Saturday, May 31, 2014
Matthew 9:32-34 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” It's interesting to see how Jesus would say or do something before a crowd and there would be two totally opposite reactions to His words or actions. Here He delivers this man from demonic influence which had made him unable to speak. This was phsycially and spiritually beneficial to this man and all who knew him (unless he was keeping secrets of someone which he was unable to share...) The obvious reaction is to rejoice! But not everyone is happy here. Not wanting to listing to Jesus, follow Him, or bow down to him, they began to spin - the only reason He can tell demons what to do is that He is a greater demon!" Worse than illogical, this kind of spin is deceptive, to both those who do it, and those who hear it. Rather, let us take this event to its logical conclusion: Jesus is Lord of all!
Friday, May 30, 2014
Matthew 9:27-31 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”“Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. Jesus was traveling around, teaching and performing miracles attesting to the truth of His message, and confirming the reality of His identity. He was the Messiah, the Son of David. These two men offered free advertising to that fact, both before and after they were healed. His question may have seemed to have an obvious answer: of course, they believed He could heal them; that's why they were following Him around calling to Him. But Jesus wants us to stop and think:: "What do I really believe about Jesus? Not only "What can He do?", but also "Who is this Man?" Notice that when they were healed they went and told not about WHAT had happened to them, but they told about HIM.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district. (Matthew 9:23-26 ESV) The synagogue leader had come to Jesus in sincere faith, believing He could heal his daughter. Even when it was known she was dead, he still did not hesitate to have Jesus come. But such faith seemed laughable to those around him. These friends, or "supposed to be" friends, thought it was a joke. They were more interested in being seen as a good mourner than supporting the girl's family. They missed out. They were kicked out from seeing Jesus raise her from the dead. Then there was real laughter - that of a 12 year old girl and her rejoicing parents. And, have you ever thought of this? - Jesus laughing in joy at this rejoined family. How will we let Jesus make us laugh today?
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Matthew 9:22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. This woman, ceremonially unclean due to her bleeding, was trying to sneak up behind Jesus and just touch His robe, hoping to be healed, undetected. She was afraid of being seen. Like others who had come to Jesus, she was not sure if He would be willing, though she was sure He was able. Jesus calms all her fears and commends her for her faith. First, He says "Take heart, cheer up, stop being so discouraged!" Secondly, He relates to her personally. His healing was not done by dispensing. He cared about her, not just her condition. He was the Great Physician, but so much more; He really cared about her. Thirdly, He confirmed that she had done the right thing; it is always right to come to Jesus with every need we have. It was not her faith itself that healed her, but where she had put her faith: in Him.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” (Matthew 9:19-21 ESV) As Jesus left the party at Matthew's house, responding to the ruler with a very sick daughter, he was once again interrupted by this woman. She was unclean, so tried to blend into the crowd to avoid any reaction. But Jesus knew. He was open to interruptions, not because he was unfocused, but because that was His focus - to zone in on anyone who was intent on coming to Him. Jesus is not avoiding us; He is not unwilling to be "interrupted" by us; He is simply waiting for us to come to Him, and to speak to Him as He walks by. Maybe the problem is we are not willing for Him to be an "interruption" in our lives...
Monday, May 26, 2014
While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” (Matthew 9:18 ESV) Jesus is celebrating with Matthew and friends at a dinner held in His honor. The party has been interrupted twice already by the Pharisees and then the followers of John. Now this man comes wanting Jesus to leave the party and make a house call. The ministry of interruptions - that's what it seems like - Jesus is so busy, and someone else comes along wanting Him there. But Jesus does not see it that way. He wants to be interrupted, in a good way - to minister as He came to do. May we respond in like manner to those who need us and interrupt us.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Matthew 9:9-17 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Here Jesus was at a great celebration, experiencing exactly what He longed for - his followers inviting others to meet Him, when these two groups of people come not to crash the party, but to trash the party. They want Him to stop. The Pharisees want Him to stop hanging out with the spiritually undesireable, because low and behold, He is making a difference they could not. The well-meaning disciples of John want Him to stop partying, becuase that will make their spiritual experience less desireable. Jesus responds appropriately to each one - flatly rebuking the Pharisees for not understanding the character of God, and taking time to clearly guide the followers of John to greater truth. The party's just getting going, and we want to see what happens next...
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Matthew 9:17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Jesus' third and final illustration of how spirituality is expressed differently in His Kingdom than the kingdom of this world is given by way of something we are not as culturally familiar with. In that day wine was put into specially-treated skins stitched together and sealed. What we can relate to is how skins, leather, can become hard and brittle over time, especially when it has become wet. That is a problem when new wine, still fermenting, is put in them. The old skins and stitching cannot take the pressure of the process. Change is difficult. Tradition can really be stressed when God calls us to a new way of thinking and doing. That's what Christ does - He calls us to change the way we view ourselves, others, and God. May our hearts not be those of hardened leather.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Matthew 9:16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Imagine if the Kingdom of God were a pair of jeans. As Jesus goes on in explaining how the Kingdom of God "fits it" with the former relious experience of His hearers, He makes it clear that there is a significant, visible difference. Rather then self-righteously trying to look holy, or sincerely seeking to to purge the sin out of ourselves, the Kingdom of God is a whole new set of clothes. It's not a pair of jeans with a big patch on that has twisted and pulled. No, it fits us better and looks better; because we are clothed not in our righteousness, but His.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Matthew 9:15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. When Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast like the Pharisees and followers of John the Baptist, He gave 3 examples to demonstrate why it was inappropriate. Jesus, as the Messiah, is the Bridegroom who has come to town to be betrothed to His bride. When He comes it's a time to celebrate. It would not be appropriate for the family to sit in the corner in sackcloth and ashes fasting with s solemn look on their faces. So also, when the Messiah is present is no time to mourn; it is a time for joy and celebration. If Christ is present in our lives, should we be sad and beating ourselves up all the time? To be sure, there are appropriate times for fasting and solemnly seeking God in our lives, but that is not the sole of our existence. The Joy of The Lord must show through!
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Matthew 9:14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” This was no question "out of the blue". Jesus and His disciples are feasting with Matthew and his sinner friends. They were enjoying life to the full - food, fellowship, (and maybe some good music!) For the followers of John the Baptist, spiritual growth was a lot more about what they did NOT do. They fasted; they denied themselves of the modern conveniences of the big city; theirs was a quiet religious experience. They were doing it right as those who were humbly repenting and preparing for the coming Messiah. Why was Jesus different. Just as troubling was the fact that the Pharisees fasted faithfully, even if it was fake, just for appearances. Should they be fasting or not? We always need to beware comparing our spiritual experience with that of others. The truth is, for the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus, they were both doing the right thing for where they were in the plan of God. That's the question we need to bring to Jesus: Not "Are they doing what You want?", but "Am I doing what you want?"
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Matthew 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was often criticized for the company He kept: always surrounded by sinners. The Pharisees were always careful about who they associated with, lest they or their reputation be called "unclean." Rather than confront Jesus face to face, they talked behind his back (a sure sign of spiritual maturity). They wanted to create doubt in the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers as they ask "Why?". Jesus' answer is two-fold: "They are the ones who need me," and "they are the ones who admit it." The scripture He cites for the second answer burns His critics: God wants us to want His mercy; He does not need our sacrifices. This was the reverse of the Pharisaic perspective who who would not admit they were needy sinners. From God's view, Jesus chose the best company.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Matthew 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Here we are, almost one-third of the way through Matthew's Gospel, when we find mention of His personal choice to follow after Christ. This is quite a testimony for a tax collector - an honest account. Rather than portray himself as an earlier follower of Christ, He tells it like it is: He has witnessed lots of miracles and heard from a lot of people about Jesus. He has seen Jesus come and go in the streets, as he sat there and took it all in. But when Jesus called, Matthew followed - no turning back. Sometimes, as we look back in our spiritual history, we are tempted by revisionist history; we like to embellish on what has happened; we like to make ourselves look more spiritual. Let's not give into that temptation, but tell it like it is. We were a mess; we needed Jesus; He called us; we accepted His call; life will never be the same. (and that's a great thing!)
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Matthew 9:6-8 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. Everyone was following Jesus around, looking for a sign, a miracle. He did not disappoint. But whereas many were looking to have something to make life more pleasant, or for mere entertainment, Jesus had a greater miracle He wanted to perform: to forgive and transform lives, to bring change from the inside out. For many, that was too up close and personal. They wanted change in their bodies or their circumstances, but not necessarily in their hearts. The greatest miracles are often those we cannot see happen; we see the long-lasting, eternal results and glorify God.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Matthew 9:3-8 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. When Jesus announced his forgiveness of this man's sins, the scribes were incensed. Jesus, knowing all things, including our thoughts and motives, rebukes them. Not only did they not believe He had authority to forgive sins; they were "entertaining evil." Why? Because Jesus stood there smack against their refusal to admit they were sinners. They could not prove whether this man was forgiven or not, because they could not see within him. But Jesus could; he could see within this man and them also. How do you respond when you know He knows? To remove all doubt, Jesus shows them something they can see - His power to heal, and forgive.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Matthew 9:1-2 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Recently a couple told me about a doctor coming into the hospital room and asking all sorts of questions about the results of procedures the patient had had or was scheduled to have - but none of them were ones for this man; the doctor had the wrong patient! Jesus had already shown that He could heal when asked, that he could heal when told what problem a person had, but was not asked, and even when He just walked into the room and someone sick was there (Peter's mother-in-law.) But now, when this paralyzed man was brought in, it's as if He misdiagnoses the problem, as obvious as it is. Of course, this man dies have the sickness Jesus heals; we all do. And this man is relieved of the greatest burden we all have - our guilt, shame and bondage that keeps us from God. Jesus had the right file and He is the Great Physician.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:28-34 ESV) Jesus has made a special trip across the Sea of Galilee. There are a few reasons for the trip: 1) to get some rest from the press of the crowds following Him and asking for miracles. 2) to test and see who really is willing to follow him anywhere. 3) to take the good news to a very spiritually dark area. When he arrives he receives the same response from two groups. First, the demons, who recognize Him, beg Him to not give them the final judgment now; to leave them alone and let them wallow with the pigs. That is the response we would expect from demons. But Jesus gets a similar response from the people. When they come out to see what has happened, their focus is not on the two changed lives, but on the 2000 dead pigs. They then tell Jesus: "Leave us alone!" Where is our focus? Is there some way I am telling Jesus today: "Leave me alone!"
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Matthew 8:23-27 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” These disciples had seen so much from Jesus: healing diseases no one else could; casting out demons; speaking with power. When a storm came up they could not handle, the rightly called out to Jesus, but in a somewhat demanding tone. When he rebuked them, and then rebuked the storm, they were taken back by how he answered their prayer. Are we easily taken back when He answers us? When we test Him, and He proves His stuff, do we still find it hard to believe? What is it going to take for us to trust Him "up front", call on Him early, and say with love and peace: "That's my Jesus!"
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Matthew 8:21-22 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Ouch! Jesus knows how to hurt a guy. This man was a disciple - one following after and learning from Jesus. But now they had come to the edge of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus was about to get in a boat. What He coming back? If so, when was He coming back? How long would He be gone? I'm not even packed? Jesus is challenging us to see how far we will go in following after Him. Some scholars, because of the wording here, believe the man's father was not dead yet, but expected to die soon. Was he being responsible? Or waiting for the inheritance? It really doesn't matter, because again, it's not so we can judge him, but so we can examine our own commitment to Christ. What holds me back from following further?
Monday, May 12, 2014
Matthew 8:18-20 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” After the Sermon on the Mount and a round of miracles, Jesus sees that a crowd has gathered. It is time to check how sincere these followers all are. One well-educated, well-thought-of, wouln't-we-love-to-have-him-in-our-church kind of guy comes and proclaims his allegiance. There is no time for a long discussion. Jesus simply asks: "Where I am going there is no promise of earthly comfort, no assurance of having all you have been accustomed to. Are you sure?" The silence here does not indicate consent; it indicates doubt. We are not told what he did, because it's not about us judging him; it's about examining ourselves. How far will I follow Jesus?
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Matthew 8:14-15 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. The Gospels have an interesting way of describing the people with whom Jesus had an encounter. The previous two miracles involved outcasts of sorts: a leper and a Gentile Roman soldier - both of whom were viewed with disdain and avoided like the plague. Matthew then brings up a mother-in-law, perhaps because she is often viewed in the same way, if not more so. Jesus doesn't even wait for a word or request; He immediately heals her. And what does He find inside? A servant. Mothers-in-law often get a bad rap, but what we find inside is a true servant - one who can love us just as much as our spouse. Happy Mother's Day all mothers-in-law!!!
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Matthew 8:10-13 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. There is very little that came His way that seemed to take Jesus back. It almost sounds like this did. Here is a man who reverenced Christ so much he bowed before him in worship, did not expect Christ to enter His his house, and was certain that He would able to heal what no other could. He understood the power and authority of Christ much more than most. It was important, Jesus took a time out in the middle of this miracle to teach about it, and to call us all to examine our view of Him. It is of utmost importance to our destiny. Jesus then rewarded this man by responding to his request.
Friday, May 9, 2014
Matthew 8:5-9 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” This Roman centurion came asking Jesus to heal His servant, but Jesus offered even more. He offered to come to the man's house to heal him. The centurion realized how big this really was; he knew the Jews would then consider Jesus unclean; Jesus was willing to do that for him. His response shows his great respect for Jesus' authority; he is overwhelmed that this Great One would even consider doing such a thing, when at His command anything could happen. What is it we really want Jesus to do for us? When we come reverencing Him and trusting Him as this man did, He does so much more. He Himself comes.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.(Matthew 8:3 ESV) When this man requested Jesus to heal him, Jesus could have said: "This is what I'm going to do..." But that was not His way. He showed love, then told what He had done. In this incident, He did the unthinkable - He touched a leper; then he said the words: "I am not only able to heal you; I am willing to also." He did this often: He fed the 5000, then explained their need to trust Him daily; He washed the disciples feet, then He told them He had given an example to follow; He gave Himself for us sins, then opened the Scriptures to explain what He had done. He is not words only, or even words first; He is show first, tell later. May we love that way too.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:1-2 ESV) As Jesus was coming down off the Mountain after His award-winning sermon, crowds followed. One man decides to NOT follow, but get down in front of Jesus and give a very personal request. He was desperate to be sure. Like many there, he believed that Jesus has the power and authority. His question, the real question, is: "Will He do it for me? Am I worthy? Do I matter enough to Him?" The answers are mixed: Are we worthy? No. Do we matter enough? O, yes. Will He do it for me? It's worth a try...