CTT | Be Perfect

 We talk a lot here about the need to preach Law and Gospel in equal measure. Too many churches preach Law with a mere mention of Gospel taken as Given or a start-point. If you’ve been tracking some of the sermons and lectures we’ve shared lately (Dr Rod Rosenbladt and Tullian Tchividjian), we have been drawing attention to the need to remain focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ without ignoring the Law and without placing born-again Christians back under the burden of the Law. Rod Rosenbladt did a great job in his sermon of accepting responsibility on behalf of the Church for allowing bad Law preaching to beat-down Christians into sad or mad Broken Christians. It come down to preaching all the Do’s and Don’ts of Godliness (Law), the 5 steps to perfection in [topic] based on [Law], and we’ve allowed the Gospel of Grace to go unspoken or left as a “given”. We all have to deal with this creep into legalism, even within the less orthodox traditions with a slightly diminished view of Scripture that look for “new” and “fresh” words of inspiration/revelation. Whether Lutheran, Calvinist, or Wesleyan the drift into the legalism of works-based righteousness is ever-present.

 Be Perfect, as Your Heavenly Father is Perfect

Not every preacher who slips into the error of legalism does so intentionally. I’m willing to guess that the vast majority are well-intentioned and struggling with the paradox of being both sinner and saint as born-again believers. Let us begin with where this passage is preached. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 5:48. As we’ve been studying the Gospel According to Matthew in our Gospel Wednesday segments, it should be fresh in our minds what Christ was preaching… He was preaching the Law from Chapter 5 through Chapter 7. Since we’ve so recently gone through this sermon in detail, allow me to work through portions to illustrate what is going on for this

Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) | Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus came to fulfill, not abolish, the Law and the Prophets. He goes on from here to address major areas of the Law and actually elevates the Law. He actually makes the case that no one is capable of fulfilling the Law satisfactorily. Notice here, that even the scribes and Pharisees will never enter the kingdom of heaven by their law keeping. This is Law, not Gospel. Now, before we get to the last segment on the Law of Love, let us first remember that the command to Love God and Love Neighbor is a commandment of the Law (not Gospel).

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Does that make Love evil? No! But we’ll get to that. For now, let’s close out chapter 5.

Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) | Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Is this the Gospel? No. Jesus is preaching the Law. The Law is not measured by our standards, but by the standard of the Holiness of God. And ONLY Jesus Christ could fulfill the Law.

Hebrews 7:11-28 (ESV) | Jesus Compared to Melchizedek

11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:

“The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

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

10 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.

So, we see that perfection was attained on our behalf by Jesus Christ. His perfect blood atones for our Sin. His works secure our righteousness by way of a Promise. Jesus fulfilled the Law that no one else could fulfill.

Our Right-Standing Before God is by Faith not Works

Romans 5:1-11 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

So the Law is of no Value?

No. The value of the Law, the purpose for the Law remains the same, its purpose is to reveal and expose sin. The remedy for the sin exposed by the Law is repentance at the foot of the cross and receiving forgiveness for our sin, in Jesus Name, because of His Finished Work on the Cross.

Romans 6:15-23 (ESV) | Slaves to Righteousness

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 7:7-12 (ESV) | The Law and Sin

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Simultaneously Sinner and Saint

The problem is trying to resolve the paradox of being set free from sin by faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continuing to live out our earthly lives in fallen, sinful flesh.

Romans 7:13-25 (ESV)

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

A day will come, when our healing from sin will be complete. That day, is the Great Day of the Resurrection. Whether by our deaths or by the Return of Jesus Christ for His Church, our flesh will be put away, and the sin with it. And those of us who by faith are found in Christ Jesus… His blood having been shed for our sin, His righteousness and perfection imputed to us by Grace through Faith, we will be made alive in Him. Never again slaves to sin and death, never again in fallen, weak flesh. Praise be to God for His Grace and Mercy.

We do not overcome the flesh by trying harder in the flesh. The righteousness of the Law is not attained by observing the Law, it can only be obtained by faith in the One who is Righteous. In fact, if there is one thing we should “do” is die to the flesh, die to sin, and repent. Humble confession and repentance before a Righteous and Holy God, with Jesus Christ as our intercessor, our substitute, our Savior. I pray that the Church repents of its treatment of the Gospel as merely a “reset” or “a one-time thing” rather than a life-long understanding of “It Is Finished”.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 8:18 – 9:08

bibleLast week, we followed Jesus as he descended from the mountain where He had delivered what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. What we will see now is Matthew demonstrating how Jesus goes on to fulfill Prophecy of the Messiah as He presents Himself as the Gospel, the one who will fulfill the Law and the Prophets on our behalf. For as we saw in the Sermon on the Mount, we are incapable of keeping the Law on our own. Christ Jesus came to fulfill the Law on our behalf so that His righteousness can be imputed to our account. Matthew will continue to give testimony of Jesus as the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ to his Jewish audience. Why? That they might have faith (Romans 10:17). After the Law was preached, we see Jesus perform miracles and highlight faith. So as we continue in Matthew, key in on the Identity of Jesus, the Authority of Jesus, and the role of Faith.

Identity and Authority of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-34 (ESV)

The Cost of Following Jesus

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Jesus Calms a Storm

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. After calming the storm, the men asked “what sort of man is this?” Matthew and Luke key in on this title of Jesus, Son of Man, more than Mark or John did. The focus of each Gospel account is different. Now, there is a lot involved in this title, and for many it seems like a lower title than “Son of God”. The children of Israel consider themselves bearers of the title Sons of God since they are God’s Chosen People. Now, there is a distinction from this general title of sons of God and claiming to be the Son of God as we will see later, for in claiming to be God’s Begotten Son Jesus is claiming equality with God. We aren’t there yet, but Jesus taking the title of Son of Man is no mere turn of phrase. Jesus is already claiming to be the Messiah here, as prophesied in Daniel 7.

Daniel 7:13-18 (ESV) | The Son of Man Is Given Dominion
13 “I saw in the night visions,

and behold, with the clouds of heaven
    there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’

Notice in this prophecy, we have Christ coming with the clouds of heaven and being given dominion and glory and the kingdom… and in its explanation in v18 we see that the saints will receive the kingdom. We do so, In Christ Jesus. The Gospel is on display in Christ’s taking of this label and He will continue to reveal himself to His disciples, the Apostles. And thanks to their work, we now see very clearly the identity and authority of Jesus Christ, amen.

Matthew 8 (cont…) | Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons

28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time? 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs. 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

The demons knew exactly the identity of Jesus, and were aware of a specific time that is coming, but had not yet come. Interesting. They knew Him as the Son of God. Notice also that they were fully aware of His authority to cast them out, and begged Him to allow them to go into the pigs. Don’t get distracted with myths, demonology, or other speculative and vain discussion here, focus on what Matthew is conveying. Jesus is the Son of God and He has authority to cast out demons and they know it.

Matthew 9:1-8 (ESV) | Jesus Heals a Paralytic

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

As a point of Christian Apologetics, there is no room to treat Jesus as merely a good teacher or a prophet of God. If Jesus were not the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, He would have been guilty of blasphemy here. This is where we draw a great deal of confidence in the doctrine of the Trinity. Our sin is against God, and only He has the power to forgive. Jesus is God the Son, and He demonstrated it by means of this miraculous healing. But the point isn’t the healing… though it is miraculous and wonderful, the purpose of the Messiah far exceeds that of temporal healing. He came to forgive sin.

Until Next Week

I look forward to continuing our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Until then, spend some time in the Word with your family and close friends. I pray you are gathering with the saints in an assembly where the Word of God is faithfully and carefully preached, unstained and free from reproach.

1 Timothy 6:13-16 (ESV) 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 8:1-17

bibleTwo weeks ago, we closed out the Sermon on the Mount as recorded for us in the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we paused our study through Matthew to look at Christ’s forgiveness as we moved into Easter Weekend. Today, we are going pick up where we left off beginning in Matthew chapter 8. As we work through the Gospel of Matthew, we are going to also look at the Laws and the Prophets mentioned by Matthew as he records what Jesus said and did to fulfill them. The best way to study the Old Testament is through the lens of the New Testament.

After the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus has closed out the Sermon on the Mount and starts to move down the mountain, being followed by crowds. If you will recall back in Matthew 4 Jesus began His preaching ministry in Galilee. Matthew 4:23 (ESV), “And [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Matthew 8 (ESV)

Matthew 8:1-4 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses a Leper

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Let’s look at what it was that Jesus told the healed leper to do. What is the gift that Moses commanded?

Leviticus 14:1-32 (ESV) | Laws for Cleansing Lepers
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look. Then, if the case of leprous disease is healed in the leprous person, 4 the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. 6 He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. 8 And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent seven days. 9 And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.

10 “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11 And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12 And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. 13 And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand 16 and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17 And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. 19 The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. 20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

21 “But if he is poor and cannot afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil; 22 also two turtledoves or two pigeons, whichever he can afford. The one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 And on the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, before the Lord. 24 And the priest shall take the lamb of the guilt offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. 25 And he shall kill the lamb of the guilt offering. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, 27 and shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the Lord. 28 And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, in the place where the blood of the guilt offering was put. 29 And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the Lord. 30 And he shall offer, of the turtledoves or pigeons, whichever he can afford, 31 one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, along with a grain offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for him who is being cleansed. 32 This is the law for him in whom is a case of leprous disease, who cannot afford the offerings for his cleansing.”

The healing of this leper was no small thing. It’s not like simply having a case of unsightly eczema, this man was ceremonially unclean, unable to engage in worship under the Law of Moses. It is unlikely he could have heard Jesus’s sermon, as He was undoubtedly surrounded by a crowd of Jews. This leper would not have been able to press in or mingle among the crowd. He had to wait for Jesus to be on the move again, so that he could approach the Messiah (though he might not have realized Jesus was the Messiah). Jesus not only healed the man, He did so with a touch of His hand. Matthew doesn’t record how long the man had been a leper, but I know that it doesn’t take long for me to miss a touch of compassion and affection. Yes, Jesus healed his skin, but in touching the man, He undoubtedly touched his heart. Jesus was already being followed by a large crowd, and there was yet much He needed to do so He told the man not to say anything to anyone, but to present himself before the priests as was required of the Law. No doubt this man would present himself before the priests, gather up the required gifts, and begin his 7 day cleansing ritual, culminating in the 8th day sacrifices/cleansing. This wouldn’t always be the case, but for now the Law remains a guardian until the time for Christ to lay down His life as the final sacrifice to make atonement before the Lord for all who are being cleansed.

Matthew 8:5-13 (ESV) | The Faith of a Centurion

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

The faith of this Centurion is remarkable. To get a better idea of who this Centurion was and how it might be that he had learned of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and of Jesus (thus receiving faith) we might take a look at the account in Luke 7:1-10. Matthew, however isn’t focused on the Centurion. Matthew is focused on the Jewish witnesses, the sons of Abraham. Notice what he records Jesus saying to them, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus is prophesying here of the Gentiles being grafted into the Kingdom, while sons of Abraham perish in their sin. This is amazing news… the Good News… the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came first to the Jews, the sons of Abraham, but He came for all of mankind, that through Him all the nations of the earth might be blessed. In Him, we are adopted into the Kingdom, we who were separated from the Promise by birth. Amen.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he addresses an over-reach he sees in the Gentile churches thinking they’ve completely supplanted the Jews or the sons of the kingdom. He makes it clear that such is only a temporary state, Romans 11:25 (ESV)Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

Matthew 8:14-17 (ESV) | Jesus Heals Many

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Every commentary and cross-reference I’ve consulted points to Isaiah 53:4. This is interesting because we see interpretation going on rather than direct translation/quotation.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)
1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
 stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
   and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Matthew isn’t only talking about the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law, or the others healed in that house. As we saw in the account of the leper’s healing, Jesus touched the leprous man to heal him and then told him to observe the Law of Moses in presenting himself to the priests. The man’s leprosy wasn’t just about being sick, it was about being unclean. Matthew’s audience isn’t like our secular society that creates a false barrier between sickness and sinfulness. The Jews understood that our griefs, sorrows, sickness, and disease are all the result of sin. Matthew, in his Holy Spirit inspired interpretation of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Jesus, is moving toward the fullness of the Gospel and its eternal fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets in that He will take away our sin at the Cross. We’ll see in Chapter 9 Jesus saying point-blank, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Matt 9:5 ESV). The two are connected in that all forms of death in this life are the result of sin. Sadly, many a false teacher misrepresents this Truth as the lie that all who are saved will never be sick. The bible doesn’t promise us that for this life. In this life we will have struggle, for His Glory. Our total and complete healing, freedom from our bodies of corruption, come at the Resurrection.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | The Forgiveness of Jesus Christ

bibleLast week we closed out Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount series as found in the Gospel According to Matthew chapters 5 through 7. It took us several weeks to work through the sermon. The whole time we’ve been pointing out how deeply Jesus was teaching the Law while being the Gospel in the flesh. This weekend, we celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Western holiday of Easter. Today, we are going to skip ahead in Matthew to examine the Gospel of Jesus… how what He did for us saves us and how Only by Him we can know true forgiveness. This will not be exhaustive, so we will work through these passages again when we get to the end of Matthew.

Indeed All Have Sinned…

God sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life on our behalf. He perfectly fulfills the entirety of the Law and the Prophets. Think about that… He did what was and still is completely impossible for us to do, and He did it not to be “an example for us to follow” (for no one can follow that example); rather, He did it so that He could die in our place, paying for our sin, and imputing His righteousness onto all who Believe in Him, by Grace through Faith. Amazing.

Matthew 26 (ESV)The Plot to Kill Jesus

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Even unbelievers acknowledge (at least here in the West) that the Jewish leaders were responsible for plotting against Jesus. Notice here, though, that Jesus was absolutely clear in what he said to His disciples. He tells them plainly that He was going to be crucified. Despite His clear warning, they didn’t understand the Scriptures that pointed to the cross.

Matthew 26:14-25 (ESV) | Judas to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23 He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”25 Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I,Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Judas was one of the twelve. One of the one called by Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. One who had seen everything, heard everything, and was so convincingly “one of them” that the other disciples didn’t see it coming. Judas plotted to betray Jesus. How did he manage to slip away and meet with the chief priests? The text does not say, and it really doesn’t matter. The fact is that he deliberately chose to betray the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver.

These are criminal acts against the Creator, but there is more to come. While it is clear that the world hated Jesus enough to kill Him, and Judas betrayed Him for money (and whatever other motives compelled him), but we’ll see that the other disciples will also fail Him.

Matthew 26:30-32 (ESV)

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.31 Then Jesus said to them, You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Every single one of them will fall away from Him that night. They will flee. They will run. They will be scattered. This is a scary notion, the idea that they would fall away from Christ. Before we go into Peter’s rebuttal and fall into the typical “hot-headed Peter” discussion, I wonder if Peter was reacting more to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 16:

Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV) 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 lifewill 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?

Perhaps he realized there was more at stake than just dying. Jesus had already advised them that saving your own life is pointless if in doing so you forfeit your soul. No doubt all of them are still working out what to do about Judas’s betrayal and its ramifications as Jesus instituted Communion. Maybe this was going on in the background, or maybe Peter was just insulted at the idea that they would not only suffer the Lord to be crucified but that they would all flee in fear for their lives in just a few hours. Whatever the case, Peter doesn’t just object… he swears and oath… to the Son of God. And his fellow disciples who remained did likewise.

Matthew 26 (ESV) cont…

33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Peter presumed to correct Jesus. Not me, Lord, I will never! Even if all of these brothers fall away, Not me. Surely, you can’t mean me, too.  Jesus then specifically tells Peter “yes, you, thrice”. Again, Peter swears on his life that he will not deny Christ. My heart breaks for Peter here… I suppose because I know where this story is going, but also because I’ve uttered equally rash, prideful, even boastful statements in my ignorance before. I’ve had them blow up in my face. I’ve seen the hurt and the betrayal in the eyes of a loved one when such an oath is demonstrated as false. I’ve watched the trust and respect drain from their eyes as the truth of my sin and error are revealed. I also know that in my worst moments… none could compare to what Peter is about to face in a few hours.

Matthew 26:57-75 (ESV)

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

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

Oh, dear Peter. He had sworn to Jesus that he would not deny Christ, much less 3 times. However, that very night, not only did he deny it, he swore an oath and invoked a curse on himself in his denial. Indeed, everyone had fallen away from Jesus that very night. All had sinned… even His disciples.

Matthew 27:3-5 (ESV)

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself. And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

Judas “repented” here, but sought to fix the error himself. Judas went to the chief priests and elders (those who hated Jesus and rejected the Son of God) for his absolution, and received none. What is that to us? was their reaction, and See to it yourself was their charge. The world will treat you harshly for repenting, for recanting their views, and for even suggesting that they are wrong. Judas wasn’t just saying he had done wrong, he was telling the chief priests and elders that they shared in his sin… and they turned on him. Indeed, Judas had sinned and was utterly and totally lost… but rather than turn to Jesus, he took his own life.

What takes place next I hope will be covered at your local churches on Good Friday or Easter Sunday services. We will cover this in detail at a later date, but we are in no way a replacement for your local church. I want to follow Peter, our brokenhearted Apostle. For that, we’ll have to jump to the Gospel According to John.

John 21:1-19 (ESV)| Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jesus returned, sought out His disciples, called them to Himself again, and prepared a a meal for them. Then He addressed Peter, directly, and restored him. Relief from our sin isn’t immediate, and each of us will have to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Peter would end up doing this literally. Peter was restored by Grace, by Jesus Christ the Son of God. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. Jesus laid down His life so that in the Resurrection, God the Father wouldn’t see Peter’s sin of denial; rather, He would see the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, imputed to Peter by Grace through Faith.

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

That same promise is available to you and to me:

Acts 2:38-41 (ESV)

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying ,“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Until Next Week…

I pray you and your families spend time together this weekend. Remember Christ, the Cross, and the Resurrection. Remember your Baptism, remember the Promise of His Return.

Romans 15:5-6 (ESV) May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 7

bibleLast week we looked at Jesus’ teaching regarding anxiety and where we should put our hope and our focus. Today, we are going to look at how the Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 7. I didn’t do a great job of planning out how to segment Chapters 6 and 7, so today we’ll just knock out the whole chapter today. Next week, we’ll be jumping ahead to the fulfillment of the Gospel at the cross in time for Easter.

Summing Up the Law and the Prophets

As we close out the sermon on the mount, we will see Jesus take all of the teaching on Worship and service for our fellow-man, with our focus on treasures in heaven and our anxiety, hope, and trust laid firmly at the throne of God, how are we to conduct ourselves?

Matthew 7 (ESV)

Judging Others

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The first section is often misquoted and twisted to rebuke any who declare Truth in the face of error, and rebuke sin and falsehood. Is Jesus saying we are not to rebuke sinfulness? Absolutely not. This section needs to be read in context of the entire sermon, both what has already been spoken and what is still coming later in the chapter. Let’s look at how Jesus followed up His demonstration of how we are to pray in the preceding chapter.

Matthew 6:9-15 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is a difference between identifying sin and falsehood, and sitting in judgement over our neighbor. Don’t let anyone silence you from preaching God’s Law, practicing discernment, or rebuking sin. However, in your rebuke, discernment, or preaching of the Law do not stop short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation. And when your brother (or sister) repents, forgive him (or her) for the sake of the Gospel and for our own forgiveness according to Jesus. To sit in judgement over a brother or a sister, is to place yourself in the wrong seat. Jesus Christ is the Judge. We are to provide counsel to our brothers and sisters, and some of us are called to shepherd Christ’s flock, but we will all answer to the Judge, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Verse 6 is a tough verse. As we deal with it in this present context, it seems to be addressing those to whom both Law and Gospel have been preached yet they remain unrepentant. Bearing in mind that we are NOT to take the judgment seat and damn the unbeliever to hell for their unbelief, we also shouldn’t attempt to pour out holy gifts (of teaching, sound doctrine, and eternal promises) unbelievers. For an unrepentant, faithless, generation will simply trample these things underfoot and turn to attack you. Let that be a warning to those caught up in the “churching the unchurched” bandwagon. Church is for believers, for the repentant sinner-saved-by-grace, not for the unbelieving. For this understanding, I’m drawing heavily from the Reformation Study Bible’s cross-reference to Acts 13.

Acts 13:44-51 (ESV)
44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

In that last portion, we see Paul and Barnabas doing as Jesus taught His disciples when He sent them out (Matthew 10:13-15). If any place would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet against them and move on.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont.. | Ask, and It Will Be Given

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Now, regarding verses 7 through 11, what is the context of this promise? Growing up in Pentecostal churches, I’ve heard this passage used to justify asking anything of God and expecting it to be given to me. In the previous chapter, Jesus expressly commanded His hearers not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth. He is not now opening the prayer requests as some sort of prosperity vending machine. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, don’t be anxious for what you will eat or what you will wear… set your sights on upward call toward Heaven, and God will meet your needs. We’ll address this again when we reach Matthew 10 and look at how Jesus instructed His disciples in going out. This teaching bears weight in those instructions. Yes, God the Father gives good gifts, and He will meet our needs. But our inheritance is stored up for us in Heaven.

The Golden Rule, as it is often called, is to do for others what you would wish for them to do for you. This should guide our Worship of God through our service to our neighbors. Don’t let anyone presume to skip the Greatest Commandment and hold only to the second commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself”, for without the first, the second is impossible. Jesus laid that out already at the start of this sermon on the mount.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont…

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Notice how quickly after summarizing how we are to conduct ourselves and deal with our brothers and sisters Jesus turns to the matter of discernment and false teachers. Guard your doctrine. Hold fast to sound doctrine, the Word of God. Remember this whenever someone tries to use the beginning of this chapter to silence Biblical discernment and just rebuke. This whole section goes together. What is the fruit of a false prophet? False teaching and false doctrine. When you recognize the thorns and thistles on the tree, you don’t continue looking for figs. Do not wait for the floods to come and knock down the house to then ask the question, “should I be building my house on this sand?”

Can a false teacher be forgiven? Yes, but not without repentance.  Are we to call them to repentance? Absolutely. If they remain in their unbelief, we do not move from the preaching of repentance, we do not cast pearls before swine, neither do we endure their false teaching.

Romans 10:5-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

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

Indeed it does.

Matthew 7 (ESV) cont… | The Authority of Jesus

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

All authority in heaven and on earth were given to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Until Next Week…

We will pause our working through the Gospel According to Matthew, and take a look at Christ’s finished work on the Cross in preparation for Easter Sunday. After Easter, we will pick back up beginning in Matthew 8, hopefully keeping these posts shorter as we address each account in smaller bits. Until then, be blessed, and continue to spend time in the Words of Christ.

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge