Matthew 24

Vs. 37, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”  Question: What time is it?  End Times. This was going to be a very difficult time for everyone involved, including us.  Jesus let his dicsiples know as well as us that the Gospel would need to first be shared to all nations.  Brothers & sisters, we are nearly at that time.  Jesus gave us a comparison that the end times would be like the days of Noah.  And those days were not good ones, for evil would increase!  But don’t let all this disturbing news discourage you, for Jesus already warned us against it.  There will be many false teachers and prophets coming to tell us things, we must always be discerning.  Jesus points to the eventual Great Tribulation.  And then Jesus will return (vs. 30), hallelujah!  Though we don’t know the hour or day, let us be ever ready!

 

Regarding application…Be Ready!  Vs. 44, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Question: Are you ready?  We would be wise to stop procrastinating when it comes to being ready for our Lord!  Bascially Jesus is warning us to stop living in such a way that does not reflect the reality that Jesus could come anytime.  It’s like a parent telling us our rooms better be clean when they get home later on.  But as a child, we play and think we have all the time in the world.  But, the parent decides to come home much earlier than the child realizes.  Now, the child finds themselves not ready because they were goofing off the whole time.  Trust me, you don’t want to not be ready, just read the last two verses in our chapter.  Let’s be ready!  For the glory of our Lord, let’s be ready!

Matthew 23

Vs. 13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites...”  Now that Jesus was in Jerusalem, he had quite a captive audience of disciples as well as Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  Seven times Jesus would would point out the faults of the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  In fact, this would be the last public message before his death.  Question: Really?  A message of fire & brimstone?  Yep, it was time to rebuke the false teachers and warn the disciples as well as us the hypocrisy that surrounded their life.  Here’s a rundown of what the hypocrisy looked like: They were not practicing what they preached (vs. 3-4), They did it for recognition, not God (vs. 5-7), they put the focus on men rather than God (vs. 8-12), They tried to control the very gates of heaven (vs. 13-14), they led followers astray (vs. 15), they put their value in worldy oaths (vs. 16-22), they ignored God’s law (vs. 23-24), they put focus on the outside rather than the inside (vs. 25-26), they were empty morally on the inside (vs. 27-28), they judged their ancestors when they themselves were doing a worse action (vs. 29-32).  Not a very distinguished list, huh?

 

Regarding application…What times is it? Humble Time.  Vs. 12, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Looking at the list of “woes”…I would like to think that I’m not guilty of any of these.  Yet, I find that I have acted just like the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  The more I measure myself to God’s word, the more humbled I am.  Going back to seminary is one of the most grueling and arduous things I have done.  God has a sense of humor and all those times I have not studied in the past…I’m making it up now.  As I venture down the road of Biblical & spiritual academia…I am humbled.  As you venture down reading the Bible everyday…allow His word to humble you.  Question: What good is it to read and not be moved?  Then you wasted your own time and God’s time.  As Jesus closes his message, O Jerusalem…O Jerusalem…I can’t help but think he’s saying that to us.  (Sigh~~~…Oh Youth Group…O Youth Group….how often I have longed to gather you together.”  It’s time brothers and sisters.  Turn to the Lord.

Matthew 22

Vs. 2, The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”  Yesterday, Jesus ended the chapter with two parables and would share one more to show their true heart of the Jews.  God the Father would invite His first chosen, but they would reject his son (vs. 1-21).  The Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s and teachers of the law were definitely not happy with Jesus’ parables of rebuke.  So they devised a plan to find ways to accuse Jesus and trap him.  First they presented paying taxes (vs. 15-22)…If Jesus opposed the tax, he could be considered a traitor, if he favored it…he could lose standing among the Jews.  But Jesus, knowing their intent answers only as our Master and Lord can!  But that doesn’t stop them.  They now present a question about resurrection (vs. 23-33).  The Sadducee’s did not believe in resurrection and they were hoping to catch Jesus in their example.  But Jesus would remind them that resurrection will happen and relationships binded on earth will not be the same in heaven.  And we also see expert in the law sent by the Pharisee’s to trap Jesus in the greatest commandment.  Jesus would quote Deut 6:5 and summarize the 613 laws to one.  And lastly, Jesus masterfully uses Scripture to stump the so-called experts of scripture by quoting King David in Psalm 110:1, how was it that King David would call his eventual offspring, Lord?  David was refering to Jesus.

 

Regarding application…Jesus Says.  Vs. 37-40, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Jesus Says…  Question: Why would we listen to him?  Because God the Father has given Jesus as His son authority.  We do things because people tell us to.  We pay our taxes, stop at the red light, pay for our food, do our homework, read our bible…why?  Because someone tells us to.  However, when it comes to loving God and others…We are told to do this, but so often we don’t.  Question: Why is this?  In part, I believe we don’t look at this like a real command.  It’s like it’s a suggestion…please do this.  But not a command…Love or else.  We don’t like to wrap our minds around love as a command.  We think of love as a choice.  I’ll love him if he does this for me.  But if, not…then I don’t have to love.  That’s not love.  Jesus told us to love.  That’s a pretty good reason to love.  Do it because Jesus says.

Matthew 20

Vs. 10, “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”  Events are moving quickly now as Matthew takes us to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We will see three events transpire from the enttry (vs. 1-11), the cleansing of the temple (vs. 12-16) and the fig tree (vs. 17-22).  Each of these events would give us an indication of where Israel was at spiritually.  Jesus would fulfill prophecy from Zechariah and Jeremiah and sadly, Israel would reject it’s king.  Matthew tells us chief priests and elders were indignant.  Question: What’s the big deal with this so-called prophet from Nazareth?  Their jealousy would bring about the ultimate prophecy of Jesus dying on the cross.  Jesus would share with them two parables in our chapter that would be an indictment toward’s them.  The parable of the two son’s (vs. 28-32) show’s Israel’s rejection of God’s word from John the Baptists.  The parable of the tenants (vs. 33-46), show’s us as Israel being the vineyard and God being the owner.  Such a clear message of their hatred, yet they were too blind to realize they were giving into their hate.

 

Regarding application…Are you Praying?  Vs. 13, “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ a but you are making it a den of robbers.”  This is the second recorded cleansing that Jesus would do.  In the beginning of his ministry, he did a similar act (John 2).  The Jews were making money and hiding their sins.  But God wants his temple to be place for prayer.  Question: Why?  Because it shows our dependance upon Him and because in the end….it pleases God.  I think sometimes we make church a lot more difficult than we should.  Church is fellowship with God and others.  It’s a way to remember the goodness of God and communicate (prayer and bible) to him.  So the application we can ask ourselves is…Question: Will you allow Jesus to cleanse You today?  Put your dependance upon the Lord today and make today a blessed day!

Matthew 19

Vs. 30, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Jesus would address some pretty tough issues in this chapter.  One of the more controversial topics in Jesus’ day and in ours today is the topic of divorce (vs. 1-12).  Some were finding excuses to get out of their broken marriages.  However, Jesus would point out something more authoritative than the Mosaic (Moses) law…it’s God original intention.  Divorce was never and is never part of God’s plan for us.  Sadly, because of our harden hearts has God has permitted, but not endorsed divorce.  We also see another example of how important children are to Jesus (vs. 13-15).  And lastly, we come to our good old rich young ruler who wanted it all…riches and salvation (vs. 16-30).  It wasn’t that money is inherently evil, but it was this man’s love of the money.  Jesus knew exactly what was the one thing that was holding him back.

 

Regarding application...Who Can Be Saved?  Vs. 25, “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”  The disciples were astonished because the belief back then was the richer you were, it showed how much more you were blessed by God.  But, Jesus blew this whole concept out of the water.  We still have this thing called the “Heath & Wealth” gospel today.  Brothers & sisters…salvation comes no other way than Jesus.  We cannot buy our salvation or do all the right things.  It seemed impossible for the disiciples to grasp this, but Jesus would tell them all things are possible (vs. 26).  This coming week, have a unselfish heart and remember how blessed we are that God was our witness for His son at the Mount of Transfiguration (message that was shared today)  God bless!

 

Matthew 18

Vs. 1, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  In our human pride, we like to create a pecking order.  Jesus would remind his disciples (vs. 1-9) and us that we are to have a child-like humility and sincere heart towards the Lord and others.  Likewise, we must be very careful not to cause the children of God to stumble beause of our actions (vs. 6).  In the parable of the lost sheep (vs. 10-14), it is a wonderful reminder that God cares for each of us individually.  And as God cares for us, it’s only natural that Jesus would now put an emphasis on caring and forgiving each other (vs. 15-20).  And to top this lesson off, Jesus gives us the parable of the unmerciful servant (vs. 21-35).  If God can forgive us of our immense sin, how much more can we forgive others when they sin against us?

 

Regarding application…Forgiving.  Vs. 21, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”  In the Jewish tradition of the day….the rule was “three strikes and you’re out!”  So, Peter was pretty generous when he claimed to forgive someone up to seven times instead of three.  Of course, we know Jesus’ response…we must forgive without limit (vs. 22).  When I think about our churches today and even my own experience…we are quick to share about love.  But after someone wrongs us, we naturally start withholding our love.  How sad it must be for God to see his children go about their lives with animosity and unforgiveness in their lives.  None of us are perfect, that’s why we need to forgive each other.  Question: Is there someone in your life you need to forgive?  Is there someone in your life you have to ask to be forgiven?  Let love cover over a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8)

Matthew 17

Vs. 2, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”  Ahhhh, the Transfiguration (metamorphis) (vs. 1-13)!  This is when Jesus would show his full glory to us.  It was almost as if God was giving all of us a preview of what is to come.  Moses was there to represent the old covenant and Elijah the prophet was there to remind them the spirit of Elijah was shown through John the Baptist.  As we come to the boy who had a demon, the disciples tried but could not cast out this demon (I’ll expound on this in the regarding application section) (vs. 14-23).  And lastly we come to the temple tax (vs. 24-27).  Jesus was the son of God and did need to pay tax, but for our sake…Jesus is giving us an example of how we deal with money.  It does not belong to us anyway and God will provide.

 

Regarding application…Small Faith.  Vs. 20, He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  The disciples thought they had faith, but in this situation, they were lacking.  They had tried everything they could to cast this demon out and it wasn’t working.  But Jesus would remind them that they lacked this one important ingredient which was faith.  The Gospel of Mark records this event and Mark expounds by Jesus stating, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”  Faith and prayer…prayer and faith.  Question: What is the Lord trying to teach us here?  We get so used to trying to do things on our own, we forget to completely surrender it to God.  God is chiseling away at our hardened hearts.

Matthew 16

Vs. 12, “Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  The Pharisees and Sadducees were normally in opposition with each other, but here they united to challenge Jesus (vs. 1-12).  Question: How could they demand a sign?  Jesus had just recently fed 5000 and 4000 miraculously and in addition to all his other healings….yet they refused to see what was so evident.  They were blind spiritually and were now trying to lead others blind.  That is why Jesus would warn the disciples to not fall into their false teachings.  We also see Peter’s confession about who Jesus is (I’ll expound on this in the application section) (vs 13-20).  And sadly, we see Jesus letting the disciples know what the future would look like as they traveled to Jerusalem (vs. 21-28).  I don’t think any of us would have responsded any differently than Peter did.  Who wants to see someone we love talk about their death?  But Jesus would use this response as a reminder to all of us that we too must bear our cross and die to ourselves!

 

Regarding application…Who is Jesus? Vs. 13, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  A few times prior to this…when Jesus did mind-boggling miracles, the disciples would blurt out that Jesus must be the son of man.  Understandable.  But, Jesus now approaches them with a very honest and introspective question. Question: Who am I?  Notice the intial response…some say John the Baptist, Elijah, even Jeremiah!  It’s almost like they are not sure if this is a loaded question.  But good old Peter would blurt out, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”  Question: How did Peter know this?  Because the Father in heaven revealed it to his heart (vs. 17).  And ever since, Jesus has fulfilled his prophecy of the church that Peter would lead from the book of Acts.  When we believe in Jesus, nothing can overcome us (vs. 18).  I believe there is great value in asking ourselves who Jesus is more often.  If He is the Son of God…what is our appropriate response to him?  Turn to Jesus today and find rest in Him!

Matthew 15

Vs. 8, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Jesus is quoting Isaiah when he is talking about the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law.  They came to Jesus accusing him and his disciples for not obeying the oral law that had been handed down generation upon generation (vs. 1-9)  Though cleansing hands were not part of the Law, their tradition was now at or even above God’s law.  Jesus, knowing their hypocrisy retorts back with an accusation of his own concerning honoring their parents.  To honor your parents were to support them, however, they were taking things of value in their home and “dedicating” it to God…thereby, not having to give those up for supporting their parents.  They were more concerned about washing hands than taking care of loved ones.  This all goes back to the condition of our hearts (vs. 10-20).  The faith of the Canaanite woman is remarkable because she was not only persistent, but during her efforts…she began to realize who Jesus really was.  We may think Jesus was harsh in this response, but he did this as a test for her and a lesson for us.  She was willing to eat the crumbs like a dog.  The Bread is Jesus, the Children is Israel and the dogs are the Gentiles (vs. 26).  Yet, the children of Israel were not even close to accepting the Bread of Life and she was willing to eat the crumbs.  And lastly, we look at the feeding of the 4000 (vs. 29-39).  Some have stated that this was the same event from the feeding of 5000, but it was different.  The disciples lack of faith/remembering regarding the feeding miracle also could be attributed to the fact that this crowd was largely Gentile and perhaps they didn’t believe Jesus would have done such a thing.  Besides, how many times in our lives has God done something and then the next week we lack faith?

 

Regarding application…Being Offensive.  Vs. 12, “Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”  Basically Jesus responds with a “So what?”  They are blind!  Let me preface this application with the fact that we must be wise in all that we do and how we represent Christ.  But we must also have tough skin.  When you decide to walk with God, people will be offended and you will be accused.  Accused of being a hypocrite, accused of being self-righteous, judgemental, etc.  Yet, Jesus would give us the reminder that we are not to be afraid.  We are to stand up against the injustices of this world and reach out the love of Christ.  Desiring love and acceptance from the world is hatred towards God.  So, I implore each of us to be more offensive in this life.  It’s okay if people don’t like you if you stand up for truth!

Matthew 14

Vs. 2, “and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”  Many people would mistake who Jesus really was.  We will begin to see a shift in our reading to Jesus spending more time with his disciples.  Sadly, we are now told about the demise of our dear John the Baptist.  Herod Antipas (younger son of Herod the Great – who sought to kill Jesus as a baby)…was ruling, and would end having John beheaded.  This passage of Jesus withdrawing upon hearing John’s death always touches me.  Even though Jesus was grieving, he still took the time to have compassion upon those who were hurting and turn the loaves and fish into a miracle.  And of course, we end with the famous event of Jesus walking on water in the storm!

 

Regarding application…Don’t be Afraid.  Vs. 27, “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  It’s important to note that this storm was not caused because of the disciples disobedience.  Jesus was the one who told them to get into the boat.  Yet, even though the physical storm was upon them.  Even though the storm of their spiritual toil and faith would again be tested with Jesus’ obedience on the cross…Jesus would tell them “don’t be afraid.”  Question: What are you afraid of?  I didn’t ask you if you are afraid…because deep down inside…there is bound to be something that you are fearful about.  But, Jesus didn’t rebuke them for it…he encouraged them!  Keep your head up and eyes on the Lord.  No matter how hard it gets…open your heart to Him and be honest about your feelings!  He loves you so much!