Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:57 thru 28

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 27:11-56.

Last week’s look within Matthew 27 took us from Pilate to the Cross. Today we’ll be closing out the Gospel According to Matthew. It’s been a long journey through this Gospel, and I’ve really enjoyed our time in the Word these several weeks.

Matthew 27:57-28:20 (ESV)

Matthew 27:57-61 (ESV) | Jesus Is Buried

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Matthew 27:62-66 (ESV) | The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Notice how the chief priests and the Pharisees still insist in their unbelief that Jesus was an impostor. Their motivation is one of fear and envy, though. Notice that they were not the least bit comforted for having put a blasphemer to death (such was the false-accusation against Christ). Had their actions been borne of faith in a Living God, what would they have to fear of an “impostor”? But they lacked faith, and the god they served was not the One True GOD. As Jesus told them directly, they served their father the devil, who was a liar from the beginning.

John 8:39-47 (ESV) | You Are of Your Father the Devil
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

And now these schemers find themselves in opposition to the Son of God. They now scheme to prevent the prophecy of Christ’s Resurrection from coming to pass… as if the will of men could in any way hinder the Will of God. These men have deluded themselves into projecting onto the disciples some scheme of stealing the body and claiming the resurrection. The protection they set in place is overkill for preventing a band of Galileans from stealing a corpse… yet it is a pathetic attempt to stop the Hand of God.

Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV) | The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.

The guards fainted. It is so frustrating to hear modern-day false prophets/teachers speak so flippantly about encounters with heavenly beings. Now, as for the women, the angel told them not to be afraid and gave them the good news of His resurrection. Yet, as they departed they were still with fear and great joy. Interesting how such seemingly opposing emotions can coexist for a time. Clearly the fear experienced was as great as the joy brought by the good news. Notice here that Jesus appears to them again to tell them “Do not be afraid”. That’s awesome. Jesus showed up, while they were on their way filled with fear and joy, to comfort them and confirm the word of the Lord spoken to them by an angel.

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV) | The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

And still not a hint of repentance to be found. Truly these chief priests and the elders were condemned in their unbelief. A miraculous sign, and angelic being, and an empty tomb in keeping with the prophecy of Jesus concerning His own death and resurrection was performed in front of a most hardened and credible witness… the very guard they put in place to secure the tomb… and their hearts remained of stone. Indeed this lie persists unto this day, in many forms, some even within groups claiming to be the church, denying the real death and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

At this point, Matthew has presented the story of Christ’s fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah to his Jewish audience. Where other writers share more of what takes place after the resurrection, Matthew sums it up rather quickly and then closes with what we refer to as the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul summed up the sequence of events succinctly in his letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Indeed we can rest assured that the account of His death and resurrection is credible, reliable, and true.

Until Next Week

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament as we move into advent season and Christmas. I’m not yet sure how our Gospel Wednesday will proceed after this holiday season, but we will continue spending time in God’s Word and sharing it with the readers of this blog.

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 23

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 22.

Last week’s look at Matthew 22 ended after the silencing of the Sadduccees. Jesus then stumped the Pharisees with a question on who the Christ is and we learn with the closing statement from the writer that from that time forward none would seek to trip Jesus up in His words. If you remember from the past couple of weeks that we’ve been reading these encounters in light of the demonstrated parable of Jesus cursing the fruitless fig tree and it withering up and dying. The religious leaders, the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees are the fruitless fig trees being cursed for their lack of fruit. What follows in today’s reading, is the final declarations of curses or woes to the scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23 (ESV)

Matthew 23: 1-36 (ESV) | Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Seven woe’s to the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy… but it was more than that. As we see at the beginning, they sit on Moses’ seat. They were given the highest authority under the Law. Remember what James tells us in the first verse of chapter 3, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” And being the ones charged with overseeing Israel, they were lost in unbelief, not able to recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and actually waging war against Him.

Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV) | Lament over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Here we see Jesus crying out over Jerusalem… not just over His last 3 years or so of ministry; rather, for centuries before the Word became flesh and walked among us. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ lamenting over Jerusalem and her unwillingness to submit to Him. The closing comment is interesting, because it is what the crowds were singing back in Chapter 21, but now they were not singing it. So the triumphal entry, while it was itself a fulfillment of prophecy pointing to the Messiah is here pointed out as a foreshadowing of the next time we will see Christ… the next and final time, Praise be to God.

Now at this point, some tend to use this chapter to support a notion that Jerusalem is permanently doomed until the Judgement, when Christ Returns. I think the Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the Romans regarding this thought bears some reading.

Romans 11:25-36 (ESV) | The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation

25 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. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Paul’s writing is… well, as Peter put it, “There are some things in them that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:14-17 ESV)”. But what we can understand, is that the hardening of Israel is both partial and for our (Gentile) benefit… but Israel is still part of God’s eternal plan.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 24. We’ve worked through this chapter once before when we were working through our eschatology. We’ll work through it once more and I think it is wonderful timing given the recent rash of doomsday prognostications engaging in fear-mongering for selfish gain (4 blood moons, Mystery of the Shemitah, and now the Super-Shemitah). 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

DiM | Dressed for Worship Inside and Out

closetWhen Christians gather together… how should we be dressed for Worship? While working on this week’s Gospel Wednesday post, my mind kept working on the parable of the wedding feast, particularly focused on the issue of being dressed for the wedding. This past summer we saw a lot of blogs raising the call for modesty (a particular issue for summer frivolities) in dress for women and a couple for men. I wanted to address this topic in a less seasonal sense.

For those who haven’t read our weekly devotional, let’s review the parable.

Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV) | The Parable of the Wedding Feast

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Now, the primary focus of this parable is one of faith in Jesus as the Christ, Son of the Living God. The Pharisees lacked faith and rejected the Son of the King, despite having been given their invitation through the Law of Moses (for they were teachers of the Law and overseers over God’s chosen people). To close out this thought, before moving to today’s slightly related topic, let us look to Revelation 7.

Revelation 7:9-14 (ESV) | A Great Multitude from Every Nation

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

How Should We Dress for Corporate Worship?

The ceremonial law within the Mosaic covenant had detailed prescriptions for the priests serving God in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. There were also some guidelines for the children of Israel. In the New Testament, we see much more emphasis on how we are adorned in our inner-being. Let’s look at those passages, beginning in 1 Timothy, since Paul is giving clear instruction to Timothy in how he is to oversee the churches that have been established.

1 Timothy 2:8-15 (ESV)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Okay, so let’s address the obvious right away… Paul is clear in establishing distinct roles for men and women within the Church. His rationale is based in the Creation, not in society or misogyny. I’d also like to point out that Paul isn’t saying that braided hair, gold, pearls, or even costly attire are sinful in themselves. He is saying that they are not the means of establishing what is respectable apparel., nor do these things truly adorn women who profess godliness. What matters is faith, love, holiness, with self-control. Ladies, adorn yourselves with modesty, self-control, and good works.

It might be tempting to cry foul of the disproportionate level of instruction given to men and to women here. I mean, so far men are told to life holy hands without anger or quarreling, while women were given a long list and told they could not hold authority over men, what gives? Well, that temptation would seem valid if we failed to continue reading on into the next chapter.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (ESV) | Qualifications for Overseers

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Qualifications for Deacons

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

So, Paul lays out the qualifications of holding a position of authority in the church. Notice that in the qualifications of a deacon, the character of his wife is also included. Wives, while you are not eligible for positions of authority over men within the church, your character as a wife is a contributing factor in the consideration of your husband for the office of deacon.

More on “Costly Attire” and “First-World Problems”

Now, sometimes there is a form of legalism that creeps in and tries to “adjust for inflation” so to speak and condemn Christians dealing with first-world problems here in the US for not realizing how rich they are compared to poor people in Somalia. These are seeking to engage in an empty piety contest of words and should be silenced. What is costly attire to one person may not be costly to another; therefore, it does not serve as a flat-rate measurement of adornment, regardless of whatever calculation man wishes to place on it. God looks on the heart, and He placed each of us on this Earth, in this moment, and in our circumstances for His Glory Alone. That is not to say that the rich get a pass by virtue of being rich. Skipping ahead a bit in 1 Timothy, I’d like to look at how Paul specifically addresses the rich.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

And those who are not rich must guard their hearts from desiring to be rich:

1 Timothy 6:3-10 (ESV)

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

The focus is still on godliness in the inner-being. We skipped over it, but Paul gives a quick statement in chapter 5 that bears this out.

1 Timothy 5:24-25 (ESV)

24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

What fruit are we producing, fruit of the Spirit or corruption of the flesh?

Okay, But What Practical Applications?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s begin first with the leaders of the church and work toward the congregation.

Firstly, let’s talk a bit about what the Pastor is wearing as he preaches/teaches God’s Word to the congregation of the saints. I confess that growing up in NAR/Pentecostal churches, I disqualified any Pastor who was wearing a robe or other priestly garments because clearly they were copying the Pope. The liturgical vestments were haughty, gaudy, and self-serving and falsely separated them from the rest of the body of Christ. Mind you, this was while I was in a church that had a “prophetic dance team” with uniforms, banners, and ribbons… woefully inconsistent… I have repented, but it still stings. Does the New Testament prescribe specific priestly garments for pastors? No. Is there anything inherently wrong with wearing a robe, sash, clerical collar, or cope? No. Is there anything inherently holy about such garments? Nope.

Matthew 23:16-19 (ESV)

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

I hope I didn’t lose you with that quote. We’ll be looking at this passage next week, so please forgive me for having it freshly in my mind right now. The reason I bring this up now is look at the logic Jesus is using in His rebuke against the Pharisees. We’ve been reading Paul’s instruction to Timothy focusing on character of the worshiper. The Temple was the center of Jewish worship, yet the Pharisees concocted backwards regulations because they were blind to the truth, that it wasn’t the adornments that made the Temple, it was the Temple that made the adornments. Similarly, it isn’t the clothing that makes (or unmakes) the Pastor, but his character, what he preaches, and how he handles the Word of God.

So how should one physically dress for the assembling together with the saints for corporate worship? The first thing is to put on the armor of God (I know, that’s inside, we dress from the inside out).

Ephesians 6:14-20 (ESV)

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Church is for the gathering of the saints. We invite our friends to hear the gospel and to meet our brothers and sisters in Christ, sure… but until the Lord opens their ears and eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ church isn’t FOR them… they are not yet dressed for Worship, for in their unbelief they only worship gods of their own making.

How we are dressed on the inward being will reflect in the outward. Sometimes it is conspicuous, other times it develops slowly. We should dress in a manner that will not draw undue attention away from the Worship service. We should consider the cultural norms and do our very best not to be a stumbling block to our neighbors and to be thought well of by unbelievers. There is a great deal of Christian Liberty here which involves a great deal of individual responsibility and accountability to the Body of Christ.

Regarding ceremonial/liturgical attire, those garments are not for the ones not wearing them; they are for the ones wearing them to be cognizant of their duties and responsibilities. Can they become a distraction and a point of boasting for their wearers? Yes… in the same way that being the cool hipster on a stage with his iPad can be. We might dedicate a later post to the topic of pastoral attire at a later date. For now, I think this gives us some good groundwork for how we are to come dressed for Worship.

Romans 14:17-23 (ESV)

17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 22

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 21.

Last week’s look at Matthew 21 ended with a look at 2 parables Jesus taught that clearly rebuked the Pharisees for having a form (appearance) of godliness, but lacking fruit… just like the fig tree He cursed. We’ll pick up in the same vein with another of Jesus’ parables.

Matthew 22 (ESV)

Matthew 22:1-14 (ESV) | The Parable of the Wedding Feast

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The kingdom of heaven sent out invitations, yet those who were invited ignored the call to the wedding, and some even mistreated and killed the servants of the King. So the King widened the call because of the unworthiness of the invited. Still, the King did not accept the unworthy, and those not clothed for a wedding were cast out. This is a very interesting parable. I see a lot of parallel here with what Paul taught in Romans 11. I’m going to intentionally avoid a deep-dive into certain schools of thought and their academic squabbles (dispensationalism, covenantalism, replacement theology, etc.) and just focus on the patterns we see in the parable and how we see the Gospel of Jesus Christ being demonstrated. The Kingdom of Heaven has a King and a Son who is getting married. The wedding feast is prepared and a specific set of invitations have gone out. Clearly the King sent out His invitations by His own free will. He is the King. He determines who is invited. That those who were invited to the wedding did not come only serves to condemn them as unworthy… it has no bearing on the King’s authority. The King then opens the invitation to everyone and sends His servants out to gather all, both good and bad. The King has not changed the event, it is still a wedding feast for His Son. The call has gone out to the ends of the earth… but not all who are called will be dressed for the wedding, and those who are not dressed for the wedding will not be chosen, though they were indeed called. Why would someone who is allowed to attend the wedding feast of the Son, without an official invitation, still not come dressed for a wedding? Unbelief in the Son to whose wedding feast you’ve been brought.

John 3:17-18 (ESV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

One thing is for sure, the Pharisees were not only targeted as those who ignored their invitations to the wedding feast, but those who mistreated and killed the servants of the King sent to remind them of their invitations. As we saw after the last parable in chapter 21, the Pharisees already realized that Jesus was talking about them.

Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV) | Paying Taxes to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and for dismissing the Law of God for their traditions. Their response: they plotted in how to entangle Him in is words. I find it funny that in our day, those who rebuke false teachers of hypocrisy, self-righteousness and for dismissing the Law of God for their ideas/inclinations/dreams are called Pharisees while the false teachers spin and plot to entangle the discerning in their words.

Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV) | Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Jesus says they were wrong because they didn’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God. Jesus cut to the very underlying premise of this question as utterly false. These were religious leaders who were teaching falsely in addition to the sin of the Pharisees. This is probably the worst attempt at tripping Jesus up. Jesus didn’t only dismiss the question, but struck down a doctrinal distinctive of their sect.

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 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.

We’ve looked at this teaching before, mostly from the Gospel According to Luke. Many Christians make the mistake of thinking this is a Gospel truth… it isn’t… Jesus is answering a question of the Law. This is a Law we cannot keep ourselves, therefore, it exposes our sin. We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sin and to cleanse us from our unrighteousness until the Day of His Return.

Matthew 22:41-46 (ESV) | Whose Son Is the Christ?

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? ”They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

And with that, Jesus ended the “debate” stage of the war against the unbelieving religious rulers. Remember that this is after the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where Jesus fulfilled prophesy of the Messiah, the Christ, and everyone was singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:1-17)

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through chapter 23. We’ll work through Jesus’ judgement against the scribes and Pharisees and His lament over Israel. It’s not pretty, and it is quite damning. I think this next chapter is the equivalent of Jesus’ curse against the fig tree. 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 13:1-51

bibleLast week, we took a look at the last portion of Matthew 12. It was such a wonderful story we ended up jumping over to the Gospel of Mark to really explore what was taking place at this time. To get back into the timeline in Matthew’s Account, let’s review it once more before jumping into Chapter 13.

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV) | Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Parables

Matthew 13:1-51 (ESV)

The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

What Jesus teaches here is wonderful. This is Jesus teaching about what takes place when 4 different types of people hear the word of the Kingdom being preached. So much conjecture in the church (and some fear mongering) about “false conversions” and stuff… Jesus explained clearly here what happens. The real focus in the church should be fixed on whether or not the seed is indeed the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of men.

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

Prophecy and Parables

34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. 35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables;
    I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

With the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, we see depictions of evangelism. Like the parable of the sower, the man who plants the mustard seed and the woman who hides the leaven in flour do nothing more than wait for the appointed time. In the parable of the sower, the sower sows the seed (the word of the Kingdom) and then does nothing more. Our role in evangelism is to preach the Words of Christ, sow the seed. God does the work through His Word. Jesus Christ builds His church… our part is clearly defined: preach the Word. Now, the parable of the weeds is a little different, and Jesus explains that one to us next.

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This is no speculative venture. This isn’t reckless. It is assured by faith in Jesus Christ. There is also no safety net, no 30-day guarantee, no trial period, no test drive. One does not “give Jesus a chance”, that is not the Gospel. Reciting “the sinner’s prayer” doesn’t lock you in, either. This isn’t about what you say with your mouth only. The moment a person hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the word of the Kingdom, and understands it and believes in the Son, that person has been given faith. That is a work of the Holy Spirit, opening up the ears of the hearer to hear. He who has ears, let him hear.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This parable is a return to the theme of the parable of the weeds, with a focus on the Day of Christ’s return. This is one another of Christ’s teaching that leads me away from any notion of a secret rapture. Jesus didn’t teach it, nor did He include it in His direct teaching/prophecy of the last days.

New and Old Treasures

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 

We have been blessed with the writings/teachings of the old testament and that of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, those who laid the foundation of His church, with Christ as its cornerstone. Let us strive to understand all that has been written and given to us, so that we might be trained for the kingdom of Heaven, being faithful stewards of the House of God, the Church.

Until Next Week…

Next week, Matthew’s account will take a shift from the parables back to His public ministry. He will continue teaching, and Matthew makes it a point to testify of His mighty public works. Jesus’ ministry was no secret, hidden thing, God made Himself known to the people. Some exciting stuff ahead, I hope to see you here next week.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge