Listen to the sermons on Matthew at the following links.
V. 1 - Matthew begins by announcing that this book is about the life of Jesus Christ and that He is a descendant of David and Abraham. The genealogy to verse 16 is a veritable who’s who of famous Jewish heroes. Some think genealogies are boring and skip them, but there are often little tidbits of fascinating history hidden in them. This genealogy as well as many other sections of Matthew are much easier to understand with a good knowledge of the Old Testament. There are quotes from or references to the Old Testament in all but 2 or 3 chapters in Matthew, and multiple references in many of the chapters.
V. 2 - Matthew begins with Abraham and traces Jesus’ ancestry down through Isaac, Jacob, and Judah who is called Judas in this verse. Many of the names will be spelled different in Matthew than they were in the Old Testament.
V. 3 - Judah had twins by Thamar (Tamar - Genesis 38) who is the first of 5 women mentioned in this genealogy. That is fascinating in itself since women were normally left out, but the five mentioned are four very important women. The women mentioned show that God uses situations that are not ideal to bring about his ideal plan.
V. 4 - This is the first verse that mentions men that we don’t read about outside of genealogies and lists. The people listed in verses 2-3 are written about or mentioned in dozens of chapters and their lives are the great bulk of the book of Genesis (chapters 11-38, 42-50). Even these were important men, Naasson (Nahshon) was the captain of the children of Judah during the exodus (Numbers 2:3).
V. 5 - Here we have two women who were foreigners in as many generations. Rahab, who was a prostitute, and Ruth, a Moabitess who had a book named after her. The Jews honored David greatly, and Matthew points to these women as being part of his genealogy as well as that of Jesus. They could not easily look down on Jesus when he has Bathsheba and a mother who was found pregnant before marriage in his lineage without also looking down on David who had Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth in his and was responsible for Bathsheba being in the ancestry of Jesus.
V. 6-11 - Beginning with David, Jesus genealogy follows the kingly line all the way to the Babylonian captivity. In verse 10 with Manasses (Manasseh) there is more indication that God works through sinful situations to bring about his plan. Hezekiah was on his death bed and prayed to be healed. God healed him and allowed him to live 15 more years. At his death Manasseh began to reign and he was only 12. Had Hezekiah died Manasseh who was a wicked king for 55 years would never have been born, but he is in the genealogy of Christ (2 Kings 20-21, 2 Chronicles 32-33, Isaiah 38). We again see how much of the Bible is written around the lives of these people. We have Rahab in Joshua, Ruth in the book by her name, David beginning in 1 Samuel 16 and he and his descendants through 2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, many of the prophets prophesied to these kings like Isaiah and Jeremiah (some believe Lamentations was written after the death of Josiah), Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon were mostly written by these as well. David is mentioned over 1100 times in the Bible.
V. 12 - This is the time of Ezekiel and Daniel though they are not in Jesus line. The 70 years of captivity are covered.
V. 13 - Zorobabel (Zerubbabel) is written of in Ezra and Nehemiah. He was a leader in rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple. Prophets like Haggai prophesied during this time.
V. 14-16 - The rest of these men lived in the 400 years between the end of the Old Testament writings and the beginning of the New Testament with the coming of Christ. Mary is the last woman mentioned and there is no claim that Joseph is the father of Jesus, only that he is the husband of Mary.
V. 17 - Luke takes a different path through some of the generations and some people think that Matthew skipped some people to make it divide evenly 14-14-14, but it is possible that their were some different places that the line crossed itself. It was not uncommon for people to marry cousins or other relatives and there could easily be more than one way to get to the same person.
Before beginning the following section on the birth of Christ you might enjoy trying the Jesus' Birth I. Q. Test.
V. 18 - Mary and Joseph were engaged, but not yet married (Their espousal was more than our engagement today, but not quite a marriage. Joseph is called her husband in verse 19 and she is called his wife in verse 20.) and they had not yet been together sexually. The pregnancy was by the Holy Spirit, but other people would not have seen it that way.
V. 19 - According to the law of Moses Joseph had every right to have Mary executed for playing the harlot (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), but he didn’t want to make a scene so he wanted to break up with her quietly.
V. 20 - Before he had actually broken it off, the Lord sent an angel to him in a dream and told him that Mary had not been unfaithful. The pregnancy was miraculous and from God not through the normal process. People often talk about the miracle of birth, but the procreation process is not miraculous, it is natural. The process of spirit uniting with flesh to form life in the womb with sperm and egg is the way God created human kind. For a woman to have a child without the man’s contribution is a miracle. While the spiritual being (the Son, the Word, the Light, the Life) that became flesh is eternal, the physical body was not. In that sense the combination of God and flesh was eternally purposed, but the existence was a temporary condition that only lasted about thirty years.
V. 21 - Joseph is told the child’s name is to be Jesus, which is a form of the Hebrew for Joshua which means ‘Jehovah saved’, because he is going to save his people, not from invasion or the Roman occupiers, but from their sins.
V. 22 - This is a fulfilment of prophecy like so many things in Jesus’ life. The prophet mentioned is Isaiah, specifically 7:14.
V. 23 - It is not necessarily the name Jesus that is prophesied, but the virgin birth. In the prophecy he is called Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’, and there is no mention of ‘Jesus’ by that name, that name is given to Joseph, and ‘Emmanuel’ is not mentioned to him. Emmanuel was never intended to be his actual name, but was a description. The child born of a virgin that Isaiah prophesied was God here on Earth with humans. It is amazing that many of the Jewish religious leaders did not realize this fact.
V. 24 - When Joseph woke from this dream/vision he changed course and kept Mary and married her. What if Joseph had assumed his dream was just a dream.
V. 25 - Even after they were married there was no sexual relationship until after Jesus was born. However, she did not remain a perpetual virgin as the Catholic religion teaches. Jesus had half brothers and sisters according to Mark 6:3 who were children of Joseph and Mary.
V. 1 - Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not in Jerusalem as the Book of Mormon teaches. Herod was King and he was not a Jew. He was actually a descendant of Esau who had converted to Judaism at least to some degree. Wise men came from the east to Jerusalem. We are not told how many their were.
V. 2 - They ask a jealous and vicious king about the birth of a future king. They want to go worship this new king because they saw his star. We don’t know how they knew this star had anything to do with Israel or a king there, but this was still during the time of God working miraculously and there could have been a vision or prophecy that we don’t know of. There is a reference in Numbers 24:17 about a Star out of Jacob and some have thought that this has reference to some astronomical event that occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth.
V. 3 - We can understand why Herod is troubled, but the rest of the city should not have been troubled as we think of it, but they certainly would have been stirred up by such news.
V. 4 - Herod asked the Jewish religious leaders where Christ was to be born. It is interesting that the wise men had made no reference to Christ, but this is apparently what had Herod and the Jews excited.
V. 5 - The chief priests and scribes tell him Bethlehem. They mention a prophecy that must have been commonly accepted as referring to the Christ. For once there is no debate or wrangling about the meaning of the passage they just tell it.
V. 6 - The prophecy quoted is Micah 5:2 they do not quote it entirely however. Micah’s prophecy clearly indicated the uniqueness of this person. He had been going forth from everlasting, quite simply, an eternal being would come from Bethlehem somehow. If the people in the first century had fully understood many of these prophecies they would not have been surprised when Jesus called God His Father.
V. 7 - Herod secretly called the wise men to find out when the star had appeared. He wants to know how old the child is.
V. 8 - Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem to find Jesus and lied saying that he wanted to worship the child when he really wanted to eliminate the competition to his family’s power on the throne.
V. 9 - This indicates that this was no normal star. Stars don’t move then stop, appear and disappear, or stand over one person or place. It is unclear why they did not just follow the star in the first place, but it could be that they thought they should go to Jerusalem because that was the capital and the logical place for the king to be born.
V. 10 - The wise men would have had great difficulty finding Jesus without divine help. Unlike the paintings, Jesus did not have a glowing halo around his head for all to see and know He was divine.
V. 11 - They did not go to the manger. Some time had passed since the birth. They are in a house and there is some indication from verse 16 that Jesus may have been close to 2 years old by this time. It is often assumed that since there were three presents mentioned that there were three wise men, but the Bible does not say. It does not even say that these are the only gifts Jesus received from them. The word worship may not necessarily mean they worshipped him as God the same word is used to describe the respect given to an earthly king by his subjects.
V. 12 - God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. Sometimes people are upset at the idea that the wise men could have somehow known about Jesus’ birth without the Bible, but there is clear indication that God was communicating with them in ways beyond the Bible. The star and a dream are no harder to believe than a prophecy from some non-Jewish source.
V. 13 - The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph telling him to go to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Jesus.
V. 14 - Joseph left in the middle of the night to go. The Lord’s commands demand immediate obedience.
V. 15 - They stayed until Herod died. Another prophecy is fulfilled Hosea 11:1.
V. 16 - Herod was angry when the wise men did not come back and sent to kill all the children (The Greek word is somewhat vague and could mean boys or could include girls, but since he was looking for a king the girls might have been allowed to live.) in Bethlehem that were 2 years old and under based on when the wise men had seen the star.
V. 17-18 - Jeremy is Jeremiah another prophecy fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15. Interestingly, Bethlehem is in the tribe of Judah and Judah was Leah’s son not Rachel’s.
V. 19-20 - Another dream told Joseph it was safe to go back to Israel after Herod was dead.
V. 21-22 - Joseph headed toward Israel but heard Herod’s son was reigning in Judaea and got scared. God sent him another dream to tell him to go to Galilee so he did that.
V. 23 - They lived in Nazareth This fulfilled more prophecy, although there is no specific Old Testament quote of this prophecy it may have some connection to Nazareth being named after the Nazarites and the fact that it and they were despised just as Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be.
V. 1 - We are introduced to John the immerser, but we have no background on who he is. The other gospel accounts give us more insight into who John was. He and Jesus were related on their mothers’ side. Elizabeth and Mary were cousins. John was from the tribe of Levi while Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, yet they were close kin. John and Jesus were only a few months apart physically. John was a preacher. He didn’t have a big fancy church, instead he was out in the wilderness preaching. He did not go into Jerusalem or another large city. He was a country preacher.
V. 2 - His message was not complex. Repentance was the content and the reason was simple as well, the kingdom of Heaven was coming.
V. 3 - John had been prophesied of by Isaiah in chapter 40:3. The KJV says Esaias for Isaiah in the New Testament. John did not just choose to go out in the wilderness to preach, it was prophesied that he would.
V. 4 - John’s clothing and diet are not the height of popularity. I doubt that we will see his clothing line prosper in the current fashion industry. I also doubt that his diet plan will make any of the fad books on weight loss.
V. 5 - He did not have to go to the people, the ones that were serious went out to him. One advantage he had was that he was so unusual that people were curious. A second advantage is that at the time there was not a prophet on every corner, people that wanted to hear a prophet he was the one to go hear.
V. 6 - The people confessed their sins and were baptized by him. We have shied away from what the Bible teaches on confessing sins. When people do “confess” they usually just say, “I sinned and need the church to pray for me.” That is about as deep as saying ‘I breathe’. We all sin, the point of confession is not to confess that you sinned, but to confess your sins. It is rare for someone to actually admit what their sins actually are perhaps because one of the many sins that is so prevalent in the church is that of condemning instead of forgiving and talking about and looking down on others for their sins instead of encouraging and picking up those who have fallen and walking with them through the process of healing. John was not just baptizing any and everyone, they had to repent and be willing to confess and turn from their sins.
V. 7 - He became so popular that even the Pharisees and Sadducees came to see him and he quickly called them out for who and what they were. Unfortunately, in our society telling the truth is not politically correct. We are not called by God to be politically correct, but spiritually correct. John is speaking in this verse, but as we study Matthew pay close attention to the things that Jesus actually says and compare it to what we always hear about what Christians should and shouldn’t say.
V. 8 - John demanded that rather than just cheap talk they needed to actually show the actions in their lives. We are fools if we simply believe everything everyone says. The husband who says he loves his wife while he beats her or cheats on her is a liar and to prove his love he must quit those behaviors and start proper loving actions. If someone is not going to church and says “Oh I’m sorry I haven’t been to church, I am going to do better and then doesn’t come to church were they really sorry?
V. 9 - John warned them that they could not lay claim to Abraham’s faith because they were his descendants. God does not have any grandchildren. In the church sometimes people lean on their parents’ faith, but on judgment day we will stand before God based on our faith, not our parents’, spouse’s, children’s, preacher’s, or anyone else’s.
V. 10 - Fruit trees that don’t produce need to be cut down so a new one can be planted that will produce. God was patient with the Jews, but his patience reached a limit. John said not only can and will God cut down those who don’t produce fruit (which should be a warning for us), but also that the axe was at the roots. God was about to swing the ax and chop them down. I wonder how long God will be patient with us when we are not producing fruit? Even if we are “growing” ourselves that is not enough. Imagine a fruit tree that just kept getting bigger and bigger, but never made fruit. What good would it be? It would make good firewood! That is what God will do with those who produce no fruit, throw them in the fire.
V. 11 - John describes his baptism as with water to repentance, but explains that there is someone coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. It is disturbing that some religious fanatics have so little Bible understanding that they actually ask to be baptized with fire. The context makes it clear that baptism with the Spirit is good, but baptism with fire is punishment. John also points out the difference in himself and the one to come in strength and worth.
V. 12 - He goes on to describe the one to come as ready to separate the wheat from the chaff. The wheat goes in the barn and the chaff or useless parts go in the fire, but not just any fire, an unquenchable fire.
V. 13 - Jesus showed approval for John and his teachings by coming to be baptized, although he would not have any sins to confess.
V. 14 - John knew this was who he had been prophesying would come that was greater than he was and whose shoes he was not worthy to carry. He tried to stop Jesus from being baptized by admitting his need to be baptized by Jesus.
V. 15 - Jesus said that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus was baptized because it would have been a sin if He had not. Others were being baptized because they had sin and wanted to be forgiven. There has never been and will never be another baptism like Jesus’. People who try to discount baptism as essential for salvation and then say that they do it to follow Jesus’ example are mistaken. We are not following Jesus’ example in baptism. His baptism was one-of-a-kind like many other things in His life. After Jesus said it was the righteous thing to do John submitted. This does show that there is no need to be baptized by someone better than you.
V. 16-17 - After Jesus was baptized he saw the spirit descend in the form of a dove and heard the voice of the Father. John at least saw the dove, because he relates that that was the sign given to him to know the Christ, the Son of God.(John 1:32) There is no indication of whether others present saw of heard anything out of the ordinary. This passage clearly teaches the three individuals of the Godhead and is death to the false doctrine of those who say that one God only appeared in three different ways. The idea that I am a father, a son, and a husband but am only one person is not an adequate way to explain God. There are three separate beings and each is shown clearly in these two verses.
V. 1 - The Spirit actually led Jesus to this encounter with the enemy. When we think of the sample prayer that Jesus taught, one line was “lead us not into temptation”. Jesus may have remembered these events as He taught his followers to pray. Devil means ‘false accuser or slanderer’.
V. 2 - Jesus prepared for the battle by focusing on the spiritual and putting the physical into subjection. There is no indication of any miraculous intervention in the nutrition of his body, he was hungry by the end. We think we have really suffered if we have a medical procedure and can’t eat after midnight and the procedure causes us to miss breakfast and lunch the following day.
V. 3 - Here Satan is called the tempter. Why would it have been wrong for Jesus to perform this miracle? One purpose of miracles was to show that Jesus was the Son of God, why not now? Jesus certainly produced food miraculously on other occasions. What made this situation different? There are many possibilities, but know that if it had not been wrong for Jesus to do this, Satan would not have mentioned it. He could have easily offered Jesus some meat that would have been unclean, or even offered bread if it was just about Jesus eating, but he didn’t. It seems that it would be sinful for Jesus to use His supernatural abilities to satisfy the needs of His flesh selfishly. Satan appeals to the lust of the flesh in this first temptation. Like the football team that can only do three plays: run left, run right, and run up the middle Satan only has three plays, but He uses them in a variety of ways and with a variety of tempting things and they are very effective. He has been using these same three things since the Garden of Eden.
V. 4 - Jesus’ answer does not entirely reveal what the problem with the temptation was, but establishes an order of things, spiritual first not physical. The root of the problem here was one of priorities. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 to answer Satan’s temptation. I bet you thought food is what keeps the body alive. Nope, it is God’s Word just as it is His Word that is holding the world together until judgment 2 Peter 3:5-7. Jesus answers each of the three with a scripture. The time to pray is before you are faced with the battle of temptation. Preparation must also be made before the fight. In the midst of the battle is the time to pull out the sword and fight.
V. 5 - 6 - Satan really goes all out with the second attempt. He takes Jesus to the holy city to the temple and quotes scripture himself - Psalm91:11-12. All the movies that show the Devil held back by a crucifix or holy water or the church doorway are ignorant of the real devil, Satan and what he is capable of. We should not underestimate our enemy. Jesus knew who He was dealing with and was not fooled for a second. Satan’s temptation again hinges on casting doubt on Christ’s deity and trying to get Him to prove it. This time he uses pride, the pride of a life that was promised certain things. Satan says take advantage of your birthright. God promised you can’t get hurt.
V. 7 - Jesus again quotes Deuteronomy, this time 6:16. He gets to the root of the problem again. You don’t push God, you don’t tempt Him. We would do well to learn this with our sins. Paul deals with this when he explains God’s salvation and forgiveness and grace and then asks “What shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.”(Romans 6:1-2, 14-15) God’s promise for Jesus was that He would be protected from an untimely death so that He could die a timely one. Not as an opportunity to do cheap parlor tricks. It was also a part of the fulfilment of prophecy and his role as the Passover Lamb of God that was always without blemish and with no broken bones (Exodus 12:5, 46; John 19:36). It would have been possible for Jesus to intentionally break one of his bones or scar himself and thus sin and make himself unfit for sacrifice, But there was no power on Earth that could have done it to Him.
V. 8 - The last temptation of the three is most troubling in some ways. Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of Earth and their glory. Luke 4:5 says he did it in a moment of time. Even though Satan is not divine, he has superhuman abilities. That is not the disturbing part, however.
V. 9 - Satan offered to give Jesus all of these kingdoms. Jesus did not laugh and say “they aren’t yours to give”. There would have been no temptation if Satan could not give what was promised. Sometimes people are tempted by lies and misrepresentations, but there did not appear to be any of that here. This is also Satan’s boldest move. He has been subtle with the first two, but now makes the offer of all the world if Jesus will bow down and worship him. Remember that the whole reason Jesus is on Earth is to try to bring all the world to Him. The problem of course is that Jesus would lose the ability to give them to His Father if He takes this shortcut.
V. 10 - Jesus once more goes to Deuteronomy, chapter 6 verse 13 this time. It is interesting that liberal theologians and so-called scholars have tried desperately to cast dispersions on the authenticity of Deuteronomy, but it is the book that Jesus went to each time to defeat Satan. Maybe that is why Satan’s minions in the scholarly world hate it so much.
V. 11 - If Jesus had given in the devil would not have left and the angels would not have come. Not to mention that he would have wasted 40 days fasting for nothing, ruined mankind’s only hope for reconciliation with God, and been unable to return to Heaven Himself. There was a great deal at stake here. Jesus lived by the philosophy that was later penned by James, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you” - 4:7.
V. 12 - We will learn more about John being cast into prison in chapter 14. John was not a criminal, but a prophet who preached the truth even when it was not popular. I wonder how long it will be before our brethren begin to be put in jail for preaching the truth in this country. Jesus was not leaving out of fear, but out of the necessity of his ministry, which had just begun, continuing.
V. 13 - John had been preaching near Jerusalem and that is where Jesus came to him for baptism and is apparently near the wilderness Jesus went into to fast and face the Devil. Now he goes north and doesn’t stay in Nazareth, but goes north east over to the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Don’t confuse Nephthalim with the Nephilim or giants mentioned before the flood in Genesis 6:4. Zabulon and Nephthalim are the two tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Nazareth would have been in the area assigned to Zebulun and Capernaum would have been in Naphtali’s region.
V. 14 - He is again fulfilling a prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2.
V. 15 - The people of Galilee were despised by those in Jerusalem because they lived in a region of Gentiles. Many of the religious elite from Jerusalem had only contempt for the whole region, especially Jesus’ home town of Nazareth.
V. 16 - The prophecy is that those who were in the dark will see great light. Jesus is the light of the world.
V. 17 - Jesus begins to preach just as John had, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There was surely more that both He and John said as they went about preaching, but that was the major thrust of the lesson.
V. 18 - Jesus sees Peter and Andrew fishing because they were fishermen. This is not the first time they have met even though Matthew doesn’t mention it John does. In John 1:40-44.
V. 19 - His call for them to follow was based on previous interaction including the fact that Andrew had been one of John the Immerser’s disciples and had heard him say that Jesus was the Lamb of God. This is not just some guy walking down the road calling to strangers to come follow him. Examine what Jesus said. Follow me is a command, not a question or a plea. This command has a promise with it. I will is a promise that when spoken by the Son of God cannot be doubted. Make you tells us that we can’t do this on our own. Jesus will change us from what we are to what he wants us to be if we will follow. Fishers of men is a phrase that describes the person who is pulling men in out of the sinful world, an evangelist. Jesus said that if he is followed then he will change the follower into a soul winner. Are you a soul winner? Are you an evangelist? Have you ever brought anyone else to Jesus? If not, it is not because Jesus won’t do what he promised. It is more likely that we are not following Him as we should.
V. 20 - They followed him immediately. When we learn something that Jesus has commanded us to do are we quick to respond or do we drag around looking for excuses.
V. 21-22 - Next he comes across James and John and calls them as well. They leave their father and their boat and go. What is it in this world that we have trouble letting go of to truly follow Jesus? Family? Possessions? A job? There are only two choices either we are following Jesus or we are not following Him, there is no middle ground. Again this is not a stranger walking up that they follow. There are some who believe their family was related to Jesus’ family.
V. 23 - Jesus taught in the synagogues even though He had no formal training. Formal training can be a benefit or a hindrance. When we get to the point in the church that we believe teachers and preachers have to have special degrees to teach and preach we are more like the first century religious establishment and less like Jesus and his disciples. Jesus preached the “gospel” of the kingdom, but this simply means the good news of its coming. He was not preaching the gospel as Paul defined it: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, because that was yet to come. But He did teach that God’s kingdom was coming soon. He was also healing people of all kinds of problems.
V. 24 - He became famous, but did not shut Himself off from the people who needed Him. We cannot reach people if we are not within reach of people. They brought even more sick people and He healed them. Jesus let people know that He cared and they became interested in learning from Him. There is an old adage: I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care. Love and compassion often opens the door to let teaching come in.
V. 25 - Great multitudes followed Him, but fame is fleeting and people are fickle many times. People had come from far away to follow him. There is no mention of how they sustained themselves, but they were obviously roughing it much of the time. At another time Jesus will comment that they had followed for days without anything to eat. Amazing that these people would walk 30 to 50 miles and follow Jesus without eating for days, but some today get upset if church lets out 5 minutes late. If we are not even as devoted as these fickle followers we need to make some changes.
V. 1 - Jesus sat down to teach. The teaching is for His disciples. His disciples came to him and He taught them.
V. 2 - Before teaching someone, you have to open your mouth.
V. 3 - The lesson begins with what are often called ‘The Beatitudes’. It has often been said that they are the ‘ATTITUDES’ that should ‘BE’ in our lives. They are actually blessings that Christ explains will be given to certain groups. Each begins with a word that means the group described will be blessed and happy. Many of them are polar opposites to the philosophy of the world today, and probably would not have been received any better by most in Jesus’ day.
The poor in spirit are those who will receive the kingdom of heaven. The phrase is literally a spiritual beggar. We are usually looking for people who are strong and confident and have a lot of spirit. Anyone who does not have this trait will reject their need for the kingdom and thereby reject the kingdom out of their own pride.
V. 4 - There are tears of joy, but usually happiness and mourning do not seem to go together. In order to be comforted one must mourn and to be blessed by God we must mourn for those things that are worth mourning over. It is pitiful to see a man cry because his team lost a game, but not because his marriage failed, or his children are ruining their lives, or that his own soul is lost.
V. 5 - The meek are usually considered weak, but they are actually the ones who have control of their strength.
V. 6 - If you are not hungry you won’t try very hard to eat if you are not thirsty you may not want to drink. God has plenty to feed everyone that desires righteousness to overflowing.
V. 7 - Again the world views mercy as a weakness while God views it as a strength and a determining factor in whether or not we receive His mercy.
V. 8 - Purity of all kinds is despised by our world, unless it is pure evil, but God makes it clear that if we want to see him we have to be pure in heart and that purity will lead to purity of speech and actions.
V. 9 - PeaceMAKERS, not peacekeepers, actually have peace with God themselves and are trying to reconcile others to Him.
V. 10 - Notice it is not everyone who is persecuted, but those who are persecuted because of their righteousness. They receive the kingdom of heaven like the poor in spirit. Interesting that we always pray to avoid persecution, maybe we don’t want to be happy and receive a great reward in Heaven.
V. 11 - Jesus brings it home to His disciples by saying they will be blessed when they are reviled, persecuted, and slandered because of Him.
V. 12 - Be glad and rejoice? Their ancestors did the same to the prophets. Your reward is great in Heaven. All of these concepts really get to the root of whether we are living for this life or for God and Heaven.
V. 13 - Salt is useful as long as it is not corrupted. We know that salt can’t really lose its flavor, but if it is mixed with other substances it could be ruined. In the same way we can get so much of the world mixed in our lives that we are not salty anymore. Salt is helpful in many ways, and the Christian is to act in the same way in the world. We need to be healing (spiritually), flavoring (spiritually), and preserving or saving the world. If we are not doing those things we are useless to God.
V. 14 - If we are the light of the world, why is it that in many cities people don’t know of the church? Jesus said a city on a hill (that is supposed to be us) CANNOT be hid. Why are we so easily hidden if we are being what Jesus said we are?
V. 15 - We sing the song “This Little Christian Light of Mine” with the children, but how often do we hide our light instead of giving light. The story is told of the young lady who was about to go off to college and was receiving parting thoughts from her mother. Her mother warned her that the people at school would not be Christians and that they might even be antagonistic toward Christians and might mock her or laugh at her for going to church and living as a Christian. The daughter could see her mother was concerned and so she said, “Don’t worry, mom, they will probably never know I am a Christian.” How often do the people around us, even our friends, never notice that we are any different from them. Light and dark are obviously different from each other, so Christians and worldly people should be obviously different.
V. 16 - The way our light shines is by the things we do, not what we think in the confines of our minds or church buildings. When we do our good works others will see, they cannot be hidden. When they do see those good works in our lives they should recognize us as Christians and praise and glorify God. We are not to do these works to receive the praise and glory for ourselves. Jesus condemns that type of action in chapter 6 verses 1-6. Some think there is a contradiction between these verses and the ones in chapter six, but they actually go hand in hand. We don’t do things to be seen, but if we are constantly doing good it will be seen.
V. 17 - The New Testament by its very existence shows the other to be old and taken away. Jesus abolished the law of commandments according to Ephesians 2:13-16 and Colossians 2:13-15 says He took it out of the way and nailed it to His cross. John 1:17 says that the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus. Why then does Jesus say that he did not come to destroy the law or prophets? He says that He came to fulfill it. There is a huge difference, but don’t forget the next verse.
V. 18 - Jesus makes it clear that the only way that the law can be taken out of force is for it to be fulfilled not one little mark like the dot of an ‘i’ or the cross of a ‘t’ can be overlooked until ALL is fulfilled. Luke 24:44 and Acts 13:29 tell us that Jesus did what He came to do, fulfill it ALL. That allowed the Law of Moses to become the Old and the Law of Christ to become the New. Sometimes teaching this will bring false accusations such as “you don’t believe in the Old Testament”. Paul answered that same kind of charge in Acts 24:14. He said he believed “all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” and so do I. Those who don’t are the ones who are still trying to live by that old law. Moses prophesied that there would be someone coming that should be listened to in everything, Deuteronomy 18:15-16. Jeremiah prophesied that a change in the covenants was coming, Jeremiah 31:31-33. If we believe those and other things that were spoken of and promised, then we must accept that though the Old Testament is the inspired word of God, it is not the Law for us to obey. There are many things that God commanded that are not for us that nearly everyone understands. For example: God commanded the building of an ark and gave the details of how it was to be built. Are you building one? Me, neither. Why? Wasn’t that a command of God? Yes it was, but it was not to you and me. It was a command for Noah. Have you ever noticed who was given the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses? Read Exodus 34:27-28. God says that He made that covenant, including the ten commandments, with Moses and Israel. Jesus by contrast made his covenant with all people everywhere, Acts 17:30.
V. 19 - The Law of Moses was still in effect until Jesus died and He would not be pleased with anyone who taught people of that time to disobey it. He did not disobey and He never taught anyone else to disobey it while he was alive. After His resurrection the Apostles and His other followers began to keep the new laws that He had given them and they no longer kept all of the rituals of the Law of Moses.
V. 20 - This looks out of place at first, but it goes right along with obedience to the law. The scribes and Pharisees seemed so righteous to others it must have been shocking to hear that you had to be more righteous than them to even get in to the kingdom of Heaven. The fact of the matter was that they put on a good show, but for all the wrong reasons, and they often broke the commandments and taught others to break them. Jesus condemned that action already. In the following verses He will show some of the ways the people had been trying to be technically right, but were missing the crucial ingredient.
V. 21 - Thou shalt not kill was one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), the part about being in danger of the judgment had reference to one being found guilty and deserving punishment for the crime committed. Jesus is simply stating what they already knew the law said and what they had been taught all their lives if they were good Jews.
V. 22 - When Jesus says, “But I say...” He is not contradicting the Law of Moses, rather He is giving the proper explanation of the steps that lead one to murder, and explaining that God wants more than just the letter of the law followed. He is doing properly(like Ezra and others did in Nehemiah 8:5-8) what the scribes and pharisees and others like them had been doing improperly for years. He is bringing understanding to the intent of the law and showing how miserably they had been failing to really be righteous. The Jews had for years been handing down traditions that sometimes negated the clear teaching of the law. They had looked for loopholes and twisted meanings to fit what they wanted, but Jesus returns to what God wanted. And He knows what God wanted and meant by the law because He is God.
Sometimes people talk about how much easier the new covenant is, but here is one example where it is indeed the more narrow way. Jesus’ will is not only that we do no murder, but that we do not become angry without a cause, call people unkind slanderous names(raca, worthless), or condemn them as being stupid or dumb(fool) in our anger. Most people can honestly say that they have never murdered anyone, but how few could honestly claim that they have never been angry at another when it was not the other’s fault, or in anger called others names they should not have or made other unkind slanderous remarks.
Under the Ten Commandments alone taken literally one could beat his neighbor nearly to death and as long as he did not die claim to have never broken the commandment. (There are other laws in the Old Testament that do call for certain punishments for intentional injuries.)
V. 23-24 - Can you think of anything that someone should do that is so important they should leave in the middle of worship to go do it? Jesus could. Jesus explains just how important the relationship between brethren is when He tells His disciples (That’s us, too.) That if they are coming to worship God and have a broken relationship that is their fault they should leave and go fix it and then come back to worship. Jesus teaches us that it is useless to try to worship God if we are not right with our fellow man. We cannot live with sinful thoughts, impure attitudes, corrupt hearts, ulterior motives, and duplicitous actions and come offer worship in spirit and truth with singleness of heart, pure thoughts, honest motives, proper attitudes, and meaningful actions.
V. 25-26 - Not only is worship ineffective under those conditions(there are spiritual consequences), we have to consider the physical consequences. If we have wronged someone they have the right to demand justice. Under the law in His day if you owed a debt you could be thrown in prison until it was paid. Can you imagine how hard it would be to pay bills while you are locked up and can’t work. For the most part in our society today that concept has been done away with, but there is still small claims court, civil lawsuits, judgments, liens, check garnishment, etc. to force things to be paid. Jesus’ solution to the problem is simple ‘settle out of court’, make an agreement with your adversary before it goes too far.
V. 27 - Jesus again begins with a well known commandment, the seventh - Exodus 20:14, and then shows that His way is more concerned with the roots that cause sin.
V. 28 - God wants not only proper actions, but also the proper heart. Sin never just appears out of thin air, it always begins with a thought or a feeling and grows. James 1:13-15 explains the process that Jesus mentions here. David is a perfect example of this process in his sin with Bathsheba.
V. 29 - Jesus uses what most people would consider hyperbole, an exaggeration to make a point, when He says that if our eye offends (causes us to sin, not hurting someone’s feelings as it has come to mean in our society) we should pluck it out because it is worth the sacrifice to get to heaven. While people sit around and argue about whether Jesus literally meant to do it or meant it as a figure of speech, they completely miss the point. I actually sat in a Bible class where two argued: one saying we should really do it and the other saying it would be a sin to do it because it would be self mutilation and harming the body which is the temple of God.
Let’s be honest, plucking out one or even both eyes would not necessarily stop someone from lusting even if it did stop them from looking. Lust is not an action of the eyes, but the heart and mind. If it would stop the problem it would be worth doing to stop the sin.
V. 30 - Jesus’ meaning is more clear when this concept is expanded to deal with the hand and cutting it off to save your soul. We know good and well that a hand can’t commit any crime or sin without getting the signal and ok from the brain. We have probably seen little children acting like their hands are doing something they don’t want them to do. It is humorous to watch them reach and touch something they shouldn’t and then slap the hand and say “bad hand” or something similar because we know what is really going on.
We know Jesus understood the way the body works, He made it. He wants us to recognize the seriousness of sin and our need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of the sin so we don’t lose our souls. Don’t be guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees. We all have sinful desires that cause us to be tempted. The question is, What are we going to do about it? It may not be lust like Jesus mentioned in verse 28, but there is something that threatens to get us cast into Hell and we have got to overcome it. Remember God’s warning to Cain in Genesis 4:6-7. Sin is always just around the corner waiting, but we must conquer it to be pleasing to God and enter into life.
V. 31 - Jesus continues comparing things that have been taught with the way God wants things to be. He takes a shift from sinful sexual relations to marriage. Deuteronomy 24:1-4
V. 32 - We will deal with this subject in greater detail in Matthew 19. Suffice it to say God hates divorce, Malachi 2:16, but our society (and apparently the society of Jesus’ time) loves it. Jesus gives one acceptable cause for divorce, fornication. Fornication is a broad term for sexual sin. There may be honest debate about what constitutes fornication, but that is the only cause Christ acknowledges. God, Himself practiced this reason for divorce figuratively in his relationship with Israel and Judah, Jeremiah 3:8.
V. 33 - The old teaching was not to commit perjury, but to do what you swore you would. In fact, the Old Testament made it clear that the person who kept what they promised even if it hurt them to do so would be blessed. Psalm 15:1-5 LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? (2) He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. (3) He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. (4) In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. (5) He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. There are actually several passages that speak of swearing oaths. Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Ezra 10:5; Neh. 13:25.
V. 34 - Jesus says not to swear at all and gives reasons to not swear by several different things. Heaven is God’s throne.
V. 35 - The Earth is His footstool. Jerusalem is the city of the great king.
V. 36 - Your own head is not even under your control. You may dye your hair, but you have not actually changed the color. Genetically, it is still the same. Isn’t it ironic that our courts would choose to have someone place their hand on the very book in which Jesus said not to swear and have them swear an oath. Those that believe and follow Jesus teachings don’t need to swear to tell the truth they should do so naturally, and those who don’t believe and follow those teachings could swear on a hundred Bibles and it wouldn’t make their testimony any more credible. Some of our founding fathers did not believe that one who was not a Bible believer should testify in court because he could never be trusted to tell the truth.
V. 37 - Jesus says you should say what you mean and mean what you say. James looks back to this same teaching in James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. One of the problems that he was dealing with was the hypocrisy of fake swearing that had become so commonplace. Somewhat like kids may do when they promise and then say, “I had my fingers crossed so it doesn’t count” the scribes and Pharisees had developed a whole system of what was real and what was not. Jesus lambasts them for this in Matthew 23:16-22
V. 16 - In the midst of His woes on the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus returns to a topic from the sermon on the mount ch. 5 vs. 33 - 37. He first refers to them as blind guides. Jesus never used language just to be mean, but, as long as they were accurate, he did not shy away from descriptions that might hurt someone’s feelings. The Pharisees were blind to a multitude of things such as their own faults and the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Here he mentions the first of several examples of them being blind to their own hypocrisy. They were doing the silly “I’ve got my fingers crossed” game by swearing on the temple and saying it did not matter, but that if someone swore by the gold in the temple that was a real oath.
V. 17 - He continues by calling them fools. Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount he had warned about the danger of being punished in Hell for calling others fools. Some find this hypocritical, but they forget that Jesus as God could rightly judge them to be morally corrupt and foolish. In that place, as well, he was talking about lashing out in anger. There is no indication of Jesus being in a fit of temper as he is teaching these things in chapter 23. He explains the foolishness of their thinking. The gold in the temple is not special except for the fact that it is in the temple. The temple is greater than the gold, so an oath using the temple should be stronger (if you accept their idea of different levels) than one using the gold.
V. 18 - 19 - Jesus points out the same fallacy of thinking in the oaths they made by the altar and the sacrifice on the altar. Again they had the more valuable thing backwards. Maybe it was because of their own arrogance that they thought the gold they had given for the temple or the animal they had given to be sacrificed was more important than the temple and altar that God had planned and designed to make them holy people that could be pleasing to Him.
V. 20 - 22 - Jesus tries to get the people to see that when you are swearing, you are swearing and there is no loophole to get you out. Swearing by the altar includes what is on it, swearing by the temple includes what is in it, and swearing by heaven includes God’s throne and God Himself. In the Old Testament when God allowed, encouraged, and even commanded swearing He told them to swear by Him and His name. (Deuteronomy 6:13) “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.” They had truly corrupted this by swearing however they wanted to and deciding that some were to be kept and some were not. Jesus was simply trying to get back to the original teaching of the Law: Leviticus 19:11-13 “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. (12) And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. (13) Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” They thought that because they were not swearing by God’s name they were ok, but they were still being disobedient to God’s law.
V. 38 - Jesus continues to correct the misconceptions of the Old Law. He looks at vengeance with the ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ mentality. This concept was in the Old Testament, but like many others had been perverted. This concept is taught 3 times in the Old Law and each time it was in connection to the idea of rule of law and courts finding guilt. It was not intended to be license for personal revenge. There was the idea of the ‘avenger of blood’, but that only dealt with murder. That is not what Jesus is dealing with here.
Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. (23) And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, (24) Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (25) Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Leviticus 24:19-22 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; (20) Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. (21) And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. (22) Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 19:16-21 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; (17) Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; (18) And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; (19) Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. (20) And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. (21) And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
V. 39 - Jesus gives what is one of the most, if not the single most, ignored commands of all. Do not resist, turn the other cheek. This is one of the most difficult concepts for us to wrap our minds around. We think that surely Jesus did not really mean not to fight back. We teach children early that they should not start a fight, but to defend themselves if they need to do so. What did Jesus say? He didn’t stutter. Then there are people who try to be cute by saying well if they strike me on the left cheek I can hit them back, or well after I turn the other cheek I can fight back. They forget how Jesus started the statement, ‘do not resist’. But we assume there must be some mistake in translation or something; Jesus could not mean that we just let someone beat us up. (Hear the crickets chirping in the silence.) Either we trust Jesus or we don’t which is it. This does not mean that we never take advantage of the protection of the law of the land, we have approved examples of Paul doing that to avoid being beaten in Acts 22:25 and to be released from prison in a way that showed they were innocent in Acts 16:37.
V. 40 - Just in case we thought there was some other interpretation of the turn the other cheek idea, Jesus goes on. If someone is suing you for your coat, you should just go ahead and give him your clothes. Not the way we usually think or act, is it?
V. 41 - If we missed those two, Jesus gives us another one. If someone forces you to go 1 mile go 2. This is where we get the idea for the term “2nd mile Christianity”. The law at the time in the Roman Empire was that a soldier could force anyone to carry his pack a mile, literally a thousand paces, not our mile of today. Because of this many of the Jews, and probably some that were listening to Jesus, had gone to the trouble to measure that distance down the road in both directions from their house or business and marked it so they would go their thousand paces and not one more. Can’t you just see the hatred in the eyes as one carried it the last step and threw it on the ground, there I did what I had to do. Can you imagine the surprise of a soldier on compelling one who followed Jesus teaching and didn’t do that, but continued walking and perhaps talking with the soldier about his family and where he was going and how he liked his job while cheerfully carrying the load an extra distance. You see it was about far more than the one mile or two, like everything Jesus teaches us it is about attitude and a pure heart. I would not be surprised to find that there was some murmuring in the crowd after these things were spoken. Some might have even quit listening. Some might have just walked away thinking Jesus is unrealistic and maybe even a little crazy, just like some today would think if they really knew what Jesus taught.
V. 42 - To add insult to injury regarding our normal way of doing things, Jesus concludes be saying that if someone asks for something or wants to borrow something from us we should let them. A blanket statement that leaves us scratching our heads for sure. Of course, we could say Jesus society was very different than ours and letting someone borrow a donkey did not have the legal complications of letting someone borrow a car, and we would be correct, but did we miss the point? Jesus also said that we should not cast our pearls before swine or give what is holy to the dogs. I am not sure in the case of someone who is always bumming stuff what point we have crossed the line. I know the Bible also teaches that a man who will not work should not be given free food to eat, and that we are not to support those who are false teachers (not even wishing them godspeed). I am sure that those things enter into this discussion as well. I don’t have all of the answers for exactly how to apply these teachings of Jesus in every situation, but I do know we can’t ignore them and expect to please God.
V. 43 - Leviticus 19:18, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is called the second greatest commandment by Jesus in Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27. There is no reason that we should assume that a thing has to be repeated several times in order to be important. Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8 all make reference to this command as well. The closest to the “hate your enemies” phrase is probably Psalm 139:22 “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” In context this is not a command certainly and it is speaking of those who hate the Lord that the Psalmist counts as enemies and hates. Psalms 26:5 and 31:6 also mention the hatred of wickedness. Once again they had added their own thoughts and interpretations to God’s commands. If you have the pure Word of God and then add something else to it, then it is no longer the Word of God.
V. 44 - Jesus calls for love instead of hatred. We must define our terms. Our greatest enemy is Satan, does Jesus want us to love Satan? Does love involve accepting the sinful and wicked ways of our enemies? Shall we bless them by becoming like them or supporting them? Should we pray for our enemies to overcome us? Certainly not. Jesus does not use the word for friendship love or family love, but the word for unconditional love, the kind of love God shows his enemies.
V. 45 - Love is defined by God, not man. If we want to be God’s children we must have His characteristics in our lives. He sends the rain and sunshine on everyone without regard to whether they deserve it or not. Consider Elijah who prayed that it wouldn’t rain. He and the 7,000 faithful had to suffer through the drought just like the wicked Ahab and other idol worshippers. Love does not mean we go along with them or agree with, or even that they are not still enemies of God and us as well. Love means that we will not stoop to their level that we will be more concerned about our soul and our enemies soul than we are about beating them. It does not mean that we do not hate the sin, but that we see the individual created in the image of God that is hidden underneath all of the sin and corruption of worldliness. We see not the present condition, but both the original purity and the potential future purity.
V. 46 - Even in the world people are not impressed when two people love each other. I’ll love you if you love me and I will do for you if you do for me is the way the world works. Christ calls us to a higher plain where we instead say I will love you because God loved me, and I will treat you this way because God has graciously treated me this way. In short followers of Christ are to love others not because of what others do for them, but in spite of what others do to them.
V. 47 - Again He says if we only talk to those we are close to big deal everyone does that. We must go beyond our comfort zones and befriend others reach out to strangers to bring them in.
V. 48 - Would Jesus command us to do what is impossible? Or are we denying Him the power over our lives? Jesus tells us that this is the area that He wants us to be perfect (mature, complete) Like God. The only way this is possible is with Him living through us. We could never reach such a height on our own.
V. 1 - The word alms means compassionateness or beneficence. Alms charitable deeds to the poor. Jesus warns us not to help the poor in an effort to be seen and praised by men.
V. 2 - Giving that is done so that others will give praise is hypocritical and not sincere. That kind of giving would not have been done if others had not been watching. We see this kind of giving done by some (not all) famous people who have to have the cameras rolling to show them giving some big check to some charity. They have gotten all the reward they can get. God rewards those who do not give for show.
This is the first of nearly 70 New Testament mentions of “synagogue(s)” The term is used only once in all of the Old Testament in Psalm 74:8. Virtually nonexistent in the Old Testament the synagogue is all over the place in the first century. What is it? Where did it come from? This is one of many things that got going during the 400 years between Malachi and Christ. Some other things are: Pharisees, Sadducees, Feast of Dedication, and Sanhedrin, Studying the time between the Testaments can help us understand the New Testament better.
V. 3 - To literally not let one hand know what the other is doing is impossible since both are controlled by the same brain, but Jesus uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make a point. Our giving should be between us and God. Some people have said that you should not use a check to give to the church because of this verse, and others have said that the elders in a congregation should never know how much people are giving, still others have said that you should not take the tax exemption for charitable giving. These positions all ignore the central theme of the context which is not to do things for the praise of men. Using a check does not violate this principle, the elders, who are watching for the souls of the congregation, knowing does not violate the principle, and even taking an exemption on taxes which makes it possible to give more does not violate the principle. Making a copy of the check and putting it in the paper with an article of how great you are for giving so much would violate the principle.
V. 4 - The secrecy is not total, we have record of Barnabas giving for the poor in the church and everyone who reads Acts can know about it, but he did not give to get honor. Ananias and Saphira on the other hand were trying to get honor and lied in the process. They not only did not get the honor, they died.
V. 5 - Next, Jesus addresses prayer. The same teaching applies: Don’t make a scene. Even though we sometimes call them “acts” of worship, we should never be “acting” when we worship. The hypocrites pray on the street corners for all to see. Jesus is not condemning all public prayer, again the purpose of being seen is condemned. Jesus, Himself, prays in public on several occasions - raising Lazarus, feeding 5000, last supper, etc.
V. 6 - Does Jesus really want us to pray in closets? The word can also refer to a private room. Jesus once more points to not making a show out of our devotion to God. We have probably all been annoyed by someone with a holier than thou attitude, and unfortunately, we have probably all annoyed someone else likewise, even without intending to.
V. 7 - Jesus also admonishes against the use of vain(meaningless or useless) repetitions. Not all repetitions are vain. Paul asked for his thorn in the flesh to be removed 3 times. Jesus asked for the cup to pass three times and Mark 14:39 says he used the “same words”. A perfect example of vain repetition is 1 Kings 18:26 when the prophets of Baal cried, “O Baal, hear us.” from morning to noon. The person who prays the loudest, longest, or even prettiest is not necessarily closest to God.
V. 8 - Jesus concludes this part by explaining that the purpose of prayer is not to inform God. He already knows what we need before we even ask for it. Isaiah 65:24. What then is the purpose of prayer? Prayer is not for God, but for us. Prayer helps us learn to recognize our need for God and helps us develop a spirit of gratitude for His blessings. Through prayer we learn to ask for the right things and submit to God’s will for us.
SEE V.9 - 15 after V. 18
V. 16 - Jesus deals with fasting in the same way as the other actions of worship. It is not to be done to make everyone feel sorry for you or talk about how devoted you must be. Unfortunately, many in the church today ignore fasting entirely or replace it with feasting. There is a place for fasting in the life of a Christian. Notice that Jesus says “when ye fast”. He is assuming that His followers will be fasting. Fasting was an important part of first century Christianity that we have not properly restored, but that we should.
V. 17 - Jesus describes proper fasting. It will not interfere with personal grooming: brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair. Fasting is simply about exerting spiritual control over the physical body, not neglecting the body.
V. 18 - The reward as before is either that of the praise of men or the praise of God you can’t have both and should not try for both.
V. 9 - Though this section is often called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ it would be more properly designated the ‘sample prayer’ or the disciples’ prayer. Jesus did not intend for people to copy and repeat this prayer. It is not a magic formula. Jesus condemned vain repetitions two verses earlier, yet that is what people have done with this prayer. Jesus didn’t say, “Pray this prayer”, He said, “Pray like this” or “Pray in this manner”. He is teaching the way to pray and the structure of prayer, and we never see anyone praying this prayer in the New Testament. Let’s learn some lessons about prayer from this sample.
Coffman said regarding the manner of this prayer, “And what is the "manner of this prayer"? It is: (1) short, (2) spontaneous, (3) God-oriented, the first three petitions being for things of God rather than for things of men, (4) extemporaneous, being given in two forms by Christ himself as evidenced by the Matthew and Luke accounts, (5) to the point, and (6) full of humility.”
Jesus begins by honoring the Father. He says that God’s name is to be set apart as holy. He doesn’t address God as “Old Man”, “Big Daddy in the Sky”, “Buddy”, or “Yo Dawg”. Jesus teaches us to have the utmost respect and reverence for our heavenly Father. In our society we sometimes struggle to understand the respect due to one who has absolute power and authority because we have gone to great lengths to ensure that no one in our country has absolute power or authority. We like to think of everyone as equal and even the president can be criticized and replaced, but an absolute monarchy is not like that.
Jesus mentions Heaven as God’s dwelling place. God is not one of many. He is not simply the best of the gods. He is the only God, and he accepts no rivals. We are reminded in these words of the concepts recorded in the 10 Commandments No other gods, not to take God’s name in vain, etc.
V. 10 - “Thy kingdom come.” is a phrase that definitely assures us that this was spoken by Jesus before the establishment of the church, His Kingdom. Often we say that this part doesn’t apply any longer and while it is true that the kingdom came on Pentecost, there are still people in the world who have not heard of the kingdom, and places the kingdom has not gone. We want God’s kingdom to encompass the whole world. The second part continues to clarify this concept. In heaven God’s will is done immediately, completely, eagerly, unquestioningly, and unerringly. We should strive for the same things on Earth. Ultimately God’s Will will be done.
V. 11 - While Jesus never specifically condemned wealth He made it obvious that too many possessions, too much money, or too excessive a lifestyle were all destructive and dangerous temptations that had to be avoided. There is nothing wrong with planning for retirement, but we have to remember where it originated. God gives us our food each day. This may come as a shock to many in our society who think that they earned the money to buy those things they needed. Others think the government supplies their needs. The fact is that God is the source of all things. Even the farmer or gardener who plants the seed and waters and fertilizes it can’t make it grow, God does.
Jesus teaches us to ask for, and that we can expect our loving Heavenly Father to provide, the necessities of daily life not luxuries or dainties. We are actually quite spoiled in America and often think ourselves quite deprived even when we have much more than is necessary. Only in a land of such abundance could there be a problem with the poor being overweight and even obese. We shouldn’t ask for or expect luxuries, but we should be thankful for them and beware of the danger God warned the Israelites of in Deuteronomy 8:11-18.
V. 12 - Jesus did not expect us to live without sin or else He would not have included this petition for forgiveness. The Greek word is literally ‘something owed’. Jesus used the example of someone owing money that they couldn’t repay when talking about forgiveness. Jesus makes it clear that we should expect God to forgive us like we forgive others, and that we should ask God to forgive us based on our forgiveness of others.
V. 13 - We know that God cannot be tempted with evil and He does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). However, God does allow us to be tempted. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13). As Jesus tells His disciples to pray this I wonder if He was thinking of what had happened not much earlier when He had been led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). This is something that we should certainly keep in our prayers. God can deliver the righteous (2 Peter 2:9).
V. 14-15 - In case we thought that the phrase in the prayer just dealt with literal debts, Jesus reiterates the teaching with different language. The Greek word for trespasses in verses 14 and 15 refers to a slip, error, transgression, offence, fault, or sin. Jesus uses an if-then type statement to make it as clear as possible. If I forgive, then I will be forgiven by God. If I don’t forgive, then I won’t be forgiven. This has nothing to do with becoming a Christian, it assumes the person is otherwise right with God. Jesus is not teaching that a person can live in total rebellion to God, but still be forgiven of all their sins as long as they forgive others. He is also not teaching that we should wait for others to make things right with us before we forgive. What condition will we be in if we die waiting for someone to come make things right with us or what could we do if they died without ever making it right with us. No, our ability to forgive is completely within our control. It only takes one to forgive, but it does take 2 to reconcile. Don’t confuse reconciliation with forgiveness. I can forgive the person who broke into my house even though I do not know who it is, but I can’t reconcile with him or her unless he or she wants to reconcile.
V. 19 - How do you know whether you are laying up treasures on Earth? Is there a dollar amount that crosses a line? $99,949 in your bank account is not, but $99,951 is? Or does it have to do with your net worth? Could it be that someone who doesn’t have $100 in a bank account could be laying up treasures on Earth while someone who has $1,000,000,000 is not? Notice that Jesus doesn’t say don’t save up X number of dollars or don’t have a house worth more than $X. Like all of the other things Jesus has dealt with in the Sermon on the Mount, it is the heart that matters. It is an attitude, not a number that determines hoarding or treasure-storing. The problem is that our society revolves around money and stuff, many societies do. One indication of this is that we have so much stuff that the storage rental business is exploding(1 in 10 families use them). Certainly some people need a place to put things temporarily because of a move, but many of the 50,000 + self-storage businesses have people that are paying hundreds of dollars a year to store stuff that they won’t sell, won’t get rid of, and don’t have room for in their houses because they are full to the brim already. We have heard of the show hoarders and are appalled by them, but a large percentage of our society is heading that way. Even of those who are not renting storage space many have a garage or storage building on their own property that is full of junk.
The key to overcoming this is understanding that nothing truly belongs to the Christian, it all belongs to God and we are the manager of it. As the manager God expects me to make the best use of it. Do we really believe that piling things up and paying to not use them and not let anyone else make use of them is the best way to manage God’s things.
V. 20 - Jesus does give an alternative. He tells us to store our treasure in Heaven because nothing can happen to damage it there. People spend a great deal on security systems, guards, locks, etc. not to mention climate control and pest control, but none of that is necessary if we will store it in Heaven, even the IRS can’t get it.
There is a story of a man that was being audited by the IRS. The agent asked him to list his assets, so he began. “I have a mansion on a street of gold, a crown, a sword that is almost 2000 years old, . . .” The agent interrupted him and wanted to know how he could afford all of those things on his small reported salary. He explained that they were from his father. The agent told him that there was no record of him paying an inheritance tax on those things and he probably would owe a large sum. The man told him that God was his Father and also gave him air, water, love, a free unlimited talk plan, nature to enjoy, a loving wife, 3 children, etc. The IRS agent left frustrated muttering about not having jurisdiction in Heaven.
V. 21 - Jesus gets back to the heart of the matter. Your heart will be where your treasure is. Your feelings, your thoughts, your time, and your money will be on what is most valuable to you. If you are obsessed with physical stuff, you will sacrifice relationships, money, even your soul to try to keep them. Being willing to sacrifice the physical for the relational and spiritual is a sign of spiritual maturity.
V. 22 - How are your eyes? Not your physical eyes, but your spiritual eyes. Are the focused on the single source of light, God. If you are looking for ways to please God more if you are sincerely looking at the scriptures, if you are keeping your eyes on Christ, our example, then your whole life will show that.
V. 23 - If you are looking at every thing that should be pure and holy to see how you can take advantage of the situation for your own selfish desires then what should have been good in your life becomes evil. Even prayer, giving, serving, etc. can be sinful when they are done for the wrong reasons. When even the good things are corrupted how wicked is the rest of that persons life. Titus 1:15 - “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Also consider the double-minded man from James 1:6-8.
V. 24 - Jesus closes this thought out by making an ultimatum. It is impossible to serve God and Mammon (Avarice, Greed, Wealth). Ultimately you will choose one or the other, you are forced to because they are incompatible. There is only room in the human heart and mind for one god, and God will not share with those things which by nature are not God. When Paul warned Timothy (1 Tim. 6:10) that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” He made it clear that there is not room in our lives for the love of money and the love of God. Just as Joshua called on the people of his day to choose between God and the false gods from their past or from the nations around them, Jesus has been calling on everyone from His day to ours to choose spiritual or physical, eternal or temporal, joy or pleasure, life or death, beneficial or detrimental, constructive or destructive, righteousness or sinfulness, omnipotent or impotent, Heaven or Hell, God or money, Christianity or stuffitis.
V. 25 - Because of the fact that we can not serve God and mammon as mentioned in verse 24, Jesus points us toward the one we should serve. Because we are physical beings, the temptation to become obsessed with money and materialism overwhelms many. Jesus teaches that the solution is to avoid focusing on those things. The KJV says ‘take no thought’, but we would say ‘don’t worry’. If we literally gave no thought to what we ate, we would not go to the store to buy food and then we would not have anything to eat. The problem comes when we consume all of our resources on this one part of life. That is why Jesus, “asks is not the life more than meat, body more than clothing?” If it takes longer to pick out what you are wearing to some event than it takes to go to the event you might want to rethink your priorities. Jesus is not saying that if a hurricane is coming you should not get some canned food and a manual can opener.
V. 26 - The birds don’t worry about food. That does not mean that when they get hungry they don’t go get food. They don’t worry about it. They don’t plant, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plant vegetables or raise cattle. Our trust, however, should not be in that. A drought, flood, disease, hailstorm, insect infestation, etc. can easily destroy a field or an entire crop. God gives the increase, but we still plant water and fertilize.
Jesus says that since we are more valuable to God than the birds, we should know that He will provide for us. Remember Elijah, even during a drought Elijah was taken care of by God in a miraculous way. Some don’t think God can do it any other way, but if we remember during that same time Obadiah kept 50 prophets hidden from Jezebel and fed them without miracles (1 Kings 18).
V. 27 - Can you make yourself any taller by thinking about it all day and wishing you were a couple of inches taller. How absurd. We are not that powerful. Jesus is reminding us that we can’t feed ourselves either. We like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient we don’t want charity, a handout, or welfare from the government, but the fact is we can’t even take a breath without God.
V. 28 - Clothes make the man, but what do they make him? Jesus says worrying about clothes makes a man (or woman) one of little faith(v. 30) In 2010 the average American spent $1700.00 on clothes for 310,000,000 people that makes a total of 527 billion dollars. Jesus lived what He taught, as far as we know he only had the clothes on his back, not a single change much less a closet full. Jesus did not teach that we had to get rid of all but one set of clothes, but I can’t imagine the amount of time and money that we spend on clothes, shopping and fashion in America would disgust Him.
The flowers don’t worry about clothes, they don’t sew or shop for clothes. Jesus is not saying that we should go around in our birthday suits like the flowers do.
V. 29 - Man’s attempts to dress up God’s creation is not comparable to the beauty God can create, so we don’t need to try to compete with Him.
V. 30 - If we know God put that much into a weed that is going to be mowed down tomorrow and we are more valuable, do we think that He would not take care of us.
V. 31 - 32 - Again, Jesus says that we shouldn’t worry about these physical things. He warns that the heathen focus on all of these things. When we get materialistic we are not behaving as God’s children should. God knows what we need and as a loving Father He will provide them.
V. 33 - Our priorities get out of whack when we forget that spiritual things come first. When we look at the people around us and try to be like them and base our priorities on theirs we will suffer the same problems of worry and stress that they suffer from. If on the other hand we seek the kingdom of God first, He will take care of the rest and we will not need to worry. Jesus has tried to explain to us that contentment, fulfillment, and happiness can’t be found in the service of mammon. The only way to be happy is to reject the lies of the Satan and the world and understand that nothing physical lasts and we can’t keep anything in this world.
V. 34 - Because we have no control over the future we shouldn’t worry about it. Jesus tells us that tomorrow will take care of itself. We need to pay attention to what is going on today and make the most of the time we have now instead of wasting it worrying about another day. We have to learn to take one day at a time.
V. 1 - One of the most used and abused statements Jesus ever made. People have taken the phrase “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” completely out of its context. When considered in its immediate context we see that it does not mean what many people try to make it mean. According to our society this teaches that all judging, but especially moral judging is off limits. This makes Jesus out to be a hypocrite for all of the moral judgments about the scribes and Pharisees that he made. The common understanding is actually absurd. If no one can judge anyone for anything, our entire culture would fall apart without laws and the judgments of right and wrong. This interpretation would also contradict other teaching in scripture such as: Luke 12:57-58; John 5:22,30; 7:24; 8:26; 12:47-48; Acts 4:19; 16:15; 17:31; 25:10; 1 Corinthians 2:15; 5:3, 12-13; 6:2; 14:29. The most ironic thing is that the person using this scripture to condemn the judgmental person is himself being judgmental.
V. 2 - The key to Jesus’ teaching is in this verse. The judgment you use will be used to judge you. Jesus does not say that there will not be a standard of judgment from God, but if we are unfair in our judgments others will judge us by those standards we have set. Romans 2:3,16; James 2:12
V. 3 - To make it more obvious that Jesus is not talking about any judging, He gives the example of something in the eye. Don’t look at others’ faults and ignore your own.
V. 4 - Who would trust a blind doctor to help with their eyesight? Who would trust an adulterer to teach them how to have a committed marriage?
V. 5 - Jesus doesn’t want us to leave others in their sins or ignore our own, but rather work on our own problems and then when we are strong we can help others who are weak.
V. 6 - Jesus concludes this section by explaining how essential it is to judge. You have to judge that it is a dog or a pig so that you know not to give it pearls or holy things.
V. 7 - Doesn’t mean that you will always get everything and anything you ask for. Paul asked 3 times to have his thorn in the flesh removed and the Lord said no. Jesus Himself asked for the cup to pass, but still suffered and died. Obviously, looking for something doesn’t mean you will always find it and knocking on a door doesn’t always mean it will be opened in the physical world, so what does Jesus mean?
Coffman Commentary of Matthew via http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=007 mentions 5 different ways that God answers prayer: “(1) gradually, (2) literally and immediately, (3) by denial of the request, as in the case of Paul's thorn in the flesh, (4) by sending something other than was requested as in the case of our Lord's prayer for the cup to pass but which was answered by his receiving strength to drink it, and (5) after delay as in the case of Jairus' prayer for Christ to heal his daughter.”
V. 8 - Jesus even says “every one” that asks receives and so on. Jesus emphasis is on our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We can expect that if we ask for things that are good for us and according to God’s will we will receive them. If we seek the kingdom of God we will find what we seek. If we knock on the right doors, God will make sure those doors are opened.
Coffman Commentary of Matthew via http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=007 “Of all rash things, a rash prayer is the rashest. Rachel prayed, ‘Give me children, or else I die’ (Genesis 30:1). God gave her children, ‘and she died’ (Genesis 35:18). The children of Israel ‘lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul’ (Psalms 106:14,15).”
V. 9 - 10 - Jesus makes the comparison of a father and his son. Any decent father will give his son the good things that he asks for, but he surely wouldn’t give him something that was harmful.
V. 11 - Jesus pulls the two together by explaining that if a fallible human father would give his son the good things our Loving Heavenly Father will certainly give us the good things we want and need.
V. 12 - Jesus wants us to be like God. He explains that the teaching of the law and all the prophets boils down to treating others the way we would want to be treated. Giving good things is God’s way and it should be ours as well.
V. 13 - Jesus reminds us that there is a choice of only two gates. There is no third alternative. He also reminds us that the power to chose is ours and ours alone. God will not force us, Satan and others cannot force us, we will chose to enter one or the other. Jesus tells us which one we should want to enter, the strait gate.
The wide gate is connected to the broad way. You can’t follow the broad way to the strait gate, it doesn’t lead there. It is foolish and unrealistic to think that you can take a road and go someplace the road doesn’t go. This is the popular path and it would be crowded except that it is such a wide road and gate. The Greek words also convey the idea of it being an easier path. It is spacious and flat there is nothing to keep you from going wherever you want. Many are going down that path and some don’t even realize it. It is so easy that you can go down this path without putting forth any effort at all, like water running down hill.
V. 14 - The strait gate and narrow way are different in every conceivable way it is restrictive, you can’t wander aimlessly. It is more difficult and there are fewer traveling down it. The description is that of a narrow path pressed on both sides like a narrow canyon path with rock walls on both sides. This path cannot be traveled by accident or without effort. In fact, Jesus that there are few who find it. It is not a secret path, but it must be searched out, because it is so very different from the other path that is so commonly traveled.
When we consider how narrow the path truly is consider that in the times of the Exodus God’s chosen people were only a small percentage of the people in the world. During the Exodus most of them turned away from God to the point that even among the Israelites there were only 2 men out of all that left Egypt who were faithful. How much do you suppose things have changed now. Not all who consider themselves to be Christians are faithful to God. I hope that there are more than 2, but if there were only 2 don’t you want to live so that you would be one of them?
V. 15 - One of the dangers that is constantly pulling people off the narrow way is false prophets. The worst ones take on the appearance of God’s sheep to deceive them.
V. 16 - They are not going to be dumb enough to tell us that they are false prophets so we have to figure it out. Jesus tells us the way to know them is by their fruit. We might not be able to recognize plants, but when they have fruit on them we can tell what kind it is. Grapes don’t come off thornbushes, and figs don’t come off thistles.
V. 17 - Good trees produce good fruit. A false teacher will cause problems.
V. 18 - There is no way to get good from evil or vice versa. The ends will not justify the means and the results will be consistent with the source. It is the spiritual version of the law of biogenesis.
V. 19 - The end of the false prophet is destruction. Unfortunately, many will be deceived by them and destroyed with them.
V. 20 - Jesus reminds us again that the fruit is the key to recognizing them. Under the old law they were warned that even if a prophet’s prophecy happened as he said and then he tried to get them to go against something God commanded or tried to get them to follow other gods they were not to listen, instead they were to execute him. Deuteronomy 13:1-5
V. 21 - Jesus has already explained that only a few will find the narrow way that leads to life, but now He explains something even more disturbing of those who think they are in the narrow way, some are mistaken. Not everyone who thinks of Jesus as Lord has actually accepted Him in that role. Some will call Him Lord, but not enter. Only those who do the Father’s will are citizens of the kingdom.
V. 22 - Not everyone doesn’t sound as bad as the “many” that Jesus mentions in this verse. Look at the list of accomplishments by this group that comes before the Lord on Judgment Day. They have prophesied (preached to and taught others about Jesus), they have cast out devils, and performed miracles in His name. These are not just some guy on the street who says, “Yeah, I guess Jesus is Lord.” or “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t get caught up in that religion stuff.” These are leaders in religion. They are the ones others look up to in their local congregations. These are preachers, teachers, elders, song leaders, people running addiction recovery ministries, missionaries, leaders of charity hospitals, etc. It is certainly not everyone in this group that Jesus is talking about, but He makes it clear that a certain position or even something like performing miracles doesn’t guarantee you a spot in Heaven.
V. 23 - Look what He says to this group: “Depart” “I never knew you” “ye that work iniquity”. These are some of the people that others look at and say “so and so is going to heaven if anyone is” Jesus says they are working sin. Jesus says that despite all their claims of knowing Him, He doesn’t know them. Jesus knows His sheep. Even seemingly good works can be sinful with the wrong motives or attitudes.
V. 24 - Jesus tells a parable to reinforce the importance of not only hearing, but also doing. The one who hears and does is wise like a man who builds on a solid rock foundation.
V. 25 - Having the rock foundation does not protect the house from having the storm come, it only makes it possible for the storm’s effects to be survived. The house did not fall, but that does not mean that there was no damage. We will face damage in the storms of life, but if our foundation is on the rock we will survive.
V. 26 - Those who don’t do what Jesus says are building on a foundation of sand. From the outside this house may look just like the one built on the rock, or in fact, may look even better.
V. 27 - The same storms of life come regardless of the foundation. This house did not fall because the roof was weaker, or the walls were not stable, nor because the decorating and painting didn’t look as nice. The reason for the collapse was the foundation. It was not just damaged, it was utterly destroyed.
V. 28 - The people were astonished not just by this final teaching, but by all of the sermon on the mount.
V. 29 - His teaching was different from what they had heard before. He was not just telling people what He thought a verse might mean like the scribes of his day and the preachers of our day. He was authoritatively telling them what God wanted with no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.
V. 1 - Jesus is popular in spite of the fact that His teachings are so different, or maybe because they are different. People seem to be attracted to things that are new and different. The new gathers a fanatical following, but when the new wears off or something newer comes along they are off after it. For now Jesus is the latest fad in Judea.
V. 2 - This leper worships Jesus and Jesus does not rebuke hin even though He had said to Satan that only God was to be worshiped, 4:10. This is one of many indications that Jesus was and considered Himself to be God even when He was flesh. This leper also recognized Jesus’ power to heal him, even though Matthew has not recorded Jesus performing any miracles prior to this.
V. 3 - Jesus touched him. Jesus was not afraid of one of the deadliest and most contagious diseases of all time. How long had it been since anyone had touched this unclean man. He was healed immediately.
V. 4 - Jesus told him not to tell. Why? Doesn’t Jesus want people to know who He is and what He can do? Mark 1:44-45 tells us the man told anyway. How could you keep such good news to yourself? Some possible reasoning may have to do with the time and the place or the possibility in this specific occurrence that if the man talked to soon the priests, who did not generally like Jesus, might refuse to proclaim him clean out of spite toward Jesus. He also tells the man to obey the law of Moses and go to the priest and offer the sacrifice. Remember that Jesus lived His entire life under Moses’ law, His did not go into effect until after His death.
V. 5 - Capernaum is one of the cities that Jesus was most frustrated with, notice 11:23. A centurion would have been a Roman and not a Jew or Israelite. The most famous centurion, of course, being Cornelius.
V. 6 - This centurion must have been a compassionate man to be so concerned for his servant that he would go to such lengths to help a sick one.
V. 7 - Jesus agrees to come to the man’s house and heal the servant.
V. 8 - The centurion’s answer is amazing to consider. We know that God is not limited by space or time, and so with Jesus. From the earlier miracle people might think that Jesus could heal if he could touch someone, but the centurion believes that it is unnecessary for Jesus to be bothered with coming to his house. He believes that Jesus can heal from a distance. Just say it and it will be done.
V. 9 - The centurion explains his own experience with power and the ability to command even from a distance.
V. 10 - If I asked you what person in the Gospels had the greatest faith, what would you say? Jesus makes a strong case for this centurion. Jesus marveled at him. This is the only occasion (also recorded in Luke) of that in the gospel accounts. The Greek word carries with it the idea of admiration. Jesus was impressed by this man and He says so stating that this man’s faith is greater than any of the Israelites, including His own disciples. That is a compliment. I don’t know if this centurion became a Christian, but I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have after these events.
V. 11 - Jesus explains that the kingdom of Heaven is going to be opened up to people from all over and many of them will come and be with the patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The kingdom is no longer going to be for the Jews only.
V. 12 - In fact Jesus says that many of the physical descendants, the children of the kingdom, the Jews are going to be cast out into the darkness. The kingdom of Heaven is very different from earthly kingdoms. Here on Earth it is virtually impossible to be kicked out of a kingdom. Someone who is born and American citizen has to either commit treason or formally renounce citizenship and then find some other country that will take him. You can’t be born physically into God’s kingdom, you must be born again, you can’t inherit citizenship from parents or buy it with money as they could a Roman citizenship. As a friend of mine once said, “God has children, but He doesn’t have any grandchildren.”
V. 13 - Jesus sends the centurion away after healing the servant with a word according to the centurion’s faith. It didn’t take longer for the servant to get well than it did for the leper before him. He didn’t start getting better, he was better right then that very hour.
V. 14 - Peter was not the first Pope. Popes can’t be married and Peter was. Peter’s wife’s mother was sick. Would Jesus heal this woman? Was His healing only for men? Was it only for strangers and not for friends?
V. 15 - Jesus healed her and she played the hostess for the rest of His stay.
V. 16 - Apparently people knew where He was and it had become common knowledge that He was able and willing to heal. Jesus has already shown His power over natural maladies; palsy, leprosy, and fever, now He shows His power over even the supernatural as He casts out demons (devils or spirits). He also continued to heal more that were sick.
V. 17 - These miracles were done to fulfill prophecy. Not just any prophecy, but one from one of the most prophecy filled chapters in all scripture, Isaiah 53:4. A prophecy that foretold God sending a suffering servant who would take the people’s sicknesses and sorrows.
Let’s consider for a moment the reason for miracles. God doesn’t do anything without a reason, and a good one at that. He doesn’t always tell us His reasons and certainly not all of His reasons and thoughts, but He often does give us some insight into spiritual things.
The first reason for the miracles that we find right here in these verses is to fulfill prophecy. The virgin birth, the resurrection, the plagues on Egypt, Paul’s snake bite, etc. are all miracles that were done because God had said they would be done and He would have been a liar if they were not done.
The second reason for miracles was to prove Jesus’ deity. The fact that Jesus had power over diseases, nature, the supernatural, and even death should have been evidence to anyone living that He was more than just a man. Healing the sick of all kinds of infirmities including blindness which had never been done before, defying the laws of nature by walking on water and feeding thousands with only a handful of food, and casting out demons all showed a source of power that was beyond the ability of even the prophets of the Old Testament or Moses. When He rose from the dead without anyone raising Him there could be no doubt that He had the ultimate power. Look at John 20:30-31.
The third reason for miracles was to develop and/or strengthen faith. Just as Moses was given miracles to show Pharaoh, Jesus gave the apostles the ability to do miracles so that people would then listen to their teaching about Him and His kingdom. Mark 16:20 tells us that the signs confirmed the word that was spoken. Jesus often rebuked people for the fact that they did not believe and would say that even if they didn’t believe His words, they should believe the works. Often Jesus would perform a miracle to bolster faith, and later Philip and others opened the door to teaching by the signs and wonders that they did. Without miracles there might never have been a church in Samaria or Philippi or some of the other cities where the gospel went.
The fourth reason for miracles was to show who was a true apostle. The apostles had miraculous abilities that others did not. Paul told the Corinthians that they were the proof of His apostleship and that he had done the signs of an apostle when he was with them. Notice 2 Corinthians 12:12. The fact that only the apostles could lay hands on others and pass on miraculous gifts is evident in Acts 8 when Peter and John came to bring the Spirit and His gifts to the Samaritans even though Philip, who was full of the Spirit and able to do many miracles, was already there.
2 Timothy 4:20 is an interesting case study in when not to do a miracle. Paul left Trophimus sick. Why? Because healing him would not have served one of the purposes for miracles. (1) There was no prophecy to be fulfilled by it. (2) He was a Christian who already believed in Jesus being divine. (3) He already believed the Word of God that was being taught, and a miracle would not have made him believe it more. He had seen many miracles. It is not necessary to have a miracle performed on you personally to believe. (4) He already knew that Paul was an apostle, Paul had nothing to prove to him.
V. 18 - It is not that Jesus doesn’t care for the people, He has been healing them for hours. The problem is that there are other people who need His teachings and He did not come to bring physical health, but spiritual. In addition to this, even Jesus needed some time to rest and recuperate. He may have been deity, but His body was very human and as such had human limits that He had subjected Himself to when He became flesh.
V. 19 - This guy is big on talk, I wonder what his name was, we never know anything else about this scribe. How many proclaim that they will follow Jesus, but never do.
V. 20 - Jesus told him how difficult it would be to follow Him. Jesus was homeless, from the throne room of Heaven to a manger, a poor carpenter’s home and then as a man with nowhere to call His own. Jesus called Himself the son of man more than 40 times. He is also called the son of David, Abraham, God, Adam, Joseph, and Mary.
V. 21 - One of His followers still wants to follow, but on his own terms. He asks if he can wait to bury his father.
V. 22 - Jesus’ response at first sounds cruel as if Jesus doesn’t care at all about families and their loss of a loved one in death. Why would He tell someone not to go to his father’s funeral? The fact is that this man’s father was not already dead and there was no funeral to go to. The man was simply putting off following Jesus until some time in the future. He is like many who are always planning to . . .. It is always time to follow Jesus no matter what else is going on in life.
V. 23 - He got into the ship to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee a few disciples went with him.
V. 24 - There was a storm, and Jesus is so exhausted that he is sleeping through it. Even with waves crashing over the ship He slept.
V. 25 - The disciples thought they were going to die, so they woke Jesus.
V. 26 - He rebuked them for their lack of faith and pointed out one of the causes for a lack of faith, fear. Jesus, in spite of their lack of faith, calmed the storm. His ability over nature was in evidence here. There are 4 occasions that Matthew records of Jesus calling out a lack of faith: 6:30, here in 8:26, 14:31, and 16:8. In each verse there is a different reason for the lack of faith. Here it is fear, when we are afraid it conquers our faith or our faith will conquer our fear. In 6:30 it is worry which is like fear only with no real cause. At least here with the storm there was some actual danger. In 14:31 it is doubt. Doubt is tricky because it attacks at a time when there has been success in the past. Peter had faith and walked on the water. He had been successful, but then doubt interfered. 16:8 points out that human reasoning produces a shortage of faith. Many people are too smart for their own good. They convince themselves that something is different than what Jesus said.
V. 27 - The men with Him were amazed by this miracle and wondered among themselves about Him. Who is that unmasked man.
V. 28 - The companion accounts in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-40 both give some additional details that enhance the picture of the events so briefly sketched by Matthew. Matthew gives the short version of the story that they went across the Sea of Galilee (Also called Sea of Tiberias, sea of Chinnereth, and lake of Gennesaret) they had been on the western side and now came to the eastern side to what Matthew calls the country of the Gergesenes, but Mark and Luke call Gadarenes in the KJV, although other versions swap these names. It is the same place called by 2 names based on 2 cities in the area.
2 men come out of the graveyard who are possessed and so nasty that no one can get past. Mark and Luke focus on one of the men, but Matthew tells us there were two men. Many people feel scared around graveyards no matter what, but can you imagine one with 2 demon possessed guys terrorizing anyone who came by. Can you imagine trying to have a funeral with these guys around.
V. 29 - When they came up to Jesus they knew who he was and called him ‘Jesus, thou Son of God’. Sad that God’s people didn’t recognize him, but the devils did. They ask a curious question. “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” This strange question implies a few things: that the demons knew they were to face torment, that they knew Jesus was going to be the one to condemn them, that there was a set time for the torment to begin, and that the time had not come yet. Whether they are asking about the time that they would be bound and unable to act freely to possess people as they were at that time, or the time when the devil and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity we do not know for sure, but I think the latter is more likely.
V. 30 - Don’t you love it when something is thrown into a story and it seems like it doesn’t fit, but winds up being important. By the way, did I mention that there are a bunch of pigs over yonder?
V. 31 - The devils are not going to get to stay in their current homes, so they beg a favor from Jesus. Now I don’t fully understand how a demon possesses a man, nor do I understand what happens to that demon when he is cast out of a man. (Hollywood movies to the contrary when Jesus was casting out demons the others standing nearby were not in danger of being possessed by them as they went.) Luke makes reference to the abyss or bottomless pit and they were begging Jesus not to send them there. What ever the normal thing was, they apparently knew it was horrible and didn’t want that to happen, so they begged Him to let them go into the pigs. Notice they had no power in this situation Jesus was in total control, He always is, they had to ask for His permission to go.
V. 32 - He allowed them to go. Some have described this as the first deviled ham ever made. All the pigs ran off into the water and drowned. Jesus was definitely not a member of PETA. He once asked how much more valuable a man was than a sheep, and here He shows that two men’s quality of life was more valuable than a whole herd of pigs (Mark says about 2000). There is no question in Jesus’ mind that human beings are more valuable than the other aspects of creation. Jesus was not worried about the pigs lives or the money that would be lost, or the pollution of the water by the rotting pig carcasses, allowing these two men to regain the control of their minds was more important and more valuable. And remember Jesus could have sent the demons out entirely, he seems to have more compassion for the demons even than for the pigs.
V. 33 - The pigherders went and told everyone what had happened. I wonder if people believed them at first.
V. 34 - The whole town came to deal with this problem. Instead of thanking Jesus for making the cemetery safe again and giving these two guys their lives back, and then having a big pig roast for everyone that was not Jewish; they beg Jesus to go away. Go figure. Jesus can’t get respect even after performing amazing miracles.
V. 1 - This may sound like Nazareth was right on the shore, but it was several miles of walking after crossing the sea. At first this made me think something weird was happening. It seemed to me that no other town would be called His own city, but after looking for an explanation of this I was pointed toward Matthew 4:13 where it seems that Jesus left Nazareth, his childhood home, and began living in Capernaum, making it his town.
V. 2 - Jesus made a stir in the town by telling a man with severe palsy that his sins were forgiven. Jesus was not just saying that the man had done something to Him and He would not hold it against the man. This is what we generally mean when we say we forgive or tell someone that they should forgive. Jesus was telling this man that he was free from all of his sins.
V. 3 - The reason for the stir is not clarified by Matthew, probably because he was writing to a Jewish people who would understand the problem. The scribes thought that He had blasphemed, spoken evil, because the Jews understood as we do that only God has the power to actually forgive someone’s sins. When Jesus said the man was forgiven they knew He was claiming a power that only God had and to do that is evil, unless of course, He was God.
V. 4 - The fact that Jesus knew what they were thinking within their own hearts should have been another clue to them that Jesus was not just a man. It was not as though they were whispering and He overheard them, they were just thinking it.
V. 5 - The question of which is easier is not one of the actual pronunciation of the words, but of which one could be faked easier. There was no way for anyone to verify whether sins were forgiven, but if He said get up and the man couldn’t get up then everyone would know He was a fraud.
V. 6 - As evidence that the statement the others could not verify was true, Jesus performed the miracle of telling the man to get up and carry his bed (more like a mat or sleeping bag than what we think of as a bed). The logic behind this series of events is important because it leaves His opponents without a good argument.
1) They can’t deny that a miracle takes place when they see it occur without looking stupid.
2) If they say God gave a man the power to do such miracles while the man was speaking blasphemous lies they would be impugning the character of God which would make them seem worse than stupid.
3) They could deny God altogether and claim that men could perform these miracle on their own, but that certainly would not be a good choice for the leaders of the Jewish religion.
4) The only other choice they can reasonably make, without accepting the truth, is to claim that He lied about the forgiveness and that the power to do the miracle came from Satan and not God. This is the direction the Pharisees in verse 34 go. This is still not a very appealing argument and Jesus will refute it soundly. We can see here the lengths to which some will go to avoid seeing the facts that are staring them in the face.
V. 7 - The fact that the man got up and went home showing the power Jesus had also confirmed that the man was forgiven and that Jesus had that power. If only God can forgive sins, and if Jesus forgave sins, then Jesus is God. We must beware of faulty logic. The word only makes all the difference in some statements in reasoning. One of my kids’ shows has a silly song about someone who got a little confused about logical reasoning. Someone at the zoo told him that monkeys have tails and apes do not. That is true according to our animal classification system. The problem came when he rephrased it and applied it outside the monkey/ape parameters. He said, “If its got a tail it’s a monkey, if it doesn’t have a tail it’s not a monkey it’s an ape.” With his new found illogically gained knowledge he reclassifies everything as either monkey or ape. A dog - monkey, a cat - monkey, a kangaroo - monkey, a cucumber - ape, a tree - ape; of course the song was meant to be silly, but sometimes people do reason things out in these kinds of ways and arrive at some outrageous destinations. God made a world that does work in a logical, reasonable, orderly way, but we can get confused at times.
Another example of this kind of mixed up reasoning comes from Abbot and Costello. The argument goes: Are you in _________(name of a place the person is not, the lunar rover for example)? The question is repeated a couple of times with other places mentioned. The argument is made then that if you are not in A, B, or C, then you must be somewhere else. Seems reasonable up to this point, but then the final step is taken. Well, if you are somewhere else then you can’t be here. Outlandish, and obviously not logical, but there are a plethora of considerably more foolish arguments made about God’s creation, Christians, the church and the Bible every day. The sad thing is that many believe them.
V. 8 - The multitude is amazed, but they missed the point just as badly they glorified God as they should have, but for the wrong reason. They thought it was great that God had given such power to men. Jesus was not claiming that God had given power to men, but that He was God and had the power of God.
V. 9 - Jesus recruits Matthew to follow Him. We don’t know if Matthew is originally from Capernaum or if he has just been assigned to work there, but it is possible that Jesus and Matthew had known each other for some time. It is unlikely that this is their first encounter. Who in their right mind would just get up and follow a total stranger just because he said so. Jesus had lived in Capernaum for a period of time. From the other gospels we learn that Matthew was also called Levi and Luke tells us that he made a feast and invited Jesus to his home, Luke 5:27-29. Matthew is the writer of this gospel and one of the 12 according to his own account, Mark, Luke, and Acts. Matthew is one of the hated tax collectors, but Jesus is not ashamed to call him to follow or to spend time with him socially as we see in the following verses.
V. 10 - It may have been a bit embarrassing to Matthew to have to write that at his house there were many sinners, but if we would all be as honest we would be better off. Jesus ate with the tax collectors(publican - KJV) and sinners and so did his disciples.
V. 11 - The Pharisees try to stir up problems for Jesus by talking behind His back. The cowards won’t ask Him, but they will insinuate things to others. In this case they interrogate His disciples about His choice of dining companions. We must be careful about judging based on association. The Bible does teach that evil companions corrupt the good, 1 Corinthians 15:33, but we all come into contact with someone who knows someone who knows someone who is a murderer, drug dealer, liar, etc. The question is just how far down the trail we go. Many of us have some of those very things within our immediate families or certainly our extended family. At our family thanksgiving there were 60+ people and I know there are some problems somewhere in that group. Should I quit going to family gatherings? A Pharisee thought that he could separate himself from all of the sinners in the world, but he forgot about the one that laid his head on the Pharisee’s very own pillow each night. We certainly should not engage in the sinners’ wickedness with them, but we are to be a light in the world and not hidden under a basket. We can’t lock ourselves away in a monastery and think that we are closer to God by doing so.
V. 12 - Jesus points to another flaw in their thinking. Healthy people don’t need to go to the doctor (Wish the Medicaid system would understand that and not waste so much tax payer money on “well child check-ups”). Sick people need the doctor. People who are sick with sin need to go to a spiritual hospital so they can be treated. The role of the church is to be that hospital and Jesus is the doctor.
V. 13 - I wonder if we have gone and learned what God meant when He said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.”? This is a quote from Hosea 6:6. I wish I could say that I understand everything that Jesus was trying to teach, but I still struggle with much of it. He was not saying that God did not want people to obey His commandments, or He would not have given the commandments. Hosea seems to bemoan the fact that the people were following the rituals, but that their hearts were not in it. Jesus points out that He came to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous. If there were any that were righteous they would not have needed to be called, but Paul makes it abundantly clear that in reality Christ came to call all when he says in Romans 3:10-12 “...there is none righteous...” and ends with the emphatic “no, not one”. We make a grievous error when we shun certain people as unworthy of Christ’s call and that is just what the Pharisees were doing. They did not think those who had become involved in certain sins could ever be worthy of salvation. How they were mistaken! And how mistaken we are if we ever believe the same thing.
V. 14 - Many times when Jesus was asked a question it was some kind of trick to cause Him trouble, but John’s disciples have a serious question. Fasting was an important practice in the Jewish religion and they want to know why Jesus’ followers don’t do it.
V. 15 - Jesus explains that he is not changing the practice of fasting, but the time is not right. It is a time of celebration because He has come and they will fast when he is gone. The indication is that Christians will practice fasting. Jesus has already explained some of the problems with the way it was done by the Pharisees and taught on how it should be done properly in 6:16-18. Fasting is one area that we have not really restored the practices of the New Testament church.
V. 16 - Jesus gives the first of 2 illustrations about His new way of doing things that would have been well known to His listeners, but are strange to some 21st century listeners. Repairing a garment was important. They could not just go buy a new one, but using new cloth would be disastrous. New material especially wool which would have been the most common would shrink when it was washed and the strength of the new material would tear the weaker old material and cause a bigger problem than you started with.
V. 17 - Jesus’ second example is similar. When wine was put into a new skin it would expand as the juice fermented. After time the skin would harden to that size and shape. If you then tried to put new wine in it there would be no way for it to expand and as the wine fermented it would put more pressure on the skin that would cause it to burst. Both of these illustrations Jesus uses to teach the same principle. He wanted to make it clear that He was not teaching His disciples to be Jews. He was teaching them that He was not trying to patch up the old law, or try to pour the new wine of his new teaching into the old patterns of the old law.
V. 18 - While he was teaching these things a ruler came and worshiped him. Jesus did not rebuke him for this worship, but accepted it without question. This man had a dead daughter, but he has faith that Jesus can raise her to life.
V. 19 - Jesus goes on his way to do just that.
V. 20 - A woman who has been bleeding for 12 years, probably something akin to endometriosis. She sneaks up behind Jesus and touches the hem of his robe. Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48 tell us that she had been to many doctors and spent all her money and she was no better. Doesn’t that sound like many today?
V. 21 - She believed that if she could just touch him she would be healed. She was certainly right about that.
V. 22 - Jesus tells her that she is healed because of her faith. Mark and Luke give more details about this as well.
V. 23 - The minstrels and people making noise were people that were mourning for the dead girl. Sometimes there would be people paid to wail and mourn for the dead by wealthy families. They mourned loudly to make a big scene supposedly showing how loved the person was.
V. 24 - The evidence that they were not sincerely mourning is in the fact that when Jesus came in and said that she was only sleeping, they laughed at Him and made fun of Him.
V. 25 - The fake mourners were put out of the house and Jesus took the girl by the hand and rose her from the dead.
V. 26 - He became famous in that area. His fame is spreading throughout the whole land by this point.
V. 27 - Jesus is approached by two blind men who call Him the son of David. They want Him to heal them. He has already done some amazing miracles, but this one is more significant in one way: other miracles had been done in Old Testament times, but not the blind being healed.
V. 28 - They followed Him until He asked them if they believed He could do it. They said they did. This would be the first time someone blind had ever been healed in the history of the world.
V. 29 - He touched their eyes, just a formality, we have already seen that He can heal from a distance. He heals them according to their faith.
V. 30 - Their healing was immediate and total. Jesus told them not to let anyone know, but could you keep it in?
V. 31 - They told everyone in the whole countryside. Why can we not get people that are that excited about telling everyone how Jesus gave them spiritual sight and healed them of their spiritual diseases and handicaps.
V. 32 - He heals another demon possessed man. This one had a demon that kept him from speaking.
V. 33 - After Jesus cast the demon out the man could speak. The people are amazed and said this had never been seen before.
V. 34 - The Pharisees make an outlandish accusation that Jesus was casting out devils by the power of the prince of devils. Jesus does not answer this charge here, but He does in 12:25-28.
V. 35 - Jesus is not deterred by their false accusations, but continues to teach and preach and heal. Like Nehemiah and the plain of Ono in Nehemiah 6:2, Jesus was doing a good work and didn’t have time to waste on these naysayers.
V. 36 - Jesus saw all of the people and had compassion on them. He compared them to sheep with no shepherd. How many today are like that.
V. 37 - He told His disciples that the harvest was greater than the workers available to harvest it. Today we often feel that no one is interested, or that it is hard to find people interested in the gospel, but I wonder how Jesus would see it.
V. 38 - Jesus said they should pray for workers in the harvest. We usually hear prayers for the lost instead of prayers for the saved to get to work harvesting. I wonder if Jesus is pleased with that change in prayer subjects.
V. 1 - Notice some things of significance in this verse. 1) Of the crowd that followed Him there were 12 that were special. 2) Jesus gave them the power to do miraculous works. They had not yet received the Holy Spirit. 3) The power was not limited to only a few diseases or sicknesses. They should have the power to heal anyone. This will be important to remember in 17:16 and the following verses.
V. 2 - The list of the 12 apostles begins here and goes through verse 4. They are also listed in Mark 3:12-19 and Luke 6:13-16 and all but Judas Iscariot are in Acts 1:13. In each case they are in a similar order with a few variations.
so the total list looks like this:
1) Simon (Peter) called Cephas & Barjona (Son of John) (From Bethsaida) First in all 3
2) Andrew (Peter’s Brother) (From Bethsaida)4th in Mark, 2nd in Luke
3) James (son of Zebedee) (Boanerges -Son of thunder ) 2nd in Mark, 3rd in Luke
4) John (son of Zebedee) (Boanerges - Son of thunder) 3rd in Mark, 4th in Luke
5) Philip (From Bethsaida) 5th in all 3
6) Bartholomew, Nathanael of Cana, 6th in all 3
7) Thomas, called Didymus (twin), 8th in Mark and Luke
8) Matthew (Publican) Levi Son of Alphaeus, 7th in Mark and Luke, No known relation to James
9) James (son of Alphaeus) called the Less, son of Mary, no known relation to Levi (Matthew) 9th in all 3
10) Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus) Judas (son or brother of James) 10th in Mark, 11th in Luke
11) Simon (Canaanite)(Zelotes)11th in Mark, 10th in Luke
12) Judas Iscariot (betrayed Him) (Son of Simon), last in all
Peter is mentioned in about 110 verses in the gospels, more than any other apostle, 4 times more than John, more than all others together not counting Judas Iscariot.
Andrew - 11
James - 17
John - 25
Philip - 14
Bartholomew - 9
Matthew - 7
Thomas - 11
James - 6
Judas/ Thad / Leb - 4
Simon - 3
Judas Iscariot - 21
1. Andrew is mentioned in each list of the apostles and is Peter’s brother. He never seemed to resent being in the shadow of someone else. How do you feel about not being recognized? - Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; and Acts 1:13
2. Andrew was first introduced to Jesus by John the Immerser. He got to know Jesus that day and then went to find his brother and share the good news. Andrew is one of the first evangelists and he began with his brother. Andrew is never mentioned after Pentecost, but he is responsible for bringing one of the most influential leaders in the first century church to Christ. Andrew was not selfish, but was willing to share Jesus with others. With whom are you sharing Jesus? - John 1:35-42
3. Andrew was a fisherman who became a fisher of men. He and Peter are the first disciples that Jesus called. Have you become a fisher of men? - Matthew 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18
4. Andrew shared a house with Peter, Peter’s wife and possibly mother-in-law. He must have had a good disposition to get along with people. If you don’t think so, try moving in with your sibling, sibling’s spouse and mother-in-law and see how long you last. How well do you get along with others? - Mark 1:29
5. Andrew was in the inner circle of Christ’s disciples / friends. He was not always included with Peter, James, and John, but he was closer to Jesus than some of the others. Philip brought some people to Andrew because they wanted to see Jesus. Andrew then went with Philip to take them to Jesus. How close to Jesus are you? Are you jealous of others who may seem closer to Him than you are, or do you snub those who don’t seem as close to Him as you are?- Mark 13:1-4; John 12:20-22
6. Andrew was willing to give even if it was only a little and allow Jesus to turn it into much. What are 5 loaves and 2 fish to be shared with 5000, but Andrew brought it to Jesus anyway with tremendous results. What are some little things in your life that you have not brought to Jesus? - John 6:5-13
1. We have to leave some people and things behind to follow Jesus. Matthew 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20 & Luke 5:10-11
2. Watch that temper! What a change John made, from a son of thunder to the apostle of love. Luke 6:14; Mark 1:29 & Mark 3:17
3. Relationships bring benefits. Mark 5:37-38 & Luke 8:50-51
4. Being close to Jesus allowed James and John to see things others could not. They were not as talkative as Peter. Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36
5. Zeal can be misdirected. James and John needed to learn how to make use of allies. Mark 9:38-40 & Luke 9:49-56
6. James learned that it was better to die for Jesus than to kill for Him. Mark 9:38-40 & Luke 9:49-56
7. Thinking too highly of yourself can cause problems. Matthew 20:20-28 & Mark 10:35-41
8. Asking questions is a good way to learn. We have access to teaching that some of the apostles did not have until after the Spirit came on them. Mark 13:3-5 & John 13:23-27
9. When you are close others share their deepest fears, hopes, and feelings with you. Matthew 26:36-39 & Mark 14:32-34
10. When you are following Jesus, you don’t know what He may call on you to do. John 19:26-27
11. John was the first of the 12 to see the empty tomb. John 20:1-10
12. Spending time with fellow believers brings opportunities to grow closer to Jesus. John is the first to recognize the risen Lord. John 21:2-7
13. Sometimes others may be jealous of your relationship with Jesus. John 21:20-25
14. Sometimes there may be rumors about you, but you know what is true. John 21:20-25
1. Jesus found Philip. He is the only one Jesus went to find. - John 1:43
2. Philip found Nathanael. He was not content to follow Jesus alone, he wanted others to come with him. - John 1:44-51
3. Jesus tested Philip and He tests us today. - John 6:5-7
4. People wanting to see Jesus came to Philip. - John 12:21-22
5. Philip had high ambitions. - John 14:8-9
6. Nathanael was in the right place with the right people at the right time. - John 21:1-2
1. Though he was a twin he was a unique individual. His twin was not an apostle.
2. Was ready to die with Jesus. - John 11:16
3. Was a man who was not afraid to ask for directions. - John 14:5
4. Was skeptical of things that sound too good to be true. He wanted evidence. - John 20:24-25
5. He was faithful, faithless, believing, confessing, and faithful again. - John 20:26-29
6. He spent time with other believers. - John 21:2
1. Matthew reminds us that Jesus does not pick us because he needs us, but because we need him. It is also a reminder that where we are going is more important than where we have been. - Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27-32
1. He may have been younger or less known, but he carried on a good family tradition of following Jesus. - Mark 15:40-41
1. He wanted to understand ‘how’. - John 14:21-26
1. Though only mentioned with the others and never singled out for any reason he was faithful as far as we know. He teaches us that you don’t have to be famous to be useful to God.
A. He was with Jesus from the beginning. He even had power to perform miracles. - Mark 3:13-19
B. Jesus knew He would be betrayed by Judas. - John 6:70-71
C. Judas had a problem with greed which led him to steal. - John 12:4-8
2. He saw all the miracles of Jesus including the times Jesus knew someone’s thoughts, yet he thought he could steal from Jesus.
E. Judas, only minutes from going out to betray him had the nerve to pretend it was not him. - Matthew 26:25
F. Jesus even washed Judas’ feet. - John 13:2
G. Jesus continually gave Judas opportunities to repent. - John 13:26
H. Even though he is often mentioned in the gospels as the one who would betray Jesus, none of the disciples realized what was happening until he came to the garden. - John 13:29
I. Judas was so blind that he believed weapons would be necessary and/or that they would be useful against Jesus. - John 18:2-3; Matthew 26:47; Mark 14:43
J. A sign of love and affection is used for hatred. - Luke 22:47-48
K. It makes a difference where and with whom you stand. - John 18:5
L. Worldly sorrow brings only death. - Matthew 27:3-10
V. 5 - Aren’t you glad that the command not to go to the Gentiles was not given in the Great Commission, but only here in the limited commission. Why did Jesus tell them not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans? Quite simply, it was not time yet. God’s chosen people were the first to have the chance to hear the gospel. It was natural since they were the ones who should have been eagerly anticipating the Messiah.
V. 6 - The lost were the target, not the saved. The sheep, not the shepherds. Jesus knew the leaders were corrupt, but the people might listen. As Jesus said he came to call sinners not the righteous. (Matthew 9:13)
V. 7 - They were to preach as they went. We should be doing the same today, but instead we build a building, put up a sign and wait for the lost to come to us many times. Their message was different than ours, and quite simple: the kingdom was about to begin. We preach the kingdom has come with Christ is the king and the process for citizenship and the laws of the kingdom that are in force.
V. 8 - They were to freely use the powers that Jesus had given them (verse 1) to do miracles of all kinds. One of the things that Jesus and the Apostles never did was charge for the miracles they did. The hucksters of today that claim miraculous abilities often con people out of their money and then blame the failure of the miracle on a lack of faith in the same gullible souls who gave them the money.
V. 9 - They were to take no money with them on this trip. Some foolishly believe that missionaries today should do the same thing. This is also only a temporary command like the message and the limitation on to whom to preach. It was lifted in Luke 22:36 as were the commands in verse 10.
V. 10 - The twelve were not even to take a food bag or a change of clothes, shoes, or walking sticks. They would be provided for by those they taught. Jesus impresses on them through this experience the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount that they should not worry about tomorrow, what they would eat, or what they would wear. God would take care of all those needs. Even though God still does provide for His children, He doesn’t command us to go with no possessions.
V. 11 - In each town they were to ask around to find a good place to stay and stay in that house the whole time they were in that town.
V. 12 - When they picked a house/family they were to greet the people of the house/family.
V. 13 - It seems that in some way whether miraculous or by some other indication they would know if the family was worthy and they were to bless the family with their peace.
V. 14 - Anyone who would not receive them would not receive the blessing and in addition they were to shake the dust off their feet when they left. This was symbolic of their disgust with that place. It was so bad we don’t want anything to do with your house or town, not even your dirt.
V. 15 - Jesus says that those who reject his messengers or apostles (apostle means one sent) would be worse off than the people from Sodom and Gomorrha on judgment day.
V. 16 - Jesus compares his followers to sheep and the worldly people to wolves and because of the danger He warns them to be wise, without becoming like the wolves. They were still to be harmless.
V. 17-18 - He warns them again to beware of people. As Christians we are sometimes far too trusting of others. We make the faulty assumption that most people are basically good. When in fact they are mostly selfish. As long as there is a benefit for them they will do what is good. Jesus warns them that people will arrest them and beat them. They will be put before governors and even kings because of Jesus. This will be evidence against the rulers and Gentiles.
V. 19 - When these things happen they are not to plan what to say, because they will be inspired to say the right thing.
V. 20 - The Spirit would speak through them. This certainly is not true for us today. We have to study and think and prepare to say the right thing and even then we sometimes don’t say it right.
V. 21 - Even family members will betray one another to the point of having them arrested or even executed. Romans 16:7 tells us that some of Paul’s kinfolk(Andronicus and Junia) were Christians while he was persecuting the church. Don’t you think they had to beware of him finding out and arresting them?
V. 22 - They would be hated by all worldly people because of Jesus, but if they could endure to the end they would be saved. The more like Christ we become the more different from the world we are and the more they will dislike us. If the world likes us it may be that we are too much like them to tell a difference.
V. 23 - Jesus tells them to flee persecution from city to city and that they will not finish their task before He comes in His kingdom.
V. 24 - Some of the things in this section involving the limited commission certainly have changed, but some are principles that are unchanging and this verse is one of those, as are many that follow. There is an order to all things, and masters and lords are above their students / disciples and servants. It is a problem when we go against nature. Anyone who tries to put self above Jesus is in for trouble.
V. 25 - The goal is to be like our master and lord. Jesus lets them know that people cursed Him and if he didn’t avoid it they wouldn’t either.
V. 26 - Jesus lets the disciples understand that fearing them is not good. Everything will come out in the end. There are no real secrets, especially from God.
V. 27 - Jesus tells them that it is time to start telling everyone who He is and what He has been teaching. Up to this point Jesus had often told people not to say anything when He healed them, but now even the apostles will be doing miracles and others will definitely notice.
V. 28 - How often do we act out of fear? We are afraid to condemn sin for fear of being called judgmental or for fear that we will lose a friend. We are afraid to speak out because we may be called a cult. We are afraid to take the gospel to some because they may reject us or it might be dangerous. But how often do we act out of a fear for our eternal soul? Jesus taught that the fear that drives action must be a fear of God not man.
V. 29 - If two sparrows disappeared tomorrow would you notice? God does. God notices even the smallest and most insignificant creatures that He created.
V. 30 - Ever counted the hairs on your head? God has. He keeps a constant count, and if you pull one out he knows whether it was #127 or #4983.
V. 31 - Like the apostles we should never be afraid of what is happening to us in this world because the same God who watches over the sparrows is watching over us, and we are far more valuable to Him than the birds. V. 32 - If you speak up for Jesus here, He will speak up for you to His Father.
V. 33 - If you act like you don’t know Jesus here, He will tell His Father He doesn’t know you, either.
V. 34 - Jesus is known by many as the Prince of Peace, and He did come to bring peace between God and all people who would come to Him. He did not, however, promise peace among men. In fact, He says that He came to bring a sword, a violent weapon.
V. 35 - He came to divide, divide the righteous from the unrighteous - the godly from the ungodly. He came to divide families and separate those who would submit to God and obey from those who would not.
V. 36 - He promised that family ties would not be enough to keep people from turning into enemies.
V. 37 - Jesus made it clear that He must come first before all other people in a disciple’s life. It is all or nothing. If anyone comes before Jesus you can’t have Him. He doesn’t take second place.
V. 38 - Anyone who is not willing to suffer with Jesus and follow Him doesn’t deserve Him. Remember, He is not asking you to do anything for Him that He has not already done for you.
V. 39 - All the people trying to ‘find’ themselves are looking for the wrong thing. They should be trying to find Jesus and the Father instead. This life is not worth living apart from Jesus Christ. How many trade a few short years of worldly pleasure and fleeting happiness for an eternity of suffering rather than suffer a little for an eternity of joy and pleasure.
V. 40 - If we are going to receive God into our lives we have to do it by receiving Jesus, and we receive Jesus by receiving those that He sent out, His Apostles. We can’t reject the apostles and their teaching or Jesus and His teaching and think that we are accepting the Father.
V. 41 - Not everyone will be the prophet, and not everyone is the most righteous, but supporting the prophets and the righteous brings rewards with it.
V. 42 - Even something as small as giving a drink of water as a disciple of Christ will be rewarded.
Coffman details the sequence of events surrounding this commission as follows:
The departure of the Twelve on their mission took place about five weeks before the second Passover of Jesus' ministry. They were gone about a month during which Jesus taught in both Galilee and Jerusalem, where he went to keep the feast of Purim at the beginning of March (John 5:1). The Twelve rejoined him before the Passover (John 6:4); and, shortly after that, Christ fed the five thousand (Luke 9:10). Matthew does not chronicle the events in chronological sequence and does not mention the return of the Twelve, picking them up in the narrative, without mention of their absence, at the beginning of Matthew 12.
V. 1 - After sending the apostles out, Jesus went to teach and preach, too. Jesus never said ‘do what I say not what I do’, He always led by example.
V. 2 - Even in prison John heard about Jesus and his miracles. Some think he was doubting whether Jesus was really the Christ, while others think he was trying to get his disciples to follow Jesus instead. If it was out of doubt, what a profound statement of the struggles of humanity that the very man who had pointed everyone else to Jesus would himself wonder as death approached. No one has all faith all the time.
V. 3 - He sent them with the question of whether Jesus was the one or not. Whether for his benefit or theirs we can’t be certain.
V. 4 - Jesus’ answer is not a simple yes or no, instead He points them to the evidence of the things He has done.
V. 5 - Healing the blind, lame, lepers and deaf, raising the dead and preaching to the poor were all things that Jesus thought would answer John’s question.
V. 6 - Jesus offers a blessing to those who don’t consider Him too scandalous to follow. The word offended is the word from which we get scandalize.
V. 7 - Jesus turns His attention to helping the people understand John. What were all those people going out in the boondocks to see? The plants blown by the wind? Not likely.
V. 8 - Wait! I bet they went out there to see some rich guy in the height of fashion. No, those people are in mansions not the wilderness.
V. 9 - So, what was it? A prophet? Yes! And Jesus says not just an ordinary one.
V. 10 - John was that special prophet that had been prophesied by God - Malachi 3:1
V. 11 - In fact Jesus says that there has never been a greater prophet than John. Jesus is excluded from this statement because though He did prophesy, He was not primarily a prophet, and He is the one speaking. The comparison is John and all the prophets that came before him. It is not hard for us to accept that he was the greatest prophet. While all prophets were pointing toward God and many even prophesied about the coming Christ, only John could point across the field and tell people there He is. John was the last leg of the relay. But Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus made the astonishing statement that the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John. Why? How could He say that? As great as John was, he was never a Christian. He was never in the kingdom. That doesn’t mean he was not saved and forgiven or that he will not be in Heaven, but he pointed people toward something that he never had opportunity to enjoy. The blessings and honor of being a citizen of the kingdom of Christ is higher than anything offered under the Law of Moses.
V. 12 - Jesus points to a problem that was going on. People trying to force their way into the kingdom or take it by force. There are still people today that think they can just barge through God’s door anytime and tell Him how to run things, but that didn’t work in John’s and Jesus’ time and it won’t work in ours.
V. 13 - Jesus explains that the law and prophets were all pointing up to that time.
V. 14 - Jesus even explains that John is the Elijah that was to come. At every passover the Jews would leave an empty seat for Elijah in case he came, but I doubt many of them recognized him when he did come. In fact without Jesus explaining it there might not have been any that understood. The Jews are still awaiting Elijah and the Messiah, but they will wait until eternity because they already came and both were missed.
V. 15 - What a shame it is that so many have perfectly good ears, but they won’t hear what they should.
V. 16 - Jesus searches for a metaphor to explain the time He lived in. He compares it to some children calling to other children.
V. 17 - They have tried playing some happy music, but the others wouldn’t dance to it. They tried something sad and there was no response to that either. They didn’t like anything.
V. 18 - John was a Nazarite so he never ate or drank of anything from the grape vine. He didn’t get caught up in all the parties and feasts, either. Instead of admiring him for his abstinence and holiness, they said he had a demon.
V. 19 - Jesus went to weddings and feasts and drank of the vine, and they condemned him as a glutton and a drunk who was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. They were not happy either way. We see in John and Jesus that we can have quite a difference in lifestyle and still please God. There are sinful things in life to avoid, but not all pleasurable things are sin. Wisdom doesn’t depend on popular vote. The results speak for themselves.
V. 20 - As Jesus considers the way He and John had been rejected He turns to railing against the places where he had done so many miracles with no results. They would not repent in spite of all the miracles they had seen.
V. 21 - He compares Chorazin and Bethsaida to Tyre and Sidon which were destroyed after the prophesy of Isaiah and Joel even though they had at one time been allies with Israel. Hiram king of Tyre had been instrumental in helping Solomon with material for the temple. Jesus says that Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had seen the miracles that Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen.
V. 22 - He goes on to say that they will face a harsher Judgment day because of their rejection of Him, His works, and His teachings.
V. 23 - He compares Capernaum and Sodom. In an example of His teaching (Mt. 23:12) that exalting yourself will cause you to be brought down He speaks of how Capernaum was considered to be exalted to the sky, but would be brought down to the grave. Sodom would have survived to Jesus’ time if they had seen the miracles that Capernaum had seen.
V. 24 - Because of their stubborn refusal to accept the Son of God in their midst, it would be better to be from Sodom on Judgment Day than from Capernaum.
V. 25 - Jesus says an impromptu prayer thanking the Father for hiding truths from the wise while revealing them to babies. It is amazing how our own learning can blind us to the truth. Innocence of heart and mind are most helpful in seeing what God has revealed.
V. 26 - This was the Father’s plan and he considered it good. Some will try to blame God for their sin, but He has revealed the truth simply enough for a child to understand. How could it be so plain and yet so well hidden? He has it hidden in plain sight. It is our willingness or unwillingness to open our eyes and see that makes the difference.
It has been said that there is a riddle that little children often answer correctly while college graduates cannot. It asks, “It is greater than God and more evil than the devil. The poor have it; the rich need it, and if you eat it too long you will die. What is it?” If you are not sure of the answer, maybe this longer version will help you figure it out:
More evil than the devil and colder than absolute zero.
The poor have it; the rich need it;
But none may claim it ’til all is lost.
It fills every hole and the to-do lists of most bored children,
And many a mind paid the penny for its thoughts.
It’s worse than the worst day you can remember,
And better than the best day you’ve ever had.
It’s what you’ve eaten when you’re hungry,
And what you want when you’re full;
It tastes better than your favorite food,
But if you eat it long enough, you will die.
It’s what’s on when you don’t want to watch anything,
And what’s playing when you don’t want to go out.
Benedick loves it as much as Beatrice,
And Lear tells us that it will come of itself.
It fills unused journals, empty store shelves,
And far too many bank accounts.
Many claim it can make them do something
They would otherwise never do.
It lasts as long as the task you never begin,
But is over as quickly as the moment you want never to end.
It can come between ardent lovers, placate implacable hatred,
Turn back time, and stop the tides,
Compare with the incomparable, replace the irreplaceable,
Cure the incurable, and kill the invulnerable.
It can prepare you for the loss of a loved one,
As well as rob you of their memory.
Blessed is he who expects it, for he shall never be disappointed.
And with God, it is impossible.
The answer should be obvious from the first statement.
What is greater than God? Nothing! So simple and yet so easy to miss.
V. 27 - Jesus and the Father are a package deal you can’t have one without the other. Jesus chose to reveal the Father, but not everyone is paying attention. The Father has given the Son everything.
V. 28 - If you are loaded down by life it is time to look to Jesus. He can give rest. It is a spiritual rest, not a physical retirement.
V. 29 - A yoke is used to join two animals to each other and the wagon or plow that they are to pull. Often a young animal is teamed with an older, trained, more experienced animal to be trained. Jesus offers to share the yoke with us. He will not do everything for us, but he will bear the lion’s share. The other thing that changes is the working arrangement. Consider the difference between carrying a load in your arms or on your shoulders and pulling a load in a wagon. How much more could you pull than you could carry? 5 times?, 10 times?, 100 times? Now consider that not only are you no longer shouldering the load, but even pulling the wagon you are not alone, but sharing it with one who is much more powerful than you. Now how easily could you and the Almighty pull the weight that had been too much for you to carry?
V. 30 - Jesus promises an easy yoke with a light burden, mainly that is because the weight of our lives is no longer on our own shoulders.
V. 1 - The disciples had been off on their mission, but they are now back with Jesus. It is the Sabbath Day once again and as Jesus and the disciples walked through a grain field the disciples got hungry and ate some of the grain.
V. 2 - The Pharisees immediately complain that they have broken the Sabbath law. The Sabbath law was quite strict. God was serious about this day of rest under the Law of Moses. Exodus 20:10 states that no one, not even slaves were to work on the Sabbath. The debate then raged over what constituted work. Within the law there were several things mentioned. They were not to cook manna on the Sabbath, or even start a fire, one violator picked up sticks. The penalty, repeated several times, for working on the Sabbath was death. The disciples, however had not actually done any of the things described in the law as work. Eating was not breaking the law. Had they ground the grain to flour made bread and baked it they would have violated the law, but simply grabbing food and eating it was fine. Jesus says they were guiltless in verse 7.
V. 3 - Some people claimed that the literacy rate in Israel was very low maybe 10-20%, but Jesus expected that his hearers had read God’s law. The Jews were expected to read and right as part of obedience to God, Deuteronomy 6:9. It is difficult to please God in ignorance. Knowledge and understanding often come from reading, especially the reading of God’s word.
V. 4 - Jesus asks about one of their great heroes, David. In 1 Samuel 21 he had eaten the bread that was put out in the tabernacle each day for God. After sitting out for a day it was replaced with fresh bread and the priests could eat the old loaves. Wow a day old bread store. Only the priests and their households were allowed to eat it. David was not a priest or part of a priestly family, but ate anyway. David broke the law, but they would not condemn their hero.
V. 5 - Jesus uses another example from the law involving the priests who were commanded to work on the Sabbath when everyone was forbidden. They broke the Sabbath law every time they kindled the fire on the altar for the burnt sacrifice, but were blameless because they were keeping a higher law. This passage as well as others indicate that not all commands carry equal weight. The worship of God in the temple on the Sabbath was greater than the command not to work on the Sabbath.
V. 6 - Jesus goes on to explain that He is even greater than the temple.
V. 7 - Jesus refers to Hosea 6:6 and indicates that God’s desire for mercy is greater than his desire for the sacrifices which was great enough to allow the priests to work on the Sabbath. That mercy is what was in play with David. They technically broke the law, but they did so out of mercy for life, the men needed food. Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” James 2:3 also says that those who show no mercy will receive no mercy.
V. 8 - Jesus then proclaimed His power over the law of Moses and the ten commandments explaining that He was the Lord of the Sabbath Day.
V. 9 - Jesus went to the synagogue, which is the equivalent to us going to church.
V. 10 - The Pharisees still looking to find fault asked about healing on the Sabbath. These people were much like those of Isaiah’s day who called good evil and evil good. They thought it better to let a sick man suffer than to release him.
V. 11 - Jesus hits them close to home and points out their hypocrisy. If a sheep they owned fell in a hole they would never say “I’ll come get it out tomorrow because today is the Sabbath.” Because of their mercy and compassion for the animal, they would get it out.
V. 12 - Jesus asks a loaded question. How much better is a man than a sheep? According to the Pharisees, the sheep is of more value because they would help it on the Sabbath, but not the man. Jesus’ question exposes their way as corrupt. By asking ‘how much better’ He has already placed a man above a sheep, the only argument is how far above the sheep is the man. The conclusion is that if you would do a good deed for a sheep then it is certainly okay to do good for people.
V. 13 - Jesus then healed a man right in front of them to put the exclamation point on the lesson.
V. 14 - Instead of rejoicing with the healed man the Pharisees got together to figure out how to destroy Jesus.
V. 15 - Jesus was not a coward running from a bully, but He knew it was not time for His death yet. At this point in His ministry the crowds are on His side. He is popular, but popularity is a fickle mistress they say, and so it was with Jesus. The same crowds that followed Him, were fed and healed by Him, and cheered Him would in less than 2 years be shouting crucify Him. He loved them anyway and healed them anyway.
V. 16 - He told them not to reveal Him, so that He could continue to do the work that needed to be done.
V. 17 - His attempts to avoid controversy and strife was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 42:1.
V. 18 - Even as far back as Isaiah’s time God was revealing that His plan ultimately included the Gentiles and not the Jews only. Jesus was not an accident, He was chosen and pleased the Father and received God’s Spirit. It is interesting that a similar statement was made at Jesus’ baptism and His transfiguration, the only significant difference being the use of the term Son in place of servant.
V. 19 - Paul uses similar language with Timothy to explain the peaceful nature of God’s servants 2 Timothy 2:24. God’s people are peaceful warriors, not violent warmongers.
V. 20 - The tenderness and care of Jesus is revealed in this prophecy as well.
V. 21 - The Gentiles shall trust in His name. Finally after 2000 years of the separation between Jew and Gentile, God has raised up a Jew that can be trusted by the Gentiles and Jews alike and can bring together what has been separated. Do you remember when the Berlin wall fell? Have you read or heard the stories about families that had been separated for some 40 years being reunited and what joy they had? From the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the time of Christ the Human family was divided between Jew and Gentile, and the Gentile side was in a miserable condition. Ephesians 2:11-14 describes the difference Christ makes to the Gentiles. Ephesians 2:11-14 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (14) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
V. 22 - Still on the Sabbath day he healed a man that was blind and couldn’t speak. Realize that though we read about these miracles, the Pharisees were actual eyewitnesses. They were not hearing about these miracles through the grapevine and thinking that it had been faked or was make believe, they saw a blind man start seeing.
V. 23 - The average person seeing these miracles and hearing His teaching is starting to wonder if this could be the Messiah they have been waiting for so long.
V. 24 - The Pharisees don’t want that thought to get any traction so they have to do some damage control. They can’t deny the miracles that they and the people have just seen and can’t accept them as being by the power of God without accepting Jesus as being from God, so they take the only option left and blame the devil. They claim Jesus got the power to cast out a devil from the prince of the devils. Obviously the prince would have authority over his demons and he could fool a bunch of people by making it look like he was the good guy getting rid of the demons, so this argument seemed to make sense to some of the people. They could then couple that with the idea that Jesus was not following the Sabbath law, and there was a picture of Satan using a false miracle to convince people to follow a false teaching.
V. 25 - This is not the first time they have accused Him of this (9:34), but it is the first time He answers the charges. Jesus did not even have to hear them saying these things, He knew their thoughts (not the only time, and proof that He was from God and not Satan since Satan can’t know thoughts like God can.). Jesus proceeds to demolish their cute little theory. Division brings destruction. You can’t win when you are divided. The house divided against itself quote is almost always attributed to Lincoln, but Jesus said it first. Lincoln and those who heard him knew he was quoting Jesus, but that has been forgotten in the last 150+ years.
V. 26 - Jesus explains that if Satan is casting out his own then he is divided and can’t stand
V. 27 - Jesus gives a second argument. The Jews had exorcists, some of them apparently children of the very Pharisees that were accusing Jesus, who went around casting out demons. Jesus accepts that they apparently are actually doing it, but He asks them how. If Jesus is doing it by the power of the devil then their children must be doing that too. They can either condemn their own, or their argument is condemned by their exorcists.
V. 28 - If their children are using God’s power and therefore Jesus is casting out demons by God’s power, then it stands to reason that something amazing is happening. The kingdom is indeed near if these things that had not been possible before were happening.
V. 29 - Then Jesus makes another point. You can’t rob a man unless you incapacitate him. Satan had not only literally possessed some with demons, he had taken possession of most of the world. Remember the temptation in which he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world? They had to be his to give or it would not have been much of a temptation. Jesus compares Satan to an armed strong man guarding his house and then after having evicted that armed man by kicking out the demon, He takes possession of the man that Satan had possessed moments earlier. Jesus showed that he was stronger and better armed than the devil.
V. 30 - Jesus then calls them to pick a side. With me or against me. On my side or the devil’s. The Pharisees had chosen to be with Satan and fight against Jesus.
V. 31 - In fact the Pharisees had gone beyond fighting Jesus, they had picked a fight with the whole Godhead. Jesus indicates that there all kinds of sin and blasphemy can be forgiven except one. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven.
V. 32 - People could speak against Jesus and still be forgiven, but speaking against the Spirit as the Pharisees had done Jesus said would not be forgiven in the age they were living in or the age to come. The KJV says world, but the Greek is age. We may not know all there is to know about this subject, but let’s look at what we can know about this unforgivable sin.
I. Other Sins Against the Spirit
A. Lusting Against - Galatians 5:17
B. Lying to - Acts 5:3
C. Grieving - Ephesians 4:30
D. Resisting - Acts 7:51
E. Despising - Hebrews 10:29
F. Quenching - 1 Thessalonians 5:19
G. Vexing - Isaiah 63:10
II. What Blasphemy Against the Spirit Is Not
A. Not Rejection of the Miraculous Operation of the Holy Spirit
B. Not Murder
C. Not Adultery
D. Not Just Failure to Obey Before Death
E. Not Backsliding
F. Not Suicide
G. Not a Specific Physical Sin
H. Not Just Blasphemy
III. What Is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
A. Discussed in Three Passages - Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10
B. Tragic and Terrible
C. ‘Neither in this Age, Neither in the Age to Come’
D. If These Passages Indicate the Pharisees Have Committed this Sin, it Is the Only Example of the Sin Committed.
E. Not Easily Committed
1. The Pharisees Had Seen First Hand Evidence of the Power of the Spirit.
2. They Rejected These Evidences and Attributed Them to Satan Rather than God.
Conclusion: We Should Pay More Attention to the Unpardoned Sins in Our Life Instead of Worrying about the Unpardonable One, That Seems to Have Been Confined to the Time of the Miraculous.
V. 33 - After arguing with the Pharisees over the value of a human life, the Sabbath laws, sin against the Holy Spirit, healing, casting out demons, and false accusations, Jesus berates them for their hypocrisy and wickedness. Either a tree is good and its fruit is good or the tree is bad and the fruit is bad. You can’t have it both ways. If Jesus is producing good fruit (healing, casting out demons, etc.) then He must be a good tree. If He is a bad tree, then the things he is doing must be bad as well.
V. 34 - Jesus was not above saying something insulting if it was the truth. We have gotten so caught up with political correctness sometimes that we are afraid to be blunt, straightforward and brutally honest. Anyone who does say something true that offends someone spends the next week apologizing for what they said. Jesus called them a generation of poisonous snakes and said they were evil, and He never apologized for saying it. Jesus was not a sweet, nice and gentle mamby-pamby pushover. He told it like it was and let the chips fall where they would.
Here He also tells us the source of words is the inside.
V. 35 - If there is corruption inside then there will be filthiness coming out. If there is good inside then what comes out will be good. Now most people would think that calling someone an evil poisonous snake would be a sinful thing to do, but Jesus makes these remarks about the words and the heart right after describing the Pharisees just that way.
V. 36 - And lest we think that Jesus thought a word here or there was irrelevant, He tells us that every idle word that we speak will be brought up in judgment.
V. 37 - In fact He says that our words will either justify us or condemn us. That would also include not speaking out when we should. Sometimes silence is golden, and sometimes it is just plain yellow. Some for fear of saying the wrong thing say nothing, but that will come up in judgment as well.
V. 38 - After all of the healings and miracles that He had already done, there were some scribes and Pharisees that wanted Him to do more as though they were cheap magician’s tricks to entertain and amuse.
V. 39 - Jesus calls them evil and adulterous for selfishly wanting a miracle. The only one He promised to provide was what He called the ‘sign of the prophet Jonas (Jonah)’.
V. 40 - Jonah was in the whale for 3 days and 3 nights and Jesus, the Son of Man, would be in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights. This of course spoke prophetically of His burial. It is also interesting to note that this promise of a sign is an indication that Jesus died and was buried on Thursday, not on Friday as Catholic tradition holds and most people accept without question. Go ahead and look at a calendar and try to find a way to get 3 days and 3 nights from Friday to Sunday. Given that any part of a day would count as a day you could get 3 days(part of Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday), but there is no way to get 3 nights. The simplest explanation is that Jesus died and was buried on Thursday. Burton Coffman has a full discussion of this in his commentary set. For more information see http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=40&ch=15 look down to verse 42.
V. 41 - Then Jesus says those who repented when Jonah preached would condemn them because they would not listen to Jesus who is greater than Jonah.
V. 42 - Next the queen of the south(Sheba) would condemn them because she came a long way to hear Solomon’s wisdom and Jesus is greater than Solomon. While Jesus doesn’t claim Deity here, He does put himself above prophets and kings with these statements.
Christ as "greater than Solomon" was expounded by James H. Childress as follows: (1) Christ was greater in his birth, (2) his wisdom, (3) his temple, (4) his throne, (5) his prayers, (6) in his mansions, and (7) in the sacrifice Christ offered. As one example, Solomon offered at the dedication of the temple "twenty-two thousand oxen, and a hundred twenty thousand sheep" (2 Chronicles 7:5). Christ offered his own blood within the holiest place of all for the sins of all men (Hebrews 9:14). - http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=12
V. 43 - He turns to what seems out of place at first in describing a demon who has been cast out. The spirit can find no rest.
V. 44 - After finding no rest the evil spirit decides to go back to the body he was cast out of and finds that the man took no precautions. The man has had the evil spirit cleaned out, but has not filled himself with good.
V. 45 - The demon doesn’t go in alone, he goes and gets 7 others worse and they all move in and take over this man’s life. The man is worse off than when he had one demon. Jesus said those He was speaking to were in a similar state. He did not mean that they were possessed by demons, but that they were in sin, but by rejecting Him they were in greater sin than they had been before.
V. 46 - Jesus earthly family came to see him. We are not told specifically why they have come on this occasion, but on at least one occasion some “friends” tried to take Him back home because they thought He was crazy.
V. 47 - Someone told Jesus His mother and brothers were there.
V. 48 - Jesus asked rhetorically who His mother and brothers were.
V. 49 - He pointed toward those following Him and learning from Him and proclaimed them to be His real family.
V. 50 - In fact, He said any who do God’s will are part of this family.
V. 1 - Challenge for you. Look back and find the verse in chapter 12 that says Jesus went into a house. Good Luck! Didn’t find it did you? Because there isn’t one. This is the verse that tells us Jesus went into the house. One of the ways we determine Bible teaching is through Necessary Implication. That basically means that something is not only possible, but logically inescapable. This verse is a perfect example. In chapter 12 Jesus had been in the synagogue according to verse 9 and had left it in verse 15. There is no mention of Him entering another building, yet in verse 1 of chapter 13 it says he went out of the house the same day. We also know from 12:46-47 that He was inside, because His physical family was outside (KJV - without). Logic demands that He must have entered a house prior to leaving it. Even though it is never explicitly stated, no reasonable person would try to argue against it.
This is not a doctrinal issue here, but there are places in scripture that teach doctrinal things using this same incontrovertible type of reasoning. For example, Ephesians 4:4-6 teaches that there is one baptism. From other passages we can find that baptism in water was being practiced by the early church, and though there is no verse that specifically states that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not continuing, this passage makes it a fact. If there is only one baptism it must be either water or Spirit not both. Since the commands all refer to water as the medium, then the Spirit baptism which had taken place must have ceased by the time Paul wrote Ephesians.
V. 2 - Here Jesus takes advantage of the natural amphitheater that occurs on water near a shore so that He can be heard more easily by a large crowd.
V. 3 - Jesus begins to teach them in parables. There are 4 in this chapter and 2 of them are explained. The first is the parable of the sower. Jesus used common things to help people understand spiritual ideas. Parable literally means to come along side or to lay along side. Jesus was laying a story (fictionalized account) along side of a spiritual truth. There may have been a sower within sight of the area where Jesus was teaching, but even if there was not people in that society would understand the idea. Sadly some in our society have gotten so far from planting and growing that they don’t understand these basic concepts.
V. 4 - They did not sow with all of the equipment of our farmers today, but they did not hand plant each seed like a gardener either. They had large areas to plant so they just threw the seed out as they walked along. Because of this method of planting some of the seeds would fall in places where the soil had been packed down by foot traffic. The birds feasted on those seeds.
V. 5 - Some of the seeds fell in the rocks they came up quickly because they were close to the surface and it may have been warmer soil in the spring because of the rocks.
V. 6 - When the summer Sun came they were burnt and withered. The shallow rocky soil that had provided them a quick start and seemed advantageous became deadly as the little soil that was there dried up and the plants could not get moisture. The area that was warmer in the spring became too hot in the summer.
V. 7 - Some fell in with the weeds or thorns and were choked to death by them. Weeds suck moisture and nutrients out of the soil keeping the good plants from getting it.
V. 8 - Some of the seed fell on good ground. This is what produced fruit. 30, 60, or 100 seeds for each one planted. Even among these that produced fruit not all were equal.
V. 9 - One of Jesus’ most often repeated sayings. It should be common sense for people with ears to hear, but it is amazing how little hearing actually takes place. Maybe we are thinking of what we want to say next, maybe we are off in our own world, maybe we started listening but heard something that got us thinking about something else, etc.
V. 10 - The disciples wondered why Jesus was using parables instead of just telling them straight out.
V. 11 - He basically says it is so they won’t fully understand. They enjoy the story, but don’t always get the true meaning out of it.
V. 12 - Jesus explains that those who have will receive more and those who don’t have much will have that taken away.
V. 13-14 - The whole process of the parables was to fulfil prophecy Isaiah said they would hear and not understand and see without knowing what they were seeing.
V. 15 - They had heart problems, hearing problems and sight problems that they had brought on themselves. If not for their problems they could see and hear and understand which would cause them to be converted and God would heal them.
V. 16 - Jesus blesses the disciples for opening their eyes and ears.
V. 17 - The disciples are blessed above all that came before them because they get to see and hear Jesus and his teaching.
V. 18 - Jesus then explains the parable about the sower
V. 19 - All of these soils represent people who have the word taught to them. These are not people who never heard the gospel or refused to listen, these are the ones who listen. The first group hear, but don’t understand it. The birds represent the devil who swoops in to get the word out before it can take root. These are the only ones that never respond to the gospel at all.
V. 20 - The stony soil is that person who gets excited by the word. This person responds quickly to the gospel.
V. 21 - The problem is that as soon as there is a problem or persecution of some kind he quits.
V. 22 - The one among the thorns is another sad case. This is one who continues to live, but produces no fruit because of the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. Sadly there are many in churches across our nation each Sunday who are in this condition. They have not died out or quit, but the word has been choked out of their lives and they are fruitless. They suffer, not persecution for being a Christian, but simply because they can’t stand being one but wont quit either.
V. 23 - The one that hears and understands and doesn’t allow the weeds to choke the word out will produce fruit some more and some less based on the quality of their hearts, opportunities, maturity, time, talents, etc.
V. 24 - Jesus sticks with the same theme with the second parable that He tells. In this parable a man sowed good seed in his field. There was no chance that the seed was corrupt or that weed seeds had been mixed with the good.
V. 25 - A cruel enemy sowed some weeds (tares) among the grain (wheat) in the middle of the night. V. 26 - The tares (weeds) and the wheat (grain) both came up in the field.
V. 27 - The servants noticed the weeds and questioned whether the master had sown good seed and if so why there were weeds in the field.
V. 28 - He knew an enemy did it. The servants solution seems the easiest: pull up the weeds.
V. 29 - This seems like a good idea, but the farmer is afraid that in the process of getting the weeds too much of the good grain would get pulled up.
V. 30 - His solution was to let them grow together until harvest and then separate the weeds from the good grain. Jesus explains the meaning of this parable in verses 37-43.
V. 31 - His third parable in this chapter is also about seeds, in this case a mustard seed.
V. 32 - Jesus says that this tiny herb seed produces a tree big enough for the birds to live in. Some have tried to nitpick this to death to make Jesus a liar by saying that there are seeds that are smaller or that there are herbs that may be larger or that the mustard plant is not a tree or that it is not big enough for birds to make nests. The fact is that they completely miss the point by looking at specifics. Jesus was not speaking of every seed in the whole world that horticulturists are now familiar with, but those that would have been commonly know by the people to whom He was talking. Some confuse the mustard seed He spoke of with smaller varieties with which they are familiar. The point Jesus is trying to get at is that just as a little seed can become a large bush or tree, the kingdom of Heaven started very small but has grown to be quite large.
V. 33 - Though Jesus changes from seeds to leaven (yeast) with the fourth parable, but sticks to the subject of growth. Just as leaven spreads throughout the dough, the kingdom will spread through the whole world. It is interesting that yeast one of the most common leavening agents can multiply from just a few ounces to several tons in just a matter of days under the right conditions. Jesus expects His kingdom to be spreading throughout the world.
V. 34 - Jesus didn’t speak to the people without a parable, at least on this occasion.
V. 35 - The parables were to fulfill another prophecy. This one from Psalm 78:2.
V. 36 - Jesus sends the crowd away and the disciples come to ask him about the parable of the tares (weeds).
V. 37 - Jesus was the one who sowed the good seed.
V. 38 - The field is the world, good seed are the Christians, and weeds are the ungodly.
V. 39 - The enemy is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels.
V. 40 - Just as the weeds were thrown in the fire, so the end shall be. For the time being they are allowed to grow together.
V. 41 - At the end Jesus will send his angels and they will separate out the weeds from His kingdom. The wicked are even growing within the kingdom.
V. 42 - The wicked will be thrown into the fire. There will be suffering for them.
V. 43 - Then the righteous will shine in the kingdom.
V. 44 - Then Jesus shares a fifth parable with only the disciples. He compares the kingdom to a treasure that is hidden and a man that sells all he has so he can buy the field it is in.
V. 45 - A sixth and similar parable about a merchant seeking pearls is next.
V. 46 - When he found one extremely valuable one he sold everything else to buy it. Jesus points to the value of the kingdom, His church in these two parables.
V. 47 - The seventh and final parable compares His kingdom to a fishing net that pulled in all different kinds of fish.
V. 48 - When they pulled it to shore they separated the good from the bad.
V. 49 - The same will happen with the kingdom at the end. The angels will separate the evil out from among the just. Even within the kingdom there will be good and evil to be separated.
V. 50 - The wicked will be cast in the fire where they will suffer.
V. 51 - Jesus asked if they understood and they said they did.
V. 52 - Jesus then explained that a learned scribe will bring out of the treasure of his knowledge old lessons and new ones.
V. 53 - When Jesus finished these parables He left the area.
V. 54 - He came to his own country and taught in the synagogue. The people are shocked and wonder where He got all the wisdom and how He could do the miracles.
V. 55 - They could not understand because they thought he was Joseph’s son. We are also reminded that Mary was not a perpetual virgin as she and Joseph had 4 sons (James, Joses, Simon and Judas - none of these were disciples at this point, although James does become a leader in the Jerusalem church.) after Jesus was born.
V. 56 - Jesus also had half-sisters. The people did not understand how He could be anything special since they had ‘known Him all His life’.
V. 57 - In fact they got upset and refused to believe. Jesus again says that a prophet has no honor at home.
V. 58 - Because they did not believe he did not do many miracles.
V. 1 - Tetrarch means one-fourth. This Herod was ruler over 1/4th of the kingdom. This Herod is one of 3 children of Herod the Great who was really not great and had tried to kill the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. This is the one who succeeded in killing John the Immerser and sending Jesus to Pilate.
V. 2 - He must have been superstitious or had a guilty conscience. He believed that Jesus was John brought back from the dead and doing miracles. In fact, when he saw Jesus at trial he was more interested in a miracle than the death of an innocent man. He had practiced killing innocents with John.
V. 3 - Herod had arrested John and put him in prison all to please a wife he should not have had. She was rightfully his half-brother’s wife.
V. 4 - John told Herod that he had no right to his brother’s wife and for that honesty he was rewarded with a prison cell for the rest of his life.
V. 5 - Herod would have executed him, but he was afraid. He was not afraid of John or of God’s law, but of the people.
V. 6 - Herodias was not only Herod’s brother’s wife, but also Herod’s niece and her and Philip’s daughter, who would also be Herod’s niece danced for him at his birthday.
V. 7 - He was so thrilled by her dance that he swore to give her whatever she wanted.
V. 8 - The whole thing had been set up by her mother who must have suspected he would be enthralled by the girl. She had already told the girl to ask for John’s head in a platter. The daughter is never named in scripture, but the Jewish historian Josephus claims her name was Salome.
V. 9 - Whether lust, intoxication, peer pressure, or simply a hasty spirit had induced Herod to make the promise, he now regrets it. His sorrow was not enough to cause him to repent, so he commanded it to be done.
V. 10 - John was beheaded without a trial, and perhaps without even being told why.
V. 11 - The girl received the head and gave it to her mother. I wonder if she ever wished she had asked for something she really wanted.
V. 12 - John’s disciples buried his body, but we don’t know what Herodias did with his head. John’s disciples went to tell Jesus that John was dead. Surely Jesus had access to that knowledge through the Holy Spirit already.
V. 13 - After they came Jesus went out to be alone, but the people followed him from the cities in the area.
John was . . .
1. Not afraid to be different from others. - Mt. 3:4
2. A great prophet. - Mt. 11:9-10
3. A preacher. - Mt. 3:1
4. Not power hungry. - Jn. 3:27-30
5. Not afraid of powerful, wealthy people. - Mt. 3:7 and 14:4
6. Not perfect. - Mt. 11:3-4
7. Elijah. - Mt. 11:14
8. Not wishy-washy. - Mt. 3:8-10; 14:4 and Lk. 3:7-14
9. A mortal man. - Mt. 14:10
10. Never a Christian. - Mt. 11:11
11. A teetotaler. - Mt. 11:18
12. Not a Miracle man. - Jn. 10:41
13. Mocked and rejected. - Mt. 11:18
14. Without family(wife or children, parents seem to have already died, as well). - Mt. 14:12
15. Prophesied. - Mt. 11:10
16. Miraculous in circumstances surrounding his conception and birth. - Lk. 1:5-21, 41, 67
17. An essential part of God’s plan. - Lk. 1:15-17
18. Older than Jesus, but younger than God’s son. - Jn. 1:15
19. Honest. - Jn. 1:19-20 and 5:33
20. A faithful servant of God. - Mt. 3:14-16; Mk. 6:20 and Lk. 3:2-6
21. A witness for Christ. - Jn. 1:32-37 and 10:41
22. Murdered by selfish cowards. - Mt. 14:9-10 and Mk. 6:16
V. 14 - Even though Jesus had just lost His friend and cousin He had compassion on others. Jesus’ miracles were not limited by anything. What was Jesus’ greatest miracle? How would you compare the magnitude of miracles? Is it harder to cure a disease, cast out a demon, heal ears, eyes, or legs, or change water to wine or multiply food? Since we can do none of these it is hard to determine and for one who is all powerful is one harder than the other?
V. 15 - He healed people until evening. The disciples want Him to send the people to the nearby villages to eat. Remember Jesus had gone out to a deserted place to be alone, but the people had followed Him.
V. 16 - Jesus suggests that the disciples can give them something to eat.
V. 17 - They complain that there is not enough food because they only have 5 loaves and 2 fish. This miracle is also recorded in Mk. 6, Lk. 9 and Jn 6 with more details added. John gives the most detail informing us that the loaves were barley and the fish were small and that they actually belonged to a boy that was there. Philip indicated that several months wages would not buy enough to feed the group a little bit.
V. 18 - Jesus called for the food. Maybe auctioning it off to the highest bidder would get enough money to buy more food. The disciples seem to have no concept of Jesus’ ability even though they had already seen some amazing miracles.
V. 19 - He told the crowd to sit down. Other accounts tell us they sat in groups of 50 and 100. At least there was grass. Jesus prayed over the food and broke the loaves and then had them passed around. Certainly the normal expectation would be that they would never get past the first few people in the first group.
V. 20 - All ate as much as they wanted, they were full. The disciples collected 12 baskets full of fragments. You know why they were not too happy about that? They would be eating leftovers for days! Seriously, some want to know how big the loaves were or how big the baskets were and they completely miss the magnitude of this miracle. It would have been miraculous if the first 50 people ate and there was nothing left. In fact it would have been a miracle if Jesus and the 12 could have eaten and been satisfied. It doesn’t matter if the loaves were twice as big as the ones we can buy at the store, there still could not logically be enough to even start feeding a crowd. It wouldn’t matter if the baskets were only 2 inches across, logically there should have been nothing left to fill anything of any size. Even if the fish were 25 lbs. Each that would only be enough for 200 to have a 4 oz serving including bones.
V. 21 - But it was not 200 people that ate, or even 2000, but 5000 men not counting women and children that may have been with them. It is quite possible that if each man had a wife and 2 children there could have been as much as 20,000.
V. 22 - Jesus made the disciples go back to the other side in the ship while He sent the people away.
V. 23 - After sending them all away He finally had time alone to pray.
V. 24 - Their ship was being tossed with waves in the middle of the sea during the night. Apparently sometime not long after dark the wind turned against them.
V. 25 - It was not until nearly dawn that Jesus finally comes to them. The fourth watch - a night was divided into 12 hours from dusk to dawn and then divided into 4 watches each being 3 hours long. The fourth watch would be the last 3 hours before sunrise. On a side note the Roman hours were not a constant length of time as ours. We may have 15-16 hour days and 8-9 hour nights in the summer and a 10 hour day and 14 hour night in winter because our hours are always the same length of time. The Romans always had twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of dark by adjusting how long an hour was. Neat trick, huh! Why did Jesus wait all night? Why not go help them as soon as they ran into trouble? Perhaps to strengthen their faith. I have been told that if you give some plants a little water everyday they will never develop deep roots, but if you give the soil a good soaking every few days with no water on days between they will deepen their roots to get the water deeper in the soil. The same is also true with birds and butterflies that if you help them out of their shells or cocoons they will die because they need the struggle to grow strong enough to live. God does not always give us what we need right away, sometimes He lets us struggle and gain some strength.
V. 26 - When the disciples first saw Him they thought He was a ghost. We may laugh at them, but what would you think if you were out on a boat on a stormy night and a human figure came walking on top of the water toward you? This is also a reminder of the way words can change meanings. We use spirit and ghost differently than they did when the KJV was translated. The KJV here uses spirit as we would use ghost to refer to the soul or spirit of a deceased person, but it uses the term ghost to refer to the third person of the Godhead in Mt. 28:19 the Holy Ghost, certainly not the soul or spirit of a dead person. We would reverse those terms today.
V. 27 - Jesus calms their fears by speaking to them. They recognize the voice. I don’t know why they didn’t think that the ghost was just trying to trick them by imitating Jesus’ voice, but fears and superstitions are often unreasonable.
V. 28 - Peter wants to be sure it is Jesus, so he says if it is you tell me to come walk on the water to you.
V. 29 - Jesus calls him and Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Have you ever considered the courage and faith Peter had at that moment? He was willing to do something he had never done, something no one else had ever done before that night. All it took was one word from Jesus, “Come” and Peter braved the storm to do what as a fisherman who had lived around water his whole life he knew was impossible. It was not in a peaceful indoor pool, it was in the middle of a sea that was over 100 feet deep, at night, in the middle of a storm, based on the word of one he thought was a ghost a few moments earlier. When you can do that, then you can laugh at him for what happens next.
V. 30 - Peter lost his confidence, he saw the storm around him, which means he took his eyes off Jesus, and he became afraid. When we look at the storms of life around us and take our eyes off Jesus we will become afraid as well. Then he began to sink and we will too. But he was coherent enough to do the wisest thing he could, he turned back to Jesus and cried for the Lord to save him and we should too.
V. 31 - This time Jesus didn’t wait he immediately reached out and grabbed Peter, but not without a little rebuke and a reminder to Peter and all of us about the danger of doubt and little faith.
V. 32 - When they got in the ship the wind stopped.
V. 33 - All the disciples worshiped Jesus and said He was the Son of God. This is 2 chapters before Peter says so in 16:16.
V. 34 - They came to Gennesaret, a town on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.
V. 35 - Though this is apparently the first time He has been there, the people figured out who He was and brought all the diseased to Him.
V. 36 - They begged to just touch the hem of his clothes and those who did were healed, not partially, but perfectly whole.
V. 1 - Jesus was in Gennesaret about 60 miles from Jerusalem, yet the scribes and Pharisees came all that way to argue with Him.
V. 2 - The question they ask is not a deep question about God or even a question of Moses’ law, but one of their tradition. They want to know why Jesus’ disciples ate without washing their hands. That broke their tradition. There is nothing inherently sinful about traditions, but we must remember that they are traditions, just customs that should not be confused with God’s laws. Some traditions can become man’s law and can even be necessary, like which side of the road we drive on, but down deep it is only important because we have to agree or there would be wrecks and death if we did not have a common practice. The fact that other places drive on the other side shows that it can work either way. Red means stop and green means go on our traffic signals, but it could have easily been the opposite or two other colors if it had been agreed to at the beginning of traffic signaling. What if red meant go and blue meant stop? Washing hands can even be beneficial and help stop infections, but it is no more a part of God’s law than the color of traffic lights.
V. 3 - Jesus had a much better and more important question for them. How easy it is for us to get caught up in insignificant details and miss the truly significant. Jesus asked why they had been breaking God’s commands to follow their traditions.
V. 4 - God commanded honor for parents and said those who cursed their parents deserved to die. This was an important command, and God expected it to be obeyed. The command to honor parents is one of a few Old Testament commands that is repeated in the New Testament. This testifies to the eternal nature of this principle and its importance to God.
V. 5-6 - Mark 7:11 calls this gift Corban. Basically they were pretending to be devout by saying that they were giving so much to God that they could not help their parents. It was hypocrisy because they spent what they wanted on themselves, their farms or businesses, but not on honoring their parents. Jesus said they had nullified God’s commandment by this tradition. In the New Testament the Bible says that one who does not care for his own is worse than an unbeliever. These Jews while proclaiming their love and devotion for God were showing by their actions that they did not truly love Him enough to keep His commands.
V. 7 - Jesus calls them out for their hypocrisy. He confronts them. He doesn’t talk about them to the disciples after they are gone, He calls them hypocrites to their faces. Then He quotes a prophecy from Isaiah that perfectly described what these were doing and something that is still a problem today.
V. 8 - they talked a good talk and may have even sung a pretty song or put on a good show, but their hearts were not in it. How many today talk of their love for God, but will not even come to worship Him? How many people say one thing, but live the opposite?
V. 9 - How many who do worship God are doing it in vain because they are teaching men’s doctrines instead of God’s and saying the whole time that they are doing what is right and pleasing to God? That is what Isaiah said of those in his day, Jesus said it of these in His day, and it is still prevalent today.
V. 10-11 - Jesus turns His attention to dealing with the petty issue the scribes and Pharisees had brought up. He explains that spiritual cleanliness has nothing to do with what food is eaten, or whether someone had dirty hands when they ate, but spiritual a person was defiled from the inside and what came out of the mouth. Jesus was not ignorant of viruses and bacteria since He created them, and He was not saying that someone couldn’t get sick or be poisoned or even die because of what went in their mouth, but that physical food doesn’t affect the spiritual. This is hard for many even today to swallow because they believe that the Old Testament laws about clean and unclean animals should still be obeyed. Jesus was not really talking about that issue specifically here because the disciples were not being accused of eating an unclean meat, but of defiling clean foods with their dirty hands. Wonder if Jesus made them wash before serving the food to the 5000?
V. 12 - The disciples wonder if Jesus knows the Pharisees were upset and offended by what He said. We need to learn to be more like Jesus in speaking truth even if it is unpopular and may hurt some people and offend some. Our society is so obsessed with someone being offended that it is getting hard to breathe without offending someone. God didn’t create us with the right to freedom from having our feelings hurt.
V. 13 - Jesus tells the disciples that God is going to root up the plants that are not His.
V. 14 - Jesus does not give this task to the disciples, however, He tells them to leave the Pharisees alone. Just as the tares were allowed to grow along with the wheat until the end, we must put up with people like these scribes and Pharisees today, we just need to leave them alone and not get sucked into their sins and hypocrisy. That doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for truth, but we would have more luck arguing with a rock than with today’s scribes and Pharisees.
V. 15 - Peter speaks up and asks for a little more clarification of what Jesus said regarding being defiled.
V. 16 - Jesus seems disappointed that Peter (and probably the others) did not understand His teaching on this subject.
V. 17 - Jesus then gives a more complete explanation. When you eat something it goes from the mouth to the belly and then is eliminated in the waste. In Mark 7 He specifies that it does not go into the heart.
V. 18 - But what comes out of the mouth, or we could say comes out in action of the body because many of the things he mentions are not spoken, but done. These things come from the heart (not the blood pump, but the central part of man’s being).
V. 19 - It begins there with evil thoughts and then the words and actions follow: murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness and blasphemy.
V. 20 - Jesus concludes that basically sins; in word, deed, or thought make a man defiled in God’s eyes, but eating without washing your hands will not cost you your soul.
V. 21 - Jesus left Gennesaret to go to the Tyre and Sidon area. The KJV often uses the term coasts to describe the area around a city, it does not mean the city is near a seashore as we would use the term today. In the case of Tyre and Sidon, however, they actually are on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Other than the trip to Egypt as an infant, this trip to Sidon (135 miles from Bethlehem) was the farthest from the place of His birth that Jesus traveled. http://keyboardsforchrist.com/Sandals.html has some interesting estimates of much of the walking Jesus did. It is estimated that Jesus walked more than 3000 miles during his ministry.
V. 22 - This is one of the few recorded events of Jesus’ interaction with a Gentile. This woman was a Canaanite, so, had the Israelites done as they were commanded when they conquered the land and executed all of the inhabitants (Deuteronomy 20:16-17), she would never have been born. The apostles as well as other Jews wished that she and others like her had not been born. She came begging for mercy because her daughter had a devil or demon.
V. 23 - Jesus ignored her. I don’t always understand why Jesus did all the things He did, and this is one of those times. I don’t know if He was testing her faith or trying to teach the disciples some lesson or something else entirely. If He didn’t want to heal the girl, He did not have to do so. He knew the thoughts and hearts of others, so it was not that He needed to know whether she believed. This whole account must have in some way benefited her and/or the apostles beyond just healing a little girl. While we might think Jesus cold and calloused for not answering, the disciples are much more so. They want Him to send her away, get rid of her. One wonders how they would have responded if this were some upstanding Jewess instead of a Canaanite.
V. 24 - Remembering that Jesus knew their hearts as well as hers we see Him use her faith to teach the disciples about mercy and racism. He tells the woman, in their presence, that He is only sent to Israel. He had healed hundreds or even thousands of Jews, would the disciples not want to see Him heal one little girl just because she was born to the wrong parents. The disciples had much to learn if they were going to one day take the gospel to the world.
V. 25 - She was not deterred, but came and worshiped him. She again asked for His help. Now if you had seen Jesus easily heal so many would you not encourage Him to heal one more little girl for this dedicated and loving mother. The disciples said nothing, still hoping, we presume, that Jesus is going to send her away.
V. 26 - Jesus speaks even more harshly to her and tells her that it is not good to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs. How many would have given up after this or been deeply offended by being compared to a dog. That was the way that many Jews felt toward all Gentiles, but especially toward the Canaanites, and possibly worse about the Samaritans. The disciples had learned this attitude from the culture in which they were raised and never thought about it. Jesus here only echoes the sentiments of Jewish society to drive the point home.
V. 27 - This amazing woman has a quick reply even the dogs get some of the crumbs. What humility she showed in taking these barbs without her faith and hope being popped.
V. 28 - Jesus makes the final point: she has great faith. He finally sends her away, but not before healing her daughter and teaching the disciples that faith did not belong solely to one nation of men, but to individuals throughout the human race.
V. 29 - Jesus went back to the region of the sea of Galilee and sat on a mountain. I wonder if that is why so many think of a wise man on a mountain that you have to go to for answers?
V. 30 - Many came and brought the sick to Him and He healed them.
V. 31 - The crowd was amazed and glorified God. This was one of the purposes of the miracles, along with causing faith in Jesus as the Christ. Notice that Jesus healed visible maladies. Many of the so-called faith healers of today heal people of headaches or supposed internal diseases, but Jesus was able to heal someone who was obviously disfigured or one that others knew was blind or mute. He also never charged money for the miracles.
V. 32 - This crowd of people had been with Jesus for 3 days without food. Can you imagine? Have you ever gone without food for three days? Jesus will not send them away or they may pass out from hunger, so he calls the disciples with this idea of feeding the crowd.
V. 33 - Jesus just fed 5000+ with a little boy’s lunch, yet the disciples ask where to get enough bread in the wilderness to feed a big crowd. Who would you have been more like if you had lived in Jesus’ time? The religious leaders that rejected Jesus, the crowds that followed Him for their own benefit, the ones who came to see Him occasionally, the disciples who believed in Him as long as they could understand, the romans who didn’t care about things happening in the insignificant area of Judea, those who sought Him out despite the odds like the Canaanite woman.
V. 34 - He asked them how much food there was and they had 7 loaves and a few little fish. That is more bread and more fish than at the feeding of the 5000, so they should have been confident that there was plenty, but they were in doubt. It seems that none of them even thought that maybe Jesus could do what He had done before.
V. 35 - Jesus commanded them to sit down. There is no record of anyone saying “Eeewwww! I might get my clothes dirty” or “What about the bugs?”. Maybe they were just so hungry they didn’t care. I wonder if they washed their hands.
V. 36 - Jesus always gave thanks for food whenever a meal is recorded. On this occasion there seemed to be a bit more than just a prayer as Jesus gave the food to the disciples and the disciples gave it to the crowd. A miracle was taking place, again. You might think that seeing miracle after miracle the disciples might become a bit jaded so that they were not impressed and just expected miracles. That happens so often with new things that become common. Can you remember something that was new to you and fascinated you the first few times, but that you now take for granted? Remote controls, cell phones, microwaves, appliances, car features, etc. Instead of getting used to the miracles, the disciples seem to constantly forget that Jesus can do all of these amazing things.
V. 37 - They all ate enough and there were 7 baskets full of leftovers.
V. 38 - 4000 men not counting women and children ate from 7 loaves and a few little fish. Another miracle performed. Interestingly neither this account nor those of the 5000 records anyone saying thank you or glorifying God as they did for the healing miracles.
V. 39 - Jesus sent the multitude away and then took a boat to Magdala which is on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. He was likely going from the north shore since He had just come from the Tyre and Sidon region. Interestingly, Magdala was unknown outside the scriptures until recently. It was excavated by a Franciscan priest in 2008.
V. 1 - Even when the Pharisees and Sadducees seem to be doing right they are doing it with the wrong motive. There have already been multiple miracles and signs and they have ignored them all, but now they pretend to be interested.
V. 2 - 3 - Jesus answers them with an old sailors proverb. In English we make it rhyme by saying “Red sky at night sailor’s delight, red sky in the morning sailors take warning.” Jesus berates them for being able to see signs that foretold storms but not being able to see the signs that foretold the coming of the Messiah.
V. 4 - Jesus lets them know that if they had been faithful they would not have to be asking for signs because they would have seen all the signs God put in His Word. Today many are much the same they constantly want some miracle or they won’t believe in God. Meanwhile His Word is still where it has been for hundreds of years saying the same things it has said for hundreds of years.
Jesus says there will only be one sign given to them, the sign of Jonah. What is the sign of Jonah? The answer is not in this passage. Jesus had already explained it in 12:39-40 after condemning the same attitude of sign-seeking. He describes His own coming death and burial in comparing it to Jonah being in the sea beast (that some say was a fish, some a whale, some a dinosaur or other extinct creature, and some a specially created creature for the purpose) for 3 days and 3 nights. This combined with much in John’s gospel seems to indicate Thursday rather than Friday as the day of crucifixion, as well as making the Last Supper not the Passover meal.
V. 5 - When Jesus is with His disciples again on the other side of the Sea of Galilee they had forgotten to bring any bread with them.
V. 6 - Jesus warned them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
V. 7 - They talked about it among themselves and decided that He gave them this warning because they did not bring bread.
V. 8 - Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith and points out one of four root causes of faith failure that are revealed by Jesus in the book of Matthew. Humans reasoning together have a tendency to diminish faith in God. Worry, fear, and distraction are the other decimators of faith according to 6:30-31, 8:26, and 14:31. The disciples apparently thought He was saying that they would have to buy bread and that they should be careful from whom they bought it. Whether they thought there was something wrong with bread that Pharisees and Sadducees were selling or some other strange thing we don’t know for sure. That they were missing the point is certain.
V. 9 - Jesus reviews recent events by asking if they remember how many baskets of leftovers they took up after the 5 loaves fed 5,000. Do you remember? 12
V. 10 - Then He asks if they remember how many baskets they filled up after 4,000 ate from 7 loaves. Do you remember? 7 The point of course is that they should not have had any concerns about not having enough bread to eat.
V. 11 - Then Jesus tells them that his warning about leaven had nothing to do with bread.
V. 12 - On a rare occasion the disciples understand without Jesus having to just come right out and explain it to them. They realize that He was talking about their teachings or doctrines. Spiritual leaven and not physical. We need to beware of the leaven of: trouble makers and false teachers within the church, the denominational world, nonchristian religious world and nonreligious world.
V. 13 - Coasts simply refers to the area around a town. Jesus again asks a question to which He already knows the answer. Jesus often asks questions to draw others’ attention to some bit of knowledge in a nonthreatening way. He asks the apostles who men thought He was.
V. 14 - Some thought Jesus was John, Elijah, Jeremiah or another prophet. Of course they were all wrong, but at least they thought He was someone who spoke for God.
V. 15 - Jesus asks the disciples what they think.
V. 16 - Peter is the first to answer. He believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. As far as we know Jesus had not told the apostles that He was the Son of God before this time, but it is possible that He did and that it is not recorded. His response indicates that He had not informed them previously.
V. 17 - Jesus calls Peter blessed and indicates that this knowledge came from Jesus’ Father in Heaven. Whether He means it was a direct revelation or whether it came through the prophecies and miracles Peter had seen is not certain.
V. 18 - There is some confusion over the fact that Peter is the word for rock and that Jesus says the church will be built on a rock. Some believe that Jesus means He will build the church on Peter, but a close look at the Greek words shows that the word for Peter is masculine and the word translated ‘rock’ is feminine. Another possibility in the minds of some is that Jesus is referring to the bedrock that they are standing on because Caesarea Philippi and the area around it was known for being on solid rock. The fact is that context is important. Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that rock solid fact is the basis for the establishment of the church.
Much can be learned from this short verse. Jesus is the builder of the church, His deity and Messiahship are the foundation, there is only one church built by Him only one that is His, and the one He built belongs to Him, finally, that Hell, despite the desire of all its wicked inhabitants, cannot stop Him from building His church, nor destroy the church itself.
V. 19 - Even though Jesus is specifically addressing only Peter personally, the authority that He speaks of is for all of the apostles. If we do not accept the apostles’ authority we might as well throw out everything after the gospel of John in the New Testament except for the 2 letters by Peter. The fact is that while Jesus did not give them the authority to change anything He had established He knew that there would be decisions to be made in the church and left the apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, to make those decisions.
From: http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=16 - Coffman’s Commentary
This promise, emphatically delivered to Peter here, was also the property of the Twelve and not Peter's exclusively (see under Matthew 18:18). Origen, under the sub-title, "The promise given to Peter, not restricted to him, but applicable to all disciples like him," asked,
But if you suppose that upon one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the apostles?
"Bind" and "loose" refer to the power of deciding what was lawful or unlawful to be done in the church or what was orthodox or unorthodox to be believed. That power was (and is) exercised by all the apostles, and the New Testament is the instrument by which that binding and loosing are effected.
The objection may be raised that if all the apostles exercised that authority, the words lose their meaning as applied by Christ to Peter in the instance before us. This is not the case. A certain preeminence DID pertain to Peter: (1) He preached the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:14ff). (2) He unlocked the secret of the Davidic kingdom (Acts 2:31). (3) He unlocked the secret of HOW people enter the kingdom (Acts 2:38). (4) He unlocked the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1ff). (5) He unlocked the door of return for backsliders (Acts 8:13,22). (6) He unlocked the mystery of the new name (1 Peter 4:16). (7) He expounded the mystery of the new birth (1 Peter 3:21). (8) He revealed the ultimate fate of the earth (2 Peter 3:11-13). These remarkable options exercised by Peter might be said to be his use of the keys, solving, unlocking, and revealing great mysteries of the kingdom of heaven in those important aspects. Surely such does constitute great honor and dignity conferred upon Peter by our Lord by reason of his having been the first to ascertain the holy truth of God in Christ, and then confess it; and the distinctions noted herewith are far more than enough to fulfill Jesus' words without resort to the monstrous notion that Peter was to be made, in any sense, the head of the church, which by its very nature can have only one head - CHRIST.
The Scriptures make it clear that, whatever preeminence was enjoyed by Peter, it was well within the framework of his stature as a fellow apostle, and not, as some affirm, as a president over the apostles. Thus: (1) There is not one throne in Christ's kingdom, but twelve thrones (Matthew 19:28). (2) The Holy City that comes down out of heaven does not have merely one foundation, engraved with Peter's name, but twelve foundations, engraved with the names of the Twelve (Revelation 21:14). (3) Peter himself included the rest of the apostles when he admonished men to heed the commandment of Christ, "through your apostles" (2 Peter 3:2). (4) Even when Peter opened the gates of the kingdom of heaven on the day of Pentecost, he did so, not alone, but "standing up with the eleven" (Acts 2:14). (5) When the Jewish high priest moved against the church, he moved not against Peter only, but against the Twelve (Acts 5:17-19). (6) Peter's authority was actually equaled by that of Paul (Galatians 2:7,8). (7) Peter's dignity was, on occasion, made secondary to that of the Twelve, as when, for instance, he was "sent" by the Twelve as a messenger (Acts 8:14). (8) Peter's dignity was no greater than that of James (Galatians 2:9); and, in fact, James is mentioned first. All of the plain words and necessary inferences of the New Testament are at variance with any supposition that Peter's preeminence contained the slightest vestiges of any authority not conferred upon the other apostles also.
Here is an appropriate place to view the doctrine of a successor to Peter. Note the following:
(1) Peter knew that he would have no legitimate successor and indicated it in 2 Peter 1:13-15 where he WROTE the word of God in order for it to be available, as he said, "after my decease"! If a successor had been contemplated, that would have been unnecessary.
(2) No mention whatever of a successor to Peter may be found anywhere in the New Testament, although the successor to Judas Iscariot is named. And, if it is supposed that the difference was due only to the fact that Peter's death is not recorded in the New Testament, then let it be further recognized that James' death is recorded, and that no successor was chosen for him. Why did only Judas receive a successor? Death did not and could not remove an apostle from office. It did not remove Judas, whose removal was not due to death, but to TRANSGRESSION (Acts 1:25, KJV). All of the apostles (except the one removed by transgression) are still reigning with Christ and discharging the office of their apostleship (Matthew 19:28).
(3) If there had been a successor to Peter, why was God's Revelation given through the apostle John and not through the successor, especially since the Revelation was written at a time long after the death of the apostle Peter?
(4) What could a successor to Peter do which has not already been done? The Lord guided the apostles into "all truth" (John 16:13). Peter himself said "all things that pertain to life and godliness" had already been given (2 Peter 1:3).
(5) Christ taught that no earthly head of his spiritual body (the church) was possible, even though that earthly head was Christ himself "in the flesh." He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7). If it was expedient for the true head not to remain on earth in the flesh, and if the presence of the Christ himself, in the flesh, would thwart the residence of the Holy Spirit in his spiritual body, how could any successor fulfill a need impossible to be met even by Christ "in the flesh?"
(6) No person in subsequent ages could meet the qualifications of a true apostle. Apostles were primarily "witnesses"; and witnesses, by the very nature of things, cannot have successors (Acts 1:22). Moreover, that prime qualification was not waived, even for Judas' successor.
(7) Basic requirements of the apostolic office disqualify any claimant of Peter's office. For example, the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be able to "remember" and faithfully report the words of Christ. See John 16:13-15; 14:26. What successor could possibly "remember" anything that Jesus said? As to the heresy that the Spirit would operate independently of the word of Christ, it was struck down by Jesus himself who said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall not speak of himself" (John 16:13). The English Revised Version (1885) has "He shall not speak FROM himself."
(8) Delegated authority is not transferable. In the very nature of plenary authority, it must originate in each new holder of it with the conveying authority. No ambassador ever named his successor. Overwhelming evidence to the effect that this principle was recognized as valid, even in the apostolic age, appears in the attempt of Simon the sorcerer to purchase the gift of God, not from Philip (who had it and was personally and more intimately known to Simon), but from Peter, one of the apostles who had conferred the gift on Philip.
(9) Historically, the whole idea of a successor to Peter is fantastic in its long progression through the ages, exhibiting two popes on the throne at once, another refusing the office, and with Italians holding a virtual monopoly, and providing practically the whole list upon whom this distinction was said to be conferred by God (!). What have we here, another chosen people?
Many other Scriptural refutations to the great heresy of Peter's successor might be pointed out, but these are sufficient to allow the truth to appear in honest hearts.
V. 20 - Why would Jesus tell the apostles not to tell that He was the Christ? Wasn’t that His whole reason for coming to Earth? Quite simply, it was not yet time. The time to tell everyone would come after the cross and the resurrection. The people had already tried to force Him to be an earthly king after the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:15). What would they do if they believed He was the Messiah without understanding that He had to die.
V. 21 - Jesus begins explaining His coming suffering, death and resurrection to the apostles. He had not spent time on these things early in His ministry, but now the time is getting close.
V. 22 - Peter may have gotten the big head from the compliment Jesus had recently given him, or it may have just been Peter’s personality, but He somehow thinks that he knows better than Jesus and rebukes Him. Peter tells Jesus that the suffering and death is not going to happen. Does he think he is going to be able to stop it? Perhaps, he is still trying in the garden when he pulls out his sword to fight.
V. 23 - Peter who had just been blessed by Jesus a short time earlier for having had something revealed to him by God is now called Satan and told that he does not savor the things of God. He is accused of trying to tempt Jesus. How quickly and easily we humans can fall into Satan’s clutches. Sometimes even without realizing it and thinking we are doing what is good and right.
V. 24 - Jesus makes it clear that a deep commitment is necessary to please Him. Denial of self and the taking up of a cross must come before we can truly follow Jesus. So many times we want it to be all sunshine and happiness following Jesus, but that is not what He said it would be and anyone who claims that is not teaching what Jesus taught.
V. 25 - If our physical life, social life, family life, financial life, or any other aspect of life is too dear for us to lose, then we have lost already. Jesus will not accept second place.
V. 26 - Jesus values one human soul above all else in the world. After expressing the relative values He asked a haunting question that each of us must consider. What will a man exchange for his soul? More specifically each of us must ask, ‘What would I give up for my soul?’ Or, ‘What would I give my soul up to gain?’
V. 27 - Jesus explains that there will be an accounting for the things done. Every man will be rewarded according to his works. This is a reference to the judgment.
V. 28 - To avoid confusion Jesus clarifies that the loss of souls and the judgment that would come after death is not the same as the coming of the kingdom that He prophesies will come before some of those standing there die. Why not all? Judas and Jesus would both die before the kingdom came. The founding of the kingdom is spoken of in the future tense here and throughout the gospels, but in the past tense after the Day of Pentecost.
V. 1 - Peter, James and John are obviously the ones closest to Jesus. On this occasion none of the other apostles are invited.
V. 2 - Jesus appearance changed, but even in this experience they did not fully see Him in the form of God. It must have been an amazing experience nonetheless.
V. 3 - In addition to seeing Jesus as they had never seen Him before they also saw Moses and Elijah talking with Him. Luke 9:31 tells us that they were talking about Jesus’ coming death. This passage refutes the idea that the righteous souls are sleeping and unaware. Moses and Elijah though both had passed from Earthly life, but in different ways, are both very much alive and aware of what is taking place enough to discuss the upcoming events of Jesus’ death. Moses is obviously the representation of the law and Elijah a representative of the prophets.
V. 4 - Peter’s rejoinder also shows us that there seems to be something recognizable about these spiritual beings, though we are not told whether it was something visible, or something revealed to them, or something in the conversation that allowed them to know who these two were. Peter makes the suggestion that they honor the three by building a tabernacle for each of them.
V. 5 - The Father interrupts Peter from Heaven to tell them that Jesus, the son, is the one to whom they should listen.
V. 6 - The voice, bright cloud, appearance of Moses and Elijah, and Jesus’ change of appearance was quite an experience, but it is the voice that makes them fall down on their faces in fear. It is interesting to note that hearing God’s voice seems to be a traumatic experience for those in the scriptures who experienced it, notice Exodus 20:19. It is amazing to me how casually people today mention that God told them something. The very nature of their response should let anyone who knows the scriptures find their claims unbelievable.
V. 7 - Jesus comes to comfort them. Perfect love casts out fear(1 John 4:18), but as humans we seem to never reach that perfect love. Even though John wrote that, when He was confronted with the image of the heavenly Christ during his vision in the book of Revelation he fearfully fell down as one dead (Revelation 1:17).
V. 8 - Moses and Elijah have disappeared just as the old law and prophets have disappeared after being fulfilled. Not that they do not exist, but their authority over us has ceased, only Jesus and His teaching remains authoritative. The disciples see Jesus returned to His normal appearance.
V. 9 - Jesus tells them not to mention what they have seen until after His resurrection.
V. 10 - Peter, James and John wonder why the scribes teach that Elijah must come before the Christ.
V. 11 - Jesus says the scribes are right. Elijah was to come first and restore all things.
V. 12 - Jesus explains that he has already come and they did not recognize him. Jesus then says that He will suffer also.
V. 13 - The three disciples realized that John the immerser was the Elijah that Jesus spoke of to them.
V. 14 - How many people are there today who are refusing to kneel to Jesus, but still expect Him to do what they want.
V. 15 - It seems that this boy was having some sort of seizures. We might think nothing more of it today, but the Bible tells us that there was actually a devil behind his problems.
V. 16 - Jesus had given the disciples power over all diseases and evil spirits (Mat. 10:1), but when this father brought his son to them they could not cure him. Mark 9:17-29 gives a more detailed account of this miracle. The boy’s father according to that account cries to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, Help Thou mine unbelief!” Let’s consider belief and unbelief from a Biblical perspective.
I. Biblical Faith . . .
A. Begins with hearing the Word of God
B. Includes believing in God’s existence
C. Includes believing in God’s Word
D. Includes believing God’s Word
E. Includes believing beyond our personal experience and knowledge
F. Includes believing to the point of action
G. Includes believing to the point of inaction
H. Concludes when it becomes knowledge
II. Problems of Unbelief
A. The unbelieving may have some faith.
B. The unbelieving are fearful.
C. The unbelieving depart from God.
D. The unbelieving will be lost.
E. The unbelieving will not be lost alone.
III. Some Faith Is Not Enough When We Believe Enough to. . .
A. Fear, but not enough to love.
B. Be miserable with guilt, but not enough to repent.
C. Desire blessings, but not enough to accept responsibility.
D. Say the right things, but not enough to do them.
E. Stop committing a sin, but not enough to add a good work.
F. Start obeying, but not enough to continue.
G. Obey one command, but not enough to obey other commands.
H. Obey, but not enough to trust God’s grace.
V. 17 - Jesus’ response seems to be directed at the whole society, but the lack of faith is apparently a problem with the disciples because they were the ones who could not cast out the demon even though they had been given that power by Jesus.
V. 18 - Jesus easily heals the child. What seems impossible to men is possible with God.
V. 19 - The disciples want to privately ask Jesus why they could not do it. None of us wants to be reprimanded publicly since it is often humiliating.
V. 20 - Their unbelief was the problem. How many times have we failed at something because we did not believe we could do it or that it could be done at all. Jesus explains that even a tiny amount of faith would have given them the ability to do anything. He gives the example of telling a mountain to move and it would.
V. 21 - Jesus then does tell them that this demon was more difficult to cast out than others they had dealt with before. Jesus say prayer and fasting were necessary for them. Even though we don’t cast out demons today, I wonder how often we miss out on God’s benefits because we do not pray or fast or because we don’t put the two together. Consider how often two or more things are necessary to truly get the most out of something. Water is good for washing, pressure as in a dishwasher or a rag in a hand adds to the effectiveness, and a good soap completes the work. There are other situations in life that are similar.
V. 22 - Jesus continues to talk to the disciples about His coming betrayal and death.
V. 23 - Jesus clearly tells them that He will be killed and rise on the third day, but while they were sad they did not fully understand the part about rising again. In John 20:9 after Jesus’ resurrection the disciples still did not understand that He would rise.
V. 24 - Back in Capernaum, Peter was asked if Jesus paid tribute. The tribute was an annual tax for the upkeep of the temple. The ordinary Jews paid ½ shekel, but rabbis were exempt. Jesus, as God for whom the temple was built, should never have had to pay it.
V. 25 - Peter said yes. But Jesus wanted to help Peter understand better, and stopped him when he came into the house to ask who had to pay taxes, the children of the kings or others.
V. 26 - Peter said others paid. Jesus pointed out that the children of the King are tax-free. In the last chapter Peter had proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God, so if the temple was God’s and the Jewish kingdom His, then His Son should have certainly been free.
V. 27 - The problem for Jesus was that others did not recognize that He was God’s Son, in fact He told the disciples not to tell others yet. Since others counted Him as a remarkable man, but still a man, He had to pay the tax or He would be technically breaking the law. Jesus did not want to cause confusion, so the simplest thing was to give the money, but the way He did it reminded Peter once again of the power He had. Peter was sent to catch a fish and Jesus said the first one that Peter caught would have a shekel in its mouth so that Peter could pay his and Jesus’ tribute. Even though the rest is not told, we are sure that Peter found the fish with the coin and paid the temple tax. Jesus’ power over these events of knowing the fish had the coin to knowing it would be the first Peter would catch show Jesus’ omniscience as well as the feeding of the 5000 or the walking on water or calming the storm showed His omnipotence.
V. 1 - The disciples ask who the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven is? As humans we seem to always be interested in competition who is the best at whatever and the disciples were no different.
V. 2 - Jesus uses a child as an example.
V. 3 - Jesus defines greatness in a completely different way. He says that a change must take place. Unless they become as little children they can’t even enter the kingdom.
V. 4 - The humility is the focus of Jesus teaching in this passage. The greatest will be the most humble. Children have some admirable traits and are used as examples in other teaching as well as this one. Jesus is not teaching immaturity or childishness, but is pointing to a specific trait that is a good one; Perhaps even the specific child that he used as an example. We know that not all children are humble.
V. 5 - He continues to equate receiving the child in His name with receiving Him.
V. 6 - On the other side of the coin He says that offending one of the little ones that believes in Jesus is so bad that it would be better to be drowned. We need to stop for a moment and understand the word offend. We use that word today to mean that we hurt someone’s feelings or were rude to them in some way, but the meaning in this verse is literally to trip or cause to stumble and has to do with causing them to sin. Committing sin is a serious thing and can certainly cost you your soul, but to tempt another to sin moves you from the position of struggling against Satan, to being an ally of Satan. To teach and train little children to sin is even more despicable because it destroys the purity and innocence of the child.
V. 7 - Jesus puts a ‘woe’ on the world because of these sins because they will come, but He places an additional woe on the man who causes the sin to come.
From Coffman - http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=18 The expression "must needs be" speaks of a heavenly compulsion upon all things. The great issues of time and eternity proceed from God, and no appeal (or escape) from his total authority is possible. That heavenly compulsion was laid even upon Christ while he was in the form of man. He MUST be about the Father's business (Luke 2:49), MUST preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43), MUST put new wine in new flasks (Mark 2:22), MUST work the works of God (John 9:4), MUST suffer death (Mark 8:31), and MUST reign until all enemies are put under foot (1 Corinthians 15:25).
There MUST be heresies (1 Corinthians 11:19), MUST be wars (Mark 13:7), MUST be tribulations (Acts 14:21,22), MUST be offenses (above), MUST be separation from the visible presence of Christ (Acts 3:21), and Satan MUST be loosed for a little season (Revelation 20:3).
This sovereign MUST overshadows the Bible. The Scriptures MUST be fulfilled (Luke 22:37), and they MUST be preached (Mark 13:10). The apostles found this heavenly MUST written against them also (Acts 1:21,22); elders MUST be blameless (1 Timothy 3:8); preachers MUST forbear striving (2 Timothy 2:24-26); all worshipers MUST worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24); all who desire salvation MUST believe (Hebrews 11:6), MUST be saved in the name of Christ (Acts 4:12), MUST repent (Luke 13:3), and MUST be baptized (John 3:7). In death, there is an exception. Not all MUST die (1 Corinthians 15:51), but all MUST put on immortality and all MUST stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is quite different from the old proverb about nothing's being certain except death and taxes, death being one of the few things not certain!
V. 8 - Jesus often resorts to extreme imagery and hyperbole or exaggeration to make His point. Here he concludes that maiming the physical body to avoid sin is a better course than committing the sin and being lost in Hell. He first uses the example of cutting of a hand or foot that causes sin.
V. 9 - He even goes so far as to say pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin. Jesus point is that any sacrifice to avoid sin and get to Heaven is worth it. We understand that the hands, feet, and eyes are under the control of the mind, and if one eye could cause sin the other could just as easily. If one hand could steal, the other could if the first were cut off. What sacrifice would you be willing to make to be right with God. I have heard of one married man who found himself becoming tempted to adultery by a coworker. He tried to avoid her and that did not work. He tried to get a transfer to a different part of the company or to a different city and that was denied. He finally decided to find a different job. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to remain faithful to his wife, family, and God. I know of another man who was asked to lie on paperwork for his job by his boss. He knew it might cost him his job at a time when jobs were hard to find in his skill, but he told them he could not do it anyway. Even though the literal cutting off of a hand or foot would not stop sin, we should be willing to do it if it would. Getting to Heaven must not just be a goal for a successful life, it is in fact the only goal that determines if we are successful in life.
V. 10 - Jesus warns us not to despise the little ones and indicates that they have angels in Heaven with God. This is probably where many get the idea of guardian angels, though there is nothing that indicates the angels are protecting the children, certainly if there were angels that were supposed to be protecting children they should be fired when all of the atrocities committed against children are considered. No, these angels do not protect the children as such.
V. 11 - Jesus turns his teaching toward those who have fallen to sin and are lost and reports that He has come to save them.
V. 12-13 - He uses a parable of a lost sheep similar to the one in Luke 15 where He also tells of the lost coin and the lost son. Jesus starts this parable by asking them a question. Jesus often taught with questions, sometimes rhetorical and sometimes just to make them think. Here He asks them to do some thinking. What do you think? Have you ever lost something important? Did you search for it? Did you find it? If you found it did you get more excited about it than you were about all the important things you didn’t lose? There is something about finding what is lost that is exhilarating.
V. 14 - Jesus said that is how God feels about each of His little ones. He doesn’t want to lose a single one and we should not want any to be lost either. Jesus came from Heaven to save you when you were lost, what have you done to help someone else who is lost.
V. 15 - Jesus said we should go alone to a brother who sins against us. How often do we try some other method. We talk about them behind their backs, or gather a group to be on our side, or pretend it didn’t happen, or try to take it straight to the leadership of the church. Jesus said the first step should always be one on one first.
V. 16 - If the brother won’t listen then you take one or two to be witnesses of the event. They are not there to be on your side of the argument, only to establish the facts of the attempt at correction.
V. 17 - If the brother still won’t listen, then it is to be told to the church. If the sinner is still stubborn and won’t repent then he is to be treated as one lost. Jesus here establishes a system for discipline within the church that He had promised to build back in chapter 16:16-18. These are the only two recorded times Jesus refers to the church, most of the time He calls it the kingdom of Heaven.
V. 18 - Jesus puts the apostles in a position of authority allowing them to be the ones who will bind and loose. We see them exercising this authority in the book of Acts when the confusion over circumcision arose. The apostles were not going to make rules and regulations different from the ones God wanted, but were able to speak for the Lord after He returned to Heaven.
V. 19 - Jesus still in connection with the idea of the church and the sinful brother goes on to say that if two of the apostles agree and ask the Father will do it. All of these things are to be understood as not contradicting God’s will. It would certainly be foolish to think that as long as two people agree God has to do what they ask. It reminds me of a cartoon where one of the characters learned that ‘please’ was the ‘magic’ word to getting people to say yes. He made more and more outrageous requests always using the ‘magic’ word until someone finally said no and explained that it was not that magical after all. Some people think God is a genie in a bottle just make your wishes and get whatever you want, but that is not what Jesus is teaching.
V. 20 - Jesus goes on to tell them that if two or three of them come together in His name He will be there. We often hear and say this in connection to the worship, but that is not what He is talking about. Actually, one person could worship God alone and Jesus would still be there. Some certainly have been in those situations where there were no other Christians. Remember Jesus has been talking about conflict resolution, discipline, and the way the church will be ruled. He promises the apostles that they will not have to make these decisions alone, but that He will be with them.
V. 21 - Peter wants to go back to this topic of sin and asks how many times to forgive a brother who sins against him. Wonder if he was thinking of Andrew? Peter suggests 7 times.
V. 22 - Jesus ups the ante from 7 to 70 times 7. Of course Jesus is not saying 490 is the limit, but is emphasizing that he should forgive far more than he thought.
V. 23 - Jesus then tells a parable to illustrate that the truth is we should forgive others as many times as we would want God to forgive us. He explains how it will work in the church.
V. 24 - The king calls his servants and finds that one owes him ten thousand talents, we might say had sinned against God 10,000 times.
To give some idea of what a colossal debt this was, the total tax income of the five provinces of Palestine (Judea, Perea, Idumea, Samaria, and Galilee) was only eight hundred talents. In other words, the servant's debt was over ten times the amount of the national budget.[William P. Barker, p.89]
V. 25 - He could never repay, so he and his family were to be sold as slaves. Whoever sins is a slave to sin and in danger of being permanently enslaved in Hell.
V. 26 - The servant worshipped him and begged, not to be forgiven the debt, but for time to repay it. That was an impossibility.
V. 27 - The king felt compassion and instead of giving him time to repay he simply forgave the debt. God is so willing to go farther than we imagine.
V. 28 - What does this servant do? Instead of going out and singing the praises of his master and telling what great things his lord had done for him, he went out and found someone who owed him 100 pence or shillings, not even close to one talent. If one talent were $1000 then the 100 pence/shillings would have been $20 the man owed him while he had just been forgiven $10,000,000. Of course these numbers could be more in today’s dollars, but the ratio remains the same. We might say someone who had committed one sin, maybe, at least he felt the man had committed a sin against him. When he found this person instead of sharing the forgiveness he had received he demanded repayment and choked the man.
V. 29 - The man did the same thing he had done and begged for patience promising to repay.
V. 30 - At the very least his pity ought to have caused him to give the man some time, at best he should have followed the example of his master and forgiven the debt, but he refused. He had this man thrown into prison until he paid.
V. 31 - Others told the king what had happened. Of course no one needs tell God, He already knows the moment we do it even as we are thinking of doing it.
V. 32 - The lord called him and reminded him of how he had been forgiven and spoke of his wickedness.
V. 33 - He points out that this man should have shown compassion as well.
V. 34 - The end is worse than the beginning. He was going to be sold as a slave. Not the most pleasant of lives, but he might have had a good master. Now he is delivered to the tormentors till he pays it all.
V. 35 - Jesus says God will do that to us, those He has forgiven, if we don’t forgive our brothers from our hearts.
V. 1 - In these verses Jesus expands on the teaching He had given during the Sermon on the Mount in 5:31-32. Jesus has left Galilee and come back to the area around the Jordan River.
V. 2 - Multitudes of people are still following Him and He is still healing the sick.
V. 3 - The Pharisees are up to their same old tricks trying to catch Jesus saying something wrong. They are tempting Him Matthew says. This time their question is about divorce. Is it lawful (According to the Law of Moses) for them to divorce their wives for any reason. The approach most today take is to focus on whether someone can remarry, but the question that Jesus is focusing on is the divorce. Like the Pharisees many today say you can divorce for any reason, but you are limited on the right to remarry.
V. 4 - Jesus goes beyond the Law, all the way to the beginning and focuses on what marriage is and how it started. Jesus clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Those who are trying to redefine marriage do not have any support from Jesus.
V. 5 - Jesus says a man and his wife become one flesh. There should be no doubt about how significant this relationship is. This terminology is not even used of the pregnant mother who has another literally inside her. Jesus also attributes the saying about leaving and cleaving to God, indicating that Adam spoke by inspiration or was repeating what God said when he made this statement in Genesis 2:24.
V. 6 - Jesus says that true marriage involves an action by God. God actually does the joining and man is not to separate what God puts together. There are plenty of examples where God puts two things together and man has no right to separate them, but tries to anyway. Old age and Respect, Faith and Works, Grace and Responsibility, Love and Obedience, Sin and Guilt, Salvation and the Church, Baptism and Forgiveness of sin, etc. God’s original plan was for marriage to be unending, but after sin and death entered the world marriage was to last till death.
V. 7 - They ask the obvious question. If we are not supposed to get divorced why did Moses tell (They say command like it was a command to get a divorce.) us to give her a letter and divorce her. It was really that easy in Jewish law during Jesus’ time. A husband just had to write down that he didn’t want that wife and send her off!
They are making reference to Deuteronomy 24:1-4. What Moses’ law said was not that they could divorce for any reason, but if he found some “uncleanness” in her. This word was literally ‘nudity’ and really referred to some shameful or disgraceful thing like her not being a virgin or committing some act of sexual immorality. Nearly half of the times it is used are in Leviticus 18 and refer to illicit sexual relationships.
Remember also that they have asked about putting away / divorcing a wife, women had no right to divorce a husband under the law of Moses, but she might leave him as referenced and condemned in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.
V. 8 - Jesus points out that it was never a command to divorce, only an allowance that was made because of the hardness of their hearts. He reminds them that it was not supposed to be that way from the beginning. This is one of the areas where God had “winked” at their ignorance, but now commands all to come to repentance - Acts 17:30. The law of Moses only applied to the Jews, but the commands of Christ apply to all peoples from the first century to the end of time.
V. 9 - Jesus weighs in on what God really wants from mankind on this issue. What He says is actually quite similar to the what Moses had said. Moses had only given the reason of ‘nakedness’ or ‘uncleanness’ for them to divorce, and Jesus similarly gives the reason of ‘fornication’. Many say the only reason Jesus gave for divorce is adultery, but that is not true, He said ‘fornication’ and there is a difference. Fornication is a broader term that includes homosexual activity, incest, bestiality, etc. One perfect example of why the word Jesus used is significant is this: A couple are engaged to be married. The night before the wedding the bride-to-be sleeps with another man. The groom finds out the day after the wedding. She did not commit adultery because they were not yet married, but she did commit fornication and He would have the right according to Jesus to divorce her if he chose. Another would be a case of child molestation. A child molester may not actually have sexual intercourse and could not technically be accused of adultery, but there is no doubt that fornication occurred and this person could be divorced.
Let me point out that Jesus is not mandating divorce, but allowing it under certain circumstances. God hates divorce and so does any sane person who has ever gone through one, but Jesus is acknowledging that sometimes divorce is the lesser of two evils. Especially with all of the sexually transmitted diseases today remaining in a marriage under these circumstances can be life-threatening. Having said that, I have known of couples who overcame infidelity and remained married.
V. 10 - In case anyone thinks Jesus was not making a radical statement, just look at His disciples’ response. Not the Pharisees, they are struck mute and don’t even respond, but the disciples say that if Jesus is telling the truth it would be a good idea to not get married. When will we understand the gravity of entering into a marriage relationship? When will we start teaching young people the importance of choosing carefully and wisely instead of hoping it will work out? When will we make it at least as hard to get married as it is to get a driver’s license? When will we teach couples to work on their marriage and work it out instead of quitting when it gets tough?
V. 11 - When the disciples react with astonishment at Jesus’ teaching He does not say they misunderstood or that it really isn’t that hard or as bad as they think. Instead, He says not everyone can handle what they suggested. Remember Jesus Himself never married a woman (for many reasons), but He was tempted in all ways like us which means he had to overcome the temptations of lust and sexual desires that could not be fulfilled outside of marriage.
V. 12 - He acknowledges that some were born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs physically, and there are also some who are eunuchs spiritually. There are those who have chosen the kingdom over marriage and sexuality. It is interesting that eunuchs could not be part of many religions and were certainly limited in Judaism, but Christ opens the kingdom to eunuchs and offers them the ability to fully serve in His kingdom. The only limitation would be the position of an elder or deacon which require marriage and children.
V. 13 - Somewhat ironically, Right after Jesus teaching about those who can’t or don’t have children people bring little children to see him. They want him to put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuke them. It has not been long since Jesus used a child as an example of humility and the attitudes necessary to enter the kingdom - 18:3. The disciples have already forgotten the importance of children. It is far too easy for adults to be dismissive of children. I like to remember the saying, “be careful how you treat your children they will pick out your nursing home.”
V. 14 - Jesus reminds the disciples that the children are important and that He wants to see them. Someone may not want to have a house full of children or be around them all the time, but it is only the very miserable human being that does not enjoy seeing a happy child or feel a pull at the heartstrings when a child is suffering. Jesus also reminds the disciples that the kingdom will be filled with them and others like them.
V. 15 - Jesus received the children and then left.
V. 16 - One calls Him good master and asks what to do to have eternal life. This seems like a good question and seems to be honestly asked.
V. 17 - Jesus wants to know why the man called Him ‘good’ and says there is none good but God. The man had used a title of reverence that was often used of God and Jesus wants to know if the man is misusing it like all of those who call their preachers ‘reverend’ or if the man actually considers Jesus to be God. It was not the word ‘good’ itself, Jesus had used the same word several times Himself in reference to people and things. Sometimes certain phrases and usages of words, what we call idioms are difficult to recognize in translation.
Jesus gives a simple answer to the question, “keep the commandments”. Oh if only people today would realize that Jesus wants us to keep His commandments.
V. 18-19 - The man wants to know which commandments. I have not personally counted them, but the Jews commonly accept that there are 613 commands in the Torah, the books of law and there were many other traditions that had been added over the years. It is no wonder this man wants to know which commands. Interestingly enough, some say they have counted over 800 commands in the New Testament.
Jesus mentions a few of the 10 commandments and loving your neighbor as yourself.
V. 20 - The young man says he has done all that. You have to admire his confidence even if you doubt his accuracy, especially on the last one. He wants to know what is missing.
V. 21 - Jesus had left out one particular commandment from the list He gave. He had not mentioned covetousness. Now Jesus says that what is missing is for him to go sell what he has and give to the poor to get treasure in heaven, and then to come follow Jesus. In Luke 18:22 Jesus is recorded as saying sell ‘all’, even though it is implied in Matthew some could say that Jesus just wanted him to sell some, but that would lessen the impact of the man’s decision. Surely it would be easy to be willing to sell some to follow Jesus, but to sell all is a different story.
V. 22 - The young man could not take that step, it was too big for him. The KJV says it was because he had ‘great’ possessions. It literally means that he had many, but I believe the truth was that the possessions were too great in his mind. Someone might only have one possession and it be too great. We are always quick to say that Jesus doesn’t call us to sell everything, and that is true, but I wonder why we are so quick to point it out. Do you suppose it could be that if we were commanded to do it we would go away sorrowful like this young man? Most of us probably possess far more than this young man, but the question is are our possessions too great?
V. 23 - After the man left, Jesus told his disciples that a rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom.
V. 24 - He paints the picture of a camel going through the eye of a needle and says that would be easier than a rich man entering the kingdom. People have tried to make this a reference to some gate in the wall of Jerusalem that a camel had to get down on its knees to get through, but the disciples’ reaction and Jesus’ follow up response make that unlikely if not altogether ludicrous.
V. 25 - The disciples are stunned. If someone as great as the man who just left was not good enough to get in, then who could? They are stunned by the teaching that it is hard, yes seemingly impossible for rich people to go to Heaven because a camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. They have had to deal with the hard teaching about marriage and divorce and now they have been clobbered by this news about the wealthy. They must surely be wondering if anyone can get into the kingdom.
V. 26 - Jesus clarifies. The fact is no one can get in. With men it is impossible, but God can do it. There is only one way to Heaven: God’s mercy and grace. Even saying that, though, does not change the fact that wealth can be a strong temptation that may keep some who could have entered out. Like the young man who had just left.
V. 27 - Peter always first to speak points out that they did leave it all behind to follow Jesus. Then he wants to know what they are gonna get for it.
V. 28 - Jesus says the twelve will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Every indication is that this is occurring even now. The apostles were given power to judge and decree(within the will of Christ) for God’s people during the Christian age. The regeneration refers to the time of spiritual renewal that is taking place in the church, not to the resurrection that will be at the end of time. And the thrones are positions of authority and power, not literal thrones.
V. 29 - The benefits of sacrifice for Jesus are inexplicable. Jesus promises vast increase. The more the farmer plants the greater the increase of the harvest. Consider a farmer with 100 kernels of corn. What if he only plants 1 that produces 100 more? He will have 199, less than twice what he started with. But what if he plants all 100 and they all produce 100 more? He will have 10,000! What if he planted 10,000? Jesus does not want us to give up 1 so we can have twice as much, he wants us to give up all so that all can be multiplied. And He promises everlasting life as well. What could beat that?
V. 30 - Jesus came to turn the world right side up again. Many had prospered and continue to prosper in Satan’s world and seem to be number 1, but Jesus scores things differently and they are really last not first like they believe and like others believe they are. Another consideration here is that it is not how long, but how faithfully we serve God that matters.
V. 1 - Jesus tells a parable to teach the lesson that the first shall be last and the last first. Having read what Jesus has just said about the dangers of wealth some get the idea that money itself is evil and having wealth is a bad thing. However, the example he uses in this parable could not have happened if it were not for a man wealthy enough to own land and pay several workers. In fact this wealthy man represents God in the parable. This man went out to hire laborers early in the morning.
V. 2 - He found some workers and agreed to pay them a good pay for the day, KJV says a penny(the Greek is Denarius), and sent them to work.
V. 3 - He wanted to get more workers so he went out again about 9 am. He found some people standing around doing nothing.
V. 4 - He told them that he would pay them a fair amount if they would go work in his vineyard. They went to work.
V. 5 - He went out at noon and 3 pm and got more people to come work with the same promise that he would pay them what was right.
V. 6 - At 5 pm he went out again and found some were still standing in the market place. He asked them why they had been idle all day. There would have been at most 2-3 hours left to work before dark. The accusation was made that they only worked one hour. Whether that was true or not, they did not have long to work.
V. 7 - They said no one had hired them. There were often laborers who needed work and they would go to the marketplace to wait for someone looking for workers.
V. 8 - When it got dark it was time to pay. These people did not wait for a weekly or monthly check. If they could not find work there was a good chance they would not eat that day. There is no way to know what the last workers would expect to be paid, but anything would be better than nothing. The steward was commanded to call the laborers and pay them the most recently hired back to the earliest hired.
V. 9 - The ones who had worked only a short time got paid the full day rate of a penny or Denarius.
V. 10 - When the first ones hired came they thought they would get more. There was no reason for them to think that they would receive more than they had been promised, but they expected it anyway. The entitlement mentality is nothing new to our day and age.
V. 11 - Instead of being grateful to the man who had hired them they complained about him. Doesn’t it seem sad that they would take his money and then gripe about him. Many today would be on the side of the workers.
V. 12 - Their complaint was that the others had only worked a little and they had worked all day long and it was just not fair for them to get the same pay. Work more get more, right? Sounds like the American way. How would you feel if you came to work all day and then someone came in at noon and someone else came in for just one hour and you all got paid the same?
V. 13 - The fact is, though, that they were getting paid what they had agreed to for their work. He was not cheating them. He was being generous and charitable to those who had come later, not cheating the others. If you hired someone for $20 to mow your yard and then just gave someone else $20 out of the goodness of your heart would that be mistreating the one who mowed? Jesus says no.
V. 14 - The owner tells them to take their money and go. He is not going to change his mind. He is going to pay the last ones the same as the first ones.
V. 15 - He asks two good questions of the workers. First, can’t I do what I want with my own money? Did I break the law? And second, are you mad at me because I was kind to someone? Did I do something wrong? Jesus conclusion of course is that the man had neither broken the law, nor done anything immoral or sinful. The workers were in the wrong because of their unrealistic expectations.
V. 16 - Jesus comes back to the main point that the last shall be first and the first last, and then added that even though many are called they do not all get in.
V. 17-18 - Jesus is going back to Jerusalem for the last time. He tells the 12 that He will be betrayed to the chief priests and scribes. They are going to condemn him to die.
V. 19 - They won’t kill him themselves, however, they will let the Gentiles do that. He will be mocked, scourged, and crucified by the Gentiles (Romans). The third day He will rise. This is certainly not the first time Jesus has told them about His coming death, but they still don’t seem to be getting it.
V. 20 - James’ and John’s mom comes with her boys. She worships Jesus and then wants a favor. How embarrassing. These boys were not 5 and 7, they were grown, but here comes mommy to fix their lives for them. Of course it causes some problems with the other 10 disciples as well.
V. 21 - Jesus asks what she wants, but of course He already knows. She wants James and John to sit on His right and left in His kingdom. She wants them to have these positions of prestige and authority. She thinks they should be His top lieutenants. Though she may not have heard the teaching that He had just done about the first being last (I hope she did not ask this after hearing that teaching) or that He was on his way to die (This was just to the 12), She has to realize how audacious this request really is.
V. 22 - Jesus says she really doesn’t understand what she is asking. How often do we ask God for things that would not turn out like we think they will. I am reminded of the country song, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”. Of course they are not really unanswered in the life of a Christian, but God may say “No”. Have you ever told someone no for their own good? If not you should try it.
Jesus asks if they can drink the cup He is going to drink or be baptized like He will, and they say they can, but they don’t really understand what they are agreeing to face. He has just been telling them about being mocked, scourged, and crucified. Do they really think they are ready to go through the same sufferings, or do they think He is just talking about a real cup and baptism?
V. 23 - Jesus tells them that they will suffer like Him, but He can’t grant their request. This was one of many things that fell withing the domain of the Father. Jesus doesn’t get to decide who will be on His left and right. When we consider that even Jesus did not get to do whatever He wanted it should make us realize how arrogant humans are when they start talking about it being their life and they can do whatever they want, etc.
V. 24 - The other disciples are angry at James and John because of this exchange.
V. 25 - Jesus has to deal with them like a bunch of squabbling children. How often are people who ought to be mature based on their age still acting immature. Unlike Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child . . .” “. . . When I became a man I put away childish things.”; many today are more in tune with the Toys R Us slogan, “ I don’t wanna grow up.”
Jesus tries to help them understand the unusual ways of His Kingdom. Among the kingdoms of the world ‘might makes right’ is the rule the mightiest rule over anyone weaker. Authority is a matter of force.
V. 26 - Jesus says they are to be different from the rest of the world. Serving is what makes you great in His kingdom not being served. If someone is going to be great in Jesus’ kingdom, the church, then he should be the waiter for the others. That is literally what the Greek word ‘diakonos’ (here translated ‘minister’ often transliterated ‘deacon’) means.
V. 27 - In fact he uses a stronger word ‘doulos’ meaning slave to describe what someone should be if they want to be the chief or first in the group. What James and John were really asking was if they could be slaves to the others. I bet their mother would not have been so eager to get the request if she had realized that.
V. 28 - Jesus points out that even He came as a servant not as one to be served. He was even going to sacrifice Himself to ransom others.
V. 29 - They left Jericho still heading for Jerusalem, and a crowd is following him as usual.
V. 30 - 2 blind men sitting by the road heard Jesus was coming. They cried out to Him calling Him “Lord” and more significantly “Son of David” It was commonly accepted that the Messiah would be the Son of David. They beg Him to have mercy on them.
V. 31 - The crowd tries to shut them up, but they only cried more. How sad it is that many are easily silenced when they should be crying out more.
V. 32 - Jesus called them to ask what they wanted. Even on His way to His coming death He had compassion on others.
V. 33 - They want their eyes opened so they can see. No grandiose plans about sitting on the right and left in the kingdom for these 2, their request is much simpler.
V. 34 - Jesus touched them and immediately they could see. They followed Him after He healed them. Has Jesus healed you? Are you following Him?
V. 1 - Jesus and the disciples come toward Jerusalem. They come to Bethphage which means ‘house of figs’ and to the Mount of Olives (bet you can guess what that means). Jesus picks two disciples and sends them on an errand.
V. 2 - He tells them to go to the village (Bethphage) and they will find a mother donkey and her colt. Jesus tells them to loose them and bring them to Him. They are not stealing them, only borrowing and it seems that Jesus may have already made arrangements to use them based on the next verse. This seems to be the first and perhaps the only time that Jesus intentionally plans to do something with the goal of fulfilling prophecy. The other possible events are the words He speaks on the cross. Most of the events surrounding Jesus’ life that fulfilled prophecy were beyond His human control such as the virgin birth, birthplace, manner of death, being taken to Egypt and coming back, etc.
V. 3 - Jesus tells them that if anyone asks about the donkeys they should just say the Lord needs them and he will send them. This may indicate the owner of the donkeys was a believer. It also indicates the Lord’s foreknowledge. Matthew doesn’t record it, but Mark 11 tells of the encounter with someone that went just as Jesus said.
V. 4 - These things were done to fulfill prophecy. It was not an accident or a coincidence. We experience accidents and coincidences every day, but there was nothing left to chance in the life of Christ.
V. 5 - What an unusual king Jesus was. In keeping with the teaching of humility that He has been trying to instill in His disciples, He comes on a donkey, not a war horse. This must have been an image of incredible contrast with the rulers of the Roman Empire who paraded in their finery on elaborately decorated horses or carriages or chariots. The donkey showed that it was a kingdom of peace not of war.
V. 6 - The disciples did what Jesus commanded them. This should be a lesson to us even if we don’t understand the reason for the command, Jesus expects us to obey. The disciples did not understand all of the implications of these events or the prophecies at the time.
V. 7 - It seems that Jesus rode both of the donkeys with some of the disciples’ clothes laid across them as a makeshift saddle.
V. 8 - A crowd of people laid their clothes out on the ground for the donkeys to walk on and others cut down tree branches and laid them on the path. This was the equivalent to rolling out the red carpet.
V. 9 - They cried out ‘Hosanna to the Son of David . . .’ The crowd is proclaiming Jesus as the rightful heir to the throne of David. They are claiming that He is the Messiah.
V. 10 - The inhabitants of Jerusalem want to know who He is? What is so special about this person that they are making such a fuss.
V. 11 - The crowd tells them Who He is and claim Him as a prophet.
V. 12 - Jesus goes to the temple to throw out the moneychangers and animal sellers. This is actually the second time He has done this, the other being at the beginning of His ministry, according to John 2:14. There was nothing sinful about exchanging money or selling doves or other animals, but the temple was a place of worship and not a place to conduct business. Deuteronomy 14:24-26
V. 13 - Jesus quotes from 2 different Old Testament passages and puts them together to make a conclusion. Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 are speaking of two different things, but Jesus applies both to this situation. While we do need to be careful how we interpret scripture, Jesus shows us that principles and teachings can often be applied to a variety of other circumstances.
V. 14 - After cleansing the temple He healed people in the temple.
V. 15 - The chief priests and scribes get angry at Jesus. Why? Not for casting out the moneychangers and their ilk, not even because of the healing that He was doing, but primarily because children were talking. They were angry about what the children were saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David” this proclamation of Jesus as the rightful king of Israel.
V. 16 - They want to know if Jesus hears what they are saying and the implication here is that He should have rebuked them for what they are saying. To their chagrin He rebukes them instead of the children and claims the children are fulfilling God’s purpose and quotes Psalm 8:2, though, in the KJV, the reading here is slightly different from the Psalm. In Luke 19 as Jesus is entering Jerusalem and the crowd is crying out the same thing the Pharisees want Jesus to rebuke them. Jesus tells them on that occasion that if they didn’t say it the rocks would cry it out. Jesus is done with being inconspicuous, this is the end and it is time for all to know who He is.
V. 17 - Jesus goes out to one of the suburbs, Bethany (House of dates) for the night.
V. 18 - The next morning on the way back into Jerusalem, He was hungry.
V. 19 - He saw a fig tree, but there was no fruit. He cursed the tree and it died. Notice Coffman’s comments on this verse.
V. 20 - The disciples marveled at how quickly the tree died. This was certainly a miracle for even a tree cut down will not wither for days.
V. 21 - Jesus tells them that if they can have faith without doubt they can do more amazing things like throwing a mountain into the sea.
V. 22 - He tells them that whatever they ask in prayer, believing, they will receive. It should be obvious that Jesus is not saying there are no limits on prayer. The things asked would have to be within the will of God. He is trying to emphasize the importance of faith.
V. 23 - The chief priests and elders challenged Jesus’ authority. They wanted to know what His authority was and who had given it to Him.
V. 24 - Jesus would have answered their question if they could have answered His. We just assume that if someone asks us a question we have to answer it, but Jesus did not feel that urgency.
V. 25 - Jesus wanted them to first tell Him about John’s baptism. If they could not figure that out there was no hope for them to believe in Jesus’ authority. They found themselves in a pickle. They had not believed John’s teaching and had not been baptized. So everyone would know they were hypocrites if they said it came from Heaven.
V. 26 - They had a problem on the other end as well. If they said it was from men they would make many enemies with the people because the people believed John was a prophet from God. They were afraid of telling the truth because they didn’t live the truth and they were afraid to tell what they truly lived for fear the people would turn on them.
V. 27 - Their solution is to avoid it the classic agnostic position. They said they couldn’t tell. There was evidence all around them, but they didn’t want to see it. Since they would not answer Him, Jesus refused to answer them. He did not say that the question of authority was invalid, in fact, Jesus believed authority to be of the utmost importance. He even spoke of the fact that He always did what the Father commanded, and He lived a sinless life under the authority of the Law of Moses. After that He gave authority to the apostles and expects us to abide by the authority of the New Testament.
V. 28 - Following this exchange, Jesus tells a parable and asks them to think. Jesus makes reference to the mental faculties and references thinking 13 times. Christianity is a thinking religion contrary to the accusations of its detractors and the overly emotional thoughtlessness of some who claim it. The parable involves a man with two sons. He tells one son to go work.
V. 29 - The son says no, but later changes his mind (repents) and goes. Notice how repentance is a change of mind that brings a change in action.
V. 30 - The father tells his second son to go work, and that son says yes, but never did. He said what the father wanted to hear.
V. 31 - Jesus asks which one did the will of the father. It is obviously the first and they say so. Jesus nails them with the conclusion: people who had been telling God no were repenting and obeying while these men who had been saying yes would not obey. The result is that the sinners were coming into the kingdom and the cheap talkers were being left outside.
V. 32 - John had come in the most righteous of ways as a Nazarite and they had rejected him as being demon possessed. What kind of demon would make a man live a righteous life? He taught and the religious elite did not believe, but the publicans and harlots did. Even after seeing people change their sinful lives these men would still not believe and repent. So many times those who seem to have a pretty good life are not interested in the gospel, but those who realize something is missing want to find help. This may be one of the primary reasons for Paul's teaching that not many wise, mighty, and noble according to the world’s standards become Christians (1 Corinthians 1:26).
V. 33 - In case they didn’t catch His drift with the first parable Jesus tells another. In this one a man plants and prepares a vineyard and then rents it out while he goes traveling.
V. 34 - When it was time for him to get his cut of the fruit he sent some servants to collect the rent.
V. 35 - Instead of paying what was due these husbandmen beat, stoned, and killed the servants.
V. 36 - He sent more servants to them, and they did the same thing.
V. 37 - Finally, he sent his son thinking that they would surely respect him. We might think that seems too generous or somewhat naive, but Jesus is teaching us about God and what He did with His people. He sent the prophets time and time again only to watch them be abused and tortured and killed. Most of us would have given up or gotten angry, but God sent His Son.
V. 38 - When these wicked renters saw the son they thought they could kill him and take his inheritance for themselves. That is not rational thought on their part, but many times people are not rational. No one would give those who murdered his son the son’s inheritance. Remember, Jesus is talking about these rulers to their face and they know it and they are still going to do exactly what those in the parable did even after being told the consequences.
V. 39 - The wicked men follow through with their plan.
V. 40 - Jesus asks the obvious question of what the owner will do to those horrible renters.
V. 41 - They answer correctly. The answer is as obvious as the question. He will destroy them and let someone else keep the vineyard, someone who will pay the rent. Their foolish plan to kill the heir and take the land was an utter failure.
V. 42 - Jesus comes back with a scripture and calls for them to think again. He wants to know if they have read about the stone the builders rejected. Psalm 118:22-23 tells of a stone that the human builders in their human wisdom and with their human thoughts, expectations, and preferences rejected. But, that is not the end of the story. That same stone became the most important stone in the entire building. Not because the builders changed their minds, nor because the stone changed, but because God chose it in His wisdom to build His building.
V. 43 - Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells them that the kingdom of God is going to be taken from the Jewish leaders and given to others who will bring forth fruits for God.
V. 44 - Jesus returns to the stone, Himself, and explains that everyone has a choice to make. You can chose to fall on the stone an be broken, and your will molded to His. Or, if you resist He will fall on you and crush you to powder.v V. 45 - The chief priests and Pharisees may not have been the most agile mentally, but even they could not miss the point of these parables. Everyone who heard probably knew Jesus was talking about the religious leaders.
V. 46 - Instead of learning and repenting, however, they look to grab Jesus. Their own insecurity stopped them this time because they were afraid of the crowd which believed Jesus was a prophet.
V. 1 - One of Jesus’ favorite teaching methods was the parable and He uses another one here.
V. 2 - In the parable a King (God) is making a wedding feast (blessings given to believers in His church, remember this is a story to describe the kingdom, the church) for his son (Jesus).
V. 3 - The servants sent to call those who were invited represent the apostles and others who preached the gospel to the Jews. They did not come.
V. 4 - More servants (evangelists) are sent to say everything is ready. The Jews were given the first opportunity to come to Christ. Romans 1:16
V. 5 - There were two different responses. One was to just ignore it and go about their business.
V. 6 - The second was to actually attack and mistreat the king’s servants. Not all of the Jews were part of persecuting Christians, some just ignored the movement. These are the same two basic responses of people today just as it was then.
V. 7 - The anger of the king and the destruction of their city is actually a prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies.
V. 8 - The King (God) rejects those who were originally invited because they showed themselves to be unworthy.
V. 9 - He sent his servants (Christians of all ages) to go and invite any and everyone they can find to bring them to the feast (the church). This is a reference to the gospel going out to the Gentiles.
V. 10 - There were all kinds of people invited who came to the feast (church). Some were good and some were bad.
V. 11 - The King’s arrival is a picture of the final judgment. He finds a man without the appropriate garments among the others. This would be any who proclaim Christianity without living up to the requirements. In Revelation white linen garments are symbols of the righteousness of the saints - Revelation 19:7-9. This could be representative of a number of things: 1) One who did not truly repent, 2) One who was baptized for the wrong reasons, in the wrong way, or with the wrong motive, 3) One who lives a life of hypocrisy, etc.
V. 12 - The king is not really asking how the man got in, only drawing attention to the man’s sinfulness. Rev. 3:4, 5, 18; 19:7-9. The man was completely speechless and that shows that no matter how people may act or talk in this life they will have nothing to say when they stand before God.
V. 13 - The king calls servants to bind him and take him away. These servants would be angels, not the other guests at the feast, and this would be an image of the wicked being cast into Hell at the judgment.
V. 14 - Jesus reminds us again that those chosen (saved) are going to be few in number.
V. 15 - The Pharisees were never interested in the truth. They only wanted to force their party line and would use trickery or take things out of context to push their agenda. We all have our beliefs and hopefully we strongly believe those things, but we have to be open to teaching and new information that we did not have before changing our beliefs if they are shown to be inconsistent with the scriptures. If we refuse to study and grow we are just as guilty as these Pharisees.
V. 16 - They sent some of their disciples with another group called the Herodians to trick Him. They begin by flattering Him. They claim to know He is true and teaches truth without respect to who He is teaching. Jesus was not a chameleon teacher who changed His teaching to make the group happy. They claim to know that, but will not accept any of His teaching, so either they are lying about what they know or they do not live by what they know, either way they are condemned.
V. 17 - Their trick question is whether it is right under the law of Moses to pay taxes. Some in our society today are trying the same kind of thinking. Since the IRS was not part of the original founding of the country they say taxes should not be paid. Others say that because the government does immoral things with the money we should not pay taxes to support it. So, even today it is interesting to know what Jesus said about this subject.
V. 18 - Jesus knew that their question was not sincere. He calls them hypocrites, and asks why they are tempting Him. Of course He knows why they are doing it - because they are hypocrites?
V. 19 - Jesus asks them to show Him a piece of money. They gave Him a coin, the KJV says penny, but neither the Jews nor the Romans had a coin called a penny. The coin they brought was actually a Roman coin called a denarius it was a silver coin that first had a value equal to 10 of a bronze coin called an ‘as’. By Jesus’ time the denarius was worth 16 of them.
V. 20 - Jesus asks whose image is and writing is on the coin, but again He obviously knows the answer.
V. 21 - They answer that it belongs to Caesar. Jesus then draws the conclusion if it belongs to Caesar and Caesar wants it back give it to him, but be sure that the things that are God’s should be given to Him. We understand that all things are God’s, but He allows governments and individuals to have possessions. And He understands the necessity of taxes to run a government and even instituted one for Israel in the Law of Moses when He was their King. Later when they wanted a human king he allowed that and warned them that in addition to the taxes they had to give Him they would have to support the king as well.
V. 22 - They did not have any response, and were stunned by his answer, and left.
V. 23 - The Sadducees, opponents of the Pharisees, but bigger opponents of Jesus question Him next. The Pharisees and Sadducees argued about many things, but one of the biggest differences was that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection while the Pharisees did. The Sadducees had an argument that the Pharisees could not answer, so they want to trip up Jesus with their winning argument.
V. 24 - They present a hypothetical story based on the teaching in Moses’ law that if a man died and left a widow with no children his brother was supposed to marry her and have children for him. There was no argument about this it was taught in the Old Testament.
V. 25-26 - They portray it as a true story. Sounds kinda like the internet stories you hear about that supposedly happened to someone’s friend or relative, but never really happened at all. They mention seven brothers and the widow went through all 7 without any children.
V. 27 - Finally after having put 7 husbands in the ground (Wonder if she poisoned them all) the woman also died.
V. 28 - Their question is if there is a resurrection, which man gets to have her as wife? The first one? The last one? The one she was with longest? The one she was with shortest? The one that loved her most? The one she loved most? All of them taking turns? They thought this was the ultimate stumper question for those that believed in the resurrection, but they should have never tried it on Jesus.
V. 29 - Jesus went straight to the root of the problem first. He tells them they are wrong about the resurrection for two reasons: 1) They don’t know the scriptures. 2) They don’t know the power of God. These people claimed to know the scriptures (they were the religious leaders of their time), but they didn’t really understand God or His Word.
V. 30 - Jesus then gives us some information that only God could know and that is not revealed in the Old Testament. He says there is a resurrection (He will prove this from scriptures in a minute), but that no one in the next life will get married or be married. He goes on to say this is how it is with the angels. Marriage is an earthly, human institution only according to Jesus.
V. 31 - Then to answer to the fact of the resurrection He appeals to something God said and recorded in scripture.
V. 32 - God, the I AM, claimed to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The key is that they had all died, but God didn’t say ‘I was’, but ‘I am’. He was still their God even after their physical deaths. He is still their God today. Then Jesus explains that God is not the God of the dead, but the living.
V. 33 - The people who heard this teaching were stunned, they had never heard anyone answer this question, at least not so clearly and easily.