Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 17

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 16.

Today, we will begin the Transfiguration of Jesus. We’ll then look at a tough passage where boy is set free from an unclean spirit by the Lord Jesus Christ, but only after the disciples had failed. We close the chapter with a clear warning of the coming death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as a demonstration of the provision of God.

Matthew 17 (ESV)

Matthew 17:1-13 (ESV) | The Transfiguration

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered,“Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

This must have been quite a sight. I often wonder, ‘how did they recognize Moses and Elijah’? It’s not a serious question, just a curiosity on my part, because clearly they recognized Moses and Elijah. Since this is a short chapter, let’s take a moment to see some of the significance of the appearance of these two men in testifying of Jesus as the Messiah.

John 5:30-47 (ESV) | Witnesses to Jesus
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Jesus made this point abundantly clear. The Scriptures are about Him. We see here mention of John the Baptist, and in our Matthew 17 text, we see Jesus described John the Baptist as the Elijah who came ahead of the Messiah. A day will come when we who believe will see all of these men, and Jesus will still be the focus of our attention, the reason we are all there. Before we move on in Matthew’s account, let us take a look at how Peter reflected on this event in his letter to the church.

2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV) | Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter confirms his eyewitness account of the Majesty of Jesus Christ, and the voice of God testifying of His Son, Jesus. Peter then points his readers to pay attention to the prophetic Word more fully confirmed, and affirms that scripture comes from God. Scripture is sufficient… and what the Apostles witnessed was amazing, unique to them, but we are to focus on the God-Breathed Scriptures. Let’s continue our reading in Matthew 17.

Matthew 17:14-21 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

This is a difficult passage of scripture. Jesus laments a faithless and twisted generation, and points to the little faith of the disciples in this matter. Mark gives us more detail to this story in his account.

Mark 9:14-29 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Reading both accounts together, we see there is a problem in regarding faith, doubt, and prayer. The evil spirit recognized Jesus and reacted. In Mark’s account, we see Jesus expose and rebuke the unbelief of the boy’s father. In Matthew’s account, there we see the disciples culpable in the unbelief or having little faith. In Mark, the issue is closed out with a reference to prayer. For our overview of the Gospel, I can only leave you with this reminder: faith is not a thing unto itself. It’s not “the Force” (Star Wars). Faith requires an object, and unless the object of our faith is Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God, it is worthless. We don’t graduate from the call to live lives of prayer, and growing in faith by the hearing of the Word of God. If you are looking for more in-depth exegesis of this passage, I encourage you to make an appointment with your Pastor or Elders to discuss this passage in detail.

Matthew 17:22-23 (ESV) | Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

Jesus continues to prep His disciples for what was about to happen, the Son of Man was going to die at the hands of men, and on the third day He will be raised from the dead.

Matthew 17:24-27 (ESV) | The Temple Tax

24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”

This is an important passage, particularly given our present day. Jesus demonstrates a legal freedom from the tax, but goes on to pay the tax “…not to give offense to them…” The Lord will provide, He will meet our needs. Jesus didn’t send Simon to fish up a fortune, He sent Simon to fish up a shekel to pay the Temple tax and be above reproach, to not give them an offense. Dear Christian, trust in God to meet your needs, and the needs of the ministry of the Church.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through some parables. 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

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 16

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 15.

Today, we will begin with another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees, then we’ll turn our attention to Peter’s confession of Jesus. This marks a shift in Jesus’ teaching where He begins to prepare His disciples for what will take place at the cross.

Matthew 16 (ESV)

Matt 16:1-4 (ESV) | The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came not to listen to His teaching, or to follow Him as a disciple, but to test Him. They asked Him for a sign from heaven. Jesus’ response is very interesting here. Jesus’ ministry has been filled with signs and wonders testifying of Who He Is, yet these unbelievers seek to test Jesus in much the same way that Satan tempted Him in the wilderness to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus’ response is essentially, you’ve ignored the signs of the times; therefore none will be given to this wicked and adulterous generation except the sign of Jonah. The death and resurrection of Jesus is THE SIGN for the unbelieving, evil, and adulterous generation of who Jesus Is. This is why we preach Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sin.

Matt 16:5-12 (ESV) | The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

I love this passage. I mean, I am one of those guys assuming Jesus is reprimanding me because I forgot something… while He is trying to teach me something vital. I can’t help but imagine hearing the exasperation in Jesus’s voice… in my head it comes across as a, “really, guys? really?… after all you’ve seen Me do regarding bread?” That’s just how it plays in my head as I read it. I am so grateful that Jesus took the time to point out the error. The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees was leaven in the Kingdom. They preached their own laws as if they were Doctrine.

Matt 16:13-22 (ESV) | Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Such a beautiful confession… and one that can only come by God the Father in Heaven. It is upon this confession of the Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, that Jesus is building His Church. I’d like to take a brief moment to highlight verse 20. This is an example of a narrative passage that is locked into its context. What is the context? Jesus had not yet been crucified, for His time had not yet come, and He charged His Disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. Why? I cannot say definitively because Matthew didn’t explain it. However, since we know that the confession of Jesus as the Christ is the Gospel, we know that once He finished His work on the Cross, the time for this charge was over and it was time to serve as witnesses of the Christ, as His Apostles. We can also gain some clues in the following segment.

Matt 16:21-23 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

Peter was correct in his confession of Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. However, what Matthew shows us here is that they did not fully understand what was prophesied of the Christ. Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for what had to happen… and Jesus didn’t pull any punches in His rebuke of Peter. If the disciples who had walked with Jesus didn’t fully grasp what was prophesied of Him, no one would.

Matt 16:24-28 (ESV) | Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

This is how Jesus follows up His rebuke of Peter. Peter’s mind was set on the things of man, he didn’t want to see Jesus suffer and die at the hands of the chief priests and scribes. I can imagine this thought being so painful and vexing to Peter that he didn’t even register the thought of being raised on the third day. Not only did Jesus insist that this was what must happen, He also warned that the same would happen to most of the disciples. Following Jesus necessitates self-denial, from beginning to the end, and the disciples needed to learn this lesson. We know it took time for them to understand… and our Merciful Shepherd took the time after His resurrection to teach them before He ascended to the right hand of the Father. Jesus is going to come to judge the living and the dead, and to take us home. Amen.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through some tough passages. I’ll do my best to convey a faithful understanding of what is being presented to us in Matthews Account of the Gospel. 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

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 15

bibleAs we continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew, last week we closed out Matthew 14.

Today, we will be looking at some impactful teaching from our Lord Jesus Christ, followed by some more miracles testifying of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and of His compassion and love.

Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV) | Traditions and Commandments

15 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Did the Pharisees rebuke Jesus via His disciples regarding the Law? No… it was regarding the tradition of the elders. In some places you’ll hear it referred to as the oral tradition. You see, the Pharisees held a dual standard of holiness… there was the Law and the Prophets, what we have preserved in our Bible and then there was the oral tradition (recorded in the Talmud in the 2nd century A.D.) which was said to have been given by God to Moses to explain the written Law. You see, the Pharisees had positioned themselves as the arbiters of the Law, they explained how to fulfill the Law, by their traditions. A useful comparison would be the Catholic Church in Luther’s day… where the people relied on the Church to tell them how to serve God. Like the Catholic Church, the Pharisees had abused the authority God gave them, and failed in their responsibility to shepherd the people of God. They even broke the Law of God for the sake of their own traditions. We discussed this some time ago in a CTT post when we looked at the sin of the Pharisees. Actually, we’ve talked about throwing the Pharisee card out, too… but know that Jesus pointed out the error of the Pharisees explicitly… it wasn’t that they were holding to the Law; rather, that they taught as doctrines the commandments of men. Immediately after the rebuke, Jesus moves onto instruction.

Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV) | What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

In Mark’s Account of this encounter, he explains the impact of what Jesus regarding what defiles a person.

Mark 7:18-20 (ESV) 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.

Given Matthew’s audience, I don’t think it was necessary to add the extra explanation. Ceremonial law was but a shadow of the Christ (Hebrews 8) who was now before them. Now that Christ had come, and the matters of the heart could truly be addressed. Our hearts are not defiled by what our physical body consumes; rather, our body is defiled by what comes out of our hearts.

Matthew 15:21-28 (ESV) | The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

This passage can be very difficult for folks to work through. The biggest impediment for most is the idea of their “precious moments Jesus” first ignoring and then actually saying these words to the Canaanite Woman. Was Jesus being mean to her? Was He being sexist or racist? No, no, and no. This woman knew who He was, and more importantly, she believed. She had faith in Jesus as Lord, the Son of David, despite being a Canaanite. Let’s take a quick look back in Genesis for the significance of being a Canaanite.

Genesis 9:18-28 (ESV) | Noah’s Descendants
18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed. 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,

“Cursed be Canaan;
    a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

26 He also said,

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem;
and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
and let him dwell in the tents of Shem,
and let Canaan be his servant.
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years.

The sons of Canaan would go on to become a wicked and godless people. God promises Abraham all the lands of Canaan. Jesus makes it clear that He had been sent for the lost sheep of Israel. He further tells the woman, it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs… Jesus didn’t come to personally evangelize the world, He came for a specific purpose, to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and to lay down His life as the pure and perfect atoning sacrifice. This woman was undeterred, she acknowledged her place and proclaimed her faith in Him, that she only needed a crumb of His Glory to heal her daughter. Such Faith! and from a Canaanite woman… an outsider… a dog in comparison to the children of Israel. And Jesus healed her daughter, according to her faith. Not her lineage, not her works, but her faith in Him. I am that dog, who by God’s grace has been granted faith to believe that all I need is for the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table. I’m reminded of how Paul references the Gospel in his opening to his letter to the Romans:

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.”

Amen. Let us continue.

Matthew 15:29-39 (ESV) | Jesus Heals Many

29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

The first thing I’d like to point out is the punch line to Jesus’ healing ministry… it brought glory to God. This went on for 3 days, and the Lord had compassion on them. The second thing is that we see Jesus again charging the disciples to feed His sheep. Jesus is unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way. He is still unwilling, which is why He left us the Apostles and why He sent God the Holy Spirit as a seal of the Promise for all who are in Christ Jesus. This is a theme that John picked up on and expressed in greater detail in his account of the Gospel, even to the reinstatement of Peter.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll see another encounter with the Pharisees and we’ll also see the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of His Disciples… the confession of Peter. I look forward to continuing our trek through the Gospel According to Matthew.

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

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 14:13-36

bibleIt has been far too long since we last shared our Wednesday Gospel Bible study. For that, I apologize. As we continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew, we pick up where we left off last time in Matthew 14.

Today, we will be looking at some of the miraculous works performed by our Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist has been executed at the command of Herod the tetrarch. His disciples buried the body and then told Jesus of what had taken place.

Matthew 14:13-21 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Our Lord Jesus Christ withdrew to a desolate place of solitude. The crowds followed him on foot and He had compassion on them and healed their sick. What follows is a lesson for the disciples… feed My sheep (John 21:15-19). Jesus is demonstrating to them that God will provide for what He commands His people to do. This translates directly to our command to make disciples of all nations. We only have what we have been given, and as we give of that, He will provide the increase. This is central to what it means to be a good and faithful steward of God’s Word. This also extends into the very idea of Christian works… it is by God’s grace alone that we are able to do good works. Once they had been fed, Jesus sends the disciples across the water while He dismisses the crowds. What happens next is awesome.

Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV) | Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land,beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The ability to perform miraculous signs and wonders isn’t something Jesus “had”, it was grounded in Who He Is. The disciples needed to know this, understand it, and teach it. Notice that nowhere in this section nor in the remainder of the New Testament are we commanded to walk on water, or challenged to try it ourselves… no where. Don’t let anyone misrepresent the purpose of this passage in that way.

Matthew 14:34-36 (ESV) | Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

I wonder if the people of Gennesaret obtained faith in hearing of the woman who was healed by touching the fringe of Jesus’ garment.

Matthew 9:18-26 (ESV) | A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

The request of the people of Gennesaret is interesting, but their faith was in Jesus Christ and His power to heal. Please don’t mistake the request as being formulaic (if we just do xyz then we can secure our healing); rather, I believe it to be one of humility. They were unclean, and wished to be healed.

 

Until Next Week

Please pray for our family as we do some more traveling. In our next Gospel Wednesday we will move into a key conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees regarding the Law of God versus the doctrines of men. Very important for us to pay attention to what is being taught there. I hope you’ll join us.

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 | “Impossible” by Building 429

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

May 07, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Impossible” by Building 429 which is currently being praised for having broken some airplay records.

Provident Label Group pop/rock band Building 429 has officially broken a radio record. Their brand new single, “Impossible”, received an astounding 95 radio adds on add date, making this an all time first for the band. This is also the highest number of adds its first week ever for a Provident Label Group artist. This radio feat hasn’t been achieved since “Free To Be Me” by Fancesca Battistelli in 2008.

“Everyone has that story of when something out of the ordinary happened in their career,” shares Andrew Patton, VP of Promotions, Provident Label Group. “The minute I heard ‘Impossible’ I knew it could be one of those moments. And as exciting as this record-breaking add date has been, I’m looking forward to even more exciting things ahead with this song and with Building 429.”

The GRAMMY-nominated and Dove Award-winning band debuted “Impossible” during the WinterJam Tour this past winter and spring playing to a record-breaking 600,000 fans over 47 dates. “Impossible” is the first single from their upcoming album slated to release September 25th. [ref CCMMagazine.com]

Since this song has yet to appear on the Top20 chart we currently use for DiM Tuesday, I thought we’d take a look at it today. With this much promotion behind this thing, it is only a matter of time before it appears on our charts. Is this song worthy of so much attention? No. This song is a fraudulent promise based on proof-text, vision-casting, and word-of-faith theology. This is going to be another long post, because we are addressing a major theological error. Making promises on God’s behalf, that He did not promise is blasphemy. It is one thing to have a “vision” or a “dream” of what YOU would like to see happen in your life, but quite another to claim that the vision or dream is from God. Dangerous, even. Let’s discuss this.

Official VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Impossible
by Building 429

You got a vision
You got a dream
But it feels a million miles away
You got your passion
You got to believe
That this is why you were made

It takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to see
I said it takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to believe

We can rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there’s no such thing as impossible

And nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there’s no such thing as impossible

We’re never given the spirit of fear
Only the power of love
We’ll keep on running and not grow weak
His strength is more than enough

It takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to see
I said it takes a little time
Takes a little time
It takes a little time to believe

Rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

That nothing is unreachable
When we trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing as impossible
Impossible

There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing
There is no such, no such thing as impossible

Rise above the typical
And be anything but usual
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible

Nothing is unreachable
When you trust the God of miracles
We know
We know
We know
That there is no such thing as impossible
Publishing: © 2014 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / Havery Publishing / Jord A Lil Music (BMI) / Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) All rights admin. by Sony/ATV.
Writer(s): Jason Roy, Chuck Butler, Casey Brown

Discussion

Well, folks, what we have here is a Vision-Casting / Word-of-Faith anthem of empty promise cloaked in what seems to be truth (truism). This could very well be a CTT post. The phrase “with God all things are possible” occurs several times in the New Testament. When isolated, pulled from its context, it gives the notion that “nothing is impossible for God” is a valid ultimate truth. However, this isn’t the case. This isn’t a mathematical equation or Greek philosophy of possibility, the realm of possibility is defined by God. He has clearly stated certain things are impossible, such that we might have full assurance in His Promise.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

All Scripture is God-Breathed. Some take this Truth to mean that if you can find any phrase in the Bible and apply a meaning to it, then it is infallible. That’s not how it works. You see, God’s Word is defined by God’s Word. One cannot simply pluck out a phrase from the Scriptures and apply it in whichever way seems beneficial and expect God to honor it. This song’s assertion that as long as you believe in God your “vision” or “dreams” will all come true is complete bunk. Let’s do a quick survey of the Scriptures to flesh out the limits of “possibility” for mankind.

With Man it is Impossible

Let’s look at what Jesus was teaching when He said, but with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:23-27 (ESV)

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

Matthew 19:23-26 (ESV)

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Luke 18:24-27 (ESV)

24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said,“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Salvation. It is impossible for man to save himself. Salvation is a work of God, so that no one should boast (Eph 2:1-10 ESV).  It is also impossible for man to please God without faith.

Hebrews 11:5-7 (ESV)

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Now, let’s look at what Scripture tells us of the nature of man after the fall. Let’s look back to the days of Noah.

Genesis 6:5-8 (ESV)

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

God chose to spare Noah to keep His promise to Adam and Eve, and He cannot lie. Nevertheless, all mankind is wicked and sinful. In fact, dead in their sins and trespasses (Eph 2). God spoke to Noah, and Noah believed God and became an heir of righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11). Notice, we are using the New Testament to better understand the Old. Noah didn’t merit God’s favor, it was for His sake, for His Name’s sake alone that God spared Noah. We know this because Scripture has made it clear, but it can also be inferred from what took place after Noah.

Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV) | The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Where they seeking after God? No. Were they seeking to honor God? No. They sought to make a name for themselves in the heavens, and that was only the beginning of what they would do. Salvation is impossible for them, we know this. They are dead in sins and trespasses. They do not yet have the Law, this is before the Abrahamic Covenant. Without God, it is impossible for man to do the right thing, to be righteous. Righteousness requires faith, and that faith comes from God. We aren’t “born with it”. Faith comes to us through hearing the Words of Christ. When God spoke to men, they were afforded an opportunity for faith, as we see articulated in Hebrews 11. Even Adam, who saw all of Creation in its perfection, and knew God, was expected to obey His word by faith, that he was not to eat of the fruit of that one tree. Adam lacked faith, and so he sinned, and by one man’s sin, death entered the earth. Only God could provide a way of atonement sufficient for man’s salvation. The Law was temporary, a guardian for the people of the Promise, until Christ could come and establish a New Covenant with mankind.

Hebrews 10:1-14 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

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

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

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

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And Now that We’ve Been Saved…

Okay, but once we’ve been saved by Grace through Faith, can’t we assume all things are possible for us? Is the promise of Salvation temporal or eternal? Who decides what miracle God is going to perform, man or God? Who decided to part the Red Sea, Moses or God? God did. He led Moses to that place, to that shore, and He instructed Moses to act, and He parted the Red Sea, and He saved Israel with His Mighty Hand, and He destroyed Pharaoh’s army when He closed the sea on them. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God… for He is the one who is Sovereign over all of Creation. This goes back to Soli Deo Gloria: to God Alone be the Glory.

You see, the biggest problem with this song that invalidates all of it, is that it begins not with a Promise that God’s Word makes; rather, it begins with the dreams/ideas/visions of mankind, the listener. Bruce Jenner has a vision of being a woman… that’s not God’s Will for him. Mankind will manipulate language, biology, chemistry, and religion to reinforce the illusion that it is possible for him to become a woman… but that simply isn’t possible. Man doesn’t have that power, and never will.

What About the Faith of a Mustard Seed

Let’s take a look at His teaching on faith.

Matthew 17:14-20 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.

Is faith an emotion to be stirred up or some heightened state of consciousness to be reached through meditation or asceticism? No. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ. This isn’t a question of quantity of faith, but on the object of their faith. The Scripture doesn’t specify where their doubt had crept in, just that if they had the faith of a mustard seed to believe the Word of God they could do the Will of God by His Grace through Faith. With man, it is impossible to cast out demons… it is also impossible to walk on water. Let us look there for a moment because that is where I’m drawing some of my conclusions for this understanding.

Matthew 14:28-32 (ESV)

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

By faith Peter walked on water in obedience to Jesus’s call. Yes, Peter prayed the Lord to issue the command, as we should pray for those things which are impossible with men. Jesus did issue the command, and Peter walked by faith… until he doubted. Notice the rebuke, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? 

Does scripture record anyone else walking on the water after this? No. The point was not to promise Christians water-walking powers, but to point to the deity of Christ. Does scripture (or history) record anyone literally commanding a mountain to be moved and it moving by faith? No. The point is to rest in the Word of God by Faith. Jesus came to set the captives free from the Kingdom of darkness, by faith. There is no worthy opponent or impediment to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not even demon possession. The Word of God is mightier than any 2-edged sword, preach the Word, say to the mountain “be moved” that the Name of the Lord will be lifted up in praise. Let us not cheapen this truth with false gospels of prosperity or worse, turning the bible into some sort of spell book. The Apostle Paul faced many hardships, trials, tribulation, and was mightily used of God to spread the Gospel and build up His Church among the Gentiles. Notice the introduction of his letter to the Romans.

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

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.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 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.”

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge