Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

The Lesson of Tyre

Matthew 15:21-28 is an example of Scripture that is difficult to understand, until we put the verses in context with other passages. It works on multiple levels to reveal the love of God for all of us. It can be a little too easy to paint this as a story of a woman’s persistence, and miss the deeper lesson that Jesus gave the disciples.

Lessons in Lent

Limts Of Tyre The Limits of Tyre by Vasily Polenov, 1911

Today’s Lenten devotional by N.T. Wright (Week 3, Wednesday), focusing on Matthew 15:21-28, describes one of those passages in Scripture that is difficult to grasp in isolation. What’s really going on here? What does the text tell us about the values of Jesus Christ? Why didn’t He just heal the Canaanite woman when she asked? Is Jesus calling this woman a ‘dog’? Did this woman talk Jesus into changing His mind?

Thankfully we have a parallel text in Mark 7:24-29, and a clue about what life was like at this point in Jesus’ ministry in Luke 6:17-19, so let’s put them all together.

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and…

View original post 742 more words


Matthew’s Gospel Truth

I’ve had multiple conversations over the past two weeks on witnessing and evangelism, all centering on how we present Jesus and the Gospel. One thing that strikes me is how many Christian brothers and sisters seem to be without a plumb line when it comes to presenting the Gospel. Some sound doctrine would greatly help. Here is a post I contributed to our church’s Lenten blog series that speaks to the issue.

Lessons in Lent

“One of the great lies of our time is to suppose that because Jesus brings forgiveness, and urges us to be forgiving people, meek, and gentle, there is no sharp edge to his message. To hear some people, you’d think the whole of the Christian message was simply a call to accept one another, never to judge another person.”
N.T. Wright, Lent for Everyone, Matthew, Year A

Personally, if I had to pick one word to sum up Jesus Christ (and the Bible, and the Christian faith for that matter), it would be ‘veracity’—partly because Jesus called Himself “the truth” in John 14:6. We’re dealing with the truth when we’re dealing with Jesus. Really.

Certainly as much as any other Gospel writer, Matthew gives us a fully-developed, true picture of Jesus Christ and His message—and it’s not the saccharine depiction many people make it out to be (just wait until…

View original post 392 more words


Things that Go Bump in the Night

“From goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!”
Scottish prayer recorded in The Cornish and West Country Litany, 1926

Nightmare

Nightmare by Paul Bielaczyc. Charcoal, 2005.

 

There was my dentist—a normally genteel man—in the back of a military cargo plane decked in an olive-drab Level A HAZMAT suit, gesturing me into his examination chair with long, gleaming, barbaric surgical instruments. I had a hard time making out what he was saying behind his face shield, but it sounded like, “Buckle up.” I’m pretty sure he was grinning.

I’m not one much for dreaming, nor am I particularly anxious, but it’s amazing what the anticipation of a minor dental procedure did to loose my subconscious this week.

Fear is powerful, and the Bible has a lot to say about it. The words fear, afraidanxious, and anxiety appear 541 times in the ESV.

  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; (Proverbs 1:7)
  • Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)
  • Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (Matthew 6:25)
  • He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40)
  • And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)

Need an anti-anxiety prescription?  Here you go: fear in the right channel is prescribed—throughout Proverbs and the rest of the Bible. The apostle Paul instructs believers in Philippians 2 to, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  We’re not supposed to be free from fear. We’re supposed to live with fear in the right context—reverence and respect for the awesome power of our Creator. That’s what Dick Woodward’s 4 Spiritual Secrets are all about.

Ready for some good news? According to Jesus, fear has an anecdote: faith.

Fear is powerful. My loving mother, who hung that Scottish prayer just outside my bedroom door, was paralyzed by fear her entire life. So many times I wished I could have helped her think through her fear. But that’s not the way it works. Overcoming fear is not a matter of our intellect or will—it’s a matter of the heart. And no one gets out alive. Apart from the grace of God and a little faith we don’t stand a chance.

Here’s a link to Whom Shall I Fear? by Chris Tomlin that gets to the heart of the matter.

Peace.

HT: Paul Bielaczyc (Nightmare used with the kind permission of the artist.)


Contradiction or Difference?

Jesus carried up to a pinnacle of the Temple, by James Tissot , a watercolor between 1886 and 1894. Was Jesus taken up to a pinnacle on the Temple prior to being taken up to a high mountain and shown the kingdoms of the world, or is the order reversed? Does the chronology really matter?

Jesus carried up to a pinnacle of the Temple, by James Tissot, a watercolor between 1886 and 1894. Was Jesus taken up to a pinnacle on the Temple prior to being taken up to a high mountain and shown the kingdoms of the world, or is the order reversed? Does the chronology really matter?

The sermon this past week was on the Temptations of Jesus. I noticed that in comparing Matthew’s version with Luke’s version that there is an apparent discrepancy in the chronology. I asked my small group what they thought of the discrepancy:  “Does this impact how you view the Bible?”

You probably know the story: Early in Jesus’ public ministry, He spends forty days in the wilderness and after being exceedingly hungry, He was tempted by the devil. Mark simply records the basics (Mark 1:12-13). But Matthew and Luke spell out the order of events of the three temptations. Both Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11) and Luke (Luke 4:1-13) start with the first temptation suggesting that Jesus turn the stones to bread. However, the order of the next two temptations between Matthew and Luke are reversed. Matthew’s second temptation is where the devil takes Jesus up to the pinnacle of the temple, urging Him to throw Himself down and trust the angels to catch Him, and the third temptation is where Jesus is taken to a very high place, challenging him to worship the devil in exchange for sharing power. Luke, on the other hand, switches the chronology, putting the “pinnacle of the temple” last, prior to being taken up to a high mountain and shown the kingdoms of the world.
Continue reading


Matthew 23, Laying Down the Law

False Glory

False Glory by Odilon Redon, 1885

If you want to understand the New Testament you have to understand the Apostle Paul. And you can’t get very far into Paul’s writings before you come across one of his main themes—abuse of “the Law.”

Just what is or was the Law, and why does Paul devote so much energy and passion to it?  Before you get to Paul however, it is important to understand what Jesus himself actually said about the Law.  The identity of Jesus is tightly resolved if we understand the answer to this question.

Lee Strobel describes the prophesies that could only be fulfilled by Jesus. Mathematically, the odds that anyone who ever lived could fulfill only 48 of the Old Testament messianic prophesies were calculated by Dr. Peter Stoner to be one chance in ten to the 137th power—unimaginably small.  Add to that the Messiah had to color between the lines, so to speak, in fulfilling and not changing the Law, and you have what Lee Strobel would call the unmistakable “fingerprint of Christ.”

Continue reading


%d bloggers like this: