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.