Category Archives: Matthew

Matthew 28:20 — The one who is always with us

We are rapidly coming to the end of the gospels.  It certainly took a lot longer than I expected.  I thought harmonizing the gospels would make things go a lot faster.  Maybe it has, but it’s still taken nearly 11 … Continue reading

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Matthew 28:16-20 — Making disciples

Somehow in 35 years of reading scripture, it never really occurred to me that the events in Matthew 28 and Acts 1 were two separate events.  One happened in Galilee and the other on the Mount of Olives. It was … Continue reading

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Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18 — The One who is always with us

A couple of notes on the resurrection.  I think I will be cutting out Mark 16:9-20 from my commentary since it is considered by most scholars to not be in the original text.  It was apparently added on to Mark … Continue reading

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Matthew 28:11-15 — A people that will not be convinced

The hardness of heart that the priests and Pharisees had is simply unbelievable to me.  Despite all their efforts, the tomb was empty.  That is one thing even they did not dispute. They had the testimony of the guard who … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-4 — A God who cannot be thwarted

This is perhaps one of the more humorous incidents in the Bible if you really think about it.  The Pharisees and chief priests were concerned that perhaps the disciples might come to steal the body and claim that Jesus had … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:32-61; Mark 15:24-47; Luke 23:32-56; John 19:18-42 — That scripture would be fulfilled

One thing that becomes crystal clear as we look at these passages is that Christ’s death was no accident.  It was no mistake on the part of God.  Rather, he had planned it from the beginning of time for our … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:45-54; Mark 15:33-39; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30 — Paid in full

If there is one thing I hate to do, it’s pay taxes.  Every year, I have to go down to the tax office to declare my income, and then a month later, I collect my refund…only to have to give … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 15:27, 32; Luke 23:32-33, 39-43; John 19:18 — Railing at God, humbling ourselves before him

This is one of the most famous stories from the cross.  Along with Jesus, two robbers were crucified by his side.  And at first, both mocked him.  In the ESV, it says One of the criminals who were hanged railed … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:33-37; Mark 15:22-26; Luke 23:38; John 19:18-22 — What has been written

The interaction between Pilate and the chief priests is very interesting.  Pilate put up the “charge” against Jesus, calling him the “King of the Jews.” The priests immediately went up to Pilate, asking him to change it to, “He claimed … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:31-32; Mark 15:20-21; Luke 23:26; John 19:16-17 — If we were forced to bear the cross Christ bore

We know very little of this man of Cyrene, this Simon.  It is conjectured that he is the father of the Rufus mentioned in Romans 16:13, the only other Rufus mentioned in the Bible. In all probability, he was a … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:22-26 — His blood upon us

As I look at all the gospel accounts, the cries of the crowd shouting “Crucify!  Crucify!” resonate with me. How it must have broken the heart of Jesus to see the ones he loved reject him so. Pilate, in his … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:11-26; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-25; John 18-19 — When we have nothing to stand on

I will start by saying that it’s a bit hard to harmonize these passages.  Here’s how I see it, but I encourage you to look at it yourself, and come to your own conclusions. The priests and council members bring … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:1-10 — A sorrow that leads to death

Here we see the end of Judas Iscariot’s life. Upon seeing that Jesus had been condemned to death, he became remorseful, and went to the priests and elders saying, I have sinned…for I have betrayed innocent blood.  (4) He even … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:63-71 — The ultimate question

The trial of Jesus was an atrocity on many levels.  Among them, the priests and Sanhedrin knew Jesus was innocent.  Yet because of their jealousy and hatred of Jesus, they were desperate to find a reason to kill him. Jewish … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12 — Power and authority, mercy and grace

In this passage, there are three things I see in Jesus. 1.  His power and authority.  Though surrounded by his enemies, he was in total command of the situation.  Standing to face his enemies, he asked them, “Who are you … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46 — When my will is not God’s will

There are times in our lives when we go through trials and suffering.  It may be an illness.  It may be family troubles because of our Christian faith.  It may be problems in our ministry.  And so we pray for … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1 — Weak

Nobody ever said Satan fights fair.  And he doesn’t.  When he sees us in our weakness, whether it be physically or emotionally, he will attack. You see this in these passages.  When Jesus and his disciples arrived at the Garden … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38 — A God who knows our weakness, and accepts us anyway

When Jesus told the disciples that he was leaving for a place they could not follow, it must have really troubled them.  He was their teacher, and they couldn’t imagine life without him. As usual, it was Peter who spoke … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-20 — Pictures of the cross

The Old Testament is rich with pictures of Christ.  And in this passage, we see the fulfillment of them in Christ. The disciples were having the Passover meal, and after the first cup of wine, Jesus pulled out a piece … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:18-30 — Betrayal

As I’ve mentioned before, harmonizing these passages is a little tough.  One question is whether Judas participated in the first communion.  Luke seems to imply so, while the other gospel writers seem to say Judas didn’t.  It’s just my opinion, … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:1-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13 — Room for the master

Jesus’ final public appearances (of his own volition, anyway) are now over.  And he now knows that the time of his arrest and crucifixion is close at hand.  But before that happens, Jesus prepares to have one last meal with his … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; John 12:1-11 — True love, false love

Here we see a stark contrast in love.  One person’s love came from the heart.  The other’s came only for what profited him. Jesus was in Bethany having dinner at the house of a man named Simon.  Lazarus, Mary, and … Continue reading

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Matthew 25:31-46 — How we treat others

Jesus finishes his dialogue on the end times with this last story.  And it talks about the final judgment following the tribulation.  At that time, God will judge the nations, separating the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from … Continue reading

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Matthew 25:14-30 — Being faithful

The second parable in this chapter goes to the point that Jesus brought up earlier.  That we need to be faithful, doing the things that God has called us to do until he returns. In this story, Jesus talks about … Continue reading

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Matthew 25:1-13 — Being ready

In this chapter, we see two parables on what Jesus was just talking about, watching for his return and also doing the things he’s asked us to do until he comes. In this first parable, I think it’s easy to try … Continue reading

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Matthew 24:36-51; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 21:34-36 — Being ready whenever

There are a lot of people concerned about when Jesus will return.  And over the years, many people have predicted when he will come back.  I remember back in my high school days, a book came out called, “88 reasons … Continue reading

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Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-38 — Until our Lord returns

The Lord talks a lot about the events that will occur before he returns.  And the thing that you get from all he says is that things will get worse before he returns.  A lot worse.  There will be wars, … Continue reading

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Matthew 24:1-35; Mark 13:1-31; Luke 21:5-33 — A sign of things to come

I mentioned in my last blog that this is one of the more difficult passages in scripture, and part of the difficulty comes in the harmonizing of it.  Jesus had just told the disciples that the temple was going to … Continue reading

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Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6 — When our temple becomes corrupt

We now come to one of the more difficult passages in scripture.  I want to say straight off that if you’re hoping to get all the answers for what all this means, I don’t have them.  There are other people … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:29-38 — When we reject those sent to us

Nobody likes to be rebuked.  To be told you’re wrong.  But how do you respond when you are? The Pharisees followed the long line of their ancestors throughout Israel’s history.  Instead of listening and repenting when rebuked, they turned on … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:25-28 — Cleaning out the inside

Jesus continues his scathing of the Pharisees and teachers of the law by saying, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:23-24 — Remembering what’s important

It’s really sad the reputation that a lot of Christians have in the world, particularly in the States. Some of it is the natural response of the world to people who love the Lord.  Jesus did say that there would … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:16-22 — Loopholes

I’ve mentioned before the different problems of legalism.  Here we see another problem.  People who are legalistic tend to try to find loopholes.  They may keep the letter of the law (as they see it), but try to find ways … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:13-15 — When those who teach are bad

For some reason, one of the English teachers in the Japanese high school I teach at was showing Karate Kid 2 to his students yesterday.  I can’t say much for the film, but the one character I really like is Mr. … Continue reading

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Matthew 23:1-12; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47 — A wrong view of leadership

What is leadership?  What is leadership not? In a scathing criticism of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus gives us insight into what true leadership is about. He first warned the disciples and the crowds, The teachers of … Continue reading

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Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44 — Son of David, Son of God

Perhaps tiring of the hypocrisy of those questioning him, Jesus posed his own question to them that ultimately shut them up.  He said, What do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is he?  (Matthew 22:42a) This was an easy … Continue reading

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Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34 — What we need to understand to enter the kingdom

Of all the people that had come to question Jesus, there was one that seemed to be impressed with what Jesus had to say.  And so he asked Jesus, Of all the commandments, which is the most important?  (Mark 12:28) … Continue reading

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Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40 — When we fail to understand the scriptures and the power of God

There’s a children’s song that humorously describes the Sadducees.  It says, “I don’t wanna be a Sadducee, ’cause a Sadducee is ‘sad, you see?’” Yes, I know, a very bad joke.  🙂 Nevertheless, they were a sad bunch of people … Continue reading

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Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26 — Giving to God what is his

I hate paying taxes.  When March rolls around (tax time in Japan), it’s not so bad in that I actually get money back (after the pain of filling out all the tax forms).  But when June rolls around, that’s when … Continue reading

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Matthew 22:1-14 — Entering God’s kingdom on his terms

In this story, we see continued warnings from Jesus about rejecting him and the consequences of doing so. He told the story of a king who invited people to his wedding banquet.  But when all was ready, the would-be guests … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19 — When we reject the one on whom all things rest

After nailing the leaders for their unbelief, he then told a parable warning them of what would happen if they didn’t repent. And the start of it is very similar to Isaiah 5 in which God describes a vineyard that … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:23-32; Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8 — When you’re too proud to admit you’re wrong

It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong.  I know I struggle with it at times.  The reason?  Pride.  It takes a great deal of humility to simply say, “I was wrong.” But if we want relationships that last, relationships with others … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:20-25 — How much faith do I have?

Faith.  It’s something I must admit I struggle with, particularly in prayer.  When I pray, do I pray in faith?  And what does it mean? When the tree Jesus withered, the disciples were amazed and asked how it could wither … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:12-22; Mark 11:11-25; Luke 19:45-48 — Fruitless

This is a story where it is a little hard to understand the actions of Jesus.  Why would he curse a tree that wasn’t bearing fruit though it was not even the season for it? There does tend to be … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19 — What would bring us peace

Lots going on in these passages, and as you look at all four gospels, you really get an idea of the frenzy going on due to Jesus’ entrance in Jerusalem.  People are shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David!”  “Blessed is … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-16 — The Lord needs it

We have now reached the home stretch of the life of Jesus, his final week. As I read this passage, one phrase struck me.  Jesus was instructing his disciples to do something very unusual, to go into the village, and … Continue reading

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Matthew 20-29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43 — Looking beyond ourselves

As I read the story of Bartimaeus and his friend, what strikes me is the incredible compassion and love Jesus had for people. Here Jesus is, headed for the cross, and his closest friends, despite all he’s told him, still … Continue reading

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Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45 — A totally different attitude

As I mentioned in my last blog, though Jesus had been as crystal clear with the disciples as he possibly could, they still didn’t get it.  They still didn’t get why he was there, and what was facing them.  Because … Continue reading

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Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34 — Failing to see what is clear

As I look at this particular story, it is the last phrase in Luke’s account that strikes me. The disciples did not understand any of this.  Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was … Continue reading

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Matthew 20:1-16 — But it’s not fair!

I believe this parable Jesus told was in direct response to Peter’s question of, We have left everything to follow you!  What then will there be for us?  (Matthew 19:27) And in telling this story, I think Jesus meant both to … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:28-30 — Is it worth it?

Is it really worth it to follow Christ?  That was the question the rich young ruler had to face.  Unfortunately, he decided that it wasn’t. Peter too asked himself the same question.  “I’ve given up everything to follow after Jesus. … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27 — The impossibility of salvation

My religion professor in university brought up this story when talking about Christianity.  His point?  “If you want eternal life, you have to sell everything you have.” Which shows the fallacy of not looking at a scripture in its context, … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17 — Like a child

When Jesus rebuked his disciples for trying to chase the children away, he said to them, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17 — The God of the “insignificant”

As a father, I really love my daughter, but I have to admit there are times when she can be annoying.  Particularly when I’m trying to do something, sometimes important, sometimes not, and she desperately wants my attention. It’s so … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:1-12 — Better to be single?

The disciples’ response to Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce is very interesting.  They said, If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.  (10) Put another way, “Man, if marriage is really … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12 — When our spouse is hardened against us

I’ve mentioned before our need as a husband or wife to search our hearts.  To see if there is any way in which we have hardened our hearts to God, or to our spouse.  This is important for any marriage, … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12 — When we harden our hearts toward God and our spouse

It’s kind of interesting looking at the gospels and trying to harmonize them sometimes.  I don’t know if I’m harmonizing Matthew and Mark well here, but it’s amusing to look at these passages this way. Pharisees:  “Is it lawful to … Continue reading

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Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12 — Why divorce hurts so much

Divorce is one of those touchy topics that is difficult to deal with, if only because of the emotions and hurt that is often involved.  But considering the social climate we’re in, in which marriages fall apart at such a … Continue reading

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Matthew 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62 — To follow Christ

What does it mean to follow Christ? That’s what three people found out, as they either approached Jesus or were called by him to be his disciples. A teacher of the law came up to him first, and said, Teacher, I … Continue reading

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Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 9:49-50 — Seasoned with mercy, seasoned with fire

It’s been interesting putting all the accounts of this one discourse into one place.  But let us go back once more to the start of it:  an argument between the disciples about who was the greatest.  And probably during the … Continue reading

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Matthew 18:18-20 — Loosening God’s hand in those who hurt us

This passage is similar to what we see in Matthew 16, and I have to admit, both are difficult to interpret within the context. In Matthew 16, Jesus talks about binding and loosing.  That whatever you bind on earth would … Continue reading

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Matthew 18:15-17 — When you’ve been hurt

Dealing with hurt is difficult.  Dealing with hurt from those you once trusted is even worse. My guess is that through the arguments the disciples had been having among themselves about who was the greatest, there was hurt between them.  Jesus … Continue reading

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Matthew 18:6-14; Mark 9:42-48 — How God sees our children

In his discourse on greatness in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus also makes it very clear how God feels about children. First, he gives us a warning.  “Don’t do things that would cause a child to sin.” If that isn’t … Continue reading

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Matthew 18:1-9; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48 — The greatest

I think something that gives me hope as I look at how much I have yet to grow as a Christian, is to look at Jesus’ disciples, and how much patience Jesus had to have with them. One day, as … Continue reading

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Matthew 17:24-27 — Needlessly offending people

As Christians, with different values and ways of thinking from the world, it is unavoidable that we will come into conflict with others, simply because what we believe is different from what the world believes. Simply by believing as we do, … Continue reading

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Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45 — Afraid to ask

In this passage, we see the second time in which Jesus speaks plainly to his disciples about what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  He couldn’t have been more clear. He said, “Listen carefully to what I am … Continue reading

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Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43 — Where is our faith?

Where is my faith? That’s a question I have to ask myself far too often in the sense of, “Why don’t I trust God more?” But it’s also a question I need to ask myself in terms of “Where am … Continue reading

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Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36 — Listen to Him!

This is one of the more interesting passages in the Gospels, and it comes at an interesting time. Jesus has just shattered his disciples’ ideas of what Messiah is supposed to be, and they’re wondering what in the world does … Continue reading

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Matthew 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-9:1; Luke 9:23-27 — What’s really important

What are you living for?  What are you seeking in life? Comfort?  Money?  Things? Here Jesus challenges us to really consider our priorities.  He told his disciples and would-be disciples something really difficult. If anyone would come after me, he … Continue reading

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Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33; Luke 9:22 — A stumbling block to Christ

A lot of times we hear how we shouldn’t be stumbling blocks to other Christians.  And of course, we often hear about how Christ is a stumbling block to those who reject him. But how often are we stumbling blocks to Christ, … Continue reading

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Matthew 16:13-20 — The one on whom all stands

This is truly a powerful passage and as such, it deserves another look. After Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus praises him, saying, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by … Continue reading

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Matthew 16:13-16, 20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21 — The most important question

By now, Jesus was about halfway through his ministry, and was starting to look toward the cross.  But as he did, he wanted his disciples to really think about who he was.  Was he just a prophet?  Was he just … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:29-39, 16:1-12; Mark 8:1-21 — Legalism and worldliness

I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog the need to test everything that we hear, whether it’s from the pulpit, from the radio or a podcast, from a book, or from wherever you hear people teaching the Word of … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37 — Bringing people to Jesus

In these two passages, we see the great popularity of Jesus because of his healing ministry.  What strikes me as I read them is that most people didn’t come to Jesus on their own for healing.  Rather, it was others that brought … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30 — Persistence, humility, and faith

One wonders exactly what Jesus was thinking throughout this conversation with this woman, and in what kind of tone did he speak to her. Jesus, after his confrontation with the Jews, actually left the confines of Israel and went to … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:10-20; Mark 7:14-23 — What is truly unclean

I think a lot of times, when people look at the laws of Moses, they wonder about why the Jews had all these laws about what is clean and unclean.  For the most part, from a practical standpoint, they seemed to be … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13 — The standard for our lives

On what do you base your values?  This is an important question because your values will influence your decisions. For the Pharisees, the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets were very important.  But for them, something else … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:1-14; Mark 7:1-15 — Leaving behind blind guides

Here we see another confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees.  Because Jesus’ disciples did not wash their hands in the ceremonial way prescribed by Jewish tradition, the Pharisees criticized them and Jesus as well for letting his disciples get away with such a “travesty.” … Continue reading

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Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:16-21 — Doubting Jesus

As I was looking through the three gospel accounts of this story, there are a lot of things that struck me. First, the balance that Jesus kept in his life.  That though he would often sacrifice his needs to meet the … Continue reading

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Matthew 10:40-42 — The “great” and the “small”

It’s interesting to me how Jesus finishes this discourse.  He tells the disciples that if people receive them, they are receiving him.  The reverse is also true.  When people reject us because of the gospel, they aren’t merely rejecting us, … Continue reading

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Matthew 10:32-39 — A sword that divides

Jesus concludes his discourse on persecution by saying something a bit disturbing. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn “a … Continue reading

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Matthew 10:14-31 — When persecution comes

Persecution. Not a pleasant word.  And not something that I really want to go through.  But one thing that the Bible warns us is that it will come.  Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 3:12, In fact, everyone who wants … Continue reading

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Matthew 10:1-25 — Trying to be loved by all

I was reading Matthew 10 with my wife last night, and I realized that I had meant to come back to this passage in a bit more detail, and never did.  So before I move on, let’s go back a … Continue reading

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Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:5-13 — Though we may have little…

I have probably read or heard this passage a billion times, so it’s always exciting when God gives me a new way of looking at a passage. Jesus’ disciples had just come back from their mission trip, and were probably … Continue reading

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Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9 — I respect you, but…

As I look at this passage, Herod is a puzzle to me.  He apparently wasn’t happy with John the Baptist when John condemned him for taking his (that is, Herod’s) brother’s wife and marrying her.  It’s possible he would never have done … Continue reading

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Matthew 10-11:1; Mark 6:6-13, 30; Luke 9:1-6, 10 — Discipleship: The spiritual and the practical

Happy Resurrection Sunday people west of Japan!  🙂  I hope you enjoy yours as much as I did mine.  I’m now back blogging after a short one day break. Anyway, as I look at how Jesus discipled his men, he … Continue reading

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Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 6:6-7; Luke 9:1-2 — A tare in the wheatfield

As I look at this passage, for some reason, Judas sticks out to me.  Jesus called his 12 disciples to go out and minister to the people of Israel.  Look at what he did.  He gave them the authority to … Continue reading

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Matthew 9:35-38 — Seeing the harvest

Lots of things to see in this passage. Jesus went.  He went out to preach the good news, to touch, and to heal those who were hurting. Jesus saw.  So many times we see people, but we don’t really see them. … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6 — When people we love refuse our testimony

I mentioned before that there were two times Jesus was amazed.  The first time was when he saw a Roman centurion’s great faith (Matthew 8:5-13). The second time was here.  Jesus, by this point, had become well known throughout the … Continue reading

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Matthew 9:27-34 — What Jesus can do, and what he can’t

I had to do a double-take here as I read through these two stories because they are so similar to two others.  One was another case in which Jesus cast out a demon that caused a man to be mute (Matthew … Continue reading

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Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:41-56 — The God who cleanses and raises the dead

When you look throughout the Old Testament, particularly the law of Moses, you see the concept of “clean” and “unclean” a lot.  Namely, things that the Jews were to avoid and things Jews were allowed to come into contact with. … Continue reading

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Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39 — Set free

A very bizarre story to say the least.  Here, Jesus and his disciples come to the other side of the lake following the storm, and when they do, they immediately come across two demon possessed men.  (One wonders why only … Continue reading

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Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25 — Our faith

I look at Jesus’ words, “O you of little faith,” and I can’t help but think that if he were to see me now, he would say the same thing.  “O Bruce, why do you have so little faith?” Think … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:51-52 — Sharing what we know

What do we do with what we have received? This is the question that will be asked of us when the day of judgment comes.  And I think that’s partially, at least, what Jesus was telling his disciples here. First, … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:47-50 — A coming judgment

It has been said that Jesus spoke more on hell than he did about heaven.  And here we see one of his teachings on the coming judgment. As I’ve mentioned before, it can get frustrating to see all the evil … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:44-46 — The joy of salvation

I read a story recently of a couple in California that were walking through their garden and found a can sticking out from under their tree.  When they took a careful look, they found a number of gold coins in it.  … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:34-35; Mark 4:33-34 — The qualities of a good teacher

I have been teaching English for the last 19 years, and have been teaching the Bible in some way, shape, or form for the last 27, going back to my high school days. But  as long as I have been … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20-21 — Transformed

I’m not a baker, but Jesus gives an illustration about God’s kingdom that even non-bakers can understand. When a baker makes bread, he puts a bit of yeast in the dough.  What does the yeast do?  Two things.  First, it … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19 — Starting small

I love the vividness of the pictures Jesus paints as he tells stories. As he talks about God’s kingdom, he talks about how the mustard seed, though it is extremely small, grows into tree in which birds can find shade … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 — Why evil?

The problem of evil is one that many people in this world struggle with.  They wonder how a good God could allow evil in this world. In this parable, we see at least part of the reason. I think the … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15 — Planting the seed

As I looked back on the last blog, there was one last point that occurred to me that I want to put here. So often, I think of the farmer as Jesus.  But I think it’s equally if not even … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15 — The state of our hearts

This is the first full on parable we hear from Jesus, although he did give numerous illustrations to explain his points on previous occasions. Here he gives a picture of a farmer scattering his seed along the ground.  It wasn’t, … Continue reading

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Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-25; Luke 8:1-18 — Eyes to see, ears to hear

One of Jesus’ favorite phrases was, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  (Luke 8:8) You see this admonition in the gospels, and you also see it in Revelation. What did Jesus mean? When Jesus told his parables, … Continue reading

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Matthew 12:38-45; Luke 11:24-36 — When we refuse to invite the Spirit in

With Jesus condemning the Pharisees for saying that he was casting out demons by Satan’s power, the Pharisees then demanded a sign from heaven to prove he was doing it by God’s power.  Of course, even had he done so, … Continue reading

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Matthew 12:33-37 — What comes out of our mouths

It always bothers me when people swear.  It especially bothers me when Christians swear.  Because what we say shows what’s in our hearts.  Our words show the state of our hearts. When Jesus heard the Pharisees saying he was demon … Continue reading

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Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 11:17-23 — The danger of hardening our hearts

In this passage, we see another confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus.  A blind and mute man was brought to Jesus, apparently because of demon possession.  Jesus cast out the demon, and immediately, the man could talk and see. Everyone … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:25-30 — Learning from Jesus

I’ve got to admit, after graduating from university, I never had a real desire to go back to school and get my masters degree or anything like that.  Looking back on it now, if I had to do it over … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:20-24 — Can’t believe? Or won’t?

There are a lot of people that say, “I just can’t believe in God.” And they’ll go on to list all the reasons for their unbelief.  But for the vast majority of such people, it’s not really a matter of … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35 — Trying to please everyone

There is an old saying, “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” This was true even for the Son of God.  Jesus was perfect.  … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:7-15; Luke 7:24-30 — Rejecting God’s purpose for us

We were made for a purpose.  God’s purpose.  What is that purpose?  First and foremost, a relationship with him.  Second, a relationship with those he has put around us.  To touch them and to be touched by them.  And finally, … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:1-6; Luke 17:18-24 — Struggling with doubt

It’s nice to know that the “heroes” of the Bible had struggles too.  That they had fears.  That they had doubts. I’m sure that’s exactly what John the Baptist was going through in prison.  He had been doing a great … Continue reading

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Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 — Grace and faith

As I look at these two passages, there are distinct points that I gather from each account. In the Lukan account, we find that when the Roman centurion asked for Jesus help, he got the support of the Jewish elders … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49 — What we build our lives on

And so we come to the end of the Sermons on the Mount and the Plain. Both end the same way, with a challenge.  Essentially, Jesus sums it up by saying, Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:15-23 — Testing those you listen to

After Jesus tells us to go through the narrow gate that leads to salvation, he gives us a warning. Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  (15) People often … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:13-14 — When being broadminded is not such a good thing

A common criticism the world has of the Christian is, “Why do you have to be so narrow minded?  Why can you be more broadminded?  Why does Jesus have to be the only way to heaven?” But there are some … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31 — Doing good, not just avoiding evil

I find the placement of the “Golden Rule” a little jarring in Matthew.  It doesn’t seem to quite fit, particularly with the “Therefore” at the beginning of it.  I suppose it’s pointing back to the totality of Jesus’ message up … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:1-13 — The Father who gives good gifts…generously

In America, there are some Bible teachers that say that if you want something from God, just claim it in Jesus name, and he has to give it to you. For a lot of these people, God is like their … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:6 — Wasting your breath

I mentioned in the last blog that while Jesus warns us against hypocritical judging, he does call us to rebuke people who are in sin.  But when we do so, we should keep something else in mind:  who we’re rebuking. … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:39-42 — Hypocritical judging

One of my favorite comedy groups when I was growing up was Isaac Air Freight.  (Does anyone still remember them?)  They did a lot of Christian comedy sketches, and one that’s always stuck with me was one called “Final Minutes” … Continue reading

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Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:36-38 — When we judge others

It is so easy to judge others for their shortcomings.  To rail on them for their character or their deeds.  It’s especially easy to do so when they’ve hurt us. I think it’s very interesting that in the Lucan account, … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-34 — Worry

This is one of those passages that I know in my head, but I don’t know if it has truly sunk into my heart.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it hasn’t. I know because I still worry about stuff, most … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:19-24; Luke 11:34-35 — Setting our sights

I talked briefly yesterday about how if we set our sights on the sins we want to avoid, saying constantly to ourselves “I have to stay away from this,” we are actually more likely to fall to temptation.  That a … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4 — A daily spiritual battle

Every day, we are fighting a spiritual battle.  That’s why Jesus instructed us to pray, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  (Matthew 6:13) We’re living in an evil world, in which the prince … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Luke 11:4 — Not an option

This is one of the hardest passages in scripture for many people to deal with.  Jesus teaches us to pray, Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…For if you forgive men when they sin against you, … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3 — Praying for our needs

One of the most amazing things to me is that the God of this whole universe cares about me, even the simple and perhaps mundane things.  Yet he does.  And so Jesus tells us to pray, Give us today our … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:10; 11:2 — His Kingdom, His Will

I was in a quandary this morning.  I was asked in for an interview for a job that would be higher paying and have better benefits than the one I have now.  Whether I’ll get it or not, I don’t … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:1-2 — Our Father

I suppose I could breeze through the Lord’s prayer, but I just felt it might be good to take it a line at a time. In these passages, Jesus teaches us how to address God.  In Matthew, he says, “Our … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:7-8 — Empty words

Prayer is simple.  And yet somehow, it is difficult. At its base, prayer is simply talking to God, just as you would talk to any other person. If that’s all prayer is, why is it so difficult sometimes then?  I … Continue reading

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Matthew 6:1-18 — Why we do what we do

The one thing that Jesus often points to throughout this sermon is our hearts.  And in this passage, he makes it clear that God not only looks at our actions, but our motivations as well. He said, Be careful not … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:43-48 ; Luke 6:27-36 — Perfect in love, perfect in mercy

As Christians, we often come across verse 48 in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. The context of it is very interesting.  Certainly we are to strive for holiness in our lives, … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:29-30 — But it’s not fair

There is something in all of us, I think, that screams for fairness.  And if something happens that we feel isn’t fair, we scream against it.  But is that the best response? These few verses go against every instinct we … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:33-37 — Honesty

Trust can be hard to come by.  And in this broken world, people find it so hard to trust, we require oaths. “I promise…” “I swear…” But Jesus says here that we are to be people of such integrity that … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:29-30 — Whatever it takes

My favorite sports team is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and back in the 70s, their coach was a man named Chuck Noll.  Noll had a saying, “Whatever it takes.”  In other words, “We do whatever necessary to win the game (within … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:27-32 — Adultery

From murder, Jesus moves on to adultery.  And in doing so, I think he really pushed a sensitive button in those who thought they were so religious. As I’ve said, the Pharisees were very proud of how well they kept … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:23-26 — Making things right

We read in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  Often times, we solely think of this in terms of bringing peace between two outside parties. But there is another situation in which we are called to be peacemakers.  We are … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:21-22 — When we despise people in our hearts

Here we see one of the main problems Jesus had with the religious leaders’ interpretation of the law.  It was strictly a matter of outward compliance, while totally ignoring what was going on in the heart. In this passage, Jesus … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:17-20 — Fulfilling the law

I think it’s significant that Jesus probably said these things after the controversies with the Pharisees over the Sabbath had begun (although you wouldn’t guess this by looking at the book of Matthew alone).  Jesus had probably already done multiple … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:13-16 — Salt and light

It is very interesting to me the context in which Jesus talks about us being salt and light in the world. What was the context?  He had just finished talking about persecution.  That we are blessed if we are persecuted … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:1-12 — A whole new way of thinking

As we look at the Beatitudes one last time, it strikes me that it is an entirely different way of thinking from the way the world thinks. Many think that it is the ultra-religious who are blessed by God.  That … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6: 22-23 — Under fire

Nobody likes to be persecuted.  Nobody likes to be disliked.  In an ideal world, everyone would like you.  But this isn’t an ideal world.  It’s a world that has been corrupted by sin.  And because of that, people’s minds have … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:9 — Reconcilers

If there is one thing that God has called us as Christians to be is reconcilers. Why?  Because Jesus himself was the great reconciler.  When there was a huge gap between God and us because of our sin, Jesus came … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:8 — To see God

There are so many songs that express a desire to see God.  Back when I was a kid, we had a song, Open our eyes Lord, We want to see Jesus. To reach out and touch him. To say that … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:7 — Mercy

I remember having a dream one night about being at some kind of ministry training seminar or something in China of all places (I’ve never been there), and during it, our teacher told us, “You all know your Bibles well, … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:6 — Hungering and thirsting for righteousness

I suppose as you look at this passage, you can read it two ways, both equally valid in my mind. First, Jesus could be talking about having a hunger for holiness in your life.  To want to live a life … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:5 — Submitted to the Father

I have to admit that whenever I read this, I’m always having to look up the word meek.  What exactly does it mean to be meek? I suppose it would be good to say what it doesn’t mean.  It doesn’t … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:4 — Those who mourn

I have probably heard hundreds of messages on the beatitudes and seen numerous commentaries, and most of the time, they interpret this verse as meaning, “Blessed are those who mourn over their sin.” I suppose it fits in well with … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:1-3 — Not for the “spiritual”

We’re skipping back to Matthew 5 at this point, and we’ll be combining the two sermons on the Mount and the Plain, as they have very similar themes. Jesus’ words here are slightly different from those we read in Luke.  … Continue reading

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Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-19, Luke 6:12-16 — Called to be with him, called to go out

In these passages, we see the increasing popularity of Jesus, and perhaps it was because of these increasingly great crowds and their needs that Jesus decided to choose 12 people as his trained disciples. As a man, Jesus was limited … Continue reading

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Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11 — Called to follow

I do have to back up in time a bit.  I just noticed I missed some crucial passages, namely where Jesus first calls the fishermen to follow him.  (I’m sure this won’t be the last time I skip something by … Continue reading

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Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11 — What grieves Jesus

This is one of those stories where each of the gospels gives us a little piece of the puzzle to what happened.  Here’s my take on the whole story taking into account each of the stories. Jesus was in the … Continue reading

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