Gospel Wednesday | Mark 4

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 3, where we saw Jesus declare Himself Lord of the Sabbath and demonstrated His authority to forgive sin.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 4 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 4:1-9 (ESV) | The Parable of the Sower

Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Mark 4:10-20 (ESV) | The Purpose of the Parables

10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

There is a bad habit in the church to boil down the question of evangelism to two responses… belief and unbelief. While those are indeed the two camps into which all mankind fall (believers and unbelievers, sheep and goats, saved and condemned), Jesus teaches that there are four responses to the Gospel, four types of soil. The Word does the work in the soil, but this parable doesn’t address how the soil is to be tilled. Soil doesn’t till itself and the work of the sower here is to sow the seed of God’s Word, both Law and Gospel. So, in the judgement that is to come, there are only 2 outcomes, but regarding mankind’s response to the Preached Word, there are 4 types of soil.

Mark 4:21-25 (ESV) | A Lamp Under a Basket

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

This is about faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17). For the one lacking faith, even what he has will be taken away. For the man of faith, more will be added to him.

Mark 4:26-29 (ESV) | The Parable of the Seed Growing

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:30-34 (ESV) | The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. 34 He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Mark 4:35-41 (ESV) | Jesus Calms a Storm

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This is the question that must be answered by faith. As with the parable of the seed growing, the disciples (minus one) are growing in faith. They are not yet fully mature, and still struggle understanding who Jesus is. We know that these unlikely heroes of the faith were like the mustard seed being planted in the garden… in time they grew in faith, wisdom, and knowledge of Christ, such that their branches would extend out providing a place of refuge for the birds of the air… these Apostles (minus Judas) would lay the foundation of the Church with Christ as both its Head and its Cornerstone. Their focus would become to sow the seed of the Word of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the Earth, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 5. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture. The Pharisees were completely wrong about the Sabbath… and they were the ones charged to serve Israel as stewards of the Law.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 3

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 2, where we saw Jesus declare Himself Lord of the Sabbath and demonstrated His authority to forgive sin.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 3 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 3:1-6 (ESV) | A Man with a Withered Hand

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand.And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

The Pharisees had a false understanding of the Sabbath. We saw Jesus confront them last week in Mark chapter 2. Here, knowing that the Pharisees will object to healing on the Sabbath, Jesus challenges their false doctrine with a question of the Law. Notice that Jesus leaves no middle ground in His question… Healing the man would be to do good while not doing so would be to do harm. Let’s think about the false teaching of the Pharisees for a moment. They enjoyed the places of honor, best seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market place (Luke 11:37-54)… yet they did nothing for the sick, the hurting, or the poor that didn’t reflect well on them. Their limitations on the Sabbath weren’t to Honor God, they were to make much of themselves and excuse their unwillingness to shepherd the flock of Israel. They were waiting for Jesus to miraculously heal a man, so that they might accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath. Given Mark’s brevity in most of his writing, it is refreshing to see him record that Jesus was angry and grieved at the hardness of hearts of the Pharisees. Angry. Our Lord Jesus Christ was angry at the false teachers and grieved by the hardness of their hearts. He is still angry and grieved by false teachers.

Mark 3:7-12 (ESV) | A Great Crowd Follows Jesus

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

The crowds pressed in on Him, seeking temporal healing and release from evil spirits. It has always made me curious that the unclean spirits would react in such a way and that Jesus would order them to be silent. Jesus didn’t come to eradicate temporal disease and sickness from a cursed and dying world, He came to make a way of Salvation for man, to heal them of their eternal separation from the Living God.

Mark 3:13-21 (ESV) | The Twelve Apostles

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

The appointment of the twelve Apostles was so that they might be with Him and He might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. Notice the focus of what He would send the Apostles to do was to Preach. Yes, they’d have authority to cast out demons. They were being sent out to Preach.

Mark 3:22-30 (ESV) | Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and grants repentance to sinners. Blaspheming the very Spirit that grants repentance and faith leaves the blasphemer condemned in his unbelief, cut off from the only Way of forgiveness, of reconciliation with God the Father, through the finished work of God the Son.

Mark 3 (ESV) | Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus is not breaking the fourth commandment, He is not dishonoring His mother here. His mother and brothers are in the wrong for they were staging an intervention of sorts. Look back up to verse 21.

Conclusion

Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 4. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture. The Pharisees were completely wrong about the Sabbath… and they were the ones charged to serve Israel as stewards of the Law.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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