Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’

Matthew 28

Matthew 28 tells the story of the resurrection.  “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb”.  Jesus has been in there since Friday evening, and now it is Sunday morning, three days later.  The guards were still there watching the tomb.  A few women came to see the tomb, and as they approached there was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone and sat on it.  That had to e quite a sight.

“And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men”.   These were trained military men, but they had never seen anything like this before.  The angel tells the women “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay”.  Jesus had proclaimed that on the third day He would rise from the dead, and indeed He did.  The angel sends them to go tell the disciples and on their way they see Jesus.  The guards go back to town and tell the religious leaders what had happened, and they buy them off and guarantee protection from the governor.  They couldn’t let the truth get out.

Jesus sent the message for His disciples to meet Him in Galilee so they took off to see Him there. As they meet Him, some struggle to believe.  But He gives them their marching orders (which are ours as well).  “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”.  There we have it – a concise set of marching orders for Christ Followers.

Jesus wants us focused on making disciples.  That’s it.  A disciple is simply a learner.  So our job is to first become a disciple, then to become a disciple maker.  We are to live life as a Christ Follower in a way that others can follow us and end up as a Christ Follower themselves.  It’s about spiritual multiplication.  Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to go make baby Christians.  We are to baptize and teach them, not merely save them and get them into heaven.  The Christlike life is about following Him in a way that leads others to that same lifestyle.  It isn’t rocket science.  It means we have to study and know what that looks like and then discipline ourselves to live it every day in transparency before those in our patch.  Are you a disciple maker?  That is what Jesus has told us to go do.  He says ‘to all nations’ which is the eventual goal.  But it should start with us, then our family, then those in our patch.  He may call us to go further, but let’s start with that!

Advertisements

Matthew 27

Matthew 27 has Jesus arrested and in custody.  “When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death”.  Judas Iscariot has betrayed Him into their hands, and now they want to continue their mission to kill Him and take away His threat to their power.  They drag him before Pilate accusing Him of all sorts of lies.  “Are you  the King of the Jews”?  This was the area they focused on – trying to get Jesus to declare Himself a political rival to the governor.  But “he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed”.

The religious leaders focused on building a frenzy in the people that were there to kill Jesus.  And rather than do what was right, or even what his wife told him to do, Pilate gives Him over to be killed. The chapter describes the details of the crucifixion.  Jesus is put on a cross between two common criminals.  He chooses to give His life freely – not because He has to – but because He chooses to as a fulfillment of God’s plan to save mankind.  When He dies, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And  the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of  the saints who had fallen asleep were raised”.

The impact of His death was immediate.  “When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said. Truly this was the Son of God”!  The people couldn’t see that Jesus was God’s Son before, but as His death and the power it has are experienced, they realize that He was in fact not a criminal, but the Son of God.  “Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away”.

The religious leaders were afraid that killing Him wouldn’t end the impact of Jesus’ life. They acknowledged that Jesus had said “After three days I will rise. Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people”,  They were concerned that somehow the disciples would steal the body and create a problem where Jesus’ body was gone and thus He had done as He said.  So they go to Pilate and ask for soldiers to guard the tomb.  “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.  So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard”.  Jesus’ body is in the tomb, guarded by a group of soldiers.

Matthew 26

Matthew 26 tells the story of Jesus last few days before His crucifixion.  Jesus prepares the disciples for what is to come.  “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified”.  As much as He’s hinted about it up to this point, it now becomes very clear and very real.  For one of the twelve, it becomes an opportunity to line his own pockets.  “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you”?  Judas was in it for his own good, and was going to capitalize on the coming events.

But before that, Jesus wants to spend an evening with His disciples.  Much as He had done with the donkey that carried him to town, He sends His disciples to prepare a place.  “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him”.  Not a lot of detail, but as before, it worked out.  As they sat together Jesus drops a bomb on the group.  “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me”.  Of course, everyone is taken aback.  They ask “Is it I, Lord” and Jesus subtly points out that it will be Judas.  But His main focus is preparing the twelve for the future and establishing the sacrament we know today as communion.  “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my  blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.

They end their time around the table and Jesus takes them to the Mount of Olives to prepare for what comes next – His betrayal.  Jesus had told them earlier that they would fall away that very night.  But Peter, bold as ever, says “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you”!  We’ll find out soon enough that was an overstatement.  Jesus goes off to pray saying “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me”.  He asks Peter, James and John to go further with Him than the rest and to pray for Him.  “And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping”.

He challenges them and says “So, could you not watch with me one hour”?  He asks them to pray once again, “And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy”.  Jesus goes off a third time and when He returns they prepare to meet Judas who is bringing the religious leaders so he can betray the Christ.  The disciples want to fight to protect Jesus, but He tells them to stop.  “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels”?  This isn’t about power, but Jesus’ choice to give His life freely for the forgiveness of our sin.  This is where grace was born!

Jesus knew God’s plan for saving the world, or at least offering the means by which salvation can come.  He was aligned with what God was up to and says “all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled”.  This isn’t accidental or unplanned.  This is exactly as God had intended.  As Jesus is arrested and taken, Peter follows at a distance and then, as he watches from afar, three different people recognize him.  He denies each, more vehemently each time.  And as he denied Christ the third time, “immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly”.  All this happened to fulfill the prophecy that had been given throughout the Old Testament.  Jesus is the Christ, God’s plan for saving us from sin!

Matthew 25

Matthew 25 has Jesus teaching more about the end times.  He tells the story of the 10 virgins – how five took extra oil for their lamps and how the other five did not and ran out of light. There were three stages to a Jewish wedding in that day. The first was engagement – a formal agreement made by the fathers. The second was betrothal – the ceremony where mutual promises are made. The third was marriage – approximately one year later when the bridegroom came at an unexpected time for his bride.  The wedding party is waiting for the groom to show up but are caught unprepared when he came. Jesus tells them to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour”.  We’ll not know when He is going to return, but we need to be ready for that return.

He goes on to tell the story of the three guys that were left to tend to the traveling master’s money.  He gave five talents to one, two to a second, and one to the third and asked them to take care of things.  The one with five doubled it to ten, the one with two doubled it to four, but the one with a single talent buried it and got no return.  To the first two, the master says “Well done, good and  faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into  the joy of your master”. Then the master comes to the third one.  The story isn’t as pretty then.

The master is furious that nothing was done.  Fear had paralyzed this person to the point they merely buried what they were given and had no return.  “So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”. God gives each of us talents, skills, gifts and abilities.  But they are given to us with the intent that we’ll use them – we’ll take them and do something with them.  If we don’t, there is punishment.  Jesus says “And  cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.  We can’t just sit on what we’ve been entrusted with.  We have to take them and use them for His Kingdom.

Jesus ends the chapter reminding us that we have to treat those around us with love.  After all, that was the second most important commandment – to love our neighbors.  He sets the expectation that whenever there is an opportunity to help others, we need to step up.  “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”.  The Christian life is not lived from the sidelines.  If we are a Christ Follower, we have to be in the game and on the field.  If not, we’ll experience this reality: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”.  Jesus demands that we love those in our patch.  If we do, we truly love Him.  When we don’t, we face the outcome of that choice!

Matthew 19

Matthew 19 has some strong words about marriage and following Christ.  It begins with the Pharisees coming to Him and asking questions about divorce.  Jesus reminds them that divorce was not God’s idea, but man’s.  It didn’t exist until Moses allowed it.  They pressed him further and Jesus gives a single statement about the topic.  “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery”.  There is a lot of ambiguity around the area of divorce.  And we can argue all day about what makes it allowable or the right outcome.

The focus needs to be on the sanctity of marriage and how much God wants that to be strong and secure, not what situations will allow us to end a marriage and move on to someone or something else.  God designed marriage.  He created man and woman and brought them together for a purpose in the garden.  We need to focus on the things that keep people together, not look for the things that will allow them to be separated.  It isn’t that divorce is not ever justified.  Jesus says it is.  But the first response to challenges or trials needs to focus on building marriage, not tearing it apart.  That’s harder work, and requires people to focus on what matters rather than their own interests first, but it is God’s design.

Jesus then teaches His disciples about priorities.  They were chasing parents and children away who were trying to come to Jesus.  He stops them in their tracks and says “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”.  All people matter to Jesus – no matter their age or race or problems.  Sometimes we tend to think that Jesus only cares about the people like us.  But He loves all people of every shape, size, creed or other trait.  In fact, He died for each and every person that has or is or will ever be on the face of this planet.  He loves them all.  Jesus loves the little children – all the children of the world!

The chapter ends with a very important interaction between a man who comes with a simple question, and the Master who has the difficult answer.  “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life”?  It is a question many have asked.  Jesus gives a direct and simple answer: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments”.  Pretty straight forward.  All we have to do to have eternal life is live an obedient and perfect life obeying the commandments.  Which is where things break down for most of us.  This man felt he had followed those completely.  Most of us will have failed the test already.  But Jesus gives him the next requirement.

If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.  This man had gone through the motions of obedience but hadn’t given his life to following Christ.  That is the requirement that we need to cover our sins and give us access to the Father for eternity.  “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions”.  The man was going through the external motions but his heart was not right with God.  He was missing the inward surrender to the Savior.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, Who then can be saved”?  It seems impossible to gain eternal life.  And left to our own efforts, quite frankly it is.  “But Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.  This is the good news of the gospel.  We’re doomed left on our own.  We can’t possibly obey all that is required and we will miss the mark and fall short of God’s requirements to enter heaven.  But Jesus paid the price on the cross that gives us access through Him.  When we receive His gift of grace through confession, repentance and believing, we can confidently stand before God as one who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!  That’s how we can do the impossible – put our faith in Jesus!

Matthew 18

Matthew 18 is a chapter with a lot of important lessons, and promises.  Jesus begins with answering a deep question raised by His disciples. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”?  The answer they got was not what was expected.  Jesus tells them “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.  He starts with the requirement to even enter heaven – to become like a child.  That means complete and full faith.  But Jesus adds some color to His answer:

  • humbles himself like this child is the  greatest in the kingdom of heaven
  • receives one such child in my name receives me
  • causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck
  • despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father”

Jesus is clear that it isn’t the biblical scholars who will be greatest in heaven.  It is those who truly put all their faith in Him.  Scripture points that out in Hebrews 11 with the faith hall of fame – it is those who put all their faith and trust in God that are called out as great.  But Jesus goes on to talk about the importance of a word our society doesn’t like to talk about today – sin.  “Woe to the world for temptations to sin”! Sin is a big deal in God’s eyes.  It isn’t some little mistake – sin is missing the mark – it is disobedience to a holy and righteous God.  And it comes with consequences. Jesus talks about those consequences this way:  “It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire”.

Sin matters to God. In fact, it is sin that will keep us from spending eternity with Him.  He can’t tolerate sin because of His nature of godliness, holiness and righteousness.  It will disqualify us from entering heaven.  Jesus came to this earth to address man’s greatest problem – the reality that every one of us is guilty of sin and will someday stand before a Holy and Righteous Judge who will have to deal with the sinful life we have all lived.  Standing before Him on our own, the outcome won’t go well.  We’ll be banished from heaven.  But if we’ve address the sin of our life – if we’ve received the gift of grace God provided through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross and confessed and repented as we believed and received – our sin will be covered and we’ll stand before Him as righteous and worthy.  That’s what is at stake here and what Jesus is talking about.  Sin is real – and it has eternal consequences.

Jesus addresses a key challenge we face in the church today – what do we do with sin?  “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector”.  Does sin matter?  Enough God tells us we have to deal with it and purge it from the church.  But the method here is critical and clear.  It doesn’t begin by telling your friends and neighbors about someone elses transgressions.  It has to begin one on one.  Then one to a couple.  And if after all those efforts, finally it comes to a broader group in the church.  Too often it gets done incorrectly and causes destruction and division.  Jesus gave us the formula to address sin.  Failing to do it this way is sin itself.

He gives us a promise about the power of prayer and His Spirit we need to claim and cling to.  “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask,  it will be done for them by my Father in heaven”.  What are the limitations to prayer?  There aren’t any.  There is power in community and the fellowship of believers.  We need to spend time together.  He goes on to say “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”.  It doesn’t say He might show up.  God is where His people are.  We need to remember that and not only relish His presence, but act like He’s there with us!

He ends by answering a question Peter asks about forgiveness and how many times we should forgive someone.  Peter suggested maybe seven times was the limit.  But Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven”.  Forgiveness knows no limits.  That’s a good thing or we’d be in deep trouble before a Holy God.  But because of Jesus shed blood and the forgiveness of sin that He has provided, we’re forgiven as many times as it takes.  And we need to do the same to those in our patch. In fact, Jesus makes that clear. “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart”.  If we fail to forgive as God has forgiven us through Christ, we will have to answer to God for those choices.  If we know Jesus we’ve been forgiven, so we are required to do the same to those in our patch!

Matthew 17

Matthew 17 has Jesus spending special time with three of His disciples.  This is when we begin to see the inner circle of the Twelve.  “Jesus took with him  Peter and James, and John his brother”.  He takes them up on a high mountain and is transfigured before their eyes and meets with Moses and Elijah.  That had to be quite an unexpected event.  Peter states the obvious and says “Lord, it is good that we are here”.  We can always expect Peter to be the first to speak, even if his words or actions are a bit off base.

As they are there, God shows up and in a  loud voice from above says “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.  Here is one of the simplest instructions in all of scripture that can help us live our life well.  We merely need to listen, and then obviously obey.  The disciples were a bit overwhelmed.  “When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified”.  It’s not every day the clouds speak to you.  Jesus isn’t out of touch with their reality.  He may have been meeting with a couple of the key people from history, but “Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and have no fear”.  He never leaves us.  And we can always trust Him.

After them came down the mountain, a man came up to Jesus and gets on his knees pleading for healing for his son.  He was desperate.  “I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him”. Jesus didn’t have the same limitation and asked the father to bring his son to Him.  “Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly”.  That didn’t take long, or require a lot from Jesus other than speaking the words.  The disciples came to Jesus confused and ask “Why could we not cast it out”? They’d seen Him do it many times, but for some reason were unable on their own.

The answer Jesus gave is so important for us to hear clearly.  He said to them,  “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting”.  It’s all about faith – believing in the power of God that can be manifest in us and through us.  It is not our power though.  It is God’s and it comes alive in us through faith in God through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.  It is limitless – Jesus was clear about that – to the degree we learn to use it through faith.  He makes it clear that spiritual disciplines like prayer and fasting are part of receiving that power.  But it is ours if we learn to live real faith!

Jesus begins to bring the disciples into the reality that His life was going to take a change.  He lays some pretty deep stuff on them.  “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day”.  Jesus has just met with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop, and cast out a demon from a young boy.  And now, He’s talking about being killed.  That had to get their heads spinning.  And to top it off the chapter ends with Jesus answering Peter’s question about paying tax.  He basically tells Peter to submit and pay it to keep things from escalating.  “However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself”.  He could have just spoken the shekel into Peter’s hand.  But He chooses to use a fish to deliver it and to simply pay the tax rather than stir the situation at this time.  Jesus is tuned into God’s story and follows that lead!

%d bloggers like this: