Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 26:30 – 27:10

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 26:1-29.

Last week’s look at the first part of Matthew 26 ended with Jesus Instituting the Lord’s Supper. Acknowledging differing doctrines regarding the Lord’s Supper, we decided to take the opportunity to focus more on the New Covenant being instituted by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross by closing out the post with Hebrews 8 & 9.

Matthew 26 (ESV)

As we continue working through Matthew 26, we see Jesus and His disciples leave the house after supper and a hymn. Jesus now looks to prepare His disciples for what is about to take place.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

In last week’s post, we saw the example of the false teacher, the false prophet, the anti-christ in Judas Iscariot. We saw the strong judgement against him. Here we see something different… the weakness of the flesh of man. Though these men have faith in Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God, their hearts will fail them and they will scatter, as it is Written. Here, again, we see Jesus declare His death and also His resurrection, though they cannot fully understand what is being said. Peter, bold Peter, declares that he will never fall away. Was it pride working in Peter? Perhaps, but I don’t think that was the major factor. Take every memory you’ve ever had of when you’ve declared “I’ll never hurt you, leave you, forget you, etc.” to a friend, loved-one, or romantic interest and then consider applying that sentiment to the Son of the Living God. Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus would be leaving them, let alone arrested and put to death as a criminal. As I grow older, I see myself more and more in Peter’s failings and I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit recorded them for us. Peter loved Jesus, and was certain he’d rather die than deny Him, but he didn’t know himself like Jesus knew him. Jesus tells him, you will deny me three times before the rooster crows. Now, there are some who try to make an issue of the differing references in the Gospels to the crowing of the rooster. The important thing here is that after the third denial, a rooster does crow and Peter does notice it and remembers the LORD’s Words… and it absolutely breaks him. We will see how that plays out shortly.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Is sorrow a sin? No. Does Jesus understand our sorrows? More than you could ever imagine. He knows.  To my knowledge, I don’t own any “red-letter” editions of the Bible. I’ve repented of treating the red letters as though they were “more Scripture” than the rest. However, I wanted to really highlight this prayer. It is both prayer request and humble submission to the Will of the Father. Don’t ever… EVER… allow someone to accuse you of having little faith because you pray, “not my will but Your Will Father” or “If it is Your Will…” (or something to that effect). Sorry, that’s a personal hot spot for me. Let us continue. The disciples here (Peter, James & John of Zebedee) are weak. Our flesh is weak. We don’t pray as we ought, we don’t worship as we ought, we don’t keep watch as we ought. His Grace is sufficient for us, for while we slumber in our weakness, He is faithful and He is our advocate, our propitiation, and our Redeemer.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled.

It is interesting that neither Mark or Luke gives us the identity of the sword wielder nor the servant. The Gospel According to John (Ch 18) tells us it was Simon Peter who drew his sword and struck Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Notice the particular correction Jesus issued to Peter. It isn’t about the evil of the sword… it’s about faith in the Will of God the Father. The arrest of Jesus is according to the Will of the Father, as was His betrayal, death, and resurrection. Fighting now would only lead to Peter’s premature death… and God has plans for His Apostles. Those who twist this passage into a judgement against those whose vocation is in the armed services do both them and this text injustice. The point of this passage is Faith… faith in the Will of God… faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council

57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him,“You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

We’ll close out this post by reviewing the prophesy of Isaiah in chapter 53, but for now I want to point out the lesson Peter taught in his Epistle.

1 Peter 2:21-25 (ESV) For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Peter was an eye-witness to what he is writing. My heart goes out to him, because this would turn out to be one of the roughest nights for him… and the next several days would be the most painful days of his life, I’m sure. Notice, however, that the Holy Spirit has clearly instructed Peter on what it was he witnessed there in that courtyard. Amen.

Regarding the trial, I’d like to point out here that Matthew records Jesus not only confessing His identity as the Christ, the Son of God, but He also proclaims to the unbelievers that they will not see His face until He returns in Judgment. They should have been rending their garments in repentance, instead they played the part of piety to justify their murderous intentions.

Matthew 26 (ESV) | Peter Denies Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.”74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Broken. Knowing that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself, and all of his blustering about how he would never deny Jesus… and his utter and complete failure to keep his promise… broken. That must have been a truly bitter cry. Though the chapter ends here, let’s keep reading to catch up to the fate of the Betrayer.

Matthew 27:1-10 (ESV) | Judas Hangs Himself

27 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Peter had faith in Christ Jesus, and loved Him, but in his flesh he tried to manage the situation somehow and wound up denying Jesus 3 times, just as Jesus had told him he wold. Peter failed and was broken by his failure. Judas lacked faith. Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas stood condemned. Judas repented, so to speak, in that he changed his mind, but rather than turn to Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, he instead turned to the chief priests and the elders… those who paid Judas to betray Christ… those who Jesus openly rebuked for their false teaching and self-righteousness. And having turned to these false teachers seeking forgiveness, they cast him out like a stray dog, to take care of it himself. So Judas was destitute, rotting in his own sin and transgressions… yet rather than seek forgiveness from the Way the Truth and the Life, he chose to hang himself.

That closes out this week’s post on quite the somber note.  We know Peter is forgiven, comforted, and restored in due time. For our closing thought, let us look to what we see written in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
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.
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.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
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.
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.

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.
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?
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.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of Chapter 27, the crucifixion and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. I do hope you join us for that. In the meantime, spend some time in the Word and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Love God, Love Neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

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,
Jorge

DiM | “Grace Wins” by Matthew West

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

October 20, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Grace Wins” by Matthew West which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

I confess that the first time I heard the song, I thought I was going to like it. At the end of the song, I was a little unsure of what the song was pitting against Grace, so I had to carefully listen a second time with the lyrics in front of me. The song seems to suffer from category errors and shallow theology. On the one hand, I feel like I know what Matthew West is trying to say with this song… that no one is out of reach of God’s Grace. That there is forgiveness for all who call upon the Name of the Lord in repentance. However, there are so many problems in what is presented in the lyrics that we simply cannot recommend this song.

Matthew West VEVO (Audio) Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Grace Wins

In my weakest moment I see You
Shaking Your head in disgrace
I can read the disappointment
Written all over Your face

Here come those whispers in my ear
Saying, “who do you think you are?”
Looks like you’re on your own from here
‘Cause grace could never reach that far

But in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear You call my name saying it’s not over
And my heart starts to beat so loud now
Drowning out the doubt
I’m down, but I’m not out

There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Singing, hallelujah
Grace wins every time

Words can’t describe the way it feels
When mercy floods a thirsty soul
The broke inside begins to heal
And grace returns what guilty stole

And in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear You call my name saying it’s not over
And my heart starts to beat so loud now
Drowning out the doubt
I’m down, but I’m not out

There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Singing, hallelujah

Grace wins every time

For the prodigal son
Grace wins
For the woman at the well
Grace wins
For the blind man and the beggar
Grace wins
For always and forever
Grace wins
For the lost out on the streets
Grace wins
For the worst part of you and me
Grace wins
For the thief on the cross
Grace wins
For a world that is lost

There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Singing, hallelujah
Grace wins every time, every time
Yeah, I’m living proof
Grace wins every time

Publishing: © 2015 Highly Combustible Music / Atlas Music Publishing / House Of Story Music (ASCAP) (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing obo itself, Highly Combustible Music and House Of Story Music)
Writer(s): Matthew West

Discussion

I was going to go through the song as usual, but I fear losing sight of the forest through the trees. I will say that the line in the chorus that gives me great heartburn is “There’s a war between guilt and grace and they’re fighting for a sacred space but I’m living proof Grace wins every time“. We are living proof of the victory of Grace over guilt? Really? No. The Resurrected Christ is the living proof of the Victory of God’s Grace over sin and death. Today, lets just focus on the problem of the forest without getting tangled up in the trees.

There are several key terms missing from this lyric: Law, Gospel, sin, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and the Cross. I’m not saying every song needs to include every word, but if the song is about the Grace of God that surely some of these terms would be included.

Throughout the song, guilt is pitted against grace. This is a glaring category error. Exactly what is being compared? My guilt versus my grace? My guilt versus God’s Grace? God’s Judgement versus God’s Grace? The song asserts that there is some war being waged between guilt and grace. No matter how I try to expand these definitions, I cannot get around the category error. The war being waged within our members (as Believers) is that between our sinful flesh and the Spirit of God living in us.

Guilt isn’t merely a feeling, it is a reality

We are all sinful people and we are guilty of sin. In fact, we are born dead in sin and trespasses, the guilt of Adam’s sin is what we are born into. There is but one remedy for sin, that is the Gospel of Grace, that God would send His Son to bear the full punishment for sin in our place on the Cross. It isn’t like our guilt was just forgotten, Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God paid the full penalty of sin by offering up His flesh and His blood as the final sacrifice. My Grace through Faith in Him our guilt is exchanged for His Righteousness, so that in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ we who are of Faith will be seen guiltless, joined with Christ in His death and Resurrection. Maranatha!

The shallowness of this song is reflected in the abuse of the word “guilty”. It uses the word in place of “sin” in a few lines, but it doesn’t fully commit to the Truth that we are sinful beings, guilty under the Law. We’ll address this later on when we discuss Law, but for now the song uses “guilty” as an out-of-place feeling of blame or condemnation. There’s a big problem with that when we consider the fleshly problem of self-righteousness that refuses to acknowledge that we are indeed sinful and bear the guilt of that sin if not for the Grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Grace: Christ’s Finished Work on the Cross

While we still talk of God’s common grace to creation in delaying the coming judgement, this grace being referred to in this song (I assume) is God’s Saving Grace. I take issue with the notion that God’s Grace continues to wage war against anything… Christ’s finished work on the cross is all-sufficient. The Holy Spirit of God works on the hearts of men, drawing them to Christ. The victory has already been won as far as Grace and Sin are concerned, for Jesus Christ is reigning and ruling in Heaven and we wait for Him to return in the Last Day. We experience God’s Grace every day, and we pray for it, “Give us this day our daily bread” humbly. But the Grace of God has no contender… nothing can overcome the Grace of God. As Paul wrote in his introduction to the letter to the Romans.

Romans 1:1-7 (ESV) | Greeting

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:16-17 (ESV) | The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The focal point of God’s Grace is the cross, where a Holy and Just God poured out His full Wrath against sin upon God the Son (Jesus Christ), the pure and spotless Lamb of God, so that He might Justly extend Grace and Mercy to sinful man so that by Faith they might not perish but be born again to everlasting life.

Romans 3:19-30 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

The Man/Woman of Faith is not Condemned

Now let’s address what seems to be a major concern in the song… that of blame, shame, and condemnation. When we rightly understand sin, guilt, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we can rest assured that in Christ Jesus we are made righteous by Faith.

Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Law and Gospel are not at War, they Work Together

One final thought on what might be (mis)represented by the song’s assertion that there’s a war between grace and guilt, is the error of thinking there is a war between Law and Gospel. The Law points out sin in our flesh and crushes us into humble submission unto repentance so that the Gospel can bring us out of sin and death and into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Conclusion

I’m not happy with the song. I’m not happy having to disapprove of it. Though I do think the writer was trying to say something good, the lyrics didn’t deliver and in-fact introduce a lot of confusion in its poor treatment of terms and categories. I’ll concede I may have been a bit harsh on this one, but I simply couldn’t find a rescuing hermeneutic that could be applied to the song. It was simply errant.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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,
Jorge

He’s Moving, Cast Another Stone!

I had planned another DiM post for today… it will have to wait for Tuesday. Today, we’ll be commenting on some current events, church discipline, and public stoning in the social-media square.

If you follow me on twitter, you probably saw that I was working through old Friday Sermon posts trying to salvage those whose links pointed to LIBERATE.org, which has been closed indefinitely. It was very tough for me, and I was only able to salvage one post by finding the lecture and .pdf hosted on different sites. I’m ever so thankful that we still have access to that lecture by Rod Rosbenbladt, (Church History | The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church). Sadly, the same could not be said of Tullian Tchvidjian’s lecture entitled “It is Not Finished” that he gave at this year’s LIBERATE 2015 “It is Finished”. That lecture in particular was a great blessing to my wife and me. I’ve never met Tullian, I only know of him through his sermons, lectures, and that he’s considered a friend by Pastor Chris Rosebrough.

Background Information

We have to begin here. Let me defer to public information.
From the information put out by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church:

In June 2015, after an admission of moral failure which disqualified him from active service, Tullian resigned from his position as our senior pastor and the founding director of LIBERATE. Given his leading role in this ministry, it was with heavy hearts that our Church Leadership decided to close LIBERATE indefinitely. This included canceling our 2016 Conference and refunding all registration fees.

To help protect Tullian, his family, and the integrity of his message, we have moved his sermons into a secure archive for the foreseeable future. Sadly, his messages were being slanderously misused in the media and on the Internet. We are prayerfully considering when and how his sermon archive might be made available again to the general public. We appreciate your patience and prayers during this season.

Some additional information from the associated Presbytery was published by the folks at the Aquila Report:

The South Florida Presbytery (SFP) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted at its meeting on August 11, 2015 to depose Tullian Tchividjian from the ministry. The PCA Book of Church Order (BCO) says that, “Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office.” That is, the minister has his ordination credentials removed so that he no longer can perform the duties of a minister of the Gospel.

The Presbytery issued the following statement:

The South Florida Presbytery met for its regular stated meeting on August 11, 2015 and acted on a case concerning TE Tullian Tchvidjian. While Pastor Tullian Tchividjian was deposed of his pastoral credentials, the South Florida Presbytery is committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care. Our goal in doing this is to both protect the integrity of the Church from which his credentials were given while, at the same time, wrapping Tullian in the grace offered by Jesus Christ to all those who confess sin, pursue repentance and desire restoration.

Tchvidjian resigned as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on June 21, confessing to an extra-marital relationship. The Coral Ridge congregation voted on June 28 to formally accept Tchvidjian’s resignation. He had served as pastor of Coral Ridge since being called there in 2009.

The PCA’s Book of Church Order has a section on restoration from various church censures, including deposition. The steps for restoration are clearly outlined including this statement, “In the restoration of a minister who has been deposed, it is the duty of the Presbytery to proceed with great caution.”

This is church discipline, folks. Tullian confessed, resigned from his position at his local church, and then was deposed of his pastoral credentials by the South Florida Presbytery. By all accounts, Tullian has repented of the sin of adultery. It is now time to follow Paul’s instructions to the Galatians.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV) | Bear One Another’s Burdens

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

He Filed for Divorce… Cast Another stone!

We have learned that Tullian filed for divorce, a point that many have tried to use against him. I wanted to share a post by Paul Tripp, but that source page is now unavailable. All that remains is the Christian Post article that references Paul Tripp’s now-missing announcement.

In a statement posted to his website Wednesday, Tripp bemoaned the public spectacle Tchividjian’s marriage had become before explaining how they arrived at the painful decision.

“I wish we lived in a world where pastoral counsel and heart, life and ministry restoration could take place in private, but those days are regretfully long gone. So, in light of the news getting out that Tullian Tchividijian has filed for divorce and to mitigate any unnecessary and unhealthy speculation regarding the details of the situation, as Tullian’s friend and counselor, I have decided to post this statement,” Tripp began in the statement.

“Sadly, there are times in this broken world where things that have been damaged by sin don’t get put together again. So, we groan, reminded that sin still lives inside us, that we live in a shattered world and that God’s work of redemption is not yet complete. So, it has been with sadness that I, along with others, have come slowly and cautiously to the conclusion that his marriage is irreparably broken,” he continued.

Tripp explained that Tchividjian, who resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida in June, after confessing to an “inappropriate” relationship with another woman who was not his wife after finding out that she had also been cheating on him, tried hard to save the marriage but the trust in his marriage could not be re-established.

“From the point of Tullian’s confession and repentance, he has been committed to dealing with the issues of his heart and to restoring his marriage. Much grace, counsel, thought, prayer and action has been invested over a six month period of time with the hope of healing the marriage. But sadly, there are times when the trust is so deeply broken and patterns so set in place that it seems best to recognize that brokenness, cry out for God’s grace, mourn, commit to forgiveness, rest in the truths of the Gospel and with a grieved heart, move on,” he wrote.

He added: “I remain committed to Tullian as a brother and counselor and I will continue to give him the Gospel as he now deals with what we together hoped and prayed would not happen.”

Tchividjian and his wife, Kim, married in 1994 and have three children together.


While trying to find someone or something outside of me to blame for my sin seemed to promise freedom, it only delivered deeper slavery.

— Tullian Tchividjian (@PastorTullian) August 21, 2015


On the day he filed for divorce last Thursday, Tchividjian noted on Twitter: “While trying to find someone or something outside of me to blame for my sin seemed to promise freedom, it only delivered deeper slavery.”

In another tweet on Monday, however, he noted in another tweet that he still felt God’s presence.


Sometimes God reminds you that he’s there when you’re looking out an airplane window and begging him to show himself: pic.twitter.com/HrngrZ1znM

— Tullian Tchividjian (@PastorTullian) August 25, 2015


Frankly, I’m very disappointed in reading many of the comments that flooded social media criticizing him of being too quick to abandon the marriage. I, for one, refuse to levy a judgement over what I do not know first-hand… but what we do know is that the struggles in his marriage have been ongoing for some time now. Tullian’s marriage covenant was with his wife and it was before God. I don’t get a say in the matter, neither for nor against. I mourn the devastation this divorce will wreck on all involved, and I pray for the Grace, Mercy, and Healing that only God the Holy Spirit can provide.

Please remember from our discussion in yesterday’s Gospel Wednesday post, I do hold a permanence view of marriage under the Law. There is no Lawful scenario for divorce… divorce is always a sin. Having said that, the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the sole remedy for sin, and is sufficient for all sin, including the sin of divorce. Indeed, the Gospel still brings life to believers caught in a transgression.

He Has a Job in a Church… Cast Another Stone!

I am exceedingly grateful for online discernment ministers, as I am for the local police force. The job is difficult, draining, and can become quite consuming. In the same way that Police officers need to guard themselves against treating every citizen as a criminal, I think it is important for us to guard ourselves against treating everyone as a wolf, and every story a proof of apostasy. Such is the case with the revelation that Tullian Tchvidjian was offered a staff position at his new church, Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (Our Ministry Staff). Let’s work through what we see on the church website and practice some basic discernment, shall we?

Is this a Pastoral Position?

No, it isn’t. This church’s website has separate staff directories, Senior Pastor, Pastoral Staff, and Ministry Staff. Now there is room here to question the church polity in play here, particularly if you are not Presbyterian and are unfamiliar with their system (I’m still trying to figure it out), but that is a question for Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (WCPC) and even the South Florida Presbytery (SFP) of the Presbyterian Church Association (PCS)… but this does not fall on Tullian. For those who claim to demand justice for the sake of the Gospel, you’d do well to address the leadership of the WCPC rather than cast another stone at Tullian. I think at this point it is helpful to remember the biblical qualifications for Elders as laid out in Titus 1:5-9.

Titus 1:5-9 (ESV) | Qualifications for Elders

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Whatever the WCPC does under the SFP of the PCA does regarding Tullian, I have to resign myself to trust that they will keep themselves accountable to the Scriptures.

Is this a special position carved out for Tullian?

Possibly. On the Ministry Staff page we see the following positions:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Facilities Manager (male)
  • Facilities Maintenance (male)
  • Youth Ministries Director
  • Youth Ministry Assistant x2
  • Director of Guest Care
  • Director of Music (male)
  • Director of Preschool
  • Director of Nurseries
  • Director of Children’s Ministry (male)
  • Director of Ministry Development (Tullian’s Job)

Look at the list of staff positions… and look at the ones labelled “director”. I’ve seen folks in social media blast this as clear breach of the qualifications of a Deacon, since there are only 2 offices in the New Testament, Elder and Deacon (1 Tim 3). If these positions are deacon positions… only 5 are currently held by men. Only half of the “directors” are men. Think that one through. These are not deacon positions. I don’t know how the PCA squares their definitions of “staff” with the Biblical Offices, but as I said earlier, that is a discussion to take up with them, not with Tullian for accepting a staff position.

What Will Satisfy Your Need for Justice?

I confess that I am exposed to a lot more Reformed Baptist writing than anything Presbyterian. So the vast majority of the stone-casting I’m witnessing comes from the non-Presbyterian Reformed camp. My biggest question to the social media fervor is, “what will satisfy your need for justice?” What penance must Tullian pay for you to be satisfied? Is it your place to seek satisfaction? Or does that fall to his overseers, those who have been given the charge of shepherding the flock under their stewardship?

In Romans 14, we see Paul addressing some specific schisms going on in the church of that day, but Paul’s prescriptions for those problems ring out in a broader sense. Particularly in the following verse:

Romans 14:4 (ESV) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

and in the next prescription:

Romans 14:7-12 (ESV) 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

This is not to say that we are not to identify sin, we must. We must preach Law and Gospel faithfully. So then, is it a sin for Tullian to work? Is it a sin for the WCPC to give him a staff position? If you cannot clearly identify the sin, then you are in no place to pass judgement on the servant of another. Should sin arise, I trust it will be addressed in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20, and that chain of escalation will be within WCPC or at the very least the PCA.

Conclusion

Put down your stones. I am deeply concerned for Tullian Tchvidjian and want to see him restored. I worry that the publicity is hurting that process. I’m worried about him remaining faithful throughout the divorce proceedings. I worry about his children, his estranged wife, and I’m worried about the woman with whom he sinned. All of this is deeply troubling… but I’m appalled by what I’m seeing in social media regarding this man. Skepticism is natural, but let’s not walk in the flesh. Let us walk in the Spirit by faith and extend grace and forgiveness and honor the authorities put in place by God.

Matthew 18:29-35 (ESV) 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (ESV) | Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

PS: There are already some wonderful examples of grace, humility, and clarity in the blogosphere.

The Taste of Crow

► Clarity on the TT Situation

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