Tue, Jul 31st - 1:12PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And whe they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. You go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen (28:16-20)."
The eleven disciples had been appointed as such by Jesus, and in a specific place it had taken place. So they traveled to this mountain to meet with Him again, hopefully. It says when they saw Him that they worshipped Him. They fell down on their knees and bowed to the ground in honor and praise, and in thanksgiving, that He was truly alive. But there were a few who had doubts. That is how it has been ever since. Some worship Christ while others doubt that He is real.
In verse 18 Jesus pronounces the fact that He has been given all of the power in heaven and the earth. It is His. Upon declaring this as being a done deal, Jesus then commands the disciples to go and teach everyone, baptizing them in the Triune God. This commission has not been completed yet, and it would appear that God's intention is for it to be finished during the Great Tribulation. This does not mean that we are off of the hook today, that we do not need to be out and about sharing Christ Jesus with whomever we bump into each day. We must remain living out Christ in our lives, remain faithful to the Holy Spirit's call within us.
We are to be moving people's hearts towards baptism by water in the name of the Trinity/Godhead. For it is within the public declaration of belief in Christ Jesus that we truly step out in faith to begin our journey towards heaven's gates.
We need to also notice that teaching is mentioned more than once here. Teaching is an integral part of the work of the church (Ephesians 4:11). The teachings of Christ are not only found in the Gospels but also in the Epistles.
The word world comes from the Greek aion, meaning age. God has promised to be with us right through to the end of this age. Through His power the commission that He pronounced can be carried out.
We have now looked at the Great Commission, now let us consider the great omission. Huh? What has Matthew omitted from his record? There is no ascension of Christ here. Why is that? Remember that Matthew is focusing upon Christ as the King. Matthew includes nothing about the ascension because the kingdom will be here on the earth and that is where the King will be to rule over His kingdom. Jesus was born a King, He lived as a King, He died as a King, and He rose again as a King. In the future He will return as a King to rule as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Hallelujah!
My friends, that completes this study of the Book of Matthew. I hope that you have learned as much as I have. I also hope that you will continue with me as I will be beginning the study of the Book of Mark next. Chronologically the Gospel of Mark was written first. It was one of the first New Testament books to be written down, probably before AD 63 from Rome.
Grace and peace be with you, and with all of your loved ones as well!
Mon, Jul 30th - 12:59PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples news. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. Then said Jesus to them, Be not afraid; go tell My brethren that they go to Galilee, and there shall they see Me (28:8-10)."
These two women quickly left, filled with great joy, but also with fear. They had just witnessed an angel come and do amazing feats of strength and tell them incredible things. While they are running to go and tell the disciples of this amazing thing, they bump into none other than Jesus Christ! He greets them, they recognize Him and fall down at His feet to worship Him. He is alive! Not dead! They are able to feel His feet with their hands! How is this possible? No time to get answers, they must go and tell the others where they must travel to in order to see Jesus themselves. Christ made an appointment, an appointed place and time to meet these beleivers of His. So we have two extremely excited women running back into Jerusalem to spread the news. Meanwhile, we have the "watchers" of the tomb filtering back into the city and reporting back to the Sanhedrin what has happened.
"Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed to the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large sums of money to the soldiers, saying, You will say, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept. And if this comrs to the governor's hearing, we will persuade him, and you will be protected. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this very day (28:11-15)."
The soldiers who had been commanded to secure the tomb, went and reported what had happened. They had no idea when Jesus had left the tomb. They only knew that after the angel moved that stone away and they looked inside that it was empty, no body was there. And the angel said that Jesus was not there. It had scared them to death. Execution was what they were faced with for failing in their charge. But the Sanhedrin didn't want them all to be executed, they wished to bribe them into telling a lie to cover up the truth. But it was not even a very plausible lie at that! Who would believe that Roman soldiers had allowed a ragtag group of fishermen from Galilee to come and steal the body of Christ from that tomb? Not very many, I wager. See, the priests and elders clearly understood what the normal fate of these soldiers would be: death. So they heaped lavish amounts of money upon these soldiers to go out and tell lies. The Sanhedrin was desperate to squash this belief in Christ before it got completely out of control. There is the first century alibi to explain away the resurrection of Christ. It did not work then, and it does not work today. Almost 2,000 years have passed, yet we continue to deal with this same alibi, along with others. Unbelief simply can't accept the truth and must create some imaginative alternative explanation of why Jesus' body couldn't be found.
We now come to where we are informed of what is commonly called the "Great Commission." In our society we have two opposing viewpoints regarding this. One group feels that the Great Commission contains the only command given for the church. That is the only thing God expects them to do. They hang their hat on it, and vigorously refuse to let go and consider other options in the matter. The other group feels that it has no meaning for our current day and that it should be excluded from the church program, as such. They do not want to go out and spread God's message to anyone at all. I must agree with Dr. J. Vernon McGee here and say that neither of these opposing viewpoints are true.
We have seen thus far that Matthew has direct application for us today, and certainly this Great Commission has an application for us today as well. This is not to say that it will not find a final and complete meaning at some point in the future. But since we have been able to see that Matthew did not give a total record of the resurrection of Jesus, neither did he give us the total commission. This commission given here in Matthew 28 should be considered with what is recorded in the other gospel accounts and especially with Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth." Each believer is to be Christ's witnesses, and we are to be endued with power from heaven above through the Holy Spirit of God. We can see the progression laid out to them by Christ. Begin witnessing in Jerusalem, then Judaea, then Samaria, and finally the world. This is what the disciples began doing and we can read those accounts beginning in the Book of Acts. It is called that due to the fact that the Holy Spirit of God was "acting" through the disciples and touching the lives of people all around them. What is recorded is not the "acts" of the apostles and disciples working under their own efforts and power, no, it shows us what God did through these men and women who believed in Him.
That is all for today, my friends. Come back tomorrow when I will finish up the Book of Matthew and prepare to begin study of the Book of Mark. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Fri, Jul 27th - 2:16PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together to Pilate. They said, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Therefore command that the sepulchre be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples might come by night, and steal Him away, and say to the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be even worse than the first. Pilate said to them, You have a watch: go your way, make it as secure as you are able. So they went, and made the sepulchre secure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch before it (27:62-66)."
For those who claim that the disciples went and stole Jesus' body from the tomb, there is a small window of opportunity in which they could have done so. It was all at night, this opportunity. It was also the day of preparation to celebrate Sabbath. All indicate that it was highly unlikely that anyone even approached the tomb during the night. The next day the Sanhedrin made the tomb secure so that no one could come and rob the grave. They could ill afford to have the disciples gain His dead body, spirit it away, and then claim that He had arisen.
If you were concerned that someone might try to steal Jesus' body from the tomb, wouldn't you have double checked it before sealing it? Right? They sealed the stone at the entrance and then established a Roman guard to watch the tomb as well. The Roman soldiers weren't about to allow anyone get past them into the tomb for if they failed in their assignment then their lives would be forfeit. That is motivation to remain awake, alert, and on guard all through the night.
The religious rulers did not believe Jesus would walk out of that tomb alive, neither did the disciples believe that He would walk out of that tomb alive. The disciples were all gathered together, hiding in a house wondering what to do next.
We now move on to the next chapter of Matthew. We have seen the arrest, the trial, the death, and burial of Jesus Christ. Now we move on to the account of His resurrection. The unique fact of the Gospel is the resurrection. All other religions record the death of their leader. Only the Christian faith records the resurrection of its Founder. Buddha is dead, Muhammed is dead, Confuscious is dead, Joe Smith is dead, the list goes on and on. Only Jesus Christ is alive today.
In order gain a full picture of the resurrection, one must put all of the gospel accounts together. Then no conflict or contradiction will appear among them. The four gospels provide us with four different perspectives of the events that took place, just like what happens when interviewing eyewitnesses to an accident.
"At the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat down upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men (28:1-4)."
The other gospel accounts inform us that these women were bringing with them sweet spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Imagine their shock at witnessing an angle come down and move that large stone blocking the tomb's entrance! Picture, if you can, the response of the contingent of soldiers who were still guarding the tomb. Was it necessary to move the stone so that Jesus could escape the tomb? No, for He was already gone. The stone was moved so that the women could go into the tomb.
You may be thinking that you have read about an angel being described in this fashion elsewhere in the Bible. Go check Daniel 10:6 and Revelation 10:1. So, we have a tomb that is no longer sealed, and is empty of its occupant. We also have an angel sitting upon the stone that previously blocked the entrance to the tomb. I do not know about you, but if I had been there my mouth would still be hanging open in astonishment.
"And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear me: for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay (28:5-6)."
I can imagine that those soldiers were in need of changing their pants at this point in time. Everyone present needed to be reassured to not be scared. When the true supernatural touches the natural, it is always with a word to not be afraid. It is an overwhelming experience to be touched by the supernatural. It is why I just laugh at the programs flooding television lately about hunting ghosts, haunted houses, schools, highways, toys, possessions, etc., etc.. Little do any of them realize what would actually happen if they truly were touched by the supernatural. They would end up on the ground acting like dead people because of abject fear.
This angel gives the divine announcement of the Resurrection of the Living God. The glorified body of Christ is radically different from the body with which He was born upon this earth.
"And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goes before you into Galilee; there shall you see Him: lo, I have told you (28:7)."
"I have told you." is the abrupt end to the angelic announcement. Human lips take up the message at this point. What did the angle bid the two women do? Come and see...go quickly...and tell. That is what every believer is supposed to be doing today. Before I can attempt to witness I must first have an unshakable conviction of the truth of the reusrrection of Jesus. I must have it settled in my own mind that Christ died for my sins and was buried and that Christ rose again. With these convictions, I can go quickly and tell others. You and I must go, and we are to tell.
That is all for this week, beloved. Next week I will continue looking at the appearance of Jesus to the two Marys and then the alibi of the "keepers" of the tomb entrance. Grace and peace be yours now, and always!
Thu, Jul 26th - 12:55PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
Upon the death of Christ Jesus several very notable things occured. There was an earthquake. The Temple veil was torn into two pieces.
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. And the graves opened up; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared to many (27:51-53)."
The veil was torn from the top down. Man could not have torn this veil for it was very thick and very high. The veil symbolizes the body of Jesus. When His body was rent upon that cross then the way was opened up into the presence of God. Therefore, we no longer need to have a priest nor a pastor go into the presence of God for us; we can directly go to the throne of God through Christ. The only way to God the Father is through God the Son (I Timothy 2:5).
The event in verses 52-53 reflects what Christ was doing after His death on the cross. He went and preached the Good News to those souls down in hell and then lead the believing souls up to heaven. This earthquake was a planned occurance, for it caused the graves to be opened up. Not all of the graves were opened, only those of the people who believed upon Christ. Matthew tells us here what happened three days later, that upon Christ's resurrection all of these saints who had been dead arose from the grave and went on into Jerusalem and were seen by lots and lots of people there.
"Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they were very afraid, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (27:54)."
We gain a bit more information from Marks account of this, but apparantly this Roman centurion was the one in charge of the crucifixion and was standing at the foot of Christ's cross. Standing so close to all of these things happening one after the other, the fact finally registered with him that this was the Son of God. It is conceivable that this centurion became saved that day. He probably did not know any doctrine, any of God's commandments, but he stood at the foot of the cross and voiced aloud that this was the Son of God.
"And many women were there watching from a distance, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him: Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children (27:55-56)."
We find Peter and John's mother there along with the two Marys. People whose lives had been changed forever by the touch of Jesus. People who had felt the love of God touch them, and heal them. The majority of the men disciples had fled, but not these women who remained near enough to continue to minister to Christ.
"When the evening came, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered to him. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre (27:57-61)."
Before this we did not know that this Joseph was a disciple of Christ's. What scattered the chosen twelve disciples drew others into the open who, up until now, would have been secret believers who remained in the background. Joseph of Arimathaea stepped up and declared his faith openly.
The apostle John infoms us that Nicodemus worked with Joseph in preparing the body of Jesus for burial. These two men, who had formerly remained in the background, now came out into the open as disciples of Christ. Note that loving hands prepared Jesus' body for burial after brutal, hateful hands had punished His body previously.
Today near the hill known as Gordon's Calvary, is a tomb called the Garden Tomb. It is believed to be where Jesus was buried. There is no way of determing if it is true or not. But His tomb would have been in this area. People desire to locate and identify these sites because then they can turn them into sacred shrines to be worshipped by thousands of people. That was not God's intent. God does not want us crawling into one of those tombs and kissing the floor. God wants us to simply believe the gospel and to take that good news to the entire world. Christ is no longer in the tomb, He has risen and lives at the right hand of God Almighty!
That is all for this Thursday, a hazy, hot, and humid day here in Virginia! Next time I shall write about what precautions the opposers of Christ chose to take in order to prevent any controversy to arise over the body of Jesus. Until then, grace and peace be with you.
Wed, Jul 25th - 12:46PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which had been spoken by the prophet, They parted My garments among them, and upon My robe did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched Him there (27:35-36)."
Psalm 22 contains the prophecy spoken about here. It presents a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. Verse 36 begins to show us the depths of depravity that humanity had reached. How much do you want to bet that Saul of Tarsus was somewhere in this crowd, watching Jesus slowly die upon that cross? Thinking that finally this blasphemer would be gotten rid of, life could now get back to normal. People gathered to sit and watch men die by being nailed to crosses, unable to properly breathe, slowly suffocating to death.
"And set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with Him, one on either side of Him. And they that passed by reviled Him, shaking their heads. And saying, You that destroys the temple, and builds it in three days, save Yourself. If You be the Son of God, come down from the cross (27:37-40)."
First up on a cross was Jesus Christ, then the two thieves were nailed to crosses and hoisted up to the left and right sides of Jesus. We need to realize that somewhere within this vast crowd watching these crucifixions was Satan. He was walking amongst the crowd, whispering into their ears sweet nothings, egging them on. See, Satan wanted Jesus dead, but Him remaining up on that cross would defeat Satan. Thus, the cries to come down off of that cross, if You truly are the Son of God. It was nothing more than adolescent dares that can be heard in any school in America."Prove it!" "I dare you to come down!" Little do any of these people realize, but Christ does not have anything to prove at this point in time. He has arrived at His hour, His time of purpose has finally come upon Him: He is now dying for the sins of the entire world. Jesus remained obedient to His Father's will in heaven, even unto death.
"Likewise the chief priests also mocked Him, and with the scribes and elders, said. "He saved others; Himself He can't save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God (27:41-43)."
The religious rulers couldn't simply go home and gloat about their victory over Jesus, oh no. They had to come and taunt Him even more. In their zeal to mock Him and discredit Him they ended up declaring the truth about what He had done for others. That He had healed and saved others. Couldn't He save Himself? Yes, He could. But that was not the greater purpose for which He had come to earth. He had come to obtain salvation for even these creatures who stood around Him now and mocked Him and cursed Him while He hung and died before their eyes. For God so loved the world...
Would the religious rulers actually have believed that He was God, if He had come down off of that cross? Would they have accepted that He was God? I do not think so. I believe that they would have howled that He was obviously of the Devil, a Satan-spawn from Hell.
"The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all of the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me (27:44-46)?"
We must remain acutely aware that Matthew is presenting the kingdom as it will be on earth, and thus the thief that finally turns and repents is not mentioned here because he will be with Christ in paradise and not on this earth. This thief's repentance must be located in the other gospel accounts for it is not revealed to us here in Matthew. Now, Christ was nailed to the cross in the third hour, which would be nine in the morning. By high noon man had done all that he could possibly do to the Son of God. Then, darkness fell and nothing could be seen across the land. Now the cross had become the altar of sacrifice upon which the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world was offered up to God in heaven.
At noon in the darkness Jesus calls out, wanting to know why He has been forsaken by heaven's majestic ruler. Why? How could this be? Looking back in Psalm 22 we can find the answer to this prickly question that still gets asked today: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?" "But You are holy..." Those last four words sum it up completely. Because God is holy He can't remain in the presence of sin. Since Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sin of the world, God must withdraw from being with Him. Our Savior experienced for the very first, and only, time separation from the remainder of the Godhead. Christ had to actually be executed if He were going to pay for all of our sins. The price of sin is death. Atonement for sin required the shedding of innocent blood.
"Some of them that stood there, when they heard that , said, This man calls for Elijah. And immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him that to drink. The rest said, Let Him be, let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him. Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit (27:47-50)."
The vinegar was offered to Him to quench His thirst and as such it fulfilled another prophecy found in Psalm 69:21. The gathered people misheard what Jesus said. They all thought that He was calling out to the Old Testament prophet Elijah to come and save Him from death. They wanted to wait and see if Elijah would miraculously appear to save this man. But that was not part of God's plan of salvation. Jesus willingly gave up the spirit and died physically. Jesus dismissed His spirit from His body, allowed it to go back to God. There was no death rattle of expended air in His throat as He died with His last breath. He simply went at His choosing.
We have now arrived at Christ's death and need to note several things that took place. But that will be for tomorrow beloved. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Tue, Jul 24th - 12:29PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And the governor said, Why, what evil has He done? But they cried out even more, saying, Let Him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could not prevail upon them, but that a riot would ensue, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: you do what you will with Him (27:23-24)."
We see here the reasoning of a mob. Pilate thought that he could ceremonially distance himself from the death of Jesus. Nice thought. But Pilate remained responsible for allowing an innocent and just man to be crucified. Christ's blood stained the hands of even Pontius Pilate, for he had the authority to forbid this crucifixion and did not. Pilate was willing to sacrifice an innocent man simply in order to preserve social peace and not have to command his soldiers to go out and restore order in the streets. What a cowardly man!
"Then answered all of the people, His blood be upon us, and upon our children. Then Pilate released Barabbas to the crowd: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified (27:25-26)."
The mob did not stop to think twice before shouting out that emotional outburst. Little did they realize that it would become very true: Christ's blood would remain upon them and their children. Brave Pilate scourged Jesus before having Him escorted by soldiers out to where He would die on the cross.
"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered the entire band of soldiers around Him. And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had pleated a crown of thorns, they placed it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they mockingly bowed on their knee before Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and struck Him on the head (27:27-30)."
These soldiers were utterly disrespectful of Christ. They had their brand of fun with Him before taking Him out to die. How humiliating! No one was overseeing the conduct of these men, Pilate didn't care. The soldiers couldn't kill Him here, He was to die upon a cross. But they could surely torture Him and multilate Him. The Roman soldiers in these sorts of details would commonly play "hot-hand" with their prisoner. All of the soldiers would show the prisoner their fists. Then they would blindfold the prisoner and all but one soldier would punch him. They would then remove the blindfold and have the prisoner guess which soldier did not hit him. He would be blindfolded again, and again, and again, until he could not stand any longer. It would appear that this is what quite possibly was done to our Lord and Savior by these soldiers for we can read in Isaiah 52 about how people were astonished at Him for His face and features were more marred than any other man's had been. Christ was punched into a pulp: eyes swollen, lips swollen, bruises darkening His body wherever fists had landed repeatedly.
"And after they had mocked Him, they took the robe off of Him, and put his own clothing back on Him, and led Him away so that they could crucify Him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross. And when they were come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull. They gave gave Him vinegar to drink mingled withgall: and when He had tasted it, He would not drink it (27:31-34)."
Christ was too weak to carry His cross all the way from out of the city, so the soldiers picked a man and forced him to carry Christ's cross the remainder of the way. Can you imagine what must have gone through the mind of this Simon the Cyrene? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Why is this man being forced to carry this cross outside the city walls? Good Lord is this thing heavy!
Today it is difficult to verify where this spot actually is. But Gordon's Calvary meets the description of such a place. The topography of this place resembles that of a skull. Once Christ reached Golgotha the soldiers offered Him drink to quench His thirst. Just more torture is what they offered to Jesus. This part of the crucifixion is a fulfillment of Psalm 69:21.
I will stop right there for today beloved. I wish to cover the actual crucifixion all in one piece so that we gain the understanding God desires from us. May God's mercy, grace, and peace be experienced by you today, and always! Walk in peace with everyone, if at all possible.
Mon, Jul 23rd - 12:58PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked Him, saying, Are You the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say it. And when He was accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer at all. Then said Pilate to Him, Do You not hear how many things they witness against You? And He did not answer him a single word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly (27:11-14)."
Remember, the Sanhedrin wanted to get rid of Jesus because of what they considered to be blasphemy. What Jesus claimed was believed to be blasphemy and they would have had Him stoned, but Rome did not allow the Jews to carry out any death sentence. So, the religious rulers were forced to deliver Jesus to Pontius Pilate with a charge that hopefully would stick in the Roman court. Treason was something that ought to stick, and so Jesus was charged with this, King of the Jews.
Other false charges were leveled against Jesus by the Sanhedrin but He refused to respond to any of them. Pilate was simply amazed that Jesus would not argue against these charges, or deny them in total. But he didn't realize that the Lamb of God stood before him, the sacrificial Lamb come to redeem even Pontius Pilate.
"Now at that feast the governor normally offered to release to the people a prisoner, one of their choice. And they had at that time a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, Whom do you wish that I release to you? Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that they had delivered Him due to envy (27:15-18)."
Matthew does not provide us, the reader, with all of the details of what went on here. He simply states the bare facts. It is clear that Pilate understood that the Sanhedrin did not have solid grounds for requesting the death penalty. Jesus had not been inciting rebellion against the Roman Empire. Pilate had a big problem sitting in his lap. He wanted to have good relations with the Sanhedrin in order to maintain peace in the region, but he also felt that arbitrarily killing Jesus was not called for. So he relied upon a solution that had been employed in the past. Pilate obviously felt that no one would seriously ask him to release Barabbas who was a murderer, thief, and a terrorist. Surely this crowd will call for him to release Jesus? Pilate was a clever politician and could see what was taking place before him. Pilate felt that he had hit upon a "win-win" scenario.
"When he was sitting down upon the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, Have nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him (27:19)."
Was Pilate's wife extremely superstitious? Was she a practictioner of a mystery religion? Or was she leaning towards belief in Christ? She did say that Jesus was a "just man." We simply do not know exactly what this woman experienced in her dream. I would say that Pilate ought to have listened to his wife.
"But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor responded and said to them, Which of these two do you wish that I release to you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate said to them, What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said to him, Let Him be crucified (27:20-22)."
Pilate was a good politician, but so were the religious rulers too. They obviously had been circulating among the people within the crowd and painting Barabbas as the one better suited to be released back to society. Wasn't he someone who stood up to the Romans? Hadn't he been actively fighting against the Romans, seeking everyone's freedom from the yoke of Caesar? Pilate was caught off guard by the response. Can you imagine an American judge today asking the people sitting in the courtroom what he/she ought to do with a prisoner? Pilate was the judge, it was up to him to decide Jesus' fate and then announce it to all of the people. End of story. Here in Matthew we are not given additional details of what all went on here, for that we must go to the Gospel of John. There we discover that Pilate took Jesus repeatedly back inside the judgment hall to question Him again and again. Pilate sought to get Jesus help him escape this prickly situation. Pilate did not really want to see Barabbas become a free man so that he could go about fomenting rebellion against Rome. But, Jesus refused to help him at all. Studying this episode from the position of hindsight, we can clearly see that it was Pilate who was on trial and Jesus was his Judge.
That is all for today, beloved. I shall continue this study of the crucifixion next time. Grace and peace be yours today!
Fri, Jul 20th - 12:35PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"When the morning was come, all of the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death (27:1)."
We have arrived at the central fact of the gospel message: the crucifixion of Christ. This fact is reflected in I Corinthians 15:3 in Paul's definition of the gospel. Let us study the record of that tremendous event, shall we?
Matthew, as well as none of the other gospel writers, doesn't give a record of the actual crucifixion. We are simply told what went on all around the cross. It is as if God placed a mantle of darkness over the last three hours of the life of Jesus on the cross in order to save us from having to bear the level of suffering that He had to endure in our place upon that cross of shame. The cross became an altar upon which the Lamb of God was offered up in our stead.
In chapter 27 we find ourselves at the morning after His arrest. The religious rulers have concocted a plan to charge Him with blasphemy and drag Him before the supreme court of that day. They must now discover whether or not their plan will stand up in the Roman court.
"And when they had bound Him, they led Him away, and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor (27:2)."
Pontius Pilate had his headquarters in Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea but also had a palace located within Jerusalem. He happened to be in Jerusalem during the Passover for there generally were riots that broke out due to the sheer numbers of people visiting the city for the holy day.
"Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself, and brought the thirty pieces of silver again to the chief priests and elders. Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? You go and see to it. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself (27:3-5)."
Ah, poor Judas. He can see Jesus being lead away to Pilate's palace, and yet he still refuses to ask Jesus to forgive him for what he has done to Him. It may say that Judas repented himself, but he never uttered the words, "Forgive me, Jesus, for I knew not what I was doing to You!" It says that he repented of the fact that he had betrayed an innocent man. He knew Jesus was innocent of the trumped up charges being levelled against Him. Judas just did not repent of having sinned against God in the Person of Jesus Christ. It is magnified by the fact that Judas then goes out and hangs himself. Suicide. That happens when a person can't envision any path leading them out of their desperate straits, cornered, trapped, with no way out. So Judas had no hope, and he chose to kill himself. He was a man without Christ's forgiveness and thus bereft of hope of gaining entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It was right there...within his reach...and still Judas missed out on being forgiven. How many people today are in this exact same situation? Jesus is so close to them, and yet they miss Him completely, ending up choosing suicide rather than eternal life with Him.
"And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. So they counselled, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. That is why that field was called, The field of blood, to this very day (27:6-8)."
Such pious men! It only became blood money because of their desire to kill Jesus Christ.
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me (27:9-10)."
This prophesy is to be found in Jeremiah 18:1-4 but is actually quoted from Zechariah 11:12-13. What we must keep in mind here is that Jesus was nearby when Judas returned to the temple with his thirty pieces of silver. Jesus was on His way to die, even for Judas. Judas could have turned and called out to Jesus and confessed his sin right there, but he did not. Shortly after that Judas ran out of time to ask for forgiveness from God. I hope and pray that none of you who read this run out of time. Repent today! Repent right now! No one knows what the future holds.
That is all for today, beloved. Next week I will begin looking at Pilate's interrogation of Jesus. May grace and peace be yours until then!
Thu, Jul 19th - 11:43AM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"What do you all think? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in His face, and punched Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy to us, You Christ, Who is he that struck You (26:66-68)?"
Think they hated Jesus? Here we get to see the natural antagonism of the human heart to God's goodness, righteousness, holiness, and the fact that He is the Living God. Basic human nature hates God. We see the members of the Sanhedrin slapping, punching, and spitting upon Christ while they ridicule Him. Such godly men! They resorted to playing games with Christ, so many of them participating that it was impossible to know who had hit Him when. Such high and lofty minded men were they! Men of such integrity and high moral standards! Not!! They acted like adolescents, immature and insulting in their attitude. These immature men decided that Jesus deserved the death penalty because He claimed to be God.
"Now Peter sat outside of the palace: and a damsel came to him, saying, You also was with Jesus of Galilee. But Peter denied it before them all, saying, I do not know what you are saying. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said to them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came to him those who stood by, and said to Peter, Surely you also are one of them; for your speech gives you away. Then Peter began to curse and to swear, saying, I do not know the man. And immediately the cock crowed (26:69-74)."
Poor Peter. Having forgotten what Christ had told him earlier in the evening, this man remained sitting outside of the priest's palace by a campfire. He's trying to simply blend in with the crowd, not wanting to stand out in any way. But aren't there people out there who recognize him? And they question him, forcing him to have to decide what to answer, he must choose what to say. Peter chooses to deny knowledge of Christ Jesus. Not once, not twice, but three times, just as Jesus had predicted that he would do.
Galilean pronunciation obviously was different enough from that around Jerusalem to be noticeable. Peter's accent simply gave him away that night! Peter hadn't any idea just how weak his faith in Christ was, which is why Jesus had prayed that Peter's faith would not fail. And it didn't.
"And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said to him, Before the cock crows, you shall deny Me three times. And Peter went out and wept bitterly (26:75)."
Peter was in the wrong place. He was in the place of temptation and no alibi can be offered for his base denial of Christ. He was guilty of being sinful, of being a denier of God. But, he did repent and come back into fellowship with Christ, whom he dearly loved. Peter later becomes the one to preach the very first sermon after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and three thousand people were redeemed! So beloved, we will stumble and fall in this life, but we are to pick ourselves back up and ask Christ to please forgive us. Repentance of our sinful way/s is of paramount necessity if we are to serve God in any capacity other than that of being a negative example of how not to live one's life as a Christian.
That concludes chapter 26 which was a long chapter. Many, many things took place in this chapter, things which we, as believers, need to know and understand. Next time I will begin studying the 27th chapter, whose theme is all of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. Grace be yours today, and always!
Wed, Jul 18th - 1:00PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"And they that had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him from a good distance away to the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end (26:57-58)."
Was this high priest the one who instigated the arrest of Jesus? We must wait to find out. All that is certain in this specific matter is that Jesus had to be brought before the high priest, for the very first charge to be leveled against Him. Since these religious rulers were going to ask Rome for the death penalty the next day, they had to figure out what charge against Jesus they could bring when they went before Pontius Pilate.
Does this sound like Peter expected his Lord and Savior to survive the night? No, it does not. Instead of being expectant of the aftermath of the coming crucifixion, Peter is hanging his head and sitting with the palace' servants. What happens when any of us today choose to follow after Christ from a great distance? It is a dangerous position to remain in for doubt enters into our minds, fear enters into our hearts, and we stumble and fall into denying that we know Christ.
"Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put Him to death; but found none: yes, although many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses. And they said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days (26:59-61)."
These men had absolutely nothing to charge Jesus with and were forced to find credible false witnesses against Him. The problem was in finding suitable false witnesses who could withstand investigation and cross-examination by the governor. Finally, they found two who provided them with the necessary charges. No matter that what they had heard Jesus claim was being misunderstood, even the disciples themselves did not comprehend the truth of what Jesus had said. The disciples came to clearly understand this last verse after the resurrection. Evidently the two false witnesses had been close enough in John 2:19-22 to hear Jesus' words but they did not quote Him accurately. They did not realize that Jesus had been referring to His own body as being this "temple."
"And the high priest arose, and said to Him, You do not answer these accusations? What is it which these witness against You? But Jesus held His peace. And the high pirest answered and said to Him, I adjure You by the living God, that You ell us whether You be the Christ, the Son of God (26:62-63)."
They really wanted Jesus to engage them in conversation in order to gain more ammunition against Him. Today we must be wary when unbelievers continually seek to engage us in dialogue, for frequently they do so simply to find flaws in our thinking that can then be used against us. Finally the high priest resorts to "adjuring" Christ to answer him. This high priest finally stumbled upon the method to get Christ to give him any sort of answer.
"Jesus said to him, You have said: nevertheless I say to you, Hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (26:64)."
Pow! A spiritual knuckle sandwich right between the eyes! Yeah, I am who you have said that I am, and I am also the Son of man and you are going to see Me sitting next to God in heaven. Take that! Christ claimed the highest title the Lord had. By doing this, He could not claim any higher title and was declaring that He was deity in the flesh.
"Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He has spoken blasphemy; what further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard His blasphemy (26:65)."
The tearing of his robes signifyed exreme grief at hearing such blasphemy. It was intolerable to claim such deity for any mortal man, and thus the entire council seize upon this claim, choosing it as the means to achieve His death at the hands of the Roman governor.
That is all for now my friends. Tomorrow I will continue on and we shall find out what the council's decision will be, and what sort of behavior they choose to show towards Jesus Christ. May you walk in the glowing warmth of the Son's radiance, covered in His grace and peace!
Tue, Jul 17th - 12:46PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Now he that betraed Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same person is He: hold Him fast. And immediately he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, Friend, why are you come? then they came, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him (26:48-50)."
The hot kiss of betrayal given out by Judas Iscariot. This is why we have such a saying that involves the name of Judas. Now, a kiss can be a sign of acceptance or rejection (Psalm 2:12). Here, Judas bestowed a kiss of betrayal and rejection upon Christ Jesus' cheek. Some scholars claim that Judas was predestined to betray Jesus and could do nothing else. If so, then Judas was nothing more than a robot, an automaton. No, evidence indicates that Judas made his own personal decision to betray Christ. He had every opportunity to change his mind, and chose not to. "But it was prophesied that he would betray the Lord!" Yes, that is very true. But Judas still had opportunity to change who would betray the Lord to the religious rulers. Even at this very point in time Judas could still have repented of his choice. Jesus gave him the opportunity to do so. "Friend, why are you come?" Jesus still called Judas a friend despite the betrayal. Later on we will find that Judas went to the temple and flung the silver coins down, no longer wishing to have them. He could have repented then as well. As the priests hauled Jesus off before Pilate, Judas could have fallen down on his knees and asked Jesus to please forgive him there. But he did not do this. Jesus would have forgiven him.
"And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and cut off his ear. Then said Jesus to him, Put up your sword into its scabbard: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Do you think that I can not now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that this is how it must be (26:51-54)?"
We can learn in other gospel accounts that this person wielding the sword was Simon Peter. Earlier Peter had claimed that he would die protecting Jesus, and didn't he go and try to do just that? What was he thinking? God needed a mortal man's protection? But since Peter was a fisherman and not a soldier, he only managed to slice off someone's ear and not their head.
Jesus turned to Peter and ordered him to put his sword away before he ended up dead from someone else's sword. If we choose to be war-like then we need to expect others to react towards us in like fashion. If I am a person who goes around picking fights with other people, then other people are going to come and pick fights with me as well. It is the timeworn adage of "Live by the sword, die by the sword." Peter obviously still hadn't picked up on the fact that Jesus could call down countless angels to wage battle for Him, if He so chose. Christ simply told Peter to put his weapon away and allow the events to run their course, in order to fulfill prophecy. Jesus had not come this first time to wage battles against the unbelievers, He had come to die for the sins of the world.
"In that same hour Jesus said to the multitudes, Are you come out like you are against a thief with swords and staves to take Me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and you did not lay hold of Me. But all of this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples did forsake Him, and fled (26:55-56)."
It is laid out plainly for any person to understand. Why must these events take place exactly as they did? In order that prophecy might be completely fulfilled. Previously, Christ's hour had not yet come. Now His hour had arrived. He had prophesied that His disciples would all flee, run away from Him, when the sinners came to take Him away. And it happened just as He said it would. They ran.
Next time, beloved, I shall begin with the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas. Dark things happen here, but also the thread of Light continues to lead us on our path to redemption. Grace and peace be with you all!
Mon, Jul 16th - 12:23PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"You can have the largest church auditorium, the biggest Sunday School, and run up a steeple on the church so high that it interferes with astronauts circling the earth, but the angels in heaven won't give a holy grunt until some old sinner comes down the aisle and gets right with Jesus."
"Then came Jesus with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray over there. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death: remain here, and watch with Me. And He went a little farther, and fell upon His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: neveertheless not as I will, but as You will (26:36-39)."
Every believer must pay close attention to Christ's prayer here. "This cup" does not refer to any sort of drinking vessel, it speaks of the cross that looms in His immediate future. This cross was not simply two wooden beams joined together. Also part of that cross were all of the sins of the entire world. This was not simply physical death and horrible suffering from being crucified, it was something else which we mortals do not seem to realize. The reality is this: Jesus, who is holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, was made sin for us. While hanging upon that wooden cross Jesus had the sin of humanity placed upon Him. Jesus did not request that He be given a free pass to avoid experiencing all of the sin effects of humanity. He acknowledged that it was to be God the Father's will to be done, and not His will to be done in this particular matter.
You and I can't fully comprehend the significance of Gethsemane, Without any doubt i clearly can see that it was here that Christ ultimately won the victory of Calvary. Here is where Satan tempted Him one last time, as he had done out in the wilderness. The human side of Christ shows through in this passage. He clearly understands the significance of accepting upon Himself all of humanity's sin. It is a daunting task that lays squarely in front of Him. It is no longer years away, or even months away, it is here now. His time as arrived. Christ was faced with the temptation to turn away from His purpose, and the Father's will, and He remained obedient.
We do need to closely observe the actions/behavior of the disciples who were in the garden with Him. After this first prayer Jesus came back to the three disciples whom He had asked come with Him, and to watch with Him.
"And He came to the disciples,and found them asleep, and said to Peter, What, you couldn't watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (26:40-41)."
Here is what we all are to be doing as His ambassadors to an unbelieving world: watch and pray. Our spirits may be very willing to do this, but our fleshly bodies remain weak and cause us to fail. I desire to pray always, and yet discover that I disappoint myself in my daily efforts. I too easily allow other things to distract me. I give too much time to doing other things. I fail to block out periods of time during which I will be doing nothing but watching and praying with Jesus Christ. I must increase my faith, my trust, my belief, in Christ so that I may begin to redeem this lost time.
Mark Christ's words well, for we will be tempted and it will be by Satan. If Jesus wrestled with temptation before His crucifixion, then we can expect to be tempted as well when we have decided to follow after Him. But we must overcome our enemy as Christ overcame him: by remaining obedient to God. Christ's victory was gained through prayer in Gethsemane and our victory will be gained by prayer in our own private gardens within our hearts.
"He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Your will be done. And He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples, and said to them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (26:42-45)."
Jesus commited Himself to the Father's will. He recognized the situation, knew full well the ramifications of His choice of actions, and still chose to remain obedient to God's will. Christ did not reprimand the disciples again and again when He returned each time from praying and found the three sound asleep. In fact, Jesus agreed that the time for them to get rested was at hand, for very soon He would be betrayed and arrested. There would be no time for any of them to rest once that happened. Also, a period of time obviously passed between verse 45 and 46. Christ, as always, remained on His approved time-line. Finally, He wakes the disciples.
"Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that does betray Me. And while He yet spoke, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people (26:46-47)."
Judas, and those who came with him, had witnessed many miracles and realized that Jesus has supernatural power and that He might use it. So when they come to arrest Him they bring a whole crowd of armed men with them. Safety in numbers. Boldness in numbers. Can you imagine the emotions coursing through the three disciples as they watched Judas approach them accompanied by this huge "army" of armed men? I think that I would be rather shell-shocked to see him leading them through the Garden of Gethsemane to Jesus. It must have been quite obvious that they were coming to arrest Jesus and take Him away. My heart would have been beating fast enough to feel like it would burst out of my chest. Incredible scene. And God was still in complete control of events as they continued to unfold.
That is all for today, beloved. I pray that you experience God's mercy and love. I pray that you choose to enter in to a relationship with Christ and to surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit, to allow Christ to radiate out through your eyes for everyone to see.
Fri, Jul 13th - 1:42PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"One enemy can do more hurt than ten friends can do good."
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (26:26-28)."
Over the dying ashes of a rapidly fading feast Christ begins a new memorial meal. During the Passover meal the cup circulated seven times, evidently at the last time was when Christ instituted this new tradition. During the Passover meal they sang the Hallel Psalms: # 111-118. Jesus sang these Himself at that time. The only momument that Christ created for Himself was this Communion. No statues, no grand archways, no temples, nor any cathedrals. Just a simple communion consisting of the temorary elements of bread and wine. But both speak of His sacrifical death until He returns. Notice that there is no mention of these two elements being transmuted into His actual flesh and blood. Notice that there is not mention of having to eat human flesh or drink human blood either. This was to be a memorial to His sacrifice for mankind. "Whenever you do this, do it in remembrance of Me."
"But I say to you, I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom (26:29)."
Perhaps God is saying to us that during the millennium the Passover will be reinstituted. That it will be a means of looking back at His death on the cross rather than looking forward to it. Or, this may simply be saying that Christ will not drink wine until He comes back and we all meet together in the kingdom of heaven.
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then said Jesus to them, All of you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said to Him, Though all men shall be offended because of You, yet will I never be offended (26:30-33)."
Verse 31 is a quotation from Zechariah's prophecy (Zecharia 13:7). In the face of Christ's declaration Peter still brashly steps forward and asserts that he will never, ever, abandon Jesus. It reveals how little Peter knew himself at this point in his life. It is a problem that very many of us today still have. Peter's response reveals his thought that the other disciples may not be dependable in these circumstances, that they too, would cave in and be offended by Christ. Who was going to do the smiting? None other than God. God was going to scatter the disicples and believers, this was necessary in order that people would take notice of their changed behavior and mindset afterwards.
"Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crows, you shall deny Me three times. Peter said to Him, Though I should die with You, yet will I not deny You. So did all of the disciples likewise say (26:34-35)."
It was early evening when Peter said that he would never deny our Lord and Savior. He was ready to die with his Messiah. All of the disciples made this claim. They failed to remain aware of who was speaking these things to them. Could God be wrong? Ever? Then why contradict God? Because their minds still could not grasp the reality of what was about to happen they blurted out their emotional response to His assertion about their impending behavior. They had waited so long for their Messiah to come that there was just no way that they would now turn away from Him. They just did not know themselves very well.
I am going to stop here today. I do not want to break up this next passage into several bits so I will wait until Monday to cover the entire passage. It contains some important "stuff" that can help us today to understand what awaited Him upon the cross. May grace and peace blanket you this day, and always.
Thu, Jul 12th - 12:12PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, And said to them, What will you give me, and I will deliver Him to you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he looked for opportunity to betray Him (26:14-16)."
This was an extremely disloyal act. Judas and Brutus are side by side in the annals of history as being huge disappointments when it comes to fidelity. Both betrayed their friend and leader in different time periods. Instead of defending their leader and standing by the side of their friend they both chose to become turncoats.
Judas actively began to search for an opportunity to betray Jesus. He understood that Jesus could not be apprehended out in public for the crowds of people would not allow it to happen. So he was forced to find a secluded place out of the public eye. And he did find such a place.
"Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You wish us to prepare for You to eat the passover? And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with My disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover(26:17-19)."
Keep in mind that Jesus knew exactly what was going on in the background, away from His presence. And still He steadily moved toward the cross. Jesus goes with His own disciples into the Upper Room, and there He will make an announcement. But first, the disciples had to enter the city and find "such a man" and alert this man that the Master's time was at hand. Had Christ previously made these arrangements? Or did He simply need to have these words spoken to the man and God's power would take over from that point? You are to decide. The disciples for their part readily go to do Christ's bidding, unaware of coming events and their ramifications.
"Now when the evening was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you, that one of you shall betray Me. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and all of them began to say to Him, Lord, is it I (26:20-22)?"
Obviously each of the twelve men knew in their heart that they were capable of betraying Him. It was the presence of their sin that made it possible. Each of us today must remain constantly aware of this sad fact. We are capable of betraying Christ Jesus, along with our loved ones. Unless we constantly remain aware of our choices and feelings. By keeping as close to Jesus as is possible we can prevent betrayal from happening in our hearts. But imagine how Christ's dinner conversation must have altered the atmosphere of the meal. From observing the memorial meal of being lead from out of Egyptian slavery into liberty to suddenly being told that someone present would betray the Son of God. That must have jarred more than one disciple.
"And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me. The Son of man goes as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been better for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said to him, You have said it (26:23-25)."
Please notice that Judas did not call Jesus "Lord" as did the other disciples present. Perhaps at this juncture Judas was caught slightly off guard by the fact that Christ seemingly knew that someone in His inner cirlce of friends was about to betray Him. Maybe that is why he asked that question. At any rate, we find out what Judas did next by reading John's account. Judas took the sop from Christ's hand, ate it, and then immediately left the Upper Room to go and do what he had already set his heart to do. Jesus told him to go and do it quickly. They weren't in this together. Christ was not Judas's accomplice. Christ simply knew what was in Judas's heart, what choice the man had already made, and utilized it to bring prophecy to fulfillment. God/Christ remained in complete control of all events and orchestrated them in order to fulfill prophesy.
Next time I will continue on and we shall discover the inception of Communion that followed the departure of Judas Iscariot from the room. Until then, grace and peace be yours. May you personally experience the mercy and love of God our Father. May He keep you until Christ's Second Advent.
Wed, Jul 11th - 11:55AM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor (26:8-9)."
How much did they all really care about the poor of their society? They remind us of people in our contemporary society who are always speaking about taking care of the poor and down trodden but do nothing about it themselves. In the American government there are quite a few legislators who are millionaires and are frequently talking about a poverty program and other types of "aid" for the poor people of this country. But how much do they personally give to the poor? How much have they personally done for the poor? If they have done little or nothing for the poor then they are simply being hypocrites! The same applies to the orphans of this country, or the children drowning in foster care. The evidence of your sincerity of your concern is always in what you yourself are actually doing. Are you simply trying to impress people, or are you actually trying to help people who are in need?
In reading this passage one must stop and consider if all of the proceeds of selling that ointment would have gone directly to helping the poor. Or, would 87% of the money have ended up in someone's pocket who did not need more money? We are not talking about a small sum of money here either. It is estimated by some that the cost of that amount of ointment equalled one year's salary for a rural worker in those days.
"When Jesus understood it, He said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work upon Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me (26:10-11)."
Christians ought not to do anything, or give anything, that does not glorify the name of Jesus Christ. Poverty programs are replete with politicians and directors who engage in corruption on a regular basis. People skim money off into their own private bank accounts, figuring no one will ever discover what they have done. It is easy money. Who is going to miss it anyways? God knows what they are doing, and He will miss it. Much better is to give money to a church that gives direct assistance to the poor, to the jobless, to the homeless, and to those who are in the midst of the grieving process. Better by far is it to give to a church, or group, that ethically ensures that donations do go to those to whom they are intended. In these cases God receives the glory, not human beings. Human beings do receive the satisfaction of knowing that they made a significant difference in someone's life, that they helped someone bridge a negative time in their life. Koinonia. Communion. Fellowship. These are the things which believers must be participating in on a regular basis, not worrying about converting property into cold, hard, cash.
"For in that she has poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial. Truly I say to you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also be this, that this woman has done, be told for a memorial of her (26:12-13)."
It is worthy to note that Jesus Christ our Lord did not spend one single night in the city of Jerusalem during that final week of His life here on earth. Instead He went out to Bethany and stayed with those people who actually loved Him. It is this way unto this very day. Those who want Him, who love Him, are the ones Jesus fellowships with today. Do you want Him, do you love Him? Big questions that need answers.
This beautiful account of the broken alabaster box does indeed fill the world with its fragrance, as Dr. J. Vernon McGee used to put it. Where ever this gospel of Matthew is preached there is to be a memorial given to this woman out of respect and love for her actions here. This woman, Mary, was the only person at this specific time who understood and entered into Christ's death. The apostles missed this point entirely. Was this woman wrong in her actions? No, she was absolutely correct in what she chose to do for Christ Jesus. The other women who went to His tomb to anoint His body were unable to do so because by that time His body was no longer within the tomb. Mary did not do this out of any hope to gain fame or favor for herself; she did it out of love for Jesus and for what He was about to do for her on the cross. Today we all need to be very careful that what we do brings glory, not to ourselves, but only to the Messiah.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I shall look at the immediate reaction of Judas Iscariot and the preparations for the Passover and Last Supper. Grace and peace be with you all this day!
Fri, Jul 6th - 12:59PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
This chapter twenty-six is the longest in this Gospel. Every incident and detail in this chapter points towards the cross. There is a precision present that initially can give the reader the impression that Christ Jesus is caught in the vortex of circumstances over which He has no control. However, a careful consideration reveals that Christ is the master of circumstances, and He is never more in control than when He draws near to the cross upon Calvary.
All of the things recorded in this chapter, and chapter twenty-seven, need to be studied in the light of Christ's determination at Caesarea Philippi six months earlier to go to Jerusalem to die (Matthew 16:21). He is moving according to His timetable, and He is forcing the issue each and every step of the way. Christ is not the helpless victim caught between the millstone of religious intrigue/power and the arm of Roman power. Awe should fill our thinking as we consider these things written in this chapter, for all were written as being vitally related to our salvation.
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all of these sayings, He said to His disciples. You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill Him. But they said, Not on the feast day, for we risk there would be an uproar among the people (26:1-5)."
This passage occurs right after Christ had finished His Olivet Discourse in the last chapter. Jesus had finished answering all of the Sanhedrin's questions and those of His disciples concerning the end of the age. Now He had something else to say to them. In verse two Christ tells His disciples that He must die. Someone will betray Him to the authorities. If we were keeping track of such things, this is the sixth time He has told them that He will be crucified. Six months earlier in Caesarea Philippi Christ had announced His impending death. Now He sets the time of His death. It is to be during the feast days of the passover. Notice that the religious rulers decided that they did not want to kill Him during the feast days because the people would probably get all upset and could end up rioting. The people who desired Christ to be dead didn't want to kill Him during the passover, Christ said that He would die during the passover. Who is in control here? Christ is in control, for He died during the feast days of the passover. Christ and not His enemies is in command of everything, Christ set the time of His execution. The bitter hatred of His enemies led them to plot His murder, and they wanted to do it their way (naturally!), but they were not permitted to do that. God remained firmly in control of all events.
"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came to Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat down to eat (26:6-7).'
Bethany was the place of love, as Jerusalem had become the place of hatred. Christ stayed in Bethany during His last hours before His crucifixion. We are in the home of Simon the leper. Obviously Simon did not currently have leprosy, otherwise he would not even have a house to live in nor would he be in close proximity to other people. Simon apparantly had had leprosy in the past but was free of the disease currently. Most likely Jesus had healed him of the illness. Simon had been restored to the land of the living, able to engage in fellowship and share a meal with the Lord.
This is a beautiful scene, beloved. Christ's enemies today do not know Him. They do not know the God who healed, who loved, who wept and judged. Sometimes His enemies present Him and His disciples as having been sinful men. American laws have banned prayer and Bible reading in schools, but they conversely allow the dirtiest, most slanderous, portrayals of Christ and do not require students to be respectful of others. These sorts of people are "spiritual lepers" who in essence ought to proclaim of themselves, "Unclean, unclean!"
When any person has come to Christ and has been spiritually cleansed by Him, they can sit down and have fellowship with Him. As they were gathered to have dinner, a woman came to Christ carrying an alabaster box of precious ointment and anointed His head and feet with it all. The apostle John in his Gospel account of this event tells us that the woman's name was Mary. John also reveals to us that the disciple who was indignant over such waste of expensive ointment was none other than Judas Iscariot. Judas was the treasurer, the keeper of the communal funds shared by all of the disciples and Jesus. It would seem that he was rather concerned about the utter waste of a source of income.
That is all for today my friends. Next week we shall uncover more of what is revealed in this chapter. I hope that you choose to come and share in that process here on this site. Grace and peace be with you.
Thu, Jul 5th - 12:35PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"When the Son on man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory (25:31)."
Finally, we discover when the Messiah will assume the throne of David in Jerusalem. He won't sit upon the throne of His glory until He returns in His glory with all of the holy angles within heaven. This future event is exactly what the zealots living during His first Advent to earth were expecting from Christ at that time.
"And before Him shall be gathered all of the nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on the left (25:32-33)."
All of the Gentiles who have lived through the Great Tribulation and have appeared as a mingling of "sheep and goats" will be separated from one another and judged by God as two distinctly different groups. Notice that there will be mandatory attendence at this gathering of nations. There will be no hiding of oneself, no scurrying off into the mountains. Everyone will be gathered and judged by Christ.
"Then shall the King say to them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in: Naked, and you clothed Me: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me (25:34-40)."
We must keep in mind that there will be 144,000 Isrealites sealed at the time of the Great Tribulation who will go out over the entire earth and preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. The purpose of this work is to porvide the opportunity for the nations to receive Christ as the sacrifice for their sins and to be ready for His immediate coming. Some nations will reject Christ. The Antichrist will have God's messengers butchered and slain, any who dare to give them a cup of cold water will risk being slain as well.
We must also realize that when we treat others lovingly we are in effect doing these things to Christ Himself. This is especially true when we treat other believers lovingly for Christ's Holy Spirit resides within each believer, thus we do to Him what we have done to the believer. This sort of conduct is to be one of the criteria utilized by God to separate out the faithful from the unbelievers.
"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink: I was a stranger, and you did not offer to take Me in: I was naked and you did not clothe Me: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me or look after Me. They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You? Then He shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous go into life eternal (25:41-46)."
By refusing to give aid to those who are in need will result in condemnation and judgment by God. Those who choose to reject the message of grace through the blood of Jesus Christ are characterized as goats for they choose more often than not to go their own way. For them there is only everlasting punishment.
This passage leaves open for interpretation exactly when this judgment takes place. I believe that for consistency to be maintained with all other scriptures we must believe that this takes place at the Great White Throne judgment when all sin and death are to be banished from God's creation. During the millennial kingdom Christ rules with a rod of iron from His throne in Jerusalem over both believers and unbelievers. The unbelievers are forced to accept Christ as their King, even though their hearts have not been changed. They merely wait for a time when they can rebel once more. That time will not come for one thousand years, when God unleashes Satan one last time for a very short period of time.
That completes the 25th chapter of Matthew. Next time I shall begin the next chapter which reveals to us the final events in the life of Jesus immediately before the cross. We shall find the plot to arrest Him, the anointing by Mary of Bethany, the sell-out by Judas Iscariot, the celebration of the first Lord's Supper, the predicted denial by Peter, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the actual betrayal by Judas, Christ's arrest by the chief priests, and the trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin. On, yes, and Peter's denial of his Lord and Master.
Grace and peace be with each of us on this hot summer's day! Walk in grace and boldness! Be ready to give a good answer to those who ask you why you are so happy.
Tue, Jul 3rd - 1:08PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"The problem with our giving is that we give the widow's mite, but not with the widow's spirit."
"It is a masterpiece of the devil to make us believe that children can't understand religion. Would Christ have made a child the standard of faith if He had known that it was not capable of understanding His words?"
~D. L. Moody
"Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with it, and made them five more talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his Lord's money there (25:16-18)."
It is clearly seen here that two out of three people went out and increased the amount of talents that had been given to them. They were being good stewards and faithful servants of their lord. The third person however, he went and hid the one talent given to him in a hole that he dug in the ground. Notice that the "talents" were sums of money and not abilities. Whatever amount of money God has provided for us, we are to faithfully and obediently use it for Him. Two men did something positive with the money while the third man did nothing with it.
"After a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained five more talents besides. His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things, enter into the joy of your lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two more talents besides them. His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sowed, and gathering where you have not strawed; And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground: lo, there you have that which is mine. His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and lazy servant, you knew, that I reap where I do not sow, and gather where I have not strawed: You ought to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For to everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And you, cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (25:19-30)."
Those who preach the prosperity gospel rely upon this passage to help support their belief. But this passage does not say that the first two servants became wealthy because they believed. They increased the amount that their lord had given into their possession and were afterwards rewarded. And it wasn't their money during the time that they were working to increase the amount of it, was it? It was still their lord's money. It did not become theirs until after their lord had returned and taken an accounting of their actions. That is important to remember here.
There is a great principle in this parable for all of us. The fact is that each of us are going to stand before God and give an account of how we have used what He has given to us. God is going to ask how faithful we have been to that which He asked us to do for Him. It will not be how much we have done, but what we have done.
For each believer in Christ there are two important things: 1) Find out what God wants us to do; that is , determine what the "talent" is that He has given us, and then 2) be faithful in the use of it. To some God gives only small ministries, and that may upset us immensely; but if we are only one-talent Christians, God expects us to be faithful with that.
In this chapter of Matthew our Lord has been alerting us to the fact that we are to ready ourselves for His Second Advent. During the Tribulation Period all nations will have the opportunity to hear and receive God's message of grace. The gospel of the kingdom of heaven will be preached among all nations. But some people will continue to reject God's messengers, Christ's brethren, and thereby reject Christ Jesus.
That is all for today my friends. Thursday I plan on posting about the judgment of the nations which will take us through the end of the chapter. I pray that grace and peace are present in your heart today. Walk with the Holy Spirit, listen to the Holy Spirit, learn from the Holy Spirit, for He is God. How else today can we have an intimate relationship with God if it is not through His Holy Spirit?
Mon, Jul 2nd - 1:53PM
STUDY IN MATTHEW
"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go out to meet Him? Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there won't be enough for us and for you; go to them who sell oil, and some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy more oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came back, saying, Lord, lord, open for us. But He replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you don't know either the day nor the hour when the Son of man comes (25:5-13)."
We must not overlook the fact that both the wise and the foolish virgins had oil to begin with. Both groups also slept. The difference between the two groups of virgins was that some of them had the Holy Spirit (represented by the oil) and some did not. The ones who had no extra "oil" were not genuine believers. Because they did not have the Holy Spirit within them they did not believe it was necessary to be prepared for when Christ came again. That is the warning given out to all believers today. Be prepared, remain watchful always! What happens today if people are forced to go and try to find salvation when Christ has returned? They will run out of time and they will be denied entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It will not be as if people will be given 90 day notice to receive salvation or else be hurled into the lake of fire. People must take care of this piece of business before history reaches this breaking point, events will move much too quickly once the Tribulation Period arrives for anyone to have the peace of mind to stop and repent of their sins.
Believers in Christ Jesus are not to waste valuable time figuring out when Christ will return. We are to spend our time living a Christ-like life and spreading the message that everyone can be saved if they are but willing to repent of their sins and accept Christ as Lord. We are all to be alert and watchful. We are to make sure that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. These are the important things to have settled in our lives.
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called His own servants, and delivered to them His goods. And to one He gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abilities; and immediately took His journey (25:14-15)."
This is another parable for that future generation that will be waiting for our Lord's return to earth. We find that the Master gave to His servants certain responsibilities according to their individual abilities. God expects each of us to be responsible for what He chooses to ask us to do. Not everyone is to do the exact same things as the others. Some are given more to do than others, some are given less. But all are expected to do what is given to them to do. Jesus is the man travelling into the far country of heaven. Before leaving He gave out to everyone alive and those yet to come to life certain responsibilities that He expects us to carry out for Him. He did not stay behind to micromanage us in order to ensure that we would do what He wants us to do. It is our choice. But, when He returns He will surely require from us an accounting of what we did, and how we did it. From whom much has been given, much is expected.
That is all for this day, beloved! I pray for all of you who remain without power as a result of this past Friday's derecho event that swept through Ohio to the Delmarva Peninsula. My wife and I had our power restored yesterday at mid-afternoon, and we were ever so thankful for that blessing! Remain as cool as circumstances allow. May those of you who have the ability, please help your neighors who are in need in these very trying times. Grace and peace be with us all!
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