Whose image? Ceasar's or God's? Jesus argued since coins were made in Ceasar's image, they should be given back to him. I believe he was clearly calling all of us, who are made in His image, to give our lives back to Him!
Am I giving my life back to God? Do I reflect Him well to others?
Nothing seems to make Jesus more angry than religious hypocrites! You know the type. People with a lot of knowledge about God or the bible, but very little "life" as a result of it. They are the ones who always have a way of making everyone around them feel bad.
In this chapter Jesus' disciples "went and did just as He directed them." Their lives were marked by obedience and faith. On the other hand, the hypocrites were "indignant" with Jesus and irritated at the excitement of children who were so happy to actually see God's miraculous power. Unable to enter into the excitement, they choose rather to remain in their pious reality. They changed no one for the good, yet sat in judgement of God Himself.
Unfortunately I can identify with both the disciples AND the hypocrites. I too have found myself irritated at times with others who are excited about Jesus. I too have seen my knowledge of God blind my affections for Him. My prayer for me, and all of us, is that we would renew our faith like an early disciple.
Understanding God's forgiveness gives us the resource we need to forgive others. Nothing compares to God's gift of forgiveness! Whenever I talk to someone who is struggling to forgive others, I always refer them to this passage.
Peter was asking a legitimate question about forgiving someone who had hurt him. Basically he said, when can I actually be justified in NOT forgiving? Jesus' answer, "Whenever you don't want to be forgiven by God." God's forgiveness is not conditioned on our forgiveness, but when we are unforgiving it demonstrates how little we know about how much we have been forgiven.
Talk less, listen more. Jesus gave his disciples an opportunity to witness something supernatural on this earth. They saw and experienced His transfiguration and a conversation He was having with Moses and Elijah!
What was Peter's response? First, he thought of himself. "Lord it is good for us to be here." And why was that? Did they add anything to want was going on? God is actually walking and speaking with Moses and Elijah in their presence and Peter actually thought they were adding to the experience? I think not.
Secondly Peter wanted to "do" something. "We can build some alters." At that point he was interrupted by God Himself! The voice said, "This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. LISTEN to Him!" It was a direct rebuke from God. It was Peter's second rebuke in two chapters.
What was the problem? It was that Peter, and I assume the others, actually thought they were adding to the experience and that their response should be to "do" something. I am the same way. I think Jesus would prefer me to experience His presence, enjoy His presence, be quiet and listen to HIm.
Would you describe yourself as an "offense" to God? I love the apostle Peter! He goes from making a powerful declaration of faith right into a statement that gets him the ultimate rebuke. Jesus said to him, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me."
He became an "offense" to God! Other translations use the word "stumbling block". Jesus qualifies what He means with this statement, "because you are not thinking about God's concerns, but man's". If what it takes to be an offense to Jesus is to be thinking about my own concerns rather than His...I am offensive often.
I have never thought about this passage like this before. Jesus asks the most important question concerning His identity to the disciples. In response Peter makes a bold declaration of faith, for which he was commended. His next move...to actually try to get Jesus to do His will rather than submitting himself to God's will.
I not only have done that, I have made it a habit!! Jesus follows Peter's rebuke with this statement, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." This is what I need.
Have you ever offended someone in a GOOD way? I love what the disciples said to Jesus, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard your statement?" Unfortunately I have offended many people, but rarely for the good. Generally when someone is offended by me it is because I said or did something in a sinful way.
Not Jesus. He never said or did anything sinful. Yet His words and actions were often offensive. Why? Because people had their own agenda for God, and Jesus simply did not fit their mold. They assumed they knew what God wanted and they did not. They made up rules that made them feel good about themselves, but continued to distance them from God. When God Himself actually lived among them and spoke with them, the were not only offended, they would ultimately nail Him to a cross!
Today is a day to examine my heart. Are there those who are offended by me? Are they offended for good or are they offended because I am offensive? I pray there are some who are actually offended in a good way.
People pleasers are those whose actions are motivated by what others will think, not what is right or wrong! In this chapter we have one of the worst examples of someone doing the wrong thing because of what others would think.
vs. 9 - "Although the king regretted it, he commanded that it (John the baptist being beheaded) be granted BECAUSE OF HIS OATHS AND HIS GUEST." !!!!!! John lost his life because king Herod was afraid of what his dinner guests would think. He actually killed someone to please a girl, her mother and some dinner guest! Not just anyone... John the Baptist.
Unfortunately, I have to admit to the same kind of struggle. I often do what I do because of what others will think and not simple to please God. This is an awful example of what can happen in extreme cases. I don't want to be like that.
Let's live today to please God. That will require that our actions, words and attitudes will often displease those around us.
Will you go to heaven when you die? Most would say "yes", but I think the reality will be "no" for far too many. Don't miss the intention that Jesus had in teaching the parables of the kingdom of God in this chapter.
Jesus begins with the parable of the soils. In His explanation He said there are 4 types of soil. There is the soil on the path, soil in rocky places, soil among thorns and good soil. Jesus is clearly talking about the "soil" of our hearts; our response to the gospel!
Notice three of the four soils don't get it! In Mark (4:13), Jesus said understanding this parable is key to understanding all of the parables. Only one soil is considered "good soil". What makes it good? Bottom line is that it bears fruit. In the other three examples no fruit is produced.
Soil #1 = seed is snatched before it ever is understood.
Soil #2 = as soon as difficulty comes, they fall away
Soil #3 = mixed with worries of this world and other desires
Soil #4 = fruitfulness
Are you good soil? Notice the qualities. First, they hear the word. Second, they understand it. Third, they DO what God says. This produces the fruit of faith. The evidence of true salvation.
My prayer is that God will bear fruit in all of our lives and that we will demonstrate that we are "good soil". Be encouraged today.
The unpardonable sin! Did you know there is a sin that Jesus said will never be forgiven? He said, "I tell you, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven...whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the one to come."
In this context Jesus is dealing with a group of "religious leaders" who are plotting to destroy him! In fact, they never asked a question to learn, they simply asked questions so they could accuse Him! Why? Because their hearts were hardened by foolish beliefs. They actually believed that they could "earn" their way to heaven by keeping the law of Moses. They were experts in keeping the letter of the law (or at least their interpretation of it).
Jesus, on the other hand, was about restoring us to a relationship with God. Just like in chapter 9, Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice". Jesus was all about living his live obediently to God and demonstrating God's love and character by pouring out His love and mercy on everyone in need. He called people to a renewed relationship with God, not a religious activity that was absent of relationship.
It was in this context that the religious leaders continued to commit the "unpardonable sin"; blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. What were they doing? They were rejecting God! Not only were they rejecting Him, they were accusing Him of being a son of Satan. The poster of their heart was to reject Jesus. Jesus said earlier, "anyone who is not with Me is against Me". Since Jesus is the only way to God, anyone who rejects Jesus commits the "unpardonable sin".
Feeling weary or burdened today? Jesus is sending out an invitation to you specifically today. He invites you into His "rest".
I find the ending of this chapter one the most encouraging things that Jesus invites us to join him in. Clearly He is not inviting us into retirement, nor is he saying, "let's take a vacation together". Look carefully at what He is saying. COME TO ME.
The things that weary me are generally all of the things that I am seeking to do apart from Jesus. His desire is for us to "yoke up" (walk) with Him. It is in walking with Jesus that we find encouragement, energy and purpose. His desire is not to "burden" us, but rather to invite us to live our lives for His purposes.
What are you afraid of? Jesus said, "Don't fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (v.25) He went on to say, "Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it." (v.39)
I have discovered that people fear almost anything; bugs, reptiles, people, flying, water, fire, public speaking, etc. What is crazy to me is that rarely do I find a person who actually fears the only One who Jesus said we should fear! If you were to ask the people around your life what they fear, how many of them would answer "God"? Try it. Usually people see God as an impotent, benevolent, kind being who just pours out His love on everyone regardless of their response to Him and His word.
Do you think this is what Jesus would have us believe about God? He said, "fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." He went on to appeal to His followers to be true disciples. Discipleship involves true confession, devoted love and "losing our life" for Jesus.
More MERCY! Not more sacrifice. Sometimes I feel that God would have me "do" more things to please him. Following Him is often not the desire of my heart, but rather the dutiful choice that I know I should make.
Jesus desires the "doing" to flow from my heart. His heart beats for mercy and grace, which produces joy in the "doing". I am convicted that I need to pray that God would give me more of His desire for me....Mercy.
It is also interesting that Jesus says that the "harvest is plentiful". His prayer request was that God would send laborers into that harvest. I am convinced those laborers are to be working from the overflow of their hearts, not from the obligation to be harvesters!
"Go learn what this means: I desire mercy not sacrifice"...Jesus
The disciples were blown away with the super-natural power of Jesus! They asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!"
In this chapter, Jesus begins His ministry with an awesome display of power. Healing diseases, casting out demons, calming storms and, killing a whole herd of pigs!
What was the response? The disciples were fearful and still had little faith. Some followed Him looking for more miraculous signs to happen. But in my mind the most confusing response were those who "begged Him to leave their region."
I wonder which category I would have been in? Little faith disciple? Curious on-looker? Or begging Jesus to leave my town? I pray I would have at least been a scared, little faith disciple.
Q:Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? A:"the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."...Jesus
I think it is crazy that we often overlook these clear sayings of Jesus. He is challenging us to enter by the narrow gate and to choose the difficult path. He says that it is not mere words, "Lord, Lord" but rather obedience that sets apart true faith.
I am also intrigued by what Jesus said about bad fathers! He said, "evil dads want to give good gifts to their children, how much more will your heavenly Father give to you if you ask." In Luke 11, we see that Jesus was specifically talking about the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to give us the one thing in life that secures our eternity...the gift of eternal life through His holy Spirit. Let's ask for that!!!
It is the Spirit that enables us to live a life of obedience. Live strong today.
No wonder everyone thought Jesus was a crazy man! Reading His first sermon, not having any previous or future reality to go on, would have caused me to think the same way.
I would have been wondering....does Jesus not have "dictionary.com". Where in the world is he getting this stuff. Does he not understand what the word BLESSED means? Who associates blessing with poor in spirit, mourning, gentleness, hunger, mercy, purity, kindness and persecution?! This is craziness.
And that was just the beginning! How can people be salt and light? How could anyone ever be "more righteous" than the most righteous of society? According to Jesus aren't we all guilty of murder, adultery, divorce and dishonesty? Who would do twice as much as what is required? And to top it off......LOVE YOUR ENEMIES!!!!
And all this in one chapter! Craziness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or, is it actually the most brilliant introduction to the most powerful sermon ever preached? Life giving words. Lessons to live by. Freeing principles that actually will lead us to experiencing the richest blessings of God Himself.
The Biblical "man vs. wild" was John the baptist! His message was bold and confident and people were flocking to be baptized by him. As they were being baptized they were "confessing their sins".
Since John's message was "repent", then certainly repentance is evidenced through honest confession of sin. The Pharisees on the other hand, were rebuked when they came to be baptized! Why? I believe it was because they wanted to go through yet another religious activity without the true heart behind it.
I don't want to be like the Pharisees. Do you? I want my life to be mark with true repentance, confession and obedience.
I love it that John is preparing others to welcome Jesus. He was prophesying about a day in which we live. A day in when the Holy Spirit living in us who repent and believe. A day when the Holy Spirit is helping us to live a true christian life.
Falling to their knees, they worshiped Him! Then they opened their treasures and presented them to Him. The "wise men" of this chapter got it right. The appropriate response to seeing Jesus is to worship him and to give him what you treasure.
Two questions that emerge in this text for me if I want to be a "wise man".
1. Am I worshiping Jesus?
2. Do I offer what I treasure as a gift to Jesus?
On the other hand, there was Herod. He was threatened by Jesus and rather than doing what he said, ("I too can go and worship Him"), he wanted Him dead!
That is always the response to Jesus. Either true worship or total rejection. There is no middle ground.
Crazy grace is evident from the very beginning of Matthew. All of the women listed have very "colorful" back stories...yet God used them to bring about Jesus! We all have a story. God wants to dump grace on "your story" and make it His. That is why we like to refer to "your God story". We all are in need of God's changing grace....Period.