Jesus is risen and He is alive forevermore! We read that Jesus was alive as the disciples “mourned and wept” (Mark 16:10) not realizing what had happened. That is the condition of many “disciples” today also. They mourn and weep about many things not realizing what they have been given through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Are you mourning and weeping today? He has been raised and you have been raised with Him. Hallelujah! The Lord always confirms His word; Mark 16:20 says, “They went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
Jesus came to the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matt 15:24). John 1:11-12 says, “He came to His own (Israel), and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” When Israel, as a whole, rejected Jesus as their King, He died for the whole world on the cross. When He died on the cross, for all nations, the Father gave Him authority over all nations. Paul refers to this in Philippians 2:8-10: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” This is one of the points Jesus was making in Matthew 28:18-19 when He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” This is what people call the “great commission.” Jesus has been made King over all nations by the Father and He is coming soon to rule and to reign. It is our job to prepare the nations for His kingdom by teaching them to observe all things that He has commanded us. He will be with us till the end of the age (when He returns) helping us to do what He has asked.
Matthew 27:37 says, “they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Jesus’ “crime” was claiming to be the King of the Jews and acknowledging He was the Son of God, even though all the evidence showed it was truth. It seems crazy that they would reject Him, but the same thing happens today; the evidence it there, but people reject Him as their King. People don’t reject Him because there isn't enough evidence; they reject Him because they harden their own heart; they don’t want Him as King. The Jewish leaders in the day of Jesus couldn't just say, “I don’t believe in Him;” He was right in front of their faces doing miracles; their rejection had to take a more dramatic approach. They falsely convicted Him so they could get rid of Him; they lied after lying to themselves. It wasn't that they couldn't believe; they didn't want to believe. We all must make sure our heart is soft and pliable to the Lord in humility; we should not resist His Lordship over our own lives; He wants what is best for us. Those in the Kingdom will honor the Lord Jesus willfully; forced honor isn’t honor. Do you “believe” He is King when He leads you down a path you didn't want to go down, or when things become difficult? Do you “believe” He is King when you’re forced to humble yourself more to follow Him? Belief has corresponding actions; when we believe, we will obey.
Matthew 26:37 says Jesus, “…took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.” In verse 38 Jesus says, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” Before one blow to His face had come, before the crown of thorns was pressed into His skull, before they whipped the skin off His back, and before they drove the nails into Him, the sorrow of Jesus was so great that it brought Him close to death. Here in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would be prepared to walk out what He was being asked to do by His Father. It appears that Jesus began to feel the weight of the sin of the world upon Himself and He consecrated Himself to the will of the Father in that distress. When Jesus found His disciples sleeping, He said to them, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." He pleaded for them to do what He was doing: to pray. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, but we find strength in God through prayer to stand against all life’s temptations. Jesus had to continue to press during this exceedingly distressful time of prayer, but as He did, He found strength to willingly lay down His life. Glory to God! He is able to keep us from stumbling as seek Him in prayer.
After Jesus finishes His discourse on the end days in chapter 24, He says in Matthew 25:1, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to…,” signifying that this parable is also about the end days. In the parable, the ten virgins represent the body of Christ; five were wise and five were foolish. It was only one action that determined if a virgin was wise or unwise; it was their foresight to get oil before the midnight call. All of them realized their need for oil when the call went out that the bridegroom was coming, but only half got the oil before the need became so apparent. We need to be cultivating an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit right now. The five wise virgins told the unwise virgins that they needed to go “buy for themselves;” we must all seek the Lord for ourselves. When can learn Bible truths through others and we can see an example of how we should live our lives in another person, but another person can’t cultivate an intimate relationship with God for you. Having “oil” in the end days won’t be nice; it will be mandatory. As you read this and the other two parables, let them bring clarity and foresight to your life.
When Jesus says in verse 5, “many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many,” He is saying that they will acknowledge Him (Jesus) as the Christ, or they couldn’t be coming in His name. A lunatic that claims to be “the Christ” is easy to spot and large numbers of people don’t follow them; the deception becomes much greater when they claim to come in the name of Jesus and say Jesus is the Christ, but they change important aspects of the faith and deny the whole truth.
In verses 6 and 7, Jesus talks about the “beginning of sorrows;” these are birth pangs that become more severe and closer together with time. I believe we are in that time now where things are escalating but “the end is not yet” (vs. 6).
Jesus says in verse 12 that the “love of many will grow cold.” Let me exhort you to pursue love with all your heart… forgive and give while you put others above yourself.
The goal of Jesus Christ is for the witness of the Gospel to reach the entire world (vs. 14), bringing in the largest harvest possible while weeding out those your refuse repentance.
Verse 15: The “abomination of desolation” is the idolatrous abomination that antichrist sets up in Jerusalem and it results in desolation. The prophet Daniel wrote about this in Daniel 9:27. Here is the verse; the words in (brackets) are mine: “Then he (antichrist) shall confirm a covenant with many (nations including Israel) for one week (a period of 7; refers to 7 years); But in the middle of the week (after 3 ½ years) He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering (at the Temple in Jerusalem which is yet to be built). And on the wing (pinnacle) of abominations shall be one (antichrist) who makes desolate, Even until the consummation (completion), which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate." 2 Thessalonians 2:4 also speaks of the antichrist and the “abomination of desolation;” it says he “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” What antichrist does along with the worship of those who have given themselves over to a reprobate heart causes God to bring desolation.
The “abomination of desolation” is the “trigger” for what Jesus calls a “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (vs. 21). Immediately after the tribulation (vs. 29), the sun and moon will be darkened and Jesus will appear to every tribe of the earth (vs. 30). Verse 31 says, “He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is what is commonly referred to as the “rapture” or the “catching away” of God’s people. Apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:52; he says it will happen “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” If we look at these two Scriptures together, we see in 1 Corinthians 15:52 that the rapture happens at the “last trumpet,” and in Matthew 24 we see that this trumpet is blown “immediately after the tribulation.” So, it is impossible for the rapture described in 1 Corinthians 15 to happen before the great tribulation Jesus described in Matthew 24. We shouldn’t assume things that are not in Scripture as many have done. He who endures to the end will be saved (Matt 24:13), but don’t fear; He can keep us from stumbling and present us faultless before the presence of glory (Jude 1:24).
Luke 21:34 is a verse that stuck out to me today. Jesus says, "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” When we let the pursuit of temporal desires and the “cares of this life” fill our heart, our heart will be “weighted down.” In other words, we won’t be able to perceive the reality of the day; we will have a misconstrued perception of reality and we won't see what Jesus is doing. The picture that Jesus gives us in this verse is of a person who is drunk, hung over, and not aware of what is going on, so is overtaken by the destruction that a sober person could see coming. Let’s look at the same verse in two other translations:
Jesus tells us what to do instead in Mark 13:33, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”
Israel had to take one lamb per household on the tenth day of the first month (Exodus 12:3) and they needed to inspect it to make sure there was no blemish in it before killing it on the fourteenth day (Passover). In these two chapters we see the people testing Jesus looking for fault in Him, but they couldn’t find any fault. Thou they couldn’t find any sin in Him, they killed Him, and He laid down His life for the world.
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.
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