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Matthew 11

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, APRIL 10

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 11

Welcome to the third week of this discipleship strategy.  I have enjoyed reading these chapters with you.  There is something most encouraging about a bunch of us reading the same Scriptures together.  And I am most honored to provide a few thoughts for you.  Let’s look at chapter 11.

When the chapter opens, Jesus had finished a teaching time with his disciples and they were off to preach and teach in a variety of cities.  Along the way, Jesus and His disciples were intercepted by some of the disciples that followed John the Baptizer.  John sent a curious but important question to Jesus by way of his disciples.  

The question in verse 3 is: “Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?”  John was asking Jesus if He was the Christ or should they keep looking for the Christ.  This is an important question.  We need to know and be rock solid in our knowing that Jesus is the Christ.  So, bravo to John the Baptizer.  He asked a good question.

But this is an unusual question for John to ask.  In John 1:29, John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  After he baptized Jesus, he saw the Dove descend from heaven and he heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”  At least during the baptism episode, John the Baptizer was convinced of the identity of Jesus.  

But now in Matthew 11, John isn’t so sure.  I am not picking on John.  After all, we read in verse 2 that he is in prison.  Whether he knew it or not, his death was imminent.  So there are a lot of reasons that he needed to be absolutely sure about the identity of Jesus.

As Christ followers, we have all been in a similar predicament.  Maybe we didn’t doubt the identity of Jesus.  After all we have a little more to go on than John did.  But we have all been in situations that shook our faith and flooded our hearts with doubt.  

Those periods of doubt actually often come on the heels of some pretty significant spiritual times in our lives.  Sometimes it is circumstances that weaken our faith.  Sometimes it is periods of exhaustion that weaken our faith.  Sometimes it is periods of uncertainty that weaken our faith.  Sometimes our faith just kind of wilts around us and we are not sure what to believe or what to do.

I absolutely love Jesus’ response in verse 4.  It is crazy to me that Jesus didn’t just jump all over John for this.  After all that John did, said, saw, and heard, he wasn’t sure about Jesus?  Come on.  Give me a Baptist Break.  But instead Jesus used the Scripture to reassure a struggling man and reaffirm a doubting man.  He told John’s disciples to go share that with John.

They did.  Then in verses 7-18, Jesus bragged on John.  He made sure the crowd knew how exceptional of a man John was.  He made sure they knew that John fulfilled Old Testament prophecies.  It would have been so easy for Jesus to use John as a negative example.  Instead He held John up to the masses and said you should pay attention to this man.  That’s way cool.

Here are a couple of things to take with you.  One, when your faith wanes, go to the Scripture.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  When your faith wanes, don’t convince yourself that Jesus must be really put out with you.  Instead, realize Jesus wants to encourage you and even hold you up as an example.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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

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