3465.) Matthew 25

July 29, 2022

“Ten Girls” from Vie de Jesus, MAFA

Matthew 25   (NRSV)

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

All ten of the maidens slept, because the bridegroom was delayed. But the wise ones were prepared to act immediately when they were unexpectedly awakened. The foolish maidens were not prepared.

“The Wise Virgins” by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum).

6″But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

7“Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

9“But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

“The Foolish Virgins” by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum).

10“And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.

11″Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

13“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The point of this parable is simple – be ready. The price for failing to be ready is too high.



HERE  is “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”  a pop-rock gem by Chicago, a 1982 performance.


The Parable of the Talents

“The Parable of the Talents” by Rembrandt, 1652 (Louvre).

14“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

A talent was a weight, not a coin. So the value of a talent depended upon what was being weighed.  But suffice it to say that each of the three slaves received a large amount.

16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19“After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’

21“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

22“And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’

23“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

“It is better to be faithful in the infant-school than to be unfaithful in a noble class of young men. Better to be faithful in a hamlet over two or three score of people, than to be unfaithful in a great-city parish, with thousands perishing in consequence. Better to be faithful in a cottage meeting, speaking of Christ crucified to half-a hundred villagers, than to be unfaithful in a great building where thousands congregate.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

He didn’t work. He didn’t even try. All he did was offer excuses.

26“But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.

28″So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Some think that readiness for Jesus’ return is a very spiritual and abstract thing. It really isn’t — it is a matter of being about our business for the Lord. In light of this parable, we must ask ourselves: What have we done with our knowledge? Our time? Our money? Our abilities? The sins of omission (what we don’t do) may ultimately be more dangerous than the sins of commission (what we do).

–David Guzik


Giver of every perfect gift,
You shape my life from womb to grave.
Reveal Your good and gracious will
that plants me in this time and space.
Display the gifts assigned to me.
Make me a witness to Your name.

You planned and know the gifts I have;
Creator God, from You they come,
unique and special, from Your heart,
intended for a chosen role.
Thrill me to find and recognize
the talents only You can give.

Revealing Word, sent Son of God,
proclaimer of the Kingdom’s dawn.
It is for You, because of You,
that every talent is bestowed.
You have a part for me to fill,
a purpose for this life of mine.

Enabling Spirit, Gift of gifts,
empower me, stir up my faith,
make me an instrument of grace,
of mercy, blessing, peace, and joy.
Let me not miss another day
in seeing what Your gifts can do.

–K. Lee Scott

The Judgment of the Nations

“The Last Judgement” by Eric Gill, 1917 (Tate)

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34″Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

40″And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael:

Matthew 25:40 —  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”

Think of it, every little thoughtful kindness we do for someone in need, our Lord notices. He takes it as service done to Him. Let us serve Him by serving others, however humbly, today.

41″Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44″Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

45″Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

46″And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
MAFA.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/41-matthew-251-46/
Tissot:  Wise.   http://cdn2.brooklynmuseum.org/images/opencollection/objects/size3/00.159.179_PS1.jpg
Tissot:  Foolish.   http://cdn2.brooklynmuseum.org/images/opencollection/objects/size3/00.159.180_PS2.jpg
Rembrandt.   http://www.pravmir.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/rembrandt_pritcha_dluzhnik.jpg
Gill.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m25-gill.jpg
helping an elderly woman.    http://images.wisegeek.com/elderly-assistance.jpg

3464.) Matthew 24

July 28, 2022

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Matthew 24   (NRSV)

The Destruction of the Temple Foretold

Warning:  This chapter is subject to many different interpretations. It is not an easy chapter to understand. If the end times is an interesting topic for you, I invite you to do further research yourself.

As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.

After the destruction of Solomon’s temple, this (second) temple was originally built by Zerubbabel and Ezra (Ezra 6:15). Herod the Great (who ruled when Jesus was born) greatly expanded and improved it. This temple was the center of Jewish life for almost a thousand years – so much so, that it was customary to swear by the temple (Matthew 23:16), and speaking against the temple could be considered blasphemy (Acts 6:13).

After Herod’s work, the temple was huge: nearly 500 yards long and 400 yards wide. Herod’s plan for rebuilding started in 19 BC and was completed in AD 63, taking more than 80 years. The temple was finished only seven years before it was destroyed.

But the Second Temple wasn’t just big; it was also beautiful. The Jewish historian Josephus said that the temple was covered with gold plates and when the sun shone on them, it was blinding to look at. Where there was no gold, there were blocks of marble of such a pure white that from a distance strangers thought there was snow on the temple.

–David Guzik

2Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Signs of the End of the Age

the Mount of Olives (Church of All Nations in foreground)

3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

Romans 8:22-24   (ESV)

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

Persecutions Foretold

9“Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael:

Matt. 24:13:  He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  (KJV)

He that shall endure unto the end — these words come three times in the Gospels. In Hebrews 3: 6 and 14 we have firm unto the end, steadfast unto the end, and twice the thought of hope is linked up with the word. If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, and The full assurance of hope unto the end (Heb. 6:11).

How much easier it would be if we knew when hearts that are holding out against the Lord would yield, or when some private trial of our own would pass. It was like that in Bible days; there was the same temptation to tire in hope and to fail in the joy of hope, to weaken and get slack. So we have those glorious, strong words in the Gospels and in Hebrews, and there is another that is sheer joy — 1 Corinthians 1:8:  Our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also keep you steadfast to the very end.

So we can turn Jude 24-25 into praise and thanksgiving. “Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy . . . be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen.”

Reflection question: What specific thing could you begin to do that would help you to “endure to the end”? Or what could you share with other people to help them continue to be faithful?

14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

The Desolating Sacrilege

15“So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand),

Essentially, the abomination of desolation speaks of the ultimate desecration of a Jewish temple, the establishment of an idolatrous image in the holy place itself, which will inevitably result in the judgment of God. It is the abomination that brings desolation.

–David Guzik

16then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ —do not believe it. 24For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25Take note, I have told you beforehand.

No one should be deceived about the nature of Jesus’ coming. It will not be secret or private, but as plain as lightning that flashes across the sky. 

26″So, if they say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

The Coming of the Son of Man

“Angel Playing Trumpet no. 2” by Andrzej Filipowicz .

29“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,

It is difficult to say exactly what this sign is. Perhaps it will precede His return as described in Revelation 19:11.

and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

How will heaven and earth pass away? Will God will destroy this earth and sky and replace it with one that has never been stained with sin? One commentator suggests that the Lord is going to ‘burn’ up the earth (2 Peter 3 : 7, 2 Peter 3 : 10, 2 Peter 3 : 12 – 13); over 70% of the earth is water and the Lord is eliminating all oceans/seas and increasing the land mass tremendously. Well, that’s one opinion! Robert Frost considers some options in one of my favorite poems, “Fire and Ice”:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

The Necessity for Watchfulness

36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

To give this idea the strongest emphasis, Jesus claimed that this knowledge was reserved for His Father only. If Jesus Himself – at least during His earthly ministry – did not know this day and hour, it emphasizes the foolishness of any later person making certain predictions regarding the prophetic timetable.

37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.

William Barclay describes one aspect of the difficulty here: “It is in two sections and they seem to contradict each other. The first (verses 32-35) seem to indicate that, as a man can tell by the signs of nature when summer is on the way, so he can tell by the signs of the world when the Second Coming is on the way… The second section (verses 36-41) says quite definitely that no one knows the time of the Second Coming, not the angels, not even Jesus himself, but only God; and that it will come upon men with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky.”

42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

We see a dilemma. How can Jesus come to a “business-as-usual” world, and a world experiencing the worst calamities ever seen on earth? As I said earlier, this is not an easy chapter to understand.



HERE  is “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”  written by Larry Norman (1947-2008), who has often been called the “father of Christian rock music.”


The Faithful or the Unfaithful Slave

45“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.

Each one of us should be greatly impressed by the urgency of Jesus’ appeal. What work am I doing for the Master today?

47Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Planet Earth.  http://www.soil-net.com/album/Places_Objects/slides/Globe%20Planet%20Earth%20NASA.jpg
Mount of Olives.   http://www.padfield.com/israel/Jerusalem/images/mount-of-olives-02.jpg
Endure.    http://www.eaf.net/pantinghart/wp-content/endure-unto-the-end.jpg
lightning.   https://kibart.com/lightning-protection/
Filipowicz.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/angel_playing_trumpet_andrzej_filipowicz.jpg
fig leaves.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m24-fig_leaves.jpg

3463.) Matthew 23

July 27, 2022

“Christ Lamenting over Jerusalem” by Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, 1846 (The Tate Collection, London)

Matthew 23   (NRSV)

Jesus Denounces Scribes and Pharisees

According to William Barclay, the Talmud describes seven different types of Pharisees; six of the seven are bad.

· The Shoulder Pharisee, who wore all his good deeds and righteousness on his shoulder for everyone to see.

· The Wait-a-Little Pharisee, who always intended to do good deeds, but could always find a reason for doing them later, not now.

· The Bruised or Bleeding Pharisee, who was so holy that he would turn his head away from any woman seen in public – and was therefore constantly bumping into things and tripping, thus injuring himself.

· The Hump-Backed Pharisee, who was so humble that he walked bent over and barely lifting his feet – so everyone could see just how humble he was.

· The Always-Counting Pharisee, who was always counting up his good deeds and believed that he put God in debt to him for all the good he had done.

· The Fearful Pharisee, who did good because he was terrified that God would strike him with judgment if he did not.

· The God-Fearing Pharisee, who really loved God and did good deeds to please the God he loved.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.

8″But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.

Matt23 good-advice

Proverbs 12:5

The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

15″Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

23. wrong way

Proverbs 16:28

A violent man entices his neighbor
and leads him down a path that is not good.

16Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.’ 17You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? 18And you say, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; 21and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; 22and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

23. dunce-cap

Proverbs 14:7

Stay away from a foolish man,
for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

23. justice

Proverbs 29:7

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.

25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

M23 cup saucer

Proverbs 1:19  

Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.

27Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

23. heart

Proverbs 17:3

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.

29Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. 33You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?

Matt23 graves

Proverbs 11:21

Be sure of this:  The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

34“Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

“Getting it wrong”
by David Baer

In the gospels’ presentation, the scribes and Pharisees come across as villainous for two reasons. First, they fail to discern the scale of relative priorities that orders the manifold demands of Torah. Second, they strain after a public pose while neglecting the righteous internal life that organically produces a public reputation.

In the face of these two failures, Jesus is merciless.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean. (Matthew 23:23–26 NRSV)

Hypocrisy is endlessly subtle and supple. Its capacity for adapting to the self-protective requirements of the moment is almost inexhaustible.

Yet it pivots upon these two sins, making righteousness all the more difficult for those who by ignorance or principle fail to play by ‘pharisaical’ religion’s arbitrary and self-referential rules.

In Jesus’ dialect, those who act this way—no matter how nicely starched their robes—are sons of hell.


The Lament over Jerusalem

. . . as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing . . .

37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”



HERE  is “Yerushalayim Shel Zaha” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) sung by Ofra Haza.   (You may remember this song from the closing scene of the movie Schindler’s List.)


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Eastlake.   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastlake.jpg
Scribes and Pharisees.  http://randomresponses.blogspot.com/2006/08/jesus-and-pharisees.html
bad advice, good advice signs.  https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-good-advice-image26790031
wrong way sign.   https://www.bradyid.com/signs/wrong-way-sign-pid-115280
dunce cap.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/dunce-cap.gif
scales of justice.   http://clipart-library.com/clipart/8i6oBppLT.htm
cup and saucer.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/m23-cup-saucer.jpg
heart.   http://www.ideachampions.com/heart/HEART%20LOU.jpg
grave sites.   https://undark.org/2019/11/06/top-scientists-dying/
Getting it wrong.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m23-wrong.png
hen and chicks.   http://recia.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/a-hen-with-chicks-gathered.jpg

3462.) Matthew 22

July 26, 2022

Matthew 22   (NRSV)

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

A king prepared a wedding banquet for his son . . .

A king prepared a wedding banquet for his son . . .

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.

The Hebrews, like other people of the ancient Near East, were enormously fond of social feasting. At the three great religious feasts, which all males were expected to attend, each family held its own feast. Sacrifices were also accompanied by an extensive meal, and there were feasts on birthdays, at marriages, at funerals, at the laying of foundations, for vintage, for sheep-shearing, and on other occasions. At a large banquet a second invitation was often sent on the day of the feast, or a servant escorted the invitees to the banquet.

–from The Archaeological Bible

4“Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’

5“But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

This is a prophecy of what would happen to Jerusalem, the city whose religious leaders so strongly rejected Jesus and His gospel.

8“Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.

Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit
or a bride with her jewels.

13″Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”

This parable demonstrates that those indifferent to the gospel, those antagonistic against the gospel, and those unchanged by the gospel share the same fate. None of them enjoyed the king’s feast.

–David Guzik

The Question about Paying Taxes

15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?”

21They answered, “The emperor’s.”

Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

“Every Christian has a double citizenship. He is a citizen of the country in which he happens to live. To it he owes many things. He owes the safety against lawless men which only a settled government can give; he owes all public services.”

–William Barclay

Psalm 24:1 (NIV)

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.

22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

The Question about the Resurrection

Elizabeth Taylor — a woman with seven husbands! The lucky guys were Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fischer, Richard Burton (twice), John Warner, and Larry Fortensky.

23The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 24“Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’ 25Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow to his brother. 26The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh. 27Last of all, the woman herself died. 28In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.”

29Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. 30For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Jesus delivers a double whammy. He refers both to life after death and to angels — two beliefs which the Sadducees did not accept.

31And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.”

Jesus demonstrated the reality of the resurrection using only the Torah, the five books of Moses, which were the only books the Sadducees accepted as authoritative. If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not live on in resurrection, then God would say that He was the God of Abraham, instead of saying “I am the God of Abraham.”

33And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.

The Greatest Commandment

34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Really, it is this simple. Love God and love people.



HERE  is “Love the Lord”  by musical artist and pastor Lincoln Brewster (born 1971 in Alaska).


The Question about David’s Son

41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42“What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They said to him, “The son of David.”

43He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Logic and rhetoric proved useless in attacking Jesus. Now His enemies will use treachery and violence instead.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
called to love.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m22-called-to-love.jpg
wedding banquet.   http://a57.foxnews.com/global.fbnstatic.com/static/managed/img/fb2/660/371/table-setting-wedding.jpg?ve=1&tl=1
paying taxes.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/irs.jpg
Elizabeth Taylor.  https://media.spokesman.com/photos/2011/03/24/liztaylor.jpg
greatest commandment.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3179/2958141077_3fded68ddc.jpg

3461.) Matthew 21

July 25, 2022

John 12:13 says the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus by waving palm branches.

Matthew 21   (NRSV)

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”

4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

“This entry into Jerusalem has been termed the triumph of Christ. It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice.”

–Adam Clarke

6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Psalm 24:8 (NASB)

Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.

This was open Messianic adoration of Jesus. They look to Jesus for salvation (Hosanna means “save now!” and was addressed to kings, as in 2 Samuel 14:4 and 2 Kings 6:26). They openly give Jesus the titles appropriate for the Messiah (Son of David… He who comes in the name of the LORD).

–David Guzik



HERE  is “Hosanna”  by Phil Driscoll, singer and trumpeter.


“God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord” by Annie Vallotton for the Good News Bible, 1976.

10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”

11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Christians holding palm branches during a Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives. (The Dome of the Rock mosque is in the background.)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Barclay notes, “A pair of doves could cost as little as 4p outside the Temple and as much as 75p inside the Temple.” This is almost 20 times more expensive.

13He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

“Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple” by New Zealand artist Michael Smither, 1972 (Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection, New Zealand)

14The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became angry

This was their response to the wonderful things that He did, and to the praise of children for Jesus in the temple courts. The hypocrisy of the religious leaders is evident. Greed and theft in the temple didn’t bother them, but praise to Jesus did.

16and said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”

Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself’?”

17He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

“Fig Tree” by Swiss painter Paul Klee (1879-1940)

18In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

In a dramatic way, Jesus performed one of His few destructive miracles. His curse made the fig tree to wither away.

It is worth noting that the two destructive miracles of Jesus (this and the events that ended in the destruction of the herd of pigs, Matthew 8:30-32) – were not directed towards people.

20When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?”

21Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”

James 5:16 (NLT)

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”

And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.”

27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

“They could not say, ‘Of men,’ for they were cowards. They would not say, ‘Of heaven,’ for they were hypocrites.”

–G. Campbell Morgan, 1863 – 1945, British evangelist, preacher, and Bible scholar

Jesus kindly and compassionately met the needs of the hurting multitude, as demonstrated in Matthew 21:14. But Jesus didn’t show much patience with those who arrogantly questioned Him and hoped to trap Him in His own words. Jesus never fell into their trap.

And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

The Parable of the Two Sons

a vineyard in Israel’s Hefer Valley

28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.

30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.

31Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said, “The first.”

What matters in our lives is the doing of God’s will, not just the saying of proper religious words.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

“The shock value of Jesus’ statement can only be appreciated when the low esteem in which tax collectors were held, not to mention prostitutes, is taken into account.”

–D. A. Carson

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce.

35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”


42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Jesus quoted this from Psalm 118 to remind them that their rejection of Him said more about their guilt and coming judgment than it said about Jesus Himself. Though they reject Him, He is still the chief cornerstone, fulfilling the great Messianic promise He quoted.

43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.

“Who told them so, but their own guilty consciences?”

–John Trapp, English Puritan

46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
palm branches.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3151/2337320694_3616d1c9aa.jpg?v=1205670036
Vallotton.   https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/reformedchicksblabbing/2006/04/hosanna-blessed-is-the-king-of-1.html
procession.  http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200704/r135217_456181.jpg
Smither.    http://trustliveserve.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/christ-driving-the-money-changers-from-the-temple-by-michael-smithers.jpg
Klee.   http://www.museoman.it/en/exhibitions/exhibition/Paul-Klee/
vineyard.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m21-vineyard1.jpg
cornerstone.   https://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/cornerstonejesus.gif

3460.) Matthew 20

July 22, 2022

“The late comers” from Vie de Jesus MAFA

Matthew 20   (NRSV)

The Labourers in the Vineyard

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Like many of Jesus’ parables, this story is about an employer and those who work for him. Jesus will use this story to answer a question from Matthew 19:27 — See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?

3“When he went out about nine o”clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

5“When he went out again about noon and about three o”clock, he did the same. 6And about five o”clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

Evidently the landowner has plenty of work. He seems surprised to find workers standing idle — he would have hired them earlier, it seems, had they been there.

8“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

9“When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

13“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

We who are working in God’s vineyard here on earth ought not be jealous of the gifts or rewards belonging to others.  The Lord will do as he sees fit and we can only say “Thank you.”

“My last word to God’s children is this: what does it matter, after all, whether we are first or whether we are last? Do not let us dwell too much upon it, for we all share the honor given to each. When we are converted, we become members of Christ’s living body; and as we grow in grace, and get the true spirit that permeates that body, we shall say, when any member of it is honored, ‘This is honor for us’ . . . If any brother shall be greatly honored of God, I feel honored in his honor. If God shall bless your brother, and make him ten times more useful than you are, then you see that he is blessing you — not only blessing him, but you. If my hand has something in it, my foot does not say, ‘Oh, I have not got it!’ No, for if my hand has it, my foot has it; it belongs to the whole of my body.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon



HERE  is “Make Me A Servant” — sung here by the Maranatha Singers, but I remember more clearly my mother singing it around the house.


A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

“Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6:14

17While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

The Request of the Mother of James and John

20Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

M20 brothers

Jewish mother humor:

A Jewish mother put her two young sons in a double stroller and went to the park. There an older woman approached her and admired the two boys. “How old are they?” she asked.

“Well,” the Jewish mother replied, “the lawyer is three and the doctor is one.”

(told to me by a real Jewish mother)

22But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

24When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.

Here is jealousy at work. Jesus has warned us about this.

25But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 26It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

M20 do you love me heart


What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible?

Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.

Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” We ask, “Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?”

–from Reflections, Christianity Today, February 8, 1999

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

“Two Blind Men Receive Sight” by Ian Pollock, contemporary British illustrator.

29As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

1 John 1:1-4 (The Message)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
MAFA.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m20-mafa.jpg
vineyard workers.    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/06/30/article-1196663-058C936B000005DC-639_468x286.jpg
boys in stroller.    http://lifeasoflate.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/10562125_10100226798117097_432991689_o.jpg
Do you love me?  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/m20-do-you-love-me-heart.jpg
Pollock.   http://www.eichgallery.org/ianpollock/ipfinal/m34.html

3459.) Matthew 19

July 21, 2022

“With God All Things Are Possible” by American artist Mark Lawrence, 2008.

Matthew 19   (NRSV)

Teaching about Divorce

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

3Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?”

Divorce was a controversial topic in Jesus’ day, with two main schools of thought, centered around two of its most famous proponents. The first was the school of Rabbi Shammai (a strict and unpopular view) and second was the school of Rabbi Hillel (a lax and popular view). The school of Rabbi Shammai understood that uncleanness meant sexual immorality, and said this was the only valid reason for divorce. The school of Rabbi Hillel understood uncleanness to mean any sort of indiscretion; even to the point where for some rabbis, burning a husband’s breakfast was considered valid grounds for divorce.

–David Guzik

4He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?”

8He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce.  The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.

–Robert Anderson

10His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

11But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. 12For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

"Let The Children Come,"  by Liz Lemon Swindle

“Let The Children Come,” by
Liz Lemon Swindle

13Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; 14but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 15And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

We Pray for Children

We pray for children
Who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
Who like to be tickled,
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
Who sneak Popsicles before supper,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can’t bound down the street in new sneakers,
Who never “counted potatoes,”
Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead  in,
Who never go to the circus,
Who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who can’t find any bread to steal,
Who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
Whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don’t like to be kissed in front of the car pool,
Who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who are never spoiled by anyone,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children
Who want to be carried
And for those who must,
For those we never give up on
And for those who never get a second chance,
For those we smother.
And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind
enough to offer it.

We pray for children. Amen.

–Ina Hughes

The Rich Young Man

16Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18He said to him, “Which ones?”

And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

20The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”

21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

We may make two mistakes here. The one is to believe this applies to everyone, when Jesus never made this a general command to all who would follow Him, but especially to this one rich man whose riches were clearly an obstacle to his discipleship. Instead, many rich people can do more good in the world by continuing to make money and using those resources for the glory of God and the good of others. The second mistake is to believe this applies to no one, when there are clearly those today for whom the best thing they could do for themselves spiritually is to radically forsake the materialism that is ruining them.

–David Guzik

22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

“For he had great possessions” by George Frederic Watts, 1894 (Tate Gallery, London)

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

One of Jesus’ best metaphors! I have read that the “Eye of the Needle” was actually a small gate in Jerusalem, or that the word for “camel” is mistranslated and should be “cable.” Either may be true, but I choose to take the sentence at face value. I think Jesus just meant it to be outrageous, to get us thinking how useless riches are when it comes to us trying to seek God.

1 Timothy 6:17-19   (ESV)

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

27Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

28Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”



HERE  is “One Life to Love”  by the group 33 Miles, a contemporary Christian band  with country music influences, from Franklin, Tennessee. “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lawrence.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0008/5612/products/Matthew_19_23-24_sm_1024x1024.jpeg?103601
heart of divorce.  http://www.thechangeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/windowslivewriterwhatmotivatesme-b104divorce4.jpg
Swindle.    https://lizlemonswindle.com/products/let-the-children-come-large-art-by-liz-lemon-swindle?variant=40833712357568
Watts.   https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/watts-for-he-had-great-possessions-n01632
camel and needle.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m19-camelneedle.jpg

3458.) Matthew 18

July 20, 2022

Matt 18 Col 3.13

Matthew 18   (NRSV)

True Greatness

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

Temptations to Sin

6“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.

“It is a wicked thing to sin, and it is a far greater evil to lead others into sin. But leading one of Jesus’ little ones into sin is far worse, because you then initiate someone into an instance or a pattern of sin that corrupts whatever innocence they had.” 

–David Guzik

7Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! 8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.

We are certainly grateful that God can work ALL THINGS together for good, even our sins; the old hymn has it “Greater good because of evil, larger mercy through the Fall.” But if we cause the evil, if we cause someone else to sin by our words or example — Jesus says, This is serious. Deal with your sin ruthlessly. Don’t accommodate it in any way. 

And lest we soon be blind and limbless, let us turn to Jesus to make us a new creation, with his own spirit that will lead us to walk in righteousness rather than wickedness.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. 12What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Reproving Another Who Sins

Proverbs 15:32

He who ignores discipline despises himself,
but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matt 18 reconciliation

from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit,
by Paul Chilcote

God of Reconciliation,

You have called us to be ambassadors of healing and understanding in Christ. Yet it is easy for us to make ourselves feel good by pointing out failures in others. We talk about others behind their back. We are so frequently unfair. Forgive us, we pray. 

Plant a spirit of reconciliation within us. 

Lord, we need to help one another in our journey of faith, and all of us make many mistakes and get lost along the way. All of us need to learn gentleness, patience, and kindness from one another. Love ought to determine how we deal with our brothers and sisters in your family. Everyone needs to be understood, and often we need the counsel of others who see what we are doing better than we see for ourselves. We need to be accountable to one another because that is the only way we can continue to grow in your love. Forgive us, we pray.

Plant a spirit of reconciliation within us.

We are part of your community, the Church. Help us to be honest with one another but always to speak the truth in love. We want to be your faithful family of healing and of love. Forgive us, we pray. 

Plant a spirit of reconciliation within us

Heal our broken relationships and makes us one in Christ our Lord. Amen.

18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”


21Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”


Is there someone, alive or dead, against whom you are holding a grudge — someone you should forgive?

Can you choose to forgive him or her from your heart, right now?

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents (note:  a huge, unpayable debt) was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii (note: one denarius was the wage for a day of labor); and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’

29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’

30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.

35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

The principle is clear. God has forgiven such a great debt, that any debt owed to us is absolutely insignificant in comparison. No one can possibly offend me to the extent that my sins have offended God. This principle must be applied in the things done to us, great and small offenses alike.

“We incur greater wrath by refusing to forgive than by all the rest of our indebtedness.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon



HERE  is “Forgive Me’  sung by Rebecca St. James. The video tells its own story.


Quotes on forgiveness:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
— Mark Twain

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.
— George MacDonald

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.
— Lily Tomlin


18. forgive-shopping cartoon


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Colossians.   https://loosehim.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/%E2%80%AD%E2%80%ADcolossians%E2%80%AC-%E2%80%AD313%E2%80%AC/
children.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m18-children.jpg
lost sheep.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m18-lost-sheep.gif
reconciliation.   https://www.woodstreamchurch.org/sermon/reconciliation/
Forgive me tulips.  http://rlv.zcache.com/poem_card_yellow_tulips-p1371876097931439573v24_400.jpg

3457.) Matthew 17

July 19, 2022

“Transfiguration of Christ” by Raphael, 1519 (The Vatican). Two stories are painted: the Transfiguration, above, and the healing of the demon-possessed boy, below.

Matthew 17   (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Moses and Elijah were the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Moses represents the law, or the old covenant. He wrote the Pentateuch, and he predicted the coming of a great prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 — The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”).

Elijah represents the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6 — “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”).

Moses’ and Elijah’s presence with Jesus confirmed Jesus’ Messianic mission — to fulfill God’s law and the words of God’s prophets.

–from the notes of the Life Application Bible

4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

M17 how
How good, Lord, to be here!
Your glory fills the night;
Your face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

How good, Lord, to be here!
Your beauty to behold
Where Moses and Elijah stood,
Your messengers of old.

Fulfiller of the past
And hope of things to be,
We hail your body glorified
And our redemption see!

–Joseph A. Robinson, 1858-1933

6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.



HERE  is “Beautiful Savior” sung by Deborah Liv Johnson.


9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

11He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

Elijah had arrived in the work of John the Baptist, who ministered in Elijah’s spirit and power (Luke 1:17).
This is evident from a comparison of the life and work of both Elijah and John the Baptist.

· Elijah was noted as being full of zeal for God; so was John the Baptist.

· Elijah boldly rebuked sin in high places; so did John the Baptist.

· Elijah called sinners and compromisers to a decision of repentance; so did John the Baptist.

· Elijah attracted multitudes in his ministry; so did John the Baptist.

· Elijah attracted the attention and fury of a king and his wife; so did John the Baptist.

· Elijah was an austere man; so was John the Baptist.

· Elijah fled to the wilderness; John the Baptist also lived there.

· Elijah lived in a corrupt time and was used to restore failing spiritual life; so also John the Baptist.

Jesus Cures a Boy with a Demon

14When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

17Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”

Mat17 come to Jesus

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael


Have you a “him” about whom you are anxious? Bring him to Me. Have you a “her”? Bring her to Me.  We can even turn the pronoun to “it” — this crushing burden of the state of the world, the grief and misery that overwhelms us if we think at all — Bring it to Me. We can turn the word to “all” — the problems of our work with its cares and its questions, and more personal cares and anxieties, too — Bring all to Me.

And there are joys, too. Don’t let us bring only griefs and anxieties, but also thanks and praises.

Bring him to Me.

Bring her to Me.

Bring it to Me.

Bring all to Me.

18And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.

Acts 10:38 (NLT)

And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

20He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection

“Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6:14

22As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, 23and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

Jesus and the Temple Tax

“Temple Tax” wall painting by Bertrand Bahuet, 1995 (St. Peter’s Chapel at Curbans in the southern French Alps)

24When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?”

25He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?”

26When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

Lunch of St. Peter’s fish at the Ein Gev kibbutz restaurant, Israel. The fish I ate was delicious — but no coin in its mouth for me!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Raphael.     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transfiguration_(Raphael)#/media/File:Transfigurazione_(Raffaello)_September_2015-1a.jpg
Transfiguration circle.   http://revtucher.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/b-28-transfiguration-mk-9-2-9.png
Come to Jesus.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/607a4-jesus.jpg
Bahuet.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/17-temple-tax.jpg?w=450
St. Peter’s fish.     http://travelerfolio.com/tf3/photos/2012/08/st-peter-fish-redbelly-tilapia-israel.jpg

3456.) Matthew 16

July 18, 2022

Caesarea Philippi, north of the Jordan River, where Peter acclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God

Matthew 16   (NRSV)

The Demand for a Sign

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus.

Their working together showed a deep fear among the religious leaders. The Sadducees and Pharisees were long-standing enemies, and the fact that they came together against Jesus shows they regarded Him as a serious threat.

  • The Pharisees lived according to the smallest points of the oral and scribal law; the Sadducees received only the written words of the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • The Pharisees believed in angels and the resurrection of the dead; the Sadducees did not (Paul made use of this division in Acts 23:6-10).
  • The Pharisees were not a political party and were prepared to live under any government that would leave them alone to practice their religion the way they wanted to; the Sadducees were aristocrats and collaborated with the Romans to keep their wealth and power.
  • The Pharisees looked for and longed for the Messiah; the Sadducees did not.

–David Guzik

They asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.

“Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.”

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

5When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.”

8And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? 9Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi,

“The area was scattered with temples of the ancient Syrian Baal worship. . . . Hard by Caesarea Philippi there rose a great hill, in which was a deep cavern; and that cavern was said to be the birthplace of the great god Pan, the god of nature. . . . In Caesarea Philippi there was a great temple of white marble built to the godhead of Caesar. . . . It is as if Jesus deliberately set himself against the background of the world’s religions in all their history and splendour, and demanded to be compared to them and to have the verdict given in his favour.”

–William Barclay

he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”


Imagine that Jesus comes to you and says, “Who do you say that I am?”

Tell him now what your answer would be.

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Peter, by His own testimony, did not see himself as the rock on which the church was founded. He wrote that we are living stones, but Jesus is the cornerstone. We could say that Peter was the “first believer”; that he was the “first rock” among “many rocks.”

Peter said as much in 1 Peter 2:4-5: Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

-David Guzik

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

“Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 6:14

21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

This must have come as quite a shock to His disciples. After fully understanding that Jesus was the Messiah, the last thing they expected was the Messiah would suffer many things and be killed.

Yet this was the predicted work of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:3-12). He must die, and He must after His death be raised the third day.

22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

The Cross and Self-Denial

“Take up your cross, and follow Me.”

24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”



HERE  is that old gem “I have decided to follow Jesus”  sung by Jadon Lavik.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Caesarea Philippi.   http://ferrelljenkins.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/caesarea-philippi_266t.jpg
red sky.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/m16-ibiza-red-sky.jpg
keys of the kingdom.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2087/1562646057_e17d51b1cc.jpg
cross.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/161720-cross-predict-death2.jpg?w=450
take up your cross.      https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/6a0120a78b51de970b0133ecda0ff9970b-800wi.jpg