Thursday 31 March 2022

Matthew 21:23-32

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

As so often happens, Jesus sees past the words people say to what’s in their hearts. These priests came with quite an important question, but they’re not looking for the answer. They’re looking for a lynch mob to attack Jesus. Jesus sees past that and brilliantly avoids the trap, for now. (Though soon, when the time is right, he will openly show God’s authority and willingly submit to their lynch mob and death on the cross.)

He sees an even more significant problem. Behind their words that sound so good are hearts that are hard, disobedient towards God and proudly unrepentant. (John’s baptism was for repentance.) At least one disobedient son in Jesus’ parable is honest about it and repents and then obeys – as they rightly acknowledge. Yet extraordinarily they continue as the son who’s both disobedient and dishonest in his words.

I’m glad that Jesus knows my heart better than I do. There’s no pretending with him, no need to explain, no denying the reality of my heart. But he doesn’t just expose my sin, shaming me. He nails it to the cross and puts it to death as he takes my place in death.

Thank you, Jesus, that you see the best and the worst in my heart. I want to leave that sin behind. I want to be like you. Holy Spirit, thank you that you’re transforming me into the image of Christ.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)

Want to join the discussion?

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Matthew 21:18-22

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Well this is a strange story.  Read wrongly you could even think that Jesus didn’t like figs!!  It comes directly after Jesus speaks about the temple and that the Jews placed some ungodly contexts on it.  Money changers thrown out, lame and blind welcomed and healed, but just a second, they were not typically allowed in the temple precinct because they were not ‘whole’.

Then this story about a fig tree not bearing fruit although in leaf, it being cursed and the disciples marvelling at the dead fig tree.  Jesus says nothing seemingly relevant about the fig tree though!  He makes a strange statement about a mountain being lifted up and placed into the sea and then says something about faith and prayer.

Jesus was near the Temple Mount and was most likely making reference to the temple mount and the temple on the mount being thrown into the sea.  He was, once again, having a go at the religious and their misuse of the temple, for religious purposes not godly purposes, where they had made their religious observance a matter of pride rather than their relationship with God!  SO while prayer and faith are exceptionally effective and, in the correct circumstances can definitely throw a mountain into the sea, Jesus is again calling out religious behaviours that have nothing to do with God and all to do with man.

Father, may I keep my heart pure and follow You rather than the traditions of men!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)

Want to join the discussion?

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Matthew 21:12-17

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

When I was a child there was a rote prayer that I prayed which said ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild, look on me a little child..’. This passage is NOT ‘gentle Jesus’. Here we have Sassy Jesus! This guy was flipping tables and calling the corrupt profiteers out for their disrespect and their exploitation. While as believers we are called to be peacekeepers and to extend Grace and Mercy, there is definitely a time and place to get our Sass on. We need to continue to stand up for what is right, to champion the downtrodden and disadvantaged. We need to be sure we are not party to oppressing or exploiting others. The example of Jesus shows our faith needs to be lived out with courage and boldness and just a bit of sass. We can serve God with our being subservient to the world. Significantly, this stuff that Jesus was dealing with was within the religious community, not the outside world. To me this is a warning to check that taking advantage of a situation or opportunity does not mean I am taking advantage of someone else. This raw, honest faith at work.

Prayer: Jesus I thank you for your Grace and Mercy in my life. I pray that you will convict me of injustice and help me to stand up for what is right. May my actions bring Glory to your Mighty Name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

2 replies

Want to join the discussion?

Monday 28 March 2022

Matthew 21:1-11

1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Can you imagine being one of the Jewish people in the crowd, seeing Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? You would know the cultural and historical significance of what he was doing. He was fulfilling an ancient prophesy that Zechariah had spoken some 500 years earlier to indicate the actions of their coming king. No wonder the crowd was excited and praising him – something great was about to happen.

Jesus would also know the significance of this event.  

Yet before it happened, he found an opportunity to include his disciples. He gave them details about the donkey and what to say. He spoke to them and then they went. I see this as taking steps of faith and curiosity to see what would happen. And it happened exactly as he had said. How assuring is that.

So, whether it be a 500+ year old prophesy, or words spoken to you directly by Jesus, or a sense we have when we read His word or someone speaks a God-given word over us – it is more than information. Rather, it is an invitation to bear witness and participate in what God is about to do.

How cool is that. Thank you, Lord!

Written by Gab Martin

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Sunday 27 March 2022

Matthew 20:29-34

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Ophthalmology deals with eye disorders. There are over a dozen subspecialities with the field. Globally, according to the WHO, there are over 2.2 billion people with near or distance vision impairment.
Soteriology deals with salvation. There is only one way to be saved: Jesus. Globally, according to the bible, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Call to him! Jesus was not some magic medicine man whose sole reason was to heal people physically. His purpose was more than that. He came to be the Great Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Chief Cornerstone, the True Vine, the Lamb of God, and the King of Kings. He comforts those who call to him and eases the burdens of those who follow him. And that is exactly what happened in this passage. Two men called to him, and those same two men end up following him. Jesus took the time, showed mercy, and had compassion on them. The same as he does with us. Call to him!

Lord, thank you for your overflowing love. Thank you that you are with us each day, especially through troubled times. Thank you for your mercy and compassion in our lives. Help us to call out to you, Lord. We trust in you and your unfailing promises. In your precious name, Jesus.
Amen

Written by Sven Bessesen

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Saturday 26 March 2022

Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Surely, if I do something amazing for God, I should be rewarded with honour, and a special place in His kingdom right? I mean the parable of the talents basically says if I’m faithful with little, He will entrust me with much, right? 

“Not necessarily” says Jesus in this passage! 

The bottom line here for me is clear. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. But this isn’t just His unique way of life… He expects us to follow him in his self-denying service to others! 

Lord, thank you that you make it clear and plain how you expect us to live our lives in service to others. Please continue to help me to serve you and serve others humbly, all the days of my life. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Friday 25 March 2022

Matthew 20:17-19

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

The Wright Brothers sent a telegram to their family concerning the first ever successful flight of a powered, heavier-than-air flying machine… and that they would be home for Christmas. The family, as it turns out, only heard that Wilbur and Orville, being good cooks, would be home to prepare the Christmas turkey. 

Jesus was to rise from the dead, a very important detail. But if my Messiah just told me He was about to die, at the hand of those who should have accepted and championed Him, and be crucified by enemy Romans no less, I think I’d miss that detail too. No wonder they were slow to believe on Easter Sunday. 

Am I really listening to Jesus or am I missing critical details? Am I hearing and accepting His truth about me – that He loves me and would stop at nothing to rescue me for eternity, that He has a plan and purpose for me? I am so loved! Yet am I still focusing on the lesser details, or my own biases, or my own thoughts, or the enemy’s lies?

It’s time to hear the whole story from Jesus  – and focus only on Him. Everything else can fall by the wayside. 

Jesus, I choose today to only think on what you say about me. Help me let everything else go. 

Amen.

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Thursday 24 March 2022

Matthew 20:1-16

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This beautiful scripture is again about a farmer, in fact a vineyard landowner who employs people to work for him.  Those who begin the day with work and those who join in later in the day.  The reward in wages is the same no matter how long they worked for and no matter what job they are given.

Jesus is soon to head to Jerusalem.  He is challenging the disciples (and us) about comparison, jealousy, favour, attitudes that could tear them apart rather than work together for the Kingdom.

We can look around the world and even in our locality and find people who “seem to have it easy”.  Maybe they have no financial issues, maybe no health issues, maybe no challenges – that we can see!!  Then we see others who seem to suffer continually.  However, God always looks at the heart.  He looks at how we respond.

In Romans 12 v 15:  We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, and weep with those who weep.  Comparison is an ugly disease, an enemy of the Gospel of Jesus. 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to look at the heart of people.  Help me to better walk the journey with others.  Help me not to be awed or jealous by peoples’ circumstances and blessings but help me to respond with grace.  Keep my radar as to how to better love like Jesus did.  Amen. 

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Matthew 19:16-30

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

As a person who grew up in church and always tried to be “good girl”, I must admit that I was a bit shocked as I got older to discover that “being good” was an impossible task.

As I’ve grown in self-awareness, I’ve discovered that even when I think I am doing something good, I am often, deep down, still acting in my own best interests.

Jesus is quite clear on this as He answers the man’s question about how to be good enough to gain eternal life. No one is good but God. Period.

Jesus goes on to say, you can try keeping all the Commandments and doing everything that God requires, but the disciples pick up on this and are astounded at how hard this is – “Who in the world can be saved?”

In fact, Jesus responds, it is humanly impossible to be saved on our own merit. But with God, it is possible!

What a relief! All my striving to be perfect and then still falling short is wrapped up in the grace and forgiveness of Jesus.

Today I am freshly grateful to Jesus for lifting the burden of perfectionism off our shoulders.

Written by Shelley Witt

2 replies
  1. Richard says:

    Thanks Shelley

    There is so much in this passage! The young person asking what good thing they are to do – as if there was one thing that gets us into eternity. The young person declares they have achieved what Jesus asks. Jesus then says give away your wealth and follow Him. I have commonly thought that it is the giving away of so much that was this person’s stumbling block, and that is fair to say given Jesus comment about rich people afterwards. However, I wonder how much of a stumbling block to this person was the second piece of Jesus’ request – to follow Him.

    The Jews presumed that there was a correlation between wealth and God’s approval and I think we commonly fall into this error as well. Jesus is making the point that the amount we may have or not is not a measure of God’s blessing necessarily but that following Him means you are on the right path to eternal life.

    Father, help me to see properly and to follow You wholeheartedly.

[comments closed]

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Matthew 19:13-15

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

I love the way that Jesus interacts with all the people present in this story.  He isn’t afraid to be counter cultural, to demonstrate the Father’s heart of love towards all people.  Children included.  Jesus rebukes the ones who think they are doing the right thing in order to ensure that all know the love of God, know that they are welcome, know that they belong and matter. This demonstrates the nature of God.  His arms are open.

As we reach people with Jesus, we are reaching them with a God whose arms are wide open, who loves them whole heartedly and welcomes people in.  Who has paid the price for the many and the one.  This shapes our approach to reaching people, it shapes who we reach and how we reach. 

Jesus, thank you that you model what it is to welcome people into your family. Thank you that you live with your arms open towards humanity. Help me today to have eyes to see the people that you want me to reach with your love.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

1 (reply)
[comments closed]