Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

Matthew 28

Matthew 28 is a short version of what happens post crucifixion.  Matthew doesn’t use a lot of words here.  He lets the other writers capture the details.  He just goes for the big rocks.  Mary and Mary went to the tomb the morning after the Sabbath.  A series of things happen on the way to the tomb: “a great earthquake, and angel, rolled back stone”.  Quite a surprise for them for sure.  The angel was sitting on the stone with an “appearance like lightning…his clothing white as snow”.  Can you imagine the emotion and fear.  The “guards trembled” beause they certainly weren’t expecting this set of events.  Their neck was on the line.  They went and told the chief priests what had happened and were paid off to keep quiet and claim that the disciples had come during the night and “stole Him away”.  That was the story they were to tell any who asked.  Meanwhile the angel had instructed the two Marys to go “quickly and tell His disciples”.  They were off in a flash and left “with fear and great joy”.  That is quite a combination of emotion.  They were awed by the experience with the angel and Jesus resurrection, but at the same time joyful that He had arose. Along the way Jesus met them and they recognized Him and worshiped Him.  He instructs them to tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee.  And that is exactly what happened.  Jesus met them on the mountain as instructed.  “When they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted”.  There is a little different reaction from the disciples.  The Marys were filled with fear and joy, the disciples with worship and doubt.  Seemingly opposite emotions that were expressed by both groups.

Matthew captures some of the most important words that Jesus speaks as this chapter comes to an end.  Jesus gives them their instruction, and ours as well, that all of us are to be focused on.  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Jesus gives us our marching orders.  He uses verbs to describe what we are to do, and it requires action on our part. 

–       Go

–       Make disciples

–       Baptizing them

–       Teaching them

We can’t fulfill this command sitting on the sideline.  We have to be in the game.  We have to be part of His plan.  We have to do things.  The instruction is pretty clear.  The question is not what we need to do – but are we doing it?  Are we working to fulfill His commission for us – reaching His purpose for our life?  We need to go….make….baptize…..teach.  Are you involved?  Time to get on with it!

Matthew 27:31-66

Matthew 27:31-66 tell the story of the Crucifixion.  Jesus is placed on the Cross and hanged there to die.  Those around Him did a number of things:

–       “They divided his garments

–       They sat down and kept watch over Him

–       Over His head they put the charge….this is Jesus, King of the Jews

–       Those who passed by derided Him

–       They were wagging their heads

–       They challenged Him – if you are the Son of God, come down

–       They mocked Him

The experience certainly would not be the way you would expect God’s Son to be treated.  But it fit into prophecy and God’s plan for us – to save us from our sin through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross.  He was hanged there with two robbers, one on each side, as a common criminal.  The people got their way, and we got our Savior!

The sixth hour there was darkness over the land until the ninth hour”.  Things had been going as expected for the religious leaders to this point.  But now Jesus is preparing to leave earth and His body.  He “cried out in a loud voice….and yielded up His spirit”.  Did Jesus have to die?  No – He certainly could have come down off that Cross and destroyed all who were there mocking Him that day.  But in a different way – yes He did – because without His shed blood there would be no forgiveness of sin and our future would be very dim indeed.  He did have to die to set us free from the burden of sin.  As He dies, some amazing things happen:

–       “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom

–       The earth shook

–       The rocks were split

–       The tombs also were opened

–       Many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised

His death changed things.  His death changed everything.  Those who previously had been mocking Him had a new tune – “they were filled with awe and said truly this was the Son of God”.  Jesus is God’s Son.  The religious leaders were afraid that He would stir up people based on His words that He would rise on the third day, so they seal the stone and set a guard at the tomb to make sure no one tampered with the tomb.  Little did they know what they were dealing with.

Matthew 26:31- 75

Matthew 26:31-75 captures the story of Jesus betrayal. Jesus warns the twelve that they willall fall away because of me this night”.  Of course they all say they won’t ever do that, but Peter is the spokesman and really puts it on the line when he boasts “I will never fall away”.  Jesus tells him exactly what is to come when He says “before the rooster crows you will deny me three times”.  Jesus is troubled by the coming events and takes His three closest disciples with Him to go and pray.  He asks them to stay and watch and pray,  He goes a bit further and pours out His heart saying “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will”.  Jesus is agonizing about what is to come.  He seeks the Father to see if there might be another way.  But His agenda is clear – He is totally committed to following and obeying God’s will and direction even unto death.  Jesus is all in.  His key disciples – the inner team if you will – are overcome.  Three times He asks them to “watch and pray” and all three times He returns to find them sleeping again.  They do not completely understand the gravity of the situation.  The third time He awakens them is right before Judas Iscariot shows up with the mob to arrest Jesus.  Judas had set forth a plan: “the one I kiss is the Man”.  And that is exactly how it went down.  Judas comes up to Jesus and “kissed Him” and betrays Him into the hands of the crowd to be dragged back to Caiaphas the high priest and the religious leaders. There was a momentary challenge put up by one of the disciples when he “drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear”.  Momentary delay as there were four of them against a mob of angry people that had been assembled by the leaders to go get Jesus. 

As Jesus had predicted, “all the disciples left Him and fled”.  Peter “was following Him at a distance” but none of the ones who had spent the last three years living and walking with Jesus daily were with Him now as He is accused and facing death.  Only hours earlier they had all said they would be with Him through it all, but now that they have seen what is happening they scatter like flies. Peter wants to be close enough to the situation to know what is going down.  He stays in the shadows at a distance watching as Jesus is falsely accused and sentenced as a blasphemer.  Then it began to happen.  One by one people began looking at who was in the crowd watching.  “A servant girl came to Peter and said “you also were with Jesus…..but he denied it”.  A bit later another servant girl came and said “this man was with Jesus…..again he denied it”.   Soon thereafter one of the bystanders came up to Peter and said “certainly you too are one of them….he began to invoke a curse on himself and swear ‘I do not know the man’”.  Three times people recognize Peter as having been with Jesus and three times he denies it, each a little more strongly.  He does exactly what he told Jesus he would not do – fall away and run from knowing him.  Peter is focused on saving his skin and not being associated with the Man whom he had followed for the last three years to protect his own life.  “Immediately the rooster crowed…..and he went out and wept bitterly”.  Peter remembered what Jesus had told him – that before the night was over he would deny Jesus three times.  He did, and the rooster was the reminder of that prophecy.  Peter is devastated.  He has done exactly what he said he would not.  So how do you respond when your faith is challenged or someone asks you about Jesus?  Do you run and deny that you know Him?  Or are you completely sold out for Him, willing to stand firm and defend Him as your Savior and Lord?  Is Jesus only there when you are alone and no one else knows?  Or are you living life so that everyone sees and knows that He is King in your life and you are all in for Him?  Do you deny Him?  We will learn that Peter does not lose his place of importance in God’s plan with this denial.  But it is a very hard time as God builds his character and grows him to become the “rock” of the church as Jesus told him earlier.

Matthew 26:1-30

Matthew 26:1-30 gives us the details of the coming death of Jesus.  He was with his disciples and tells them “the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified”.  Can you imagine receiving that statement?  They have walked with Him the last three years and then one day out of the blue He begins talking about His death.  Of course it shouldn’t have been a surprise, after all there were many prophecies about it and Jesus has more than hinted previously, but this day would prove to be one where they really began to see the events that were coming.  The religious leaders “plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill Him”.  There was still fear of what the people would do if they messed with Jesus.  But they were now committed to getting rid of Him.  They decide not to do it during the Passover feast to avoid the wrath of the people.  Meanwhile, Jesus and the disciples were going on with life.  A woman comes to the place He was eating at a house in Bethany and pours a flask of very expensive oil on His head.  “When the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘why this waste’”?  They were definitely not seeing the big picture yet.  Jesus tells them to leave her alone as “in pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare Me for burial”.  The guys hadn’t quite put two and two together yet.  They weren’t quite picking up what He had put down as the reality of the next days.

Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests to ask “what will you give me if I deliver Him over to you”.  Talk about being an opportunist.  Judas was driven by greed.  He enjoyed the gig the 12 had going and wasn’t about to let Jesus derail his interpretation of building the Kingdom which was not even remotely close to what Jesus’ version of that was.  Judas Iscariot was looking for an earthly kingdom where he could be one of the ruling team.  Of course Jesus came to die for our sin and prepare the way for God’s Kingdom in heaven, but there was a complete disconnect between that and what Judas was expecting.  So he went and put a price on Jesus’ head – “they paid him thirty pieces of silver”.  Not really much but enough for Judas because “from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray Him”.  Later that day they gathered and shared the first communion together by breaking bread and taking the cup from Jesus.  It was at that meal that Jesus tells the 12 that someone would betray Him.  And here is the response: “Is it I, Lord”?  They all were asking.  Even Judas Iscariot asked that question and Jesus identified him as the one but didn’t really call him out or make a big deal out of it.  Why?  Because Jesus was on the course of obedience to God’s will.  He knew He had to die to fulfill God’s plan.  So the time continued with the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.  It had to be a powerful time for them then, just as it should be for us now when we partake of it in our worship time.  “When they had sung a hymn, they went out”.  This really sets the stage for the events that are to come.  The group now has been told – they still don’t understand all that it means – but it will become very evident over the next hours and days as Jesus goes to the Cross and then rises from the grave.  Have you experienced the power of His crucifixion and resurrection?  Do you realize that your sin put Him on that Cross?  We all need to ask “is it I” when it comes to Jesus.  And the answer is – yes – He went to the Cross for your sin and mine!

Matthew 25

Matthew 25 is a couple parables that Jesus uses to teach some powerful lessons.  The first is about the 10 virgins.  Five are called wise because they came prepared by bringing along extra oil for their lamp, the other five foolish because they made no preparation.  We need to be ready.  There couldn’t be a much clearer way to tell us to wake up and prepare for Christ coming again.  As the bridegroom approached, the five foolish virgins had a problem their “lamps are going out” and they plead for oil from the five who were prepared.  The prepared didn’t have enough extra so the fools went to buy oil.  But the bridegroom came and “those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut”.  Did you catch that?  He went in with those who were ready and shut the door.  As the other five return they say “Lord, Lord, open to us” but it is too late.  The door has been closed and they are on the wrong side of it.  The second parable is that of the talents.  Jesus shares that one servant is given five, one two and the last a single talent. The Master is gone for a while and upon return asks to see what they had done with their gifts.  Of course the first two had doubled their amount, the last just returned what he had been given.  Jesus says these words to the first two: “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much”.  Those are words we should all long to hear.  We are in the same spot as these servants were.  God has entrusted things to us to be stewards of during our life here on earth.  We will give account one day for what we did with the things He entrusted to us.  What will your story be?  Have you taken the gifts, talents, money, time and every other thing God has given and used it well for Him?  Will He say “well done” when you stand before Him on judgment day?  Or will your story be like the last servant – who hid what he had been given in the ground and didn’t use it at all for his Master?  The response to that poor guy was not positive: “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness”.  How we live matters my friends.  We need to be prepared and we plan for how we will serve our Lord.  And we need to use what He has given us wisely to make a difference for His Kingdom.  It makes a big difference for what our eternity will look like.

Jesus clearly tells us what will happen at the end.  “He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”.  That seems pretty harsh doesn’t it?  Doesn’t really seem to be fair at all.  But God is not about fairness, He is about justice and being true to His Word.  And the time is coming when there will be a very distinct separation made.  “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.  There will be one group that will inherit eternal life and spend eternity with God in heaven, and another that will be separated from God and spend eternity in hell. It doesn’t get much plainer than what Jesus tells us here.  He goes on to drive home the point that how we live really matters.  Check out what He says:

–       For I was hungry and you gave me food

–       I was thirsty and you gave me drink

–       I was a stranger and you welcomed me

–       I was naked and you clothed me

–       I was sick and you visited me

–       I was in prison and you came to me

Never believe that life doesn’t matter.  How we live has a huge impact in our relationship with God.  Jesus tells us that many will come to Him in those last days and say “Lord, when did we see you……” in one of these situations.   Jesus is very clear when He responds:Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”.  How we live makes a huge difference.  We need to live and love like Jesus.  To do that we need a personal relationship with Him.  The judgment won’t be about life being fair.  It will absolutely be about what we did with Jesus.  Are you ready?   

Matthew 23

Matthew 23 is about as in your face as Jesus can be.  He is dealing with the religious leaders and definitely is not wearing the soft gloves – the gloves are off and everyone is getting a full dose of truth.  Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders as He talks to the crowds and His disciples.  He is calling them hypocrites to their very faces.  “Practice and observe whatever they tell you – but not what they do….for they preach, but do not practice”.  So we have a situation here where those who should be setting an example of how to live are merely giving it lip service and not walking the talk at all.  They are telling people how to live, but definitely not following their own direction.  They live in a way that takes advantage of their place in the world – making life difficult for others as they make it easy for themselves.  They are totally focused on self.  As Jesus lets them have it – He again reminds us how we must live to walk in His ways: “the greatest among you shall be your servant”.  Life as a Christ Follower is not about me, it is about serving others.  Leadership as a Christ Follower is not about me, it is about being a servant leader.  Life in God’s economy = serving others.  It is not about self.  It is about others.  Jesus makes it clear over and over in scripture.  We are like Him when we serve.  We are walking the talk when we humble ourselves and put others first.  It is in humility that He will exalt us.  It is when we get this right that we will see His blessing.

Jesus really takes the gloves off and seven times here says “woe to you” as He addresses the religious leaders.  Now that seems pretty confrontational to me.  He already knows they want to kill Him, but that doesn’t seem to matter much.  He is not swayed by their threats.  He calls them out on these things:

–       “you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces

–       you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte….you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves

–       who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath

–       you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness

–       you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence

–       you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness

–       you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets

Jesus really calls them out.  He identified a bunch of things that the religious leaders are hypocritical about.  One wasn’t enough – He has to blast them seven times and really point out just how off track they really are.  This isn’t a quiet rebuke happening behind the closed doors of the synagogue.  This is out in the midst of the crowds and Jesus is calling these folks out and making it clear they are really off track.  Are there any areas in your life where Jesus may be whispering “woe to you” because you are not walking the talk or walking according to the direction of His Word?  Do you need to make some course corrections to get back on track and obedience to His will?  Now is the time.  Life matters.  How we live makes a difference.  Don’t make the mistake the religious leaders of Jesus’ time did and get focused on self, ignoring God’s direction for life.  There will be a day of reckoning.  Get on track now!

Matthew 22

Matthew 22 begins with the parable of the king and his wedding feast.  As other writers told the story, he invited many but none came, so he sent his servants out to gather a crowd from the streets.  They came and filled the hall.  One of them there “had no wedding garment” – he was not prepared for the wedding.  When asked how he got in “he was speechless”.  We will need to be sure we are ready when invited to that final feast with Jesus.  We need to be able to answer the question of why we deserve to be there.  Can you answer that?   Do you know why you should be allowed into heaven?  It comes down to a personal relationship with Jesus that covers the penalty of our sin.  Be ready.  The Pharisees come to challenge Jesus.  They toss out a question about paying taxes to Caesar.  That is a great question – one I am sure many of us wish would be answered with the statement that we don’t need to pay any more.  But that is not what Jesus said.  As He always does – Jesus asks them a question about “whose likeness and inscription is this” when looking at a coin.  Of course it was Caesar’s.  So Jesus says ““Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.  Jesus doesn’t tell us not to pay taxes.  He is clear that we have to be obedient to the political leaders.  The Sadducees follow up with their own question about seven brothers who all marry the same woman as one after the other dies and the next brother steps up to marry her.  They want to know who the husband will be in heaven.  Of course, they miss the entire boat.  “For in the resurrection they will neither marry nor are given in marriage”.  So there are no married folks in heaven.  We are not there to focus on others, but God Himself.  The Sadducees were unable to respond and the people in the crowd “were astonished at His teaching”.  In fact, “from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”.  Jesus put them in their place.

But Jesus also answered one of the most important questions in all of scripture.  A lawyer asked which is the great commandment in the law.  He wanted to know what we needed to be obedient to.  Here it is – plain and simple – clear and pointed – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets”.  It can be boiled down to loving God and loving people.  Period.  But Jesus goes on here to say that everything else depends on these two commandments.  Want to understand the foundation of God’s world?  Here it is.  These two simple and straightforward commandments tell us how to live and also provide the key to God in every other area.  It all boils down to love.  If we can get these down we will be well on our way to walking as God desires and be in obedience to His Word!

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