Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

Matthew 4

Matthew 4 has Jesus being tested.  “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness  to be tempted by the devil”.  Any question about whether you and I will be tempted.  Jesus was, and so will we.  How did he prepare for it?  “After fasting  forty days and forty nights, he  was hungry”.  We see that Jesus was human – he got hungry.  And after 40 days that would be intense hunger for sure.  Satan comes at Him where he would be weakest.  That’s how the enemy attacks us.  He knows our weaknesses and attacks there.  “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are  the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”.

Satan goes after Jesus at His weakest point.  But Jesus tackles the enemy with scripture.  That is our offensive weapon to fight with.  “It is written”.  We need to know scripture so we can use scripture to stand against the enemy.  God’s Word is our only defense.  That’s why we are continually reminded to read it, hear it, memorize it, meditate on it – because it is the one thing we can depend on to stand fast against the devil.  We need to realize that the enemy knows the Bible too.  “Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple….it is written”.  Satan can quote scripture with the best of us.  He proves it as he attempts to tempt Jesus to sin.

Jesus deals with two more temptations and each time listens to Satan quote scripture as part of the tempting.  But Jesus replies with scripture in context and as God intended, not the twisted way Satan tried to use it.  And then He had enough. “Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan”! There is power in the name of Jesus against the enemy.  Satan must submit to Jesus and His authority.  “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him”.  Jesus may have felt like He was dealing with the enemy alone, but He wasn’t.  God had His angels ready to minister to Him which they did immediately after Jesus sent the enemy away.

John the Baptist is arrested and the torch is passed to Christ to carry on the preaching of repentance.  “From that time Jesus began to preach….Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  He now is taking the lead in challenging people to get right with God.  And to do that, He begins selecting those who will walk with Him the next three years.  “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers….he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you  fishers of men”.  Peter and Andrew are the first to be called.

“Immediately they left their nets and followed him”.  No negotiating, no wondering, just obedience.  They answered the call immediately without hesitation.  Jesus continues as “he saw two other brothers….Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him”.  James and John do the same exact thing, picking up and leaving their dad and jobs behind so they could walk with the Savior.  The twelve were a vital part of how Christ would prepare the ministry to continue after His death.  His ministry begins to flourish, and “great crowds followed him”.  He was little known but His message resonated and people were drawn to Him.

Matthew 3

Matthew 3 has John the Baptist preaching and preparing the way for Jesus.  “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight”. He was a unique man, not necessarily the guy you’d expect to carry the torch for the Savior of the world.  Scripture tells us that he “wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey”.  God not only tells us in scripture, but we see over and over how He uses people based on their heart, not their appearance or skills, to do His work.  God plus anyone can do anything.

John had quite a following as people came from far and wide to hear him preach about sin and salvation and to be baptized by him in the Jordan river.  That didn’t sit well with the Pharisees and Sadducees who were the ruling class of that day.  John was infringing on their turf and they wanted him to stop what he was doing and quit disrupting their place.  John gently takes them on: “You brood of  vipers….God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees.  Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”.

John has no fear.  He has a message to deliver and no religious leaders were going to step in his way.  John knows his place.  He isn’t the final answer – the One he is preparing the way for – Jesus Christ – is.  “I baptize you with water  for 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”.  John knows he is the messenger for the Messiah and carries that message loudly and broadly.

The ultimate transfer happens when John baptizes Jesus.  John wanted nothing of it at first.  “Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented”.  John has the following at this point, yet as soon as Jesus comes to him he steps out of the limelight and points it all at Christ.  He baptized Jesus publicly and God shows up in a mighty way.  “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold,  a voice from heaven said,  This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”.

Matthew 1

Matthew 1 gives us the lineage of Jesus.  It begins with Abraham and runs through David.  It certainly isn’t filled with everyone being the stellar example of godliness and holiness.  There were plenty of faults to go around.  Yet God chose to bring His son into the world through this line of sinners and people that fell short.  Fourteen generations are captured here, and Joseph was Jesus father while on this earth.

Along the journey these generations had many problems including “deportation to Babylon” among other things.  Matthew tells us “the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way”.  It was a bit unconventional to say the least.  Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married, but there was a problem that Joseph discovered – she was pregnant and they hadn’t “came together” yet.  By today’s standards that may not be such a big deal, but it certainly was in their day.  In fact, it was certainly grounds for breaking off the engagement at the least.

But Joseph “being a just man and unwilling  to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly”.  He wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, but certainly wasn’t going to pretend like it wasn’t a problem either.  Joseph’s plan was to end things before they even began.  That was his plan, that is, until the Holy Spirit shows up in a dream and tells him that there was a different plan and that Mary was going to bear a son that was “conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit”.  Can you imagine receiving that message?

But Joseph not only listened, but when he woke up, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And  he called his name Jesus”.  The Spirit had told him that Jesus would save his people from their sins.  I am sure he didn’t really understand all that he was about to experience, but he must have understood enough to know that the message was directly from God and he had a serious role to play in that plan.  Rather than run from God, He ran to God, married Mary and together fulfilled God’s plan.

Genesis 1

Genesis 1 is all about creation.  Scripture is pretty clear – creation was God’s deal.  “In the beginning, God created”.  He didn’t enable.  He didn’t help.  He didn’t allow.  He didn’t only plan.  God created.  And this chapter has the things that happened during those six days of creation from nothingness, to the creation of man himself.  God did it all.  He alone, without any need for a big bang or any other scientific theory.  Scripture is very clear – “God said” – and things happened.  God spoke creation into existence.

It is interesting that God did not lift a finger to make creation a reality.  God simple said the words and it was.  It is amazing to realize the power our God has.  We wonder at times if He has the power to answer prayer.  All we need to do is review Genesis 1 and realize that God has the power to do anything He desires.  There is not a limitation on His power.  The only question is whether we will ask Him.  God said, and there was the earth and sun and waters and land and animals and vegetation and all living things.

Each day, after God created, he said it “was good”.  That is, until day six when He created man and He throws in the adjective “it was very good”.  God had finished His creation, and the grand finale was creating man in His own image.  God doesn’t make any junk.  Every part of His creation was perfect and happened according to His plan.  He was the designer, He was the orchestrator, He was the creator.  And we need to be grateful for how He created His world, and us as a person made in God’s image.

God gives man one command.  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”.  Man was commanded to fill the earth – and we’ve certainly managed to do that one and in some areas – maybe over excel.  But the second part of that command was to handle the earth that God created for us to steward, and we haven’t always done so well with that one.  But it is the charge God gave us and we need to take care of His creation!

John 21

John 21 has Jesus appearing to the disciples again.  This time seven of them were out fishing in the Sea of Galilee in a couple boats.  They had been out all night and caught nothing.  Jesus was on the shore and as the sun came up, called out to them but they didn’t recognize him.  Jesus told them to “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens. They did what he said”.  It is interesting that they listened to this man on the shore they didn’t recognize.  But they were willing to try most anything to catch something.

They throw the net and immediately they had it filled with fish.  They then recognize the voice as that of Jesus, and Peter in his normal way, throws on his clothes and swims to shore leaving the others to drag in the net.  When they finally got it in there were “153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip”.  Another miracle of the Master.  Jesus had already prepared a fire and was cooking some food for their breakfast.  “This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead”.

Jesus loves these men.  He didn’t just show himself once and expect them to get it.  He does it now a third time to be sure they understand.  And during this visit he questions Peter, the one who denied Him three times earlier in the garden the night before His crucifixion.  Jesus asks Peter “do you love me” three different times.  It is interesting that is the same number of times that Peter had earlier denied Christ.  Each time Peter says yes, and Jesus tells Him to feed or shepherd His lambs or sheep.

Jesus was making a point with Peter, and you and me.  Our walk with Jesus is based on love.  It is a relationship we choose to have, and the outcome should be that of caring for the people in our patch.  We are to be Christ Followers.  Jesus said what He did to Peter to prepare him.  “He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God”.  Having recently been in Rome and seeing the place Peter was crucified upside down on a cross makes this very real.  Peter asks what will happen to John to which Jesus replied “what’s that to you? You–follow me”.  How we live as a Christ Follower is not about how we compare to others.  It is about how we live in relationship to what God has asked us to do.  It is about me and Jesus.  How’s your walk?

John 20

John 20 is one of the most important chapters to our faith in Christ.  He has been crucified and placed in a tomb with a large stone put in front of the entrance.  In other accounts, we know soldiers had been stationed to keep guard so the body could not be moved.  “Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance”.  It’s interesting that Mary Magdalene is the first to arrive at the scene.  And when she does, the stone has been moved.  The tomb is open.

She runs back to find the disciples.  “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him”.  Simon and another disciple run to check out her story.  We aren’t told who this second person is.  There are many conflicting views with often John being the one most considered.  But no matter who it was, the two find the tomb empty and the linen cloths left behind.  “The disciples then went back home”.  Sort of an interesting move.  But at this point they hadn’t figured out that Jesus had to be raised from the dead according to the prophecy of scripture.

Mary hangs around the tomb and sees the angels, and then Jesus Himself appears to her.  It’s interesting that the first person Jesus appears to is a woman, which seems strange for those times.  But she was there, standing at the tomb, looking for the Savior.  Jesus asks her to go tell the others.  “Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: I saw the Master”.  Can you imagine the doubt the disciples must have had?  Jesus comes to them later in the day to remove all that.  “Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side”.  Jesus knows they would have a difficult time believing.  This was way outside anything they expected or had experienced before.

Then Jesus gives them this command: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you”.  The job of being a disciple was really just getting started.  He is sending them off to share the good news of His resurrection.  Over the days ahead He’ll make that more clear, but this isn’t the end, but rather the beginning.  Thomas struggles to believe since he wasn’t there when Jesus came.  “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it”.  Jesus didn’t write him off as a disbeliever.  He came again and showed Thomas personally the very holes and cut in his side.  Jesus equips us and prepares us for the work He has for us to do.  He has done the same for you and me.  “These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it”.

John 19

John 19 has the crucifixion of Jesus occurring.  Pilate has been delivered Jesus by the Jewish leaders who want Him dead.  They brought Jesus as a common criminal “whipped….braided a crown from thorns….on his head….a purple robe over him….slaps in the face”.  Jesus was beaten and mistreated as the leaders of the day try to get rid of Him.  But Pilate is in a tough spot.  He knows Jesus has done no wrong.  So he “went back out again and said to them, I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime”.  Jesus was innocent, there was no guilt in Him.  He was pure and free of any sin.

The Jewish leaders got the crowd in a frenzy and wanted Pilate to crucify Christ.  Pilate talks to Jesus, but He is not impressed.  “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven”.  This is not about power of government, but God’s plan to redeem the world.  Jesus death was a choice, not a decision by a Roman leader.  Pilate knows it is wrong and tries to reason with the crowd.  But they continue and shout him down.  Then what often happens when we follow a crowd occurs: “Pilate caved in to their demand”.

Jesus is sent to be crucified. “Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him”.  He went willingly, without so much as a word.  While hanging on that Cross as a common criminal, “Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross”.  And John was there too, and even as Jesus was in the final stages of life, he looked down and asked John to care for His mother.  His love never ends.  He cared for those around Him to the very last breath.

Jesus died that day on the cross.  He said “It’s done . . . complete. Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit”.  The soldiers came to break the legs of those on the crosses that day to speed the death process since it was the day before Sabbath and they wanted to get the bodies down sooner than later.  But when they got to Jesus, He was already dead so they didn’t have to break any bones just as scripture had prophesied.  Joseph and Nicodemus, two somewhat secret followers, came and took the body and prepared it for burial.  They had come to Jesus under darkness before, but “came now in broad daylight”.  Do you come to Jesus in broad daylight, in front of all those in your patch?  Or are you afraid to let your faith be known?

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