Matthew 14-28

Matthew 14-28…Christ Will Return

The Father alone knows the time of Jesus’ return; thus, His people must always be ready for the end. Using illustrations and parables, our Savior begins to explain how to be prepared for His coming in the second half of Matthew.

The first few analogies tell us the second advent of Christ could occur at any moment. Signs may indicate the nearness of Jerusalem’s ruin (24:1–35), but there will be no way to know whether His final return is around the corner. Everyday life — eating, drinking, marrying — will go on until He comes (24:37–39). No remarkable difference in the basic, life-sustaining ways of humanity will herald His return; in fact, the lack of change will make many believe He is not coming back (2 Peter 3:4). We will be unable to discern the last moments before final judgment from the day people cease to form families or find a way to survive without consuming calories, for this day will never come. Mankind will do the most common tasks up until the end (Matthew 24:40–42).

Verses 40–44 stress the suddenness of Christ’s return. The taking of men and women from their tasks (vv. 40–42) is not a picture of a pretribulational rapture. Instead, Jesus is saying that the separation of the wicked and the righteous will be immediate. It is as if we will look up from our labor one seemingly ordinary day and find ourselves at the consummation of all things. Just as a thief might suddenly break in without warning, so too will our Lord return at a moment when we are not expecting Him (vv. 43–44). These illustrations encourage us not only to be ready for the Savior’s final advent, but also to be prepared to meet Him at any point should we die before He comes. Matthew Henry comments, “We cannot know that we have a long time to live; nor can we know how little a time we have to live, for it may prove less than we expect.” Putting off repentance and faith can lead to eternal damnation.

Therefore, we must be ready for Jesus’ return. Readiness, however, is not passive; rather, we are to serve our king actively, knowing that He could come at any minute. May we be wise, faithful servants who work for the kingdom, not those who lie down on the job and are fit only for destruction (vv. 45–51).

Advertisements

Matthew 1-13

Matthew 1-13…Fulfillment of the Law in Christ

Patience is a virtue, it is said, probably because waiting is so difficult. Young children find themselves having to endure an almost unbearably long stretch of school days before the freedom of summer. Engaged couples spend what seems like ages waiting for their wedding day even though the ceremony may be only a few months away.

After the fall of man, God turned us over to the consequences of our sin. Strenuous labor, pain in childbirth, broken relationships, and finally death would be our lot. Yet our gracious Lord spoke good news as well. His curse would not last forever, one day the seed of the woman, a people holy unto the Lord, would crush the serpent and his seed. Thus began our long wait for Satan’s defeat.

Our Father did not start over from scratch to keep this promise but chose some out of fallen humanity to be His own. Abraham and his seed would be the family through which God would bless the world (12:1–3). For centuries Abraham’s offspring waited for the great blessing they would share with the world. Yet though there were times when the patriarch’s seed blessed the earth, most of the nation of Israel failed to be salt and light to the world; thus, the Lord kicked them out of the Promised Land.

But God also promised an even greater blessing would come if His exiled people repented. The covenant community would go back to their land and a holy son of David would rule the world when they turned to Yahweh. Israel did return to Palestine, but national repentance did not follow, and the Jews lived as a shadow of their former selves, under the heel of one empire after another.

However, the faithful remnant in Israel continued to trust God for His blessing. Four hundred years or so after the voice of prophecy fell silent in Israel, the Father sent Jesus His Son to fulfill His promises (Matt. 5:17). The Gospel of this Jesus, according to Matthew, will occupy our study for the next week or so.

Isaiah 40:4

Isaiah 40:4…”Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture including valleys, mountains, and hills, because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments incapable of fixing themselves, and they both take an expert engineer.

Does the gospel you believe have any cost? The good news as outlined in the bible includes denying yourself:

Matthew 16:24-25Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Malachi 2:8

Malachi 2:8…”But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble.” We must not only consult the written word, but desire instruction and advice from our pastors/elders, as God has given them authority in the affairs of our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Seeking churches whose pastors/elders preach the gospel with clarity and consistency is imperative. In this verse, while the term ‘false teacher’ isn’t used explicitly, the idea is implied. The confusion over what’s true is especially prevalent today because contemporary Christians have not been well-trained in understanding how to study/interpret/understand the Bible.

Pastors/elders should teach the scriptures carefully, not taking individual verses out of the context. A text taken out of context becomes a pretext. The word “context” as it is used here simply means to understand what the Bible is saying in comparison to the surrounding passage. One sentence or one phrase outside of a paragraph can have a completely different meaning unless it is read in context of the surrounding ideas. To develop a biblical pretext means to give a pre-conceived notion of what the phrase means. Most of the bad pretexts about the Bible come from reading a verse out of context of the surrounding passages.

Here are 5 examples of commonly misinterpreted verses:

“Touch not my anointed ones…” (1 Chronicles 16:22) (Used by false prophets and charlatans to shield themselves from criticism).

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) (Used by modern prosperity teachers for promising vain temporal blessings to potential converts. Works well in America, but not so well in Sudan.)

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10) (See above. Also popular in the prosperity movement.)

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) (Used to ignore church government or as justification by many to start their own church.)

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) (A favorite of non-believers and casual church goers to justify their own wickedness.)

Acts 7:39

Acts 7:39…”But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.” In Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, he clearly lays out the gospel. Any true presentation of God’s plan of salvation (i.e. the gospel), must include a description of the great chasm which exists between God and man. This is far more massive than we can understand in our finite human minds. God is perfectly holy, and we are not, which has been the case since the fall of man. In fact, it’s much worse than we realize according to Romans 3:10-18:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless, there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

This is important for us to grasp, because if we don’t get this piece, then we won’t rightly esteem Jesus. We are in desperate need of a perfectly holy Savior. Without His perfect righteousness imputed to us, we’re spiritually dead, and not just in this life. This is the best news in the world, if we believe (and produce fruit in keeping with repentance – Luke 3:8). However, if we don’t believe, eternal spiritual death does not end, and God’s wrath is not passive. According to Jesus, Hell is real (Matthew 8:12):

“But the subjects of the kingdom (of darkness) will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Today is the day to repent and believe in Christ, because we don’t know that we’ll have tomorrow.

Acts 4:34-35

Acts 4:34-35…”For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales, and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” This type of communal selflessness is missing in our churches. Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, the seeker sensitive movement conditioned church goers to see themselves as consumers. In American Christendom especially, people go to church mainly to have their own needs met. The concept of joining a church, committing to the other members of that church, submitting to the authority of elders, and seeking to serve others doesn’t sell. Scripture provides a blueprint for our churches, and we need to return to it, particularly in the way we view our possessions. Storing up treasures on earth is futile.

Matthew 6:19-21
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Colossians 1:17

Colossians 1:17…”He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Jesus took part in creation with the Father. He always was, and always will be. His eternal character is difficult for us to comprehend. However, our ability to fully understand something does not affect its truth. He holds all things together, which means He has authority over all humans. This was a claim He made (Matthew 11:27), which angered the religious teachers and leaders of His time. This authority is an objective reality regardless of your worldview. His resurrection was the ultimate proof of His authoritative claims. When someone who was raised from the dead after predicting it, makes claims like this: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)”; then we need to listen and submit to Him.