Breaking The Sabbath
After having a little snack as they walked through the wheat fields on the Sabbath that seemed to fire up a group of Pharisees, Jesus takes his disciples to the Synagogue. There they encounter a man with a shriveled hand. These Pharisees, after not faring so well in their last encounter decide to take Jesus on again about the importance of the Sabbath command.
To the Pharisees, the Sabbath was extremely important. God had commanded that it be kept and that no work should be done. And they were trying to be obedient. Yet often times situations would arise when there were two commands and you weren’t able to keep both. The rabbis would debate when these situations would arise, and determine in their understanding which of the commandments were the greatest. We see Jesus participating in these discussions throughout the Gospels. Continue reading
John the Baptizer, though in Herod’s prison, has closely followed the ministry of Jesus. He heard from his disciples that Jesus had picked up his sermon on the Kingdom of Heaven and that everywhere he went huge crowds gathered to hear him. He also heard of the many signs, that the paralyzed were healed and able to walk, the blind were given their sight, the lepers were cleansed, and the deaf had their hearing restored. He even heard stories of Jesus raising the dead. All of this news was terribly exciting for John, but he had a question for Jesus. A question that John had to have answered.
So John sends his disciples out to find Jesus and ask the question. When they track Jesus down in a village they find him preaching to a crowds. Jesus sees them and pauses to address them, giving them the perfect opportunity to ask John’s question. “Are the you one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?”
Pretty straight-forward. Pretty bold. John is in prison and he wants to know if Jesus is the Messiah or if he was wrong about him. Except that’s not what John is asking. John is sending Jesus a message in code, and Jesus gets it. Continue reading
Sending Out The Twelve
In Matthew 10 Jesus sent out the twelve disciples with some pretty straight forward instructions. Don’t go to the Gentile town or into Samaria, but go to the Hebrews, the lost sheep of Israel. And as you go, preach “The Kingdom of Heaven is near”. And while your at it, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin disease and restore them to community, and expel any demons you encounter.
For us this sounds a bit far fetched, and I’m sure they thought “You want us to do what? Sure, we’ve seen you do all these things, but us?” But the twelve also knew that the goal of a disciple was to be like their Rabbi. And their Rabbi had hand picked them, believing that they could become like him.
As they prepared to leave, Jesus gave them a few more instructions. Don’t take any money or a pack of supplies and clothing. You will be supplied what you need on the journey. He told them that when they arrived in a village, they were to look for someone trustworthy and to stay with them for their entire visit in that town. But, He told them not everyone would welcome them. His instructions were that if the people of the house or village will not welcome you, shake the dust from your feet. If they don’t welcome you it will be better on the Day of Judgement for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Continue reading
There are some passages that just make me scratch my head or throw my hands up in the air. They just don’t fit, at least in my understanding and expectations.
Matthew 9:2 is one of those verses. We tend to skip by it and focus on how upset the Torah teachers were that Jesus was proclaiming that sins had been forgiven, something only God himself could do.
But there it is in verse 2:
“Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.'”
This paralyzed man apparently hadn’t believed in his heart and confessed with his mouth that Jesus was Lord. It doesn’t even say that he had faith at all. Yet, Jesus sees the faith of his friends or family, those who brought him that evening. Than Jesus proclaims that his sins are forgiven, and then goes on to heal him and send him home. Continue reading
Cleansing a Leper
It had been a crazy, chaotic day and everyone was exhausted. On the way back to Capernaum a man had approached Jesus and his disciples, a man who had been removed from his community due to his skin disease. “Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean” he said. Clean would allow order back into his world, would allow him to rejoin his community. Jesus was willing indeed. He reached out and touched him and order was restored to the chaos.
A Roman’s Officer’s Faith
As they entered Capernaum they were greeted by a Roman officer with another request. His orderly was suffering, lying paralyzed at his home. Jesus offers to go and heal him. But the officer understands authority, and doesn’t want Jesus to become unclean by entering into his home. So he asks Jesus to just give the order, knowing he will be healed. And Jesus was amazed. “Go; let it be for you as you have trusted” Jesus said. And it was. Order restored to the chaos. Continue reading
Jesus said a lot of good stuff. A lot of things that have been repeated over the years. Things like the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule. And a lot of these things come from a section in the Gospels we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
In this sermon Jesus talks a lot about the Torah (Law), how to follow it, and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Summarizing the Torah
Jesus liked to take short phrases, stories and parables and use those to summarize the themes of Torah and the Prophets. Things like explaining what the greatest command was:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)
We’ll look at this more when we come to Matthew 22, but that is a pretty simple summary of the Law and the Prophets. Continue reading
How Do You Pray?
It’s perhaps the most popular, most widely known, and most repeated prayer ever prayed. Its words have been uttered countless times in various languages over the centuries. And despite the fact that it is primarily prayed by Gentile Christians, it is a very Jewish prayer.
After Jesus’ teaching about the Torah in Matthew 5, he continues the sermon on the mount by talking about acts of righteousness (tzedakah). He tells them to do them in secret, just as they are to pray in secret, not with many words before men. And he goes on to not only tell them, but to show them. Continue reading