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A Moment with the Bible


Matthew 9:11-13

When Jesus attended a feast at Matthew’s house and ate with a group of tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees were appalled. They believed that touching or eating with sinners made them unclean. “Pharisee” meant “the separated one.” They prided themselves on maintaining a distance from all “defilements of the flesh,” and this included people who did not meet up to their standards of righteousness. However, Jesus answers that it is the only way a physician can help those who are sick. The Pharisees had missed the whole point of service to God. If we are not going to help others come to the Lord, then how do we have the love of God within us?

Jesus challenges these Jews to learn the meaning of Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” This is the first of two times that Jesus will quote this passage to the Jews. For Jesus to continue to challenge them with this verse tells us that we also need to learn its meaning. The intent of the text is, I desire mercy, not simply sacrifices. It is too often typical of religious people to think they have satisfied the demands  of service to God when they have participated in some act of worship. For the Jews, as long as the sacrifices and outward rituals of worship were offered, they believed their duty was done. But worship is to lead us to learn to have a heart like God. If we have not become more God-like, worship has lost its purpose.

“Mercy” refers to our relationships with others. We must live with a heart of compassion for those who are lost and in need around us. It is sad that religion has become something only done in a church building. James said, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” Religion has to do both with our own inner life and how we love our fellowman.

A Moment with the Bible


Matthew 9:9-10

In chapters eight and nine, Matthew emphasized how Jesus had gone to the outcasts of society. His miracles included a leper, a woman, a Gentile and two demon-possessed men. In the midst of this, Matthew now records his own call to follow Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector and also considered an outcast among the Jews. The Romans allowed the tax collectors to collect more than the required tax in order to pay their own wage. This led to corruption as tax collectors typically over-charged. Jewish tax collectors were also hated because they were seen as traitors among their own people who bristled under the yoke of Roman rule.

 

The presence of Matthew among Jesus’ disciples makes an interesting group of men. Most of them are Galilean fishermen who were certainly not highly respected since they were uneducated men. Now we see Matthew in the group, and later, Simon the Zealot (Acts 1:13). The Zealots were a small sect of Jews bent on the violent overthrow of the Roman government. Only in Christ could a Zealot and a tax collector be united. Just imagine how amazing it is that this rag-tag group of men were able to trigger a spiritual revolution that would turn the world upside down. It is only by the power of God that it is possible.

 

Luke’s account tells us that after Jesus’ call, Matthew held a feast at his house and invited a large group of his tax collector and sinner friends. Matthew leaves us a wonderful example of how to reach lost people – invite them into your home where they can mingle with Christians. Matthew gave his friends an opportunity to be around Jesus. If we are going to save a lost world, we must use our homes to make connections with those who will respond to the gospel.

A Moment with the Bible


Matthew 9:1-8

In this chapter, Matthew will present six more miracles of Jesus in two groups of three. However, we will also see that that opposition arises to challenge Jesus because of His popularity. There is first a challenge of who He is, then a challenge to His purpose and mission, and finally a challenge concerning the character of His disciples.

 

The text before us presents a unique way in which Jesus healed a paralyzed man. Instead of simply raising him up, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Put yourself in the position of those who were listening. Such a proclamation would catch the attention of any man. When Jesus pronounces a man’s sins as forgiven, He at the same time issues a challenge to every person to make a choice concerning Him. He is either God with the power to forgive sins or He is delusional. There is no middle ground. One cannot say that He is just a good person who did wonderful things, but not the Son of God. If He was not the Son of God, He was crazy!

 

Obviously, the scribes immediately understood the implications of Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins. Jesus’ answer is, “Which is easier to say…?” The easier thing to say was, “Your sins are forgiven,” since it was not something that needed visual proof. The more difficult statement would be to say, “Arise and walk,” because then if the man did not get up, Jesus was proven a fraud. Therefore, Jesus proved He had to power to forgive sins by telling the man to arise and walk. It is amazing that the Jewish leaders still question Him as to who He was and where He got His authority. This incident makes it obvious. Jesus pronounced a man’s sins forgiven and then healed his paralysis. He is God. He could not be anyone else.

 

What is your choice? Is Jesus of Nazareth delusional, or is He the Son of God?

Matthew 9:1-8

In this chapter, Matthew will present six more miracles of Jesus in two groups of three. However, we will also see that that opposition arises to challenge Jesus because of His popularity. There is first a challenge of who He is, then a challenge to His purpose and mission, and finally a challenge concerning the character of His disciples.

 

The text before us presents a unique way in which Jesus healed a paralyzed man. Instead of simply raising him up, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Put yourself in the position of those who were listening. Such a proclamation would catch the attention of any man. When Jesus pronounces a man’s sins as forgiven, He at the same time issues a challenge to every person to make a choice concerning Him. He is either God with the power to forgive sins or He is delusional. There is no middle ground. One cannot say that He is just a good person who did wonderful things, but not the Son of God. If He was not the Son of God, He was crazy!

 

Obviously, the scribes immediately understood the implications of Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sins. Jesus’ answer is, “Which is easier to say…?” The easier thing to say was, “Your sins are forgiven,” since it was not something that needed visual proof. The more difficult statement would be to say, “Arise and walk,” because then if the man did not get up, Jesus was proven a fraud. Therefore, Jesus proved He had to power to forgive sins by telling the man to arise and walk. It is amazing that the Jewish leaders still question Him as to who He was and where He got His authority. This incident makes it obvious. Jesus pronounced a man’s sins forgiven and then healed his paralysis. He is God. He could not be anyone else.

 

What is your choice? Is Jesus of Nazareth delusional, or is He the Son of God?

A Moment With The Bible


Matthew 8:28-34

This text immediately causes us to ask a number questions. (1) What is “demon possession,” and why are some demons more violent than others? (2) What do the demons mean when they ask Jesus if He has come to torment them before the time? (3) Why would the demons desire to go into the swine and why would Jesus send them knowing that it would destroy the herd? (4) Why did the whole city ask Jesus to leave?

 

As to the first question, demons were apparently spirit beings who had rebelled from God somewhere back in eternity. We draw this conclusion because God would have made all beings good but also with a freewill. Satan and his angels at some point chose to go their own way and establish their own kingdom with the intent to destroy all the good intentions of the Lord. These beings were also made with varying amounts of power and this power was not taken away from them just because of their rebellion. Therefore, we see them using their powers in different ways and with different amounts of strength. Demons, along with the devil’s angels (possibly two different types of spirits), were given a “time” period after which they would be cast into “tartarus” (apparently the punishment side of Hades, 2 Pet. 2:4). These demons feared that Jesus had come to torment them before their time was up. Apparently, the demons desired to go into the swine because they hated to be left without an inhabitable home (Mt. 12:43-45). Why this is and why Jesus allowed them to go into the swine, we do not know. However, if the swine herders were Jews, they would have been in violation of the Law to use unclean animals as food. Finally, it is interesting to see the city ask Jesus to leave. In every other place, the common people were glad to have Him in their midst. Possibly in this case it is because of their sinfulness. When people are unwilling to repent of their sins, it is difficult to have the “Light” expose them.

What is the lesson for us? Jesus was destroying Satan’s kingdom. Demon possession was a visual symbol of all that Satan was doing to God’s creation. Satan had started this battle and now Jesus was beginning the movement that would conquer Him and free mankind from his tyranny.

A Moment with the Bible


Matthew 8:23-27

There would have been no place these disciples would have felt more comfortable than on the Sea of Galilee. Most of them had made their living from this sea and had spent most of their lives navigating its waters. It is therefore fascinating to picture them struggling to keep the boat afloat in this storm. It is evident that they had never before faced such a dire situation. On the other hand, it is somewhat comical to see that Jesus is fast asleep. He is not concerned. The rocking of the boat is only giving Him a better nap. Consider this, will the ship go down with the Master in it? Is it possible that the waters would engulf the Creator of the universe?

 

Finally, after these experienced seamen have done all they know to do, they turn to Jesus. In a panic they awaken Him pleading with Him to save them. At least they knew where to turn, but it is evident they had no idea the extent of His ability to save them. It is an amazing picture that Matthew gives us of Jesus rising and literally rebuking the wind and the sea. Do you see that word? Jesus speaks to the wind and the sea as if they are unruly children. Mark’s account tells us that He said, “Peace! Be still!” And like whimpering, scolded children, the wind immediately ceased and there was a great calm on the sea. The disciples marveled, “Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Who else but the Creator in the flesh!

 

Now think of the words of Jesus, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” The lesson is as powerful for today as it was then. The boat will not go down with Jesus in it. How many times in your life have you found yourself in the same panic as these men? The trials of life have tossed you until it has taken all the fight out of you and you are convinced the cause is hopeless. That is when we must remember this story. If you are serving the Lord, the boat will not go down. It cannot; not when the Master of ocean and seas is in it with you.

Tuesday May 31 2016


Old Testament: 2 Samuel 18-19 2 Samuel 18-19

(Daily Reading, ESV)