Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Testament Lessons 101-110

New Testament- Lesson 101

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 5

Parable of the treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price - (Matthew 13:44-46)

Jesus, now speaking only to his disciples said, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Both the parables have similar interpretation. The quest for God, truth and salvation ends with the discovery of the true Savior Jesus and salvation through him. That's the treasure that is hidden; though accessible to all and defined by the promise of God Almighty, "You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart." But why should the man who found the treasure in the first parable hide it? Perhaps it was to check what the law says concerning him claiming the treasure after he had bought it from the original owner. The oral tradition of the Jewish law (Mishnah)stated that the new owner would be the rightful heir to the treasure if the old owner contested it. His joy was because he had found something that had tremendous value; though not having value as much as the person who understands the mystery of the kingdom of heaven and salvation by grace and through faith in the completed work of Christ on the cross.

In both the parables, the men went and sold everything they had and bought that which mattered to them. Selling is giving away and for a person who finds Christ, as Paul the Apostle says, the right attitude must be.....But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:7, 8)


New Testament- Lesson 102

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 6

Parable of the dragnet- Matthew 13:47-51

Jesus again spoke regarding the kingdom of heaven and said that it was like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered fish of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."

A dragnet is a net drawn through a river or pond or across ground to trap fish. In this parable, when the dragnet was cast in to the sea, it gathered a lot of fish and when it was drawn to shore, men who had cast the net, sorted out the fish, gathering the good in to vessels and throwing the bad away. Similarly, the kingdom of heaven attracts many people; some are truly born again after hearing the Gospel; others are not (they do not repent or live according to the Word of God). Only those who are born again will enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. Jesus said that at the end of the age there will be a sorting; the wicked will be separated from the just and the wicked will go in to eternal punishment.


New Testament- Lesson 103

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 7

Householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old (Matthew 13:51, 52)-

After telling them many parables and explaining the same, Jesus asked his disciples, “Have you understood all these things?”They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

Though many of his disciples had little education, Jesus compared them to scribes now, as he had been teaching and imparting invaluable truths of the kingdom of heaven to them for quite some time. He told them that every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old. They were to teach their listeners, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven that he had newly imparted to them; at the same time, they were not to ignore vital truths of the Law and the Prophets that they had grown up with and use them judiciously as he was doing. The New Testament believer likewise can gain an immense amount of wisdom and instruction from the writings of the Old Testament even as he lives out the requirements of the New Testament.


New Testament- Lesson 104

Matthew Chapter 13- Part 8

Jesus rejected at Nazareth- (Matthew 13:53-58)(Mark 6:1-6)

When Jesus had finished speaking the parables, he came to Nazareth and on the Sabbath, taught in the synagogue, so that people were astonished and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas and his sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  So they were offended at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Mark writes....He did not do many mighty works there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He marveled because of their unbelief.

The people in the synagogue in Nazareth could not believe that God would choose an ordinary carpenter's son to speak heavenly wisdom and do mighty works of faith. They thought they could not be sidelined by God and choose him because some of them considered themselves as guardians of the Law. They rejected Jesus because they were jealous of him and because he was gaining popularity.


New Testament- Lesson 105

Matthew Chapter 14- Part 1

Herod Antipas & the murder of John The Baptist- (Matthew 14:1-12)(Mark 6:14-29)

When Herod the tetrarch [Herod Antipater or Antipas][son of Herod the Great], heard about the miracles that Jesus was doing, he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist who has risen from the dead. That is why these powers work in him.” Herod had John imprisoned for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife because John rebuked him for taking his brother's wife. He wanted to put him to death, but he feared the people, because they revered John as a prophet.

[Mark writes: Herodias held a grudge against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him]. But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced among the guests and pleased Herod and he promised with an oath to give her whatever she would ask. She, being prompted by her mother, said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was grieved, but for the sake of his oath, and of those who sat at the table with him, he commanded it to be given, and he sent and beheaded John in prison. His head was brought on a platter, and given to the daughter of Herodias and she brought it to her mother. John's  disciples came, and took the body, and buried it and they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard this, he withdrew to a deserted place, but the multitudes followed him on foot from the cities.

[Herod Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, in favour of Herodias, who had formerly been married to his brother Herod Philip I. John disapproved of this]


New Testament- Lesson 106

Matthew Chapter 14- Part 2

5000+ fed miraculously by Jesus (Miracle of the five loaves and two fish)- Read (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13)

The feeding of the 5000+ and the resurrection are the only two miracles that are mentioned in all 4 Gospels.

When Jesus heard that John the Baptist was beheaded, he withdrew to a deserted place with his disciples, but the crowds followed him because of the signs he was doing among them. When Jesus saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion and healed the sick. His disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

There are slight variations to this event as written in the 4 Gospels. John writes...Jesus, seeing a great multitude coming towards him, said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these people may eat? He said this to test him, for he knew what he would do. Philip answered "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little." Andrew said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" Jesus said, "Bring them here to Me."

Jesus told the people to sit down on the grass and then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves and gave it to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. They all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

New Testament- Lesson 107

Matthew Chapter 14- Part 3

Jesus & Peter walk on the sea- (Read Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-51, John 6:16-21)

Immediately after Jesus fed the 5000+ people miraculously, he made his disciples get into a boat to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (John writes Capernaum, Mark writes Bethsaida) and he went up on a mountain by himself to pray. The boat was in the middle of the sea after they rowed about three or four miles and was being tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Jesus was alone on the land and he saw them straining at rowing; it was already dark, and he had not come to them. In the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea and would have passed them by. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.”He said, “Come.” When Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus, but when he saw that the wind was contrary, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When Jesus got into the boat, the wind ceased. All who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” John writes....immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Jesus very well knew what was going to happen when he sent his disciples across the sea. He was praying for them throughout the crisis. He came to them at an unexpected time (at his time). He wanted to see how they would respond when he came walking on the sea; whether they would be expectantly waiting for him, their Savior to rescue them. Despite having seen innumerable miracles, the disciples were still lacking in faith. He was willing to allow Peter to exercise his faith. He proved once again that he had authority over the winds, the waves and the sea.

New Testament- Lesson 108

Matthew Chapter 14- Part 4

The hem of Jesus' garment- (Matthew 14:34-36)(Mark 6:53-56)

Matthew writes....When they had crossed over (after Jesus came walking on the sea and entered the boat that the disciples were in), they came to the land of Gennesaret and when the men of that place recognized him, they sent out into all that surrounding region and brought to him all who were sick and begged him that they might only touch the hem of his garment and as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Mark adds....Wherever he entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might just touch the hem of his garment and as many as touched him were made well.

The healer from Nazareth was now becoming well known, though he himself did not desire much publicity. Word had traveled far and wide and faith of the common people had risen to a level where they realized that just touching the hem of his garment would bring healing and it proved true in the lives of many.

New Testament- Lesson 109

Matthew Chapter 15- Part 1

Jesus explains what really defiles a person- Read (Matthew 15:1-20) (Mark 7:1-23)

The Scribes and Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned him as to why his disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands before eating. He in turned asked them why they transgressed the commandments of God by ignoring some aspects of it. He quoted the commandment "Honor your father and mother" and also laws related to it like those found in Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 which said that disobedient and arrogant children who cursed or smote their parents were to be put to death (he was not saying that they had to be doing that, but was pointing to their hypocrisy). Also some of them disliked taking care of their parents and whatever money they got, they said it was a a gift or offering consecrated to God or Corban (Mark 7:11) and so found a way to not support their parents.

Jesus remarked that Isaiah's prophesy of "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, they have removed their hearts far from me..." (Isaiah 29:13) found fulfillment in the hypocritical lives of the Pharisees.

Jesus called the people together and said, "There is nothing outside a person which going into him makes that person unclean: but the things which come out of a person are those which makes that person unclean."  The disciples later asked him what that saying meant and he explained, "Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside is not able to make him unclean, because it goes into the stomach, and later out of the body. That which comes out of a man, that makes the man unclean. For from within, out of the heart of men, comes evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness."

The disciples told Jesus that he had offended the Pharisees by his harsh words and Jesus replied, " Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be uprooted. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."


New Testament- Lesson 110

Matthew Chapter 15- Part 2

Faith of a Canaanite Woman- Read (Matthew 15:21-28) (Mark 7:24-30)

Matthew and Mark, both write about  a woman who came to Jesus seeking deliverance for her daughter who was demon possessed, but Matthew mentions her to be a Canaanite and Mark writes that she was a Greek, a Syro-Phonecian by birth. Most probably, she was a Canaanite woman who lived in Syro-Phonecia and had adopted the Greek culture.

When Jesus came to the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman came to him and implored him saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." Jesus did not answer her initially. (Mark writes...she kept asking him to cast the demon out of her daughter.) His disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But he answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But he answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." To that she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." On hearing that  Jesus answered, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be as you desire." Her daughter was healed that very hour.

Jesus remained quiet initially to see whether she would persist in her crying out to him with faith; a faith with which she came to him though she was not a Jew. She crossed the first hurdle as she kept crying out to him to heal her daughter.

Next, the disciples thought that he should provide a solution for her, because she was creating a furore. To this, Jesus said that he was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, meaning that, all healings and deliverances were provided for God's chosen people.

The woman then worshipped Jesus, persisting in her pleadings, to which Jesus said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

The Gentiles were often considered as mere dogs by the Jews, who considered themselves as God's own people and Jesus was referring to this when he made the above statement. But she neither got angry or depressed on hearing that. Instead, she replied, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table", conveying the message that all she desired was a deliverance for her daughter who was suffering and did not mind what people called her and though she being a Gentile did not qualify, yet the Lord could show mercy. On hearing that  Jesus answered, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be as you desire." Her daughter was healed that very hour.

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