Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment Chapter 23    Woes for Hypocrites

This is one of the most unfortunate descriptions that Jesus gave about those who should have recognized who He is and why He had come.  But just the opposite is true.   Consider His description of the “religious” – those who had decided to come to God how they believed was right, rather than by what God had said:

1.       You do not enter the kingdom of heaven and prevent others as well.
2.       You ignore the Great Commandment and strive for outward pious appearance.
3.       You keep the people from coming to God.
4.       You are blind guides more concerned about material things.
5.       You meticulously observe your own man-made laws and ignore justice, mercy and faithfulness.
6.       You are meticulous about eating utensils, but ignore the deceit and selfishness within them.
7.       You are like white washed tombs, but full of death, hypocrisy and lawlessness.
8.       You are like your fore-fathers, you also will kill God’s messenger.

And yet as Jesus made these observations He did not do so to condemn them (or us), but to get them to see the error of their ways.  He was extending them the opportunity to repent (change the direction of their lives) and come into a relationship with God through Him.  The offer doesn’t expire until you do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment Chapter 22    The Great Commandment

The attempts to trap Jesus continue in this chapter without success but one of the leaders asked a very good question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  Now for the Pharisees, there were 613 commandments that they regarded as the Law, which they “thought” they were meticulously keeping.    So to ask which was the greatest was virtually an impossible question to answer and to ask without creating a scene unlike that of the current Presidential debates.

But even this did not faze Jesus.  He quoted from the OT book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6, a passage that should have impacted their lives on a moment by moment basis (because this was to be on their hearts, taught diligently to their children, talked about).   He simply said, “Love the Lord Your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.   This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You will love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and Prophets.”    Are you living a Great life?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 21    Receive or Reject? 

Jesus fulfills the OT passage from Zechariah 9 indicating how the Messiah / King would come into Jerusalem, His throne city.  Jesus rode on a small donkey that had never been ridden before and the people shouted, Hosanna, meaning “God Saves.”    The King enters triumphantly, but unlike their expectation of Him beginning to reign, getting rid of the Roman occupation and restoring the glory of the nation of Israel, back to the days of King David and Solomon, He causes a scene at the temple, and then leaves Jerusalem for the night.

The next day He tells two parables to the Jewish religious leaders who had rejected His ways.   In the second He indicates another fulfillment of the OT passage from Psalm 118:22-24, “The Stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone.”  Jesus didn’t stay in Jerusalem because it wasn’t His time to reign; it was His time to be rejected.   And their rejection of Him would result in the one perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.   Will you let Jesus reign as the Lord of your life or are you still rejecting Him?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 20    First Place Given to the Last

Ever find yourself trying to pick which line to get into hoping that it’ll move the quickest?  The checkout line at the store?   The lane in stopped traffic or approaching a toll booth?   Ever realize this is an obsession and that you always make the wrong choice?   Wrong because you want to be out in front of everyone else and have the pre-eminent position.  Even the disciples of Jesus were concerned about which one of them would be first.

Once again Jesus turns the worldview around and indicates, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.   It is not that way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first amount you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (verses 25-28)

Let your inevitable wrong choices to be first in life remind you that Jesus tells us to put others first, like He did and to realize it will make an eternal difference.  Besides only one person deserves to be first, and that’s Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 19     Obtaining Eternal Life

This chapter contains the account of a sincere person who came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to obtain eternal life.”  Knowing the sincerity of this person, Jesus responded, “Keep the commandments.”  Now the person responded to Jesus that he had, but Jesus knew that not one of us could perfectly keep all the commandments for our entire life, so He responded where the person did not keep the law – in the manner of coveting.   Jesus told the man to go and sell all that he had, to give it to the poor and then to follow Him.  As we’re told, “the man went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”

Jesus told his followers, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter then kingdom of God.”    His disciples in astonishment asked, “Then who can be saved?”   You can’t get a camel through a needle (a great illustration of extremes!).  Jesus responded, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   The moral of this account:   We have no possibility of getting to heaven based on our own efforts or intentions.  Only God can make it possible and He did through His Son as the rest of Matthews Gospel will demonstrate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 18     Forgiveness Extremes

This chapter tells the story of a Master who had a servant that had a debt that he couldn’t possibly pay.  This Master had compassion for the servant and forgave what could not be repaid.   Then this servant went to someone who owed him pennies by comparison and threw him into prison because he couldn’t pay.   Well, word got back to the Master and his servant was called back to him and the Master responded, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you?  And his Master, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.”

This parable tells us of the great forgiveness of our sins that God makes available to us through Jesus.  It is a debt we cannot repay but salvation and forgiveness are offered freely to us as a gift.   By comparison how forgiving are we to those who have wronged us?   Notice that the wicked slave would be tortured until he repaid what he could not repay.   This is a subtle indication that hell will be eternal for those who do you accept God’s gift of forgiveness.  But the challenge remains to strive to forgive as we have been forgiven.   Makes more sense instead of options like, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 17     Listen or Little?

There are some great happenings in this chapter, especially for Peter, James and John as they witness Jesus in His glory.  There’s even a great “fish” story at the end.

There isn’t that many times when we get to hear God the Father speaking, so when He does we need to pay attention.   In v5, He says, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”   So what’s the response we should make?

Unfortunately, just a little later at v20, Jesus comments on the “littleness” of their faith.

Those who live large in this world have little faith in Jesus.   But those who listen to Jesus will live large for eternity.