Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph was faithful to the law. But he did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly. 20 But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That’s because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 23 “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.” 24 Joseph woke up. He did what the angel of the Lord commanded him to do. He took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not sleep with her until she gave birth to a son. And Joseph gave him the name Jesus.
This passage is about the fulfilment of a prophecy given hundreds of years earlier by those who had no way of knowing exactly how it would turn out. That is so exciting – evidence of God’s perfect plan.
However, another thing stands out to me in this passage. Joseph, a good man, determined to quietly break his engagement to Mary because of her pregnancy. But God spoke to him in a dream and he immediately changed his mind and did what God asked him to. The thing which excites me about that is that God’s voice was clear. We often wonder “Am I hearing God correctly?” “Is He really calling me to this?” When it really counts God’s voice is unmistakable. In John 10 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice”. We can be certain that if we are his sheep, and we are open to hearing, God will make his voice clear.
Thank you Lord, that you are not aloof and hidden away, but are involved in our lives. Please do make your voice clear and help me to be open enough to hear you.
Written by Megan Cornell
1 This is the written story of the family line of Jesus the Messiah. He is the son of David. He is also the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah. Tamar was their mother. Perez was the father of Hezron. Hezron was the father of Ram. 4 Ram was the father of Amminadab. Amminadab was the father of Nahshon. Nahshon was the father of Salmon. 5 Salmon was the father of Boaz. Rahab was Boaz’s mother. Boaz was the father of Obed. Ruth was Obed’s mother. Obed was the father of Jesse. 6 And Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon. Solomon’s mother had been Uriah’s wife. 7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. Abijah was the father of Asa. 8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram. Jehoram was the father of Uzziah. 9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham. Jotham was the father of Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh. Manasseh was the father of Amon. Amon was the father of Josiah. 11 And Josiah was the father of Jeconiah and his brothers. At that time, the Jewish people were forced to go away to Babylon. 12 After this, the family line continued. Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel. Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud. Abihud was the father of Eliakim. Eliakim was the father of Azor. 14 Azor was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Akim. Akim was the father of Elihud. 15 Elihud was the father of Eleazar. Eleazar was the father of Matthan. Matthan was the father of Jacob. 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph. Joseph was the husband of Mary. And Mary was the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah. 17 So there were 14 generations from Abraham to David. There were 14 from David until the Jewish people were forced to go away to Babylon. And there were 14 from that time to the Messiah.
5 women get a mention in this list of names that make up the ancestors of Jesus. Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. I’m left wondering why? Why are these women mentioned over the other wives and mothers?
There’s some chequered back stories among them; prostitution, adultery. Ruth and Rahab were both foreigners. So why mention them here?
One thing that really impresses me about all 5 of these women is that the Bible records at least one event that must have taken incredible courage and strength of character.
Tamar – exposes Judah’s hypocrisy. Genesis 38
Rahab – assists the Israelite spies. Joshua 2
Ruth – stays with Naomi instead of going back home. Ruth 1:16
Bathsheba – stays with David despite what he’s done and raises Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived. 2 Samuel 12
Mary – accepts the Angel’s message and becomes Jesus’ Mum despite her age and marital status. Luke 1:38
As a Father of two girls I’m glad these 5 women are mentioned here. It shows that God was impressed with them – with their immense courage and faith. It shows my girls that faith leads to action, action requires great courage, and great courage can change the world.
Lord, please help me be a father that raises girls of great faith, action and courage. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
43 Just as Jesus was speaking, Judas appeared. He was one of the 12 disciples. A crowd was with him. They were carrying swords and clubs. The chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders had sent them. 44 Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. “The one I kiss is the man,” he said. “Arrest him and have the guards lead him away.” 45 So Judas went to Jesus at once. Judas said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed Jesus. 46 The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing nearby pulled his sword out. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 “Am I leading a band of armed men against you?” asked Jesus. “Do you have to come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you. I taught in the temple courtyard, and you didn’t arrest me. But the Scriptures must come true.” 50 Then everyone left him and ran away. 51 A young man was following Jesus. The man was wearing nothing but a piece of linen cloth. When the crowd grabbed him, 52 he ran away naked. He left his clothing behind.
“Then everyone deserted him and fled” (verse 50)
This is where it began crashing down. Jesus has prayed through the night, wrestling with where he knows he has to go. Now the betrayer Judas appears with a mob. One of Jesus’ companions, in a last ditch effort to protect Jesus, lashes out and injures one of the capturers. Other versions of this story (Luke 22, Matthew 26, John 18) provide more details – Mark’s description is the shortest. Concise, fast paced – the lack of information feels frustrating. It seems to add to the injustice of the passage.
“Then everyone deserted him and fled”
The raw, barren, toxicity of the scene becomes vivid in my mind. We can sense the two sides of this drama: on the one side the mixture of fear, shame, evil and darkness swirls from Judas’ posse to overcome Jesus’ friends. The disciples are shocked into fright and flight. On the other side is Jesus standing grounded against his attackers. Injury is added to insult as a bloody scuffle breaks out. You can imagine Jesus almost saying to armed companion: ‘don’t make this any worse than already it is guys’. And then they bolt. Jesus is alone but for the hateful gaze of a thuggish mob lead by his former friend.
I’d like to think if I was a disciple there, I would’ve have stayed. I would’ve been brave and held ground. But, that’s clearly not true (if you need surther proof, consider the disciple Peter’s story before and after this passage). ‘I won’t abandon you Jesus!’ But we all do, and I feel the dull burn in my heart that reminds me I am a sinner. In my natural state I am a betrayer. In this moment, notice Jesus’ response: he doesn’t back down. Jesus doesn’t run away – he doesn’t even struggle! Jesus stands up to our sin, faces down the accuser and will not run. What a profound picture of Jesus’ covering of our evil and the making a way for us to be saved!
Jesus my friend. Thank you for not abandoning me. Thank you for facing down my sin. For going to that place on the cross where all my betrayal is washed away and forgotten. Thank you for making a way for us to return to you. I return to you. Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart
32 Jesus and his disciples went to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him. He began to be very upset and troubled. 34 “My soul is very sad. I feel close to death,” he said to them. “Stay here. Keep watch.” 35 He went a little farther. Then he fell to the ground. He prayed that, if possible, the hour might pass by him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 39 Once more Jesus went away and prayed the same thing. 40 Then he came back. Again he found them sleeping. They couldn’t keep their eyes open. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Jesus returned the third time. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look! The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. 42 Get up! Let us go! Here comes the one who is handing me over to them!”
‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”’ [Mark 14:38]
I have always read this passage, and particularly verse 38, as a general challenge to the disciples to pray. Peter, James and John were not so much experiencing temptation but just natural tiredness. But I found myself wondering this time – what if Jesus words, particularly in verse 38, are an explanation, by inference, of what He was currently experiencing and practising. In other words, Jesus was praying so that He would not fall into temptation to disobey God at this crucial point. What if Jesus was in prayer to fight the temptations to give up, give in to fear, or take another way to fulfil God’s will. But in prayer, He not only found the strength to persevere, but the strength to resist temptation and surrender to the Father’s will.
How often do I use prayer to resist temptation? More like me, I just apply willpower, and on-the-go prayers, and scriptures memorized. But these are more the everyday tools for dealing with more “everyday” temptations. What if I’m facing the temptation to avoid God’s will, because I feel scared, overwhelmed, or that I just can’t do it? Jesus’ example here is clear – when I know God’s will, but for whatever reason am severely tempted not to do it, the way I overcome is through prayer! Persistent prayer that finds God’s strength to overcome and grace to persevere and obey!
Lord, thank you for your example to me. Let this be a lesson learned, ready to be applied when I need it next!
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
27 “You will all turn away,” Jesus told the disciples. “It is written, “ ‘I will strike the shepherd down. Then the sheep will be scattered.’ (Zechariah 13:7) 28 But after I rise from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter said, “All the others may turn away. But I will not.” 30 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus answered. “It will happen today, in fact tonight. Before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will say three times that you don’t know me.” 31 But Peter would not give in. He said, “I may have to die with you. But I will never say I don’t know you.” And all the others said the same thing.
Every time I read this passage, my heart just goes out to Peter. He is so sure of himself, so certain that he will stand by Jesus even when all others fall away. Of course, as we find out when we read further, Peter did indeed deny & disown Jesus – three times in fact. It’s easy to read this passage and think of how naive Peter was, or to perhaps see him as weak & cowardly – denying that he ever knew Jesus in order to save his own skin. But I (sadly & certainly without any pride) can see elements of Peter in my own life. Situations or circumstances when I have held back from talking about what I believe or withholding an opinion in order not to be judged by others who may not like my Christian perspective.
I’m thankful for the relatable character of Peter in the Bible, and even more grateful for the grace that Jesus showed him, even after Peter turned his back on him, in not only forgiving Peter, but bestowing responsibility on him to build & lead the early church. To me this is a great reminder that Jesus really is a redeemer – he takes our mistakes and our mess & turns them around when we confess them to him.
God, thank you for your unrelenting grace, and your consistent love for us – even in our most unlovable moments. Thank you that you choose to forgive us even when we let you down & turn away from you. Help us to have hearts that are focused on who you are and what you call us to, and give us the courage we need to make choices that honour you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to his disciples and said, “Take it. This is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup. He gave thanks and handed it to them. All of them drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the covenant,” he said to them. “It is poured out for many. 25 What I’m about to tell you is true. I won’t drink wine with you again until the day I drink it in God’s kingdom.” 26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus Says That the Disciples Will Turn Away 27 “You will all turn away,” Jesus told the disciples. “It is written, “ ‘I will strike the shepherd down. Then the sheep will be scattered.’ (Zechariah 13:7) 28 But after I rise from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter said, “All the others may turn away. But I will not.” 30 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus answered. “It will happen today, in fact tonight. Before the rooster crows twice, you yourself will say three times that you don’t know me.” 31 But Peter would not give in. He said, “I may have to die with you. But I will never say I don’t know you.” And all the others said the same thing.
I grew up going to church, so this narrative is very familiar to me – traditionally called “The Last Supper” that Jesus shared with His disciples before His death.
Here we read of Jesus foretelling His death to the disciples, and also prophesying that they would all fall away from following Him in the face of the threat to their own personal safety.
“But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same”. Yet we know that they went against their word and disowned Jesus, running away in fear just a short time later.
As I read this familiar story, I ask myself – how would I have responded in this situation? It is easy to feel critical of the disciples’ responses, thinking that I wouldn’t have done the same.
Clearly, the disciples did not know their own hearts and what they were capable of, thinking they were stronger than they really were.
And then I think of all the times when I also have deceived myself about my own actions and motives, not wanting to believe that I was capable of such selfishness, only to find that the heart can be quite deceitful.
Bottom line – all of this points us to the need of a Saviour.
Thank you, Jesus, that in spite of our selfishness and faithlessness, You came and gave Your life for us. Thank You that even when we fail, Your forgiveness and love never does.
Written by Shelley Witt
10 Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples. He went to the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them. 11 They were delighted to hear that he would do this. They promised to give Judas money. So he watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them. 12 It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That was the time to sacrifice the Passover lamb. Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 13 So he sent out two of his disciples. He told them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 He will enter a house. Say to its owner, ‘The Teacher asks, “Where is my guest room? Where can I eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ 15 He will show you a large upstairs room. It will have furniture and will be ready. Prepare for us to eat there.” 16 The disciples left and went into the city. They found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the 12 disciples. 18 While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. One of you who is eating with me will hand me over to my enemies.” 19 The disciples became sad. One by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” 20 “It is one of you,” Jesus replied. “It is the one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But how terrible it will be for the one who hands over the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
This is a confronting passage of scripture. Jesus sits with His disciples to share the Passover meal, only to reveal to them that one of them will betray Him. Their responses (other than Judas) reveals something of their character – they don’t turn to pride, declaring it could never be them. Rather, they are greatly distressed, with each of them asking, “Am I the one?”
This question, “Am I the one?”, is a tough one to ask, but I think has great merit. We obviously live in a context far removed from actually being able to betray Jesus to His enemies, however we are quite capable of actions which betray Him. Whenever you hear stories of good Christian men and women ‘betraying’ God and turning away from Him, it’s so easy to declare “That would never be me!” But perhaps the more humble response is, “Could that be me? Am I the one?” Taking care to guard our hearts is essential to living a life of integrity and faithfulness towards our loving King.
Jesus, may I never become conceited and think I am beyond the clutches of sin. Help me to always remain humble and honest before You, keeping short accounts and drawing nearer each day, so that on the day You return You are able to say “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Written by Matt Samperi
14 The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were plotting to arrest Jesus secretly. They wanted to kill him. 2 “But not during the feast,” they said. “The people may stir up trouble.” 3 Jesus was in Bethany. He was at the table in the home of Simon, who had a skin disease. A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. 4 Some of the people there became angry. They said to one another, “Why waste this perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s pay. The money could have been given to poor people.” So they found fault with the woman. 6 “Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare me to be buried. 9 What I’m about to tell you is true. What she has done will be told anywhere the good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her.”
Time and time again I am struck but the difference between worldly wisdom and priorities and God’s. Even the people who knew Jesus best missed the deeper significance of the woman’s actions and were distracted by superficial appearances. Jesus however cut to the heart of the woman’s actions, looking beyond the surface and seeing the love and devotion in her.
We need to be slow to jump to conclusions and open to the possibility that God has a purpose in everything that happens, even beyond what we can immediately see. The person who was best used by God in this story was the one whose heart was open to him as opposed to the disciples standing on the sidelines, critiquing events. The woman was not put off by their judgement – she finished what she set out to do. I hope that when God calls me to step out and do something I will be as brave as her.
Father God give me your eyes to see your purpose at work in me and in those around me. Help me not to judge the actions of those around me. Use me Father to further your kingdom. In Jesus name Amen
Written by Christine Knight
32 “But no one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. 33 Keep watch! Stay awake! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away. He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge. Each one is given a task to do. He tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 “So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn. 36 He may come suddenly. So do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone. ‘Watch!’ ”
Jesus asks his disciples what they have been discussing and like a group of naughty children they go silent. They know they should not have been arguing over who is the greatest among them. They, I assume, feel ashamed for their ridiculous conversation. Ever had one of those? A ridiculous conversation where your pride really comes out, and you feel ashamed or embarrassed shortly afterwards, as you think about what you actually said?
The disciples don’t appear to answer Jesus. But Jesus, the Son of God knows. He doesn’t scold them for their conversation or behaviour, he simply makes 2 statements to answer the question, who is the greatest.
Jesus makes mute all their arguments. He shows them the radical nature of God’s kingdom values. What God values is totally different. He shows them that they need to give up; wanting to be best, to be first, to be noticed, to be served. And to start thinking of others before themselves. In this first statement he also subtly points out that He is the greatest. He is the only human who has served all people. He is the servant of all.
Why the second statement? Why welcome a child? Because in the ancient world a child was not highly valued. A relationship with a child definitely did not get you status. Jesus is saying, to be great, love people, all people, no matter who they are. Welcome the “nobodies” and I will welcome you and so will my father. It’s about relationship – serving and loving. Putting others first, for their sake, not our own.
Jesus thank you for forgiving my pride. And for taking away my shame. Thank you for your reminder today of your kingdom values. Thank you that you are the servant of all. Help me to love and serve others out of a grateful heart. Help me to be more like you.
Written by Zoe Stewart
24 “So in those days there will be terrible suffering. After that, Scripture says, “ ‘The sun will be darkened. The moon will not shine. 25 The stars will fall from the sky. The heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4) 26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds. He will come with great power and glory. 27 He will send his angels. He will gather his chosen people from all four directions. He will bring them from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that the end is near. It is right at the door. 30 What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living now will certainly not pass away until all those things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.
In these words Jesus is reminding me that this world will not continue on as it always has. There will be a time, approaching us still, when the universe itself will be shaken from its normal course. Jesus will be at the centre of the inauguration of this restoration, the renewal of the universe.
I am therefore asked this question “am I more heavily invested in this world order, or in the coming order of Jesus Christ’? The test is simple. Am I more interested in following my own desires or in obeying Jesus?
Lord please create in me a cheerful heart of obedience, knowing that I am a citizen of your Kingdom, and you are a good King.
(Side note, when Jesus states that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”, he is referring to what he discussed earlier, the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem that occurred in the life time of many of his disciples in 70AD).
Written by Andrew Mellor
13 Jesus was leaving the temple. One of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What huge stones! What wonderful buildings!” 2 “Do you see these huge buildings?” Jesus asked. “Not one stone here will be left on top of another. Every stone will be thrown down.” 3 Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, across from the temple. Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him a question in private. 4 “Tell us,” they said. “When will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to come true?” 5 Jesus said to them, “Keep watch! Be careful that no one fools you. 6 Many will come in my name. They will claim, ‘I am he.’ They will fool many people. 7 You will hear about wars. You will also hear people talking about future wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen. But the end still isn’t here. 8 Nation will fight against nation. Kingdom will fight against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many places. People will go hungry. All these things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Watch out! You will be handed over to the local courts. You will be whipped in the synagogues. You will stand in front of governors and kings because of me. In that way you will be witnesses to them. 10 The good news has to be preached to all nations before the end comes. 11 You will be arrested and brought to trial. But don’t worry ahead of time about what you will say. Just say what God brings to your mind at the time. It is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brothers will hand over brothers to be killed. Fathers will hand over their children. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me. But the one who remains strong in the faith will be saved. 14 “You will see ‘the hated thing that destroys.’ (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) It will stand where it does not belong. The reader should understand this. Then those who are in Judea should escape to the mountains. 15 No one on the roof should go down into the house to take anything out. 16 No one in the field should go back to get their coat. 17 How awful it will be in those days for pregnant women! How awful for nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not happen in winter. 19 Those days will be worse than any others from the time God created the world until now. And there will never be any like them again. 20 “If the Lord had not cut the time short, no one would live. But because of God’s chosen people, he has shortened it. 21 At that time someone may say to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ Or, ‘Look! There he is!’ Do not believe it. 22 False messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will do signs and miracles. They will try to fool God’s chosen people if possible. 23 Keep watch! I have told you everything ahead of time.
Jesus did not leave His disciples or you and I without assistance and guidance in our walk with Him. I am so thankful for the Bible – the written word of God that we have the privilege of being able to read and study in our homes. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit – His ability to give us words, truth and guidance – straight from heaven.
Here is Jesus like a parent warning His disciples and us – telling us what will happen and how to stand strong….watch out; be on your guard.
The Bible is God’s manual for Life. If we have questions we can search the scriptures for answers. If we grapple with Truth – we can look at Jesus and study Him and how He lived and spoke.
Wars and rumours of wars, disasters, famine, brother against brother….we see so much of this now….a world struggling to find it’s heart and lifeblood. Jesus says like the building the disciples were in awe of – it will not stand. This world will be gone, and all will become new.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that this life journey each of us has –is a rehearsal for the real thing – ETERNAL LIFE – LIFE WITH JESUS – HEAVEN.
Jesus I pray that you would help me to be about your business – speaking, sharing and living the gospel in all areas of my life. Help me to be who you made me to be. Help me to be the example that I can be of Your Life in Me. I long for the day when you return. Thank you for your warning and your Holy Spirit to guide us. Teach me to rest in you, to lean on you always.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
41 Jesus sat down across from the place where people put their temple offerings. He watched the crowd putting their money into the offering boxes. Many rich people threw large amounts into them. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins. They were worth only a few pennies. 43 Jesus asked his disciples to come to him. He said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. That poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 44 They all gave a lot because they are rich. But she gave even though she is poor. She put in everything she had. That was all she had to live on.”
Mark paints quite the picture of contrast in this brief but powerful passage on giving. As I’ve meditated or thought about this scene – 2 things have struck me:
Ritual verses Relationship
Outward appearances verses inward
Jesus always focuses on our hearts. God had the widows heart and her offering showed it; He did not have the hearts of “the rich”, their offerings were only ritual and for appearance.
The challenge for me has been to re-think my financial offerings. Has something that began from relationship moved into ritual? The Holy Spirit has highlighted to me that the ease of ‘set and forget’ EFT giving can also easily become ritual. This is something that I’ve never considered before and so I need to make sure there is always room for Him to impact my heart in my giving & not just to think that I’ve got that covered and ‘set and forget’.
Lord Jesus forgive me for where my heart has become complacent and moved into ritual in my giving into your Kingdom. I pray that my heart will always remain soft in generosity as your generosity to me has been so overwhelming. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
35 Jesus was teaching in the temple courtyard. He asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 The Holy Spirit spoke through David himself. David said, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your control.” ’ (Psalm 110:1) 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ So how can he be David’s son?” The large crowd listened to Jesus with delight. 38 As he taught, he said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in long robes. They like to be greeted with respect in the market. 39 They love to have the most important seats in the synagogues. They also love to have the places of honor at dinners. 40 They take over the houses of widows. They say long prayers to show off. God will punish these men very much.”
Earlier in this chapter Jesus is being badgered by Pharisees, Sudducees and Scribes with questions, mainly designed to trap him. The Scribes – those who were responsible for teaching the law and opening the scriptures for the people – are the ones aimed at in these next passages. In the first passage, Jesus asks a question – which he doesn’t answer – ironically Ps110:1 which he quotes, is speaking about himself. And in the second passage Jesus is warning the crowd, who were loving listening to him, about appearances and false respect given to the Scribes.
Respect is the word that has jumped out at me in these passages. Respect is something given by others to us yet so easily lost. Jesus is giving us a very valuable lesson. There will always be people who think better of themselves who think that they should have our respect, but as always, Jesus brings it back to our heart, it’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that He ultimately looks for. Is what we do and who we are gaining God’s respect?
Dear Jesus, help me to not get caught up in what others may think of me or even to deceive myself into thinking more of myself .. but to be mindful of where my heart is at and what it looks like before you. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard the Sadducees arguing. He noticed that Jesus had given the Sadducees a good answer. So he asked him, “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus answered, “Here is the most important one. Moses said, ‘Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) 31 And here is the second one. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18) There is no commandment more important than these.” 32 “You have spoken well, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one. There is no other God but him. 33 To love God with all your heart and mind and strength is very important. So is loving your neighbor as you love yourself. These things are more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Jesus saw that the man had answered wisely. He said to him, “You are not far from God’s kingdom.” From then on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions.
This passage is foundational to how we are to live our lives. It says clearly in vs 30, that we are to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This has led me to consider afresh what it means to do this in its entirety. To me, this means loving God with my thoughts, my actions… with every part of my being. God, in His perfection, is so worth all the love I have to give.
What challenges me most in this passage, is whether or not I can say that I love all those around. Humans are not perfect, and it can be hard to love when they come against us. However, verse 31 says that this is equally as important as loving God. I am reminded today to be aware of my neighbours and love them with the unconditional love that God has for me.
God, I thank You for the love that You have for me. Please help me to love You and love others the way that you call me to. In Jesus’ name.
Written by Laura Samperi
18 The Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. They do not believe that people rise from the dead. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us about a man who died and didn’t have any children. But he did leave a wife behind. That man’s brother must get married to the widow. He must provide children to carry on his dead brother’s name. 20 There were seven brothers. The first one got married. He died without leaving any children. 21 The second one got married to the widow. He also died and left no child. It was the same with the third one. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 When the dead rise, whose wife will she be? All seven of them were married to her.” 24 Jesus replied, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures. And you do not know the power of God. 25 When the dead rise, they won’t get married. And their parents won’t give them to be married. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26 What about the dead rising? Haven’t you read in the Book of Moses the story of the burning bush? God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) 27 He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. You have made a big mistake!”
This passage is an interesting discussion. The Sadducees were trying to catch out Jesus. They wanted to give Him a question that was too difficult to answer. But no, Jesus had an answer and He called them out about how well they really knew God’s word. You can imagine how embarrassed or angry these guys would have been because Jesus was not worried by their question – probably the most tricky one they could think of, I am guessing. They had no more “polite” ways of grilling Him. He wasn’t who they thought the Messiah would be and He was undermining their strong belief that there would be no resurrection and they just wanted Him to go away.
Jesus, however, knew who He was, what job He had to do and He understood the amazing view of the world and us that God the Father has. He wants to help us to understand His picture of the world and how to work with Him and the Father to bring God’s love into every life we touch. We can trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He recognises the way the enemy works and how we can be misled. He also recognises how strongly we can hold to wrong thinking and He wants to help us transform our thinking so that God’s love, grace and peace pour out of us.
Lord God please help us to see that Jesus is strong, trustworthy, patient and loving. That He knows what we need to hear to help us continue our journey with You. Thank You for being interested in even the small things in our lives. Help us to connect with You and to listen daily. Help us to put what You say first.
Written by Therese Manning
13 Later the religious leaders sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus. They wanted to trap him with his own words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of honor. You don’t let other people tell you what to do or say. You don’t care how important they are. But you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it right to pay the royal tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew what they were trying to do. So he asked, “Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a silver coin. Let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin. He asked them, “Whose picture is this? And whose words?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And give back to God what belongs to God.” They were amazed at him.
Once Jesus told the parable of the talents, the religious leaders could see the people were turning against them – v 12. So representatives (Luke 20 v 20 refers to them as spies) of two of the major Jewish sects, the Pharisees and Herodians, came to Jesus to corner him with a challenging question. Their purpose – to have Jesus arrested for treason or to have the people turn against him.
The question is all about authority – social or political and divine. Being occupied and subjugated by a foreign power, most Jews were keen to see the back of their Roman rulers. One particularly odious aspect of occupation was paying tax, once per year, so if Jesus said there was no obligation to pay it he would be a hero to the people. However he would also be arrested for treason, the Jewish Herodians being allied with the Romans.
Jesus teaches something important in his answer. Authority comes from God, so I am to respect those God has established and pay what I owe (Paul expands on this theme in Romans 13). However I am also “to give to God what is God’s”. God has the ultimate authority over my life, whether I recognise it or not. What am I “to give to God”? It’s more than a question of money. I give God honour and praise because he is my wonderful Lord who saved me when I was his enemy. I give God my disappointments and struggles because he lifts me up and strengthens me. I give him my future because he loves me and has a plan for me. I give everything to God.
Thank you Jesus for your humility that when trickery was played out against you, you showed grace and pointed us to the Father. I recognise your authority over my life and the whole world. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
12 Jesus began to speak to the people using stories. He said, “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it. He dug a pit for a winepress. He also built a lookout tower. He rented the vineyard out to some farmers. Then he went to another place. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the renters. He told the servant to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they grabbed the servant and beat him up. Then they sent him away with nothing. 4 So the man sent another servant to the renters. They hit this one on the head and treated him badly. 5 The man sent still another servant. The renters killed him. The man sent many others. The renters beat up some of them. They killed the others. 6 “The man had one person left to send. It was his son, and he loved him. He sent him last of all. He said, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 “But the renters said to each other, ‘This is the one who will receive all the owner’s property someday. Come, let’s kill him. Then everything will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him. They threw him out of the vineyard. 9 “What will the owner of the vineyard do then? He will come and kill those renters. He will give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read what this part of Scripture says, “ ‘The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all. 11 The Lord has done it. It is wonderful in our eyes’?” (Psalm 118:22,23) 12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest Jesus. They knew he had told the story against them. But they were afraid of the crowd. So they left him and went away.
I need to remember that this parable was written for me also; not just the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day. There was once I time that I wasn’t saved, I had no intention of repenting from anything and I had absolutely no interest in Jesus, Gods gift to me to save my life. I was like these tenant farmers. Sure, I’ve never beaten up or killed any of Gods messengers but I’ve ignored Him and pretended He doesn’t exist. Isn’t that just as bad? I have taken and enjoyed everything He has provided and not acknowledge Him in the slightest, let alone thanked Him for it. I was as far away from worshipping Him (which, by the way, is the only appropriate response) as a person could possibly get. A slap in the face or anger towards Him at least shows belief. I showed something far worse – indifference.
And yet, it’s at this point that Jesus died for me. At the point of my lowest, God pours out His absolute highest – Jesus, His son, in my place.
Lord, please forgive me for walking through this amazing life without thanking you. And how can I possibly thank you enough for Jesus – your highest love poured out at my lowest moment. All praise and glory and thanks and worship to You for ever and ever. Amen.
Written by Boudy VanNoppen
27 Jesus and his disciples arrived again in Jerusalem. He was walking in the temple courtyard. Then the chief priests came to him. The teachers of the law and the elders came too. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “Who gave you authority to do this?” 29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 Was John’s baptism from heaven? Or did it come from human authority? Tell me!” 31 They talked to each other about it. They said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But what if we say, ‘From human authority’?” They were afraid of the people. Everyone believed that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I am doing these things either.”
They ask a question about Jesus’ authority, but it’s not because they want to know the answer. Jesus has already said and done more than enough to make it clear. But clearly they don’t accept that authority.
So what’s the purpose of this question (and the one about taxes in 12:14-15)?
They have already decided to kill Jesus. But they need the crowd to want it too. (It seems they have no authority.) So they are looking for Jesus to say something that they can work up into outrage. Jesus sees their hearts. He knows that dying (for us) is his purpose, but this is not the right time yet.
His response is interesting. It exposes their intent, but avoids the confrontation they are looking for.
We all come across people like these: looking for an argument rather than the truth. I’ve fallen into that trap before: The pointless argument that diverts focus away from their heart and God’s heart for them. Winning it only satisfies my pride.
Jesus gives me a better response: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) “Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)
Jesus, as always, your way is better than mine. I choose to walk your way today. Holy Spirit, speak to my heart. Fill what I say today with your grace, and wisdom and truth.
Written by David Cornell
12 The next day as Jesus and his disciples were leaving Bethany, they were hungry. 13 Not too far away, he saw a fig tree. It was covered with leaves. He went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves. It was not the season for figs. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard him say it. 15 When Jesus reached Jerusalem, he entered the temple courtyard. He began to drive out those who were buying and selling there. He turned over the tables of the people who were exchanging money. He also turned over the benches of those who were selling doves. 16 He would not allow anyone to carry items for sale through the temple courtyard. 17 Then he taught them. He told them, “It is written that the Lord said, ‘My house will be called a house where people from all nations can pray.’ (Isaiah 56:7) But you have made it a ‘den for robbers.’ ” (Jeremiah 7:11) 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this. They began looking for a way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city. 20 In the morning as Jesus and his disciples walked along, they saw the fig tree. It was dried up all the way down to the roots. 21 Peter remembered. He said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you put a curse on has dried up!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus said. 23 “What I’m about to tell you is true. Suppose someone says to this mountain, ‘Go and throw yourself into the sea.’ They must not doubt in their heart. They must believe that what they say will happen. Then it will be done for them. 24 So I tell you, when you pray for something, believe that you have already received it. Then it will be yours. 25-26 And when you stand praying, forgive anyone you have anything against. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.”
This passage of scripture gives us two different locations and responses of Jesus as he journeys with His disciples:
The Fig Tree – green but not bearing fruit: Jesus curses a fig tree even though it was not a season of bearing fruit. It becomes withered and dead – v 20.
I have questions of God when I consider this scripture yet I sense that the expectation of Christ is that we would be fruitful despite the seasons that come in our lives. Even in our wilderness seasons, our ‘boring’ seasons, we should be actively looking to bear fruit in our lives and in the lives of others.
Business in the Temple: Jesus continues onto the temple where he finds people doing business in the temple. He finds that it has become more about their business of selling ‘sacrifice’ items and money changing than worshipping God. He overturns tables and publically shows his displeasure and determination to make a point of how ‘religion’ has overtaken worship. He is unafraid of what they can do to Him.
Lord Jesus help us to always be fruitful in our lives no matter the season we are in. Help us to be strong to stand for what pleases you rather than what the world would want. Help us to put you first in all that we do.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
11 As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two of his disciples. 2 He said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Just as you enter it, you will find a donkey’s colt tied there. No one has ever ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. 3 Someone may ask you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ If so, say, ‘The Lord needs it. But he will send it back here soon.’ ” 4 So they left. They found a colt out in the street. It was tied at a doorway. They untied it. 5 Some people standing there asked, “What are you doing? Why are you untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to. So the people let them go. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats over it. Then he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their coats on the road. Others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those in front and those in back shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25,26) 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courtyard. He looked around at everything. But it was already late. So he went out to Bethany with the 12 disciples.
How glorious it is to read of Jesus being rightly worshipped. Yes, He was about to be rejected, but for a moment here we see everyday life halt for the King of Kings. For a moment the most important thing was to honour Jesus. What a beautiful taste of what is to come when Jesus shall return and every knee will bow!
The other thing that strikes me is how prepared God is. Jesus sends the disciples to fetch the donkey and He tells them where and how to secure it. There is already a good plan because God has organised it. I also love that even though the task was simple, Jesus sent two people. Jesus was not solely focused on getting the task done, He cared that His followers had company and encouragement. I find I can do so much more and face the unknown confidently when I have a partner, and I imagine it was the same for these two men.
Thank you God that because of you we have reason to be joyful. We can look forward to the time when all will be put to right, and in this present moment we can be assured that you have a plan and it is good! Bless you God.
Written by Bethany Waugh
46 Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. They were leaving the city. A large crowd was with them. A blind man was sitting by the side of the road begging. His name was Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus means Son of Timaeus. 47 He heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. So he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 48 Many people commanded him to stop. They told him to be quiet. But he shouted even louder, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call for him.” So they called out to the blind man, “Cheer up! Get up on your feet! Jesus is calling for you.” 50 He threw his coat to one side. Then he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to be able to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus. “Your faith has healed you.” Right away he could see. And he followed Jesus along the road.
I admire the persistence of Bartimaeus in this passage. Here was a desperate man. We do not know the source, or for how long he had suffered blindness, but what a horrible disability in these times, thus the destitution and need to beg. News of Jesus had travelled to many corners, and Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus. But he also had a belief, maybe a desperate belief, but enough of a belief to call out for Jesus to have mercy.
In other accounts of healing by Jesus, friends brought the sick to him, but in this passage, we see people only irritated by Bartimaeus calling out for Jesus. No one was prepared to lead him to Jesus.
He did not care what the others thought. He continued to shout out for Jesus’ attention. He knew Jesus could heal him. He may have been blind physically, but maybe he had more spiritual sight than those around him. And of course, in His mercy, Jesus did heal him.
There are times when I too am spiritually blind, and I need to call out to Jesus, to have mercy, to give me spiritual insight, and to have greater understanding of His perspective.
Father, as I journey today, I pray for your mercy, and that the eyes of my heart will be opened more, so that I may see what you desire me to see, that I can be your hands and voice for your glory. Amen
Written by Steve Fell
35 James and John came to Jesus. They were the sons of Zebedee. “Teacher,” they said, “we would like to ask you for a favor.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right hand in your glorious kingdom. Let the other one sit at your left hand.” 38 “You don’t know what you’re asking for,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup of suffering I drink? Or can you go through the baptism of suffering I must go through?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink. And you will go through the baptism I go through. 40 But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or left hand. These places belong to those they are prepared for.” 41 The other ten disciples heard about it. They became angry at James and John. 42 Jesus called them together. He said, “You know about those who are rulers of the Gentiles. They hold power over their people. Their high officials order them around. 43 Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 44 And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. 45 Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”
How striking is it, the absolute self-assurance and boldness of James and John; ‘Jesus, do whatever we ask, yeah?’ I don’t think I’ve ever been so brash with Jesus. But even more surprising is Jesus’ immediate response; ‘what do you ask of me?’ It doesn’t feel like, to me, Jesus is humouring these two. He genuinely is interested, curious, as to what they want. Even if they’re being brash about the asking. Ultimately, Jesus turns this whole episode into an opportunity to teach humility, and true leadership.
I feel, more often than not, that I have to sanitise myself and my requests before bringing them to Jesus. James and John don’t even bother. Jesus not only copes with their arrogance, but draws out their desires, and then moves into teaching them what true, godly, and Christ-like ambition really looks like in action – humble service, preferring others above oneself, self-sacrifice.
Jesus, help me come to you as I am, but be prepared to hear you as you teach and train me into becoming all you want me to become. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem. Jesus was leading the way. The disciples were amazed. Those who followed were afraid. Again Jesus took the 12 disciples to one side. He told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said. “The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will make fun of him and spit on him. They will whip him and kill him. Three days later he will rise from the dead!”
The drama of Mark’s Gospel builds as Jesus sternly reminds his inner circle of disciples about how he believes their trip to Jerusalem is going to turn out. We (the audience reading Mark) know exactly what Jesus is talking about, the Twelve can only imagine. Like being a batsman in a cricket match where you are warned that the next ball will be spinner and that it will definitely get you out. Like having the mechanic warn you that your car’s engine is most definitely going to ‘blow up’ sometime very soon. Like being told that your favourite person on that TV show is most definitely going to be kicked off because your friend knows all the spoilers from looking them up the internet.
These examples are somewhat trivial by comparison, but in all cases you know the feeling like there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. You don’t know the specifics, but you do know the end result. Your future experience is set, but the details are unclear. Perhaps there are (or have been) serious circumstances in your life that leave you powerless. You feel trapped with a future outcome and nothing to be done but nervously await it’s unfolding.
I feel that today’s encouragement is found in knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way. Whether big or small, no ‘Jerusalem’ we might face will overcome us when we know Jesus is with us. The tornado that the disciples walked into beginning when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the tornado that Jesus is warning his disciples about in this passage, defined their lives. Because it resulted in the Cross and the resurrection, that tornado defines our lives as well.
Lord, thank you for the courage to face any circumstance. Thank you for your holy and peaceful presence that rests in my heart and on my life. Thank you for the ultimate victory of Jesus and the daily hopefulness that this victory catalyses in the face of any challenge.
Written by Sam Stewart
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him. He fell on his knees before Jesus. “Good teacher,” he said, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God. 19 You know what the commandments say. ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not be a false witness. Do not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’ ” (Exodus 20:12–16; Deuteronomy 5:16–20) 20 “Teacher,” he said, “I have obeyed all those commandments since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “You are missing one thing,” he said. “Go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” 22 The man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he was very rich. 23 Jesus looked around. He said to his disciples, “How hard it is for rich people to enter God’s kingdom!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter God’s kingdom! 25 Is it hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? It is even harder for someone who is rich to enter God’s kingdom!” 26 The disciples were even more amazed. They said to each other, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With people, this is impossible. But not with God. All things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus replied. “Has anyone left home or family or fields for me and the good news? 30 They will receive 100 times as much in this world. They will have homes and families and fields. But they will also be treated badly by others. In the world to come they will live forever. 31 But many who are first will be last. And the last will be first.”
In this intriguing story, I notice that there is a man who has passion to serve and submit to Christ. He runs up to Jesus and kneels (a submissive act) before him. He recognises that Jesus is wise and he recognises that Jesus has the answers for what he thinks he wants.
As the story continues, it seems like this guy would make a model Christian – he demonstrates self-control and has managed to follow a challenging list of moral standards since his youth.
But then Jesus puts his finger on something that sits below the surface. A less obvious behaviour. Something that this man, when really pressed, puts in a place of importance in his life above God. The bible sometimes uses the word idol for this stuff.
The longer I think about it, the more I can see myself in the rich young man. I hope that I would never truly turn away from Jesus because I wasn’t able to leave something behind that he has put his finger on, but all the same, I find myself bowing before him, worshipping him with my words and actions, and then still feeling like I struggle to let go of my own idols of productivity, and the appearance of being able to manage a million things and stay on top of them.
While this passage looks like it is about money, it is really about the things that we can put between us and Jesus.
Lord, keep showing me where I fall short in my submission to and honour of you. Help me to lay it all down at the foot of the cross, that I might serve you fully and unencumbered.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to place his hands on them to bless them. But the disciples told them to stop. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. 15 What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms. He placed his hands on them to bless them.
You don’t often hear of Jesus getting angry.
This is the middle of three passages describing barriers between people and God. First we see some Pharisees who try to turn God’s law into a trap for Jesus, but he patiently answers their question. In the third we see a young man who loves God, but loves his possessions more, and it says that Jesus loved him.
In this one, his own disciples are the barrier preventing these children coming to him, and he is angry: A pretty strong response.
I’m sure the disciples thought they were helping, but Jesus was looking for the people who were looking for him.
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
But this isn’t just about them. It’s about me too.
Its’s about who I bring to Jesus: Not necessarily the most important, or the one who knows the most about the Bible; Maybe the one I least expect is the one who most wants to come to him. It’s about me not being a barrier to anyone. It’s about me not assuming that Jesus would be uninterested in anyone.
And it’s about me. Forget about anything I’ve learnt or accumulated; I just want to be with you, Jesus. It’s about me throwing dignity away and throwing my arms around Jesus. It’s about running to him with excited delight. And if I really work at it, I might be as good at it as I was when I was five.
I love the way kids dance at the front of Church during worship. I don’t think I’m quite brave enough to join them, but in my heart I do. And Jesus loves it.
Written by David Cornell
10 Jesus left that place and went into the area of Judea and across the Jordan River. Again crowds of people came to him. As usual, he taught them. 2 Some Pharisees came to test Jesus. They asked, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied. 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a letter of divorce and send her away.” 5 “You were stubborn. That’s why Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ (Genesis 1:27) 7 ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. 8 The two of them will become one.’ (Genesis 2:24) They are no longer two, but one. 9 So no one should separate what God has joined together.” 10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “What if a man divorces his wife and gets married to another woman? He commits adultery against her. 12 And what if she divorces her husband and gets married to another man? She commits adultery.”
In today’s church, particularly in the West, anyone who speaks on verses 10–12 is likely to be called cruel, unfeeling, unforgiving, exclusive… So many people are bruised by the whole experience of marriage breakdown that to raise the topic, let alone to take a strong line on it, seems almost ‘unchristian’. Yet Jesus is clear that He sees divorce in a very dim light. Why so? Because marriage is not a thing of convenience, it is not a mere social construct. Marriage reflects God’s love for His people and as such should never be entered into lightly, nor fulfilled with anything less than 100% commitment.
Some object stating they grew ‘out of love’ – which reflects the nature of the commitment the couple did not establish. Others try their level best and the relationship breaks down. It is in this light that we read and sense the heart of Jesus – that He is for people and wants the absolute best for them, which means if they are married they should remain so – but they must together work on their marriage – it is NEVER simply one person’s fault the breakdown of a marriage.
Marriage as the Bible describes it is a holy relationship that reflects God’s great sacrificial love for His people.
Father, help us to uphold marriage in the light that you would have us to and so reflect your love and glory.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
42 “What if someone leads one of these little ones who believe in me to sin? If they do, it would be better if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43-44 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It would be better for you to enter God’s kingdom with only one hand than to go into hell with two hands. In hell the fire never goes out. 45-46 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It would be better to enter God’s kingdom with only one foot than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out. It would be better for you to enter God’s kingdom with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. 48 In hell, “ ‘The worms that eat them do not die. The fire is not put out.’ (Isaiah 66:24) 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “Salt is good. But suppose it loses its saltiness. How can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves. And be at peace with each other.”
Jesus is giving some pretty heavy warnings to his disciples about the eternal cost of sin.
As a new Christian this passage used to scare me as I’d heard story’s where people had actually mutilated themselves so that they would no longer sin. Now I see that loosing an eye, or a hand or a foot is actually not going to change my heart, where sin is birthed. Only God’s grace, my humility and repentant heart before him is the only way that my heart & therefore my desire to sin is changed.
My life is to reflect Jesus – that is what discipleship is about – so that in time others too will reflect Jesus. I need to make sure how I live, my attitudes, actions, decision, lifestyle, will not lead another Christian into sin, that they will not follow a wrong example.
Lord help me to always be aware of who it is that I represent as a follower of Jesus, You – that others will rightly see You through my life.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name. We told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us. 41 What I’m about to tell you is true. Suppose someone gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah. That person will certainly not go without a reward.
“He’s not of our group!”
The passage before these verses reveals the heart of the disciples at this time, arguing about their status. Self importance was the focus, not the purpose and work of Jesus.
When quizzed by Jesus about these discussions, John seems to highlight their elite status as Jesus’ chosen disciples by mentioning someone outside their group performing exorcisms in Jesus name. Surely Jesus would condemn this activity?
Rather, Jesus points to the validity of this healing from demon possession because the man is “on our side”. God is acting through this man of faith. By his actions, the man is bringing honour to God. That is why Jesus does not want the disciples to stop him. Even the smallest actions in helping God’s people are something which bring honour to God (v41). Giving myself for God to use me is what it is about. I may be behind the scenes or up front, but do my actions honour him and support those doing his will.
Dear Jesus, use me today to bring you honour, by the way I think, speak and give my time. Help me to testify of your transforming power in my life. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118