Monday, May 18, 2015

New Testament Lessons 71-80

New Testament- Lesson 71

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 2

2. The Call of Matthew & Matthew's Feast (Matthew 9:9-13)(Mark 2:14-17)(Luke 5:27-32)- Matthew writes about his own call by Jesus to be a disciple and he writes it in a manner that casts doubt in the minds of some Bible Historians over his authoring the Gospel. For he writes, "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him." He could have written, "Jesus saw me while I was sitting at the tax collector's booth and he asked me to follow him."

Matthew (or Levi son of Alphaeus) was a tax collector who sat at a toll booth in Capernaum to receive various taxes. Tax collectors were hated by Jews and looked upon as traitors as they served Rome. Matthews obedience to Jesus’ call was immediate and he rose up, left all and followed him, not worrying about the consequences of such an act from Rome and we do not know how they reacted to his sudden departure from his job. Matthew threw a great feast in his own house and Jesus joined other tax collectors and people considered as sinners at the feast. The Scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw this, murmured against his disciples asking how Jesus could associate with such people who were great sinners. When Jesus heard that he said, “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick.'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The scribes and Pharisees were self righteous and looked down upon others and Jesus here was pointing out their self righteous attitude to them.

Jesus considered “mercy”(being compassionate, loving and kind) greater than “sacrifice”(doing things according to the book) and he condemned the judgmental attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Jesus also stressed the fact that he had come to save sinners and not them who were self righteous.


New Testament- Lesson 72

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 3

3. Jesus questioned about fasting (Matthew 9:14-17) (Mark 2:18-22) (Luke 5:33-39)- Some came and asked Jesus why his disciples did not fast like the disciples of John the Baptist and those of the Pharisees. Jesus spoke to them in parables and said, “ Can you make the friends/guests of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days. No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, the old is better."(Luke 5:33-39)

Jesus, here compares himself to a bridegroom, who when present, his friends or guests, the disciples, rejoice for they have not much responsibility. But when he would depart from their midst, pointing to his coming crucifixion and resurrection, then they (his disciples) would be the torch bearers for the kingdom of God and much would be expected from them and that would require fasting and prayer on their part. He also spoke regarding sewing a new piece of cloth to patch the tear in an old garment and pouring new wine in to old wineskins. The end result then would be making the tear worse and the bursting of the old wineskins respectively.

The new piece of cloth and the new wine being the teachings of Jesus and the old garment and the old wineskins being the Pharisees and like-minded who were religious but had little or no relationship with God. They could not and would not accept Jesus and his teachings because they would not humble themselves.

Jesus asserted that new wine must be poured in to new wineskins, so that both are preserved, meaning that his teachings could only be accepted by them who opened their hearts to him by humbling themselves.

Luke adds one extra statement here as spoken by Jesus....And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, the old is better. (Luke 5:39) ....meaning that some are content with what they have and would not accept an offer of new, even if it was from God himself.


New Testament- Lesson 73

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 4

4. Jesus heals a woman with a 12 year affliction and raises Jairus' daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26)(Mark 5:21-43)(Luke 8:41-56)

Matthew's version of Jairus the synagogue ruler's 12 year old daughter being raised from the dead and the healing of the woman with the 12 year affliction, is shorter than those of Mark and Luke and he also mentions it after the feast in his house while Mark and Luke mention it after the healing of the demoniac at Gadarenes. Jairus begged Jesus to go with him and lay his hands on his dying daughter and Jesus agreed. But as he went, a multitude thronged around him and a woman with a 12 year flow of blood gathered courage and touched his garment saying to herself that she would be healed if she touched his garment and she was instantaneously healed. Despite the crowd thronging, Jesus realized that power had gone from him and wanted to know who it was that touched him. The disciples told him that his question was strange with such a great crowd jostling but Jesus insisted and finally the woman confessed that it was she. Jesus commended her faith and blessed her. While this happened, some from Jairus' house came and told him not to bother Jesus, for his daughter was already dead, but Jesus assured Jairus by saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well." Jesus, Peter, James and John, on reaching Jairus' house saw people lamenting for the dead girl, but Jesus told them that the girl was not dead but sleeping. The mourners ridiculed him, but he put them all outside and went with her parents to where the girl lay and took her by the hand saying "Talitha, cumi"(Aramaic language) which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." Immediately the girl arose and walked; her parents were astonished and Jesus told them to give her something to eat. It's notable here that a despairing woman with a 12 year affliction and a despairing father of a 12 year old received comfort the same day from the healer from Nazareth- "Jesus Christ".


New Testament- Lesson 74

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 5

5. When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. (Matthew 9:27-31)

This healing was wrought by the Lord because of the express faith of the two blind men who called him "Son of David" acknowledging that he was the Messiah. They did not flinch when asked by the Lord whether they believed that He was able to heal them. They only had hearsay evidence for knowing that Jesus was able to heal the sick and the infirm. They had not yet seen any of the miracles that Jesus had done, but had put their faith in Him from what they had learned from others regarding His healing powers. And how wonderfully the Lord rewarded them for their faith. How true then the words of Jesus when He said, “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet believed.” (John 20:29b) This is also another example of how Jesus healed people by touching them. Matthew writes, “He touched their eyes.” There are other instances in the Word where Jesus healed the blind without touching them, but here He chose to touch their eyes while healing them. Matthew also states that Jesus forbid them from letting anyone know about the healing that had taken place. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want too much publicity so early in His ministry and bring about premature interference from the enemy. Whatever it be, the once blind and now seeing men couldn’t keep their mouths shut because they considered their healing to be of major value and they went out and spread the news of their healing all over that region. 


New Testament- Lesson 75

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 6

6. (Matthew 9:32-34) - While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

This is another miracle recorded by Matthew and not mentioned in the other 3 gospels. Here is a case of demon-possession. The demon’s main affliction here is making the man mute. Demons can afflict any part of the body and in this man’s case, his speech was obstructed. Perhaps the demon had his tongue bound and hence the man could not speak. Or the origin, transmission and production were all obstructed by the demon.

Sickness can be healed, but demons have to be driven out. And that is what Jesus did. Secondly, here the man was not in a position to express his faith and Jesus did not expect it either. So in cases of demon-possession, it is the faith of the one praying for the person that is important. One should not tell a person who is demon-possessed that if he has more faith, then he can be delivered. Demon-possession cannot be cured by medicines. Demons have to be rebuked and driven out in Jesus’ Name.

The majority of the onlookers were excited and amazed that a great miracle had taken place, but the Pharisees gave their own twisted explanation. They condemned Jesus and accused Him of using demon power (prince of demons -Beelzebub) to perform the miracle. 


New Testament- Lesson 76

Matthew Chapter 9- Part 7

7. The ministry of Jesus (Matthew 9:35-38)- Jesus taught in the synagogues, preached the gospel of the kingdom and healed every sickness among the people. When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. There was great need for persons who would guide the untended in to the truth of the kingdom of God. So he said to his disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

Then and now, the harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. God is "God of the harvest", but prayer and laboring for the kingdom are vital for the harvest to take place. Jesus asked his disciples to pray for God to raise up laborers and send them into his harvest.

There are them who pray and there are them who labor for the kingdom of God. There are also them who pray and labor because they love the Lord and his kingdom greatly. As believers, we must not sit idle; we must choose to do the will of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ; either being an intercessor or a laborer or both.


New Testament- Lesson 77

Matthew Chapter 10- Part 1

Jesus chooses and ordains 12 disciples (Matthew 10:1-4)(Mark 3:13-19)(Luke 6:12-16)- Luke writes that before Jesus took this major decision to choose and ordain 12 disciples whom he named apostles (apostle-one who is sent away, emissary, messenger), he spent a whole night in prayer. When it was day, he went up on a mountainside and called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them, to be with him, so that he might send them out to preach. He gave them power against unclean spirits (devils/demons) to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sicknesses.

Matthew names Simon Peter as the first disciple chosen and then names the others. An easy way to remember the names of the disciples is Simon, Simon, James, James, Judas, Judas, Mathew, Thomas, Andrew, John, Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael).

2 Simon are Simon whom Jesus named Peter (brother of Andrew) and Simon Zelotes or Simon the Caananite.
2 James are James, the son of Zebedee (brother of John) and James the son of Alphaeus.
2 Judas are Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed Jesus) and Judas (Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus) (brother of James)

Jesus surnamed James and John, sons of Zebedee, as Boanerges, which means "the sons of thunder."


New Testament- Lesson 78

Matthew Chapter 10- Part 2

Guidelines for the Apostles initial work for the kingdom (Matthew 10:5-15)-

Jesus' priority was to send his newly chosen disciples to the Israelites who as a nation had moved away from God. He forbade them initially to go to the Gentiles. He asked them to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand and to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons from those afflicted by them. His command to them was "Freely ye have received, freely give."He did not want them to charge anyone for the message that they were delivering or for the healings or deliverances. He did not want them to be worried about provisions, for they would be provided with, by them who received their message. He wanted them to enquire who in the town or city that they entered was worthy (God fearing & hospitable) and stay with them till they left. From a God fearing rest, they were to visit houses and proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom and make his Messiahship known. If the inhabitants of a house received their message, the disciples work would be fruitful there bringing peace or else it would have no godly fruit resulting in that house. Any house or city that rejected the Gospel would be symbolically condemned by them shaking the dust of their feet when they left the place and that house or city would be finally judged on the day of judgment for rejecting the Messiah and the heavenly gift of salvation through him.


New Testament- Lesson 79

Matthew Chapter 10- Part 3

Warning regarding persecution and to exercise caution while working for the kingdom (Matthew 10:16-23)- Jesus did not want his disciples to have high expectations regarding acceptance of their message. He was sending them as sheep in the midst of wolves (for sheep, provision, protection and guidance comes from the shepherd and sheep rarely retaliate)(on the other hand wolves are predators-them who would violently reject the Gospel). Jesus wanted his disciples to be wise as serpents (serpents slither away speedily on sensing danger) and harmless as doves (not retaliating, gentle even while exhorting or rebuking). Perilous times were ahead. Persecution awaited them in the form of betrayal (even from family) and scourging and bodily harm. They were to bear witness for Jesus before governors and kings and not to worry about what they would speak before high human authorities, for the Spirit of God would strengthen them at the right time. Hatred from people would be common to them and endurance was needed for the work to be finished. Fleeing from one city to another for survival would also be wise rather than accepting martyrdom before time. Seeing the future, Jesus also said, "You shall not have gone over all the cities of Israel, till the Son of man comes." (several explanations for this-The disciples would not have finished going over all the cities of Israel- Till the resurrection/Till Pentecost/Till the judgment came on Israel with the Roman invasion in A.D.70)


New Testament- Lesson 80

Matthew Chapter 10- Part 4

Disciple, Master; Servant, Lord relationship (Matthew 10:24-28)- Jesus told his disciples-The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his Lord. Jesus was insulted and accused that he did miracles by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebub and he told his disciples that they could expect the same. He exhorted them not to fear their adversaries, for all their hypocrisy and wickedness would be revealed and he encouraged them to boldly proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom. Their adversaries could kill only their body, but not their soul. The One to be feared was God Almighty who was able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

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