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Matthew 10

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, APRIL 7

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 10

This chapter contains so much it is hard to know where to start.  For example, there is some interesting stuff about disciples and apostles.  There is a discourse on how the Gospel was first taken to the Jews. The Jews’ rejection of the Gospel meant that it would be brought to us Gentiles.  (Gentile is a Bible word that refers to everyone who is not a Jew.)  There is some eschatology.  (Eschatology is a theology word that refers to the last days.)  There is some cool stuff about how much God actually cares for us.  There is some difficult stuff about how the Gospel actually separates people.  Then the chapter ends with some much needed words about rewards.  So, out of all of that, what do you pick?  

I think I will tackle the disciple/apostle topic and we will see where it goes…  When the chapter opens, we find Jesus calling His twelve disciples.  In verse 2, however, those twelve disciples were called apostles.  So, what are they: disciples or apostles?

The word disciple simply means learner.  But in a New Testament context it refers to someone who follows a “teacher” to learn how to live like that teacher lives.  In the Christian context, it refers to someone who follows Jesus to learn to live like Jesus.  The word apostle means “one sent forth”.  In context it refers to someone sent by Jesus with a particular purpose or mission.

By definition then, a disciple is somehow different from an apostle.  Although the twelve apostles were disciples, not all disciples were apostles.  Biblically, an apostle is one who saw the resurrected Christ and received his commission from Jesus.  Furthermore, the original apostles laid the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20).  Based upon those Biblical requirements, I don’t think anyone today be an apostle. 

The New Testament talks about crowds of people following Jesus.  Although there certainly could have been disciples in those crowds, not everyone in those crowds could be considered a disciple.  Sometimes people chase Jesus just to see what they can get out of it.  In other words, just following after Jesus doesn’t necessarily make you a disciple.  Discipleship is a much deeper and more significant thing.

Discipleship is a function of commitment.  We should all be committed to learning from Jesus about how to live like Jesus.  And we should be committed to helping others learn from Jesus about how to live like Jesus.

But one of the reoccurring themes in this chapter is how hard discipleship can be.  In verses 5-15, we encounter the real possibility of rejection.  In verses 16-23, we see the potential for incredible persecution as religion and government team up to try to take out Christianity.  In verses 34-37, we see the prospect of families being divided over Christianity.  

As much as we American Christians want to push back on these kinds of things, we know historically this has always been the case even in the earliest days of Christianity.  We also know Christians in certain parts of our world today are facing increasing persecution.  And we know, even in our country today, Christianity is not thought well of by an increasing number of people.  

But don’t lose heart.  Historically, the church has flourished in the face of even the most devastating persecution.  It is as though the more humans have tried to stamp out Christianity, the faster the church has grown.  And as you finish chapter 10, you see that God has some special rewards for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.  Hang in there! 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 9

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, APRIL 6

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 9

There is so much to learn about Jesus in this chapter.  I want to start with a statement made near the end of this chapter and then we will move back to the front of the chapter and cover as much ground as this space allows.  The statement I want to begin with is found in verse 36: “When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Jesus cares about people.  And that care leads to compassion.  Think about it this way.  Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.  Empathy is expressing sorrow with someone because you have been where that person is.  But compassion is something deep in us that moves us to intervene on behalf of someone.  We see Jesus doing this throughout this chapter. 

As the chapter opens, a paralytic is carried to Jesus by some friends.  Interestingly, the Bible says Jesus saw the faith of the friends, not the faith of the paralytic but of his friends, and responded.  We should never discount that value of having faithful friends who are people of faith.  That paralytic walked home that day not necessarily because of his faith but because he had good friends of faith who went the extra mile to help him.  

From there we get a quick look at Jesus calling Matthew to follow Him.  Matthew did.  What we miss in this story is how incredibly costly it was for Matthew to do that.  He left a very lucrative job to follow Jesus.  On his way out, he threw a party for some of his friends.  You might have noticed that his friends weren’t necessarily Sunday School teachers.  But Jesus was right in the big middle of them any way.  Jesus never condoned sin.  But He never shied away from hanging out with sinners.  That hurt His reputation with the religious folks.  But it sure did open the door for the rest of us to feel comfortable hanging out with Jesus.  

It is about this time that there is a short pause in the narrative and Jesus teaches a great truth.  He speaks in terms of putting a patch on some old, worn out clothes and putting new wine in an old wine skin.  Since we Baptists don’t know anything about wine (wink, wink), I thought it might be helpful to unpack this a little bit.

Both comparisons, the patch on the old clothes and the new wine in an old wine skin, are really teaching the same principle.  Jesus did not come to patch us up so that we would last a little longer.  He came to bring something so radically new that nothing that had previously existed could contain it.  The Gospel and the abundant, eternal life it promises is so amazingly powerful, the world had never experienced anything like it.  Jesus was turning the religious world upside down and giving it a good shake.  By the way, religious people don’t appreciate that sort of treatment.  Nevertheless, Jesus came to bring new life.  As the story of Matthew and friends indicates, this new life is not a funeral.  It is a feast.  It is not all doom and gloom.  It is a party.

From there we are told about some more amazing miracles that Jesus performed to help some folks who were in a really bad way.  Just remember, Jesus had compassion on those who were harassed and helpless.  He still does.  

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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