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Matthew chapter 12

JULY 16, 2020

Scripture:  Matthew 12
Author:  Jeremy Witt

First, I apologize.  I had this written yesterday, but I failed to send it.  So today is 2 for 1.

Humanity likes things to be done in a certain way.  We like things to be under our own control.  We like to have things set and done consistently the same.  When things are done differently, we struggle with it much of the time even if something is done better.  “It hasn’t been done that way before.”  Or it might be, “We have always done it this way.”  We read about this in chapter 12 of how Jesus did things differently and went against man’s customs. 

The Sabbath is the primary focus in today’s chapter.  The Sabbath would be Saturday and was instituted by God and is one of the 10 commandments.  “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  What went from this became 39 different categories according to the Pharisees or a group of religious leaders.  Culturally speaking, they were the ones who believed in the Messiah and the resurrection.  They were important to the Jewish culture and living according to God’s standards.  Over the centuries, they added rules or interpretations of what God had said to Moses and had become the norm for the Jewish people.  However, their additional “rules” were viewed as the Law rather than what God had given Moses.  Needless to say, it was impossible to do even for them.
Ultimately, the Pharisees do not understand Jesus nor attempt to get along with Him.  They begin following Jesus looking for something to catch Him doing that they disagree with.  In verses 1-8, the disciples picked wheat and ate it on the Sabbath.  The disciples were hungry so they ate.  Jesus quotes from Scripture how David did something similar, yet the Pharisees still were upset. 

In verses 9-14, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath.  Jesus said in verse 12, “how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!  Yes, the Law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”  Yet the Pharisees still were upset.  We discover the first plot to kill Jesus in verse 14.  Jesus was not playing by their rules, and they didn’t like it, so they sought to kill him over it.  They begin with their accusations in verses 22-37.  They then beg for a miracle in verses 38-45. 

Jesus did not come and seek the Pharisee’s approval.  He did not revere them.  In fact, it could be said that Jesus came against them and showed how they were wrong.  From a human standpoint, we can see why the Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because He did not play by their rules.  Matthew is written to a Jewish perspective.  He quotes the Old Testament more than any other Gospel.  He told the perspective of how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament and shows how mankind was doing it wrong and missed the heart or intent of the Law.  Matthew’s perspective helps us see what God intended and how mankind had twisted things up.

Another key point for us to realize is that man seeks to understand God which is impossible for our finite brains.  God cannot be put in a “box” or completely understood.  His ways are higher than our ways.  He is too lofty for us to comprehend, yet we still try to do this.  God reminds us, especially me, how we (I) do this when I expect God to act a certain way.  I get upset when God does not do as I think that He should.  When God does not heal a person the way that we want or expect, we get upset and angry at Him.  When things happen that go against our desires, we blame God.  For some reason, we do exactly as the Pharisees did.  Some of us get so angry with God that we quit following Him, obeying Him, serving Him, and believing in Him. 

From my experience with agnostics or atheists, the reason that they do not believe in God is due to something happening when God did not “perform a miracle”, do as they expected, or something evil happened, suffering occurred, and God did not stop it as they think that He should.  In some of my darkest times spiritually, that is what happened in my life.  God did not keep me from _______________.  God did not heal as I had been praying. 

I am reminded from chapters like Matthew 12 that we can easily act the same as the Pharisees if we do not learn from their mistakes.  We can miss what God does entirely if we “keep God in His box” so that we might understand Him.  We can become religious like the Pharisees so we can be in control and miss something God does entirely if we are not careful.

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Matthew chapter 13

JULY 17, 2020

Scripture:  Matthew 13
Author:  Jeremy Witt

Today’s reading is the chapter of parables.  A parable is a story with a spiritual point that Jesus would often use to teach to the crowds.  A parable would take something familiar and use it to teach or show the truth of something unfamiliar so that we might discover spiritual truth.  The parables would teach something to those who would understand but also conceal from those not willing to listen to learn.  Read verses 10-15.  This was used a lot and would refer to the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day.  To those honestly listening and searching for God’s truth, they would understand.  For those stubborn or lazy, they would miss the point or truth entirely.

In some circumstances, Jesus will explain the parable to the disciples as He does with the parable of the soils in verses 10-23.  He will also explain the parable of the weeds (told in verses 24-30 and explained in verses 38-43.)  Even the disciples did not understand all of the parables.  However, we should also note that some of the parables, Jesus did not need to explain as in the parables found in verses 45 and 46 (Pearl merchant) and in verses 47-51 (Fishing Net). 

Be aware that with many parables, we can read in other Gospel accounts, and some parables may be told in only one Gospel account and left out.  The parable of the weeds and parable of the yeast is only told in Matthew. A skeptic will claim that Jesus didn’t teach it if only told in one account.  However, if we had 4 people describing an event, one person might remember something that another doesn’t or something will stand out to one person and not the others. 

One additional comment on parables is that we might find multiple applications in our setting today, but those applications were not meant for the original audience.  A parable was told for one purpose not multiple, so we must be careful to search for the original purpose.

We should also point out from chapter 13, verses 53-58.  I have thought to myself, “If I could have seen the miracles and heard the teaching of Jesus, my faith would be so much stronger.  I don’t understand how everyone did not believe.”  When we read Scripture, it plainly tells us that everyone did not believe or even like Jesus (Pharisees and religious leaders).  Jesus returns to His home town and people questioned Him and scoffed at Him.  The Son of God faced what we do.  He was judged.  He was talked about.  People doubted Jesus.  He knows how many of us have felt or still feel!  Jesus knows our pain.  We should not expect anything different.  We will be doubted and questioned.  We will be talked about and our histories will be brought up.  It happened with Jesus, it will happen with us. 


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