Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mark 2 - Healing and Hassling

LINK: Mark 2

BACKGROUND


39. Jesus heals a paralyzed man: Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26

Jesus continues to demonstrate His authority. Apparently, the illness of the paralytic was a result of his sin. Only God could forgive sins (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). So, He was making a very bold statement about His divinity in this passage by forgiving the man's sin. 
I had always been confused about saying He has power to forgive sins but then saying "rise, take up your pallet and walk" instead until I read Luke 5:24 in the Message version:
Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both.…” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” (Luke 5:24   
Of course, this enraged the religious leaders and caused them to begin to oppose Jesus. Jesus knew their thoughts (another example of His divinity) and questioned them. The religious leaders may not have been impressed, but the crowd was filled with awe! 

40. Jesus eats with sinners at Matthew's house: Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32


This is the story of the calling of the author of the gospel of Matthew (also called Levi). He was a tax-collector but left this occupation to follow Him. Jesus accepted people from every level of society, even tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus was not going to follow the tradition of the Pharisees, but He was going to go to those who KNEW they had need because they were sinners. The Pharisees followed tradition without any sort of compassion for those who were spiritually sick.


41. Religious leaders ask Jesus about fasting: Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39

John's disciples wanted to know why Jesus' disciples did not observe the tradition of the fast.  Pious Jews fasted on a regular basis as a sign of repentance and in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.  Jesus was saying there was no need to fast because the Messiah had already come! It was a time for feasting and celebration rather than fasting. Jesus was inaugurating something new by leading them out of Judaism and into the kingdom based on a relationship with the King (Him) and pursuing His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). 

By the way, there was really only one prescribed fast in the Old Testament, and that was during the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23), but it was often practiced by the people (Remember Anna who served God by fasting and prayer in the temple from Luke 2?).


45. The disciples pick wheat on the Sabbath: Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-38, Luke 6:1-5

According to Deuteronomy 23:25, people were allowed to pick grain from a neighbor's field, orchard, or vineyard as they passed by, but the Pharisees, with their legalistic rabbinic tradition, said that this was the same as reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food which were all forbidden on the Sabbath.  When Jesus' disciples picked grain, this led to their questioning, and Jesus took the Pharisees to the Word of God when "God's anointed" (David) and his men had eaten the loaves of bread in the tabernacle. Jesus was saying He was God's new Anointed One and Lord of the Sabbath with authority over all matters related to the Law. 

For his Jewish audience, Matthew quotes Hosea 6:6 again (Matthew 9:13). According to Warren Wiersbe:
The Sabbath law was given to Israel as a mark of her relationship to God (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:13-17; Nehemiah 9:12-15). But it was also an act of mercy for both man and beast, to give them needed rest each week. Any religious law that is contrary to mercy and the care of nature should be looked on with suspicion. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Matthew 12:1)
Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter. It is not what we do on the outside that matters but on the inside. 

REFLECTION

It is funny that I am writing this today since January is the month of fasting and prayer for the churches in our valley! So, I did a week long fast the first week of January and am skipping lunch and snacks between breakfast and dinner during weeks two and three and doing a total fast with my Kingdom Community the last week. 

Jesus is not saying that fasting is wrong here. In fact, in Matthew 6 he assumes people will be fasting by saying, "Whenever you fast . . . " It is not a commandment because Jesus was more about getting to the heart of the matter rather than doing the outward "pious act."

I love to fast. It helps me focus on the Lord and not be distracted by meal preparation, planning, and eating. I also know that when it is not of the Lord, it is a PAIN.  Doing anything in the flesh is not a good idea.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that I really value in my life. I hope you will consider it for yours too.

APPLICATION

Read about fasting from the book, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster:

"Fasting" (p. 42-50)

(I heartily recommend the entire book. My husband and I spent a delightful weekend in 2015 with Richard and his son. They discussed the application of all the disciplines. As a result of editing this post in 2016, I started a Celebration of Discipline group using the DVD series, and we have practiced the disciplines of each chapter. It has been really fun!)

Here are two chapters from:

The Fasting Journey

PRAYER

Lord, help us to do all things with an eye toward deepening our relationship with and glorifying YOU! Amen. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mark 1 - The Preparation of Jesus Christ

LINK: Mark 1

BACKGROUND OF THE BOOK OF MARK

As a reminder, all of the gospels are the story of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, but they each emphasize different things. Here is an overview adapted from The Life Application Bible, p. 1937:



Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Jesus is . . .
Promised King
Servant of God
Son of Man
Son of God
Targeted readers were . . .
Jews
Gentiles, Romans
Greeks
The World
Themes
Jesus is the Messiah because He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy
Jesus backed up His words with action
Jesus was God but also fully human
Belief in Jesus is required for salvation
“I AM”
The writer was a . . .
Teacher
Storyteller
Historian
Close disciple of Jesus and theologian
Greatest emphasis is on . . .
Jesus’ sermons and words
Jesus’ miracles and actions
Jesus’ humanity
The principles behind Jesus’ teaching and relationship


The gospel "according to Mark" was added later by a scribe around A.D. 125. So, it is technically written by anonymous, but there is much evidence that points to Mark as the author. He was not an eyewitness, but he was a close associate to an eyewitness, Peter. He wrote down what Peter said but not always in chronological order (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3. 39. 15). It is almost certain he is the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37, 39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24; and 1 Peter 5:13. He was a Jewish believer who lived in Jerusalem with his mother, Mary, in the early days of the church where their home was a meeting place (Acts 12:12).

This gospel was written in Rome primarily for Roman Gentile believers. That is why there is no genealogy and only a few Old Testament references.  He includes no genealogy. It is quick and fast paced, highlighting Jesus' power and authority through works rather than his words. He is seen as the servant who came to seek and to save those who were lost (Mark 10:45). You will notice the key word "immediately" repeated 39 times in the New American Standard translation. Thus illustrating the action of the gospel.  Mark is the shortest of the four gospels with only 678 verses and is the most chronological of the four accounts. I love to study Mark with non-believers!



"Kingdom/Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven” is a key word/phrase in the Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts of the Gospel. By the way, "Kingdom of Heaven” is used exclusively in Matthew, but means the same thing as "Kingdom of God."

Ask yourself inductive questions as you encounter this in your reading. 

What is the Kingdom of God? 
Who is in the Kingdom of God?
When did/will the Kingdom of God come? Is it now, in the future, or both? 
Where is the Kingdom of God?
How does one enter the Kingdom of God?
What does the Kingdom of God mean to us personally? 

 Here is my husband's definition:

"The Kingdom of God is the sphere or realm of God's influence.
Theoretically it is everywhere, but God chooses to limit Himself because He wants us to choose to be 'in' it."


Let's really concentrate on what life in the Kingdom really means in our everyday life! Let's allow Him to bear fruit through us!

BACKGROUND 


The number at the beginning of each section is the number for a chronological order of events in the life of Jesus. Here is a list of all the events online:


Each event has a background that gathers information from the other gospel accounts where they are mentioned with hyper-links to the references.

16. John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus: Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18 

Mark skips everything about the background, birth, and childhood of both Jesus and John and goes "immediately" (remember it is key word in this book) to the beginning of Jesus' ministry that was ushered in by John! 


It is the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, A.D. 29. Tiberius ruled over the Roman Empire from A.D. 14 to A.D. 37 and Pilate was the governor of Judea from A.D. 26 to A.D. 36. The reigning Jew over Galilee and Tiberius is Herod Antipas whom we introduced in Matthew 2. His brother, Philip, ruled east of the Jordan from 4 B.C. to A.D. 34. Annas was the high priest from A.D. 6 to A.D. 15. Caiaphas was his son-in-law and the Romans would replace him as high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36 even though the Jews continued to recognize Annas.

John has been growing, becoming strong in spirit and living in the desert until his public appearance in Israel (Luke 1:80). This is that public appearance. As a descendant from the priestly line of Aaron, John could have been a priest, but God had for him to be His messenger (Malachi 3:1) preaching a very special message in the Judean desert and the country around the Jordan River. His message was direct and to the point:

"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 3:2

We know from our reading of the Old Testament that the concept of a coming kingdom with a reigning king is huge. The idea of repentance prior to entrance into that kingdom was the new concept for the Jews. They thought that entrance was automatic for them. John said that they needed to "repent." This Greek word metanoéō comes from the base word noéō which means to "perceive, think, know." Repent means to change your opinion, feelings, or purpose from what you thought you always knew! If what you thought you always knew was wrong the word takes on the sense "to regret" (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel). They thought they knew the way into heaven, but John had come to tell them about the real way, and it came via a man who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John the Baptist exhorted his audience to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness. Just being baptized and being Abraham's descendants would not give them an "in" with God!  The Luke account goes into more detail about what would give evidence of genuine repentance: generosity, honesty, and contentment. All three are tied to money and material possessions.  It is interesting to note that the Luke account is the only one that proclaims that "all mankind" (not just the Jews) will see God's salvation (Luke 3:6). This is probably because Luke's audience was non-Jewish. 


17. The baptism of Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22

File:Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban.JPG
Francesco Albani [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
After the announcement by John the Baptist, Jesus reappears after an 18 years absence from the narrative (Luke 3:23). Jesus came to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15) by being baptized; but the Law did not require baptism. What did He mean by this statement? Jesus did not need baptism for repentance, but he needed to identify with sinners.

Only Luke's account (Luke 3:21) states that Jesus was praying at His baptism (one could argue that He was always praying because He was always in connection with the Father). God broke into the course of HIS-story when the heavens were opened with the revelation of His Son! Doesn't it sound like Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1?  WOW!

The Holy Spirit descending like a dove marks a time when all three members of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mentioned. 

Temptations of Christ (San Marco)
By anonimus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Temptation of Christ (mosaic in basilica di San Marco)
18. Satan tempts Jesus in the Wilderness: Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13

After His baptism, Jesus was led immediately by the Spirit for a time of testing by Satan in the wilderness which has been traditionally believed to be near Jericho. 

This might be obvious for those of you who have been through the Old Testament portion of the Bible Book Club, but I wanted to point out the "40 days" motif of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Examples of this motif are seen in Genesis 7:4; Exodus 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8; and Jonah 3:4. Jesus' temptation of 40 days parallels Israel's wanderings and temptation in the wilderness for 40 years. Note He quotes from Deuteronomy which took place during Israel's wilderness wanderings. 

Also, note that Adam and Eve met Satan in a beautiful garden where all their needs were met, and they lost, allowing sin and death to enter into the world.  Jesus met Satan in a barren wilderness where he had nothing to eat for 40 days, and He won, ushering in eternal life for all who would believe (Colossians 2:15; Romans 5:12, 18)!  YAY!

To be tempted comes from the Greek word, peirazein, which in the positive sense means to "try or make proof of." Satan is described here as "the tempter" (Matthew 4:3), and brings out the bad sense of this Greek word, "to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin." This temptation had a dual purpose. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to have His faith tried, while Satan wanted to entice Him to disobey the Father. As our reading goes on, we will learn more about the ways of Satan.

The temptation closely resembles the temptation of Eve:
1) Appeal to the physical appetite 
Satan tempted Eve with the one thing she could not have, even though she had plenty of food from the garden (Genesis 3:1). 
Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread while Jesus was hungry (Matthew and Luke 4:3).   
Jesus resisted with Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:3 - God's Word is food for life!
2) Appeal to physical safety 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would not die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:4). 
Satan tempted Jesus by telling Him, if He was the Son of God and Messiah, nothing could harm Him if He threw Himself from the highest part of the temple (Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:9).  Satan used the prophecy from Malachi 3:1. It was a common belief that the Messiah would come from the sky into the temple. He was tempting Jesus to display Himself in the way people expected. 
This misquoting of Scripture by Satan caused Jesus to counter with more Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:16 - don't test God!  God would display His Son in His way.
3) Appeal to an easy way to power and glory 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would be "like God, knowing good and evil" and this was why God was withholding this good fruit from her (Genesis 3:5). 
Satan wanted to give Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6, 7) that God had allowed Him to rule (2 Corinthian 4:4, John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2). God had another way for Jesus to become King and that was via the cross. 
Again, Jesus responded with Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 - God alone deserves to be worshiped and served.
The score is: Satan 0, Jesus 1.  Stay tuned. The battle has just begun.

30. Jesus preaches in Galilee:

30a. Arrival in Galilee: John 4:43-45

30b. Nature of the Galilean Ministry: Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:14-15
Yet not in Jerusalem and Judah will the light first dawn, but in the northernmost part of the land of Israel, a region which lay in darkness and death at the time Jesus came to fulfill the ancient prophecy, and which even John the Baptist had not been able to reach by his call to repentance. 
(The Gospel According to St. Matthew - An Introduction and Commentary by R.V.G. Tasker, page 56)
This part of the gospels is often called the "Great Galilean Ministry." The major cities included Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Nain, Cana, and Nazareth. Galilee is 60 miles long by 25 miles wide. It is mountainous with fertile valleys and an average temperature of 70 degrees. It was the most beautiful, productive and populous district of Palestine with grain and olive groves. Flora and wildlife still thrive there.  There was a mixture of races from Jew and Gentile backgrounds. 
Galilee of the Gentiles was a choice cradle for the universal Gospel. Jesus liked to mingle in the crowd. He loved human beings and here He found a dense population made up of heterogeneous elements of all types and nationalities.
(The Christ of the Gospels, p. 115)
One interesting thing: not one prophet had ever come out of Galilee.  

10 Mark’s Gospel C. Jesus goes public image 2 of 2. Simon Peter and Andrew with Christ. Mortier
By Phillip Vere [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
33. Four Fisherman Follow Jesus: Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20

Tradition says that, John the son of Zebedee, was one of the two unnamed disciples at Bethany in the account of John 1:35-51, three of the four fisherman in this present account had already temporarily followed Jesus for a time, but they returned to their jobs as fisherman. This is the permanent call. Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately followed Him.

34. Jesus teaches with great authority: Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37 

Capernaum is now to become Jesus' base of operation since Nazareth had rejected Him. It was also the home of Peter and Andrew (Luke 4:38). The fact that He taught with authority and that an unclean spirit identified Him as the Holy One of God is more proof of the deity of Jesus! He also did this on the Sabbath. Stay tuned for fireworks with the religious authorities over the issue of the Sabbath. 

Remember that Mark and Luke are writing for Gentiles. They both specify that it is an evil/unclean spirit. We know that Greeks (whom Luke was writing for) believed in both good and evil ones. 

35. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and many others: Matthew 8:14-17, Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41

The Matthew account points out that these healings were a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:4 because he is writing for a Jewish audience. 

Both Mark and Luke indicate the miracle of Peter's mother-in-law occurred right after Jesus teaching with authority and rebuking the unclean spirit. News was spreading and at the end of the Sabbath day, when healing was permissible, people were bringing the sick to Him, and demons knew who Jesus was even if the people did not yet. 

36. Jesus preaches throughout Galilee:  Mark 1:35-39, Luke 4:42-44, Matthew 4:23-25

By this time, Jesus had a busy ministry schedule, yet He rose in the early morning to pray after His busy day and before another busy day of ministry.


While He performed healing to authenticate Himself Jesus' primary mission was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. He was the "anointed one" who would proclaim the favorable year of the LORD (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2).

By History2007 at en.wikipedia. 
Later version(s) were uploaded
 by Aavindraa at en.wikipedia.
[Public domain or Public domain],
from Wikimedia Commons
38. Jesus heals a man with leprosy: Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16

Jesus demonstrated His power over disease, demonic forces, and men. He healed the man with leprosy. There had been no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15). Jesus instructed the man to go to the priest as a testimony. The priests were men of influence, and it was important for the man to go to a priest first (even though the Mark account records that he did not do so) so that he could be examined and the miracle eventually be known via influential channels.

APPLICATION 

Ask God what His "I will" is for this passage today. Who are you going to tell about it? Who will hold you accountable for application?

PRAYER

Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to live so that we might know how to live with purpose and destiny. Amen. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Put Matthew on the New Testament Shelf

BibleBookcase

Matthew 28 - The King's Victory and Commission

LINK: Matthew 28


BACKGROUND

Sunday at Sunrise


He is RISEN! This proves the Kingship of Jesus Christ! He fulfilled His claim that He would lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:17-18).

The order of events can sometimes be confusing when looking at all four accounts. I will try to explain it all in order. 

Before sunrise, an earthquake happened and an angel rolled away the stone and frightened the guards of the tomb (Matthew 28:2-4).

At early dawn, the women who followed Jesus brought spices to anoint His body. The women mentioned were Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9), the "other" Mary who was the mother of James and Joses and wife of Clopas (Mark 15:40; John 19:25), Salome (Mark 16:1), and Joanna (Luke 24:10). We do not know who the "other women" included (Luke 24:9). Since women bring people into the world, it was only appropriate that at least two mothers would be the first to discover the empty tomb! 

Mary left to go and tell Peter and John (John 20:1-2). While she was gone, the other women saw two angels who told them Jesus had RISEN (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-8). The Matthew and Mark accounts focus on only one angel.

Mary came back with Peter and John to tell them that Jesus was not in the tomb, but she did not know that He had risen (John 20:2).  Isn't it funny that John, the author, would say that he beat Peter in a foot race back to the tomb (John 20:4)? They saw the linen wrappings but still did not understand that Jesus had risen (John 20:9).  So, they went back to their homes. 


Many commentators believe that Mark ended his gospel here and an anonymous writer added Mark 16:9-20. They believe this was done shortly after A.D. 100.

This next event is not recorded in Matthew but helps in understanding the chronology of events and might be helpful to read.


240. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18


241. Jesus appears to the women: Matthew 28:8-10

The women were told by one of the angels to tell the disciples. Then they saw Jesus on the way and worshiped Him! Amazing that the first two appearances were to women!


His third appearance was to Peter and is not described but mentioned in Luke 24:34 and 1 Corinthians 15:5.

242. Religious leaders bribe the guards: Matthew 28:11-15

Those soldiers who had fainted because they saw the angel roll away the stone had to be hushed up, but not even a bribe from the religious leaders to make the soldiers say the body was stolen could counteract the truth of His resurrection because of so many witnesses! 

The following events are not in Matthew's gospel but help with understanding the chronology of events:

Later in the Day

243. Jesus appears to two believers traveling on the road: Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-34

Evening

244. Jesus appears to His disciples: Luke 24:35-43, John 20:19-23

Eight days later

245. Jesus appears to Thomas: Mark 16:14, John 20:24-31

Two weeks later

246. Jesus appears to seven disciples: John 21:1-14 


247. Jesus challenges Peter: John 21:15-25

Three weeks later

248. Jesus gives the great commission: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18

Jesus commissioned His followers to go on the basis of His authority. The Greek word here is exousia, and it means "official right or power." In addition, He commissioned them to go to all the nations. The Greek phrase for "all the nations" is panta ta ethne. This does not mean political nations with man-made boundaries but all the different people groups of the world as they tend to understand and define themselves by language, lineage, or socio-cultural factors. This is the clearest mandate for world evangelization given, but if you have been reading along with the Bible Book Club, you have probably learned that, from the beginning, God has always wanted to bless all nations (Genesis 12). Through the whole Old Testament and the four Gospel accounts, it is clear that God has always wanted to bless all nations!  See the REFLECTION section for more about this.

249. Jesus appears to the disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24:44-49

Forty days later (Ascension Day)


250. Jesus ascends into heaven: Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-12

Fifty days later

251. Pentecost: Acts 2

Read about it in Acts 2 of the Bible Book Club, and join me for the rest of the New Testament!  


REFLECTION - Please read this!!!!!!!!!

In 1988, I had the honor of going to Bangkok, Thailand with a team of seventeen people. Most mornings, our leader and teacher on the trip, Steven Hawthorne, expounded on God's heart for the nations. Here is an article he wrote that summarized what I learned from being under his leadership for 2 1/2 months. It deals with a much better exposition of Matthew 28:19-20 than I could ever give. Please take the time to read it. You will be blessed.

MANDATE ON THE MOUNTAIN by Steven C. Hawthorne

The original sidebar has been omitted from the above article. So I have included it in this post: 
"The Great Commission and the Great Commandment" by Steven Hawthorne
The "Great Commission" of Matthew 28 has been seen as a counterpart to the so-called "Great Commandment," in which Jesus points to the most important of all commandment of Scripture. In the familiar passage (Matt 22:25-37, with parallel accounts in Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-37), Jesus says that the "greatest" of all biblical commandments is love for God and love for neighbor. Many significant evangelical voices have put the two imperatives side-by-side as a way of expressing the full responsibility of Christians in the world.
How does the Great Commandment relate to the Great Commission? They are often presented as balancing equals, corresponding to different dimension of human need. the Great Commission is thought to focus on spiritual issues, while the Great Commandment is considered to address physical and social matters. But when they are held side-by-side as responses to human need, there can be confusion about how to integrate them as Christian mission.
Different: Historical Achievement and Constant Imperative
We may better see how the two commands work together if we respect how they are different. Comparing them as though they were equal may result in us failing to pursue either fully.
Loving God and our neighbors with devotion and service is not something which can ever be completed. Love is something that can only grow over time and must be pursued at all times. But the Great Commission is a global, historic achievement, a task to be completed. In spite of popular understanding, the Great Commission is not a command to do evangelism as often as one finds possible. It is a mandate entrusted to all of Christ's followers to accomplish a work that requires many generations of labor that at the end of history will be finished.
Same Focus: Both are For God 
Try to balance or compare the Great Commandment and the Great Commission may be missing the point of either one. In neither of them is the pre-eminent focus on human need, spiritual or otherwise. the primary end of both is relational reality directed toward God. Though we often pay more attention to "love your neighbor" in the Great Commandment, the main point of Jesus' words it that God would be loved with heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the essential outcome of the Great Commission is equally for God, that He would be served by obedient disciples in every people. 
The point is not just to love God, but to labor that He will be loved. The greatest way of loving our Lord is to see that He is worshiped, followed, and loved in every people. Furthermore, we have been given something greater than merely extending our own love to neighbors. We have a mandate to transform entire neighborhoods by multiplying those who love one another as Christ commanded.
How They Work Together
Neither can be prioritized above or below the other. Ultimately, neither can happen without the other. We cannot evangelize the peoples without excelling in love. And we cannot consider our evangelization to be complete unless people are growing in love for God and obeying Him by loving their neighbors. 
From Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Fourth Edition edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne. 
APPLICATION

Be sure to read the articles above and consider taking the entire Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course! Classes usually start in mid-January so if you are reading this according to the traditional Bible Book Club schedule, you might not be too late to join a class! 

Check out their website for a course in your area HERE!

No matter where you are in your walk with God, this class will challenge and encourage you! I took it in 1987, and I often grade for the class now. I never cease to love the "shot in the arm" it gives me as I review the things I learned. 

If there is not one in your area, you can also take it online. It is well worth the investment of time and money. 

If you are still in doubt, take the first two lessons for free online! 

In addition, HERE is a great article and acronym for thinking about Jesus in you!

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for giving us a clear purpose for our lives. May we obey You by loving You and our neighbor and taking the Good News of Jesus to all the peoples of the earth. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Matthew 27 - The King is Crucified

LINK: Matthew 27


BACKGROUND


From: The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 84
Friday at Dawn

Religious Trial Three



228. The council of religious leaders condemns Jesus: Matthew 27:1-2, Mark 15:1, Luke 22:66-71

The Luke account of this event gives the most detail. At daybreak (because it was illegal to meet at night), Jesus was led to the third Jewish trial before the Sanhedrin (council of elders). They were the the official judicial body of the Jewish nation. It was also considered the final court of appeals. Jesus said He was the Son of God and would be seated at the right hand of God. Jesus was pronounced GUILTY of blasphemy. Now, Jesus had to be handed over to the civil court of the Romans because the Jews were not allowed to sentence anyone to death. The leaders refused to believe; just as Jesus said.

229. Judas hangs himself: Matthew 27:3-10

Matthew is the only gospel writer who records the suicide of Judas. He felt remorse and did not want the money he was paid (the price of a slave, Exodus 21:32), but the priest could not use tainted money (Deuteronomy 23:18). Acts 1:18-19 adds more details to the story of Judas. So sad. See the prophecies in Zechariah 11:12-13 and Jeremiah 19:1, 4, 6, 11.

Civil (Roman) Trials

After Dawn

230. Jesus' trial before Pilate: Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:2-5, Luke 23:1-5, John 18:28-37


Trial Four (First Roman)

John's account is the most detailed of the four gospel accounts.

Even though the religious leaders had passed judgment on Jesus, only the Romans could exercise capital punishment. So, the case was brought to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator (governor) of Judea and Samaria from A.D. 26-36 (Luke 3:1), who was in Jerusalem because of the Passover feast. During the great feasts, rioting and insurrection were more common, especially during Passover when the Jews remembered their deliverance from bondage to the Egyptians. 


Pilate and the Jews obviously had a hostile relationship. Pilate refused to do anything with just a charge of blasphemy. The Jews could not execute Him by stoning because prophecy had already said that no bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20). Also, He had foretold that He would be "lifted up" like a "snake in the desert" (John 3:14; Exodus 21:9). Jesus had to die by crucifixion and only the Romans could do that. 


The religious leaders brought Jesus to Pilate with three accusations, but Pilate only concerned himself with the third: Jesus' claim to be king. This was the only one that would be any threat to Rome, but after questioning, Jesus assured Pilate that He was a king, but of a kingdom not of this world (John 18:33-37). Pilate declared Jesus to be guiltless (Luke 23:4); and when he found out He was a Galilean, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod to be tried. 

There is second Roman trial before Herod Antipas, but it is only recorded in Luke 23:6-12. 

232. Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified: Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:13-25, John 18:38-19:16

Trial Six (Third Roman)

Pilate wanted to punish and release this innocent man (Mark 23:16), but the crowd was stirred up by the religious leaders, and he was pressured to release Barabbas, an insurrectionist (John 18:40) and murderer (Mark 15:7) instead. 


John is the only writer that covers the flogging (leather whip with bits of metal at the ends which often killed people), crown of thorns, purple robe, ridicule as King of the Jews, and beating. 


Pilate wanted to release Him but the Jews convinced him that if Jesus claimed to be king he was opposing Caesar. Their cry was for crucifixion, and Pilate took water and washed his hands symbolizing that he wanted to absolve himself of putting an innocent man to death (Deuteronomy 21:6-9). Then he released the murderer and handed the innocent Jesus over to be crucified. 


The events leading up to the crucifixion are more detailed in the Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts, but the actual crucifixion is more detailed in John's gospel account. 

233. Roman soldiers mock Jesus: Matthew 27:27-31Mark 15:16-20Luke 23:36

A whole Roman cohort of 600 soldiers was gathered for this event. The Praetorium would have been large enough to fit them. It may have been in Pilate's residence at the Castle of Antonio or Herod's palace. 

Roman soldiers were known for their cruelty. So, Jesus was probably beaten badly. This fulfilled Isaiah 52:14 that says that His appearance was marred more than any man. He bore this suffering without a word (1 Peter 2:23).


234. Jesus is led away to be crucified: Matthew 27:32-34Mark 15:21-24Luke 23:26-31John 19:17

Jesus is on His way to Golgatha. Just as Isaac carried his own wood for the sacrifice in Genesis 22:1-6 and the sin offering was taken outside the camp or city (Hebrews 13:11-13), the John account says that He carried His own cross. The other accounts state that Simon of Cyrene carried the cross part way. Here is an interesting perspective on why that happened: 
It was a part of the prisoner’s humiliation that he carry his own cross to the place of execution, so when Jesus left Pilate’s hall, He was carrying either the cross or the crossbeam (John 19:17). 
Apparently, He was unable to go on, for the soldiers had to “draft” Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Him. (This was a legal Roman procedure. See Matt. 5:41.) When you consider all that Jesus had endured since His arrest in the Garden, it is not difficult to imagine Him falling under the load. But there is something more involved: carrying the cross was a sign of guilt, and our Lord was not guilty! Thousands of Jews came to Jerusalem from other nations to celebrate the feasts (Acts 2:5–11), and Simon was among them. He had traveled over 800 miles from Africa to celebrate Passover, and now he was being humiliated on a most holy day! What would he say to his family when he got home? 
What looked to Simon like a catastrophe turned out to be a wonderful opportunity, for it brought him in contact with Jesus Christ. (By the way, where was the other Simon—Simon Peter—who had promised Jesus to go with Him to prison and to death?) Simon may have come into the city to attend the 9 a.m. prayer meeting in the temple, but the soldiers rearranged his schedule for him. 
We have good reason to believe that Simon was converted because of this encounter with Jesus. Mark identified him as “the father of Alexander and Rufus” (Mark 15:21), two men that Mark assumed his Roman readers would know. A Christian named Rufus was greeted by Paul in Romans 16:13, and it is possible that he was the son of Simon of Cyrene. Apparently Simon and his two sons became well-known Christians who were held in honor in the church. 
Before Simon met Jesus, he had religion and devotion; but after he met Jesus, he had reality and salvation. He did both a physical and spiritual “about face” that morning, and it transformed his life. God can still use unexpected and difficult situations, even humiliating situations, to bring people to the Saviour.  (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Lk 23:26)
On the way to Golgotha, the Luke account records His warning to the people of the persecution that was to come (Hosea 10:8; Revelation 6:15-17). 

The Third Hour (between 9 am and noon)

235. Jesus is placed on the cross: Matthew 27:35-44Mark 15:25-32Luke 23:32-43John 19:18-27

Crucifixion was widely practiced by the Phoenicians and Persians but Roman law permitted its use only on slaves and non-Romans. In Israel this shameful and excruciating punishment was inflicted for crimes of robbery and sedition and served as a public reminder of the Jews' servitude to Rome.  (The Daily Walk, October 9, 2008, p. 14)


Mark 15:25 says Jesus was placed on the cross at the third hour that starts at 9 a.m. (Mark 15:25). While John 19:14 says He was handed over by Pilate "about noon." Josh McDowell offers two possible explanations:
The night was divided into four watches, each consisting of three hours (see Mark 13:35), and the day was to some extent likewise divided into periods. In light of this, we can imagine that Mark’s statement about the “third hour” simply meant that Jesus was crucified sometime during the third hour (between nine o’clock and noon), while John’s statement that the trial ended about noon can mean before noon.  
Another possibility is that John is using a different method of reckoning time than Mark. We know for a fact, from Plutarch, Pliny, Aulus Gellius, and Macrobius, that the Romans calculated the civil day from midnight to midnight, just as we do today. 
Thus John’s “sixth hour” would be six o’clock in the morning. This would make 6 a.m. the time of the last of the trials of Jesus, and of His sentencing, giving adequate time for the events leading up to the crucifixion which, in Mark, was at 9 a.m. or afterward. 
There is good evidence that John used this method of computing time. This is not unusual in Scripture to have different authors use different methods of measuring time and determining dates. 
http://www.josh.org/resources/study-research/answers-to-skeptics-questions/dont-the-gospels-give-contradictory-reports-as-to-the-time-christ-was-crucified/

He had two criminals on each side (Luke 23:33). He said seven things as He was crucified, and I will summarize them at the end, but His first prayer was that the Father would forgive them for what they were doing (Luke 23:34).

The dividing of His garments fulfilled Psalm 22:18 (John 19:24). Pilate continued the game with the Jews by writing that Jesus was "KING OF THE JEWS" so that all languages could read it (John 19:19-22). As He hung there, He was mocked by people passing by, the religious leaders, soldiers, and even the robbers being crucified with Him (Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35-39). The Luke account adds that one of the robbers defended Jesus and asked to be remembered in paradise, and Jesus told him this would happen (Luke 23:39-43). Notice that the Luke account was the only one that recorded Jesus asking the Father to forgive them. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, "Luke's purpose . . . was to show that Jesus was the forgiving Messiah even as He died" (Comments on Luke 23:32-43).

John's gospel is the only account that reports about Jesus' conversation regarding His mother's future care (John 19:26-27).  

12-3 pm

236. Jesus dies on the cross: Matthew 27:45-56Mark 15:33-41Luke 23:44-49John 19:28-37

There was darkness from the "sixth to the ninth hour" or noon to 3:00 p.m. (Mark 15:33). How appropriate that Jesus would became the sin-offering for all mankind (John 1:29; Romans 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18) during this time of darkness. Just as there was three days of darkness before the Passover in Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23), this Lamb of God died for our sins so that the righteous wrath of God would "passover" those who put their faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26).

He was forsaken by the Father (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) because He took on the world's sin. The Holy Father could not look upon His Son who had become sin and been made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). 

When Jesus cried, they thought Jesus was calling for Elijah because the Greek word for "Elijah" sounds like "Eloi" (Mark 15:34-35).  

At the end of that time, Jesus cried out to the Father that it was finished (Psalm 31:5), and He gave up His spirit. Papyri tax receipts during that time period had this Greek word for finished written across them, and it meant "paid in full."  He had paid the debt for our sin in full (2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the curtain of the temple being town in two. This curtain was between the Holy place and the Holy of Holies in the temple (Hebrews 9:2-3). This curtain was 15 by 15 feet with a linen curtain during the time of the Tabernacle but was 20 feet wide by 60 feet long and 4 inches thick in Herod's temple during Jesus' time. Needless to say, it was a very thick curtain and ripped from top to bottom signifying God did it rather than men (who would rip it from the bottom if they even could). If you have been studying in the Bible Book Club, you know that only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies once a year (Leviticus 16:1-35). This event signified that everyone had access into the presence of God all the time (Hebrews 10:14-26) without the aid of temples, priests, altars, or blood sacrifices! It truly was finished! Our debt was "paid in full"! WOOHOO!

Matthew records that there was an earthquake (Matthew 27:51). This was probably for his Jewish audience. This earthquake recorded at the cross was similar to what happened on Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the Law that included all the regulations for the tabernacle and its sacrifices (Exodus 19:16-31:18). Hebrews 12:18-24 implies that the earthquake at the cross signified that Christ met the demands and curse of the Law, and that He, as the mediator of a new covenant, abolished it forever.  WOOHOO!

The New International Version suggests that the bodies of the saints were raised immediately, but the New American Standard Bible (literally interpreting the Greek word for word) directly says they were raised after the resurrection (Matthew 27:51). 

These events (and the fact that Jesus had the energy to cry out at the end of His crucifixion) caused the Roman centurion to exclaim that Jesus was the innocent (righteous) Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47) and the multitudes to beat their breasts (Luke 23:48) while the women who followed Jesus looked on from a distance. These women included Mary Magdalene who had been delivered of seven demons (Luke 8:2), Mary the mother of James and Joses who also was at the tomb on Resurrection morning (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1), and Salome, the mother of James and John, who had asked for special thrones for her sons (Matthew 20:20-21). The only disciple recorded as being at the cross was John (John 19:25, 35). 

John's gospel was the last to be recorded, and at that time Gnosticism and Docetism were a problem. Both these ideologies denied the reality of the Incarnation (God coming in the flesh) and His death. The details about His unbroken bones (usually Romans broke bones to speed up the death), blood, and eyewitnesses probably helped with these false ideologies.  In addition, the true Passover Lamb did not have any of its bones broken (Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20), and the piercing of His side by the Roman soldier fulfills Zechariah 12:10. 

Here is a summary of Jesus' sayings on the cross:
1) Prayer of forgiveness (Luke 23:34)
2) Promise to the repentant criminal (Luke 23:43)
3) Provision for His mother (John 19:26-27)
4) Cry of separation from the Father (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
5) Acknowledgement of thirst (John 19:28)
6) Cry of accomplishment (John 19:30)
7) Cry of resignation (Luke 23:46) 
 
(The Harmony of the Gospels, p. 242)



3 pm - Sunset


Luke records Joseph of Arimathea (a secret believer, Luke 23:51; John 19:38) asking for Jesus' body, but John is the only one who records the involvement of Nicodemus (John 3). This is significant because bodies of criminals were usually discarded. The linen and spices followed the burial customs of the time.

The preparation and placing of the body in the tomb were probably done quickly since it would have to be completed before the Sabbath at sundown on Friday. It was also the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Note that the women followed Him all the way to burial, but the disciples had all abandoned Him (Matthew 26:56). Let's hear it for the women! :)

238. Guards are posted at the tomb: Matthew 27:62-66

On the Sabbath (Saturday), the religious leaders wanted to make sure that no one would steal the body and "fake" His resurrection. Note they called Him the "deceiver," but they were both deceived and deceivers themselves!

REFLECTION/APPLICATION


We will go through four "Good Fridays" between now and the official Good Friday. Please use this day to ask God to search your heart for any sin in your heart and to thank Jesus for being our sin-offering.


PRAYER


Search us, O God, and know our hearts;
Try us and know our anxious thoughts;
And see if there be hurtful way in us,
And lead us in the everlasting way (Psalm 139:23-24).


Thank You Jesus for being our sin offering and our High Priest so that we might have access into God's very presence. Amen.