Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 25

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 24.

Last week’s look at Matthew 24 ended with Jesus making it absolutely clear that NO ONE knows the day and the hour of Christ’s return. This is something that Luke records Jesus saying again as part of His last statements made to the disciples before ascending into heaven (Acts 1:1-11). We closed out last week’s study with a general rebuke to modern-day Christianity for giving credence or listening, even fearing, the false-prophets of this current age who are blasphemously declaring the end of the age.

Today, we continue in the same teaching of Jesus in a direct response to their question, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Let us take a look at the 2 parables and the closing comments on the final judgement.

Matthew 25 (ESV)

Matthew 25:1-13 | The Parable of the Ten Virgins

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Here, we see a reinforcement of the sudden and unexpected nature of Christ’s return for His Bride, the Church. I’d like to point out here that while half of the virgins wound up outside of the wedding feast, for the LORD did not know them… this isn’t a parable about the unbelievers versus believers. I believe Jesus is making a distinction similar to that of the different soils in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). The soil of the path, where the enemy scoops away the seed of the Kingdom isn’t represented in this parable, for they are not in any way awaiting the bridegroom or the wedding feast. What we are seeing here in the foolish virgins is a combination of the rocky soil and the soil with weeds. There is no depth in their faith, these foolish virgins were excited enough for the bridegroom, but failed to make preparations for the long-haul. As the bridegroom tarried, all of the virgins became drowsy and slept. Once the Bridegroom arrived, there was no time for the foolish virgins to obtain fresh oil, and they couldn’t rely on the provisions of others to light their own lamps. As with the explanation of the parable of the sower, the Word that once excited them now has been choked by the world, or they have grown weary and fallen away from it under trials, tribulation, or persecution.

Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV) | The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Remember what Jesus said in the last chapter. He has told us that in the great tribulation, many will fall away and hate each other, and the love of many will grow cold. Jesus is reinforcing that with this parable. Many who claim to be Christian, do so in foolishness, not preparing for the long-haul, for waiting on the return of the King. Matt 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

Now, this next parable moves slightly ahead leading at least in-part into the Judgement that is to come when Christ returns.

Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This parable is tough… and it is so often twisted into synergism or some sort of works-based righteousness. The central problem in this parable is not the works… it is the lack of faith of the third servant. When this passage gets twisted, it usually begins by eisegeting the reason each was given their allotment of talents. Hijack that silent portion of the parable, and you can more easily manipulate the rest. Remember the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)? When the laborers hired first complained about getting the same compensation as those laborers who only worked an hour, the Master’s response is “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” Since, in today’s parable, Jesus doesn’t give the reason that each servant obtained a different number of Talents, I am inclined to leave it under the sovereignty and calling of the LORD. Sure, it could be eisegeted via Reformed or Arminian interpretive frameworks, but I’d rather not engage in such speculation. No, the point here is that though the first two were given differing amounts, they acted on faith and bore fruit. The third acted in fear rather than faith, and buried the single talent given him. His lack of faith bore only the fruit of wickedness and sloth. As we see in the Master’s rebuke, had the servant displayed even minimal faith and deposited the talent in a bank, it would have borne some fruit and the servant would have been spared his just fate.

Matthew 25:31-46 The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

I still feel like this passage is referring to the unexpectedly separated goats from the sheep. At least, it seems that is the intended focus of this passage. Clearly those who are in open rebellion against the Son of God will be counted among the goats, but I don’t think it is they who will be acting so confused about their judgement. Instead, I think the self-righteous, self-deluded, self-glorified, and self-anointed will be the most surprised at the judgement.  Jesus is addressing the disciples, among whom lies a betrayer — Judas Iscariot — who will be exposed soon enough. Whenever this passage gets applied to those of false religions, I cringe, since the rebuke of the goats in this passage do not clearly identify lack of faith in the Son of God. It leaves room for a works-based twisting of scripture into open theism, the idea that as long as we show hospitality, clothe the poor, feed the sick, and visit the imprisoned that it would be enough to enter Heaven. That is clearly not what is being taught here, which is why I am confident that the focus of this parable is on those who make empty professions of faith, lip-service, yet are without faith. I think that it is to this teaching that James is pointing his readers:

James 2:14-26 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

So, just as one who mistreats the prophecy of the Judgement to suggest that doing the works will get you in, abusing what James wrote to suggest that the answer is to do more works is also to miss the point of the text. Both passages point to faith. If upon self-examination, or loving brotherly reproof, you are found lacking in good works by faith… your focus and attention should be to building up faith in Christ Jesus through the reading/hearing of the Word of Christ. Faith in Christ Jesus bears good fruit, but trying to add good works to increase faith will only reveal our fleshly inadequacy and sinfulness. That is why we who are of the Household of Faith, still desperately need to hear both Law and Gospel on a regular basis. For we are sinful flesh and are called by faith to put to death what is sinful in us so that we might live according to the Spirit.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the first half of Chapter 26. We’ll probably have to pause right after the Lord’s Supper and shift Christ’s arrest and trial for the following week. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 24

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 23.

Last week’s look at Matthew 23 ended with Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem. For the sake of our readers, we took a jump forward to Paul’s writing to the Romans regarding the mystery of the Salvation of the Jews. God still has a plan for the Jews that has played an integral part in the inclusion of us Gentiles into the Kingdom of Heaven, and we know that He will do something for the Jews once the fullness of us Gentiles has come in. I feel no need to practice any form of prophetic code-cracking.

Today we’ll move into Matthew 24. This passage is our primary text for forming our eschatology… it is Jesus specifically answering the question “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age”? I am completely baffled that anyone would build their eschatology with any other passage as the foundation.

Matthew 24 (ESV)

Matthew 24: 1-2 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24: 3-14 (ESV) |  Signs of the End of the Age

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The disciples asked Jesus several questions, that they thought would all occur at the same time. Jesus answers the most important questions regarding His return and the signs of the end of the age. The Christian Way is to set our hearts on Heavenly things while walking as exiles and sojourners in this world, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples and baptizing them in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus glazes over the first question regarding when the temple would be destroyed in the mention of wars and nation rising against nation. That happens roughly around 70 AD. What remained of the Church in Jerusalem was finally scattered to the ends of the Earth. But that Temple was no longer the focus of the Promise to God’s people… Jesus is. The testimony and proclamation of the Gospel of Grace and of Christ’s finished work on the Cross is now the Power of God to save. That physical Temple was destroyed, but Christ had already come and the veil had already been torn apart. The Physical temple was superseded by the Body of Christ.

Matthew 24: 15-28 (ESV) |  The Abomination of Desolation

“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of ManWherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

This passage is about the Tribulation that will come as the sign of the end of the age. We have indeed seen several instances of great tribulation since the Ascension of Christ, but these are all precursors to what is coming. No one will be able to say “Christ has returned, come here”… no one, because all will see. It will be the end. The mention of “false christs” can also be translated “falsely anointed ones”. In our day, there are hundreds if not thousands of individuals falsely claiming special “anointings”. Rebuke them. Do not fear them. Do not listen to them.

Matthew 24: 29-31 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

NO SECRET RETURN/RAPTURE. Christ will return once, and for all.

Matthew 24: 32-35 (ESV) | The Lesson of the Fig Tree

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

This passage is often plucked right out of this chapter and presented in some twisted attempt to reject the bodily return of Jesus at the end of the age and somehow dismiss this chapter as only a foretelling of the destruction the Temple in Jerusalem. Sometimes it is used to suggest that the Temple mount has to be rebuilt for Christ to return… but that doesn’t fit the narrative here. Once the Temple was built, we don’t see a return to the Tabernacle. Now that Christ has come, there is no reason to keep pushing back toward the Temple. That veil was torn by God. We, the Body of Christ, are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 24: 36-51 (ESV) | No One Knows That Day and Hour

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This month, we’ve had a lot of flat-out stupid claims of prophetic insights made by self-proclaimed prophets and so-called Christian teachers/preachers. The 4 blood moons, the “mystery of the shemittah” and whatever Harold Camping-esque contrivance declared today (Oct 7, 2015) the end of the age… whatever. False christs and false prophets practicing divination and omen reading to spread fear and doubt for selfish gain… to sell books and rations for the apocalypse.

Dear Christian, you are not called to calculate the day or the hour, nor are you called to warn people of a specific date, or sign, or prognostication… you are called by the Grace of God to walk by faith in Christ. Preach the Word, both in season and out of season. You have no say in Christ’s return… none. He will return at a time of His choosing to judge the living and the dead.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 25, where Jesus continues to teach concerning His return at the end of this age. We’ll work through 2 parables which are parallels to this site’s theme or tagline from Luke. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 23

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 22.

Last week’s look at Matthew 22 ended after the silencing of the Sadduccees. Jesus then stumped the Pharisees with a question on who the Christ is and we learn with the closing statement from the writer that from that time forward none would seek to trip Jesus up in His words. If you remember from the past couple of weeks that we’ve been reading these encounters in light of the demonstrated parable of Jesus cursing the fruitless fig tree and it withering up and dying. The religious leaders, the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees are the fruitless fig trees being cursed for their lack of fruit. What follows in today’s reading, is the final declarations of curses or woes to the scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23 (ESV)

Matthew 23: 1-36 (ESV) | Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Seven woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy… but it was more than that. As we see at the beginning, they sit on Moses’ seat. They were given the highest authority under the Law. Remember what James tells us in the first verse of chapter 3, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” And being the ones charged with overseeing Israel, they were lost in unbelief, not able to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and actually waging war against Him.

Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV) | Lament over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Here we see Jesus crying out over Jerusalem… not just over His last 3 years or so of ministry; rather, for centuries before the Word became flesh and walked among us. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ lamenting over Jerusalem and her unwillingness to submit to Him. The closing comment is interesting, because it is what the crowds were singing back in Chapter 21, but now they were not singing it. So the triumphal entry, while it was itself a fulfillment of prophecy pointing to the Messiah is here pointed out as a foreshadowing of the next time we will see Christ… the next and final time, Praise be to God.

Now at this point, some tend to use this chapter to support a notion that Jerusalem is permanently doomed until the Judgement, when Christ Returns. I think the Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans regarding this thought bears some reading.

Romans 11:25-36 (ESV) | The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation

25 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. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Paul’s writing is… well, as Peter put it, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:14-17 ESV)”. But what we can understand, is that the hardening of Israel is both partial and for our (Gentile) benefit… but Israel is still part of God’s eternal plan.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 24. We’ve worked through this chapter once before when we were working through our eschatology. We’ll work through it once more and I think it is wonderful timing given the recent rash of doomsday prognostications engaging in fear-mongering for selfish gain (4 blood moons, Mystery of the Shemitah, and now the Super-Shemitah). I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 22

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 21.

Last week’s look at Matthew 21 ended with a look at 2 parables Jesus taught that clearly rebuked the Pharisees for having a form (appearance) of godliness, but lacking fruit… just like the fig tree He cursed. We’ll pick up in the same vein with another of Jesus’ parables.

Matthew 22 (ESV)

Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV) | The Parable of the Wedding Feast

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The kingdom of heaven sent out invitations, yet those who were invited ignored the call to the wedding, and some even mistreated and killed the servants of the King. So the King widened the call because of the unworthiness of the invited. Still, the King did not accept the unworthy, and those not clothed for a wedding were cast out. This is a very interesting parable. I see a lot of parallel here with what Paul taught in Romans 11. I’m going to intentionally avoid a deep-dive into certain schools of thought and their academic squabbles (dispensationalism, covenantalism, replacement theology, etc.) and just focus on the patterns we see in the parable and how we see the Gospel of Jesus Christ being demonstrated. The Kingdom of Heaven has a King and a Son who is getting married. The wedding feast is prepared and a specific set of invitations have gone out. Clearly the King sent out His invitations by His own free will. He is the King. He determines who is invited. That those who were invited to the wedding did not come only serves to condemn them as unworthy… it has no bearing on the King’s authority. The King then opens the invitation to everyone and sends His servants out to gather all, both good and bad. The King has not changed the event, it is still a wedding feast for His Son. The call has gone out to the ends of the earth… but not all who are called will be dressed for the wedding, and those who are not dressed for the wedding will not be chosen, though they were indeed called. Why would someone who is allowed to attend the wedding feast of the Son, without an official invitation, still not come dressed for a wedding? Unbelief in the Son to whose wedding feast you’ve been brought.

John 3:17-18 (ESV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

One thing is for sure, the Pharisees were not only targeted as those who ignored their invitations to the wedding feast, but those who mistreated and killed the servants of the King sent to remind them of their invitations. As we saw after the last parable in chapter 21, the Pharisees already realized that Jesus was talking about them.

Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV) | Paying Taxes to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and for dismissing the Law of God for their traditions. Their response: they plotted in how to entangle Him in is words. I find it funny that in our day, those who rebuke false teachers of hypocrisy, self-righteousness and for dismissing the Law of God for their ideas/inclinations/dreams are called Pharisees while the false teachers spin and plot to entangle the discerning in their words.

Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV) | Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘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.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Jesus says they were wrong because they didn’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God. Jesus cut to the very underlying premise of this question as utterly false. These were religious leaders who were teaching falsely in addition to the sin of the Pharisees. This is probably the worst attempt at tripping Jesus up. Jesus didn’t only dismiss the question, but struck down a doctrinal distinctive of their sect.

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 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.

We’ve looked at this teaching before, mostly from the Gospel According to Luke. Many Christians make the mistake of thinking this is a Gospel truth… it isn’t… Jesus is answering a question of the Law. This is a Law we cannot keep ourselves, therefore, it exposes our sin. We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sin and to cleanse us from our unrighteousness until the Day of His Return.

Matthew 22:41-46 (ESV) | Whose Son Is the Christ?

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? ”They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

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

45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

And with that, Jesus ended the “debate” stage of the war against the unbelieving religious rulers. Remember that this is after the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where Jesus fulfilled prophesy of the Messiah, the Christ, and everyone was singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:1-17)

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 23. We’ll work through Jesus’ judgement against the scribes and Pharisees and His lament over Israel. It’s not pretty, and it is quite damning. I think this next chapter is the equivalent of Jesus’ curse against the fig tree. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 21

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 20.

Last week’s look at Matthew 20 ended with Jesus opening the eyes of 2 blind men, who were then able to follow Jesus. This is a significant miracle, one that would not go unnoticed by the Jewish readers of the Gospel According to Matthew. Before moving into the next chapter, let us reflect back on a prophesy regarding the Messiah

Isaiah 42:1-9 (ESV) | The Lord‘s Chosen Servant

42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law.

Thus says God, the Lord,
    who created the heavens and stretched them out,
    who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
    and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other,
    nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
    I tell you of them.”

With that review in our minds, let us move to the next chapter in the Gospel According to Matthew.

Matthew 21 (ESV)

Matthew 21:1-11 (ESV) | The Triumphal Entry

21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Now, Matthew quotes from the Prophet Zechariah 9:9. The people recognized it and celebrated what they thought was the coming of the king setting up an earthly kingdom. They were partly correct, but they weren’t seeing Jesus. They were blind to Who He Is. Instead, they were honoring what they thought the Messiah was going to be. Most of these very same people will soon be crying out for His crucifixion… yet He will still call for their forgiveness… Praise be to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Matthew 21:12-17 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
    you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Here, we see Jesus opening the eyes of the blind and lame who come to Him humbly… and we also see the blindness of the chief priests and scribes, who upon seeing the work of God become indignant. We also see Jesus referring them to Psalm 8… a Psalm of praise to the LORD our Lord. That’s huge. Jesus is flat-out telling them Who He is, and they remain blind to it. Jesus leaves the city and lodges in Bethany.

Matthew 21:18-22 (ESV) | Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

This is a tough passage. Prosperity and Word of Faith pushers twist this passage to justify their false teaching that as long as we have faith we can get whatever we claim/decree/declare. Similarly, I’ve also heard Muslims use this passage to refute the validity of the Gospels asserting that the writers can’t agree on what happened here… and both the Muslim and the false-teacher share a common interpretive problem… they both tend to read this as a vindictive act of Jesus against the fig tree because he was hungry. Yes, Jesus became angry, and yes he went to he fig tree and found nothing in it. However, Jesus cursed the tree for what it represented. Remember what we’ve seen in this chapter so far, Jesus entered Jerusalem in fulfillment of the Prophecy by Zechariah, and the people seemed to believe and gave a great showing, but we know they will bear no fruit, for in a short time they will cry out for His crucifixion. We see the chief priests and scribes bear witness to miracles that only the Messiah can perform, yet they are indignant and blind. We see Jesus clear out the Temple, for it has become a den of robbers (also a reference to prophecy of judgment against Israel). The fig tree represents Israel… full of leaves, giving the indication of life, but bearing no fruit. Jerusalem had an outward form of godliness, but inwardly they were dead.

Jesus was speaking of the Kingdom of heaven, of spiritual matters, not temporal. We have no record of any of the disciples rebuking a tree to wither it, nor speaking to a mountain for it to be uprooted and cast into the sea literally. What we do have in the New Testament, is the foundation of the Church laid by the Apostles with Jesus Christ as both its cornerstone and Head.

Matthew 21:23-27 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

So many times Jesus declared His identity and Authority, and the chief priests and scribes denied Him and hardened their hearts. This time, Jesus turns it on them and then declines to answer their question in like manner. Instead, He answers with a set of parables. Remember Jesus said that He spoke in parables so that only to those whom understanding had been given might understand, and for the unbelievers, they would not understand (Matthew 13:10-17 ESV). We’ll look at 2 of them today, and the third we’ll cover next week.

Matthew 21:28-32 (ESV) | The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

Point-blank, Jesus tells them that the very people who are despised and rejected by the religious leaders will — by faith — enter the Kingdom of God before them… for the religious leaders are blinded by their self-righteousness and remain condemned in their unbelief. The fig tree just got rebuked.

Matthew 21:33-45 (ESV) | The Parable of the Tenants

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

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

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

The fig tree just got rebuked, again. This time, they realized He was speaking about them. Rather than repent and bear fruit, the fig tree withered… and plotted to do the very thing Jesus was saying they were plotting to do… This is the Heir. Come, let us kill Him and have His inheritance….

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 22. We’ll be looking at the parable in this series, the parable of the Wedding Feast. We’ll see more direct confrontations now that the battle lines have been clearly drawn. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, continue walking in faith and growing in knowledge of Christ through the reading of His Word.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,