Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Have you ever had someone, or a group of people set out to humiliate you? When people spit on you, when people mock you, when people humiliate you and when they do not let up it is demoralising, demeaning, belittling and condescending. Emotional abuse is real, and this is what Jesus experienced in this segment of His passion. We commonly focus on His physical scars and torment. Jesus experienced that, of course, and emotional torment as well. Isaiah 53:3 reminds us that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It is helpful to recognise that Jesus suffered greatly emotionally, not only physically. For when we are betrayed, slandered, mocked, humiliated for our faith we have an advocate who has experienced similar and so we can find strength and faith!
If, today, you are suffering for your faith – take heart – you are following in the Master’s footsteps!!
Father may we always keep our eyes open to what you are doing, evening in emotional pain that comes from mocking, humiliation and betrayal!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
There are so many social dynamics at work in this scenario. We have the chief priests and elders feeling so threatened by Jesus that they are willing to condemn an innocent man to a gruesome death.
We see the crowd being manipulated by the chief priests and elders to choose to release a murderer, Barabbas, instead of Jesus.
We see a weak leader Pilate who knows that it would be right to release Jesus and yet he bows to the crowd pressure.
And we have Jesus. Silent, dignified and allowing God’s purposes to unfold without rising up to defend Himself.
Before I get too judgemental on the other people in the scene, I need to remember that although the outcomes were not as extreme as we see here, I too have been caught up in these types of sins at one time or another. I have felt threatened enough to bring someone down with gossip and slander. I have allowed pressure to sway me into doing something I knew wasn’t right. I’ve been part of the crowd.
All of this serves to remind us of how weak and self-centred we humans can be, and how much we need our Saviour Jesus every single day.
Father God, thank you that you are so gracious and loving, and that You accept us as Your children despite our weak and self-centred hearts. I am once again in awe of Your amazing grace.
Written by Shelley Witt
1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
This is tragic.
I have no idea what Judas had expected would happen when he betrayed Jesus or why he took the money. But now he sees Jesus condemned he wants to undo it. But it can’t be undone. Jesus dies because of Judas’ sin.
But he died just as much because of my sin. My sin can’t be undone either. So Jesus took spiritual consequences of my sin (death) from me onto himself. But Judas does things the other way around: he embraces the death he brought on Jesus.
(There can be physical consequences too which damage me or, worse, damage others. The world and I both need His healing too.)
I find the response of the priests equally tragic: so concerned about the wrongness of taking the blood money back into the temple treasury, yet oblivious to the wrongness of buying the death of an innocent man (let alone the unfathomable wrongness of putting the Son of God to death).
Yet out of all this wrongness God brings the most wonderful act of rightness.
This is wonderful!
Written by David Cornell
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
I can imagine being Peter in this story. I can imagine the turmoil of emotions. Peter had spent three years with Jesus. He had seen Jesus do amazing miracles, but more than that, he had felt Jesus’ love for him. Peter’s life was transformed, from fisherman to disciple; from obscurity to one of the closest companions of the Messiah! I imagine that, despite the hardships and threats, Peter had felt privileged to be one of the people closest to Jesus. I also imagine that Peter had felt strong and committed, and felt that he would be prepared to die with Jesus and never let him down. Yet here he was. He’d given in to his fear and denied even knowing Jesus, let alone standing with him in his suffering and death. I would weep bitterly too.
Then I look at my own life. I am also privileged to be close to Jesus. I have felt his love. I have seen amazing miracles in response to prayer. But when I hear others ridicule him, do I speak up? When people use his name as an expletive do I say anything? Am I prepared to suffer rejection and ridicule myself, let alone physical persecution as Christians in some countries suffer? The answer is yes and no. Sometimes I speak up and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m strong and sometimes I, like Peter, give in to fear.
I note that Peter’s denial of Jesus happened before he was filled with the Holy Spirit. After that, he proclaimed Jesus boldly and many thousands became Christians as a result.
Jesus, please fill me afresh with your Spirit today. Help me to always proclaim you fearlessly. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”
Jesus having been arrested, is now before the Jewish rulers who are trying to find something, anything, to be able to be rid of him. They had already made up their minds, they didn’t really want to hear what he had to say. They even specifically asked if he was the Son of God. I wonder who they were looking for to be the saviour, the Messiah? It certainly wasn’t Jesus!
How often do we fail to recognise God even when he is right in front of us, even when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us do we ignore and go our own way, do our own thing? To my shame that’s way too often.
I was once someone who mocked Christian’s, tried to find any fault in them and their belief in Jesus. I was no different to the chief priests and council, not wanting to acknowledge who Jesus was.
Thankfully, I did eventually agree that Jesus is the Son of God and I responded to that truth by accepting him as my Lord and Saviour.
Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and patience, that you gave me more than one opportunity to acknowledge Jesus as your Son, that He died for my sin. Thank you for pursuing me even when I rejected you. I am forever grateful for your mercy toward me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
It can be hard to see but Jesus is in control in this situation of his arrest. Through his anguished prayer moments before he has given this situation to The Father, His Father. He faces injustice and betrayal knowing his Father is with him and this is the path he has determined for Jesus.
Jesus is a prisoner. He does not put up a fight. He even tells others not to fight on his behalf.
Jesus is suffering for me. As Isaiah 53 says – “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering.” This was God’s plan. Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.”
There are situations in life where it doesn’t seem that God is in control. That is when I need to look to Jesus’ example, when I need to walk alongside Him as prisoner. That is the place I will find comfort from Him and be sure that I am in God’s will for me. That is when I rely on him, not myself.
Dear Lord Jesus, the betrayal by your disciple and the injustice of your arrest were no surprise to you. You must have felt so alone. Thank you for showing me how to rely on God in times which feel out of control and wrong. By your Holy Spirit I will walk with you, following your example as a prisoner, trusting our Father. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
In this passage, we find a valuable lesson for our own lives. Just as Jesus grappled with His own desires and fears, we, too, face challenges that test our faith and commitment to God’s purpose and will. Jesus reminds us that even in our moments of greatest vulnerability, we should bring our concerns before God, acknowledging our human weaknesses but ultimately yielding to His wisdom and purpose. This should be our attitude when facing the world around us! In our brief lives, we know troubles will always come; we don’t even need to go looking for it! And when troubles come, who do we put our trust and faith in? We know it can’t be in people as we clearly see how Peter, James and John let him down. Like Jesus, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Esther, Daniel, Ruth, and countless others, I put my trust in God Almighty.
Heavenly Father, I give You thanks for the ministry and sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. I thank You that the Servant-King came down from heaven fully-God and fully-Man, and died on the cross so that we can truly be called Yours. Thank you for the transforming of our hearts to Your will. Strengthen us with Your word, Your people, and Your Spirit.
In Your precious name, Jesus. Amen
Written by Sven Bessesen
17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Do your family celebrate traditions that go back a long way? My family has been in Australia for at least 7 generations, but we have Irish ancestry. At weddings and funerals, I’m always surprised at how many of the men dress in our family tartan. It’s a beautiful connection to our history and origins.
Here in this passage, we see Jesus and his disciples participating in an old Jewish tradition that their families had all been doing for over 1000 years – the commemoration of Pesach or Passover.
But in this section of scripture, Jesus brings new definition to the elements of the meal. He says that the bread and wine are not just reminders of the physical sustenance that their ancestors received in the desert when they fled Egypt, but the bread and wine were always elements that had been pointing forward to HIM. The wine pointed to His blood shed and the bread towards His body broken.
If your family doesn’t have a heritage in Christ, why not start one? And if you have a long lineage of faith in your family, what practical things can you do to pass that heritage on?
Lord, thank You that You started the tradition of communion so that we can remember you and share the heritage of faith that the disciples began on that day nearly 2000 years ago. May we also pass on our faith to those who follow us.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
What is Jesus worth to you? In many ways this is a ridiculous question. Jesus is Emmanuel- God with us (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23). Jesus is Yahweh of the Old Testament- maker of heaven and earth – who came to us from heaven, in person, to redeem and rescue us (see John 1:1). The question, ‘what is Jesus worth to you?’ seems nonsensical.
Yet, in this passage, we see 2 people who answer that very question; and their answers could not be more different – like day and night.
Mary, not identified by name in this passage but in the parallel retelling in the other gospels (see John 12:1-5, Mark14:3, Luke 7:37), breaks open a flask of perfume worth a year’s wages and lavishly pours the whole lot over His head in worship and in preparation for Jesus’ death – when ‘God with us’ would be lavishly ‘poured out’ to pay for the sins of all mankind. She risks ridicule and disgrace – she does not care. She displays her devotion and gratitude and love in a public act of worship. And Jesus honours her saying, “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (see verse 13). What was Jesus worth to Mary? Everything.
The next character is Judas – and the difference couldn’t be more striking. Unlike Mary, Judas hides his true colours – choosing to betray Jesus in the cover of darkness (see John 13:26-30). Completely unlike Mary, Judas’ public display of worth and devotion – a kiss – is reduced to a vehicle of identification to ensure the chief priests arrest the right man (see Luke 22:47-48). How awful that kiss must have felt! Unlike Mary, who willing parted with perhaps her most valuable possession, Judas agrees to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. In Exodus 21:32, if a bull gores a slave, the bull’s owner must pay the slave’s owner – you guessed it – thirty silver coins. Judas priced Jesus – the ‘God with us’ – the value of a slave. What a contrast – what a terrible indictment! Which makes me reflect inward – what is Jesus worth to me? What is Jesus worth to you?
Jesus, please awaken me to the ‘Judas’ areas in my life. Help me follow Mary’s example – you are worthy of it all. Amen
Written by B van Noppen
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
As I write this, we are soon to give our Thanksgiving Offering (at our Anniversary Service) away to wonderful organisations who help change the lives of others.
I think of previous recipients and the wonderful stories that we have a privilege of being part of. Vulnerable women finding “forever” homes for themselves which brings safety and security. Young people given an opportunity to train and help build a future. Connecting organisations, helping people assimilate into Australian society. Opportunities of education and assistance that changes the life of people and where they understand and know that they are SEEN.
This year in our purchase of another adjoining house to our facilities, I reflect on the sacrifice of people investing into our future building needs … keeping their eyes on the generations to come.
I am so very thankful to be part of a Church who thinks and looks outwardly and invests into a future Christian Community that will continue to build on what we have begun … who will still serve those in our community …
God loves His creation.
God loves people.
One day we will all stand before the King. He will be on a throne … angels with Him … and He will judge everyone of us.
I sense the fear of God in my heart. It is not what I did yesterday, or years before that will count … but how I respond every day.
Help me, Lord, to continue to look out for those less fortunate than myself, for those in need. Help me to love, be generous with all that I have – my time, my money, my possessions, my talents … Keep my heart soft towards you and others. Thank you, Lord, that you love us so very much. I love you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
What will the kingdom of heaven be like? … That is the question Jesus is asking and answering in this parable, and Jesus’ answer is at times perplexing. The men who were to invest the five and two talents are rewarded in the same manner – not according to the magnitude of their result, five is more than two, but the reward was based a simple principle of using what they had been given. Then you get to the guy who did nothing with what he had been given – because of his observations of the character of the landowner, which are not challenged in the story so we can assume his observations are correct, and he suffers!!!
Let me say plainly this is not an appeal to the kind of bad behaviour of the landowner being condoned.
What this parable is about is whether you are willing to use, for the kingdom, what God has provided to you – and to make that plain God has given you EVERYTHING you are and own! Your education and relationships, your life and livelihood, there is not a thing that has not come to you except for God’s providence. Do we simply not use what God has given to us – the problem of the third fellow, or do we use what God has given to us on non-kingdom purposes?
Remember, the kingdom of heaven will be like…
The kingdom of heaven will be populated with people who have used what they have been given for kingdom purposes. The acclaim of this world is not a qualification for the kingdom!
So, my challenge for us all is this – are you employing what God has provided to you, EVERYTHING, for the kingdom and Christ?
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Throughout the Bible, the marriage relationship is used as a picture of God’s relationship (or desired relationship) with His people. A common theme woven through Scripture is God’s unwavering, pursuit of His people into the relationship of eternal marriage.
In this Parable of the Ten Virgins Jesus places Himself as the bridegroom and urges His disciples to stay alert, because they do not know the day or the hour He will return and take them to the eternal wedding celebration.
We recognise that maintaining any healthy relationship requires intentionality and discipline. Both in an earthly marriage and in our relationship with God, becoming complacent and distant from your beloved can be lethal to the relationship.
We must continue to stoke the fires of anticipation, expectation, and preparation for that future eternal life that we are promised as Christ’s bride.
I am challenged to live today with an eager sense of anticipation for the return of our Groom on a day yet to come. I am reminded that I am valued by the infinite price our Saviour Jesus was willing to pay for us on the Cross. We are invaluably His, and He is ours.
Help us Lord, to remain steadfast in that place of anticipation and preparation. Our Groom is coming back to take us home!
Written by Shelley Witt
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The saying goes that only two things are certain – death and taxes. But I am going to add a third- it is certain that we will all be called to account to God for our behaviour/life. Just as the living word of God is eternal (never ending), God’s call on our lives is never ending. We can’t take a holiday from being a follower of Jesus, and we need to be prepared at any time to give an account before God of ourselves. I don’t mean we should be obsessed with death or worrying about the return of Christ. I have seen people like that, and it takes your eyes off the face of God and focusses them on side issues instead. We need to live fresh and renewed each day with no spiritual regrets. Choose today to be right with God so that there is no fear in the thought of being called to account. There is no threat in having lived as God calls us to, keeping the list of things that need confessing short. It is through Christ that we are saved and how I live reveals Him at work in my life.
Jesus, thank you for dying for my sin so that I can be right with God. By your Holy Spirit I ask for the strength to live your way today, and every day that follows. In your nightly name I pray. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“ ‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
This is the middle of a difficult passage. It’s easy to get caught up in the rumours, false prophets, false Messiahs, chaos and brokenness and be overcome by confusion and fear. But Jesus isn’t the source of any of these things, and his return sweeps all of those things away.
Jesus makes it clear that he won’t be hard to find. (Don’t listen to rumours that he’s somewhere else). He can be found by all who seek him now (Isaiah 55:6). His return will be even more obvious than lightning that flashes across the sky. His return will be so unambiguous that even people who don’t want to see him return will recognise him.
There will be false prophets, even false Messiahs, who will try to deceive us. But there’s no deception from Jesus. The returning Jesus is the same Jesus who was teaching the truth in the temple courts – the Jesus who is the truth (John 14:6). His return restores truth to all creation. He restores humanity’s true purpose in relationship with God.
We shouldn’t look for Jesus in the chaos and brokenness that sin brings to the world. The same Jesus who was healing the blind and the sick is returning to bring complete wholeness to all creation.
We shouldn’t look towards Jesus’ return with fear or confusion but hope and expectation. We shouldn’t view his return as a cause for mourning but for joy at his return.
Thank you, Jesus, that you are returning to complete the reconciliation of all things that you began on the cross. And thank you, too, that you give us a part to play now, bringing your word of reconciliation to the world (2 Corinthians 5:16-20). Today, I want my life and my words to speak your clear truth, your words of hope and expectation, your plea to all people to be reconciled to you.
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
Written by David Cornell
1 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.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
“Confidence in the Storm”
The temple in Jerusalem seemed so majestic and permanent that the disciples are confused to hear Jesus’ perspective: ‘don’t be so confident: the temple will be destroyed’.
The news of wars and troubles abroad seem so unprecedented that not being the ultimate sign of the end can also seem confusing.
Jesus’ point is: those that endure, despite all the troubles, they will be saved. None of the tumult will stop the Good News reaching everyone. Notice the comparison: all the bad news you hear of will not stop the Good News you have heard and recieved. Remember, one reason the Good News is so good is because it is unstoppable!
Jesus! Thank you for your good news and the power to endure until the end. Help me not to get distracted or discouraged by the bad news that exists out there. Thank you that you are in control and will undertake your plans despite turmoil and strife. Thank you for your peace in the storm, Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart
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. 14
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.
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.
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.’”
What a sobering passage to read. Here Jesus calls out the religious leaders of the time for the hypocritical ways in which they were living. These leaders were more concerned with the outward appearance of their religious lives and reputations, rather than a true transformation of their hearts. Their actions proved that they were busy trying to follow rules to perfection for the sake of superiority, rather than living in a way that promoted justice, mercy and the love of God. In doing so, they were making it hard for others around them who were seeking to serve God.
Jesus rebukes these leaders, yet He also shows compassion. The word ‘woe’ is used to express sorrow. Jesus is truly saddened that those in charge are not leading others well. We see His desire to bring them close to Himself, that they would cast off these legalistic and unhelpful behaviours and seek to follow Him with all their hearts. It is a true depiction of the duality of the truth and grace of Jesus.
I want to say that I can read this with a clear conscience but sadly I know that I too can get caught up in the outward expression of faith without having a correct heart on the inside. I pray that I would never be so caught up in how I look or what others think that I lose sight of the deep transformation Jesus wants to do inside of me, that I would be someone that cares more about loving others than how I am perceived.
Thank you, Jesus, that you care enough about us to call us to your self, even in the midst of our mess and mistakes. Help us to become more like you, that we would seek to be motivated by love, justice and mercy each day. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko
1 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 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.
The scriptures are and have always been good! They reveal who God is and teach how to live God’s ways. They are a guide for living as God’s creation, as God’s people in relationship with God and with one another, in this amazing world. Matthew is careful to emphasise this point before criticising the religious leaders of his day, as he wants those who follow him to love the scriptures and understand them.
This message, although aimed at the people of the day, continues to offer us lessons to live by. Let’s do our best not to be like the religious rulers of Jesus Day. They were hypocrites! They taught the scriptures but did not follow the teachings of God. They were full of pride, obsessed with image, and looking for praise. Everything they did was for show (v5). When we consider the social media age in which we live, there is a strong obsession with image. We need to be careful not to get caught up in this! Jesus cares about our character and the way we treat others much more than how we are seen! If our broadcasting could be hurting others, perhaps by giving them a false sense of what they need to do to be loved, then we ought to change what we do in this space. If our pride at work has led us to bring another person down, then we should check ourselves and ask for forgiveness from both God and the person we hurt.
Jesus encourages the people then, and us now, to be loving and humble (v 11), not mean and crush others (v4). We are to follow God’s ways, acknowledging God as Father. To do as Jesus did and taught. To really care for others, as we lead them, in whichever place we have influence. Be that online, at home, our workplace, sports club, or church. And in doing so, point them back to Jesus – the Master of living out God’s upside-down Kingdom. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (v12).
Dear Jesus, please show us today where we have let pride take over. Forgive us and help us to make amends with those we may have hurt. Jesus you are our great example! Help us to become more like you and live with humility, grace, and love towards others, putting them first. Amen
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
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.
In this interaction, Jesus challenges the Pharisees understanding of who the Messiah is. In their interaction, Jesus suggests that the Messiah is fully God and fully man, which leaves the Pharisees speechless and perhaps uncomfortable with this notion.
Each one of us at some time will hold beliefs that God will challenge and shift. Let’s be open to allowing God to shape us, to let him be the potter who shapes and moulds the clay.
Thank you, God that you are the way, the truth and the life. When we are confronted and challenged by your Word, please help us to trust you and to be open to the work of your hand to mould us. Thank you that you shape us into the likeness of your son Jesus, that you help us to pursue righteousness. Amen.
Written by Ps. Andrea Molteno
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.”
The Pharisees may have been trying to trip Jesus up on his knowledge of the law but little did they know Jesus response encompassed the core of human existence: love. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” These two commandments, Jesus explained, are the foundation on which all other laws and teachings rest.
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to get caught up in trivialities and lose sight of what truly matters. In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus provides us with a profound yet simple guide for life that can transform our relationships, actions, and perspectives. At its essence, this passage teaches us that love is the key to living a purposeful life. Love for God keeps us grounded in gratitude and devotion, reminding us of our spiritual connection and purpose. Love for our neighbours, which includes everyone we encounter, helps us foster compassion, understanding, and unity.
Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom found in Matthew 22:34-40. Please help me to love you with all my mind, heart and soul. Help me also to see how I can best love my neighbour. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
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.
It’s interesting isn’t it – that these people decided to ask Jesus a tricky question to see if they could catch him out. What a strange idea to come up with – that there would be a family of 7 brothers who all married the same woman, one after another because the men died early. They wanted to prove their way of thinking was right and so they set a scenario that was unwinnable – one that Jesus couldn’t answer – or so they thought. Instead, Jesus had an answer. He made clear the scenario they were asking about didn’t matter – that God had plans that covered all situations. He also made clear that their fundamental belief in a lack of a living God was incorrect. He dealt with their trickiness so clearly that the people listening were amazed.
It is easy for us to fall into the same situation as these leaders. We want God to fit into the picture we have developed rather than seeing God for who He is – the richness of the picture that is painted through the Bible. We want what we think to be right, we don’t want to have to change in response to us growing in our understanding of God. So we can tie ourselves in knots as we talk with God trying to get Him to fit our picture. We need to be willing to learn and grow in our picture of God, to be willing to hear how we might have a picture that is not quite correct and to be focused on seeing God for who He is – the creator of all – and that this picture grows in richness as we grow in our relationship with Him.
Dear Lord, thank you for the picture of how well Jesus knew you. He could respond easily to queries about you – even strange ones. The picture painted here of a relationship between the father and the son that is strong, clear, well understood, filled with love and understanding is wonderful. Help each of us to work to build such a relationship with you. Help us to be willing to learn and grow every day. Amen
Written by Therese Manning
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.
Have you ever fought with a toddler? If you have, you probably know what it’s like to win the battle but lose the war!
This chapter contains a series of conversations between Jesus and the religious leaders of the time. In these conversations the leaders bring up sections of theology that they care very deeply about and argue about. They test Jesus, wanting to see which ‘side of theology’ He’s going to land. But Jesus does not fall into the trap of fighting the battle but losing the war. He constantly brings His listeners back to the heart of the matter – the human soul and our relationship with God.
I speak often with someone who is very angry at God and His people. Sometimes I’ve made the mistake of getting defensive, which always ends in an argument. A battle. But this chapter reminds me that God is not bothered by the anger. He sees the immense pain and hurt beneath it, and He wants to redeem it, to bring peace and new freedom. He’s in the war for souls. And the best news is that He’s already won it at the cross.
Thank you, Lord, that you care so deeply for your created beings. Help us to see what you see, and to fight the war that matters, rather than focusing on the battles that don’t.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
1 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.”
In order to describe the coming Kingdom of God, Jesus paints a vivid picture of a royal wedding. I imagine something similar to the extravagance of the British Royal Weddings of the past decade or so.
In this story, however, the guest list is uninterested in attending! Some are even violently opposed to celebrating. Then the king in the story invites commoners to come to the wedding instead. Not surprisingly, many people show up.
What is Jesus trying to teach me?
I believe he is saying that there are many who reject the invitation to join in God’s Kingdom. In fact, there are some that are opposed to it. But God is not dissuaded and invites people of all backgrounds to join in His Kingdom.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sure enough, some poor bloke turns up to the wedding banquet in the equivalent of stubbies, a singlet and thongs… he is a little underdressed. So the King ties him up and boots him out into the darkness…. Rough!
What is Jesus teaching me with this final part of the story?
I imagine the wedding attire would have been costly to purchase. Buying a suit or dress for the wedding would have been a serious investment. God’s Kingdom is not an ‘eat and run’ situation. I can’t rock up and tell God that I have a few other priorities to attend to as well. I need to go all in, invest in following Jesus, and turn my back on all the other options.
“Lord, it is easy to get absorbed with the parties and priorities of this world. Lord, you call me to be dedicated to your priorities. You have invited me to an everlasting party. Where I am not invested in your Kingdom, rearrange my priorities so that I am worthy of your party!”
Written by Andrew Mellor
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. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
Jesus tells three stories with surprising reversals in response to a challenge to his authority by the Jewish leaders. This is the second of those.
They would have recognized the story about a vineyard as echoing Isaiah 5:1-7 where Israel is portrayed as a vineyard planted by God in expectation of fruit of “justice” and “righteousness” but instead it produced “bloodshed” and “cries of distress.” But in this case the vineyard isn’t the problem. It’s that the tenants refuse to give the owner the fruit he is due. They abuse and kill the owner’s servants and then kill his son.
Jesus asks them what will happen when the owner comes. They say that he will kill the tenants and give the vineyard to others. That may be what they deserve, and Jesus says the kingdom will be given to others. But it happens in a surprisingly different way.
As the story in Matthew unfolds, we see that Jesus defeats the powers of this world through his death and resurrection. He overcomes those who put the son to death, not with more death, but with restored resurrection life. Rather than overcome the powers of this world with more of their violence, he disarms them by cancelling the debt of sin that gives them power over us (Colossians 2:13-15). It’s brilliant. God defeats evil by being its opposite. What else would he do?
I love the way God constantly surprises me by the brilliant, creative, unexpected things he does. But how can I walk with my God when he keeps being so surprising? Perhaps my mind needs to be renewed and transformed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2) so that I start to think more like Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Perhaps I need to watch him closely and listen to him carefully (Hebrews 12:1-2). Perhaps I should view my world with hope and expectation that God will do more than I could ever expect (Ephesians 3:20-21). Perhaps I need to be ready to follow Jesus outside my comfort zone. Or perhaps all of the above.
Jesus, please take me with you today as you continue reconciling the world in surprisingly wonderful ways. Holy Spirit, give me eyes to see and wits to recognise what you’re doing today, and courage to be part of it.
Written by David Cornell
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.
What a double whammy for the chief priests and elders! They are highly respected people in their community. They expect to get answers when they ask questions, especially of someone teaching in the temple courts! Yet Jesus recognises the falseness of their question and their answer. This discourse shows that the leaders were not genuinely enquiring, but were trying to trap Jesus and find a way to oust him (or worse). Jesus catches them in their own game and refuses to answer unless they give an honest answer to his question too. His apparent lack of respect towards them would have angered and humiliated them.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there! He uses a parable to demonstrate that listening to him, understanding that we are all sinners, and repenting get us into the kingdom of God, not our position in society. In fact, those of a higher status, like the chief priests, find it more difficult to humble themselves and believe. When he tells them that tax collectors and prostitutes – the lowest in society – would be more likely to enter the kingdom of heaven than they were, their humiliation is complete.
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Who I am, how important my job is, how nice my home is, what my cultural background is, how much respect I have garnered from society – none of these things matter. All that matters is accepting that I am a sinner and falling on Jesus’ righteousness and mercy for my salvation. That fact not only opens the door for everyone to come to Jesus, but it also creates a wonderful equality in the family of God.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for making a way for all of us to enter the kingdom of God. I pray for the body of Christ worldwide to understand and celebrate that there is no hierarchy among us. Help us to reach out to everyone with your truth. Amen
Written by Megan Cornell
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.”
Such an interesting passage right in the middle of Jesus clearing out the Temple of money changers and the next day when the Pharisee’s want to know where Jesus’s authority comes from to do these things.
We know that Jesus’ authority came from the Father, but do we realise that through the Holy Spirit and our faith in Jesus we have that same authority? Faith and belief are the keys. Not keys to magically ask for whatever we want, like three wishes from a genie, but faith to pray and ask for the things that are on Gods heart. Praying by faith for God to accomplish the purposes he has for our lives and to see his righteousness and justice take place in the world through grace and love.
Someone once challenged me: how would you pray if God answered every one of the prayers you prayed in a year? That really made me stop and be far more aware of God’s character and heart, to pray not just for myself, but for others and our world. Do I actually have faith for what I’m praying or are they just nice words and a good thing to do? It did and has changed the way I pray and to understand who God is and his character more.
Lord Jesus, increase my faith to be able to pray your heart and character for the situations that come into my life, the people in my world and world around me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
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.
God has spoken to me about Jesus’ authority through this passage.
This is an account of Jesus’ activities after he had entered Jerusalem – think Palm Sunday. He is hailed as a king by the crowds. Interestingly his priority is to go to the temple as opposed to making speeches and stirring up a rebellion. His actions and words in the temple that day declared him as king – he fulfilled prophesies, and he showed his authority.
He uses this authority to restore God’s house and to restore people – physically and spiritually. Restoration is what God is all about. That is why he sent Jesus to redeem and save us.
Jesus is still in a place of authority – at the right hand of God. His victory over death and sin has assured that.
What does it mean that Jesus has authority over my life? What does that look like? I have been confronted to assess my life in the light of these questions. Jesus’ authority as my Lord and Saviour, God, has to impact everything such as my finances, priorities, attitudes. It demands sacrifice. It probably even demands accepting the authorities God has put over me (at work and in society) even if I am critical of them.
It means a life submitting to the one who created and rescued me. A life of worship of a wonderful, mighty Lord who reigns over all. There is no doubt he is worthy.
Dear Lord. How I wish I was in the temple that day to see you set everything straight, to show your majesty and reveal yourself as the Messiah. Thank you so much you have revealed yourself to me and changed my life. You are the only one worthy of my praise and devotion. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
In a triumphant entry, Jesus arrives at the holy city of Jerusalem bringing hope and joy. He is not the conquering warlord that some thought the Messiah would be, but the embodiment of love and service. As He makes His way into the city, the people acknowledge Him, displaying a king’s welcome by spreading their coats and branches on the road.
I can’t help to think of the humility Jesus shows in His leadership. It highlights the contrasts between heavenly and worldly values. I am reminded to fix my eyes beyond this life and place my trust in God who is just and good.
Hosanna is a plea for God to save us. Many believed He would be the political figure of the Messiah that would rescue them from their current circumstance. Jesus, however, had a far greater plan than we could have imagined. He came as the suffering servant to finish His work on the cross and reconcile us with our Heavenly Father.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful love and perfect plan to save Your people through Jesus. Let us always remember that You are the true source of life and joy. Help us to fix our eyes and hearts upon You, always.
In Your precious name, Jesus. Amen
Written by Sven Bessesen
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.
“Two blind men were sitting by the side of the road.”
It sounds a bit like the start of a joke!
In this passage, Matthew recounts the story of when Jesus went from Jericho towards Jerusalem. Jesus has changed in his approach to miracles – In Matthew 9, Jesus also heals two blind men, but he does so inside a house, and warns them not to speak to anyone about it.
Today though, Jesus is about to make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and go to turn over the tables in the temple! No more hush-hush healing – Jesus rebukes the crowd and heals the blind men in front of everyone! The joke is not on the blind man, but on all those who told them to be quiet!
Lord, thank You that You revealed your power publicly, confirming who Jesus was by having Him fulfil prophesy before His death on the cross. May I bear witness to your healing power and your power to save, at every opportunity.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
7.00PM - Fridays in school term,
for students in Years 6-12
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford 2120
9.30AM and 5.30PM
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford 2120
Best access for the 5.30pm service is via Roselea Way
We gather worship and work, on the lands of the Darug and Guringai people and wish to acknowledge them as the traditional custodians. We pay our respects to first nations elders past and present.