Matthew Bible Study


1   2   3   4
5   6   7   8
9   10   11   12
13   14   15   16
17   18   19   20
21   22   23   24
25   26   27   28  

Journal Through Matthew With Us!

Grab a pencil and paper, or whatever you use, and your favorite version of the Bible (you may want to try the YouVersion app or biblegateway.com as we read through the chapters of Matthew and see how we can apply these chapters to our lives. Each time you read the Bible, you will come away knowing more. It truly is a treasure that becomes new each time you open it.

This online Bible Study goes through each Chapter in sections, as listed in the bold headings, then has a section under the italicized headings explaining how you might apply what you just read to your life. You can then compare your summary and what you wrote in your journal to what we have. We have an area under each chapter where you can add your comments, if you wish to share your ideas. Note that inappropriate or disrespectful comments will be removed.

Matthew 1

Genealogy Matthew 1:1-17

Reading through the genealogy of Jesus is usually not fun. Why is it there? And what do we do about the fact that the genealogy is completely different in Matthew 1 than it is in Luke 3:23-38? Does this mean we shouldn’t believe the Bible? I think to the contrary. The people who put together the Bible knew these two genealogies were completely different, yet they did not try to cut them out or doctor them up to make them the same. To me, this shows that there is something there we should pay attention to. If the differences would make scripture in error, someone would have cut them out so we wouldn’t see the differences. But, they didn’t. Any excuse we can make for the differences are only theories, not truth, and I hate “scientists” who quote theories that cannot have any direct proof as fact, so I won’t do that with scripture either.

Genealogy of Jesus Through Joseph

Click here to enlarge genealogy.

The theory I think is most likely true is that Matthew is quoting Joseph’s lineage while Luke is quoting Mary’s. Since typically only the father’s lineage is quoted, it is logical that Joseph’s lineage is listed in Matthew. However, in this totally miraculous case, Joseph is not really the father. God is the father. Therefore, as Luke quotes in Luke 3:23, Jesus was the son of Joseph, “So it was thought”, it makes sense that this scripture is really quoting Mary’s lineage. Due to Jewish tradition, ancestry was meticulously written down, but there was no precedence for quoting the woman’s lineage, which is really necessary in this case since she was the only real human parent. To be the child of the promise God gave Abraham, I think it is wonderful that both lineages are listed, one the traditional father way, and one through the mother as it had to be in this case. Rather than this difference proving that the Bible is not true, the fact that they don’t match at all, but the compilers of the Bible were still willing to include them both shows to me that they did not want to alter the truth of the Bible to persuade people to believe, but allowed these variations because they trusted there must be a reason for them.

Trusting the Bible for My Life

Before I can be willing to apply the Bible to my life, I have to trust it. I trust that the writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John knew Jesus personally and are the best witnesses we have to tell us how Jesus acted and what He said that we should do. I find that these four chapters, above all else, are what I should use to apply to my life and to check the meaning behind the rest of the Bible. So, while I might not normally enjoy reading a genealogy, it is important to show authenticity and a reason I should want to use it. Quoted “Notorious” Characters Matthew 1:3, 5, 6

Verse 3 says Perez’ mother was Tamar and father, Judah. Judah, Tamar’s father in law, refused to set Tamar free to marry another after two of his sons died while married to her. Judah said she would have to remain a widow. So, Tamar tricks her father-in-law, Judah into having sex with her, which was against their law by hiding her identity with a veil.

Verse 5 says Boaz’s mother was Rahab. Rahab had been a prostitute.

Verse 6 says David was the father of Solomon by Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. David impregnated Uriah’s wife and then had him killed in battle.

Self-Consciousness and Family Embarrassment, Forgiving Yourself, God Not Me

These people are all listed in the lineage of Jesus. Jesus. Many of us look at ourselves thinking we are of less worth because we do not fit into the “important” people of society. Well, even some of those seemingly important people have tainted histories. A person did not have to be mistake or sin free to be used as part of God’s plans. Some of these sins were huge!

Personally, I find it hard to believe God called David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). David did many things that were big time screw-ups! Impregnating someone else’s wife and then having him killed were certainly two of the most memorable. While David screwed up big time, he also repented. David admitted he had done wrong, paid for his sins with the life of his child, but did not blame God. David was human. David sometimes needed someone to tell him how wrong he had been. But, when he realized it, he knew in his heart he was wrong, didn’t try to make excuses for why it was right, but instead came back to God on his knees, admitting his fault and asking forgiveness.

The story of David shows that we can make a terrible mess out of our own lives and still be “a person after Gods own heart.” Thank You, Lord, for that. I don’t have to live in my mistakes and feel I am worthless. You truly forgave David’s incredibly horrible sins because David messed up badly, but when he realized it, he truly repented. He truly felt horrible for what he had done. David did nasty things, but God was almost always number one in his life, and when he realized that he had hurt his relationship with God by disobeying God’s will so badly, he was truly remorseful. But, it wasn’t David’s remorse that was important. David’s focus was not on himself and how bad he was and how bad he felt. David’s focus was not selfish or self-centered. David’s heart was aching because he knew he had hurt his relationship with the most precious thing in his heart: God. David’s remorse came from his love for God, not his lack of self-worth for not being good enough. David felt truly bad because he had hurt what meant the most to him: God.

Lord, I know I often worry about myself not being good enough. Please forgive me for being so self-centered. Lord, You are truly loving and forgiving. Lord, You want my heart, and I pray I will be able to give it to you all throughout the day, thinking about You and what You would want, not thinking about me, not having or wanting pride in myself, but just focusing on You and my desire to please You. Thank You that we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. Please guide me to be a person after God’s own heart. Amen.

Birth of Jesus Matthew 1:18-25

Mary became pregnant while engaged to Joseph, but it was obviously not his child because he planned to quietly break off the engagement. She said she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but Joseph didn’t believe it until an angel came to him in a dream telling him that the baby, Jesus, would save people from their sins as predicted in Isaiah 7:14 that the Savior would come through a virgin birth. Jesus’ name, Immanuel, means God with us.

God with Us in Unusual Ways

I’m glad I am doing the 3 translations side by side. The expanded version Immanuel means, “God is with us” instead of “God with us”. I saw God with us as God isn’t just God IS with us, somewhere in the crowd, but God with us, God with me, there for me, helping me, not off somewhere else. God right here, beside me every minute of every day.

And, God does unusual things. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Was it real? I think it is more real because Joseph didn’t believe it until he had the dream, and in that dream, God’s angel explained something that I don’t think Joseph could have ever figured out on from his own mind. I like that it came in a dream, and that he didn’t hear voices in his head. People can’t claim that he was just schizophrenic. Sometimes in the Bible, God presents Himself in a dream. This dream was the best. It revealed Jesus as our Savior…my Savior…and this was just the beginning…

Return to Top

Matthew 2

Wise Men Visit Jesus – Matthew 2:1-13

Priest/Astrologers studying the sky saw a star that made them know that the king of the Jews was born and followed it to find Jesus, which they did. But God warned them in a dream not to go back home past King Herod.

God Used Various Ways to Communicate with People

Today we have the Holy Spirit to communicate with us, as promised by Jesus. God is not just a being out of contact with His creation. He has the ability to communicate with us. Talk to Him. Get to know Him and what He thinks about things to truly understand Him by regularly studying the Bible. Then, when you talk to Him, you will know if you hear Him (not audibly, but through the Holy Spirit inside of you if you are a believer/follower of Jesus) that what you “hear” is from Him and not just your own thoughts if it matches what is in the Bible.

If God has a special job or message for you (which He occasionally did in the Bible), He may speak to you through a dream or other means. I just imagine how glorious it must have been to be so in tune with God that you would follow a star and find Jesus. How does a star settle over a house? Cool! I read different modern theories on how the wise men could follow a star, but none of them were a possibility to point to a specific house. Science cannot ever fully explain God.

Jesus’ Family Go to Egypt, Escaping Herod Killing the Babies-Matthew 2:13-23

God again used a dream to warn Joseph that King Herod wanted to kill Jesus, so they were to go to Egypt. Good thing, too, since Herod had all the baby boys under 2 killed. After Herod died, God told Joseph in 2 more dreams to go back to Israel and to settle in Nazareth. All of these odd things Joseph did and they also ended up being just as the Old Testament prophesied would happen to Jesus.

God Does Not Always Make Sense to Us

We don’t know the future. God does. If we follow God’s will as laid out in the Bible, bad things may still happen to us. But, God promises that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. But, what about all of those babies who died at the hand of Herod? Why weren’t any of those parents warned?

We were just talking about the bad things that happened to us at our counselor’s meeting last night. We all have some pretty horrific stories. Yet, we all know that those horrific things we have lived through are what make us good counselors. We are Biblical Counselors, using the Bible to help people, rather than secular counselors. Many of us have had experiences with secular counselors, who while being caring people, do not have the depth of understanding and the same compassion as those of us who have been through many great tragedies. Learning to rely totally on God no matter what happens, to trust He is in control and can do all things, trusting He will do what HE knows is best and will use all things for good if we follow Him will bring us peace that does not even come if everything goes right. It is not our circumstances that bring peace and joy, but God can bring peace and joy even through sorrow.

God is different. God is not human. God is not humanly logical. But, it is worth it to follow Him and His will as listed in the Bible. Then, no matter what happens, He is right there through it all with you.

Return to Top

Matthew 3

John the Baptist and the Religious Leaders – Matthew 3:1-12

The religious leaders and teachers of Jesus’ day (Pharisees and Sadducees) came to John the Baptist to be baptized, and he called them names. John taught to confess a person’s sins before being baptized. The religious leaders would not admit they had sins, which caused his anger, telling them they had to have the results of their actions show that they were worthy of repentance.

Repenting (Turning from Sin) and Being a Christian

The religious leaders didn’t see anything they did as sinful, didn’t think they needed to turn from their sins. When I talk to many people today, especially young people, they don’t think many of the things they do are sin either. They were trained up in a society that not only accepts sin, but disagrees on the definition of sin. While most everyone agrees that things such as murder are sins, the first 4 commandments are about loving God, which Jesus said was the most important commandment.

This is where the Old Testament and the New Testament get confusing for many people. We are currently under grace. The Old Testament Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to hold everyone else to the Old Testament laws, but thought they were better than the laws and refused to see their own action clearly. They made up their own rules for themselves. They didn’t see that they had anything to judge themselves for.

Here comes the super confusion, so I ask you to pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand this. Sin does make a difference. God DOES care what you do…very much so. You don’t EARN Salvation (getting to go to heaven). The price God requires everyone to pay for their sins is death followed by eternity in hell. However, God allows us to use another payment for that high price of death and hell for our sins. We can pay for those sins with Jesus.

That doesn’t mean that we simply accept that Jesus is God. Satan believes this. We have to believe that WE sin and need Jesus to pay for those sins, and then accept Jesus as our payment for those sins. If we truly believe this and understand what this means, understand the severity of sin, that it caused humiliation, torture, and then death of God’s only human born son to pay for our sins so we wouldn’t have to suffer this way for eternity, it WILL CHANGE US. We WILL CARE WHAT WE DO! We will not want to sin. We won’t always succeed, but we know sin adds hurt onto God, showing we don’t really care that Jesus suffered terribly to pay for that sin.

God knows we can’t be perfect. That’s why He gave His only Son, Jesus, to pay for our mess-ups. But, that doesn’t mean that we just go on messing up and not care, not try to stop it. Jesus often healed or helped someone, then said, “Go and sin no more.” He never said, “Go ahead and sin. I’ve got this.” Never.

Baptism is the outward sign that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. You don’t have to worry that you messed up. You will mess up again. Unfortunately, we all do. But, your love for God and appreciation for what Jesus did for you and their love for you will cause you to change, to repent, to turn from sin, to try your best to follow what you know is right from learning about what God cares about in the Bible. You won’t take society and social norms as your guide to right and wrong, but you will try to figure out how God really feels about things, and live for Him, live to try to please Him, not because you have to, but because you want to, because you love God and Jesus. What you do or don’t do won’t earn your way into heaven. But, it will show what is really in your heart. And, it is your heart that God really wants. If you only care about what YOU want to do and what YOU think is right, and think YOU know better than God and the Bible, who does that make your god really? YOU!

If God is God, and He is, ask yourself, “Am I treating God like my God, or am I living by what I want to do, making myself my god?” Your “fruit”, your actions, don’t save you, but they show whether or not you really are saved.

OK KEEP READING! I now probably having many of you saying to yourselves, “Fruit? What fruit? I don’t have any fruit? I’m not doing anything good enough, and way too much bad stuff. I’m not feeding widows and orphans. I argue with my spouse all the time…yadda…yadda…yadda.” Remember when I talked about King David from the previous chapter? He got the wife of his most devoted soldiers pregnant, then had the soldier killed in battle so he could have her and the baby. Yet God calls David the “man after my own heart.” Personally, I wouldn’t pick David because of what he did. But, God is different. God can judge by more than actions. GOD READS OUR HEARTS!

If you think highly of yourself, chances are you are not looking at yourself through God’s eyes. If you think poorly of yourself, but you wish you could do better, God is seeing in you that you love Him, that you care about Him, that, perhaps, you are doing your personal best but failing. If you had a child that really wanted to do well, but couldn’t handle it and failed, that wanted to get off drugs perhaps, but failed, your heart would go out to that child and you would want to help him. God is our father. He wants respect and honor as God. He wants us to want to please Him, knowing He is God. Yet, He loves us all so much that He wants ALL of us to be saved! He sees through what you do to your heart. He doesn’t want people doing things and hating God because they have to do them. Yet you don’t have to be great. God used many, many failures throughout the Bible. When you fail…keep trying…don’t give up. God loves you and wants to help you. God has a plan for your life. Hang in there until it is time for Him to reveal it for you. You might be in the middle of a hard lesson, a lesson that may humble you and make you useful to help others. I don’t know personally what God has in store for each of you. But, don’t think God doesn’t love you. He does.

And, He sees your hearts, just as John the Baptist saw the hearts of those religious leaders and teachers. John knew that they were living for themselves, for their pride, for what they could get out of their positions, not living for God. God would have loved it if those Pharisees and Sadducees would have seen their own hearts and tried to change. But, instead, they fought God’s way until they had Jesus put to death. It’s a heart thing. Where is your heart? God knows, and He is not the big mean God waiting to punish you. He’s just hoping to gain your heart.

Jesus Gets Baptized! – Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus then came to John the Baptist to be baptized. John was humbled, knowing he needed to be baptized by Jesus, not vice versa. But, Jesus insisted, saying it was necessary to “fulfill all righteousness”. When Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended like a dove on Him, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased.”

We, Too, Need to be Baptized to do What is Right

Jesus never sinned. In reality, Jesus did not need to be baptized because baptism is an outward sign that you are giving up your sins for God. Jesus had no sin. But, Jesus did what was right to show everyone what is right to do.

I was “baptized” as an infant. But, there is nothing in the Bible about baptizing an infant. A person is to decide they want to follow Jesus, to turn from their sin (repent), and be baptized. An infant is not baptized of their own free will and decision. I knew this, yet part of me felt like I shouldn’t be baptized again because I was as an infant. I waited 39 years after becoming a Christian before I was submerged in the water the way Jesus did it…the ONLY WAY someone was baptized in the Bible, and I never had peace in my heart about it until I finally did it the right way.

Was I saved without being baptized correctly? I believe I was as the thief on the cross next to Jesus believed in Him and died without being baptized and Jesus said that He would see the thief in paradise. Jesus could see the man’s heart.

We may not absolutely have to be baptized the right way, by being fully dunked in the water to represent washing away our sins, but, there is something wrong in our hearts if we refuse, knowing that even Jesus did it. What would I tell Jesus if He asked why I didn’t do it? Would I tell Him that it was important enough for Him to do it, but I’m too good to need to do it? All I can tell you is that I never had peace about not doing it, but have complete peace with it now that it is done.

Don’t Forget the Dove and God’s Voice

Jesus wasn’t just anybody. The Spirit of God descended on Him. People saw it and heard God’s voice come from heaven above saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is the one…the only one…the only way to Heaven for Eternity.

Return to Top

Matthew 4

Jesus Tested by the Devil – Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for 40 days. Afterwards the Devil tempted Him that He would gain everything if He would worship the devil. Jesus responded with Old Testament Bible verses after each temptation finally telling Satan to go away, that He would only serve God. Then the angels came and took care of Him.

Getting Closer to God to Know His Will

I know the Bible uses fasting as a way to find the will of God, but this troubles me. I also know that lack of nutrition to the brain can cause hallucinations that are as real as life experiences. When my elderly mother refused to eat, she would hallucinate. I found out the hard way what was causing her hallucinations, by doing research after her medical staff wanted to have her committed. We fed her instead and she was fine. Hallucinations can be induced by withholding food, so even though Jesus did it, I don’t recommend it.

No, I do not believe Jesus hallucinated. But, I don’t think we will know whether what we find out through fasting is real or not if we fast. For me, fasting even half a day just makes me focus on food all the more. Plus, fasting can cause other health problems, such as depression.

Some places in the Bible list fasting until evening. Fasting IS a way to humble yourself, to put your desire for God as more important than even food. Since many places in the Bible mention fasting, what you do about it is between you and God. Just know that medically, a very long fast may make it difficult for you to discern God’s will. For me, if I was going to give up something meaningful to me to fast, I may choose to only eat pure foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and meat (no sauces, condiments, etc.). The priority is prayer and focusing on God and His will.

It is a shame we put so much money and thought into food in comparison to God. Jesus put God first, and God protected Him from an attack from the Devil, then ministered to Him through angels. This is one of the benefits of being close to God…peace in trusting He will take care of your needs.

Jesus Teaches Repent – Matthew 4:17

From that time, Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.”

Repent-Turn from Sin

Jesus gives us grace, salvation without our works. But, Jesus also taught us to repent. We should not ignore this. Jesus NEVER said that it was OK to continue in sin. Our walk with Jesus should be a process of getting to be more like Him. We can only do that if we know what God says is right and wrong to do. If we choose on our own, we are making ourselves our gods. That, God does not like.

Jesus Calls Fishermen to be His Disciples – Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee and called Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His disciples, following Him to get others to follow Jesus.

They Followed and Were "Just Fishermen"

Two things I think are amazing about Matthew 4:18-22. Imagine a guy walking along next to where you work and calling to you to follow Him. What would you do? I think pretty much everyone would ignore Him. As of yet, they didn’t know who Jesus really was. Yet, somehow they knew to follow Him. Amazing. Sometimes when we are followers of God/Jesus, we just know what to do. He places it in our hearts and while it may seem dumb, we just know it is right to follow. The other thing I think I amazing is that they were "just fishermen". I put "just fishermen" in quotes because I don’t think anyone is "just" anyone. We are all children of God. We are all created for a specific purpose. But, here I used "just" because they would be doing something totally uncharacteristic for a fisherman. You could probably imagine a business leader as someone who would gather people together to follow a cause or something, but not the local fisherman.

Following God is like that. None of us are “just” anything. God used these “just fishermen” to follow Jesus and through them we still know Him 2000 years later. Who knows what God might have you or me do! We don’t have to worry about our talents or lack thereof. If God wants us to do something, He will give us everything we need to accomplish His will.

Jesus Heals Every Disease and Sickness-Matthew 4:23-25

Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and healed every disease and sickness, so people brought Him sick people from all over Syria, and He healed them. People from all over started following Jesus.

This is No Ordinary Man

How do we know Jesus is the real God, the only God, the one we should follow? Read about Him in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Then, look up any other religion. Nowhere has there ever been anyone who could do the things that Jesus did. Jesus says He is the only way to God/ Heaven for Eternity. John 14:6, Matthew 11:27, John 1:11-12, John 3:16-18, John 5:21-22, John 6:47-58, John 10:9, John 11:25-26, John 12:48, Mark 16:16.

Either Jesus is God, or He is a liar. I don’t believe He could do all the things that were recorded about Him if He was a liar. No one else has been able to do such things. And, His teachings are fabulous. If we all followed Him, the world would be perfect. As much as I would love a changed world, I can’t change the world. But, I can change me. I believe I become a better person every day as I try to love God and others as Jesus teaches me by reading about Him as written by those who walked with Him.

Return to Top

Matthew 5

The Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5:1-12

Crowds of people came to Jesus, and He taught them on a mountain that they were truly blessed if they had problems because God had promises for them:


God’s Promises – Not to Take Away Problems

I love Matthew 5:3-12, called the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes. Beatitude means HAPPINESS! You see in these verses that we don’t get happiness by having our problems go away. We get happiness and blessings from God by being blessed by God IN our problems. God usually does not take away our problems because problems are what make us grow in goodness and become more like Jesus if we have the right response. While I doubt anyone prays, “Lord, bring on the tragedies,” and I know how hard it is to go through the tragedies, I also know that every tragedy I have been through has made me who I am today.

I can truly say that I have love and forgiveness in my heart for my rapist, for instance, because I have seen Jesus on the cross say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I realize that the man who raped me has huge problems in his heart in order to have done that, that he is missing out on knowing Jesus, that if he hasn’t found Jesus yet that he will never have peace and joy in his heart. Jesus has changed me, changed my heart, from anger towards all men that they could desire to do such things, to forgiveness and compassion. If this had not happened to me, I could not truly understand how another who has gone through torturous events would feel, and how to show them love and compassion in a way that could help them, both for the victim and the persecutor.

Don’t ask for all troubles in life to go away. Look for God’s will through them. Pray for those who are hurting others, for they are hurting themselves for eternity. Ask God to show you His heart. Inherit the kingdom in your heart.

Being a Person Who Changes the World - Matthew 5:13-16

If you know Jesus, know His Spirit, and have His Presence with you, living in His blessings, you are not to keep it to yourself, but are to share it with the world. You are to do good deeds to glorify God so that others may get to know Him, too. You are to be the light of the love of God to the world, not hidden from it.

Sharing God’s Love

I have run across so many Christians who only hang around with Christians and don’t really know the unsaved people of the world. This is not how Christ was, nor how He said we are to be. Christ walked in front of a group who would stone Him to death to save someone they considered to be a great sinner. When you get to know God, experience His love in your life from going through the troubles, don’t keep this to yourself out of fear that others will persecute you. Know what? They WILL persecute you. But, you can’t help others if you don’t allow yourself to be persecuted. It’s not only OK to be persecuted, but according to verses 10-11, that is how you get the Kingdom of Heaven.

Just don’t do what is right for what you can get for yourself. Do what is right because of your love, the immense love of God, that you want everyone else to have. Share it with others.

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law at its True Meaning – Matthew 5:17-48

Many people believe that Jesus and salvation by Grace Alone through His death for our sins and His coming back from the dead, means that we no longer need to pay any attention to the Laws of the Old Testament. Verse 19 says that “whoever breaks the least commandments and teaches others to do so would be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever keeps them and teaches others will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Then, Jesus goes on to talk about specific commandments, adding to them to make sure that we understand that it is not just what we do that God judges, but what is in our hearts that is sinful:

How Jesus REALLY Wants Us to Act

Some Christians say that Matthew 5:17-48 is Jesus’ way of showing us that we really CAN’T keep the commandments so that we know we need Him for Salvation. While it is totally true that none of us keeps the commandments, these verses show how Jesus REALLY WANTS our hearts to be, always loving, always forgiving, always caring for and about everyone else, no matter who they are or what they do wrong. Verse 48 sums it up: “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

Sure, Jesus knows we fail at being perfect. That’s why He died for us. Jesus wouldn’t have died for us if He thought we could follow all of this without Him. But, just as we as parents know our kids are going to mess up, that doesn’t mean we don’t give them the rules and desire them to follow the rules. We know that life is best when we do what we should do that is right. And, as parents, we also know that many times, no matter what the good outcome is from doing right or the bad outcome is from doing wrong, our kids are going to choose wrong at times anyways. That never stops our full desire to have them do everything the way they should.

Our goal in life should be to become more of what God wants us to be each day. And, when we mess up, Jesus taught us that we need to repent, meaning we need to stop doing what is wrong, ask for forgiveness, and do our best to make up for it and follow God’s will. Jesus shows us that we start going the wrong way in life when we even think or talk about doing wrong. Jesus was so smart back then that He even understood that what we say about others is like murder for them. This is something we have to work with people all the time for in counseling, the fact that they are having a hard time living with themselves (often wishing to commit suicide) because of what others think or say about them. Our words…even out thoughts…can kill, and Jesus knew this.

Jesus WANTS us to be PERFECT. But, knowing we aren’t, He died for us. That is huge! That doesn’t give us a free ticket to sin. That should make us desire more and more to follow what Jesus says here. He says this not to show how horrible we are, but because He wants us to grow more in love, like Him.

* Note that showing love doesn’t mean that we don’t call sin, sin, or sometimes confront a person to help them out of their sin. See Matthew 18 for more information.

Return to Top

Matthew 6

Giving in Secret – Matthew 6:1-4

When you give to the needy, don’t let others know so they may praise you for being a good person. If you are acknowledged by man, you will not get acknowledgment from God. The same is true for praying.

Giving…A Heart Thing

God sees our heart…and our motives. If our heart is right, we aren’t giving to make ourselves better people and to have others know that we are better people, but we are giving because our heart cares about those in need…our heart is for them, not us. Sometimes you want to share your giving story to encourage others to give, to share a need so others can help, or to acknowledge that God blesses giving, etc. I find it difficult to share what I have done, but trust God knows my heart when I do share. I can’t refuse to share hoping to get blessings from God, either, because my motive should not be to get from God or from anyone else, but it should be a right heart of giving, of caring, and of love.

Praying Jesus’ Way: The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15

We are not to pray to be praised for our prayer abilities either. Jesus taught us how to pray with what we call the Lord’s Prayer:
It acknowledges God as all-powerful, our ruler, at both the beginning and the end. Then it requests God’s provision for our daily needs and forgiveness…as we forgive others. We are then to request God’s help in staying away from temptation and evil.

Praying for What God Knows We Need

I admit that for years I prayed for help to fix up my house. While I would still like to be able to fix up my house, it’s never made it to the top of my priority list. I think God has been more interested in fixing up my character, deepening my love for others and my desire to help them while continuing to push my material desires aside. Over the years my prayers have changed from what I think I need to God showing me what He wants of my life.

The basics are all right there in Jesus’ prayer. First and foremost, our prayers should be acknowledging who God really is…worshiping Him. Then we can go on to request provision as He knows we need it, and thanking Him that He provides it. One of our main needs is forgiveness as we fail in following Him, which we will. God’s desire for us to love, forgive, and not judge others comes though clearly in the fact that we must forgive others to be forgiven ourselves. Finally, our own desires and the influences around us can often lead us away from God and His will for our lives, so we have to pray to stay safe from those influences in order to remain close to God and not sin.

Prayer is clearly to be God-centered, not me-centered. God is truly awesome, and I think He would love to give us all palaces to live in and be surrounded by nothing but beauty, as He gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But, God has seen many centuries of people who became more and more evil the more they had. And, God has seen some great hearts for others in the poorest of the poor. God gives us the best gifts. Sometimes we refuse to accept that pain and suffering are better than palaces of gold.

God’s Treasures for Us – Matthew 6:19-24

This continues on from the previous thought, that our treasures are to be of the heart, of goodness towards others that will be blessings in heaven, not of material goods that rot at disintegrate over time. What we think of as important shows whether we are good or evil.

Treasures of the Heart

I know I want God’s will more than all else, and it is easy to say that, but it is not so easy to look at all the wealth of others and think that what we have is worthy. It is hard not to be embarrassed when what I have is worth ¼ to ½ of what others I know have. It is hard to invite wealthier people over, feeling they will judge me harshly for my lack of material wealth. The problem with this thought is that I am judging myself the same way I think it is wrong for others to judge me, meaning I am the one with the problem. Like I said, following God is not as easy as we would like it to be, not because of God, but because of our own sinful desires and thoughts. Lord, please continue to grow me closer to what You would have me to be, and thank You for forgiving me for my sinful desires. Amen.

Do Not Worry – Matthew 6:25-34

Do not worry about food, clothing, or shelter. God will provide for you what He knows is best, just as He provides for the birds. Worry does not get you anything. Seek God and His righteousness, and you will have all He knows you need.

If I Don’t Have It, I Don’t Need It


Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these.
Matthew 6:28-29

Comparisons are never a good idea. Each of us has what GOD knows we need. When we start comparing ourselves with others, we are in trouble. It makes no difference what another has. We have what is right for US to have when we follow God correctly. When I look at what others have, I become dissatisfied. That is sinful. Lord, forgive me when I do that. When I sit and look around at what I really do have, I am thankful. God is good. Thankfulness brings satisfaction, peace and joy. Now those are the gifts that are truly a blessing and the gifts of the heart that I truly want to have.

I remember watching the movie, “Happy,” filming people around the world, showing what they had or didn’t have and how happy they were. The one that I hope I never forget is the man who worked as a bicycle taxi in a poor country and came home to his family living in a tent. His family was excited to see him, filled with love for him, and he truly had joy in his life. Those with lots of things were never satisfied nor peaceful. The Lord is truly wise in all things, and knows the only way to true joy is joy not of possessions, but of the heart.

Return to Top

Matthew 7

Don’t Judge Others – Matthew 7:1-5

However you judge others is the way you will be judged. We see the faults of others much easier than we see our own faults. We are to look inwardly and change ourselves, rather than focus on the faults of others.

Judge the Sin, Not the Sinner

Nowhere in the Bible are we told that sin is OK. We are told in Matthew 18 to help one another out of our sins. Our motive is always to be love, not judgment. Judging is God’s job, not ours. It is difficult not to judge others, but it is pointless to do it. We all have things we could have or should have done differently, but the only life we really have the power to change is our own. In working to make our lives more what God wants them to be, it would be wise to remember that Jesus said the most important thing we are to do is to love God and to love others. Judging others is not loving them. Accepting them, helping them, forgiving them, those are our jobs. God’s job is to judge.

Note that in accepting others that does not mean we say sin is acceptable. Sin is never right. But, we all sin, and it is never our job to judge the sinner. In love, however, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to help one another with our sins.

Don’t Cast Your Pearls Before Swine - Matthew 7:6

Don’t give what is holy to the dogs or cast your pearls before swine to be trampled.

Loving and Caring Wisely

As mentioned in the earlier paragraph on Matthew 7:1-5 , we are to help others with their sin when led to by the Holy Spirit. It is fitting then that this is followed by not casting your pearls before swine to have them trampled. Jesus did not stand and argue with the Pharisees and Sadducees that He was right and they were wrong, trying to continue to argue with them until they were won over to His side.

How often do we, as Christians, knowing God is right, feel like everyone has to believe what we believe and it is our job to change them all…to change the world for Christ? Jesus didn’t do that. He said what was right and moved on. When you try to argue with someone whose only desire is to make a fool out of you, he will probably succeed. That doesn’t mean we don’t love and pray for those who refuse to listen. But, God has to work in their hearts before they accept Him, and if they refuse, even God won’t force them. All we can do is hope that seeing our actions of love as Jesus teaches will soften their hearts that they may someday desire to believe. Don’t give up on them. But, don’t waste your time arguing with them either. Only speak as the Holy Spirit gives you words. If there are none, move on.

Ask and It Will Be Yours – Matthew 7: 7-12

God wants to give you good things, so ask and He will give them to you.

God Will Give You What HE KNOWS is Good

Matthew 7:7-12 can sound like God can be used as Santa Claus. OK, God, I am doing my best to follow you, and I am repenting when I mess up, so I want a new car (because I really need it) and I want a big home (because I have a big family) and I want my nephew to become a Christian (because everyone should be a Christian), etc., etc., etc.


Not how God works. God promises to give GOOD THINGS to those who ask Him. While all of the aforementioned things may seem good, are they? We can trust God to provide for our needs as He knows is best for us. There may be a time when we are to live on the streets because He wants us to have a heart for homeless people that we cannot get any other way. He might have a time in our lives when He knows it is best that we go hungry so we truly gain respect and appreciation for the true blessing of having food to eat. We may think we have to have a bigger home because we see “everyone else” with bigger homes and our family is bigger. But, God may better teach our family to get along, to compromise, to love, and to forgive one another if we have less and have to live in tight quarters.

The hardest request I had to learn that God will not answer the way I want Him to answer is the request to save our loved ones. God will not force Himself on anyone, ever. That is not who God is and how He works. We can ask God to help continue to direct our loved ones towards Him, and never give up on them in prayer, but God won’t force them to believe. God will answer our prayers and continue to try to put people and circumstances in the paths of our loved ones to try to get them to desire to come to salvation through Christ, but He won’t force them to believe. God allows free will. No one wants EVERYONE saved more than God. Read the Old Testament. It is filled with God trying to get the attention of the people so that they will decide to change, to come to Him, and the people sometimes coming to Him, and sometimes living in utter refusal.

Keep praying for God to give you all good things. Just trust that God knows best what is good, and often hardship is what is best. My prayers over the years have changed from, “Lord, You know I need This,” to “Lord, I trust You will give to me what You know I need…In Jesus. Amen.”

The Narrow and Wide Gates/True and False Prophets and Disciples – Matthew 7:13-23

The real gate to God…to Heaven for eternity…is not just any way, it is a specific way. Many false prophets teach otherwise, sounding loving and good, but not following what God said is the only way, which is Jesus. Be watchful, as you will be able to tell the true prophets and the right way by the goodness of the outcome of it, or as the Bible states, you will be able to tell the good tree by the good fruit it bears. Likewise, false followers, people who claim to be disciples of God, but do not follow the ways God in human form, Jesus, tells us are the only right ways, will not end up in heaven. These people may think they did good, but if they did not truly know God and follow the teachings of Jesus, in the end God will tell them to go away, that He never knew them.

Doing What YOU Believe is Right is Not the Same as God’s Way

I Think. These two words will get you into a lot of trouble. If you can change those words to, “Jesus said in the Bible,” and it is not what YOU want it to say, but what JESUS really said and means when taken in the context of the entire Bible, then you have found the true right way, the Narrow Gate, as Jesus called it. It is easy to take anything out of context and twist it to mean whatever you want it to mean. Jesus knew this and warns about it in Matthew 7:13-23.

God gave us the Bible, and we are very blessed to have it available so freely in so many different ways today. It contains basic truths that cannot be compromised in order to make it into heaven.

  1. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6. You must believe and trust Jesus (and only Jesus) as your Savior, the one who died to pay for your sins, in order to be saved.
  2. Jesus said that the most important commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind.” Matthew 22:37 You will desire to follow God in all things in your heart if you are truly saved. You won’t be successful, which is why we need Jesus. But, God knows your heart. And, God is God. We are not. He is the one and only God. All religions are NOT the same as many falsely teach today.
  3. Jesus said loving ALL others is the next most important thing we do. Matthew 22:39. While this verse says “your neighbor” instead of “all others,” Jesus clarified in many other verses who our neighbors are and how we are to treat them: Luke 10:29-37, Matthew 5:43-48

Building with Wisdom - Matthew 7:24-28

Build your house on the solid rock of putting into practice the words of wisdom from Jesus and nothing will be able to make you fall. But, if you do not put into practice the teachings of Jesus, when hard times come, you will fall with a great crash. Only Jesus taught with authority, truly understanding the heart and mind of God.

Strength in God Alone

Following the words of Jesus, putting them into practice, incorporating them into your life, gives you a strong foundation on which to build your life (your house), and when tragedy strikes, He will hold you strong. I think of those who twist the scriptures to mean what they want them to say. They are always fighting to try to get people to believe THEIR way because they feel uncomfortable with themselves unless they can get others to buy into their beliefs. So, how do you tell if you are being led astray by false teachings? Look at the New Testament first. Jesus’ followers did not take up weapons to fight for their beliefs and eliminate non-believers. They died in love for them.

That doesn’t mean that the Old Testament was wrong. But, the people were always following the precisely directed will of God, not their own ideas or desires. Jesus said love was most important, and died to show His love, as did many, many of His followers. It was this love that has lasted 2000 years, making people desire to follow Him even today. It is lack of love by some that is also driving people away from desiring to come to know Jesus.

Holy Bible, Learn It, Know It, Follow Him

Know Jesus. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, written by those who knew Jesus, until you are able to tell the difference between His will and your own. Choose Jesus as Your Savior, placing your trust in Him alone, on Jesus who died to pay for your sins, not on your own works and actions…not on being good enough on your own, as none of us ever can be. Be baptized the way Jesus taught to be baptized, by going under the water fully as a symbol that you are now clean, your sins washed away by Jesus’ blood. (God loves symbolism. This is a symbol of your obedience.) Try to follow Jesus’ teachings with your life, not to earn your way to heaven, but simply because you love God and want to. That’s it. When you fail, repent, because Jesus tells us to. Repent means to turn from sin and turn to following God. Ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you, so a part of God will live inside you to comfort, guide, and direct you. Become a house built not on the words of man, but on the word of God through Jesus Christ in the Bible. Learn it, know it, follow Him.

Return to Top

Matthew 8

Jesus Heals Differently – Matthew 8:1-4

Jesus touched the man with the skin disease, and he was healed. Jesus told him to tell no one.

Jesus CAN Do ALL Things, But Will He?

Jesus had finished teaching and came down off the mountain when someone with a skin disease showed his great faith by saying that Jesus could heal him. Jesus healed the man, but told him to tell no one. Well, obviously that didn’t work because we know about it 2000 years later. God could heal everyone yet today who comes to Him. But, He does not. While healing may seem to us to be the most important thing, for God, our hearts and our character are more important. I know I had trouble walking, and while I was praying for a surgeon, instead I woke up with use of my legs. God knew I needed to not have surgery due to some other problems in my life that were about to take over. But now I live with pain in my shoulders every day. Why does He not heal that? It is easy to lose compassion for others when you are easily rid of your own problems. God is not here to simply rid us of our problems in life, but to use those problems to grow our characters and enlarge our hearts for others. God/Jesus can heal, so don’t give up on prayer. So believe, because He can do all things. But, rather than praying that God takes away my problems, I pray that He does what He knows is best, and helps me and is with me no matter what that is. The public testimony of the healed man was to do God’s will by offering a sacrifice for being healed. To God be the glory…in all things.

Jesus Heals From Afar, But It’s Not About the Healing – Matthew 8:8-22

An army officer then begged Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant, saying Jesus did not have to come to his house, since he was unworthy, but could just command him to be well and he would be. Jesus said this man had the greatest faith, so He said the servant was healed, and he was healed as Jesus spoke from afar.

Then, crowds were everywhere trying to get healed. But, Jesus warned them to leave the issues of this world and simply follow Him, even though He had no home.

We Are Unworthy

Many people today complain that God is not compassionate or real because so many are suffering, as though we deserve to all be healed. When God does heal, He does it because He knows it is the best thing to do at that time. When He does not heal, it is because He knows best. Jesus didn’t want people to come to Him for what He could do for them, using Him like Santa Claus. Jesus wants us to come to Him because we love Him because He is God, Master, Creator, All-Powerful, and we love and worship Him just for being God. If He does anything special for us, it is not because WE are worthy, it is because He knows it is best.

Jesus did things that no other could do. He did need to prove He was God while He walked on this earth, and not a mere human. But, teaching about God and salvation was Jesus’ message, not that everyone could be healed on earth. Our earthly lives pass away quickly compared to eternity. He wants us focused on following Him for eternity, not just this small life and what we can get from Him to help with it.

Jesus Calms the Storm – Matthew 8:23-27

The disciples feared for their lives as they crossed the sea in a boat during a violent storm while Jesus slept. They woke up Jesus, asking Him to save them, and He spoke and calmed the sea.

Worry is Not of God

God wants us to trust Him at all times no matter what is going on around us. I grew up in a family of worriers. The constant worry about everything did affect me. I was trained to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and prepare for the worst. But, this is not God’s way. I now trust that nothing will happen to me that God does not allow to happen to me, and if it does happen, He can handle it. Whatever I lose, God knows I did not need. God wants us to trust, as little children trust and don’t worry about their daily needs. God’s got this. All I have to do is follow as He leads me. 2 Bags of Groceries

Once, when my children were small, we ran out of food. My one hope in a person to help me fell through. I cried out to God. Within hours there was a woman at my door with two huge sacks of groceries. Since then, I have trusted that God WILL provide for what HE knows I need, when HE knows the time is right, and if I don’t have it, I don’t need it.

Jesus Casts Out Demons – Matthew 8:28-34

The demons inside two men spoke to Jesus, knowing He was God, figuring He was going to cast the demons out of the men, requesting they be saved by being allowed to go into a herd of pigs. When Jesus cast the demons into the pigs, the pigs ran into the lake and drowned. The people came out of the town and begged Jesus to leave.

Demons are Real and Our Misguided Priority on Wealth

In modern society, we are taught that demons are not real. We see them as something made up to explain mental illness. But, Jesus knew that demons are real. Jesus cast them out. We think today that we are so smart, that we are too wise to believe in anything that we cannot explain with our own science. But, God does not work within our laws of science. God is God. In reality, we are not as smart as we think we are. There are things that just don’t make sense. Science tries to teach us that everything evolved, that life came from non-life. Excuse me! That is NOT scientific at all! That would be harder for me to believe than to believe there is a master being who created our life. If the scientists claim to believe their evolution is real, how on earth do they explain life coming from non-life? They cannot logically explain this.

The thing I believe in that I cannot prove nor see is God. I believe because I have had things happen in my life that I cannot explain by science…like instead of waking up and calling a surgeon because my knees are so bad I can’t pick up my feet any longer, waking up and having no pain in my knees, being able to go to the garden and shovel for hours without pain, all week long, and still walk fine 3 years later. Why me? Why did God allow this for me? I kept feeling like He was telling me, “You’re going to need this.” A week later my granddaughter became homeless and moved in with me, and we spent the summer trying to keep her mother alive when we found out that her homelessness came from her heroin addiction. I had no reason to think anything like this would happen in my life. But, God knew, and He prepared me for it a week in advance. I believe in the unexplainable. I believe in God, and if Jesus believed in demons, I believe too.

Now, on to the second part of the story. When the townspeople heard that Jesus had sent the demons into the herd of pigs and the pigs all drowned, the people wanted Jesus away from them, even though they had had to deal with the violent demons in the 2 men for years. The story does not explain why the townspeople ALL wanted Jesus to leave. One explanation could be that the people were more afraid of a man who could control demons than they were of the demons themselves. Another explanation is that Jesus just did something that drowned a whole herd of pigs. That would be a great financial loss, and people are so tied to their wealth that the whole town could easily fear that if it happened to one of them, it could happen to all of them, and no one wants to lose their livelihood. Either way, their fear caused them to miss out on Jesus and eternal life. We have to watch what we wish for. Jesus warns us that we are not to live for this world, but for eternity to come with Him in Heaven.

Some people say, “Well, what if I am wrong and there is no heaven, and I give up trying to get all I can here while I have the chance?” The wisdom of the Bible is so great, I believe the world would be a much better place if we all followed the teachings of Jesus, true or not. I am willing to give up for myself to make the world better. But, I don’t worry about it because I DO BELIEVE! And, I pray God will fill your heart with belief and trust in Him, too.

Return to Top

Matthew 9

Jesus Forgives Sins and Heals – Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven. The authorities on the Old Testament who spent their lives studying and copying the Old Testament scrolls (the Scribes), said that Jesus was doing what only God was allowed to do, therefore, they thought Jesus was speaking slander and libel (blasphemy) against God. To prove to them that He had the authority to forgive sins, He healed the paralyzed man.

Which is More Important?

Many people ask, “How can God be good and allow suffering, such as being paralyzed?” Jesus came along and, instead of healing the paralyzed man, forgave his sins. He only healed the man as proof that He also had the authority to forgive sins. Jesus teaches us here not only that He is God, so He can forgive sins, but that our priorities on earth are sometimes askew. I would imagine if you ask most people if they were paralyzed if it was more important that they were healed or that their sins were forgiven that they would say that they were healed. But, Jesus knew it didn’t do any good to save a man from health issues so he could live 80 years, only to have him die and go to hell for eternity.

Where are our priorities? Are we living for our 80 years on this earth, or are we living for eternity with God?

Jesus with Matthew and Other Tax Collectors and Sinners – Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus chose Matthew, a tax collector to be His disciples, then ate with the tax collectors and sinners, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders/Pharisees.

Why Would Jesus Choose Sinners to Represent Him and to Associate With?

Too many Christians today quote verses like 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals,” using them as an excuse to separate themselves from others they think of as sinners. When I looked up Bible references about keeping company with sinners on openbible.info: https://www.openbible.info/topics/keeping_company_with_sinners, the idea that comes through is not to stay away from sinners, “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but not to be influenced by sin, but to influence sinners for Christ.

To judge others is a sin. (Matthew 7:1-2) James 4:12 says that only God had the right to judge sinners. To know how to act towards those who are in sin, look at what Jesus did. Jesus tells us to love everyone, even our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) Love doesn’t encourage others to sin. Love doesn’t put yourself in a situation where you are unable to control yourself and keep yourself out of sin. Some people may be able to sit in a bar all day long and drink little to none and just be there to help people see that God loves them. You can’t help someone out of their sinful life if you never get involved with them. But, others may be vulnerable to the bar atmosphere and be unable to stop themselves from drinking too much or doing other things that they normally wouldn’t do. Then, for those people, they should stay away from the bar. This is just one example of many, many things that some could do while others could not do. Some have lived on the streets to help others.

It’s the heart, not the specifics that count. Jesus desires that ALL are saved. Jesus knew the heart of Matthew, asking him to give up his lifestyle and follow Him. Not all those who were eating and drinking with Jesus made this decision. But, Jesus gave them the opportunity in love. Jesus knew that those who come out of a background of a sinful lifestyle are the best to help others get rid of the same sin in their own life. This is the premise behind AA and Celebrate Recovery. Those who had addictions are best at helping those who have addictions. Jesus didn’t choose those who were considered high and mighty of His day. Jesus chose those who could reach others and relate to them.

Separate yourself out for Christ in that you choose to follow Him and not sin. But, don’t separate yourself from others who, through seeing your loving example, may choose to do the same.

Fasting, Weddings, Patches, and Wineskins - Matthew 9:14-17

Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast (go without food), and He responded that they didn’t have to fast to get closer to God because they were celebrating that they were close to God as Jesus was with them, as did those who attended a wedding celebrated while the bride and groom were with them.

Jesus also responded that you don’t put a new patch on an old piece of clothing nor put new wine into old wineskins and the new would ruin the old.

Understanding the Stories (Parables) of Jesus on Fasting

The purpose of fasting is to draw closer to God, to focus on Him and Him alone, and to seek God and His will for our needs, the needs of others, and the world. Therefore, it is easy to see that the disciples did not have to fast to get closer to God. They were with Him in Jesus.

Jesus is the new cloth in the example of putting the new cloth on the old clothes, trying to patch it. If you put new cloth on old clothes, the old clothes are already shrunk from washing, but the new patch material is not shrunk, so it will shrink when washed, whereas the old clothes will not shrink any more, and the shrinking of the new patch will make it pull off. The old clothes are old followers of God who had to do everything themselves, follow the law perfectly, make their sacrifices, etc. in order to be saved. The old followers were stuck in their traditions, thinking they were the only way to ever get to God. Then, Jesus came along, and those old followers were so stuck in their ways that they could not change. Thinking about changing from sacrifices to Jesus tore them apart.

As did the new wine tear apart the old wineskins. As the new wine would ferment and expand, if put in old wineskins, the old wineskins had already been expanded to their fullest, and the pressure of trying to expand more would just make them break. Jesus was the new wine, and some of the old ways had to be left behind when Jesus took their place. For instance, they could no longer sacrifice for their sins. Jesus’ death and resurrection took the place of the sacrifice. Change is difficult for most people. They had to become new along with Jesus rather than stick in their old wineskin traditions.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament. He said that He didn’t come to take away from it, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) Some things have changed from the Old Testament since Jesus came. But, they don’t take away the heart of the Old Testament, they just add new clarity and ways of doing certain things (like turning the other cheek vs. taking an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth). So, now when we fast, we must remember, we have Jesus…we have the Holy Spirit…God with us.

Jesus Raises Girl From Dead, Heals Woman from Bleeding and Two Blind Men - Matthew 9:18-31

A leader of the synagogue came to Jesus, telling Him that his daughter had just died, believing that if Jesus just touched her that she would live again. As Jesus went to her, a woman who had been bleeding 12 years touched the edge of his clothes and was instantly healed. Jesus felt the power go out from Himself and told her that her belief made her well. When Jesus got to the funeral of the little girl, He told the mourners to go away, but they laughed at Him, until He raised her from the dead. Then, Jesus healed 2 blind men, and told them not to tell anyone, but they told everyone.

Believe Jesus CAN do ALL Things

I have been on the Prayer Team at churches for a long time. I know that the people who came to Jesus were healed because they BELIEVED that He could heal all things. I DO BELIEVE that Jesus can do all things, that He can heal all things, yet we pray and pray and rarely see true healing. I have heard that in some emerging countries where Christianity is new, some great miracles are happening along with the starting of the spread of the faith. I think this explains a lot.

It is the belief in the heart and the love for God which is truly important, not the things of this world. We are not to be so caught up in the things of this world. This is why Jesus said to the paralyzed man that his sins had been forgiven first, without healing him. Even being paralyzed was nothing in comparison to your sins being forgiven. When we get what we want in this life, we have a tendency to move on and forget God, to no longer need Him nor to rely on Him. This is worse than not being healed. It is better to be paralyzed with faith than to be healed without it and end up in hell for eternity.

Jesus CAN do all things, but God knows when it is best to do them and when it is not. The woman who touched Jesus was healed because of her belief, and as a sign to others that belief was the key to God, not a specific person the key to healing. Same goes for the girl who was raised from the dead. She was raised because the leader of the synagogue believed Jesus could do it. Belief in Jesus spread because He healed.

But, what would happen today if a person was given the ability to heal all who came to him? Would the people follow God, or the person? Would the person use it to raise funds, or to simply spread the gospel? Don’t give up on prayer. But, realize GOD KNOWS ALL and GOD KNOWS BEST. Sometimes, God may choose to heal. Other times, God may know it is best not to heal. I continue to pray for healing for many because I am not God. I do not know which ones He will heal and which ones He will not heal. What I do know is that God CAN heal, and He will do what He knows is best. This I trust.

Jesus healed the blind men and told them to tell no one. Jesus healed, but healing was not His purpose for being here. He would get swamped with people wanting healing, making it impossible for Him to actually teach His message. It is the message that is the important part.

Jesus Removes Demon - Matthew 9:32-34

A man who could not speak because he had a demon in him was brought to Jesus, who removed the demon and the man spoke. The Pharisees (religious leaders) claimed Jesus cast out demons by the power of the devil.

Demons are Real – Some “Religious” People Aren’t

Jesus cast out demons, therefore, demons are real. Nowhere does the Bible say that demons have disappeared from existence. This is something we should be aware of, but not fear if we are followers of God. Jesus has power over demons. Know your Bible. Jesus quoted scripture against Satan. Be open to the Holy Spirit and His guidance in your life regarding all truth, including demons.

However, beware of religious leaders who use casting out demons as part of their entertainment package. There are many false prophets and teachers out there and the Bible warns against them. Remember, Jesus NEVER asked for money. He did say it was great for us to give. {Mark 12:41-44) But, if a religious leader is getting rich from his ministry, and doing a lot of crazy looking things, he may be doing what he does to gain an audience for profit. Jesus warned against wealth, saying few who had it would get into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23) Is it possible for a preacher to cast out demons? Absolutely! Is it likely? Probably not. Be prayerful and wise in all things, not willing to follow any person…only God. Fellowship of believers, belonging to a church, is extremely beneficial. Jesus’ followers gathered regularly, even eating together. (Acts 2:46) Just be sure you are getting caught up in the love of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not in theatrics.

Pray for More Workers for God – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus saw the crowds of hurting people who needed Him, saying they were like sheep without a shepherd, and asked us to pray that there will be more workers to care for them, to bring them into Salvation, as farm workers gather their harvest.

Pray to BE Used by God

Get to know God well by studying Him in the Bible. Especially study Jesus, as He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father (God) but by Him. (John 14:6) So few really know God well today. Many claim to be Christians, but don’t know at all what that means. Be one who does. Then, lead others to come to Him, too. Lord, I pray that many more will come to know You well, that they may lead the great abundance of people who do not know you to Jesus and Salvation for eternity. In Jesus. Amen.


Return to Top

Matthew 10

Jesus Sends Out 12 Followers– Matthew 10:1-6

Jesus sent out His followers (disciples, or apostles meaning ‘sent out’) to the lost from Israel to preach and to cast out unclean spirits, to heal every disease. His disciples were: Peter, Andrew, James and James (neither Jesus’ brother), John, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas who betrayed Him.

How Trained do YOU Have to Be?

Wow! Look who Jesus sent out into the world to speak His message. They were nobodies. But, when Jesus came into their lives, they could preach and heal, and went with the power of the Holy Spirit. We, too, can have this power of the Holy Spirit when we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading for our lives.

Spreading Jesus’ Message with Only the Holy Spirit Matthew 10:7-42

They were not to take along money, but to stay with families as they went, and bless the family with peace if they accepted them. Jesus warned they were being sent out as innocent, unprotected sheep amongst wolves, so they had to be wise, gaining wisdom from the Holy Spirit to speak in times of trouble. They had to be prepared to be hated because of their message of Jesus. But, they were not to be afraid of men because they would be valued by God for preaching the message of Jesus, a message that would cause wars within families and nations.

What to Expect When Giving Jesus’ Message

I think it is noteworthy that this was NOT to be a money prospect. They had nothing and were to take nothing, but people along the way would provide for their needs. They wouldn’t get huge sacks of money, new cars, plush surroundings. No, Jesus said they would be taken to court and His message would cause fighting because some would accept it and others would refuse it and fight with those who chose to follow. It is the same today. We are looking for peace. We are looking for acceptance. Jesus said it would not come in this world, but instead, that it would cause people to fight.

be wise as serpents and harmless as doves

People don’t like to give up “their desires” to follow “God’s will”. They will fight to say that their way is right because they want to maintain control, making themselves their own gods, unwilling to place God in authority of their lives. But, Jesus says when they fight, this gives us the platform to show His true nature, to show love, and to speak His message, that we are not to fear those who can kill the body, but not the soul. We are to flee if we can to save our lives, not to save ourselves, but to be able to go on to continue to tell others about Jesus. We are to remain ‘harmless as doves’. (Matthew 10:16)

I did not take Chapter 10 out of context. Verses 29-31 are often taken out of context. They state that God numbers the hairs on our head, knows our needs, and nothing happens to them apart from God’s will, so we are not to be afraid. This is in context of following Jesus, of standing up for Jesus, of doing what is right. Note it does not say that nothing bad will happen to us, but that God is in control, and will not let anything happen to us that is not within His will. Many of Jesus’ followers were put to death. While this does not sound like God in control, this could be why we still have the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, 2000 years later. People paid attention. This was not a movement that did not get people’s attention. Violence is horrible. But, violence against the righteous who do not fight back gains attention AND compassion. It gains approval and followers.

Let go and let God take control. Let what happens happen. It will NOT be what we plan, but what God knows is best. Jesus’ message will cause people to take up swords against us. We are to take up Jesus’ cross and follow Him, even if we lose our lives for His sake. For, if we lose our lives for Jesus, we will find them for eternity with Him in Heaven. And, along the way, hopefully we will bring many others with us.

Return to Top

Matthew 11

Jesus is the Only One Who Can Do These Things– Matthew 11:1-6

When asked if Jesus was the Savior they were looking for, Jesus responded “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”


No one else has been able to do what Jesus could do. The best part for me is that Jesus preached to the poor. He wasn’t out to get whatever He could get from people. He often told them to tell no one. His motive was love. He healed because He loved. He taught love because He knew love would overcome wrong. He is THE Way.

John the Baptist – John the Prophet – Matthew 11:7-24

Jesus said that John the Baptist was the one the Old Testament prophesied about, Elijah who would come to make way for the coming of the Lord. And he came in violent times. People didn’t accept John because he came in a repentant, poor manner, looking to some as though he had a demon. But, Jesus came and ate and drank with people, and they didn’t accept Him either, saying He was gluttonous and a drunkard. Jesus denounced the towns that didn’t believe in Him and were unwilling to repent (stop sinning and follow Jesus’ teachings) even though He proved Himself to them by His miracles.

People Make Excuses Not to Follow

It is a shame. Jesus was so good here on earth, yet He was lied about, beaten, and killed. People didn’t like Him even though He was a friend to all and did many miraculous things to help people. It reminds me of politics. Those who follow Republicans wouldn’t vote for a Democrat if it was Jesus and He did everything right, and vise-versa. People get their mind made up and follow the crowd instead of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Bible. God promises peace and joy in our hearts if we follow Him. But, too often, we make excuses, following what we want to believe rather than following the true Christ.

Those Who are Humble and Accept Him Will Find Rest-Matthew 11:25-28

Jesus praised God for not revealing Him to those who were self-righteous, the wise and learned, but saving those who were humble and kind in heart instead. Jesus promised that all those who have hard lives would find rest for their souls in Him, “For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus is With Us to Help Us

Jesus doesn’t help those who don’t accept His teachings, many who do not accept because they have pride in themselves, feeling they don’t need anything but themselves. But, for those who are willing to say that they cannot do it on their own, for those who are willing to give themselves over to following Jesus, He provides help. He talks about His yoke being easy. A yoke was a double collar shared by two animals who would pull primitive farm equipment. The yoke shared the task between the two so one would not have to do the work alone. That is a great visual for us today. Today so many are falling away from Christianity, and the suicide rate is climbing. People don’t feel like they can make it on their own. We weren’t made to make it through life on our own. We have Jesus to help us, to help us carry our burdens, to give us the Holy Spirit to guide us. All we have to do is to accept Him, and accept whatever we are given in life. God knows those who “have it all” usually do not have Him, so they are missing the most important thing in life. If we are willing to accept our priorities starting with God, accepting the life He has given us and the work He has given for us to do, not wish we had something different all the time, we will find help in Him for our daily lives, and peace, joy, and rest.

Return to Top

Matthew 12

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath – Matthew 12:1-14


The Pharisees (religious leaders of Jesus’ day who thought they were better than everyone, but weren’t) said Jesus was a sinner because He allowed His disciples to pick and eat grain on the Sabbath and He healed on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is God’s holy day in the 4th Commandment: “ Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days God mad the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day He rested. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

Jesus countered by quoting the Bible, that the priests HAD to work on the Sabbath, therefore not keeping it. And, Jesus quoted the Bible story of King David eating the showbread from the temple when he was hungry, although it was not permissible. Jesus then claimed to BE the Lord of the Sabbath, and therefore exempt from keeping the Sabbath.

Jesus then quoted, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” from Hosea 6:6. Hosea 6:6 goes on to say, “and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Should I Keep the Sabbath?

What does God really want? He wants our hearts. He wants us to do whatever we do because we love and desire to honor God. Do we have to keep a day a week as a Sabbath? Well, Jesus said that God desires mercy and not sacrifice. Unfortunately, it is difficult to feel you HAVE TO keep a Sabbath without judging others who do not. There is no mercy in that. Jesus said the most important thing we are to do is to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:36-40) It is not loving to God or to others to judge others, because by judging others we are elevating ourselves to the position of God, as that is only His job, not ours.

Should you keep a day per week as holy in honor to God? Some believe the Ten Commandments are only for the people of Israel, as Exodus 20:20, the beginning of the Ten Commandments states, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

So, are the Ten Commandments for us or not?

Matthew 22:36-40, as Jesus said, is key to understanding it. If we love God and love all others, the rest will fall into place. God desires mercy and not sacrifice. God wants love and mercy from us. In love, we are to put Him first. And we are to love others. Out of love for God, I try to have a day of rest per week because God knows it is good for us. He rested after 6 days of work. I am to love and honor God EVERY DAY, not just on a Sabbath day. But, I need time to spend focused on God, time to dedicate to God and God alone. As God desires mercy and not sacrifice, I don’t think God cares when or how we put Him first in our lives, but THAT we put Him first in our lives.

Jesus Family heart

And, as Jesus said that along with putting God first in love, we are to love others, I believe we have to support one another in our relationships with God. I believe we need churches. I do not go to church for what I can get out of it, but for how I can love others there. I am there to show God’s love to others, and to support the spread of His word. Can we love God and not put a priority on making sure His message flourishes, and being there to show love to God and others?

I can’t miss church because I don’t know who might be there each week who may need me to show God’s love to them. When I am there, I don’t pray that the Lord gives to me a great experience, but that I am available there for Him to use as He sees fit, asking Him to guide me to whomever needs someone, and for Him to give me the wisdom on how to meet their needs.

God wants our hearts. Do we HAVE TO keep the Sabbath? No. Do we WANT TO keep the Sabbath? I hope so. But, I hope we keep it with the heart of Jesus, keeping the Sabbath out of love for God and others, not thinking our sacrifices make us better than others.

Jesus Brings the Nations Hope-Matthew 12:15-21

Matthew 12:21, “In His name, the nations will hope.” Jesus quoted this from Isaiah 42:1-4, which was a prophesy about the coming of, “my chosen one in whom I delight” (Isaiah 41:1). He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.

Jesus, the one who fulfilled the prophesies, leads by example.

Finding Hope in THIS WORLD in Jesus

Here we go again. We are living through another period of history where there are race riots, injustice is being done, terrorists are everywhere, and our government is a “hot mess”. People are hopeless. Suicide rates keep increasing. The problem? No hope. The solution is right here in Matthew 12:21, “In Jesus’ name, the nations will hope.”

People are looking for hope in all the wrong places. Hope doesn’t come from the “right party” (as in right and wrong not right and left) being in office. Hope doesn’t come by arming everyone in the nation. Hope doesn’t come by having the greatest army around. Hope doesn’t come from every person behaving the way they should. As nice as it would be to think that someday the world is going to be a perfect place, just as we want it, that isn’t going to happen. That is heaven, not earth.


Our HOPE comes in ONE NAME, JESUS!

We are trying to eliminate Jesus from our lives. We don’t have to put Jesus in our government. He wasn’t in the government when He walked the earth. People were expecting salvation through a political leader when Jesus came. But, that’s not the way to find peace and joy in your heart. Hope comes in knowing Jesus, in trusting Jesus, in following Jesus, in spreading the love of Jesus.


The UNFORGIVABLE SIN – Matthew 12:22-37

The Pharisees accused Jesus of being able to drive out demons because He was part of the kingdom of the devil. Jesus told them how illogical that idea was, that the ruler of the demons would try to cast out himself. Then, Jesus went on to say that it was forgivable for them to speak out against Him, but that speaking out against the Holy Spirit was unforgivable.

So, What Does it Mean to Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

The Pharisees were blaspheming the Holy Spirit as they saw the miracles of Jesus, knew the scriptures telling about His coming as the Messiah, knowing He was fulfilling them, and refused to believe, going to the point of calling Him Satan. Today, Jesus reveals Himself to the lives of all, throughout their lives. We have the choice to come to Him or not. If we do not do so by the time we die, it is too late. God gives us all the opportunity we need. If another day on earth will not change our decision, it is our decision, not God’s. Jesus desires no one should perish, but that all should come to eternal life through Him. But, it is OUR CHOICE. He will not force us.

The Good News is that everything we have done is forgivable. All we have to do is accept Jesus, His love, and His forgiveness.

Looking for a Sign – Matthew 12:38-45

The Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus to prove who He was. Jesus said they would get no more signs. He had already given them more than anyone else had ever had or would have.

Can We Get a Sign?

Jesus didn’t say miracles would go away when He left. He said, “greater things will believers do than He had done.” (John 14:12-14) We aren’t left with only the stories from those who walked with Jesus. Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit, and with promises that miracles will still be done. God knows our hearts. Jesus knew the hearts of the Pharisees. They were not trying to prove Jesus was real. They were trying to disprove Him, to discredit Him, and to get rid of Him. God has done many things for me in my life, one especially that I hold in my memory as a miracle He did for me. I will not doubt. God has proven Himself real to me.

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers – Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus’ mother and brothers came to speak with Him, and He said that His followers were His mother and brothers.

We are Jesus’ Family!

Like I said earlier, I go to church to be there for my family because those of us who believe in Jesus are all members of His family, just as Jesus says in Matthew 12:46-50. Only, we are better than blood relation. We are related through the King, through beliefs, through following, through forgiveness, and through God’s infinite love. We are the best family. We all screw up, but in this family, we forgive and love, and try to help one another to forgive and love when we mess up, as we will. Don’t expect your brothers and sisters in Christ to be perfect. None of us are. But, help one another grow in love.

Return to Top

Matthew 13

The Seed of Jesus – Matthew 13:1-30 and 36-43

Jesus spoke in parables, stories that teach life lessons you can apply to your own life. The story of the sower (the farmer who plants seed) tells us that some of the seed will fall on ground where it will grow strong and other seed will fall on ground that cannot support growth. This story shows that some will hear the stories, accept Jesus, and understand His message of Heaven, while others will not accept Jesus, not understand, and never accept Him and find growth through Him for their lives and for eternity.

Weeds will also grow up with the seed, but will eventually be sorted out and eliminated.

Letting the Seed Grow

Eternal life comes from only one place, trusting Jesus as the one who pays for your sins allowing you into heaven. There is only one real God. There is only one way to heaven. We are taught by modern society to be fair, to allow ALL religions to stand, that they are all the same, all part of the same god. But, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and NO ONE comes to the Father but by me.”

If the seed of truth from the real God is going to grow in you, you can’t say there are many gods. The real God, Father of our Savior, Jesus, is the only real God, and He does not allow this way of thinking. It is demeaning to the one who is all-powerful. So, if you want to fully understand the teachings of the Real God through the Bible, you first must accept Him as Your one and only God, and accept Jesus as God’s Son, your Savior. Then, it is like the light comes on, and all those words that were just words become so real you can see yourself in them. You can see how God wants them to apply to your heart and your life. Those who do not accept Him remain dark and never see. It is like seed trying to grow without light...it won’t.

Real Hope in life and for eternity comes from only one place, coming to God through His Only Son, Jesus. Jesus was a wonderful man while He walked the earth. His teachings were the best ever. But, He was not only a man. He is God in human flesh, now with God the Father, part of God, one in the same. Accept Him so you can see His Glory in your life. If not, you will never see.

Just as there are many religions today, and people think what they want to think rather than following the Words of God in the Bible, those religions are allowed to grow up among the true seed, the true followers of God, and, while they may look like they are thriving, they will be eliminated in the end. All religions are not the same. Teaching this will prevent some from ever finding the true God and heaven for eternity.

Did you ever think, “What if I am wrong in believing the Bible?” I believe the Bible is real. Many things have happened in my life that have caused me to believe, things that are too unlikely to just be coincidence. But, what if I am wrong? I follow the teachings of Jesus, to love God and love all others above myself and everything else. If I die believing this and living this way, and the Bible is not true, I will have been a better person and made this world a better place for many people along the way. I am fully satisfied with that. BUT, if I am right, then believing and trusting that Jesus saved me will allow me entrance into heaven for eternity when I die. If an atheist doesn’t believe and he is right, I still had a fruitful life, filled with much love for…and from…others. And, we both die and go nowhere. If the atheist doesn’t choose Jesus and he is wrong, he has chosen hell for eternity. Maybe he will be able to accumulate more stuff while he is on this earth, but stuff usually brings more problems than good. It often turns us into people who love stuff more than people. It causes our hearts to be cold. Even if the atheist is all loving and giving, putting himself first rather than putting God first is not acceptable for getting to heaven. I love some atheists dearly. They ARE wonderful, kind, giving people.

But, how good do you have to be to get to heaven? You don’t get to heaven by being good. And, NONE of us are truly THAT good. I want to be good. I try to be good. I believe in the Bible and try to follow it, not so I can get into Heaven, Jesus did that for me, but because I love God and desire to show Him love by following Him. I try and fail. No one tries to be all we are to be as far as good, kind, and loving, and succeeds. We need God. My atheist friends need God and they reject Him and His free offer to follow Jesus into Heaven. Am I better than my atheist friends? No. I am not. I have often seen them being better than I am. But, they are not perfect. They all sin, too. And, because we all sin, and sin is not allowed in Heaven, we have to have our sins paid for to get into heaven. Jesus did that. Not accepting Him is not loving God, the most important commandment. It is their choice, and in all that I can think of, they all reject Him because they know better…they know better than God and want to have it their way, not accepting God has a way. They are rejecting what Jesus said was most important. The seed sometimes falls on ground that just won’t let it grow.

Mustard Seed and Yeast – Matthew 13:31-35

mustard seed

It only takes a tiny bit of the gospel to spread and grow like a tiny mustard seed grows to a plant the size of a small tree and a little bit of yeast grows and spreads throughout a huge mound of flour.

Don’t Worry About Knowing it All

Now everyone can have the entire Bible, and every chapter is packed with tons of useful information to apply to our lives. It can seem overwhelming, and we may even misunderstand some of it until we get a grasp on the placement of the verses in the context of the entire Bible. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the task of helping others to know Jesus and understand the Bible, I have to remember the first disciples, the first followers of Jesus. Jesus picked fishermen. They likely never did know ALL of the scriptures. The scriptures were written only on scrolls which had very limited access. They neither had it all nor were they expected to know it all. But, they did know and love Jesus. They knew He died for them to save them. They understood He loved them. And, they were fully capable of spreading this important message. All they needed was a small bit of the whole story, and it just kept growing till there are Christians around the entire world today. All we need is a little bit of that message in our hearts and it can spread inside of us till it takes over our entire life. It grows in immense proportions.

The Pearl Parables – Matthew 13:44-46

The kingdom of heaven is likened to 2 stories about pearls. The first is a man who hid a pearl in a field, then sold all he had to buy that field. The second is about a businessman who was looking for pearls, and when he found one, sold everything to get the pearl.

Giving Up ALL for Jesus

What is really important in your life? Jesus said the most important thing is to be your love for God. (Matthew 22:36-40) But, we can tell how truly important God is to us by what we are willing to give up for Him. Is our house more important? Our car? Our job? Our family? Putting God first means that you still care about things, but if they go, it is OK, because you know God promises to give us all that we need, and if He allows it to be taken away, He knows best. This is hard. Imagine losing your family. But, God DOES know best. There are stories everywhere of how people gained a new life through their loss. This, of course, does not mean that the loss is desired or good. But, God is good. God knows best. God will be with you no matter what you have to give up in your walk to get closer to Him. I do not say this lightly. It is a hard thing to say or to live through. Job lost everything, but God granted him a new life in the end. To minimize what Job went through would be untrue and nasty. But, God WAS with Job. And, God did what He knew was best. We all have the story of Job today to help us through hard times because God allowed Job to suffer.

Separating the Fish Caught – Matthew 13:47-52

Jesus said that many will be caught in the net when men are fished for to come into His kingdom, but in the end, only the good ones would be kept and the bad ones would be thrown into the flaming furnace where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus went on to say that those who taught the law who add the message of salvation through Jesus to it share treasures with others from the new and the old.

Two Testaments Working Together

Jesus never said that He came to do away with the law. Here Jesus says that those who can incorporate the law into the new message of salvation through Him bring out all of the best treasures of the new and the old. What God wants is our hearts, as (again) Jesus said was most important in Matthew 22:36-40. Out of love for God, we will want to please Him. It’s hard to justify saying you love someone and then not caring what they think about things. In the case of God, He is God! He created the world. You can’t really justify saying what He said was important is meaningless because YOU don’t think it’s important. Who are you in comparison to God? You can’t use the laws from the Old Testament to bash other people. The Pharisees did that and Jesus rebuked them for it. Look at the whole thing through a heart of love for God, and it will be easier to tell how to apply the Old Testament along with the New to your life.

Not Being Accepted in Your Own Hometown – Matthew 13:53-58

Jesus went to His hometown to preach, but the people there remembered Jesus as a youth, as a carpenter’s son. People didn’t want to accept someone they knew as a child could be their Savior. Of course, since they were expecting a Savior to come as a person, you would think they would know that He had to have been a child at one time somewhere. But, knowing Jesus as a youth prevented them from believing in Him and prevented Jesus from doing miracles for them due to their lack of faith.

Who Would YOU Believe is Jesus if He Came Today?

I have always been glad when reading this that I don’t have to accept one of the kids I played baseball with in the neighborhood growing up was now supposed to be a miracle worker who was God’s Son and my Savior. I really feel for those people. All we have to believe is a bunch of miraculous stories, and we have the Holy Spirit to help guide us. But, if I had to believe that Jeff or Danny was my Savior, well, forget it! This always gives me a heart for unbelievers. If you don’t know God, it can be difficult to grasp that these miraculous stories are true.

I prefer to start with the fact that Jesus was a good man…a great man. Jesus gave His life to help people with their lives, stood up for the poor, the hurting, those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. Jesus was kind and generous, all the way to dying for us so we could go to heaven when we die. I pray for the unbelievers that I know, that He would show them that He is real so they also may believe. Eternity is too high a stake to miss out on heaven in exchange for hell.

Return to Top

Matthew 14

Herod Fears Having Killed John the Baptist– Matthew 14:1-12

Herod had John the Baptist put to death because He made a foolish promise to his wife’s daughter, saying he would give her what she wished. Due to John the Baptist’s condemnation of Herod’s marriage to Herod’s brother’s wife, she wanted him dead, and Herod, due to his foolish promise, felt he had to kill John for her. Knowing it was wrong, Herod now feared for his own life, fearing Jesus was John come back to life.

Be Careful What You Say

Our own stupidity often gets us into trouble. We lie thinking it is a “little white lie” and before we know it, we are telling another lie to cover the first and it goes on and on. Or, we promise we will do something and then something else comes up and we have to renege on the promise. This story shows how bad it can get when you make what you think is an innocent gesture, only to have others abuse your words. Choose your words wisely. Jesus said it is what comes out of our mouths that get us into the most trouble. (Matthew 15:11)

Jesus Feeds 5,000 Men Plus Women and Children - Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus went out on a boat to be in a solitary place. But, the crowds followed and were there when He landed. He felt compassion for them so he healed their sick. As it got late, Jesus did not want to send them away hungry, so He took the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, gave thanks to God for them, broke them, and gave them to the people who all ate until they were full, and they still had 12 baskets of food left over.

Remember, Jesus Cares for Our Needs

Jesus didn’t send each person away wealthy. So often today preachers take certain verses out of context and make it sound like Jesus will give us whatever we want if we just ask Him. Jesus is not Santa Claus. Jesus gives us what HE knows we NEED, what HE knows is BEST FOR US. We have a propensity towards greed and selfishness. Jesus doesn’t honor that. But, He does love us, and sometimes will give us something that we enjoy. The promise, however, is for Him to take care of our NEEDS, not our whims of desire.

Jesus Walks on Water – Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus made His disciples go on ahead of Him in a boat while He went up alone on the mountainside to pray. During the night, the disciples’ boat was being tossed by the waves. Shortly before dawn, Jesus came walking to them on the water. They thought it was a ghost, but He called to them not to be afraid because it was Him. Peter believed and told Jesus that he, too, could walk on water to Jesus if He said he could. So, Jesus said for Peter to come, and Peter walked on the water until he changed his focus to the wind and became afraid and began to sink. But, Jesus reached out and rescued Peter, and they all believed that Jesus truly was the Son of God.

Put Your Faith in the Only One Who Can Walk on Water

figure walking on water

It’s odd that I come to this passage today as I wrote about this passage this morning in a Facebook post. I have had contact with many people this week who do not believe in the one true God. They believe that those who believe need faith in a higher power because they are too weak to handle life alone.

It is perfectly true that belief in Jesus does help believers handle life. Jesus promised to send us the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, Helper, and Guide. (John 14:15-17, Luke 12:11-12, John 16:13, John 14:18-31) People who believe they are self-sufficient and don’t need God miss out on the comfort that comes from knowing God, the help with direction when they need it, and the love that fills an empty void within that nothing else can fill.

The stories in the Bible on the life of Jesus, written by those who walked with Him and knew Him well are unlike the stories from any other human being. No one else could do all the things Jesus could do. No one else has the power to do miracles in your life. You may say, “But why did God allow…” and “I wouldn’t follow a God who allows…”. What makes people think that we automatically deserve ANYTHING from God? God is God. We are not even like dogs in comparison. Which of us can create a world? Which of us can walk on water without some contraption? Which of us can heal ALL who come to us as Jesus did? And, most of all, who has ever risen from the dead days later to be seen by thousands, who then rose up into heaven alive in front of everyone? Who else can send a spirit into a crowd that allows people of many different languages hear what others are saying in their own language?

And, in my case, who can send two bags of groceries on the one and only day in the life of my family that we had zero food…zero. Pantry totally empty except a little bit of flour. Refrigerator and freezer totally completely empty. Yet, when I called out to God for help, groceries arrived at my door within hours. And, that was the only time that ever happened. People didn’t bring us groceries. We were never in dire need like that again. This is only one example. Coincidence? You can find a reason not to believe anything and you can say I can use anything as an excuse to believe.

True. We can make excuses to believe anything we want. Just look at politics. It’s amazing anyone follows ANY politician and supports them. But, look at the types of things written in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. Over and over Jesus did things no one else ever did before or since. He says He is the only way to God, the only way to heaven, the one and only who died to pay for your sins so you can go to heaven. And what does He ask of you? He only asks that you TRULY believe, because He knows that if you do TRULY believe, it will change you for the better. Am I perfect? Hardly. But, I can tell you I am a much better person since I started following Jesus and His message of unconditional love.

And, then there’s heaven. So many are dying, and Jesus warned again and again and again that the ONLY WAY to heaven was by believing in Him. He said this so often because He wants us ALL to be saved. God desires no one will perish, but that all will come to Him through Jesus for eternal life. Jesus warned that hell is a real place with weeping and gnashing of teeth, and He didn’t want ANYONE to go there. But, God lets us choose. People complain that Christians try to shove their religion down their throats. NOPE. YOU CHOOSE. I can’t shove anything down your throats. And, God won’t either. But then, can you blame HIM when you choose poorly?

Return to Top

Matthew 15

Which Laws to Obey – Matthew 15:1-20

The Pharisees (religious teachers of Jesus’ day who thought they were better than everyone else, but weren’t) tried to accuse Jesus of sinning because His followers didn’t wash their hands before eating. But Jesus accused them back of not following the law to honor your father and mother by using giving to God as an excuse to not care for them.

Then Jesus went on to explain what is really important, the heart, by saying that people honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far away from God. Jesus said that they were making up man-made rules and teaching them as God’s rules, but that worship was a waste of time. He said it is not what you put or don’t put into your body that is a sin, but what you say comes from your heart, and sin comes from the heart: murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and insulting God.

God Cares About Evil in the Heart

There are ritualistic rules in the Old Testament that seem meaningless today. Jesus said that not following those rules didn’t mean you were not following God because God cares about your heart and what is really important. There was a purpose for the rules when they were instituted if they are in the Bible, but the Pharisees were using the unimportant rules to try to condemn the people. God doesn’t want to condemn people. God wants our hearts to be pure, and the thought that we would want to condemn others is far from pure. Our hearts are shown by our actions. Jesus said the most important things we are to do are to love God and to love all others. (Matthew 22:36-40) It is not loving God to not care in our hearts about trying to please Him, not caring what God says. It is not loving to others to murder, commit adultery, sexually sin with them, steal from them, or lie about them. And God is God Almighty, capable of all things, and we should treat Him as such, not as unimportant, not saying whatever we want about Him, not swearing using His name. How would you feel about someone using your name as a cuss whenever anything went wrong. We may not mean anything by it, but it shows huge disrespect. God, please forgive us, forgive us all.

Jesus Rids a Canaanite of a Demon - Matthew 15:21-28

When a Canaanite woman came to Jesus to ask Jesus to rid her daughter of a demon, He ignored her, and then said He was here for the people of Israel. But, she humbled herself, comparing herself to a dog at the table, saying even they got scraps. Jesus said she showed faith, and her daughter would be healed.

Is Jesus Just for the People of Israel?

Matthew 15:21-28 may sound like Jesus is uncaring and prejudice against certain groups of people. Why would Jesus be so rude to a woman just because she was a Canaanite? To understand this, we must understand who the Canaanites were. They were idol worshippers who worshipped Baal and his wife Ashteroth, fertility gods. Part of their worship was prostitution in the temple, human sacrifices, and orgies. God had almost eliminated this people from the earth, giving their land to the Israelites, in order to try to eliminate this great evil. For Jesus to have treated her with respect would be like Jesus treating the devil with respect.

However, Jesus did not treat her as evil either. Jesus did not argue back with her, but gave her time to prove herself. Jesus may seem to have been prejudice, but He did not do anything nasty to her. He simply gave her time and space to see what was really in her heart. She proved to Him that she had great faith by being willing to humble herself enough to even be called a dog, in her way repenting for the sins of her ancestors, and then showing how strong her belief was by saying she knew Jesus had the power to cure her daughter.

She wasn’t going to Baal and Ashteroth. She was coming to God and Jesus. And, Jesus showed her kindness, giving greatly to her by healing her daughter. How often people judge other races today by those who have much evil in their hearts rather than showing them love as individuals. How many people who have other religions would come to Jesus if they received love, as Jesus shows here, rather than animosity? Look at what Jesus did initially. He just gave her space to prove herself. He didn’t initially just let her in, but He wasn’t cruel to her either. He allowed her to be there until she proved herself. He showed her love. He didn’t say, “Take this idol worshipper out of my sight!” He said He was there for God…for those who believed in God. And, she proved she did by saying she knew HE was the one who had the power. Jesus did not treat her automatically as an idol worshipper, but allowed her, as an individual, time to prove herself.

Jesus Feeds 4000 Plus Women and Children - Matthew 15:29-39

Crowds followed Jesus up a mountainside on the Sea of Galilee, and He healed all their lame, blind, crippled, mute, and others. They had been with Jesus for 3 days, so He didn’t want to send them away hungry. The disciples had 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish, for which Jesus gave thanks, broke, and gave to the disciples to disperse. When everyone had eaten till full, they collected 7 baskets of leftover pieces.

Proof Again That Jesus Cares for Our Needs

This is a second time Jesus fed a great multitude of people. I like that this time it says that the people had been with Him for 3 days. Whereas with the first story of Jesus feeding the 5000 one could think that perhaps they had food with them and just shared so there was enough for everyone, here it says they had been with Him for 3 days. I can’t imagine the people bringing enough food for themselves for 3 days. I think Jesus knows the way we try to make excuses for how things can work without really being a miracle, and so adds a little more to the story here and there to disprove our theories.

This story also shows how Jesus cares for our needs. Notice that Jesus didn’t feed the people every meal for every day as God had done with His people wandering in the desert for 40 years in the Old Testament. Jesus only provided what the people really needed when they really needed it. Jesus said they would faint on their way home if they weren’t fed. In the same way Jesus cares for us today, promising to provide for our needs, not our wants. Although the Bible does say that God will give us the desires of our hearts in Psalm 37:4, it also says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Jesus further clarifies this in Luke 11:9-13 where Jesus says, Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find…and He ends with “How much more will the heavenly Father give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask Him!” It is not riches that are the greatest gifts. It is the Holy Spirit that is the greatest gift. So, God will provide for our needs, but expects us also to provide for ourselves, unless we only want to eat every 3 days or so. God cares about us, but knows it isn’t good for people to not work.

Return to Top

Matthew 16

Looking for a Sign from Jesus – Matthew 16:1-4

The Pharisees (religious teachers of Jesus’ time) said they wanted a sign from Jesus that He was the real Savior. He told them that they would not be given any sign except for the sign or Jonah.

Does This Mean I Am Just to Believe Blindly?

Jonah was 3 days and in the belly of the whale, just as Jesus would die and rise on the 3rd day. Jesus told the Pharisees that they would see no other signs because He had been around them and had done so many miracles already that they should believe, but instead they called Jesus one of Satan’s followers. Jesus DID many signs for the people. He does not want us to blindly follow whatever religious leader comes along, and warns against that. So, if our true desire in our hearts are to follow God, and we are not just being like the Pharisees, not trying to get God to be what WE want instead of who HE is, He will show us the way. He will fill that emptiness we have inside until we find Him.

Jesus Warns About the Yeast of the Pharisees – Matthew 16:5-12

Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees and they thought He was talking about real bread because they didn’t have any, even though Jesus had fed 5,000 and 4,000 with a few loaves and fish. (Note here that it lists both miracles, as some think one was a mistake in the Bible because the two stories didn’t list the same number of people, but they were two different miracles.) Jesus was talking about the influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees growing like yeast grows in bread.

Beware of Who YOU Follow

There are many religious leaders who teach a little of the Bible, but twist it to gain followers. For instance, some preach what we call the Prosperity Gospel. Many people sort of want to follow God, but they really want to be wealthy, and they figure they can mix the two to have God help them get what they want. They don’t want to admit to themselves that they are greedy and selfish, but they do have a priority of getting wealthy. Jesus warns about wealth. Jesus says it is hard for the wealthy to get into heaven. We have to be careful not to take certain scriptures out of context of the whole Bible and using them as the Pharisees did to try to get things their way. God blesses us with what HE knows we need, not whatever we think we want. Beware of false preaching. It spreads easily because it works off of what we want to believe instead of what is true. In the end, that won’t get us closer to God, and may lead us away from Him till we are lost.

Jesus is the Messiah, Our Savior – Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, and some said a prophet, but Peter said that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus said Peter was blessed by God for being able to understand who He really was, and that on that faith the real church would be built, and nothing would stop it.

We Follow the True Savior

When we die, most of us want to go to heaven. Jesus said that His message of Salvation, that He was going to die for us, was the way to heaven, and that nothing would overcome this. More and more people today are quitting following Jesus and the Bible and are following what they desire God to be, saying everyone should be allowed to believe as they want. Yes, that is true. Everyone can believe just as they want. The only problem with that is that what everyone believe and wants won’t get them to Heaven. Jesus said He is the ONLY way to heaven. (John 14:6) Jesus doesn’t force anyone to believe. You have every right to believe whatever you want. Just know that what YOU want isn’t likely what Jesus said is true, and will not likely lead you to heaven in the end. It is your choice. Will you choose wisely?

Following Jesus is NO Picnic – Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus then started warning His disciples that He would soon suffer and die at the hands of the chief priests and teachers of the law. When Peter got upset and told Jesus that He would not die, Jesus called him Satan. Jesus knew that His death was His purpose, that He had to die to pay for our sins so that we could be saved. Jesus said that they were to be concerned for the greater purpose than human concerns, that they all had to be willing to give up their lives to find life with Jesus, that their souls were worth much more than their lives. Jesus said they would be rewarded in Heaven for what they have done for Him.

Giving Up Your Life

Whew. Am I willing to give up my life for Jesus? It is easy to say you are willing to give up all for God, but when the rubber meets the road, when you really have to give up a job, a child, a home, are you willing to actually go through with it? It isn’t easy in wealthy America where you look around and see so many huge homes and extremely expensive cars to say that you will drive an old beater car and live in a small house or an apartment or even on the street in order to help reach others. It isn’t easy in America where the American dream is to have it all to say that you aren’t trying to get it all, but want to try to take as much time as you can to really know God by studying the Bible and sharing your life with Jesus through the Holy Spirit with others rather than working long hours for your huge house payment.

You don’t follow Jesus for what you can get out of it, but what you can give others. You don’t even give up here on earth so you will get more in heaven, as that doesn’t show a right heart, but selfishness. You give up because you really love God and others, and you want to show them love. The suicide rate is climbing across the globe as more and more people lose hope. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that most suicide comes from lack of hope. People of ALL economic brackets, and more in higher than lower brackets, commit suicide. The love of money doesn’t give hope. But, people were willing to follow Jesus, to risk their lives spreading the love of Jesus to others, because this DOES BRING HOPE. I am willing to give up my life on earth whenever God is ready, because I know where I will go when I die…heaven. But, I am not going to cut that life short with my own hands because I know wherever I am, God has a job for me, a purpose for my life, and that is to help bring one more person to heaven with me by sharing God’s love. I have hope in Jesus, and I am here to share it. Use me, Lord, for eternity.

Return to Top

Matthew 17

Jesus Transfigured, Shown as God’s Son – Matthew 17:1-13

Jesus took His disciples up on the mountain to be alone with them before His death. There the disciples got to see Jesus glow in His glory as God, got to see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah, and got to hear God speak, saying that Jesus was His Son, whom He has chosen and who He loves…Listen to Him. Jesus explained that John the Baptist was the one the Bible said would return as Elijah before the coming of the Messiah, the one who would save the world, who was Jesus.

Special Times to Hold Onto

The disciples were coming into the days when Jesus would suffer and die on the cross, and then rise again. In His great wisdom, God knew they would need something special to remember, some special memories to hold onto to see them through the rough times ahead. I believe God still does this at times for us today. Of course, we don’t get anything as fabulous as seeing Jesus transfigured or hearing God’s voice. But, I think God sometimes prepares us by giving us a blessing before we receive hardship in His service.

I say this because it has now been over 3 years (since May 6, 2013) since I experienced something extraordinary. I had intense pain in my knees for about 2 years. It had gotten progressively worse until on Saturday, May 4, 2013 I told my husband that he had to make sure I called the doctor on Monday to schedule knee surgery. I was stranded on the couch, barely able to walk at all. On Sunday, May 5, I was scheduled to pray for people at Prayer Sunday. I couldn’t even pick up my feet as I walked. For the first and only time since I had been a Prayer Partner, I had people come to me not for prayer for themselves, but to pray for me. I had to pray at both services, and the same thing happened at both services, people prayed for me. However, I told them all I wanted was to find the right surgeon and a good product, as many artificial knee products were being recalled, and I didn’t want to have to go through the surgery twice. This is what they prayed aloud to me. The next morning I woke up expecting to call the doctor, and had no pain. I hesitantly put my feet on the floor and slowly raised myself, expecting the usual excruciating pain, but there was none. I was still weak from years of not being able to walk much, but there was no pain. I was so ready to schedule the surgery that I went out and shoveled in the garden to get the pain to return so I could finally get this over with and have the surgery, but it did not come back. All the while I kept thinking God was telling me, “You’re going to need this.” Why was I thinking that? I had no idea.

A week later, my daughter became homeless and my granddaughter who lived with her came to live with me (again), and is still here to this day. She came because, as I found out at the end of that summer, my daughter had been a heroin addict, and we spent the summer looking for her, trying to keep her alive while she lost 5 of her friends to heroin addictions. If I had not lost the pain in my knees and had the surgery, I would not have been able to take care of my granddaughter and drive for hours frequently during each week to pick up my daughter. My hard time was dealing with a heroin addict for the summer. My special moment was God “telling me” that I’m going to need this, and then making it so I could walk again. Are my knees perfect? No. I can walk fine, but can’t crawl or kneel or get onto the floor easily. That wasn’t what I needed. I got what I needed when I needed it. Will it last forever? I don’t know. It has been over 3 years. The disciples died in service to the Lord. This life is not perfect. But, God does give us some special moments at time to help us get through all HE knows we will be going through, even though we don’t know what is coming.

Faith to Remove a Demon – Matthew 17:14-21

A woman brought her son to Jesus to remove a demon from him that caused him to throw himself into the fire, which He did. Jesus’ disciples had been unable to remove the demon, causing Jesus to say their generation was perverse and unbelieving, saying if they just had a tiny bit of faith that they could move mountains.

Faith to Move Mountains

Do you believe in demons? We should. Jesus did. In fact, Jesus said nothing would be impossible for us if we would just believe. So, what are we to believe that would cause us to be able to move mountains? We are to believe Jesus. We are to believe God. We are to believe what the Bible says is true. We have to take the ENTIRE Bible in context to understand it correctly. While we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), Christ doesn’t strengthen each of us to do all things. God said Abraham was 75 when God told Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation, and 100 when that promise was finally fulfilled with the birth of his son. Both Abraham and Sarah laughed at the thought of trying to have a son at 100 and 90 years old, respectively. The Lord said to Abraham in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God made them wait 25 years to get what He had promised to them. We may be able to do all things through God, but we can only do WHAT He desires and it will only happen WHEN He knows the time is right.

So, how do we have faith and what do we have faith that we can actually do in Christ? The key is staying in tune with the Lord at all times as much as possible. Keep scripture fresh in your mind, ready to use, as Jesus did. Believe that you CAN do ALL THINGS, and be ready and available for Him to use at all times. The Holy Spirit will guide you when God knows the time is right. We just have to be willing to step out in faith. Will we ever get it wrong, thinking we are following God’s will, but actually following incorrectly? Unfortunately, yes. Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands when they allowed Sarah’s maid to have Abraham’s child. It was logical. God had promised Abraham originally, not Sarah. But, when you look at the heart of God in the scriptures, the fact that He said the TWO should be joined together and become ONE (Genesis 2:24), you can see that what might have appeared to be logical was not God’s way. As long as we take the entire Bible in context, and try to follow it, even if we misjudge what we think God would have us to do, it should do no harm. And, if we are right, and it truly is God’s will, you never know. You might just move a mountain!

Jesus Again Predicts His Death - Matthew 17:22-23

Jesus again told His disciples that man was going to take Him and kill Him, and on the third day He would be raised to life.

Can Death be a GOOD Thing?

Couldn’t Jesus have saved Himself? If Jesus was truly God and could do anything, why would He allow Himself to be captured and killed?

It was His plan. It is very important to note that Jesus said He was going to die. No one did anything to Him that He did not know was going to happen. He knew it needed to happen. His death was a substitution payment for our sins, so instead of us having to die separated from God because of our sins, He paid the ultimate price with His life for you and for me, for all who are willing to accept His free gift, and desire to believe in and follow Him. And, being God, He was raised from the dead, to conquer death for us, that we might have eternal life with Him. This death was truly horrible. But, this death was also the most wonderful thing ever, the best gift we could ever ask for.

Even today, death of our loved ones, if they know Jesus as their Savior, is not a bad thing. Yes, we will grieve. But, I like to think of their passing as going on a vacation to the best vacation spot ever, and, while I won’t be able to see them for a long time, I am happy for them to be living in such joy. And, while I will miss them, I can find comfort in knowing that I will join them, too, someday.

Is every death a good thing? No. Jesus warned many times that most people would not find the way to Heaven through Him. This is why it is so important to get to know Jesus, that we may be able to spread His love to others, that they will also want to know Him, so we will see them in heaven, too, someday. But, the many who die not accepting Jesus as their Savior do not go to Heaven. Jesus warned about the place where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We should take getting to know Jesus as our Savior very seriously. Most people just figure they are good enough to get to heaven. The Bible never says that is the way.

Jesus Pays Taxes - Matthew 17:24-27

The tax collectors came to collect taxes from Jesus, and He said that He was a child of the King, of God, so the children of God are exempt from paying taxes. HOWEVER, He then told Peter to catch a fish, that the fish would have money sufficient to pay their taxes in its mouth, that they should pay their taxes to not cause offense.

Obeying a Corrupt Government

Jesus was God. He didn’t have to live by the rules of the extremely corrupt government of His time. But, He taught respect. By His example we can see that we are to obey the laws of the government unless they violate the laws of God. As Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because he would not violate the rules of God in order to obey the rules of the king (Daniel 6), we must obey God first. But, in acting properly, we should always obey and show respect, as representatives of Jesus, even though we have to deal with an evil and perverse government and world. Knowing Jesus showed respect to all, even when they were evil in God’s eyes, it bothers me greatly when I see Christians being rude and disrespectful (which we see often at election time). Remember, at all times we represent Jesus. When pointing out what we believe, we should always do so with love and respect. The only people Jesus showed anger towards were the religious leaders who were misguiding people in the name of God. We don’t have to like the government. But, we should not put such a priority on the government that our character comes across as something other than Christian.

Return to Top

Matthew 18

Great in God’s Eyes – Matthew 18:1-4

Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus replied that to be great in the kingdom of heaven, you had to be as a little child, humble.

Being the Best!

We are taught from childhood to compare ourselves with others. This is a real shame. It trains us to always think we are better or worse than someone else, and either makes us feel superior or inferior to others. I am so glad I came to this message today. I have been applying for jobs, and if there was ever a situation where I was comparing myself to others, this is it.

Will they hire me or am I:

Depending on the job, that list can go on and on. And, having been in the position to interview new potential hires, I understand that you have to compare people at times. But, comparisons don’t always give you the best picture.

If you pick the best person, will they stay with the company or will you waste a large amount of money just to have them use their new skills to get a better job? You may think an old person moves slower and won’t be in the job for as long due to retirement, but the older person may be able to remain more focused on the job and won’t desire to move on as younger workers. Some people are so competitive that they don’t work well in as a team member.

What if, instead of competing, instead of judging ourselves as better or worse all the time, we started looking at one another with the motive to make the other person achieve their best? What if we looked at one another’s skills and asked ourselves how we may complement one another to make each other’s skills work best for the company/team/family? What if we encouraged one another and were truly joyous when we see someone we care about succeed, and we all really care about seeing each other succeed?

Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40 that the greatest things we are to do are to love God and to love one another. When we humble ourselves, as Jesus says here in Matthew 18:4, we are willing to love others without judging ourselves or them...to just love them, and work with them, and truly be happy when something good happens, whoever it happens to. To truly be great in God’s eyes, we don’t have to be better than others, in fact, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as better than others.

What God is looking for in us is that in humble humility, we allow ourselves to simply, as a child, show love. In our relationship to God, we are to realize that HE is the only one we are to think of as better than ourselves. We should always be willing to learn from Him, and not think we know more. Are we willing to look to God like we are lowly, never all-knowing and all-powerful as He is? In comparing ourselves to God, we will always be just little children, and He is our Father, our teacher, our life.

Stumbling Away from God’s Will - Matthew 18:5-14

Jesus warned that one of the greatest sins was to cause another to stumble, to possibly fall away from God’s truths. Jesus said that it is better to cut off a body part than to allow that part to cause you to sin. Don’t worry that your sin will prevent God from loving you. As it says in the story of the lost sheep, God will leave the 99 to go after the one who has wandered off. He wants you to come back to Him.

Who are the Little Ones in Christ?

Jesus didn’t focus on who was the greatest in the kingdom of God, other than God. But then he went right into saying how you could do what is considered one of the worst things, and that is leading others away from God. Jesus calls these people who would be led away, “little ones.” I don’t think He was talking about children (although children, too, could fall into this category). I think He was talking about those who do not have a deep background in Christ. I would like to call them new Christians, but some people accept Jesus as their Savior without making Him Lord of their lives for many, many years. They have a kind-of “one and done” mentality, thinking they are saved, so they don’t have to worry about really getting to know Jesus so they can follow Him the way He desires. And, some of these “little ones” are led into false beliefs because they haven’t received enough information about the true God to know the difference.

There are many false preachers who preach false information about God, using Bible passages out of context of their true meaning. Remember, the first Christians gave up everything to follow God, often even their lives. Jesus warned about riches, saying it was hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven. God allowed Job to lose everything and live in misery in order to prove the purity of his heart. God gave Solomon everything because he asked for wisdom and knowledge rather than riches, but the other things that Solomon received led him away from God. So, we have to be careful what we preach.

Not a preacher? We are ALL preachers. We are not preachers in the standard sense, but we all communicate with others regularly, we all have our actions seen by others, and our God is judged by what we say and do and how we act and react. Those who refuse to accept Christ as their Savior often site the reason as not wanting to be like Christians who say one thing and do another. I’m afraid they are somewhat right. While we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we are not to use this as an excuse to allow sin (Romans 6:15-18). While we can’t be perfect, we are to care, we are to try to obey God’s will. We are always to be mindful of who is watching, and if others see us sin, it is vital that those others also see us repent. We don’t want others thinking we are perfect because they, themselves will not be able to be perfect. We need to show them what we are to do when we fail, and that is to admit what we have done, sometimes to the point of owning up to it publicly, and make up for the harm it has caused. We are to replace any hatred and unforgiveness with love and compassion. We are not to lead others to us, since we will fail, but to Jesus, who did not fail.

When we show hatred towards anyone, we are leading others away from knowing what Jesus said is most important, to love (Matthew 22:36-40). We need to keep ourselves in the Bible, reading and studying it daily, applying it to our lives, so we don’t fall into wrong beliefs and most of all, so we don’t lead others astray. If this all seems too hard to do, remember what Jesus said was most important, in everything we are to love, and if we do this, He says the rest will fall into place. Teach and live the love of God and others. Remember, we are responsible for training up the “little ones,” those who do not have much knowledge about God and Jesus. Let’s try to always point people not to us or others, but to Jesus and God through the Bible.

Carrying the burden of being an example for the little ones may make us be fearful of doing anything, as that is a huge responsibility. But, Jesus is so wise that immediately after warning about causing others to stumble being a great sin, He adds the story of the lost sheep, and how the Good Shepherd (Jesus) comes looking for those who have gone astray. So, while we are to do our best not to lead others astray, or to go astray ourselves, Jesus loves us so much that He wants us back, and will come after us. Jesus’ desire is not to punish, but to love, to bring all to Him. He does warn us about what is important, but He truly does love and forgive. Remember, Jesus is the one who hung on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus loves you.

Helping Others Out of Sin - Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus told us how to handle it when someone sins against us. First, we go to the person alone to tell him/her what he/she has done to us. If they don’t listen, we bring one or two others to confirm our point. If he still doesn’t listen, we have our church body confront the person. If he still doesn’t listen, we treat the person like a tax collector or unbeliever.

Confronting Without Judging or Mistreatment

We have to be careful when confronting others, as the first thing Jesus told us about the sins of others is that we are to remove the log from our own eye before we remove the splinter from the eye of another. (Matthew 7:3-5) Jesus also tells us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6), to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and to turn the other cheek and to give to those who would take from us (Matthew 5:39-40). Finally, Jesus says the ultimate way to treat all others is to love them (Matthew 22:36-40).

Knowing all of the aforementioned verses, how on earth do we think we have the right to confront others about their sins? It may seem impossible, but if we think about it, it is really quite easy. Jesus said we are to always be humble and act with humility. (Luke 18:10-14 and Matthew 23:12) So, when we go to someone to tell them their fault, first it must be because we love them and know that continuing in sin will hurt them. Note that Matthew 18:15-20 says, “If someone sins against you.” We aren’t to go to every single person to try to fix them. We have enough trouble fixing ourselves. But, when we have a spouse who is mistreating us, is it loving to let them continue? Allowing someone to continually sin against us without saying anything will harden our hearts towards them. We are always to love, so at times, to save the relationship, we have to confront the person about the problem.

But, first determine if the problem is really a sin, or if it is just something we disagree with. Someone living in a mess is not likely a sin, but a choice. Someone not putting the toilet paper on the roll may be annoying, but it is not a sin. There are many things in life we will disagree about (politics, for instance), where we think we are absolutely right and the other is absolutely wrong. But, if we use the Bible as our guide, there is likely some right and some wrong in all of us, in the way we think about many issues. Just think about all of the things you have changed your opinion about over your life (if you have lived long enough). Chances are there are many. Jesus specifically states her, “when someone sins against you,” you are to go to that person to help them out of their sin.

In the end, if you even take it to the church and the person decides to continue in this sin, you are to treat him like a tax collector and sinner. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and sinners? He didn’t bring them into His inner circle, sending them out as disciples. But, he did love them and heal them. He shared meals with them and talked to them. Jesus’ ultimate goal was always reconciliation, hoping the person would decide of their own free will to change, to follow His teachings. Just don’t expect a new Christian to know and do it all immediately as the Bible teaches. Life change is a life-long procedure. Typically we realize things we do that are not the way of God one at a time. And, God lets us learn and change that way. We can’t expect too much of others, either. However, in love, there are times we need to confront others to help them to change. Just make sure you are truly following God’s will, not your own desires, before you confront others or spread their wrongdoing to others or to the church. Love should always be our motive.

Show Mercy if You Expect to Receive Mercy – Matthew 18:21-35

Then, Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive, and Jesus said, “not 7 times, but 70 times 7.” Jesus told a story about a servant who owed greatly, and his master took pity on him and forgave his debt, but then the servant went out and choked one of his fellow servants who owed him money but could not pay and had him thrown in prison. The servant’s master heard about his servant’s lack of mercy towards his fellow servant after he had shown the servant great mercy, and had the evil servant tortured until he paid back all he owed. Jesus said this is how God will treat those who do not forgive others from their hearts.

Forgiveness and Understanding Aren’t Easy!

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard Christians say that so and so did wrong to them, that they couldn’t believe it, and that they were dumping that person. It seems to be the in thing to do these days. Yes, people do hurt us. Yes, people do horrible things to one another. Yes, we will likely get hurt by many people in our lives.

I could give you a huge list of wrongs done to me. Let me take just one for example, the one that everyone would probably think is the worst. I was raped when I was 13 by a man who lured me into his car, and did not have door handles on the inside so I could not get out. Does this man deserve my forgiveness? I bet most people would probably say not.

But, God forgives me. God loves me. God treats me with kindness and understanding, even though I have done a lot of wrong things. Most people would say, “But, you never did anything so bad as to rape another person. You didn’t kill anyone. That other guy deserves nothing. But, you didn’t do anything so bad.”

What is really the most important thing in life? It is God. It is trusting Jesus as our Savior so we don’t live a mere 80 years on earth, but we can spend eternity in heaven rather than hell. When I think of the worst things I have done, I always think about this. Is there anyone who will not end up in heaven because someone saw something I did that was nasty and decided that they don’t want to be like this person who calls herself a Christian? Is someone going to end up in hell for eternity because I made a horrible decision that caused someone else to turn away from God? Have I made someone feel unloved? Have I ever caused anyone to feel humiliation? I can think of lots I have done in my life that is worse than the rape. I got over the rape. It was wrong. It was horrible. But, I am still going to heaven for eternity. Is there a wrong out there that I have done that would cause someone to choose hell for eternity rather than follow the beliefs of someone who did such and such?

You see, God forgives me. God sees my heart. God knows that in my heart I love Him and don’t want to ever do anything to hurt Him or others. God knows that the most important thing to me is to try to see everyone I have met in heaven someday. The rest is not important. God forgives me. And, as God forgives me, I needed to forgive my rapist. That guy was bad news. But, his heart was what was really a mess. I don’t hold hatred for him. I do hold pity for him, for anyone who is so out of control that they would do something like this. I forgive him because in the big picture of eternity, it is a small thing. God extended me great forgiveness, and because I see how great His forgiveness is, I extend my meager forgiveness to the meager sin that others commit against me.

Has someone taken my job, defamed my character, or caused me great pain? Sure, many thing have happened to me in my long life. But, the forgiveness I extend to them is nothing in comparison to the forgiveness God extends to me. I will never change anyone for good by feeling hatred towards them. But, I hope and pray I may see someone in heaven someday that would not have otherwise been there because of the love and forgiveness that I extended to them that they did not deserve, as God has given to me. As Jesus said as He hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Return to Top

Matthew 19

Marriage and Divorce – Matthew 19:1-12

The Pharisees (religious leaders) again tried to find something Jesus said to convict Him of a crime so they could get rid of Him. They asked if a man could divorce his wife for any reason at all. Jesus replied that God made people male and female, and they should be joined together as one in marriage and not be allowed to be torn apart.

The Pharisees then asked why Moses allowed divorce. Jesus said that while Moses allowed divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts, that anyone who divorces for a reason other than adultery commits adultery when they marry another. While the disciples thought it would be better to stay single than to be required to stay in a bad marriage, Jesus said that only certain people would have the strength to remain celibate if they didn’t get married, in which case it was better to be married.

Divorce – A Very Hard Topic

Jesus said that the only reason a couple should be allowed to divorce is adultery. I stopped here in my Bible study because I was divorced, and it wasn’t pretty. I wrote pages about divorce here, but I could not finish it nor post it. I moved that writing to another book, an in-depth book on divorce I may write someday. And I prayed how God would have me analyze this passage.

God hates divorce, period. But life is not so simple. What about the women (and sometimes men) who are being physically abused? It is fairly easy to say that you should not have to stand there and get beaten by your spouse, or endanger your children. But, what about emotional abuse? I think emotional abuse can be harder than physical abuse. Someone might physically abuse you, but you know they have anger problems and still really love you. But, someone who emotionally drags you down every single day makes it hard to keep on living.

Why did Jesus not expound on these things? Does the fact that Jesus did not say we could get out of a marriage when we are being beaten mean we are to stand there and take it? This is a case where we have to look at the context in which Jesus answered the question. Jesus was being questioned by the Pharisees for one reason: to try to get Jesus to say something that went against Old Testament teachings. Jesus answered perfectly. God hates divorce. Moses allowed divorce, but that was not God’s intention for marriage. And, unless you can remain celibate, which most cannot, you should marry.

Knowing God hates divorce, we should not take divorce lightly. We should not marry thinking divorce is an option. We should be very careful to marry someone for reasons other than lust (sexual attraction), as sexual attraction comes and goes over time and was not to be the reason for marriage. But, marriage is the outlet for sexual desires, to keep us from carrying out our sexual desires in sinful ways.

If your spouse sins against you in adultery, you can divorce. But, if he/she sins against you in another way, you should deal with it as Jesus stated in Matthew 18:15-20. Jesus NEVER said we are to sit still and allow another to sin against us. Jesus said we are to love, and in love, we want to help people be all God would have them to be. Enabling sinful behavior does not show them love.

Heaven Belongs to Those Who Are Like Children – Matthew 19:13-15

The disciples tried to get the little children away from Jesus when their parents brought them to Him to be blessed by Him, but Jesus told them to allow the little children to come to Him. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like little children.

Are You Like a Little Child?

Before I get into adults acting like children, I want to note that Jesus liked it when the children were brought to Him for blessing. Many Christian sects baptize infants. There is NOTHING in the Bible about baptizing infants. Baptism is to be a sign that the person has accepted Jesus as their Savior who died and rose again for their sins and has chosen to follow Him. An infant cannot make this decision. But, as Jesus said that it was good for the parents to bring their children to Him for a blessing, it should be more than acceptable to bring children to the church to dedicate them to the Lord, to come for a blessing on them. This, however, should never be considered as taking the place of baptism of a believer, which was always done in the New Testament by going down fully under the water (baptism by immersion).

Now, what does it mean to be like a little child, as Jesus said the people in heaven were like? Look at the way a little child relies on his parents. A little child fully believes all a parent says to him is truth. A little child knows he is to follow his parent. A little child trusts his parents fully to care for him. This is how we are to be with God. We are not to worry. We are not to be selfish. We are to follow God rather than our own desires because God is God just as a parent was a parent. When it came time for you, as a little child, to go somewhere with your parents, you didn’t sit and wonder what you should do. You went. We have God’s guide for us in the Bible. We are to learn it fully, and take it in context, taking the teachings of Jesus first and foremost, as He did fulfill some of the Old Testament. We are to be teachable, not thinking we know more than our ultimate teacher, God.

How to Get Eternal Life – The Rich Young Man – Matthew 19:16-22

A rich young man asked Jesus what he had to do to gain eternal life. Jesus responded that he had to keep the commandments not to murder, commit adultery, steal, and lie and he must honor his father and mother and love his neighbor as himself.

Accepting the Only Way to Heaven

When you look at the Commandments Jesus listed, He hit Commandment 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on the head. Then, Jesus combined 9 and 10 from not coveting (wanting to have) your neighbor’s wife or your neighbor’s goods to loving your neighbor as yourself. Brilliant! If you add this to what Jesus said was the most important Commandments from Matthew 22:36-40, to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (which summarizes Commandments 1-3), and the fact that Jesus reiterated His combination of 9-10 with loving your neighbor as yourself, Jesus said it is important to keep all of the commandments.

But, Jesus went much further in showing the rich young ruler what it means to love your neighbor as yourself when He told the man that he would have to give up all he had to the poor and follow Him to earn his way to heaven. This shows us how important God thinks it is to love above all else, being willing to give up all to show love. This is what God did in giving us Jesus to die on the cross. Just imagine knowing your child was completely innocent, knowing you could do anything, and yet allowing your child to be tortured, hung on a cross, die, and go to hell to pay for the sins of the people who really didn’t care that much, many who didn’t really care at all. In fact, they put Jesus to death. And yet, Jesus, while hanging on the cross said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the ultimate in love. Sure, God knew Jesus would conquer hell and rise again to rule heaven, but we know if our children are saved they will go to heaven and we will see them again someday, too. Would we allow our child to go through what Jesus went through, even if we knew it wouldn’t last? How do we feel about losing a child to cancer, or a car accident, or a drug overdose? It feels like it is killing us! This is how God felt. And yet, He allowed it anyway...for us...for you...for me.

Breaking God’s laws is what caused this. Every time we break God’s law, we are doing part of what caused Jesus to have to suffer the way He did. He didn’t have to do it. But, He did because He loves us that much. I try never to break God’s Commandments, not because I am high and mighty. HA! Hardly! I try never to break God’s Commandments out of respect for God and thanksgiving for what God and Jesus went through for me because they want to see me in heaven. Imagine. Someone loves you so much that He would be tortured and die for you.

The rich young ruler story is to prove to us that we aren’t really that good, none of us. How many of us are willing to give all we have to another? This is how we show love to others as ourselves. We don’t. Jesus wishes we would, but God knows we never will be good enough. That doesn’t mean they don’t care what we do. Imagine a parent telling their child that they can be as bad as they want because the parent loves the child no matter what. That may be true, but that is not how any parent wants a child to act. God wants us all to do right all the time, but He loves us enough to forgive us whenever we come to Him. That rich young ruler wanted to do it all on his own, without needing Jesus. He went away sad not only because he couldn’t love well enough to work his way into heaven, but because he wasn’t willing to accept Jesus as better than he was, as his replacement to pay for his sins. The rich young ruler failed as many of us do, in our own pride, in wanting to do it our way rather than accepting Jesus’ way, rather than accepting the truth of the Bible.

Are you willing to accept that you are not good enough? Are you willing to repent, to turn away from sin and back to God? Are you willing to accept Jesus as the only way to heaven?

Being Rich and Getting to Heaven – Matthew 19:23-30

Jesus told His followers after the rich young ruler left that it is very, very hard for a rich person to get into heaven. In fact, Jesus said that it is humanly impossible to get to heaven without God. When Peter said that the disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus, Jesus told them that all who leave behind things of this life to follow Him would be rewarded in heaven, that many of those who appeared to be first on earth would become last in heaven for eternity, and many who appear to be last by earthly standards would be considered first in heaven.

Why Do We Put Such a Priority on Riches?

Jesus told the rich young ruler to give all he had to the poor and follow Him. Jesus said it is very hard for a rich person to get into heaven. Yet, what is the priority for life in society today? Wealth. Imagine not having a television, internet, or a cell phone. That is unheard of for a large percentage of people in the United States today. Yet, if we were just willing to give up the huge house, the expensive cars, and the things we really don’t need, we could pay enough for the jobs that currently pay little so those on welfare could work to make a living instead of being on welfare, which isn’t good for anyone.

When we think of wealth today, thinking about the wealth of the rich young ruler, we fail to realize that most of us today have much more than that ruler ever deemed possible in his time. Jesus wasn’t just talking to the filthy rich. Jesus was talking to all of us. Jesus was asking us to re-think our priorities, making love for God and love for others as number one. We aren’t supposed to be thinking about what is best for me, but what is best for others, and how it all comes under the umbrella of loving and following God.

How much do we keep and how much do we give away? Well, when you look at the first Christians, they gave away everything and lived together, sharing everything, and helping others. And, people hated them because the unimaginable goodness of these original Christians made them all look bad. So, they had many of the original Christians put to death.

This should make us all think. Lord, who do YOU really want me to be? What do YOU really want me to have and give up? What God really wants isn’t your stuff, it’s your heart. But, where your money is shows where your heart is. Where’s your heart? Is it in your house, your cars, your cell phones? I wonder what would be possible for the growth of Christianity if we really all put our number one priority on God. Giving up stuff won’t earn our way to heaven. God did that for us.

In heaven it isn’t stuff that counts, it’s the size of our hearts...for eternity. How will you work to enlarge your heart now to prepare for an eternity filled with peace, joy, and love...stuff money just can’t buy.

Return to Top

Matthew 20

Unequal Pay– Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told a parable (a story you are to relate to your life) about vineyard laborers that got hired at different times throughout the day as the one in charge found them. He promised the first group a day’s wage, and promised the rest that he would pay them what was right. At the end of the day he paid them all, starting with the last hired, paying them all exactly the same, a day’s wage. The workers who had labored all day long were angry because those who had started at the end of the day got paid the same. The goodness of the landowner to those who had worked little angered those who had worked through the heat all day long, yet the landowner said they were thinking evil about him doing good. Jesus ended the story saying that this is the way it will be, that many are called but few are chosen.

Love isn’t Fair

This story touches my heart right now because I am looking at getting into a new career, and I don’t have experience in that field like others have. So, I don’t think others will want to hire me due to lack of experience. I am also concerned that if I do get hired the other workers will feel that they are not being treated fairly because I don’t have sufficient experience.

The perspective of those in Jesus’ story who worked much longer but were paid less per hour, even though they were paid what they agreed upon was that they should have been given more than those who worked less. This is a common and even normal way to view work: if you work more you should get paid more than someone who works less.

But, this is not God’s way. God believes in showing love and compassion rather than being fair. God knows everyone needs a full day’s wage, so His story shows that He has compassion and understanding for people, paying everyone what they need to live, not what they deserve. It wasn’t like those who got hired last were lazy. They just weren’t in the right place to get hired first thing in the morning. They still needed to feed their families.

Jesus ended this parable saying this is how it is going to be someday, the last will be first and the first will be last. I think of those who work for years and years in ministry, seeking God’s will with all their heart and abilities, and yet end up with little to show for their hard work that they can see. Then, along comes a new preacher, many people fall in love with his preaching, and it seems God blesses his ministry abundantly. It doesn’t seem fair. The new guy shouldn’t be looking like he is reaping thousands while the hard working preacher only reaped one here and there. God doesn’t play by our rulebook of fairness. God does what He knows is best for the circumstances. It is His choice who He blesses and how He blesses them.

Since we are not to be selfish, it should not make any difference what others are doing. The only thing that should make a difference is that each one of us is following what God directs us to do. Lord, guide me to where You would have me to go and to what You would have me to do. And, please guide the person to hire me wherever you desire me to work. Thank You, Jesus, for caring about the details in our lives. Amen.

Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time – Matthew 20:16-19

Jesus again told the 12 disciples that they were going to Jerusalem where he would be delivered to the chief priests and teachers of the law to be condemned to death, mocked, flogged, and crucified. But, He would rise again on the third day.

Reiteration Helps!

Had Jesus only said once in passing that He was going to be crucified, the disciples may never have caught onto what Jesus meant by what was going to happen to Him. When we hear something we don’t want to hear, our bodies have a natural defense mechanism that sometimes causes selective memory. Harsh memories are often subdued to protect us from pain. It’s like the old saying, “People hear what they want to hear.” They needed to know what was going to happen to Jesus to help them start to deal with it and to understand it later.

This also shows that Jesus didn’t have something happen to Him that He did not plan. Jesus told them exactly what was going to happen. So, when people say today that Jesus was not truly God because He didn’t get Himself out of harm’s way when He should have, that people killed Him, we can point to the places in scripture that show that He knew it ahead of time, and walked right into it just as He had planned. He didn’t get out of it because He didn’t want to get out of it. He died for our sins, willingly. And, He rose again, just as He had predicted.

Desiring the Most Important Position – Matthew 20: 20-28

The mother of disciples James and John asked Jesus to place her sons on either side of Him when He was in His kingdom. Jesus told them that they didn’t understand what that would mean, that they would have to do as He was doing. But, they said that they would. This meant they would also have to die for their beliefs. But, they also did not understand what it meant to be first in Jesus’ kingdom. God does not place people of authority in regal positions. To be first in God’s kingdom means being a servant of God and others, with the highest serving so well that he could be considered a slave. Jesus came to serve the people, and those who follow him are to do the same.

Finding Humility in Servanthood

How many of us would want to serve our neighbors? Many of us would be embarrassed to wait on others we know. But, Jesus said that is exactly what we are to do if we desire to follow Him. If we do get a position of authority, that does not mean that we are high and mighty, better than the others. What God desires those in authority to do is to work diligently to serve others. The person in charge is not to laud his position over others, but is to be there to facilitate their success, to serve them. God doesn’t want us to be arrogant, rude, or proud, but humble. Only those who are able to hold onto humility and work for the good of others is truly a leader to God.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men – Matthew 20: 29-34

Two blind men sitting by the road called out to Jesus as He went by to have mercy on them, that they wanted to see. Jesus touched their eyes, they immediately saw, and followed Him.

Those Blessed by Jesus Did Nothing Special

The theme of Matthew 20 seems to be that people get what they don’t deserve because God is good, kind, and loving. Those who were healed didn’t deserve it. They just were given the blessing. Why are some given a blessing and other are not? It isn’t because they deserve it if this chapter can be taken as a standard. None of us deserve God’s goodness or grace. Sometimes, we are just extra specially blessed. Blessings are not doled out because we deem them to be deserved or fair, but because God decides when He decides to do what He decides. Praise God that He does not give us what we truly deserve, but instead chooses to love us.

Return to Top

Matthew 21

Jesus Enters Jerusalem as Prophesied – Matthew 21:1-17

Jesus had His disciples get a donkey from town to ride into Jerusalem so He could enter as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9. Jesus entered being treated like royalty by the crowd. The whole city was talking about Him. Jesus went into the temple and threw over the tables of the moneychangers and those who were selling there, as God’s house is not to be a den of thieves, but a house of prayer. Jesus healed in the temple and was called, “the son of David,” angering the chief priests and scribes.

Jesus Ruler of the Temple

Jesus came into town, and they knew He was the son of David, the chosen one, the Messiah. As ruler of the temple, Jesus got angry with those using God to make money and threw them out. Then, further proving He was God, He healed.

Jesus didn’t go to the government to overthrow the palace. It wasn’t important. But the people had thought that taking control of the government was what was needed. Jesus took over what was really important, God’s temple. God's house is to be where we give to God, not go to get more for ourselves. God promises to provide all we need. If we think we have to do something God would not have us do in order to make a living, we are wrong, and perhaps wanting more than God knows is best for us to have. Jesus knows best. Jesus has His priorities in check. Unfortunately, the religious leaders did not. They valued their position and income rather than valuing God. They were so blinded by their own desires that they could not see when God stood in front of them. It is way too easy to be blinded by our own desires, what we often think are needs. Trust God. The rest will fall into place as He so chooses.

Jesus Controls Nature and Mountains – Matthew 21:18-22

Jesus was hungry, but a nearby fig tree only had leaves and no figs, so Jesus spoke to the tree and it died, surprising His disciples that He could do that. Jesus told them if they had faith without doubt, they could make a mountain move into the sea. He said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

God’s Will, Not Ours

Do I have faith sufficient to move mountains? I think when I am certain that I am following God’s will and put all of my faith in Him, working diligently with all He has given me, that I do. I became the first female construction manager in Wisconsin and I believe it was by following God’s will for my life. It was never what I intended to do, but it was where I believe God directed me to be. It was always difficult, but I believe God was with me, guiding me each day.

Continuing on with this faith is not easy, and I often falter. Too often I allow distractions to take over my life, keeping me from completing the next phase of my life. Having faith to move mountains means that we continue on when we don’t see anything going the way we think it should go, as God often uses these as learning and growing experiences. Lord, please help me with my focus. Help me stay focused on You so I may be able to move whatever mountain YOU desire for me to move. Guide me now and always, please. Remind me that with You, I too can move mountains for You, not that it is my will or desire to be special, but being willing to be used as a servant. Be it to love one or to help many, whatever Your will is for me, Lord, I trust You will move the mountains to accomplish it. Help me not to fall off track, but give me clear guidance. May Your will be done. In Jesus. Amen.

Jesus Has Authority from God – Matthew 21:23-27

The chief priests and elders again tried to get Jesus into trouble by asking Him what authority He had to do these things while He was teaching. Jesus answered their question with a question they couldn’t answer without getting themselves into trouble. Jesus said since they hadn’t answered His question, He wouldn’t answer theirs.

Magnificent Advice for Dealing with Troublemakers

I absolutely love the way Jesus responded to those trying to get Him into trouble! If we want to follow God, which as Christians of course we should, what do we say when someone wants to twist our words and use them against us? How can we answer in truth because we should never lie or twist the truth ourselves, which would be a sinful response, and we never want to lie because we want people to believe us when we tell them about God and Jesus, but they won’t believe anything we say if we lie. Jesus simply found a way to not answer their question by asking them a question in return.

I have found that sometimes I simply have to tell the truth even though I don’t want to and know it won’t turn out well. What I have found from doing this is that people trust me and believe me. They may not always like what I have to say, but they don’t mind because they know my answer will be honest. Now, be careful in this. We are always to act in love. Telling someone about all of their problems because we are honest is not loving nor what we are taught in the Bible to do. People learn little by little how to follow God. A person doesn’t come to know Jesus and instantly be without flaws. Jesus is kind and loving and reveals our sins to us a little at a time, giving us time to deal with them. We should not expect another to be sin free, nor should we think it is our job to tell them all of their sins. What we can do here is what Jesus did, simply flip the question to another question or another topic. Sometimes the right thing to do is simply not to answer the question.

Christian Words Versus Actions - Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus told a story about two brothers, one who said he wouldn’t follow his father’s direction but then did it anyway, and the other who said he would follow his father’s wishes but didn’t. The first, while not wanting to do his father’s will, actually did what was right in the end, so he was the one who did what was right. Jesus said that tax collectors and prostitutes believed in the way of righteousness (repent and believe) and would enter the kingdom of God ahead of those who try to look like God’s followers, but don’t do it.

Christians, Imperfect, but Right in Their Hearts

Jesus was kind, loving, and forgiving towards those who were judged by the world to be the worst of sinners. It was those who claimed to be followers of God, but who judged others harshly and were not good at showing love, compassion, and forgiveness who Jesus treated harshly. The New Testament has many stories of Jesus standing up for those considered by people to be the “worst sinners” and getting angry with those who felt righteous themselves.

James 4:13 says that only God is the lawgiver and judge, and that we are not to judge our neighbor. Jesus said we are to take the plank out of our own eyes before we help our neighbor take the speck out of their eye. Matthew 7:5.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32, it seems to contain two conflicting topics, first saying that the one who was obedient was the one who did what was right, but then saying that prostitutes and tax collectors (sinners) would make it into heaven ahead of those who claim to be followers of God. So, are we to think those who claim to be Christians, yet sin by judging others are not really followers of God and judge them harshly? This is a hard saying because they are doing wrong, but how do we keep our own hearts right and not judge them? We remember James 4:13 and Matthew 7:5. It isn’t my place to judge ANYONE! It is my place to LOVE! It is my place to FORGIVE! It is my place to PRAY! In love and with forgiveness, when others are doing wrong and harming the ministry of Jesus, it is my job to pray that God will show me how to have a loving and forgiving heart to my fellow Christians, and to ask God to use me or another means to help open their eyes to what they are doing wrong, but not to judge them. Lord, many people in our churches drive others away by gossiping and judging, preventing them from being able to open up to their sins so they can come to church to repent and find love, help, and encouragement. Lord, please help us to do better at not seeing others who have problems as horrible sinners, but as forgiven brothers and sisters in Christ who need love. Help us know how to stop whatever we are doing as Christians that would drive anyone away, and to replace that with love in Jesus. Amen.

Parable of the Vineyard Owner and Tenants - Matthew 21:33-46

Jesus told a parable of a vineyard owner whose tenants killed both his servants and his son when they went to collect the owner’s share of the fruit. Jesus said the tenants would lose the kingdom and it would be given to those who produce fruit. The Chief Priests and Pharisees knew Jesus meant they were the tenants, so they plotted to have Him arrested.

Fruit Production

It’s all about fruit production. Christianity is decreasing in our society. Church attendance is down for many Christian denominations. The moral of Jesus’ story is in verse 43, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

In the United States, there is a growth in non-denominational Christian churches where people are more concerned about a relationship of God than a form of religion, and that non-denominational churches seek to be relevant to society without letting go of the essentials. They are interested in tending the vine for fruit growth rather than the bureaucracy that seems to be the natural path that ensues when there becomes a hierarchy to control a group of churches, as often happens in businesses, too. A business figures out how to please a market and grows, only to change focus from pleasing the customer to growing the business, and the business begins to fail.

What should the business of the church be? The church needs to focus on what Jesus said is most important: loving God and loving all others. If we get those right, the rest falls into place. Focus on selfish desires, rituals, or traditions, rather than focusing on loving God, thanking Jesus, and showing love and compassion to others withers our fruit and kills the purpose of the landowner’s son, Jesus.

Return to Top

Matthew 22

God’s Chosen Refused Him, So All Are Invited– Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus told the story about the King (God) inviting all of his chosen ones to a wedding banquet for His Son, but the chosen ones refused to come and killed His messengers. So, the king destroyed those who had done such evil, and opened up the banquet to everyone, the bad and the good. One person entered without wearing wedding clothes, so he was thrown out into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (hell). “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Come Only One Way-Through Jesus

The Old Testament tells us that God had a chosen people, Israel, who were to receive the Messiah, the Savior, that would let them spend eternity with God. But, as Jesus tells us in this story, the chosen people rejected God’s way, refusing to put on the wedding clothes, which is a reference to Isaiah 61:10 which tells us that He clothes us with garments of salvation, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest.

There are many places in the Bible that make it look like only God’s chosen people will be saved. But, there are many more that state that the chosen people rejected Him so salvation would be opened to you and to me. BUT, we have to put on the garments of salvation. We don’t get in simply by saying we are Christians, by showing up t church, by deciding what we want is right or wrong. We get into heaven by putting on Jesus!

I love how Jesus said that both the good and bad were invited, but it wasn’t their being good or bad that made the difference when He said few were chosen. The difference was that we had to put on the wedding garment, which is Jesus. There is hope! We aren’t perfect, and we don’t deserve salvation. But, if we accept Jesus, we can receive salvation. So, when we are not feeling like we are good enough, it’s OK. It is great to discover your sins and repent of them, turning away from them and turning to following Jesus. But, often our hearts want to do what is right but we fail in our bodies. Jesus cares that we put on Him, that we love Him, that God is the most important thing in our life. Jesus knows we won’t make the cut on our own. That’s why we need Him. Accept Jesus today as your personal Savior. Ask Him to come into your heart, to search out what you do that you may do better at following Him. Choose His ways. And, if you try and fail, try again, because it isn’t the fact that we are perfect that gets us into heaven. Only Jesus was perfect. It is the fact that we love Him, and accept Him as Lord of our lives.

Jesus Pays Taxes - Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees sent their followers to try to trap Jesus, asking Him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus said money has Caesar’s image and inscription, so they should give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

God, Not Government is in Control

Remember the readings of the Old Testament? God used the governments, no matter how corrupt they were, to carry out His plans. If God wanted to bless the people, they were blessed, no matter who was in control. And, at times, God got rid of those in control who sought to corrupt His plan.

Christians around the country are distraught today because of the government and the elections. Why do we put such faith in the government? No matter who is in governmental authority, God reigns over all. Our focus should not be on government, but on changing lives for Christ, for showing love as He said was the most important thing to do. I often wonder how many of our country’s problems would clear up if we, as followers of Jesus, did a better job of making people feel God’s love…and ours. Would that not be a better focus, one God would bless?

Marriage in the Next Life – Matthew 22:23-33

The Sadducees, a religious group who did not believe in life after death, asked Jesus if a woman had a succession of husbands due to their deaths, who would be her husband in the next life. Jesus responded that there is no marriage in heaven. And, knowing they didn’t believe in life after death, Jesus added that God IS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…IS the God of the living, not the dead.

Jesus, Wisdom Beyond Human Knowledge

Jesus did not say, “I think...” Jesus responded with fact, knowing what the truth was. How does a man respond this way? We can respond this way today because we have the writings of those who followed Jesus, God in human form while He was on the earth. But, how did Jesus know these things? Jesus knew because He IS God. There is no other religion on earth that had a living, all-powerful, all-knowing God walk the earth with them. Jesus did all things while He was on earth, healing everything that was wrong with people. Jesus predicted exactly how He would die. Jesus knew all things and knew how to respond to all people. Jesus is the one we follow because He is the ONLY one who truly is God. No other religion has this proof. And, since Jesus is God, we can rest in knowing there IS life after death, and if we believe and trust in Him, giving our lives to Him, we will spend eternity with Him in heaven.

The Greatest Commandment – Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees (religious leaders of Jesus’ day) tried to trip up Jesus by asking Him what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replied that the Greatest Commandment is to Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And, He added that the second greatest commandment is like the first, to love your neighbor as yourself. Everything hangs on these two commandments.


I want to scream! This is my FAVORITE passage in the Bible! I am so excited! This is the direction on how to make the world the best it can possibly be. This is what we are to do in all things in life!

Love God first. Everything we do should show love to God. If what you are doing does not show love to God (putting job, house, or anything ahead of Him), you have an idol you need to get rid of and get back to God. Take time for Him each day by reading part of His Word in the Bible and meditating on it. If you think you don’t have time, whatever you are doing is your God and needs to change. If you think you have to keep your house perfect, spend too many hours at work, etc., take time for God, asking Him to be the Lord of your life, showing you how to put Him first. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENT! Just ask Jesus! Oh, yeah, they did, and this was His response!

And, we can’t forget Jesus went on to say that the second was like it and also vital, that we love others as ourselves. We hate riots. We hate abuse of the police. We hate abuse of anyone. We hate, we hate, we hate. We are told NOT TO HATE! We are to love. Chances are, if Christians spent our time loving on people all the time like Jesus said we are to do, people wouldn’t feel a need to riot or do stupid things. OK, sure, sometimes people will refuse to change. But, Jesus said that everything hangs on these two commandments. So, next time you are feeling anger and hatred towards someone or something they did, stop. Ask God to fill your heart with love for them. Remember, Jesus said to those who hung Him on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” For some reason, often not understood by us, when people do wrong they don’t necessarily truly understand what they are doing. They think they are doing what is right to make a change, etc. Likely, they don’t feel loved and are retaliating for that. Don’t judge. Don’t condemn. Do as Jesus said was the second most important thing we are to do, and show love.

Jesus Trips Up the Pharisees – Matthew 22:41-46

The Pharisees hadn’t been able to trip up Jesus with their questions, but Jesus was able to trip up the Pharisees, asking them a question they could not answer. Jesus asked who the Messiah was. They replied that he was the son of David. So, Jesus asked them how the Messiah could be the son (descendant) of David when David called the Messiah his Lord. They could not answer.


Jesus knew He had come from God, that He always was, but was just at that time in human flesh. Most people didn’t understand that Jesus was not only God’s Son, but He was God, now and forever. He was both the Creator and the Messiah!

Return to Top

Matthew 23

Do What They Say, Not What They Do – Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus said that the teachers of the law and the Pharisees (religious leaders) taught God’s Word, but did not keep it themselves, so people are to do what they say (obey God’s will), but don’t do what they do (think you are better than others and in doing so aren’t obeying God’s Word).

Then Jesus went on to tell people not to allow themselves to be called by any name that would elevate them, such as Rabbi (one trained in God’s law and leader of the congregation), or Father (which is God) or teacher (which is Christ). But rather, the greatest is to be your servant.

It’s Not About YOU!

Be Humble! Always!

But, you are the boss, you say? How can you be the boss and get respect if you act like the servant of your workers? You can because Jesus said so, and then was in Himself our example of how to do so.

Jesus taught with stories. Jesus encouraged. Jesus stood up for those who did wrong, and then told them that they were to go and sin no more. Jesus never said wrong was right, but He always showed love to those who did wrong. Jesus never acted like the superior, but everyone knew He was. He led by following God, claiming God was the only one who was truly good. Jesus led by example, always doing right, but standing up for those who did wrong...except for the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t like it when people used God for personal gain.

Put aside personal gain. Put on love for those who don’t deserve it. Teach humbly, non-confrontationally, with love. Think, am I doing this as Jesus would have done it? If it’s not showing love, you may want to revisit how you are doing it. If you are trying to gain prestige and self-worth, you’re looking in the wrong place to feel good about yourself. You are good...simply because you are a child of the King! But, you are always to be the servant to Him and others.

The Religious Leaders Shut People Out of Heaven – Matthew 23:13- 39

Jesus warned the religious leaders that it would be terrible for them because they teach the ritual part of scriptures (the Old Testament) without teaching about justice, peace, and faith in God. They teach about giving a tenth of your income, which you should do, but they forget about the more important matters. They focus on looking righteous on the outside, but inside are filled with violence, pleasure seeking, death, filth, pretense, and rebellion. Jesus warned that these self-righteous ones would kill Him and those He would send. Jesus then cried for those who He was supposed to come to save, but who rejected Him, saying He wanted to gather them to Himself, but they rejected Him and would not be able to see Him till they blessed (accepted) Him as the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

Help More to Get Into Heaven

Too often I have heard people say that they don’t want to go to church because the people there judge them harshly and gossip about them. Unfortunately, all too often this is true. Sad. Simply sad. We have to remember that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus stood up for the prostitute, healed the demon possessed.

But, to those who wanted to look religious without truly loving God and others, those who worked to save people only to turn them into people like themselves who were not following what Jesus said was most important, to love God and to love others, Jesus warned they were causing people to not be saved, but to end up in hell for eternity. Jesus called them snakes.

Remember, it is not our job to judge, but to love and to spread God’s Good News about Salvation through Jesus. If someone sins against us, we can confront them, in love, with the only motive being to help reconcile them to ourselves and to God. Teach God’s Word humbly, as a servant, as a forgiven sinner, never self-righteous. In love, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, open the gates of heaven to EVERYONE you meet.

Note that Jesus ended His warning to the people who were claiming to be religious but weren’t really following His teachings that He still wanted them, He cried for them, and hoped they would accept Him before it was too late. Who do we, as Christians, have the right to condemn in God’s name? No one. Jesus stated that those who didn’t accept Him would be condemned, but, in the end, He still hoped one day they would accept Him as their personal Savior. This is His mission, and ours, to love people as He did, teaching them about His great love and great gift of Salvation.

Return to Top

Matthew 24

End Times– Matthew 24:1-14

Jesus said that in the end times, many would come claiming to be Him and many will be deceived, but we are not to fall for it, even though things in the world get really bad, such as wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes. And, followers of Jesus will be hated because of Him, causing many to turn away. But, the end won’t come until the gospel is preached in the whole world.

Don’t Worry About the End Times!

Far too many Christians have gotten sucked into the trap of the preachers who promote fear of the end times. Fear is the opposite of faith! So what if the end times are coming. We DON’T KNOW when they will come, but if you look back at history, there are many times that would have seemed like the end times. World War 2 comes to mind for me first. Just look at the way about 6 million Jews were slaughtered in the concentration camps! It is estimated that between 40-80 million people died during World War 2. I use this war because the statistics are a little more available than previous wars, many which killed not only from fighting, but from the spread of diseases as the troops moved into new areas.

What is important is that we stick with Jesus until the end, whether it is truly the end times or not. We only have a short time on this earth, whether or not it is the end times. We don’t know when our loved ones may die. Drugs, alcohol abuse, and suicide are rampant killers of people before their normal life span should be up. We all need to take the message of the gospel seriously, that death comes to us all, 100% of the time, and we need to be serious about the message of salvation. If a loved one dies at 20, it is a tragic loss to his/her loved ones. If the loved one does not know Jesus as their personal Savior, the loss is eternal. While we never know the true relationship of others with the Lord, we should not take this for granted. Salvation and meeting one another in heaven for eternity, through loving God, trusting Jesus as our personal Savior who died to pay for our sins so we may spend eternity in heaven, that is the pertinent message. Live for what counts: loving God and loving others. Love others enough to share God’s message of salvation. End times come to us all.

The Abomination of Desolation - Matthew 24: 15-22

At some time, Jesus said there would be something that brings destruction standing in the temple of God, using profanity against God. When this happens, people in the area of Judea are to run and hide in the mountains to try to escape without going back to their houses to pack anything up.

How Much Should We Worry About the End?

Where’s the nearest mountain! Us Midwestern United States dwellers are sunk! It looks like Tennessee or South Dakota is the closest mountain. Oh, wait, only those around Judea have to flee to the mountains. While I say this in jest, the fact that Jesus warns about it makes it worth considering. Jesus told us “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus’ followers were often put to death for their beliefs, yet they followed Him to their end in this world, knowing they would be together with Jesus in the next.

So, while Jesus did warn us to flee when this abomination of desolation is in the temple, His main purpose was to be sure we were prepared to follow Him through persecution and torment to the end. Stay in Jesus. If we ever do have to flee, it would be great to be sure that if we had nothing else, we have a Bible. It can’t hurt to keep one with you! Just make sure you read it, and stay close to the Lord in your heart. Your own times of trouble will likely come. Hide Jesus’ words away in your heart, ready to comfort you when you need Him most!

Beware of False Messiahs - Matthew 24: 23-35

Jesus warned that we are to not believe it when people say that He has returned because many will pretend to be Him. We don’t have to worry about knowing when He truly returns because it will be obvious to all: the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give light, stars will fall from the sky, the heavens will shake, the sign of Jesus will appear in the sky, and we will see Jesus coming on the clouds with great power and glory, sending out His angels with trumpet sounds to gather His chosen ones. “This generation” will not pass away till these things happen.

Did We Miss It?

Jesus said that “this generation” will not pass away until all these things happen. “This generation” would seem to indicate that what He was predicting would happen while those around Him were still alive. However, Jesus was predicting a future time that we would not know when it was going to happen. The meaning of “this generation” is likely the generation that would be on earth when the end times happen. “That generation” might have been a more understandable translation. It appears that His point was that it would happen within one generation, not something that would happen over hundreds of years. And, clearly, as Jesus stated, it will be unmistakable. So, ignore all of those people who are “certain the end is near.” There have been many times in history where the end could have been near. We should always realize that our end is near knowing the average life span is about 80 years and many people live shorter lives. When we see Jesus coming on the clouds with great power and glory, we will for sure know it. But, regardless, live as though each day on this earth is your last and make it count for eternity.

No One Knows the Day or Time! - Matthew 24:36-45

Jesus said even He did not know the day or time for the end, that people will continue in their typical lifestyles right up to the end. He warned that one would be taken and the one alongside them would be left, so we are always to be ready.

STOP Trying to Predict the End!

Jesus said that even He did not know the day or the time that the end would come. If you are following a religious leader who is predicting the end, leave him! This is NOT biblical! The devil would love for us to be more concerned about the end than living for what God would have us do now. We are to love and forgive. Jesus died for those who hung Him on the cross, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We need to focus on loving as Jesus loved, as Jesus said was the most important thing we are to do in Matthew 22:36-40, and not promote fear, which is not showing trust in God nor love for others.

Those Who Take Care of God’s Servants - Matthew 24:45-51

Jesus said those who are taking care of God’s people, servants who are serving the servants, teaching, feeding, and caring for them, will be greatly blessed by God when Jesus returns. But, those who are living selfishly will be sent to the place of pain and grinding of teeth.

Make Love and Caring a Top Priority

Jesus warns that those who do not care for others will not be in heaven. No, this does not mean that works are how we get to heaven. But, Jesus said that we will know His followers by their fruit (what good comes out of what they do). Works aren’t how we get to heaven, but the desire to do good indicates that we have accepted Jesus and He has changed our hearts to be what He wants them to be. What you spend your time and money on shows your priorities, which reflect your heart. A saved person’s heart begins changing immediately upon accepting Jesus. If you think you are saved, but aren’t changing to be more like Him, you may want to revisit whether or not you truly have made Jesus Lord of your life.

Return to Top

Matthew 25

Parable of the 10 Brides– Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told the story of 10 girls waiting for their bridegroom to come. Five had their lamps ready with oil, and 5 did not have oil for their lamps. So, when the bridegroom came, the 5 who were ready went with him, but the other 5 went out to buy oil and were shut out with the groom saying that he didn’t know them.

Be Ready for Jesus to Come

Jesus said that we would know His followers by their fruits (actions), and those without fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 6:15-20. And, in the Parable of the 10 Brides, Jesus said that those who aren’t ready when He comes for them will be locked out. So, how are you ready? It isn’t that we earn our way to heaven, but if we truly have given our hearts to God/Jesus, the natural response is that we will want to follow Him. Jesus said we would become servants, as He was a servant, doing for others out of love for them and for God. You can tell how important something is to you based on the amount of time you spend on it. You don’t truly care about your spouse and family if you don’t spend any time with them. The same is true for God. God gave us a great way to get to know Him intimately and personally and to know His will for us by reading it in the Bible. Plus, if we accept Jesus, we can receive the Holy Spirit to help us understand what is hidden to those who don’t accept Him. What are we to do? Spend time getting to know God’s will by spending time reading the Bible, and then, most importantly, applying what we have learned to our lives. In this way we will bear much fruit, and have our lamps ready with the light of His word shining in our hearts so we won’t be left behind.

The Parable of the Three Servants and the Bags of Gold (Talents)- Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told a story about a man giving three of his servants bags of gold to care for while he went on a long journey. One received 5 bags, one 2 bags, and one 1 bag, according to their abilities. The one with 5 bags made another 5 bags of gold with his investments. The one with 2 bags gained 2 more. But the one with one bag buried his in the ground because he was afraid to do more. The 2 who earned more with their investment were put in charge of other things when the owner returned, but the one who hid his and didn’t even put it in the bank to earn interest was thrown into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Can I Go to Hell for Not Doing Work for God?

I like the fact that this story in the older translations called the bags of gold talents. The one who didn’t use his talents (money in this story, but it could be our gifts and talents in real life) ended up in hell. God wants our hearts, and He can tell whether we really love Him or not by what we do for Him. This concept can be really hard to grasp because on the one hand, we are told we don’t need to do anything, and on the other hand, we are told that if we don’t do anything we are doomed. How can both be true?

Salvation is not earned, it is a free gift from God who gave His only Son to die to pay for our sins. That price was high. Just imagine giving up your own son to be tortured and killed so others can get off free of charge for the wrongs they have done. It would be like allowing your baby to be killed so someone in prison could go free. That would be quite a costly gift. What would you think would happen from giving that gift? You would expect the prisoner to be most grateful, and change his life for causing the death of your baby. You would expect the prisoner to try to turn his life around, not so he could pay for his own getting out of jail because that was already done whether he did anything or not. But, would he really show he cared about your sacrifice if he went back and committed the same crimes again and didn’t even try to change? What would that say about his heart? Wouldn’t you want his heart to change? What if it didn’t? It would show he didn’t care.

Well, it is the same with Jesus. He gave up His life for you, to pay for your sins. And, if you truly accept that gift, it should change your heart. You should want to get to know God by studying His word, and what you learn should change your life. If you aren’t willing to make knowing God a priority, it shows your heart is really somewhere else, likely your heart is selfish, focused on doing things you think are important, and that is not God. If your heart doesn’t change, if you don’t desire to follow God, you have rejected that gift, and won’t be ready by changing your heart, turning from sin, and turning to God. When the time comes, and we never know when that will be, we won’t be ready if we aren’t following God, and we will end up in hell for eternity. That’s a really long time to spend in a place of extreme pain, so bad it makes you grind your teeth.

Jesus Returns to Judge the Nations, the Sheep and Goats Separation-Matthew 25:31-46

When Jesus returns, He will separate the people as a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats. The sheep are those who follow the shepherd, in this case, Jesus being the shepherd, and the goats are stubborn and selfish and do not follow the shepherd. The sheep will end up in heaven for eternity because they did what Jesus wants us to do, feeding and providing drink for the hungry, inviting in strangers, clothing the poor, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison as though these people were Jesus. Jesus said whenever we care for the least of people, we are caring for Him. But, the goats who did not follow Jesus, the shepherd, will go to a place of eternal fire.

Jesus Sees Through the Excuses Not to Help and Show Love

It seems the more we have, the harder it is to part with it. That’s probably why Jesus said it was extremely difficult for the wealthy to end up in heaven. But, Jesus used Himself as the example of who we are giving to when we give to the “least of the people.” Imagine Jesus as the homeless person or the murderer in jail. Jesus said we are to give to the least of people, not to those who deserve anything at all. It shows our hearts are in the right place when we give to those who deserve it the least. So, be careful if you are finding excuses to not give away what you have to help others because those others don’t deserve it. Jesus said we are to think of those undeserving people as Jesus Himself, and if we give to them, we aren’t to worry about what they do with our gifts, but are to simply love them.

Why would we give to those who don’t deserve it? We should give to the undeserving because Jesus told us to, because it honors Him, it honors Jesus who gave His life for you when you don’t deserve it. That is what real love is all about. And if you aren’t willing to show that unconditional love to others, you will find your heart turns cold, and one day you are separated from God for eternity.

Return to Top

Matthew 26

Jesus Tells the Disciples He Will Be Crucified– Matthew 26:1-2

Jesus told His disciples that during the Passover He would be crucified.

Finding a Godly Focus in Trials

Today I again remembered to ask Jesus to sit next to me and tell me His story as I read it in Matthew 26. When I read, “As you know, the Passover is two days away-and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified,” I imagined Jesus sitting here telling me that as though I was one of the disciples. The disciples didn’t seem to know it was coming, even though Jesus warned them over and over that it was going to happen. And, I can understand why. This was Jesus! They had seen Him do all kinds of miracles. They figured He would take over the world. He wasn’t going to die! That just wasn’t in their sights as something that would be part of the scenario! So, while Jesus said it, they didn’t hear it.

How much does the Bible say that we don’t hear? We want help for TODAY! We want to be able to thrive TODAY! But, we focus on this world and not the world to come. And, that world to come starts TODAY, in our hearts! The world to come is filled with peace and joy and love. We can have ALL OF THESE, TODAY! All it takes is seeing life through Jesus’ perspective. He said, “In this world you will have all kinds of troubles, but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world!” John 16:33.

We CAN have cheer, no matter what happens, if we quit focusing on what happens and keep our focus on Jesus. Lord, YOU are in control! YOU can do all things! If YOU allow something to happen, YOU know it is best because YOU can change anything. You allowed yourself to be hung on a cross. You KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN and told your closest followers all about it! But, You still allowed it because You knew that even though it was going to be the worst experience in Your life, it was also the most important.

Lord, please help us to see that whatever we are going through or will go through is in Your control. You know about it. And, if we trust You and follow You, You will make it all work together for good, because YOU PROMISED! Romans 8:28.

Lord, I’m sorry You had to suffer and die for me. I’m sorry that I focus on my house, my family, my job, my losses, and what I don’t have instead of focusing on the only thing that is truly important: YOU! The rest is not unimportant, but it is not something we should fret over. Lord, help me to BE OF GOOD CHEER! Help me to focus on You and to totally Trust You. Jesus, I love You. Amen!

Jesus was Anointed with Expensive Perfume - Matthew 26:3-5

A woman came to Jesus and poured expensive perfume over His head. The disciples thought this was a waste, thinking the money should be given to the poor instead. But, Jesus told them she did what was right, telling them she was anointing Him for His burial.

Talk About Not Paying Attention!

God is right here with us through everything! God sees it all, knows it all, and His Holy Spirit lives within us if we give our lives to Him. Yet, we don’t pay attention. Just look at the disciples! They were sitting right there when Jesus said that she was pouring the perfume on Him to anoint Him for burial. Yet, when He was buried a few days later, they couldn’t believe it, like He hadn’t already told them it was going to happen!

I have heard other Christians say that they knew God was preparing them for something, but they didn’t realize it at the time. One odd story is a friend of mine whose daughter told her that she was going to die. Her mom thought nothing of it. But, the daughter had gone through an accident and was spared, but felt her end would be coming soon and felt she needed to prepare her mom. Needless to say, when the roads got icy and the daughter met Jesus personally a little while later, the mom was in utter disbelief. But, she now receives comfort in remembering that her daughter knew this would happen and was fully prepared.

I know of other Christians who have had similar experiences before the losses of their children.

For me, my experience in being prepared for something was the time God healed my knees. I absolutely hate the doctor and avoid any type of surgery with a passion as I have trouble healing without residual pain. But, after years of increasing pain with my knees it got so bad that I was laying on the couch most of the time and could barely walk. I told my husband on that Saturday that he had to force me to call the doctor on Monday. Sunday at church, while I was standing to pray for others since I am a church prayer partner, I had many people come to me to pray for me at both services. That was really odd, and never happened before or since. But, that Sunday, when they said they felt they were almost forced to come to pray for me, I told them all I wanted was to find the right surgeon and knee replacement product so my knee surgery would go well. They prayed this for me. The next morning I woke up without pain. All week I shoveled in the garden to get the pain to return as my mind was ready for surgery, but I kept feeling God was telling me, “You’re going to need this.” The following week my granddaughter came to live with me because my daughter was a heroin addict (although I didn’t know this at the time). My granddaughter and I spent months chasing around after my daughter, picking her up, making sure she was OK while she went from place to place homeless. That year she lost 5 of her close friends to heroin overdoses, 2 who were roommates. If I had the surgery, I would not have been able to drive all over almost daily looking for her, which probably kept her alive. I didn’t know this, but God did. And, God, over the next few years totally changed her life.

My point: God told me, “You’re going to need this.” But, I didn’t even remember it that summer. I was too busy worrying about my daughter. I didn’t sleep much for a year, giving her to God and taking her back to fret over her in prayer. It wasn’t until I totally trusted God to take care of her and told Him that I trusted Him to do what I could not do, to take care of her even if she died, that I slept. I had to be willing for what I thought would be the worst to happen in order to receive God’s peace. God is in control, no matter what we are going through. I understand now how Paul could write much of the New Testament of the Bible from prison that he was content and had all he needed. He trusted God…truly.

LISTEN! You might be surprised that at times God really, really speaks to you!

Don’t Trust in Stuff!

Matthew 26:6-13 has another important message not to miss. The disciples were all upset with Jesus for wasting expensive perfume by allowing it to be poured over His head rather than using it to care for the poor. But, Jesus said that it was important to do this, and the disciples did not understand or agree.

Churches have this dilemma on how to spend money all the time. People don’t like giving to churches because they disagree with how the money is spent. I was head of finance for 6 or 8 years (I have forgotten how long, but it seemed like forever). It was a thankless job. No one liked the finance person. People wanted to do whatever they wanted to do for God, and just trust the money would come in. And, I had the job of telling them what did and did not fit in the budget. And, of course, I doubt anyone ever thought the money was being spent right. Honestly, in the realm of God, it would be great to sell the building, have the pastor work as a volunteer, and spend every penny helping people. But, that’s not real life.

How do you reconcile the fact that Jesus encouraged the “waste” of expensive perfume with our “waste” of spending money on a building? How do you decide where the money should go? Well, I tell you, you pray a whole ton! And, you simply trust that God will provide what you need when you need it while doing your best to be fiscally responsible. People would have all kinds of ideas they wanted funding for. I created a donation category called “Designated Funds” and told the congregation not to take from their weekly donations to give to a pet project because we still needed to heat and light the building, pay the mortgage, and pay the pastor and secretary. If they wanted to support these other things, I asked that they please give a separate donation to the specific fund.

Why do I include all of this here? I include it because most people don’t have a clue how hard it is to pay the weekly bills at a church, and I believe churches are necessary so people have a place to go where they can find other believers and work together on God’s ministry. The New Testament had churches. So, people need to not be afraid to give because they fear their money won’t be used wisely. While there will always be misuse in life, I believe most churches do their best to be fiscally responsible. And, if you think they have way too much money, I challenge them to become Finance Director for a few years! You’d be surprised how much money all of the little things take.

Now that you understand that you can give to a church and they will do their best to do what is right with the money, as the disciples wanted Jesus to do, I am going to state the opposite. When Giving to God, you don’t have to worry about where the money goes. Why? Because God sees your heart. God wants you to give to HIM! When you give, wherever you give for His work, you should pray first, then give as God directs. What if the church you give to has someone steal the funds? Do I have to remind you who God is? Do you think God can’t and won’t provide blessings from your donations no matter what the facility you give to does with it? Who can heal the sick? Who can feed a nation as it wanders the desert? Who can make water appear out of a rock? God knows your heart. God cares about you wanting to give to Him because you love Him. Remember, sacrifices to God used to be burnt up! God can provide abundant blessings out of our giving, even if some crooked person becomes the middle man. Jesus praised the poor woman for giving her last penny to the temple, even though the temple at that time was so corrupt that the priests were taking everything for themselves rather than for God. Jesus praised her because she was giving out of her heart. So, while it is good to try to make sure we are checking out a charity before we give out donations, more importantly, we should give to God and simply know He is pleased with our hearts for giving to what is really important in our lives, God.

How could the disciples even think that pouring perfume on Jesus was the wrong thing to do? They were too focused on worldly things, and didn’t truly have the mind of God.

Judas Puts Money First-Matthew 26:14-17

After Jesus allowed the woman to “waste” the expensive perfume on anointing Jesus, Judas went to the chief priests to get paid 30 pieces of silver to hand over Jesus to them.

Look What Trusting in Money Can Do!

Just imagine! Judas walked with Jesus, saw Him do all kinds of miracles, heard His profound teachings, and yet was so focused on money that when Jesus wasted the expensive perfume (per Judas’ perspective), he was willing to turn Jesus over to those who were going to kill Him. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil! 1Timothy 6:10. Christians are not immune from placing focus on money and using all kinds of excuses for wrongdoing because of greed. We are often blind to what we are doing because we have justified it in our own minds that it makes sense and is right. The best thing we can do is to regularly ask God to reveal to us what we are doing that does not follow what God would have us think or do. We can justify anything we want and make it look good, but that doesn’t make it right. God knows. Judas found out the hard way, leaving Jesus because he was more concerned over selfish desires than God.

Betrayal Warning at The Last Supper – Matthew 26:17-25

While eating their Passover meal, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. All the disciples asked if they were the one, and when Judas asked if it was him, Jesus responded, “You have said so.”

Pay Attention to the Warning Signs

We might not have Jesus talking bodily to us, but James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” There are other Bible verses that tell us God communicates with people. And, Jesus told us we would have the Holy Spirit living inside believers to teach us all things (John 14:26).

The disciples talked with Jesus, yet they didn’t always pay attention. Before Jesus died, He told them one of them would betray Him, that person was Judas, and He would die and rise again. They tuned this message out until after He rose again, then remembered He said it. I have to wonder how they would have taken all they went through when Jesus was being put to death if they had internalized His messages to them when He said them.

We can use this as a warning. Jesus may let us know things we need to know during our lives. By knowing God well by studying the Bible regularly, we will be more in tune when we hear from the Holy Spirit so we can better use His messages to guide us in our lives. God will not do anything that goes against what He says in the Bible, so the more we know it, the more we will understand God’s messages to us.

The Lord’s Supper - Matthew 26:26-30

At the Passover feast, Jesus gave the disciples the bread, telling them that it was His body, and the wine cup saying that it was His blood poured out as a new agreement between God and His people to forgive their sins.

Remember How Much God Loves YOU!

We are to take the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis because God often instituted rituals for His people to do to remember important principles. The Lord’s Supper is to remind us that Jesus paid a high price, His Body and His Blood, because He loves us enough to suffer and die for us so we can have our sins paid for to be able to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Never forget how much God loves you!

Jesus Tells the Disciples They Will Abandon Him – Matthew 26:31-35

Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7, telling His disciples that they would all abandon Him that night. They all denied it, especially Peter, so Jesus told Peter that before that night was through Peter would deny Him 3 times. (See end of chapter for summary on Peter.)

Keeping Watch with Jesus – Matthew 26:36-45

Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray, bringing along His disciples to keep watch, as He knew He would be captured soon. Jesus prayed 3 times that He would not have to endure what He knew was coming, but always ended His prayers by telling God that it should be God’s will that would be done, if that was what was necessary. Each time Jesus prayed, His disciples fell asleep.

Being There for Others is an Important Job – Not Our Will, But God’s

Imagine Jesus telling you to keep watch because He had sorrow to the point of death, after telling you that He was going to be captured and put to death, and then you fall asleep! Luckily, we aren’t charged with having to stay awake to keep watch for those who were going to put Jesus to death! But, since Jesus did tell us that the second most important thing we are to do is to love others, it is our responsibility to be there for others when they have sadness like Jesus had. Many times in life people have great sadness, worrying about a loved one who is injured or ill, suffering the loss of a loved one, etc. In those times, rather than feeling like we are being annoyed by those who are suffering, we need to remember how the disciples failed Jesus, and try to do our best to do better by being there for those who need us, sometimes going without sleep. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of these we are doing as though unto Him. (Matthew 25:40)

The second thing we can learn from this passage is that Jesus didn’t always want what God knew was best either. None of us wants to lose a loved one or suffer in any way. Yet, God promises that if we follow Him, He will use everything, including our suffering, for good. Often suffering is necessary to change hearts or cause what God knows is best to happen. For instance, it is not best if a child dies, but if the parents would fall away from God if the child lived and they would end up in hell for eternity, suffering the loss for 70 years till they meet again in heaven for eternity would be worth it. It is hard for us who only see our 80 years on earth and cannot see heaven to think beyond the years on earth. But in comparison to eternity, these 80 years are like a breath. So, when we pray, we should pray like Jesus: “Lord, if this suffering can end, please end it. But, not my will, but thy will be done.”

Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested – Matthew 26:47-56

Judas led a crowd of armed people sent by the chief priests to capture Jesus, and betrayed Jesus by giving Him a kiss to show the crowd which one was Jesus. One of the disciples cut off the ear of one of the servants who held Jesus, but Jesus told him to put the sword away, saying, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword, and that if God did not want this to happen, He could send angels to stop it.”

Trust in God and His Angels

Jesus said that those who take up swords will die by the sword, and that God could stop anything with His angels if He chose to do so. I reiterate this from the previous paragraph because it seems to me that too many Christians are too ready to fight all the time. Jesus’ original followers allowed themselves to be put to death in order to follow Jesus. God works through the hearts of people. People who are fighting for their own survival will justify to themselves that whatever they are doing is right. I have heard people around the globe hate Americans because they believe they are greedy and selfish with love only for themselves and no concern for others. Honestly, they are probably mostly right. We claim to be Christians, but we don’t try to show the love of Jesus, don’t trust God to make changes, but want to take up the sword on our own all the time.

If you read the Old Testament, God did at times have people take up the sword. But, that was at HIS direction! And, only when people fought under God’s direction did they win. At times, God’s people were extremely outnumbered. But, some of those times His people didn’t even have to fight as God sent angels to fight for them, or caused confusion so that they fought and killed their own armies. You see, if you are doing God’s will, He will prosper it. But, remember, Jesus’ followers were martyred (put to death for Jesus’ teachings), and that caused many of the people to change in their hearts, so much so that Christianity grew to be what it is today. Yet today, Christianity is in decline because we are no longer putting our trust in God, but in men.

But, you might say, we can’t give in to terrorists. I say, let God handle it. If I die, if my loved ones die, as long as we are following God, He will work it for good. We are not to live for this life, but for eternal life. Focus not on what we have that we might lose, but focus on being sure your loved ones know Jesus as their Savior so you will meet them again for eternity in heaven.

Jesus’ Reactions at His Trial – Matthew 26:57-68

The high priests sent false witnesses to testify against Jesus, but even then the highest Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, couldn’t find evidence against Jesus so they could kill Him. Jesus did not respond to their accusations, but only responded saying that He, the Son of Man, would sit on the right Hand of God and come again on the clouds. The high priests were furious, saying Jesus should die, spitting on Him and striking Him, because to them Jesus was blaspheming God (saying He was like God would have been speaking against God if it was done by anyone but Jesus who actually is God).

No Response to False Accusations

I see Christians post things on Facebook often that do not sound very Christian. Remember, when Jesus was accused, He stayed silent, even though the accusations were false. Fighting would not have made His accusers change their minds. But, it could have made Him look less holy and He could have lost dignity. Most battles are not worth fighting, so take a cue from Jesus and remain silent. Jesus only stated the truth when asked who He was. Doing the same, what would our fight be? I could say, “I am no one special in this world. I am simply a child of God, and in so doing, trying to follow Jesus, I choose to do my best to show love to all. I am sorry. I do fail. Please forgive me. But, don’t judge God by my actions. I am not perfect. But, that does not mean that God is not perfect.” If my response brings undue punishment, well, Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.” We are in good company.

Peter Denies Jesus – Matthew 26:69-75

While Peter hung around outside where Jesus was being tried, three different times people came up to Peter stating they were sure he was one of Jesus’ followers. Peter said he did not even know Jesus, the last time even cursing. Just as Jesus said would happen, after the third time the rooster crowed, and Peter realized what Jesus said Peter would do, to deny Jesus 3 times, he did, and he wept bitterly.

Following Jesus, Easier Said Than Done

If you are a Christian who spends most of their time in the company of other Christians, it may be hard to believe that you would ever deny Jesus. But, try spending time in a place where Christians are thought of as primitive and ignorant. Many, if not most, college campuses talk about religion as a crutch used by the ignorant, something weak people fall back on. In a group of college professors, try to claim you follow Jesus. Chances are you will be laughed at. It’s not easy being laughed at. Students are impressed by college professors, figuring they are very wise. Well, professors may know what they are taught, but I have found that they often believe what they are taught whether it makes sense or not. I guess since I have a bachelor of science in engineering degree and remember how we were taught that we could not conclude that A causes B just because A happened before B, and other principles like this, I was often taken aback by professors who made claims of scientific evidence that would not have passed the scrutiny of my college professors if I had presented their “facts” as evidence. Take argon-argon dating, for instance. An article states that this dating method could have an accuracy within 10 percent for something that is 1000 years old. That is an inaccuracy of 100 years in 1000, with a “could have” used as a qualifier. This is not fact. This is belief.

So, now I will get back to the point. Would you have the nerve to confront professors on their beliefs when they confront you on yours, knowing they would likely laugh at you and ridicule you. Even if they did not laugh at you to your face, they would likely do so to one another.

Peter’s life was at stake if he did not deny Jesus. Peter failed and denied Jesus. Our self-esteem is at stake when we have to admit to unbelievers that we believe what they think is stupid. Will you have the nerve to follow God, even if it means persecution by man?

Return to Top

Matthew 27

Judas Hangs Himself– Matthew 27:1-10

Judas realized what he had done, that it was his fault that Jesus was going to be killed, and he killed himself.

It’s Not Too Late!

Bad decisions can lead to worse decisions or repentance. In Judas’ case, he refused to come back to Jesus and ask forgiveness. He knew what he had done was wrong, but he wouldn’t allow himself to be forgiven. And he likely ended his life without God. This does not mean that all who are suicidal end without God. We never know the hearts of others. Just because someone can’t handle the pain does not mean that they have gone against God. But, taking one’s own life shows lack of acceptance of God being in control, of God allowing life to be as it is and accepting God has chosen not to change it.

Look at the life of Joseph. While he did not do wrong, if anyone would have felt hopeless you would think it would have been him. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in a foreign country. Joseph was thrown into jail for years for something he didn’t do. And yet he endured.

Look at Moses. Moses did do wrong, very wrong. Moses killed 2 guards. While the guards were doing wrong, Moses did the ultimate wrong, taking their lives, leaving them no option for repentance. This is more like what Judas did. Moses took 40 years before God used him, but God used Moses mightily for one of the biggest jobs of any man in the Bible.

Look at Paul of the New Testament. Paul had to have his name changed from Saul because Saul was not a good guy at all! Saul was having Christians put to death! Then, God blinded Saul and taught him that Jesus was real, was really the Savior, brought back Saul’s sight, and changed his name to Paul. Paul went from Christian murderer to Christian leader. God can mightily use people who are willing to repent, to truly turn from sin, from disobedience to God to following God.

Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has plans for all who choose to follow Him. Life is not hopeless. Ask God to forgive you and to show you His plan for your life.

Jesus, King of the Jews, On Trial – Matthew 27:11-26

The governor questioned Jesus, asking Him if He was the king of the Jews, to which Jesus responded, “You have said so.” This is the only question Jesus answered throughout His trial. The governor had a custom of releasing one prisoner, chosen by the crowd, at festival time. Trying to get Jesus released as he found no fault with Him, the governor chose a well-known prisoner, Jesus Barabbas, to come alongside Jesus to have one of them released, figuring the people would choose Jesus to be released over a well-known criminal. But the chief priests persuaded the crowd to have the people yell for the release of Barabbas. Pilate then ceremonially washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying he was innocent of Jesus’ blood, telling them it was their responsibility, and the people agreed. Thus, Jesus was sent to be crucified.

Nothing Much Has Changed Today-Beware of Following the Crowd

Remember, it was the religious leaders who persuaded the people to have Jesus crucified. We need to be very cautious about following anyone. In fact, we should try to follow ONLY GOD, ONLY THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE, and not any other human today, as we all have a bent to pick and choose which causes we think are most important. When comparing any cause against the Bible, they are never black and white. I believe this is why Jesus refused to answer when put on trial. He knew anything He said would be twisted by one side or the other to have a meaning that He did not mean. Instead, Jesus let His life stand for itself, knowing the result was going to be His death.

Today people rarely are able to see the long term. They see the short term and often post all kinds of nasty things on places like facebook. Don’t hop onto the bandwagon when someone posts something that excites your emotions. Remember Jesus kept quiet, sticking to God, rather than following public opinion for a quick fix. He knew the seemingly large things were not important compared to eternity. The people of Jesus’ day expected Him to change the world through politics, through taking over as worldly king. He ignored the government entirely. Jesus stood for God. Jesus knows it is the heart of the individuals that count, not who is in governmental control. Jesus knew His followers would be put to death, but that wasn’t important either. Jesus knew He was going to overcome even death. Jesus tells us to live for eternity, for love, for changing people’s hearts through showing His love. This is what He told us was truly important (Matthew 22:36-40). Love God. Love Others. Let the rest go.

Jesus is Crucified – Matthew 27:27-49

The soldiers took Jesus, made a mock king out of Him with a crown of thorns, and beat Him. Then, they led Jesus to be crucified, hung on a cross alongside two rebels (or robbers, depending on use of the word). The people shouted at Him to save Himself if He was really God’s Son.

God’s Ways are Not Our Ways

It is important to remember how many times Jesus told His followers that He was going to be crucified, that he was going to be beaten and die and rise again. Those who saw Jesus hanging on the cross left Him because He seemingly could not save Himself. But, when we read about all of the times He told His disciples that this had to happen for us to be saved, we can see that they weren’t making excuses up for something Jesus could not handle, but Jesus was actually doing exactly what He said would happen!

Jesus didn’t want to do this! Jesus asked God to not have Him have to suffer this way unless it was necessary. But, Jesus said He was willing if it was the way…and He knew it was. He had talked about it for years. Still, it is hard to be ready for intense pain. It is like losing a loved one to cancer. Knowing it is going to happen does not make you happy they are going when they are dying. You may be glad that they are in a better place if they knew Jesus as their Savior, as the one who paid for their sins, glad that you will see them again soon (relatively) in heaven. But, you are likely praying for healing right up till the end. And, while we miss our loved ones who die, Jesus’ death made it all worthwhile. Only through Jesus’ death as payment for our sins do we get our ticket to heaven for eternity. Thank You, Jesus! This was real! He didn’t want to suffer this way, but He was willing to do it for you!

Miracles at Jesus’ Death – Matthew 27:50-54

When Jesus died, things happened that never happened before or since. The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and rocks were split. Tombs opened up and the bodies of dead saints were raised, seen coming out of their tombs and appearing to many. Even a centurion (Roman guard) said that Jesus was truly the Son of God when he saw what was happening.

Not Just Any Man

It is common to hear that Christians are not fair, that all religions are the same and that we should treat all religions equally. But, they are not! No other religion had a Savior who had miracles happen when he died. The veil of the temple was torn in two indicating that the veil that had prevented common man from seeing God was now gone. Before the veil was torn, only the high priest was allowed into the holy of holies. But after Jesus died, we no longer need a high priest to present our sacrifices to God. Jesus was the final sacrifice that was necessary. We now come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, and Jesus intervenes on our behalf with God.

At no other time were dead saints seen rising from their tombs and entering the city. Their release was triggered by Jesus’ payment for their sins. Jesus said that no man comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6) Only Jesus...

Jesus is Buried and Guarded-Matthew 27:55-66

In the evening after Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate, the governor, asking for Jesus’ body for burial. Joseph wrapped Jesus in a clean linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb he had made for himself, and rolled a great stone in front of the door. The next day, the chief priests and religious leaders went to Pilate to ask for a guard for the tomb, remembering Jesus said He was going to rise in 3 days. Pilate granted them the guard.

Was Jesus Still There?

I always wonder when I read this part why they didn’t check to see if Jesus was still in the tomb when they got there with the guards, since it appears the tomb was left alone overnight. In life and in the Bible, there are some things that are simply not made clear to us. This is one of them. I’ll have to ask Jesus when I see Him! Till then, we just don’t know. But, I am satisfied with the parts of the story I do know. The rest can remain unknown. And, as Jesus said, some day who He really is it will be clear to all. (John 13:7)

Return to Top

Matthew 28

Jesus is Risen!– Matthew 28:1-15

After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb. A violent earthquake shook the earth and the stone rolled away from the tomb, and an angel came and sat on the stone, telling the women to not be afraid, but to look at where He had been. The angel told the Mary’s to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen and went to Galilee to meet with them. On their way to tell the disciples, they met Jesus, and worshiped Him. The guards told the chief priests what happened, but the chief priests gave the guards money for them to lie and say someone stole Jesus’ body while they were asleep.

Does This Message Make Sense?

There are many doubters of the Bible in the world. It is good to look at Bible passages critically, thinking of what is said through the eyes of the unbelievers, so we can be ready to answer their skepticism. What do you think really happened? Is it possible someone stole Jesus’ body? What about what the women saw?

First, let’s look at the claim that the guards were sleeping and someone stole Jesus’ body. Guards in Jesus’ day were not treated well. If one of them had been sleeping at his post, it is unlikely he would have lived to tell others that. But here, it appears the guards were alive and telling that they slept while Jesus’ body was stolen. This makes me think that the guards were truly bribed as the Bible states, because if they were telling the truth that they had been asleep, they likely would not have been alive to tell that story.

Second, the Bible writers said women were the messengers. Women were not typically given important roles like this in the Bible. It would not be likely that the writers would have said women did anything unless they actually did it. If they were going to make up a story, they would have probably said that men saw the angel at the tomb. I believe this is true and not made up because I don’t think they would have used women in the story unless there were actually women in the story.

Jesus Directs His Followers on What to Do – Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus met His 11 disciples on the mountain at Galilee, where most worshiped Him, but some did not believe it was really Jesus. Jesus told them to go and make disciples (followers) of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything He taught them, saying He would be with the till the end of time.

What We are to do Till the End of Time

First, not everyone will believe or accept the message of Jesus. Some of His disciples doubted He was real. We have to accept this, but not let it stop us from completing the mission God assigns t us.

Second, since Jesus said His message would be with people till the end of time, this direction is for us, too. What are we to do?

  1. Make disciples of Jesus, teaching them what Jesus said and how to apply it to their lives.
  2. We are to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus was baptized. Baptism happened as an adult as a sign of your belief.
  3. We are to teach others to obey everything Jesus taught. This is different than number 1 because the first was teaching Jesus’ message. This one is obedience. Knowing and doing are not the same.

Return to Top

More Stories

Find a story to help your life, or learn more about God by clicking on our Navigation bar above. Here are a few examples:

Death Wish Skull and Crossbones

Death Wish: Finding the Will to Live

Life can be very hard. How can you desire to go on when it looks like hard times will never end? Emily found a way through finding God's purpose for her life. You can too. Story...

Overwhelmed Enough to Roar Tiger Picture

Overwhelmed: Overcoming Feeling Overwhelmed

At times in life, everything seems to go wrong. Anger can take over. Depression can set in. This story tells what God would have you do to regain joy when overwhelmed. Story...

An Emptiness Within Cover with Staring Eyes

An Emptiness Within: Filling Up That Empty Feeling

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you feel empty, like something is missing. Dave shows us how to fill that Emptiness Within. Story...

Copyright © GPB – All Rights Reserved.