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Matthew Blog Part II

Note: Scripture quotes are from the KJV or the NIV.

Feb. 24/11 Matt: 28:20

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Obedience must be taught. It does not come natural. Anyone who doubts this has only to observe a small child. Parents who refuse to teach their children the ways of God have denied the Great Commission.

It is not only physical children that must be taught, but also spiritual children must be taught obedience. When a person is born again they still carry the old thought patterns, habits, and often a false world-view. They need to be patiently taught in the ways of God. One of the things that being born again does is give them the desire to learn and follow the ways of God - but it must still be taught. False beliefs and sinful actions must be replaced the Truth and Righteousness.

We have the promise that we will not be alone in this task. Jesus is with us every step of the way. We do not have to walk in fear, but we can walk in confidence.

Wow! After almost 4 years the Matthew Blog is complete. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Feb. 23/11 Matt: 28:19

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Because Jesus has all authority we can go with confidence to disciple all nations. We are not out making converts. We are to make disciples - ones who are disciplined in the ways of God. Jesus is not playing a numbers game. He is after people who will be serious. The devil's followers are serious about destroying the world, God wants His people to be more serious about building it. It begins with conversion and baptizing them into the Kingdom of God. Then we go on to bring the will of God to earth as it is in heaven. This is a project that must be completed, in the power of the Holy Spirit, before Christ returns.

Feb. 22/11 Matt: 28:18

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

It is vital that Christians realize that Jesus Christ has all authority right now. He is not somehow getting more authority in the future. He has it all now. There is no work or power of the enemy that has the right to stand. As Christians we must stand in the authority of Jesus Christ, proclaim His crown rights in heaven and earth. Every force which opposes us must fall. Certainly, the devil and his supporters will not yield territory easily, but they must go. Jesus is in control.

Feb. 21/11 Matt: 28:17

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

The disciples were obedient, but that didn't remove all the problems. Jesus had just been crucified, now here He was standing before them. What had happened? Why? What was going to happen now? A thousand questions rolled around in their minds. They worshiped while they wondered. Jesus will work with us through our doubts as long as we don't give up and abandon Him.

Feb. 19/11 Matt: 28:16

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.

Even through they were frightened and confused, the disciples obeyed. The disciples, like the rest of us, had a lot of character defects but they were loyal and could follow instructions. If we will learn to follow the commands of Jesus, even when we are hurt, discouraged, and confused, He will see us through to victory. The daylight will come.

Feb. 18/11 Matt: 28:14-15

If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The soldiers were taking a big risk. Their lives were at stake; however, money talks. Some people will do anything for money. Some will even sell their integrity for pennies as they "sample" products not offered for sampling when they grocery shop. Or offer their children "snacks" they haven't paid for and know full well they are not going to pay for. Like the Jewish leaders and the soldiers, they are bribing their children for their silence. They are training their children to be financial prostitutes. They may never sell their bodies, but they will sell their word or other things for personal pleasure without consideration of right or wrong. It is not the amount of theft that makes a person dishonest, but the fact that they did something dishonest.

Feb. 17/11 Matt: 28:11-13

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’

The chief priests and Pharisees knew that Jesus had risen but they were so committed to their own world-view that no facts were going to change them. This is the same religious commitment that evolutionists, socialists, sexual perverts and other humanists have to their world-view. Facts will not change them, only the grace of the Holy Spirit working on their hearts can accomplish anything.

Feb. 16/11 Matt: 28:10

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Not only did these women receive instruction from the angel, but also it was confirmed by Jesus Himself. "Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses..." This was the most startling event of history. God was willing to confirm His Word and His instructions. A true word from God will be confirmed.

Notice, that although Jesus spoke first with these faithful women, He still worked through His appointed leadership. Sometimes God will give us a message for our leaders. We are responsible to deliver it, nothing more. At times people hear from God - or think they hear from God - and then try to force or manipulate their leaders into doing what they believe God said. This is wrong. We can deliver the message, but the leader is responsible for evaluating it and responding. He answers to God, not to us. And God will likely confirm it to them through other voices as well.

Feb. 15/11 Matt: 28:9

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

These faithful women were honoured with being the first to see Jesus after His resurrection. They had served behind the scenes, but they were rewarded openly. Sometimes we are tempted to think that no one knows about our work and sacrifice. Jesus knows. He watches. He rewards. That is all that matters.

Feb. 14/11 Matt: 28:8

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

The women were obedient. Even through different emotions were struggling within their hearts, they obeyed. Sometimes we want to delay obedience until we have everything figured out. We want to understand before we do. That's like waiting for all the stoplights to turn green before we start across a city. Obedience is always the first thing in the Kingdom of God.

Feb. 12/11 Matt: 28:7

Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

After they had seen the evidence and been convinced, they were to go and tell the disciples. They were to share what they knew with the discouraged, fearful disciples. One of the instructions that Jesus gives us is to share what He has done in our lives with others. It is good news! We may not - in fact, we will not - have all the theological details, but we can share what we have experienced. We are on a journey and we want as many other people to join us on this journey as possible.

Jesus was going to met them in Galilee. They had started their ministry in Galilee. Now things had come full circle and they were to begin again in Galilee. Sometimes we seem to go in circles and end up where we started. If we are walking with God, it is more like an upward spiral than a circle. It may seem like we have come to the same place, but, in reality, we have advanced and are ready for a fresh start.

Feb. 11/11 Matt: 28:6

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Jesus predicted His own resurrection in faith. He had to believe that He would conquer death. It had not been done before! But Jesus acted with completed confidence in His Father's word - just as we are to do. The angel then confirmed to the women that what Jesus had said had indeed happened. The angel even offered them the evidence of the empty tomb - as if seeing an angel and the fallen Roman soldiers wasn't enough. Christianity is a reasonably faith. Christianity is not afraid to face facts and scientific evidence.

Feb. 10/11 Matt: 28:5

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.

The angel had to encourage the women not to be afraid. Seeing an angel was a frightening experience, plus they were walking among Roman soldiers laying on the ground not knowing if they were dead or alive. Certainly an experience to test the courage of anyone.

Women played an important role in the ministry of Jesus. Many times they were behind the scenes providing Him and His disciples with food and financial support enabling Him to carry on the work of God efficiently. Sometimes we don't pay much attention to the "behind-the-scenes" people, but they are a vital part of any ministry...or any operation for that matter. Jesus had these women honoured with being the first to witness the fact of His resurrection. In time and/or eternity Jesus will make sure everyone receives their reward even if they are unrecognized by those around them.

Feb. 9/11 Matt: 28:2-4

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

Angels in the Bible seemed to strike fear as a first response. They are beings of immense power and beauty. At the moment they are on a higher level than we are. People who are flippant about angels and spiritual beings have not really seen them. These battle-harden Roman soldiers fainted at the sight of an angel. Angels do exist and they have their work to do, but they are not to be our focus. They, too, are ministers of Christ. Although our paths may cross at times, our focus is on Jesus.

Feb. 8/11 Matt: 28:1

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

The two Marys wanted to honour the body of Jesus with the proper burial procedure. I'm sure that was probably the longest Sabbath they had ever experienced! As soon as they could, they hurried to the tomb.

We need to be eager to be about the Master's business. Even when times are dark and it seems our world is falling apart, we need to hurry to minister to Jesus. When we do, we will discover that He is not dead, He is alive.

Feb. 7/11 Matt: 27:65-66

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The chief priests and Pharisees were not going to take any chances. They wanted this "Jesus business" done with forever. After three days He would be a memory like so many false prophets who had gone before. Little did they know they were about to become one of the most important witnesses to the resurrection! They made it impossible for anyone to steal the body; therefore, when the body was gone there was only one plausible explanation - that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead as He predicted. God has a sense of humor and He likes to use His enemy's plots against Him for His own benefit - like having Pharaoh train Moses. If you are an enemy of God, get used to hearing Him laugh at you.

Feb. 5/11 Matt: 27:62-64

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

It is interesting how we assume others will do what we would have done in the same situation. The chief priests and Pharisees were deceivers and manipulators so they suspected the disciples would do the same things they would have done. In the meantime, the disciples were hiding in fear because they thought the chief priests were going to kill them as they had killed Jesus. We really have to learn the skill of seeing other people as they are, not how we think they are.

Feb. 4/11 Matt: 27:61

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Sometimes we forget the importance that women played in the ministry of Jesus. They help to support Him and the main disciples. They displayed loyalty and courage during the crucifixion and the dark days that followed it. Jesus valued His female supporters. Christianity has always elevated the role of women. True "women's liberation" comes from a right relationship with Jesus Christ and understanding of the Bible. Anything else may seem like liberation at first but it leads to either exploitation or slavery in the end.

Feb. 2/11 Matt: 27:59-60

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

Even through Jesus was dead and it looked like everything He taught was falling apart, Joseph still cared for Him and gave Him his best. Sometimes as we follow Jesus it can appear that He is dead. He seems to have abandoned us and left us alone. All we have believed may seem like dust and ashes. That is not the time to give up! That is the time prove our faith by carrying on, by continuing to give Him our best. It may seem like lifeless routine, but we "set our face" to the task and get it done. Even through discouragement and disillusionment we hold on. Keep holding, the resurrection is coming!

Feb. 1/11 Matt: 27:58

Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.

Joseph of Arimathea was a courageous man. Coming out on the side of Jesus would make him stand out to the powerful religious leaders. Going to Pilate could be dangerous at the best of times. Pilate probably wasn't in too good of a mood after having been successfully manipulated by the Jewish leaders. In any case, Joseph went and Pilate granted his request. Interesting that some of the "distant" disciples of Christ showed more involvement than the inner eleven. We should never close our minds as to where help and support can come from.

Jan. 31/11 Matt: 27:57

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.

Not all the followers of Jesus were poor. Wealth by itself is neither good nor bad. It all depends on how it is used. If we have wealth then we have to learn to depend on Jesus just as much as if we did not have it. All need to trust Jesus. Let us use what we have - little or much - for the glory of God. The devil's followers often pour their money in wicked charity causes: causes that promote the murder of the unborn and seek to destroy the family with sexual license. We need to be just as diligent in promoting the Truth.

Jan. 29/11 Matt: 27:55-56

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Jesus had His supporters which enabled Him and His disciples to devote themselves to full time focused ministry without having to charge or divide their time between earning an income and preaching the gospel. These unsung heroes were necessary to the success of God's plan. In a great army there are not only leaders and front line soldiers, but also cooks, transporters, engineers, manufacturers, and a host of other, often unrecognized, positions. In fact, the people behind the scenes may outnumber the front line troops.

We have a very socialist mindset. We think we can, and often should, get things for free. Anytime something is offer for free somebody paid for it...just not the receiver. Even the free gift of salvation cost God His Son. Ministries who offer their services for free are being paid for by someone even if it is "only" the time and sacrifice of the one doing the offering.

When we receive something for free we need to be thankful to whomever paid for it, not taking on the mindset of the socialist world which thinks it deserves everything at low or no cost.

Jan. 27/11 Matt: 27:54

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

It was obvious even to the ungodly that something extraordinary was happening and it scared them. Two thousand years later people want to doubt but the people who lived through it had no doubt something was happening even if they didn't know what it was.

Note that there were soldiers guarding Jesus. Obviously they did not think He could escape, being nailed to a cross. They were there to insure no one tried to rescue Him. The Romans did not like losing prisoners. Their diligence is another conformation that the death and resurrection of Jesus took place as recorded.

There is some doubt as to what the centurion meant when he said that Jesus was the Son of God. Certainly, a true statement, but in his mind he may have been thinking more in the terms of the Roman gods. True confessions can sometimes come from strange lips.

Jan. 26/11 Matt: 27:52-53

and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Jesus did not rise alone. Can you image walking down a Jerusalem street 3 days after the crucifixion and seeing King David strolling toward you? Or Moses? Strange things were happening, but they all testified to the greatness of God and the completed work of Christ. There were many eye witnesses who could testify that this was not some little plot cooked by the disciples.

Jan. 25/11 Matt: 27:51

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

The curtain in the temple was what separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest, once a year, could enter the presence of God in the Most Holy Place. The curtain was ripped from top to bottom. In other words, God Himself tore it. The death of Jesus made the entrance into the presence of God at any time possible for His children. There is now no dividing wall. We can come directly to God. That is the way God always wanted it and the death of Jesus as our Representative was the only way to accomplish it. What amazing grace and love God has!

Jan. 24/11 Matt: 27:50

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

The work of redemption was completed. Jesus had paid the full price for the sins of His people from the beginning of time to the end of time. We enter into this work by the grace of God. There is nothing we do. "Works" religion is dead. We cannot earn God favor. Every religion in the world has a system of works salvation, only true Christianity says, "Jesus did it all." This gives all the glory to God - no glory to man.

Jesus gave up His spirit. It was not taken from Him. He chose to die. No one forced death upon Him. He was the voluntary sacrifice.

Jan. 22/11 Matt: 27:48-49

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

They misunderstood what Jesus had said. They assumed Jesus was asking for help, which is probably what they would have done. How easy it is to assume that others would react the same way we would react. We need to be willing to let others speak for themselves.

Jan. 21/11 Matt: 27:47

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

The ungodly filtered what Jesus was saying through their own preconceptions. Elijah was the great prophet of the Old Testament. They assumed that when Jesus said something that sounded like "Elijah" that He was calling on Elijah as if the dead could help the living.

One of the skills we have lost is the ability to listen. Our minds tend to jump ahead and we assume we know what the other person is saying or going to say. We then respond or judge them for what we thought they said rather than what they actually said. We need to slow down, and recover the skill of listening.

Jan. 20/11 Matt: 27:46

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

We will never understand the horror Jesus felt at this moment. This outweighed everything He had endured. Up to this time Jesus had always been in a complete loving relationship with His Father. There had never been even a shadow between Them. It was closer and more intimate than any human relationship has ever been. Then suddenly, at His point of greatest need, that relationship is totally severed. Truly alone for the first time in His life, the pain ripped through His spirit deeper than the intense physical and mental pain He was suffering. No living being knows what it is like to be without God to some degree. Only the lost souls in Hell know what it is like to be forsaken by God, but for them it is too late.

Jan. 19/11 Matt: 27:45

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

God even expressed the greatness of these events through nature. Darkness, sadness ruled while Christ hung on the cross. The sun refused to light those terrible events as the Lord of Creation willingly suffered at the hands of His creation. Not just at Jerusalem but all over the land of Israel nature mourned.

Jan. 18 /11 Matt: 27:44

In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Even the two crucified with Jesus mocked Him, although one of them later repented. They knew they would be dead in a short time, yet they still found time to torment someone else. Evil men can be so committed to their ways that nothing seems to faze them. Like in the city of Sodom when the homosexuals wanted to rape the men who had come to Lot. They were struck with blindness. Did that cause them to stop and think about their actions and consequences? No. They were so driven by lust that they were still searching around trying to find the door!

Jan. 15/11 Matt: 27:43

He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

The fact was the Father did love the Son. It broke the Father's heart to see the Son on the cross and to be able to help and yet refrain from helping. Parents know how difficult it is to see their children go through various trials and not to be able to help or take away the pain.

Jan. 14/11 Matt: 27:41-42

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

It is ironic that the teachers of the law and other experts were guilty of the most horrible abuses of the law and legal principles. They had just finished framing an innocent Man and yet they saw no contradiction. Legalists are good at making harsh rules for others, but justifying everything they want to do. As we move more and more to humanistic legalism in our court systems we can except to see more and more injustice in the name of law.

The leaders of Israel lied. They had a religious commitment to maintaining their power and way of doing things. They would not have believed Jesus even if He had come down from the cross, just like evolutionists are not going to accept any scientific evidence which goes against their religious commitment to evolution. They will always make excuses or turn a blind eye.

Jan. 13/11 Matt: 27:40

and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

The accusers of Jesus twisted His words. He had said they would destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days. There were right then in the process of fulfilling His words as they destroyed the temple of His body! They thought they were talking sense when in reality they were spewing out nonsense. The ungodly are deceived and the more they rail against God the more deceived they are.

Because Jesus was the Son of God, He could have come down from the cross and saved Himself but then He would not have been able to save anyone else. To Jesus obedience to His Father and the faithful fulfilling of His mission were more important than what others thought of Him. They could think and say what they liked, His course was set.

Jan.12 /11 Matt: 27:39

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads

It wasn't just the soldiers and Jewish leaders who rejected Him. Everyone who saw him, except His own close friends, insulted and laughed at Him. It was rejection on a national scale. No one wanted Him. Where was the compassion for a person, even if guilty, who was suffering? Where was the humanity of these people? We take for granted the influence of Christianity on the world. Even the ungodly have been influenced by Christian values and ideas. Of course, as we reject Christianity more and more in our nations we can expect a return to cruelty and barbarianism. Just because we are "civilized" we will not be exempt.

Jan. 10/11 Matt: 27:38

Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

During His life Jesus associated with the publicans and sinners, and during His death He was hung with two thieves or rebels. Not a very prestigious beginning for the Founder of a world religion. In fact, no Jew would ever have imagined it. Those who think that Jesus or the apostles made up the story to start their own religion have no clue of reality. Everything at the beginning of Christianity was working against it and was totally against anything anyone of the time would have thought of. The only reason it survived and thrived was because it was True. All other religions are deceptive lies leading to Hell.

Jan. 8/11 Matt: 27:37

Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

They wrote the charge as an insult, a mockery of someone who had delusions of grandeur - a man who dared to dream too big. They had no clue that what they wrote was true. Jesus was truly the King of the Jews and so much more. He is the King of the Universe. All creation bows to Him. Sometimes our enemies hit on the truth. They try to dishonour us, but God turns their dishonour into honour. The cross was a horrible and despised method of death, but now it is an honoured symbol of love. Don't be too concerned about what others say.

Jan. 5/11 Matt: 27:35-36

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.

Dividing the clothes of Jesus had been prophesied in the Old Testament. Every prophecy was fulfilled. There is no way that this could have happened if Jesus had not been Who He claimed to be. Those who refuse to believe do so against the evidence, not because of lack of evidence. It is interesting to note that the Old Testament gives us more details of the crucifixion of Christ than the Gospels.

Jan. 4 /11 Matt: 27:33-34

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

The drink was a pain killer offered in mercy; however, Jesus could not afford to have His senses dulled as He fought the greatest battle the world has ever or will ever know. In spite of the intense pain, He had to be alert. The world offers us many mind-numbing "drinks." Many times it comes in the form of entertainment which steals our time. Many Christians who could quote scenes from their favorite movies and list every movie a "star" has played in or all the "stats" of sports hero would be hard-pressed to repeat a Scripture verse from memory!

Jan. 3/10 Matt: 27:32

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Simon wasn't a volunteer. To his mind he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His plans and life were interrupted to do a difficult and unrewarding task. Yet his name is now inscribed in the pages of divine Scripture for all time. Sometimes the thankless things that we do have the greatest impact. Opportunities for greatness come disguised. Who would have guessed that being forced to serve angry, cursing Roman soldiers would have been a ministry to the Son of God Himself? We just never know. Let us strive to do everything with willing hands and a good attitude.

Dec. 30/10 Matt: 27:27-30

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

These tough Roman warriors hated Jews. They were in a country far from home "helping" people who didn't want their help. Many had lost friends to rebel attacks. Most other nations were honoured to be part of Rome, but not the Jews. Now they had the "King of the Jews" in their hands. Like true bullies, they took out their frustration and anger on their apparently helpless victim totally ignorant that one word from Jesus would have destroyed them all. How like the people of this world who rage against Christ totally ignorant that they are only one breath from an eternity in Hell and it is only His grace that keeps them alive.

Dec. 29/10 Matt: 27:26

Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pilate had to keep his word. He had gambled with the life of Jesus and lost. He had misjudged the crowd. We should never make promises that we are not fully willing to keep. As parents it is often tempting to make statements or threats that are exaggerated and which everyone knows we are not going to keep. This only undermines our own authority.

Often we have a feminized image of Jesus. Jesus was mighty in character and strength. He took a harsh flogging. Tough Roman soldiers had died at the flogging post. Jesus took the flogging and still carried the cross [probably the crossbeam] to the place of crucifixion. There is no Biblical record that He stumbled or fell on the way.

Dec. 28/10 Matt: 27:25

All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

Pilate wanted to avoid responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ, but the people were more than willing to accept responsibility. Be careful what you say. God heard them. He acknowledged their voluntary acceptance of the responsibility, but He was also gracious and merciful. He allowed them 40 years to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour - which many did. Then in AD 66-70 Judgment came on the still unrepentant Jews. It was an horrific war as the blood debt for the entire Old Testament era was being closed.

We are responsible for our actions and if those actions be against God, judgment will come. It may be delayed in mercy, but it will come. We live in a fantasy world if we think our Western culture is going to escape judgment. God has been merciful, but if there is not sweeping, national repentance we will face the fury of an offended, righteous God.

Dec. 27/10 Matt: 27:24

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

Pilate knew Jesus was different from other prisoners he had handled. Pilate already had a lot of blood on his hands, but there was some half-realized reason why he did not want This Man's blood on his hands. He washed his hands as a way of saying that he was being forced to act against his will. He wanted to release Jesus, but he also did not want to deal with another Jewish riot with repercussions that could reach back to Rome. He tried to shift responsibility back to the Jews. I doubt he was totally successful. On the Last Day God, the righteous Judge, will assign the appropriate consequences for the actions - as He will for all mankind.

Dec. 22/10 Matt: 27:23

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate tried to reason with the mob. Mobs very seldom listen to reason. They are been whipped up to an emotional frenzy and controlled by the leaders. They are not in thinking mode. While God gave us the gift of emotions, He never designed us to be ruled by them. It is an indication of immaturity to be driven by emotion.

Dec. 21/10 Matt: 27:22

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”

Jesus had to stand and listen to the people He loved call for His crucifixion. He had poured His life out for these people, He had sacrificed His own personal comfort for them, He had healed their sick and yet they turn on Him in an instant. It was a searing pain across His soul. It is painful to be betrayed by someone[s] you love. It is discouraging to see your work and effort despised and rejected. We will all probably face this to some degree, but never to the degree that Jesus did. Ultimately our work must be to please our heavenly Father, then it will not be in vain regardless of the response of men.

Dec. 20/10 Matt: 27:20-21

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.

Like our best intentions, Pilate's plan backfired. He had appealed to the mob but a mob is easily led into evil. [That is why democracy is a weak form of government when not controlled by the inflexible standard of God's Word.] Notice that it was trust in religious leaders who were leading the people astray. While we are to be submitted to Godly leaders and to be loyal to a local church, we are also responsible to know the word and ways of God for ourselves. We are responsible to know Truth from error. Some popular leaders today have gone into serious error on the issue of Israel in effect making Israel the center instead of Christ. On the bottom line, this is false worship.

Dec. 18/10 Matt: 27:19

While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

God does not leave even the ungodly without a witness. In this case He spoke to Pilate's wife through a dream about the innocence of Christ. Pilate was not going to be able to say that he did not realize what he was doing. On judgment day no one is going to have an excuse that they did not know about God. Some have more opportunities, but everyone has or could have basic knowledge. Even creation sings His praises.

Dec. 17/10 Matt: 27:16-18

At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

The chief priests and Jewish leaders did not fool Pilate. He knew they were jealous of Jesus. He knew Jesus had been framed. As judge he should have dismissed the case right away; however, he did not want to create a riot that was of no personal advantage to him. He know Jesus had been popular with the general Jewish population. So he thought he could foil the Jewish leaders and get his way by offering to release a murderer/thief or Jesus as the special prisoner freed at Passover. Pilate thought it would be no contest between the two. He failed to realize that the crowd before him were mainly Jerusalem citizens with whom Jesus had not been popular and the power of influence of the Jewish leaders.

When we try to play games instead of simply standing on the Truth, it will backfire on us sooner or later. Many Christians compromise on the literal six-day creation issue and find it hard to then maintain the integrity of the rest of the Bible. Some Christian compromise on sexual issues and then wonder why there are many marriage breakdowns. Some Christians compromise on abortion and sentence millions of defenseless children to death. The list could go on... We must stand on the Truth and face whatever consequences come our way.

Dec. 16/10 Matt: 27:15

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.

Pilate was not a favorite with the Jews. He was known as a cruel man who treated them harshly. However, brute force can only go so far. He had a custom, whether it was his or from a previous administration I do not know, of releasing a prisoner during the Passover. At Passover time Jerusalem was crowded with Jews from all over the world and this act would help ease the tensions that were bound occur between Romans and Jews.

No ruler can be successful if the majority of the people under his authority are against him. Force and violence are expensive long term and bring subjection but not submission.

Dec. 15/10 Matt: 27:13-14

Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

Pilate was amazed at the conduct of Jesus. He was used to the accused trying to answer back. He knew all the anger, curses, claims of innocent that came from desperate men trying to regain their freedom. Jesus was different. He admitted no crime, and offered no defense. He just stood there. Pilate had never met a Man like Him before.

Sometimes we are in a hurry to defend ourselves. We have to be proven right every time. If we really are confident in God and in ourselves we will not be driven to pointless arguments. When we know who we really are, what others think doesn't matter. We can relax and let God defend us. He can do it better anyway.

Dec. 14/10 Matt: 27:12

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.

The chief priest and leaders of the Jews vehemently accused Jesus, but He did not defend Himself. He just stood there calmly as the storm of hatred broke. In Christ we can withstand the hatred of men. Just as they hated Him, they will likely hate us. We do not have to be fearful or worried. We do not have to argue or defend ourselves. God is able to look after us and see His will accomplished in the situation.

Dec. 13/10 Matt: 27:11

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Meanwhile Pilate is questioning Jesus. Was this Jew dangerous to the Rome Empire? Was He preaching sedition? Jesus, like He often did, turned the question back to Pilate. Pilate had already answered his own question.

Dec. 11/10 Matt: 27:9-10

Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Of course, none of this took God by surprise. He had prophesied that it would happen exactly this way through Jeremiah. The Jew's own Scriptures had told what would happen, but they ignorantly did it anyway.

The Bible is a hidden Book until the Holy Spirit enlightens us. We can see its words and have an intellectual understanding of it, but we will miss the true point. The Word of God must be revealed Spirit to spirit otherwise it is only dead words which many will pervert into legalism like the chief priests did.

Dec. 9/10 Matt: 27:7-8

So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

These religious legalists decided to do a "good deed" with their returned blood money. They bought a graveyard for non-Jews who happened to die in Jerusalem. It gave them a place to bury the bodies - literally. It was a way to get rid of the unwanted strangers. What they did and why they did it was not a secret. The graveyard received the unofficial name of Field of Blood.

When we hurt others who are innocent in order to protect ourselves or further ourselves we also end up with a Field of Blood. In the end we will look back and see only a graveyard with stranger's bones in it. On Judgment Day, God will see something different. Each innocent person buried in our Field of Blood will receive justice at our expense.

Dec. 7/10 Matt: 27:6

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.”

This is typical religious hypocrisy. Jesus had accused them of swallowing camels and straining for gnats. How true it was. Here the chief priest had paid money so they could get their hands on a Man they knew was innocent, frame Him, and have Him killed and they are worried about the legality of how to spend blood money! This is the classic example of legalism. Legalism will commit any sin as long as it is with the bound of technicalities. Religious legalism is one of the most cruel and hard-hearted sins around.

Dec. 6/10 Matt: 27:5

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

For the first time in his life, money didn't mean anything. He had committed the world's worst sin - betraying the Son of God. There was nothing he could do to change it. It was too late. Unable to live with that knowledge, he went out and hanged himself.

Judas and Peter both betrayed Jesus, but what different reactions. Peter sought and received forgiveness. Judas in remorse killed himself. We all have committed terrible sins, let us take the route of Peter and seek forgiveness. If we repent we will be forgiven.

Dec. 4 /10 Matt: 27:3-4

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.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

Judas did not hate Jesus. Judas was just self-centered. When he realized that Jesus was not going to have a physical kingdom and was not interested in material wealth, he decided to leave and go his own way. He could make a better profit with someone else. Of course, he might as well make some money on the way out. Judas had faith in the Jewish legal system. He knew Jesus was innocent and expected Him to be released or at worst beaten with up to 39 stripes. He had no concept of the depth of the Jewish leaders hatred for Jesus. He is like a lot of "tag-along" Christians. They go with the flow but their main concern is themselves. They are ignorant of the war that wages around them. Only after Jesus was convicted and he saw they intended to crucify Jesus did he realize what he had done. It is dangerous to be self-absorbed. We can excuse terrible sins.

Dec. 3/10 Matt: 27:1-2

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

The traditional method of death was by stoning. In "righteous" indignation the chief priests could have had Jesus dragged out and stoned. But they hated Him. Stoning would have been too quick, too easily forgotten. They needed something that would make an example of what happened to people who opposed them. The cruelest death they could think of was crucifixion. This was a Roman, not a Jewish, punishment. They also hated the Romans, but they needed them to fulfill their plans. People and organizations of seemingly opposite ideas and positions unite against Christ and His church. Pharisees and Sadducees, Pilate and Herod, Jews and Romans. It is not really surprising because there are only two sides in this conflict, Christ's and Satan's. Satan's side has many faces which may appear opposed to each other, but at the heart they are on the same side.

Dec. 2/10 Matt: 26:75

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter's heart was good. He really loved Jesus. He had been reacting out of self-defense and fear without thinking about what he had been doing. The rooster caused him to pause and remember the words of Jesus - words he had thought so mistaken when he had first heard them. As the realization of what he had just done sank in, his heart was broken. He didn't care what anyone thought any more. He left and wept bitter tears of regret and repentance.

How often do we wish we could take back words we have spoken or actions we have taken. Too late. We may repent but we cannot change it. We cannot undo it. We need to learn to be careful with our words. To consider well before opening our mouths. Think about consequences before actions are taken. I know, easier said than done!

Dec. 1 /10 Matt: 26:74

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.

Peter tried to step up the intensity of his denials. What did he have to do to convince these men that he did not know Jesus. He even gave false oaths as if he had been in court? Nothing worked. He was desperate. ...then the rooster crowed.

Nov. 30/10 Matt: 26:73

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

For whatever reason Peter was not able to get away. Perhaps he was afraid of being obvious if he just left. Instead, like many of us, he joined in the crowd talking and trying to blend in. It was his talking - probably too much out of nervousness - that gave him away the third time. He just could not hide that accent. It was obviously he was not one of the Jerusalem crowd that belonged there. He talked like the Galileans who hung around Jesus.

How often do our words trip us up. We can hide who we are for awhile but eventually it comes out our mouth. If you want to know what a person is like listen carefully to their words. Not just their words when they are in control painting the picture they want the world to see. Listen carefully, eventually their heart will be revealed.

Nov. 29/10 Matt: 26:72

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

Again Peter instinctively fell back to his own defense. He had to separate himself from Jesus. He did not have the time to think what he was doing. It was happening so fast, he was just reacting. Fear teaches us to react not to act.

Nov. 26/10 Matt: 26:71

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Peter is trying to edge closer to the exit to escape this dangerous situation, but again he is recognized by a servant girl. It doesn't take powerful people to trigger fear, even a servant girl will do. It is sometimes amazing what we will do to win the favour of people we normally would not care about.

Nov. 25/10 Matt: 26:70

But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Like many of us, Peter's first reaction is self-defense. Jesus was in a mock trial about to be condemned and Peter didn't want to die. Fear had driven the brave words spoken not that long ago from his mind. His only thought now was for his safety in the midst of his enemies. How could he escape?

How many times to we deny or betray friends for far less? We are afraid of being mocked and teased, left out of the "in" group, so we deny friendships with less 'desirable" people. We don't want to be looked down upon by our worldly peers. This may be one reason why Christian professional people accept evolution or some "Christian" compromise with it. To stand up for six-day, young-earth creation would be to invite mockery and rejection with the possible loss of jobs/promotions. Who will stand for Christ?

Nov. 24/10 Matt: 26:69

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

Peter had followed at a distance to see what was going to happen. He and John were the only disciples to dare to come close. Surrounded by the men who had arrested Jesus and the servants of the High Priest, he was not in a very safe place. He had thought he could blend into the crowd, but to his horror a servant girl recognizes him and points him out.

The only reason Peter had made it to the courtyard was that John, who was known in the household, had told them to let him in. John had then gone somewhere else and left Peter alone. What John had meant as a help in the most trying night of their lives turned out to be the opportunity for temptation. Sometimes we try to help someone but in our ignorance we end up hurting them instead. Our motives are good, but the results are bad. We need to be wise and careful.

Nov. 23 /10 Matt: 26:67-68

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

They then in blind rage proceeded to abuse their "convicted criminal" contrary to the law. The law was broken at every point. They could vent their fury on their "helpless victim" ignorant that one word from Him would have ended their lives right there. Jesus knows what it is like to be bullied and face physical violence from total hatred. For 3 1/2 years He had foiled their plans and exposed them as frauds, now they would have their revenge.

Even today, many Christians face the blind hatred of their enemies for the sake of Christ. They are put in prison, tortured, denied food and shelter, and killed. It is the rage of Satan against the body of Christ alive today. They do their worst, but they cannot stop the triumph of Jesus Christ and their own ultimate defeat. It is a vengeful rage impotent to stop the final outcome.

Nov. 22/10 Matt: 26:65-66

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered.

The High Priest didn't like being the one on trial. He pushed ahead in mock religious indignation. This was a still further violation of the law by all present. The law required that there be two witnesses before a death penalty could be given. So that means even if there was a confession there would have to be at least one other witness in order to have a conviction. And they had none. Such a detail of justice was not going to stop them however.

Nov. 20/10 Matt: 26:64

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus then confirmed the High Priest's statement. Some people think this statement of Jesus is referring to the Second Coming when He will literally return with the clouds. However, that is not what Jesus said or the context allows. Jesus is looking the High Priest straight in the eye proclaiming God's judgment on him. Suddenly Jesus is the Judge and the High Priest is the accused! Jesus told the High Priest, in this sentence, that the High Priest personally would experience the Judgment of the risen Christ. This injustice would not go unpunished.

Nov. 19/10 Matt: 26:63

But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus did not dignify ordinary accusations with a reply. He was not going to b drawn into a fight. He knew they had already decided the outcome. He also knew the Scriptures that He would be silent before His accusers. Infuriated by Jesus refusal to play his games the High Priest went one step further. With His charge it would have been a crime not to reply. Unable to get a "conviction" on the testimony of "witnesses," he wanted to force a confession from the accused Himself.

Nov. 18/10 Matt: 26:62

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”

In self-righteousness, the High Priest stood up as if they had been hearing overwhelming evidence against Jesus instead of lies and half-truths. He had already decided the verdict but he wanted to pretend it came from the evidence rather than his own prejudice and political agenda. He demanded a response from Jesus hoping to be able to trick or condemn Him with His words. They had never succeeded with that in the past; however, desperate men keep trying.

Nov. 17/10 Matt: 26:60-61

But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

Because they had not planned to arrest Jesus at that time but had only taken advantage of an opportunity, they did not have time to coach their "witnesses" properly. There was no shortage of false witnesses but they could not make their testimony agree or find two that said the same thing until these two nameless villains came forward.

They twisted the words of Jesus. Jesus had told the Jews to destroy the temple by which He meant His body, although He did not bother to correct their misunderstanding. And then He said He would build it in three days. They were using a corrupted form of His words to condemn Him, but were at that very moment fulfilling the true meaning of them! The wicked are blind. They rant and rave and try to force their own way, but the majority are in ignorance of what they are doing. Today people are deceived into thinking that freedom from God's law will make them truly free [same lie from the Garden of Eden] little realizing that if they were to succeed society would be destroyed for everyone.

Nov.16 /10 Matt: 26:59

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death.

The verdict had already been decided. These officials only wanted a trial to give their murderous plans an appearance of legality or to appease their conscience that they had gone through all the correct bureaucratic steps. Justice was not their concern. Corrupt rulers will corrupt even the best systems.

In North America today, as we move with ever quickening steps away from God's Law, justice in our court systems is being abandoned. Guilt or innocence is secondary to who knows how to play the game best. This will increase as humanism increases. The only way to return to a Godly court system - or any Godly system - is for national repentance and reformation.

Nov. 15/10 Matt: 26:58

But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

It took courage on Peter's part to come back and follow Jesus. From the gospel of John we know John was with him. In fact, it was John who got Peter into the courtyard. John, in trying to help his friend, actually put him in the place of temptation. How often does our help turn out to be hurt?

Peter had followed Jesus for 3 1/2 years, had believed He was the Messiah, had pinned all his hopes on Him. Now his dreams were dashed. Events were moving at a breathing taking pace and all he could do was sit on the sidelines to see what would happen. Sometimes in our lives our plans and hopes are swept away in an instant. We are devastated. It is all beyond our control. Not to worry. It is not beyond God's control. If we don't give up, resurrection morning will come.

Nov. 13/10 Matt: 26:57

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.

Talk about facing corruption in high places. Nobody was "higher" in Israel than the high priest. While power tends to corrupt, it doesn't have to. God has all power and He is not corrupt. Nevertheless, because of our sinful nature, we tend to abuse power. This one reason is why God never invested total power in any one person or organization. [See www.christian-social-theory.com.] God always divides power when delegated to humans or human organizations. Everyone is always to be under the authority of someone else. That is safety. In Jesus' day it was the religious organization that was trying to usurp authority and power to rule people's lives. In our day it is the gigantic humanist state which is trying the same thing. All it will amount to is corruption, injustice, and ultimate collapse.

Nov. 12/10 Matt: 26:56

But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

The disciples, who had so bravely pledged to die with Him, ran away. Their courage and their heart's desire were not on the same level...not yet. In the future 10 out of the 11 would die a martyr's death willingly. But for now Jesus was abandoned to face His cruel enemies alone. He knew the pain of desertion and loneliness. There is nothing that we go through but that Jesus has already gone through it on a deeper level.

Nov. 11/10 Matt: 26:55

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.

Jesus accused the crowd of cowardice. They could have arrested Him at anytime in public, but instead they crept around at night to keep their actions secret. They were afraid of public opinion. They were simply a mob with no interest in justice. Jesus also criticized them for coming after Him as if He was a dangerous criminal. He showed how small and foolish their actions really were.

Nov. 10/10 Matt: 26:54

But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Jesus knew the Scripture. He knew that He must choose to die or else violate Scripture. For Him to violate Scripture would be to make the Father a liar. It would mean that what God promised was untrue. It would mean that God did not really know or control events in His universe. The universe would self-destruct if God was untrue to Himself. All this and more was involved in the decision of Jesus to go to the cross.

Nov. 9/10 Matt: 26:53

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

Jesus did not go to the cross because man forced Him to it. He did not go in a position of weakness but of strength. The armies of heaven were at His disposal. Every person who abused Him on the way to the cross was only one word away from eternity in Hell. They were the ones in danger but they did not know it!

Nov. 6/10 Matt: 26:52

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Jesus did not need anyone to defend Him. He shared a principle with Peter. Violence only begets violence. The kingdom of God - unlike every other kingdom - is not established on violence. It is a kingdom of love, a kingdom that gives its life for its enemies.

Nov. 5/10 Matt: 26:51

With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

Peter, who had been sleeping instead of praying, saw the immediate danger to his beloved Friend and Master. Even though Jesus had taught them what must happen, they had not understood it. Peter saw the present, Jesus saw the future. If we do not have a vision of the big picture, current events will often throw us into confusion. When we see the vision of God we can walk through the present in confidence even if we do not understand how it fits into the big picture. We can walk in trust.

Peter's heart was in the right place but he did not understand what was really happening behind the scenes. Of course, he was not much of a swordsman either. He meant to cut the man's head off and only got his ear. How often do we blindly react to situations and only complicate them?

Nov. 4/10 Matt: 26:50

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

Even as Judas was betraying Him - as Jesus knew full well - Jesus called Judas friend. If I were in the place of Jesus I could think of a lot of other names to call Judas! Jesus was confident that He was in the center of God's will, because of that He did not have to feel resentment or anger toward those who were misusing and abusing Him.

Nov. 3/10 Matt: 26:48-49

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

The first recorded kiss of death. Judas used a symbol of love and affection to identify Jesus. That is the way of the Satanic. Satan cannot create anything. All he can do is take something good that God has made and pervert it to another use. All evil is simply misusing something that is good. Sometimes it is only taking something good and using it for our own selfish ends. Other times it is twisting it into something it was never intended to be.

Nov. 2 /10 Matt: 26:47

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

Judas knew where Jesus was likely to be and Jesus did not change His routine to try and avoid the confrontation. Jesus was to be betrayed by one of His closest friends. For 3 1/2 years He had poured His life in Judas along with the other disciples. Betrayal seems to be something almost everyone experiences on one level or another. Those experienced in ministry or in authority usually have several horror stories of people they trusted who turned against them. Let us keep our hearts right and never be found in the camp of the betrayers.

Nov. 1 /10 Matt: 26:45-46

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

The Inner Three disciples had just slept through the most important preparation time of their lives. They had had the opportunity to face the dramatic events of that night from a position of spiritual strength. Instead, like us, unaware of what was about to happen they had allowed their physical weariness to leave them unprepared. Temptation and trials come to every life, we need to be prepared not taken by surprise.

Oct. 28/10 Matt: 26:44

So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Jesus was a Man of prayer. He was constantly praying. Now, in the greatest crisis of His life He continued to pray. The way of prayer was a well-worn path in His life. If we want the power and presence of God to help us in our troubles we need to have a continual habit of coming to God in both the good and the bad times.

Oct. 27/10 Matt: 26:43

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.

Again Jesus returned and found His Inner Three sleeping. They had had a busy day with preparing and celebrating the Passover. Jesus had spent hours in intensive teaching. They were tired. I am sure we all know what it is like when our eyes are heavy and it seems impossible to keep them open.

In spite of all Jesus had said, they did not realize that that night was the night the world would be forever changed. How often what seems like a busy but ordinary day can end with life-changing events. Life can be altered in an instant.

Oct. 26/10 Matt: 26:42

He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

Not finding human support, Jesus returned to prayer. Jesus submitted to the Father's will. The Father did not force Jesus into submission. Forced submission is slavery. Jesus voluntarily gave His life a ransom. Jesus walked in perfect obedience and we are to follow His example.

Oct. 25/10 Matt: 26:41

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Our enemy is sly and deadly. He watches for the best opportunity to spring his traps. We have to be on our guard at all times. We need to be aware of what is going on around us. Many people are trapped after they have had a great victory or spiritual experience. They relax and let their guard down. We also need to pray - to stay in communication with God. He knows what the enemy is planning. He can guide and protect, but if we try to manage it on our own failure is the only possible result.

Our spirit is willing. It wants to do what is right and please God. Our body is self-centered. it says it is too much trouble, or we are too tired, or we are too hungry, or... Our mind must then decide our action - will we follow our spirit or our body?

Oct. 23/10 Matt: 26:40

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter.

Jesus returned to the men He asked for support from and found them sleeping. He challenged Peter, the spokesperson. Was praying for one hour really that hard? Was standing in support of a Friend for a mere hour too much to ask? Of course, how many of us pray for an hour? How many times are we too busy or too tired when a friend needs help?

The other thing we learn from this is that we can not blame others for our own failures. Jesus met the most difficult battle of His life alone. We are still responsible for our actions even if no one supports or prays for us. Support and prayer make things easier but we cannot use their lack as an excuse.

Oct. 22/10 Matt: 26:39

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Jesus knew the will of God, yet He asked for the cup to be taken away. What this means is that we can be free to talk with God about anything. Even if we know the will of God, it is not a sin to talk to God about it or even ask if there are other ways to doing something. We don't have to be afraid of how God is going to react as we come to Him with our concerns. In the end though, we are to be in submission to His will.

Oct. 20/10 Matt: 26:38

Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Although there are some things that we must go through alone, it is encouraging when we know others are supporting us. Jesus asked for this support from His three closest friends on earth.

The mental struggle in the garden was horrific. No other person has reached such depths of sorrow or as the word "overwhelmed" means: intensely sad. No matter how distressed we may be in life, Jesus has felt it on a deeper level. That is why we can turn to Him for comfort knowing He understands.

Oct. 19/10 Matt: 26:37

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.

Some friends can go further than others. Jesus had three disciples that were closer to Him than all the others. These He took with Him and, for the first time, He began to show His emotions. He was coming to the crisis of His life. The destiny of the entire world would hang on the outcome of the next few hours, but the cost was beyond imagination. In His human nature He did not want to suffer and die. In His divine nature He did not want to be limited to a human body for eternity. The struggle was real and intense.

Oct. 18/10 Matt: 26:36

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."

Jesus took His disciples to Gethsemane. He left them to go further to pray. We all need friends and companions but they can only go so far with us. Jesus is the only Friend that can go all the way. He will never leave or forsake us, even in our dark hours.

Oct. 15/10 Matt: 26:35

But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Peter, of course, did not believe Jesus. He was probably embarrassed - or offended - that Jesus would even think such a thing. While we usually point to Peter, all the disciples said the same thing. We need to realize that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.

Oct. 13/10 Matt: 26:34

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."

Jesus shocked Peter by predicting Peter's denial. Jesus knew Peter was not up to the challenges of that night. He knew Peter's weakness. Jesus could not be disillusioned because He never had any illusions.

Jesus was not accusing Peter, He was simply stating a fact. Jesus did not hide the truth from Peter to make him feel better. He was honest.

Oct. 12/10 Matt: 26:33

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."

Peter really loved Jesus and was committed to Him. Peter's problem was that he had not yet developed the strength of character to back up his heart devotion. It would come with time. Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die the same way Christ died. Jesus understands our weaknesses. If we will stick to Jesus He will see us through to maturity. Of course, it is better not to make boastful statements along the way.

Oct. 8/10 Matt: 26:32

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

Jesus not only knew what was going to happen, but also He had complete faith in His victory and the reward. He knew He would rise from the dead. He was already instructing His disciples what to do after His victory over satan.

Oct. 7/10 Matt: 26:31

Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:    " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

Jesus knew that even His closest followers would desert Him in His hour of need. Notice Who would strike the Shepherd. It was the fury of God at sin that was poured out on Christ on the cross. The same fury that will eternally be poured out on everyone who dies outside of Christ. Satan was only a tool.

Oct. 6/10 Matt: 26:30

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Even through this was the night of Christ's greatest trial and temptation, He went along calmly and in order. After the Passover meal they sung a hymn. Although Jesus warned His disciples what was about to happen, there was nothing in His manner that indicated anything was the matter. When they were finished, they went to the Mount of Olives which was a place they often went to. We can have the peace of God even went walking through the most painful and trying circumstances.

Oct. 5/10 Matt: 26:29

I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.

Jesus ate and drank with His disciples after the resurrection. This shows us that the Kingdom of God was established with the resurrection of Christ. It is not some future event. The Kingdom of God is now. We, as Christians, are currently in the Kingdom of God and we work to expand the visible rule of Christ over the entire world and in every sphere of legitimate human activity.

Oct. 4/10 Matt: 26:28

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Forgiveness of sins only comes through the Blood of Christ. There is no other way. Any attempt to get or maintain forgiveness any other way - works, other religions, etc. - is a mockery of the Cross. Any religious organization or church which downplays or ignores the Blood is headed for serious error...if they weren't false from the beginning. We honour the Blood of Christ. We honour His sacrifice. We worship Him and Him alone. We are not proud but we recognize that ALL claims to reach God outside of Jesus Christ and His blood sacrifice are ultimately based on demonic lies which deceive people into an eternal Hell. Both God and satan want their eternal abode filled with people...only one will have it.

Oct. 2/10 Matt: 26:27

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.

If we are to have the life of Christ, we must partake of Him. He must become our life, inseparable to our very existence. Many people today call themselves Christians based on an emotional or intellectual experience. It becomes merely a lifestyle choice. That is not Christianity...and it does not enter into the life of Christ.

Oct. 1/10 Matt: 26:26

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."

The first communion was a part of the passover meal. Jesus did it naturally. They were eating, He took the bread, gave it to His disciples and used it as a teaching tool and symbol for what was about to happen. It was then given as a memorial - and more - for believers.

The bread does not become the body of the Lord Jesus as some believe. It is nevertheless powerful. Early Christians were very careful about who was able to partake. In many churches the communion meal has become tradition or ceremony with very little meaning. The communion is, among other things, a renewal of the participants complete dedication to Christ.

Sept. 30/10 Matt: 26:25

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you."

Judas knew that Jesus could reveal the thoughts of the heart. He knew Jesus could not be deceived even if the other eleven disciples were. Yet, with hardness of heart, he joined the other disciples in asking if he was the betrayer. He was a good bluffer.

Jesus answered that he was indeed the betrayer. I am not sure why the other disciples did not pick up on that. Perhaps they did not hear the reply of Jesus. Perhaps they were so concerned about their own possible involvement that it did not register in their minds what Jesus had said. In any case, they seem to continue to be unaware that Judas was the traitor.

Sometimes we get so involved in our own little world that we miss what is going on around us even when it it plain to see. We need to lift up our eyes and see what is happening around us.

Sept. 29/10 Matt: 26:23-24

Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

Jesus confirmed that one of the Twelve would be His betrayer. Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies; therefore, He knew what must happen but still He issued a final warning. There could be no greater sin than betraying the Son of God to His death. Such an act would place the man who did it into the number one villain place for all time and eternity. Such a man would earn the hottest Hell forever. It would, indeed, be better for that person if he had never existed.

Sept. 28/10 Matt: 26:22

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I, Lord?"

The disciples were shocked that one of them was going to be a betrayer. They did not doubt Jesus' word. If He said it would happen, it would happen. Interestingly they did not ask who it was. They knew Jesus knew their hearts. They were each concerned that it might be them. Eleven of them knew they would not knowing betray Jesus, but what if they said or did something accidentally? Each one wanted to know that they would be innocent. All of us are capable of terrible sin apart from the grace of God and His restraining Hand. We can never look with condemnation on others, because all of us without God would plunge to the depths of sin.

Sept. 25/10 Matt: 26:20-21

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me."

Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. Jesus knew this from the beginning, but it was news to the disciples.

Jesus did not make it a dramatic announcement as we may have done. He just mentioned casually as they were talking and eating. We often like to make a big scene.

Sept. 23/10 Matt: 26:17-19

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' " So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus had to deal with the details of life. Even when involved in ministry, the grass still needs to be cut, the house has to be painted, etc. We have to look after our families. A mistake that some in ministry make is thinking that God will look after their family if they focus entirely on working for God. God expects us to have balance. We need to look after all areas of life.

Sept. 22/10 Matt: 26:16

From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Judas had entered into a contract with the chief priests. He had been paid. Now he had to deliver. Although none of the others knew it [except Jesus], he was now the spy in their midst. He was the tiger waiting for the perfect moment to spring. We can often be shocked at the actions of people who we thought were our friends. Many people wear masks that hide their true intentions. May we never be found on the side of the betrayers. Let us be honest and true and keep our eyes on Jesus.

Sept. 21/10 Matt: 26:15

and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.

Judas agreed to the greatest betrayal possible for only 30 pieces of silver. Without knowing it he was about to become history's Number One Villian. He didn't realize that was what he was doing, of course. Like many of us, he was only looking out for number one. We never know where our selfish actions will end.

Sept. 20/10 Matt: 26:14

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests

As I have written elsewhere, this was the incident that motivated Judas to betray Christ. He had followed Christ because He believed He could profit from it. As the treasurer he had been able to help himself to "advances" on what he thought would come when Christ established His kingdom. He realized - before the other disciples - that this was not going to be the earthly kingdom he had hoped for [some Christians ought to realize the same thing]. He decided to cut his loses, get what profit he could, and get on with his life.

Sept. 18/10 Matt: 26:13

I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

Interestingly, Jesus did not say that the story would be told throughout the world to honour Him. No, He said it would be told in memory of her. God honours those who honour Him.

Sept. 17/10 Matt: 26:12

When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.

The woman did not know how near the death of Christ was. She was simply expressing her love for Him. She probably did not even realize that she was obeying the prompting of the Spirit. Yet, because she loved Christ and was obedient to the idea implanted by the Holy Spirit, she performed a beautiful prophetic act. She did not know what she did, but Jesus did. Many times we may not realize the importance of an act of obedience, but others will.

Sept. 16/10 Matt: 26:11

The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

If a nation follows the Law of God perfectly then there would be no poor in it [Deut. 15:4]. Jesus recognizes that in this sinful world the Law of God will never be followed perfectly; therefore, there will always be poor among us. The closer we walk to the Laws of God the less poor there will be. Unfortunately sinful men always think they have a better way. The increasing satanic socialism of Canada, the United States, and all other nations can only increase the misery, poverty and numbers of the poor. In trying to help they create a few super rich people, a vast number of poor, and very few in between. This is injustice that they will one day answer for as will all Christians who support this anti-God system. Many Christians do this ignorantly. They do not know what the Bible teaches on these things as so end up fighting on the wrong side thinking they are doing right. God will accept no excuses. A good place to start discovering God's way in society is Christian Social Theory.

Sept. 15/10 Matt: 26:10

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Jesus defended the woman. She had done a good work. She had more vision than the disciples! Just because someone may have different priorities than we do, doesn't make them wrong. Each of us will give an account of our own actions to Jesus one day, not the actions of others.

Some Christians criticize other Christians who spend money on building beautiful churches or other temporary things. God wants the best. There is nothing wrong with desiring to have beautiful buildings and surroundings. In everything there is balance and each will answer to Jesus for how they spend what is ultimately His money. Let us not be found in the position of the disciples in this story.

Sept. 13/10 Matt: 26:9

"This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."

Like all good little socialists, they had a plan for the money. They could use it. They could help the poor. What a selfish rich woman. But it was not theirs. They had no right to it or control over it. So they had to be content with "righteous" anger and criticism.

Today, of course, the socialists control the governments of our nations. They use unjust laws to steal money to support their pet projects. Its always for a "good" cause you understand. Any cause that has to be supported by theft is not a good cause...that includes public schools, welfare systems and even the post office!

Sept. 12/10 Matt: 26:8

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked.

The disciples were practical people. They knew the perfume was expensive. It was more logical, they thought, to sell it and have the money than to use it all in a single act. They were upset.

In this they were acting like good little socialists. The perfume was not theirs. It belong to the woman. It was her personal property. She had every right to dispose of it in any way she saw fit. It was really none of their business. But socialists always like to control other people and their property...for the greater "good" of course.

Sept. 11/10 Matt: 26:7

a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

Scripture does not record the name of this woman and yet her act of love is known around the world. She wanted to give her very best to Jesus. It did not matter how much it cost her. It did not matter what others thought. She would honour Him to the best of her ability.

Sometimes we think we can give Jesus the second best [or third or...] because we do not see Him physically present with us. Jesus is alive and He is with us. Only our best will do. Anything less is an insult to the King of kings.

Sept. 10/10 Matt: 26:6

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,

Jesus did not have a home of His own. The One Who created the universe had no piece of earth to call His own. He stayed with friends on His constant travels. Faithful women supported His ministry. He depended on His Father and His Father used human instruments to meet His needs. Let us be sensitive if the Fathers wants to use us to meet the needs of others.

Sept. 9/10 Matt: 26:5

"But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."

Self-interest was their main concern. They wanted to get rid of Jesus, but they did not want to stir up the people against them. They did not originally want to murder Christ during the Passover because Jerusalem was packed with visitors. They wanted the deed done before it became public.

Public opinion is fickle but it can be powerful when it is on your side. We do not cater to public opinion, we do what is right. However, the public exposure of evil plots can be beneficial as people realize what is really happening.

Sept. 8/10 Matt: 26:3-4

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.

The chief priests and the elders of the people should have been the ones supporting justice and upholding the Law of God. Instead, because of their self-interest, they were plotting to break one of the Ten Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Of course, this wasn't the first time. They had broken the commandments over and over again. Jesus was constantly bringing up their misdeeds and they hated Him for it. Exposure of evil can lead to repentance but it can also lead to hard hearts and bitter spirits.

This corruption went right to the top. The high priest himself was involved in the plot to murder Jesus. All types of government tend to corruption unless controlled very well. We are living in a day when corruption is common place and anarchy is around the corner unless the Church repents of her errant ways and the Holy Spirit brings reformation.

Sept. 7/10 Matt: 26:1-2

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

Jesus knew what was about to happen. His arrest and crucifixion did not take Him by surprise. By studying the Old Testament, He knew the details of what was about to happen. He could have avoided it...and probably lived a long and happy life. However, Jesus was a Man with a mission.

Sometimes all we are interested in is our comfort. It clouds our eyes to the will of God. While God is interested and concerned about every detail of our lives, there are bigger issues than our comfort. Eternal souls are entering Hell everyday and we have a part to play in stopping that. It may not be comfortable but we dare not avoid it. What choice will we make?

Sept. 6/10 Matt: 25:46

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

There is no middle road. We are either on the path to Hell or the path to Heaven. The tragedy is that many who think they are on the road to Heaven are eternally mistaken. They may be the most surprised sinners in Hell, but in Hell they will be. No second chances. Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour now. There is no other way. - Introduction To Live.

Sept. 4/10 Matt: 25:41-45

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

The unrighteous are forever separated from God - the real meaning of death. Hell was not designed for human beings. It was made for the devil and his rebellious angels. But every human being, outside of Jesus Christ, will join the devil there eternally.

The wicked are just as surprised as the righteous to learn how they had treated Christ. In modern language, if they had know it was Jesus they would have sucked up. It would have been an act to try to gain approval, reward, and salvation. But because they didn't know it was Jesus they were lazy and selfish. Their true character was revealed.

Sept. 3/10 Matt: 25:40

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Jesus lives inside of each Christian. In a real way, the way we treat each other is the way we treat Christ. Sometimes we get so caught up in each others flaws, personality conflicts, etc. that we miss the Lord living within. Let us treat each other with respect and honour, helping whenever we can.

Sept. 2/10 Matt: 25:37-39

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The righteous are surprised to hear that they had ministered to the Lord. They had never seen Him. They had just put their faith into action by ministering to those around them in need. It was something that flowed naturally out of their heart of love and thankfulness to God. They hardly gave it a second thought.

Sept. 1/10 Matt: 25:34-36

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

King Jesus will reward His faithful servants. Even before the world was created God had designed a kingdom for them and given them an inheritance in it.

Work did not save these people, but works were definitely a sign that there had been a genuine work of God in their lives. They gave evidence of their salvation by their actions. As James points out, Faith without works is dead.

Aug 31/10 Matt: 25:32-33

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

All paths do not lead to God. Jesus Christ is the only way. This is not prejudice, it is simply fact. When Jesus returns there will be a Judgment Day. Jesus will sort out those who are His from the fakers and pretenders. We may be deceived but Jesus never is. His judgment will be perfect...and no excuses will be accepted.

Aug 30/10 Matt: 25:31

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.

Notice the confidence and faith of Jesus. Not "if" the Son of Man comes, but "when" the Son of Man comes. Jesus had no doubt that He would return. We should have the same confidence and faith. Jesus Christ will return. We know this as firmly as any established fact that we have already experienced. This is true faith - having complete confidence that something that has not yet happened will happen.

Aug 28/10 Matt: 25:29

And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

People who refuse to believe that God will send anyone to an eternity in the torture chamber of the universe - called Hell - are living in a dangerous fantasy world. They have fail to understand the nature of God, of sin, and of the Cross. They need a Reality Check.

Aug 27/10 Matt: 25:28

For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

Jesus shared a law of the universe here. If we use what God has given us we will be rewarded and He will trust us with even more. If we prove ourselves faithful with material things, we will be shown spiritual things. He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much. On the other hand, if we do not use what God has given us even what we do have will begin disappearing. There is no neutrality in life. We are either going ahead or going back.

Aug 26/10 Matt: 25:28

" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.

Because the servant was unfaithful with the trust that was given to him, he lost even what he had. What he lost did not disappear into thin air - it never does. It had to go somewhere so it when to the person who was the most productive with what he had. Unlike unions who only want to reward years of service, God rewards productivity.

Aug 25/10 Matt: 25:27

Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

The very least this lazy servant could have done was put it in the bank. Then there would have been some interest. He certainly would not have doubled his money as the other two had done, but he would have had some increase. God has invested Himself in us. He expects increase and development. If all we are are couch potatoes consumed with seeking our own pleasure or lazily avoiding all risks we will face a harsh master at the end of the day. Better to to our best with whatever God has given us. Even if the return is small, we will see God's smile.

Aug 24/10 Matt: 25:26

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

To the lazy servant the Master was a harsh master. The servant's own mouth condemned him. He knew his master expected a return and yet he did nothing. God is a God of justice. He responds to people according to their heart attitude. If they are kind, generous, and hard working, they will find God a loving, kind, and generous God. If they are lazy, hard-hearted, and fearful, they will find God hard and exacting.

Aug 23/10 Matt: 25:24-25

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

Everyone will give an account to God for what was given to them. The man with one talent was no exception. He thought he had played it safe. He had not risked his money, he had not lost it, he could return what was given to him.

His vision of the master was different. The first two men were excited at the opportunity offered to them. They saw the master as generous and trusting; therefore, they were not afraid to step out on calculated risks to earn profit. The third man saw the master as a hard man. He was fearful of punishment. He allowed fear to ruin his life. In the end his 'no risk' approach cost him everything. No risk turned out to be no win.

Aug 21/10 Matt: 25:22-23

"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

Both the man with 5 talents and the man with 2 talents used their talents to the best of their abilities. They were both rewarded. God does not expect us to use what we do not have, only what we do have...and he wants increase. It is like when He created the world. He gave Adam a perfect but undeveloped world and expected him, and his descendants, to develop it. God likes to give gifts which are undeveloped but loaded with potential. Then He works with us to develop the potential...and rewards us with the results.

Aug 20/10 Matt: 25:20-21

The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.' "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

The servant with 5 talents could look forward to his master's return. He had worked hard and prospered. He had doubled what he had been given. The master was happy with that. As a reward for being faithful in the little things, the man was given responsibility in greater things, plus he was able to share in the rewards.

Money is one of the ways God tests us. It is important but, in the light in eternity, it is a small thing. If we are faithful with what God has given us in the material realm, He knows we can be trusted with true riches in the spiritual realm. It is the faithfulness with what we have, not necessarily the amount of return, that God looks for.

Aug 19/10 Matt: 25:19

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

While we can choose what we do with the talents and abilities God has given us we cannot choose to avoid the responsibility of having them. Ultimately they belong to God, not us. At out death or the Second Coming - whichever is first - God will require an account of how we used what He gave us. He will hold us responsible.

Aug 18/10 Matt: 25:18

But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

One of the servants wanted a risk-free life. He was fearful of loosing what he had so he put it in the safest place he could think of. He did not want the responsibility given to him. We don't have a choice on the talents and abilities God has given us, but we can choose what to do with them.

Aug 17/10 Matt: 25:16-17

The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.

The first two people took the money they were given and put it to work. They took their responsibilities seriously. They were going to do their best. They were not afraid to take risk. Life is full of risk and you can never get ahead without taking a certain amount of risk. As the saying goes, even a turtle never moves ahead until he sticks his neck out!

Aug 16/10 Matt: 25:15

To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

Everyone is equally valuable before God, but not everyone has equal abilities or talents. In that respect, we are all different. God loves us all, but gives us responsibilities according to our abilities.

The Satanic socialist humanist system tries to force employers to pay people according to the amount of time they work regardless of ability. Ability, responsibility, and reward are all linked. To interfere with this is to create injustice. The socialists think they are helping the poor and disadvantaged, but in fact they are hurting them. We look at this in Christian Social Theory.

Aug 14/10 Matt: 25:14

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

Jesus is continuing with His revelation of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. He is drawing pictures for us so that we can understand spiritual things.

Jesus is the Man going on a journey. He left the planet, but He will return. Notice whose property it is. Jesus is the ultimate Owner of everything. He entrusts us with some of His property but we should never view ourselves as the ultimate owner.

Aug 13/10 Matt: 25:13

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

There is no place for laziness among Christians. We are in a life and death war. When Christ returns we need to be found obeying orders, not fooling around. We are to be seeking first the kingdom of God.

Aug 12/10 Matt: 25:11-12

"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

Just because they ran out of oil, the foolish virgins did not think they should be shut out. God is not a respecter of persons. He accepts all who come to Him; however, there is only one way to God - Jesus Christ. Some trust in their good works, others believe that God is too nice to send anyone to Hell, still others just hope for the best. They are all fools who will be forever shut out of the Kingdom of God. There is only one way to God. If there is any other way then the death of Christ was unnecessary.

Aug 11/10 Matt: 25:10

"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

So the foolish trotted off to try and find a seller of oil in the middle of night. He may have charged them more for the inconvenience for opening up late for them. Those who fail to plan usually end up spending more money for the same thing as those who plan ahead.

While they were out trying to convince some poor shopkeeper to sell the oil, the bridegroom came. They paid a high price for their lack of foresight.

Aug 10/10 Matt: 25:9

" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'

The foolish ones were good little socialists. They felt that they had a right to the rewards of the hard work of others. They wanted the wise to support them in their foolishness. They did not want to reap the consequences of their actions. Fortunately for the wise virgins in this parable there were no Canadian, American or other socialist governments to step in and take their oil by force to redistribute. We live in an extremely violent society and many Christians even promote this violence by government. They will have much to answer for. See Christian Social Theory for a Biblical world-view.

In any case, the wise were not willing to risk running out of oil by sharing. Jesus did not condemn their actions as "selfish" but called them wise. They wise offered advise and instruction to the foolish who had no choice but to take it.

Aug 9/10 Matt: 25:8

The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

The foolish one finally figured out they had a problem. The problem with living in the present and not planning for the future is that eventually the future becomes the present! Being present-oreintated people they naturally looked around for the easiest solution. "You have oil, we don't...share." Sounds fair, after all, were we all not taught to share as kids?

Aug 7/10 Matt: 25:6-7

"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

At some time the Lord will return. Notice that even the faithful can become weary. Sometimes it seems as if all our hard work and sacrifice are for nothing. Sometimes it is hard to put one foot in front of the other. The righteous man falls seven times but he gets up and keeps going.

Aug 6/10 Matt: 25:5

The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

Some people say that the early church expected an immediate Second Coming. However, if you read the parables of Jesus, He often stressed that there would be a long time before the bridegroom/lord/master would return. He was preparing them for the idea that He would not return right away. It has now been almost 2,000 years and may yet be another 2,000 years or more. We are not to become drowsy but to be about the Master's business, then we will be prepared to met Him whether it be at our death or at His Coming.

Aug 5/10 Matt: 25:4

The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

The wise looked ahead. They prepared themselves in case of emergency. I am told that one popular cult instructs its followers to have a year's supply of food on hand. If unemployment or sickness overcomes them it gives them time to recover. When we live hand-to-mouth one missed paycheck can spell disaster. Think ahead, plan. Develop a home business on the side, perhaps.

Aug 4/10 Matt: 25:3

The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

Foolish people fail to plan ahead. They live in the present. They care little about the consequences of the future - until they get to the future and they moan about their bad luck. Those who fail to plan, fail to prepare for possible future events, will always be the servants of those who plan well. Just because we plan ahead doesn't mean we won't make mistakes, but we will be better prepared. Many parents of modern times have failed their children because they have not taught them to deny themselves and save for the future. The Jews believed it was the responsibility of every father to see his sons were taught the Torah [Law] and a Trade. To do less was to train a fool.

Aug 3/10 Matt: 25:2

Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

Not everyone is the same. Not everyone has the same level of commitment or maturity. Much damage has been done to people and ministries by trusting [instead of testing] people. Even God puts His people to the test.

Aug 2/10 Matt: 25:1

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

Jesus loved to tell parables. They were good ways of illustrating truth. Here we have ten excited virgins. They were anticipating the coming wedding celebration. Virgins speak of purity and singleness of mind - not that there is anything wrong with sex in male/female marriage. So here we see people who are eagerly looking forward to Christ's return.

July 31/10 Matt: 24:51

He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Those who think God is all lovey-dovey who will overlook sin have not seen at true picture of Hell or the Cross. God's judgment of sin must be to perfection, He can do nothing else. Hell is not a place for meeting old friends...it is a place of total torment forever. The good news is that Jesus has already paid the price of our sins. No one has to go to Hell...but everyone outside of Christ will.

July 29/10 Matt: 24:45-50

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

To each one Jesus gives responsibilities. We have the responsibility to faithfully represent Jesus and expand the Kingdom of God. Since we are human beings we will always do so imperfectly. However, there is a vast difference between weakness and imperfection and those who deliberately misuse and abuse their trust. The Master will work with imperfections but will judge misconduct.

July 29/10 Matt: 24:42-44

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Again and again Jesus warned His disciples to ready and to watch. He did not want them to experience the terrible judgment that was about to devastate the land. We should not be surprised at the amount of Scripture given to warning of this terrible event when we consider how much of the Old Testament was spent warning of the Babylonian Captivity. The Jewish War was going to far surpass the Babylonian Captivity is both its horrors and its long term effects.

July 28/10 Matt: 24:40-41

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

This conjures up popular images of the rapture with the Godly being caught up in the air and the ungodly "left behind" to endure 7 years tribulation. While it is true that at the Second Coming the Godly are caught up to met the Lord in the air, immediately after we have the Final Judgment. No delay, no time to repent or even consider being "left behind."

Again, following the context, Jesus is saying that when the signs are seen some [Christian Jews] will heed them and flee immediately. Others [non-Christian Jews] would be deceived and stay behind. They would be destroyed in the coming Roman invasion.

July 27/10 Matt: 24:37-39

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus had already talked about His coming in judgment previously. It was not referring to the Second Coming [which is physical] there but to a spiritual judgment coming. I don't see any reason for any other application here. The idea behind the days of Noah is that everything seems normal. On the surface everyday life continues as it always has. This is why Jesus took such pains to warn His disciples not to be fooled by appearances. The surface may look calm but terrible judgment was about to break through and consume all those caught unaware.

July 26/10 Matt: 24:36

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Many respected commentators who agree with what I have said up to this point see a break here. Jesus plainly, in verse 34, stated that all the previous things would happen to that generation. They feel that from verse 36 on Jesus changes the subject and begins talking about His Second Coming. They may be right; however, I am going to take the point-of-view that Jesus is continuing on with the same topic, i.e. the pending destruction of Jerusalem.

If Jesus is still referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, then He is stating that no one except the Father knew exactly when the judgment would fall. This would explain why Jesus gave His followers signs to watch for. Even He did not know the exact time only that it would happen to that generation. The judgment was not going to be prolonged.

July 24/10 Matt: 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

This, of course, applies to all the words of Christ. They will stand forever. The heathen foam with impotent rage against the words of Jesus, but they cannot change them one bit.

As spoken in this particular context, Jesus is warning His disciples against being deceived by outward circumstances. In spite of the grand proclamations of the Jewish "freedom fighters " [murderers and thugs], Jerusalem would fall. If they were to be safe their only course of action was flight.

July 23/10 Matt: 24:34

I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

This is one of the verses that futurists and sensationalists have to twist in order to make the Scripture fit their view. Jesus plainly told His disciples that the generation in which they were living would witness everything He had been talking about from the last verses of chapter 23 until, at least, this verse. There are various ingenious ways of twisting this Scripture, one of the most popular being that what Jesus meant was that the generation that saw these signs begin would also witness the end. Unfortunately for them, that is not what Jesus said.

July 22/10 Matt: 24:32-33

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

These things were to be a sign, not of the Second Coming as so many believe, but of the completion of the foundation of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God was established by Christ at His death and resurrection, empowered by the Holy Spirit, sent to all nations, its Scripture was completed, and it was totally and finally separated from Judaism. Now it is a matter of expansion, of extending it on earth unto the glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. Any area on earth where the Kingdom of God is not in full visible operation is an area which needs diligent work and attention. None of us can work in every needy area, but we can work where God has placed us and support each other.

July 20/10 Matt: 24:31

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

The word "angel" means "messenger." It can refer to divine messengers [like we normally think of angels], but it can also refer to human messengers. The early Church sounded out the Gospel call to all nations. The call was no longer to one small nation...it was to the world. People from every known nation accepted the call. As recorded even in the Book of Acts, this happened before AD 70.

AD 70 marked the separation of the Church and Judaism. No longer who the Church be considered, in the eyes of the world, as a branch of Judaism. Judaism, with its rejection of Jesus Christ, can only bring death like any other religion in the world. Strangely enough, there are Christians today who want to unite these two. Darkness and Light cannot have fellowship.

July 19/10 Matt: 24:30

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

Luke 21:31 identifies this as the sign of the coming Kingdom of God. Jesus Himself said that most of His disciples would see the Kingdom of God [Luke 9:27]. All of them, except Judas witnessed the launch on the Day of Pentecost. John was alive to witness the final act of establishing the Kingdom of God in AD 70.

Granted this sounds on the surface like the Second Coming; however, as we study the context - which is necessary for any true Bible study - we see that it cannot be referring to that coming event. Clouds are used prophetically in Scripture to represent majesty. I know Matt. is an historical book, but we are in a prophetic section and can expect, as in the previous verses, prophetic language to be used. Jesus did return via the Holy Spirit in power and glory on the early Church. The heathen nations mourned as their demonic power was attacked by the representatives of the Risen Christ.

July 16/10 Matt: 24:29

"Immediately after the distress of those days
   " 'the sun will be darkened,
      and the moon will not give its light;
   the stars will fall from the sky,
      and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

Jesus is drawing from the prophetic language of the Old Testament. Prophetic language is not usually literal. It draws pictures, of with symbols, to show coming reality. [In the future I would like to do a course on understanding Biblical Prophecy - we'll see when I complete Rock Solid.] If you follow these themes through the Old Testament you will see that sun, moon, and stars speak of various authorities including political leaders. Jesus is describing enormous upheaval and collapse in society. Of course, looking back, we know this did happen in the time frame of the generation alive at the time of Jesus. Not only was spiritual leader - Israel - totally destroyed, but also the political leader - Rome - was brought to the brink of extinction. It was a shaking greater than what our world is experiencing today.

July 15/10 Matt: 24:28

Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Cause and effect. An unburied dead body will attract scavengers. In forsaking the true God - by rejecting Jesus Christ - Israel had become a dead body. The vultures were about to descend. There are some Christian today who want to revive Judaic feasts and traditions. The reality has come in Jesus Christ - quit playing with a dead body!

July 14/10 Matt: 24:27

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

The main thought here is not speed but visibility. The false Christ's are "in the desert" or "in the inner rooms." They have a desire to cloak themselves with secrecy and mystery. Jesus was always teaching in the temple and in public. Christianity doesn't have secrets. It has many things the world doesn't understand but not because they are hidden away. The Gnostics, who were to ravage the Church beginning in the days of the Apostles, placed great emphasis on secret and special knowledge.

We know from context [vs. 34] that, although this and the following verses sound like a reference to the Second Coming to our Western ears, Jesus is referring here to His judgment coming on Israel not His Second physical Coming.

July 13/10 Matt: 24:23-26

At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. "So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it.

This was indeed a time of much confusion. False doctrine abounded. False Christs were appearing promising much. They presented the image of Messiah that the Jews had been trained to look for - a conquering hero who would destroy Rome and establish Israel as a world-ruler again. [The same basic vision a lot of Christians have today!] The suffering Servant that they had just crucified was not in their thoughts. Even Christian Jews were in danger of getting caught up in the excitement and promotions instead of watching for the signs and escaping Israel. Enemies of Christ can do signs and wonders, too. The Word of God is what gives us discernment.

July 12/10 Matt: 24:22

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

Jesus shows that if not for the mercy of God the entire Jewish nation would have been wiped out. Not only would it have been the end of an era and the end of a nation, but also there would have been no survivors. The end came so quickly that it surprised both the Romans and the Jews. Unexpectedly the Romans were able to gain a foothold in the city and then the resistance collapsed.

Even through the elect were no longer in Jerusalem, God hastened the end for their sake. They had family and friends there.

July 10/10 Matt: 24:21

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Our modern world - thanks to humanism and evolution - has seen the murder of millions of people at a time. How could Jesus say that this war, with its climax in the siege of Jerusalem, would be worst ever known?

We have to view this on several levels. First, about a million Jews died in this War - by far the greatest slaughter of Jews [and perhaps of any nation] up to that point in history. The war was also unique in that usually people will unite against a common enemy. Not in this case. In the siege of Jerusalem more Jews were tortured and killed by fellow Jews than by the Romans. In fact many Jews tried to escape from the city to surrender to the Roman whom they knew were more merciful. The Romans were amazed at what the Jews were doing to each other. [How often does the world stand amazed and shocked at all the in-fighting in churches who claim to have the love of God?]

However, we know that the spiritual is greater than the physical. The greatest suffering was spiritual. Since the time of Abraham, God had limited Himself to developing and working through one nation [we study why in Covenants]. AD 70 was the final act of closing the Old Testament era. No longer was one nation to be considered the people of God. That time was now gone forever - and will never be renewed. The greatest suffering and one that could never be repeated was as the final divorce papers were served between God and Israel.

We examine this in much more detail in The Book Of Revelation course.

July 09/10 Matt: 24:20

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

Sabbath laws were strict. On the Sabbath you could only walk a certain distance before it was considered "work." Many - if not most - of the Jewish Christians still held to the Jewish traditions and law. If they had to flee on the Sabbath, for some of them, at least, it would set up an internal conflict. Also, the other Jews would not understand the urgency of the situation and the Jewish Christian's flight could have been hindered...certainly it would have been more difficult. And, of course, flight during winter is more difficult than at other times of the year. All this emphasizes the importance of immediate evacuation.

July 08/10 Matt: 24:16-19

then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

Jesus was trying to impress upon His listeners the urgency of the situation. Once they saw the final sign - Jerusalem surrounded by armies who then retreated - they were to know that the War was on them. They were not to be fooled like the majority of the Jewish population into thinking that Rome had given up or could be easily defeated. No, they were to immediately leave the land of Israel. Rome would return and there would be no escape for anyone - especially for those in Jerusalem when it was once again surrounded. The Jewish Christians did watch for the sign and were obedient. As mentioned before, there is no record of a single Christian being trapped in Jerusalem during this horrible war.

July 07/10 Matt: 24:15

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,'spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—

A lot has been said about the "abomination that causes desolation" and "the holy place" but what is it really about? Fortunately we are not left to guess. The Bible itself tells us. Luke 21 is an account of the same incident. In verse 20 he tells us in plan language what Jesus said: "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near." Near the beginning of the Jewish War [AD 66-70] a Roman General surrounded Jerusalem. He almost ended the war before it started. Then for no known military reason he retreated. His retreated allowed the rebels to gather arms and fortify their position. They were then able to drag the tragic war out for 3 1/2 years at the cost of about a million Jewish lives. The general's retreat was the sign given by Jesus for the Jewish Christians to leave the land of Israel. They did and there is no record of even one Christian in the horrible siege of Jerusalem.

July 06/10 Matt: 24:14

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.

Jesus predicted that the gospel would reach the then known world before the final close of the Old Testament era in AD 70. The New Testament testifies that this did indeed happen before the end of the Jewish nation. See Acts 17:6, 24:5, Col. 1:6.

July 05/10 Matt: 24:12-13

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Many people like to apply this to our time. While it can, of course, have general application in every age, we must remember that Jesus was speaking to His own generation. He was looking forward to the time between His death and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In the previous verses He had already warned of false prophets. We tend to think romantically of Jerusalem as the Holy City. But as the War of AD 66-70 approached it grew increasingly wicked. Corruption was at the highest levels, murder was common place, immorality [including homosexuality] was rampant. Families were ripped apart in their loyalties - some wanting war with Rome, others wanting peace. It was a terrible time and place to be living. But the Jews who remained true to their faith in Jesus would be saved in that they would escape most of the horrors about to descend on the nation.

July 02/10 Matt: 24:10-11

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

Many false doctrines arose at this time. Much of the New Testament was written to counter the false teachings which were spreading. Division, envy, and strife attacked the new Church. Many people and churches fell away from the true faith and turned to heresies.

July 01/10 Matt: 24:9

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me."

Satan would attack the Church to try and destroy it. The Jews viciously opposed Christians - as Paul did before his conversion. Later the Romans and other nations joined in. Although Christianity was soon made illegal in the Roman Empire, with few exceptions, it was not the Roman rulers who persecuted the Christians. Often it was the community in which they lived who blamed them for every disaster that happened and demanded they be persecuted.

June 30/10 Matt: 24:7-8

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

As we know, this time in history was full of tremendous upheaval. The book of Acts even refers to a famine which happened at this time [Acts 11:28].

When we look at this we need to ask questions. For example, these are the birth pains of what? What was born in the generation following the death of Christ? The Church! We fail to realize what a dramatic impact that was. Until the time of Christ Satan controlled the world except for one small nation - and even there he often controlled all but a few. From the time of Abraham to Christ God had limited Himself to a select group to prepare the womb through whom Christ would be born - Who would in turn give birth to the Church. Naturally and spiritually the world was shaken during this time.

June 29/10 Matt: 24:6

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Three major wars happened in this time frame - one of which destroyed the Jewish nation and another of which brought the supposedly invincible Roman Empire to its knees. Yet, contrary to many Christians, Jesus said such things were not signs of the end. [See Secret Signs course].

June 26/10 Matt: 24:5

For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many.

A study of the period of history from the death of Christ to AD 70 reveals that the things Jesus predicted in this and the following verses did indeed happen. In fact, most of the New Testament was written to expose the false teaching of deceivers. It is possible that as many as one third of the early church was swept way in false doctrines. Satan attacked the church on many levels.

June 25/10 Matt: 24:4

Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you.

Many teachers would try to deceive the people to their own destruction. Jesus warned His disciples that deceivers would come - as indeed they did. The continuing tragedy is that Christians are STILL being deceived about these things. They are having their faith, time, money and energies misdirected by false teaching about the Second Coming, the nation of Israel, the beast of Revelation, etc.

June 23/10 Matt: 24:3

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

Jewish people were intensely focused on their nation. They believed they were God's chosen people just because of who they were. [Some Christians today believe the same thing.] For the Temple to be destroyed, as Jesus had just said, would to the disciples be almost unbelievable. To them it would be the end of the world/age.

To the disciples the end of the temple, the return of Christ, and the end of the world all had to happen at the same time. How could there be life beyond the temple?

In a sense, of course, they were all linked just not in the physical way they were thinking of. The destruction of the Temple in AD 70 was a spiritual return of Christ in judgment [See Book of Revelation course] which did end the nation of Israel and the Old Covenant age. Part One of world history was closed there.

June 22/10 Matt: 24:2

"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

Jesus was not impressed with the Temple with its impressive designs overlaid with gold. Even in the best of circumstances such a building was temporary and not to be compare to one eternal human life. And beyond that, Jesus knew that it would soon be laying in ruins.

Some Christians criticize other Christians who build elaborate churches. God is not against nice buildings and excellent landscaping. Part of the original purpose of mankind was to develop and beautify the earth. We just need to keep things in perspective.

June 21/10 Matt: 24:1

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.

This was the Temple that Herod had begun building. It was still under construction when Jesus was teaching. In fact, it was only completed a few years before it was destroyed in AD 70. The Temple was a magnificence structure - a true world wonder. The Jews were justifiably proud of it.

Jesus didn't seem to be paying much attention to the Temple so the disciples brought up the subject.

June 18/10 Matt: 23:39

For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Jesus was approaching His death. He had taught them for three and a half years. He had healed their sick and cast out demons. He had fed them physically and spiritually. Now His earthly ministry was at an end. After the resurrection many Jews would come to believe on Jesus as Messiah including at least two of His step-brothers. After the resurrection He would be glorified. His work would be finished. He would return from death victorious.

June 17/10 Matt: 23:38

Look, your house is left to you desolate.

In spite of all the prophets that had been sent to Israel - including the Son Himself - she had abandoned God. Jesus, knowing His upcoming betrayal and crucifixion, saw that they had passed the point of no return. They had abandoned God, now God was going to abandon them. No longer would they have a special claim on God. The people of God are now and forever a spiritual nation - the Church - made up of all nationalities. Jews and Gentiles together form the new nation. The importance of the physical nation is finished. It is now an empty shell.

June 16/10 Matt: 23:37

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Jesus loved Jerusalem. He loved the Jewish people. They had been the womb through which God had brought the Saviour into the world. They had known and walked with God at different times in their history. They had been honoured above all the peoples of the earth. Jesus wanted them to fulfill their destiny - to experience salvation and blessing through Him [the only way]. He wanted them to welcome the rest of the world into the New Covenant age that was dawning. But they would not. They became the people who refused the glorious destiny God had for them. Let us not fall into the same trap. Already our Christian heritage is slipping away as we pursue the ways of the world and allow sin to reign [and gain legal standing!] in our nations. If the church in the West refuses its destiny, God will rise up the Church somewhere else. For the Church is the plan of God and it will win all we can do is cut ourselves out of it.

June 15/10 Matt: 23:36

I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

It is vital to the understanding of the next chapter, that we believe that Jesus meant what He said. He told the Pharisees that all the righteous blood from Abel up to that time was going to be required of that generation. He was warning them that a serious and devastating event was going to take place. Starting with the next verse and on into the next chapter He is going to describe that event.

Sensationalists love to question verses like this. Their entire futuristic theories go up in smoke if Jesus actually meant what He said - that the generation to whom He was speaking would be the ones to experience this event. They come up with all sorts of inventions to try and make "generation" refer to a different generation than the one to whom Jesus was speaking. Let's just believe Jesus meant what He said.

June 14/10 Matt: 23:34-35

Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

The Pharisees and people of Israel could not complain that they did not know the truth. Time and time again - right up to AD 66 - God sent messengers to turn them from their wicked way even through God knew His servants would be rejected. They were to be without the slightest sliver of an excuse.

God has divided human history into two sections: the Old Covenant [before the death of Christ] and the New Covenant [after the death of Christ]. At the end of the Old Covenant era God demanded a blood balancing. The accounts were to be settled and then a new era could truly begin. At the Final Judgment there will also be a blood balancing. Understanding this is vitally important to understanding the next chapter...and the Book of Revelation.

June 6/10 Matt: 23:33

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

The Pharisees thought they were right with God. They knew the Bible well. They polished their outside life to appear righteous to men. They believed they had the inside track with God. They were mistaken. They trusted in their works. No work of man can ever merit salvation. Salvation is totally a work of God. Any other hope other than the grace of God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is a false hope.

June 5/10 Matt: 23:32

Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

Their forefathers had persecuted and murdered the prophets and righteous men of the past. They had begun the process of rejecting and angering Almighty God. Now the Pharisees and religious rules were going to complete the job by murdered the Son of God Himself. There could be no greater crime/sin. They would bring to the brim the cup of the judgment of God which would be released in AD 66-70 - as the Book of Revelation predicts.

While we are individually responsible for our sins, sins also have an accumulative effect. They can build up in a family, an organization, and a nation from generation to generation. Christians do not need to worry about the accumulative effect of sin in their lives since they now have a new genealogy - starting with the sinless perfection of Jesus Christ!

June 3/10 Matt: 23:29-31

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.

It is easy to see the past. The Pharisees looked at the great men and women of the past and deceived themselves into thinking that they would have recognized and treated those people better. Nonsense. The very Son of God was walking under their noses and they were going to crucify Him. As I have pointed out previously, many times the greatest opposition to the great people of God comes from within the church. It is other Christians who create some of the most discouraging times. Let us pray that we will never be so blind as to oppose God's chosen workers and leaders.

June 2/10 Matt: 23:27-28

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

God is never impressed by outward acts. We can fool others...at least for a time. God is never fooled. He looks straight to the heart. Is the heart right? Then the outside will follow. Is the heart wrong? The outside doesn't matter, it is only a deception.

May 31/10 Matt: 23:25-26

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Legalists are concerned with how things look to others. They want to appear righteous. They may be good church-goers. They may give large donations and/or volunteer hours. They may do a lot of wonderful things on the outside, but inside - in the heart - it is dirty. Christians are to live from the inside out. Because we have been cleaned by Christ on the inside our "outside" should automatically be in the process of becoming clean. We do not do our works in order to try to become clean, but because we are clean we do good works. It is a vast difference!

May 29/10 Matt: 23:24

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ we are all blind guides. We think we see the right way but it always ends up in death. This is one reason why our socialist governments fail. They try to help people, they think they are doing right, but they reject God's law and so end up creating worse problems. Every "solution" just ends up hurting more people. They can't figure out why they can't get things to work right. Without Christ to turn on the lights of reality, we are all blind and don't know it.

Legalists always focus on details and neglect the big picture. They fit the old saying of not being able to see the forest because of the trees. They focus on the letter of the law and miss the spirit of the law.

May 28/10 Matt: 23:23

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The Pharisees were good at tithing and, unlike some Christians today, Jesus did not condemn them for that. Tithing was right, but it is not the only thing...or even the most important thing. You cannot buy your way into the Kingdom of God. God looks to see how we are representing Him to others. Are we kind, forgiving, fair, etc.?

The universe is designed as a single unit. It all works together for a perfect whole. We cannot say because we obey in one area we do not have to obey in another area. The more out of order we are, the more things simply do not work.

May 27/10 Matt: 23:20-22

Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.

Jesus sweeps meaningless technicalities away. You cannot escape the justice of God on a technicality. Legalism stands impotent before God. Those who try to use details to cloak their evil hearts will have their true actions exposed and stand responsible for them before God.

May 25/10 Matt: 23:16-19

"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

Legalists are great at technicalities. They love to define things to death. This is why our legal systems allow so much injustice. They have been slowly changed to the socialist way of doing things...and socialism is a legalistic religion. It promises to make the laws which will save society. Because of that, like the Pharisees, it gets bogged down in technicalities and true justice disappears.

May 25/10 Matt: 23:15

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

One could not fault the scribes and Pharisees for their religious dedication. They were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong. Their heart was wrong. They were hard legalists. In thinking they were bringing life, they only brought death. No one is more cruel or harsh than a religious fanatic. Many times we think of this only in terms of those who have some belief in God or gods. However, the most brutal acts have been committed by those who hold to the atheistic religion of humanism which has risen to power in the last 100 years. Millions of people have been tortured and murdered under their "tender" care as they fanatically seek their vision of the "best" for humanity. They even convince naive Christian to support their religious view of evolution and socialism.

May 22/10 Matt: 23:14

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

The scribes and the Pharisees were great ones form outward appearances but they were hard and corrupt in their actions. Even today some Christians think they can come to church, sing, pray, enjoy the sermon and have spiritual experiences without a change in lifestyle. They feel they can live for themselves during the week according to their own standards and for their own profit and still be right with God. They are the modern Pharisees. And God's judgment will be harsher on them than on sinners who have never been presented with the gospel. To whom much is given, much is required.

May 18/10 Matt: 23:13

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Here Jesus lays His charge against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. It is not just that they rejected Him, but they actively interfered with anyone who wanted to follow Jesus. They harassed them, threatened to make the outcasts in Jewish society, argued with them, and despised them. Everyone who rejects God way of salvation stands condemned for themselves but how greater the judgment on them will be if they hinder or prevent others from seeking their salvation in God. This is a good lesson for todays atheists - don't believe if you don't want but don't attempt to destroy the faith others or you will reap the hottest Hell fires. They are there where you believe in them or not! If you think about it, the only reason to oppose Christianity is because deep inside you fear it is true and you don't want it to be. Reality is reality and no amount of impotent humanistic raging can change it one bit.

May 17/10 Matt: 23:12

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

People who are proud and self-promoting are dangerous. They may attain a level of success in this world, but do not envy them. They are failures in the eyes of God...the only eyes which count. If you want to succeed in the Kingdom of God, work hard and leave the results to God. Don't be jealous if someone else gets credit for your work. God knows the truth. Serve to see others succeed and you will be a true success.

May 15/10 Matt: 23:11

The greatest among you will be your servant.

In the real Kingdom of God you get to the top by getting to the bottom. It is following the example of Jesus, the humble Servant, Who left the glories of heaven to serve. We are not to strive for position or titles. We are to be happy wherever God has placed us and do our best there. This doesn't mean that we have the "ambition is sin" attitude. There is nothing wrong, in itself, with wanting to get ahead and succeed in life and/or projects. But things must be done in the correct way with integrity.

May 14/10 Matt: 23:8-10

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.

Is Jesus telling us it is wrong to call anyone "father" or "teacher?" Some Christians have taken His words this way and refuse titles. This is an excellent example of having to look at context - as we study in the Feed Yourself course - to find the the true meaning. Verses taken by themselves can lead to misunderstandings.

In context, Jesus is talking about the pride of the Pharisees and how they thought they were so important. They loved titles. They thought they were the center. Human Rabbis, fathers, and teachers are to be humble people realizing that in some way they are representing God. Everything they have or give is ultimately from the only Rabbi, Father, or Teacher. So we can respect the human instruments, and we can use the titles, but we don't worship anyone but God. We know that God is the real Father and Teacher. Without Him, no one else matters.

May 13/10 Matt: 23:5-7

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

Like many people today, the Pharisees and religious rulers wanted to be the center of attention. They wanted to be admired by the masses. They wanted the power. Things have not changed all that much. People who desire power are usually those least able to handle it. If you see pride in a leader, the best advice I know is: Run. Pride will ultimately destroy the person who operates in it and it will often bring hurt and damage to all around them as well.

May 12/10 Matt: 23:4

They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Legalists always like to tell others what to do. They are so concerned that everyone else follow all the rules. But they, themselves, cannot measure up to their own standard. Sometimes they don't even try, other times they do try...but they fail like everyone else. God's Law [and, of course, they added a lot of their own laws on top of it] is a perfect standard, but it is not a standard anyone can attain. That is the point of the death of Christ. We stand before God and are kept before God solely on the basis of grace. That does not mean the Law is unimportant as we study in Life Line.

May 11/10 Matt: 23:3

So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were unfaithful. They claimed to respect the Law and they taught it, but they did not apply it to themselves. It was just a tool to manipulate others. When we handle the Word of God we must always apply it to ourselves first.

We also see a respect for the position. As representatives of the Law they were to be respected, even through as individuals they were contemptible. There are many cases where we must respect the position even if the people who hold that position are not respectable. That is why we must be extremely careful of our criticism of anyone in a position of authority.

May 8/10 Matt: 23:1-2

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

Moses was the one through whom God gave the Law. In fact, Moses is known as the Lawgiver. He has a place of honour although He did not originate the Law. Those who teach the Law the law sit in Moses' seat. They have a high responsibility to not to pervert or twist the Law but to teach it in purity. Of course, teaching the Law also means following it yourself.

May 5/10 Matt: 22:6

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The question which had seemed so simple, now becomes the unanswerable question. They didn't know how to reply. It didn't seem to make sense when Jesus put it that way. They had tried to trap Jesus, but had found instead that they were trapped. God seems to have sense of humor that treats people the same way they treat others. In any case, no one was going to challenge Jesus on theology again!

May 3/10 Matt: 22:43-45

He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, " 'The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'" If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"

Jesus then asks the real question, quoting Psalm 110:1. A father was always greater than a son. The son had the responsibility to respect and obey his father. That being the case, how could David have referred to his son as 'Lord?' Should not David had been his son's 'Lord?'

Apr. 30/10 Matt: 22:41-42

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied.

The Sadducees and Pharisees had had their turns at asking hard questions. Now Jesus wanted a turn. Jesus asked a simple question to which any of them would have known the answer. They probably answered automatically without giving it much thought. Everyone knew that the Messiah would be a son of David.

Apr. 29/10 Matt: 22:40

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

As we have pointed out in detail in our Life Line Series, the Law [and the prophets] are just explanations of how we are to love God and love our neighbour. As sin-filled creatures we do not know how to love correctly. God gives us the details in the law. The law is not something to be afraid of or despised. It is a gift from God on how to love! People who what to do away with the Law, also do away with genuine, Biblical love.

Apr. 27/10 Matt: 22:39

And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Jesus wasn't afraid of the Pharisees. He gave them a free bonus. He went on to define the second greatest commandment as well. First, we love God. Second, we love each other.

Apr. 26/10 Matt: 22:36-38

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.

The law had many commandments so they figured that no matter which one Jesus choose they would be able to argue that another one was greater. They want to bog Jesus down in pointless arguments and debates.

Jesus went right to the heart of the matter. Love God. If you love God, you will automatically want to keep all the other commandments. If your heart is right, your actions will be as well.

Apr. 24/10 Matt: 22:34-35

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

The Sadducees went off in defeat, but the Pharisees were not ready to give up yet. They want to get Jesus, to expose Him in public so that His following would disappear. They devised another test. He had pointed out how little the Sadducees knew of the correct application of Scripture, very well, how well did He know it?

Apr. 23/10 Matt: 22:33

When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

This was all new to the people. The teachers of the law that they knew never taught like this! Jesus made the Word of God real, alive, and applicable.

Apr. 22/10 Matt: 22:32

'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

Jesus said that the fact that God constantly referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed that those men were still alive. They were definitely not alive on planet earth so they must be alive someone else. That also showed, according the Jesus, that at some time in the future there would be a resurrection when they would be reunited with their body and living as God intended. We study this in the Death and Beyond series.

Apr. 21/10 Matt: 22:31

But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you,

Once again Jesus condemns them for the lack of knowledge of the Scripture. They knew the words of Scripture but the meaning and application evaded them. Likewise, we can know a lot about Scripture, but it takes the revelation of the Holy Spirit to make it come alive to us personally.

Apr. 20/10 Matt: 22:30

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Here Jesus reveals an insight into life after His return. Marriage is only for this stage in our existence. Marriage, sex, and children are blessings from God, but they are only temporary. When Christ returns the population will be sealed. No more dying and no more being born.

Apr. 19/10 Matt: 22:29

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

Jesus met them head on in this case. Their entire premise was wrong because they did not understand the Scriptures nor the power of God. It was a powerful insult flung in the faces of religious "experts." The Pharisees were probably hiding their smiles at this attack on their opponents.

Often arguments against Christianity can seem logical and unanswerable. However, all arguments and reasonings are built on a foundation of presuppositions [see our e-mail course]. If those presuppositions are wrong, then they entire argument collapses. Always look to see the presuppositions any argument is built on.

Apr. 15/10 Matt: 22:25-28

Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

In trying to disprove the resurrection - which they knew Jesus believed in - they appealed to an Old Testament Law. The purpose of the law had to do with having a continuous family name. If a husband died without children then his brother would marry his widow and the first-born son would carry the original husband's name and inherit just as if he had been the first husband's child. This would also provide protection for the widow as she would not be left destitute when her husband died. It is a law that is not applicable in New Testament times although its principles are still valid.

In any case, the Sadducees set up their argument. To them this showed the foolishness of this "resurrection" theory. Even to try to explain it would be silly.

Apr. 15/10 Matt: 22:23-24

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

The enemies of Jesus did not let up. Now the Sadducees came trying to trick or embarrass Jesus. It is interesting to note that the Pharisees and the Sadducees did not like each other. They disagreed on many key religious questions - including the resurrection. People and organizations that are enemies to each other will often unite in their common hatred of Christ and/or Christians. Jesus unites not only His people, but also His enemies!

Have you ever wondered what taking the Lord's name in vain is? We often think of profanity and the loose use of terms like "Oh my God." Certainly they are included, but just as bad - or perhaps worse - is calling Jesus "Master" or "Lord" when we don't really mean it.

Apr. 14/10 Matt: 22:21-22

They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

There was only one answer to the question. Caesar had stamped his image on the coin. It was Caesar's coin. On the other hand, God owned everything including the metal the coin was made of...and even Caesar himself. Therefore, they could not find any fault in the answer of Jesus. He had neatly sidestepped what they had thought was an unescapable trap. No one could accuse Jesus of being a tax rebel, but neither could they say he supposed an oppressive government.

Sometimes we get involved in conflicts which, while the cause may be just, detract from our main purpose of spreading the gospel. If the gospel is believed and accepted by the majority of people in a society, the society will change. Until that happens a minority cannot force unwanted change on a majority. The key to any long-term positive change is Jesus.

Apr. 13/10 Matt: 22:20

and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

A simple question, with a profound meaning. The person whose portrait and inscription were on the coin claimed ultimate ownership of the coin. In other words, he was the master. Use of the coin for tax or even other purposes showed an obedience of Caesar. It was an unconscious acknowledgment of Caesar's lordship and right to rule.

Today we do the same thing. We use "Caesar's" money all the time. Most people never even give it a second thought. In a world currently governed by unrighteous principles we must use what is available to accomplish the expansion of the Kingdom of God. Of course, the idea of money is not wrong, but - as we learn in Christian Social Theory, government has no right to be involved in the creation, control or distribution of money.

Apr. 9/10 Matt: 22:19

Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius,

Owning the tax coin showed that they had already submitted to Ceasar. They had already declared their position before Jesus spoke another word.

The enemies of Christ thought they were about to outsmart Him, but they were on a slippy slope. The more they tried to advance, the more they slipped back. Many times Christ's enemies entrap themselves. Christians do not have to be overly defensive. The plots of the enemy often backfire.

Apr. 7/10 Matt: 22:18

But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

Because Jesus totally relied on the Father, nobody could deceive Him. He knew what they were up to and He confronted them. He did not give into their flattery or spare their feelings.

The Holy Spirit lives within us. As we learn to rely on Him we, too, can see the snares set before our feet. He can guide us through the mine field that wicked people leave for us.

Mar. 20/10 Matt: 22:17

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

They had plotted and planned this seemingly innocent question. They had worked out what they thought was a no-win situation for Jesus. As far as they knew, there was no right answer. If Jesus said that they should pay tribute to Caesar then the people would reject Him - and possibly stone Him themselves - because they hated the Romans. On the other hand, if Jesus said not to give tribute to Caesar then all they had to do was to report to Pilate that Jesus was preaching rebellion and Jesus would be arrested and executed.

We need the wisdom of God to recognize when people are entrapping us. We need to have our tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit. We do not have to answer every question directly.

Mar. 19/10 Matt: 22:16

And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

Beware of flattery! These were a bunch of liars. They had no respect for Jesus. They were trying to use smooth words to put Him off His guard. We like to think people like us, we like to be accepted and complimented [and genuine compliments are great]. We have to look beyond the words and see the heart. Notice that everything they said was true, but it was said with a hidden agenda. Because Jesus knew He was totally accepted by God, the words of men had no effect on Him. We, too, need to know we are totally accepted and loved by God. We do not need the acceptance of man.

Mar. 17/10 Matt: 22:15

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

Jesus lived under constant pressure. The powerful Pharisees deliberately tried to destroy Him. They wanted to find a way to turn the people against Him so that they could murder Him. Our tongue is the hardest part of our body to control. They wanted to trip Jesus up in what He said.

Mar. 16/10 Matt: 22:8-14

For many are called, but few are chosen.

The message goes out to everyone. The call is heard everywhere under heaven. Many are called. However, many reject the call. They are too busy with their own lives, they trust on their good works, they choose to think a good God would not send them to Hell, they want to have religion on their own terms. It never works. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. It is a free gift to those who will accept it. It hurts our pride because we want to feel that somehow we have earned it. The few trust completely in the Blood of Jesus Christ. They are the chosen.

Mar. 15/10 Matt: 22:8-11-13

And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There is only one way into the Kingdom of God: the blood of Jesus Christ. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. We have to get rid of our rags and accept the pure white wedding garment offered freely by Jesus Christ. If we are depending on anything else, Hell will be our destiny. We did not come before God because of our nationality, our good works, our family, or anything else. All religions do not lead to the same destination. Outside of Jesus Christ all paths lead to Hell. On Judgment Day there will be no defense for rejecting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. And there is no second chance once death draws its veil.

Mar. 06/10 Matt: 22:8-10

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Man cannot subvert the purposes of God. His Son will have a bride and a celebration. The physical nation of Israel cut themselves out of the plan of God and reaped His judgment. Therefore, the Kingdom of God was thrown open to everyone regardless of national heritage. Anyone who comes to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is welcome. It doesn't matter what their past may have been. Everyone is welcome. Heaven will be full!

Mar. 05/10 Matt: 22:7

But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

The things of God are serious. Israel as a nation rejected their invitation to the Kingdom of God. As a result, God rejected the nation of Israel from the purposes of God. God's final Judgment on the nation was in AD 70 when the temple and city of Jerusalem was burned to the ground and the nation was destroyed. Individual Jews are welcome into the new spiritual nation of God, but the physical nation is forever finished. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who do not see this. They think God is giving His Son two brides: natural Israel and the Church. The New Testament clearly exposes this as a heresy.

Mar. 03/10 Matt: 22:6

And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

Most of the prophets met a martyr's death at the hands of the people they were ministering to and the religious leaders. Believe it or not, the religious people did not want to hear from God. And they certainly did not want to repent and change their ways. They thought that by removing the messengers they could get rid of the message. Are we willing to listen to God - through His messengers - or are we walking in rebellion? Where is our heart?

Mar. 02/10 Matt: 22:4-5

Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

The Father did not just give one call and then give up. The message went out many times. Prophet after prophet was sent. They described the joy and excitement of this celebration. God is generous and He goes all out in His parties. No one in their right mind would want to miss it! But these people had other priorities. They were busy with life, the things of God were not important to them. They had their religious life but it was focused on themselves and what they wanted. How many times do we fall into the same trap? In Revelation 3 we see Jesus standing outside the CHURCH knocking to see if He will be allowed in! Not much has changed.

Mar. 01/10 Matt: 22:3

And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

At the right time God sent out His servants. The prophets called Israel to this great day, they pointed to the time when the Bride and Husband would be joined in joyous celebration. John the Baptist was the last of these great prophets. While the common people heard him, the religious rulers - to whom this parable was pointed - rejected his message. Often Jesus condemned the religious rulers for their hardness of hard and for hindering people from coming into the Kingdom of God. It is amazing that often supposedly Christian religious leaders oppose Christ more than the unsaved.

Feb. 27/10 Matt: 22:2

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

Jesus gave many illustrations to help us understand what the Kingdom of heaven/God is like. No one picture is complete, but each one helps to comprehend the big picture.

In this case God is the King Who has arranged a marriage for His Son, Jesus. He sought out a beautiful bride and made all the arrangements. The initiation of our relationship with Jesus is always with God the Father. He is the One Who puts it together.

Feb. 25/10 Matt: 22:1

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

Jesus did not allow the hatred and opposition of the powerful religious rulers, to stop Him. He just kept on going. He knew no one could touch Him until it was His time. Likewise, we are protected. Nothing can happen to us until God allows it.

Feb. 23/10 Matt: 21:45-46

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

The chief priests and Pharisees knew they were the object of the parables of Jesus here. They had tried to trick Jesus, but He had turn the tables on them. Instead of being convicted and repenting, they hated Him for it. If they could have, they would have seized Him right then and killed Him. But they knew the multitude believed Jesus was a Prophet. They did not want a negative reaction from the crowds which might have resulted in their own stoning.

Sometimes we complain about our governmental leaders. The bottom line is that they can only go as far as the majority of their citizens are willing to let them go. We are responsible for the condition of our countries. Many times, like the Pharisees, we do not want to bring our own lives into line with the will of God, so we cannot make demands on our leaders.

Feb. 22/10 Matt: 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Jesus lays out His challenge. He brings them [and us] face-to-face with reality. If we come to Christ we will be broken. Our hard heart, our sinful ways, even our will must be broken and submitted to Christ. On the other hand, if we refuse to come to Christ and be broken, the day of judgment will come and the stone will fall on us. We will be destroyed with no hope of restoration.

Feb. 20/10 Matt: 21:43

Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Jesus, as Lord of the Universe, renders the judgment of God. The kingdom of God was to be taken from the physical nation - Israel - and given to the spiritual nation - the Church. The nation of God is now and forever made up of people from every physical nation. Some confused Christians want to reverse the words of Jesus and take the Kingdom of God from the Church and give it to the national Jews. They stand against the Words of Christ. Of course, Jews are welcome into the spiritual nation but it is because of Christ not because of their nationality.

Feb. 19/10 Matt: 21:42

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Again, Jesus insulted these experts in Scripture. Jesus could use irony and sarcasm at times - as we see in the Feed Yourself course. The Pharisees spent their life studying the Scriptures and Jesus points out their ignorance of it.

The builders [Jewish leaders] rejected the stone [Jesus], but God made the Stone the cornerstone of His building. Everything must line up with this Stone. The wisdom of God is past finding out.

Feb. 17/10 Matt: 21:41

They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

The Pharisees could see the injustice which happened in the story. Obviously those murderers, who had abused their trust, would be judged. Then the Owner Who find other husbandmen to look after His property. What else could happen?

In our up-side down socialistic society this is no longer an obvious answer. Humanistic judges and lawmakers often "legally" rob the rightful property owners of their property and turn it over to the wicked husbandmen. We live in a world which is increasingly rejecting the justice and ways of God. In seeking their own ways they will self-destruct. A Day of Judgment is coming.

Feb. 16/10 Matt: 21:40

When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?

Having laid out His story, setting the trap, Jesus then asks His thought-provoking question. There is really only one answer. The husbandmen have been blinded by their socialistic greed. They thought they really could get away with their scheme. In reality, the Owner will return. There will be a day of reckoning.

Feb. 15/10 Matt: 21:37-39

But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

Finally, the Owner sent His Son. For these socialistic husbandmen this was to opportunity to seize the property on a permanent basis - they hopped. With no heir they would have no one to oppose them. Jesus is, of course, the Son Who was plotted against and killed by the religious rulers. Interestingly the Scripture does not place the blame on the Romans, but on the Jewish leaders for the death of Christ. Of course, as rebels against God, we are all responsible before God for the death of His Son. Only as we come to Him for forgiveness can we move from judgment to mercy.

Feb. 13/10 Matt: 21:34-36

And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

As the story progresses, the harvest comes. According to His agreement with the husbandmen, the Owner sent His servants to receive His portion of the harvest. Instead of living up to their agreement the husbandmen wanted it all. They rejected the servants - beating some and killing others. The servants are the Old Testament prophets sent to bring Israel back to God.

The husbandmen were good socialists. They refused to honour their agreement and the property rights of the owner. They wanted it all and they did not care who or what they had to violate in order to get what they wanted.

Feb. 11/10 Matt: 21:33

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

Jesus was a Master at making His points in parables. He knew how to reach the heart...and the memory. I am sure the self-righeous Pharisees never forgot a parable directed to them!

Here Jesus pictures God has a householder who has carefully and completely provided for His property. He then trusts its care to others - religious rulers - who are supposed to looked after it for the benefit of the Owner.

Feb. 11/10 Matt: 21:32

For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

John the Baptist - the last of the Old Testament prophets - declared the way of God, but they rejected him. They did not want to change their lives. They were not interested in promoting the way and will of God. All they wanted was their will in God's name. God was, to them, just a tool to use to achieve power, position, and money. However, the outcast sinner of society believed and repented. God accepted them into His family. But this did not break the hard heart of the Pharisees and religious rulers. They still refused to repent. Now it would also be a blow to their pride if they were to turn to the same God who was forgiving harlots and crime bosses.

Feb. 10/10 Matt: 21:31

Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Jesus asked the religious rulers the question. They considered the problem, failed to see the lesson behind it, and returned the obvious answer. Then Jesus pierces their heart. They were the second son. They pretended to obey God but walked in rebellion, while others who had walked in open rebellion were repenting and beginning to do the will of God.

Feb. 9/10 Matt: 21:29

He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Jesus looks at two son who receive instruction from their father. The first one rebelled in the beginning, but then he changed his mind and obeyed. The second son said what his father wanted to hear, but then disobeyed. He had no intention of obeying, only of deceiving his father to stay out of trouble.

Feb. 8/10 Matt: 21:28

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard.

Although Jesus did not answer their challenge directly, He did not miss the opportunity to instruct them and the people. He set up a parable which would make them think. Not only that, but also Jesus set it up so that when then returned the obvious answer they would be convicting themselves. You did not want to get into a war of words with Jesus!

Feb. 6/10 Matt: 21:27

And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

The religious rulers wimped out. They did not have the courage to take a stand one way or the other. As a result, Jesus refused to directly answer their question. We do not have to answer every question. We do not have to defend every point. God is in control, not us. We can be relaxed in every situation.

Feb. 5/10 Matt: 21:25-26

The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

The religious rulers liked to pose hard questions to Jesus. They would spend time figuring out what they thought would be unanswerable questions and then throw them at Jesus. They would try to arrange situations to entrap Jesus. Now Jesus, through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, returns an unanswerable question back to them. They knew what they wanted to say; but they also knew it would not be accepted by the people. On the other hand, they could not give the popular answer because then Jesus would challenge them to live according to their answer.

Public opinion can be a powerful force for good or evil. Many times we complain about our governmental leaders, but they can only get away with what the majority are willing to let them get away with. The majority in our nations often do not want to make their leader accountable because it would be they too would have to live righteously.

Feb. 4/10 Matt: 21:24

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

Sometimes when we are challenged we get defensive. We feel we have to explain everything to everyone. Jesus knew His authority came from God, He did not need acceptance by earthly authorities. So Jesus was not defensive or shaken by their challenge. Instead, He turned it back to them. When our actions are rooted in the authority of God we will not be shaken by the attacks of man.

Feb. 3/10 Matt: 21:23

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?

The religious rulers did not let up. It did not matter that Jesus only did good. It did not matter that the people - that they should have cared about - were being helped. No, they only saw Jesus as a threat to their power and authority. So they challenged Him. Keep in mind that these were powerful men who could cut people out of society or even have them killed.

Feb. 2/10 Matt: 21:22

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Christians have all the resources of heaven at their disposal. It cannot be used for sinful or selfish reasons. However, there is no limit to what we can have to accomplish the mission God has given us on the earth. Anything is possible...but we have to ask in faith. God doesn't give us things before we need them, but if we will ask we will have whatever we need when we need it. Let's not forget to ask and go without!

Feb. 1/10 Matt: 21:21

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Nations that opposed the purposes of God were referred to as destroying mountains. Jesus was encouraging His disciples that through faith nothing would be able to stand in their way. Even nations would be brought down before them. This is one reason why some nations persecute Christians. The heathen recognize - more than many Christians - the power of gospel. They know that if they do not stop Christianity, Christianity will transform their nation. Even through it would be a benefit for everyone, like the Pharisees, they do not want their people to be blessed. However, the gospel cannot be stopped. In the long run they will fall before the Cross of Christ.

Jan. 30/10 Matt: 21:20

And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

The disciples didn't understand the message at this point in their lives. In fact, they didn't understand much! But God had changed their hearts and they were committed to Jesus Christ whether they understood or not. We need the same stubborn faith that refuses to let go no matter what. There are many things that we do not understand, but we must hold onto the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Jan. 29/10 Matt: 21:19

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Jesus did nothing unless His Father told Him to do it. He did not curse the fig tree simply because it was inconvenient for Him not to find figs on it to satisfy His hunger. There was a deeper message behind it. Israel was the flowering fig tree which should have had fruit on it to feed the nations with the blessing of God. Instead they were barren offering nothing to the staving nations. As Jesus entered the final days of His earthly life, knowing He would be rejected as the final act of rebellion by Israel, He cursed the fig tree as a message that Israel itself would be rejected by God. It did not have to be that way, but their hardness of heart had made it necessary. They had cut themselves out of the blessing of God for the last time. From then - to forever - God would choose a new people from all nations...called the Church.

Jan. 28/10 Matt: 21:18

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

Although Jesus was God when He came to earth He laid aside His Divinity. He became truly human and experienced everything we do. He knew sadness and joy, pleasure and pain, excitement and crushing disappointment. He knew it all from experience, including hunger. God became Man and did not protect Himself from anything. We have a faithful High Priest who knows exactly how we feel. It is not just intellectual knowledge, but knowledge born of experience. For example, He did not say "Turn the other cheek" because it sounded nice, but because He had had to do it...and He knew it was the correct response. I wonder how many people cheated the Carpenter, I wonder how many Roman soldiers had bullied their way into His life during those silent years.

Jan. 27/10 Matt: 21:17

And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Jesus was not going to waste His time debating with the Pharisees. They had chosen their course and were not going to change. He left Jerusalem to spend the night with friends in little Bethany.

Jan. 25/10 Matt: 21:16

And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Jesus could use sarcasm at times. Here He looked these powerful men, who were experts in the Word of God, in the eye and basically asked them why they were ignorant of what the Word of God said. Jesus had no patience of religious hypocrites. He was short and to the point because they were robbing people of the rich life God intended them to have. They did not want to submit to God and they wanted to hinder as many people as possible. It was not that they did it in ignorance [like Saul/Paul did], it was with full knowledge of who Jesus was.

Jan. 23/10 Matt: 21:15

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,

No matter how great something is, someone is not going to like it. The old saying, "You can't please everyone" is true. Sometimes we think that if we do good then we will be accepted and everyone will like us or support us. Sorry, doing good sometimes brings out great opposition. There are people who do not want others to be happy or blessed. They are jealous or angry or agents of the devil. Notice, Jesus was ministering to and helping the people and it was the religious rulers who were displeased! I would have thought they would have been the people most supportive. Sometimes it is the people who should be the most supportive that turn against us. Family members often cannot see past our failures, for example. If you study the lives of great men and women of God, you will find that often they faced more opposition from within the church that from without it, Strange, but true. God help us that we never be found fighting against His men and women.

Jan. 22/10 Matt: 21:14

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

Jesus ministered to those who came to Him. He did not turn people away. He showed that God was not selfish or corrupt. God genuinely loves and cares for us. He will not turn anyone away. We can come to Him in confidence. It doesn't matter what our life experiences have been, it doesn't matter what sins we have committed, or what others have said about us. We can come to God and experience His love for ourselves.

Jan. 18/10 Matt: 21:13

And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

There is nothing wrong with moneychangers or with buying or selling in general. It was that they were abusing God and God's house in their business. We know from history that there was widespread corruption - with the priests taking a cut. Not only were they in the wrong place, but also they were cheating the people in the name of God. They were misrepresenting who God is. They were picturing God as just another Person taking advantage of the poor and helpless. It stirred the anger of Jesus.

There are people, even today, who take advantage of people in the name of God. They misrepresent Who God Is. The judgment of Jesus will come to them in time.

Jan. 8/10 Matt: 21:12

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

A careful reading of the gospels shows that twice Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and buyers and sellers. He did it once at the beginning of His ministry, and now He does it again at the close of His ministry.

Sometimes we think all anger is wrong. Anger in itself is not wrong. It is sin when it is focused on ourselves. It is sin when we express it in wrong ways, but there are things we should be angry about. We need to be angry when people are abused. We need to be angry with criminals who damaged people lives. We need to be angry with governments [including Canadian and American governments] who violate their God-given trust and ruin the lives of their citizens.

Jan. 7/10 Matt: 21:11

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

The multitude identified Jesus as a great prophet. This is true, but it is not all. Islam and other religions often view Jesus as a great prophet. Prophets have come and prophets have gone. Our vision must be greater than that. There is only one Messiah, only one King of kings, only one Jesus Christ. Our vision must see Jesus as Saviour and Lord, God in the flesh.

Jan. 6/10 Matt: 21:10

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?

When Jesus was born all Jerusalem was stirred up. The brutal Herod the Great was reigning then...but that is the way they wanted it. As we know, Herod tried to have the new born King murdered [Herod would have made a great evolutionist - kill anyone who gets in the way]. Now the adult Jesus returns and again the city was stirred up. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but He will stir things up. He divides between light and darkness. He brings peace with God...but war with the enemies of God.

Jan. 5/10 Matt: 21:9

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

A great multitude surrounded Jesus as He rode toward Jerusalem. There was great excitement. The people were reaching an emotional high. Their expectancy was at an all time high. The Messiah/King - the true heir of the mighty King David - was here. Things were going to happen. The world was about to be shaken. They were right. Events were about to taken place that would changed the destiny of the world and billions of people. The world was going to be shaken - just not in the way they expected.

Sometimes we are disappointed because things don't happen the way we expected them to happen. God's ways may be confusing to us, but they are always far greater than we could imagine.

Jan. 4/10 Matt: 21:8

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.

The people celebrated the coming of the King, although they had many misconceptions.

Who was this great multitude? This happened at the Passover when Jews from all over the world thronged Jerusalem. Many of this crowd were country people who had heard Jesus speak and had seen His miracles. Most of them were not from Jerusalem itself.

Jan. 2/10 Matt: 21:7

And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.

Not only were they obedient, but also they were successful. Mission accomplished. Then they placed their clothes on the donkey as a token of respect and submission. Then Jesus was set on the donkey. Here the King was coming, not in pride and anger but in true power and authority. Although it did not look like it, Jesus would conquer the world - spiritual and physical.

Jan. 1/10 Matt: 21:6

And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,

The disciples did not understand the importance of what they were doing. They were simply being obedient. It is not our job to understand everything God asks us to do. It is our job to be obedient. A soldier does not question or argue with his commander. A disciple does not dispute with the master. Obedience is a requirement of the Christian life, not an option.

Dec. 31/09 Matt: 21:5

Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Kings and conquerers of old often rode into cities on battle horses. They were in charge and people lived or died according to their will. This was the kind of Messiah/King that Israel wanted and looked for. Someone who would destroy the Roman Empire and rule the world from Jerusalem.

The prophet long before had predicted that the Messiah/King would be different. He would enter the city on a donkey. He would not conquer with war and bloodshed. No, He would be meek - controlled strength - and humble. His kingdom was to be different...and eternal.

Dec. 30/09 Matt: 21:4

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,

Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies very well. He knew this was what must be done to the Messiah; therefore, it had to happen to Him. Some critics say Jesus manipulated the prophecies in order to appear to be the Messiah. Of course, Jesus knew the prophecies and - in full confidence that He was the Messiah - walked in fulfillment of them. However, there are also many fulfilled prophecies over which Jesus would have had no control and could not fulfill without Divine intervention.

Dec. 29/09 Matt: 21:3

And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.

Jesus anticipated problems. If two of His disciples just took someone's donkey and colt it would cause questions. Jesus gave His disciples the instructions that would allow them to complete their mission. Within the command of Christ lies the power to preform it. In other words, He never asks us to do anything unless He prepares/trains us how to accomplish it.

Dec. 28/09 Matt: 21:1-2

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

The climax of the life of Jesus was coming. Jesus knew what was coming and He did not try to escape. He went calmly on knowing that the fate of the world was on His shoulders. One slip and everyone would be lost forever.

Jesus choose two disciples for this assignment. He could have sent all of them or He could have selected only one. He choose two because He knew that was the most efficient number to accomplished what need to be done. Sometimes we go overboard and spend all our energy on something what could have been accomplished with less effort. We all need balance in life.

Jesus had a supernatural knowledge of situations and events around him. He knew the donkey and her colt would be where He sent His disciples. Through the Holy Spirit we can also have supernatural knowledge as we need it.

Dec. 26/09 Matt: 20:34

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

Jesus did not disappoint them. He touched their eyes and their received their healing. Faith will be rewarded, but no risk, no gain. Don't be afraid, ask.

The end result is that they followed Jesus. Miracles have a purpose beyond the immediate result. They are to draw people to Jesus.

Dec. 23/09 Matt: 20:33

They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.

These men - you have to love them - would not be discouraged, would not settle for less than the best. They knew what they wanted and nothing was going to stop them. They bravely told Jesus what they wanted. They had no doubt that they would receive their request. They were specific in what they wanted. Many times our requests are so general that we would never know if it was answered or not. We don't want to risk rejection or disappointment, so we don't ask. And nothing happens. If we want to receive from God, we must ask.

Dec. 22/09 Matt: 20:32

And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?

Their calls were heard by Jesus - the only One Who mattered. Jesus stopped and had them brought to Him. If we are hungry for God, we will be satisfied. If we refused to be discouraged by people who are cold in their relationship and are stuck in their ways, Jesus will meet us. He will call us to Himself. No one can stand in His way.

The question of Jesus seems stupid. What is the greatest need of two blind men? Didn't He know what they wanted? Of course, He knew. He wanted to focus their faith into a specific request. They could have chickened out at the last moment and asked for money or food. They probably would have gotten it, but they would have missed the greater miracle for fear of asking. How much do miss because we are afraid to ask? How many times do we "play it safe" in our requests because we don't want to be disappointed? Are we afraid to lay it on the line and dare to ask God for what we really want.

Dec. 21/09 Matt: 20:31

And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

Their cries embarrassed the multitude. How could these two dirty blind beggars think that Jesus would do anything for them? How could they make such a scene? They thought Jesus had more important things to do. So they discouraged the blind men. Unfortunately this is not uncommon. People in the church can be very discouraging to those who want to go on with God.

These blind men would not be discouraged. No one was going to rob them of touching Jesus. In fact, the more people tried to discouraged them, the more they cried out. No one was going to stop them. We need to develop the same attitude. We need a holy stubbornness that no one is going to move us from being disciples of Jesus. No one is going to hold us back.

Dec. 19/09 Matt: 20:30

And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.

When two blind men heard that Jesus was coming their way, they began to call out to Him. They had heard of His healing power and they dared to believe that He would heal them. This was a one time opportunity. Although they did not know it, Jesus would never pass this way again. There was no second chance.

They proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of David. This was a title of the Messiah. They recognized - unlike many of the multitude - that Jesus was the Messiah. He was not just a great Prophet. He was the long promised One. Their faith was based on their knowledge of the Messiah and what He could and would do.

Dec. 18/09 Matt: 20:29

And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

The next stop on the way to the cross was taken. The destiny of the world was at stake. One wrong move and all would be lost forever. The multitude, ignorant of the cosmic struggle around the corner, followed after. They had no clue of the issues at stake, but followed because of the general excitement. Jesus doesn't want followers, He never asked for converts, what He requires is disciples.

Dec. 17/09 Matt: 20:28

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Jesus is, of course, the ultimate example. Although He was King of the Universe with total power and authority, He limited Himself to a human body and entered a humiliation greater than we can imagine. He served the poor, the harlots, washed His disciple's feet, spent His life as a servant. Not only that but also He voluntarily went to torture and death in order to save the people He loved. For world leaders its all about hanging onto power, winning the next election at all costs. Not so with Jesus. He gave it all up...and it all came back to Him and more. It is the principle of sowing and reaping.

Dec. 16/09 Matt: 20:26-27

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

The Kingdom of God is different from the kingdom of the world. The world leaders seek power and control. In the Kingdom of God the servant is the truly great person. You get to the top by getting to the bottom. This is reality. It is not the person who claws and fights their way into a position of power that is going to keep it. True power and authority come to the person who will humbly serve others. We see this illustration in the world of business often. The company which serves the needs of its customers best, is the one which is usually the most successful.

Dec. 15/09 Matt: 20:25

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

Even through He was on the way to the cross, Jesus had to take time to explain the difference between the kingdom of men and the Kingdom of God. Petty issues can interrupt great events, but they have to be dwelt with or else they will fester and cause more problems later on.

Jesus began by pointing out the way of the world. Rulers in the world seek power and control over others. It has been so since the Fall. We call our government leaders "minister" as in the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Education, etc. In Canada we even call our top leader the Prime Minister. The name means that they should be serving, but often that is not the case. Politics is about power and control. This is why all governments lean or pursue socialism even through it has never worked - it gives them more control. The War on Drugs is not about drugs, its people control, The Patriot Act and similar laws are not about terrorism, but people control. Licenses, regulations, minimum wage laws are not about protecting the public, they are all about power and control. [See Christian Social Theory.] And they are not about controlling evil people, but the average citizen who is not breaking any moral law. The public is blinded by smoke screens and misinformation into promoting this loss of freedom and supporting the very people who are enslaving them.

Dec. 14/09 Matt: 20:24

And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Playing politics can backfire. There are no secrets. The other ten disciples heard what had happened and they were greatly upset. Of course, the reason they were upset was that they wanted those positions for themselves. Each had imagined himself in that treasured position. They may have been mad that they had not thought of getting their mothers involved first.

Life with the disciples of Jesus was not always smooth. Sometimes we want all our relationships to just be perfect. Not going to happen. With hard feelings even among the 12 men closest to Jesus, we are going to face the same type of things.

Dec. 9/09 Matt: 20:23

And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

Jesus confirmed that they would indeed pay the price. The cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ costs everything. They would go through fire, but they would be victorious. However, He disappointed them. It was not His decision who would have what positions. As with everything Jesus did, He did only what the Father told Him to do. It was the Father who would decide, in fact, had already decided.

Dec. 8/09 Matt: 20:22

But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

This shows that James and John had come along with their mother. Jesus turned from her to address His two scheming disciples. They still have a carnal vision of the Kingdom of God. They had no clue as to what sitting beside Him in His kingdom really meant or of the price that had to be paid to get there. Jesus asks if they are willing to pay the price that will be demanded of them. With a confidence, born of ignorance, they readily agreed.

Dec. 7/09 Matt: 20:21

And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

Jesus did not get angry, as we might have. His mind was focused on the up-coming struggle on which the destiny of the world hung. Failure would mean every human ever to come into existence would spend eternity in hell forever cut off from the love of God.

Yet here was this woman, whose vision was no larger than her sons, coming to try and get the best positions for her sons James and John. Of course, James and John were involved in this and may even have suggested it to her. It was playing politics to try and get the best for themselves.

Dec. 4/09 Matt: 20:20

Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

Just after this intense conversation with His close disciples, the mother of James and John approached Him. She obviously had something on her mind. Unlike Mary, she wasn't really interested in sitting at the feet of Jesus. She wanted something.

How often are we like that? We are not really interested in what Jesus is doing, what we really want is for Him to do what we want. Our focus is on our own desires, everything else is second place - at best.

Dec. 3/09 Matt: 20:19

And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

The Old Testament, through prophecy, gives greater details of the suffering and death of Christ than the New Testament does. Jesus was very familiar with the Old Testament. He knew the intensity of the suffering He would undergo. He had also seen many of His fellow Jews crucified. He knew what was coming, but it did not stop Him. He knew it was God's will and He trusted that God would raise Him up on the third day. He had faith and confidence in His Father.

Martyrs and those who suffer for Christ have the same kind of faith. They have confidence that even as they lose their lives in this world - some even at a very young age - they will gain life in an eternal world in the presence of Christ.

Of course, this same principle applies to all of us. We are all called to die for Christ. It may not be a martyr's death, but we are to die to self. We are to put our own desires aside in order to see the Kingdom of God advance. We can do this because we trust our Father to do what is right. We know our sacrifices are not in vain. We will rise again.

Dec. 2/09 Matt: 20:18

Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,

Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him. He knew Judas would betray Him. He knew His own people would call for His death. He was prepared, but He wanted His disciples to be prepared as well. Jesus never leaves us unprepared but many times we are unwilling to hear.

Dec. 1/09 Matt: 20:17

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,

Often we think of the 12 disciples as the only disciples. There were many disciples from time to time but the 12 were the core group and even within the 12 there were the 3 who were especially close to Jesus. The closer we are to Jesus the more we are going to know Him and the more He is going to share with us. When Jesus walked the earth, He was limited by a physical body. There were only so many who could be close to Him. Now, anyone who believes in Him can be as close as they want to be. Some desire a far walk - not much commitment - others follow God with an intense passion. Where are you? You are certainly as close to God as you are willing to be.

In the natural we have the same challenge. We can only share our life or ministry with a limited number of people. We need to choose the people who are close to us carefully.

Nov. 30/09 Matt:20:16

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

God is the Perfect Judge. He will order each person as He wills. He is in control and no socialist devil is going to take that from Him. God calls many people into His service, but many times we are too busy or distracted to hear the call or, perhaps, we are too fearful. I remember hearing a minister tell a story of how he started what would be come a very successful church. God called him to start a church in a certain community and he answered the call. Later God revealed to him that He has called 5 other ministers before him to the task but each had refused. God's work will be done, the only question is whether we will be involved in His project or only our own in His name. Only His projects come with His power and authority and earns His reward.

Nov. 28/09 Matt:20:15

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

As long as the businessman fulfilled his contract, he was free to do want he wanted to with the rest of money. No one [individual, union OR government] had the right to tell him what to do with his posssessions. He could keep it for himself, he could invest it, he could give it away, or whatever. It was no one else's business. These first workers were selfish. They had received what they had freely agreed to, but now they wanted more. They were envious because someone had gotten more than they had. Our society in North America, at least, is built on theft and envy. See our Christian Social Theory page and up-coming course for greater details.

Nov. 27/09 Matt:20:14

Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

The contract was fulfilled. The workers had no further claims on the businessman. The workers were obligated to provide a good day's work and the businessman was obligated to pay what he had agreed to. When it was finished there were no further obligation on either part unless a new contract was entered into.

One application is that no one has a lifetime interest in a job. A job is only there when it benefits both parties. If the worker doesn't like the job he can give his two week's notice and go to another job. Likewise if the company no longer needs the position or finds someone who can do a better or less expensive job, they can give notice. A legitimate job is a voluntary agreement to the benefit of both parties.

The complaining did not change the businessman's mind. Complaining is not productive. It closes doors and increases hard feelings. It is sin.

Nov. 26/09 Matt:20:13

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

The first workers were the only ones who had the security of a contract, so they received what they had earned. This was in no way unfair. They had agreed at the beginning that a penny was a fair day's wage. Nothing had changed. They had no right to expect or demand more than what they had agreed to in their contract.

As far as we know, the only people who complained were the first ones. The ones hired throughout the day never complained that those who had worked less had received the same. Everyone hired throughout the day had accepted uncertain terms, they were happy with whatever they got.

Nov. 24/09 Matt:20:12

Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

On the surface their complaint seems justified. The men who had only worked one hour were paid the same as those who had worked 10 -12 hours. That is enough to make every union man's hair stand on end. How could this businessman be so unfair? Where was their bonus to make everything equal?

Nov. 23/09 Matt:20:11

And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

They must have been good union men because when they didn't get what they felt they deserved, they complained. It was that dirty greedy capitalist taking advantage of their hard word and earning unjust profits. They thought they could run his company better. They thought he was a hard unfair man. Imagine that - only paying them one day's wages when they had worked one day. How unfair is that?

How often do we complain when we feel God is unfair with us. Do we trust Him or do we complain when things don't go the way we think they should. Who is in charge, us or God? Do we really think we could do a better job than God? How proud. Is it any wonder that one of the things God hates is complaining?

Nov. 21/09 Matt. 20:10

But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

Those that were hired first watched as those who hired later received a penny - a full day's wage. They were getting excited. If the men who only worked for one hour got a full day's wage maybe they would get 3 - 4 times a day's wage for their work. With growing enthusiasm, they waited for their turn. They failed to notice that everyone was getting the same no matter how long they had worked. When their turn came, their faces fell as each one received only one day's wage.

Nov. 20/09 Matt:20:9

And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

We may not think much of a penny, but in those days that represented a full fair day's wage. These men were happy. They had trusted the businessman who had made no promise of how much he would pay them. They were reward with a full day's wage even though they had only worked one hour.

Nov. 18/09 Matt:20:8

So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

In Old Testament times pay was often daily. This allowed the workers to buy what was needed for their family's supper that night. To withhold pay might mean the workers and their families went hungry that night. It was considered fraud. In any case, this businessman was an honest man. At the end of the day He called his workers receive their pay.

It is interesting that he started with the workers that had work the least amount of time. As the owner of the business it was his right how he paid his workers as long as he paid what was agreed upon.

Of course, in the parable this underscores the point that God is the Judge of our works. Many people, proud of their works and accomplishments, may find themselves at the end of line while humble servants, known and unknown, may find themselves at the head of the line.

Nov. 17/10 Matt:20:7

They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

There had been no jobs. They did not have the knowledge, experience, or opportunity to create jobs for themselves. They were waiting for someone to offer them a job. Everyone has different abilities. This has nothing to do with a person's value. We are all equally valuable before God, but we have different talents and responsibilities.

Again the businessman hired them without a specific promise of what he would pay them and they were fine with that. These fresh men, still full of energy, would be what was needed to get the job completed.

Nov. 13/10 Matt:20:6

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

With only one hour left to go, there was still lots of work to do. Once again, he went looking for labourers. These men had done nothing all day. They had been unable to find jobs. Perhaps their families were about to go hungry that night. In the middle of harvest and the blessing of others, they had been on the outside.

Nov. 12/10 Matt:20:5

Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

No time for golf in the middle of the day. It was vital to get the entire harvest in before the weather turned. Again the businessman was in touch with his business. He saw at different times during the day that more help was needed to accomplish the task, so he hired more men. He must have had a good reputation in the community, but all these extra workers all accepted the jobs without a concrete statement of wage. They trusted him to be fair. In the same way, God does not give us great details about our reward for serving Him, but we move ahead - making sacrifices - trusting that God will be fair. Actually God is more than fair. Paul tells us that the reward will make cost and sacrifices seem small and insignificant.

Nov. 9/10 Matt:20:4

And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

In this case, when he offered them the jobs, he did not tell them how much he was going to pay them. All he did was promise to be fair. The workers trusted this man and voluntarily agreed to work under those terms.

Nov. 9/09 Matt:20:3

And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

This businessman was diligent. He kept his eyes on his business. He saw that the work was too great for the number of men he had hired. So he took action. He went looking for more workers.

Nov. 7/09 Matt:20:2

And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

It is very important to realize that this wage was voluntarily agreed to by both the businessman and the workers. The businessman was willing to pay this wage for a day's work and the workers agreed that it was a fair wage for a day's work. This is part of a true Biblical society. The businessmen cannot force the workers to work for less than they want to [that is slavery]. Neither can the workers force the businessmen to pay more than he wants to [that is slavery in the opposite direction]. They both have to come to an agreement that both can live with or there is no deal. The businessman is then free to seek other workers who are willing to work for his wage and the workers are free to look for other employers who will pay what they think they are worth. Deception and manipulation on the part of the businessmen and strikes and job action on the part of the workers are all sinful disobedience to God's order.

Nov. 6/09 Matt:20:1

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

"For" is a very important word in Scripture. It links what has gone before with what is about to come. This parable that Jesus is about to tell is to illustrate the point of what He was saying in Matt. 19. It is not a new subject, but a continuation of what He had just said. Watching for words like "for" is vital for studying the Word of God in context.

The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are the same thing. It is not something that is exclusively after death. The kingdom of heaven/God is about the rule of God now on earth. So what Jesus is about to tell us is how the rule of God is practically applied in our world today based on what he had previously said.

There is an old saying about the early bird getting the worm. This landowner/business person started early. It is important that we do not miss opportunities through laziness or lack of motivation.

Nov. 3/09 Matt:19:30

But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

God looks at things differently than we do. We see what is outside. We see accomplishments. God looks at the heart. He sees obedience. Many a humble, unknown Christian will, to their surprise, find that they are first in the kingdom of God. And the opposite is also true, some who, in pride, think they are going to be first because of all the great things they have done are going to find themselves last. Obedience is the key. Are we doing what God has asked us to do no matter whether it leads to glory or despair in this life? Don't judge by appearance but judge with righteous judgment.

Oct. 30/09 Matt:19:29

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Jesus is to be number one. For some, following Jesus literally means forsaking all property and family. Some are cast out by their loved ones when they choose to follow Jesus. However, all of us are to have Jesus as our priority over family and property. This does not mean we can abandon our responsibilities, no, we live up to our responsibilities in a greater way than we ever could before.

And, of course, we enter the family of God. All Christians are now are brothers and sisters and in the end we will enjoy eternity with Jesus and our new family.

Oct. 29/09 Matt:19:28

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Interestingly Jesus did not correct Peter's idea of earthy glory. Instead He raised his eyes to the ultimate end. There was a reward coming. There was power and authority coming. It was just not was Peter currently imagined it to be.

There was a proper timing. Reward never comes without hard work and sacrifice. It's not wrong to have a vision of the future reward, but the reward is not something to struggle and fight for. We follow Jesus and trust that He will do what is right at the correct time.

Oct. 26/09 Matt:19:27

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Sometimes we think of the disciples as super-spiritual men. We think that somehow they were better than we are. No, like us, they were just ordinary people chosen by God. They had their faults and selfish ambitions. In fact, it was Judas' selfish ambition that ultimately led to his downfall.

Here we see what was on Peter's mind. They had answered the call, they had followed Jesus, now what was the reward? What were they going to get out of it? They still believed Jesus was going to throw out the Roman Empire and set up new Jewish kingdom. They wanted the power and prosperity of being the leaders of the new government. They were still in the mode where they would argue as to which of them would be the greatest.

We can fall into the same trap. We can focus on ourselves instead of Jesus. We don't get rejected because of it. Jesus still leads us gently onward until we come to maturity.

May 4/09 Matt. 19:26

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Jesus looked at them. They weren't ready yet to learn the next step of living in the Kingdom of God. So He simply assured them that although the situation looked impossible from the human point-of-view, nothing was impossible with God.

We are give the revelation we are able to handle. For things that are beyond us at this point in time, we simply have to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He is able to work it out.

May 2/09 Matt. 19:25

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

The disciples looked at things from the carnal perspective. Rich men were the ones with power and influence. If they couldn't win God's favour, what hope was there for anyone else? They had yet to perceive that the Kingdom of Heaven operates on entirely different principles than the world system.

May 1/09 Matt. 19:23-24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus was not saying it was wrong to have riches, but He was pointing out how easy it is for riches to become a god. Not everyone can handle riches.

I understand the eye of a needle was a small hole or tunnel is the city wall which allowed people to enter one at a time - so the massive gates would not have to be opened after they were closed - but was too small for camels or people to carry possessions through.

Apr. 29/09 Matt. 19:22

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

The cost was too high. Everything from God has a price. Unlike some Christians, Jesus did not try to trick the young man into the kingdom of God by hiding the price. Jesus presented the cost and the reward up front so the man could make an informed decision. The cost is always that God will be number one in our lives. All idols - no matter how precious - must fall.

The church is weak in many places today because half a gospel is presented. All the positive things are emphasized and the cost is dismissed. People come into the church by saying a few words or coming to an intellectual understanding but are not confronted with the total commitment of the Christian life. Jesus is Saviour and Lord.

Apr. 28/09 Matt. 19:21

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

The word "perfect" means "mature" not sinless perfection. Jesus told him that in order to reach maturity in God he would have sell all his possessions, give them to the poor, and become a disciple.

Notice, this is a local command. In other words, this was the command of Jesus to this rich man not to every rich man. Sometimes Christians have taken this verse to teach that all Christians should live a life of poverty. That is not what Jesus was saying at all. With Divine perception, Jesus knew that this particular man's wealth was his true god. In order to progress the man would have to get rid of this false god. No compromise was possible, it had to be gone completely.

Jesus didn't actually tell the man to get rid of his riches for nothing. Jesus offered him a trade: you give your earthly riches away and I will give you heavenly riches. The man was being offered far more than he could ever imagine.

Apr. 27/09 Matt. 19:20

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

The young man had kept all these external commandments, but still he felt that something was missing. Something was no quite right yet. What was it?

Apr. 25/09 Matt. 19:18-19

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Jesus had told the young man to keep the Law in order to enter life [knowing that no one perfectly kept the law]. The young man naturally asks which laws he was to keep.

The Ten Commandments are a summary of the Law, and Jesus listed the ones which dwelt with man-to-man relationships. The reason is perhaps because we when we are seeking after God is know our relationship with Him is important, but many times we forget that our relationship with others also impacts our relationship with God. God is very concerned with how we treat one another.

Apr. 24/09 Matt. 19:17

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Some cultic groups try to use this verse to say that Jesus never claimed to be God. That is not the case. Jesus was challenging the young man's faith. He was asking him, "Are you saying I am God?"

God is good. He only does good. Sometimes from our perspective it does not look or feel what we think is good, but that is where faith comes in. We believe, as Christians, that everything God does is good whether in our lives individually or in the world in general.

Notice, as we point out in the Life Line course, Jesus said keeping the Law would bring life. The Law is God's blessing to mankind. The problem is that none of us can keep the Law; therefore, the only way to God is through Jesus Christ.

Apr. 22/09 Matt. 19:16

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

A young man came to Jesus. He was concerned about his soul. He had lived a good life, but still he wondered if that was enough. Maybe there was something else he should be doing to earn eternal life. Like many people today, he was looking to work his way into heaven. His desire was sincere, but his method was wrong. At least, he knew where to go for the answers.

Apr.18/09 Matt. 19:15

And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

Jesus laid His hands on the children and gave them His blessing. This is part of the idea behind baby dedication. It is the passing on of blessing.

After Jesus was done, after everyone had been ministered to, He left. Jesus was never in a hurry. He was never late, but He was never to be rushed either.

Apr. 17/09 Matt. 19:14

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

The words of rebuke from Jesus; however, were not for the children and their parents but for the disciples. They were not to prevent people - even children - from coming to Him. Jesus loves everyone. In fact, children are very important in the Kingdom of Heaven. We should never view children as unimportant.

Apr.16/09 Matt. 19:13

Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus was a very approachable Person. He had time for everyone who came to Him. The disciples were consumed with "important" adult things. They viewed ministry to children as a waste of time. They wanted to protect Jesus from this useless activity. They thought Jesus should focus His valuable time on adults...on making a change in the world.

Apr. 15/09 Matt. 19:12

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

While marriage is the normal plan for men and women, it is not for everyone. There are some that are born without the desire for marriage and sex [which is, of course, only allowed within marriage]. There are some who have been forcibly made "eunuchs." There are also some who have deliberately chosen a single/virgin lifestyle in order to totally focus their attention on expanding the Kingdom of God. In addition, there are some who remain single for a time and marry later in life.

Neither group should condemn nor look down on the other group. They should not try to make everyone conform to their own choice. It is sin, for example, to require clergy to be single. If they have not been given that gift, it places extra strain and severe temptation on them which is totally unnecessary.

Apr.13/09 Matt. 19:11

But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

There are some things that are universal. In other words, they apply to everyone or everything equally. But there are other things that are local - which only apply to certain people or in certain situations. Some scriptures have been misunderstood and misapplied because the reader have not understood the difference between a universal command and a local command.

Apr. 11/09 Matt. 19:10

His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

Now the disciples got worried! If, as Jesus had just declared, there was no way out of marriage unless one party committed fornication, then marriage was a very serious thing. No escape because of incompatibility or irreconcilable differences. No "no fault" divorce. Many of the disciples - married men - suddenly felt trapped. How vital it is to pick your spouse for something other than their looks! You need to know their true character and personality because you are going to be with them for the rest of your life.

Apr.9/09 Matt. 19:9

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Some people jump on this verse and say that Jesus said that adultery was the only reason for divorce. That is not what Jesus said. He said it was adultery [on the part of both parties] to marry a person who had been improperly divorced. The reason for divorce that Jesus gave was fornication - which is a different word than adultery. Fornication is broader in its application and, because Jesus always supported the Law of God, must include any offense in the Old Testament that was allowed to led to divorce. The main point is: If a person does not secure a divorce on Biblical grounds, then they are still married to the original spouse.

We must take the entire teaching of Scripture on divorce, not just one verse.

Apr.8/09 Matt. 19:8

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Jesus gave the Pharisees a Bible lesson. Divorce was not given as a normal part of life. No, it came about because of sin. Hardness of heart made divorce a necessity to protect the innocent spouse, which could be either the man or woman depending on the situation. There are some cases when divorce is an option, but it is never an easy solution. Jesus went on to show the God's command to Adam was the original and perfect plan. The law of God, given through Moses, did not override the original intention. Instead, it provided a way of dealing with certain sins in a marriage.

Mar. 7/09 Matt. 19:7

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

Although embarrassed by the searchlight of Jesus on their lives, the Pharisees were not going to give up. Moses, in the law, had allowed divorce. Would Jesus contradict Moses? Would He stand against the Law and so violate the Word of God? They thought they had Him now. He could not say "No Divorce" and "Divorce" at the same time.

Mar. 6/09 Matt. 19:6

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus declared the divine design. A husband and wife become one person, not two. They were not designed to be divided. A divorce is radical surgery. Jesus stood firmly against easy divorce or no-fault divorce. The marriage union was not to be dissolved by man. God joined them together, only God could declare what broke the union.

Mar. 4/09 Matt. 19:5

And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Jesus went right back to Genesis one to establish the foundation of marriage and the limitation of sex to marriage. By doing this Jesus showed that He believed Genesis to be literal history. Today the Book of Genesis is under attack by Non-Christians and [self-destructive] Christians alike. Jesus stood firm on the Word of God. There is no Biblical or genuine scientific reason to doubt that all of Genesis is literal, inspired history.

Apr. 2/09 Matt. 19:4

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

In some cases when Jesus knew He was being set up, He would evade the question or turn it back on His questioners. In this case, Jesus met them head on. He looked those powerful Pharisees straight in the eye and met their challenge.

Jesus began by turning the challenge back to them. These were self-proclaimed professors of the Scripture - Had they ever read it? The question of Jesus showed the Pharisees were either ignorant of Scripture [they weren't] or in direct, deliberate defiance of the Scripture [they were]. He exposed their sinful rebellion against God.

Apr. 1/09 Matt. 19:3

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

The Pharisees had determined to kill Jesus. They were just looking for the correct opportunity and gathering 'evidence.' Jesus lived under the constant pressure of having every word examined in an effort to be twisted to destroy Him.

The question of divorce was designed to get Jesus bogged down in a sensitive issue. Immorality was as rampant or more so in the days of Jesus as it is today. The Pharisees were known for their adulteries. One Rabbi is said to have married a woman one day and then divorced her the next day just to prove his rights. Would Jesus stand up to the radical immorality and injustice of His day?

Mar. 31/09 Matt. 19:1-2

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

Jesus had been teaching in Galilee. Now, as He is drawing near to the end of His ministry He moves closer to Jerusalem. There are times and seasons in every life and those in tune with God discern them. Multitudes continued to follow Him and He ministered to them.

Mar. 30/09 Matt. 18:35

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

This entire chapter has been the teaching of Jesus on forgiveness. Now He drives the point home dramatically. If we do not forgive our Christian brothers and sisters, God will not forgive us. If we are going to start counting their offenses against us and demand justice, God will begin counting our offenses against Him and also demand justice. God seems to have a general principle that He treats people the same way they treat others. We need to stop and think about that.

Mar. 28/09 Matt. 18:32-34

Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

The Lord was furious when He heard about it. This gives us a picture of how God feels after He has forgiven us of more than we could ever repay and we go out and demand our "rights" and our "justice." People hurt us and we hold unforgiveness or bitterness in our hearts. We seek revenge and slander them. We do not consider that we have hurt God far worse and He forgave us.

Mar. 27/09 Matt. 18:31

So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

Other people saw what had happened. Even through the servant was technically [and legally] right in demanding his money, the injustice of the situation stuck the other servants. They brought the matter back to the Lord. We need to bring matters of injustice to God in prayer. Some things maybe technically or legally correct but still be unjust.

Mar. 25/09 Matt. 18:28-30

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

This servant, rejoicing over being forgiven, ran into someone who owed him a small amount. Even through it was only a small amount the man could not repay it right away. The servant did not consider what had happened to him. All he could see was his "rights." He wanted his money now and was unwilling to extend any mercy or time. He pressed charges and had the man thrown into prison.

Are we like that? When God does something for us or gives us something do we apply it to our life? Do we see how it should effect our relationship with others? Or is it just a personal benefit disconnected from "real" life?

Mar. 24/09 Matt. 18:24-27

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

This servant is like everyone of us. He owes the King far more than he could ever repay. His situation is hopeless. He was been able to get by until the King demanded repayment. There are those today who are getting by, but there will come a day when repayment is demanded.

The Lord or King knew there was no way this servant would be able to repay him. No repayment plan would be sufficient. Because of His compassion the King forgave his entire debt. From other Scriptures, we know this is only possible because of the Blood of Christ. Those who do not accept the payment of Christ on their behalf in this life will be repaying their debt for eternity in the fires of Hell.

Mar. 23/09 Matt. 18:23

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

Jesus loved to use parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven/God. It was the best way to give us pictures of eternal things. No picture is complete in itself, but each reveals a portion of the whole.

God is a like a King. His has total ownership over all His creation and demands accountability especially from His human creation. Humans were made assistant rulers under God. God will require an account from each one of us.

Mar. 20/09 Matt. 18:22

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Jesus shocked Peter by saying that a person should forgive seventy times seven. Basically, Jesus was saying that forgiveness should be unlimited, because if we have counted to 490 we haven't really forgiven.

Now was Jesus saying we have to continually let ourselves be taken advantage of? No. Biblical forgiveness involves repentance and restitution. Repentance involves forsaking the sin - not repeating it - and restitution involves making the wrong right. When those two things are present relationship can be restored. A person in unlikely to re-offend in the same way, but, because we are all human, they may offend in a different way and need more forgiveness.

Having said that, does that mean if someone sins against us but is not repentant or refuses to make restitution we harbour unforgiveness until they repent? No. There is never a time for us to act in an unforgiving way. God has forgiven us of so much for which we can never repay that we need to be merciful and forgiving to all others. Whenever someone sins against we should immediately forgive them within ourselves and release them to God. But for them to receive the forgiveness and enter into a restored, trusted relationship there needs to be repentance and restitution. We do not have to continually be taken advantage of. That in itself is a waste of Father's resources.

Mar. 19/09 Matt. 18:21

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus has been talking about forgiveness. A question naturally occurs to Peter. How far does this forgiveness go? Peter probably thought seven times was a generous amount. Human forgiveness, like human love, will always have a limit. God calls us to Divine forgiveness and Divine love.

Mar. 18/09 Matt. 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Jesus loves the unity of His people so much that He promises to join them when they gather in His name [authority]. And it doesn't take many. Jesus loves to be with us. One of the reasons He created us was to have fellowship with us.

Mar. 17/09 Matt. 18:19

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Unity is music to the ears of God. Even in our natural family we love it when our children get alone and work or play happily. How much more does God enjoy it when His family is in unity and at peace with one another. Not only does He enjoy it, but also He promises to answer their requests. What a wonderful promise. Like every promise - as we learned in Covenants - it is conditional on faith and obedience with the added condition of unity. Think how much could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God if we would just lay hold of this promise and pursue the agenda of our Father.

Mar. 16/09 Matt. 18:18

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The terms "bind" and "loose" were Jewish terms or expressions. They referred to teaching and to declaring which things were lawful and which things were unlawful. Remember the context. Jesus had just told His disciples that they are authorized to excommunicate a rebellious Christian. Soon He will be leaving, and they will be in charge on earth. They must be prepared to teaching what things are lawful and what things are unlawful.

Their word is not going to direct heaven, as might appear from a casual reading, but must in line with heaven. In other words, what they bind or loose on earth must agree with what is bound or loosed in heaven. They are not independent authorities, but they have authority because they are under authority.

Mar. 14/09 Matt. 18:17

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

When dealing with an offense we start out as privately as possible and then by stages it moves more public until a solution is reached. If at the two previous stages the offender refuses to make his offense right, it is brought before a church court which is empowered, through Biblical Law, to declare a just verdict. Now a church court is not a civil court, it has no power to force obedience to its verdict; however, if the offender disobeys the ruling of the court he is no longer considered a Christian. Whatever the original offense was is now unimportant, the fact is, as a Christian, he swore obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and now he is walk in defiant rebellion to the authority established by Jesus. He has denied the faith, he is not to be considered a Christian.

This does mean that he is treated with disrespect. It does mean that he is to be treated as we would treat any other non-Christian - with respect. If he continues to call himself a Christian then, according to Paul, we are not to have any fellowship with him for, in the eyes of the world, that would seem to validate his claim. If he accepts the non-Christian label then we have the same relationship with him as with any non-Christian.

If in the future he repents, he must abide by whatever ruling it was he disobeyed as well as make a public confession of faith.

The problem today is that the church is not united. A member who is disciplined for sin in one church can often find a sympathetic ear and acceptance in the church down the street. These things ought not to be. If a person is disciplined in one church, no church should accept him until he returns to his original church and makes it right. For a church to accept a disciplined member who refuses to make things right in his own church is to stand with sin against God and the church will reap the consequences.

Mar. 13/09 Matt. 18:16

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

If we talk to the offender privately and he refuses to make things right, then we are to try again. This time we are to take two or three objective witnesses with us. They will be able to testify both to our willingness to be reconciled and to the other person's acceptance or rejection of our offer. They can also view the situation without prejudice and help to work out a solution. No problem between Christian people should be left unresolved.

Of course, this isn't saying that we nit-pick every little thing. Some things are best forgiven and ignored, especially if it was a minor, unintentional offense.

Mar. 12/09 Matt. 18:15

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

If someone wrongs us we are not to wait until they come to us. In the case above, the person may even have been unaware that they had committed an offense. Waiting allows the temptation of bitterness and ungodly anger to become strong. We immediately go and try to get it straightened out. Don't allow the enemy an opportunity to drive a wedge between Christian brothers and sisters.

It is to be done privately. We are not out to expose or embarrass the person who hurt us. We just want the situation Biblically resolved. Under most circumstances, the fewer people who know about it the better.

If you are able to work it out, then that is as far as the situation goes. All is forgiven and not mentioned again. It is the past. Neither party should have to fear that it will be brought up again and used as a tool against them or to embarrass them.

Mar. 10/09 Matt. 18:14

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

God's will is that everyone that He has chosen will be found and saved, but He does not do it on His own. He uses His human shepherds to go out and reach the lost. While Pastors are shepherds in a special sense, all Christians are to be shepherds seeking, protecting, and caring for the sheep. You are a shepherd, in some sense, to everyone who enters your sphere of influence. In some cases, it may be a very active shepherding as you lead them in the way that they should go. In other cases, it is indirect shepherding as you example by your life the ways of God. But anyway you look at it, you are part of the team for finding and caring for the lost.

Mar. 9/09 Matt. 18:13

And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

Of course, when he finds the sheep that causes more joy to the shepherd at that moment than the rest of sheep who are safe. The other sheep should also be celebrating but many times they are jealous instead. Why am I not getting more attention? When is it my turn to see the shepherd? Why didn't the Pastor shake my hand? Why didn't the Pastor call when I was sick? Why can't I lead the worship team? Mature Christians are low maintenance Christians, they can rejoice when the lost are found and cared for. Immature Christians are high maintenance Christians, always focusing on themselves and getting upset about something.

Mar. 6/09 Matt. 18:12

How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

Jesus was talking to people who understood a shepherd's way of life. A shepherd cared for his sheep even through they are extremely hard to care for. Nevertheless, if one when astray - even through its own foolishness - the shepherd did not abandon it. He would leave the rest of his sheep in their comfortable shelter and go searching for it. Every sheep was important.

Mar. 5/09 Matt. 18:11

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Jesus had a purpose. He had a life mission and everything He did was bent toward that purpose. Even the 30 years of growing up and working as a small-time businessman was training for what He was to do. He came to save the lost. We are all lost in the world of sin until the light of God's love shines on us.

Sometimes we are too anxious to get to what we think God wants us to do. We try to skip the training exercises, the years of routine and preparation when nothing seems to be happening. If we do, we will get to the "main event" unprepared and unable to handle it. Jesus could minister to people and face the cross because He had prepared Himself and developed His relationship with God the Father. No time spent with God is ever wasted time.

Mar. 4/09 Matt. 18:10

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Jesus cautions us about looking down on those we see as weaker or inferior. Those we may consider as unimportant, whether they are children or child-like ones, hold a very special place in the heart of God. They should hold an important place in our hearts, too. We have to guard against pride. It is probably the greatest destroyer in our lives.

Does everyone who loves God have an angel? Perhaps, certainly the little ones do. The Bible doesn't actually tell us a lot about angels except that they minister to both God and the saints. It is enough to know they are there doing their God assigned jobs.

Mar. 3/09 Matt. 18:8-9

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Jesus is not saying that we have to dismember ourselves. It is not the hand, foot or eye that sins but the mind that gives it direction. The point of Jesus is that anything that hinders us in doing the will of God - no matter how attached we are to it or how important it is to us - must be eliminated. Hell is forever. No price is too high now to avoid Hell later. Total commitment is required. No turning back, no even looking back.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs tell the story of a man who under torture and extreme pressure recanted his faith and signed a document to that effect. The man later repented of his denial. To show his repentance he publicly cut off the hand that had signed the document. He was then rearrested and executed.

Mar. 2/09 Matt. 18:7

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

You will be offended. It is not a question of "if" but "when." The big question is how will you handle the offense? Many people get "hurt" and leave the church or reject the gospel. This is, of course, what Satan wants. Mature people are not offended at offensive actions. They may be hurt but they take it in stride and keep on pressing in.

The person who causes the offense is answerable to God in time and eternity. We must be will to forgive and move on knowing that God Who knows all things perfectly will see that justice is done in the end. In fact, if they are unrepentant, we can pity them for there is a terrible day coming for them.

Feb. 28/09 Matt. 18:6

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Jesus not only cares about the seemingly unimportant and defenseless people, but also He will bring final judgment on their oppressors. Be careful how you treat the "little" people in the Kingdom of God. The Father's jealous eye is on them. You do not want to met an angry God on Judgment Day.

Feb. 27/09 Matt. 18:5

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Jesus identifies with those who are His own, even with those we would consider insignificant. Jesus considers actions toward even the most humble of His servants as actions for or against Himself. We need to view people as Jesus viewed them: each one loved by God and a unique and special creation.

People often reveal what is in their hearts by how they treat people that they think are unimportant. Everybody will treat someone they want to impress with respect. The question is how do they treat the waitress? how do they treat the secretary? how do they treat the spouse? how do they treat the grocery clerk? Watch and you will discover what is in the heart. This is good when considering potential spouses, employees, employers, church workers, and much else. Don't judge by how they treat you, judge by how they treat the "little" people when no one is watching.

Feb. 25/09 Matt. 18:4

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

People who are proud, who are fighting for position, who are concerned about their image, who act like they know it all, haven't even got in the doorway of the kingdom of heaven. We must have a humble spirit like a child. A child knows he doesn't know it all. He isn't afraid to ask questions. He does care what anybody else thinks, he is focused on what he wants. In short, a child hasn't learned to be proud and haughty yet. God loves the humble and rejects the proud. If we are going to be effective for God we must be humble and wait for God to place us where He would have us. If you see a proud minister of the gospel...run.

Feb. 24/09 Matt. 18:3

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Never mind about greatness. If you can't become as a little child, you won't even get in. The kingdom of heaven is not made up of adults but children! That doesn't mean childishness. The kingdom of heaven is not immaturity and bickering, but neither is it made up of proud, image-conscious adults. Jesus goes on in the next verse to explain what He meant by becoming as a child.

Feb. 23/09 Matt. 18:2

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

Jesus like to use object lessons. He liked to make His points memorable. How often do we listen to a message and then can't remember what it was about two days later?

Jesus called a child to Him. It seems like children were often around Jesus. He was the kind of Man that children and ordinary people liked. They did not feel threatened or intimated by Him. Jesus, the very Son of God, was very approachable. He had no "airs" about Him.

Feb. 21/09 Matt. 18:1

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

The disciples still clung to the old Jewish idea that the Messiah was going to establish an earthly kingdom - a carnal idea that some Christians have borrowed. They thought that since they supported Jesus that they were going to have high positions in this new kingdom when Jesus finally got around to disposing of the Roman Empire. But who was going to be greatest? Who was going to have the most power and fame? Like us, their eyes were on advancing their own position and self-interest.

Feb. 19/09 Matt. 17:27

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Nevertheless, Jesus was not a tax fighter or evader. It was not that the tax was right, but there were more important battles to fight. To take a stand against taxes would have interfered with His ability to accomplish His mission. When looking at different issues we have to think which is the course of action that will get the most benefit for the Kingdom of God. Christians especially need to consider their nation's foreign policies in this light. It is unlikely that aggressive wars by "Christian" nations is going to help the church in the nations attacked to evangelize. Also, supporting one nation - on a misunderstanding of Scripture - to the harm of other nations is not likely to win a hearing for the gospel in those other nations. We need to see the big picture of the Kingdom of God and not be lost in individual flags.

Feb. 18/09 Matt. 17:26

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

God owns the earth. His children have true freedom. Since their loyalty is to Him they are tax-free from the world. Interestingly, under the Old Testament system, the tithe took care of both church and state functions so citizens never had to pay more than 10% [it may have been 13.5%] of their income to church and state combined. What a heavy price we pay for rejecting God's way.

Feb. 17/09 Matt. 17:25

He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter confirmed that Jesus did pay taxes, but before Peter could mention it to Jesus - hoping he had given the right answer - Jesus brought up the subject. It was an opportunity to get Peter to think.

Politicians are skilled at getting money from others and making sure they can escape the majority of the burden. Today they often use the hidden tax of inflation to get more money.

Feb. 16/09 Matt. 17:24

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

The government always wants to have its hand in someone's pocket. Peter was questioned as to whether Jesus paid His taxes or not. Was Jesus a tax evader or tax fighter?

Feb. 14/09 Matt. 17:23

And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Jesus knew what was going to happen. The torture and crucifixion that was coming did not take Him by surprise. He could have avoided them. He could have reasoned that His ministry was too important or that His disciples were not yet ready to carry on after Him. He could have withdrawn in fear. But He did not. When He knew the will of God He boldly faced it. No running, no hiding, no compromise, and no excuses.

Jesus also knew the promise of the resurrection. After paying the supreme price the supreme reward would come. This, of course, He took on faith. He had to believe the Word of God that there would be a resurrection. He had no guarantee but the Word of God. That was enough. Likewise, as we face "death" experiences it is hard to believe in a resurrection. God has promised that if we are faithful, He will see us through. There will be a resurrection on the other side. All great ideas and accomplishments pass through the death, burial, and resurrection stages unless we give up in the process.

The disciples were sorry as they heard this information, but it did not yet sink into their hearts. It passed through their minds and was gone until after the event.

Feb. 13/09 Matt. 17:22

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:

Jesus began to prepare His disciples for what was about to happen. He told them He was going to be betrayed. Judas must have also heard these words but it did not stop him from becoming the betrayer. Knowledge alone is never enough. It must enter the heart to be any real good. All the disciples heard these words but it did not sink into their hearts. They were still surprised when the event happened. Likewise, we often allow preconceived ideas to prevent us from seeing what would otherwise be obvious.

Feb. 12/09 Matt. 17:21

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Having faith in God doesn't mean we sit back and except God to do everything for us. Faith is teamwork. God and us working together to accomplish His will on this planet. Of course, prayer is foundational. If we don't know God, we can't believe in His ability or know His will. We don't operate in our own strength or knowledge. We trust in God. We stand in faith regardless of the illusions satan brings to our eyes and minds. This is not an easy activity nor is it to be entered into lightly. Nevertheless, when we truly know who we are in Christ, there is nothing to fear. Christ is victor and we walk in His victory.

Feb. 11/09 Matt. 17:20

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Unbelief stops the power of God flowing through our lives. The disciples prayed for the demon-possessed boy but they had more faith in the power of the devil than the power of God. Satan is a master illusionist. If he can get us believing in his strength then he has us defeated. We have to look to God. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus. No problem or challenge is too great for God. We cannot afford to be fooled by a magician. Often our lives, families, churches, and nations are in shambles simply because we believe in the power of the enemy more than the power of God. "Christian" defeatest teaching plays right into the hand of the enemy - and is, in fact, inspired by him although its teachers do not recognize it. It is about time the Church got a vision of victory, a victory that will transform the entire world through the Blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is impossible to a people who know and believe in their God.

Feb. 9/09 Matt. 17:19

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

The disciples were curious. They had had a level of success in their ministry, but here they had been defeated, why?

One of the biggest keys to growth and development is not being afraid to ask questions [and not being offended at the answers!]. That is part of child-like faith. Children are always learning, always asking questions. As disciples we should always be asking questions and looking to God for the answers.

Feb. 7/09 Matt. 17:18

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Jesus was in right relationship with the Father. No devil was an issue with Him. He operated in perfect faith and so had perfect results. We will never operate in perfect faith, but as our faith grows so will our ability to minister God's will to a needy world.

Feb. 6/09 Matt. 17:17

Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Jesus was not condemning the distraught father. He was looking at the generation or the society. Israel was the only nation that had any light in that period of history. They were the ones who knew the truth, yet they had fallen to being no different than the heathen nations around them. Their lack of faith in God and their seeking after the ways of the world had left them impotent. Their abandonment of the Living God had left many, like this boy, in the grips of Satan. How long would they be given the opportunity to changes their ways? How long could judgment be delayed?

The same is true of the formally Christian Western nations. They have abandoned their roots and sought after their own way. People's lives are destroyed because we are selfishly seeking our own way instead of obeying God's way.

Feb. 5/09 Matt. 17:16

And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Jesus was not available at the time. On earth He was limited to His own human body. He could only be one place at a time. The man did the best he could, Jesus was not there so he came to the disciples.

As the disciples of Jesus we stand in the place of Jesus in this world. We are looked at as His representatives. We are, in fact, clothed with His authority and the power to see that His will is accomplished. Christians are as close as non-Christians will ever get to seeing Jesus. Are we true representatives? Does our life reflect the life of Jesus?

Feb. 3/09 Matt. 17:15

Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

This father came not for himself but for the son he loved. His son was demon possessed and the demon was seeking to torment and destroy the boy. We are not told what caused the demon possession but we know that, while demons can oppress, they cannot possess without a door being opened somehow.

The father was an intercessor. He was standing on behalf of another. Our world needs intercessors today. Even our society is "lunatick" and self-destructive. God have mercy.

Notice the man did not try to claim his rights. He did not say, "I am a good Jewish man. I go to the synagogue every Sabbath, etc." He knew no work of man could merit the favor of God. Instead, like we all should, he cried for mercy. When we approach God we want mercy. We have no hold over God to force Him to act on our behalf.

Feb 2/09 Matt. 17:14

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

Many people wait until they are in a state of desperation before they come to Christ. The fact is that none of us can live without God at any time. Life is fragile. Our world is only a heartbeat from being shattered. But often we have the illusion of being in control, of everything going well. When tragedy strikes beyond what we can handle, we begin to look outside of ourselves for solutions. The wise turn to Jesus Christ. Of course, the really wise walk faithfully with Him through the good and bad times. They recognize their total dependence on Him at all times. They are not caught up in the humanistic trap of independence from God.

Jan. 31/09 Matt. 17:13

Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Then the light dawned. The "Elijah" prophesied in the Old Testament was John the Baptist. The Old Testament person was used as a symbol of a New Testament fulfillment. Just as the Old Testament predicts and lays the foundation for the New Testament so also the Old Testament must be understood in the light of the New Testament. They go together. One is not obsolete.

Jan. 30/09 Matt. 17:11-12

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

Jesus clarified the issue for them. Yes, the Scribes were right in that Elijah was to come before the Messiah; however, they had misunderstood and misapplied how that was to work out. Because their eyes were blinded by their hard hearts and pre-concieved ideas they missed what the Scripture was really talking about. Instead of accepting "Elijah" and realizing that the time of the Messiah was near they rejected and persecuted him. And then they would go on to to the same thing to the Messiah. There are none so cruel as those who will not see.

Jan. 29/09 Matt. 17:10

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

The disciples were good Jewish men. They knew what the Scribes taught every Sabbath. Listening to Jesus brought some questions to their minds. They had to think. Those who do not think and ask questions are not really serious about their faith. We should be thinking, asking questions, trying to figure out how things work together. God didn't created us mindless. Everything we believe must line up with the Word of God.

Jan. 28/09 Matt. 17:9

And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

There is a time and place for everything. Now was not the time to reveal this revelation to the others. We are sometimes so anxious to share everything we know that we throw wisdom and discretion out the window. We do that because underneath we really want people to think highly of us and accept us. Jesus knew He was unconditionally loved and accepted by the Father, so He had no need of acceptance by man. He could then choose the wise and proper time for revelations. When we, as Christians, come to the knowledge that we are unconditionally loved by the Father we will not be moved by the desire to please men either.

Jesus warned His disciples that He was about to die. Without death there can be no resurrection. Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and went voluntarily to His cruel death. But He also knew - by faith - what was going to happen on the other side of death.

Jan. 27/09 Matt. 17:8

And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

Moses and Elijah returned to heaven. This is one of the very few cases where someone who had died returned to earth. Normally, once dead you don't return until the Second Coming.

The cloud had also disappeared. It is great to have those wonderful "mountain top" experiences but we don't stay there. The time comes when we return to the valley to accomplish the will of God for us there.

Jan. 26/09 Matt. 17:7

And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

Jesus is the perfect representation of God but in a way that we can understand. Jesus does not bring fear, and by putting us on the right side of God, He removes our fear. We can come with confidence before the very throne of God, not carelessly but respectfully and lovingly.

Jan. 24/09 Matt. 17:6

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

Those who are flippant about God haven't really met Him. No one who has really met with God is proud or bragging. To met with God is to be humbled, awestruck, overwhelmed, and even afraid. It is not something to be taken lightly. While God is our Father and we can have a beautiful family relationship with Him, but we need to always be aware of Who He is.

Jan. 23/09 Matt. 17:5

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Clouds often show the awesome presence of God. We cannot see Him in our present form so He clothes Himself in the clouds. This is one reason why in prophetic Scriptures clouds many times represent the presence of God but not always a physical presence.

Jesus had accepted by faith that He was the prophesied Son of God. It was first confirmed to Him at His baptism. Here God the Father, once again, confirms to Jesus and to others that Jesus is indeed His Son. Not only is Jesus the Son of God, but God the Father is pleased with all that Jesus did. Jesus "did all things well." This is good news for the Christian because we are "in" Christ which means God is well-pleased with us too.

God the Father's word of instruction was to listen to Jesus. Those whom claim to listen to God the Father but rejected the words of Jesus are self-decieved. They are on the road to Hell no matter how great they sound or how Biblical their traditions. No man comes to the Father except by Jesus.

Jan. 22/09 Matt. 17:4

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Good old Peter. Always the first one to speak without thinking...but his heart was in the right place. There was work to do. This was not the time to settle down and relax.

Likewise we may have great times of joy and revelation in the presence of the Lord, but while we are on this earth we have a job to do. We cannot afford to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Each of us is here for a purpose. We need to study the Word of God and practice it to accomplish all that God has for us here and now.

Jan. 20/09 Matt. 17:3

And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Moses and Elijah also appeared and encouraged Jesus. Moses was the representative of the Law and Elijah was the representative of the Prophets. The Law and Prophets are united in revealing Jesus and His mission. The Bible is not divided but one unified whole with Jesus as the center and the object. It is all about Jesus [not the Jews]. If we miss that foundational point we will go astray.

Jan. 19/09 Matt. 17:2

And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Jesus revealed some of His heavenly glory. This event in the life of Christ was meant to bring a comparison between Moses and Christ. Moses went up into the mountain to receive the Law and returned with his face shining so brightly that he had to cover it. Jesus went up into the mountain and was transfigured before three chosen disciples.

The law of Moses is actually the Law of God through Moses. Jesus is declaring that He is the ultimate Lawgiver and that His word is Law. Jesus does not have to receive Law, He makes it. His word is just as much Law as the Ten Commandments and their related laws.

Jan. 14/09 Matt. 17:1

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Jesus had many disciples. Of all the disciples He had twelve that were with Him continually and received special training. Out of the twelve, He had three - Peter, James, and John - who were especially close. Even out of the three, He had one - John - who was the closest.

While Jesus was on earth He was limited by a human body. He only had so much time. He had to choose how and with whom to invest it. We also have the same choices. We can't be everywhere. We can't do everything. We need to follow the instruction of Paul to train faithful men who will then be able to train others, etc. But choose wisely. If you invest your time in an unfaithful person, it will be wasted.

Jan. 13/09 Matt. 16:28

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Some Christians don't believe Jesus. It's sad. They claim that the kingdom of God/Heaven has not yet come. They are waiting for some glorious future event when Jesus will reign as a tyrant from Jerusalem!

Jesus very plainly told His disciples that some of them would still be alive when He returned in His Kingdom. The establishment of the Kingdom of God is the single greatest event of human history after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like any great change, there were stages but all the "set-up" stages were accomplished within the lifetime of most of the disciples. The kingdom of God was in fact established at the ascension of Jesus Christ. It's inauguration day was the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended. All the disciples except Judas lived to see this. The transition period from Old Testament Israel to the Kingdom of God was completed in AD 70. At least John was alive to see this event. The Kingdom of God is here and now. Yes, it will be completely finished at the Second Coming, but it is to grow before the Second Coming to fill the earth.

Jan. 12/09 Matt. 16:27

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Spiritually Jesus comes many times throughout history to judge and to reward. Of course, He will return physically at the end of history for the Final Judgment and rewards.

Notice, our salvation is totally the work of the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is impossible to man to earn it...or even choose it without the work of the Holy Spirit on his heart. However, our rewards are based on our works. Did we do what Jesus told us to do? Did we waste our time pursuing temporary advantage? Did we work for the Kingdom of God? Were we obedient or were we self-seeking? God judges success by obedience while we judge success by results.

Jan. 10/09 Matt. 16:26

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Priorities. What is our focus? Are we working for eternal values? Are we expanding the Kingdom of God? When you see people lying and cheating to save a few pennies at a store you have wonder just how little people are willing to sell their souls for these days. Really, the human soul is beyond value. It will last for ever. It cannot be destroyed. Gold, silver, etc. God can create with a Word, a human soul cannot be replaced. It is either redeemed or lost forever to the darkness of Hell. Let's get our priorities right while there is still time.

Jan. 9/09 Matt. 16:25

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Those who greedily hold onto their lives, living for themselves and their pleasure, will find life slipping through their fingers as they enter death. Even those who are self-sacrificing outside of Christ will find they have not earned God's approval. No human activity can do that.

Those who give their lives to God - even if it leads to martyrdom - will find that they have gained real life. As Mel Gibson said in Braveheart: "All men die, not all men truly live." Of course, true life can only be found in the surrender of a life to God. Then life can really begin.

Jan. 7/09 Matt. 16:24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Jesus did not preach an easy gospel. While He loved and accepted the ungodly, His standards for those who would follow Him was high. This was no "come to Jesus and He will solve all your problems" message. This was a message of self-denial. This was a call to slavery...to become voluntary slaves to God. Of course, we are all slaves. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to God. One way is death, the other way is life, but both ways cost.

Jan. 6/09 Matt. 16:23

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Jesus, of course, would not stand for such nonsense. He had a clear vision of His true mission and how it was to be accomplished. Nothing could change His mind or weaken His resolve.

Peter, who had just been an encouragement to Jesus, was now used by Satan to be a tempter. If Jesus could be persuaded to opt for the easy way to power, then His mission as Messiah would be destroyed. The world would be forever under the management of Satan. This shows us that even well-meaning Christians can be used as instruments of Satan because of wrong beliefs or sinful weaknesses in their lives. This is not talking about demon possession, but about being tricked out of the right path by smooth words which play to our ungodly desires.

Jan. 5/09 Matt. 16:22

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

Peter, who had just had a great revelation of the nature of Christ, thought he knew better than Jesus. The old Jewish ideas were so firmly implanted in his mind that a suffering Messiah was inconceivable. Jesus must be wrong. After all, hundreds - perhaps even a thousand - years of tradition and teaching by religious rulers could not be wrong. No, Jesus must have misunderstood His mission. Fortunately, Peter was there to correct Him.

We fall into the same trap as Peter. We have our preconceived ideas on aspects of Christianity. Nothing is going to move us. Although it can - and does affect - every area of Christianity, an area where it is seen most obviously is the idolization of the nation of Israel and Jewish [not Biblical] traditions by some modern Christians. Everything we believe must be tested by the Word of God in context.

Dec. 30/08 Matt. 16:20

Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

For everything there is a time and a season. Jesus knew this was not the time to be proclaiming His Messiahship to the general population. With their misconceived ideas they would have tried to force a physical kingship on Him. Like some Christians even today, the majority of the Jews were hampered with carnal ideas of Who the Messiah was and what He would do.

Jesus knew His mission and He was not going to be detracted from it. He knew suffering comes before victory and glory. The same is often true in our lives. Suffering does not necessary mean we are out of God's will. It can be God preparing us for something greater.

Dec. 29/08 Matt. 16:19

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

What are the keys of the kingdom? Keys open doors. What opens the door to the Kingdom of God? The preaching of the Gospel. Peter swung the door wide open on Pentecost to the Jews and cracked it open for the Gentiles in his visit to Cornelius. Paul would a few years later swing it wide open to the Gentiles. Now all members of the church are commanded to present the gospel to everyone. The doors are wide open for any who would receive it. Never again will they be closed or limited to a physical nation.

Not only is the gospel to be preached, but also, all the power of heaven is at the disposal of those who share the good news. They have the authority to ask for whatever they need to accomplish their mission. The Gospel will prevail. The world will be won for Christ. If you don't have a vision of victory, get one! If you are not on this winning team, join it!

Dec. 27/08 Matt. 16:18

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

There has been much misunderstanding about the words of Jesus in this passage. People have thought that Peter was the rock on which Christ would build the church. That is not what Jesus said.

Yes, it is play on words. Peter was a small piece of rock, but the Rock on which the church is built is Jesus Christ Himself. Peter had just stated the Jesus was the Son of God. This is the Rock. Our salvation is not built or dependent on a human being but on Jesus Christ the Divine human being, the very Son of God.

Jesus is also the One doing the building. We work together with Him, but He is in charge. He assigns everyone their position as it pleases Him. The failure of some of His workers does not destroy the church because the church is a work of God, not man. We can do our assigned work confident that it will be successful regardless of external appearances or the failures of others.

Jesus prophesied the victory of the church before the Second Coming. Gates are a defensive position. The forces of Hell are not attacking the church, they are defending their last outpost against it! We need to get rid of all this defeatest, "Jesus come back quick to rescue us" garbage. Jesus is coming back for a victorious church. Get with the program. Because of the victory of Jesus on the cross and the resurrection - and under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit - we drive the forces of evil from this planet. How are we going to do that? That will be subject of a new course coming in 2009 on Christian Social Theory. Watch for it. Sign up to our newsletter to receive notification for when it is ready.

Dec. 26/08 Matt. 16:17

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Why is it that some people can see so clearly the Jesus is the Messiah and others are in a fog about who He is? They just don't have a clue. Some even wonder if He every existed.

Knowing that Jesus is the Messiah is not something that can be naturally figured out. People may come to an intellectual agreement that Jesus is the Messiah but it has no impact on their life. Only when the truth of it is revealed to the heart by God can there be a real knowledge of Who Jesus is. Just as a natural baby does not choose to be conceived and born, so spiritual babies cannot choose for themselves to be born into the Spirit. It requires the supernatural act of God.

Dec. 23/08 Matt. 16:16

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter knew the right answer, but it was not just an intellectual knowledge. It came from the heart.

Jesus was confusing to the disciples. He did not fit the Jewish idea of a Messiah at all. They were puzzled by His refusal to take power. Their world view and belief systems were constantly in turmoil, but, as expressed by Peter, there was one thing they could hang on to: They knew Jesus was the Messiah.

Sometimes life falls apart and all we can hang on to is the fact the Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. We're confused. We're in pain. But we know one thing: Jesus is our Messiah.

Dec. 19/08 Matt. 16:15

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Here is the bottom line. Ultimately it does not matter what everyone else chooses to believe about Jesus. They may believe something good or something bad. Jesus has always been the center of controversy and probably will be so until the Second Coming.

But, the bottom line is: Who do you say Jesus Christ is? Do you know that He is the Son of God, the Redeemer and Master of your life? Or is He just some religious figure? Have you experienced Jesus Christ for yourself or is He just a comforting theory that you hope is true? Who do you say Jesus Christ is? Your belief will not change reality but it will change your relationship with reality.

Dec. 18/08 Matt. 16:14

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

The disciples were very nice. They didn't want to offend Jesus. They told Him the nice things people were saying about Him. There were other things people were saying about Him that were not so nice! But even the nice things fell far short of the truth.

Dec. 17/08 Matt. 16:13

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

In our world today, who do people think that Jesus is? Some will say He was a great teacher. Others that He was a great religious leader. Still others will say that He was a deceiver and liar. A few will even claim that He never existed. And some will say that He was the Son of God.

Dec. 16/08 Matt. 16:12

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees was dangerous because it sounded to Biblical. After all, they were experts in the Scriptures and well-respected in the community. How could what they say be so wrong?

Some Christians today have not developed discernment. They simply believe that because someone quotes the Bible or claims to be a Christian that they must be ok. Some Christians get involved in wrong relationships/marriages because they do not look beneath the surface. Even Satan can appear as an angel of light. All things must be judged by the Word of God in context. Those Christians never read and study in depth the Word of God have no clue what is really there. They are easy targets of Biblical sounding deceivers. They are defenseless, but they have no one to blame but themselves for not digging into and understanding the Word of God for themselves.

Dec. 13/08 Matt. 16:11

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

Even this greatest of Teachers had problems communicating to His disciples. It is the danger of preconceived ideas. The disciples thought they knew what He was talking about, they thought they knew what He was going to say, so what He did say was filtered through what they thought He was saying. If we would learn from God - or anyone for that matter - we have to cultivate the art of listening. We need to be able to put our ideas and prejudices aside and focus on the person who is speaking. What are they really saying?

Dec. 12/08 Matt. 16:9-10

Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

As mentioned before, some critics claim the miracle of the seven loaves is a repeat of the miracles of the five loaves. They don't believe in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and so think the authors simply repeated themselves. Of course, they don't believe it really happened either.

Here Jesus very plainly refers to them as two separate events. Either Jesus told the truth or He lied. As for me, I am going with He told the truth.

Jesus' point was their bad memory. They could not take what they had seen Him do in the past and have faith for what He would do in the future. Just like us. We see God moving, He gets us out of trouble or blesses us in some way. We are excited when it happens, but the next time we run into a problems - instead of acting in faith because of what we have seen God do - we allow our emotions to carry us away with doubt and fear again.

Dec. 11/08 Matt. 16:8

Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?

Jesus overheard their guilt-ridden reasoning. I am sure He must have had many a frustrating moment with His disciples. Where was their faith? Did they really think He was overly concerned about missing lunch? Couldn't they see the point He was making? Why didn't they understand? Yet, Jesus never gave up on them...and He won't give up on us either.

Dec. 10/08 Matt. 16:6-7

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.

Jesus often talked in pictures. Here He was drawing an a picture of how subtle and dangerous the false doctrine of the Pharisees and Scribes was. His disciples, because they will feeling guilty about forgetting to bring bread, thought they were being corrected for their mistake. Amazing how guilt can create false impressions. They thought they knew what Jesus was going to say so their minds translated what He said into what they thought He was going to say. We can fall into the same trap, which is why it is important to develop the skill of listening. We have to put away preconceived ideas and listen to what is really being said.

Dec. 9/08 Matt. 16:5

And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.

The disciples were not some group of spiritual supermen. They were no different than you and I. They had responsibilities and sometimes they forget and/or failed. I'm sure, like us, they were busy blaming each other for forgetting to pack the lunch.

Dec. 8/08 Matt. 16:4

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Doubting and critical people will never see the signs. They claim to be looking for signs, but they only want reasons to scoff and disbelieve. Their real hard heart condition is exposed. To those who really desire the Truth, God will reveal Himself.

What was the sign of the prophet Jonah? Jonah was three days in the belly of a fish [the Bible does not say whale] before he was ejected. Jesus would be three days in the tomb before the grave ejected Him. This would be a sign to try and break up the hard hearts, perhaps the only one they would see. We know from history, most of them still refused to believe even after this sign.

Dec. 5/08 Matt. 16:2-3

He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Jesus would not waste His time with hypocrites. They were good at reading signs in nature, why could they not read the signs in Scripture? They professed to be scholars of the Word, but they claimed they had no idea of the spiritual signs that were all around them.

Dec. 3/08 Matt. 16:1

The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees did not like each other. They were religious enemies ready to fight each other. Interestingly, they united against a common enemy: Jesus. The fact that they had Jesus as a common enemy shows that in spite of surface differences they were at the root inspired by the same demonic force. It is amazing at the seemingly different forces that unite against Christianity. It goes from Communism, to Islam, to Hindus, to the welfare states of the West such as Canada and the US. All it reveals is the common root which simply expresses itself in different ways.

Like Satan, in the temptation in the wilderness, they tempted Jesus for a sign. They wanted Him to prove Himself although they had no attention of believing Him no matter what He did.

Dec. 2/08 Matt. 15:39

And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala,

When the multitude were satisfied and everything was cleaned up, Jesus dismissed them. The time of teaching and ministry were over for the present. It was time to go home and practice what they had learned. It is great to have intense "mountain top" experiences with God but we have to learn to take that and walk with God into the valley where doubts and fears attack us. Every mountain top experience has to be tested in a valley to see if it is real to us.

Dec. 1/08 Matt. 15:38

And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

This is the second time Jesus did this miracle. Some skeptics believe that it is really a repeat of the first one. The gospel writers definitely list them as two similar but different events. Why did the disciples not remember the first time and act in faith instead of doubt? How many times are we faced with similar situations and react the same way...especially if we know the solution is beyond our control? Many times. The disciples were just as human as we are.

Nov. 29/08 Matt. 15:37

And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

Nobody left hungry. When God does a miracle it is the complete thing. No half way measures.

Jesus made sure they did not leave a mess behind them either. They picked up the leftovers. God expects us to care for His world and to respect others who may be coming after us. A place or building that Christians use should be as good or better when they leave then when they got there. The Christian life is very practical.

Nov. 28/08 Matt. 15:36

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Although the disciples could not do the work on their own neither were they to be spectators. They had a vital part to play in the miracle. God does not normally perform miracles on His own. His uses willing human beings to work His miracles through. It is teamwork. We follow instructions and God does what we cannot do.

Nov. 27/08 Matt. 15:35

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

After the disciples had discovered what they had to work with and brought it to Jesus, Jesus took command of the situation. He did not expect the disciples to do the impossible. They had to realize both their utter helplessness and the "seed" that they had. Then they could allow Jesus to do the work. It would take a miracle but if the disciples gave up or if they tried to do the work on their own, it would fail. Likewise, Jesus sometimes gives us "impossible" assignments but He doesn't intend for us to struggle through them on our own. It is a wonderful opportunity for Him to work through us.

God is a God of order. The people were required to sit down so they could be served efficiently. God is not the God of confusion or disorder.

Nov. 26/08 Matt. 15:34

And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

The first thing to do was not to be overwhelmed by the problem. The first thing was to find out what they did have. You can't work with what you don't have, only with what you do have. Find out what you have. Everyone has something. Start from there.

What they had, of course, was not enough to met the need. It was still impossible. It still needed a miracle. Nevertheless, now that had a "seed" to bring to Jesus. You cannot multiply nothing. Zero times zero is still zero. But God can multiply something, no matter how small, until it mets an enormous need.

Nov. 25/08 Matt. 15:33

And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

The disciples, like many of us, saw only the problem not the possibilities. Bread did not grow on trees. There were no shops near by. They had been assigned an impossible task. It is frustrating to be asked to do something you know you cannot do. Besides, they probably reasoned, it wasn't their fault or responsibility that the people didn't have food. Why didn't the people plan ahead and bring extra food with them? Why didn't the people take responsibility for their own actions?

Of course, we are all responsible for our own actions but Jesus had given the disciples an assignment. The people didn't have food - what could or should have been done was at that point immaterial. The situation was upon them, what were they going to do about it?

Nov. 24/08 Matt. 15:32

Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

Things were exciting when Jesus was around. It was so exciting that the people didn't want to leave, they even neglected eating for three days so they wouldn't miss anything. Today, some people are rude enough to get up and walk out of a pastor goes over his alloted time.

Jesus was concerned with the whole person. Sometimes we emphasize the spiritual to the neglect of the physical. God is a God of balance. We are only one person. We cannot be divided into spiritual and physical, both go into who we are, and both have needs which need to be met. God is concerned with the total person. Likewise, we need to be people of balance. The devil will try to drive us to one extreme or another. All extreme is error. We need a balanced life under God.

Nov. 22/08 Matt. 15:30-31

And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. No one went away disappointed if they had the persistence to get to Jesus Himself. The result was that God was glorified. That is always the result of a genuine move of the Spirit. If the instrument is getting the glory then something is wrong.

Nov. 21/08 Matt. 15:29

And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

It would almost seem, like the woman at Samaria, that Jesus went to this location for the reason of ministering to this woman even through He at first ignored her. As soon as He had healed the woman's daughter, He left.

When the gospel writers record that Jesus went up into a mountian they are inviting the comparison of Jesus with Moses who also went up into a mountain to receive the Law of God and then brought it down to the people.

Jesus sat down. He was relaxed. He was not uptight or formal. He could speak and working standing or sitting. Whatever the situation required He was able to meet it.

Nov. 20/08 Matt. 15:28

Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Now Jesus could release the miracle. She had her request granted. Her daughter was instantly healed. And she had a foretaste of what would be coming to the Gentiles in the near future.

Jesus always admired great faith when He saw it. Interestingly, in the gospels, the people who displayed the greatest faith were not Jews. Even so now, many times Christians having a harder time believing God, than some non-Christians. Some Christians even stumble at the fact that God could create the world in six literal days about 6,000 years ago as He clearly testifies in His Word.

Nov. 18/08 Matt. 15:26-27

But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

It sounds almost like Jesus is insulting this poor woman, but if He is going to be able to step outside His primary mission for her, she must be totally committed. This wonderful woman rises to the occasion. She ignores the insult. She has one thing on her heart and mind and nothing is going to distract her from it. Instead, she listened closely to the words of Jesus and saw her ray of hope. Even dogs had to be cared for. In humility she jumped at the opportunity.

Nov. 17/08 Matt. 15:25

Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

This woman was not concerned with the great theological issues involved in her request. She needed help...now. And she was not going to give up. Persistence is a powerful force. Again, it is not that Jesus did not want to help her, but He could not violate His mission.

Nov. 15/08 Matt. 15:24

But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

So what was the problem here? This desperate mother was trying to reach into the future. There was coming a time when the gospel and its benefits would be for all nations, but the time was not yet. The Jewish people had been the instruments of God in bringing the Messiah into the world and so they were to have the first opportunity of hearing and accepting the Gospel. After their first opportunity [which lasted about seven years] then the gospel was to go world-wide forever. So the earthly ministry of Jesus was to be to the Jewish people. Daniel and other prophets foresaw this. It was temporary but necessary. So this mother was asking Jesus to step outside His commission. Her daughter couldn't wait for seven years!

Nov. 13/08 Matt. 15:23

But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

Jesus seemed to ignore this troubled mother. It looks hard-hearted. However, Jesus had to wait for something, He had to draw it out of her. We can see that Jesus had compassion on this mother because He also refused to send her away when His hard-hearted disciples were upset with the scene this heathen woman was making.

Nov. 12/08 Matt. 15:21-22

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Here we have a desperate mother. She loves her daughter but her daughter has become tormented by a demon. We don't know how this situation developed. Likely the daughter - or even the family - was involved in some form of occult. The worship of demons in the guise of 'gods' was common, which, in turn, led to the increased activity and power of the demons. It wasn't until Christ died and rose from the dead that Satan was bound.

In any case, the mother had faith that Jesus could deliver her daughter so she came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. She is, in fact, an intercessor . She is representing the needs of someone else before Jesus. We can all be intercessors. We know people who cannot help themselves so we present their needs to God on their behalf.

She began by asking for mercy. She knew she did not deserve anything. She could not earn the favour of Jesus. What she needed was mercy, not justice. In the same way, none of us deserves anything from God except judgment. What we need is mercy.

Next, she recognized Jesus as Lord and rightful King [Son of David]. If we are going to get anything from God we need to recognize Who He is. Jesus is Lord.

Finally, she brought up her request. It was a desperate need. Jesus was the only answer and she knew it. When we bring our requests to God we need to do it in the right order. Even in the Lord's Prayer, you will notice, "Give us our daily bread" is not at the beginning of the prayer. We need to focus on the greatness of God and then we can present our requests in proper perspective.

Nov. 11/08 Matt. 15:19-20

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

The heart is the source of all kinds of wickedness. Nobody does anything without it first being a thought in the heart. That is why it is so important to control the heart thoughts not indulge them in secret. If we keep them covered, they were break out when we least expect it. Later these seeming little house cats will turn into roaring lions devouring all in their path. Don't be caught. Be ruthless with evil thoughts. Root them out of your heart by replacing them with God thoughts and you will never be ashamed or have your life/ministry destroyed.

Nov. 10/08 Matt. 15:17-18

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

The principle is simple. What you eat, passes through your body, and is gone. It was no permanent effect [unless it is poison]. The body uses it and it is gone. End of story. It cannot effect the soul or the spirit. But what comes from the heart, out of the mouth, reveals what is really inside a person. It can poison and destroy the entire person: body, soul, and spirit. The issues of life are from the heart. Guard the heart.

Nov. 8/08 Matt. 15:16

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Jesus, in His human nature, was sometimes amazed at the inability of the disciples to understand simple ideas. How could they not "get" what this greatest of Teachers was saying? We forget, at times, that Jesus felt all the emotions that we feel. He knew what it was to be frustrated. Yet, He always handled His emotions in non-sinful ways.

Nov. 7/08 Matt. 15:15

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

Even the disciples did not understand many of the teachings of Jesus. They were trying to filter His words through their preconceived Jewish ideas. Many times it didn't make sense. Their world-view would have to be changed by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost before they would come to a clear understanding. Even today Christians, who should know better, dabble in the old nationalistic Judaistic ideas that Jesus and Paul so firmly opposed.

Nov. 5/08 Matt. 15:14

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

There was no point in trying to correct the Pharisees. They had deliberately rejected Jesus. They were not deceived, they knew Who Jesus was. With hard hearts they rejected Him. There was no longer any help for them or those who choose to follow their ways. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians today are trekking behind the Pharisees instead of behind Christ.

Nov. 4/08 Matt. 15:13

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Jesus was not concerned about whether the Pharisees were offended or not. Their opposition to Him had proved that they, as a group, had not been chosen by God. Although they looked so powerful and permanent, they were weak and temporary in the eyes of God. Anything or anyone not established by God is ultimately going to destruction.

Nov. 3/08 Matt. 15:12

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

The disciples were good Jewish men. They were concerned that the Pharisees were offended. Maybe Jesus had gone too far, or hadn't realized what He was doing. After all, nobody wanted to be on the Pharisees' bad side.

There are times when people are going to be offended when we speak the truth. That does not give us license to be offensive! But when we oppose deceivers and use the truth to expose them, there are going to be unhappy people.

Oct. 30/08 Matt. 15:11

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

It is not the physical things which impact eternity, it is the spiritual things. We get our priorities mixed up. We focus on the wrong things. And we lose out...forever.

Oct. 29/08 Matt. 15:10

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Jesus was not going to let the Pharisees off the hook. They had infected the nation with false teaching; therefore, He had to publicly correct their false ideas. So Jesus called the people together to instruct them in Truth. This was not done vindictively against the Pharisees, Jesus had no desire for revenge or to build up his ego. No, the poison of the Pharisees had to be counteracted with truth.

Oct. 28/08 Matt. 15:9

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

All the Pharisees' worship, all their tradition, all the rituals, all their work was useless. If the heart is not the engine driving our relationship with God, we are not going anywhere. We are only deceiving ourselves.

One of the signs of a dead religion is legalism. When the doctrines of men become more important than the doctrines of God, we are in trouble. It is time to repent or put a gravestone over our heads.

Oct. 27/08 Matt. 15:7-8

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

The Pharisees and general population knew the right things to say and do. They had the forms all down pat, but their heart was not there. Even in the Old Testament the heart was more important than the ritual. Ritual never saved anyone. It was only as they believed in their heart in what the ritual - like the Passover - stood for that it had any value. It has always been salvation by faith in the blood of Christ.

Oct. 25/08 Matt. 15:4-6

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Just in case they thought Jesus was bluffing, Jesus gave them a concrete example. The Bible is very clear about the respective responsibilities that children have toward their parents. From the example, we know Jesus is referring to older teenage or adult children. Instead of helping and providing for their parents, these "children" would give to the temple to increase their position or influence in the community. The Pharisees said that it was OK to neglect the needs of the parents if it was given to "God." Talk about conflict of interest! They overruled the Word of God in their own favor.

Many times Christians fall into the same trap of giving to the Church at the expense of their families or other responsibilities. They think they are doing a great work for God, but in neglecting God-given responsibilities, they are actually disobeying God, bringing shame on the Church, and destroying their families.

Oct. 24/08 Matt. 15:3

But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Jesus did not answer their charge. Instead, He made one of His own. The charge of Jesus was much more serious. The Pharisees were concerned because their traditions were being broken. Jesus accused them of using their tradition to break the Word of God - The Word they claimed to uphold and follow. Jesus was, in fact, calling them hypocrites to their faces. They condemned others for breaking small man-made rules and they broke large God-made rules.

Oct. 23/08 Matt. 15:2

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

Notice, it was not the Word of God that the disciples were charged with breaking, but the tradition of the elders. Like some churches today, the Pharisees had in practical effect made tradition higher than the Word of God. Tradition can be good, but it can never be made equal to or greater than the Word of God. Like all things it must be subjected to the Bible and abandoned if it is in conflict.

The problem wasn't that the disciples did not wash their hands before eating. They did not do the ceremonial washing that religion required. These were hungry working men. They did not take time for all the fancy rules...someone else might get to the food before they did!

Oct. 22/08 Matt. 15:1

Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

The official scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to challenge Jesus on the conduct of His disciples. These were the big guys, the powerful men. They could make or break just about any Israelite. They were not men you wanted to argue with if you wanted to keep your power, position, or even your life. Jesus never backed down or stood in fear of them. Instead He would condemn and challenge them.

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