Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 13

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Continuing on in Matthew’s gospel, we arrive in chapter 13 where Jesus is making His way to the Sea of Galilee.

If you are now joining this study, you can read Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1 here.

We just left off in chapter 12 where Jesus encountered conflict with the Pharisees and continued to perform healings and miracles. Now in chapter 13 we will read a series of parables from Jesus describing what the kingdom of heaven is like.

From the outset, crowds of people gather around Jesus as His reputation is spreading and people desire to know more about this man Jesus: the one healing, preaching and performing miracles. Jesus becomes enveloped by so many people that He decides to find a boat He can float in by the seashore, so that everyone can see and hear him teach.

Then Jesus begins to teach via parables.

7 parables to be exact.

4 of the parables are focused towards the crowds of people. 3 of the parables are focused towards Jesus’ disciples when He is alone with them.

Parables are short stories, allegorical and symbolic in nature, meant to convey a deeper meaning. We have seen Jesus employ this teaching methodology earlier in chapter 5:14-16, chapter 7:24-27, chapter 9:16-17, all of which are short parables.

Now in chapter 13, Jesus resumes this style of teaching in a series of many parables all working together to describe one idea: the kingdom of heaven.

Using parables to describe such a lofty place and idea as the kingdom of heaven causes Jesus’ listeners to think and process what He’s saying, while also acting as a filtering mechanism by which Jesus speaks to those who will believe and those will not believe. We will talk more about this when we arrive at verses 10-17.

In verse 3, Jesus begins His first parable in this particular set of parables.

In verses 3-9, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a man planting seeds on different kinds of soils.

There are:

1) seeds that the birds came and ate, 2) seeds on rocky ground that immediately sprang up but have no deep roots and withered, 3) seeds growing beside thorns and got choked by the thorns, and 4) seeds on good soil, producing grain in various measures.

Remember: Jesus’ audience is comprised of Jewish people who had been following Him for quite some time now.

They have heard His words, seen His miracles, witnessed His healings.

Now it’s time to see what it’s producing in them.

Matthew is brilliant to highlight this parable right here at the beginning of Jesus’ series of parables, since this parable in itself is like a mini summary telling the reader the whole point of parables in the first place: to filter those who will believe in Jesus and those who will not.

This is why Jesus teaches in parables.

Because there are different kinds of soils, or different kinds of responses from people.

And only the ones who truly want Jesus and believe in Him will produce well and grow.

In verses 10-16, Jesus pauses to explain why He teaches in parables since His disciples are confused why Jesus is teaching this way.

Their confusion regarding the parables is understandable considering the disciples don’t yet know what Jesus is doing here with His sermon strategy.

We as modern day studiers of the Bible see have had time to look at Jesus’ rhetoric here and see His purpose in it, but the disciples had no such luxury. They didn’t know what to think about it in the moment. They hadn’t even known Him for very long. They were probably thinking…why don’t you just tell them what you want them to know Jesus? Why are you talking so metaphorically about truths as lofty and mysterious as the kingdom of heaven?

But Jesus has a reason.

Parables prepare the unbelieving heart to start processing truths from God that require the Holy Spirit for clarity.

Jesus plants the seed (parables) and the Holy Spirit waters (understanding).

Therefore, no one will be able to hear what He is saying without God’s help.

If Jesus were to tell them about God directly, the Holy Spirit would not have as much room to work and give understanding, because the people would not be looking for understanding when they already think they understand it. Parables increase the Holy Spirit’s power to work in their hearts.

In other words, if someone hears a parable and doesn’t understand it, then telling him directly will not profit him….because he doesn’t truly understand it by God’s spirit, only by his own earthly mind. Hearing something directly is easy for anyone to understand. But if the Holy Spirit is involved, then one can both understand it directly and through a parable. So God tells the parables first.

It’s a filtering mechanism by which Jesus sifts through the people who will believe in Him and those who will not.

The ones on God’s side and those who are not.

The 2 opposing forces we established back in chapter 2 and have seen at work throughout Matthew’s gospel.

The reality of the kingdom of heaven has been concealed by God for this long and now Jesus has come to reveal it, as He tells us later in verse 35.

But this revelation is in process.

Jesus reveals it slowly in a way that makes His listeners slow down to process it and really think about it. This is what forces them to choose: do I want to know more about this or don’t I? It’s sparks curiosity. It makes room for the Holy Spirit of God to draw them to faith in Jesus. And it filters out the ones who are not genuine.

Thus, parables are actually good for the ones who don’t yet believe in Jesus.

By forcing their contemplation, Jesus is actually trying to soften their hearts and set them up for spiritual regeneration through Him and His Spirit.

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” in verse 13.

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t want the crowds of people to know about the kingdom of heaven and is denying them knowledge. But most of the people in the crowds are just not open to Jesus right now. And thus they would not even hear it if it were spoken to them.

Only the ones chosen by Jesus so far and who have reciprocated this choice by choosing Him back (His disciples) have the gift of immediately understanding what Jesus is saying.

So when the disciples ask Jesus why He is telling the other people parables, He says this in verse 11,

“And He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (emphasis mine).

The disciples already chose Jesus.

They want Him.

They believe in Him.

Thus, they were given the gift of knowing the secrets about heaven and God that others are not fully given yet. Until they also choose.

But Jesus is kind and actually continues to explain this parable to the crowds of people.

In verses 18-23, Jesus resumes His teaching and takes time to explain this particular parable to the crowds of people.

Reading through this, I’m wondering…why does Jesus explain this parable?

As He goes on, He doesn’t explain any other parables that He tells the crowds in this chapter. He will go on to explain one parable to the disciples in private but not to the crowds. So the explanation to this particular parable must be important. Jesus wants them to know what it means.

Going back to what we talked about earlier regarding this parable of the seeds and soils being a mini summary of the purpose for all parables (a filtering mechanism), Jesus also wants to make this clear to the crowds of people. That each one of them is like one of these kinds of soil.

Jesus explains each kind of soil and how it correlates to a person hearing Jesus’ words and following Him or not.

This is certainly a call to action.

Jesus wants His followers to understand that following Him from place to place is not enough.

They need to decide.

Are they going to believe Jesus’ words or not?

Not everyone in the crowd would have gotten this however.

Only the ones who wanted Jesus would be able to feel conviction, a desire to believe Jesus’ words and the ability to understand it:

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understand it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty,” in verse 23.

Jesus is now at the point in chapter 13 where time has passed and He’s challenging the people to consider: which kind of soil are you?

They’ve been following Jesus for this long. Are they going to let Jesus’ words take root in their souls or not?

In verses 24-30, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a man who planted good seeds in his field but then found that his enemy had come in the middle of the night to plant weeds in that field.

I think Jesus follows up with this parable to encourage and equip the ones who are starting to believe in Jesus.

It’s likely there are those in the crowd who are really understanding what Jesus is teaching and thus saying, “Yes, I want Jesus and I believe in Him!”

Now, Jesus is now preparing them for what will happen when they start to follow Him. The struggles. The obstacles. The attacks. The assault from the devil.

“ ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ ” Jesus says in verse 27 while telling the parable.

Jesus wants them to be ready when the enemy comes and tries to contaminate what God has planted. But the enemy will not prevail.

Jesus provides an eschatological answer to this problem in verse 30, promising that God will have his reapers, or angels, gather up the weeds and burn them but gather the grain from the good seed into His barn, or His kingdom. Jesus doesn’t say that He will eliminate the weeds when they spring up. Because then, it would uproot the wheat. Thus, bad things happen for the sake of sustaining all of our existence. Until Jesus comes back and God wipes away evil.

In verses 31-32, Jesus tells the crowds of people a parable about a small mustard seed being planted and it growing into the largest tree of all the plants.

Again, Jesus is describing the kingdom of heaven here.

This seems odd, because the kingdom of heaven seems pretty magnificent!

Why compare it to a mustard seed?

Jesus wants to convey that anything they can comprehend about God and heaven is only a small taste of what it really is. A mustard seed. And what it will be when we are with Jesus one day is greater than anything we can see now.

Additionally, to a Jewish audience who may be confused by Jesus’ teaching and understanding of “kingdom of heaven,” this parable likely speaks to their expectations of the Messiah coming to bring God’s kingdom to earth. Most Jews were waiting for the Messiah to arrive and stop their oppression under the Romans and establish God’s kingdom on earth. But this is not what’s happening.

Jesus is not there to establish His own kingdom.

He is there to tell of the kingdom to come.

A “mustard seed” is all they can see of the kingdom of heaven right now.

But one day, they will see the “tree.”

Revelation 22:1-3 says, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, nut the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His people will worship Him.”

When I read this, I see this parable working to convey to His audience that they may not see a lot happening now… but one day, they will indeed see the kingdom of heaven and it will be more beautiful and greater than anything they’ve ever known or seen.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean the fruit isn’t on the way.

It’s coming.

To me, this passage is always applicable.

In every situation, we trust in God to grow what He planted.

To complete what He started.

It’s what faith is all about.

Jesus tells the crowds another parable in verses 33 about a woman waiting for leaven to rise.

These back-to-back parables about the mustard seed and the leaven both reinforce the other…that the kingdom of heaven is something we must wait for. And it will come. Then the waiting will be over. We will receive the blessing.

Matthew inserts authorial narration in verses 34-35, informing the reader that everything Jesus is saying at this point in time is via parables.

Then Matthew connects Jesus’ use of parables to a prophecy found in Psalm 78:2:

“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

Remember, Matthew writes with a Jewish audience in mind.

Thus, he includes scriptures from the Old Testament that prophesy of Jesus to make it more clear to the reader that Jesus really is the Jewish Messiah that the Old Testament has been prophesying about. Matthew has included Old Testament prophetic scriptures before as we have been reading along in his gospel and he will continue.

At this point in verse 36, Jesus leaves the crowds of people and goes back into the house that He exited at the beginning of the chapter.

Jesus’ disciples come to Him.

They want to know the meaning of the parable about the seeds growing with the weeds.

In verse 36, Jesus teaching shifts from teaching the crowds to teaching His disciples. Thus, the parable He tells in verses 3-35 are different in purpose and focus than the parables He tells in verses 36-58.

We’ve already discussed this parable in its content and why Jesus may have included it in His teaching, so now we will look at what Jesus is doing as He explains this parable to His disciples.

Jesus sees that His disciples are curious and a little confused.

However, we will see by verse 51 that the disciples understand more than they realize!

I love that Jesus takes time to talk with His disciples privately about what He is teaching. He always prioritizes them and appreciates them as His ministry partners.

In verse 43, Jesus says again “…He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

We’ve seen Jesus say this phrase before to the people when He’s teaching, but I’m a little confused at why He is saying this to the disciples. Sure, He wants to make sure the people are hearing what He’s saying. But it seems that the disciples are already hearing fully what Jesus is saying because they have chosen to follow Him. So doesn’t Jesus already know that the disciples do hear and do understand? Why would He exhort them like this?

But if we keep reading, we see that this is not so much an exhortation as it is an affirmation.

In verse 51, Jesus asks them, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.”

Jesus wants them to notice out loud that they do indeed understand.

This is so significant!

Seeing this in this passage is my favorite thing about this chapter!!!! I want you to see it too!!!

And it’s this:

→Jesus notices that the disciples are confused and uncertain if they understand all that Jesus is saying. Jesus doesn’t reject their feelings. He doesn’t say, why of course you understand! No. He cares about the fear underneath their doubt about being able to understand. He puts them in a scenario where that fear is tested (the fear of not being able to understand His parables)…thus, Jesus tells them a few parables just by theirselves, without the uncertainty of the crowds rubbing off on them. And then He asks them “Do you understand?” And they reply “yes!”. What!!??!?! I totally was surprised when I was reading this because I expected them to say “No.” Because they seem to not think they have the ability to understand.

The disciples were not confident in their ability to understand Jesus’ parables and thus they thought they couldn’t.

But really…they could!!!

They just needed Jesus to help them see that they already knew! what they already possessed! who they already were!

Wow I just love this!!!

What an extra bonus this passage produces in showing us just how much we need Jesus to be who we are called to be and to be who we already are in Him! So glad Matthew wrote it this way. Freaking genius if you ask me : )

We see that Jesus awakens our potential and affirms our aptitude.

This is what He did for the disciples.

I love this connection in this passage!

In verse 52, Jesus goes on to affirm the disciples’ identity:

“And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like an owner of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

This is significant because the disciples were not actual scribes trained in the Jewish way.Yet, Jesus deems them scribes. And not just any scribe. But scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven. What an honor!

Jesus entrusts His disciples with responsibility and leadership.

It’s a blessing He bestows upon them.

And it’s not based on their qualifications, but on Jesus’ own choice to choose them and train them.

Going back to verses 44-46 specifically, Jesus tells His disciples 2 short parables that illustrate 2 scenarios of someone giving everything they have for the new treasure they have found.

The kingdom of heaven is this treasure.

Jesus wants the disciples to see that everything they have given their life for is worth it. It is far more valuable than the life they would have had. And what they will experience when they are in this “kingdom of heaven” for real will be worth everything they are doing right now with Jesus.

Jesus continuously points them towards an eschatological hope which is found in Him.

In verses 47-50 specifically, Jesus tells His disciples one last parable.

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a net being thrown into the sea catching an assortment of fish, which will be sorted out by fishermen. He goes on to explain how this represents the angels separating out the evil and the righteous at the end of times when Jesus comes back and eradicates evil and Satan for good.

Jesus will continue to tell His disciples insider-knowledge, if you will, about what is going to happen in the future.

Luckily, for us as readers, we can follow this as recorded in Matthew’s gospel and see the progression of Jesus’ words come to fruition, especially in His prediction of His own death and resurrection after 3 days. Just proves even more that Jesus is the Messiah. And this helps Jewish readers to see the prophetic evidence of Jesus’ divinity.

In verses 53-58, Jesus and His disciples leave and travel to Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, where they encounter a much different reception than they had received in other places.

Jesus and His disciples arrive in Nazareth and Jesus goes to a synagogue to preach.

After preaching in the synagogue there in Nazareth, all the people are astonished.

But it’s not because they want to know more. It’s because they are skeptical of Him and how He has become who He is. Everyone is questioning His identity, wisdom, insight and power.

They all remember Jesus just as the little boy that used to live in Nazareth.

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” it says in verse 55-56.

The hometown people of Nazareth think they know Jesus.

But they don’t. They don’t respect Him for who He truly is.

Jesus says in verse 57, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”

Again, this highlights the 2 opposing forces at work in Matthew’s gospel that we have witnessed ever since chapter 2: the ones on God’s side and those who are not. The ones who believe in Jesus and those who do not.

Chapter 13 ends with Matthew telling the reader that Jesus “did not do many works there because of their unbelief” in verse 58.

Ending this study of Matthew chapter 13, we see how Jesus desires to soften the hearts of the people in Galilee who are following Him and curious about Him. Thus He teaches in parables to help them stop and think about what He is saying regarding the kingdom of heaven and faith in God.

By now at the end of chapter 13, Jesus has finished a longer set of teachings via parables.

As we progress into chapter 14, Jesus will transition to performing miracles.

But first, we will change scenery to find out what is going on with John the Baptist, who is in prison under Herod’s rule in the beginning verses of chapter 14.

Until then, may God richly bless you as you dive into the gospel of Matthew, learning more about the life of our beautiful, strong Savior Jesus Christ. Let His words soothe your heart and His life inspire your love.

 

Summary of Matthew 13

Jesus exits His family’s house and goes to the sea (of Galilee); Jesus gets into a boat to teach to the people who are now surrounding Him; Jesus begins to teach via parables; Jesus tells the crowds a parable about a sower; Jesus explains the parable of the sower; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of good seeds and weeds in a field; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of a mustard seed; Jesus tells the crowds a parable of leaven rising; Jesus leaves the crowds; Jesus explains to the disciples the parable of the good seeds and weeds in the field; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of hidden treasure; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a valuable pearl; Jesus tells His disciples a parable of a net catching fish; Jesus affirms His disciples understanding of the parables; Jesus leaves and goes to Nazareth; Jesus is rejected by the people in His hometown; Jesus does not perform many miracles or healings in Nazareth.

 

Jesus in Matthew 13

Jesus exit’s the house where his family was at (v. 1)

Jesus goes to sit beside the sea (v. 1)

Jesus draws many people to Him (v. 2)

Jesus is captivating (v. 2)

Jesus gets into a boat and sits since there were so many people around Him (v. 2)

Jesus goes to where everyone will be able to see and hear Him (v. 2)

Jesus is pragmatic (v. 2)

Jesus cares about everyone (v. 2)

Jesus begins to tell them parables (v. 3)

Jesus tells parables about what the kingdom of heaven is like (v. 3-52)

Jesus tells a parable of a sower sowing seeds on different kinds of soils (v. 3-9)

Jesus exhorts them to hear what He is saying (v. 9)

Jesus’ parables confuse His disciples (v. 10)

Jesus explains (v. 10)

Jesus tells the disciples that they are able to understand the secrets of God but others cannot (v.11)

Jesus tells parables to help the crowds of people understand, not confuse them (v. 11)

Jesus tells parables because they will not listen to Him if he tells them directly (v. 13)

Jesus supports this with a prophecy from Isaiah 6:9-10 regarding those who hear but don’t understand, and see but don’t see (v. 14-15)

Jesus calls the disciples eyes blessed (v. 16)

Jesus calls the disciples ears blessed (v. 16)

Jesus calls them blessed because they see (v. 16)

Jesus calls them blessed because they hear (v. 16)

Jesus declares that many prophets and righteous people longed to see what they see and hear what they hear, but never did (v. 17)

Jesus is the One they longed to see (v. 17)

Jesus is the One they longed to hear (v. 17)

Jesus is who everyone has been waiting for (v. 17)

Jesus explains the parable about the seed and the sower to the crowds (v. 18-23)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a man planting seed in a field and his enemy planting weeds in the same field (v. 24-30)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a man planting a mustard seed and it growing into a large tree (v. 31-32)

Jesus tells the crowds another parable about a woman waiting on leaven to rise (v. 33)

Jesus teaches the crowds about God and the kingdom of heaven through parables (v. 34)

Jesus fulfills the prophecy found in Psalm 78:2 (v. 35)

Jesus leaves the crowds (v. 36)

Jesus goes back into the house (v. 36)

Jesus’ disciples now ask Him to explain the parable of the weeds to them (v. 36)

Jesus now shifts to teaching His disciples (v. 36)

Jesus proceeds to tell them what everything in the parable represents (v. 37-39)

Jesus tells His disciples the one sowing seed is the Son of Man (v. 37)

Jesus is the Son of Man (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples the field is the world (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the good seed is the sons of the kingdom (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the weeds are the sons of the evil one (v. 38)

Jesus tells His disciples the enemy is the devil (v. 39)

Jesus tells His disciples the harvest is the end of the age (v. 39)

Jesus tells His disciples the reapers are the angels (v. 39)

Jesus says that the weeds burned with fire is what will happen at the end of the age (v. 40)

Jesus will send His angels to gather all sin and all the ones who don’t follow Him and throw them into the fiery furnace (v. 41-42)

Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in the fiery furnace (v. 42)

Jesus says the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father (v. 43)

Jesus exhorts them to hear what He is saying (v. 43)

Jesus wants all to hear and listen (v. 43)

Jesus will not force anyone to hear (v. 43)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a man finding a treasure in a field and selling everything he has to buy that field (v. 44)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a man finding a very valuable pearl, who goes and sells all he has to buy it (v. 45-46)

Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a net catching many fish and men sorting through it (v. 47-48)

Jesus explains this, saying at the end of the age the angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous (v. 49)

Jesus talks about the fiery furnace again (v. 49-50)

Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (v. 50)

Jesus asks his disciples if they understand (v. 51)

Jesus’ disciples says “yes” (v. 51)

Jesus disciples’ understand (v. 51)

Jesus cares about His disciples’ comprehension of what He is saying (v. 51)

Jesus doesn’t merely talk at them (v. 51)

Jesus declares responsibility upon His disciples because of the insight He is telling them (v. 52)

Jesus tells them they are like scribes being trained for the kingdom of heaven (v. 52)

Jesus tells them that they are to glean from both the new and old teaching, as leaders in the kingdom of heaven (v. 52)

Jesus finishes telling His parables (v. 53)

Jesus leaves (v. 53)

Jesus goes to Nazareth, His hometown (v. 54)

Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth (v. 54)

Jesus astonishes the people (v. 54)

Jesus astonishes them with His wisdom and insight (v. 54)

Jesus is questioned by the people in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is doubted by the people in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is disrespected by the ones in his hometown (v. 55-56)

Jesus is seen as the boy they always knew, not the Messiah he truly is (v. 55-56)

Jesus declares that a prophet is always dishonored in his hometown (v. 57)

Jesus declares that a prophet is always dishonored in his own household (v. 57)

Jesus could not do many mighty works in Nazareth because of the people’s unbelief (v. 58)

Jesus will not do mighty works for those who don’t believe Him (v. 58)

 

 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

-Matthew 13:45-46-

 

Questions for Today:

  • What are parables?
  • Why does Jesus tell parables as a form of teaching?
  • How does Jesus awaken the disciples’ potential and affirm their aptitude?
  • How does Jesus show honor to His disciples?
  • Why is Jesus not respected in his hometown?
  • What stood out to me about Jesus in Matthew chapter 13?

 

“Great Things (Worth it All)” by Elevation Worship

 

 

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 12

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Continuing in our study of the gospel of Matthew, we pick up in chapter 12 after Jesus has spent time teaching and preaching throughout the cities of Galilee in chapter 11.

(If you are just now joining us in this study of Matthew, you are welcome to start from the beginning with Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1.)

Now in verses 1-8 we see Jesus and His disciples experience tension with the religious elite, the Pharisees.

Jesus and His disciples are walking through the grainfields – and it’s the Sabbath. The Pharisees are keenly watching them looking to catch Jesus in something they can accuse Him for, as Jesus’ popularity is increasing and the Pharisees’ disapproval flaring.

“Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath” says the Pharisees in verse 2.

First off, why are the Pharisees in the grainfields?

I would assume if it’s the Sabbath and they study the Law and do religious things that they would be in the temple or synagogue. Or praying. Or reading. But verse 2 says the Pharisees “saw it” when Jesus’ disciples picked the grain, so it makes me wonder why the Pharisees always show up everywhere Jesus is. It’s like they’re on a mission to find Jesus. Watching him like a hawk. Surrounding Him like the paparazzi. It sounds flattering actually. Yet the Pharisees are only looking for Jesus because they want to catch him in sin, which is not good.

The Pharisees want to catch Jesus doing something wrong and they never seem to be able to.

So they’ve become manic.

As we read along, Jesus asks the Pharisees, “Have you not read…?” in verse 3 & 5.

SO much irony here.

And this simple question will be a repetitive phrase in several other passages as we keep reading.

The irony in this question is that the Pharisees are known as being well versed in the scriptures and extremely knowledgeable of the Law. Yet Jesus highlights their lack of internalization of what they think they know.

The Pharisees know the Law but they have no spiritual discernment to recognize it, apply it, or understand God’s intention within it.

Thus, there lies tension between the ones who supposedly know the Law (Pharisees) and the one who wrote the Law (Jesus, God).

The Pharisees do not know the Law as well as they think they do.

Because if they really had internalized what the scriptures say, they would remember how David ate the Sabbath bread because he was hungry and they would have made that connection with Jesus and the disciples like Jesus points out in verses 3-4.

But they don’t make the connection.

Why not?

They read but they don’t read. They see but they don’t see. They are spiritually blind.

Spiritually dead.

They cannot see what God is doing and they quench the Spirit who is the only One able to make them see the connection here. Thus, they are without the Spirit. And if they are without the Spirit, they are not really following God. They don’t really know what they think they know.

Jesus makes this clear in verse 7 when He tells them: “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (emphasis mine).

In verses 9-14 Jesus and His disciples make their way from the grainfields to the synagogue and, again, experiences conflict with the religious leaders concerning healing.

This is personally one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible!

As we continue on, I will explain why. : )

Inside the synagogue rests a man who needs healing.

There’s no indication how long this man has been inside the temple, but we do know that the ones inside (most likely other Pharisees, priests, scribes or other religious elite) are there with him and have made no effort to help this man or attempt to heal Him by asking God. We know this because they ask Jesus about healing this man in verse 10 ONLY to “accuse Him”. Again, they are trying to catch Jesus doing or saying something wrong. So to me, it seems they don’t even care about this man who has a withered hand. All they care about is trying to condemn Jesus. That’s pretty wicked…to see someone who has a need and you don’t even take time to help or comfort them, because you’re so obsessed with hating someone else. It just makes me so mad! How they ignore this man. But thankfully, Jesus is there and He makes everything right!

Jesus answers the Pharisees with an analogy of a sheep falling into a pit and needing rescue. He says that nobody would stop from helping a poor sheep to get out of the pit. Anyone would rescue the sheep immediately!

“Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!” declares Jesus in verse 12 to the religious bullies. That’s what they are. Bullies.

“It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” says in Jesus in verse 12.

Why yes, yes it is. It is lawful to do good. That makes sense. Common sense. Why didn’t the Pharisees see it that way? Did they not have common sense? Apparently not. This reveals how powerful animosity is. Animosity ruins a person, causing them to lose all common sense.

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus didn’t just scorn them and yell at them for how wicked they are!

But Jesus is so calm.

He doesn’t waste any more time. Instead, He heals the man with the withered hand…

“Stretch out your hand” asks Jesus to the man in verse 13.

Why did Jesus not touch the hand?

Why did He ask the man to stretch out his hand?

It’s withered, Jesus, he can’t stretch it out.

But Jesus asks Him to!

Usually Jesus touches people when he heals them. But this time, He didn’t.

I think Jesus asks the man to stretch out his hand because He wanted to 1) see the man’s faith in Him, and 2) affirm the man’s faith in Him for all the others to see.

I love this passage because that man with the withered hand had been so faithful to be in the synagogue and enjoy the presence of the Lord… knowing that nobody was going to heal Him… waiting in the synagogue…resting in the house of the Lord…humbly sitting in God’s presence…seeing people shuffle in and out…seeing the religious elite around him not coming to him…and then BOOM in walks Jesus, the almighty Son of God…and he finally gets healed…God saw him…God loved him enough to send Jesus his way…God didn’t forget him…he wasn’t invisible. My heart just overflows reading this passage and I want to cry. It’s so moving.

This is why I love this passage so much and I’m so glad Matthew includes it in His gospel.

As we move along in verses 15-21, Jesus leaves the synagogue and continues to heal everyone following Him.

Jesus, however, does not any attention from all the healings He is performing, nor does He want anyone spreading the word.

At this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is already experiencing a lot of pushback and conflict from the Pharisees and He knows that His time is running short before they will crucify Him. He wants to meet the needs of the people and keep teaching until that time comes.

The prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-4 is fulfilled in this, as Matthew records this scripture reference within the actual passage for the reader to read.

Again, remember that Matthew is targeting a Jewish audience who he seeks to show that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah they have been waiting for.

So he includes Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, passages for his Jewish reader to see and recognize that Jesus really is the Messiah, the one that the scriptures have prophesied about.

Even for those who don’t believe, Matthew forces the reader to read these prophecies and recognize the connection. His reader won’t be able to get past all these prophecies about Jesus that came true. The reader has to think about it. Very smart literarily on behalf of Matthew.

In verses 22-32, Jesus encounters another man who needs healing in tandem with more conflict and rebuttal from the Pharisees.

In verse 22, Jesus heals the man immediately.

I love that Jesus heals immediately.

I want you to think about something…

Think about what you have to do when you go to a doctor’s office visit… You have to check in, give them your insurance card and ID, fill out a bunch of forms, wait, go up and answer other questions they forgot to ask you, wait, wait some more, finally go back to the office and get your blood pressure taken, weight and height measured, wait, see the nurse, wait, finally see the doctor and they ask you a bunch of questions, then they leave to do whatever goes on in the hidden corridors of the doctor’s office, wait, wait some more, doctor comes back and they tell you what they think might probably possibly  be the problem but they can’t be sure and they want to run some more tests, they give you a prescription and tell you to come back in a few weeks to do all of it all over again. And hopefully you will feel better.

Thank God Jesus doesn’t heal you like a doctor’s office!

Jesus heals immediately.

Right then.

No need for waiting…He heals you instantaneously.

After this, the people are amazed!

They ask, “Can this be the Son of David?” in verse 23 (emphasis mine).

This epithet is used to name Jesus 10 times in Matthew’s gospel. We saw it in chapter 1 when Matthew was listing out Jesus’ genealogy. We also saw it in chapter 9 when two blind men were hoping Jesus would heal them. It’s a name that indicates Jesus’ divinity and royal blood line as the one who was promised to be the Son of David to redeem Israel. Any Jewish reader would immediately pick up on this.  Thus, it’s another indicator that Jesus is the Messiah to the reader.

Jesus’ identity slowly unfolds throughout Matthew’s gospel.

It’s anticipatory subtlety.

Literary brilliance in my opinion.

By now in chapter 12, we see that the people still don’t fully grasp who Jesus is; thus, the question: “Can this be the Son of David?” It’s not yet a declarative statement, just an interrogative. But as we progress, we will see this come to fruition as a declarative statement: the people who believe in Him will eventually see that He really is the Son of David promised to Israel. We will read this in chapter 21 specifically as the people cry “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

After Jesus heals the demon-possessed, blind and mute man in verse 22, the Pharisees are all the sudden right there to criticize Jesus again.

“It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons that this man casts out demons!” snort the Pharisees in verse 24.

Jesus already knows what they are saying.

In fact, Jesus knows their thoughts before they even say anything, verse 25 tells us. Yet, instead of being offended by the Pharisees, Jesus just uses logic and rationality to dismantle their accusations. Jesus tells them that anything divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, it would not make sense whatsoever if Jesus declares to do miracles by God’s power and then goes and does miracles by the power of Satan. Jesus either does the miracles from God or from Satan…it can’t be both.

“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” declares Jesus in verse 28.

Jesus goes on to proclaim that anyone not with Him is against Him in verse 30. Jesus will forgive people every sin and blasphemy if they repent, but He will not forgive any kind of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (verses 31-32). That’s interesting.

I wonder why Jesus will forgive anything against His own self but He won’t forgive any blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

Jesus defends the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps because the Holy Spirit had not come yet and Jesus knew that once the Holy Spirit did come, He would be disrespected and fought over for centuries and centuries as He is today. If you don’t think it’s true, just look at the division in the church over the beliefs about the Holy Spirit. It seems Jesus is making a bold statement that the Holy Spirit is to be respected and He will not tolerate any blasphemy. Perhaps also because the Holy Spirit is necessary in the life of a follower of Christ. Without the Holy Spirit you don’t have God at all. The Holy Spirit connects us to God and therefore He cannot be blasphemed and a person be saved at the same time. It’s not possible.

Jesus continues speaking in verses 33-37, revealing the connection between the inner and outer man in relation to one’s authenticity.

Jesus’ words here expand upon what He already said about one’s power being either from God or from Satan.

This brings us back to the two opposing forces we discussed more extensively in chapters 2 and 3: those on God’s side and those who are not.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit” Jesus explains in verse 33.

If bad things are coming out in one’s actions and words, then that is a result of what is growing within a person is what Jesus communicates here.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” as He tells them in verse 34.

This supports what He already said regarding His power being from God to do miracles and that one cannot be of God and do things with power from Satan.

But the Pharisees won’t leave Jesus alone.

In verses 38-42, the Pharisees ask to see Jesus perform a miracle for them to test Him.

Why do the Pharisees all the sudden want to see a miracle?

They just saw Jesus heal that demon-possessed man.

Why do they ask Him to do another one?

Well, I think this time they ask Him because they want Jesus to show them something: “We wish to see a sign from You” is what they ask in verse 38. Thus, they are hoping 1) that Jesus will do something that benefits them in some way or 2) that they will trap Him if He doesn’t do one. Selfishness is at root of their desire for Jesus to do a miracle here.

Jesus doesn’t perform a miracle for them.

Interesting.

Jesus immediately heals people who are sick. He immediately performs wonders for people who need His help. But when asked by the Pharisees to perform a miracle, He won’t do it because that is not His purpose for performing miracles.

Jesus is not a circus clown.

He’s a Savior.

Jesus performs miracles with and only for a purpose.

“And evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” Jesus tells them in verse 39.

In other words, He lets the scripture be their sign. They all know what Jonah’s story and what it says in the scriptures. So Jesus uses this to support what He’s about to prophesy about Himself: that he will be in the ground for 3 days just like Jonah was in the fish for 3 days.

Dang that’s impressive argumentation!

Jesus just nailed that! I know that’s not His goal to “nail it” but to me I just think He nailed it. : )

Why?

Because Jesus used the scriptures to give them a sign.

Jesus doesn’t perform some miracle that could serve as an analogy for Him being in the ground for 3 days. If He wanted to, He could do that. He could create some mirage of His being nailed to the cross and in the tomb for 3 days if He wanted to…He could create a little lamb to be killed and buried right there in the ground and a vision for all to see showing it in there for 3 days. Jesus could do whatever the heck He wanted to. But He doesn’t do that. He never does any mirages actually because that’s not what He is there to do. Jesus doesn’t need to perform a miracle to give them a sign. No.

Jesus used the scriptures to give them a sign.

He used what they are supposed to know to tell them what they need to know is coming. Prophecy based upon their expertise. At least supposed expertise. Dang it’s just so smart and effective. I just like it.

Jesus goes on to speak about this generation in verses 43-45, connecting them to an unclean spirit searching for rest.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none” Jesus teaches in verse 43.

He goes on to explain how this evil spirit will go and find an empty dwelling places and bring even more unclean spirits with it to all dwell there.

Evil attracts evil.

Evil breeds more evil.

Evil destroys what it inhabits.

Jesus is trying to warn them.

And He pretty much curses them as He says that “So will it be with this evil generation” in verse 45.

Jesus is still speaking to the people when He is interrupted by his mother and brothers attempting to get a word with Him in verses 46-50.

Jesus keeps talking to the people saying that the ones in front of Him are his bother and brothers. His followers.

Wait what?

Why is Jesus calling random people His mother and brothers?

Although Jesus possessed a biological family on the earth, He doesn’t see them as more important than anyone else.

Jesus sees all people as His family…

“For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother” He says in verse 50.

Wow, I just love this.

I love how Jesus speaks to His disciples, who likely at this moment are feeling a little separated from this miracle-working, life speaking Messiah.

They probably feel a little beneath Him. A little unworthy to be around Him. A little scared that He might think less of them. At least I would be feeling that way if I were one of the disciples following around this amazing Jesus preach and heal. When is he going to realize I’m not that great and stop wanting me around? I’d be thinking as a disciple.

But Jesus eases His disciples.

Jesus takes advantage of this opportunity to tell them straightforward that they are just as close to Him and meaningful to Him as His own family, thus calling anyone who follows Him His own “brother and sister and mother.” And likely, this eases all the other ones listening to Him and following Him as well.

As Jesus speaks to His disciples right here, He does something which I think is very significant and highlighted on purpose by Matthew.

Verse 49 illustrates a literary repetition of the phrase “stretching out his hand” in this chapter.

It’s mentioned twice.

We saw it before when Jesus asked the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand in verse 13. Now, in contrast, Jesus stretches out His hand to the disciples in verse 49.

“And stretching out His hand toward his disciples, He said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!” (emphasis mine).

Wow.

What stunning literary contrast.

In the 1st scene, the man with the withered hand stretched out His hand to Jesus → the man proved to Jesus that He needed Him.

In the 2nd scene, Jesus stretches His hand out to His disciples Jesus proves to His disciples that He needs them.

Both stretches of the hand demonstrate faith and honor.

The man had faith in Jesus to heal.

He stretches out his hand honoring Jesus’ request.

Jesus has faith in His disciples to accomplish His ministry.

He stretches out His hand to them in honor as His followers and as His family.

Beautiful literary subtlety. This is why I love Matthew’s gospel so much. : ) Every single word and verse of his gospel he writes remains purposeful and Spirit filled, and is saturated with symbolism and little spiritual nuggets of insight.

Jesus healed many in this chapter. He also incurred a plethora of criticism from the religious elite. However, Jesus will press onward with His ministry with the help of His 12 disciples. And the people who believe in Him will continue to follow Him and see more of more of His divinity.

As we close this chapter and move towards the next, Jesus will shift from healings and tension with the Pharisees to teachings of many parables in chapter 13.

We will read about that next time.

Until then I pray that you would ponder the life of Christ as articulated through the words of Matthew in chapter 12 and fall more in love with this man Jesus. This man who the people in this gospel are starting to see as The Son of David. This man who is something more than human. This man who has come to give life, hope and salvation to all. Praise God for sending Him to us.

 

 

Summary of Matthew 12

Jesus and His disciples walk through the grainfields and pick grain to eat on a day that’s the Sabbath; Jesus incurs criticism from the Pharisees; Jesus and His disciples enter a synagogue and Jesus heals a man with a withered hand; Jesus and His disciples leaves the synagogue; Matthew articulates Jesus fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah 42:1-4; Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man who is also bind and mute and He heals him; Jesus incurs more criticism from the Pharisees; Jesus teaches extensively on good and evil and the substance within a person; the Pharisees test Jesus; Jesus speaks more about unclean spirits and this evil generation; Jesus’ mother and brothers want to see Him and Jesus tells his followers that they are truly His  mother an brothers, (His family).

 

 

Jesus in Matthew 12

Jesus walks through grainfields on the Sabbath (v. 1)

Jesus is with His disciples (v. 1)

Jesus’ disciples are hungry (v. 1)

Jesus’ disciples pick the grain

Jesus’ disciples eat the grain (v. 1)

Jesus is scorned by the Pharisees (v. 2)

Jesus deals with the issue (v. 3)

Jesus answers the Pharisees (v. 3)

Jesus asks them if they have read the scriptures (v. 3)

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that David himself ate the bread in the temple because he was hungry (v. 3-4)

Jesus reminds them that the priests in the temple on the Sabbath do things that profane it but are still guiltless (v. 5)

Jesus makes his case that they did nothing wrong (v. 4-5)

Jesus declares that something greater than the temple is here (v. 6)

Jesus is greater than the temple (v. 6)

Jesus reveals they do not understand mercy (v. 7)

Jesus rebukes them for condemning the guiltless (v. 7)

Jesus declares that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8)

Jesus is the Son of Man (v. 8)

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (v. 8)

Jesus is in charge (v. 8)

Jesus possesses authority over humans (v. 8)

Jesus leaves (v. 9)

Jesus enters the synagogue (v. 9)

Jesus is questioned by the leaders in the synagogue about healing (v. 10)

Jesus is always being trapped by the religious leaders (v. 10)

Jesus answers them via analogy about a sheep falling into a pit (v. 11)

Jesus shows them that anyone would save a sheep out of a pit on the Sabbath (v. 11)

Jesus illuminates their hypocrisy (v. 11)

Jesus points out that a man is much more valuable than a sheep (v. 12)

Jesus argues via logic (v. 11-12)

Jesus declares it is always right to do what is good on the Sabbath (v. 12)

Jesus doesn’t waste any more time – He heals the man who has a withered hand (v. 13)

Jesus asks the man to stretch out His hand and it does (v. 13)

Jesus wants to see the man’s faith (v. 13)

Jesus heals him immediately (v. 13)

Jesus silences the Pharisees (v. 14)

Jesus is secretly conspired against by the Pharisees (v. 14)

Jesus knows that they are conspiring (v. 15)

Jesus leaves that town (v. 15)

Jesus attracts many followers (v. 15)

Jesus is desirable (v. 15)

Jesus heals all who follow Him (v. 15)

Jesus wants to heal (v. 15)

Jesus is willing to heal (v. 15)

Jesus tells these followers not to publicize him (v. 16)

Jesus fulfills a prophecy found in Isaiah 42:1-4 (v. 17-21)

Jesus was prophesied to be the Father’s chosen servant (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to be the Father’s beloved (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to please the Father (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to receive the Spirit (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to proclaim justice to the Gentiles (v. 18)

Jesus was prophesied to not quarrel or be loud (v. 19)

Jesus was prophesied to not break a bruised reed (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied to not quench a smoldering candle wick (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied to bring justice to victory (v. 20)

Jesus was prophesied as the name in whom the Gentiles will hope (v. 21)

Jesus is brought a blind and mute demon-possessed man (v. 22)

Jesus attracts the sick and lowly (v. 22)

Jesus is known as the one whom people go to for healing (v. 22)

Jesus heals him immediately (v. 22)

Jesus heals the man so he sees and speaks right then (v. 22)

Jesus amazes the people (v. 23)

Jesus causes the people to wonder “Is this the Son of David?” (v. 23)

Jesus is starting to be recognized as something more (v. 23)

Jesus is still, however, not fully recognized for who He is yet (v. 23)

Jesus is hated by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus is gossiped about by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus is slandered by the Pharisees (v. 24)

Jesus knows that they are thinking bad things about Him (v. 25)

Jesus refutes their gossip and slander using logic and truth (v. 25-27 & 29)

Jesus shows that anything divided against itself cannot stand (v. 25-27)

Jesus shows that the one who gives power to do miracles reveals where the power indeed comes from (v. 27-28)

Jesus performs miracles by the Spirit of God (v. 28)

Jesus declares that the kingdom of God has come upon them (v. 28)

Jesus declares that those who are not with Him are against Him (v. 30)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 30)

Jesus does not make anyone follow Him (v. 30)

Jesus will forgive every sin and blasphemy except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (v. 31)

Jesus calls himself the “Son of Man” (v. 32)

Jesus will forgive those who speak against Him but not the ones who speak against the Holy Spirit (v. 32)

Jesus defends the Holy Spirit (v. 32)

Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is to be respected at all times (v. 32)

Jesus never loses an argument (v. 26-32)

Jesus teaches about being authentic via analogy of a good or bad tree and its fruit (v. 33)

Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers (v. 34)

Jesus asks them how they can even speak anything good if they are evil (v. 34)

Jesus disapproves of the Pharisees (v. 34)

Jesus says one speaks based on what is in the heart (v. 34)

Jesus reveals that a good person produces good (v. 35)

Jesus reveals that an evil person produces evil (v. 35)

Jesus declares that a person’s words justifies him (v. 36-37)

Jesus tells the Pharisees He will not do a miracle for them (v. 38-39)

Jesus doesn’t perform miracles for show (v. 38-39)

Jesus is not a circus clown (v. 38-39)

Jesus knows they only want to see a sign because they don’t actually believe in Him (v. 39)

Jesus tells them evil generations look for signs (v. 39)

Jesus gives them no sign except for a reminder of the prophet Jonah (v. 39)

Jesus has no tolerance for evil people (v. 39)

Jesus unpacks the sign of Jonah (v. 40)

Jesus declares that He will be in the ground 3 days just like Jonah in the fish 3 days (v. 40)

Jesus gives them a sign from the scriptures (v. 40)

Jesus prophecies his death and resurrection (v. 40)

Jesus declares that something greater than Jonah is here (v. 41)

Jesus is greater (v. 41)

Jesus says that the men of Nineveh repented then and will thus condemn this generation at judgment for not believing in Jesus (v. 41)

Jesus says the queen of the South will condemn this generation at judgment also for not believing in Him (v. 42)

Jesus declares something greater than Solomon is here (v. 42)

Jesus is greater (v. 42)

Jesus warns of unclean spirits (v. 43-45)

Jesus has biological brothers (v. 46)

Jesus’ mother and brothers wait outside to speak with Him (v. 46)

Jesus calls His followers His mother and brothers (v. 48-49)

Jesus deems all who do His Father’s will His brother, sister and mother (v. 50)

Jesus does not see anybody as more special than anyone else (v. 50)

Jesus does not show partiality (v. 50)

Jesus sees everyone as His family (v. 50)

 

Questions for Today:

  • What do the people think about Jesus at this point?
  • What is significant about them asking if Jesus is the Son of David?
  • What is significant about the 2 scenes of “stretching out the hand”?
  • Why is Jesus always experiencing criticism from the Pharisees and other religious elite? How does Jesus handle this criticism?
  • Why does Jesus call His disciples His “sister and brother and mother”?
  • What stood out to me about Jesus in this passage?

 

“Mercy” by Amanda Cook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindness, Wickedness, & The Cross of Christ

 

How amazing the kindness of the Lord.

I’ve never been as astounded at the gravity of Jesus’ kindness to go to the cross as I was this Easter.

Each year I find myself anticipating Easter out of routine and excitement over what God has done but without really grasping the magnitude of it. It’s easy to miss what He actually had to go through. It’s easy to not connect with it because I’ve never been tortured like He was. It’s easy to be happy and joyful but not actually see the reality of what Jesus went through.

I remember when I first watched the Passion of the Christ. I was around 13 years old in a crowded movie theater. Sounds of popcorn crunching and soda slurping soon turned to weeping and sniffling.

It was terribly hard to watch.

But I couldn’t cry.

Tears would not fall. I was trying to make myself cry because what I saw was so heart–wrenching, but I couldn’t. I was in shock but I couldn’t cry. I wanted to feel devastated and so in love with this man who I saw being tortured to death. But I felt like I couldn’t connect. I felt like I didn’t know Him very well. And it bothered me. I remember leaving the movie theater seeing everybody in tears and I wasn’t…I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt so cold and heartless. I felt like I wasn’t connected to Jesus and that my lack of tears hurt His feelings.

It’s fascinating to me when I think back to that experience, how much I’ve changed and how much this whole Christianity thing really is about relationship. The more you get to know someone, the more connected you are to him or her. The more you go through with someone, the more bonded you are with him or her.

This year, I watched a passion play with my mom.

At first, I was merely watching it for entertainment, again forgetting the magnitude of what Jesus had done. How easy it is to let a holiday disengage us from what we’re actually celebrating.

Then after about an hour, we arrived at the scene where Jesus was carrying His cross.

And my heart started to break as I watched the people walking with Him yelling at Him and the centurions whipping Him over and over again… it made me so mad!

I wanted to yell back at them and tell them to stop yelling at Him and stop whipping Him, to leave Him alone! Don’t you realize who you are doing that to!? Don’t you realize that is God right there that you are yelling at and whipping!? Then I remembered that I was watching a play and I couldn’t yell at the actors. They would think I’m a crazy person.

But I just could not believe what I was watching.

I couldn’t believe my eyes…

It was as if I was learning about all of this for the very first time… It was as if I was witnessing wickedness for the very first time… I just couldn’t believe the wickedness that I saw in humanity… the evil… the hatred… the ignorance… that they would treat anybody like that is already sickening but to do that to the Son of God?! Is humanity really so wicked? Is humanity really so blind? We are. We are that wicked. We are that blind. I was greatly disturbed.

As I looked at Jesus, again I could not believe my eyes.

Jesus just kept walking and let them yell at Him…

He kept walking and let them whip Him…

I couldn’t believe it.

Why won’t you make them stop, Lord!?

Why won’t you at least tell them they are wicked and defend yourself and tell them they will get what’s coming to them!

But Jesus didn’t say a word.

Jesus didn’t say a word.

He walked in silence.

And let them nail Him down to a cross like He wasn’t even a person.

One of the few phrases He even uttered was a phrase of forgiveness, in Luke 23:34:

“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Know not they do!?

Surely, Lord, they do know what they are doing to You!!! Why won’t you just be mad at them and tell them they are all going to hell!

This is what I am thinking as I watched this play. I couldn’t believe that Jesus would let them be jerks to him and not even say anything to them about it, and on top of all of that decided that he would ask God to forgive them! It’s insane! No. It’s Jesus. It’s Jesus.

Jesus is so kind.

Watching this played out, I saw such kindness.

Kindness that I have never quite seen before while thinking about Easter.

Sure I’ve always thought Wow, God, You are so loving to do what you did for us and Oh thank You God for dying for me! But I never saw the kindness. And to me, kindness really overwhelms me when I see it. It blows me away. Even more than love.

Because kindness is harder than love, I think.

When you love someone, you will do anything for them. But kindness involves being kind to those you don’t necessarily love. It means being kind to those who hurt you. Kind to those who badmouth you. Kind to those who disrespect you. And that’s hard. That’s real hard. But Jesus showed kindness to the very ones who murdered Him and disrespected Him. And that is extremely moving for me to comprehend.

I’m greatly astounded and almost perplexed at the kindness of Jesus in the midst of His crucifixion.

How can someone in so much pain be so kind to the wicked?

His forgiveness.

His forgiveness is unlike anything we can comprehend.

It’s as if Jesus had a posture of pre-forgiveness, like He already forgave them. Like He already possessed the ability to forgive anyone at any time for anything no matter what…because he immediately demonstrated forgiveness to those who murdered Him. He didn’t need time to process it and finally decide begrudgingly that He would forgive them, nor does He do that to you or I. No. Jesus forgives immediately. Instantaneously. As if he doesn’t even need to think about it. He just forgives right then.

What if we forgave like that?

What if we had a posture of pre-forgiveness, so that we live life already prepared to forgive before anyone ever wrongs us?

I guarantee it would transform the way we interact with people.

I guarantee it would dissolve any ounce of animosity.

I guarantee it would fill us with peace in any and every circumstance.

I guarantee it would heal your heart.

I’m overwhelmed by the cross. It’s because of the cross of Christ that I have been forgiven of everything I’ve done and ever will do wrong. All of it is instantaneously wiped away. It’s so unbelievably amazing. That Jesus would forgive wicked people, showing them kindness in His greatest moment of pain, all because He loved His people and wanted a relationship with them. Because of this He defeated evil.

You see, at the cross of Christ, kindness and wickedness intersect.

And God squashes out the evil!

God defeats the enemy!

Kindness triumphs.

Wickedness loses.

Kindness is victorious.

Wickedness is disgraced.

Because of Christ, the cross wins.

The cross of Christ.

Now I see why Jesus remained silent.

Jesus didn’t have to speak up for Himself.

The cross did that.

The cross spoke up for Him.

The cross defended His name.

The cross displays to everyone who He really is.

The centurion down beneath Jesus watching Him die as He hung on the cross looked up at Jesus and knew it was true. Mark 15:39 records it:

“And when the centurion, who stood facing Him saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ ’’

I’m so thankful that Jesus is not like us. He really is holy. He really is majestic. He really is worthy. He really is kind. Let your soul be refreshed today knowing that Jesus is full of kindness for you and went through all that He went through because He really does want you! He wants you to be His. You can know Him today if you ask Him to. Let Him love you.

I pray that we would be a people of radical kindness like Jesus. May we show kindness in the midst of wickedness. May we display the cross of Christ in our own lives through this demonstration. Praise God for His kindness towards us when we were wicked in our sin. Thank You, Lord, for teaching us how to love. Thank You for Easter. May we never forget how glorious You are.

 

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

–John 15:13–

“City of Hope” by Amanda Cook

Lavish Your Love on Jesus: John 12:3-7

Lavish-Love-icon

What a loaded passage. The passage of Mary and Jesus. Her wiping His feet. Anointing Him. Dirtying her hair. Loving the one most precious to her. In the face of ridiculers. In the face of those who didn’t think Jesus was worth that. To humiliate oneself for another was not acceptable. But Mary didn’t care. She lavishes herself on Jesus. Without apology. As if no one else is in the room. No one else but her and Jesus. Just her and Jesus.

In John chapter 12, we see Jesus coming back to Bethany for a dinner party thrown by Martha.

And we see Mary.

Lavishing her love upon Jesus.

But what’s fascinating about chapter 12 to me, is that Mary was upset with Jesus in chapter 11.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!!” she exclaims to Jesus while falling at His feet.

I can see her now…

…crying aloud, sobbing at His feet, head down, face on the ground, hanging on to His ankles, not letting go, tears streaming, wishing He would have come sooner, wishing He would make her hurt go away.

And Jesus cares…

“Deeply moved and greatly troubled” describes his temperament in verse 33. He weeps with her. Then He acts. He fixes it. He raises Lazarus from the dead in verse 43.

The next time we see Jesus, Mary is at His feet.

Again.

What brilliant literary imagery.

We pick it up in John 12:3-7,

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.”

Last time, Mary came to Jesus with tears of disappointment. She didn’t know what to do. She just knew she needed Him. This, time, Mary comes to Jesus with tears of love. She knows that she needs Him and now she knows what to do. She wants to honor Him.

Yet both times, Mary comes to Jesus with the same posture: she falls at His feet.

We see her weeping at Jesus’ feet in weakness and frustration in chapter 11.

We see her anointing Jesus’ feet in weakness and awe in chapter 12.

Weakness is the common denominator.

Mary knows she is weak either way. She knows Jesus is the only one who can do anything for her in both instances. She knows He is Lord.

So she remains humbled at His feet.

Always at His feet.

But now, in chapter 12, something has shifted in Mary’s mind. And we don’t hear her utter a word. We just read about her lavishing herself upon Jesus.

I like to imagine what the scene might have looked like…

…Silence lingers in the room as the party guests sit on the edge of their seats watching…. “What is she doing?” they all whisper under their breath, looking at each other bewildered and confused at her radical display of affection. Mary runs her fingers through her hair, then gathers it as she dips it into the perfume again. Then she wipes her saturated hair on Jesus’ feet, head down, eyes lowered, sitting in the floor. “I’m sorry Lord.” She thinks to herself. “Forgive me for not trusting You. For not thinking you cared about me and my pain. I know You do. And I want you to know I love You. Please know I love You.” And she looks up at Him, hair drenched in perfume, droplets falling onto the floor, her nose overwhelmed by the scent in her hair, eyes burning from the strong liquid trickling down her forehead and into her eyes. Everyone staring at her like she’s a fool. But she doesn’t even notice them. She doesn’t care. She looks into his eyes and He looks back at her. “Please know I love you, Lord. Please know I honor You.” And she bends down again to keep wiping His feet with her hair. A smile on her face from being so close to the one she loves. Her love for Him on display.

Mary.

There’s something about Mary, isn’t there?

This touches my heart so much because I can feel so often like Jesus just doesn’t understand what I go through…that He can’t possibly know what it feels like…that He’s never going to come through.

But I remember this passage.

And I see Mary’s transformation.

From sobbing in frustration at Jesus’ feet in chapter 11 to pouring out her most precious gift to Him in chapter 12.

And she always wants to be around Jesus. She always needs to be where He is. She always goes to Him. Nothing ever makes her feel like she can’t come to Him.

Mary was changed by Jesus.

I want to be too.

And what Mary does for Jesus is crazy! It really is.

Think about it this way… emptying an ATM of about $25,000 all in Benjamins, making your way to your lover’s house and proceeding to rub their feet with the hundred dollar bills until the point where the money is completely disintegrated, no longer able to use. We don’t use money for this. It’s hyperbole. I mean, I’ve never seen a commercial for “dollar bill skin exfoliation.” But if it would make me all silky soft maybe I’d consider. No, I actually wouldn’t. Because it would be expensive. And I’ve got bills to pay. Mary did too. She had “bills to pay.” She had expenses. And that perfume was the most precious and expensive thing she had. Her rubbing Jesus’ feet with this perfume was like rubbing her entire bank account in dollar bills on his feet until it disintegrated. She didn’t care. She loved him and no amount of money would ever be too much to lavish upon Him.

But Judas didn’t like it.

He thought it was too much.

“Why wasn’t this used for something more practical!” Judas criticized loudly among all the party guests.

As if it was his perfume to begin with!

But Judas’ critique is almost absent from Mary’s awareness. She doesn’t even acknowledge the critique. She keeps wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair. And Jesus deals with Judas. He tells Judas to “leave her alone” and that “she may keep it for the day of my burial” in verse 7. Jesus honored Mary’s gift to him. And Jesus tells them that it actually contributes to preparing Him for what He would soon endure on the cross.

Mary’s burning desire for Jesus in this passage cannot be contained.

She doesn’t care who is in the way.

By gosh, she is going to get to Jesus!

And she’s going to do what she came to do…

…lavish Jesus with her most precious perfume…

…lavish Jesus with her love.

I admire Mary’s heart so much.

I want her heart.

I want to love Jesus so recklessly that no amount of humiliation is humiliating.

It’s worth it.

It’s love.

I want to be in love like that.

Sometimes I get so lonely thinking I have nobody to pour out my love upon. I want a man to love, God. I have so much love to give, Lord. Don’t You want me to love someone? I’ll think.

God is saying now, Natalie, I am that one I want you to love. Love Me. If you want to pour out your heart of love for someone, do it on Me. Lavish yourself on ME! And I will reciprocate your love in the way you’ve always desired.

God, may You be my one love. May we lavish ourselves upon You, Jesus. May You be worth it all.

My heart is so full right now…

Bursting to be poured out…

And this time…

I want to pour it out on Jesus.

On Jesus.

 

 

Song – Kari Jobe, Look Upon The Lord (Revisited Version)

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 11

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Continuing in our study of Matthew, we see this week in chapter 11 how Jesus handles confusion from John the Baptist, how He handles unrepentance in this 1st century generation, and how He cares for the broken.

Last chapter, Jesus began equipping the disciples with all they needed to begin ministry teaching, preaching, healing and performing miracles.

Now in chapter 11, they are headed out to various cities to preach when Jesus is interrupted.

John the Baptist, the one who we met in chapter 3 proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and calling people to repent, is having a crisis of belief.

Ironically, John’s crisis of belief pertains to the One whom he prophesied about: Jesus.

In verses 2-6, John the Baptist sends his own disciples to ask Jesus a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Wow.

That’s pretty bold of John to ask that. Especially considering all He knew about Jesus. John’s even the one who baptized Him! But John is skeptical about Jesus’ identity. He wonders if Jesus is actually for real. Why? Because John is in an unfortunate situation and He doesn’t see Jesus coming to save him. Jesus isn’t restoring Israel like John expected. Jesus isn’t taking political office. Jesus isn’t reclaiming the throne. Jesus isn’t ushering in the kingdom of God the way John thought He might.

As one whose sole mission was to prepare the way for Christ, the coming king, the Messiah, it’s no wonder that John is a little confused.

He doesn’t see what he anticipated happening when the Messiah finally showed up. He thought everything would get better for Israel and that judgment would reign on the earth. But it’s not.

Not only that, but John himself is imprisoned at this time. He is in captivity under Herod Antipas, one of the 4 tetrarchs in the region who rules over Galilee. John scolded Herod, telling him it was wrong to have his brother’s wife for himself. Herod didn’t like that and threw him in jail. This is mentioned later in chapter 14, as Matthew recounts this scene in retrospect.

John had every right to be frustrated.

It’s not his fault he doesn’t understand.

No one in the story fully comprehends what Jesus is doing, nor will they until Jesus has died and been resurrected and we see the church emerge in the book of Acts.

So put yourself in John’s shoes and imagine what it would have been like to be completely in the midst of uncertainty about this whole kingdom of God stuff.

Jesus knows this.

That’s why He is so kind and gracious to John in his skepticism.

Jesus tells John’s disciples to report to him all the miracles that he is doing.

Then Jesus tells them to say, “blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

That’s interesting.

What does Jesus mean by this?

Why would anyone be offended?

Well, I think this just reveals Jesus’ own discernment and empathy of human weakness…Jesus can tell that John is frustrated that His methodologies have not matched what John expected…thus, Jesus can tell where this is going…Jesus can see that John, if not gently warned, will end up being offended by Jesus and how He is doing things. Jesus doesn’t want that to happen. So he tells him gently, even though you don’t understand, don’t be offended by me and you will be blessed.

This gentle warning gives John some room to struggle with his confusion but to also have peace that God will not forget about him.

This is very kind of Jesus to do.

John’s disciples go on their way and then Jesus turns to talk to the crowds of people.

In verses 7-15, Jesus begins to highly esteem John the Baptist in front of all the people.

Jesus declares in verse 11, “Among those born of women, there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”

Wow.

That’s pretty great of Jesus to say about John.

So I’m a little confused.

Why didn’t Jesus just tell John’s disciples to tell John all of this really encouraging affirmation that He just said?

Wouldn’t He want John to know how He feels about him?

I don’t have a good answer for this, except that Jesus apparently didn’t want John to have that encouragement at this point of time. Maybe it wouldn’t make sense to John to be affirmed. Maybe that’s not what he needed to hear. Maybe he just needed to hear the gentle warning that Jesus gave.

And I get the sense that Jesus didn’t want John to know how great he was, because he wanted John to wait for that gift of hearing that encouragement from God the Father Himself, in heaven. Jesus knew -*spoiler alert* – that John would be dying soon. We will read about this in chapter 14.

So maybe Jesus wanted John’s suffering to produce a greater moment of relief with God the Father when he met Him in heaven.

Jesus goes on to talk about heaven in the next few verses, saying that even the least person in heaven is greater than John the Baptist is on earth. So John does in fact have a far greater life ahead of him in heaven. Jesus just told us that. So maybe Jesus wants something far better for John than John even knows is possible. So Jesus doesn’t give him affirmation just yet. Only the gentle warning John needs right now.

In verse 14, Jesus also conveys to the people how John the Baptist fulfilled the prophesies of Elijah found in Malachi 4:5-6:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Matthew is characterizing John the Baptist, literarily and symbolically, as a type of Elijah who would come to prophesy to the people before the arrival of the Messiah. The Jewish people would understand this Old Testament reference made by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel and would start to see the connection between the two, and also better understand John’s significance. Jesus wants the people to see how influential John is to the story. And so does Matthew. So he includes this passage in his narrative.

This is very smart on Matthew’s behalf because he’s aiming to reach a Jewish audience with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So he uses references from the Old Testament to weave in to his story in order to help them better understand and say “Oh, Wow! Jesus really is the One!”

Going back to verse 10, Matthew also includes a reference to Malachi 3:1 in Jesus’ dialogue:

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

Who will prepare your way before you.”

This is brilliant.

The last book of the Old Testament before we get to Matthew’s gospel is Malachi.

It leads right into Matthew.

Silence for hundreds of years.

Then Matthew begins.

And John the Baptist comes on the scene declaring the arrival of the Messiah and calling people to repentance.

So by referencing Malachi here, the reader notices that John the Baptist was indeed the one who had been prophesied about to come and also prophesy about the Messiah, who we are finding out is Jesus.

Such a great connection.

Very smart on behalf of Matthew as the writer.

In verse 15, Jesus repeats an idea we’ve already heard before: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

In chapter 5, Jesus constantly articulated “You have heard it said to you, but I say…”. In chapter 7, Jesus tells the crowds that those who “hear these words of mine will…”.

Jesus emphasizes “hearing” a lot in Matthew’s gospel which is a literary tool Matthew uses to remind the reader to pay attention, while also communicating Jesus’ desire for people who want to listen to what He is saying. Not everyone will truly hear what Jesus is saying. Only those who want to hear it. Only those who repent. Only those who are humble to admit they need saving.

Then Jesus shifts his dialogue from talking about John to talking about their generation as a whole.

In verses 16-24, Jesus first evaluates and critiques their generation and then starts to denounce places of unrepentance.

He talks about their ambivalent reaction. He talks about their disbelief. He talks about their suspicion. He talks about their wicked hearts. And Jesus is disgusted by it. He doesn’t give them grace like He did John.

Jesus gave John grace in his skepticism because it was rooted in a misinterpretation of Jesus’ methodologies and a discouraged heart based on his circumstances, but not a distrust in God.

The people who are unrepentant, however, not only distrust God but also dishonor Him.

Therefore, Jesus doesn’t handle unrepentance the same way.

When Jesus rebukes the people for their unrepentance, He does not give them a pass.

He says “woe to you!” in verse 21, concerning 2 cities and then rebukes Capernaum, His home town, in verse 23. Even His own home town, He does not give a pass when it comes to unrepentance.

Jesus cannot help an unrepentant heart.

Only those who hear him and come to Him broken and in need of Him to heal them.

In verses 25-27, Jesus gives thanks to God the Father in heaven.

Jesus thanks God that He reveals Himself to little children instead of those who think they are wise and full of understanding. Jesus always draws near to lowly people throughout the gospels, and this passage clearly communicates that. Jesus calls this God’s “gracious will” in verse 26. God in his grace makes Himself available to all people, regardless of who they are.

Jesus goes on to thank God for the authority that God has given Him. Matthew includes this monologue here for the reader to understand a little better how the Father-Son relationship works between Jesus and God. Jesus says that nobody knows Him except the Father. Jesus also says that nobody knows the Father except Jesus and also anyone that Jesus reveals Him to.

This is interesting.

Ultimately, God is in charge and gives Jesus authority. But Jesus is in charge of revealing God to humans. And nobody right now is able to fully understand who Jesus is yet. So Jesus is giving people a glimpse of God through Himself. Then later, they will understand who Jesus is after his death and resurrection, like we established before.

So it’s Jesus’ decision at this point in the story who He reveals God to. And from what He has said already about “hearing,” He is inviting all who will hear. All who are open. All who listen. All who want Him.

We know this because in the next 3 verses, 28-30, Jesus invites all who would come to Him.

Jesus says, “Come to me…and I will give you rest…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…my yoke is easy…”.

I’ve read this passage so many times.

And I’ve never fully understood the whole “yoke” thing.

Researching more, it seems that a yoke is something that was used to pull oxen or other animals. So Jesus is using this metaphor of a yoke, while saying that His yoke is light in order to help us understand both what this looks like and what it feels like to be under a yoke.

But why would I want to take Jesus’ yoke upon me?

I’m already overwhelmed with my own.

I’m already overwhelmed with what I’m carrying in life.

That’s what I would be thinking if I were hearing this message as a 1st century Jew.

It seems that Jesus is suggesting an alternative isn’t He? The whole time He’s been preaching He’s been offering people a new message, a new way to think, a call to repentance, and a call to change our hearts. It’s obvious that Jesus has come to offer hope to people.

So if Jesus is in fact suggesting an alternative to the old way of living, then maybe His yoke isn’t about taking upon an additional thing to carry.

Maybe He’s suggesting that we drop every other yoke that we were carrying and decide to carry His instead…one that’s easy.

Maybe God wants us to stop carrying our own yokes and start carrying His.

Jesus goes on to invite the crowds to “learn from Me…and you will find rest for your souls…” in verse 29.

Key point: “learn from Me.”

Jesus wants us to learn from Him.

And in learning from Him, we will find rest as we begin to live and think in a new way.

Jesus really desires to bring rest to the people. He’s not offering them some extra thing to be believe in or extra rules to follow. He’s inviting them to come to Him. With everything. To come to Him! Only Him! And He alone will be what they need. All that they need. Life with Jesus will be a life where the people find rest.

This is what Matthew wants the reader to understand about Jesus at this point in the story.

Especially since Jesus is communicating many ideas and doing many things and offering so many viewpoints on what He sees happening around Him, it can be easy for the reader to get tired at this point.

It can be easy for the reader to be subconsciously exhausted at all that’s been articulated in the narrative that they start to disconnect with Jesus out of fear that His message is too difficult and too challenging.

But Matthew is a brilliant writer.

Matthew uses this passage to put the reader at ease.

Matthew includes this dialogue of Jesus to, yes, communicate who Jesus is – but also, Matthew includes this dialogue right here at the right time, to ease the reader and remind them that Jesus really is one who can soothe them and give them rest.

Seeing this is probably my favorite part of studying this chapter, realizing how timely this passage is to Matthew’s storytelling.

Next time, we will dive into chapter 12 where Jesus faces conflict with the Pharisees. One of my favorite passages is in this chapter when Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath even in the company of religious people who condemned Him for it. I love the heart of our Savior. He is a Savior of justice and compassion. May we not forget it.

As we close out chapter 11, we are left with Jesus’ words: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

May it put your soul at ease and remind you of Jesus’ ability to be all that you need. Praise God for our compassionate Savior. Praise God for the story we get to read about Him through the eyes of Matthew.

 

 

Summary of Matthew 11

Jesus finishes equipping his 12 disciples with instructions; Jesus goes on mission to His disciples’ cities to teach and preach there; Jesus is interrupted by John the Baptist’s disciples; John the Baptists’ disciples find Jesus and ask Him some questions on John’s behalf – John wants to know if Jesus really is who is says He is; Jesus tells them to remind John of all the miracles He has done and is still doing; Jesus affirms John the Baptist to the crowds around Him, saying there is no greater prophet then John; Jesus evaluates their generation; Jesus critiques their generation; Jesus denounces many unrepentant cities; Jesus thanks God the Father for His authority and bestowal of authority in Him; Jesus invites the people to come to Him.

 

 

Jesus in Matthew 11

Jesus finishes instructing the disciples (v. 1)

Jesus goes to the disciples’ cities to preach and teach (v. 1)

Jesus is constantly on mission (v. 1)

Jesus is dedicated and passionate about His purpose (v. 1)

Jesus is in charge (v. 1)

Jesus is doubted by John the Baptist (v. 2-3)

Jesus tells John’s disciples to encourage him in all the miracles Jesus is doing (v. 4)

Jesus is healing the blind (v. 5)

Jesus is healing the lame (v. 5)

Jesus is cleansing lepers (v. 5)

Jesus is making deaf people hear (v. 5)

Jesus raising the dead (v. 5)

Jesus is preaching good news to the poor (v. 5)

Jesus is a miracle worker (v. 5)

Jesus desires to see people healed (v. 5)

Jesus cares for people (v. 5)

Jesus calls “blessed” the ones who are not offended by Him (v. 6)

Jesus does not rebuke John for His skepticism and confusion (v. 6)

Jesus gently warns John (v. 6)

Jesus is kind to John (v. 6)

Jesus speaks to the crowds about John the Baptist (v. 7)

Jesus affirms John even though John doesn’t know it (v. 7)

Jesus calls John the Baptist “more than a prophet” (v. 9)

Jesus references a prophecy found in Malachi 3:1 which foretold about John the Baptist (v. 10)

Jesus was prophesied about by John the Baptist (v. 10)

Jesus says there is no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist (v. 11)

Jesus declares the least in the kingdom of heaven as greater than John the Baptist (v. 11)

Jesus clarifies the magnitude of heavenly existence compared to earthly existence (v. 11)

Jesus declares the kingdom of heaven is suffering violence from the time John the Baptist arrived until now (v. 12)

Jesus says that the violent are taking the kingdom of heaven by force (v. 12)

Jesus points to how the Prophets and Law (books of the Bible) prophesied until John (v. 13)

Jesus reveals how John the Baptist fulfills the prophesies of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6) (v. 14)

Jesus exhorts them to hear what he is saying (v. 15)

Jesus always talks about “hearing” (v. 15)

Jesus evaluates this generation (v. 16)

Jesus talks of this generation by means of analogy (v. 16)

Jesus compares this generation to children calling to their friends, whom do not answer (v. 16-17)

Jesus points out how they disbelieved John the Baptist and ridiculed him (v. 18)

Jesus reveals how they did not honor John the Baptist the way he deserved (v. 18)

Jesus reveals how they do the same to Him (v. 19)

Jesus is perceptive (v. 18-19)

Jesus is bold to call people out (v. 18-19)

Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” (v. 19)

Jesus denounces the cities where He had performed many great miracles (v. 20)

Jesus reveals the unrepentant heart of a city (v. 20)

Jesus calls out Chorazin (v. 21)

Jesus calls out Bethsaida (v. 21)

Jesus says woe to both of them (v. 21)

Jesus talks of how Tyre and Sidon were destroyed and yet would have repented faster than them (v. 21)

Jesus says Tyre and Sidon will face more bearable judgment than them (v. 22)

Jesus condemns Capernaum for unrepentance (v. 23)

Jesus says Sodom will face more bearable judgement then them (v. 24)

Jesus is very harsh on cities with people who will not repent (v. 21-24)

Jesus does not give a pass for unrepentance (v. 21-24)

Jesus shifts his discourse (v. 25)

Jesus stops talking to the crowds (v. 25)

Jesus starts talking to God the Father (v. 25)

Jesus prays to God giving Him thanks (v. 25)

Jesus thanks God for hiding things from the wise (v. 25)

Jesus thanks God for revealing things to little children (v. 25)

Jesus acknowledges the Father as ultimately in charge (v. 25)

Jesus recognizes God’s gracious will (v. 26)

Jesus gives credit to God the Father as the one who has handed all things over to Him (v. 27)

Jesus has been granted authority by God’s initial authority (v. 27)

Jesus clarifies that no one knows Him, the Son, except the Father (v. 27)

Jesus clarifies that no one knows the Father except Him, the Son, and anyone the Son chooses to reveal Him to (v. 27)

Jesus is saying that nobody truly knows who He is yet– only the Father does (v. 27)

Jesus is in charge of revealing the Father to humans (v. 27)

Jesus invites the people who labor to come to Him (v. 28)

Jesus invites the people who are heavy laden to come to Him (v. 28)

Jesus promises that He will give them rest (v. 28)

Jesus invites the people to take His yoke upon them (v. 29)

Jesus invites the people to learn from Him (v. 29)

Jesus assures the people that He is gentle (v. 29)

Jesus assures the people that He is lowly in heart (v. 29)

Jesus assures the people that they will find rest for their souls if they come to Him (v. 29)

Jesus assures the people that He is comforting if they would just trust Him (v. 29)

Jesus assures the people that His yoke is easy (v. 29)

Jesus assures that people that His burden is light (v. 29)

Jesus wants to comfort his people (v. 28-29)

 

“At that time Jesus declared, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will.”

-Matthew 11:25-26-

 

Questions for Today:

  • Why did John’s disciples come asking Jesus if He was who He said He is?
  • Why did Jesus not tell John’s disciples all the encouraging affirmation He said about John?
  • What is the significance of the Malachi references in this chapter?
  • What does Jesus use the yoke metaphor?
  • How does Matthew use the passage about Jesus’ yoke being light to help the reader?
  • Why does nobody fully understand who Jesus is yet in the story?

 

“Great is Your Faithfulness” by Hillsong Worship

 

 

 

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 10

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Continuing on in our study of Matthew’s gospel, we reach chapter 10 in which Jesus begins equipping His newly found disciples with instructions, warnings and encouragements concerning their ministry from here on out.

In chapter 9 we left off with Jesus talking to His disciples about the importance of reaching people with His message who need and want God.

Now in chapter 10, Jesus equips the disciples to do so.

In verse 1, Jesus gathers His disciples together. He starts by empowering them with the same power He has. He empowers them with His own authority that comes from God to be able to cast out demons and heal diseases.

This is very significant that He gives the disciples His own authority. It’s like a transfer or a transfusion of authority. And it comes straight from God. This is significant because many other false prophets and false messiahs went around during this time healing people and performing miracles. But the key difference is that they were not performing those acts by God’s authority. Rather, it was demonic power at work. Satanic authority. These false disciples did everything in their own name to bring themselves glory. But now, Jesus’ disciples will carry out all of these powers in God’s name, not their own name. And others will see God because of it. We will see how this leads people to belief in God and furthers evangelism.

Matthew gives us a list of all Jesus’ disciples in verses 2-4, performing his duty as a trusty author and providing the new characters in this story.

In verse 5 and following down to verse 42, Jesus continues equipping His 12 disciples with all they need for what they are going to be doing now as His followers.

In verses 6-15, Jesus equips His disciples in their approach by instructing them only to go to “the lost sheep of Israel” and not to the Gentiles or Samaritans.

Some may read this verse and assume that Jesus didn’t care about the Gentiles or the Samaritans.

But there is something else going on here.

Jesus sends them to Israel first because God has set it up like this: Jesus can only save the Gentiles, or other nations, through Israel. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, the one that Israel has been waiting for since Genesis 3:15, which says that the promised Son would come to fix the problem of sin and death in the world that was initiated in the garden of Eden through the sin of Adam and Eve. So Jesus has to take His message to the Jews first. Why? So that the Jews will reject Him and end up killing Him. God needs for Israel to reject and kill Jesus all for the sake of Jesus sacrificing Himself for the sins of both the Jews and the people of the whole world.

As we progress further in Matthew’s gospel we will see this play out. Then the Gentiles will be the next group that the disciples are instructed to reach in chapter 28 and that will continue into the book of Acts.

In verses 16-25, Jesus equips His disciples’ expectations by preparing them with the reality that persecution is inescapable.

Jesus says they will be like “sheep in the midst of wolves” so He exhorts them to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” in verse 16.

This duality of wisdom and innocence is Jesus’ only advice for them in their vulnerability.

That really sticks out to me. Jesus could have given them any kind of advice that He wanted to. He knows that they are going to face threats, danger and harm as they go out to preach and perform miracles. Yet He simply tells them to be wise and innocent. This mirrors Jesus’ own heart of meekness and gentleness as He always embraces a posture of humility in the way that He interacts with other people, even in potential dangerous situations.

He doesn’t tell them to be defensive and overbearing with those that will try to persecute them. Yet He knows that they will face danger.

Jesus says “you will be dragged before governors and kings for My sake…brother will deliver brother over to death…children will rise against parents and have them put to death…you will be hated by all for my names’ sake…when they persecute in one town, flee to the next…” (selections from verses 18-23).

It is astounding to me that Jesus doesn’t equip His disciples with more defense strategies for the danger they are going to face. Rather, He expects them to remain as “sheep.” He doesn’t tell them to change who they are and try to be “like bears in the midst of wolves.” He knows they are like sheep and He is okay with that. He wants that.

Jesus wants them to practice wisdom and innocence in threatening situations.

He cares about their posture of humility with an enemy more than their protection from the enemy’s persecution.

Humility over protection.

Heart purity over physical safety.

This goes back to chapter 5 where Jesus talked about the significance of the purity of the heart. Wow. I love how Jesus remains so consistent in His theology. And Matthew does a great job by including this in the narrative so that we as the readers can make this connection. Jesus cares about the heart more than anything else and He makes sure that He equips His disciples with what He would require from a pure heart. Wisdom and innocence. Jesus really is beautiful. He is unlike anything else. How powerful is this passage.

In verses 26-33, Jesus equips His disciples in their minds by encouraging them that there is no reason to fear.

Jesus’ reassurance that God is sovereign and that “nothing is covered that will not be revealed” in verse 26 encourages the disciples that even when they do face threatening situations, God still sees their situation and will not forget them.

Jesus also reminds the disciples that mortal man does not have the ability to kill the soul. He says, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both the body and the soul in hell.” Jesus reminds His disciples that fearing man is the wrong kind of fear. They can’t fear man because man has no power over them ultimately. God is the only one with the power over a soul.

Jesus wants His disciples to be confident in this so that they will not be defeated by fear when they start to face intense persecutions.

At this point, if I was a disciple, I would be getting a little overwhelmed by all Jesus is preparing me for!

I wouldn’t feel ready for the job of being sent out to preach the message to Israel knowing I’m going to be persecuted and face all kinds of threats that Jesus is forewarning about.

But Jesus is so kind and comforting.

He is aware of this potential subconscious fear.

And he handles it.

Jesus tells them that ultimately, their acceptance before Him and before God only depends on 1 thing and it’s not their ability to succeed in all Jesus is asking. Not at all.

It’s this: acknowledging Jesus before men.

That’s it.

If the disciples acknowledge Jesus, then Jesus will acknowledge them before God.

They don’t have to worry about their performance in trying to make sure they please Jesus in accomplishing all of this. They just need to acknowledge Jesus as Lord as He tells them in verses 32-33. And they will be safe. They don’t have to fear. They will be known by Jesus and Jesus will make them known before God. This probably took a lot of pressure off of the disciples to feel like they had to be perfect in accomplishing Jesus’ mission. Jesus is so smart in how He helps them to not fear. He doesn’t just tell them not to fear. He gives them a pretty dang good reason why they don’t need to fear. And this is so good. Jesus is so caring.

In verses 34-39, Jesus equips His disciples by declaring the inevitable reality of disorder and strife as a result of this mission of God.

Now that Jesus has finally come on the scene declaring that the kingdom of God is at hand and that God is about to do something big, there is going to be a lot of push-back in the story from those who don’t want Jesus or God.

A lot of opposition.

A lot of resistance.

All from the enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want God to do what he knows is coming.

Satan knows it. And He will try to breed strife and disunity among people while God is in the process of birthing redemption through Jesus.

We will see this take place in Matthew’s gospel, but we also see this taking place in every other book in the Bible and in our world today. Satan has been allowed to rule here until Jesus finally comes back again to put him away for good. But that’s for another study.

Yet, Jesus encourages His disciples to not be like all these people who proliferate strife. He says, “whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of me.” This is powerful. I’ve never understood this verse more clearly than I do now in this passage context… Why did Jesus just tell us that there will be strife between people, even among family members and then he immediately changes the subject and says you must take up your cross? Wait, what? Why? Well, this correlation has become so clear now. I just love it! Even though it’s not easy to do, but what He’s saying is so good…

So what Jesus is trying to get us to see is that people cause strife when they are selfishly wanting their own way and disagreeing over things, (i.e. belief in following God). So if someone disagrees with another and causes strife, they are not taking up their cross but are rather holding on to their own will and their own self-independence – both of which Jesus requires us to give up, for His sake. Jesus says that such a person is “not worthy” of Him and they will actually “lose their life” by trying to hold onto it. Peace will not be accessible to the person who tries to maintain their own autonomy. It will be a lifeless, miserable existence.

Jesus just conveyed why it is important to take up our cross, or the discomfort of denying ourselves our own will and desires, so that we might actually find life in Him.

This requires trust obviously because it won’t happen overnight. But Jesus is trying to get His disciples to see the benefits of following Him and laying down their own lives. God will be the One to give them life that is meaningful and joyful since He is the One in charge and has all the resources.

Dang. Jesus is freaking smart in His verbal and logical persuasion.

In verses 40-42, Jesus equips His disciples by reminding them that God will reward those who welcome them.

This is an encouragement because if the disciples know that God is on alert to bless those who are welcoming them, they can rest assured that God sees them and will provide people for them along their journey.

Jesus also wants His disciples to remember that being sent out to Israel is going to be a collaborative effort.

His mission to preach and heal and seek out the lost sheep of Israel not only requires the obedience of His disciples, but also the obedience of others to join in this cause with God. Jesus is all about collaboration and utilizing resources to accomplish His purposes, while seeking to impact as many people as possible – both the people that He is seeking out and the people that are joining in this mission with Him and His disciples through giving, hospitality, prayer, and encouragement. And Jesus promises that they will be rewarded for all they contribute in God’s mission.

As we end chapter 10 of Matthew’s gospel, we can look back and see how Jesus is preparing His disciples for something big.

They are the ones that Jesus has chosen to assist Him in initiating God’s plan for redemption in the world, and that can only happen if Jesus and His disciples seek out Israel first in order that Jesus will be rejected and killed by Israel, His own people.

We will keep reading to see what happens next in chapter 11 after Jesus is finished talking with His disciples. In chapter 11, we will run into John the Baptist again, the one we read about in chapter 2. Until then, may we learn more about Christ in Matthew’s gospel and fall more in love with our beautiful Savior, appreciating the scriptures we have now to learn more about Him.


Summary of Matthew 10

Jesus gathers His 12 disciples together; Jesus begins to equip His disciples for the work that He has for them to do in being sent out to the lost people of Israel; Jesus equips His disciples by preparing them for persecution, encouraging them not to fear; reminding them that strife and disorder is unavoidable, yet God is in control and He will reward those who join with Him in His mission of the world’s redemption through Jesus.

Jesus in Matthew 10

Jesus gathers his 12 disciples over to him (v. 1)

Jesus equips His disciples for what He is about to send them to do (v. 1)

Jesus is intentional (v. 1)

Jesus always equips before He sends (v. 1)

Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority over unclean spirts (v. 1)

Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority to cast out unclean spirits (v. 1)

Jesus gives His 12 disciples authority to heal every disease and affliction (v. 1)

Jesus transfuses to the disciples His own authority from God (v. 1)

Jesus is going to send out His 12 disciples (v. 5)

Jesus instructs His disciples before He sends them (v. 5)

Jesus is a good leader (v. 5)

Jesus is a preparer (v. 5)

Jesus tells them to not to go the gentiles or the Samaritans (v. 5)

Jesus tells them to only go to the lost sheep of Israel (v. 6)

Jesus must go to Israel before He can reach the Gentiles (v. 6)

Jesus tells them what He wants them to say (v. 7)

Jesus tells them to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (v. 7)

Jesus tells them to heal the sick (v. 8)

Jesus tells them to raise the dead (v. 8)

Jesus tells them to cleanse the lepers (v. 8)

Jesus tells them to cast out demons (v. 8)

Jesus is confident in His disciples (v. 8)

Jesus instructs them to give and not expect pay (v. 8)

Jesus is selfless (v. 8)

Jesus doesn’t seek gain for Himself (v. 8)

Jesus wants his disciples to do likewise (v. 8)

Jesus commands them to not receive gold or silver or copper for themselves (v. 9)

Jesus commands them not to take a bag for their journey or clothes (v. 10)

Jesus encourages them to work for their food (v. 10)

Jesus instructs them to find a worthy person in the town or village they visit and stay there (v. 11)

Jesus instructs them to enter the house and greet it (v. 12)

Jesus instructs them to bless the house if it is worthy and to not bless it if it is not worthy (v. 13)

Jesus tells them that if anyone will not receive them to forget about it (v. 15)

Jesus talks of the day of judgement (v. 15)

Jesus keeps the future in mind (v. 15)

Jesus reminds them that God will avenge (v. 15)

Jesus informs them that he is sending them out like sheep among wolves (v. 16)

Jesus knows the danger (v. 16)

Jesus doesn’t try to coddle them (v. 16)

Jesus doesn’t give them defense strategies either (v. 16)

Jesus tells them to be wise as serpents (v. 16)

Jesus tells them to be innocent as doves (v. 16)

Jesus gives simple yet powerful advice in how to handle persecution (v. 16)

Jesus warns (v. 17)

Jesus know how they will be treated by men because of Him (v. 17-18)

Jesus lets his disciples know what is coming (v. 17-18)

Jesus tells them to not be anxious about what to say when assaulted (v. 19)

Jesus comforts them that they will be given by the Holy Spirit what to say in that moment (v. 19)

Jesus always redirects them back to trust in God (v. 19)

Jesus warns of household division (v. 21)

Jesus warns that they will be hated because of His name (v. 22)

Jesus promises them that they will be saved in the end if they endure (v. 22)

Jesus instructs them to flee to the next town when persecuted (v. 23)

Jesus needs them to remain alive so that God’s will can be carried out in full (v. 23)

Jesus also has to remain alive until the proper time He will be crucified (v. 23)

Jesus teaches hierarchy and servanthood (v. 24)

Jesus encourages them to not fear those who persecute them (v. 26)

Jesus comforts (v. 26)

Jesus promises that evil actions will be exposed eventually (v. 26)

Jesus instructs them to preach widely these teachings that He’s telling them (v. 27)

Jesus wants them to partner with them in sharing His message (v. 27)

Jesus encourages them to not fear those who try to harm them (v. 28)

Jesus reminds them that mortal man cannot kill their souls (v. 28)

Jesus exhorts them to fear the One who can kill the soul and the body in hell (v. 28)

Jesus reminds them that God is in control of all (v. 28)

Jesus shows them how God is in charge of every small detail that happens in the world (v. 29)

Jesus tells them God knows the number of hairs on each one’s head (v. 30)

Jesus reveals God’s intimate knowledge of all people individually (v. 30)

Jesus tells them to not fear (v. 31)

Jesus conveys to them that they are more precious than sparrows (v. 31)

Jesus knows people (v. 31)

Jesus cares about people (v. 31)

Jesus teaches that He will acknowledge before God the Father those who acknowledge Him here on earth (v. 32)

Jesus reminds His disciples that their performance is not what’s most important but rather their acknowledgement of Jesus as God before men (v. 32)

Jesus needs His disciples to understand this before they can be sent out (v. 32)

Jesus locates God the Father as being in Heaven (v. 32)

Jesus teaches that He will deny those who deny Him (v. 33)

Jesus is straight-forward (v. 32-33)

Jesus is not confusing (v. 32-33)

Jesus is not just about bringing “peace” (v. 34)

Jesus brings a “sword” (v. 34)

Jesus causes families to be divided because some will choose to follow Him and others will deny Him, even within the same household (v. 35-36)

Jesus causes division (v. 35-36)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 35-36)

Jesus brings out the true heart in people, whether for Him or against Him (v. 36)

Jesus teaches that those who love their family members more than Him is not a true follower of Him (v. 37)

Jesus expects 100% devotion (v. 37)

Jesus expects 100% of our love (v. 37)

Jesus wants to be priority in our lives (v. 37)

Jesus declares that a person is not worthy of the love He would give them if He is not his or her first love (v. 37)

Jesus instructs them to take up their cross and follow Him (v. 38)

Jesus tells them that anyone not willing to do this is not worthy of Him (v. 38)

Jesus plainly tells them that whoever gives up his own life to follow Him will find it (v. 39)

Jesus plainly tells them that whoever keeps his life for himself will lose it (v. 39)

Jesus brings people to a point of decision (v. 39)

Jesus is not satisfied with half-heartedness (v. 39)

Jesus expects us to choose one way or the other if we are going to follow Him or not (v. 39)

Jesus is serious (v. 39)

Jesus is blunt (v. 39)

Jesus requires sacrifice of our own lives (v. 39)

Jesus expects a lot (v. 39)

Jesus wants to give us freedom and life and this can only happen when we belong to Him completely (v. 39)

Jesus encourages the disciples that those who welcome them also welcome Him (v. 40)

Jesus encourages them that those who welcome them also welcome God (v. 40)

Jesus’ reception by others reveals if those others are followers of God or not (v. 40)

Jesus promises that those who welcome others for who they are to God will be rewarded for it (v. 41)

Jesus promises that those who see even small children and meet their need will be rewarded (v. 41)

Jesus notices people (v. 41)

Jesus wants us to also notice people (v. 41)

Jesus rewards those who notice and care for people (v. 41)

Jesus is generous (v. 41)

“Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me and whoever loves son

or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me…

whoever finds his life will lose it,

and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

-Matthew 10:37 & 39-

 

Questions for Today:

  • Why does Jesus equip the disciples in this passage?
  • What is He preparing them for?
  • What are the two things Jesus tells His disciples they need when they face persecution?
  • Why is this significant?
  • Is the disciples’ performance more important to Jesus or their acknowledgement of Him as God?
  • What does Jesus promise the disciples if they take up their cross and lose their life to follow Him?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“The Wondrous Cross” by Christy Nockels

Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 9

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As we arrive in chapter 9 of Matthew, we continue to read about how Jesus interacts with people and handles opposition.

If you are just now joining in this study, you can read Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1 here.

We just left off at chapter 8 where Jesus was asked to leave the region of the Gadarenes for sending a demon from a man into a herd of pigs. If Jesus was powerful enough to stop the stormy sea in chapter 8, wasn’t He also powerful enough to know what kind of opposition was waiting for Him on the other side of the sea? Didn’t He know He would just have to turn around and leave?

But Jesus still went there.

He knew there was a need. He went toward the need.

Opposition was not strong enough to keep Him from healing somebody.

He knew those demon-possessed men needed exorcism that they could not do on their own. So He welcomed them when they approached. He wasn’t afraid of the rejection He knew He might face from others. He went where sickness and death awaited His healing power. I just love that.

Jesus always puts others above Himself.

In verses 1-8, Jesus leaves and crosses back over the sea. Just as He arrives, He is met by a group of guys who are carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher. This man needed healing. And he needed his friends to help him get to the place where he can be healed.

Jesus notices their faith. And He heals him.

I used to read this passage assuming that Jesus healed the man on behalf of his friends’ faith only.

But as I read this and think more about the logistics, the man must have also had a lot of faith to let his friends pick him up, put him on a stretcher, carry him away from his original location and then take him to this emerging teacher/healer who everybody was talking about. He had a say in what was happening. So his faith was on display as well. It wasn’t just his friends who had faith. He did too. And he was humble enough to let his friends help him by taking him to the one man they knew had healing power. He wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Jesus saw the collective effort of both the friends of the paralyzed man and the paralyzed man himself.

And “their” faith was rewarded through blessing the one who needed healing in that moment. How powerful.

In verse 2, notice that Jesus heals after “seeing their faith.”

In chapter 8, Jesus also healed a man after “hearing…[his] great faith.” So far, Matthew is revealing to the reader that when Jesus hears or sees a person’s faith, He acts. He answers. Jesus is aware of the faith manifested around Him by people. We will continue to see this as we read through Matthew. The word “faith” is used in Matthew’s gospel 13 times: 6:30, 8:10, 8:26, 9:2, 9:22, 9:29, 14:31, 15:28, 16:8, 17:20 (2x), 21:21, 23:23.

But Jesus also notices “little faith” as well. This phrase is used 5 times in Matthew’s gospel: 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20.

And while Jesus points out “little faith,” He doesn’t call anyone out to condemn them but rather to teach them how to cultivate more faith and encourage them to believe. It is meant to be constructive not destructive.

In this chapter, “faith” is very significant because we are now starting to see how Jesus responds to a person’s faith: He heals and He forgives sin. We will see this play out in various scenes.

In verse 3, the scribes scowl at Jesus accusing Him of blaspheming for trying to forgive sins.

What I don’t understand is why the scribes are even there listening to Jesus if they don’t like Him. It seems they are trying to find fault in Him.

But Jesus confronts the scribes’ thoughts in verses 4-6 asking them “which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ .” Before, I’ve never understood what Jesus was trying to say here. It never made sense to me that Jesus would admit it’s easier to say the thing that He didn’t say the first time. It’s obviously easier to say “Get up and walk,” even in Aramaic which is the language Jesus would have been speaking. So why would He use that as an argument for His rationale to choose to say “your sins are forgiven”?

But Jesus is a lot smarter. He’s pretty brilliant in fact. He knows what He’s doing. So at first, His logic can confuse me but as I read it I’m starting to see what He’s doing.

Jesus makes this argument to make a point.

He wants them to know that He said “your sins are forgiven” on purpose.

It doesn’t matter what’s most practical for Him to say. It doesn’t matter what makes sense for Him to say when He heals someone. Jesus acknowledges that it’s easier to say “Get up and walk.” He could have said that if he wanted to. But He didn’t want to say that.

Jesus says “your sins are forgiven” in verse 6 on purpose for the very reason that He states: “so you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins.”

Jesus just established His authority and power.

Matthew includes this story to let the reader know that Jesus can forgive sins. His audience of Jewish people would have been hesitant to accept this. They only believed that God, or Yahweh, could forgive sins. But now Matthew is revealing Jesus as the one who forgives. This is yet another clue for Matthew’s audience to believe Jesus is the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Also, now that we’ve already been introduced to Jesus’ power to heal in chapter 8, Matthew is beginning to associate not only faith with forgiveness of sins like we’ve seen in this chapter, but also healing with forgiveness of sins. So as we keep reading, we will make this connection. When Jesus heals, he also forgives. When Jesus interacts with a person who believes in Him and comes to Him for help, He will forgive sins. Healing is both physical and spiritual.

Matthew’s narration in verse 7-8 is very significant.

He illustrates the simple obedience of the paralyzed man to get up and walk, and the subsequent glory channeled to God because of it. The crowds are amazed that this paralyzed man got up and walked. And they immediately start praising God for “giving such authority to men”. Matthew doesn’t say that the crowds gave glory to Jesus – even though Jesus was indeed worthy. Rather, Matthew directs all the credit to God. Matthew is telling the reader here that Jesus brings God glory. Jesus is on God’s side. Jesus is not there to bring glory to Himself. He’s there to bring glory to God. So they too should align themselves with Jesus and bring glory to God.

I love verse 9 in this chapter.

We meet Matthew. And Matthew is so focused on making Jesus the primary character in his gospel that he doesn’t even give himself a long scene in his story. Nor does he talk about himself in the first person. He introduces his encounter with Jesus in the 3rd person saying, “He [Jesus] saw a man named Matthew…”. Matthew captures his conversion story in one verse. Jesus asks. He responds. Simple as that. This is quite powerful. Matthew could have taken more time to talk about his own experience with Jesus if he wanted to and it would have been fine. But this just shows Matthew’s heart in wanting to keep Jesus the focus. Matthew writes to reveal Jesus. And all other characters are meant point to Him and all that He has done.  Matthew was forever changed when He met Jesus. And it is evident in the way that he tells his story as well as this entire gospel.

In verses 10-13, Matthew immediately invites Jesus into his home. He couldn’t help himself. They eat a meal together along with the disciples and some of Matthew’s friends, mostly tax collectors.

And once again, Jesus faces opposition.

Almost every time Jesus accomplishes something good for the benefit of another, He faces opposition from those who are not on God’s side. This time, He experiences opposition from the Pharisees.

But something I noticed after doing this below part of this study is that the Pharisees didn’t oppose Jesus this time. This time, they went after His disciples. They asked His disciples why He was eating with “sinners.” That’s interesting. They didn’t even go to Jesus, the one they were attacking, but went after the more vulnerable ones. But Jesus heard. And He takes control. He responds.

And I love how Jesus responds to opposition.

He’s calm and He’s not easily shaken.

He responds differently to each. The Pharisees were well-read on the Old Testament scriptures, being Jewish religious elite. Jesus knew this. So He responds to them by telling them, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The italicized part is from a scripture in the Old Testament book of Hosea 6:6, which they would have been familiar with.

Jesus responds to their opposition by reminding them what they should already know.

They should already know that God is merciful and pursues people relentlessly just as is depicted in the book of Hosea. They shouldn’t be criticizing Him for pursuing “sinners.” If they knew the book of Hosea, they should have been excited to see Jesus pursuing sinners just like God illustrated through Hosea in that book.

He’s pointing to their hearts, ultimately. Just like he did in chapter 5. Revealing that their hearts are bad.

In verses 14-17, Jesus goes on to face more opposition. This time it is from John the Baptist’s disciples who ask Jesus why He and his disciples do not fast. Jesus knows that this is not malicious opposition.

It is really just a misunderstanding.

So Jesus explains to them why they do not fast by means of analogy, comparing his disciples to wedding guests and Himself to a groom. The wedding guests cannot be sad while the groom is with them just like there is no need to fast for the sake of seeking God when God in the flesh is right there with them. He uses two more analogies pointing to the reality that there is a new way of doing things because something new has come: Himself.

In verses 18-26, just as Jesus was talking to them regarding all of this, a man comes up to Him.

But Jesus doesn’t turn him away to continue talking. He stops what He was doing. And He listens.

As He listens, Jesus learns that this man’s daughter is very sick and about to die. But once again, this man believes that Jesus can heal as he says, “…but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus notices his faith. And He goes with the man to heal her.

But on the way, Jesus is interrupted again.

Quietly and unassuming, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years comes up to touch the tassel on the back of His robe in verse 20. Matthew includes her words: “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well.” What faith. I love how the ones who everyone else despised always felt safe approaching Jesus. Jesus welcomed everybody. He loved everyone the same. May we as well.

For this woman wasn’t about to let Jesus pass her by. She had enough faith to touch even just His robe, convinced that she would be healed forever.

Jesus notices. He heals her.

And again, Jesus points out this woman’s “faith” in verse 22 as He heals her.

So far in this chapter, Matthew has written the flow of the narrative with Jesus being interrupted a lot. But each time, Jesus makes time for that person. He wants to make time for that person. So Jesus takes time to heal this woman even when He was on the way to heal somebody else. And I love this pattern that Matthew illustrates. This pattern of action really reveals Jesus’ love in a way that mere words would not express.

Then Jesus continues on to the man’s house to heal his daughter.

And Matthew says that Jesus heals the girl with a touch in verse 25.

In chapter 8, Jesus also healed a woman with a touch. Healing touch is a repetitive occurrence in Matthew. As we progress we will also see others who are healed by Jesus’ touch. Jesus heals in this way 7 separate times in this gospel: 8:3, 8:15, 9:20-21, 9:29, 14:36, 17:7, 20:34.

In verses 27-31, Jesus heals 2 blind men with a touch also.

They had been following Jesus since He left from the house where He healed the man’s daughter. They must have heard about his healing power. And they believed in Him. In fact, they call Him “Son of David” in verse 27, saying, “Have mercy on us…” Matthew identified Jesus as the “Son of David” from the beginning in Matthew 1:1.But this is the first time we have read someone identifying Jesus as “Son of David.” And it’s a blind man who does it. Wow. How powerful.

It’s amazing that the blind men call Jesus “Son of David.” They are blind, yet they see far better than anyone else can at this point. This contrast of blindness and seeing will continue in this gospel. Most who see Jesus with their physical eyes cannot see Him for who He really is. They don’t yet get it. But the ones who are blind can actually see Jesus for who He is.

But what I don’t fully understand is why Jesus tells the men in verse 30 not to tell anyone that He healed them. He didn’t say this to the other people that He healed in this chapter. This one has stumped me and I just don’t know. If anyone wants to share insight please comment below. I would be glad to hear.

In verses 32-34, a demon-possessed man, unable to speak, is brought to Jesus.

Once again, we see someone who was brought to Jesus by others, just like the paralyzed man’s friends brought him to Jesus in verse 2. And Jesus heals him. He drives out the demon. Then the man is able to speak again. But the Pharisees criticize Jesus and ridicule His power, saying it must be “the power of demons that He drives out the demons.” But Matthew doesn’t record Jesus saying anything to the Pharisees about their opposition this time. Jesus moves on to many towns and villages..

Lastly in verses 35-38, chapter 9 ends with Matthew telling us about Jesus’ general travels going preach, teach and heal. Then Matthew tells us that Jesus “felt compassion” for the crowds when He saw them because they were “weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.” So Jesus tells His disciples to pray for workers to be sent into the harvest. Jesus sees a need. And He asks for His disciples to pray. In the process, He’s teaching His disciples what it means to prioritize people, just like He does.

So many times in this chapter, Jesus is about to head somewhere and He is interrupted by people who need Him. So He stops. He doesn’t pass them by. He stops. He always puts others above Himself. I have really been moved by this while studying this chapter.

As we continue, let us enjoy this gospel as a story that is both teaching us about Jesus and showing us what it looks like to minister to people. And I pray our hearts will be open and receptive to God’s Word.

Summary of Matthew 9

Jesus leaves the region of the Gadarenes; Jesus heals a paralyzed men brought to Him by the man’s friends; Jesus’ faces opposition from the scribes; Jesus meets Matthew and asks Him to follow Him; Matthew follows Jesus and invites Him to his home for a meal; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus is questioned by John the Baptist’s disciples regarding fasting; Jesus is met by a man who wants Jesus to heal his daughter; Jesus goes with him to heal her; Jesus is approached by a woman who touches His robe and He heals her; Jesus goes on to heal the man’s daughter; Jesus is followed by 2 blind men whom who heals; Jesus is met by a demon-possessed man who is brought to Him and He heals him; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus is met by a demon-possessed man who is brought to Him and He heals him; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus and His disciples go on to many other regions to preach, teach and heal.

Jesus in Matthew 9

Jesus leaves the place He had just arrived, the region of the Gadarenes (v. 1; 8:28)

Jesus gets into a boat to cross the sea (v. 1)

Jesus goes to His own town (v. 1)

Jesus is brought a paralyzed man by a group of men (v. 2)

Jesus sees their faith (v. 2)

Jesus acts (v. 2)

Jesus tells the paralyzed man to have courage (v. 2)

Jesus calls the paralyzed man “son” (v. 2)

Jesus tells the paralyzed man his sins are forgiven (v. 2)

Jesus is accused of blaspheming by the scribes (v. 3)

Jesus reads the scribes’ minds (v. 4)

Jesus knows what the scribes are thinking (v. 4)

Jesus addresses the scribes (v. 4)

Jesus asks them why they are thinking evil thoughts (v. 4)

Jesus asks them if it’s easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “get up and walk” (v. 5)

Jesus is rhetorical (v. 5)

Jesus is smart (v. 5-6)

Jesus clarifies the reason He told the paralyzed man his sins were forgiven (v. 6)

Jesus wants all to know He has authority on earth to forgive sins (v. 6)

Jesus calls Himself “Son of Man” (v. 6)

Jesus addresses the paralyzed man (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to get up (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to pick up his stretcher (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to go home (v. 6)

Jesus’ words heal the paralyzed man (v. 7)

Jesus amazes the crowds (v. 7)

Jesus causes the crowds to give glory to God (v. 8)

Jesus is acknowledged as being given authority by God (v. 8)

Jesus keeps travelling (v. 9)

Jesus sees Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus sees Matthew’s occupation (v. 9)

Jesus initiates conversation with Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus doesn’t judge Matthew for being a tax collector (v. 9)

Jesus wants Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus asks Matthew to follow Him (v. 9)

Jesus’ invitation is accepted by Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus sees potential in people (v. 9)

Jesus is now in Matthew’s house (v. 10)

Jesus reclines at a table in Matthew’s house (v. 10)

Jesus eats with Matthew and many other tax collectors and “sinners” (v. 10)

Jesus’ disciples are also there with Him (v. 10)

Jesus and His disciples are the guests in Matthew’s home (v. 11)

Jesus’ disciples are questioned by the Pharisees for eating with them (v. 11)

Jesus hears (v. 12)

Jesus reminds them that the sick are the ones who need a doctor (v. 12)

Jesus offers a challenge to the Pharisees (v. 13)

Jesus reminds them of Hosea 6:6 (v. 13)

Jesus tells them to learn what that scripture means (v. 13)

Jesus illuminates the gap between their knowledge and practice (v. 13)

Jesus declares He came to call sinners to repentance, not those who think they’re righteous (v. 13)

Jesus is questioned by John the Baptist’s disciples for not fasting (v. 14)

Jesus asks if the wedding guests can be sad when the groom is with them (v. 15)

Jesus prophecies about the day when the groom will be taken away from them (v. 15)

Jesus uses this analogy to talk of Himself (the groom) and His disciples (wedding guests) (v. 15)

Jesus says that they will fast when He has been taken away from them (v. 15)

Jesus’ presence makes fasting not necessary (v. 15)

Jesus teaches no one patches a garment with unshrunk cloth (v. 16)

Jesus explains why (v. 16)

Jesus teaches no one puts new wine in old wine skins (v. 17)

Jesus explains why (v. 17)

Jesus teaches new wine is put into new wine skins and both are preserved (v. 17)

Jesus is interrupted by someone who needs Him (v. 18)

Jesus is approached by one of the synagogue leaders to heal his daughter (v. 18)

Jesus and His disciples go with the man to his daughter (v. 19)

Jesus is interrupted again on the way there (v. 20)

Jesus is approached by a woman whose been bleeding for 12 years (v. 20)

Jesus is touched on the back tassel of His robe by this woman (v. 20)

Jesus was sought after by this woman (v. 20-21)

Jesus was seen as a healer by this woman (v. 21)

Jesus turns around (v. 22)

Jesus pauses (v. 22)

Jesus sees the woman (v. 22)

Jesus makes time for this woman (v. 22)

Jesus doesn’t get mad at her for interrupting where He was going (v. 22)

Jesus cares (v. 22)

Jesus shows compassion (v. 22)

Jesus tells her to have courage (v. 22)

Jesus tells the woman her faith has healed her (v. 22)

Jesus heals that very moment (v. 22)

Jesus continues on with the man who needs his daughter healed (v. 23)

Jesus arrives at the man’s house (v. 23)

Jesus observes the grief (v. 23)

Jesus sees flute players (v. 23)

Jesus sees a crowd lamenting loudly (v. 23)

Jesus tells them to leave (v. 24)

Jesus declares that the girl is not dead (v. 24)

Jesus says she is sleeping (v. 24)

Jesus is laughed at (v. 24)

Jesus has the crowd put outside (v. 25)

Jesus enters the house (v. 25)

Jesus takes the girl by the hand (v. 25)

Jesus’ touch makes the girl get up (v. 25)

Jesus heals (v. 25)

Jesus’ healing of the girl spread as news throughout the whole area (v. 26)

Jesus is followed by 2 blind men just as He is leaving (v. 27)

Jesus is called “Son of David” by these blind men (v. 27)

Jesus approached by the 2 blind men (v. 28)

Jesus asks them if they believe that He can heal (v. 28)

Jesus is told by them that they do believe (v. 28)

Jesus touches their eyes (v. 29)

Jesus says let it be done according to your faith (v. 29)

Jesus notices faith (v. 29)

Jesus heals (v. 30)

Jesus opens their eyes (v. 30)

Jesus warns them not to tell anyone that He healed them (v. 30)

Jesus’ healing of the blind men spreads throughout the area anyways (v. 31)

Jesus and His disciples start to travel from there (v. 32)

Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak (v. 32)

Jesus drives out the demon (v. 33)

Jesus’ healing causes the man to speak again (v. 33)

Jesus amazes the crowds (v. 33)

Jesus is despised by the Pharisees (v. 34)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 34)

Jesus starts to travel (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages preaching the good news of the kingdom (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages healing (v. 35)

Jesus sees the crowds (v. 36)

Jesus has compassion on them (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are weary (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are worn out (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are like sheep without a shepherd (v. 36)

Jesus addresses His disciples (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples that they harvest is abundant but the workers are few (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest (v. 38)

Jesus encourages prayer (v. 38)

“As Jesus went out from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ So he got up and followed Him.”

–Matthew 9:9 –

Questions for Today:

  • Why can Jesus forgive sins when He heals people?
  • What can I learn from the way that Jesus handles opposition?
  • What is significant about Jesus noticing people’s faith?
  • What can I learn from Jesus’ example of putting others’ needs above His own?
  • How do we meet the author of this gospel in this chapter and what’s significant about his story?
  • How am I getting to know Jesus better in Matthew chapter 9?

“I Found You” by Anthony Evans