL CAREFREE, WORRY FREE, TRIAL/TRIBULATION FREE LIFE but Jesus wanted the man to know what it would really be like.

       

      Many homes, like Peter's, were open to him, but he had none of his own.

       

      The reason this man turned away from Jesus was because Jesus lived a very simple life by faith, trusting His Father for every need and without reserves of material resources. This is just the kind of thing that would make Jesus more attractive to a truly spiritual man. "Here is a man who lives completely by faith and is satisfied with few material things; I should follow Him and learn from Him.

       

      The Son of Man...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The phrase "Son of Man" is used 81 times in the gospels; every time it is either something Jesus said of Himself, or the words of someone quoting Jesus. It is an important phrase He used to describe Himself. He used it as a title that reflected both the glory (Daniel 7:13-14) and the humility (Psalm 8:4) of the Messiah.

       

      Especially, its connection to the Daniel passage means that it was an image of power and glory, yet without the unwanted associations of other titles. By using it often, Jesus told His listeners: "I'm the Messiah of power and glory, but not the one you were expecting. You were expecting a personal liberator from the yoke of bondage to Romans, but I have come NOW for FAR more important things. I have come to liberate you in the forever, the eternal, through Me you will spend eternity in Heaven."

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us Jesus speaks to a hesitant follower about the surpassing importance of following Jesus.

       

      "Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

       

      Lord, let me first go and bury my father...

       

      Actually, this man did NOT ask for permission to dig a grave for his deceased father. He wanted to remain in his father's house and care for him until the father died. This was obviously an indefinite period, which could drag on and on.

       

      This man was another of His disciples; yet he did not follow Jesus as he should have, nor as the 12 disciples did. This shows us that the term DISCIPLES has a somewhat broad meaning in the Gospel of Matthew, and must be understood in its context.

       

      Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead...

       

      Jesus pressed the man to follow Him now, and clearly stated the principle that family obligations - or any other obligation - must NOT be put ahead of following Jesus. Jesus MUST come first.

       

      DO YOU NOTICE...

      Jesus was NOT afraid to discourage POTENTIAL disciples. Unlike many modern evangelists, who recruit anyone and everyone, accept anyone and everyone, regardless the TRUE condition of their heart, life, and word. Jesus was FAR MORE interested in quality than in quantity.

       

      Nothing has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of UNIVERSALISM, GLOBALISM, & ECUMENICALISM that fill the ranks/pews of the church with every volunteer who is willing to join, regardless the TRUE condition of their heart, salvation, and life walk.

       

      In addition, Jesus was merely being honest. This is what it meant to follow Him, and He wanted people to know it at the VERY beginning.

       

       

      Verses 23-25 tells us Jesus shows His power/control over a storm that arises on the Sea of Galilee.

       

      "Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

       

      Now when He got into a boat...

       

      The village of Capernaum was right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, like many Galileans, was familiar with boats and life near this fairly large lake.

       

      Suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea...

       

      The Sea of Galilee is well known for its sudden, violent storms. The severity of this storm was evident in the fact that the disciples (many of which were experienced fishermen on this lake) were terrified, crying out "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

       

      But He was asleep...

       

      Though the disciples were desperate, Jesus was asleep. It must have seemed strange to them that He could sleep in the midst of such a great tempest.

       

      The grammar of the phrase "But He was asleep" conveys a "dramatic contrast"; the storm raged, the disciples panicked, but Jeus was asleep and untroubled by the storm..

       

      We are impressed by the fact that He needed to sleep, showing His true humanity. He became tired and would sometimes need to catch sleep wherever He was able to, even in unlikely places.

       

      We are impressed by the fact that He could sleep. His mind and heart were peaceful enough, trusting in the love and care of His Father in heaven, that He could sleep in the midst of EVEN A violent storm.

       

      Verses 26-27 tells us Jesus displays authority over His creation.

       

      "But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

       

      Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?...

       

      Jesus rebuked their fear and unbelief, NOT their request or waking Him. We should NOT think that Jesus was in a bad mood from being awakened. He was upset at their fear, because fear and unbelief go together. When we trust God as we should trust Him there is little room left for fear.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Jesus spoke to the men first, for they were the most difficult to deal with: wind and sea could be rebuked afterwards."

       

      AND CONSIDER THIS:

       

      They actually had many reasons to have faith, even great faith.

       

      1. They had just seen Jesus do significant miracles, showing great power and authority.

      2. They had seen an example of great faith with the centurion who trusted Jesus to heal his servant.

      3. They had Jesus with them in the boat. And, they saw Jesus sleep; His peace should have given them peace.

       

      Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea...

       

      Jesus did NOT merely quiet the wind and the sea; He REBUKED the winds and the sea. This, together with the disciple's great fear and what Jesus would encounter at His destination leads some to believe that there was some type of spiritual attack BY SATAN in the storm. But the unshakeable truth is this: whether it WAS Satan DERIVED or a natural weather phenomenon, NEITHER could STAND NOR DISOBEY Jesus Christ.

       

      SURGEON says, "Probably excited by Satan, the prince of the power of the air, who, having got the author and all the preachers of the Gospel together in a small vessel, thought by drowning it, to defeat the purposes of God, and thus to prevent the salvation of a ruined world. What a noble opportunity must this have appeared to the enemy of the human race!"

       

      So the men marveled...

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:22 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 9

       

      OPENS WITH...JESUS MINISTERS AND HEALS

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us A paralytic man is brought to Jesus.

       

      "So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."

       

      His own city...This must mean Capernaum, as previously noted (Matthew 4:13).

       

      They brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed...

       

      Other Gospels (in Mark 2 and Luke 5) explain how the man was brought to Jesus. Because of the crowds, his friends lowered him down to Jesus through the roof.

       

      This will be another example of Jesus healing the sick and diseased, and the Messiah's role as healer was clearly prophesied in passages like:

       

      Isaiah 35:5-6: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert."

       

      Thus, Jesus' miracles were a testimony not only to the fact that He was sent by God, but that also He was the anticipated Messiah.

       

      However, as noted earlier, Jesus' miracles were not primarily calculated for crowd effect. Instead they were primarily done to minister to the humble needs of humble people. For the most part, most Jewish people of that time would have preferred much more spectacular signs - like calling down fire from heaven upon a Roman Legion.

       

      We also note that the presence of so much sickness among Israel was evidence of their unfaithfulness to the covenant and their low spiritual condition. God gave them the OPPOSITE of what He promised under:

       

      Exodus 15:26: "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."

       

      When Jesus SAW their faith...

       

      Jesus saw the faith of his friends, not of the paralyzed man himself. He could tell that they had the faith to bring the man to Jesus, and Mark and Luke that their faith was active enough to take apart a roof and lower the man down before Jesus.

       

      We also can assume that the paralyzed man himself had little faith; Jesus noted the faith of his friends, NOT his. Therefore Jesus wanted to encourage this man's faith by His next words.

       

      Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you...

       

      The faith of the paralyzed man's friends did something - they brought this man to Jesus. Yet they only thought of bringing him to Jesus for the healing of his body. They certainly didn't think that Jesus would forgive His sins.

       

      But Jesus addressed the man's GREATER problem. As bad as it was to be paralyzed, it is infinitely worse to be bound and lost in your sin.

       

      We need not infer that the man was paralyzed as the direct result of some sin that needed forgiving. This did NOT seem to be Jesus' point in saying, "your sins are forgiven you."

       

      Matthew Poole saw SIX reasons why Jesus dealt with the man's sin first.

       

      1. Because sin is the root from which all our evils come.

      2. To show that forgiveness is more important than bodily healing.

      3. To show that the most important thing Jesus came to do was to deal with sin.

      4. To show that when a man's sins are forgiven, he becomes a son of God.

      5. To show that the response to faith is the forgiveness of sin.

      6. To begin an important conversation with the scribes and Pharisees.

       

      Verse 3 tells us The REACTION of the religious leaders.

       

      "And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!"

       

      And at once some of the scribes said within themselves...

       

      We notice that they objected immediately yet privately, saying it within themselves. Jesus will address what they said within themselves, showing that our thoughts and opinions ARE open to God and of interest to Him.

       

      This Man blasphemes!...

       

      The scribes correctly understood that Jesus claimed to do something that only God can do. But they were incorrect in assuming that Jesus was not God Himself, and that Jesus blasphemed by considering Himself God.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "They did not call him 'man'; the word is italics in our version. They did not know what to call him even in their hearts; they meant 'this' - this upstart, this nobody, this strange being."

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...

      This is the FIRST mention of opposition to Jesus, which will be a recurrent theme.

       

      Verses 4-5 tells us Jesus reads the evil hearts of the scribes and presents a question.

       

      "But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'?"

       

      But Jesus, knowing their thoughts...

       

      This alone should have been enough for Jesus to prove His deity, demonstrating that He could know their evil hearts. Yet He would also offer a greater proof of His deity.

       

      For which is easier, to say...

       

      Both healing and forgiveness ARE impossible with man. Yet only the promise of healing could be immediately proven, because though you can't see someone's sin being forgiven, but you can see that they are healed.

       

      AND WE REMEMBER Psalm 103:3. "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases." Here pardon precedes health.

       

      Verses 6-8 tells us Jesus asserts His authority over both sin and disease.

       

      "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"; then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men."

       

      But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins...

       

      Jesus answered His own question before the religious leaders did. Since He could make good on His claim to heal the man, it gave proof of His claim to also have the authority to forgive sins.

       

      And he arose and departed to his house...

       

      The man was instantly healed, proving that Jesus did have the power of God both to heal and forgive.

       

      SADLY, we notice there is NO MENTION of the healed man thanking Jesus at all. The man obeyed, but he did NOT take the time to say THANK YOU LORD.

       

      When the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God...

       

      At the man's healing, the crowd properly gave God the glory for this miracle. Jesus obviously did not draw attention to Himself by the manner in which the healing was done.

       

      Verse 9 tells us Matthew, the tax collector obeys Jesus' call to come follow Him.

       

      "As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him."

       

      A man named Matthew...

       

      Mark 2:14 says that this man was also named Levi the son of Alphaeus.

      Matthew 10:3 mentions that there was another disciple who was a son of Alphaeus (James, often called James the Less to distinguish him from James the brother of John). So it seems that both this Matthew and his brother James were among the 12.

       

      A man named Matthew sitting at the tax office...

       

      Tax collectors were not only notorious sinners; they were also properly regarded as collaborators with the Romans against their fellow Jews. Nobody liked the man who sat at the tax office.

       

      The Jewish people rightly thought of them traitors because they worked for the Roman government, and they had the force of Roman soldiers behind them to make people pay taxes. They were the most visible Jewish collaborators with Rome.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The Jewish people rightly considered them extortioners because they were allowed to keep whatever they over-collected. A tax collector bid among others for the tax-collecting contract. For example, many tax collectors might want to have the tax contract for a city like Capernaum. The Romans awarded the contract to the highest bidder. The man collected taxes, paid the Romans what he promised, and kept the remainder. Therefore, there was a lot of incentive for tax collectors to over-charge and cheat any way they could. It was pure profit for them.

       

      AND...When a Jew entered the customs service he was regarded as an outcast from society: he was disqualified as a judge or a witness in a court session, was excommunicated from the synagogue, and in the eyes of the community his disgrace extended to his family.

       

      AND... The old King James Version uses the word "publican" for a tax-collector. "The publicani were tax-gatherers, and were so called because they dealt with public money and with public funds.

       

      And He said to him, "Follow Me"...

       

      Understanding how almost everyone hated tax collectors, it is remarkable to see how Jesus loved and called Matthew. It proved to be a well-placed love; Matthew responded to Jesus' invitation by leaving his tax collecting business and following Jesus - and eventually writing this same gospel account.

       

      In one way this was more than a sacrifice than some of the other disciples made. Peter, James, and John could more easily go back to their fishing business, but it would be hard for Levi to go back to tax collecting.

       

      Verses 10-13 tells us Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners.

       

      "Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

       

      Many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him...

       

      The context suggests that this was a gathering of Matthew's friends and former business associates. We might say that Jesus took advantage of Matthew's decision to also reach those whom he knew.

       

      Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?...

       

      The answer to this question was simple. Because Jesus is the friend of sinners.

       

      Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

       

      Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick...

       

      This was the principle that the criticizing Pharisees did NOT understand. The Pharisees were like doctors who wanted to avoid all contact with sick people. Of course they wished that sick people would GIVE them their money and may have hoped they become healthy; but they would NOT risk social/religious association or proximity in the GREATER fear of getting infected themselves.

       

      We are fortunate that God calls sinners and not just saintly people. Jesus came to benefit those who understood their inherit need for Him (those who are sick and the poor in spirit of Matthew 5:3). Yet the proud who see no need for Jesus (those who are well) benefit nothing from Jesus.

       

      Go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice"...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      Here Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6. In Hosea's day, God's people were still good at bringing sacrifice (Hosea 5:6). But they had forsaken mercy, and they abandoned mercy because they gave up the knowledge of God and truth (Hosea 4:1). God would rather have right hearts, full of truth and mercy than sacrifice.

       

      THEN AND NOW, LOST MAN AND MAN-CREATED FALSE RELIGIOSITIES WOULD RATHER HAVE THE OPPOSITE..THEY WOULD RATHER HAVE YOUR MEMBERSHIP AND YOUR SACRIFICE...YOUR MONEY...THAN THEY WOULD RIGHT HEARTS FULL OF GOD'S WORD, TRUTH, AND MERCY.

       

      MORGAN points out, "These words are the more arresting when we remember that they were addressed to the teachers of men. . . . The rebuke of Christ sowed that they did not know God, and He bade them go and learn the meaning of their own Scriptures."

       

      The new and old covenants and their difference.

       

      Verse 14 tells us The disciples of John ask a question: why don't Jesus' disciples fast as they and the Pharisees do?

       

      "Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?"

       

      Why do we and the Pharisees fast often...

       

      The ministry of John the Baptist was strict in its character and had an emphasis on humble repentance (Matthew 3:1-4). John's disciples imitated this, and showed their own proper humility in light of their own sin and that of their people.

       

      The Pharisees fast often...

       

      Pharisees were also known for their practice of fasting (often twice a week, according to Luke 18:12). But they did not do it out of a spirit of humble repentance. They often fasted wanting to impress themselves and others with their spirituality (Matthew 6:16-18).

       

      But Your disciples do not fast...

       

      Apparently the disciples of Jesus did NOT fast as either of these two groups did. Jesus will next explain why.

       

      Verses 15-17 tells us The principle: things are different now that the Messiah is here.

       

      "And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

       

      Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

       

      It wasn't right for Jesus' disciples to imitate the Pharisees in their hypocritical shows. Nor was it right for them to imitate John's disciples in their ministry of humble preparation, because the disciples lived in AND experienced what John tried to prepare people for.

       

      But the days will come...

       

      There would come a day when fasting is appropriate for Jesus' followers. But at the present time, when Jesus was among them, it was not that day.

       

      There is a slight dark note in the words, "the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them." It was as if Jesus said, "They are going to take Me away; I threaten their system."

       

      THIS IS THE FIRST SLIGHT HINT of His coming rejection.

       

      Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break...

       

      With this illustration of the wineskins, Jesus explained that He did NOT come to repair or reform the OLD institutions of Judaism, but to institute a NEW covenant altogether. The new covenant doesn't just improve the old; it replaces it and goes beyond it.

       

      But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved...

       

      Jesus' reference to the wineskins was His announcement that the present institutions of Judaism could NOT and would NOT contain His new wine. He would form a NEW institution - the church - that would bring Jew and Gentile together into a completely new body, confirmed to us in Ephesians 2:16.

       

      Jesus reminds us that what is old and stagnant often can NOT be renewed or reformed. God will often look for new vessels to contain His new work, until those vessels eventually make themselves unusable.

       

      This reminds us that the MAN-CREATED religious establishment of any age is not necessarily pleasing to Jesus. Sometimes it is in direct opposition to, or at least resisting His work.

       

      Jesus came to introduce something new, not to patch up something old. This is what salvation is all about. In doing this, Jesus does NOT destroy the old (the law), but He fulfills it, just as an acorn is fulfilled when it grows into an oak tree. There is a sense in which the acorn is gone, but its purpose is fulfilled in greatness.

       

      Two people are healed: A little girl and a woman with an issue of blood.

       

      Verses 18-19 tells us A ruler among the Jews asks Jesus to heal his daughter.

       

      "While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live." So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples."

       

      A ruler came and worshipped Him...

       

      Note that this man worshipped Him, and Jesus received this worship - which would have been blasphemous if Jesus had not Himself been God.

       

      In other instances in the New Testament where such worship is offered to a HUMAN (Acts 10:25-26) or to an ANGEL (Revelation 22:8-9), it is always immediately refused.

       

      My daughter has just died, but come any lay Your hand on her and she will live...

       

      This ruler, MEANING HE WAS A ROMAN, BECAUSE ONLY ROMANS RULED IN THAT DAY, did the right thing in coming to Jesus, but his faith is small in comparison to the centurion of Matthew 8. The ruler thought it is essential that Jesus personally come touch the little girl, while the centurion understood Jesus had the authority to heal with a word, even at a great distance.

       

      Verses 20-22 tells us A woman is healed by her faith and her touch of Jesus.

       

      "And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour."

       

      And suddenly, a woman...

       

      Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:43-48 give a much fuller account of this miracle; but Matthew's account is enough to show the compassion of Jesus and the fact that His power was not magical. Here we simply see the power of God responding to the faith of those who seek Him.

       

      If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...IN THAT DAY...Because this woman's condition was embarrassing, and because she was ceremonially unclean and would be condemned for touching Jesus or even being in a pressing crowd, she wanted to do this secretly. She would not openly ask Jesus to be healed, but she thought "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well."

       

      AND..."FOR JEWISH LEADERS/MEN, The fringes OF THEIR OUTER GARMENTS were four tassels of hyacinth blue worn on the corners of his outer garment.... It was meant to identify a Jew as a Jew, and as member of the chosen people, no matter where he was; and it was meant to remind a Jew every time he put on and took off his clothes that he belonged to God."

       

      BUT INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH...

      WE NOTICE HERE...This also shows us that Jesus dressed like other people of His time. He felt no need to distinguish Himself by the clothes He wore, by religious/ethic identifiers. In dress Jesus was not noncomformist.

       

      AND WE LEARN SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE...

       

      To the best of our Biblical gospels knowledge, there was NO promise or NO pattern that touching the garment of Jesus would bring healing, as some taught and still DO SUPERSTITIOUSLY teach/believe today. It seems that the woman believed this in a somewhat superstitious way. Yet even though her faith had elements of err and superstition, she believed in the healing power of Jesus and His garment served as a point of contact for that faith. There are many things that we could find wrong with this woman's faith. Yet Matthew wants us to SEE and to KNOW it WAS her faith in Jesus; and His power to heal that motivated her.

       

      And the woman was made well...

      Her faith, though imperfect, was enough to receive what Jesus wanted to give her. Her 12-year disease was immediately cured.

       

      When He saw her, He said...

       

      This woman hoped to receive something from Jesus without drawing any attention to herself or her embarrassing problem. Jesus insisted on making public notice of her, and He did this for good reasons.

       

      1. He did it so she would know that she was healed, having heard an official declaration of it from Jesus.

       

      2. He did it so others would know she was healed, because her ailment was private in nature.

       

      3. He did it so she would know why she was healed, that it was by her faith and not because of a superstitious touch of His garment or anything else He wore or touched in itself.

       

      4. He did it so that she would not think she stole a blessing from Jesus, and so she would never feel that she needed to hide from Him.

       

      5. He did it so that the ruler would see the power of Jesus at work and therefore have more faith himself for his daughter.

       

      6. He did it so that He could bless her in a special way, giving her an honored title that we never see Jesus give to any other: daughter.

       

      ((((Verses 23-26 tells us Jesus, despite scorn, raises the little girl from the dead.))))

       

      "When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land."

       

      The flute players and the noisy crowd...

       

      These were probably paid mourners, who in the custom of the day offered an ostentatious display of mourning for a price, and not out of ANY sincere sorrow. When we notice how quickly they moved from wailing to ridiculing Jesus, it showed US their lack of sincerity.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      "Professional mourners were hired even by the poorest families 'not less than two flutes and one wailing woman."

       

      AND...Mourning, like everything else, had been reduced to a system, two flutes and one mourning woman at the burial of a wife incumbent on the poorest man. There WAS pomp and circumstance, rites, rituals and rules but NO HEART. NO SINCERITY in it.

       

      When the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose...

       

      Jesus endured the scorn from the crowd and raised the girl to life. He certainly would not let the criticism or mocking of the crowd keep Him from doing God's will.

       

      Jesus did so here in a simple act of mercy and compassion to the grieving father. In addition, Jesus must have hated death and its cause, and enjoyed the opportunity to hand death a small defeat before He would defeat it altogether at the cross and the empty tomb.

       

      Verses 27-31 tells us Jesus heals TWO blind men.

       

      "When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country."

       

      Two blind men followed Him...

       

      It was not easy for these blind men to follow Jesus, but they did. They had to ask others where Jesus was going and they had to listen to every sound that might guide them. Yet they were determined to follow Him to the best of their ability.

       

      BARCLAY tells us, "Blindness was a distressingly common disease in Palestine. It came partly from the glare of the eastern sun on unprotected eyes, and partly because people knew nothing of the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. In particular the clouds of unclean flies carried infections which led to loss of sight."

       

      Son of David, have mercy on us!

       

      The two blind men followed Jesus and shouted this open recognition of Jesus as Messiah, because Son of David was a rich Messianic title. They asked Jesus for the best thing they could ask for: mercy.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Their sole appeal was to mercy. There was no talk about merit, no pleading of their past sufferings, or their persevering endeavors, or their resolves for the future; but, 'Have mercy on us.' He will never win a blessing from God who demands it as if he had a right to it."

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...

      This is the FIRST time Jesus is called 'Son of David' and there can be no doubt that the blind men were confessing Jesus as Messiah.

       

      AND REMEMBER OUR STUDY OF John 9:22 tells us that the Pharisees judged that anyone who proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, would be removed from the synagogue. Though the occasion in John seems have been after this healing of the blind men, we can still believe that there was a price to pay for calling Jesus "Son of David."

       

      Do you believe that I am able to do this?...

       

      Again, Jesus healed the blind men in response to their FAITH. Faith does not guarantee healing for every individual, yet there are undoubtedly multitudes that are not healed because they lack faith. These men simply proclaimed their faith by saying, "Yes, Lord."

       

      According to your faith let it be so to you...

       

      Here again Matthew emphasized the proper faith that men should have in Jesus, and the blessings that come to men through that faith.

       

      1. The leper of Matthew 8:1-4 showed faith because he absolutely knew that Jesus was able to heal his leprosy.

      2. The centurion of Matthew 8:5-13 had such great faith that Jesus openly praised it as great faith, that He had not found among the people of Israel.

      3. The disciples failed in faith when in the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27)

      4. The woman with the issue of blood was healed by her faith (Matthew 9:18-26).

       

      In many ways, Jesus says the same to men and women today:

      According to your faith let it be so to you." There is much to have by faith, and much that is never received because it is never grasped with faith. According to your faith' does not mean 'in proportion to your faith' (so much faith, so much sight) but rather 'since you believe, your request is granted'.

       

      The faith of these two blind men is worthy of notice.

       

      1. They had the faith to follow Jesus; this meant forsaking other paths, other directions and deciding to follow Him.

      2. They had the faith to cry out, willing to put words to their desire.

      3. They had the faith to make some noise, and to be unafraid of embarrassment.

      4. They had the faith to identify Jesus as the Son of David, recognizing Him as the Messiah.

      5. They had the faith to ask Jesus for mercy, knowing they didn't deserve healing.

      6. They had faith to believe that Jesus was able heal them.

      7. They had the faith to say, "Yes, Lord."

       

      See that no one knows it...

       

      Despite Jesus' warning, they could NOT resist telling others. Though we do not admire their well-intentioned disobedience, we admire their excitement over the work of God. This was their only area of unbelief - they didn't have the faith to obey Jesus as they should have.

       

      Verses 32-34 tells us A MUTE man healed.

       

      "As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, "It was never seen like this in Israel!" But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."

       

      A man, mute and demon-possessed...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...In the Jewish understanding of demon possession, this man could not be helped. This was because most rabbis of that day thought that the essential first step in exorcism was to compel or trick the demon into telling you its name. The name was then thought of as a handle by which the demon could then be removed.

       

      Therefore, a demon that made a man mute had cleverly prevented the revelation of the name of the demon inhabiting the victim, and therefore prevented the exorcism.

       

      Yet Jesus had no problem, the demon was cast out and the mute spoke.

       

      It was never seen like this in Israel!...

       

      For these reasons this miracle was particularly amazing to the multitudes. It showed not only the complete authority of Jesus over the demonic realm, but also the weakness of the rabbis' traditions.

       

      But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."

       

      In attributing this work of Jesus to the power of Satan, we see in this gospel the Pharisees and other religious leaders continuing their rejection of Jesus and His work.

       

      Verses 35-38 tells us Jesus' compassion on the multitudes.

       

      "Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

       

      Jesus went about all the cities and villages...

       

      As Jesus encountered the depth of human need He was moved with compassion for them. Jesus was not unfeeling or stoic in the face of people and their problems.

       

      DO YOU NOTICE...In the previous verses Jesus was terribly and unfairly criticized, yet it did not make Him stop His work. He didn't say, "Oh, they are saying terrible things about Me! What can I do? How can I make them stop?" Jesus simply ignored terrible and unfair criticism and got about His Father's business.

       

      BARCLAY tells us, "The word which is used for moved with compassion (splagchnistheis) is the strongest word for pity in the Greek language. . . . it describes the compassion which moves a man to the deepest depths of his being."

       

      They were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd...

      Jesus here described what man is apart from God; that we are like sheep having no shepherd. This means that we are in a lot of trouble until we come under the care of our Shepherd.

       

      Sadly, one could say that the Jewish people of that day did indeed have some kind of spiritual guides and shepherds, namely the scribes, priests, Levites, and Pharisees. Yet for the most part they were worthless. Christ accounts those people to have no ministers who have no good ones.

      THIS IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF WHY "SPIRITUAL GUIDES", SPIRITUALISM ARE SO DANGEROUS FOR LOST/SEEKING/NEW BABIES IN CHRIST... IT IS FULL OF RITES, RITUALS, INCENSE, GONG RINGING, HUMMING MANTRAS, BUT HAS NO SUBSTANCE. IT IS WORSE THAN WORTHLESS IN THE EYES OF JESUS.

       

      The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few: Jesus saw the greatness of human need as an opportunity, as a harvest that was plentiful. A harvest is a good thing, and this was a plentiful harvest.

       

      But it was also a harvest that needed laborers. The good of a harvest can go to waste if there are no laborers to take advantage of the bounty. Jesus warned us that opportunities to meet human need and bring people into His kingdom may be wasted because of a shortage of laborers.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Pretenders were many, but real 'laborers' in the harvest were few. . . . Man-made ministers are useless."

       

      WHAT DO WE NOTICE IN THIS CHAPTER OF MATTHEW?

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:21 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 10

       

      OPENS WITH...THE SENDING OF THE TWELVE WHO ARE CHOSEN AND COMMISSIONED.

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us The TWELVE disciples are listed.

       

      "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him."

       

      When He had called His twelve disciples to Him...

       

      The main feature of this list is its diversity. Jesus chose His disciples from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. About all they had in common was it seems that none of them were privileged or from backgrounds of high status.

       

      This is in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29...

      "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence."

       

      He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease...

       

      Jesus did not only call the twelve. He also gave them power to do what He had called them to do. The same principle holds true today: whom God calls, God equips. The equipping may not be completely evident before the ministry begins, but it will be evident along the way.

       

      Now the names of the twelve apostles are these...

       

      These twelve (excepting Judas, of course), have an important place in God's plan of redemption, including some particular role in the future judgment (Matthew 19:28), and in the founding of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The Bible promises that their position and work will be remembered through eternity (Revelation 21:14).

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

      This is the FIRST and ONLY time in Matthew that the twelve are called APOSTLES. The word apostle literally means one who is sent out; it is the word for an envoy or an ambassador. Called here for the first and last time apostoloi, with reference at once to the immediate minor mission and to the later great one.

       

      1. The word apostle can mean a mere messenger, as in John 13:16, referring to he who is sent.

      2. Jesus is called an apostle in Hebrews 3:1: consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

      3. Paul sometimes used the word in the sense of messengers or representatives, as in 2 Corinthians 8:23: they are messengers [apostles] of the churches; possibly also in Romans 16:7.

      4. Yet Paul also used the term in a more narrow sense, referring to the Twelve and himself by special dispensation (1 Corinthians 9:1-5 and 15:7-10; Galatians 1:17 and 1:19 following).

       

      AND WE KNOW...There are four DIFFERENT lists of the twelve in the New Testament. Here in Matthew 10:2-4, and also in Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:13-16, and Acts 1:13. In these lists, Peter is always listed first and Judas is always listed last. The two pairs of brothers (Peter and Andrew; James and John) are always listed first. In the lists they are arranged in a way that suggests that they were arranged in three groups of four, each with a leader.

       

      1. In each list Peter is first mentioned, followed by Andrew, James, and John.

      2. In each list Philip is fifth mentioned, followed by Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew.

      3. In each list James the son of Alphaeus is ninth mentioned, followed by Thaddaeus/Judas brother of James, Simon the Zealot, and Judas.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...Iscariot is usually thought to mean 'man of Kerioth' (a city in southern Judaea), but has also been explained as meaning 'traitor', 'assassin', 'carrier of the leather bag', or 'redhead'!

       

      Verses 5-6 tells us Where they are to go: unto Israel (the Jewish people) only.

       

      "These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

       

      These twelve Jesus sent out...

       

      Jesus was touring around the region of Galilee teaching, preaching, and helping needy people with miraculous power (Matthew 4:23). The sending of these twelve was a conscious expanding of that work. Now the work of Jesus was being done by many more than simply Jesus Himself.

       

      And commanded them...

       

      The word which is used in the Greek for Jesus commanding his men, or giving them orders is interesting and illuminating. It is the word "paragellein". This word in Greek has four special usages.

       

      1. It is the regular word of military command. . . .

      2. It is the word used of calling one's friends to one's help. . . .

      3. It is the word which is used of a teaching giving rules and precepts to his students. . . .

      4. It is the word which is regularly used for an imperial command."

       

      Do not go into the way of the Gentiles...

      This is the pattern of the gospel - it is for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16). Later, the gospel would go to BOTH the Samaritans and the Gentiles, but it had to BEGIN with the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

       

      That Jesus felt it necessary to mention the Samaritans at all presupposes John 4. The disciples, happy in the exercise of their ability to perform miracles, might have been tempted to evangelize the Samaritans because they remembered Jesus' success there.

       

      The effect of this order was in actual fact to limit the first journeys of the twelve to Galilee.

       

      But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel...

       

      God's intention was to reach the whole world, but beginning with Israel. There was certainly enough work to do among the lost sheep of the house of Israel to keep the twelve busy until God directly commanded them to expand their ministry.

       

      THIS IS IMPORTANT...WE NEED TO REMEMBER THIS, WHEN THOSE WHO BELIEVE THE FALSE NARRATIVE OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY, WHICH SAYS/TEACHES/BELIEVES GOD DISINHERITED ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH, JESUS LOVING CHRISTIANS, REPLACED/ BECAME THE CHOSEN OF GOD.

       

      Significantly, Jesus still called the Jewish people "the house of Israel" even though they had lost their Jewish state many decades before this time. God STILL CALLED THEM AND SAW them as "Israel," even when there was not a political entity known as "Israel."

       

      Who were the lost sheep of Israel? In a sense, all of them were. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6).

       

      Yet in another sense, there were also lost sheep that were abused and neglected by their spiritual shepherds, the scribes, priests, and Pharisees. This is the sense of Jeremiah 50:6: "My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray." It is also the sense of Jesus when He ate with sinners at the home of Matthew (Matthew 9:10-13).

       

      Because so many were so spiritually neglected, Jesus sent these apostles out. "The beginnings of the mission to the neglected 'lost' sheep of Israel may be found in the Capernaum feast (Matthew 9:10).

       

      Verses 7-8a tells us What they are to do: go out preaching and healing.

       

      "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons."

       

      As you go, preach, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."

      Earlier (Matthew 4:17) we were told that Jesus' message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The disciples brought the same message Jesus preached, simply bringing it over a much broader area than Jesus did by Himself.

       

      We may also surmise that they were to repeat many of the themes found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), because that message tells what life in the kingdom of heaven should be like.

       

      There is no mention of them preaching in the synagogues, only being scourged in them (Matthew 10:17). This was a house-to-house, open field, street preaching ministry.

       

      Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons...

       

      The disciples both had a message to preach and a power to display. In this, they were truly followers of their Master.

       

      The authority for these disciples to raise the dead is remarkable; yet the later fulfillment of it was recorded in both Acts 9 and 20, and there were no doubt other unrecorded instances.

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER...We have no evidence that either such a thing was common, IT WAS AND AS ALWAYS...AS THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS AND AS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILLS IT.

       

      SO WE ARE TO BELIEVE IN JESUS LIVING WITHIN US THAT, HIS AUTHORITY, HIS POWER, AS HE WILLS IT TO DO MIRACLES TODAY. THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHURCH, AS WELL, THE FALSE RELIGIOSITIES THEN AND NOW, THEY TEACH/PROCLAIM/BELIEVE THEY ARE THE POWER, THEY BELIEVE THEY HAVE AN ANOINTED MANTLE OR THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT AND BEEN TO CLASSES TO LEARN AND HAVE THE ABILITY, THAT THEY COMMAND HEAVEN/THEY COMMAND HEALING/MIRACLES/THEY SUMMON WEALTH, THEY SUMMON ANGELS.

       

      NO WHERE IN THE BIBLE DO ANY OF GOD'S PROPHETS, THE DISCIPLES/APOSTLES CLAIM STATE OR PROPHESY IN THEIR OWN POWER. IT WAS, IS AND EVER SHALL BE AS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILLS IT.

       

      SATAN AND HIS DEMONS HAVE LIMITED ABILITIES, THEY CAN SPEAK IN TONGUES, THEY CAN DO SHORT TERM MIRACLES, THEY CAN SPEAK TO MANKIND, THEY CAN ILLUSION THEMSELVES INTO BEING ANGELS OF LIGHT, WHEN THEY ARE NOT FROM JESUS CHRIST AT ALL.

       

      PRAYER IS OUR MOST POWERFUL WEAPON FOR THE LOST, HURT, NEEDY. WHEN WE GATHER TOGETHER IN JESUS NAME AND PRAY FOR AND LIFT THE HURTS, NEEDS OF PEOPLE AND PRAY FOR JESUS DIRECTION, PROTECTION, AND HELP INTO OUR JESUS HANDS...WE RECOGNIZE THE POWER IS IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE. IT IS HIS DECISION.

       

      Verses 8b-15 tells us How they were to provide for themselves.

       

      "Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"

       

      Freely you have received, freely give...

       

      Jesus charged His disciples nothing. He did not charge them for the food, water, shelter, protection and He expected them to give ministry unto others without charge. This is the foundational principle for the commands that follow.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "What a scandal is it for a man to traffic with gifts which he pretends, at least, to have received from the Holy Ghost, of which he is not the master, but the dispenser. He who preaches to get a living, or to make a fortune, is guilty of the most infamous sacrilege."

       

      Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts...

       

      JESUS TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY DEPENDED ON HIS FATHER TO PROVIDE FOR ALL HIS NEEDS. HIS MINISTRY IS PROOF OF THIS. JESUS WALKED IT, TALKED IT, AND LIVED IT.

      JESUS WANTED THEM TO ALWAYS PRAY, ASK, AND BELIEVE AND EXPECT God to meet their needs, without taking undue concern for their own needs. Furthermore, they should expect that God would normally meet their needs through the inspired hospitality of others.

       

      BARCLAY tells us, "He was once again speaking words which were very familiar to a Jew. The Talmud tells us that: 'No one is to go to the Temple Mount with staff, shoes, girdle of money, or dusty feet.' The idea was that when a man entered the temple, he must make it quite clear that he had left everything which had to do with trade and business and worldly affairs behind."

       

      SPURGEON says, "Take [Provide] is literally 'obtain' … The saying in its Matthaean form thus does not so much specify the appropriate equipment for traveling, but rather assures the disciples that no previous fund-raising is necessary, nor need special equipment be acquired. They can go just as they are, and the mission is urgent."

       

      AND FOR THOSE WHO POINT TO See Luke 22:36: 'He that hath a purse, let him take it …' Different modes of procedure are to be adopted at different times.

       

      For a worker is worthy of his food...

       

      When they came among others, they were to be workers among them. They would work among them in both spiritual work and practical work. We can imagine them preaching the Word of God, praying for and with people, and helping with the farm work.

       

      Even though the twelve could expect their needs to be met through the people they served, they should never require their needs to be met as payment. The foundational principle was freely you have received, freely give.

       

      If the household is worthy … if it is not worthy...

       

      Those who did receive these disciples can expect to be blessed (let your peace come upon it); but those places that refused them could expect to be treated as Gentiles cities (shake off the dust from your feet), and as such, were in serious danger of judgment.

       

      Two sure signs of reprobate goats:

       

      1. Not to receive Christ's ministers to house and harbour, accounting themselves happy in such entertainment.

      2. Not to hear their words.

       

      Verses 16-18 tells us Jesus PREPARES them for persecution.

       

      "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."

       

      I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves...

       

      Jesus freely and honestly warned His disciples that they would face persecution. Because they went out without police or military protection, He sent them as sheep in the midst of wolves.

       

      SPURGEON says, "After all, the mission of sheep to wolves is a hopeful one, since we see in the natural world that the sheep, though so feeble, by far outnumber the wolves who are so fierce. The day will come when persecutors will be as scarce as wolves, and saints as numerous as sheep."

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER ALWAYS...GOD FIRST SENT US HIS GENTLE LAMB AMONG THE LOST, EVIL, OF THIS WORLD TO SEEK AND SAVE THAT WHICH IS LOST...BUT WE NEED TO ALWAYS REMEMBER...THE LION OF JUDAH IS COMING...AND HE IS NOT MEEK OR GENTLE BUT A POWERFUL WARRIOR LION THAT NONE CAN STAND AGAINST...AND EVERY KNEE, ALL THE WOLVES, ALL THE DEMONS, SATAN HIMSELF, SHALL HIT THEIR KNEES BEFORE HIM.

       

      SO WHILE WE APPEAR AS GENTLE, FEEBLE, SHEEP/LAMBS TO THE WOLVES AND REJECTING IN THIS WORLD RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE THE HEART OF THE LION OF JUDAH LIVING WITHIN US...AND ONE SWEET DAY, WE SHALL RETURN WITH OUR LION OF JUDAH AS BRIGHT, WHITE SAINTS AND POWERFUL WARRIORS OF OUR COMMANDER JESUS CHRIST, THE LION OF JUDAH.

       

      Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves...

       

      Despite their vulnerable position in the eyes of the world, Jesus' followers were not to defend themselves with worldly forms of power, but in Jesus' power. They were to remain harmless as doves, though wise as serpents.

       

      Wisdom would keep them from attracting trouble unnecessarily or show them how to avoid it without compromise. But to stand in the power and protection of Jesus first and last. Serpents are attacked by everyone, and must use creativity and wisdom to survive.

       

      Remaining harmless would keep them from giving in to the temptation of retaliation.

       

      But beware of men, for they will deliver you up...

       

      Jesus also warned them that men would persecute them in civic arena (councils) and religious arena (synagogues). They could expect opposition from both city hall and the halls of religion.

       

      AND WE WHO HAVE STUDIED JESUS LIFE AND HIS MINISTRY ON THIS EARTH, KNOW THAT JESUS WAS THE FIRST TO FACE ALL THESE THINGS THAT HE TAUGHT AND PREPARED HIS DISCIPLES FOR IN THEIR FUTURE ONCE HE WAS GONE BACK TO HEAVEN.

       

      WHEREEVER JESUS WENT, WHETHER ON THE ROAD, IN THE MARKETS, OR IN THE SYNAGOGUES..HE WAS CHALLENGED. HE WAS ATTACKED. HE WAS LIED ON. HE WAS RIDICULED AND AS WITH HIS OWN HOME TOWN, HE WAS ASKED TO LEAVE AND NOT RETURN.

       

      You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake...

       

      This was a remarkable statement, recognizing the great influence the gospel and its preachers would have. Governors and kings would notice them - and arrest them, bringing them to trial BECAUSE THEY LOVED AND FOLLOWED JESUS..

       

      WARFIELD says it well, "This affords a striking proof of the prescience of Christ. Who could have thought, at that time, that these despised and illiterate men could excite so much attention, and be called upon to apologize for the profession of their faith before the tribunals of the most illustrious personages of the earth?"

       

      For My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles...

       

      Because they were persecuted for Jesus sake, they could be a testimony to both religious and civic persecutors.

       

      Verses 19-20 tells us When Jesus' disciples are brought before rulers, God will defend and speak for them.

       

       

      "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."

       

      Do not worry about how or what you should speak...

       

      Jesus' disciples could have perfect trust in God in that moment, knowing that He would speak through them even if they were unprepared.

       

      BARCLAY MAKES A GOOD POINT FOR US TO THINK ABOUT AND REMEMBER, "It was not the humiliation which early Christians dreaded, not even the cruel pain and the agony. But many of them feared that their own unskilfulness in words and defence might injure rather than commend the truth. It is the promise of God that when a man is on trial for his faith, the words will come to him."

       

      For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak...

       

      This gave them confidence that the Spirit of the Father would speak to and through them at the necessary moment, even if they were not prepared with a statement.

       

      This isn't a justification of poor preparation in teaching and preaching God's Word, but it is a promise of strength and guidance for the persecuted that have an opportunity to testify of Jesus.

       

      Verses 21-23 tells us The extent of persecution: even among families, and from city to city.

       

      "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."

       

      Now brother will deliver up brother to death...

       

      Jesus knew that in some cases the gospel would divide family members, and that some of the most bitter persecution would take place among families.

       

      AND REMEMBER JESUS' OWN HALF BROTHERS AND SISTERS REJECTED HIM, BUT FOR MARY HIS MOTHER TOLD TO US IN JOHN 7:1-5 & MARK 3:20-21.

       

      AND WE REMEMBER JESUS WENT BACK TO HIS OWN HOMETOWN OF NAZARETH WHERE HE HAD GROWN UP AND THEY TRIED TO THROW HIM OFF THE CLIFF TOLD TO US IS LUKE 4:16-30

       

      And cause them to be put to death...

       

      Jesus plainly said that persecution would sometime result in death. Though most Christians have endured persecution in economic or social arenas, though the centuries, literally millions have given their lives in faithfulness to Jesus.

       

      You will be hated by all for My name's sake...

       

      At times this has been true; when entire cultures have hated the followers of Jesus. It seems strange that people who live by the kingdom expectations of Matthew 5-7 should be so greatly hated, but it is the same paradox that inspired the world to condemn and crucify JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, the only sinless man ever to live.

       

      It must be painfully admitted that there are times when Christians, because of great unfaithfulness or false profession of faith, have been hated for good reason. Yet no one who is filled with the presence of Jesus and lives like He did can be hated for good reason.

       

      But he who endures to the end will be saved...

       

      A commitment to endure to the end is required for those who will weather the storms of persecution. We who have face little real persecution have little understanding of just how difficult it is to endure under it.

       

      When they persecute you in this city, flee to another...

       

      In this, Jesus taught His disciples that it was WRONG for them to court martyrdom. They were NOT to run towards persecution, or even remain if they had the chance for an honorable escape. If they could flee to another place they were to do it.

       

      You will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes...

       

      This is one of the hardest to understand statements of Jesus in Matthew. Could Jesus really mean that He would return to this earth before the disciples would make it through all the cities of Israel? If so, this would make Jesus' plainly wrong in this prediction. Instead, it is better to see His "coming" in this passage as His coming in judgment upon Judea in A.D. 70 which did happen before the gospel came to every city in Israel.

       

      This is the fulfillment of the day of judgment warned of in Matthew 10:15. In many ways, the judgment poured out by God upon Judea through the Roman armies in A.D. 70.

       

      Verses 24-25 tells us Why Jesus' disciples must expect persecution.

       

      "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!"

       

      A disciple is not above his teacher...

       

      Simply put, the disciples should not expect to be treated any better than Jesus was treated. If they called Jesus Himself Satan (Beelzebub), how much worse should the disciples of Jesus expect!

       

      This already is the second reference in Matthew we have to Jesus being associated with Satan by His enemies. Matthew 9:34 suggests that it was a frequent slur.

       

      It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master...

       

      This is the goal of both the disciple and servant of Jesus. We simply want to be like our teacher and master, as we are conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

       

      Verses 26-31tells us Even in the midst of persecution, Jesus' disciples should NOT fear, but be BOLD in their proclamation of the gospel.

       

      "Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

       

      Therefore do not fear them...

       

      Jesus' disciples could have confidence that the truth would prevail, so they should go out and preach it with boldness, despite the danger of persecution.

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER THIS...If persecution or the threat of persecution makes us draw back from speaking and preaching God's word, then in some measure Satan has won a victory. His threat of persecution may not have succeeded in harming us, but in holding back the work of the Word of God.

       

      For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known...

       

      Jesus promised His persecuted followers that the truth of their honorable sacrifice would be known, even if the persecutors did their best to hide it among the pages of history. God would reveal all and justify His servants and reveal the crime of those who thought they had hidden it.

       

      The judgment of eternity gives us great confidence in God's ultimate justice. Those who seem to cheat justice on earth will NEVER cheat it in eternity.

       

      THEN AND NOW, WE SEE MORE AND MORE EXAMPLES OF EVIL ESCAPING, IF NOT BEING CHAMPIONED AND EXCUSED AWAY THEIR EVIL AND REMOVING EARTHLY JUSTICE AND PUNISHMENT...BUT WE NEED TO REMEMBER, JESUS IS NOT BLIND. JESUS IS NOT DECEIVED. JESUS DOES NOT FORGET. EVIL MAY AND WILL, THEN AND NOW, ESCAPE EARTHLY JUSTICE AND PUNISHMENT, BUT THEY WILL NEVER ESCAPE JESUS JUSTICE AND PUNISHMENT.

       

      Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops...

       

      The message of Jesus was gloriously public. It was not for a secret few and was not to be hidden in any way. There isn't one message for the inner circle and another for those on the outside. Those on the outside may not understand the message, but they can hear it and it is not to be hidden from them.

       

      And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell...

       

      God is the one to fear, not the men who persecute the followers of Jesus. The worst they can do is to destroy the body, but being a coward before God can have eternal consequences.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "There is no cure for the fear of man like the fear of God."

       

      Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows...

      Jesus' disciples didn't need to be afraid, because God really did care for them, even down to the most minute detail. If God cares for the sparrows, and numbers the very hairs of our head, then He will also pay careful attention to our needs. The persecuted easily feel that God forgets them, but He has not.

       

      God knows us better than our friends know us; better than our husband or wife knows us; He knows us better than we know ourselves. We don't know how many hairs are numbered on our head. The God who knows us so well will take care of us.

       

      The clear emphasis in this short section is clearly "do not fear." "This is the third time, in six verses, that they and we are bid to banish this cowardly base passion, this causeless, fruitless, harmful, sinful fear of men. He that fears God need fear none else."

       

      Verses 32-39 tells us The attitude Jesus' disciples MUST be equipped with.

       

      "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."

       

      Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven...

       

      The disciple must confess Jesus publicly - before men. If we will not be public about our allegiance to Him, we cannot expect Him to be public about His allegiance to us.

       

      Everyone Jesus called He called publicly. There is really no such thing as a "secret" Christian, at least not in a permanent sense. This is a contradiction in terms - an oxymoron.

       

      Each individual Christian life should supply enough evidence - evidence that can be seen by the world - that they are indeed Christians. It is to be feared than many modern Christians, if arrested for the crime of following Jesus and tried in a court, would have the charges dismissed for a lack of evidence.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "What Christ is to you on earth, that you will be to Christ in heaven. I shall repeat that truth. Whatever Jesus Christ is to you on earth, you will be to him in the day of judgment. If he be dear and precious to you, you will be precious and dear to him. If you thought everything of him, he will think everything of you."

       

      Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword...

       

      The message of Jesus - as reflected in the Sermon on the Mount - is indeed a message of peace. Yet we need to remember too, it calls the individual to a radical commitment to Jesus Himself, it is a message of peace that divides between those who choose it and those who reject it. The division between these two choices explains how Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword.

       

      For I have come to "set a man against his father" … and "a man's enemies will be those of his own household"...

       

      The dividing line between those who accept Jesus and those who reject Him would even run through families. The sword Jesus spoke of would sometimes cut through families.

       

      THIS IS THE MESSAGE AND TRUTH WE AS JESUS FAMILY/FOLLOWERS/CHURCH...HAVE FAILED TO TELL THE BABIES IN CHRIST. WE HAVE FAILED TO GIVE THEM MATTHEW 10. WE HAVE FAILED TO TELL THEM, YES, CHOOSING JESUS IS AN ETERNAL DECISION. AN ETERNAL JOY, GRACE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS, AND SALVATION IN JESUS CHRIST ALONE...BUT BABY CHRISTIANS, YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS...JESUS WAS REJECTED BY HIS HALF-BROTHERS/SISTERS. HE WAS REJECTED BY HIS OWN FAMILY. JESUS WAS REJECTED AND CAST OUT OF HIS CHURCH, HIS TOWN, HIS CHILDHOOD FRIENDSHIPS. JESUS WAS REJECTED, RIDICULED, SNEERED AT, PERSECUTED AND SO WILL YOU. SO GIRD YOURSELF UP. PUT ON THE FULL ARMOR OF JESUS CHRIST SALVATION, SO THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THEM ALL.

       

      AND WE SEE IT TODAY, THOSE JEWS WHO COME TO THE SAVING REDEEMING GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST AS MESSIAH WERE AND ARE TODAY CAST OUT OF THEIR FAMILIES. THEY ARE OSTRACIZED FROM THEIR SYNAGOGUES. THEY ARE EXCOMMUNICATED AND BECOME DEAD TO THEIR JEWISH FAMILY.

       

      AND WORSE, FAR WORSE, WE SEE THOSE MUSLIMS WHO COME TO THE SAVING REDEEMING KNOWLEDGE AND CHOOSING JESUS CHRIST AS THE ONE TRUE GOD. THEIR SAVIOR ARE KILLED BY BEHEADING, BURNING, STONING, ACID BURNS, BY THEIR OWN FATHERS, FAMILIES, RELATIVES, AND MOSQUES.

       

      He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me...

       

      In strong terms, Jesus explained that the disciple must love and follow Jesus supremely. Our devotion to Jesus must come above even our own household.

       

      We should expect that normally, following Jesus makes us better husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters and so forth. Yet there are times when the presence of Jesus divides rather than unifies.

       

      The greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good - like love in family relationships. The greatest danger to the best comes from second best.

       

      Take his cross and follow after Me...

       

      The disciple must follow Jesus even to the place of taking his cross. When a person took a cross in Jesus' day, it was for one reason: to die. The ancient Roman cross did NOT negotiate, did NOT compromise, and did NOT make deals. There was no looking back when you took up your cross, and your only hope was in resurrection life.

       

      His cross...

       

      Your cross is NOT really your particular trial or trouble. The cross means one thing: death - death to self, but resurrection life unto God.

       

      IN THIS MODERN DAY OF POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND RELIGIOUS SELF. SELF. SELF. DO IT MY WAY. MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. IF IT FEELS GOOD JUST DO IT. SUBJECTIVE MORALITY. IF I ENJOY IT, IT DOES NOT MATTER IF IT IS AGAINST YOU, YOUR LAWS, YOUR MORALS, OR YOUR BELIEFS. I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO AND BE AND HAVE WHATEVER I WANT...REGARDLESS WHAT IT COSTS OTHERS...EVEN THEIR DEATH.

       

      This is the FIRST mention of the cross in Matthew's Gospel, and it is not directly associated with Jesus' own crucifixion. Such an extreme statement - likening discipleship with the horror of crucifixion, something too terrible to be mentioned in polite company - must have jarred the disciples.

       

      Yet they knew what the cross was all about. "Crucifixion itself was not an uncommon sight in Roman Palestine; 'cross-bearing' language would have a clear enough meaning, even before they realized how literally he himself was to exemplify it.

       

      WE NEED TO REMEMBER, IN JESUS DAY, EVERYWHERE JESUS WENT, THE ENTRANCES AND EXITS TO ALL THE TOWNS/CITIES/COUNTRIES UNDER ROMAN RULE WERE LITTERED WITH CRUCIFIXION CROSSES. MOST BODIES WERE NOT BURIED, BUT LEFT UP ON THE CROSSES UNTIL THE BUGS AND BUZZARDS HAD EATEN THEIR FILL. WE TODAY, CAN LOOK IN THE SKY, AND IF WE SEE BUZZARDS CIRCLING OVERHEAD, WE KNOW SOMETHING IS DEAD OR DYING. SO BESIDES THE HORRIFIC SMELLS OF DECAYING AND ROTTING BODIES, BUT ALSO THE GRUESOMENESS OF THE FEASTING BUZZARDS, FLIES, AND BUGS COATING AND COVERING THE DEAD WAS A SIGHT NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN BY THOSE UNDER ROMAN RULE.

       

      IT WAS ROME'S PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR STRATEGY. CRUCIFY UNTIL THEY COMPLY. CRUCIFY MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO CHALLENGES ROME. AND MAKE SURE ALL THOSE COMING AND GOING FROM EVERY TOWN SEES, SMELLS, AND REMEMBERS AND YES, FEARS WHAT HAPPENS TO ANYONE WHO CHALLENGES ROME.

       

      AND SECULAR HISTORY TELLS US, When the Roman general, Varus, had broken the revolt of Judas in Galilee [4 B.C.], he crucified two thousand Jews, and placed the crosses by the wayside along the roads to Galilee.

       

      He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it...

       

      The disciple lives in a paradox. He can only find life by losing it, and he can only live after we take up our cross to follow Jesus.

       

      Verses 40-42 tells us The reward due to those who, in contrast to the persecutors, receive the disciples of Jesus.

       

    • Topic » MATTHEW 11

    • February 24, 2018 7:19 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 11

       

      OPENS WITH...JOHN THE BAPTIST DISCIPLES

       

      Verses 1-3 tells us John the Baptist's disciples ask a question on behalf of John to Jesus: are You really the Messiah (the Coming One)?

       

      "Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

       

      When Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples...

       

      According to Bruce, to preach in their cities does not refer to the cities of the disciples, but the cities of Galilee. "While He sent out the Twelve to preach, He continued preaching Himself, only avoiding the places they visited." In this way Jesus gave His commissioned disciples room to do their work.

       

      He sent two of his disciples...

       

      AND CONTRARY TO MANY, John did not ask this question for his own sake, but for the sake of his disciples - he wanted them to go to Jesus and ask the question for themselves, causing them to focus their attention ON Jesus and NOT on him..

       

      AND WE KNOW John The Baptist's' arrest was mentioned in Matthew 4:12; the full story of his imprisonment will wait until Matthew 14:3-12.

       

      BARCLAY also reminds us of history, "Herod Antipas of Galilee had paid a visit to his brother in Rome. During that visit he seduced his brother's wife. He came home again, dismissed his own wife, and married the sister-in-law whom he had lured away from her husband. Publicly and sternly John rebuked Herod. It was never safe to rebuke an eastern despot and Herod took his revenge; John was thrown into the dungeons of the fortress of Machaerus in the mountains near the Dead Sea."

       

      Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?

       

      AND REMEMBER FROM OUR STUDY John 1:29-36 and other passages indicated that before this, John clearly recognized Jesus AS the Messiah.

       

      There is some indication that some Jews of that time distinguished between a prophet to come promised by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) and the Messiah.

       

      Verses 4-6 tells us Jesus' answer to John the Baptist's disciples: tell John that prophecy regarding the Messiah is being fulfilled.

       

      "Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."

       

      Go and tell John the things which you hear and see...

       

      Jesus wanted to assure both John and his disciples that He was the Messiah. But He also reminded them that His power would be displayed mostly in humble acts of service, meeting individual needs and not in spectacular displays of political deliverance as many Jewish religious, politcal, and social falsely believed and proclaimed.

       

      Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me...

       

      Jesus knew that the focus of His ministry was offensive to the expectation of the Jewish people, who longed for and expected AMAZING political deliverance from Roman domination IN AN AMAZING WAY THAT RIVALED THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA. But there was a blessing for those who were not offended because of the Messiah who came against the expectation of the people.

       

      Verses 7-15 tells us Jesus speaks about John.

       

      "As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.' Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

       

      A prophet … and more than a prophet...

       

      Jesus reminded them that John was God's chosen herald of the Messiah, not a man-pleaser or a self-pleaser. He was in fact more than a prophet, because he alone had the ministry of serving as the Messiah's herald. For that, he was the greatest of prophets and the greatest of men (among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist).

       

      This is he of whom it is written: Matthew noted that this ministry of the Messiah's herald was prophesied in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1.

       

      CARSON says it well, "John had often borne witness to Jesus; now Jesus bears witness of John."

       

      1. John was steady, not shaken easily like a reed.

      2. John was sober, in that he lived a disciplined life, not in love with the luxuries and comforts of this world.

      3. John was a servant, a prophet of God.

      4. John was sent, as the special messenger of the Lord.

      5. John was special, in that he could be considered the greatest under the Old Covenant.

      6. John was second to even the least in the kingdom under the New Covenant.

       

      He who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he...

       

      The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force...

       

      Jesus' reference to violence refers to both the intensity of spiritual warfare surrounding the ministry of Jesus and His herald, and also to the intensity required to persevere in following God and His the kingdom.

       

      CARSON probably gives the best sense of both expressions. "The kingdom has come with holy power and magnificent energy that has been pushing back the frontiers of darkness. This is especially manifest in Jesus' miracles and ties in with Jesus' response to the Baptist. . . . The kingdom is making great strides; now is the time for courageous souls, forceful people, to take hold of it."

       

      SPURGEON adds, "Frequently complaints are made and surprise expressed by individuals who have never found a blessing rest upon anything they have attempted to do in the service of God. 'I have been a Sunday-school teacher for years,' says one, 'and I have never seen any of my girls or boys converted.' No, and the reason most likely is you have never been violent about it; you have never been compelled by the Divine Spirit to make up your mind that converted they should be, and no stone should be left unturned until they were. You have never been brought by the Spirit to such a passion, that you have said, 'I cannot live unless God bless me. I cannot exist unless I see some of these children saved.' Then, falling on your knees in agony of prayer, and putting forth afterwards your trust with the same intensity towards heaven, you would never have been disappointed, 'for the violent take it by force.'"

       

      For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John...

       

      Jesus saw an era ending with John; all the prophets and the law anticipated John and his ministry as a herald. There is a sense in which John spoke for every prophet who heralded Jesus' coming.

       

      Under the Old Covenant, every other prophet announced, "The Messiah is coming." John alone had the privilege of saying, "The Messiah is here."

       

      And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come...

       

      John may also be seen as Elijah, in a partial fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. John was not actually Elijah, but he served in the same in spirit and power of Elijah, thus fulfilling his "office" (Luke 1:17). Because John was Elijah in this symbolic sense, Jesus added "if you are willing to receive it."

       

      Elijah did come in fact during Jesus' ministry, during the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3). But in further fulfillment of the Malachi 4:5 promise, Elijah will come again before the Second Coming of Jesus, likely as one of the two prophets of Revelation 11:3-12.

       

      He who has ears to hear, let him hear! "A proverbial form of speech often used by Jesus after important utterances, here for the FIRST time in Matthew.

       

      Verses 16-19 tells us Jesus rebukes those who refuse to be pleased by either John the Baptist's or Jesus' ministry.

       

      "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."

       

      But to what shall I liken this generation?...

       

      Jesus here considered the nature of His current generation, and how they were choosy and uncertain in receiving God's message and His messengers.

       

      We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament...

       

      The idea is that those who have a heart to criticize will find something to criticize. Many people wouldn't be pleased with either John or Jesus.

       

      They REFUSED to hear God's voice in either form, the somber or the joyful, in judgment or in mercy, if it did not accord with their conventions. There was NO pleasing them.

       

      A friend of tax collectors and sinners...

       

      Jesus quoted the criticisms of others against Him. Though these words were meant to condemn, they have become wonderful. Jesus really is a friend of … sinners.

       

      A malicious nick-name at first, it is now a name of honour: the sinner's lover.

       

      But wisdom is justified by her children...

       

      However, the wise man is proved to be wise by his wise actions (her children). Jesus had especially in mind the wisdom to accept both Jesus and John for what they were and what were called to be.

       

      People might criticize John, but look at what he did - he led thousands of people into repentance, preparing the way for the Messiah. People might criticize Jesus, but look at what He did - taught and worked and loved and died like no one ever has.

       

      Verses 20-24 tells us Jesus rebukes the cities that did NOT repent in light of both John the Baptist's ministry and Jesus' own ministry.

       

      "Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."

       

      He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent...

       

      Because most of His mighty works were done in these cities they experienced a greater light, which also required a greater accountability.

       

      This principles - greater light means greater responsibility - means that the western world has a tremendous accountability before God. The west has had an access to the gospel that no other society has, yet remains in desperate need of repentance.

       

      "Unresponsiveness to the voice of God is the characteristic of this generation, and will be its downfall."

       

      It will be more tolerable...

       

      When Jesus said that it will be more tolerable for certain cities in the day of judgment, He implied that there are in fact different degrees of judgment. Some will be punished more severely in the final judgment than others.

       

      There are degrees of felicity in paradise and degrees of torment in hell (Matthew 12:41; 23:13; cf. Luke 12:47-48), a point Paul well understood (Romans 1:20-2:16). The implications for Western, English speaking Christendom today are sobering.

       

      Chorazin … Bethsaida … Capernaum...

       

      God's judgment was fulfilled against these cities. Each one of them was destroyed long ago and has been desolate for generations upon generations.

       

      We don't read in the gospels of the great works that Jesus did in Chorazin or Bethsaida, but we are told something in John 21:25: And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. What Jesus did in Chorazin and Bethsaida are among those unwritten works. This is a good reminder that the gospels are a true account of Jesus' life, but He did much that was not included in the gospel records.

       

      BARCLAY says it well, "These cities did not attack Jesus Christ; they did not drive him from their gates; they did not seek to crucify him; they simply disregarded him. Neglect can kill as much as persecution can."

       

      Verses 25-27 tells us Jesus praises those who do receive His message.

       

      "At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."

       

      I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...

       

      We sense a strong note of joy in Jesus' communication with His Father. The persons of the Trinity speak and commune with each other with joy.

       

      You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes...

       

      Jesus was happy that God chosen the unlikely - seen by the world as babes - to respond to His message of the kingdom. This should be seen in the larger context of the rising rejection of Jesus and His messengers starting in Matthew 9.

       

      It also reminds us that if we do respond to Jesus, it is because the Father has revealed these things to babes like us.

       

      Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him...

       

      Since Jesus referred to Himself as the Son, we have another staggering self-focused statement from Jesus. Here He proclaimed that only He had a true relationship with God the Father, and that the Father could only be known through the Son (to whom the Son wills to reveal Him). These are astonishing self-claims.

       

      Matthew 11:27 reveals much to us about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

       

      1. There are no secrets between the Father and the Son.

      2. There is no one who knows the Son as well as the Father does.

      3. There is no one who knows the Father as well as the Son does.

      4. The Son chooses the reveal the Father to some.

       

      There is an important difference in the way that the Son knows the Father, and the way we may know Him. We know God the Father because He stoops low to us to make Himself known. God the Son knows God the Father because they are equal in nature, completely compatible with one another.

       

      Verses 28-30 tells us Jesus' invitation.

       

      "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

       

      Come unto Me...

       

      Jesus showed His authority when He says come unto Me. This invitation is unthinkable in the mouth of anyone else but God, and woe to the men who call people to themselves instead of to Jesus!

       

      SPURGEON says, " 'Come'; he drives none away; he calls them to himself. His favorite word is 'Come.' Not, go to Moses - 'Come unto me.' To Jesus himself we must come, by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, nor ministry are we to come first; but to the personal Saviour."

       

      All you who labor and are heavy laden...

       

      Jesus directed His call to those who were burdened. He called those who sensed they must come to Him to relieve their need instead of living in self-sufficiency.

       

      According to Carson, labor implies the burdens we take upon ourselves and heavy laden implies the burdens others put upon us.

       

      Heavy laden suggests the same thought as Matthew 23:4, where Jesus spoke against the religious leaders of His day as those who bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders.

       

      Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me...

       

      Jesus made a wonderful offer, inviting us to take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. We must come as disciples to learn, willing to be guided by His yoke - not merely to receive something.

       

      The ancient Jews commonly used the idea of yoke to express someone's obligation to God. There was the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of the law, the yoke of the command, the yoke of repentance, the yoke of faith, and the general yoke of God. In this context it is easy to see Jesus simplifying and saying, "Forget about all those other yokes. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me."

       

      When someone looks at the yoke of Jesus from a distance, it is easy to get all kinds of wrong ideas about it. But if we would just listen to what Jesus said - "take My yoke upon you" - we would take it, and see what kind of yoke it is.

       

      1. The yoke of Jesus is easy and light as compared with the yoke of others.

      2. The yoke of Jesus is easy and light as long as we do not rebel against it.

      3. The yoke of Jesus has nothing to do with worries that are forbidden to us.

      4. The yoke of Jesus does not include the burdens we choose to add to it.

       

      For I am gentle and lowly in heart...

       

      Jesus revealed His nature when He described Himself as gentle and lowly of heart. It is His servant's heart, displayed throughout His ministry, making Him qualified to be the one who bears our burdens.

       

      And you will find rest for your souls...

       

      Jesus described His gift to His followers as rest for your soul. This unmatchable gift - both powerful and profound - should be considered the birthright of those who come to Jesus and are His followers. They should believe that something is wrong if they don't experience rest for your souls.

       

      You will find rest for your souls is an echo of the Hebrew text of Jeremiah 6:16, where it is the offer of God to those who follow his way; Jesus now issues the invitation in his own name!

       

      My yoke is easy and My burden is light...

       

      Jesus summarized this wonderful call with this assurance. The yoke is easy and the burden is light because He bears it with us. Borne alone, it might be unbearable; but with Jesus it can be easy and light.

       

      When training a new animal (such as an ox) to plow, ancient farmers often yoked it to an older, stronger, more experienced animal who bore the burden and guided the young animal through the learning process.

       

      "The word "easy" is in Greek "chrestos", which can mean well-fitting. In Palestine ox-yokes were made of wood … The yoke was carefully adjusted, so that it would fit well, and not gall the neck of the patient beast. The yoke was tailor-made to fit the ox."

       

      This isn't a call to a lazy or indulgent life. There is still a yoke to bear and burden to carry. Yet with and in Jesus, they are easy and light. "Jesus' yoke is easy, not because it makes lighter demands, but because it represents entering into a disciple-relationship.

       

      If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, then we can say that it isn't His yoke or burden, and you aren't letting Him bear it with you. Jesus said it plainly: My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:18 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 12

       

      OPENS WITH...THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS CONTINUE TO REJECT JESUS and BRING ABOUT SABBATH CONTROVERSIES.

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The Pharisees CONDEMN JESUS/DISCIPLES for supposedly harvesting grain on the Sabbath.

       

      "At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!"

       

      His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the heads of grain and to eat...

       

      There was NOTHING wrong with what they did, because their gleaning was NOT considered stealing according to Deuteronomy 23:25. The issue was only the day on which they did it. The Rabbis NOT ALMIGHTY GOD NOR HIS WORD, THE RABBIS made an elaborate list of "do" and "don't" items relevant to the Sabbath, and this violated several items on THEIR MAN-CREATED list.

       

      The law of Israel allowed people traveling through an area to glean enough grain for a small meal from fields in the area (Deuteronomy 23:25). Farmers were commanded BY GOD to not completely harvest their crops to leave a little behind for the sake of travelers and the poor.

       

      Matthew just quoted Jesus offering us an easy yoke and a light burden. Now Jesus shows us the kind of heavy burdens and hard yokes the religious leaders laws NOT God's laws put upon the people. When the disciples began to pluck the heads of grain, in the eyes of the religious leaders they were guilty of:

       

      - Reaping

      - Threshing

      - Winnowing

      - Preparing food

      This represented FOUR RABBI CREATED violations of the Sabbath in one mouthful!

       

      WANT TO HEAR THE ABSURDITY OF THESE RABBIS...At this time, many rabbis filled Judaism with elaborate rituals related to the Sabbath and observance of other laws. Ancient rabbis taught that on the Sabbath a man could not carry something in his right hand or in his left hand, across his chest or on his shoulder. But he could carry something with the back of his hand, with his foot, elbow, or in the ear, on the hair, in the hem of his shirt, or in his shoe or sandal. On the Sabbath one was forbidden to tie a knot - except a woman could tie a knot in her girdle. So if a bucket of water had to be raised from a well, one could not tie a rope to the bucket, but a woman could tie her girdle to the bucket and then to the rope.

       

      AND IT CARRIED OVER INTO CONFLICTS TOO...

       

      The Jews were SO superstitious, concerning the observance of the Sabbath, that in their wars with Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Romans, they thought it a UNFORGIVEABLE CRIME even to attempt to defend themselves on the Sabbath: when their enemies observed this, they deterred their operations to that day. It was through this, that Pompey was enabled to take Jerusalem BECAUSE RABBIS TOLD THEM IT WAS A SIN TO LIFT A SWORD OR DEFEND THEMSELVES ON THE SABBATH.

       

      Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!

       

      Jesus NEVER violated God's command to observe the Sabbath or approved of His disciples violating God's Sabbath command. But Jeus OFTEN broke MAN'S RELIGIOUS/LEGALISTIC additions to GOD'S law and JESUS sometimes seems to have deliberately broken those human additions THAT HAD NO PART WHATSOEVER IN THE LORD'S COMMANDS.

       

      Even some Jewish people in Jesus' day recognized that the rules about the Sabbath were mostly human additions to the law. An ancient Jewish writing that said, "The rules about the Sabbath … are as mountains hanging by a hair, for Scripture is scanty and the rules are many."

       

      Verses 3-8 tells us Jesus DEFENDS His disciples.

       

      "But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

       

      Have you not read what David did when he was hungry...

       

      The FIRST PRINCIPLE Jesus presented is simple and illustrated by David's experience with the priests and the showbread (1 Samuel 21), which we have already studied together. Jesus reminded them AND US that human need is MORE important that observing ceremonial rituals AND RULES.

       

      The incident with David was a valid defense, because:

       

      1. It was a case of eating

      2. It probably happened on the Sabbath (1 Samuel 21:6)

      3. It concerned not only David, but also his followers

       

      SPURGEON adds, "The context of David's taking the bread in 1 Samuel 21 shows that it was justified for him to do it. "To have eaten the holy bread out of profanity, or bravado, or levity, might have involved the offender in the judgment of death; but to do so in urgent need was not blameworthy in the case of David."

       

      The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless...

       

      The SECOND PRINCIPLE Jesus presented is also simple. The priests themselves BREAK the Sabbath all the time. Perhaps the Pharisees did NOT understand as much about Sabbath observance as they thought they did.

       

      THINK ABOUT THIS TRUTH OF JESUS.

       

      The Temple rituals ON THE SABBATH ALWAYS involved MUCH work - the kindling of fires, the slaughter and the preparation of animals, the lifting of them on to the altar, and a host of other things BY THE RABBIS. This work was actually DOUBLED on the Sabbath, for on the Sabbath the offerings were doubled (confirmed to us in Numbers 28:9).

       

      Jesus reference to the passage of HOSEA 6:6 "I desire mercy and not sacrifice", and the Pharisees' lack of understanding of this principle was also a way that Jesus questioned the confidence the Pharisees had in their man-made traditions. WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MAN-MADE TRADITIONS ARE NOT GOD'S. THE RABBIS, PRIESTS, AND OTHER RELIGIOUS LEADERS THEN AND NOW, CLAIM THEY ARE SPEAKING FOR GOD HIMSELF, OR WORSE, THAT THEY ARE GOD IN HUMAN FORM AND EQUAL WITH JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF OR MORE ELEVATED. THEN AND NOW, These false preachers/teachers/prophets used their man-created traditions to justify lifting principles like sacrifice above principles like mercy, when God would have them do just the opposite.

       

      For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath...

       

      The THIRD PRINCIPLE was the most dramatic, based on who Jesus is. He is greater than the temple, even as much as they honored and valued the temple. Even more so, He is Lord even of the Sabbath.

       

      This was a direct claim to Deity. Jesus said that He ALONE HAD THE TRUE authority to know if His disciples broke the Sabbath law, because He is the Lord even of the Sabbath.

       

      Jesus was/is indeed greater than the temple. Considering how highly the temple was regarded in the days of Jesus this was a shocking statement. Yet the temple as it stood in Jesus' day did NOT have the ark of the covenant, that important demonstration of the throne and presence of God. Yet Jesus was a MUCH greater PRESENCE AND DEMONSTRATION of the presence of God - He was God made flesh! The temple also lacked the Shekinah, the Urim and Thummim, and the sacred fire from heaven. Yet Jesus WAS/IS/EVER SHALL BE ALL these things to us; He is surely greater than the temple.

       

      Since Jesus is greater than the temple, we should regard Him as so.

       

      1. The temple was admired with love and wonder; we should admire Jesus even more.

       

      2. The temple was joyfully visited; we should come to Jesus with even more joy.

       

      3. The temple was honored as a holy place; we should honor Jesus even more so.

       

      4. The temple was a place of sacrifice and service; we should do even more for Jesus.

       

      5. The temple was a place for worship; we should worship Jesus even more.

       

      Verses 9-14 tells us A controversy regarding healing on the Sabbath.

       

      "Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"; that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him."

       

      He went into their synagogue...

       

      A general theme through this section of Matthew is the rising opposition against Jesus. Sometimes this opposition is expressed against Him directly and sometimes attacks on His disciples. Yet we see that Jesus, as a faithful Jewish man, continued to go to synagogue normally. We might say that Jesus was a faithful church-going man, even when He had reason not to be.

       

      A man who had a withered hand...

       

      At best, the religious leaders saw the man with the withered hand as an interesting test case. It is more likely that they saw the man as bait for a Sabbath controversy trap for Jesus. In contrast, Jesus looked at the man through eyes of compassion.

       

      AND WE NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE. THESE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES KNEW JESUS HEART. THEY KNEW HE WOULD NOT IGNORE THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE. SO, These accusers also knew Jesus would do something when He saw this man in need. In this sense, these critics had more faith than HIS disciples and many of us. We sometimes seem to doubt that Jesus wants to really or miraculously meet the needs of others.

       

      It is lawful to heal on the Sabbath?

       

      Jesus exposed their hypocrisy by showing their greater concern for their OWN possessions than for a man in need, arguing persuasively that it CAN NOT be wrong to do good on the Sabbath. Then Jesus compassionately healed the man.

       

      Stretch out your hand...

       

      When Jesus commanded the man "stretch out your hand," He commanded the man to do something impossible in his current condition. But Jesus gave both the command and the ability to fulfill it, and the man put forth the effort and was healed.

       

      Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him...

       

      In response to this display of compassion, power, and wisdom the Pharisees, in the hardness of their hearts did NOT respond in reverent worship and submission but in hardened, murderous rejection.

       

      RIGHT HERE IS ANOTHER OF MANY SELF-SAME ANSWERS TO THOSE WHO SAY, IF JESUS APPEARED, IF JESUS TOUCHED ME, IF HE REVEALED HIMSELF TO ME...IF JESUS PERFORMED A MIRACLE...THEN I WOULD BELIEVE.

       

      THEN AND NOW...JESUS KNEW AND SO SHOULD WE THAT THAT IS A LIE.

       

      This is a significant development in the opposition against Jesus from the religious leaders. "Hitherto, they had been content with finding fault; now it is come to plotting against His life - a tribute to His power… Such is the evil fruit of Sabbath controversies.

       

      Luke 6:11 says that the critics of Jesus were filled with rage when Jesus healed this man. Which was more a violation of the Sabbath: When Jesus healed a man, or when these hate-filled men plotted the murder of a Jesus who never sinned against anybody?

       

      Verses 15-21 tells us In spite of the rejection of the religious leaders, the common people still follow Jesus, and He remains God's chosen servant.

       

      "But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust."

       

      But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there...

       

      For a time Jesus withdrew somewhat from public ministry as the opposition rose against Him. This was not out of cowardice as many wrongly point to and say, but we know The Bible and Jesus himself tells us it was in respect to God the Father's timing for the course and culmination of His ministry. It could not be allowed to peak too soon.

       

      And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all...

       

      Jesus did what He could to escape the press of the crowds, but the crowds simply followed Him. Nevertheless, He responded with compassion and He healed them all.

       

      CAN WE REALLY BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND "AND JESUS HEALED THEM ALL"...

       

      THE GREAT MULTITUDES THAT FOLLOWED HIM. ONE BY ONE BY ONE JESUS HEALED THEM ALL. THOSE OF US WHO HAVE WORKED IN OUTREACHES, FOOD BANKS, HOMELESS KITCHENS ARE PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTED AFTER ONE DAY OF WORK. BUT OUR JESUS NOT ONLY TAUGHT THEM, FED THEM, PROTECTED THEM, PRAYED FOR THEM, BUT TOUCHED AND HEALED THEM ALL.

       

      IT MAKES ME SAD AND ANGRY WHEN I READ THESE PASSAGES. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT JESUS MAY HAVE TOUCHED/HEALED/MET OVER A MILLION PEOPLE IN 3+ YEARS..

       

      AND SADLY MOST FOLLOWED HIM TO BE FED, PROTECTED, AND HEALED...BUT SCRIPTURE GIVES US VERY VERY FEW OUT OF A MILLION DO WE SEE THEM SAYING THANK YOU JESUS FOR FEEDING US, FOR TEACHING US, FOR PROTECTING US, FORGIVING US, AND HEALING US AND FEWER STILL CHOSE AND ACCEPTED JESUS CHRIST AS LORD SAVIOR MASTER AND FRIEND.

       

      AND SADDER STILL, REMEMBER THIS...JESUS READ AND KNEW THEIR HEARTS AND KNEW THOSE WHO WOULD CHOOSE HIM AND BELIEVE IN HIM AS LORD AND THOSE WHO ONLY WANTED WHAT HE COULD GIVE HIM, BUT THEY DID NOT WANT HIM.

       

      YET EVEN KNOWING THIS...OUR JESUS HEALED THEM ALL.

       

      CAN ANYONE...I MEAN ANYONE DOUBT THE LOVE, THE CARE, THE FORGIVENESS, THE COMPASSION, THE PATIENCE OF OUR JESUS WITH US, WHO ARE HIS FAMILY AFTER READING THIS?

       

      This is one of the few references in the gospels of Jesus healing all on a specific occasion, yet it is important and appropriate here. Matthew wants us to know that the press of the crowd did not make Jesus impatient or angry.

       

      Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen...

       

      The quotation from Isaiah 42:1-5 speaks of the gentle character of the Messiah, who is the Servant of Yahweh. This was a common and important designation of Jesus.

       

      Jesus described Himself as a servant in Matthew 20:25-28, Matthew 23:11, Mark 9:35, Mark 10:43-45.

       

      Peter, in his Acts 3 sermon, gives our Savior the title His Servant Jesus (Acts 3:13 and 3:26).

       

      In Acts 4, the praying people of God speak of Your holy Servant Jesus (Acts 4:27, 4:30).

       

      But Jesus isn't just a servant. He is The Servant, and every one should behold, as the LORD says, My Servant.

       

      Jesus the Servant is an example to us as servants, but He is so much more than that. He is our Servant. He serves us; not only in what He did in the past, but also He serves us every day through His constant love, care, guidance, prayer, and intercession. Jesus did not stop serving when he went to heaven; He serves all His people more effectively than ever from heaven.

       

      He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets...

       

      This does NOT mean that Jesus never spoke loudly. It refers to His gentle, lowly heart and actions. Jesus did NOT make His way by an overpowering personality and loud, overwhelming talk. Instead, Jesus made an impression upon others by the Spirit of God upon Him.

       

      A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench...

       

      This is another reference to the gentle character of Jesus. A reed is a fairly fragile plant, yet if a reed is bruised the Servant will handle it so gently that He will not break it. And if flax, used as a wick for an oil lamp does not flame but only smokes He will not quench it into extinguishing. Instead, the Servant will gently nourish the smoking flax, fanning it into flame again.

       

      Often we feel that God deals roughly with our weaknesses and failures. Just the opposite is true. He deals with them gently, tenderly, helping them along until the bruised reed is strong and the smoking flax is in proper flame.

       

      Jesus sees the value in a bruised reed, even when no one else can. He can make beautiful music come from a bruised reed, as He puts His strength in it! Though a smoking flax - used for a wick on an oil lamp - is good for nothing, Jesus knows it is valuable for what it can be when it is refreshed with oil.

       

      Many of us are like the bruised reed, and we need to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).

       

      Others are like the smoking flax, and can only burn brightly for the LORD again when we are drenched in oil, with a constant supply coming, as we are filled with the Holy Spirit WORD.

       

      In His name Gentiles will trust...

       

      Finally, the quotation from Isaiah 42 also speaks of the ultimate ministry of Jesus to the Gentiles. This was something surprising - and perhaps even offensive - to Matthew's Jewish readers, but it is obviously Scriptural, according to Isaiah 42.

       

      WHY?

       

      BECAUSE THE JEWISH LEADERS, PRIESTS WRONGLY TAUGHT AND BELIEVED THAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE WERE THE ONLY ONES AUTOMATICALLY DESTINED TO SPEND ETERNITY IN HEAVEN. THEY TAUGHT THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES WORTHY OF HEAVEN. THAT ALL OTHER PEOPLES, PAGANS/GENTILES, EVEN HALF-JEWS LIKE THE SAMARITANS WERE DESTINED TO HELL FROM BIRTH.

       

      Verses 22-24 tells us Jesus delivers a man possessed by a demon.

       

      "Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."

       

      He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw...

       

      Again, Jesus displayed His complete power and authority over demons, casting out demonic powers that the traditions of the day considered impossible.

       

      Could this be the Son of David?

       

      The crowds reacted with Messianic expectation, but the religious leaders responded by attributing Jesus' power to the prince of demons (This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub).

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE JEWS LEARNED THE SCRIPTURES/GOD'S HISTORY WITH THEM BY THEIR RABBIS/PRIESTS SYNAGAGOUES. THEY WERE EXPECTING THE MESSIAH TO ARRIVE IN SPLENDOR, WONDER, ALL OF HEAVEN'S WARRIORS ANGELS IN ATTENDANCE, TO RIVAL HEARING GOD'S VOICE ON MOUNT SINAI AND THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA AND THE PLAGUES ON EGYPT.

       

      THE JEWS DID NOT WANT A SAVIOR...THEY WANTED A LIBERATOR. THE ONE WHO WOULD DESTROY ALL THEIR ENEMIES AND SET THEM UP AS WORLD LEADERS.

       

      SO THEY CHOSE TO BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS SATAN.

       

      So, The Pharisees' accusation amounts to a charge of sorcery, one which continued to be leveled against Jesus all the days of His ministry on this earth.

       

      Verses 25-29 tells us Jesus answers the accusation that He works by Satan's power.

       

      "But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house."

       

      But Jesus knew their thoughts...

       

      This was remarkable, but we know The Holy Spirit can give the gift of supernatural knowledge to an individual (the word of knowledge mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8).

       

      Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation...

       

      Jesus logically observed that it makes no sense for Satan to cast out Satan. The Pharisees needed to explain how Satan benefited by the work Jesus had just done.

       

      By whom do your sons cast them out?

       

      Jesus asked a question based on their (wrong) premise that He operated by Satan's power. If that were true, then how did their own Jewish exorcists cast them out?

       

      BRUCE tells us, "The Jewish exorcists operated in conventional fashion by use of herbs and magical formulae, and the results were probably insignificant. The practice was sanctioned by custom, and harmless. But in casting out devils, as in all other things, Jesus was original, and His method was too effectual. His power, manifest to all, was His offence."

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Envy causes persons often to condemn in one, what they approve in another. I cast out demons by the Spirit of God: "Though our Lord had power all his own, he honored the Spirit of God, and worked by his energy, and mentioned the fact that he did so."

       

      And then he will plunder his house...

       

      Using an analogy, Jesus explained His authority to bind Satan's power. He is stronger than the strong man is. In so doing, Jesus presented a valuable principle in spiritual warfare as we remember that Jesus gives us the permission to USE His name and authority, giving us the strength we need in binding the strong man.

       

      Jesus also made it clear that He was the stronger man who was not captive under the strong man. His message was, "I'm not under Satan's power. Instead, I'm proving that I am stronger than he is by casting him out of those he has possessed." "The very fact that I have been able so successfully to invade Satan's territory is proof that he is bound and powerless to resist."

       

      Jesus looks at every life delivered from Satan's domination and says, "I'm plundering the kingdom of Satan one life at a time." There is nothing in our life that must stay under Satan's domination. The One who binds the strong man and will plunder his goods is our risen Lord.

       

      Verses 30-32 tells us Jesus reveals the desperate place of those who could be hardened enough to attribute His workings to Satanic power.

       

      "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."

       

      He who is not with Me is against Me...

       

      Jesus first removed illusions about any neutral response to Him or His work. If one is not for Him, then that one is against Him. If one does not work with Jesus, by either active opposition or passive disregard that one works against Jesus (he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad).

       

      Only two forces are at work in the world, the gathering and the scattering. Whoever does the one contradicts the other.

       

      The atheist says there is no God so there is nothing to fear.

      The agnostic says if there is a God, he will not condemn me.

      Religions say my god is fill in the blank...., I have nothing to fear.

      New Age says god is whatever I make him or her to be, so I am fine.

      Jesus says you have two choices. Heaven or Hell. Eternal Life or Eternal Death. You must choose. You are either with me and me alone or you are against me.

       

      Blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven...

       

      Jesus solemnly warned the religious leaders against rejecting Him. Their rejection of Jesus - especially considered what they had seen of Jesus and His work - showed that they were to completely rejecting the Holy Spirit's ministry. That ministry is to testify to Jesus, hence the warning of committing the unforgivable sin.

       

      The Holy Spirit's main ministry is to testify of Jesus (He will testify of Me, John 15:26). When that testimony of Jesus is fully and finally rejected, one has truly blasphemed the Holy Spirit and essentially called Him a liar in respect to His testimony about Jesus. The religious leaders were close to this.

       

      To reject Jesus from a distance or with little information is bad; to reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit about Jesus is fatal.

       

      The presence of Creator God is imbued in our very DNA. We are created with a knowledge of God.

       

      It will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come...

       

      The eternal consequences of this sin force us to regard it seriously.

      Therefore, how can one know if they have in fact blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

       

      The fact that one desires Jesus at all shows that they are NOT guilty of this sin. Yet continued rejection of Jesus makes us more hardened against Him and puts us on the path of a full and final rejection of Him.

       

      Some people - as a joke or a dare - "I reject you Jesus. There is no Creator God" intentionally say words they suppose commit the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit. They think it a light thing to joke with eternity. Yet true blasphemy against the Spirit is more than a formula of words; it is a settled disposition of life that rejects the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding Jesus. Even if someone has intentionally said such things, they can still repent and prevent a settled rejection of Jesus.

       

      Verses 33-37 tells us The words of the religious leaders betray the depravity of their hearts.

       

      "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

       

      A tree is known by its fruit...

       

      The bad fruit of their words (when they condemned Jesus) betrayed the bad root growing in their hearts. If they got their hearts right with God, their words about Jesus would also be right.

       

      Brood of vipers! With these words, Jesus essentially called the religious leaders "sons of Satan." They were a generation associated with the serpent, not with God. It was this evil nature that made them speak evil of Jesus (How can you, being evil, speak good things?).

       

      Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...

       

      Our words reveal our heart. If there were good treasure in the heart of these religious leaders, it would show itself in good things.

       

      Adam Clarke said that the sense of the ancient Greek word used for an idle word is "a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it." If this is true, many preachers might find themselves guilty of this sin.

       

      By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned...

       

      By this Jesus answered an anticipated objection - that He made too much of mere words. Instead, because words reflect the heart, one can be rightly judged by their words.

       

      ROMANS 10:9, Paul also wrote about the importance of our words: "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

       

      Verses 38-40 tells us Jesus responds to the request from the scribes and Pharisees for a sign.

       

      "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

       

      Teacher, we want to see a sign from You...

       

      My first thought upon reading this scripture the first time was Duhhhhhh?! You have followed Jesus everywhere. You have seen first hand countless miracles with your own eyes. The blind see. The lepers are healed. The lame walk. The dead rise. The ill are healed. And yet you NEED a sign?!

       

      Their desire to see a sign really expressed feigned sincerity and inward ridicule and sneering mockery, as another way in which they hoped to reject Him. If Jesus did provide a sign, they would find some way to speak against it, thus proving to themselves that Jesus was who they already thought He was - an emissary of Satan.

       

      An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign...

       

      Jesus condemned their seeking after a sign, especially when countless signs had already happened before their eyes. It is easy to overestimate the power of miraculous signs to change the heart of doubters and skeptics.

       

      The sign of the prophet Jonah...

       

      Jesus assured them of a sign, but the great sign He would show was the sign of a resurrected Jesus. Jonah was a prophet in the sense beyond his preaching to Nineveh; also, his life was a prophecy of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

       

      As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish...

       

      Jonah was indeed a picture of the work of Jesus. Jonah gave his life to appease the wrath of God coming upon others. But death did not hold him; after three days and nights of imprisonment, he was alive and free. This is a glorious picture of Jesus in an unexpected place.

       

      Because Jesus here refers to three days and three nights, some think that Jesus had to spend at least 72 hours in the grave. This upsets most chronologies of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and is unnecessary - because it doesn't take into account the use of ancient figures of speech. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (around the year A.D. 100; cited in Clarke and other sources) explained this way of speaking when he wrote: "A day and a night make a whole day, and a portion of a whole day is reckoned as a whole day." This demonstrates how in Jesus' day, the phrase three days and three nights did not necessarily mean a full 72-hour period, but a period including at least the portions of three days and three nights. There may be other good reasons for challenging the traditional chronology of Jesus' death and resurrection, but it is not necessary in order to fulfill the words of Jesus here.

       

      If Jesus rose from the dead on the first day or on the fifth day, we could say "Jesus was a liar and a false prophet. He said He would rise again on the third day, but He got it wrong." But Jesus didn't get it wrong. He never does.

       

      Yet we should not miss the central point here. "You are asking for a sign - I am God's sign. You have failed to recognize me. The Ninevites recognized God's warning in Jonah; the Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon."

       

      Verses 41-42 tells us Jesus announces the condemnation of the religious leaders at the hands of the Ninevites and the queen of the South.

       

      "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here."

       

      The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it...

       

      Simply put, greater light requires greater judgment. Both Nineveh and the queen of the South repented even though they had a lesser light shining in their midst. The rejection of the greater light by the religious leaders was indefensible.

       

      Several ways that the witness of Jesus was greater than Jonah.

       

      1. Christ, who preached to the Jews, was infinitely greater than Jonah, in his nature, person, and mission.

       

      2. Jonah preached repentance in Nineveh only forty days, and Christ preached among the Jews for several years.

       

      3. Jonah wrought no miracles to authorize his preaching; but Christ wrought miracles every day, in every place where he went, and of every kind.

       

      4. Notwithstanding all this, the people of Judea did not repent, though the people of Nineveh did."

       

      A greater than Solomon is here...

       

      Solomon was the son of David, and one of the great messianic titles of Jesus is "Son of David." Jesus was a much greater Son of David than Solomon was.

       

      We again are impressed by the greatness of Jesus' self-claim. To stand in front of these religious leaders and claim to be greater than Israel richest and wisest king was audacious. Yet the seeming audacity of Jesus was well justified.

       

      Verses 43-45 tells us The dangerous consequences of their rejection of Jesus.

       

      "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."

       

      When an unclean spirit goes out of a man...

       

      In context, the main point of Jesus was not upon principles of demon possession. He explained the seriousness of rejecting Him as completely as the religious leaders had.

       

      This rejection and opposition of Jesus would leave them much worse off than ever before. This wicked generation - exemplified by the religious leaders who were rejecting Jesus - would find their last state … worse than the first. In large measure they rejected Jesus because He wasn't messianic enough for their taste, in the sense of being a political and military messiah. Yet their thirst for this kind of messiah would lead them to ruin by A.D. 70.

       

      Yet the use of the illustration shows us some interesting principles of demon possession, and shows us that Jesus regarded it as a real phenomenon and not just a contemporary superstition. "If there had been no reality in demoniacal possession

    • February 24, 2018 7:15 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 13

       

      OPENS WITH...THE KINGDOM PARABLES

       

       

      Verses 1-3 tells us Jesus teaches with Parable of the soils.

       

      "On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables,"

       

      He got into a boat and sat...

       

      Jesus sometimes used a boat as His "pulpit" (Mark 2:9). It gave Him a place to speak away from the press of the crowds, provided good acoustics, and probably a nice backdrop.

       

      When Jesus taught from a boat, surely that was a new thing. We can imagine some critic saying, "You can't do that! Teaching belongs in the synagogue or in some other appropriate place." It would be easy to come up with objections: "The damp air might make people sick" or "There are a lot of mosquitoes down at the shore" or "Someone might drown." But Jesus knew that teaching from a boat suited His purposes well enough.

       

      BARCLAY says it well, "When the doors of the synagogue were closed against him, he took to the temple of the open air, and taught in the village streets, and on the roads, and by the lake-side, and in their own homes."

       

      Then He spoke many things to them in parables...

       

      The idea behind the word parable is "to throw along side of." It is a story thrown along side the truth intended to teach. Parables have been called "earthly stories with a heavenly meaning."

       

      Jesus' parables had a double advantage upon their hearers:

       

      FIRST...upon their memory, we being very apt to remember stories. SECOND...upon their minds, to put them upon studying the meaning of what they heard.

       

      PARABLES generally teach one main point or principle. We can get into trouble by expecting that they be intricate systems of theology, with the smallest detail revealing hidden truths.

       

      AND REMEMBER THIS...

       

      A parable is NOT an allegory; an allegory is a story in which every possible detail has an inner meaning; but an allegory has to be read and studied. A parable is heard. We must be very careful not to make allegories of the parables.

       

      Jesus taught in simple, easy to understand parables, so even the many children who came with their parents and surrounded Him COULD understand the story,

       

      Verses 3b-9 tells us A simple story about a farmer and sowing seeds.

       

      "Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

       

      A sower went out to sow...Jesus spoke according to the agricultural customs of His day. In those days, seed was scattered first and then it was plowed into the ground.

       

      AND REMEMBER THIS...Before one can be a sower, he must be an eater and a receiver. This one came out of the granary - the place where seed is stored - and from his Bible the sower brought forth seed.

       

      As he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside … on stony places … among thorns … on good ground...

       

      In this parable the seed fell on FOUR different types of soil.

       

      1. The WAYSIDE was the path where people walked and nothing could grow because the ground was too hard.

       

      2. The STONY places were where the soil was thin, lying upon a rocky shelf. On this ground the seed springs up quickly because of the warmth of the soil, but the seed is unable to take root because of the rocky shelf.

       

      3. Among THORNS describes soil that is fertile - perhaps too fertile, but uncared for, because thorns grow there as well as grain.

       

      4. GOOD GROUND describes soil that is both fertile and weed-free. A good, productive crop grows in the good ground.

       

      He who has ears to hear, let him hear...

       

      This was a not a call for all to listen. Rather, it was a call for those who were spiritually sensitive to take special note. This was especially true in light of the next few verses, in which Jesus explained the purpose of parables.

       

      Verses 10-17 tells us Why did Jesus use parables? In this context, to hide the truth from those who would not listen to the Holy Spirit.

       

      "And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.' But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."

       

      Why do You speak to them in parables? The way Jesus used parables prompted the disciples to ask this. Apparently Jesus' use of parables wasn't as easy as simple illustrations of spiritual truth.

       

      AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER, ALL THROUGH JESUS MINISTRY ON EARTH, PRIESTS, PHARISEES, SCRIBES, AND SADDUCCEES FOLLOWED HIM, EITHER AS SPIES FOR THE SANHEDRIN OR LIKE HECKLING PROTESTERS WHO SPOKE OUT, CHALLENGED, MUTTERED LOUD ENOUGH THAT OTHERS AROUND THEM HEARD THEIR THOUGHTS. AND WE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT THEY THE ELITE, THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THEIR DAY WORE THE BEST CLOTHING AND WERE EASILY RECOGNIZED BY THE POOREST OF PEOPLE.

       

      SO MANY OF JESUS' WORDS WERE SPEAKING TO THOSE WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THE BIBLE, BECAUSE THEY SUPPOSEDLY STUDIED IT, TAUGHT IT, AND UNDERSTOOD IT, AND YET FOR ALL THE MULTITUDES WHO FOLLOWED JESUS, THIS WAS NEW MATERIAL. THEY HAD NOT BEEN TAUGHT THE WHOLE WORD OF THE LORD GOD AS THEY SHOULD HAVE.

       

      Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given...

       

      Jesus explained that He used parables so that the hearts of those rejecting would NOT be hardened further.

       

      1. The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay; and so the very same gospel message that humbles the honest heart and leads to repentance may also harden the heart of the dishonest listener and confirm that one in their path of disobedience.

       

      BARCLAY says it well, "The parable conceals truth from those who are either too lazy to think or too blinded by prejudice to see. It puts the responsibility fairly and squarely on the individual. It reveals truth to him who desires truth; it conceals truth from him who does not wish to see the truth."

       

      AND REMEMBER TOO…

       

      TOO MANY PREACHERS AND EVANGELISTS TALK ABOUT GOD REVEALING ALL THE NEW MYSTERIES AND NEW REVELATIONS TO THEM. THERE ARE NO NEW MYSTERIES AND NO NEW REVELATIONS OUTSIDE THE BIBLE. THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE...JUST AS JESUS INTENDED. JUST AS PROPHETS PROPHESIED JUDGMENT AND FUTURE THINGS/EVENTS TO THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM, MOST DID NOT LIVE TO SEE THEIR FULFILLMENT.

       

      JESUS COMING AND WALKING AMONG MANKIND WAS THE ANSWER TO THE UNSEEN, UNKNOWN MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM AND OF THE PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

       

      For whoever has, to him more will be given …but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him...

       

      The idea is that those who are open and sensitive to spiritual truth more will be given through the parables. Yet to those who are not open - who do not have, these ones will end up in an even worse condition.

       

      AS I AM SURE YOU WHO LOVE AND STUDY THE BIBLE HAVE HEARD THIS BEFORE. "I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. I HAVE TRIED TO READ IT AND GIVEN UP."

       

      SO I RESPOND WITH A SIMPLE ANALOGY AND ANSWER SUCH AS THIS: WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND BEGAN LEARNING THE ALPHABET, SPELLING, COUNTING, OR READING, DID YOU INSTANTLY UNDERSTAND, GRASP, REMEMBER, AND BECOME INSTANTLY ABLE TO READ? SPELL? COUNT? MULTIPLY?

       

      AND THEIR ANSWER IS: OF COURSE NOT. THAT IS A RIDICULOUS QUESTION. EVERYONE HAS TO STUDY, REPEAT, LEARN IT OVER TIME.

       

      I RESPONDED, EXACTLY. IT WAS IMPORTANT TO YOUR PRESENT AND FUTURE WELL-BEING, YOUR LIFE, YOUR JOB, YOUR FAMILY, AND YOUR PROTECTION AND YOUR INCOME TO LEARN AND UNDERSTAND.

       

      THE BIBLE IS NO DIFFERENT. IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND IT. ASK JESUS TO HELP YOU. THEN BEGIN WITH THE BEGINNING AND READ EACH VERSE AND EACH CHAPTER IN ITS ENTIRETY.

       

      YOU KNOW THERE ARE MANY "READ THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" SCHEDULES OUT THERE. AND WHILE I THINK THE CREATORS OF THEM, INTENTS WERE GOOD, I SEE SATAN BEHIND IT.

       

      WHY?

       

      LET ME PUT IT IN SIMPLE TERMS. KIDS LOVE STORIES AND SO DO ADULTS. IMAGINE BUYING A NOVEL. THEN READING THE FIRST PAGE, THEN SKIP FORWARD AND READ THE 20TH PAGE, AND THEN SKIP FORWARD AND READ THE 150TH PAGE, AND THEN THE LAST PAGE. ALL THIS HOPPING AROUND, BACK AND FORTH. COULD YOU POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND THE NOVEL? KNOW THE CHARACTERS? THE PEOPLE INVOLVED? WHY THINGS HAPPENED? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

       

      THE BIBLE IS NO DIFFERENT. CHERRY PICKING SINGLE VERSES OUT OF A CHAPTER DO NOT A COMPLETE CHAPTER STUDY AND UNDERSTANDING MAKE.

       

      I FORGET WHO SAID IT, BUT IT MAY HAVE BEEN SPURGEON WHO SAID, "THE DEVIL DOES NOT CARE IF YOU HAVE A BIBLE IN YOUR HOME, OR EVEN READ CHOICE SCRIPTURES FOR IT, BUT THE DEVIL DOES FEAR YOU TAKING THE TIME TO READ IT, VERSE BY VERSE, CHAPTER BY CHAPTER, BECAUSE YOU WILL LEARN, YOU WILL SEE, YOU WILL UNDERSTAND. AND WITH UNDERSTANDING COMES WISDOM OF EXACTLY WHO JESUS CHRIST IS. WHY WE NEED JESUS, AND WHAT OUR FUTURE IN HIM HOLDS FOR US."

       

      Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand...

       

      In this sense, the parables of Jesus were not illustrations making difficult things clear to all who heard. They were a way of presenting God's message so the spiritually sensitive could understand, but the hardened would merely hear a story without heaping up additional condemnation for rejecting God's Word.

       

      Parables are an example of God's mercy towards the hardened. The parables were given in the context of the Jewish leaders' building rejection of. In this sense they were examples of mercy given to the undeserving.

       

      And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled...

       

      By speaking in parables Jesus also fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, speaking in a way that the hardened would hear but not hear and see but not see.

       

      SPURGEON says, "They did not really see what they saw, nor hear what they heard. The plainer the teaching, the more they were puzzled by it. They had become so morally and spiritually diseased, that the only thing they would notice was the attractive dress of a truth; for the truth itself they had no liking and no perception."

       

      But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear...

       

      In light of this, those who do understand the parables of Jesus are genuinely blessed. Not only do they gain the benefit of the spiritual truth illustrated, but they also display some measure of responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.

       

      Verses 18-23 tells us The PARABLE OF THE SOWER explained: EACH SOIL REPRESENTS 1 OF 4 RESPONSES TO THE WORD of the kingdom.

       

      "Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

       

      THESE VERSES RIGHT HERE HAVE BEEN TWISTED AND DISTORTED BY FAR TOO MANY FALSE PREACHERS, TEACHERS, & EVANGELISTS TO SPEAK TO PERSONAL MONETARY HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE. MIKE MURDOCK, THE CROUCHES, BENNY HINN, JOYCE MEYER, THE COPELANDS, THE OSTEENS, TD JAKES, CREFLO DOLLAR, MARCUS & JONI LAMB, JOSEPH PRINCE, PETER POPOFF... JUST TO NAME A FEW OF THE FAMOUS/WEALTHY FALSE PREACHERS, TEACHERS, & EVANGELISTS...WHO SAY...I AM THE GOOD SOIL. SO A SEED INTO MY MINISTRY AND YOU WILL BE BLESSED. ARE YOU SICK, NEED MONEY, A JOB, ETC. ETC....SOW YOUR BEST MONEY SEED INTO MY MINISTRY AND YOU WILL RECEIVE WHAT YOU HAVE ASKED FOR.

       

      THIS SCRIPTURE OF SOWING AND THE SOILS SPEAKS ABOUT THOSE WHO WILL RECEIVE JESUS WORD AND HIS SALVATION AND WHO WILL NOT. THIS SCRIPTURE SPEAKS TO THOSE WHO PLOW THE GROUND OF THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS WITH JESUS WORD INTO THEIR HEARTS WHERE IT WILL THRIVE, GROW, BRING WISDOM, AND UNDERSTANDING OF HIS WORD AND WHO WILL NOT.

       

      This is he who received seed by the wayside...

       

      As the birds devoured the seed on the wayside (Matthew 13:4), so some receive the word with hardened hearts and the wicked one quickly snatches away the sown word. The word has no effect because it never penetrates and is quickly taken away.

       

      The wayside soil represents those who never really hear the word with understanding. The word of God must be understood before it can truly bear fruit. One of Satan's chief works is to keep men in darkness regarding their understanding of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

       

      On stony places...

       

      As seed falling on the thin soil on top of the stony places quickly springs up and then quickly withers and dies (Matthew 13:5-6), so some respond to the word with immediate enthusiasm yet soon wither away.

       

      This soil represents those who receive the word enthusiastically, but their life is short-lived, because they are not willing to endure tribulation or persecution … because of the word.

       

      AND WE SEE SICK PEOPLE, LOST PEOPLE, NEEDY PEOPLE PLANTING SEEDS, MANY THEIR LAST FEW DOLLARS OR GOING IN DEBT ON THEIR CREDIT CARD IN HOPES OF A HEALING, BLESSING, RICHES, AND MANY THINGS PROMISED BY THESE PREACHERS TO ONLY HAVE NOTHING HAPPEN. NO HEALING, NO JOBS, NO FINANCIAL WINDFALL..AND THEY BLAME THE LORD JESUS AND WANT NO PART OF HIS WORD...WHEN THEY SHOULD BE BLAMING THESE FALSE PREACHERS AND WALKING AWAY FROM THEM.

       

      FRANCE says it well, "Tribulation is a general term for suffering which comes from outside; persecution is deliberately inflicted, and usually implies a religious motive. Falls away is literally 'is tripped up'; it is not a gradual loss of interest, but a collapse under pressure."

       

      Among the thorns...

       

      As seed falling among thorns would grow the stalks of grain among the thorns yet soon be choked out (Matthew 13:7), so some respond to the word and grow for a while, but are choked and stopped in their spiritual growth by competition from unspiritual things.

       

      This soil represents fertile ground for the word; but their soil is too fertile, because it also grows all sorts of other things that choke out the word of God. Namely, it is the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke the word.

       

      Good ground...

       

      As seed falling on good ground brings a good crop of grain (Matthew 13:8), so some respond rightly to the word and bear much fruit.

       

      This soil represents those who receive the word, and it bears fruit in their soil - in differing proportions (some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty), though each has a generous harvest.

       

      Therefore, hear the parable of the sower...

       

      We benefit from seeing bits of ourselves in all four soils.

       

      HOW?

       

      1. Like the wayside, sometimes we allow the word no room at all in our lives.

       

      2. Like the stony places, we sometimes have flashes of enthusiasm in receiving the word that quickly burn out.

       

      3. Like the soil among thorns, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are constantly threatening to choke out God's word and our fruitfulness.

       

      4. Like the good ground, the word bears fruit in our lives.

       

      We notice that the difference in each category was with the soil itself. The same seed was cast by the same sower. You could not blame the differences in results on the sower or on the seed, but only on the soil.

       

      The parable was also an encouragement to the disciples. Even though it might seem that few respond, God is in control and the harvest will certainly come. This was especially meaningful in light of the rising opposition to Jesus. Not all will respond, but there will be some who do, and the harvest will be rich.

       

      Even more than describing the mixed progress of the gospel message, the parable of the sower compels the listener to ask, "What kind of soil am I?.

       

      Verses 24-30 tells us Parables of corruption among the kingdom community. The parable of the wheat and the tares.

       

      "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

       

      His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat...

       

      This parable describes the work of an enemy who tried to destroy the work of the man who sowed good seed in his field. The enemy's purpose in sowing tares among the wheat was to destroy the wheat. But the wise farmer would not allow the enemy to succeed. Instead, the farmer decided to sort it out at harvest time.

       

      We note that this parable clearly describes corruption among the people of God. Just as in the previous parable, the wheat represents the people of God. Some corrupting influence is brought, and an influence that may look genuine even as tares may resemble real wheat.

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...The weeds are probably darnel, a poisonous plant related to wheat and virtually indistinguishable from it until the ears form.

       

      AND FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVE FARMS AND/OR GARDENS, WE KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE. WHEN THE SEEDS WE PLANTED FIRST PUSH THEIR WAY ABOVE GROUND AND INTO THE SUNLIGHT, MOST OF THE TIME, WE CAN NOT REALLY KNOW WHICH ARE GOOD PLANTS AND WHICH ARE WEEDS UNTIL THEY GROW TALLER AND BLOOM FULLER. THEN WE CAN KNOW THE WEEDS FROM THE VEGETABLES.

       

      Lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them...

       

      In the interest in preserving and protecting the wheat, the wise farmer did not separate the tares from the wheat until the time of harvest.

       

      The wise farmer recognized that the ultimate answer to tares among the wheat would only come at the final harvest.

       

      Knowing the explanation of this parable as explained in Matthew 13:36-43, we understand why Jesus said it right after explaining the parable of the sower, especially with the seed that grew up among the thorns. But one might ask whether the Messiah's people should immediately separate the crop from the weeds; and this next parable answers the question negatively: there will be a delay in separation until the harvest.

       

       

      Verses 31-32 tells us The PARABLE of the MUSTARD seed.

       

      "Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

       

      The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed … when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree...

       

      Some - or even most - regard this as a description of the growth and eventual dominance of the church, the kingdom community. Yet in light of both the parable itself and the context of the parables both before and after, this should be regarded as another description of CORRUPTION in the kingdom community, just as the previous parable of the wheat and the tares described (Matthew 13:24-30).

       

      CLARKE is a good example of the majority opinion on the meaning of this parable and the one following: "Both these parables are prophetic, and were intended to show, principally, how, from very small beginnings, the Gospel of Christ should pervade all the nations of the world, and fill them with righteousness and true holiness."

       

      When it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches...

       

      Again, many or even most regard this as a beautiful picture of the church growing so large that it provides refuge for all of the world. But this mustard seed plant has grown unnaturally large, and it harbors birds - which, the in previous parables, were emissaries of Satan (Matthew 13:4, 13:19).

       

      Becomes a tree...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...The mustard plant customarily never grows beyond what one would call a bush, and at its normal size be an unlikely place for bird's nests. The tree-like growth from this mustard seed describes something unnatural.

       

      FRANCE suggests, "The language suggests that Jesus was thinking of the Old Testament use of the tree as an image for a great empire (see especially Ezekiel 17:23; 31:3-9; Daniel 4:10-12)."

       

      This was a tree, "Not in nature but in size; an excusable exaggeration in a popular discourse. . . . it serves admirably to express the thought of a growth beyond expectation. Who would expect so tiny a seed to produce such a large herb, a monster in the garden?"

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      This parable accurately describes what the kingdom community became in the decades and centuries after the Christianization of the Roman Empire. In those centuries the church grew abnormally large in influence and dominion, and was a nest for much corruption. "Birds lodging in the branches most probably refers to elements of corruption, FALSE TEACHERS & FALSE GOSPELS & FALSE RELIGIONS which take refuge in the very shadow of Christianity."

       

      Close study of birds as symbols in the Old Testament and especially in the literature of later Judaism shows that birds regularly symbolize evil and even demons or Satan, confirmed in Revelation 18:2).

       

      Verse 33 tells us Another illustration of corruption in the kingdom community: the PARABLE of the LEAVEN in the meal.

       

      "Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."

       

      The kingdom of heaven is like leaven...

       

      Jesus used a surprising picture here. Many, if not most, regard this as a beautiful picture of the kingdom of God working its way through the whole world. Yet leaven is consistently used as a picture of sin and corruption (especially in the Passover narrative of Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20). Again, both the content and the context point towards this being a description of corruption in the kingdom community.

       

      Leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened...

       

      This was an unusually large amount of meal. It was much more than any normal woman would prepare, and again suggest the idea of massive or unnatural size.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...Three measures of meal would be about 40 litres, which would make enough bread for a meal for 100 people, a remarkable baking for an ordinary woman.

       

      Hid in it...

       

      The idea of hiding leaven in three measures of meal would have OFFENDED any observant Jew. This certainly is NOT a picture of the church gradually influencing the whole world for good. Rather, in the context of increasing opposition to His work, Jesus announced that His kingdom community would also be threatened by corruption and impurity and pagan idolatry, and false religions influences brought into the church.

       

      Verses 34-35 tells us Jesus' TEACHING IN PARABLES as a fulfillment of prophecy.

       

      "All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."

       

      Without a parable He did not speak to them...

       

      This does NOT mean that Jesus never, in His entire teaching and preaching ministry, spoke in anything other than a parable. It describes this particular season of Jesus' ministry, again in the context of increasing opposition from the Jewish leaders.

       

      I will open My mouth in parables...

       

      Another reason Jesus taught about the kingdom community in parables is because THE CHURCH, THE BODY OF CHRIST itself was part of the things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world, and would not be revealed in fullness until later.

       

      Kept secret from the foundation of the world...

       

      Later, Paul expresses this same idea about the church in Ephesians 3:4-11.

       

      AND REMEMBER THE JEWS BELIEVED AND TAUGHT THAT THEY WERE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WENT TO HEAVEN BECAUSE OF THEIR JEWISH BLOOD. AND THEY BELIEVED THE HINTS OF GOING TO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD AND OTHER SUCH VAGUE SHADOWED PROPHECIES REFERRED TO JUDAISM COVERING THE GLOBE, NOT THAT THROUGH THEM, GOD HAD PLANNED ALL ALONG THAT THE GENTILES, PAGANS WOULD BE OFFERED TO BE GRAFTED INTO THE VINE, OFFERED SALVATION AND AN ETERNITY IN HEAVEN WITH THEM THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

       

      Verses 36-43 tells us Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the tares.

       

      "Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

       

      Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field...

       

      In His explanation, Jesus made it clear what the different figures in the parable represent.

       

      1. The field represents the world.

      2. The good seeds represent God's true people, the sons of the kingdom.

      3. The tares represent false believers in the world, the sons of the wicked one, who (like tares among wheat) may superficially look like God's true people.

       

      In this we see that the parable of the tares changes the figures slightly from the parable of the soils (Matthew 13:3-9; 13:18-23). In the parable of the soils, the seed represented the word of God; here it represents true believers. The point of the parables is completely different; the parable of the soils shows how men receive and respond to the word of God, and the parable of the tares of the field shows how God will divide His true people from false believers at the end of this age.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "This parable powerfully teaches that it is God's job to divide in judgment. "Magistrates and churches may remove the openly wicked from their society; the outwardly good who are inwardly worthless they must leave; for the judging of hearts is beyond their sphere."

       

      Jesus announced God's kingdom, and this would lead many of his hearers to expect a cataclysmic disruption of society, an immediate and absolute division between the 'sons of light' and the 'sons of darkness' … It was to this impatience that the parable was primarily directed.

       

      The field is the world...

       

      AND REMEMBER THIS...

       

      Significantly, this parable illustrates not necessarily that there will be false believers among true believers in the church (though that is also true to some extent); otherwise Jesus would have explained that the field is the church. Yet He carefully said that the field is the world.

       

      AND SADLY, MANY RELIGIOSITIES BELIEVE THAT THE FIELD HERE IS THE CHURCH, INSTEAD OF THE LOST WORLD.

       

      Yet the point is clear, both in the world and in the kingdom community. Ultimately it is not the job of the church to proclaim who appear to be Christians but actually are not; that is God's job at the end of this age.

       

      As long as God's people are still in this world (the field), there will be unbelievers among them; but it should not be because God's people receive unbelievers as if they were believers, ignoring either the belief or conduct of professed believers.

       

      DID YOU NOTICE AS I DID...SOMETHING I DID NOT THINK ABOUT OR GRASP UNTIL REVISITING MATTHEW ONCE AGAIN. There is additional significance in saying, "The field is the world" instead of "The field is Israel." This brief statement presupposes a mission beyond Israel.

       

      The enemy who sowed them is the devil...

       

      Clearly, the enemy plants counterfeits in the world and in the kingdom community, and this is why merely being a member of the Christian community isn't enough.

       

      The reapers are angels … The Son of Man will send out His angels...

       

      We often don't consider that the angels of God have a special role in the judgment of the world. Yet they do, and are worthy of respect because of that role.

       

      Will cast them into the furnace of fire… the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father...

       

      Jesus used this parable to clearly illustrate the truth that there are ONLY TWO different paths and ONLY TWO eternal destinies. A furnace of fire represents one destiny and radiant glory (shine forth as the sun) the other destiny.

       

      The wheat comes into God's barn from all over the world, from all ranks of society, from all ages of God's church. The one thing they have in common is that they were sown of the Lord, and from the good seed of His word.

       

      Verse 44 tells us The PARABLE of the HIDDEN TREASURE.

       

      "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

       

      The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field...

       

      The field is the world, but the man does not represent the believer, because we have nothing to buy this treasure with. Instead, Jesus is the man who gave all that He had to buy the field.

       

      DID YOU KNOW..."Under rabbinic law if a workman came on a treasure in a field and lifted it out, it would belong to his master, the field's owner; but here the man is careful not to lift the treasure out till he has bought the field."

       

      This parable and the one following are DIFFERENT in character than the previous three.

       

      The previous three parables (the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven) each spoke of corruption in the kingdom community.

       

      These two parables speak of how highly the King values the people of His kingdom.

       

      And for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field...

       

      The treasure so wonderful that Jesus would give all to purchase is the individual believer. This powerfully shows how Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure in it, and the treasure is His people.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "So did Jesus himself, at the utmost cost, buy the world to gain his church, which was the treasure which he desired." The believer who gives all to follow Jesus is also not a loser, but a gainer. "Some years ago a person rather eccentrically advertised for persons who had been losers by obedience to the divine command-that if any one who had lost anything through love to Christ would apply to him he would make it up. The odd advertisement appeared for some months in one of our religious periodicals. But the oddest thing is that nobody ever answered it. I should have thought that somebody would have tried and made out a case; but nobody did. They cannot make out such a case: they are no losers by Christ."

       

      Verses 45-46 tells us The PARABLE of the COSTLY PEARL.

       

      "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

       

      The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls...

       

      Again, Jesus is the buyer and the individual believer is the pearl that He sees as so valuable that He would happily give all to have it forever.

       

      BARCLAY adds, "To the ancient peoples, as we have just seen, a pearl was the loveliest of all possessions; that means that the Kingdom of Heaven is the loveliest thing in the world."

       

      One pearl of great price...

       

      It seems crazy for a merchant to sell all that he had for one pearl, but for this merchant it was well worth it. That shows how much he valued this pearl of great price, and how much Jesus values His people.

       

      Verses 47-50 tells us The PARABLE of the DRAGNET.

       

      "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

       

      The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet...

    • February 24, 2018 7:10 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 14

       

      OPENS WITH...JESUS DISPLAYS HIS AUTHORITY OVER NATURE AND HEROD AND JOHN THE BAPTIST

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Herod fears that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead.

       

      "At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”

       

      At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus...

       

      The fame and report of Jesus spread around the region. This Herod was known as Herod Antipas and was one of the sons of Herod the Great who reigned when Jesus was born.

       

      TETRARCH literally means the ruler of a fourth part; but it came to be used quite generally, as here, of any subordinate ruler of a section of a country. A tetrarch was lower than a king. Herod Antipas wanted to be recognized as a king, and later asked the Emperor Caligula for this title, but Caligula refused. This humiliation was part of what later sent Herod to exile in Gaul.

       

      This Herod the tetrarch – also known as Herod Antipas – ruled over Galilee and therefore heard much about Jesus. His brother Archelaus ruled to the south, and his brother Philip ruled to the north.

       

      This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead...

       

      Though this may seem unreasonable in retrospect, Herod’s guilt and superstition led him to this fear.

       

      TRAPP says it well, “He imagined still that he saw and heard that holy head shouting and crying out against him, staring him also in the face at every turn…God hath laid upon evil-doers the cross of their own consciences, that thereon they may suffer afore they suffer; and their greatest enemies need not wish them a greater mischief.”

       

      BARCLAY cites the ancient Christian writer Origen, who said that Jesus and John the Baptist closely resembled each other in appearance. If this were true, it would give more reason for Herod Antipas to believe that Jesus was John come back from the dead.

       

      Verses 3-12 tells us Herod’s cruel treatment of John the Baptist.

       

      "For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.” And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus."

       

      Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her”...

       

      Having told us of the death of John the Baptist, Matthew will now explain to us how he died. It began when Herod imprisoned John for the bold rebuke of the king’s sin. Yet he did not immediately kill him because he feared the multitude.

       

      John spoke out against Herod’s marriage because he had illegally divorced his previous wife and then seduced and married his brother Philip’s wife named Herodias. The father of Herod’s first wife was the King of Petra, and he later made successful war against Herod Antipas because of how he had disgraced the King of Petra’s daughter.

       

      CLARKE tells us of Herodias: “This infamous woman was the daughter of Aristobulus and Bernice, and grand-daughter of Herod the Great. Her first marriage was with Herod Philip, her uncle, by whom she had Salome: some time after, she left her husband, and lived publicly with Herod Antipas.”

       

      In speaking out against Herod and Herodias, there is the suggestion that John did this repeatedly. It was, moreover, perhaps more than a passing remark: said is in the imperfect tense, which may indicate a continuing ‘campaign’.

       

      In that he feared the multitude, Herod is like many people today. They fear the opinion of people before fearing God. The only thing that kept Herod from even greater wickedness was the fear of man.

       

      Yet one must say that Herod seemed to fear his wife Herodias more than he feared the multitude, because he imprisoned John for the sake of Herodias. “She ruled him at her pleasure, as Jezebel did Ahab.

       

      The daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod: Herodias’ daughter shamelessly danced before Herod and friends, winning favor and a special request.

       

      This daughter Herodias is described as a girl (Matthew 14:11). This means that she was not a cute little girl; “Girl is a term which can be used of those of marriageable age; she was at least a teenager.

       

      The dances which these girls danced were suggestive and immoral. For a royal princess to dance in public at all was an amazing thing.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “In these days mothers too often encourage their daughters in dress which is scarcely decent and introduce them to dances which are not commendable for purity. No good can come of this; it may please the Herods, but it displeases God.”

       

      Having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter”: The request of Herodias shows that the mother had this planned for some time. She knew her husband and she knew the situation, and knew she could get what she wanted this way.

       

      She was shrewd enough to demand that it be done immediately, while the guests were still at the party. “That was an essential part of the request. No time must be left for repentance. If not done at once under the influence of wine and the momentary gratification given by the voluptuous dance, it might never be done at all.”

       

      It would have been bad enough if she herself had sought ways of taking vengeance on the man of God who confronted her with her shame. It was infinitely worse that she used her daughter for her nefarious purposes and made her as great a sinner as herself.

       

      And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her...

       

      Because Herod was afraid to go against his wife or to lose face before his friends, he did something that he knew was wrong.

       

      DO YOU NOTICE, EVEN DRUNK, SEXUALLY AROUSED, AND PARTYING WITH FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS HEROD STILL KNEW IT WAS WRONG.

       

      I THINK THE JUSTICE SYSTEM, LAWYERS, AND COURTS WOULD DO WELL TO READ THIS AND UNDERSTAND GOD'S VIEW. DRUNKENESS IS NO JUSTIFIABLE EXCUSE. SEXUALLY ENTICED AND AROUSED IS NO JUSTIFIABLE EXCUSE. BEING EGGED ON BY OTHERS AND THE PARTY ATMOSPHERE IS NO JUSTIFIABLE EXCUSE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD FOR DOING WRONG.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “Rash promises, and even oaths, are no excuse for doing wrong. The promise was in itself null and void, because no man has a right to promise to do wrong. Like most weak men, Herod feared to be thought weak.”

       

      Herod had a terrible end. In order to take his brother’s wife Herodias, he put away his first wife, a princess from a neighboring kingdom to the east. Her father was offended and came against Herod with an army, defeating him in battle. Then his brother Agrippa accused him of treason against Rome, and he was banished into the distant Roman province of Gaul. In Gaul, Herod and Herodias committed suicide.

       

      Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it...

       

      The disciples of John the Baptist honored his life and memory the best they could. He had lived and died as a great and righteous man.

       

      Verse 13 tells us Jesus departs, not wishing to run afoul of Herod.

       

      "When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities."

       

      When Jesus heard it, He departed from there...

       

      Again, this was not from cowardice but from an understanding of the Father’s timing, and also of prophetic timing.

       

      When the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot...

       

      Jesus could escape the potential violence of Herod, but He could not escape the attention of the multitudes. Though both the religious and now the political leaders opposed Jesus, He was still popular with the multitudes.

       

      Verses 14-16 tells us Jesus’ compassion for the multitude.

       

      "And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

       

      He was moved with compassion for them...

       

      The great compassion of Jesus for the multitude moved Him to heal the sick and to teach them (Mark 6:34). Jesus did this all the way until evening. His gracious compassion for the demanding crowds was remarkable.

       

      BARCLAY says it well, “Jesus had come to find peace and quiet and loneliness; instead he found a vast crowd eagerly demanding what he could give. He might so easily have resented them. What right had they to invade his privacy with their continual demands?”

       

      Jesus and the disciples could have made many legitimate excuses.

      This isn’t the right place.” “This isn’t the right time.” “The people can take care of themselves.” Indeed, there was no physical necessity to feed this multitude. These were people who were used to skipping meals. Yet Jesus had compassion on them nonetheless.

       

      You give them something to eat...

       

      With this, Jesus challenged both the compassion and the faith of the disciples. Yet He did not ask them to do anything to meet the need without also guiding them through the work.

       

      If they remembered the miracle of the wine in Cana (John 2:1-11), they should have asked Jesus to meet the need, not send the people away.

       

      Both Jesus and the disciples were aware of the great multitude and aware of their needs. Yet it was the compassion of Jesus and His awareness of the power of God that led Him to go about feeding the multitude.

       

      1. The people are hungry, and the empty religionist offers them some ceremony or empty words that can never satisfy.

       

      2. The people are hungry, and the atheists and skeptics try to convince them that they are not hungry at all.

       

      3. The people are hungry, and the religious showman gives them video and special lighting and cutting-edge music.

       

      4. The people are hungry, and the entertainer gives them loud, fast action, so loud and fast that they do NOT have a moment to think.

       

      5. The people are hungry – who will give them the bread of life?

       

      SPURGEON used the words, they do not need to go away (they need not depart in the KJV) as the basis of a sermon. The theme of the sermon was that if there was no need for these mostly casual hearers of Jesus to depart, there is even less reason for the follower of Jesus to go away from continual communion and fellowship with Jesus.

       

      1. Circumstances don’t need to make you go away. You won’t have things so hard or so easy that you don’t need Jesus.

      2. There is nothing in Jesus that would make you want to go away.

       

      3. There is nothing in the future that will make you need to go away.

       

      Verses 17-19 tells us Jesus distributes bread to the multitude.

       

      "And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes."

       

      We have here only five loaves and two fish...

       

      These were obtained from a little boy among the crowd (John 6:9). It is much to the credit of the disciples that they themselves traveled light, without carrying a lot of food for themselves. They trusted Jesus to make sure they were provided for.

       

      He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass...

       

      This command suggests that this was more than just putting food in their stomachs; that could be done standing up. The idea was that there was a bit of a banquet-like atmosphere of enjoyment.

       

      Looking up to heaven, He blessed...

       

      Jesus blessed the Father for the food that He did have.

       

      He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes...

       

      This miracle displays Jesus’ TOTAL authority over creation. Yet He insisted on doing this miracle through the hands of the disciples. He could have done it directly, but He wanted to use the disciples.

       

      No one knew where this bread actually came from. Jesus showed us that God can provide out of resources that we can NOT see or perceive in any way. It is easier to have faith when we think we know how God might provide, but God often provides in unexpected and undiscoverable ways.

       

      AND JESUS SHOWS US ALL RIGHT HERE...DO NOT WAIT FOR MORE THAN ENOUGH, DO NOT WAIT FOR RICHES. JESUS CAN USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE IN YOUR HAND, IN YOUR POSSESSION, TO DO IMPOSSIBLE THINGS IF YOU ASK, TRUST, AND BELIEVE HIM AND HIS WORD FOR YOU TOO.

       

      Verses 20-21 tels us The multitudes are fed.

       

      "So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children."

       

      They all ate and were filled...

      Not only was God’s provision abundant, but God also did not want the leftovers to go to waste. Therefore they took measures to preserve what was left over (and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained).

       

      God’s generous giving and our wise using must go hand in hand.

       

      Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children...

       

      The number of 5,000 men suggests a total perhaps of 15,000 to 20,000 people when women and children are included in the count.

       

      AND YOU NOTICE. THE JEWISH MEN, THE DISCIPLES COUNTED AND CONSIDERED THE NUMBER BY THE HEAD COUNT OF THE MEN ONLY, BUT ONCE AGAIN, OUR JESUS INCLUDED, KNEW, AND COUNTED THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN EQUALLY. THEY WERE JUST AS IMPORTANT AND WORTHY AS THE MEN.

       

      The prominence of this story – recorded in all four gospels – shows that both the Holy Spirit and the early church thought this story was important, and important as more than an example of the miraculous power of Jesus.

      WHY?

       

      1. It shows that Jesus could feed the people of God, even as Israel was fed in the wilderness. There was a common expectation that the Messiah would restore the provision of manna, and this adds to the messianic credentials of Jesus.

       

      2. It shows that Jesus had compassion and care for the people of God, even when we might have expected His patience would be exhausted.

       

      3. It shows that Jesus chose to work through the hands of the disciples, even when it was not essential to the immediate result.

       

      4. It shows a preview example of the great messianic banquet that the Messiah will enjoy with His people.

       

      The feeding of the 5,000 also gives us three principles regarding God’s provision.

       

      1. Thank God for and wisely use what you have.

      2. Trust God’s unlimited resources.

      3. Don’t waste what He gives you.

       

      Verses 22-24 tells us Another storm on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus walks on the water in the midst of the storm.

       

      "Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary."

       

      Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat...

       

      Jesus felt it was important for He and His followers to leave the area quickly. Jesus knew the storm was coming and wanted the multitudes to find shelter before it began. Then, Jesus compelled (made) the disciples get into the boat.

       

      Actually, there were several reasons why Jesus did this. He did this because He wanted to be alone to pray; because He wanted to escape the crowd and get some rest; and because He wanted the crowd to disperse so as to avoid the storm and the messianic uproar (John 6:15).

       

      John 6:14-15 tells us that the crowd responded to the miraculous feeding with a rush of messianic expectation. If the disciples shared this enthusiasm – perhaps sensing that now was the time to openly promote Jesus as Messiah the King – then it was more important than ever for Jesus to get the disciples away from the excited crowd.

       

      He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray...

       

      Jesus was jealous for time spent alone with His Father. In the midst of His great ministry to others, He did not – He could not – neglect prayer and the time He needed to spend with His Father.

       

      The boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary...

       

      The Sea of Galilee is well known for its sudden storms, and during this storm Jesus was NOT in the boat with the disciples.

       

      Verses 25-27 tells us Jesus comes to both help and comfort His disciples.

       

      "Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

       

      In the fourth watch of the night...

       

      This was somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. According to Mark (Mark 6:47-52), Jesus came to the disciples when the boat was in the middle of the sea and after they had exhausted themselves rowing against the waves and windy storm for hours.

       

      Jesus went to them, walking on the sea...

       

      This walk on the water must have been quite a shock to the disciples; they were indeed troubled and they cried out for fear.

       

      Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid...

       

      Jesus didn’t come to the disciples to trouble them or make them afraid. Therefore, He immediately spoke to them these comforting words.

       

      There are TWO good reasons to put away fear.

       

      1. It may be that the problem is not nearly as bad as one had thought; perhaps you are afraid because you exaggerate the danger.

       

      2. The other reason is that even though the problem may be real, there is an even greater solution and help at hand with Jesus.

       

      Verses 28-33 tells us Peter’s bold move and subsequent lack of faith.

       

      "And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

       

      Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water...

       

      We have no idea what prompted Peter to ask such a question, but his faith in Jesus was remarkable. He really responded to Jesus’ invitation and got out of the boat.

       

      He walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink...

       

      This is a wonderful picture of walking in faith, showing that Peter was able to do the miraculous as long as he looked to Jesus. When he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was troubled by fear and began to sink. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he did not notice the high swelling waves, the evil ocean creatures beneath his feet, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the stormy world around him he began to sink.

       

      Beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me”...

       

      Even when Peter failed, Jesus was there to save him. Peter knew who to call out to at the moment of crisis. Jesus then brought Peter back to the boat.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “What a sight! Jesus and Peter, hand in hand, walking upon the sea!”

       

      O you of little faith...

       

      Once Jesus rescued Peter, He spoke to Peter about his little faith. This little faith led to the doubt and distraction that made Peter sink under the wind and the waves.

       

      Peter here shows us the weakness of little faith.

       

      · Little faith is often found in places where we might expect great faith.

      · Little faith is far too eager for signs.

      · Little faith is apt to have too high an opinion of its own power.

      · Little faith is too much affected by it surroundings.

      · Little faith is too quick to exaggerate the peril.

       

      Yet Peter also shows us some of the strengths of little faith.

       

      · Little faith is true faith.

      · Little faith will obey the word of Jesus.

      · Little faith struggles to come to Jesus.

      · Little faith will accomplish great things for a time.

      · Little faith will pray when it is in trouble.

      · Little faith is safe, because Jesus is near.

       

      SPURGEON says, “You do believe, and if you believe, why doubt? If faith, why little faith? If you doubt, why believe? And if you believe, why doubt?”

       

      Why did you doubt...

       

      Jesus only asked this question once Peter was safe and in the boat again. Yet at that point it was an entirely reasonable question to ask. Why did Peter doubt? Doubt is literally ‘be divided in two’; true faith is single-mindedly focused on Jesus.

       

      We can say that in theory, there might be reasons for doubting Jesus and His promises.

       

      · If on former occasions, you have found God unfaithful to His promise.

      · If some old follower of Jesus has solemnly told you that God can not be trusted.

      · If your problem is a new one and so extremely difficult that it is certain that God cannot help you.

      · If God has abolished His promises, and made them no longer valid.

      · If God has changed.

       

      SPURGEON, “Our doubts are unreasonable: ‘Wherefore didst though doubt?‘ If there be reason for little faith, there is evidently reason for great confidence. If it be right to trust Jesus at all, why not trust him altogether?”

       

      It is useful for us to confront our doubts.

       

      · Was there good reason for your doubt?

      · Was there any good excuse for it?

      · Did any good come from your doubt?

       

      Those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him...

       

      They moved quickly from fearing the storm to worshipping Jesus. This was a logical reaction considering the power Jesus showed in walking on the water, and the love He showed in taking care of a sinking Peter.

       

      Verses 34-36 tells us Multitudes are healed as they touch Jesus.

       

      "When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well."

       

      When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret...

       

      The Gospel of John tells us that this crossing over was miraculous. As Jesus got into the boat with them, miraculously the boat was instantly carried over to the other side (John 6:21).

       

      Gennesaret was a region (not just a town) on the western shore south of Capernaum. [This was a] surprising return to Antipas’ territory.

       

      Begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment...

       

      Even the hem of Jesus’ garment provides an important point of contact for their faith. Like Paul’s sweatbands (Acts 19:11-12) and Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15), Jesus’ hem provided a physical object that helped them to believe God for healing at that moment.

       

      CARSON gives us an interesting fact of the times of the religious, social, and political elite. “The stricter groups, such as the Pharisees and the Essenes, counted it an abomination to rub shoulders in a crowd – one never knew what ceremonial uncleanness one might contract.”

       

      The sick, the ill, the diseased, the deformed, the crippled were cast out of and denied towns, churches, market squares. The very people, God's people, God's shepherds, and God's churches were commanded to care for the sick, injured, the widows, and the orphans, but they did not. They cared only for themselves. But Jesus cared. He went into places, towns, areas where all others would not. He touched, healed, fed, and had compassion on them all.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:08 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 15

       

      OPENS WITH..JESUS CORRECTS THE PHARISEES AND denounces their religious externalism and MINISTERS TO GENTILES

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Leaders from Jerusalem question Jesus.

       

      "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

       

      Scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus...

       

      Up to this point, most of Jesus’ ministry had been in the region of Galilee. Galilee was north of Judea, where Jerusalem is. These scribes and Pharisees were an official delegation from Jerusalem, coming to investigate and assess the words and work of this man Jesus.

       

      BARCLAY says it well, “They are genuinely bewildered; and in a very short time they are going to be genuinely outraged and shocked.”

       

      Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?

       

      These ceremonial washing rituals were commanded by MAN CREATED tradition, NOT by ALMIGHTY GOD NOR BY Scripture. The religious leaders say as much when they refer to the tradition of the elders and not the commandment of God.

       

      They do not wash their hands when they eat bread...

       

      The matter in question had NOTHING to do with good hygiene. The religious officials were offended that the disciples did NOT observe the rigid, extensive rituals for washing before meals.

       

      Many ancient Jews took this MAN-CREATED RITUAL tradition of the elders very seriously. “The Jewish Rabbi Jose saith, He sinneth as much who eateth with unwashen hands, as he that lieth with a harlot.”

       

      In what estimation these are held by the Jews, the following examples will prove: ‘The words of the scribes are lovely beyond the words of the law: for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the scribes are all weighty.’ Hierus. Berac. fol. 3.”

       

      SO THE ELDERS MAN-CREATED RITUALS AND RULES WERE OF FAR MORE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE THAN THE WORDS AND COMMANDS OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

       

      Verse 3 tells us Jesus answers with a question setting man’s tradition against God’s will.

       

      "He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”

       

      Why do you also transgress the commandment of God...

       

      When the disciples were accused of sin, Jesus answered with an accusation. Jesus was strong in His reply because these leaders were far too concerned with these ceremonial rules and rituals and trivialities.

       

      NOW YOU KNOW WHY JESUS ANSWERED THEM SO STRONGLY? BECAUSE ANY PERSON WHO WANTED TO COME INTO THE COURTS, MUCH LESS THE SYNAGOGUE PROPER, HAD TO FOLLOW THESE MAN-CREATED RITUALS AND RULES, OR THEY WERE DECLARED UNCLEAN AND THEY WERE DENIED ACCESS TO PRAY, WORSHIP, AND HEAR GOD'S WORD.

       

      This was a strong reply from Jesus. Ultimately, these conflicts with the religious leaders became the outward reason why Jesus was delivered to the Romans for death.

       

      Because of your tradition...

       

      Jesus repeated what the scribes and Pharisees had already mentioned – that this accusation was based on THEIR MAN-CREATED tradition. The religious leaders demanded these ceremonial washings based on tradition, not the Scriptures.

       

      IN OTHER WORDS, THESE RIDICULOUS RULES, RITUALS AND POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE ARE NOT WHAT ALMIGHTY GOD REQUIRES.

       

      Verses 4-6 tells us An example of how their traditions dishonored God: the practice of not helping your parents with resources said to be devoted to God.

       

      For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God“; then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

       

      Honor your father and mother...

       

      The clear command of God said that everyone should give honor to their father and mother – even stating a penalty for extreme disobedience to this command. When we are adults and no longer in our parents’ household or under their authority, we no longer have to obey our father and mother. Yet we are still commanded to honor them; that command endures.

       

      NOW WE NEED TO REMEMBER HONOR YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER, THEIR PLACE, AND THE TITLE THEY BEAR, EVEN IF FROM HORRIFIC ABUSES, DEPRIVATIONS, OR WHATEVER, YOU ARE NOT EXPECTED TO DOTE, LOVE, AND TOLERATE IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, BUT YOU ARE TO GIVE HONOR TO THE TITLE FATHER AND MOTHER.

       

      Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God...

       

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

       

      Some Jewish people of Jesus’ day had a way to get around the command to honor your father and mother. If they declared that all their possessions or savings were a gift to God that were especially dedicated to Him, they could then say that their resources were unavailable to help their parents.

       

      FRANCE further explains, “This convenient declaration apparently left the property actually still at the disposal of the one who made the vow, but deprived his parents of any right to it.”

       

      POOLE adds, “Our Savior here also let us know, that the fifth commandment obliges children to relieve their parents in their dire necessity, and this is the sense also of the term honor in other texts of Scripture.”

       

      Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition...

       

      Through this trick one could completely disobey the command to honor his father or mother, and do it while being ultra-religious.

       

      I AM SURE WE HAVE ALL FACED SIMILAR THINGS IN OUR WALK WITH JESUS. WE SET ASIDE A TITHE TO OUR CHURCHES, OR TO THOSE WHO SPEND THEIR DAYS SHARING THE GOSPEL. THEN SOMETHING HAPPENS, OUR PARENTS BECOME ILL, OR IN DIRE NEED, AND WE CAN HELP THEM, IF WE GIVE THEM OUR TITHE, INSTEAD OF TO THE CHURCH. JESUS EXPECTS US TO GIVE THE AID/TITHE TO OUR PARENTS.

       

      IT IS INTERESTING WHAT OLD MEMORIES SURFACE, AS WE READ JESUS WORD. I REMEMBER AS A CHILD, SETTING ASIDE 10% OF MY WORK ALLOWANCE TO PUT IN THE SUNDAY SCHOOL PLASTIC CHURCH BANK THAT WAS PASSED AROUND EACH SUNDAY. AND I REMEMBER, THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER STEPPING IN FRONT OF ME, AND I TOLD HER, I CAN NOT GIVE MY TITHE THIS WEEK. I HAVE TO KEEP IT. SHE WAS TAKEN ABACK BY MY REFUSAL AND ASKED WHY I WAS NOT WILLING TO GIVE JESUS HIS DUE. I TOLD HER, MY MAMA HAS A DOCTOR CHECK UP AND SHE IS AFRAID SHE WILL NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT. SO I AM GIVING HER MY TITHE. SHE SAID, FAITH YOU ARE MAKING JESUS UNHAPPY. I TOLD HER, NO MA'AM I AM DOING WHAT JESUS TELLS US TO DO. WE ARE TO HONOR OUR MOTHER AND FATHER. THE TEACHER WENT ON AROUND THE ROOM. BUT SHE PULLED MY MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER ASIDE AND TOLD THEM ABOUT IT. MY MOTHER WAS STUNNED AND STARTED TO APOLOGIZE, BUT MY GRANDMOTHER PUT HER HAND ON MY MOM'S ARM AND SHE SAID, FAITH IS RIGHT. THINK ABOUT IT, IF EVERY CHILD AND EVERY FAMILY REALLY THOUGHT AND BELIEVED THIS WAY, HOW MUCH LESS NEED WOULD THERE BE IN THE BODY OF JESUS."

       

      Verses 7-9 tells us Jesus condemns their hollow tradition as hypocrisy.

       

      Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

       

      Honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me...

       

      This was true of the religious leaders Jesus confronted and quoted the passage from Isaiah to. Yet it may also be true of us. We can appear to draw near to God, quote scripture, proclaim Godliness, all the while having our heart far from Him. It is easy to want and be impressed by the image of being near to God without really doing it with our heart.

       

      God is interested in the internal and the real. We are far more interested in the merely external and image. One must take care that their relationship with God is not merely external and image.

       

      Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men...

       

      The quotation from Isaiah accurately described the real problem with these religious leaders. They elevated man’s tradition to an equal level with God’s revealed Word.

       

      Jesus didn’t say, “All traditions are bad.” He didn’t say, “All traditions are good.” He compared THEIR MAN-CREATED traditions AGAINST WHAT THE Word of God SAID AND COMMANDED. THAT COMPARISON SHOWED THAT SUCH TRADITIONS WERE NOT EQUAL TO, NOR ANYWHERE NEAR AS IMPORTANT AS THE COMMANDS OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

       

      Verses 10-11 tells us Jesus speaks to the multitude about religious externalism.

       

      "When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

       

      When He had called the multitude to Himself...

       

      Having dealt with the religious leaders, Jesus now instructed the common people about authentic godliness.

       

      Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man...

       

      Jesus stated a fundamental principle. Washing with “unclean hands” or any other such thing that we put into us is not defiling; rather, what comes out is what defiles and reveals if we have unclean (defiled) hearts.

       

      This is not to say that there are not defiling things that we can take into ourselves; one example of this might be pornography. But in this specific context, Jesus spoke about ceremonial cleanliness in regard to food, and He anticipated that under the New Covenant all food would be declared kosher (confirmed in Acts 10:10-16, which says, "Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again."

       

      The principles set out by Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:11 and 17-20 made the ultimate abandonment of the Old Testament food-laws by the church inevitable.

       

      Verses 12-14 tells us Jesus then warns His disciples that only what is of God and of truth will last and be secure.

       

      "Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

       

      Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?

       

      This is a humorous scene. The disciples came to Jesus, saying something like this: “Jesus – did you know that you offended those guys?” Of course Jesus knew that He offended them! Jesus knew their EVERY thought. He intended to offend them and the way they valued man’s tradition too highly and Almighty God's so poorly.

       

      Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted...

       

      This applied directly to the religious leaders and all like them. Their commandments of men will not last, because they are not rooted either in God or truth.

       

      THIS VERSE ALONE, SHOULD BE POSTED IN EVERY SEMINARY ENTRANCE, AS A WARNING. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU ARE SEEKING TO BECOME A MINISTER, PRIEST, PASTOR, EVANGELIST FOR THE CAREER/MONEY/PRESTIGE VALUE, AND NOT BECAUSE YOU DESIRE TO SIMPLY SHARE JESUS AND HIS WORD WITH THE WORLD, THEN YOU BEST TURN AROUND AND GO ENTER ANOTHER UNIVERSITY/PROFESSION.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “There was no need for the disciples to combat the Pharisees, they would be uprooted in the natural order of things by the inevitable consequences of their own course.”

       

      Yet this principle should make us examine ourselves to see if we imitate the Pharisees in making traditions commandments. “Here, then, we find the test of all human teaching however well-intentioned. If it be not based upon and rooted in the Word of God, or if it depart in any degree from the true intention of that Word, it is without pity to be rooted up. By this test we need ever to try our traditions, customs, habits, rules, regulations.”

       

      Let them alone...

       

      Jesus did not organize a focused “Anti-Scribe and Anti-Pharisee” committee. He knew that their efforts would fail under the weight of its own legalism.

       

      They are blind leaders of the blind…both will fall into a ditch...

       

      We sense that Jesus said this with sadness, and perhaps with more sadness for those who are led by the blind than the blind leaders of the blind.

       

      HERE IS OUR NEW SLOGAN...LET THEM ALONE.

       

      WE WHO LOVE OUR JESUS, FIND MORE AND MORE EACH DAY, THAT WE HAVE A HEART AND DESIRE TO SHARE, SHINE, AND SHOW THE LOVE AND TRUTH AND HOPE IN OUR JESUS IN HIS WORD TO THE LOST, THE DECEIVED, AND THE REJECTING IN THIS WORLD. AND WE ARE BEWILDERED AND YES HEART-BROKEN, IF NOT SOMETIMES ANGRY OVER SOME OF THE VITRIOLE THE REJECTERS SPEW AT US AND ABOUT OUR JESUS.

       

      WHEN WE FACE THIS...CONFRONT THIS...REMEMBER WHAT OUR JESUS SAID...LET THEM ALONE.

       

      SADLY, Though the Pharisees and teachers of the law had scrolls and interpreted them in the synagogues, this does not mean that they really understood them…The Pharisees did not follow Jesus; so they did not understand and follow the Scriptures.

       

      POOLE says it well, “I pity the poor people, for while the blind lead the blind they both fall into a ditch. An ignorant, false, and unfaithful ministry is the greatest plague amongst a people.”

       

      In these words of Jesus, we see the guilt of those who are blind leaders of the blind. We also see the responsibility of followers to make sure their leaders are not blind. With the ease of availabilty of The Bible today, NONE will have an excuse. I have said it before, and it bears repeating, I strive to share JUST Jesus and His Word, but do NOT SIMPLY ACCEPT all that you hear in my Bible studies or any pastor's pulpit as truth. Open your Bibles and read and confirm the truth for yourselves. That way you will NOT ever be fooled. You will not EVER be blind and you will NOT follow the blind either.

       

      Verses 15-20 tells us The condition of the heart is what really defiles a person.

       

      "Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” So Jesus said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

       

      Explain this parable to us...

       

      Jesus didn’t really speak in a parable (except for the brief illustration of the blind leading the blind). Yet because the disciples did not understand Him, they asked for an explanation (Are you also still without understanding?).

       

      Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man...

       

      Jesus amplified the point first made in Matthew 15:11. We are defiled from the inside out rather than from the outside in, and this is particularly true of ceremonial things like foods.

       

      Jesus boldly said that these evil things come from our innermost nature. They aren’t accidents or mere “mistakes”; they reveal how corrupt we are in our fallen nature. “The heart is the source of man’s true character, and therefore of his purity or impurity…it is not merely the seat of emotion, but the true person as he really is, not just as he appears outwardly.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, "Murders‘ begin not with the dagger, but with the malice of the soul. ‘Adulteries and fornications‘ are first gloated over in the heart before they are enacted by the body. The heart is the cage from whence these unclean birds fly forth.”

       

      Said plainly, many people who worry about external habits (what they eat and drink and other such things) should care more about what words come out of their mouth. They do more against God and His people by what they say than by what they eat or drink.

       

      And is eliminated...

       

      A vulgar word and a vulgar subject which Jesus would gladly have avoided, but He forces Himself to speak of it for the sake of His disciples. The idea is: from food no moral defilement comes to the soul; the defilement as there is, purely physically passing through the bowels into the place of discharge. Doubtless Jesus said this, otherwise no one would have put it into His mouth.”

       

      But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man...

       

      Unfortunately, the emphasis of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day – and often in our own – is often only on these external things, not the internal things that make for true righteousness.

       

      WE SEE EXAMPLES OF THIS EVERY TIME WE TURN ON THE TV. WE SEE SELF-POSSESSED, SELF-PROCLAIMED MEN AND WOMEN WHO PROCLAIM THEY ARE OF GOD, STANDING BEFORE THOUSANDS, WEARING ENOUGH GOLD, DIAMONDS, COUTURES, AND SUITS MADE OF THE FINEST AND MOST EXPENSIVE MATERIALS TO BE MADE, ALL THE WHILE, PROCLAIMING, THUS SAYS THE LORD. THE LORD SPOKE TO ME AT BREAKFAST. THE LORD CAME AND ASKED FOR MY OPINION. THE LORD VISITED ME AND ASKED FOR MY HELP IN SAVING A PERSON. THE LORD HAS GIVEN ME NEW REVELATIONS FOR YOU. THE LORD HAS BLESSED ME BECAUSE I AM HIS MESSENGER. HIS ANOINTED. YOU CAN HAVE WHAT I HAVE, YOU CAN BE WHAT I AM, ALL THE WHILE THEY ARE DEMANDING THE POOREST OF THE POOR TO GIVE THEIR GROCERY MONEY, THEIR LAST DOLLARS, OR FOR THE WEALTHIER, GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS FROM YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNTS, CREDIT CARDS, PLANT A SEED IN MY MINISTRY AND YOU WILL BE HEALED, SAVED, HEALTHY, AND WEALTHY.

       

      THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING MORE FOUL TO JESUS THAN THOSE WHO SAY, PREACH, AND PROCLAIM THIS. RIGHT HERE, THE LORD JESUS, SPEAKS THE UNSPEAKABLE. HE SAYS MOST VULGARLY AND TRUTHFULLY THAT ALL OF THEIR WORDS ARE MORE FILTHY, FOUL, AND STENCH FILLED THAN THE OLDEST AND CRUDEST OF OUTHOUSES TO OUR JESUS.

       

      Verses 21-22 tells us Jesus is met with a request from a Gentile woman.

       

      "Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”

       

      To the region of Tyre and Sidon...

       

      Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities, located some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Jesus went all this way to meet this one Gentile woman’s need. This shows remarkable and unexpected love from Jesus to this woman of Canaan.

       

      Matthew’s used of the old term ‘Canaanite’ shows that he can not forget her ancestry: now a descendant of Israel’s ancient enemies comes to the Jewish Messiah for blessing.”

       

      It was unlikely for Jesus to go to the region of Tyre and Sidon. “At that time, or not much later, Josephus could write: ‘Of the Phoenicians, the Tyrians have the most ill-feeling towards us."

       

      Have mercy on me…My daughter is severely demon-possessed...

       

      This woman came to intercede for her daughter, and she provided a picture of an effective intercessor – her great need taught her how to pray. When she came to Jesus, she made her daughter’s needs her own.

       

      Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!

       

      This Gentile woman also understood who Jesus was. Many of Jesus’ own countrymen did NOT know who Jesus was, but this woman of Canaan knew.

       

      Perhaps this woman knew that Jesus had healed Gentiles before (Matthew 4:24-25; 8:5-13). Yet what made this encounter unique is that Jesus did those miracles as Gentiles came to Him in Jewish territory. Here, Jesus came to Gentile territory and met this woman.

       

      Verses 23-24 tells us Jesus’ cold response to the request of the Gentile woman.

       

      "But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

       

      But He answered her not a word...

       

      Though the Gentile mother interceded for her daughter, Jesus did not immediately give her an encouraging reply. His reticence drew a more energetic and faith-filled response from the Gentile woman.

       

      Send her away, for she cries out after us...

       

      It is likely that the disciples meant, “Send her away by giving her what she wants.” It is entirely possible that they just wanted her to go away, and the easiest way was for Jesus to fix her problem.

       

      Send her away...

       

      The same verb in Luke 2:29 applies to a dismissal with desire satisfied.”

       

      I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel...

       

      Jesus defined the focus of His mission to His irritated disciples and to the Gentile woman. He made it clear that He was not sent to Gentiles like her.

       

      It is fair to ask whether Jesus meant the lost sheep among the house of Israel, or meant to say that Israel as a whole were lost sheep. Jesus’ instructions to His disciples in Matthew 10:6 (“go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel“) would seem to imply the latter.

       

      Verses 25-27 tells us The Gentile woman’s persistent appeal to Jesus.

       

      "Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

       

      Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

       

      She responded to the rebuff from Jesus with increased dedication to prevail with her request. In so doing, the Gentile woman continued to show what a dedicated intercessor does.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “I commend this prayer to you because it is such a handy prayer. You can use it when you are in a hurry, you can use it when you are in a fright, you can use it when you have not time to bow your knee. You can use it in the pulpit if you are going to preach, you can use it when you are opening your shop, you can use it when you are rising in the morning. It is such a handy prayer that I hardly know any position in which you could not pray it: ‘Lord, help me.'”

       

      It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs...

       

      Jesus continued to say discouraging things to the woman, yet this was not quite as severe as it might first sound. When Jesus called her one of the little dogs, He used little as a way to soften the harshness of calling her a dog. This softened the traditional Jewish slur towards Gentiles, which called them dogs in the most derogatory sense.

       

      We are at the great disadvantage of not hearing the tone of Jesus’ voice as He spoke to this woman. We suspect that His tone was not harsh; we rather suspect that it was winsome with the effect of inviting greater faith from the woman.

       

      Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table...

       

      The woman responded with great faith. She admitted her low estate, and did not debate the issue when Jesus called her one of the little dogs. She did not demand to be seen as a child; but only to be blessed as a dog.

       

      It was as if she said, “Jesus, I understand that the focus of Your ministry is to the Jews – that they have a special place in God’s redemptive plan. Yet I also understand that Your ministry extends beyond the Jewish people, and I want to be part of that extended blessing.”

       

      Her response is especially meaningful in light of the increasing rejection of Jesus by the Jewish religious leaders. It was as if the woman said, “I’m not asking for the portion that belongs to the children, just the crumbs that they don’t want.” In the flow of Matthew’s gospel, there was more and more that the Jewish religious establishment did not want to receive.

       

      POOLE says it well, "These were two faith-filled words: Yet even. She accepted Jesus’ description and asked for mercy despite it – or perhaps because of it. “She would not give over, though he gave her three repulses. So as she said, like Jacob, I will not let thee go, until thou bless me. And as he, like a prince, so she, like a princess, prevailed with God and obtained the thing which she desired.”

       

      Verse 28 tells us Jesus rewards the great faith of the Gentile woman.

       

      "Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

       

      Then Jesus answered...

       

      Finally, the woman will receive an encouraging word from Jesus.

       

      O woman, great is your faith!

       

      Jesus never said this to another person. He complimented the great faith of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:10), but He said it to the crowd, not to the centurion directly. This Gentile woman heard it from Jesus directly.

       

      Significantly, the only TWO people to receive this compliment from Jesus were these Gentiles. This shows us that:

       

      1. Great faith may be found in unexpected places – not merely Gentiles, but a centurion and a woman!

       

      2. Great faith is sometimes measured from its disadvantages. Their faith was great because it did not have the advantage of being nourished by the institutions of Judaism.

       

      3. Faith is often greatest when it is expressed on behalf of someone else’s need.

       

      O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire...

       

      1. Her faith AND her persistence was great enough to receive her request – what she desired from Jesus.

       

      2. Her faith was great, even compared to her other virtues. She was humble, she was patient, she was persevering, she cared for her child. Yet Jesus didn’t compliment any of these good things, but only her faith.

       

      3. Her faith was great because it was unlikely. No one might have expected a Gentile to trust Jesus so much.

       

      4. Her faith was great because she worshipped Jesus even before she had an answer from Him.

       

      5. Her faith was great because it had been tested so severely. It’s hard to think of a greater test than a demon-possessed child; but her faith was also tried by the seeming indifference or coldness of Jesus.

       

      6. Her faith was great because it was clever. She turned Jesus’ word inside-out and made what might have been taken as an insult as a door open for faith.

       

      7. Her faith was great because it concerned a need right in front of her, and a real need at that. Many people have faith for everything except those things that are right in front of them.

       

      7. Her faith was great because it would not give up. She did not stop until she got what she needed from Jesus.

       

      8. You could say that her faith conquered Jesus. He not only healed her daughter but He did so immediately, something that she had not even asked for.

       

      AND POWERFULLY AND AMAZINGLY, DID YOU KNOW, We read of nothing else that Jesus did during this time in Tyre and Sidon. It would seem that His ONLY divine appointment was to meet the need of this Gentile woman of faith and her afflicted daughter.

       

       

      Verses 29-31 tells us Jesus ministers healing to the multitude.

       

      "Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel."

       

      Then great multitudes came to Him...

       

      Though Jesus briefly withdrew from the multitudes, He did not do so permanently. He still had work to do among the great multitudes.

       

      Most commentators believe this marks a unique period in the ministry of Jesus, when He did His healing and providing work in the predominately Gentile region of Galilee. Especially correlating this with Mark 7:31-37, we see that this happened on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, the region known as the Decapolis. As well, the remoteness of the place (in the wilderness, Mathew 15:33) fits better with the eastern side.

       

      These people were most probably heathen or semi-heathen, gathered from the region of the Decapolis (confirmed in Mark 7:31).”

       

      As Jesus healed and provided for this mixed or predominately Gentile multitude, it showed that the Gentiles in fact were getting more than just a FEW crumbs from the table.

       

      They laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them...

       

      In this incident we read nothing about any faith on the part of those who were healed, except for the fact that they came to Jesus for help.

       

      They glorified the God of Israel...

       

      Even in something as potentially self-promoting as ministry of healing, Jesus always drew attention to God the Father, the God of Israel. This multitude – most likely predominately Gentile – learned to praise the God of Israel.

       

      Verses 32-39 tells us The feeding of the 4,000.

       

      "Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Then His disciples said to Him, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fish.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala."

       

      I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way...

       

      This miracle follows the same basic pattern as the feeding of the 5,000, except that it reveals that the disciples were generally as slow to believe as we are (where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?).

       

      Perhaps the disciples had not “expected Jesus to use his Messianic power, when the crowd was a Gentile one.

       

      It is important to see that this is NOT just a retelling of the previous feeding of the 5,000. There are many differences distinguishing this from the prior feeding of the 5,000:

       

      HOW?

       

      1. Different numbers of those being fed.

      2. Different locales (on the western and the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee).

      3. Different seasons of the year, indicated by no mention of grass in the second account.

      4. Different supply of food at the beginning.

      5. Different number of baskets holding the leftovers, and even a different word for “baskets” in the second account.

      6. Different period of time of waiting for the people (Matthew 15:32).

       

      The disciples gave to the multitude...

       

      Jesus did what only He could do (the creative miracle), but left to the disciples what they could do (the distribution of the meal).

       

      So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left...

       

      At the end of the meal they gather more, not less. The seven large baskets show that God provided out of His abundance.

       

      Those who ate were four thousand men, again Matthew only counted the men, but Jesus saw, counted, considered equal, and provided for them all, which could easily have been 20,000 Gentiles.

       

      The way that the Messiah miraculously fed both Jews and Gentiles was a preview of the great Messianic banquet. This was greatly anticipated among the Jews of Jesus’ day, but they were offended by the idea that Gentiles would also attend.

       

      WE WHO LOVE OUR JESUS, STRIVE TO LOVE ALL OF THOSE BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO LOVE OUR JESUS IN THIS LIFE AS WELL. WE WILL HAVE NO PROBLEM SITTING AT THE BANQUET TABLE ONE SWEET DAY WITH OUR JESUS. FOR WE ALL KNOW, THAT WE ALL IN THE BEGINNING, UNWORTHY, CHIEF AMONG SINNERS AS PAUL SAYS, AND AS ISAIAH SAYS, FILTHY RAGS, BEFORE OUR JESUS SAVED US AND MADE US HIS FAMILY!

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:04 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 16

       

      OPENS WITH...REVEALING WHO JESUS IS AND WHAT HE CAME TO DO

       

      Verses 1-4 tells us Jesus' Warnings AGAINST The Sadducees and the Pharisees seek a sign from Jesus.

       

      "Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed."

       

      Then the Pharisees and Sadducees...

       

      Their working together showed a deep fear among the religious leaders. AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, DID YOU KNOW THAT...The Sadducees and Pharisees were long-standing enemies. They stood for both beliefs and policies which were diametrically opposed and the fact that they came together against Jesus shows they regarded Him as a serious threat.

       

      WHY?

       

      1. The Pharisees lived according to the smallest points of the oral and scribal law; the Sadducees received only the written words of the Hebrew Scriptures.

       

      2. The Pharisees believed in angels and the resurrection; the Sadducees did not (Paul used this division in Acts 23:6-10).

       

      3. The Pharisees were not a political party and were prepared to live under any government that would leave them alone to practice their religion the way they wanted to; the Sadducees were aristocrats and collaborated with the Romans to keep their wealth and power.

       

      4. The Pharisees looked for and longed for the Messiah; the Sadducees did not.

       

      Yet for all these differences, Jesus brought them together. Not in a good way – they came together in opposition to Jesus, but they came together nonetheless.

       

      And testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven...

       

      Jesus had done many signs and they remained unconvinced. They looked for a sign from heaven such as calling down fire from heaven, preferably against a Roman legion. They said they were not convinced by the signs “on earth” Jesus had already done.

       

      Jesus had already been asked for a sign in Matthew 12:38, and in response He had already pointed them to the sign of Jonah. AND REMEMBER JEWISH Tradition held that a sign done on earth could be a counterfeit from Satan, but signs done from heaven (coming in or from the sky) were assumed to be from God.

       

      The immediate demand of the Jewish leaders for a sign from heaven contrasts sharply with the Gentile crowd’s response to Jesus’ miracles (Matthew 15:31).

       

      Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times...

       

      Jesus condemned their hypocrisy. They felt confident about predicting the weather from the signs they saw around them, but were blind to the signs regarding Jesus’ Messianic credentials right before their eyes.

       

      Jesus wasn’t the only one to notice the hypocrisy in His day. The Jews of Jesus’ day had a proverb saying that if all the hypocrites in the world were divided into ten parts, Jerusalem would contain nine of the ten parts.

       

      You cannot discern the signs of the times...

       

      Jesus said this of the religious leaders of His own day regarding the signs of His first coming. There were prophecies, circumstances, and evidences that should have made it clear to them as signs of the times that the Messiah and come from the Old Testament. Many people today are just as blind to the signs of the times regarding the second coming of Jesus.

       

      A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign...

       

      This statement of Jesus reminds us that signs alone convert no one. It is easy to place far too much confidence in signs and wonders as tools to bring people to faith in Jesus.

       

      The problem isn’t that the signs are themselves weak, but that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after them. The Bible gives repeated examples of those who saw remarkable signs, yet did not believe.

       

      No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah...

       

      Jesus promised a sign that would have power to bring people to faith – His resurrection. He had previously mentioned the sign of the prophet Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41, clearly explaining it as His coming resurrection.

       

      We remember some of the similarities between Jonah and Jesus:

       

      1. Jonah sacrificed himself that others would be saved.

      2. Jonah disappeared from all human view in doing this.

      3. Jonah was sustained the days when he could not be seen.

      4. Jonah came back after three days, as back from the dead.

      5. Jonah preached repentance.

       

      Verses 5-12 tells us Jesus cautions the disciples against false teaching.

       

      "Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

       

      Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees...

       

      After the preceding conflict with the religious leaders, Jesus gave this warning to His disciples, using the metaphor of leaven.

       

      As noted previously in the parable of the leaven (Matthew 13:33), leaven is consistently used as a picture of sin and corruption (especially in the Passover narrative of Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20).

       

      DID YOU KNOW...

       

      It was the Jewish metaphorical expression for an evil influence. To the Jewish mind leaven was always symbolic of evil…leaven stood for an evil influence liable to spread through life and to corrupt it. False doctrine; which is fitly called leaven, because it soureth, swelleth, spreadeth, corrupteth the whole lump, and all this secretly.

       

      It is because we have taken no bread...

       

      This was a strange concern after Jesus had, in the recent past, miraculously fed both crowds exceeding 5,000 and 4,000 men who were counted. The disciples didn’t understand Jesus at all here and His use of leaven as a metaphor.

       

      TRAPP says it well, “Our memories are naturally like hour-glasses, no sooner filled with good instructions and experiments than running out again. It must be our prayer to God that he would put his finger upon the hole, and so make our memories like the pot of manna, preserving holy truths in the ark of the soul.”

       

      Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees...

       

      Jesus impressed the importance of being on guard against false teaching, especially that in the service of religious hypocrisy.

       

      Jesus charged His disciples with three things:

       

      1. Ignorance, because they didn’t understand that He was using material things (leaven) to illustrate spiritual things (the dangerous teachings and practices of the Sadducees and Pharisees).

       

      2. Unbelief, because they were overly concerned with the supply of bread, when they had seen Jesus miraculously provide bread on several previous occasions.

       

      3. Forgetfulness, because they seemed to forget what Jesus had done before in regard to providing bread.

       

      Verse 13 tells us Jesus asks the disciples to tell Him who others say He is.

       

      "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

       

      When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi...

       

      Jesus again withdrew from the mainly Jewish region of Galilee and came to a place more populated by Gentiles.

       

      Caesarea Philippi lies about twenty-five miles [46 kilometers] north-east of the Sea of Galilee…The population was mainly non-Jewish, and there Jesus would have peace to teach the Twelve.

       

      Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?

       

      Jesus did not ask this question because He didn’t know who He was, or because He had an unfortunate dependence on the opinion of others. He asked this question as an introduction to a more important follow-up question.

       

      Caesarea Philippi was an area associated with idols and rival deities. “The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship…Hard by Caesarea Philippi there rose a great hill, in which was a deep cavern; and that cavern was said to be the birthplace of the great god Pan, the god of nature…In Caesarea Philippi there was a great temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar…It is as if Jesus deliberately set himself against the background of the world’s religions in all their history and splendour, and demanded to be compared to them and to have the verdict given in his favour.

       

      Verses 14-16 tells us A pointed question and a pointed answer.

       

      "So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

       

      Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets...

       

      People who thought that Jesus was John the Baptist, didn’t know much about Him, and they didn’t know that Jesus and John had ministered at the same time. Yet John, Elijah, and Jeremiah (along with other prophets) were national reformers who stood up to the corrupt rulers of their day.

       

      Some thought Jesus was a herald of national repentance, like John the Baptist and some thought Jesus was a famous worker of miracles, like Elijah. Some thought Jesus was someone who spoke the words of God, like Jeremiah and the prophets.

       

      Perhaps in seeing Jesus in these roles, people hoped for a political messiah who would overthrow the corrupt powers oppressing Israel.

       

      DO YOU NOTICE...SADLY I MIGHT ADD, The general tendency in all these answers was to underestimate Jesus; to give Him a measure of respect and honor, but to fall far short of honoring Him for who He really is.

       

      Who do you say that I am?...

       

      It was fine for the disciples to know what others thought about Jesus. But Jesus had to ask them, as individuals, what they believed about Him.

       

      This is the question placed before all who hear of Jesus; and it is we, not He, who are judged by our answer. In fact, we answer this question every day by what we believe and do. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it will affect the way that we live.

       

      You are the Christ, the Son of the living God...

       

      Peter knew the opinion of the crowd – while it was complimentary towards Jesus in the peoples eyes – it was NOT accurate. Jesus was MUCH MORE than John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet. He was MUCH MORE than a national reformer, MUCH MORE than a miracle worker, MUCH MORE than a prophet. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

       

      We can surmise that this was an understanding that Peter and the other disciples came to over time. In the beginning, they were attracted to Jesus as a remarkable and unusual rabbi. They committed themselves to Him as His disciples or students, as was practiced in that day. Yet over time Peter – and presumably other of the disciples by this point – understood that Jesus was in fact not only the Messiah (the Christ), but also the Son of the living God.

       

      Peter understood that Jesus was not only God’s Messiah, but also God Himself. The Jews properly thought that to receive the title “the Son of the living God,” in a unique sense, was to make a claim to deity itself.

       

      Verses 17-20 tells us Jesus compliments Peter for His bold and correct declaration.

       

      "Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ."

       

      Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven...

       

      Jesus reveals to Peter that he spoke by divine inspiration, even if he did NOT even know it at the time. In this, Peter was genuinely blessed – both by the insight itself and how it came to him.

       

      We too often expect God to speak in strange and unnatural ways. Here God spoke through Peter so naturally that he did NOT even realize it was the Father who is in heaven that revealed it to him.

       

      I also say to you that you are Peter...

       

      This was not only recognition of Peter’s more Roman name; it was also a promise of God’s work in Peter. The name Peter means “Rock.” Though perhaps unlikely, Peter was a rock, and would become a rock. God was and would transform his naturally extreme character into something solid and reliable.

       

      On this rock I will build My church...

       

      The words this rock have been the source of much controversy. It is best to see them as referring to either Jesus Himself (perhaps Jesus gesturing to Himself as He said this), or as referring to Peter’s confession of who Jesus is.

       

      Peter, by His own testimony, did not see himself as the rock on which the church was founded. He wrote that we are living stones, but Jesus is the cornerstone. We could say that Peter was the “first believer”; that he was the “first rock” among “many rocks.”

       

      CHRISTIANITY, THE BELIEF OF AND IN JESUS CHRIST AS OUR ONLY DOOR, OUR ONLY ROCK, OUR ONLY HOPE, THE SON OF ALMIGHTY GOD, OUR LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, AND FRIEND, AS GOD'S WORD MADE FLESH IS THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION AND OUR CORNERSTONE.

       

      SEVERAL RELIGIOSITIES STATE THAT PETER IS THE FOUNDING FATHER OF CHRISTIANITY, THE ROCK, THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY. THAT IS A LIE. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ROCK, THE CORNERSTONE, THE FOUNDATION, THE ONLY WAY, THE ONLY TRUTH, AND THE ONLY LIFE.

       

      Peter said as much in 1 Peter 2:4-5: "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

       

      I will build My church...

       

      DID YOU KNOW...This is the FIRST use of the word church in the New Testament (or the Bible for that matter), using the ancient Greek word ekklesia. Significantly, this was well before the beginnings of what we normally think of as the church on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

       

      This shows that Jesus was anticipating or prophesying what would come from these disciples/apostles and those who would believe in their message that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

       

      INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, DID YOU KNOW...

       

      The ancient Greek word ekklesia was NOT primarily a religious word at all; it just meant, “group” or “called-out group.” In describing the later group of His followers and disciples, Jesus deliberately chose a word WITHOUT a distinctly religious meaning.

       

      Furthermore, this statement of Jesus was a clear claim of ownership (My church). The church belongs to Jesus. This was also a claim to deity.

       

      Taken together, Jesus' revelation and promise is wonderful:

       

      1. He brings His people together in common: I will build.

       

      2. He builds on a firm foundation: On this rock I will build.

       

      3. He builds something that belongs to Him: My church.

       

      4. He builds it into a stronghold: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

       

      And the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it...

       

      Jesus also offered a promise – that the forces of death and darkness can NOT AND WILL NOT prevail against or conquer HIS CALLED OUT GROUP...HIS CHURCH.

       

      JESUS DID NOT SAY YOUR OR PETER OR THE DISCIPLES CHURCHES, RELIGIONS, ISMS, ISTS, JESUS SAID MY CHURCH. This is a valuable promise in dark or discouraging times for JESUS' church.

       

      SATAN, THE LOST WORLD, RELIGIOSITIES, SOCIETIES, POLITICALS NOR ALL THE DEMONS OF HELL CAN OR WILL PREVAIL AGAINST JESUS' CALLED OUT GROUP.

       

      (((And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven...)))

       

      This idea of Peter holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven has captured the imagination (and theology) of many throughout the centuries. In artistic representation, Peter is almost always shown with keys.

       

      Some people WRONGLY TEACH, BELIEVE, AND PROCLAIM that this means that Peter has the authority to admit people to heaven, or to keep people out of heaven. This is the basis for the popular image of Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, allowing people to enter or turning them away.

       

      Some people WRONGLY TEACH, BELIEVE, AND PROCLAIM that it also means that Peter was the first Pope, and that his supposed successors have the keys that were first given to Peter. Indeed, the Papal insignia of the Roman Catholic Church is made up of two prominent keys crossed together.

       

      BUT WE WHO HAVE READ AND STUDIED THE BIBLE KNOW THAT THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN MEANS THAT PETER KNEW AND WOULD PREACH JESUS CHRIST AND HIS TEACHINGS, HIS MINISTRY, AND HIS PROPHECIES. THESE ARE THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM. JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY KEY. ONLY JESUS CAN SAVE. ONLY JESUS CAN FORGIVE. ONLY JESUS IS THE WORD MADE FLESH.

       

      THESE ARE THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM.

       

      There is no doubt that Peter had a special place among all the disciples, and that he had some special privileges:

       

      1. He is always listed first in the listings of the disciples.

       

      2. He continued to open the doors of the kingdom to the Jews by giving them Jesus Christ in Acts 2:38-39.

       

      3. He also opened doors of the kingdom to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34-44.

       

      Yet we NEED TO REMEMBER ANOTHER FALSE TEACHING OF THAT DAY AND OUR OWN, there is NO Biblical argument whatsoever that Peter’s privilege or authority was passed on. To put it one way; one might say that Jesus gave Peter the keys, but did not give him the authority to pass them on to further generations, and there is not a whisper in the Scriptures that Peter’s authority was to be passed on.

      WHY?

      The idea that apostolic authority comes from Jesus, who gave it to Peter, who set his hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, who in turn set their hands on the heads of approved and ordained men, and so on and so on through the generations until today is nonsense. It is exactly what Spurgeon said it was: the laying of empty hands on empty heads.

       

      PETER WAS THE HEAD OF THE DISCIPLES AND PETER PREACHED JESUS CHRIST AND HIS WORD, BUT PETER WAS NOT AND DID NOT BECOME JESUS' AUTHORITY AFTER JESUS RETURNED TO HEAVEN.

       

      JESUS HOLY SPIRIT LIVING WITHIN THOSE WHO CALL HIM LORD SAVIOR MASTER AND FRIEND GRANT AUTHORITY AS THE HOLY SPIRIT WILLS IT. JESUS GRANTS AND JESUS CALLS AND JESUS LEADS US THROUGH HIS HOLY SPIRIT AND THROUGH HIS WORD....NOT ANY OTHER. NO MAN, PASTOR, PRIEST, NO RELIGIOSITY, NO IST, NO ISM, JUST JESUS HOLY SPIRIT LIVING WITHIN US.

       

      And whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven...

       

      The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jewish rabbis of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the law. Jesus promises that Peter – and the other apostles – would be able to set the boundaries authoritatively for the New Covenant community. This was the authority given to the apostles to build a foundation (Ephesians 2:20).

       

      We should understand this as Jesus giving both the permission and the authority to the first-generation apostles to make the FOLLOW THROUGH WITH HIS RULES FOR THE CALLED OUT GROUP, THE CHURCH – and DOWN THROUGH THE AGES WITH THE INSPIRED WORD JESUS GAVE THEM ALL AND COMMANDED THEM ALL TO RECORD AND WRITE FOR THEM AND US TODAY. IN JESUS WE HAVE THE SAME AUTHORITY GIVEN US BY JESUS CHRIST HOLY SPIRIT, NOT MAN.

       

      AND DID YOU KNOW...

       

      BARCLAY tells us, “Binding” and “loosing” were administrative terms in daily Jewish life; whenever a Jew came up against the Law of Moses, that Jewish person was either “bound” or “loosed” in regard to that law. To loose was to permit; to bind was to prohibit. To loose was to free from the law, to bind was to put under the law. “Their regular sense, which any Jew would recognize was to allow and to forbid. To bind something was to declare it forbidden; to loose was to declare it allowed. These were the regular phrases for taking decisions in regard to the law."

       

      In daily Jewish life, this could be rather complicated. Here is one example from ancient rabbinical writings, cited by teacher Mike Russ:

       

      THIS SHOWS US THE RIDICULOUSNESS OF ALL THE JEWISH TRADITIONS AND LAWS ADDED TO GOD'S COMMANDS.

       

      1. If your dog dies in your house, is your house clean or unclean? Unclean.

       

      2. If your dog dies outside your house, is your house clean or unclean? Clean.

       

      3. If your dog dies on the doorstep, is your house clean or unclean? Ancient rabbinical writings took the issue on and decided that if the dog died with his nose pointing into the house, the house was unclean; if the dog died with his nose pointing away from the house, the house was clean.

       

      As their rabbi, Jesus did this binding and loosing for His own disciples. Without using the same words, this is what Jesus did when He allowed them to take the grains of wheat in the field (Matthew 12:1-8).

       

      Significantly, when it came time to understand the dietary laws of the Old Covenant in light of the new work of Jesus, God spoke to Peter first in Acts 10. He and the other apostles, guided by the Spirit of God, would bind and loose Christians regarding such parts of the Old Covenant.

       

      In a lesser, secondary sense, this power is with Jesus' Church today. “Today the Lord continues to back up the teaching and acts of his sent servants, who teach Jesus Word, follow Jesus Word, and proclaim Jesus Word are pieces of the one Rock.

       

      He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ...

       

      Jesus was pleased that His disciples were coming to know who He was in truth, but He still did not YET want His identity popularly known before the proper time.

       

      Verse 21 tells us Jesus begins to reveal the full extent of His mission.

       

      "From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."

       

      He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things…and be killed...

       

      This must have come as quite a shock to His disciples. After fully understanding that Jesus was the Messiah, the last thing they expected was the Messiah would suffer many things and be killed.

       

      Yet this was the predicted work of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:3-12). He must die, and He must after His death be raised the third day.

       

      The suffering and death of Jesus was a must because of two great facts: the man’s sin and God’s love. While His death was the ultimate example of man’s sin against God, it was also the supreme expression of God’s love to man.

       

      And be raised the third day...

       

      The disciples were probably so shocked that Jesus said He would be killed in Jerusalem that these words did NOT sink in. Later, an angel reminded them of these words (Luke 24:6-8).

       

      Verses 22-23 tells us Peter’s unwitting opposition of Jesus.

       

      "Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

       

      Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!...

       

      At this moment Peter had the remarkable boldness to rebuke Jesus. Peter did it privately (took Him aside), yet was confident enough to tell Jesus that He was wrong to consider going to Jerusalem to be killed.

       

      It’s not hard to see Peter following these steps:

       

      1. Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah.

       

      2. Jesus compliments Peter, telling him that God revealed this to him.

       

      3. Jesus tells of His impending suffering, death, and resurrection.

       

      4. Peter feels this isn’t right, and he feels that he hears from God and therefore has some authority or right to speak.

       

      5. Peter begins to rebuke Jesus. ” ‘Began’ suggests that Peter gets only so far before Jesus cuts him off.”

       

      We can infer that if Peter was bold enough to rebuke Jesus, he was confident that God told him that he was right and that Jesus was wrong at this point. Where it all broke down was that Peter was far too confident in his ability to hear from God.

       

      1. What Peter said didn’t line up with the Scriptures

       

      2. What Peter said was in contradiction to the spiritual authority over him

       

      Get behind Me, Satan!...

       

      This was a strong rebuke from Jesus, yet entirely appropriate. Though a moment before, Peter spoke as a messenger of God, he then spoke as a messenger of Satan. Jesus knew there was a satanic purpose in discouraging Him from His ministry on the cross, and Jesus would NOT allow that purpose to succeed.

       

      We can be sure that Peter was NOT aware that he spoke for Satan, just as a moment before he was NOT aware that he spoke for God. It is often much easier to be a tool of God or of the devil than we want to believe.

       

      You are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men...

       

      Jesus exposed how Peter came into this satanic way of thinking. He did NOT make a deliberate choice to reject God and embrace Satan; he simply let his mind, his feelings, his emotions, settle on the things of men instead of the things of God, and Satan took advantage of it.

       

      Peter is a perfect example of how a sincere heart coupled with man’s thinking can often lead to disaster.

       

      Peter’s rebuke of Jesus is an evidence of the leaven mentioned in Matthew 16:6. With his mind on the things of men, Peter only saw the Messiah as the embodiment of power and strength, instead of as a suffering servant. Because Peter could NOT understand nor handle a suffering Messiah, he rebuked Jesus.

       

      Verse 24 tells us Jesus declares His expectation that His followers would follow Him by dying to self.

       

      "Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

       

      Said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me”...

       

      This was a word spoken to the disciples of Jesus; to those who genuinely wanted to follow (come after) Him.

       

      Let him deny himself, and take up his cross...

       

      It was bad enough for the disciples to hear that Jesus would suffer, be rejected, and die on a cross. Now Jesus told them that they must be WILLING to do the same thing.

       

      Deny himself, and take up his cross...

       

      Everybody knew what Jesus meant when He said this. Everyone knew that the cross was an unrelenting instrument of death. The cross had no other purpose.

       

      The cross was NOT about religious ceremonies; it was NOT about traditions and spiritual feelings. The cross was a HORRIFIC, CRUEL, AND TORTUOUS way to execute people. EVERY time we see the cross, it should break our hearts and remind us HOW GREAT was Jesus love for the lost, the blind, the rejecting, and those who hated him.

       

      In these twenty centuries after Jesus, we have done a pretty good job in sanitizing and ritualizing the cross. Today, the cross does NOT remind us of what the cross meant in Jesus day. The cross means rejection, nakedness, humiliation, torture, shame, and public ridicule. Yet Jesus said something much like this: “Walk down death row daily and follow Me.” Taking up your cross was not a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.

       

      Deny himself, and take up his cross...

       

      Jesus made deny himself equal with take up his cross. The two express the same idea. The cross was NOT about self-promotion or self-affirmation. The person carrying a cross knew they could NOT save themselves.

       

      Denying self is not the same as self-denial. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will.

       

      Denying self means to live as an others-centered person. We are to STRIVE to be a selfless servant. That means NOT having ourselves as the focus, but thinking about others. Jesus was the only person to do this perfectly, but we are to follow in His steps (and follow Me). This is following Jesus at its simplest: He carried a cross, He walked down death row; so must those who follow Him.

       

      Human nature wants to indulge self, not deny self. Death to self is always terrible, and if we expect it to be a pleasant or mild experience, we will often be disillusioned. Death to self is the radical command of the Christian life. To take up your cross meant one thing: you were going to a certain death, and your only hope was in resurrection power.

       

      Verses 25-27 tells us The paradox of the cross: finding life by losing it.

       

      For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

       

      Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it...

       

      We must follow Jesus this way, because it is the only way that we will ever find life. It sounds strange to say, “You will never live until you first walk to your death with Jesus,” but that is the idea. You can’t gain resurrection life without dying first to self and the self-centered lost world.

       

      You do NOT lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. Instead, you set the seed free to be what it was always intended to be.

       

      What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

       

      Avoiding the walk to SELF death with Jesus means that we may gain the whole world, and end up losing everything.

       

      REMEMBER...Jesus Himself had the opportunity to gain all the world by worshipping Satan (Luke 4:5-8), but He CHOSE life and victory in obedience instead.

       

      Amazingly, the people who live this way before Jesus are the ones who are really, genuinely happy. Giving our lives to Jesus all the way, and living as an others-centered person does not take away from our lives, it adds to it.

       

      He will reward each according to his works...

       

      This ultimate gain is given on this day. If we live life blind to this truth, we really will lose our own soul.

       

      Verse 28 tells us A promise to see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

       

      Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

       

      Some standing here…shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom...

       

      SOME WRONGLY POINT TO THIS AND SAY, JESUS LIED. ALL OF THE DISCIPLES DIED, AND DID NOT LIVE TO SEE THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS.

       

      FOR THE 12 DISCIPLES, THEY ALL, BUT FOR JUDAS, SAW THE RESURRECTED JESUS. WE KNOW THAT THERE WAS A FALLING AWAY OF MANY WHO HAD FOLLOWED JESUS WHEN THEY REALIZED HE WAS NOT THERE TO FREE THEM FROM ROME AT THAT TIME, BUT TO FREE THEM FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION. AND THOSE THAT REMAINED, THEY SAW THE PROMISE REVEALED IN JESUS WALKING WITH THEM AFTER THE CROSS. THEY SAW HIM RETURN TO HEAVEN.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:03 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 17

       

      OPENS WITH...JESUS TRANSFIGURED, TRIUMPHANT, AND TAXED

       

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us The TRANSFORMATION of Jesus before His disciples.

       

      "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light."

       

      Jesus took Peter, James, and John...

       

      Jesus did not invite all the disciples, but only these three. Perhaps Jesus did this to prevent the account of this amazing miracle being told of before the time was right (Matthew 17:9).

       

      Led them up on a high mountain...

       

      There have been several suggestions for the location of the Mount of Transfiguration.

       

      1. Mount Tabor (about 1,900 feet, 580 meters); but it is NOT high, and is NOT on the way from Caesearea Philippi to Capernaum.

       

      2. Mount Hermon (about 9,300 feet, 2,835 meters) is high; but perhaps too high and too cold on its summit, where they seem to have spent the night. It also would not be close to the Jewish crowds that met Jesus immediately on His descent from the mountain (Matthew 17:14, Luke 9:37).

       

      3. Mount Miron (about 3,900 feet, 1,190 meters) was the highest mountain in a Jewish area, and IS on the way between Caesearea Philippi and Capernaum.

       

      BUT WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THIS...IF THAT ACTUAL PLACE WAS IMPORTANT TO US THEN AND NOW, JESUS WOULD HAVE MADE SURE WE KNEW IT. THAT JESUS DID NOT, TELLS US THAT AS USUAL THE EVENT WAS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PLACE.

       

      He was transfigured before them...

       

      The word transfigured speaks of a transformation, not merely a change in outward appearance. The effect was extremely striking; Jesus became so bright in appearance that He was even difficult to look at (like the sun).

       

      The verb metamorphoo (‘transfigure,’ ‘transform,’ ‘change in form’) suggests a change of inmost nature that may be outwardly visible.”

       

      AND THINK HOW VERY POWERFUL AND STRONG OUR JESUS HAD TO BE TO CONFINE, SHIELD, AND KEEP HIS HEAVENLY GLORY, LIGHT, PURITY FROM SHOWING TO ALL!

       

      AND THINK ABOUT THIS, REMEMBER THE PEOPLE BEGGED MOSES TO COVER HIMSELF AFTER BEING WITH THE LORD ON THE MOUNTAIN, BECAUSE MOSES STILL RADIANTED A BRIGHT, SCARY AND ******* THE EYES GLOW.

       

      Essentially this was not a new miracle, but the temporary cessation of an ongoing one. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying this glory. Yet John said, We beheld His glory. Peter wrote, We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

       

      His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light...

       

      Jesus has His disciples with Him when He shines in His glory.

       

      REMEMBER JOHN 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me."

       

      Verses 3 tells us Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus.

       

      "And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him."

       

      Moses and Elijah...

       

      Remarkably, these two Old Testament persons appeared and spoke with the transfigured Jesus. Moses had lived some 1400 years before; Elijah some 900 years before; yet they were alive and in some sort of resurrected, glorified state.

       

      It is fair to think that these two particular persons from the Old Testament appeared because they represent the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). The sum of Old Testament revelation came to meet with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration.

       

      We can also say that Moses and Elijah represent those who are caught up to God (Moses at Jude 9 and Elijah at 2 Kings 2:11). More specifically, Moses represents those who die and go to glory, and Elijah represents those who are caught up to heaven without death (as in the rapture described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

       

      AND RIGHT HERE IS THE FIRST PROOF POSITIVE THAT THOSE WHO LOVE THE LORD AND DIE OR ARE CAUGHT UP WITHOUT DEATH IN THIS LIFE, ARE STILL VERY MUCH ALIVE, HAVE BODIES, CONVERSE WITH OUR JESUS, AND REMEMBER TOO, THE DISCIPLES KNEW WHO THEY WERE. IT IS ANOTHER PROOF, THAT ONCE WE ARE IN HEAVEN WITH OUR JESUS...WE WILL KNOW ALL THOSE THERE BY NAME AND THEY WILL KNOW US TOO!

       

      ANOTHER PROOF AND TRUTH GIVEN US HERE IS THAT TIME IS ONLY GIVEN FOR THE EARTH AND MANKIND. THAT TIME AS WE KNOW IT DOES NOT EXIST IN HEAVEN. AND THAT ALL OF THOSE WHO LOVE JESUS AND ARE IN HEAVEN, ALREADY KNEW WHAT OUR JESUS WAS GOING TO DO, FACE, AND OVERCOME. SO THEY NOW KNOW AND UNDERSTAND MOST THINGS INSTANTLY OF THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE. WE WILL NOT KNOW ALL THE THINGS OF THE LORD, BUT WE WILL NO LONGER HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ONCE WE WALK THROUGH THE GATES OF HEAVEN, ALL QUESTIONS WILL BE MADE KNOWN TO US IN THE INSTANT WE ARE CHANGED.

       

      AND LET'S FACE IT TOO, THE CONCERNS, THE CARES, AND QUESTIONS IN AND OF THIS WORLD WILL NOT BE IMPORTANT TO US ONCE WE WALK THROUGH THE GATES OF HEAVEN AND WE SEE OUR PRECIOUS JESUS FACE TO FACE.

       

      Talking with Him...

       

      Luke 9:31 tells us the theme of their conversation; they spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. They spoke of the upcoming work of the cross, and presumably of the resurrection to follow.

       

      Verses 4-5 tells us Peter equates Jesus with Moses and Elijah and is dramatically rebuked by a voice from the cloud of God’s glory.

       

      "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

       

      Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah...

       

      RIGHT HERE WE LEARN WORDS MATTER TO GOD.

       

      NOW Mark 9:6 and Luke 9:33 point out that Peter did NOT know or realize what he was saying when he said this. Though said without careful thought, the effect of his words put Jesus on an equal level with Moses and Elijah, building equal shrines for each of them.

       

      MANY RELIGIONS POINT TO THE FIRST PART OF THIS SCRIPTURE, AS PROOF THAT MOSES AND ELIJAH ARE EQUAL TO AND SHOULD BE EQUALLY HONORED AS JESUS. BUT AS USUAL, THOSE THAT CHERRY PICK PARTS AND PARCELS OF SCRIPTURE INTENTIONALLY OR UNINTENTIONALLY GIVE FALSE TEACHINGS.

       

      A bright cloud overshadowed them...

       

      This is the cloud of God’s glory, called the shekinah in the Old Testament. From this cloud of glory, God the Father spoke.

       

      SPURGEON reminds us, “When God The Father draws near to man it is absolutely necessary that his glory should be veiled. No man can see his face and live. Hence the cloud, in this instance, and in other cases.”

       

      This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!

       

      The Father, from heaven, rebuked Peter’s attempt to put Jesus on an equal footing with Moses and Elijah – and while he was still speaking. It was important to interrupt Peter, so that all would know that Jesus is unique and the beloved Son – He deserves our special attention, so Hear Him!

       

      AND WE KNOW that everything that the Father said IS CONFIRMED IN OTHER Scriptures.

       

      1. In Psalm 2:7, the Father says to the Son: You are my Son.

       

      2. In Isaiah 42:1, the Father says to the Son that He is One in whom My soul delights.

       

      3. In Matthew 12:18 quotes the passage: in whom My soul is well pleased!

       

      4. In Deuteronomy 18:15, God the Father says through Moses the prophet about the coming Jesus, Him you shall hear.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “The occasion was most august, yet no better words are needed by the Lord himself concerning his own Son than those recorded in former ages in the pages of Holy Writ…So that this voice of the Lord utters three Bible words, and surely if the Lord speaks in the language of Scripture, how much more should his servants? We preach best when we preach the word of God.”

       

      This is another development of the significant theme in Matthew of the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders. With these words from heaven, God the Father clearly set Jesus above the Law and the Prophets. He is not merely another or even a better lawgiver or prophet. Jesus is the only begotten Son. The ULTIMATE law giver. The ULTIMATE prophet from God the Father.

       

      SPURGEON again says it well, “If the Father says, ‘This is my Son,’ observe the graciousness of our adoption! With such a Son the Lord had no need of children. He did not make us his children because he needed sons, but because we needed a father.”

       

      Hear Him!

       

      If we should listen to anyone, we should listen to Jesus. One would think that a voice from heaven would say, “Listen to me!” But the Father said, “Hear Him!” Everything points us TO Jesus.

       

      Verses 6-8 tells us The disciples react with a holy fear.

       

      "And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

       

      They fell on their faces and were greatly afraid...

       

      They did NOT fall on their faces when they saw Jesus transfigured; NOT when His face shone like the sun; NOT when His clothes became as white as the light; NOT when Moses and Elijah appeared with Him; NOT when Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus; and NOT even when the cloud of glory appeared and overshadowed them. But when the disciples heard the voice OF OUR MIGHTY FATHER GOD from heaven, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.

       

      Arise, and do not be afraid...

       

      The disciples were once again uniquely in awe of Jesus. This helps explain the purpose of the Transfiguration: to reassure the disciples that Jesus was the Messiah, even if He would indeed be crucified as He had so surprisingly revealed.

       

      When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only...

       

      It is significant that their entire focus was forced upon Jesus once again. The cloud was gone; Moses had left, and Elijah had disappeared.

       

      SPURGEON says, “At this day, my brethren, we have no Master but Christ; we submit ourselves to no vicar of God; we bow down ourselves before no great leader of a sect, neither to Calvin, nor to Arminius, to Wesley, or Whitfield. ‘One is our Master,’ and that one is enough, for we have learned to see the wisdom of God and the power of God in Jesus only.”

       

      Verses 9-13 tells us The problem of Elijah coming first.

       

      "Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist."

       

      Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead...

       

      Wisely, Jesus told the disciples to not speak of the transfiguration until after His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus was the final confirmation of His ministry and glory; until then, reports of the transfiguration would be more likely to test the faith of those who did not see it rather than strengthen their faith.

       

      Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?

       

      The disciples had heard that Elijah must come, according to the promise of Malachi 4:5: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."

       

      Their question may go like this: “Jesus, we know that Elijah comes first before the Messiah. We know You are the Messiah, yet we just saw Elijah, and it seems that he came after You.”

       

      Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things...

       

      Jesus reassured the disciples that Elijah would indeed come first. But the first coming of Jesus did not bring the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

       

      Instead, the Malachi 4:5 coming of Elijah is probably best identified with the appearance of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-13, and then the Second Coming of Jesus, when Jesus does once again step down on the earth on Mount Zion.

       

      We know the difference, The Rapture of the Church happens before the Tribulation begins, and at that time, those who love Jesus Christ the dead bodies, as well the living, will be caught up to MEET Jesus in the clouds. Jesus does NOT step down on earth again until the end of the Great Tribulation.

       

      And most believe from these scriptures here, in Malachi, and other places that Moses and Elijah will be the TWO witnesses of the Great Tribulation.

       

      But I say to you that Elijah has come already...

       

      Yet there was also a sense in which Jesus could rightly say “Elijah has come already.” Elijah had arrived in the work of John the Baptist, who ministered in Elijah’s spirit and power (confirmed to us also in Luke 1:17).

       

      This is evident from a comparison of the life and work of both Elijah and John the Baptist.

       

      1. Elijah was noted as being full of zeal for God; so was John the Baptist.

       

      2. Elijah boldly rebuked sin in high places; so did John the Baptist.

       

      3. Elijah called sinners and compromisers to a decision of repentance; so did John the Baptist.

       

      4. Elijah attracted multitudes in his ministry; so did John the Baptist.

       

      5. Elijah attracted the attention and fury of a king and his wife; so did John the Baptist.

       

      6. Elijah was an austere man; so was John the Baptist.

       

      7. Elijah fled to the wilderness; John the Baptist also lived there.

       

      8. Elijah lived in a corrupt time and was used to restore failing spiritual life; so was it true of John the Baptist.

       

      Verses 14-16) tells us Jesus casts out a demon too tough for the disciples to handle.

       

      "And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

       

      Have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic...

       

      This particular boy’s epileptic symptoms were demonic in origin (Matthew 17:18), though this certainly could not be said about every case of epileptic symptoms, either then or today. The narrative in Mark 9:14-29 tells us that the boy was made deaf and dumb by this demon as well.

       

      BARCLAY tells us something interesting here, “Matthew describes the boy by the verb "seleniazesthai", which literally means to be moonstruck.”

       

      AND REMEMBER TOO...“When Moses came down from the mountain he was confronted by Israel’s apostasy (Exodus 32); so on Jesus’ return from the mountain he enters a scene of spiritual conflict and unbelief.”

       

      So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him...

       

      Sometimes Jesus’ followers fail, but Jesus NEVER does. The man was wise for going straight to Jesus when His followers failed.

       

      BUT WE NEED TO REMEMBER SOMETHING HERE...On previous occasions, the disciples did cast out demons (Luke 10:17). Yet here they could not cure him.

       

      WHY?

       

      This is because there ARE ranks of demonic powers (Ephesians 6:12), and evidently some demons are stronger (more stubborn, resistant) than others. Since the disciples had been given the authority to cast out demons before (Matthew 10:8), apparently this demon was more difficult than most.

       

      Their failure was in fact good for them. Their failure taught them.

       

      1. It taught them NOT to get into a rut of mechanical ministry.

       

      2. It taught them the great superiority of Jesus.

       

      3. It taught them to wish for the presence of Jesus.

       

      4. It taught them to come to Jesus with the problem.

       

      Verses 17-21 tells us Jesus EASILY casts the demon out.

       

      "Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

       

      O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?...

       

      There is a sense that Jesus is frustrated with His disciples. His season of ministry before the cross was coming to an end, and perhaps He felt frustration that the disciples did not have more faith.

       

      Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him...

       

      Jesus delivered the demon-possessed boy instantly. What was too hard for the disciples was not too hard for Jesus.

       

      Because of your unbelief...

       

      Jesus laid the inability of the disciples to cast out the demon at their unbelief. To be successful in a battle against demons, there must be trust in the Lord God who has complete authority over the demons.

       

      CLARKE says it well, "There was no point in blaming the boy or his father or the demon, though the demon was strong and had been there long. The fault lay in the disciples. “When the ministers of the Gospel find their endeavours, with respect to some places or persons, ineffectual, they should come, by private prayer, to Christ, humble themselves before him, and beg to be informed whether some evil in themselves have not been the cause of the unfruitfulness of their labours.”

       

      If you have faith as a mustard seed...

       

      The faith that we must have has more to do with what kind of faith it is than with how much faith there is. A small amount of faith, as small as a mustard seed (a very small seed), can accomplish great things if that small amount of faith is placed in the great and mighty God.

       

      This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting...

       

      We show our faith in and reliance on God through prayer and fasting. It displays an occupation with and dependence on Jesus.

       

      Great prayer and fasting also display earnestness before God that brings answer to prayer. We often pray dispassionately, almost asking God to care about things we care little or nothing about.

       

      Prayer and fasting demonstrate:

       

      1. Great willingness to identify with the afflicted person.

      2. Great appreciation of the strength of the demonic world.

      3. Great dependence upon Jesus.

      4. Great desire to fight and sacrifice for the sake of deliverance.

       

      Verses 22-23 tells us Jesus reminds His disciples about His future sufferings.

       

      "Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful."

       

      The Son of Man is about to be betrayed...

       

      Though they were frequent, these reminders about Jesus’ suffering and resurrection were disbelieved and forgotten by the disciples until after His resurrection (confirmed in Luke 24:6-8).

       

      And the third day He will be raised up...

       

      Jesus rarely told His disciples about His coming death without also telling of His coming resurrection. We know that the disciples did NOT really comprehend the glorious triumph of the resurrection, because they were exceedingly sorrowful.

       

      Verses 24-26 tells us Time to pay the temple tax.

       

      "When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”

       

      Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?

       

      This was a normal tax or fee applied to every Jewish man. Faithful Jewish men paid this obligation; others sought to escape the responsibility.

       

      FRANCE tells us some interesting things of the time:

       

      1. “It was, however, also a matter of controversy, as the Sadducees disapproved of the tax, and the men of Qumran paid it only once in a lifetime.”

       

      2. “Payment could be made in person at the Passover festival in Jerusalem…but collections were made in other areas and abroad a month earlier. This incident therefore takes place about a month before Passover.”

       

      3. “After ad 70, when the temple was destroyed, the Romans diverted this tax to the temple of Jupiter in Rome, after which it ceased to be a matter of patriotism and became a symbol of their subjection to a pagan power; the fact that the story is nonetheless recorded is one of the incidental indications that Matthew’s Gospel should be dated before ad 70.”

       

      From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?

       

      Peter gave the quick and natural answer to this question. But then Jesus explained that He is not liable to pay this tax, because the Father does NOT require it of His own Son.

       

      FRANCE again tell us, “Rabbis were exempt from paying this tax, and so were the priests in Jerusalem; would Jesus claim a similar exemption? The question assumes that he does pay regularly, and Peter agrees.”

       

      Verse 27 tells us Jesus pays the tax anyway, and by miraculous provision.

       

      Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

       

      Nevertheless, lest we offend them...

       

      Jesus was not obligated to pay this tax under the principle He had just discussed with Peter; that as a son, not a servant, He did not have to pay this temple tax. Yet Jesus also recognized the importance of avoiding needless controversy, and so was willing to pay the tax so as to not offend those who questioned.

       

      BARCLAY tells us, Jesus use of the Greek word "skandalizein" leads Barclay to write: “Therefore Jesus is saying: ‘We must pay so as not to set a bad example to others. We must not only do our duty, we must go beyond duty, in order that we may show others what they ought to do.”

       

      Cast in a hook...

       

      Peter was a professional fisherman who used nets, not a hook and a line. It must have humbled Peter to fish in this manner, and we can imagine that he hoped none of his other fishermen friends saw him trying to catch one fish at a time.

       

      Take that and give it to them for Me and you...

       

      Jesus trusted in the miraculous provision of God. It’s not everyday – or any day – that someone catches a fish and takes a coin out of its mouth. But Jesus used God’s provision to pay His taxes.

       

      Yet He did pay for Peter; as a foreshadow of the work of redemption for all men. Jesus, who did not actually owe the price, paid it nevertheless – and at the same time, with the same price, paid for Peter as well.

       

    • February 24, 2018 7:02 PM EST
    • MATTHEW 18

       

      OPENS WITH...OPENS WITH...QUALITIES AND ATTITUDES OF KINGDOM CITIZENS

       

       

      DID YOU KNOW…

       

      Among the separatist community at Qumran – those who kept the Dead Sea Scrolls, later discovered in the 20th Century – there was a “Manual of Discipline” (known as 1QS by scholars). Some people think Matthew 18 is an early church version of a “Manual of Disciple.” Yet there is a great difference between Matthew 18 and what the Essenes of Qumran had. The Manual of Discipline was religious leader created and did not mirror Jesus' teachings here in Matthew 18. Their Manual of Disciple dealt with many legalism specific rules. So while this document is ancient, it is NOT Jesus inspired. Matthew 18 Jesus deals with principles and attitudes that should mark His people as they get along with each other.

       

      The heart of a child and care for God’s little ones.

       

      Verse 1 tells us The disciples ask a question.

       

      "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

       

      Who then is greatest...

       

      The disciples were often concerned about the question of greatness. They seem to ask this question thinking that Jesus has already chosen one of them as greatest, or as if they wanted Jesus to decide among them.

       

      We can imagine the disciples arguing amongst themselves about which one was the greatest (as they did in Luke 22:46 and other places), and then saying, “Let’s let Jesus settle this.”

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “Jesus spoke of his abasement, they thought of their own advancement; and that ‘at the same time‘.”

       

      Is greatest in the kingdom of heaven...

       

      The disciples wanted to know who would hold the highest position in the administration Jesus would soon establish.

       

      The disciples who asked the question are focused firstly on self, secondly who is the greatest, and third what high rank they would hold on Jesus' earthly reign. They still do not realize that Jesus did not come this time to rule and reign the world, but He came to teach The Bible truths, correct the false teachers, priests, religions, and politicals and Jesus came to seek and eternally offer salvation to save ALL mankind, Jew and Gentile alike.

       

      TRAPP says it well, “They doubtless fancied a temporal kingdom of the Messiah, in which places would be bestowed. “They dreamt of a distribution of honours and offices, a worldly monarchy, like the kingdoms of the earth.”

       

      Verses 2-4 tells us Jesus sets a child as an example of humility.

       

      "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are