Vs. 1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Question: Why send out the twelve? Because, Jesus had just finished up saying in our previous chapter that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Matthew 9:37). At this point in Jesus’ ministry He has prepared His disciples well and they are now ready to help spread the Good News! Certainly, the appointing of twelve apostles is not arbitrary for we remember the twelve tribes of Israel. Their role is to help usher in the kingdom of Heaven and be used by the Holy Spirit. Basically, Jesus sends them out on a short-term missionary trip. Don’t misunderstand the order for this early missions trip to only reach out to the lost sheep of Israel (vs. 5). The Gospel is certainly for all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), but there was historical order of salvation setup through God; first to the Jew, than the Gentile. There is both the sense of urgency and complete dependence as Jesus instructs them not to bring anything on their trip (vs. 8-10). Interestingly, Jesus also speaks to them (and us) of a future time when they will go out among the world (vs. 16-23). When they go out to the harvest field, Jesus give them instructions of how to be a true disciple (vs. 24-42). I love how Jesus exhorted all of us not to be afraid when it comes to bearing witness of His name to the world around us (vs. 26). Jesus is quite adamant how He must be first in our lives (vs. 34-39), for their will even be division amongst our own families when we draw the line for Christ!
Regarding application…Peacefully Wise. Vs. 16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” A dove represents peace and the snake in our context represents wisdom (in a good way). In other words, be street-smart yet innocent. There is a bit harsh reality that though the world and God’s creation testifies of His glory, it is also a very dangerous place! There are evil people that have no mind of God and literally hate others. Under Roman persecution as the years progressed it is estimated that 175 million Christians were killed. Caesar Nero was so evil towards believers that he would put wax on them and then light them up to use as torches in his palace! God has called us to go out into this world to bear witness of Him. There are many fears, but Jesus reminds us not to be afraid. Many missionaries and Christians alike will continue to receive persecution, but blessed are those who are peacefully wise and yet persecuted for Jesus’ name!
Vs. 25, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” The author of Hebrew now expounds upon the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14 & Psalm 110:4). The significance of this lies in the fact that Jesus, like Melchizedek was a priest, though not one by birth. Additionally, the priesthood and kingship were separate, but like Melchizedek, Jesus was both priest and king. There are certainly different interpretations of who Melchizedek was. Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”, melek in Hebrew is king and zedek is righteousness while Salem means peace. There was no ambiguity on who which Jesus was being compared to. This reminds me of the amazing significance the Old Testament plays in our understanding of the Lord. Ulitmately, Jesus is superior to the order of Melchizedek and the Levitical priesthood.
Regarding application…Met Needs. Vs. 26, “Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Question: What can you do for me? We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society. Our relationships are often based on what contribution can this person give to me. Divorce rates are too high, friendships are lost and we live workplaces and even churches when we feel our needs are not being met. But are reminded today that Jesus truly meets our needs. Think about the things in our lives that are needs, not wants. Thank the Lord as we begin our week with the many needs He meets!
Vs. 2, “The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.” How interesting that history repeats itself. Isaac, like his father before him, was confronted with a famine. It was only natural for many people to migrate to the fertile land of Egypt. But the Lord would intervene. God would remind Isaac of His covenant. Isaac, however was confronted with another dilemma. Like Abraham, the people of Gerar had noticed his wife (vs. 7-11). Out of fear, Isaac lies just like Abraham and states Rebekah is his sister (vs. 7). How interesting that Isaac would follow in the sins of his father. But trials are a part of our journey and God’s people are not immune to them. The Lord also was with Isaac when the issue of the usage of wells came into play (vs. 19-22). But Isaac was reassured and given peace with the Philistines when they made a treat at the same place Abraham did 90 years earlier (Genesis 21:22).
Regarding application…Keeping the Peace. Vs. 22, “He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” Isaac and his extended family and servants could have fought back and won. Instead, he wisely just kept seeking a new place until the enemies finally just gave up bothering him about it. The land was rightfully Isaac’s, but instead of causing bloodshed, he kept the peace. There are many ways in which we can rightfully pursue justice at the expense of keeping the peace. But, Jesus reminded us that blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). It was probably permissible for Isaac to fight back, but it wasn’t beneficial (I Corinthians 6:12). Question: What relationships are going on in life where you can respond with peace rather than division?
Vs. 8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What a powerful and sobering reminder on Good Friday. Jesus died for us: the ungodly and sinner. This death on the cross certainly holds a purpose; to bring salvation. Paul mentions words like peace, joy, and hope in our chapter today (vs. 1-11). This first half of our chapter today begins something very important that Paul would later expound on in the end of chapter 8, which is the understanding of assurance of our salvation. I’ll develop upon this later and in chapter 8 when we get there. It was the blood that justified us to now be in a right relationship with our Father in heaven (vs. 9). In the second half of our chapter (vs. 12-21), Paul takes some time to explain some deeper theology to understanding sin (vs. 12). The sin of Adam is compared to the life in Christ in this section. It took one man’s trespass to bring death and another man’s death to bring life (vs. 18).
Regarding application…What is Hope? Vs. 2, “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” The worldly dictionaries have it all wrong. Merriam-Webster defines hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation. As Christians, hoping is not just cherishing a desire. Hope is far more than that. The Greek word for hope: ἐλπίς which gives us the true definition: joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). In other words: Hope for Christians is assurance! When Paul talks about hope, it is not something that he is really wishing for to transpire. When my wife and I got married in June in Oregon, she was really hoping (wishing) that it wouldn’t rain on our wedding day. But when we use hope in the context of our Christian faith, it is not something that we wish would happen. Hope is certain! This Good Friday, gives us a hope of arriving to our eternal destination! Now, let’s take this real definition of Christian hope and share it to the world this Easter weekend!
Vs. 6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This was a troubling night (vs. 1), but Jesus would offer them hope! He was paving a way for all of us to one day find our home (vs. 2-4) with our Father in Heaven. Many scoff to this day on Jesus’ claim that He is the only way. I’ve even seen believers adhere to Universalism (belief that all religions are similar and can lead to divine good). That is false teaching. Philip seems to be excited at the prospect to see the Father one day, but little did he realize the Father is in Jesus (vs. 8-14). Question: Jesus is leaving, what will they do? They might feel like orphans (vs. 18), but we know now that we are not left on our own. There is a peace (shalom) that will come (vs. 15-31). And to top it off, Jesus promises us He will be coming back (vs. 28).
Regarding application…Promised Holy Spirit. Vs. 16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” We are not alone. This peace that will come is the Holy Spirit. Think of the picture we are given in Scripture when it comes to the Holy Spirit; the dove which is a picture of purity and peace. Question: Do you trust promises made by others? Too often we have a hard time grasping the promises of God when we have been let down by those we love hear on earth. Our parents, teachers, pastor’s, friends have not always been able to keep promises. It’s a bit understandable why the hesitation on being able to trust in the promises of God. In the storms of our lives, we know that we are not abandoned. When we put our faith in Jesus, the promised Holy Spirit now dwells in us and keeps us sealed until eternity! Let that be your encouragement as you go about this week! Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is with us each step of the way!