Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tuesday - Matthew 20 - The Price of Generosity

ATTHEW 20:1-16 present a program that may be hard for some of us to swallow. Jesus offered (as an explanation of the kingdom) a parable about some laborers in a vineyard. Perhaps Jesus had many things to teach with this parable, but the outstanding point is the amazing generosity of the householder. The boss in this story must represent God. In the kingdom of heaven there is a kind of generosity that is very special indeed. To illustrate this point, the laborers (in this parable) who joined the workforce last received an equal reward with those who labored the longest.

It should be easy for us to see a parallel with this in the nature of the gospel. Some folk are saved as children, others in old age. There are some who receive Christ and serve Him for many years. Then, others receive Him just before they die.  Yet, all who come to Christ at His invitation are made children of the kingdom. A macroeconomic interpretation is even more appropriate though. The Jews had been called first to labor in God's fields. They were, after all, the original recipients of the Law. Yet, the Gentiles were getting in on the good grace of God. The Jews should have rejoiced in this, but instead they were bitter (Matthew 20:11). Such is the depravity of the human heart. Rather than rejoice in our brothers' blessings, we wickedly envy them and begrudge them their prize.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monday - Matthew 19 - Simple Formulae

HRISTIANITY is not about formulae. Christians are believers who through fellowship with Christ have a testimony that is strong enough for others to say that there is a Christlikeness in them. Christianity is a trusting relationship with a person: Christ. However, there are times when the nature of our friendship with God can be presented usefully in terms that are almost mathematical. Matthew 19 does just this very thing concerning two very important topics. And the formulae are not complex.

The first formula presented here addresses the issue of marriage. Marriage may be very complex in action, but it couldn't be simpler in definition. Jesus laid out God's definition of marriage rather plainly in Matthew 19:4-12. Marriage involves a male and a female. Marriage is the most basic building block of human society, and the only acceptable formula is: MARRIAGE = one man + one woman joined physically and exclusively until death, with no deviation.

The other formula in this chapter is even bigger. What could be bigger than the most fundamental institution on earth, you ask? Well, try finding the formula for how to get to heaven; how to obtain eternal life. Eternal life is only available to those who are perfect. Only perfect people get to go to heaven (Matthew 19:17). The formula looks like this: repentance concerning whatever stands in the way plus choosing to follow Christ exclusively in faith = SALVATION. Isn't that simple (2 Corinthians 11:3)? 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday - Matthew 18 - The Greatness of Humility

HE disciples asked two questions of Christ, which Matthew recorded for us in this chapter (Matthew 18:1& 21). In both cases Jesus attempted to guide them toward humility.

First off, when the disciples asked about who would be great in the kingdom, Jesus introduced them to a little child. "Be like this kid!" was His answer. And, He wasn't being smart-alecky.  He sincerely desired to see them humble themselves.  He knew that humility was exactly what they needed.  He knew how the Father resists pride and accepts humility (James 4:6).

Then Peter asked Christ just how humble we must be. Of course, a spiritual limbo dance of "how-low-can­you-go?" is counter-productive. A man who attains genuine humility & exudes godly forgiveness will not be concerned with how many times he has forgiven others. So, Jesus presented a parable in which there was a servant who had been forgiven a great debt, yet he was unwilling to forgive one of his fellow servants a small debt. The point is that since we have been forgiven of so very much, we should tend toward mercy in every direction. To do otherwise is to be controlled by and to act with evil pride.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday - Matthew 17 - Transfiguration, Trouble & Taxes

T the close of chapter 16, we read where Jesus assured His disciples that some of them would see Him "coming in His kingdom" before they tasted death. Just 6 days later Peter, James & John had the privilege of seeing Christ in His glory as He communed with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is reasonable to conclude that this vision was the event of which Christ had spoken when He talked of the disciples seeing Him coming as King. However, even though they saw Elijah in person in their vision, when Jesus spoke of Elijah and how he had arrived previously, these same disciples recognized that He was referring to John the Baptist (vs. 13).

Now, the privileges that Jesus gave to His disciples were certainly not given to them due to any perfection that was in them. Matthew 17:16 indicates that the disciples did indeed have problems with a lack of faith. And yet, they had been chosen by Christ. They were chosen to be leaders in the future.  They were chosen to be the recipients of the priviest of all information. Christ shared with them the very story of His own death and resurrection before it even happened (vs. 22-23).

Although Jesus was doing important things like casting out demons and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, Matthew 17:27 indicates that He took the time to do “secular” things too, like pay taxes. Perhaps His actions were simply (in part) a product of His compassion for Peter, since he had proclaimed a certain thing concerning Christ and the paying of taxes (vs. 24-25). But if it was for no other reason, this mundane earthly obligation mattered for the sake of obedience to the law and for the testimony of Christ.