Reflection on Matthew 9:35-10:8

harvest

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+9.35-10.8

Scripture

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment , give without payment.”

Observation

Jesus goes about teaching and preaching and healing all kinds of sickness. He has compassion on the people of Israel and tells the disciples they need to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the fields.

Jesus gives His twelve disciples authority then sends them out to preach the kingdom, to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons.

Application

Jesus sent out His closest disciples with a fairly broad commission to continue His work by healing people and preaching His message of the Kingdom.

They did this successfully even before Jesus had died and risen, and before they had received the Holy Spirit. We who have the Holy Spirit fail to do these things because we do not trust in the authority that is ours in Christ.

Everything in God’s kingdom is about authority not about power. God has all the power to do as He pleases, but He has chosen to delegate all that to His disciples- that is to you and me.

We have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead- that is the Holy Spirit.

We also have authority from Christ to heal the sick, preach the gospel and raise the dead.

I think that the problem is simply we lack faith. Not lack of faith in God but lack of faith in God’s ability and willingness to use me.

We have the Holy Spirit with us always. We have the authority of Christ to proclaim His reign. Let’s be obedient and trusting to His command.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have given me all authority. Help me to grasp that authority and see your kingdom revealed as I walk with you each day. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 21:1-11

palm-sunday

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21.1-11

Scripture

When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking “Who is this man?”

Observation

Jesus and His disciples arrive at Bethphage, near Jerusalem. He sends two of the disciples into the village to collect a donkey and a colt. This was to fulfil the prophecy.

The disciples do as Jesus directed them, and He mounts the donkey to enter Jerusalem. People cut down branches to throw on the road before Him, and everyone shouts “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

His arrival stirs up much turmoil in the city/

Application

Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem stirred up much excitement, interest and discussion in the city. People were asking, “Who is this man?”

The way we answer the question , “Who is Jesus?” is fundamentally important, as our answer determines our life direction and our eternal destiny.

Some people say that He was a good teacher of a good moral example. But He portrayed Himself as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. If this was not true, He was neither a good teacher nor a moral example.

Some say He was a political revolutionary. Yet He failed to deliver any political gains against the establishment. Within a week Jesus would be dead, a public failure. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” denying any political objectives.

So we are left with the conclusion that Jesus truly was the Son of God. He alone can save us by forgiving our sins and reconciling us to God.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, people still ask, as they did then, “Who is this man?” I declare that you are my Lord and Saviour, the one who brings freedom, healing and direction to my life. Help me to show others how to follow you. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 4:1-11

temptation

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+4.1-11

Scripture

Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Observation

Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. He fasts for 40 days and nights.

The devil then comes to Jesus with three temptations. First, he suggests that Jesus turns stones into bread to relieve the hunger from fasting. Jesus rebukes him with the scripture about man not living by bread alone.

The devil takes Jesus to a high place, telling Him to throw Himself down and trust angels to save Him. Again Jesus rebukes the devil with Scripture.

Finally the devil tries to appeal to Jesus’ human pride. He tells Jesus to worship the devil and all the glories of the world will be His. Jesus replies by telling the devil to leave, for God has commanded that we are to worship Him alone.

Application

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. The word translated as “led” literally means to “cast out.” The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness in order to be tempted.

It is often said that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not make us do anything against our will. In some ways this is generally true, but there are times when the Holy Spirit is insistent, almost violent.

If I am serious about following Jesus, there will be many times when I feel pushed into doing things I would prefer not to.

Here, Jesus is pushed into a confrontation that everything in His human nature must have recoiled from. A long period of fasting followed by a full-on battle with satan is not something anyone would willingly embrace.

It is also said that God does not lead us to temptation. Maybe not, but here the Holy Spirit drove Jesus to a place specifically to be tempted by satan.

God allows us to face temptation in order to strengthen our resolve to follow Him. Standing firm against concerted testing enables us to know that we have won a victory in Christ. Failing under temptation shows that we need more of the Holy Spirit. Temptation is a win- win, even when we lose!

Prayer

Holy Spirit, when testing and temptation come to me, help me to look to you for the answer. Please make me stronger in my faith. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 17:1-9

transfiguration

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+17.1-9

Scripture

After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Observation

Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain by themselves. There His appearance is changed so that His clothes and face shine like the sun. Then Moses and Elijah also appear with Him.

Peter babbles on about building shelters, but he is interrupted by a voice from the cloud which says, “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

The disciples are terrified, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

Application

Jesus led a small group up a mountain for a revelation of His true nature.

Our culture, including our church culture, is obsessed with big events. Bigger, it seems, is always better.

But here we have a small group of believers, Peter, James and John, on a small group retreat (a leadership retreat, perhaps) whose sole purpose is to receive a revelation of Jesus.

He leads. They follow. He reveals.

This is a model for discipleship everywhere:

  • Jesus leads us step by step

  • We follow the best way we know

  • He gives a new revelation of His nature and His purpose for us.

  • The cycle is repeated.

This cycle of discipleship applies also to cell groups. This passage shows that revelation comes most clearly in the presence of a small group of people who are determined to follow Jesus together.

We don’t know much about the journey up or back down the mountain. There would have been talking, banter, fellowship and teaching. They were on a journey together, and in the middle of the journey there is given a new insight into Jesus.

We need one another. The church is meant to be a community of people who encourage and build one another up along the way. That community building happens most effectively in small groups.

Big meetings are great for their own purpose, but we also need small groups of believers seeking God together.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you that in our walk with you there is always more to discover. Thank you for the people you have put in my life who help me to learn more of you and to see more of who you are. Amen.

 

Reflection on Matthew 5:38-48

fight

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5.38-48

Scripture

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-doer”

Observation

Jesus takes the principles of the Law and extend their application to lengths that seem (and actually are) impossible to fulfil.

An eye for an eye becomes do not resist an evil-doer.

If someone sues you, give them more than is their due.

Love you neighbour becomes love your enemy because to be like the Father we have to love those who hate us.

The people of this world can be kind to people they like. It takes the grace of God to love our enemies.

Application

How do I live my daily life in the context of the radical love of God?

Revenge, even in the limited version allowed in the Jewish Law seems appropriate to most people. The Law of Moses allowed that a person who was injured by another person could take a legally sanctioned retribution in which the perpetrator was injured to the same extent as the victim. So then you have two maimed people, and the injuries of the victim are still there.

Jesus says, “Do not resist an evil-doer.” How does this apply when your house is invaded by people who want to harm you and your family?

Many Americans, and I suppose many people from most cultures, whether christians or not, subscribe to the philosophy of “Do unto others before they do unto you.” In other words a loaded gun beside the bed is your best protection.

How does that tie in with “Do not resist evil doers”?

Jesus tells us not to meet violence with violence, but with a defiant form of non-violence. “Turn the other cheek.”

Most of us do not often face extreme violence such as robbery or assault. Our situation is more likely a daily slap in the face- contemptuous put-downs, mischievous harassment. In those situations, Jesus tells us to show kindness to those who show us hatred, to love those who do us wrong. Rather than retaliation we choose a higher path of peace and love.

When our physical safety is threatened the odds are higher. But the principle is the same- remove the threat without harming the person. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a christian in ISIS controlled territory, or to go through a violent home invasion. In those situations we need the grace of Jesus to follow Him even in great suffering or at the point of death.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you sometimes challenge our thinking on what is right and good. The standard “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” is too high for us. Help me to surrender myself to your grace in every situation. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 5:13-20

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/search?%s=Matthew+5.13-20

Scripture

“In the same way , let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Observation

We are salt and light. Salt must keep its saltiness or else it is no good. In the same way a light must shine out to be of any use. Our light must shine as good deeds that people see and then glorify God.

Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. The Law will be present in all its fullness until the time of its completion. Therefore, anyone who teaches people to disobey it will be least in the Kingdom of God.

Application

Jesus tells us to let our light shine before others that in seeing our good deeds they will glorify God.

Don’t hide your light. People need to recognise the light of God’s Spirit in out lives. It is too easy to conform to the values and the deeds of the world in our daily life. We must enable the values of God’s kingdom to flow through every aspect of life. This is not just moral values but the power of the Holy Spirit, the light that has come into the world which darkness cannot overcome, the person of Jesus.

Our good deeds are deeds of love and grace which change the environment around us. When people are puling others down, we build up. When people mock Christ we praise Him. We shine forth the gospel in our love for God and for our neighbours.

The goal is for people to glorify God. Everything I do should draw people closer to a revelation of the living God. A light does not exist to shine for itself; it shines so that people can see something else. My good deeds do not serve to make people like me; they serve to make people like God.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ let your light shine through me that people will glorify our Father. Please show me how to let the light out. Amen.