25 February 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 19:1-21:17

There’s a lot to cover this week, so I’ll do a lot of summarizing. Hold on to your hats!

First, the Pharisees question Jesus about one of the hot topics of the day. They ask if God accepts divorce. Jesus answers them with Scripture. We always should turn to the Bible for answers to all of life’s questions.

Jesus says to focus on marriage not divorce. God’s Word clearly says marriage is between one man and one woman. So why did Moses permit divorce? Because of the people’s hard hearts. Divorce protected the women who were victims of men’s frivolous actions. Divorce allowed the women to live better lives and be productive in society.

God hates divorce because marriage is a picture of Christ and His love for the church. Divorce depicts that Christ could abandon and divorce His church. This is false. Christ never will abandon or betray His church. Divorce destroys the picture of Christ’s love for His people.

Marriage isn’t for everyone. While marriage is a gift, so is singleness is a gift. Seek God’s will in these situations. Whether married or single, Christians must use our situations as a platform to demonstrate God’s love.

Next we see parents bringing their children to Jesus. The disciples rebuke the people. Maybe the disciples thought the children weren’t worthy of Jesus’ time and attention. Or maybe the disciples thought they were protecting Jesus.

Jesus tells the disciples not to hinder children from coming to Him. Jesus calls the children to come to Him. Jesus touches the children, blesses them and He prays over them.

After this, a rich young ruler asks Jesus what he can do to receive eternal life. Jesus says to keep God’s commandments. The man claims he has obeyed the commandments. Then Jesus tells the man to sell his possessions, give them to the poor and follow Him. The man goes away sad because he has great wealth.

The rich young ruler was focused more on his possessions than anything God could provide for him. Jesus wanted the man to give up his earthly possessions to gain heavenly possessions. Jesus said it is difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is because these people typically have everything they need and don’t recognize their need for a Savior. They don’t want to rely on anyone other than themselves.

Jesus promises to give us blessings on earth and eternal blessings in heaven. (Jesus also promises persecution to those who follow Him.) He explains this with a parable.

In the parable, a landowner hires workers at various times throughout the day. At the end of the day, the workers are paid from last to first. The earliest workers expect to receive more, but everyone was paid the same amount. The landowner is a picture of our sovereign God -- the landowner could do whatever he wanted with his own money just as God has all authority to do anything He wishes. But the landowner (and God) was generous to all of the workers.

This parable can be a picture of someone who is a longtime Christian versus someone who came to Christ later in life. This parable also shows us that eternal life is a gift of divine mercy not human merit. We cannot do anything on our own to gain eternal life. We must accept the price Jesus paid for us on the cross.

Finally, after predicting His death for a third time and healing some blind men, Jesus enters Jerusalem for his last week of life on earth. Jesus enters on a donkey to show He is the King of peace. Thousands of people are in town for the Passover feast. They praise Jesus and recognize Him as the King of salvation.

Then Jesus cleanses the temple of the moneychangers who had made His house of prayer a den of robbers. And He healed people in the temple.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus rewards those who sacrificially follow Him. To follow Him sacrificially is to give up something I want to serve Him.
  • How am I bringing children to Christ? Am I sharing the love of Christ with the children in my life? Do I pray with them, tell them about Jesus’ faithfulness in my life, teach them stories from Scripture (Psalm 78:4) and share what God is doing in my life?
  • The rich young ruler’s wealth was his god. What in my life is more important than God? What is getting in the way of my serving God?
  • Am I willing to praise Jesus in the midst of crowds as the people did during His triumphal entry to Jerusalem? Do I ignore the naysayers and praise God for who He is and what He has done for me?
  • My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What kind of cleansing does my temple need?