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Matthew 23




SCRIPTURE: Matthew 23

Most of this chapter is a rather scathing denunciation of the activities of the Pharisees.  Although there is much here that we could and should learn from, I want to take you to the end of the chapter.  There we find about three verses that teach us much about Jesus, His mission, and us.

As verse 37 begins, we find Jesus lamenting over the city of Jerusalem.  His grief is over the many opportunities for salvation that had been squandered over the centuries.  Not only did the people of Jerusalem (Israel) not take advantage of the countless offers of help God sent their way, they actually mistreated and killed some of the prophets and messengers God sent to them.

But even with that history, we see Jesus’ amazing grace as He talks about how many times He would have come to gather His people and save them from the coming storm.

It is in that statement of “How many times would I… but you were not willing” that we find so much truth.  Here we see evidence of divine sovereignty as well as human responsibility.  God has chosen not to force His salvation on people.  But He has also chosen not to change the consequences that are the result of our stubborn rejection.  He truly has left the choosing up to us.

Jesus talks about how many times He would have gathered His people (brood) and protected them.  But they would not allow it.  Jesus was willing to take upon Himself the full force of the storm will protecting His people.  But they would not allow it.

The result in verse 38 is their house would be left desolate.  It is difficult to know if this reference to a house was about the Temple in Jerusalem or their individual homes.  Regardless, the result was the same.  In AD 70, the Roman armies destroyed the Temple to the point of tearing down the huge stones that made up its walls.  Many homes in the city were destroyed at the same time.  The city of Jerusalem experienced incredible devastation during that time.

On one hand, it would be easy for us to say that’s what the Jewish people deserved because of their consistent rejection of Jesus.  Maybe we would even think they earned this sort of judgment.  And perhaps, we would this would be the end of Jesus’ efforts to save the Jewish people.

But then we read in verse 39 about the promise of Jesus’ return.  And upon this return, He will be greeted by His people with a statement from one of the great Messianic Psalms (Psalm 118).  

So, what is the take away today?  It is impossible for me to read these verses and think about these words without being struck by how longsuffering God really is with all of us.  His patience is absolutely incredible.  His patience may actually be scandalous.  How can a holy God wait as long as He has for the likes of you and me?  How can a holy God hold back eternal judgment when He would have been more than justified to pour it out a million times over?  How can a holy God lament over the people who are satisfied to be so far from Him?

There is only one possible answer.  That is who He has chosen to be.  

Posted by Joe Ligon with 0 Comments

Matthew 22




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 0 Comments

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