In Matthew 18:1, the disciples wonder about what kind of seats they would have in the heavenly kingdom. They asked Jesus for His thoughts by asking who is “greatest in the kingdom of heaven”.
To answer their question, Jesus called a child into their midst. Mark mentions in his gospel (Mark 9:36) that Jesus took the child “in his arms”, so I suspect it wasn’t a teenager! It was probably more like a toddler.
Then, very subtly, Jesus changes the question. He doesn’t answer the disciple’s question about “who has the best seats”… but responds by telling them what’s required “to get into” the kingdom. Turns out the disciples had been assuming something that wasn’t the case.
It kinda reminds me of that Bob Uecker beer commercial from the 80’s. In the commercial Bob, a former major league player who playfully refers to himself as “Mr. Baseball”, receives a free ticket from the management to see his former team play a game. He assumes, “I must be in the front row!” But the seating attendant escorts him, instead, to one of the last rows of the upper deck (in case you weren’t paying attention to beer commercials in the 80’s, I’ve included a link HERE for your viewing pleasure).
Poor Bob Uecker… and poor disciples too! They were both assuming something that wasn’t the case. Continue reading “I Must Be in the Front Row! – Comments on Matthew 18:1-4”
In Matthew 17:1-13, Jesus takes three of His disciples (Peter, James and John) up on a mountain. During their time there, Moses and Elijah appear and Jesus is “transfigured” before them.
When something is “transfigured” it goes through a change that makes it more beautiful. Transfiguration creates a new outward appearance.
In Matthew 17:2, Matthew tells us Jesus was transfigured, and suggests Jesus’ appearance completely changed. The description makes it seem like His outward flesh went away and the divine person beneath was allowed to shine forth. It says Jesus’ face shone like the sun. His clothes became like light.
The Greek lemma behind this transformation is a word that’s pronounced “metamorephoo”. That should sound familiar to English speakers. We describe the change a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly as metamorphosis. Interestingly, the same Greek lemma is also used to describe the transformation a believer experiences through faith in Christ. Continue reading “Unveiling the Transfiguration… Comments on Matthew 17:1-13”
I’d like to share a perspective on communion that has really changed the way I view this sacrament.
At the last supper, Jesus took the bread and the cup and served it to his disciples. When he served the cup he said, “… this is the New Covenant in My blood.” I’m not sure if you’ve thought about those words recently. Those who take communion acknowledge they have, through faith, entered into a covenant with God. A covenant is an agreement, a contract. But what exactly does this mean in the context of communion?
There’s a scene in the Old Testament, in Exodus 24, that I believe foreshadows our New Testament communion. Continue reading “Communion and New Covenant”
In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Anytime the author (Matthew) records Jesus asking a question, he is expecting you, as a reader, to answer the question. It’s a question that, eventually, everyone must answer.
But did you notice how Jesus phrased the question? He didn’t say, “Who do people say that Jesus of Nazareth is?” He inserts the title “Son of Man” in place of his name. The title “Son of Man” has a very specific context in the Old Testament book of Daniel (chapter 7 verses 13-14). The “Son of Man” character in the book of Daniel is very God himself.
Jesus is not asking, “Do people think I’m the Son of Man?” He is declaring that this is who He is. He had used the “Son of Man” title before (back in Matthew 9:6).
Here are the responses that the disciples mentioned they were hearing.
- People think you seem a lot like John the Baptist.
- You are doing things like some of the prophets in the OT… like Elijah… who helped a widow’s son in Sidon. (Jesus had traveled to Sidon and helped a widow’s daughter.)
- You seem like, Jeremiah, who wept over Jerusalem and predicted that the city would be destroyed. (Jesus will weep over Jerusalem and also predict its destruction.)
- Or one of the other prophets… like Jonah. (Both Jonah and Jesus had been asleep in the bow of a boat in the midst of a storm… and both calmed the sea… although in very different ways).
People were concluding that Jesus was an Old Testament person that had come back from the dead. But, the people on the street were failing to make one important connection.
Continue reading “What’s the Word on the Street? – Comments on Matthew 16:13-17”
In the gospels, every once-in-a-while Jesus will make a comment… or respond in a way that seems out of character. At first glance, instances like these might seem rather confusing. You might ask, “Why did He say that?” or “That seemed a little rude… didn’t it?”
As a reader, you can assume that unusual behavior from an otherwise consistent character usually means that there is something else going on that you might be missing. Whenever you read of Jesus acting out of character you can assume there is an important lesson right around the corner. The story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15:21-28 is a good example of this.
This story follows up on the previous section (Matthew 15:1-14) that discusses the topic of “defilement”. That section concludes with Jesus explaining to the disciples that the source of human defilement, from God’s perspective, is not instigated from something outside the body… but originates in a person’s heart.
The woman cries out and begs for the healing of her daughter… but Jesus does not answer her a word. This is one of the behaviors that seems a little strange. Jesus normally responds to people seeking his assistance. In this case, Jesus’ silence gives space for the mouths of the disciples to disclose something about the condition of their hearts.
Continue reading “That was so rude… wasn’t it? – Comments on Matthew 15:21-28”