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“But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer” (Matthew 27:12 ESV)

February 11, 2016

Fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah, Jesus was silent before his accusers: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa.53:7). Every time I read the story of Christ’s trial and crucifixion, my mind screams against the injustice. I hear myself saying, “Speak up Lord. Don’t let them falsely accuse you.” But then I remember. He did this for me. He stood before a human judge and was condemned to death. Jesus, the Son of God, went silently “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” for me.
The One who spoke the universe into existence was silent. He was condemned in our place, so that there is now “no condemnation” for those who are in Him (Rom.8:1).

“And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end” (Matthew 26:58 ESV)

February 10, 2016

When Jesus was arrested, Peter tried to blend in as one of the crowd, following Jesus from a distance. This, after following so close must’ve been unbearable. Following Jesus at church is one thing, but following Him in the public square is another. Do you try to blend in with the crowd? Are you trying to follow Jesus from a distance? When will you go public with your devotion?

“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30 ESV)

February 9, 2016

The night Jesus was betrayed to be crucified, He joined His disciples in singing a hymn before going up to the Mount of Olives to pray and await His betrayer. What hymn did they sing? The traditional hymn that the Jews would have sung for Passover were the “Hallel” (“praise”) psalms found in Psalms 113-118. As the Rabbi, Jesus would have led the hymn, no doubt from memory, “Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! (Psa. 113:1)… When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language (Psa. 114:1)… The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul! (Psa. 116:3-4)… Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psa. 118:5-6)… Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psa.118:29). I wonder, did His voice break with emotion as He sang? Did the disciples feel the heaviness of the Spirit blanket the upper room during their singing? Did the heavenly choir of angels grow silent to hear their Lord’s voice? Listen all creation! The Lord Jesus is singing on the night of His betrayal!

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13 ESV)

February 8, 2016

What Jesus said is true. Wherever the gospel is preached the story of a woman’s extravagant generosity towards Jesus is told. A woman in Bethany came up to him with “an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and poured it on his head” (Matt.26:7) causing those in attendance to accuse her of waste. Yet, Jesus accepted her gift, rebuking her critics and declaring her offering a “beautiful thing.” The parallel reading for this story found in Mark 14:3-9, informs us that the ointment was worth nearly a year’s wages (300 denarii or 300 days wages). And this unnamed woman poured the whole thing out upon Jesus. What crazy love is this? What extravagant generosity? It is the only right response for those who have recognized and received Christ’s crazy, extravagant generosity towards us.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (Matthew 25:1 ESV)

February 7, 2016

It appears that the parable of the ten virgins was given by Jesus to his disciples in a private setting, as a further illustration of what the Day of his return would be like. As such, this parable seems particularly aimed at the state of the church at Christ’s return. The ten virgins had many things in common. They were all invited to the wedding. They obviously kept company together. They all had lamps. Yet, only five of them had oil for their lamps. And only those five were welcomed into the marriage feast, while the five without oil were not. The clear implication is that many will claim to be followers of Christ without having actually received the “oil” of His salvation. This “oil” cannot be shared from another, it must be received directly from the Lord. Thinking to wait for the Day of his return is a deadly procrastination, for it will be too late. The Day of Christ’s return will reveal that many who claim to be believers, are not. Get your “oil” from the Lord now. Be ready.

“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34 ESV)

February 6, 2016

Many have pointed to this verse to say that Jesus got it wrong. Even C.S. Lewis, the normally staunch defender of the faith, despaired over this verse. Yet, I lean on the verse before it and the one after it to help with my understanding.
First, the verse after it (Matt. 24:35) says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Jesus doesn’t seem uncertain here. In fact, he seems very certain. He says we can trust His Word more than we can trust the universe’s existence. So, I’m sure Jesus didn’t get it wrong. We might understand it wrongly, but He didn’t get it wrong.
Second, the verse before it (Matt. 24:33) says, “When you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” Jesus said that those who would see “all these things” would be the “generation” that would live to see His coming. Jesus was not speaking of the first century generation in his hearing, but of the one that would be alive when “all these things” come to pass.
Now, certainly some of the things, like the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, did happen during the generation that heard Christ’s words. So, one might say that “this generation” referred to two fulfillments. The first being a foreshadowing sign and the second, yet to come.
However we work this out (we could all be wrong in our interpretations), we must never despair that Jesus got it wrong. Jesus always gets it right!

‘But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”‘ (Matthew 22:29 ESV)

February 2, 2016

Jesus rebuked the Sadducees for their lack of knowledge of God’s Word and power. The Sadducees were a Jewish religious sect that was primarily interested in political power. They affirmed only the five books of Moses, rejected the prophets, the writings and the resurrection. Christ’s correction of the Sadducees is an apt warning for today. For we are a generation of biblically illiterate and spiritually impotent people. Repent. Study God’s Word. Be filled with the Spirit.

‘And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”’ (Matthew 20:32 ESV)

January 31, 2016

Jesus stopped. That’s the first thing. He was willing to stop. He was on his way up to Jerusalem for the Passover, headed for his preordained appointment with the cross, and he stopped to heal two blind men sitting by the Jericho roadside. Who stops at a time like this? Jesus.
Then, who asks two obviously blind men what they want? Anyone can see that they are blind. Plus, Jesus knows their thoughts. So, why ask what they want? I think it’s because Jesus is calling them to faith. Asking them to specifically name their need to him, he is also causing them to express their faith in him. Hearing their faith, Jesus touched them and healed them.
I’m glad that Jesus stops for those in need.

‘Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”‘ (Matthew 16:6 ESV)

January 24, 2016

“Leaven” is the yeast that is added to bread dough to make it rise. It only takes a little to affect the whole. Although the disciples at first took the Lord literally and thought he spoke of bread, they finally realized he was warning against the teaching of the “Pharisees and Sadducees.” The teaching of the Pharisees was to be avoided because, although they believed the whole Hebrew Bible, they added to the law layer upon layer of tradition, until no one could keep it. Their “leaven” would lead to legalism. The Sadducees, on the other hand, denied much of the Hebrew Bible, affirming only the books of Moses. They were more interested in political power than in God’s power. Their “leaven” would lead to liberalism. Jesus warned his disciples to avoid both extremes.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19 ESV)

January 23, 2016

Jesus contrasted the concern that the Pharisees had for clean hands with the real concern that they should have had for clean hearts. Water can wash dirty hands, but what will make dirty hearts clean? What will wash away the sin that is rooted in the human heart? Only the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7, Rev. 1:5).