Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’

Matthew 16

Matthew 16 has the Pharisees and Sadducees testing Jesus to see if they can catch him in something that will allow them to put him away and out of their turf.  Jesus is a threat to their livelihood, and they want Him gone.  Jesus doesn’t fall for the trap – which was their request for a sign from heaven.  He wasn’t in the business of doing things to impress people.  He did His signs and miracles to change people’s lives.  He warns the Twelve of these religious zealots.  “Watch and  beware of  the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees….the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees”.  These men were leading people away from God, not to Him.

The disciples were heading with Jesus across the lake, and they arrive with no food again.  Seems to be a pattern here.  They are worried about what they’ll eat.  Jesus scolds them saying “Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered”?  They had just fed tens of thousands of people (when you include the families of these men) and now the 12 of them are worried about how Jesus will feed them?  They picked up more leftovers than they will need.  We tend to forget the power of God in our lives.  We need to remember and have faith.  God never fails us.

Jesus was becoming more familiar to the people, but there was plenty of confusion about just who He was.  He asks His disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”.  Definitely confusion about who Jesus is.  But Jesus asks them, “But who do you say that I am”?  That’s the question each of us will have to answer when we stand before God at judgment day?  Who is this Jesus? Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.  And He is still that Son today. That is the answer each of us will need to make when we stand before God.  Jesus is the Christ.  He is our Savior.  We have to know Him.

Jesus goes on to tell Peter what lies ahead for him.  “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.  Wow – that’s some pretty cool stuff for Peter.  But it didn’t last long.  He soon decided to rebuke Jesus for what he thought was nonsense of Jesus telling them that He was going to have to be crucified on a cross, die and then raise from the dead.  Peter wasn’t buying it.  But Jesus tells him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”.  Peter didn’t see the big picture and Jesus has to set him straight.

Christ ends with challenging his disciples with a couple key questions we all need to answer.  “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul”?  Deep questions that we need to ponder and have a ready answer for.  Life isn’t about what we accumulate here.  It isn’t about money or stuff.  It is about relationships and people, and the most important relationship we will ever have is the one with Jesus.  He is Lord and Savior of this world.  But He will only be Lord and Savior to us as individuals if we receive Him as that gift and turn our life over to Him.  Are you trading your life for what matters?

Matthew 15

In Matthew 15, the Scribes and Pharisees get after Jesus that His disciples weren’t following the laws like washing their hands before eating.  This sets Jesus off as He gets after them for their hypocracy.  They were bending the law to fit their situation.  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”.  Jesus points out the real important thing in life – the condition of our heart.  It isn’t what appears on the outside that matters, but what is within our heart.  The Scribes and Pharisees were “like the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit”.

He teaches the disciples this principle.  “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart”.   It is the source of reality in our life – good or bad – the source is our heart.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness,  slander. These are what defile a person”.  Jesus makes it clear that the religious leaders had hearts that were focused on themselves and twisted the law to fit their circumstances and needs.  We each need to examine our heart and make sure it is aligned with God and His ways.

A woman comes to Jesus and pleads for healing for her daughter.  She is persistent, and the disciples want to get rid of her and the commotion she was creating.  “Send her away, for she is crying out after us”.  That would be the easy way out.  Get rid of the loud distraction so they could get on with their day.  But Jesus has compassion, and because of her continued persistence, He says “O woman, great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire….her daughter was healed instantly”. Jesus deals with us based on our faith.  If we aren’t experiencing His power in our life, we need to look in the mirror and check our faith.  He continued to touch people and create evidence as those around him “saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing….they glorified the God of Israel”.

The day wore on and again a huge crowd was gathered to bring their sick and hurting to get healing from Jesus.  The day was almost over and again the disciples want to send people away to get something to eat.  They obviously have a short memory as not much earlier Jesus has fed the 5000.  So again, He asks what they have available.  “Seven loaves, and a few small fish”.  A bit more than what was required to feed the masses last time.  And Jesus does it again.  He takes what they have, blesses it and sends the disciples out to feed the people.  After all were fed, “they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children”.  He did it again.  Took what appeared to be far too little and make it more than enough.  That’s what Jesus can do!  Not just then, but today too!

Matthew 14

Matthew 14 has the death of John the Baptist happening at the hands of Herod the tetrarch.  John had condemned him for the way the king had taken his brother’s wife, but in a drunken offer to his daughter, he got caught with a pledge to do what she asked which was for John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Her mother, tired of hearing John accuse them of adultery, asked for his death and the king felt no choice but to carry through and deliver on his pledge.  So John was killed.  Jesus shows His humanness when His friend and the one who was preparing His way is killed. “Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself”.  If you wonder if Jesus had human feelings, He did.

Jesus comes back to shore and is greeted by a large crowd of people.  He teaches and heals them.  It is getting late in the day and His disciples say “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves”.  They were isolated and had no obvious way to meet the needs of this crowd.  But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat”.  Can you imagine the looks He got from the Twelve.  A large crowd, middle of nowhere, and no preparation to care for their needs.  They tell Him the obvious which was “We have only five loaves here and two fish”.  Hardly enough to make a very big dent in the crowd.

Jesus is not even phased by their response.  It didn’t matter if there was not even enough to feed the Twelve.  Anything plus Jesus is enough.  The Twelve hadn’t experienced that yet.  But Jesus asks them to bring all they have, and He blessed it and “broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds”.  So far, so good, but remember he only had 5 loaves and 2 fish to work with.  But here’s what happened: “they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over”.  They pick up more leftovers than they started with.  That’s the abundance of Jesus.  Maybe the crowd wasn’t really a crowd?  Hardly the case.  “And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children”.  The sufficiency of Jesus is always more than enough!

They dismiss the crowd with full bellies and Jesus decides to go across the lake to the other side. The disciples are out there in the dark, and see someone coming at them walking on the water.  They are petrified.  But Jesus says “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid”.  Peter does his normal thing and boldly says “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”.  Peter isn’t afraid to test Jesus and His power.  And Jesus isn’t afraid to use this as a lesson in that power.  He said, “Come. So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus”.  The lesson here is that Peter got out of the boat and trusted His Savior.  We have to run toward Him and trust His power.  It was going well until Peter took his eyes off the Master.  “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, Lord, save me”.  The key is to keep our eyes on the Master.  He is the Way!

Matthew 11

Matthew 11 has Jesus speaking about the one who was sent to prepare the way for Him. John the Baptist was put in prison, and he hears about Jesus.  So he sends and asks “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another”?  John knew his job was to prepare the way for the Messiah.  And he senses that Jesus is that One, but sends to find out.  Jesus answered “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them”.

Not a bad resume to show that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and the Messiah.  John understands that He is the Christ.  The religious leaders didn’t however.  They accused both John and Jesus of not being worth following.  “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 at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”  They accuse John of one thing, and then Jesus of the exact opposite.  The religious leaders were threatened by both, and want to discredit them before their following gets any larger.

Jesus cries out against some of the towns He has visited and did signs and wonders in.  He transformed the lives of many people, yet these cities refused to repent and get right with God.  They saw it with their own eyes but were unwilling to let go of their sinful ways and be redeemed.  That’s the reality each one of us faces.  We’re sinners, we’re headed for eternal separation from God unless we repent and believe in this same Jesus Christ that walked in Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida and did amazing things.  He is still in the miracle business today.  We have to make the choice of what we’ll do with Jesus.

Jesus ends His discourse by reminding us that He is the source of relief.  “Come to me, all 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”.  When times get difficult, we tend to try harder and deal with it on our own.  Jesus encourages us to run to Him when we are struggling. He is the source of life.  He will carry our burdens and give us rest.  Jesus is our Savior as well as being our Lord!

Matthew 10

Matthew 10 begins with Jesus bringing together His twelve disciples.  “The names of the twelve apostles are these:

  • Simon, who is called Peter
  • Andrew his brother
  • James the son of Zebedee
  • John his brother
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Thomas
  • Matthew the tax collector
  • James the son of Alphaeus
  • Thaddaeus
  • Simon the Cananaean
  • Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him”.

Jesus calls them together to give them instructions on the task ahead, and He is clear in making them understand what to expect.

The first thing that Jesus tells them is that this isn’t a paying job.  It’s more of a Go Giver kind of thing.  “You received without paying; give without pay”.  In fact, there would be no pay.  They were being sent out to serve and live with those they touched.  But not everyone will accept that.  “If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town”.  Jesus makes it clear that they weren’t to waste any time trying to change minds.  If the reception wasn’t warm, it was time to move on.  There were plenty of people to serve.

He summarizes the assignment this way: “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles”.  Jesus explains the reality of people.  The disciples would be out serving and giving good things, but those around them would be tracking them and trying to remove them.  It makes no sense, but it is the reality of human nature.

As Jesus wraps up the preparation of His disciples, He reminds them of this truth: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven”.  We need to pay attention to this truth.  One day we’ll stand before God and be asked about our sin.  Without Jesus, we’re doomed.  We need to have a relationship with Christ and know Him so we can acknowledge Him in that day.  Judgment day won’t be about you or me.  We’re going to fail the entrance exam to heaven left on our own.  We need to find life in Jesus and our relationship with Him which will cover our sin. “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.

Matthew 9

Matthew 9 has Jesus continuing some impressive things in His public ministry.  He certainly is no longer under the radar.  “Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”.  The religious leaders challenged Jesus for what He was saying and doing, but rather than back down, Jesus tells the paralytic to “Rise, pick up your bed and go home”.  Faith healed this man, but it wasn’t his faith, but that of those who brought him to Jesus.  We can learn much about the power of faith to impact others through this story.

Jesus continues to select His disciples and selects Matthew, a tax collector who was “sitting at the tax booth”.  Jesus asks Matthew to follow Him, and he rose and came along.  “As Jesus reclined at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples”.  They were enjoying a nice meal together, but the religious leaders were still on the rampage about Jesus.  He was getting too close to their turf.  “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners”?  They were looking for anything to discredit Him.  But Jesus has the answer: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”.

Jesus deals with a couple other faith situations.  First a woman who had a long time disorder comes to Him and says she knows he can make her whole.  Jesus responds with healing based on her faith – “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you wellAnd instantly the woman was made well”.  There was no waiting, no lag time, just faith that turned into healing.  There also was the man whose daughter was ill who came and asked Jesus to come heal her.  When He arrived, He was told she was dead.  But Jesus tells them to “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping. And they laughed at him”.  But Jesus gets the last laugh as “he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose”.

There was yet another incident where two blind men come asking Jesus to heal them.  When they said they believed He could, He said “According to your faith be it done to you”.  Jesus ministry was all about caring for people.  “When he saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”.  Jesus loves all of us.  His power wasn’t limited to those who were alive while He walked the earth.  His power is equally as strong today, and faith is still the key to activating it in our lives!

Matthew 8

Matthew 8 has Jesus really coming alive in His ministry of healing.  First He deals with a man with leprocy, followed by a Centurion who had a servant who was on his deathbed some ways away.  Both of these people show how they received the healing power of Jesus.  They ask, with faith, and believe:

  • Lord, if you will, you can make me clean
  • Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but  only say the word, and my servant will be healed”

Both men recognize that Jesus is Lord, has the power, and believe He will heal them or their servant.  Faith is the trigger.  In the centurion’s case, the healing happens exactly at the moment of faith.  “Let it be done for you as you have believedAnd the servant was healed at that very moment”.

Jesus continues healing those who came to Him and were sick.  He also begins to round out the group that will become disciples.  As they see His power at work in people, some come and want to join Him as followers.  But they have excuses and haven’t counted the costs.  So He makes clear what it really means to be a follower.  You can’t be distracted by the things happening in life or have expectations of luxury or ease.  Being a Christ Follower means we prioritize that above all else.  We follow Jesus first, at all costs, with full effort.

He loads up His disciples and they head onto a boat to go across the sea.  He falls asleep, but “there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves”.  They’ve just watched Jesus heal people from all sorts of diseases, and their immediate reaction to some rough weather was fear.  So “they went and woke him, saying,  Save us, Lord; we are perishing”.  Not much faith demonstrated there.  Jesus gets up and questions them.  “Why are you  afraid, O you of little faith”?  And He proved immediately why they shouldn’t react that way as “he rose and  rebuked the winds and the sea, and  there was a great calm”.  With Jesus we may feel like things are out of control, but they never are.

They arrive on the other side and are met by two men possessed by demons that were rather extreme.  They know who Jesus is and what power He has so they beg not to be cast out of the men but rather allowed to enter a herd of pigs.  Jesus allows it and “they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters”.  Jesus still has control and used His ability to heal and set these two possessed gents free.  The guys watching the hogs run and report what they have seen.  Guess what happens?  “All the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region”. Seems like a poor response to hearing of the power of Christ to change lives that have been possessed for some time.  Yet that’s how many react to Him.  If we want to follow, we have to trust and obey!

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