Sat, Apr 28th - 12:34PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And said to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves (21:10-13)."
Jesus Christ in effect forced Jerusalem to consider His claims to deity. All of the people living within the city were "moved" and had to ask who this man was. But they were to discover quickly who He was, for He went to the temple of God and cleaned house. Jesus used very strong language in speaking to these temple dwellers.
Many say that this was Jesus Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but it was not in reality. Only portions of Zechariah's prophecy were fulfilled here. On this occasion our Lord Jesus Christ entered the city in order that He might be the Savior. He was making the final public presentation of Himself to all of the people of Israel. Considering all four Gospel accounts together they present a composite picture. The obvious conclusion to make then is that He entered the city on three separate days.
The first time was on Saturday, the Sabbath day. He looked around the temple, saw no money changers on that day, so He left (Mark 11:11). We could say that He entered as the Priest.
The second time was on Sunday, the first day of the week. Money changers were everywhere and He cleansed the temple, as we have read in our opening text. We could say that He entered as the King.
The third time was on Monday, the second day of the week. At that time Jesus wept over Jerusalem, entered the temple, and taught and healed (Luke 19:41-44; 47-48). We could say that He entered as the Prophet.
Were these three consecutive days, or were they on three distinctly different occasions? I do not know for sure. We do know that each day He retired out to Bethany. He did not spend the night inside the city's walls until the night that He was arrested.
His so-called triumphal entry ended at the cross. When He comes the next time He shall come in triumph. We are informed in Zechariah 14:4 that when He comes again to earth, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and it shall split in half. Then when He enters Jerusalem it definitely shall be in triumph. But here in Matthew 21 Jesus is on His way to the cross to die for your sin and for mine.
Doing any sort of research into that time period and one becomes aware of how the money changers had altered the space within the outer court of the Temple. Originally it had been intended by God to provide Gentiles with a place to come and worship Him and to offer up sacrifices to Him to cover their sins. But the High Priest and his buddies had decided that they could make a lot of money by allowing the lenders and money changers inside this area, and keep the "dirty" Gentiles out of the Temple completely. This did not please God in the least. Then, to make matters even worse, they decided to charge outrageous amounts for the purchase of doves. Why the issue here? The poor were the ones who bought doves to offer as sacrifice to God to cover their sin as doves were acceptable substitutes according to God. They had the least amount of money to buy anything, and yet the Pharisees chose to charge them higher amounts, just to make more money for themselves. Usury is not pleasing to the Lord. Thus Jesus went in and chased them all out to restore God's House to being a house of prayer and not a house of profit.
"And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were extremely unhappy (21:14-15)."
Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. He turned no one away. That is what being a faith healer is all about! But just look at those religious rulers. They weren't happy at all with this turn of events. This man comes into their city and turns everything on its ear! Everyone is talking about Him, and not about them. They got to listen to the children all singing His praises within their temple. They probably were clenching their teeth in anger and frustration. Spitting mad. Wanting to take a spoon and stab Jesus' eyes out one by one. Sew His lips shut so that He could not speak to the crowds of people flocking to see and hear Him. Did these religious rulers zip their lips, remain quiet?
"And said to Him, Don't you hear what they are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have perfected praise? And He left them, and went out of the city to Bethany; and He lodged there (21:16-17)."
They think to appeal to His common sense of the way things have been done within the temple. Surely if He would simply stop and listen and reconsider what the effects of His actions were, He would stop? "And He left them." Jesus told them that He had heard, then He reminded them of what was written within the Old Testament. After that brief reminder Jesus simply walked away from them, rejecting their position. He went out of the city to Bethany, but He reentered the city the very next morning. But that is something I will cover next time!
Grace and peace be with you today!
Sun, Apr 22nd - 5:29PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And when they drew close to Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, to the mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway you shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them to Me. And If any man says anything to you, you shall say to them, The Lord has need of them, and straightway he will send them (21:1-3)."
I suppose one can claim that this too, was a miracle. But the last time that Jesus had been in Jerusalem He could have easily made arrangements with someone to have these animals available the next time that He came to Jerusalem for the Passover. It would have quite easy to leave instructions with them to be on the lookout for two of His disciples who would tell them that "The Lord has need of them." At any rate, the disciples were obedient and went to find the two animals, and they brought them back with them, as instructed by God.
"All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell you the daughter of Sion, Behold, your King comes to you, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass (21:4-5)."
Here is a quotation from out of Zechariah 9. It is not an exact quote, there will be no rejoicing this time for Christ comes to die, not to rule. This rejoicing mentioned in Zechariah 9 will not take place until Christ comes the second time as King of the universe. These two verses lead us into the mock triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem upon the ass. His true triumphal entry into this city comes in the future when He arrives to rule the earth in person.
Why ride into Jerusalem upon a donkey? Back in those days the donkey represented peace while the horse represented war. Thus Jesus entered the city peacefully offering Himself as King. He did this in a humble fashion.
"And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set Him upon them. And a very great multitude spead their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strew them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest (21:6-9)."
There is the distinct possibility that Jesus was entering the city via this route for the very first time. All other times He entered the city unobtrusively by other gates where fewer crowds would congregate. But this time He rides into the city as a King of kings, those who are closest to His approach recognize Him as a King. It is their opportunity to accept Him or reject Him. It is ironic that in such a short time the crowds would turn against Him and demand His crucifixion.
I hope that you have had a blessed first day of the week. Grace and peace be yours.
Sat, Apr 21st - 9:47PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"But Jesus called them to Him, and said, You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be this among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (20:25-28)."
What a revolutionary concept! How diametrically opposed to how mankind approaches leadership! God brought a new approach to service and greatness and this ought to be front and center in the minds of each and every person who is engaged in Christian service. If I am a member of the praise team, then I can't push my way to the forefront at the expense of the other members of the team. If I am a preacher of the Word then I can't push past all of the other preachers at their expense. If I am a classroom teacher on Sundays or a midweek service then I can't try to become the best teacher at the expense of all of the other teachers. If I wish to become a great leader among believers then I must become their greatest servant, I must serve them the best that I know how. Jesus Christ makes it extremely clear here that the path to greatness and the path to serve Him is to seek out the lowest place. Is it not why He demonstrated personally at the Last Supper this servant's attitude by washing the feet of His disciples?
Jesus and the disciples are very near to Jerusalem when He informs them once more of His impending death for the fifth time. Verse twenty-eight is a momentous verse, one that every believer ought to memorize. This verse tells us why Jesus Christ came to earth and what His mission was. This is necessary today for there remains much confusion over this point. God, Creator of the entire universe and of everything contained therein, came to serve those who choose to believe in Him. He did not come to lord it over everyone and order people about. He came to seek out those who were lost and to restore them to the kingdom of heaven through their faith in Him. He came to serve those who were hurt, maimed, blind, deaf, dumb, lame, and diseased, by making them whole again through healings.
"And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, You son of David (20:29-30)."
Jesus and His disciples had been near Jericho and continued on towards Jerusalem. If one stops to consider, this is the opposite direction than the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. Jesus is going from Jericho up to Jerusalem to die among thieves!
An error to be found among some is this: Since Jesus did not defend Himself during any point of His trial then believers ought not defend themselves either. But at other times prior to this trial Jesus did defend Himself. He did not defend Himself before Pilate or the Sanhedrin because He was there to take my place. I was guilty and there is no defense for that. He was bearing my sin, and He was bearing your sin at that point in time.
Then we come across these two blind men sitting by the roadside. Can you picture them? Sitting by the side of the road, listening to the commotion of the approaching crowd following behind Jesus and the disciples. Did they beg for money or for food? No! They heard that Jesus was there and they loudly called out to Him. They accurately identified Him. They acknowledged His kingship. They were Jews and claimed Him as king.
"And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, You son of David (20:31)."
They were making requests of God and the people around them told them to shut up. They weren't being polite or mannered. Did this stop the two men from accessing God? No! They simply shouted out to God all the louder. They were persistent in their appeals to God. They were fervent in their appeals to God. Can you see the trend here? Can you see the application in your life? When you pray to God and ask Him for something do not become influenced by the negativity of those around you and stop requesting things of Him. Continue to ask Him, fervently, ceaselessly, passionately. Shed tears if you must, but do not stop. God answers your prayers if you do not stop praying. The question becomes one of whether or not your request is important to you or not. Also, do you really believe God hears and answers prayer?
"And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What do you wish that I shall do to you? They said to Him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him (20:32-34)."
Their situation and problem was so obvious, why did God ask them what He could do for them? Even though God knows everything, we must tell Him our need. In doing this we voice our need and acknowledge to Him and ourselves that we need Him to supply it for us. If I am coming to God for salvation I must tell Him that I am a sinner and need His shed blood to cleanse me. If I do not do this I will not be saved. This then is the "offense" of the cross. Everybody would love to come to the cross of Christ if they could drag along the perfume of their self-righteousness and good deeds. But, you and I haven't any goodness in us at all, none whatsoever, to give to God. I can't sweeten my character with schooling, psychology, or any other sort of training, than I can sweeten a great big ole pile of hen manure out in chickenyard with expensive perfume. I have to come to Christ as a sinner and receive Him as my Savior. This is how the two blind men came, they came with their need.
What did Jesus then do? He stopped, He called out to them, and then touched them. Isn't this what He continues to do even today? He stops and calls out to us, then He comes and touches our lives. Forever changed. Songs are sung about this. "He touched me, ohhh, He touched me! And all the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and now I know, He touched me and He made me whole!" How about you beloved? Has Jesus touched you and made you whole? Does joy flood your heart and soul like the rolling surf found at the beach? Have you been healed of the self-guilt and shame, of the self-pity and despair, of the self-loathing? Do you have a completely new outlook on life? Are you now wanting to be a servant of others? Are you wanting to follow Jesus Christ as these two men wanted to?
That finishes up chapter twenty of Matthew. Next time I shall begin chapter twenty-one which has Jesus officially entering Jerusalem. As Jesus enters the city this time He enters in a new role. Previously He had always entered unobtrusively, without fanfare. But now He expresses His claim as King. He cleanses the Temple for a second time. If Jesus is not the One whom He claims to be then this is presumption of the highest order! He curses the fig tree, which is a symbolic action. He meets the challenge of the Sanhedrin and by parable accuses them of scheming to kill Him We will discover the decisive and deliberate nature of the method of Christ. Who is in control of events? Jesus. He forces everyone to act when and how He chooses. The King orchestrates His subjects to do His will. He obediently walks the path towards the beckoning cross on Calvary. May grace and peace flood your heart and soul this day!
Fri, Apr 20th - 7:34PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few
chosen. And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples a distance apart, and said to them. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death. And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again (20:16-19)."
Verse 16 finishes the previous parable of the vineyard laborers. God calls all men and women, but not all hear or obey the call. Only a few become chosen to enter into heaven for the gate is narrow in deed. Upon finishing that parable Jesus turned and lead His disciples up out of the Jordan Valley and traveled up to Jerusalem. He chose to stop briefly to explain once again why He was taking them up to Jerusalem at this time. It was so that He could be betrayed to the Sanhedrin and handed over to the Gentiles for crucifixion. The cross at Calvary's shadow cast all the way to the Jordan Valley, and beyond.
Could God have explained this any clearer to the disciples? He told them plainly that He walked to His death and that three days later He would be resurrected to life anew. This is the fourth time He has told the disciples of what is coming, of what must come. And yet, the disciples still were dull of mind, they weren't understanding that He had come explicitly to die upon a Roman cross in order to save everyone who chooses to believe in Him. It apparently didn't fit their preconceived notions of why the Messiah had come. Jesus however, had reached the appointed time for Him to walk up to Jerusalem and begin His final three days of earthly ministry. This is very significant, beloved. Consider, He deliberately went there to die for you and for me. It was not accidentally done to Him, Jesus was in complete control of everything.
"Then came the mother of Zebedee's children to Him, with her sons, worshiping Him, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And He said to her, What do you want? She said to Him, Grant that my two sons may sit, the one on Your right hand, and the other on the left, in Your kingdom (20:20-21)."
Here comes the mother of James and John making a request of the Messiah. Did she have any idea of how inappropriate her request was? Asking God if her two boys could sit on either side of Him in His kingdom was outrageous! At some other time this request wouldn't have been unforeseeable. Mothers can tend to be rather ambitious when it concerns their sons. But here James and John's mom completely missed the "atmosphere: and the very understanding of what was actually taking place at that time. What was the Lord's reply to this ambitious woman?
"But Jesus answered and said, You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of
the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am
baptized with? They said to Him, We are able. And He said to them, You shall indeed drink of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My
right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them
for whom it is prepared of My Father (20:22-23)."
Some scholars and commentators feel that some omissions ought to exist in these two verses in order that we poor folk will be able to properly understand what God was saying to this woman and her two sons. I do not. It is quite obvious what Jesus was telling them. They would one day drink of Christ's cup and be baptized with His Holy Spirit, but they could not be given permission to sit on His right and left in the kingdom of heaven. There are two for whom this position of recognition has been prepared for, and God the Father shall be the One who gives these two seats to them.
Heaven is for the asking. You and I do nothing for salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ through His marvelous grace. But our position, our reward in heaven is determined by what we actually do down here on earth after we have accepted Christ into our hearts. That is the key element that far too many professing Christians seem to have lost sight of. We prepare a place for ourselves in the kingdom of heaven by what we choose to do with our lives in service of Christ. Am I therefore using this time wisely, storing up treasure in heaven? Or am I continuing to live like the rest of the unbelievers around me? Personally I am not worrying myself over those two particular seats, I am sure that I have screwed up any chance at sitting that close to Christ. But I must be actively working for a place in heaven. All believers should be doing this every day. In Philippians 3:14 the apostle Paul says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." The question comes to my mind, "Am I pressing toward this mark, or not?" Am I even trying to win anything? Do I even know what the high calling of God in Christ Jesus is? First I must realize the free gift of salvation, but then I need to get out onto the racetrack in order to obtain my reward after running the race and fighting the good fight. Action is what is missing in too many alleged Christians today, they only want to come on Sunday and sit in the pew for an hour.
"And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brothers (20:24)."
Why were they indignant? Could it have been that they all secretly were coveting those same places at His right and left hands? Isn't that how too many of us respond today when confronted with fellow believers who ask a congregational leader for positions of prominence? We have failed to learn valuable lessons. We continue to commit the exact same mistakes made in history.
That is all for today my friends. Next time I shall write about Christ's answer to their indignation, of what leadership in Christ's church of believers was to be all about. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Thu, Apr 12th - 5:15PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And everyone that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall received a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first (19:29-30)."
Hard words given to us by our Lord. Forsaking our homes, our families, our loved ones, for the name of Christ. That means putting Him first in our hearts, ahead of everything and everyone else in our lives. As much as I love my wife, I love Christ the more. As much as I love my children and grandchildren, I love Christ the more. If I do this, then He promises to give to me a hundred times this and I will inherit eternal life in heaven. With much sacrifice comes much reward.
Many a famous religious leader today will stand by the side as unknown saints will be given first place. Those who have come to accept Christ close to the last day will not have to wait at the end of a long line of saints simply because of when they were either born or chose to believe. God is not a respecter of persons. This is a wonderful picture presented to us so that we do not become despondent or tired of doing good works.
This finishes the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew. I will now begin studying the next chapter in this gospel. The theme of this next chapter is Jesus making additional announcements of His approaching death and the giving of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. We will also see the mother of James and and John requesting positions of high honor next to Christ's throne for her two boys. Ahh! Mankind never ever changes, do we?
This chapter opens with the parable about the vineyard which is a continuation of Jesus' remarks on rewards in the previous chapter which we just finished. We could sense a sort of marking of time as the tempo in Matthew had slowed down. But from here on out the tempo shall quicken as our Lord moves directly to the cross on Calvary. We are going to also find that more unknown sections of the present state of the kingdom of heaven shall be revealed to us. The principle for giving rewards is stated in this parable: Faithfulness to the task, rather than the amount of work done or the spectacular nature of the work, governs the giving of rewards.
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard (20:1-2)."
We must keep firmly in mind the last verse of chapter nineteen as we read this parable. Jesus wants everyone to understand this concept in the kingdom of heaven.
"And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them; Go also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did the same thing (20:3-5)."
The sixth hour was high noon, and the ninth hour was three in the afternoon. Laborers were hired and sent out to work at varying times.
"And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why do you stand here all the day idle? They said to him, Because no man has hired us. He said to them, Go also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall you receive. So when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last to the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should receive more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and you have made them equal to us, which have born the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do you no wrong: did not you agree with me for a penny? Take what is now yours, and go your way: I will give to this last, even as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own? Is your eye evil, because I am good (20:6-15)?"
Truth: It is not the amount of time which I serve nor the prominence or importance of my position which determines my reward. I will be rewarded for my faithfulness to the task which God has given me to do, regardless of how small or how short or how insignificant it may appear to be.
Beloved, perhaps you feel that God has not called you to accomplish great things for Him, but in what He has called you to do, are you being faithful to do it? Once you reach heaven you will find out how important that small task really was in the grand scheme of things.
That is all the time I have today. Next time I shall continue on in this study and write about the fourth announcement of Jesus' death and resurrection. Grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Apr 4th - 7:30PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Then said Jesus to His disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (19:23-24)."
Did Jesus say that wealthy people can't get into heaven? No, He did not. What was true back then remains ever so true in our day. Not many rich, noble, or great, people on this earth are Christians. People tend to miss God's humor. It is on display in these verses. A camel going through the eye of a needle? Can you picture that attempt? It would be hilarious to watch! Of course, there are some who claim that there was a gate in Jerusalem called "The Eye of the Needle," that a camel had to kneel down to pass through it, and that therefore God was saying here that a man must become humble in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was not talking about any gate here, he was speaking of a real camel and a real needle. It is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of any needle, and it is that difficult for wealthy people to enter into the kingdom of heaven as well. But God is able to do the impossible, can't He? Only God can regenerate a man. That is the point that Christ is making here. Wealth won't purchase anyone a ticket into the kingdom.
How many people believe that they will be saved by who they are or by who they know or by what they have? Too many. I am truly saved when I find out that I am a sinner, a beggar in God's sight, with absolutely nothing to offer Him for my salvation. Oh, I could offer Him my physical death, but then I would not be alive anymore. As long as I feel I can do something or pay God for salvation, I can no more be saved than that proverbial camel can pass through the eye of that needle!
"When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (19:25-26)."
The disciples listened and could only hear that it was impossible to make it into the kingdom of heaven if one possessed riches. Their question was legitimate, it was quite logical. The answer is that anyone is a candidate for salvation if they recognize that they have nothing to offer God but come to Him like a beggar with empty hands. Everyone must enter the kingdom by going through Christ Jesus first. There is no way to climb up over the wall and steal into the kingdom. Come to God by accepting Christ and He can save you. With God all things are possible.
"Then answered Peter and said to Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, that you which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (19:27-28)."
Is Peter speaking out of turn here? Should he be rebuked by Christ? No rebuke came because Peter asked a legitimate question born from out of what Christ had already said to them. At worst, Peter was seeking some reaffirmation that they would not be denied entrance into the kingdom. Christ responded with affirmation of what great reward the twelve apostles would receive, that they all would judge the twelve tribes of nation Israel. Does this mean that believers today will not receive any rewards? Of course not. Believers shall be rewarded by what they choose to do in service to God. Evangelism will gain a certain reward, giving to the needy gains a different reward, leading people to Christ gains another reward, and on and on it goes. Many an unknown saint shall be given prominent place at the table of Christ. Many prominent Christian leaders of today who receive wide acclaim in this life will not receive such acclaim in the kingdom of heaven.
That is all for tonight beloved. I hope that you gain some understanding of how God will treat believers in the kingdom of heaven. He is not a respecter of persons, but treats everyone the same, expects the exact same things of everyone. He will also judge everyone by the same standard. Until next time, grace and peace be yours as you continue your journey through Holy Week and fasten your eyes upon Calgary and its imposing cross.
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