“and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand, and kneeling down before him, they mocked him: ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’”
Hardened Roman soldiers had seen it all. As the crushing arm of imperial power, they laughed at small-time attempts to overthrow the government. To them, Jesus was just another failed revolutionary.
Jesus not only died, but suffered humiliation in our stead. Our attempts at self-rescue are ridiculous. But in his humiliation we discover our salvation.
#votd #Matthew #crucifixion
“So they answered Jesus, ‘We don’t know.’ Then he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.'”
The Jewish authorities refused to answer Jesus’ question about John the Immerser because either option would put them in a bad position. In this way, our Lord showed their bad faith.
Do I avoid God’s truth by pleading ignorance or doubt? Do I appeal to prayer as a way to lay aside his commandments? Or do I readily embrace the truth that frees?
#votd #Matthew #honesty
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”
Jesus guarantees that his messengers are not forgotten by the Father when they encounter resistance to the Good News. They need not question whether God has forgotten them.
The argument is from the lesser to the greater. God knows what happens to his creatures. So he will care for his most important creation: his children. Do you believe this as you share the Gospel?
#votd #Matthew #will-of-God
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.”
Jesus shows how to deal with sin in the church. It is the direct approach. Love does not mean overlooking a brother’s errors. The goal is restoration and salvation.
Don’t talk about other people’s sins to third parties. This is gossip. We sin by doing it. Don’t be a coward. Don’t contribute to division. Love others enough to correct them.
#votd #Matthew #sin #correction
“When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns.”
Jesus sent out the Twelve on a limited preaching tour. He gave them many instructions. Then he himself went about proclaiming the kingdom of God. He dealt with doubts and rejection.
Jesus was all about reaching the lost, in life and in death. How do I demonstrate this objective in my spiritual life?
#votd #Matthew #mission
“So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.”
Jesus sent two disciples into the next village to get a donkey and a colt to ride into Jerusalém. They did what disciples (followers) should do: follow the Lord’s instructions.
The disciple and maker of disciples will follow Jesus’ orders to the letter, Mt 28.18-20, in order that people may do what they did when the two obeyed him: praise Jesus as the Son of God.
#votd #Matthew #discipleship
“So then, if someone says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him.”
The Lord himself told us that not everyone who makes affirmations about the Christ is to be believed. He even repeated his imperative, v. 23. Many say false things about Christ.
We must not be naive. Those who are trusting in others are easily led astray. People like to offer easy solutions and quick success. Beware of glib problem solvers!
#votd #Matthew #test-the-spirits
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Few are chosen because few accept the invitation. Jesus emphasizes “the wide sweep of the invitation to accept the gospel and the small number of those actually found worthy” (IOVC).
To be chosen we must recognize the great opportunity that God gives us right now to participate in his joyous life. And let us ask, What must we do?
#votd #Matthew #election
“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach to Israel. He warned them about opposition. He told them how they should deal with it.
Jesus’ words here applied to Matthew’s readers and to us today. Wisdom is need to meet resistance. We must never lower ourselves to the level of others. What “wolves” have you encountered?
#votd #Matthew #mission
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person.”
Jesus taught on true defilement. Ceremonial uncleanness pointed toward the greater evil. The inner person is the source of unholiness and profane one’s words and actions.
Conversion from the heart and control of the mind are necessary to one’s sanctification. From evil thoughts that enter will come evil words and sins. It cannot be otherwise.
#votd #Matthew #heart #uncleanness
“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and devouring insect destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”
The faith is nothing if not sensible. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus pointed out the craziness of accumulating material goods, since they are subject to corruption and loss.
What is the sensible course of action of the disciple in relation to material goods? How should they be used? What should be our attitude toward them? What should I accumulate?
#votd #Matthew #materialism
“This is the first and greatest commandment.”
The old covenant passed away, but the truth of love for God with all one’s being remains. While no commandment ought to be neglected, some things are more important than others, because they are broader, deeper, and more meaningful to the whole.
Do I like “sound doctrine” more than “sincere love”? Is my fear greater than my loving devotion to God? Is love for him my over-reaching priority?
#votd #love #Matthew #commandment
“Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ 12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!'”
Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins registers the Lord’s sad refusal to let in the unprepared. No one should expect entry into God’s kingdom who has not prepared himself before the hour comes.
Will God change his requirements for heaven? No! Must I believe and obey his commands today? Absolutely! What do I lack to be prepared for eternity?
#votd #Matthew #preparation
Without buying into the priority of Mark’s gospel, you can appreciate the visual representation of the structure of Matthew’s gospel, below.
Matthew is punctuated by 5 discourses of Christ.
The graphic comes from this site.
Matthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer presents a seven-element chiasmus. I’m still chewing on it, but the central element is the daily-bread request. Surrounding it are two “as” statements (elements 3 and 5). Then elements 2 and 6 include movement or direction. The first and last elements contrast God and the evil one, both perhaps containing the idea of separation: regarding the Name as sacred or special; being removed from the influence or danger of the evil one (don’t quote me on that, yet). I’m amazed to see this.
I popped open my Bible Monday night in the car while waiting on The Missus and the MIL as they picked up a couple of items in the grocery store. The structure just waved at me.
As did Mt 6.24, with a nice chiasmus as well. Note that the verbs in the middle two phrases are mirrored: hate/love and devoted/despise.
• Here’s a short list of books recently received, purchased, or oogled. Only the last one is not by brothers in Christ.
Graceful Reason: Studies in Christian Apologetics, by Dick Sztanyo (Vienna, WV: Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2012)
Practical Guide to Bible Study: An Easy-to-Use Outline Format, by Jon Gary Williams (LaVergne, TN: Williams Brothers Publishers, 2011)
Except One Be Born from Above, by Mac Deaver (Sheffield, TX: Biblical Notes Publications, 2013)
Concise Bible Commentary, by David S. Dockery, ed. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010)
• For one who doesn’t like driving an automobile, I’m doing a lot of it and have been over the past several trips to the US. I’m thankful to be doing it, however, and grateful for those who have lent us vehicles. I would like driving a buggy and feeding and grooming a horse much less. All for the Mission.
Some speakers, plus one, at the 8th annual Preachers Files Lectures
• At this link, a little lesson of mine, “You Can Be Sure of the Power of the Gospel,” delivered at the Preacher’s Files Lectureship this past Saturday. (The introductory text needs editing, and the brother says he’ll get to it.) The time at the Rodgers Springs congregation, just outside of Middleton TN, was a blessing. All sessions should be added online before long, including a Questions-and-Answers session hosted by Dick Sztanyo and myself. Continue reading