Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
24 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
As I read this passage it strikes me how differently Jesus and the disciples are seeing the world. The disciples are looking at the temple and its buildings, the (impressive!) work of human hands. Yet Jesus is looking ahead, predicting that not one stone will be left on another and the whole building will be destroyed. Jesus is acutely aware that a time will come when the world will end.
What am I focused on? Am I fixated on the ‘temple buildings’, the temporary structures that serve a purpose now, but won’t last forever? Or am I living with an awareness that only God, people and relationships, faith, hope and love will remain? Am I investing in the treasure of heaven – giving my life to loving God and loving people?
God, where I have become so distracted and consumed with often good but temporary things, please help me to choose you first. Help me to enjoy the budding tomato plants in my garden, the adventure of a good movie, the satisfaction of a completed to-do list…. but to above all be alert to your presence, committed to doing your will, and attentive to your children and the lost sheep around me. Help me live with a fierce sense of purpose. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! 33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation. 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
This passage gives an account of Jesus rebuking the religious scholars and Pharisees, highlighting their hypocrisy, misuse of the law and stubbornness. In verses 37-39, Jesus expresses His desire for the people of Israel to come to Him for safety, however they wouldn’t allow Jesus to ‘gather His children’ (vs 37) and follow Him.
I am reminded when reading this, of the importance of living authentic lives of faith that truly reflect God and Who He is. The scholars and Pharisees were hypocrites and gave false impressions of God, acting out of pride and their own opinions. We are called to display Christ for Who He is before others, and that comes from a place of knowing God, being in relationship with Him, and learning from Him.
Lord God, please help me today to reflect your love, kindness and truth to others. May people see You in the choices I make, so that You may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name.
Written by Laura Samperi
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Obedience and intent are of such importance to Christ, that in reading this passage of scripture, I can hear his disdain and frustration with these people. People that he wants to love and be in relationship with, but people that by their heartlessness, push Jesus away.
I think about the times where I justify my heartlessness towards others by using my sacrifice and obedience. I tell myself that because I spend hours serving the church in ministry, and because I give sacrificially, somehow the poor and needy neighbour, or the lonely person, or the sick associate, is someone else’s problem.
My clean, sanitized life, my ability to exert self-control over my heart and my ability to make wise decisions are fruits of my maturity as a Christian, but it is not just the maintaining of these things that will bring me closer to God from where I am now. I am called to serve the poor and save the lost with the church.
Father God, never let me lose sight of what I am really called to do. If I am to be a shepherd of your flock, may I always smell like your sheep. May I always have the outlook and care to go after the one that might go astray.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
One translation says “What sorrow awaits…”
Jesus is speaking to the crowd about the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day.
And as I read what Jesus was saying about the Pharisees, I was struck by the thought that these teachers knew the Law thoroughly but didn’t know the God who wrote the Law for themselves.
They didn’t enter into and experience the kingdom of heaven for themselves and because of this they stopped others from experiencing the Kingdom of heaven as well.
I can’t think of anything worse than to know about God but to not know him personally. To know of his love and mercy but never experience it myself. God doesn’t want us to just know about him, he wants us to know him. God wants to be experienced, not observed.
Only when we have experienced God for ourselves, will we be truly able to tell others about him because he will then be real to us. God is not remote or distant. He invited us in to his presence, and to know him fully, personally. To only know about God, that to me is real sorrow.
Father, I am so thankful that you wanted a relationship with us, you wanted us to know you personally, that you did everything necessary to make that happen. Thank you for the joy of knowing you.
Written by Andrew Martin
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Motives, motives, motives – it’s not just what we do, it’s why we do it… Jesus once again is burrowing into the hearts of His listeners to expose their motives.
How often do I try to give an impression to people that I am more spiritual, more committed to following God’s ways than I really am?
My old nature is corrupt and would still like people to be impressed by me and to think that I am more devoted than I really am. When I try to give that impression to people, I am acting like a hypocrite – doing good works to be seen by men, rather than out of devotion and love for God.
Jesus is not impressed by good works for the sake of making myself look good to others. And here we read that He actively discourages people from seeking after a spiritual hierarchy, titles and power.
What Jesus does appreciate is just this – humility. Honestly owning up to my faults and failings and true motives, and realising that we are all the same – sinners saved by grace.
Lord, I humble myself before You. Forgive me for seeking to impress people rather than seeking to live honestly and devotedly before You.
Written by Shelley Witt
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
I wonder if this is the perfect question.
Isn’t this the question that every person who has ever lived on this planet needs to ask, especially those of us who live post Jesus being on earth?
What do I think about Jesus?
It’s the question that is answered in every cell of creation, every ray of sunlight and every molecule we breathe because he made it all (John 1:3). The answer is in his power that holds the whole world together (Colossians 1:17). The answer is in the mercy he pours out on me and my rebellion against him (Ephesians 2:4-5). The answer is seen in his blood that was spilled in my place even when I hated him (Romans 5:8). The answer is in the massive love that stopped at nothing to buy me back for eternity with him (Ephesians 2:6). The answer is in the complete annihilation of every dark force that will ever threaten me, including death, when he arose from death (Colossians 2:12-15)
Which leaves only one question left to answer…
What do I think about Jesus?
Is he Lord – like David declared? Or is he a threat, an inconvenience, an annoyance to my agenda like the Pharisees?
This is the perfect question that everyone will need to answer. What will my answer be?!
Jesus, the only response I can think of is humility and contrition and thankfulness and surrender and awe. What do I think about You? – You are Lord! Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When I read this passage the first thing that always comes to mind is a worship song that was popular back when I was a very young Christian. It’s engraved in my memory which is wonderful but it also has the effect of brushing over the impact of what Jesus is saying & how it should impact my life.
Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees question comes from both Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18. I’ve been meditating on how exactly I live this out … loving God with ALL my heart, soul & mind & my neighbour as myself, I’m finding it’s easier to read (or sing) than to live, there always seems to be something, someone, some situation, attitude or motive that comes in and competes for that place in my life, which should be God’s alone. Then I realised that this is exactly how Jesus lived. This is how Jesus was able to live a sinless life.
I am so aware that the only way that I can attempt to love God and my neighbour as Jesus did is through the help of the Holy Spirit living in me, otherwise my sin nature will just take over, my selfishness will rule, after all, this world would have us think that this life is ‘all about me’. I know I need help!
Dear Lord, you know my heart better than I do, I need your grace and compassion, to enable me to love others as you do, I need your Spirit to keep me centred and focused on You and not myself, and walking in Your ways always.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
Throughout the Bible, there are some amazing descriptions of what heaven will be like: Streets paved with gold, a throne with a river flowing from it through the middle of a city with incredible fruit trees along side it.
But I love thinking about how heaven will be when the new creation comes. This passage gives a fascinating insight into how we will relate to one another in the next life. For me, this passage raises more questions than it answers, but I am so thankful for this revelation, as well as the testimony of guys like Ian McCormack, who was stung by a box jellyfish and describes what he saw while he was being pronounced dead before coming back to life here
Thankyou Lord that we can have confidence of seeing heaven if we have faith in Jesus and relationship with You.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
I love this! This is ‘sassy’ Jesus at his best. He wasn’t intimidated by the Pharisees, and he didn’t put up with their games. No ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ here! I want to be like Jesus – wise, smart, ready with an answer, to the point. We need to be like Jesus, ready to face those who try to take us down for our faith and beliefs. We need to ask God for wisdom so our words supernaturally expose the truth.
Jesus help me be more like you. Give me wisdom in dealing with those who attack me because of my faith. Help me to be bold and may my words reveal you. In Jesus name Amen
Written by Christine Knight
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Parables are interesting reading, filled with metaphor and interesting potential applications. For me, Jesus is illustrating the need to spread the good news about Him, inviting all to come and join in the feast, the party, the celebration of life and freedom in Him. That Jesus is looking for people willing to go wherever He’ll send them, inviting whoever He wants to come in, even to the streets that whoever would hear and respond, would be welcome. I want to be one such willing person, Jesus!
The part about “wedding clothes” or garments is interesting to me. I simply think that this is an important thing to note in the invitation. We do this for weddings today – what’s the dress code? Black tie? Cocktail? Etc. Here, I feel Jesus calling me, in my invitations to people, to be clear about the dress code – we come to this freedom feast in the clothes, dress, in the garments of salvation – grace, forgiveness, and hope in Jesus. Help me Lord remember to include the dress code in my invitations to people!
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. 35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.
This passage is a small part of a series of stories told by Jesus to illustrate the true nature of the kingdom of God. At that time Israel was ruled by the Roman empire but the imagery of agrarian society was well understood. In fact, the idea of tending a garden to make it productive is found throughout all of scripture and so is the idea there are influences that work to derail the labour. In a corporate way this is a picture of the Church but in an individual way we are the garden and we are to tend to the condition of our own mind and heart.
Later scriptures clearly state this story was directed at the religious leaders of Jesus’s day as the ones who were working against the purposes of God. It’s a scary thought but it has left me wondering what things I am doing to hinder my own fruitfulness or worse, am I in some way interfering with the fruitfulness of another person.
I suspect these issues are sometimes far subtler that we realise and require the conviction of the Holy Spirit to be revealed.
Lord, I ask you to help me to be a more fruitful person and how I can encourage others to be more fruitful as well.
Written by David Newton
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.
The religious leaders had looked at John the Baptist’s ministry with scepticism. John kept all the religious laws but he was unconventional and definitely not part of the religious ‘inner crowd’. John had disrupted business as usual for the Jews. So the religious inner crowd (the Pharisees) rejected him. But he was accepted by the irreligious, they were compelled to find new life in John’s message of repentance.
Jesus had come as the fulfilment of John’s message. John called people to turn away from sin, and Jesus is the one to turn to.
Nothing has changed today. Jesus calls me to to turn away from sin and to follow him. Now that I have become a child of God and belong in his church, I must not make a routine of religion, I must not commit myself to a Christian version of ‘business as usual’. If I do, I might find myself rejecting the one who saved me. Jesus has saved me for a dynamic journey of following him, not mere religious routine. I am not to be like the son that says the right things but doesn’t actually do them.
Lord, I repent of going through the motions. I’m your disciple. By your power at work in me I will be obedient.
Written by Andrew Mellor
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.”
Jesus gave a shocking demonstration of his power this particular day with his disciples. A tree, not fit for purpose, is cursed, followed by Jesus speaking about faithful prayer. How could these be connected?
The tree was not fit for purpose as it failed to provide fruit. Luscious juicy fruit is what Jesus was craving. (The disciples may also have realised the association with the nation of Israel. The fig tree was often associated with Israel – as in Hosea 9:10 and Jeremiah 8:13 – and Jesus is pronouncing judgment on Israel.)
We are fit for purpose when we pray with belief. This isn’t some wishful thinking kind of belief, or a “feeling positive” belief. We pray with confidence. Our confidence is sure because it is based on knowing our God we pray to. He cares for us – for the small and big issues we face. He does not forget us or leave us. He is faithful. He is God who empowers us, just as Jesus promises. Our prayers will be powerful and we will be fit for purpose because we know who it is we pray to. We will see things change because of this type of prayer. We will see transformation and miracles. Wow!
Dear heavenly Lord. When I pray I know you incline your ear, you love to hear me crying out to you, sharing with you, worshipping you. Thank you for making me fit for your purposes. I am expectant. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
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.
In this well-known passage, Jesus clears out the temple because the people are not doing what they should be: God’s house was intended to be a house of prayer but they were using it as a marketplace. I wonder how it got to be this way? Did it start little by little, setting up mats on the ground, then stalls and selling things?? Jesus was concerned and so he reminded them, using scripture, saying “it is written….” (NIV).
As I read this I wonder what areas of my life are not being used for God’s intended purpose? What clearing out do I need to do? Where am I little by little moving away from how God intends me to live, think, act? I keep going back to the phrase “it is written”. When I’m not sure, I need to align myself with God’s word, remembering “It is written” in scripture for my benefit.
In V16 Jesus also says, “have you never read…” He expects us to be reading and living according to it.
Lord, I want to continually live according to your word and your ways. May my actions reflect a life based on your word.
Written by Gab Martin
21 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.”
It’s a parade! Parades are meant to promote a concept or a cause. But this ‘parade’ was both different and unique. Riding on a donkey Jesus portrayed himself as a king. The nature of this parade was meant to announce the significance of his kingship – so different to the world’s concept of authority with its display of military power. Jesus wanted to depict a reign of an entirely different order – the Kingdom of God!
Most Jews in Jesus’ day expected a different kind of Savior. They thought that Messiah would be a mighty political deliverer who would lead Israel to military victory over Rome. They were not looking for a lowly Savior, riding on a donkey. They could not conceive of a suffering Savior, who offered Himself as the sacrifice for sinners. And so, tragically, they missed the coming of their King!
Christianity is still the one authentic faith which believes in Jesus as our Saviour and King who established a new Kingdom based on his sacrifice and powerful resurrection. Now by faith we are not only spectators of Jesus’ procession of victory but we are actively participating with Him in that victory parade! [2 Cor 2:14]
Praise and honour to you Jesus that by your ultimate sacrifice on the Cross you established an indestructible kingdom. Thank you that there is no more need for confusion because you have made it absolutely clear that you are the King. Thank you that you have called me into your Kingdom of love and peace and given me a royal status.
Written by Joan Bennett
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.
It is thought that Jesus asks about 200 to 300 questions to people through His documented travels in the Bible.
I love this question that Jesus asks whilst on a ‘normal’ journey from Jericho. The story tells us He HEARS these ‘noisy’ blind men and then He asks them: “What do you want me to do for you?” These persistent men have continued to yell and to get their ‘Lord, Son of David’s” attention. They are unafraid by the crowd and unashamed to be noticed, yet they are blind.
Jesus’ questions are always leading us to ACTIONS not ANSWERS and DECISIONS not DEBATE.
If Jesus was to say to you “What do you want from me?” Can you give a decisive answer?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I bring to you my request today: I am asking for you to……………………………………………………….. (complete what your request is).
Continue to ask Him decisively and completely. Are there any actions that you and I need to do to bring about an answer.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
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.”
I’m trying to imagine this scene without laughing. James and John, the ones Jesus called sons of thunder, wanted to ask Jesus about a position of honour. But they couldn’t ask him themselves so they had their mother ask Jesus.
That didn’t go down to well with the other disciples. The ten were hurt and offended by this, (Message Bible – thoroughly disgusted). Immediately Jesus steps in to settle things down.
But seriously, how often have we been hurt or offended by the words or actions of other believers? It happens. James and John probably didn’t intend to hurt the other disciples, but they did.
But worse is to not deal with it immediately. An offense that is not resolved quickly becomes a deeper hurt that can last year’s. That’s why Jesus steps in immediately.
Jesus offers a solution. Don’t try to get back at them or try to win, instead be a servant to everyone. Follow the model of Jesus who came not to rule over us but to serve us and gave up his rights and life for us. It’s not about seeking honour for ourselves, it is actually just being a servant to all, and in this way giving honour to the only one worthy of honour – Jesus.
Jesus, help me to be more like you, and be more interested in serving than about my getting.
Written by Andrew Martin
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!”
If the disciples hadn’t got the message yet, then they’d have until the end
before they could understand. Could Jesus describe his destiny any more
clearly? You and I are aware of the bigger story, the trajectory of the
other gospels, the beginning of the Bible and the end; you know that the
all first disciples still got caught out by the climax: Jesus’ tragic
death and triumphant resurrection was a surprise to everyone.
My imagination is sparked by the thought that we Christians so often
suffer from the same problem. Even with the benefit of hindsight, even
with knowing the Jesus stories, even with living the Christian way we
might still refuse to accept the deeper significance what the Jesus life
can mean. Jesus takes us on the road to Jerusalem, a unique road that
only Jesus can navigate for us. A road marked by exactly the same type
of highs, lows, miracles, burdens and victories that we read about in
the New Testament. Imagine the overwhelming love and happiness the disciples
felt after the day Jesus returned from the grave and they started to
remember all the words he said. With 20-20 hindsight, remembering Jesus’
words, the troubles they had experienced would’ve been eclipsed by the
immense value of the treasure that was now in their possession: they had
lived with Jesus, talked with Jesus, hung out with Jesus. They had
walked the road to Jerusalem with Jesus. Now Jesus, and eternal life,
were theirs forever.
Dear God. Thank you for the clarity and meaning that your Spirit gives
me and my life history. Thank you for your hand of protection, provision
and comfort. Thank you for leading, inspiration and healing. Thank you
that my Jerusalem road ends in triumph with you. Thank you for the
overwhelming value of love and grace that you deposit into my life. Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart
20 “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.”
As I come to the end of this passage I find myself empathising with the workers who had laboured for 12 hours. It seems unfair that they should be paid the same as those who worked for only one hour. Unless, the wages were a reflection of the owner’s generosity, and not a de-valuing of the original workers’ labour.
If I stop and think about it, the original workers spent the day knowing they would be paid and were purposefully employed. Right from 6am in the morning they had the peace of income, and could sleep well that night satisfied with a solid day’s work. But what about the others? Maybe they had slept in, maybe they had lazed about… but maybe they had waited in the market all day hoping to be hired. There would be no peace in that, no purposeful activity… they were no better off than the original workers. How good even to work for an hour, and feel that even if the pay was generous, you had contributed to the owner’s business.
Wow, how generous is God in supplying our needs and also giving us the opportunity to work. And how generous and just is He in extending salvation to all who choose to believe, at any point in the ‘day’. Bless you God. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
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.
Religious leaders often came to Jesus to challenge him, because they were looking to drag him down.
Now Jesus challenges a young religious leader because he loves him (Mark tells us “Jesus felt genuine love for him” Mark 10:21). This young man thinks he can earn eternal life by what he does. He’s confident that he’s done all that the law requires, but his question shows he knows something is missing. Jesus sees his heart and points straight to a command that he can’t obey. He loves himself more than his neighbour. He’d rather walk away from his God than walk away from his wealth. Paul puts it plainly “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:19-20). The young man is placing his confidence in himself. He needs to put is trust in Jesus. Jesus tells them clearly that salvation is impossible for man, only possible for God.
Next Jesus challenges his disciples. They looked at the young man’s wealth and power and thought “everybody knows they must be a reward for his godly life”. And now Jesus is telling them it’s a barrier to entering God’s kingdom (because he loved it more than Jesus).
But Peter’s still caught on doing things to be saved: “We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?” He’s missed the point. It’s not the giving things up that would save him; it’s following Jesus.
Now I’m challenged. What wrong concepts are holding me back? What do I love more than Jesus?
Jesus, I want to walk with you. Show me everything that is holding me back. Speak into every area where my mind needs to be renewed, and brought into line with you.
Written by David Cornell
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 know Jesus cares about the kids.
I know Jesus’ heart is for ALL kids. The babies, the toddlers, the teens and the kids that are no longer kids.
I know that some kids have walked away from Jesus yet their parents are still invited and welcomed by Jesus to “bring” them to Him.
I know Jesus loves the faith of a concerned and caring parent. A faith that never ceases to pray, to bring before Him the kids that need the blessing of the Saviour so badly.
I know these parental tears of concern are so precious to Jesus that He collects them and stores them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8).
I know that these kids may be far from Jesus yet somehow are still within His embrace.
I know that Jesus is all about the prodigal – all about calling them back to Him.
And I know one day that child will return. And what a joyful day that will be!
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
God’s care for women is demonstrated here, as Jesus will not condone the accepted practice which allowed men to divorce their wives for whatever reason they wanted to. Women of that time did not have the same powers as men, and if the husband decided to divorce her, she could potentially be left with little or no financial support or recourse. Jesus is quite direct in saying to the men that this is not acceptable, except in the case of adultery.
This is yet another example of God’s care for all people equally, and the foundation of our modern understanding of gender equality.
When I read Jesus’ responses in the Bible, I always feel like I am in safe hands. His answers to questions are wise, loving and direct, and make sense of the world. What a radical difference Jesus has made to those who have followed Him and His teachings.
Jesus, we are forever grateful.
Written by Shelley Witt
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
V35…forgive your brother from your heart.
The kingdom of God is a kingdom of forgiveness. Wholehearted forgiveness. The “master” in this story Jesus is telling, forgives a massive debt “completely”. He responds with mercy and forgiveness for the entire, enormous, life-crippling debt. There is now no longer anything owing. He is free.
The absolutely mean spirited and greedy response of this free man to his servant, stands in stark contrast to the actions of his master.
I live in the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom of extravagant forgiveness and freedom from debt.
It is my culture.
Lord God – you have mercifully and completely forgiven me. Fill me afresh Holy Spirit – I need your help. May Your kingdom come here on earth as in heaven – through me, as I forgive as you do.
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
This is an interesting passage of scripture that covers how we are to handle sin within the church. It basically goes through the process of firstly bringing up the matter privately with the person who has sinned then if this fails bring in another believer as a witness and if this still fails to achieve reconciliation then the matter is raised with the church. Sin is to not to be taken lightly as it has ramifications beyond those directly involved. There is accountability for sin yet it is to be done in love and with the aim of maintaining unity between believers. The final verses encourage believers to take these areas of sin to God in prayer. He has promised to be there alongside us when we raise these matters of sin to him.
My first read of this passage and I thought to myself this is quite confronting. It is a reminder of the seriousness of sin and that it simply can’t be overlooked. It’s challenging for sure. Hand on heart who wants to go and confront someone? What I am encouraged by is that Jesus encourages us to pray about these things and to do it together. We are not left on our own to try and work these things out. God promises to be there with us in these moments. His grace and wisdom are there, the Holy Spirit is there softening hearts and helping us love and forgive one another. This gives us great assurance.
Dear Lord, thank you for your promise to be there when we come together in prayer. Help us to have courage in the area of raising sin and offence with one another and to bring these matters before you. Help us to represent Jesus well and live in unity with other believers. Amen.
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.  12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven? Jesus answers this question with an illustration about little children, which reveals that the question itself comes from a prideful and self centred perspective. He says (my paraphrase) “no the kingdom of God is not like that! Those most revered in heaven are those that are humble.”
In the following passages, Jesus goes on to instruct the disciples in how they should live… he links humility and other person centred with:
Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be concerned about others. To live in a way that does not lead others into sin but rather towards God. And to actively go out and find any who is lost. Jesus shows how he values people equally, he values all people: the youngest to the oldest, the least honoured to the most honoured, those who know him and those who don’t yet know him, the crowd and the one. He wants his disciples, that now includes us, to value people as he does and to live and work as he does to see them found and living a Christ filled life.
Jesus please help me to change and to become more like you. Help me to live a humble life and to be other person centred. To value each person equally. Help me to find and love the lost. Thank you that you came and found me, that you loved me and you keep on loving me and forgiving me. Thank you that you give me strength and humility, through your Holy Spirit, to do all that you call me to do.
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
Polite conversation amongst friends never covers death or taxes. Riddle me this: “Do Kings
charge their children taxes?” A: No (at least in the ancient world anyways). The implied answer (you can visualize the twinkle in Jesus eye during this conversation) “I don’t need to pay the temple tax, I’m
temple royalty”. Once again Jesus ‘goes there’ and once again Jesus is in the spotlight for his behaviour in connection religious rules. Jesus decides to avoid controversy, directs a miracle and moves on. The disciples are left, slightly dizzy and witnesses to another very intriguing episode in the Jesus story.
I’m drawn to what seems like Jesus taking a mischievous or cheeky tone in this story. Jesus probes his team with a rhetorical question. The implied answer that Jesus leads to – his placing of himself as equal to the temple, as royalty at the God level – must have seemed overly bold at first. Jesus’ disciples must have been exhausted sometimes trying to unlock the deeper meaning of these kind of grand claims. Consider also that Jesus’ teaching was balanced with miracle after miracle and you wonder what kind of emotional state this roller coaster adventure left his followers in. I imagine the utter joy and relief the disciples must have felt when Jesus’ story triumphed in front of their eyes with his resurrection: suddenly it would’ve started to make sense. All those stories, all those miracles, all of Jesus’ instructions. Jesus truly is the very presence of God. The thing that every faithful Jew was attending the Jerusalem temple and waiting for, was standing amongst them. The literal royal mark of God, the very house of God’s spirit was no longer the ancient temple but was now here, standing, with them, as their friend.
Jesus, my King and friend. Thank you that I am saved, cleaned and have been adopted to be a part of your royal household. I want to live for you with the kind of dedication that the first disciples showed: led onwards by your activity and your words, committed to you wholeheartedly, living the great adventure that comes with following in your ways. Amen
Written by Sam Stewart
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
A couple of thoughts dwell with me as I read this passage.
The first – Lord have mercy…
God’s mercy is always bigger. Bigger than our desire to see people healed and restored. Whether someone is a person of God or a person lost, God has more mercy than we can comprehend.
The second – Why couldn’t we…?
I ask this question of myself and God often. I believe God does heal and I believe God wants peoples’ suffering to end. But sometimes (or often) prayers are not answered in the way or in the time that I want or expect.
This passage shows that sometimes its something that I can do differently to be more effective in my ministry to people, but other times, it just needs something else to work differently. Or sometimes I need to be more patient, and sometimes I just need to stand with someone while the pain continues. Whatever it is, I know that I am getting better at being at peace with the complexity of desiring to see people restored.
Lord, help me to continue to grow in my ability to see the lost won to you and to see the broken brought to a place of healing. Thankyou for those who have shown me what it is to live out their faith through suffering – May they experience your love and mercy and be given release.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
I’m sure we’ve all tried looking directly into the sun … it’s something that we just can’t physically do, even for a second it overwhelms us & we have to look away. Here Matthew tells us that this is the kind of light & intensity Jesus’s whole being became, from the inside out. He revealed his true glory to Peter, James & John. Just a week prior Peter had declared that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt 16:16), here not only does Jesus confirm this as He transforms giving them a glimpse of his true nature, but also the Fathers voice from heaven confirms it (see Matt 3:17 also), with the added command ‘Listen to him!’.
Inevitably, if this had happened to me I’m sure I’d be like the disciples – on my face, overwhelmed & babbling – one day I will see him in his glory but for now, I can ‘listen to him’. Listen to the Holy Spirit, listen through reading the Word, listen as he speaks through others into my life, listen by being part of his body – as I attend church. Listening to Jesus is an action, it requires something from me, an action that I can practice, it becomes easier to hear His voice the more we listen for it and as we do this, our lives change as we walk in obedience. We may not see Jesus in his true glory yet, but we can ‘listen to him’.
Jesus, I know I don’t always listen as well as I should, but for now, until I see you face to face, I will continue to Listen to you as it’s the only way I’ll live my best life.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118