Monday, August 10, 2015

New Testament Lessons 111-120

New Testament- Lesson 111

Matthew Chapter 15- Part 3

Great Healings - Read (Matthew 15:29-31) (Mark 7:31-37)

Departing from Tyre and Sidon, Jesus went to the region of the Sea of Galilee and went up on a mountain and sat down there. Matthew writes about multitudes of sick people (the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute...)coming to him and being healed. Mark writes of a specific healing...People brought to him one who was deaf and had a problem in his speech, and they begged Jesus to put his hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers in his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, he said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Whether with this miracle or the mutliple healings as Matthew writes, the people marvelled and glorified God. Jesus commanded them that they should tell no one of what they had witnessed; but the more he commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it.


New Testament- Lesson 112

Matthew Chapter 15- Part 4

4000+ fed miraculously by Jesus- (Matthew 15:32-38) (Mark 8:1-9)

Jesus had healed many who were sick and made many whole; people were engrossed in his teachings and in the wondrous healings they had seen; it was three days now since they had been with Jesus. Jesus had compassion on them and did not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way, because some of them had come from far off places. On expressing his desire to his disciples for providing them food, the disciples replied, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to feed such a great multitude?" Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few little fish." So he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground and he took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to his disciples and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

The presence of Jesus, his words and the power of the kingdom of God had captivated the multitude so much, that they did not think of time or home or hunger. Yet, the reality of the needs of the human body was realized by their Teacher and he asked his disciples for a solution but they faltered easily despite the fact that their own hands had distributed loaves and fish to a greater multitude sometime back; 5000+ being fed by their Master after giving thanks for 5 loaves and 2 fish. Their unbelief was unjustified; yet their Lord did another great miracle with seven loaves and a few fish and fed the 4000+ people. The disciples seemed to have forgotten the 12 baskets of fragments that they carried after the 5000+ were fed; now the Master had 7 large baskets of fragments for them. A miracle that teaches us that we serve an Unchanging God and he can provide us all through our lives as we serve him. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.


New Testament- Lesson 113

Matthew Chapter 16- Part 1

Pharisees & Sadducees try to test Jesus; Jesus warns his disciples - Read (Matthew 16:1-12, Mark 8:11-21)

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus and asked him to show them a sign from heaven. Calling them hypocrites, he told them that they were clever enough to predict the weather looking at the sky, but they could not discern the signs of the times. Calling them a wicked and adulterous generation, he told them that no sign shall be given to them except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matthew doesn't detail the sign here, because he did it in Chapter 12:38-40). Jesus then left them and departed.

Later Jesus warned his disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." They reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." Jesus, being aware of their discussion, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.


New Testament- Lesson 114

Matthew Chapter 16- Part 2

True identity of the Savior and new revelation of kingdom power- Read (Matthew 16:13-19)(Mark 8:27-29)(Luke 9:18-20)

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked His disciples, saying, "Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, son of the living God." Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Revelation comes to a fisherman turned fisher of men (Peter) and he gives the precise answer to Jesus' question when all others kept quiet. Jesus' acceptance of Peter's answer that he indeed is Christ, "the anointed one" and also the "son of the living God" clearly established his identity among his followers, when the general impression regarding him among the multitudes were varied. Many are averse to the fact that God is one who deals personally and gives revelation to those whom he chooses, like here he did in Peter's life. A question can then be asked why God the Father revealed this only to Peter and not to the others. The answer is that God is sovereign and he reveals that which he wishes to those whom he chooses, in ways that he chooses.

Jesus had more to say to Peter (mentioned only by Matthew)...."you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." There are varied interpretations regarding this, with some even looking at the comma after Peter and interpreting it as Jesus speaking of himself as the "on this rock". But with authority being bestowed upon Peter in the next verse, one can conclude that Peter was being chosen as a pillar of the coming new church after Pentecost. The "binding and loosing" is again mentioned in Matthew 18 in a totally different context. Here, with Jesus laying emphasis that "the gates of hades shall not prevail against the Church that was to be built", the "binding and loosing" means having authority over satanic powers if one exercised faith and used the name and power that comes from the name of the one who mattered i.e. "Christ, the son of the living God".


New Testament- Lesson 115

Matthew Chapter 16- Part 3

Jesus reveals his coming sufferings and speaks of true discipleship-Read (Matthew 16:21-28)(Mark 8:31-37, Mark 9:1)(Luke 9:22-27)

Jesus told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "No Lord, this shall not happen to You!" But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him for speaking of his death. He was their king and shouldn't/coudn't die. He was to be with them forever as their leader and teacher. Jesus on the other hand, had only one goal in mind i.e. to fulfill the Father's will and he wouldn't let anyone stand as hindrance to that. He knew that Satan would bring hindrances to God's divine plan and he rebuked Satan for being an offense. True discipleship had costs involved and Jesus spoke precisely of what it meant for someone to be his disciple..Denial and picking up one's cross were of paramount importance if someone decided to follow him.

Luke adds a few important words here.....If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26)

Unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke adds the word "daily" regarding picking up the cross. So true, for believers do sometimes forget that they have to continually live a life "dead to sin" to be "alive in Christ". Jesus affirmed that having all material gains in this world and not having salvation of one's soul was worthless. A disciple should never be ashamed to testify to others regarding his/her salvation that God the Father has provided him/her through his son Jesus Christ.
Jesus ended this teaching session with his disciples by saying, "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." He was speaking of his resurrection here and it proved true. His disciples and several others were witnesses, except some who died, including Judas, his betrayer.


New Testament- Lesson 116

Matthew Chapter 17- Part 1

Jesus is transfigured- Read (Matthew 17:1-8) (Mark 9:2-8)(Luke 9:28-36)

The synoptic gospel authors write about the transfiguration of Jesus which was witnessed by Peter, James and John; three disciples of Jesus. Peter mentions him being an eyewitness of this in his second epistle...(2 Peter 1:16-18)

Jesus took his disciples, Peter, James, and John with him on a high mountain by themselves and he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus and spoke of his death which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. As they were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make three tabernacles here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Even when Jesus was baptized, there was a voice from heaven which said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) Here another statement is made by the Father, which is "Listen to Him" signifying Jesus to be the mouth piece or representative of the Father. Moses represented the Law and Elijah the Prophets and both, the Law and the Prophets found fulfillment in Jesus. Peter blurted out what came to his mind on the spur of the moment and the heavenly voice brought great fear to the disciples, but they were reassured by Jesus.

The transfiguration signifies God exalting and honoring Jesus above all creation; his holiness and sanctity being shown forth by his body and even clothes becoming radiant with the glory of God.
Some have identified Mount Tabor as the site of the transfiguration, but there is no evidence suggesting that. Mount Tabor has long been a place of Christian pilgrimage and is the site of the Church of the Transfiguration.


New Testament- Lesson 117

Matthew Chapter 17- Part 2

Questions after the transfiguration- Read (Matthew 17:9-13)(Mark 9:9-13)

As they came down from the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, Jesus told Peter, James & John "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead." So they kept their experience to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. Later they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus answered, "Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." The disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.

The disciples knew that their questions and doubts would find answers with their Teacher and when alone with Jesus they asked him the same. Here they asked him about the prophecy of Malachi which spoke of the coming of Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord (ref. Malachi 4:5). Jesus answered and told them that it was true and it had happened, but the scribes had not realized it, indirectly speaking of John the Baptist and how he was dealt with. Jesus ended by saying that he himself was to suffer likewise.


New Testament- Lesson 118

Matthew Chapter 17- Part 3

Deliverance for a demon possessed epileptic child- Read (Matthew 17:14-18)(Mark 9:17-27)(Luke 9:37-42)

The Gospel writer Mark is the one who describes this miracle in detail. When Jesus came down from the mountain where he was transfigured, a great multitude had gathered and a man cried out to him, saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him." Jesus answered and said, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to me." When the boy saw Jesus, immediately the evil spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" and he said, "From childhood often he has been thrown both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Immediately the father of the child said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" Then the spirit cried out, convulsed the boy greatly, and came out of him. The boy lay on the ground as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose and he gave him back to his father.

A desperate father had brought his ailing son to Jesus' disciples, hoping for a deliverance, but they could not help him any. He must have been relieved to see Jesus and gaining an oppurtunity cried out to him. Jesus' statement to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes", must have perplexed him, but he confessed his unbelief immediately and saw his son being delivered from a demon that had oppressed him for long.

Jesus' power over demonic forces was clearly evident throughout his ministry. He has bestowed the same power to his disciples then and now. As he said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes".


New Testament- Lesson 119

Matthew Chapter 17- Part 4

Unbelief, prayer & fasting- Read (Matthew 17:19-21)(Mark 9:28, 29)

When Jesus was on the mount where he was transfigured, a man had brought his demon afflicted epileptic son to Jesus' disciples, but they could not cast out the demon. Later after Jesus had cast out the demon and set the boy free, his disciples came to him privately and asked, "Why could we not cast out the demon?" Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." 

Jesus stressed on 3 important aspects of the Christian faith here- Unbelief, solid faith and fasting as a vital addition to prayer.

Perhaps the gravity of the situation gripped the disciples with unbelief. When they saw the boy convulsing and being hurtled around by the satanic power, they must have questioned themselves whether they could command a deliverance. Jesus addressed their unbelief by telling them that if they could muster faith as a mustard seed, which is packed to it's maximum capacity with substance, indicating total faith with no space for unbelief, then it would have been possible for them to effect the deliverance; nothing would be impossible for them. There was the matter of being stronger than the enemy too and Jesus said that adding fasting to prayer would bolster their faith and make them overcome their unbelief and then victory over the enemy would become a reality.


New Testament- Lesson 120

Matthew Chapter 17- Part 5

Miracle in the mouth of a fish- (Matthew 17:24-27)

When Jesus and his disciples had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?" He said, "Yes." When he had come into the house, Jesus knowing all, asked Peter, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?" Peter said to him, "From strangers." Jesus replied, "Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for me and you." 

Temple tax was a tax that was used for the upkeep of the Jewish Temple....... 
This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary. The half-shekel shall be an offering to the Lord. (Exodus 30:13)
Special tax collectors were assigned to collect the tax because some did not care to pay it.
The tax was a half shekel (two drachmas) and Jesus miraculously provided a four drachma coin to pay for Peter and for himself.

Interestingly, Jesus remarked that the sons are free from paying the tax, implying that he being the son of the Most High God did not have to pay tax for the upkeep of the temple that belonged to his Father.

Matthew doesn't write that Peter did what Jesus asked him to, but that is a certainty.

Though the name of the fish is not mentioned here, Tilapia is sometimes called St. Peter's fish.

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