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Matthew 10

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, APRIL 7

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 10

This chapter contains so much it is hard to know where to start.  For example, there is some interesting stuff about disciples and apostles.  There is a discourse on how the Gospel was first taken to the Jews. The Jews’ rejection of the Gospel meant that it would be brought to us Gentiles.  (Gentile is a Bible word that refers to everyone who is not a Jew.)  There is some eschatology.  (Eschatology is a theology word that refers to the last days.)  There is some cool stuff about how much God actually cares for us.  There is some difficult stuff about how the Gospel actually separates people.  Then the chapter ends with some much needed words about rewards.  So, out of all of that, what do you pick?  

I think I will tackle the disciple/apostle topic and we will see where it goes…  When the chapter opens, we find Jesus calling His twelve disciples.  In verse 2, however, those twelve disciples were called apostles.  So, what are they: disciples or apostles?

The word disciple simply means learner.  But in a New Testament context it refers to someone who follows a “teacher” to learn how to live like that teacher lives.  In the Christian context, it refers to someone who follows Jesus to learn to live like Jesus.  The word apostle means “one sent forth”.  In context it refers to someone sent by Jesus with a particular purpose or mission.

By definition then, a disciple is somehow different from an apostle.  Although the twelve apostles were disciples, not all disciples were apostles.  Biblically, an apostle is one who saw the resurrected Christ and received his commission from Jesus.  Furthermore, the original apostles laid the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).  Based upon those Biblical requirements, I don’t think anyone today be an apostle. 

The New Testament talks about crowds of people following Jesus.  Although there certainly could have been disciples in those crowds, not everyone in those crowds could be considered a disciple.  Sometimes people chase Jesus just to see what they can get out of it.  In other words, just following after Jesus doesn’t necessarily make you a disciple.  Discipleship is a much deeper and more significant thing.

Discipleship is a function of commitment.  We should all be committed to learning from Jesus about how to live like Jesus.  And we should be committed to helping others learn from Jesus about how to live like Jesus.

But one of the reoccurring themes in this chapter is how hard discipleship can be.  In verses 5-15, we encounter the real possibility of rejection.  In verses 16-23, we see the potential for incredible persecution as religion and government team up to try to take out Christianity.  In verses 34-37, we see the prospect of families being divided over Christianity.  

As much as we American Christians want to push back on these kinds of things, we know historically this has always been the case even in the earliest days of Christianity.  We also know Christians in certain parts of our world today are facing increasing persecution.  And we know, even in our country today, Christianity is not thought well of by an increasing number of people.  

But don’t lose heart.  Historically, the church has flourished in the face of even the most devastating persecution.  It is as though the more humans have tried to stamp out Christianity, the faster the church has grown.  And as you finish chapter 10, you see that God has some special rewards for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.  Hang in there! 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 8

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8

Chapters 8 and 9 really are a single unit in this Gospel.  The two chapters provide a record of ten different miracles.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus performed miracles?  One reason is Jesus really cares about people.  So, He often used His power to bring incredible benefit to others even while He was doing without.  Another reason is Jesus’ miracles is one of the ways He proved His identity.  Miracles are not the only evidence of His divine identity.  There are others in the Bible who performed miracles.  2 Thessalonians 2:9 suggests that even Satan can perform “miracles”.  But Jesus’ ability to perform miracles coupled with His character and conduct are inarguable evidence of who He is.  


Let’s look at some of the miracles He performed.

The first one in chapter 8 involved a man who was a leper.  Since we are not real familiar with leprosy, it might be helpful to give you a little background.  Leprosy was a horribly contagious, usually incurable, fatal disease.  It was so feared in the days that Jesus walked on the earth, that there were leper colonies for lepers to live in away from others.  And if a leper ever “came to town”, he had to continually shout “Unclean” to give others the opportunity to create a lot of space between them and the infected one.

In this story, the leper violates that rule.  He walks right up to Jesus, kneels, and asks for healing.  Then Jesus violated a huge rule.  He touched that leper.  Nobody did that.  Ever.  That was a sure fire way to catch leprosy.  Now Jesus was ceremonially unclean.  But the man was miraculously clean.  

In Isaiah 1, the Bible uses leprosy as an illustration for sin.  So, if you apply that illustration to this story, Jesus comes to take away the sin of this man.  That’s pretty cool.

The next miracle had to do with a Centurion’s servant who was paralyzed.  A Centurion was a Roman army officer with responsibilities for at least 100 people.  For the religiously elite folk in Israel, having anything to do with a Roman soldier was almost as bad as intentionally touching a leper.  But that didn’t hinder Jesus.  After an interesting conversation with the Centurion, Jesus simply spoke the word and servant was healed.

The third miracle had to do with Peter’s mother-in-law.  She was sick with a fever.  Here’s a little reminder for you.  The religiously elite folks in Israel didn’t have a lot to do with women either.  In fact, women were second class citizens at best.  And no self-respecting Jew would physically touch a woman he was wasn’t married to.  But Jesus touched this woman and she was immediately healed.

So, what are we to learn from these three miracles?  Obviously, we are to learn that Jesus can indeed perform miracles.  Secondly, we are to learn that Jesus can perform miracles however He wants to (speaking and touching are two examples here).  Third, Jesus was not about to allow a misguided, self-righteous religion stop Him from meeting people at the point of their need.

Jesus came to this earth to seek and to save.  But He is also the Great Physician come to put the broken back together, to give sight to the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, to give liberty to the oppressed, to breathe life back into the dead.

Praise God that Jesus was unwilling to let unnecessary religious ritual stop Him from doing what needed to be done.  May we always hold the needs of people above any restrictions of man-made religion.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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