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Matthew 15





SCRIPTURE: Matthew 15

As this chapter opens, we find where the Scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders of Judaism) made long journey from Jerusalem to area of Galilee to attack Jesus.  That’s a pretty good hike or donkey ride.  But it just goes to show you that religious folks will go out of their way to make it difficult on folks who do not adhere to their religious rules.

They mentioned “the tradition of the elders”.  This was an attempt at an application of the Mosaic Law.  Early on, it was a good thing.  It helped people know how to apply God’s word to their lives.  The problem is by the time Jesus came to the earth, this tradition of the elders had become more authoritative than the Mosaic Law.  In other words, man’s opinion of God’s Word had become more important than God’s Word.  

The tradition they came to accuse Jesus of breaking was washing hands before a meal.  You might think if they came that far to attack Jesus, they would have had a signification accusation.  But Nope!  What they had was Jesus and His friends weren’t washing their hands before meals.

This wasn’t a washing the hands for cleanliness.  This was a very ceremonial process of water being poured over someone’s hands and running off of his elbows.  They did this to “wash off” any contact with anything or anyone they considered unclean they may have come in contact with.

Interestingly, Jesus never responded to their accusation.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is ignore what someone has said about us.  But Jesus did have something He wanted to ask those religious leaders.  It had to do with some things they were doing and permitting others to do that simply violated the explicit command of God.

The command Jesus put on the table had to do with honoring parents which includes caring for them as they grow older.  The religious leaders came up with a pretty ingenious way to skirt around this.  They simply declared what they had to be a gift to God.  That meant they didn’t have to give it to their parents because it “belonged to God”.  But it did mean they could use it until they died.  They had a pretty good racket going.

There is an obvious point that needs to be made here.  That is we humans are very adept at justifying whatever it is that we want to do.  In fact, we can justify what we want even while we are attacking what someone else wants.  We can justify what we do even while attacking what someone else wants.

So, let me encourage you to make sure what you want and what you are doing line up with God’s Word.  The only way we can avoid self-righteousness and live righteously is to live by God’s Word.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 14





SCRIPTURE: Matthew 14

This is a most interesting chapter.  In it we see the effects of human depravity.  We see the truth of Jesus’ perfect humanity.  And we see more than one miracle that can only be attributed to Jesus’ divinity.

The chapter starts out with the unusual and cruel death of John the Baptizer.  As you read through the intrigue that resulted in John being beheaded it is hard not to see us humans as really jacked up people who struggle not only not to do wrong but also struggle to do right.

This part of the story ends in verse 12 with John’s disciples doing right things.  They went to claim the body of their friend John.  They buried that body.  Then they went to tell Jesus.  That is an interesting statement.  Why did they have to go tell Jesus?  The answer has less to do with informing Jesus and more to do with the fact that they just needed to go talk to Jesus about a most difficult time in their lives.  There is a lesson there for us all.

The very next verse gives us an important look into Jesus’ humanity.  After talking with John’s disciples, Jesus needed to get away from the crowds for a bit.  Undoubtedly He needed a little down time, maybe even a little time to recalibrate since He knew where all of this was headed.  But the crowds found Him.  When you are in ministry, and every Christ follower is, your job is never done.  Never.  

That leads us into two amazing miracles.  One is the feeding of the 5,000.  The other is walking on the water.  

We will take a look at the feeding miracle first.  After a search, five loaves of bread (think pita bread not a loaf of Wonder Bread) and two fish (think large perch size not large catfish size).  But a little can be much in the hands of Jesus.  You may not think you have very much to offer to Jesus.  You may be surprised by how much Jesus can do with what you offer regardless of how much you think it is. 

That brings us to the walking on water story that begins in verse 22.  Did you notice that Jesus “made” the disciples get into a boat?  There are at least a couple of reasons Jesus “made” them do this.  One, in John 6, we discover that after the feeding of the 5,000, the crowd wanted to make Jesus king.  (That must have been some amazing fish and bread.)  Two, there were some things Jesus wanted to teach them that could only be learned in the middle of a storm in the middle of the sea.

Jesus sent His friends into a storm.  Being in God’s will is not a promise of smooth sailing.  Sometimes we can be doing exactly what God told us to do exactly the way He told us to do it and be in the biggest storm of our lives. Remember. If you are going to be in the middle of a storm, make sure you are in the center of God’s will.

There are a couple of other quick things I want you to see before we leave today.  One, Peter didn’t just jump out of the boat.  He asked for permission and waited for the Lord’s response before he got out of the boat.  That means what Peter did was an act of faith.  The Bible says faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of the Lord.  Peter waited until He heard the Word of the Lord and then he acted on what he heard.  That’s faith.

The second thing is this.  Before we get all self-righteous and bust on Peter too much for losing his focus and sinking, we need to remember that he walked on the water for at least a little bit.  Probably further than you have.  I know it is a lot further than I have.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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