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Matthew 28

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, MAY 3

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28

Well… who would have thought it?  Today we finish the Gospel According to Matthew.  I have absolutely no idea how many have made this journey with me.  I know it is at least a few because I periodically get an email, or a text, or a Facebook post from someone.  But regardless of how many are on board, I am committed to continuing.  I guess if we get to where no one is reading these I will have to reevaluate.

So, let’s take a look at this last chapter.  This chapter starts at dawn on Sunday morning.  By the way, the fact that Jesus was raised on Sunday is one of the main reasons the New Testament Church meets on Sundays.  Meeting on Sundays was quite a novel idea at the time.  Remember for the Jewish people it was all about Saturday being the Sabbath.  Actually the Sabbath started at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday.  They recognized the Sabbath in an attempt to keep it holy.

The question then is what about us.  Why don’t we “Remember the Sabbath (Saturday) to keep it holy”?  As I just said, part of that has to do with the timing of the resurrection of Jesus.  The other part has to do with the fact that Jesus said He is our rest.  He is our Sabbath.  It is in Him, not a day of the week, that we find our rest, our refreshing, our refocusing, and our worship.  

That doesn’t mean that the concept of Sabbath is no longer important.  It is incredibly important to remember that God established a rhythm to life that included work and rest.  Too much work will eventually wear you down to nothing.  Too much rest will eventually end up in accomplishing nothing.  Every one of us needs to find that Sabbath rhythm to our lives.

As you have probably heard me say, I had the privilege of being at the tomb where Jesus was placed after His crucifixion.  In the same way that it was empty on that Sunday morning, it was empty when I was there.  It is still empty.  

The Christian faith and the reality of Christianity hinges on one thing and one thing alone: the resurrection of Jesus.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then our faith is useless and we are without hope.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then He pulled the greatest hoax in the history of humanity.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then the Bible is useless, church is a waste of time, and living by a moral code makes absolutely no sense.

But if Jesus is raised from the dead we have a risen Savior to place our faith in and we have great hope.  If Jesus is raised from the dead then He spoke the truth.  If Jesus is raised from the dead then the Bible is true from cover to cover (even including the Book of Maps and the Concordance ;).  If Jesus is raised from the dead, then church is a vital part of our existence and living by a God given moral code makes all the difference in the world.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 22

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, APRIL 25

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 22

This chapter opens with a parable that is similar in purpose as the two parables told in the previous chapter.  The basic point in all three stories is that the Jewish people were going to reject Jesus as the Messiah and others (the Gentiles which is a Bible word that refers to everybody who is not a Jew) would be invited into the Kingdom.

When we get to verse 15, things change.  No longer are we reading Jesus’ parables.  Now we are reading about different groups of people approaching Jesus with “difficult questions” in an attempt to trap and discredit Him.  These groups of people were increasingly desperate to ruin Jesus’ reputation so that the crowds would quit following Him.

The first group that appears in verse 16 is a most unusual group.  We have the Pharisees (We have talked a lot about them.) and we have a group called the Herodians.  The Herodians were a group that supported the rule of Herod over the Jewish people. In particular to what is about to happen, they would have been very supportive of Herod taxing the Jewish people.  The Pharisees were not supportive of that at all.  

The question they pose to Jesus is whether or not it was right for Jewish people to pay taxes to Herod and the Roman government.  Remembers the Herodians would have said it was absolutely the right thing to do.  The common people, like most of us, would have preferred not to pay any taxes to anybody.  And the Pharisees did not agree with paying taxes to Rome at all.

I love how Jesus outsmarts them.  He uses a coin and a question about whose likeness that coin bears to shut them up.  In effect He says we should give what is required to the one whose image is on the coin.

Before we get into an argument about paying taxes, there is a bigger deal here.  Remember that as humans we bear the image of God.  We are made in God’s image.  Since we are image bearers of God, then we have a responsibility to give to God all that is rightfully God’s.  Watch out!

The next group up in verse 23, was a group a men called Sadducees. The crazy thing about these guys is they were “religious leaders” but they didn’t believe in anything in the spiritual world like angels or demons.  And they didn’t believe in the resurrection.  That meant that their “reality” was the here and now and there was nothing after this life.  Kind of makes you wonder why they were “religious leaders”, doesn’t it?

They invent a story about wife outliving not only her husband but his six brothers who became her husband.  The question they ask is who will the woman be married to in heaven.  Remember, they didn’t think there was an afterlife and they were quite sure their question would prove the idiocy of an afterlife.  But Jesus destroyed that notion.

The Pharisees regrouped and came back with another question in verse 34.  Jesus dealt with that one quickly.  And then He asked a question about the identity of the Messiah.  The Pharisees could not answer and decided it was best if no one asked Jesus any more questions.

I really struggle with this episode. I don’t know whether to laugh out loud and say, “Get ‘em Jesus!”  Or I don’t know whether to cry over the fact that these religious people who knew so much about the Bible could be this physically close to Jesus and not realize who they were looking at.  They were so intent on protecting their roles in their culture that they couldn’t/wouldn’t admit that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Messiah.  May we never be that blind.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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