Vs. 2, “Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest?” Ezekiel gives us an allegory (story with a hidden meaning) of grapevine. Of course, many of you know that grapevines were well known in these areas. Question: However, the only good thing about a grapevine is what? The grapes. And for God’s people, they were not producing fruit in their lives. The vine with no fruit is basically useless, not big or strong enough to make anything from it. They thought so highly of themselves, but Ezekiel would humble them.
Regarding application…Are You Bearing Fruit? Vs. 8, “I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord.” A tree that bears no fruit? Question: Would you keep this in place after years upon years of taking up space? Of course, not. But, unlike us…God would still miraculously keep a remnant of His people because God is faithful. Are you connected to the real vine in Jesus (John 15)? It’s time to reevaluate where you are and take the time to soften your heart. Turn to Jesus today and let God’s living word touch your heart!
Vs. 2, “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.” Having eyes that don’t see and ear that don’t hear…Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and later on Jesus would share the same thing. Ezekiel was intructed to act out his message again…this time revealing to them the exile, yet the people didn’t get it. He then acted out what would happen to the King Zedekiah as he would try to sneak out at night (vs. 12-14), but be caught by the enemy.
Regarding application…Are You Ready? Vs. 28, “Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Question: Are you listening? Even though many were already exiled, they didn’t want to believe that such things could happen to them and their nation. What many of us don’t realize that we live in day where prophecy is also waiting to be fulfilled. Question: What are we doing about it? Don’t become complacent and think you have all the time in the world. Be ready to let go of the things that you are holding onto and see where the Lord might lead you!
Vs. 1, “Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand.” This is a pretty scary scene as we see God call forth angels to dispense His wrath! It’s important to remember that is a “vision” that God is giving Ezekiel. This outpouring of wrath was directed towards the hearts that would not soften towards the love of God. They were evil and did evil. It’s important to remember that it is God who brings wrath and vengence, not us. Sometimes we want to bring revenge or wish it upon people…But God in His timing will do it.
Regarding application…Are You Marked? Vs. 4, “and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” God likes to have a tangible way for us to identify who we are. In the Old Testament, circumcision was the mark of being set apart. In the New Testament, we have baptism and sealing of the Holy Spirit as our mark. We see the blood of the lamb as the mark on the door at Passover, we are reminded of the “mark” in today’s QT, as well as the mark in the book of Revelations (the good mark in Revelations 7 and also the bad mark with the mark of the beast). But the more important application for us today is to ask ourselves, if God were to give us a similar vision today, would we be one of those who are marked? If you are saved, you are marked. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating and reminding yourself who you really are. If you are saved (marked)…then what are you doing about it? For Ezekiel’s people in a time of increased sin….they were grieving for their people. Are we grieving for the lost? Let’s take action upon the grace of God and do our part to remind this world of the wonderful gift He has given us despite our sinful nature!
Vs. 4, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” Question: Did Jesus use his mighty strength to roll away the rock? Did he need it to get out of the cave? I think not. The rock was rolled away for the benefit of the women who came to pay their respect for Jesus. And this death on the cross is now life through the resurrection! The resurrection reminds us that Jesus was victorious over the enemy! We also see the apostles were given extra power through signs and wonders early on (vs. 17-18), they did not have the completed Bible at that time.
Regarding application…Do you believe? Vs. 11, “When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.” Question: Can we blame them? They were in mourning because Jesus’ death was so abrupt and so violent. Jesus’ public ministry was shorter than just one term of our President in the US. And the excruciating pain and quick death on the cross was especially sobering. This isn’t shared for us to rebuke the followers of Jesus, rather, it is shared to remind us we don’t believe in someone who was defeated. When life seems hopeless and we are against the ropes…will you believe that Jesus can help you overcome? Let go of your doubts and trust in the Lord!
Vs. 3, “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.” I think that’s a pretty good reason to give him your colt. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem outside of Bethany (2.5 miles away). The Mount of Olives is elevated about 2600 feet, so it gives a beautiful view of Jerusalem. As Jesus entered Jerusalem, from the Roman perspective it was inconsequential (vs. 1-11). Their leader would ride on a chariot with many armed soldier’s, and here is Jesus riding on a donkey. Though, for the Jews, riding on a donkey was significant because only kings would do such a thing. We then are reminded of the fig tree (12-14, 20-26)…I’ll talk about that in the applicationj. Additionally, we see Jesus clear out the Temple from those who were making it a den of thieves (vs. 15-19). And lastly, we see Jesus show the weakness and pride of the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders as they came to challenge him.
Regarding application...Are You Bearing Fruit? Vs. 14, “Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” This is a very interesting section because figs were not in season. Yet, when Jesus came up to this tree, He was expecting it to have figs. Question: Huh? Isn’t that illogical on Jesus’ part? Of course, the fig tree represented Israel. Now, how does this apply to us? You see…there are times in our lives when we are not bearing fruit. Times when we are in the valley of life, times when we are so busy…yet, Jesus still expects to see fruit in our lives. Even though it was not the season for it from our logical perspective…there is always a season for spiritual fruit from Jesus’ perspective. It’s time to start bearing fruit brothers and sisters! Review Galatians 5:22-23 and decide what you want to produce today!
Vs. 45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And Jesus did exactly that…He came to serve. Many of us remember these events from the Gospel of Matthew that transpired in this chapter. The hardened hearts of those who wanted to justify divorce in their lives (vs. 1-12), the joy and beauty of little children (vs. 13-16), the desires for the riches of this world (vs. 17-31), The reaffirmation of Jesus’ obedience on the road to the cross (vs. 32-34), the selfish & ignorant request of James & John (vs. 35-44) and lastly, the healing of Bartimaeus (vs. 46-52).
Regarding application…Do You Need Mercy? Vs. 48, “Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” To understand this scene, what we want to realize is as Jesus was making his way through the cities…many crowds began to increase. Among all the loud cries for help and people seeking out interest in Jesus, we see Bartimaeus. Some scholar’s say, “Son of David” caught Jesus’ attention because not many addressed him with such a title. Notice how others in the crowd tried to silence Bartimaeus, but that would not discourage him. In our own lives, we have those who try to discourage us from crying out to God. But don’t let that stop you! A sinner needs mercy, a righteous person pats themselves on the back….Which one are you? Do you need mercy? If so, take the time to cry out to Jesus today! Mercy triumphs over judgement because of the blood!
Vs. 11, “The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.” It didn’t matter how many miracles Jesus did, the hardened hearts of the Pharisees were already decided. I love how we are told in vs. 12, Jesus sighed deeply…that shows some raw emotion from our Lord and Savior! In our chapter today, we have another miracle of feeding only, this time the number is different (vs. 1-9). The Yeast of the Pharisee’s (vs. 14-21) was used to illustrate the dangers of false teachers. We read on to see Jesus giving sight to a blind man (vs. 22-26), and Mark’s version of Jesus’ interaction with asking the disciples who do people say I am.
Regarding application…Do You Understand? Vs. 18, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” I tend to be one of those people that never seem to understand the punchline of a joke. I don’t always get it. This is kind of what happened to the disciples too. They just failed to see the point that Jesus was making. Question: Do you understand? In the end times, there will be many who try to lead you astray. Be careful dear brothers and sisters! We don’t have Herod or the influence of the Pharisee’s (vs. 15)…but we do have others coming with authority telling us the “right” ways to live. That is why it is so important to have a “relationship” with the Lord daily (vs. 34) and know His word. Keep fighting the fight, find rest and trust in the Lord this week!
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!
Vs. 6, “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.” As Jesus continues his ministry, we see the power that he has over this dark world of sin and Satan. The paralyed man in Matthew is the same one that was lowered from the roof from Mark’s account. Matthew goes on to talk about his own first interaction with Jesus. Remember that tax collector’s were despised because often they were corrupt and collected more than they needed. It’s interesting to note that Jesus came to where the sinner’s were, not the sinner’s to the temple. When Jesus was challenged on the topic of fasting, Jesus explain that a new time is coming that is entirely different than the old…of course, there is still importance in fasting (vs. 15). We then read on about more miracles Jesus would perform. Raising the twelve year old girl, healing the woman who suffered for twelve years and healing the blind and mute. While all these miracles are wonderful, Jesus would remind us of an even more important task: To go out into the harvest field. Question: Why? To seek and save the lost. We may not have physical miraculous healing gifts, but we have a spiritual ability to heal through the Gospel! There is always work to be done and we have the priviledge of being a part of that! Jesus doesn’t need you, but he sure would love to have you be a part of this!
Regarding application…You Are Forgiven. Vs. 2, “…Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” When this paralyzed man came to Jesus, I don’t think anyone expected to hear that Jesus would say, “You’re sins are forgiven”. They hoped that he would be healed, but forgiveness is reserved for God. Question: Who does this Jesus think he is? The Phariesee’s would accuse Jesus of blaspheming. But Jesus was no ordinary man, He was the God-man! Because of this type of example, the Pharisee’s would find a way to ensure they would exact revenge on such a person claiming that He was God. Question: How does this apply for us? In all of our lives…we walk with wounds and scars that need healing. A broken relationship, addiction, low self-esteem, etc. But Jesus has come to tell us that He has the power to forgive us and make us healed. There is power in forgiveness because Jesus takes all that heavy sin and bears it on the cross for us. Put a smile on your face because, YOU are forgiven today! PTL! Turn to Jesus and pour out your heart to the Lord!
Vs. 28-29, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” Jesus continues to teach in this chapter on how to live a righteous life. The section on judging others (vs. 1-5) has been miunderstood by many. In other areas of scripture, we are taught to judge the actions of other Christians and speak truth in love, but in this teaching…Jesus is exhorting us not to judge the inward motive. In other words, it is not our place to condemn someone, that is only reserved to God. Vs. 6, may be confusing, but it is just referring to our relationship with enemies of the Gospel. We are not even to waste our time judging or rebuking such people. Jesus also reminds us in the midst of all these things we must keep in mind, we must never forget to pray with faith (vs. 7-12). Jesus continues on to give us further understanding of where we are at when it comes to true Godliness. The narrow gate/wide gate (vs. 13-14), Good fruit/bad fruit (vs. 15-23) and wise/foolish builders (vs. 24-27)…these are all examples of true vs. false ways of living. Take time to ask yourself which of these are you?
Regarding application…Are You Wise? Vs. 26, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” We are constantly bombarded with knowledge everyday. We go to work, we go to school, we watch T.V., read the news, etc. Many people have their opinions on how we should react to life and what decisions we are to make. Question: Who are you listening to? While there are a great many wise people by the standards of this world…Obama or Oprah may come to mind, even Gordon Ramsey could be considered wise. Yet, they are fools compared to the words Jesus has to share. Exercise, eat healthy, study well, be successful financially…all good endeavors in this life. But, most importantly, make sure you are wise enough to put God first. There is no substitute and there is no other way. Build this life on the rock of Christ! AMEN?!?! Have a blessed Tuesday! This week is flying by!