Gospel Wednesday | Mark 12

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week was a rough week for me, personally, so I was unable to share anything until Friday. The week prior, we covered Mark 11, where we saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We saw Him curse the fig tree, cleanse the Temple, and be challenged by the scribes and Pharisees regarding His authority.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 12 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 12:1-12 (ESV) | The Parable of the Tenants

And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

The focus of this parable is its conclusion, this parable was a rebuke against the Pharisees, the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem. They were the tenants in the story who rejected and beat the servants sent to them (the Prophets) and killed the Master’s Son (Jesus Christ). We see later in Peter’s Epistle a reflection back to this teaching point using this wording regarding the stone that the builders rejected.

1 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV) As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Getting back to the Parable of the Tenants, the meticulously laid out vineyard complete with fence, winepress, and tower represents Israel. The tenants are those placed as stewards over Israel, the chief priests and elders. Notice at the conclusion of the parable, rather than repent, the enemies of Christ hardened their hearts.What follows is an attempt to trip Him up theologically. If they can get Him to commit blasphemy or fail the test of a false prophet (but teaching false doctrine), they can claim their victory over Him.

Mark 12:13-17 (ESV) | Paying Taxes to Caesar

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Here, they were so sure they had Jesus in an inescapable trap between either speaking against the Temple or against Caesar, they were marveled by His answer. Truth has that effect. Jesus IS the Word of God made flesh, after all… He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. There is no tripping Him up.

Mark 12:18-27 (ESV) | The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the manmust take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died.In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Pardon the anachronism, but this is a total #micdrop moment. Jesus began and ended with a flat-out “you’re wrong”. Sit down, Sadducees, you’re done here.

Mark 12:28-34 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

This one is very curious to me. It seems as though this question started as a “gotcha” question anticipating some sort of answer that might over-emphasize one commandment against the others… but Jesus instead summarizes the whole Law and includes the second table in His answer. What is interesting is the apparent realization by the scribe at how completely Jesus answered the trick question… his response to Jesus demonstrated this understanding and garnered a comment of approval from Jesus. Here, Mark lets us know that from this time forward, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions. I think, given the context, Mark is talking about these sort of trap-questions, not legitimate questions.

Mark 12:35-37 (ESV) | Whose Son Is the Christ?

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Mark 12:38-40 (ESV) | Beware of the Scribes

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV) | The Widow’s Offering

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Here, we see Jesus warning against the sin of pride and sinful pietism. The religious acts of the scribes were not done in service of their neighbors, but to make much of themselves. They enjoyed being regarded as the honorable ones, the pious ones. When Jesus comments on the widow’s offering, He isn’t so much rebuking the wealthy for contributing out of their abundance; rather, He is drawing attention to the offering of the widow. Unlike the scribes, He isn’t accusing the wealthy of sin; rather, He is pointing out that greater attention is given to the one who gave out of her poverty. This offering is clearly a gift of faith, for reason or abundance cannot explain this offering. It is her faith in the provision of God that is being credited to her as righteousness.

Brothers and sisters, let us resist the temptation of turning this into some sort of formula for manipulating the favor of God through “sacrificial giving”. Let’s look to Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians 9.

2 Corinthians 9:6-14 (ESV) | The Cheerful Giver
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

When you serve your neighbor, do so bountifully in faith and love, as an extension of the surpassing Grace of God upon you.

Conclusion

Consider the empty tomb this week, consider the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, consider your baptism into eternal life in Christ Jesus. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Be Perfect

 We talk a lot here about the need to preach Law and Gospel in equal measure. Too many churches preach Law with a mere mention of Gospel taken as Given or a start-point. If you’ve been tracking some of the sermons and lectures we’ve shared lately (Dr Rod Rosenbladt and Tullian Tchividjian), we have been drawing attention to the need to remain focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ without ignoring the Law and without placing born-again Christians back under the burden of the Law. Rod Rosenbladt did a great job in his sermon of accepting responsibility on behalf of the Church for allowing bad Law preaching to beat-down Christians into sad or mad Broken Christians. It come down to preaching all the Do’s and Don’ts of Godliness (Law), the 5 steps to perfection in [topic] based on [Law], and we’ve allowed the Gospel of Grace to go unspoken or left as a “given”. We all have to deal with this creep into legalism, even within the less orthodox traditions with a slightly diminished view of Scripture that look for “new” and “fresh” words of inspiration/revelation. Whether Lutheran, Calvinist, or Wesleyan the drift into the legalism of works-based righteousness is ever-present.

 Be Perfect, as Your Heavenly Father is Perfect

Not every preacher who slips into the error of legalism does so intentionally. I’m willing to guess that the vast majority are well-intentioned and struggling with the paradox of being both sinner and saint as born-again believers. Let us begin with where this passage is preached. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 5:48. As we’ve been studying the Gospel According to Matthew in our Gospel Wednesday segments, it should be fresh in our minds what Christ was preaching… He was preaching the Law from Chapter 5 through Chapter 7. Since we’ve so recently gone through this sermon in detail, allow me to work through portions to illustrate what is going on for this

Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) | Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish, the Law and the Prophets. He goes on from here to address major areas of the Law and actually elevates the Law. He actually makes the case that no one is capable of fulfilling the Law satisfactorily. Notice here, that even the scribes and Pharisees will never enter the kingdom of heaven by their law keeping. This is Law, not Gospel. Now, before we get to the last segment on the Law of Love, let us first remember that the command to Love God and Love Neighbor is a commandment of the Law (not Gospel).

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Does that make Love evil? No! But we’ll get to that. For now, let’s close out chapter 5.

Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) | Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Is this the Gospel? No. Jesus is preaching the Law. The Law is not measured by our standards, but by the standard of the Holiness of God. And ONLY Jesus Christ could fulfill the Law.

Hebrews 7:11-28 (ESV) | Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews 10:1-10 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So, we see that perfection was attained on our behalf by Jesus Christ. His perfect blood atones for our Sin. His works secure our righteousness by way of a Promise. Jesus fulfilled the Law that no one else could fulfill.

Our Right-Standing Before God is by Faith not Works

Romans 5:1-11 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

So the Law is of no Value?

No. The value of the Law, the purpose for the Law remains the same, its purpose is to reveal and expose sin. The remedy for the sin exposed by the Law is repentance at the foot of the cross and receiving forgiveness for our sin, in Jesus Name, because of His Finished Work on the Cross.

Romans 6:15-23 (ESV) | Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 7:7-12 (ESV) | The Law and Sin

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Simultaneously Sinner and Saint

The problem is trying to resolve the paradox of being set free from sin by faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continuing to live out our earthly lives in fallen, sinful flesh.

Romans 7:13-25 (ESV)

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

A day will come, when our healing from sin will be complete. That day, is the Great Day of the Resurrection. Whether by our deaths or by the Return of Jesus Christ for His Church, our flesh will be put away, and the sin with it. And those of us who by faith are found in Christ Jesus… His blood having been shed for our sin, His righteousness and perfection imputed to us by Grace through Faith, we will be made alive in Him. Never again slaves to sin and death, never again in fallen, weak flesh. Praise be to God for His Grace and Mercy.

We do not overcome the flesh by trying harder in the flesh. The righteousness of the Law is not attained by observing the Law, it can only be obtained by faith in the One who is Righteous. In fact, if there is one thing we should “do” is die to the flesh, die to sin, and repent. Humble confession and repentance before a Righteous and Holy God, with Jesus Christ as our intercessor, our substitute, our Savior. I pray that the Church repents of its treatment of the Gospel as merely a “reset” or “a one-time thing” rather than a life-long understanding of “It Is Finished”.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 8:1-17

bibleTwo weeks ago, we closed out the Sermon on the Mount as recorded for us in the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we paused our study through Matthew to look at Christ’s forgiveness as we moved into Easter Weekend. Today, we are going pick up where we left off beginning in Matthew chapter 8. As we work through the Gospel of Matthew, we are going to also look at the Laws and the Prophets mentioned by Matthew as he records what Jesus said and did to fulfill them. The best way to study the Old Testament is through the lens of the New Testament.

After the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus has closed out the Sermon on the Mount and starts to move down the mountain, being followed by crowds. If you will recall back in Matthew 4 Jesus began His preaching ministry in Galilee. Matthew 4:23 (ESV), “And [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Matthew 8 (ESV)

Matthew 8:1-4 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses a Leper

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Let’s look at what it was that Jesus told the healed leper to do. What is the gift that Moses commanded?

Leviticus 14:1-32 (ESV) | Laws for Cleansing Lepers
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, 4 the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. 6 He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. 8 And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. 9 And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.

10 “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11 And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. 13 And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand 16 and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. 19 The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

21 “But if he is poor and cannot afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil; 22 also two turtledoves or two pigeons, whichever he can afford. The one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 And on the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the Lord. 24 And the priest shall take the lamb of the guilt offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. 25 And he shall kill the lamb of the guilt offering. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, 27 and shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the Lord. 28 And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, in the place where the blood of the guilt offering was put. 29 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the Lord. 30 And he shall offer, of the turtledoves or pigeons, whichever he can afford, 31 one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, along with a grain offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for him who is being cleansed. 32 This is the law for him in whom is a case of leprous disease, who cannot afford the offerings for his cleansing.”

The healing of this leper was no small thing. It’s not like simply having a case of unsightly eczema, this man was ceremonially unclean, unable to engage in worship under the Law of Moses. It is unlikely he could have heard Jesus’s sermon, as He was undoubtedly surrounded by a crowd of Jews. This leper would not have been able to press in or mingle among the crowd. He had to wait for Jesus to be on the move again, so that he could approach the Messiah (though he might not have realized Jesus was the Messiah). Jesus not only healed the man, He did so with a touch of His hand. Matthew doesn’t record how long the man had been a leper, but I know that it doesn’t take long for me to miss a touch of compassion and affection. Yes, Jesus healed his skin, but in touching the man, He undoubtedly touched his heart. Jesus was already being followed by a large crowd, and there was yet much He needed to do so He told the man not to say anything to anyone, but to present himself before the priests as was required of the Law. No doubt this man would present himself before the priests, gather up the required gifts, and begin his 7 day cleansing ritual, culminating in the 8th day sacrifices/cleansing. This wouldn’t always be the case, but for now the Law remains a guardian until the time for Christ to lay down His life as the final sacrifice to make atonement before the Lord for all who are being cleansed.

Matthew 8:5-13 (ESV) | The Faith of a Centurion

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

The faith of this Centurion is remarkable. To get a better idea of who this Centurion was and how it might be that he had learned of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and of Jesus (thus receiving faith) we might take a look at the account in Luke 7:1-10. Matthew, however isn’t focused on the Centurion. Matthew is focused on the Jewish witnesses, the sons of Abraham. Notice what he records Jesus saying to them, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus is prophesying here of the Gentiles being grafted into the Kingdom, while sons of Abraham perish in their sin. This is amazing news… the Good News… the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came first to the Jews, the sons of Abraham, but He came for all of mankind, that through Him all the nations of the earth might be blessed. In Him, we are adopted into the Kingdom, we who were separated from the Promise by birth. Amen.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he addresses an over-reach he sees in the Gentile churches thinking they’ve completely supplanted the Jews or the sons of the kingdom. He makes it clear that such is only a temporary state, Romans 11:25 (ESV)Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

Matthew 8:14-17 (ESV) | Jesus Heals Many

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Every commentary and cross-reference I’ve consulted points to Isaiah 53:4. This is interesting because we see interpretation going on rather than direct translation/quotation.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
 stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
   and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Matthew isn’t only talking about the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law, or the others healed in that house. As we saw in the account of the leper’s healing, Jesus touched the leprous man to heal him and then told him to observe the Law of Moses in presenting himself to the priests. The man’s leprosy wasn’t just about being sick, it was about being unclean. Matthew’s audience isn’t like our secular society that creates a false barrier between sickness and sinfulness. The Jews understood that our griefs, sorrows, sickness, and disease are all the result of sin. Matthew, in his Holy Spirit inspired interpretation of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Jesus, is moving toward the fullness of the Gospel and its eternal fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in that He will take away our sin at the Cross. We’ll see in Chapter 9 Jesus saying point-blank, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Matt 9:5 ESV). The two are connected in that all forms of death in this life are the result of sin. Sadly, many a false teacher misrepresents this Truth as the lie that all who are saved will never be sick. The bible doesn’t promise us that for this life. In this life we will have struggle, for His Glory. Our total and complete healing, freedom from our bodies of corruption, come at the Resurrection.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 7

bibleLast week we looked at Jesus’ teaching regarding anxiety and where we should put our hope and our focus. Today, we are going to look at how the Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 7. I didn’t do a great job of planning out how to segment Chapters 6 and 7, so today we’ll just knock out the whole chapter today. Next week, we’ll be jumping ahead to the fulfillment of the Gospel at the cross in time for Easter.

Summing Up the Law and the Prophets

As we close out the sermon on the mount, we will see Jesus take all of the teaching on Worship and service for our fellow-man, with our focus on treasures in heaven and our anxiety, hope, and trust laid firmly at the throne of God, how are we to conduct ourselves?

Matthew 7 (ESV)

Judging Others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The first section is often misquoted and twisted to rebuke any who declare Truth in the face of error, and rebuke sin and falsehood. Is Jesus saying we are not to rebuke sinfulness? Absolutely not. This section needs to be read in context of the entire sermon, both what has already been spoken and what is still coming later in the chapter. Let’s look at how Jesus followed up His demonstration of how we are to pray in the preceding chapter.

Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a difference between identifying sin and falsehood, and sitting in judgement over our neighbor. Don’t let anyone silence you from preaching God’s Law, practicing discernment, or rebuking sin. However, in your rebuke, discernment, or preaching of the Law do not stop short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. And when your brother (or sister) repents, forgive him (or her) for the sake of the Gospel and for our own forgiveness according to Jesus. To sit in judgement over a brother or a sister, is to place yourself in the wrong seat. Jesus Christ is the Judge. We are to provide counsel to our brothers and sisters, and some of us are called to shepherd Christ’s flock, but we will all answer to the Judge, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Verse 6 is a tough verse. As we deal with it in this present context, it seems to be addressing those to whom both Law and Gospel have been preached yet they remain unrepentant. Bearing in mind that we are NOT to take the judgment seat and damn the unbeliever to hell for their unbelief, we also shouldn’t attempt to pour out holy gifts (of teaching, sound doctrine, and eternal promises) unbelievers. For an unrepentant, faithless, generation will simply trample these things underfoot and turn to attack you. Let that be a warning to those caught up in the “churching the unchurched” bandwagon. Church is for believers, for the repentant sinner-saved-by-grace, not for the unbelieving. For this understanding, I’m drawing heavily from the Reformation Study Bible’s cross-reference to Acts 13.

Acts 13:44-51 (ESV)
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

In that last portion, we see Paul and Barnabas doing as Jesus taught His disciples when He sent them out (Matthew 10:13-15). If any place would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet against them and move on.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont.. | Ask, and It Will Be Given

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Now, regarding verses 7 through 11, what is the context of this promise? Growing up in Pentecostal churches, I’ve heard this passage used to justify asking anything of God and expecting it to be given to me. In the previous chapter, Jesus expressly commanded His hearers not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth. He is not now opening the prayer requests as some sort of prosperity vending machine. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, don’t be anxious for what you will eat or what you will wear… set your sights on upward call toward Heaven, and God will meet your needs. We’ll address this again when we reach Matthew 10 and look at how Jesus instructed His disciples in going out. This teaching bears weight in those instructions. Yes, God the Father gives good gifts, and He will meet our needs. But our inheritance is stored up for us in Heaven.

The Golden Rule, as it is often called, is to do for others what you would wish for them to do for you. This should guide our Worship of God through our service to our neighbors. Don’t let anyone presume to skip the Greatest Commandment and hold only to the second commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself”, for without the first, the second is impossible. Jesus laid that out already at the start of this sermon on the mount.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Notice how quickly after summarizing how we are to conduct ourselves and deal with our brothers and sisters Jesus turns to the matter of discernment and false teachers. Guard your doctrine. Hold fast to sound doctrine, the Word of God. Remember this whenever someone tries to use the beginning of this chapter to silence Biblical discernment and just rebuke. This whole section goes together. What is the fruit of a false prophet? False teaching and false doctrine. When you recognize the thorns and thistles on the tree, you don’t continue looking for figs. Do not wait for the floods to come and knock down the house to then ask the question, “should I be building my house on this sand?”

Can a false teacher be forgiven? Yes, but not without repentance.  Are we to call them to repentance? Absolutely. If they remain in their unbelief, we do not move from the preaching of repentance, we do not cast pearls before swine, neither do we endure their false teaching.

Romans 10:5-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Indeed it does.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont… | The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

All authority in heaven and on earth were given to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Until Next Week…

We will pause our working through the Gospel According to Matthew, and take a look at Christ’s finished work on the Cross in preparation for Easter Sunday. After Easter, we will pick back up beginning in Matthew 8, hopefully keeping these posts shorter as we address each account in smaller bits. Until then, be blessed, and continue to spend time in the Words of Christ.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge