In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus told a parable to two sons. One said he would heed his father’s command to work, but did not. The other said he would not, but later regretted it and did go to work. Jesus used this parable to compare the religious people to the sinners who were repenting. It would be wise for people not to put confidence in a “Christian label” they have given themselves, but to actually examine their lives and see if they are in the faith. When we read ahead to verse 43, Jesus says to the religious, “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” Whoever falls on the stone (which is Christ Jesus) will be broken, but the only other alternative is to resist His leadership and one day be crushed to powder (Matt 21:44). Jesus said in Matthew 13:41 that at the end of the age His angels gather out of His kingdom “all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.”
In both of these chapters we see the story of a very rich man who came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” After the man said he kept the commandments of God, Jesus told him he still lacked one thing. It stuck out to me that he lacked only “one thing.” In other words, he was doing many things right, but he couldn’t rely on those good works. There was something that needed to change in his life, staring him in the face; it was his reliance on this worlds goods. It was going to take major spiritual surgery to amputate this from him. Would he go under the knife, or would he continue to let this issue affect (and infect) the rest of his being? When Jesus told him to sell everything, give away the proceeds and then follow Him, the Bible says he walked away sorrowful. It would be like a man who is not willing to lose his limb which has Gangrene… sure you’re going to lose something precious to you, but it’s something that’s going to kill you if you keep it. Is there “one thing” in your life that you need to walk away from; “one thing” that's been bringing death. Jesus loves you just like he loved this man and will lead you out from death and into life if you let Him.
In the beginning of the chapter Jesus told a parable to show that faith in prayer is exemplified by praying “night and day” and not losing heart. If we believe God hears and will answer, we will be engaged in prayer and we won’t give up.
Then Jesus told a parable in verses 9-14 to hopefully help the listeners get rid of their self righteous arrogant attitudes. The Lord can deal with the sinner who has a repentant heart; He can’t accept the one who looks to any of their own works for their righteousness.
Why did Jesus groan in His spirit and weep in John chapter 11 when He came to where His dead friend Lazarus was? The people thought it was from sorrow of losing His friend, but Jesus knew before Lazarus had died that He would go to raise him from the dead. When Martha questioned Jesus’ command to remove the stone from the cave where Lazarus was, Jesus replied, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" There was no question in the mind of Christ that He would raise him from the dead. The Scripture says that Jesus “groaned in His spirit and was troubled” when He saw Mary and the Jews weeping for Lazarus. Jesus is touched with the sorrow and the pain of those He loves even if that sorrow comes from the weakness and immaturity of their faith. I’m sure the heart of Jesus Christ still groans and is troubled today when He sees His people experience pain and lose; especially when that pain and lose could be avoided by trusting Him.
The main point of the parable in the beginning of Luke 16 and the story of the rich man and Lazarus is this: the age to come is infinitely more important and true faith will cause us to use our resources for eternal purposes. Verses 10-12 let us know that proper stewardship of our natural resources (money) is the proving ground to be given a greater, spiritual and eternal stewardship by God.
Jesus tells us the power of having faith in Luke 17:6: "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.” In verse 7–10 He gives a short parable to explain how we operate in this kind of faith... When we learn to simply obey God in faith, we will understand how things will obey us through faith. When we are truly submitted to His Word, His Word spoken through us will cause things to submit to us.
Only the one foreigner of the ten lepers came back to thank Jesus Christ for his healing (Luke 17:12-19). Let’s never take for granted what the Lord does for us. Whether small or big in our eyes, it’s all His grace; let’s use it as an opportunity to give Him praise and thanks!
Jesus councils us to “invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” (see Luke 14:13) when we invite people to the "feast" of the Kingdom of God; then we will be rewarded in the age to come since they can’t reward us in this age. After this, Jesus tells a parable of how a man gave a great supper and sent his servant out and invited many (See verse 16), but they all began to make excuses of why they couldn't make it (See verses 18-20). Verse 21 says, “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.'” In the parable “the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind” are invited since the others can’t get their priorities straight. What does this all mean for the church? We are not supposed to focus our attention on the outward appearances of people’s lives; neither should we look at what a person has to give with their talents or resources. We are to focus on those that are willing to come and make Jesus first in their life regardless of how messy their life is right now. In the parable, the servant tells the man that he has already invited the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind, and there is still room. The man’s solution is to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus would call His people to bring the Gospel to the heathen nations of the world to fill up His kingdom. These people were spiritually poor, maimed and blind but many of them would repent and put Jesus Christ first in their life. This is still true today. We must be willing to go to hurting, messed up people and “invite them to the feast” the Lord has prepared for them. Let’s make sure our priorities are right and our reward will come; not mostly in this age, but it will come.
Human nature is to fear what people think of them, and to worry about not having their needs met. Jesus councils the people in chapter 12 to only have fear of God, our eternal Judge. Why would we fear man? The worst thing they can do is kill the body; our eternal destiny isn't in any man's hands. Why would we fear going without our daily needs? As we seek God and His will for our life, He is sure to take care of us from the abundance of His kingdom for He loves to do so. In verses 56-59, Jesus tells them to leave their hypocrisy behind and confess their sins and faults (in repentance) instead of hiding behind the cloak of religion and good works. He lets them know if they wait till they stand before the Judge (God) it will be too late to find mercy.
Jesus said about the cities that reject the Gospel after they have clearly heard it with signs following in Luke 10:12: “I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.” A statement like this may be hard to swallow, but we must. I know He is love, but I must also know His leadership is just and perfect; what He does is right.
Martha got “distracted with much serving” because she was “worried and troubled about many things.” The enemy desires to distract and keep distracted every child of God. How did it happen with Martha? She got worried and concerned with temporal side issues. When we stop focusing on the main things of God’s kingdom, unimportant temporal issues will begin to look important. Its been said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Mary kept the main thing the main thing; she sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. If doing what Mary did isn’t at the top of our priorities, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we really accomplishing?” We can’t do anything without abiding in Him, and we abide in Him by abiding in His Word. Let’s take stock of our priorities and make sure they are in order today.
Jesus heals the man in chapter 9 and it is meant to be a sign to the Jews of how they were blind, but He could give them sight. The blind man that was healed was willing to be ostracized and rejected by the religious leaders to believe on Jesus; this was the way he received true “sight.” The works Jesus did clearly showed who He was, but still some could not see because they thought they already “saw” on their own.
John 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.
In chapter 10 Jesus continues His message from chapter 9 and speaks about those who are His sheep. His sheep do not trust or follow the voice of strangers (the lying and hypocritical religious leaders), but they recognize the voice of Jesus Christ and are willing to follow Him. Jesus is the good Shepherd that is willing to lay down His life for the sheep and leads them into abundant life.
The Lord Jesus speaks some powerful wisdom on godly character and unity in Mathew 18. His sequence of statements builds upon each other and should be meditated on. What He says in verse 3 through 17 builds up to what He says in verses 18-20. Matthew 18:18-20 read:
18) "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19) "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20) For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
You will probably remember that what He says in verse 18 (about binding and loosing) is from what He spoke to Peter in Mathew chapter 16. When you first read this verse in chapter 18, it doesn't seem to fit… Why is Jesus saying this statement here again? I believe He is stating this awesome promise in a different context so we will more fully understand how we will see it come to pass in its fullness. Let’s go back and look at when Jesus gave this promise the first time in Matthew 16:18-19.
He said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19) And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
He gives the promise in verse 19, but notice how it is prefaced in verse 18. He says, “On this rock I will build My church.” The real promise of seeing darkness bound and all God’s kingdom loosed in the earth isn’t through some “superman” but it happens through a united church that Jesus has built. This is why He gives the promise again in Matthew 18:18; the church needs to do what Jesus said to do in Matthew chapter 18, verses 3-17 to see it come to pass. This is why He continues in Matthew 18:19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Then in verse 20 He says, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Jesus Christ is building His church without divisions and without schisms and through prayer, the power of the kingdom of heaven will be released into the earth. The fullness of God's kingdom is released in the context of a unified praying church like we see in the beginning of the book of Acts.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan