Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 12:22-45

bibleLast week, we took a look at the first portion of Matthew 12, where we saw Jesus declaring more boldly who He is. We saw Him clearly state that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. We also saw Him rebuke the man-made laws of the Pharisees regarding the Sabbath, thus exposing their murderous hearts. Jesus would not submit to ungodly laws made by men, and He would heal and deliver the lost sheep of Israel even on the Sabbath. We also saw Him urging those He healed not to make Him known in the streets. His time had not yet come, and the people were looking for the wrong type of Messiah. They were looking for an earthly king like David, and Jesus is far greater than David. Jesus came to do what only He could do, to set us free from sin and the grave forever.

Matthew 12:22-45 (ESV)

Matthew 12 (ESV) | Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

This passage is often used by those looking to sell how-to books on Spiritual Warfare to prop up their methodologies. The thing here is that Jesus isn’t teaching the art of spiritual warfare here… He isn’t even teaching exorcism. Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees and warning them that their current sin can forever separate them from God’s forgiveness. Rejecting the Holy Spirit, blaspheming Him to the extend of declaring His mighty works to be that of Beelzebul, will harden their hearts from the only means of salvation. To whom are the Pharisees referring when they accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul? Let’s turn to 2 Kings 1.

2 Kings 1:1-8 (ESV) | Elijah Denounces Ahaziah

After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel. Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.” But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So Elijah went. The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, “Why have you returned?” And they said to him, “There came a man to meet us, and said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the Lord, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

The charge levied against Jesus by the Pharisees wasn’t merely some academic theory, it was a pointed accusation. Remember how closely the Prophet Elijah is tied to the coming of the Messiah? Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as the Elijah who was to come. Jesus first points out the folly in suggesting that Satan would be in the business of casting other demons out of people so that they might be set free from Satan’s power.

Then there is a curious turn… Jesus points out that if He is casting demons out by demonic power, how can the Pharisees justify their own exorcisms? The Pharisees had their own rituals for exorcism (and for everything else you can think of). Okay, so usually I try to reflect back into the Old Testament, but for this point of interest, I’d like to fast-forward to the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 19:11-20 (ESV) | The Sons of Sceva

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

Wow. Interesting wording in Luke’s account of the event, eh? Something to think about. Getting back to our text, Jesus returns to the matter at hand. Again, He isn’t there to argue demonology 101, He is proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus says to them, if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. What is Jesus saying here? He’s saying, quite plainly, that if He is casting out demons by the Spirit of God, they should understand a very clear sign that the Kingdom of God has come. This is what John the Baptist warned them about (Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand Matthew 3) and what Jesus preached throughout the region. The question of “could this be the Son of David” is the appropriate question, given the signs and wonders being performed as a testimony to Jesus as the Messiah. It is to this question the Pharisees launched a blasphemous counter-assertion. Now that we have this as our context, we have a better framework for understanding the binding of the strong-man. Again, this is not an instruction on how we can become better spiritual warriors. Jesus has come to set the captives free. From whom? The enemy, Satan. So when was the strong man (Satan) bound? The notes in the Reformation Study Bible makes an interesting point. Remember what we saw in Matthew 4:1-11? Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness. Since then, we see the demons crying out for mercy, permission, and being silenced and cast out. We don’t see any of them contending with Him. The Kingdom of Heaven is indeed upon Israel, and the Pharisees are blinded and blaspheming the Holy Spirit out of their hate of Him. Jesus then draws a line in the sand, those who are not with Him are against Him. There is no neutral ground. Either we are with Jesus, or we are against Him.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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. 18 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.

No middle ground. He silenced the Pharisees, and gave them grave warning for their sin. The Kingdom of Heaven was upon them, and they continue to plot against the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The tables have been turned, and Jesus isn’t finished exposing the sin of the Pharisees here. Let us continue in Matthew 12.

Matthew 12 | A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

They accused Jesus of serving a false god and they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. They will be held accountable for the words they speak, and unless they repent, their condemnation will remain upon their heads.

Matthew 12 | The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

To defend themselves, it seems they demanded a sign, proof of who Jesus is claiming to be (the Messiah). Nevermind that they had just blasphemed at the casting out of a demon. They weren’t interested in repenting, they were simply trying to regain control of the situation, for that is their place. They measured, they weighed, they decreed, and they placed a heavy burden on God’s people. Jesus refuses, and prophesies of His own death and resurrection. Notice here, Jesus is also pointing out that the scriptures point to Him. Jonah was a foreshadow of Him. Solomon, too. A pale foreshadow of the Promised One, the Christ. The Son of God was standing in their midst, greater than Jonah, than Solomon, and they demand a sign that they might measure Him? They’ll be judged by the men of Nineveh in the day of judgment. That must have been hard to hear… if they’d had an ear to hear it.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Again, this isn’t about teaching demonology. I believe Jesus is addressing both the man who had been set free from the demon that made him blind and mute as well as the Nation of Israel. He has come to set things in order, to clean the house. He performed many mighty works which testified of Him… for those who believed, their freedom is eternal. For those who still did not believe, their state will be worse than it was before the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived.

John 15:22-27 (ESV)

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Until Next Week…

Next week, we will start looking at some of Jesus’ parables in Chapter 13. Until then, spend time in the Word and in prayer.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 12:1-21

bibleLast week, we took a look at Matthew 11, where we saw Jesus identifying Himself by means of reminding the crowd of who it was they went out to see in the wilderness, John the Baptist. Jesus clearly identified who John the Baptist as the great prophet (and more) prophesied in Scripture to come as the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus. We closed with Jesus offering rest that only He can provide.

Matthew 11:27-30 (ESV)

27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Beginning here, to what is Jesus comparing His yoke and His burden? What is Jesus offering for those who come to Him? Remember who His audience is, Jesus is speaking to Jews. Jesus is declaring Himself to have authority over all things because His Father, God the Father, has handed all things over to Jesus. That’s monumental, and worth taking a moment to ponder. Furthermore, Jesus is declaring that He alone knows the Father, and that Only the Father truly knows who Jesus is. In this statement, who is Jesus refuting? The Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes who have (and will) rejected Jesus. They hold themselves to be the knowledgeable ones, the teachers, the keepers of the keys to the Kingdom (where the Scriptures are kept). Jesus was offering rest to those who would come to Him. Coming to Jesus meant walking away from the Earthly Temple and its priests, the yoke of the Law and the burden of sin. Jesus the Messiah had come, to fulfill the Law and to take away the sin of the world, so that by His blood we might be made the righteousness of Christ, adopted as heirs to the Kingdom of God. His yoke is indeed easy and His burden is light, for only by Him can we find Life. With this in mind, let us continue into Chapter 12.

Matthew 12:1-21 (ESV) | A Rest Greater than the Sabbath

Matthew 12 | Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

The Pharisees accused the disciples of profaning the Sabbath by plucking the heads of grain and eating them on the Sabbath. Was their accusation valid? Not according to the Law. The Law stated that no one was to do any work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were not judging by the Law; rather, they held to their own law, the oral tradition that they held equal to the written Scripture. Their oral tradition became the means by which the religious leaders would add definitions, restrictions, and ceremony to the Law of Moses so that they would be the ones who decided on all matters. They added so many rules and regulations to define what constituted “work” and what didn’t so that it was extra difficult and complicated to keep the Sabbath externally. They decided how far you could walk (a Sabbath day’s journey) and the maximum size something you could carry on the Sabbath without it being considered work. Jesus doesn’t blast them outright in this just yet; rather, He points out in Scripture that would constitute greater offenses of the Sabbath if the Pharisaical assertion were kept. David and his men ate the bread of the Presence (1 Samuel 21:1-6 ESV), which was not lawful for anyone but Priests to eat. But if you’ll read the text that I linked, David was in a time of great need and the Temple did not have any other food to provide, no common bread. Thus the ceremonial law of the bread was set aside to meet David’s (whom God had chosen as King to replace Saul whom God now rejected) need. Jesus is greater than David, and His disciples were hungry. But Jesus didn’t stop there, He also points out that the blanket prohibition from work on the Sabbath is set aside for the priests fulfilling their duties in the Temple on the Sabbath. This is huge, for there is simply no way for the Pharisees to wriggle out of this one, everything they did in the Temple is by any measure work. Now something greater than the Temple (Jesus) is here. The earthly temple is a foreshadow of Jesus. His disciples are serving a greater Temple, they serve the Messiah, the Son of God. So not only were the Pharisees wrongfully accusing the disciples of breaking the Sabbath according to the Law, their standards of Sabbath observance didn’t pass the test of Scripture. Their attempt to ensnare Jesus and His disciples in breach of the Sabbath falls flat because the authority of their oral tradition paled in comparison to the Authority of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Matthew 12 | A Man with a Withered Hand

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Pharisees didn’t get it, and persisted in their attempts to ensnare Jesus. Their man-made definitions of work now pitted God’s miraculous works of healing against their own laws of the Sabbath. They didn’t get it. They attributed miraculous healing to being a work performed by men, rather than God. Check out the evil scenario that has unfolded… within the synagogue of the Pharisees who wrongly accused them of breaking the Sabbath already, there was a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees then ask Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath… imagine what is going on in this man’s heart? Dare he hope for Jesus to heal him? And what if Jesus does, would that act condemn Him under the Law? Where you and I can only imagine what was stirring in this man’s heart, Jesus knew. I read Jesus’ response with a very hard tone of rebuke… I’m surprised we don’t get a “you hypocrites!” here. But I think His concern moved more toward the man with the withered hand than the Pharisees. Jesus looked at the man and told him to stretch out his hand. Praise the Lord. And these Pharisees… so blinded by their sin, their power, their position, they completely missed both the lesson of the Sabbath and the testimony of the Messiah standing in their midst… a man was healed miraculously, in a way that we do not see to this day, and they conspired against Him in how to destroy him.

Matthew 12 | God’s Chosen Servant

15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21     and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

At first it might seem odd that Jesus would so plainly demonstrate who He is yet order those whom He heals not to make Him known. The Jews didn’t understand the prophecy of the Messiah, Who He was or what He planned to do. So, Jesus made known to many Who He was, but ordered them not to make it known.  Jesus came first to fulfill the Law, then to suffer and die in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God, to be raised again on the 3rd day, to ascend into Heaven and send His Holy Spirit to all who believe in Him. The next time He comes to Earth… will be a lot different. He will come in Glory, and in Power, ready to judge both the Living and the Dead. Amen.

Until Next Week…

Matthew’s account takes a shift here in the middle of the chapter. Matthew has made a clear case for who Jesus is, by sharing who Jesus claimed to be. Now we will start seeing more focus on His teaching of the Kingdom of Heaven, on Salvation, and we will also see increased confrontation with the Pharisees and those plotting to kill Him. Until then, be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Pray for wisdom and for boldness to speak the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even when it isn’t politically correct or socially acceptable.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 11

bibleLast time, we took a look at Matthew 10, where we saw Jesus appointing his 12 Apostles and sending them out among the lost sheep of Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven

John the Baptist, More than a Prophet

Matthew 11 (ESV)

Messengers from John the Baptist

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

Does it strike you as odd that this account falls here in Matthew’s Account? I have wrestled with its placement here. It seemed like a cut-scene event not necessarily a chronological succession to the events/teaching of Chapter 10. The problem of this passage for me was that I kept treating it as an update on what was going on in John the Baptist’s life… like some voice-over guy would narrate, “meanwhile, back in the prison of John the Baptist”… but that’s not Matthew’s intention. Remember Matthew’s audience is the Jewish reader, the one familiar with the Law and the Prophets (more-so than the Gentile, anyway). Matthew isn’t setting out to record a detailed account of the likes of Luke, he is writing to Jews so that they might know exactly who Jesus is. John the Baptist is a critical figure in prophecy, and being a man in prison about to die, he inquired of Jesus one last time, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? Jesus’ answer is two-fold, He tells the disciple to report what he sees and He also points out that everything Jesus is doing is in fulfillment of the prophecies that testify of Him as the Messiah. Let’s continue reading…

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,     who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

This is a tough passage to get a full grasp of especially for those who treat Jesus as a man or an example for how we are to live. How can John be the greatest of those born of women, wasn’t Jesus also born of a virgin? Yes, but Jesus has no equal for He is the Son of Man, the Messiah, the Messenger of God, God the Son. John is the last great Prophet of men to the children of Israel, and his purpose was to announce the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, the Messiah had come. All of the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus. John the Baptist is His herald and has been imprisoned by violent, pagan men. He would soon be put to death, and Jesus will also suffer and die at the hand of men… the Kingdom of Heaven indeed has suffered violence. For those of you in the Pentecostal camp, this is NOT a teaching on spiritual warfare. This is about Jesus coming, the Kingdom of Heaven preached, and the violent prevailing against Him… to death on a cross.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;     we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

The chief priests and elders who wage war against the kingdom of Heaven, pursue John by one standard and then Jesus by another… excuses for their core sin of rejecting the very Son of God they claim to serve.

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Miracles, signs, and wonders do not produce faith. Hearing the word of the Lord and believing it does. Miracles can, however, intensify guilt. Jesus makes it plain here that had He performed the mighty works in Sodom that He had performed in Capernaum, Sodom would have remained to this day, meaning some would have repented (at least 10, for the sake of Abram’s intercession). He knew this, he wasn’t merely speculating or using hyperbole to highlight a point… Jesus knew. That Capernaum refused to repent earned them a worse fate on the day of judgment than that of Sodom. That boggles the mind. When Jesus returns, it won’t be as a silent lamb to preach repentance… He will come to judge the living and the dead. It will be the end for this life, this Earth, under these heavens. The Grace of God can be seen even in the fact that He tarries to return.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

We talked about Rest in this past Monday’s CTT post. Jesus isn’t talking about coming to make everyone rich so that they’ll never have any struggle. He’s not offering the “easy life”… Jesus is offering rest from the brutal taskmaster of the Law. The Law kills all who are under it, for they cannot keep it. Jesus came to lift that burden Himself, and then to lay down His perfect life as payment for all sin, so that by faith we might join in His resurrection, and enter into His Rest.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Our household will be very busy over the summer, lots of travel. I will do my best to keep to a steady blogging schedule, but I pray your forgiveness if (like today) things get pushed back some. Thank you for your prayers.

Amen. In Christ Jesus, Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 10

bibleLast week, we saw Jesus start to focus on His disciples. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-8 ESV). This week, we will see Matthew’s account of Jesus calling His 12 Apostles from among His disciples and sending them out in training. Jesus is specifically teaching His apostles what they need to know in ministry. Given that these men (minus Judas and later including Paul) would form the foundation of Christ’s Church, with Jesus as its cornerstone, we need to pay close attention to what He is teaching here. For our ministry of evangelism, of the Church, is built upon this foundation and none other. There will not be any more Apostles, for there is no further need of foundation, but we need to understand the foundation upon which we stand. 

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Matthew 10 (ESV)

And [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

In the Matthew’s account, this is where Jesus selected 12 from His disciples to appoint them as His Apostles, sent-ones from God the Son. He gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out, and authority to heal every disease and every affliction. Why? Was their charge to eradicate sickness and disease from the land of Israel? Was it to expel all demons from the Land of Israel? Well, let us look at the rest of His charge. In verse 5 we see they are not to go to the Samaritans or the Gentiles… but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. What was their charge, to eradicate sickness and disease from Israel? No. They were given such authority, but their primary charge was to proclaim, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. They were to proclaim the time for the Promise was at hand, to preach repentance just as John the Baptist did and how they saw Jesus proclaim the Kingdom. Notice the conditional statement He provided regarding the towns/houses in which they stay. If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words… the miracles of casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, or cleansing lepers wouldn’t be enough. Some would still not receive them as Apostles nor listen to their preaching. The authority to perform miracles was granted as a testimony of the Truth of what they preached. There would still be those who witness the miracles and reject the message. Why? Because they lacked faith, and held fast to the teaching of the Elders and Pharisees who taught as commandments the doctrines of men. Those who reject the Gospel and remain in their unbelief remain condemned (John 3:16-18)… and these who reject the proclamation of the Gospel in this manner, full of power and authority will face a tougher judgement than those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abram.

What Jesus tells His 12 for this immediate mission, carries on into the first leg of the Great Commission we will see in Chapter 28. Thankfully, the Gospel isn’t limited to the lost sheep of Israel, because the Promise was for all of mankind, for you and for me. I appreciate how the ESV splits this up into sections, because the portions that follow apply to the Church, the Body of Christ. We will face persecution, this isn’t limited to His 12 apostles. He sent them out to lay the foundation, with Himself as its cornerstone, and we are being built up on that foundation as the Holy Temple of God, a temple of living stones indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. We will see persecution… and it will continue getting worse until the Great Day of Christ’s return.

Matthew 10 | Persecution Will Come

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Anyone selling a gospel of victorious living, health and wealth, or “living your best life now” is either flat-out lying or simply has never actually read the Bible. In Christ we have our victory in the resurrection. Until then, we will face trials, tribulation, and the open seething hate of a world that first hated Him. Take heart, Jesus goes on to say…

Matthew 10 | Have No Fear

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Have no fear of men who can only kill the body. Our treasure is in Heaven.

Matthew 10 | Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of the media’s wimpy portrayal of Jesus. Even the self-identified Christian production companies seem to fail in this regard. Jesus didn’t come to coddle sinners in their sinfulness, He came to call them out of the Kingdom of Darkness. He preached repentance. Families will be split because of Him, but not because of what He does; rather, for who He is. Don’t treat verses 34-39 in isolation from verses 26-33. It is all connected. Those who follow Jesus, die to themselves and to sin daily, will be saved while those who deny Him will continue to hate Him and those who follow Him. The message of the Gospel isn’t to eradicate sin, death, sickness, or poverty on the earth. The earth is cursed because of the sin of Adam. Dominionists, Open Theists, Universalists, all of them are completely confused in their thinking. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls sinners to repentance and separation from this world of sin and unbelief. When we proclaim the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” to this dying world, we are proclaiming “leave the building of destruction” not “all clear, the bomb was defused”. Christ made a way of escape, the ONLY way of escape from the judgment that is due our sin. It is a narrow gate that few will find, though we proclaim loudly and firmly the Way of Salvation in the Name of Jesus.

Matthew 10 | Rewards

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

The Apostles are being sent out as prophets, proclaiming the Word of the Lord (the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand). Whoever receives them as speaking the Word of God, receives the prophet’s reward. Jesus is the only righteous person who has ever lived… and whoever receives Him, receives His reward. Whoever received the Apostles, received Christ. Whoever receives Christ, receives His Righteousness.

Romans 3:19-28 (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 sin. 21 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.

By faith we have been saved. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. Hearing the Word of Christ comes by having it faithfully preached, both Law (conviction of sin leading to repentance) and Gospel (for the forgiveness of sin).

Romans 10:14-17 (ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Until Next Week…

Be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, and preach the Word. Miracles, signs, and wonders belong to God and are His to work, not ours. We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sin. That He was raised from the dead, ascended to heaven at the Right Hand of God the Father, and returning soon to judge the living and the dead. Nothing we come up with, devise, or scheme has any chance of building or granting faith to the unbelievers… only the Word of Christ has that power. Until next week, spend some time in His word. Read in larger chunks, making note of the immediate and general context of what you are reading. Pray for understanding and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge