“But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:29-30 (NASB)
For certain, those opposed to Jesus of Nazareth were so because He challenged their errant presumptions. It was some Sadducees intending to trip Jesus up asked him the question about cultural practice of a younger brother marring the wife of an older brother who dies childless. The trap instead was set for them because they didn’t acknowledge the truth of resurrection or supernatural happenings. Evil practices were considered good by those who misinterpreted Scripture leading many down the wrong path. Yesterday we considered the importance of knowing the right path through discernment and finding the path God has for us. These Jewish leaders used a strawman argument that Jesus dismantled with the truth of resurrection life. It’s dangerous to presume that there can be agreement over a disagreement on Biblical truth. How often do we say or hear this? “That’s my interpretation of what the Bible says.” Then the response; “Well I hold a different interpretation.” The surest way to the wrong path is to believe in the value of private interpretations which are essentially opinions based on one’s feelings. The Bible teaches us what God wants us to believe and it’s equally good for every believer.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)
Today’s passage is one we have considered previously but it is good and necessary for review. This is a training exercise we should do over and over and over again. So doing, it will become a natural response in times that we need God’s help. This is from what is called the Sermon On The Mount. Jesus was speaking to and teaching his disciples and many more who had gathered around him to listen to him teach. He was also speaking to us and this is a promise for us today. A promise we can take to heart and live by. We all have needs throughout our life and Jesus knows that. We all are looking for the truth and knowledge and guidance. We all come to places where we might find our way closed. Jesus tells us to Ask for what we need and it will be made available; Seek what we are promised and we will find it; Knock when the door is closed and it will be opened. We can be thankful and rejoice to know that God responds to us when we ask, seek and knock. He is always there to respond.
“And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.” – Matthew 9:23-25 (ESV)
Jesus traveled around the Israel during his time of ministry. He was incessantly consumed doing what he had come from heaven to do. After preaching His sermon to the crowds teaching the difference between the Kingdom of God and the system of legalism from official Jewish rulers. We can read of Jesus healing all who would come to him of all diseases. One of the ‘all’ was a synagogue official who’s young daughter was near death. She succumbed to the illness and died before Jesus could get to her. But Jesus knew what He about to make happen. For Jesus the little unconscious girl laying on her bed was nothing more than ‘asleep.’ At that time and in that culture, the mourners appear and walling commencing immediately after one dies. A loud disorderly atmosphere created by mourners intended to demonstrate the level of sorrow and grief. Wealthy families might hire professionals to crank up the commotion to make up for sorrow that did not even exist. Jesus is laughed at and mocked when he tells the noisemakers to exit the house because the girl was only asleep. Moments later when Jesus has restored her physical life, the mockers are amazed.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB)
Do you have a heavenly perspective regarding your future beyond this world? Jesus in our verses actually is promising those listening the consequences of being a follower of Him. We’re promised insults, mocking, being reviled and ostracized. The promise is still working out today. Today, many are secret about their faith in Jesus. Secret and silent because who likes to be insulted and we are enamored by what we have here. However there is a wonder ahead for all who believe in the Son of God as Savior. The old spiritual that sang: “everybody talking about heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Today it’s more like, “everybody goin’ there ain’t talking much about heaven anymore.” Heaven is real, it is a wonderful reward from God and it is beyond description. When asked how he was, the sixth president once replied, “John Quincy Adams is well, sir, very well. The house in which he has been living is dilapidated and old. He has received word from its maker that he must vacate soon. But, John Quincy Adams is well sir, very well.” So, we look to heaven where we will have that eternal weight of glory, and that new house from God.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” – Matthew 10:30 (ESV)
Today we have what might seem to be an unusual promise verse to consider. Jesus is teaching and training his disciples in for work He has chosen them to do. It begins in verse 5 when this narrative tells of the mission the twelve were being sent out with instructions from Jesus. There is a rich treasure trove of truth and promises in this passage (Matthew 10:16-42). When Jesus tells them that even the hairs of our head are all numbered He is saying more than simply that He knows how many hairs are on our heads. That number would be different for each of us and His knowledge is not limited. It is more a promise that even down to the number of hairs on each of our heads we are fully valued by God. Therefore, apart from His sovereign care and loving heart nothing can or will happen to any of these hairs. So declaring His knowledge and care for the life of each small sparrow which were of insignificant cost in the market there certainly is a value held for us. A value which is greater than many sparrows.
“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:6 (NASB)
It’s today on Resurrection Day, or Easter that many observe this day. We remember the promise (John 16:16) Jesus gave to his disciples and also to us (John 17:20-21). The Bible records important messages which were delivered on the day Jesus arose from the dead. Of these messages perhaps none are more important than this one in chapter 28:6. It is the message an angel gave to the two women who came looking for the body of Jesus. The angel, sent from heaven that morning, rolled away the stone so the tomb where Jesus had been buried would be open. We believe that the angel didn’t need to roll away the stone to let Jesus out. He was already gone. That was the news the angel told those women looking for Jesus. The stone was rolled away to let any seeking Jesus would see that He was gone, no longer in grave dead. What a wonderful message that is for us too. The one who had died for us, was alive again and He is still living today as a part of our lives. Jesus, the Son of God lives today, that’s a promise He made and keeps.
“And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” Matthew 27:66 (NIV)
We have been considering how Jesus approached His death on the cross and how He died. Now, let us consider what happened after He died and after He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in a new tomb. Because the Sabbath began at sunset His burial needed to be done quickly on the same evening (Friday) that Jesus died. What happened on Saturday? We are told that some of the women who had followed Jesus watched the burial that Friday evening, spent time preparing spices and perfumes to anoint His body (Luke 23:25-26). But because Saturday was the Sabbath, the women decided to wait one more day and rested on Saturday. The interesting thing is that although the friends and disciples of Jesus were inactive on Saturday, some of his enemies were not. Matthew 27:62–65 records how the enemies of Jesus remembered what he had said about rising again. They went on Saturday to request a special guard at the tomb where Jesus was buried. Today’s verse describes what resulted from their request. Jesus had promised to rise again and nothing that his enemies did would stop what God would be doing on Sunday morning.
“This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:14 (ESV)
We can rightly consider this a most inspiring missionary promise from Jesus. Not: should be preached. Not: might be preached. But: will be preached. This is not a great commission, it’s a great certainty. How can we be sure the church won’t fail in its missionary task? The grace of missionary service is as irresistible as the grace of regeneration. Christ promised universal proclamation because he is sovereign. He knows the future success of missions because he makes the future and sees it happen. A “nation” as used here is not a modern “country” in the way we use the word. When the Old Testament spoke of nations, we recall groups like Jebusites, Hivites, Amorites, Moabites, Canaanites, and Philistines. “Nations” identified ethnic and tribal groups with their own peculiar language and culture. We call them people groups, these days. As the sovereign Son of God and Lord of the church, Jesus simply applied His divine purpose and stated as an absolute certainty. World missions to proclaim the Gospel is assured of success. It cannot fail. Let us, then pray with great faith, invest with great confidence, go forward with a sense of sure triumph?
John Piper shared these words in a recent devotional:
“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” – Matthew 26:53-54 (NASB)
Judas gives a kiss so the temple police will know who to arrest. Peter is quick to defend Jesus. He pulls his sword and with one swipe slices off an ear of the high priest’s slave. That was not planned by Jesus and Peter is rebuked while He heals the man’s ear. Claiming that He possessed all the defense He needed and it was His for the asking, Peter was not to interfere with the will of God. A legion equaled 6,000 soldiers, twelve legions would be 72,000 angels. Every detail of the death of Jesus was preordained by God. Dying was Christ’s supreme act of submission to the Father’s will. Jesus Himself was in absolute control. Yet it was not Jesus alone, but everyone around Him—His enemies included—who fulfilled precisely the details of the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus fulfilled the promise of redemption made in Genesis 3 that one day, the world was infected with the consequences of sin – death. When Satan brought rebellion into God’s perfect creation God promised He would vanquish and remove the curse of sin for all who believe in Jesus.
“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” – Matthew 26:2 (NASB)
In three weeks this year we’ll approach Passion Week, the week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, we’ll remember Christ’s last Passover supper. We, observe and remember Christ’s sacrifice in the holy sacrament of communion, we are observing a part of the Last Supper. This supper was an annual observance. For Jews it recalls the last night in Egypt when they were saved by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doorposts and mantle of their house. God spared the firstborn of any house that had shed the blood of a lamb. The first Passover meal was a rushed thing for their exit from Egypt started on the morrow. Each subsequent Passover meal was done to remember God’s deliverance. Jesus observed the Passover each year he was on earth. But on this, his last year was going to be different. For this was God’s chosen time for Christ to die. He was the antitype to which the Passover Lamb had always referred. Christ had always avoided His enemies’ plots to kill Him, but now it was His time. The true Lamb of God’s shed blood would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).