Matthew part 2: The Living God.

Meeting with Liv again, LC from a previous post , was a catalyst for me. She writes ( is in process of writing her first draft) and I blog. We encouraged and cajoled each other and talked about writing around our busy lives. She gave me so many great ideas and I hope to post them soon :-). One thing that came up during our conversation was the idea of worship to each of us. While I’ve touched on this previously, I’ve not talked about it in detail and that will be the next (ish) post/s that I write :-). Writing is refreshing and worshipful for me. While I write something related to/from the Bible, I read that portion again and again , and find something that I’ve not seen before ( sometimes even if I’m skimming that chapter!). When I do, and translate that into sentences, my focus is on Him that time, I’m not thinking about the kids, our struggles, health, bills, worries or the house. And so, that time/moment becomes my place of refuge, that time makes me realise my insignificance and also His greatness, His gloriousness, His righteousness, His holiness. Writing makes me grateful for all that He has done, for His Word, for His blessings, for the family He has put around me and for continuing to pursue me and love me in spite of all I do. Writing is my act of worship. What’s yours? Yours may and most likely will look different from mine but please let me know.

Writing is my act of worship. What’s yours? –Tweet that!

Last week we looked at the book of Matthew, the beginning. Matthew wrote mostly to a Jewish audience and so he focused on the healings  and miracles that Jesus did that fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament and he recorded parables that the Jewish people would understand and if their hearts were open, they would repent and follow The Son who had pleased the Father.

Continuing on…

In chapter 14: John the Baptist is beheaded by Herod. His disciples take his body away from the prison and tell Jesus. Jesus goes away with His disciples to pray but a crowd of thousands follow Him. Having compassion on them, He teaches them first then feeds them with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Jesus sends the people away and sends the disciples across the lake . He spends the night praying on the mountain and then walks on water to reach the boat in the middle of a storm. Peter asks to come out as well, and walks on water briefly before he is frightened by the waves and the winds and starts to sink. Jesus rescues him. We see Jesus taking time away from the people to pray to His Father and to mourn the death of John the Baptist.

In chapter 15: Jesus teaches His disciples and the people that what they eat doesn’t make them unclean, but what’s in their hearts. This leads to Him healing a Canaanite woman’s daughter , because of her faith, even though He wasn’t sent to the gentiles then. Jesus then teaches people on a mountainside and heals their sick.(v 31)The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Jesus then feeds the crowd of 4000 men with 7 loaves of bread and some small fish.

In chapter 16: When the Pharisees and Sadducees demand a sign of heaven from Jesus again, He tells them none will be given except the sign of Jonah. Jesus then warns His disciples to be aware of the yeast of the religious leaders,  (v12  Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees). Peter , to whom it is revealed by the Father, declares that Jesus is the Messiah, The Son of the Living God. Jesus then predicts His up-coming death, and Peter is rebuked when he tries to dissuade Jesus.

In chapter 17: Jesus goes up a mountain with Peter, James and John and is transfigured before them and Elijah and Moses appear with Him, at that time (V  5) a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ Jesus heals a demon possessed boy that His disciples could not, and says that they had too little faith. Jesus predicts His death again. He tells Peter to catch a fish and pay his temple tax and Jesus’ so that they don’t give offense.

RELATED POST: Matthew Part 1: He is the Son that pleases the Father.

In chapter 18: Jesus says that the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven is one who takes the lowly position of a child. He further says that those who cause children to stumble, it would be better for them to die. Jesus with a  parable says that God will always go after those who wander away. Jesus gives instructions on dealing with sin within the church. Jesus tells His disciples  to forgive a brother who hurts them (V 22) ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

In chapter 19: Jesus talks about the original purpose of marriage and is hurt by divorce that He dint want for His people. Jesus blesses little children (V 14) Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ He further talks about entering the kingdom of God and promises His disciples that they will reign over the 12 tribes of Israel as a reward for what they have given up.

In chapter 20: Jesus through a parable illustrates that everyone who works for Him, irrespective of time served will be treated equally, (v 16)So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’ Jesus predicts His death for the 3rd time. The mother of James and John makes an audacious request, and Jesus reminds His disciples that they need to serve their fellows (v 28) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ When people tried to quiet 2 blind men, they shout all the louder, and when asked by Jesus what they wanted, they respond and Jesus in compassion gives them their sight.

In chapter 21: Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king in accordance with the prophecy in Zech 9:9 Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers in the temple (saying that His house is a house of prayer as in Isaiah 56:7). He heals the blind and the lame at the temple and accepts praise from the children who shout”Hosanna in the highest” and when the infuriated temple leaders come to Him, all Jesus does is quote Psalm 8:2. Jesus curses a fig tree when He finds no fruit on it and it withers. Jesus’ authority to teach is questioned at the temple. Jesus talks about His followers working for Him. Through another parable Jesus reminds the people that they have mistreated and tortured His prophets and they will kill Him, the Son of God.

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In chapter 22: This seems like a meaty chapter. Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven through a parable and says many are invited, but few are chosen. He sees through the Pharisees’ trap and tells them to give to Caesar (and by extension, the ruling authority) the  taxes belonging to them, and to  God what belongs to Him. Jesus deftly sidesteps the theological debate that the Sadducees want Him to get involved in, regarding marriage after resurrection and quotes from the Old Testament that mentions (v31) ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob[b]?He further declares He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” The Pharisees test Jesus regarding the greatest commandment and in* (v 37-40) 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus then tests the Pharisees and asks them about the Messiah, whose son was He? When they reply the Son of David, He quotes Psalm 110:1and stumps them.

In chapter 23:  Jesus rebukes the Pharisees. While He tells the people in (v 3) So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach, Jesus is saying the law must still be obeyed, but not the extra works done by the Pharisees, He then goes on to pronounce 7 woes on them. Jesus then is heartbroken over Jerusalem and prophesies  in (v 39) For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[c]

In chapter 24: Jesus talks about a time yet to come. He warns disciples to be on the guard against false prophets and false messiahs who will deceive many with signs and wonders. Jesus tells his true disciples they will face persecution and many will fall away but (v 13) but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. He further tells them no one will mistake the Son of Man when He comes (v 27) For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus says the hour and time of the return is unknown , even to Him, only the Father knows, and those days will be very difficult, but to save the elect, their length has been reduced. Jesus warns them and those of us living today to be ready for that day.

Jesus warns them and those of us living today to be ready for that day- Tweet this!

In chapter 25: Jesus uses several parables to talk about His kingdom. He first uses the parable of the virgins to illustrate being ready for the kingdom. He next uses the parables of the talents to describe being willing to work for the kingdom until He comes back again. *Jesus then talks about sheep and goats, the people who profess to love Him and do works in His name,  who at the judgement will be divided, some to eternal rewards (heaven) and some to eternal and complete punishment (hell).

In chapter 26: Jesus predicts being betrayed by a friend, Peter disowning Him three times and His own death in two days. *Jesus is anointed by an unnamed women in Bethany (she pours expensive perfume over His head, remember also the Magi at His birth brought Him myrrh, a burial spice). Judas makes a pact with the Pharisees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus celebrates the last Passover with His disciples ( In John, we’ll see Him introduce a new covenant that will be better than the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Davidic covenants). Jesus then leaves to the garden of Gethsemane when in anguish and in sorrow and heaviness of heart, He prays 3 times to the Father to take the cup away from Him. In between each time He comes back to the disciples and sees them sleeping and admonishes them to say awake and pray. We see Jesus in perfect submission and obedience say “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus is then betrayed by Judas with a kiss, arrested and in the scuffle a disciple cuts off a servant’s ear. Jesus heals the servant and then retorts in (v 52) “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”. Jesus goes voluntarily with the guards and is brought before the Sanhedrin, where many false witnesses are brought forwards, but they are unable to find any false evidence against Jesus. The truth of Him being the Messiah is finally used to  wrongly convict Jesus. Peter does indeed disown Jesus 3 times and is consumed by grief  and guilt afterwards.

In chapter 27:  When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood , they mocked him and so Judas hangs himself. Jesus is brought before Pilate and He makes no move to defend Himself. Pilate’s wife warns him not to hurt Jesus because of a dream that she had. Pilate does not listen but gives in to the crowd when they ask for Barabbas to be released to them instead of Jesus and has Him flogged. The soldiers mock Jesus. They force a man from Cyrene, Simon, to carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotta. Jesus is crucified between two criminals ( I’ll write about His words on the cross in another post). 45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Jesus willingly gives up His spirit and dies. At the same time the curtain the temple is torn in two (signifying now we have total and complete access to The Father) and many people who had died came out of their tombs and went into the city and appeared to people. The first person who acknowledges that Jesus is God (apart from His disciples) is a roman centurion.* Jesus’ mother, the mother of James and John and Mary Magdalene among other women watch all this. Joseph of Arimathea asks Pilate for Jesus’ body and buries it in his own tomb. The women see this as well. The chief priests and Pharisees ask Pilate permission to guard the tomb and Pilate gives them guards.

In chapter 28: Jesus rises from the dead on the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb which they find empty. An angel instructs them to let the disciples know that Jesus has risen from the dead and is Alive! They are to go to Galilee and wait fro Him there. *The guards posted at the tomb tell the chief priests what happened and are bribed to say the disciples stole the body. The eleven disciples meet Jesus at the mountain in Galilee like He instructed them and are commissioned to go into the world, making disciples and baptizing them in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

 

*I have to say that this passage is frightening. The only way to avoid being counted among the goats (to whom God says He doesn’t know them and sends them to hell) is to make sure my heart is right before God every moment! and since I can’t do that on my own, I must ask for the Spirit’s help on a daily basis, and be willing to change. This is not to espouse works based salvation (which isn’t true) but to remind myself that true salvation will result in works that are seen and fruit that is enjoyed by others.

*I love that women are not unimportant to God. The Bible mentions an unnamed women anointing Jesus by pouring expensive perfume over His head and He says that everywhere the gospel is preached, what this woman did will be mentioned.

*Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Jesus’ mother), the mother of Zebedee’s sons (James and John the disciples, remember she asked God for an outrageous favour), Mary Magdalene ( out of whom 7 demons were  driven out) are some women mentioned by name here ( in other passages of the same event, a few other women are mentioned).

*The temple veil separated the Holy place of the tabernacle and later Temple from the Most Holy place. The chief priest was the only one who entered into the Most Holy place, that too, only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer sacrifices to atone for himself, the other priests and the whole nation of Israel. The tearing of the veil at Jesus’ death shows that He has done away with this system. Anyone and everyone now have free, full, un-filtered access to The Father, The Son and The Spirit, with no need of intermediaries.

*Remember these were roman guards. They were the best of the best. Think of the most advanced, trained, specialist military outfit today. Remind yourself of their hard work, their dedication, their service and their nearly impossible training and imagine them sleeping on the job!!! That’s what it would have been like for the guards to have fallen asleep while guarding the body of someone they thought was a threat to Rome.

*Jesus summarises the entire law and tells us our greatest commandment is to love God first, and then love our fellow men who are created in His image.

I hope these books of the Bible series have been revealing to you. Be blessed friend as you mediate on the God of the living and the dead.

Vanessa

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