"Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."'" (4:4)
The first gospel of Christ Jesus begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus: "Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ ( 1 : 17 ).
"Born of a virgin, and named JesusÖ." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet Isaiah: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, "God is with us." ( 1 : 22 ).
The magi came bearing gifts asking " Where is the one born king of the Jews. We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" ( 2 : 1 - 2 ). They went to see the child, and afterwards, warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they went home by a different route. Warned in a dream, Joseph took the child and did not return until the death of Herod. When he returned he went to live in a town called Nazareth." So it was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: He will be called a Nazarene. ( 2 : 23 )
In those days John the Baptist came preachingÖ.." A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." ( 3 : 3 ). Jesus came for baptism. As soon as he was baptized, a voice from heaven said, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." ( 3 : 17)
Jesus is then tempted by Satan, to whom Jesus replied "It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test." ( 4 : 7 ). Jesus began calling the disciples, to preach, and to heal the sick.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your father in heaven."
" Chapters 5 - 7, commonly called Christís Sermon on the mount, contain a revelation of Godís principles of righteousness by which all Christianís are to live through faith in the Son of God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
But Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in
the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2 : 20
This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit. All who belong to the kingdom of God are to have an intense hunger and thirst for the righteousness in Christís service.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
They will be filled. Matthew 5 : 8
This is one of the most important verses in the Sermon on the Mount. The foundational requirement for all godly living is to " hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Those who follow Christ are urged to seek above all else Godís kingdom and his righteousness. The verb "seek" implies being continually absorbed in a search for something, or making a strenuous and diligent effort to obtain something. His kingdomÖ.we must seek earnestly to have the rule and power of God demonstrated in our lives and assemblies."
"I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Following Jesus's mountainside teaching, large crowds continued to follow him. They watched him heal a Jewish man with leprosy and later, in Capernaum, respond to a gentile (non-Jewish) centurion asking Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant. Jesus was astonished at how the centurion applied his grasp of military authority to Jesus' authority to heal. Most Jews didn't understand it that well. Jesus healed people all day, fulfilling one proof of the Messiah at Isaiah 53:4. That evening Jesus got away from the crowds by crossing the Sea of Galilee. Some people agreed to follow, others wanted to do other things first. In the boat, Jesus went to sleep but was awakened by his panicing disciples. A sudden violent storm scared the disciples into thinking they would all drown. In the calm following Jesus telling the winds and waves to stop, the disciples were amazed and wondered why Jesus related their fear with their faith.
Eye witness reports continue. Meeting the group across the lake, demons shouted at Jesus - calling him the Son of God - from within two possessed men. Jesus sent the spirits into a herd of pigs. Jews weren't allowed to eat pig meat, and local townsmen asked Jesus to leave. So he returned back across the lake to his own town, Capernaum, where he continued healing people and answering teachers of the Law of Moses. "Which is easier to say - 'Your sins are forgiven' - or to say - 'Get up and walk'?" Jesus challenged the teachers to see that God had given him the authority to heal.
When publicly eating with friends of his new disciple, Matthew the tax collector and later author of this book, Jesus referred his critics to Hosea 6:6, choosing mercy with acknowledging God over seeking forgiveness for sins. Healing is God's certifying approval of Jesus' work assignment. John's disciples asked why they were to fast, but Jesus' disciples didn't fast. Jesus said when it became appropriate, they would fast.
People kept coming to Jesus for healing, even of the recently dead. On the way to the house of a ruler who wanted Jesus to bring his daughter back to life, the crowd around Jesus didn't keep him from noticing a sick woman who secretly touched his cloak for healing. Jesus used healing to explain the potential of faith in God and to recruit workers. After showing them how, Jesus gave his disciples specific orders, training them how to teach and heal Jews in the cities of Israel.
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (10:39)
Jesus sends his disciples out. He does not want them to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans, but go the lost sheep of Israel. In his instructions to them, he tells them various things concerning the Kingdom. They can tell others these things. He tells them not to be afraid of people who will persecute them. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul ( 10 : 28 ). He also tells them " He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. ( 10 : 40 )
John sends some people to ask him if he is the Christ. Christ tells his followers of the absolute importance of John the Baptist. He then issues a statement that for all the people who come to him will receive rest, for "my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ( 11 : 30 )
The Pharisees went out and plotted how they could kill Jesus. Jesus is then accused of "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons." ( 12 : 24 ). Jesus refutes this by talking about a house divided against itself cannot stand.
"Therefore, every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." (13:52)
Jesus tells his believers the story of the Parable of the Sower. When the disciple ask Jesus why he only speaks to the people in parables, He goes on to explain that the ability to understand has been given to them and not to the others. He then goes on to tell them of the mustard seeds and the yeast, explains the parables of the weeds, the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, the parables of the net, and also a prophet without honor.
Next comes news of how the life of John the Baptist ended. This must have made the Lordís life much harder. All that is really said, is that they went and told Jesus. ( 14 : 3 )
Jesus then feeds the five thousand. That night on his way across the lake, the disciples see Christ walking on the water. Peter asks to walk on the water, but his doubt stops him from learning how. "You of little faith," Jesus said, "why did you doubt?"
Jesus is now attacked by the Pharisees - why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? Jesus talks about the way they do things, "Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites." ( 15 : 6 - 7 ) He then explains to the disciples what is meant by this teaching.
"You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." (16:3b-4a)
A Canaanite woman comes to Jesus requesting healing. Impressed by her great faith, Christ heals her. Next is the great miracle of the feeding of the four thousand. Having been with Christ for 3 days and having nothing to eat, Christ wants them to eat. Taking what is available Christ feeds the four thousand and then sends them away.
The Pharisees and Sadducees want a sign. Christ turns them down flat and warns his disciples to be on guard against the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Peter then tells Christ of his belief that Jesus " is the Christ, the Son of the living God." Upon this foundational belief Christ promises to build his church, "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (16 : 18) Jesus then predicts his death.
Next, Christ is transfigured before the disciples. This made a remarkable impression on them. He explains that they should not tell anyone what they have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. (17: 9).
The disciples ask him about who shall be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." ( 18 : 3 - 5)
PROMISE: "Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew continues recording Jesus' practical teachings. There are three steps for disciples to deal with each other when one sins against the other. There is a relation between what disciples bind or loose on earth with what's bound or loosed in heaven. The power of even 2 or 3 disciples coming together in Jesus' name is that Jesus is with them. Forgiveness to other disciples is to become habitual (i.e., not just 7 times). Since the Father has cancelled all your debt to Him, shouldn't you obey the Father, having the same heart-felt mercy on your fellow servants?
Despite knowing that Jesus continued to heal people, the Pharisees kept testing Jesus with trip-up questions. What about divorce? Why did Moses allow it? Jesus answered them, but continued private teaching for his disciples and others with questions. Not marrying isn't always the solution to a hard heart, but sometimes it is. The disciples thought children were a distraction, but Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to the humble, including children.
Jesus had a surprise answer for one rich young man with a question on earning eternal life. He said had always obeyed the commandments of Moses, so what did he lack? Recognizing the man's resistence level, Jesus told him to downsize. Sell your possessions and give to the poor, to have (not earn) treasure in heaven. This was another example of loosing and binding on earth and in heaven. The man couldn't do this - he was very wealthy - and the disciples asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus taught, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (19:26) He talked of rewards in the "renewal of all things" for all who break through their resistance levels, who downsize for Jesus. Most people think of wealth as accumulation. Jesus taught reverse order truth. "Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (19:30) Doesn't God have the right to offer the same full salvation to believers who die young in the faith as well as to those who live many years serving Christ?
When Jesus taught the mother of James and John (as well as 2 blind men later) to be specific in prayer, she asked high positions for her sons - not Jesus' to give. But with reverse order truth, Jesus told them that high position goes to disciples who serve each other as a slave-servants, working with almost no recognition. The world looks at this and says, "Not fair! We work for what we get." The world also sees cause and effect in the sick or blind, assuming that if God wanted them healed they would be. Both misunderstand Jesus' offer of God's grace. Beware of the world's wrong answers, attitudes, and conclusions.
Jesus made his disciples aware of his impending death. (20:17-19) He entered Jerusalem, in peace this first time, on a donkey and her foal as Zechariah 9:9 predicted of the Messiah. Continuing to fulfill scriptures (Psalm 118:26 and 8:2), Jesus' entry angered the chief priest and teachers of the law. Jesus' understanding and use of scripture stirred up both praise and controversy, as Isaiah predicted.
PROMISE: "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.
Jesus withered a fig tree by what He said to it, and used the disciples questions to teach them more on belief and prayer. Jesus taught in the temple courts and answered a question about his authority with a question of his own. The chief priests and elders couldn't safely answer. They had rejected John the Baptist while scorned prostitutes and tax collectors (Matthew knew about THIS) repented and believed John. By belief, they were entering the kingdom of God ahead of most of the Jewish chief priests and elders during Jesus' lifetime. Jesus continued telling parables and asking questions. What if tenants killed the son of a landowner? To the priests' answer, Jesus applies authoritative proof from scripture that what they answered applies to their desire to kill HIM.
Jesus told the parable of a king whose invitations to his son's wedding banquet were ignored and replaced with invitations to others. "Many are invited but few are chosen," he concluded.
Many also tried to trap Jesus into a clearly wrong answer. The Herodians and Pharisees asked if it was right for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar. The Sadducees tried to get Jesus to admit there was no resurrection. "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God," He answered before clearing up points on marriage, angels, and the God of the living. The Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up on which commandment is the greatest in the law of Moses.
Then Jesus asked them a question about King David's relationship to the Christ, the Messiah. "If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" Not only could they not answer him, but from then on they stopped asking questions.
Jesus taught the crowds and disciples to obey the teachers of the law and the Pharisees sitting in Moses' seat, but not to do what they do. "They do not practice what they preach." They make it harder and harder to obey additional laws. They want to be seen and praised as great teachers. In reverse order, disciples of Jesus are not proud teachers, but are humble and serve each other.
What's wrong with the Pharisees? They are hypocrites. 1) They tell others of the kingdom of heaven but won't enter it and prevent others from entering.
2) They seek far and wide to find a convert and make him twice as bad. 3) Their values are reversed, honoring vows and promises made on the gold of the temple but not on the temple itself. 4) They tithe (give a 10th of their crops and income) but neglect justice, mercy, and faithfulness. 5) They clean up the outside, what people can see, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Clean up inside, and the outside will follow. How had this changed from the time right before the Babylon exile?
PROMISE: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains."
Descriptions of hypocrites continue. 6) They emphasize how to appear righteous, while not really believing or trusting God for His offer of legitimate righteousness.
7) They only recognize God's prophets after they are dead, and claim as ancestors the Jews who murdered them, not the Jews who believed and followed the Lord's instructions through the prophets. God continued sending prophets, wise men, and teachers - both for the witness and for the condemnation of those who insisted on killing, flogging, and pursuing them. Soon, Jesus said, Jerusalem would not see the Lord again until they would bless those who come in the name of the Lord. Soon, the temple and other buildings of Jerusalem would be destroyed.
The disciples, disturbed, ask when this will happen, and what the sign of Jesus' return will be. Jesus answers instead what to do to prepare for deceit, christ claimants, wars, rumors of wars, large scale battles, famines, and earthquakes. Jesus called these birth - not death - pains, and taught not to let them alarm us. [This agrees with Isa 8:11-13 and Jer 10:2.] Persecution, death, hatred, loss of faith, betrayal, false prophets, increased wickedness, love growing cold - all these will happen. If you stand firm to the end of your time, you will be saved. The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world before the end of the world comes.
Jesus attacks the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. This hypocritical behavior is seen as presenting clean and wholeness on the outside, but being foul and corrupt on the inside. He then talks about what they will do to the disciples of Jesus. Jesus once again states how much he wanted to save Jerusalem.
The disciples then ask Jesus for the signs of the end of the age. Jesus tells them to be careful because many will come claiming " I am the Christ". He then talks about the " abomination that causes desolation" and the need to flee.
He then tells them if anyone tells you, "There he is, out in the desert", do not go out; or " Here he is, in the inner rooms", do not believe it. For as lightening that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthew 23 : 26 - 27)
No one knows the day or the hour of the return of ChristÖ.."therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."
He then tells them the parables of the ten virgins and of the talents. In the first, the idea is always ready for the return of Christ. The idea in the second is to use the talents God has given you to increase the kingdom of God.
PROMISE: "The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'
'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'"
With the message of how to prepare for the last days delivered to his disciples, Jesus turned his attention to details for celebrating the Passover and his impending crucifixion. Jesus was in Bethany, staying with Simon who had been a leper, when a woman disciple poured expensive perfume onto Jesus' feet. Apparently she believed what Jesus had said about dying soon. Some of the men disciples saw this as misuse of something to sell for money to give to the poor. But Jesus thanked her for preparing him for burial and promised her act would always be part of the gospel. It was after this that Judas Iscariot, the disciple treasurer, arranged with the chief priests to turn Jesus over to them for 30 pieces of silver.
The disciples followed Jesus' instructions for preparing to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover. While eating the meal on the first day of the feast with his disciples, Jesus said one of them would betray him, then demonstrated how the Passover meal applied to the Son of Man, the Messiah. The next Passover Jesus would celebrate with his disciples would be when they all come together in the Father's kingdom. Jesus continued telling the disciples what would happen to them that night. Then he went to Gethsemane for sorrowful, troubled prayer, taking Peter, James, and John with him. The disciples could not stay awake. Jesus asked the Father if there were any other way (than losing contact with Him?) ... but turned his own will over to the Father's will.
Finally, Jesus woke the three disciples as Judas came with a large armed crowd. Judas kissed Jesus, Jesus called him "Friend", and Jesus was arrested. When one disciple draw a sword to fight, Jesus said not to - "all who draw the sword will die by the sword." Sure, Jesus could call on legions of angels to fight for him, but then how would the scriptural details of the Messiah's death be fulfilled?
The disciples disserted him, but Peter followed at a distance. Jesus' prediction that Peter would deny knowing Jesus came true. Expectations unfullfilled, Judas hung himself. Matthew details events of Jesus appearing before the chief priests, elders, Pilate the governor, and the crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover.
PROMISE: "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
After the governor's soldiers assulted and insulted Jesus as "King of the Jews" for awhile and found Simon the Cyrene to carry the cross, the soldiers led Jesus to Golgotha where they crucified him, hanging him between two robbers. Many now felt free to claim that if Jesus were really the Messiah, the Christ, this would not be allowed to happen to him. Jesus died in 3 hours at which time the temple curtain tore TOP to bottom during an earthquake. Tombs opened and strangely enough, a few days later some of the dead people were seen - alive - in Jerusalem.
Many of the women disciples stayed with Jesus this day. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate to release the body for him to bury in his own new tomb. Jesus had died on Preparation Day.
The chief priests made arrangements with Pilate to post their own security guards at the tomb to prevent anyone from taking the body, making it look like Jesus rose from the dead. This plan failed, and the chief priests PAID the guards to say they fell asleep while on duty. There had been another violent earthquake and the heavy stone closing Jesus' tomb rolled away. The women saw he was not there, heard what had happened, then saw Jesus himself. They told the 11 disciples who went to meet the Lord at Galilee, where he gave them the assignment to keep doing to the end of the age.
Continue today's devotional reading in Proverbs 1-2