To the reader,
Over the past couple of months, (We took the month of June off from writing devotions) we have been examining answers posed by the question of the Greeks to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Thus far, we have looked at those “types,” foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament. Then we spent some time looking at prophesies of the Lord Jesus, and much more time could have been spent on that study for there are many prophesies of Christ in the Old Testament writings.
What better way could there be to see someone, to get to understand the ideas and philosophies of an individual than through his or her own words? For the next while, we will examine the recorded words of the Lord Jesus found in the Word of God. While difficult to do, I have endeavored to follow our Lord’s teachings chronologically as much as possible.
An old song that we sing says, “More about Jesus I would learn.” This certainly should ever be our goal. It is my prayer that we all will be brought to a greater understanding of the Blessed Redeemer through looking carefully at those things He spoke during the days of His earthly ministry.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2
“How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
The majority of the record of the life and ministry of Jesus begins when He was about thirty years of age, (Luke 3:23) and continues until His death and resurrection which took place some three and one-half years later. Very little is known of the first thirty years of His life. With great interest we have read of the circumstances surrounding His birth, and those early years immediately following; i.e. the sojourn in Egypt, the early years in Nazareth, etc. It is difficult to image our Lord being raised in a normal Jewish home, facing all of the things He needed to learn, the joys and the challenges that other young boys faced in that small Jewish village. As a young boy, Jesus would have been taught by His mother in the early years of His life. Beginning at the age of twelve, the bulk of His training would have been the responsibility of Joseph, His stepfather, who would have started training Him in the craft of carpentry. In fact, Jesus was known as “the carpenter, the son of Mary....” (Mark 6:3)
In the passage we read for our devotions, we find the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus, spoken when He was twelve years of age. Like all faithful Jewish men, Joseph had led his family to Jerusalem to observe the feast of the passover. This was the first of the Jewish feasts in the religious year. Many thousands of Jews made the yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to observe this sacred feast that commemorated the deliverance of their ancestors from Egypt during the days of Moses. It was a time of worship, of reflection, of fellowship and of training for younger generations. This was part of obeying the command that God made of Jewish parents when He said, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children....” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) Much teaching and discussion was made during these religious pilgrimages for the benefit of the young. It was undoubtedly a very special time for both parents and children.
Joseph took his family to Jerusalem for the passover feast. How many children there were in Joseph’s home at this time is uncertain. Jesus did have brothers and sisters, (See Matthew 13:53-56) He being the oldest of the siblings. As the oldest child, He probably had responsibilities for helping care for the younger, as would be the case in any normal family, especially during times like this trip to Jerusalem for the feast. When the feast days were completed, the family began their trip back to Nazareth, which was about a seven day journey. Naturally there would have been more than just Joseph’s family that made the pilgrimage, and these traveled together for safety and for the joy of the fellowship along the way. As they began that long journey back to their hometown of Nazareth, “the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” (Luke 2:43) (Did anything like this ever happen in your family? There has probably never been a family that did not experience a similar situation.) They traveled the first day of the return trip “supposing him to have been in company,” only to discover that they had left their twelve year old son in Jerusalem. Panic! Can you imagine that, mom and dad?
Joseph and Mary immediately returned to Jerusalem. They had traveled a day when they discovered Jesus was missing, and it took a day to get back to the Holy City. “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astounded at his understanding and answers.” Perhaps when we get to heaven, we can find out what those questions and answers were.
“And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son why has thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing?” I’m afraid Lynn and I would not have been so calm. We would probably have said, “If you ever....” He most likely would have been grounded for the rest of His growing up years. Here is where we read the first recorded words of Jesus Christ spoken during the days of His earthly ministry.
“How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Please stop and dwell on this response given by our Lord in the form of questions asked of Mary and Joseph, for it summarizes the entire earthly ministry of our Blessed Savior. See John 4:34; 6:38, 40. Jesus was on this earth to accomplish the greatest “business” ever known, the redemption of His own through His death, burial and resurrection. These first recorded words of our Savior sum up all that we know of Him and His Work. They set the stage for everything else that can be known of Him. He came to do the Father’s business! Praise His Holy Name! Amen!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 3
The ministry of the Lord Jesus was introduced by the forerunner, John the Baptist. John himself had been the subject of prophecy in the following passages; Isaiah 40:1-5; Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6. Through his preaching, many were turned to the Lord and were baptized by him in the river Jordan. Their baptism was one of repentance as they turned their hearts to the Lord in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
Along with preaching righteousness and repentance, John prophesied of the coming Messiah saying, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire....” The message of the superiority of the Lord was ever emphasized by the forerunner. When the Lord did appear on the banks of the Jordan river, John recognized Him immediately, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” When John saw the Lord, he felt unworthy to baptize Him. “But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” John knew the Lord to be “mightier,” and superior to himself. It had been revealed to him that Jesus was the “Lamb of God” that would take away the sins of the world. John knew himself to be a sinner and felt in need of Christ’s work in his own life. And, he was right.
We are examining the teachings of Christ as we seek to “see” Him more clearly, and His words to John are of the utmost importance in understand our Lord. When John was apprehensive in baptizing the Lord, Jesus replied, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” This simple sentence reveals much about the character and the purpose of the Lord Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry. On a later occasion He would be accused of breaking the Law of Moses, but in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18) Our Lord did something that no man was ever capable of doing, not even Moses; He fulfilled every “jot” and “tittle” of God’s righteous law. He did so with the required offerings (Luke 2:22-24), the paying of the Temple tax (Matthew 17:24-27), and all other demands and requirements of the Law. Because of this perfect obedience to and fulfillment of God’s Law, the Lord Jesus had no guilt, no guile or sin in His life. He truly was the Lamb of God without neither spot nor blemish.
An ongoing debate concerning the Lord Jesus has to do with His impeccability. On one side of the debate is the insistence that the Lord Jesus was incapable of sinning because of His Divinity. The other viewpoint is that He was capable of sin, but did not sin. The Scriptures are clear that He did not sin, although He was tempted in all points such as are we. Paul wrote, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Regardless of the valid arguments which can be presented on both sides of the debated issue, the fact of the sinlessness of the Son of God cannot be debated. His sinlessness made it possible for Him to be the sin sacrifice and the sinner’s substitute. The wonderful truth is that He became sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) The perfectly righteous Lamb of God, He Who fulfilled all of the righteous demands of God’s law, took our sins upon Himself so that we might be cleansed from all sins and declared righteous before God. Throughout the days of His earthly ministry, He ever kept before Him the demand to “fulfill all righteousness” in order that we fallen creatures might be redeemed from all sin and be made partakers of His righteousness. This is a blessed truth, beloved, and one in which we should take great consolation and hope. Amen!
Scripture Reading: John 1
Some of the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus after officially beginning His earthly ministry are found in John 1. The day after His baptism, which officially launched His ministry, Jesus was followed by two of John’s disciples; one of which was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. The other was possibly John, the brother of James.
Jesus turned to the men and inquired, “What seek ye?” Their leaving of John in order to follow Jesus was significant. They had believed his message, and were looking for the “One” Who was to come after John, the “One” Who was “mightier" and “preferred.” They had believed John’s message and thus believed that Jesus was the very subject of His declarations.
“What seek ye?” What a probing question Jesus asked of these men. “What are you looking for in life?” “What are you looking for in Me?” “What do you hope to find by following Me?” This is a question that is asked of all. Some look for fame, others for fortune. Happiness becomes the all important goal of some, and they will seek to attain it in any way possible, right or wrong. Multitudes of lives have been ruined and wasted as they sought to find that thing in life that was not truly worth living for. “What seek ye?”
This simple question speaks volumes of the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus. Scripture declares that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. That was His purpose, and the very focus of His life. He never wavered from that purpose. Nothing was ever done by Him throughout His life to compromise the fulfilling of that purpose. With His face fixed like a flint, from the the time of His youth our Lord pursued that goal, that purpose. What a challenge that is to you and I! We should ever seek to be as our Lord; living our lives with purpose, with goals and with the determination to govern our steps in this life in reflection of that goal. “What seek ye?”
In the Book of Judges, we read of “seven hundred chosen men” of the armies of the tribe of Benjamin that were “lefthanded,” and that these soldiers “could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.” (See Judges 20:16) As you can imagine, this took a great deal of practice and determination. Hours must have been spent in dedicated practice to be able to maintain such accuracy with these ancient weapons. These soldiers must have been valuable assets to the Tribe of Benjamin. They were determined, focused and dedicated to their war craft. O, that we soldiers of the cross would be so dedicated to our spiritual war craft; that we could be so focused and determined in our spiritual lives for Christ. “What seek ye?”
As we are endeavoring to more clearly see our Lord as revealed in His Word, we are looking at His teachings. In this particular incident, we are examining a question that he posed to what would become two of His greatest followers. Obviously, they were challenged with this question early on. How many times do you suppose they asked themselves this question later on in their lives. Actually it would do us all good to stop and ask ourselves, “What seek ye?” As we examine our years, our moments, we should ever contemplate the probing question Jesus asked of this former disciples of John the Baptist. If we did so honestly, it would help us to stay on track in our lives, helping us to focus on those things that are really important.
The day will come at the end of this life that we have been granted that we will look back over our lives in retrospection at the judgment. Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:11) I am afraid it will be a rude awakening when we are faced with the reality of what we really lived for in this time God has allotted us.
“What seek ye?” It would be fitting if followers of the Lord Jesus would stop and ask themselves this question regularly. It is so easy to lose focus and get side tracked when it comes to our goals and purpose of life. Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ….” (Philippians 1:21) In another place, he expressed his goal by saying, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” May we ever be so determined in our spiritual lives to “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13
“It is written....”
Immediately after His baptism (which officially began His earthly ministry), Jesus was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” This was not the only time that the Lord Jesus suffered temptation, but was designed for the purpose of His officially defeating the tempter when He was in a most weakened condition in the wilderness. A blessed truth is taught in Hebrews 2:17-18; “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” The three temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness represented all classes of temptations. John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:16-17) Therefore, in this one incident which took place in the early days of His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus defeated the tempter as he attacked the Savior with the entirety of his wicked arsenal. This insured that the Savior could fully “succour” all who are tempted that believe in Him.
“It is written....” With each temptation launched against the Lord Jesus, His initial response was, “It is written....” In other words, Jesus countered the attacks of Satan using God’s Word. This is vitally important to see. The Lord Jesus did not endeavor to combat Satan with His own fortitude or will power. He did not reason with Satan, as did Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus answered the temptations with the most powerful arsenal available, God’s Word. In each of the temptations, Jesus quoted Scripture. After the final temptation, Scripture declares that Satan left him, “and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matthew 4:11) In this final scene, Satan leaves the Lord as a defeated foe, and the Savior is viewed as the mighty Conqueror that defeated Satan in his own territory while in a weakened state.
On this heated battlefield, Jesus taught us a lesson that we all must learn well. That lesson has to do with the power of God’s Word, and the need that we have to know it well and to wield it as the offensive weapon we have been given for this spiritual conflict we find ourselves in. If the Son of God, God Incarnate, needed to use the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” (Ephesians 6:17) surely we must also depend upon this mighty weapon God has provided for us.
These were the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus just after His baptism. First things first! We desperately need God’s Holy Word. Through it we were saved, (See 1 Peter 1:23) and through it we are given the assurance of a right relationship with God. From this battlefield scene in the earthly ministry of the Savior, we learn that we must use the Word of God if we are to win the victory over our adversary, the devil. (See 1 Peter 5:8-9) “It is written...” flew from the mouth and mind of the Savior like a mighty spear being thrown at the enemy, or like the smooth stone that flew from David’s sling that dealt the death blow to the giant.
Jesus could have slain Satan literally through His mighty power, but chose to battle him in His flesh as an example for you and I. He could have turned the stones to bread, and could have rightly claimed all of the kingdoms of the world. But, in His humanity He fought the adversary in the same way that you and I must learn to do battle; with the Word of God. We have limitations, God’s Word does not! We are weak, but God’s Word is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. Our wisdom is definitely limited, the Word of God knows no such limitations. Jesus knew this well, and provided for us a living illustration of the way we must learn to do battle with our adversary. It is only through the Word of God that we dare go into the battlefield of our every day lives.
Know your weapon, child of God. Be familiar with it. Know how to handle it. Any soldier headed for a field of battle must be familiar with his weapons. He dare not enter the heated battle not knowing if his weapon is loaded or how to shoot it if it is loaded. We must thus be ready for the battle against our adversary. Jesus taught us this in the wilderness of temptation. Thank you, Lord Jesus!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:12-17
Once again we find ourselves examining the early words of the Lord Jesus. There is an interesting study in Scripture in which first things, first principles and first words are examined. For example, the first recorded words of Satan were, “Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1) Volumes could be written on his efforts to undermine God’s Blessed Word, from that early dawn of human history to the current time. The first recorded words of God in the Old Testament were, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) That has been His Word to humanity from the beginning. Unfortunately, the vast majority still love “darkness rather than light,” and choose darkness which only leads to “outer darkness” in the end. (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30)
The first word of the Lord Jesus as He officially launched His earthly ministry is also filled with significance. “Repent....” O, beloved, think about all that is implied and meant in that one simple word, “Repent.” It speaks of the condition of the human heart in its natural state. “Repent.” The word means “to think differently.” It carries the thought of “to change one’s mind for the better, and to turn about accordingly.” The Word of God declares that “godly sorrow worketh repentance....” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Therefore, the Lord Jesus issued a call for a change of heart and mind, a turn about of the direction of life, motivated by godly sorrow. What would be the cause of that sorrow? Sin! The violation of God’s Holy Law!
In His first message to mankind, Jesus taught us an essential fact, a doctrine that must be acknowledged. That fact has to do with sin. Did the Lord Jesus believe and teach that all are sinners, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God? Absolutely! In fact, that was His own self-pronounced purpose of the First Advent, of His coming into the world; “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) This is a fundamental truth that must be understood if any other truth in God’s Word is to be grasped and believed. There is a need for repentance because of sin.
As already noted, it is a universal need caused by a universal problem. The universal problem is sin, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) God’s righteous law, the Ten Commandments, spells out that to which all humanity has fallen short and transgressed. You see, friend, God’s law was given to reveal to us that we are sinners, to convince us of our spiritual need. It was never given to make us right with Him, but was given to help us to understand that we are not right with Him. Paul said it this way, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) An honest examination of one’s heart in an honest look at the Ten Commandments will reveal the breaking of one or more of those commandments. James wrote, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) That was the purpose of the law, to show us that we are are guilty before God as sinners, violators of His righteous law. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Romans 3:19)
When Jesus began His ministry, in His very first message, He pointed out the guilt of all the world and the call for all to “Repent.” As stated earlier, repentance is a change of mind, of heart and of direction in life which is motivated by a godly sorrow when one is brought to an understanding of sin. Jesus said, “...I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) In reality, there are “none righteous, no, not one,” (Romans 3:10) but there must be an acknowledging of sin, a confession of sin and a repentance toward God. Unfortunately, many with whom Christ dealt in the days of His earthly ministry were unwilling to acknowledge their sin, maintaining their own righteousness through the keeping of God’s law. Some were unwilling to admit their sin, insisting that they were good, that their good far outweighed their bad. Does this sound familiar? The very same responses are heard today when souls are confronted with the reality of their need. When they hear the word, “Repent,” they are
offended that anyone would imply that they are not good people. Well, my friend, the dear Lord Jesus did more than imply their need when He issued the call to all, “Repent.”
Repentance is not a work of righteousness which when done attains salvation, for salvation is not achieved by works of righteousness. (See Titus 3:5) Salvation from sin is something that is unattainable to mankind through their own efforts. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Salvation is of the Lord, through the Lord and in the Lord and Him alone. Peter called for sinners to repent in the first Gospel message preached after the condescension of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts 2. (See Acts 2:38) Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The Lord’s desire for all is that they might come to that place of “repentance” and faith in His death, burial and resurrection for the remission of their sins.
The Lord Jesus did not die on the Cross in order to save sinners in their sins, but from their sins. In other words, sinners cannot have their sins, their continued acts of violation of God’s Holy Law, and have salvation through the Lord Jesus also. Jesus cannot be added to a life that is filled with sinfulness. There must be a change of mind, of heart and of direction. “Repent!”
One of the issues that some missionaries have to deal with around the world is the tendency of souls simply adding Jesus to a long list of false deities. If people already believe in multiple deities, what would be wrong with adding one more to the list? There are multitudes of passages in God’s Word that condemn this, and the Lord will not share His glory with any other deity, or with any other sin. Sin is a type of deity, a thing before which the sinful bow down in obeisance. Be it alcohol, drugs, pleasures, riches, indecencies, or any other in a long list of sinful deeds, sin becomes the god before whom the sinful bow in obedience and worship. Many will say, “I won’t given up my pleasure, my obsession, my habit for anyone, not even Jesus.” Because of this, some have said, “You don’t have to. Just add Jesus!” This bypasses repentance, a message emphasized by the Lord Jesus from the very outset of His earthly ministry. If there is no turn about, no change of intent or direction, the sinner is still plunging head long into the devil’s hell. Therefore Jesus cried, “Repent!”
Scripture Reading: John 2
We are continuing with our examination of the Lord Jesus’ teachings in an effort to see Him more clearly. When certain Greeks asked of Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” they were expressing a desire that we all should have. What better way to understand Him than in looking carefully at His own words?
The incidents of John 2 took place in the early days of the earthly ministry of Christ. The marriage in Cana of Galilee, a very familiar passage, was where Jesus performed the first of His earthly miracles. The miracles of the Savior recorded in the New Testament were of the utmost importance, for these were the signs spoken of in prophecy that would be indicators to those observing Him that He was indeed the promised Messiah. (See Acts 2:22; 4:30) The liberal minded unbeliever today that minimizes the miracles of the Savior recorded in Scripture are endeavoring to take away some of the proofs of His glorious Person.
Look carefully at the teachings of Jesus in John 2. We will consider first those teachings found at the marriage in Cana. The “governor,” or “ruler of the feast,” he whose responsibility was the oversight of the food and drink to be served, somehow failed to provide enough wine for the guests present. Some have suggested that this shortcoming was caused by the presence of Jesus and His disciples at the feast, assuming this because of the news of the depletion of the wine being brought to Jesus’ attention by His mother. For whatever cause, Mary felt that her Son should be told of the embarrassing situation that had arisen.
“Woman, what have I to do with thee?” This was Jesus’ first response to His mother when told of the problem that had arisen concerning the wine. Upon first reading, this may have seemed a stark or harsh answer of our Lord to His mother. First, the word “woman” was not a disrespectful response coming from the Lord. In fact, it was a title of respect and honor. When Jesus had risen from the dead, and was addressing one of His most dedicated followers, He spoke to Mary Magdalene saying, “Woman, why weepest thou?” This certainly was not a rebuke given to this brokenhearted follower of our Lord. It was a tender question given to lead to a great revelation and assurance to this faithful disciple. When Jesus addressed his mother as “woman,” it was a title of honor, affection and respect.
There was, however, a slight correction given to His mother concerning her relationship and responsibility to her Son. His was a work that demanded His utmost attention, dedication and resolve. In fact, in His response He spoke of His “hour.” Please read the following passages concerning this “hour.” (John 2:4; 4:21,23; 12:23,27; 16:32; 17:1) The “hour,” His “hour,” was the time of His suffering for the sins of the world on Calvary’s Cross. This was the “hour” for which He had condescended to this earth, and that for which He had prepared from eternity past. Everything that He did during His entire life, and especially during the days of His earthly ministry, was for the purpose of fulfilling the demands of His “hour.” Earlier, we noted that the sole purpose of the incarnation of Jesus Christ was given in His own words when He said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Even His presence and actions at this marriage feast in Cana was part of that great preparation that would be fulfilled on the Cross.
When Jesus asked, “Woman, what have I to do with thee,” He was acknowledging that His great work of redemption was in fulfillment of a plan that originated in eternity past, and would involve His complete obedience and devotion to the Father’s will. She could not, and would not be allowed in any way to interfere or to influence that work. His “hour” took precedence over everything else in His life, including His immediate earthly family. Did He dearly love Mary? Undoubtedly! Did our Lord reverence her as His mother? Without question! But she could not influence or interfere in any way with the foreordained work for which He had entered into the realm of humanity.
Our Lord did meet the need at this feast by turning water into wine. Just in passing may it be known that He forever turns our defeats into victories, our sorrows into joys, our sufferings into rejoicing when we fully believe in and depend upon Him for our every need. May He forever help us to do just that!
In the second half of this great chapter, the Lord Jesus cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem. This was the first of two times that the Lord purged His house; the first time here in the early days of His ministry, and the final time during the final week just before His crucifixion. Let’s examine what can be learned about the Lord and His will through His actions and teachings in this first cleansing of the Temple.
His anger and actions caused by what was happening in the Temple speaks clearly about the Lord’s feelings and plans for His work among men. During the feast days, multiplied thousands traveled to Jerusalem for worship. They came from all over Israel, and from distant lands beyond. Many traveled for days and weeks to observe these special feast days. Instead of bringing their sacrificial animals with them for the arduous journey, they would simply purchase these upon arriving in Jerusalem. This is only understandable. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people saw this as an opportunity for much financial gain. Foreign currency would not be accepted for the purchase of sacrificial animals or for the payment of the Temple tax required by all males 20 years old and up. (See Exodus 30:13-16) Therefore, there had to be an exchange for the foreign currency for financial transactions of the Temple. Exorbitant fees were charged for this exchange and for the purchase of the animals required. It became a way for much money to come into the coffers of the Temple, and of the personal coffers of the officers and priests of the Temple, especially of the high priest. They literally were greatly enriched by these tactics.
Jesus detested this. He was greatly angered by the greed and dishonesty that had become the norm in the Temple’s operations. For this reason, He violently cleansed the Temple of its wicked money-making apparatus. “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” Was Jesus opposed to entrepreneurism? Was He opposed to those who sought to better themselves through industrious labor or investment? No! But He was opposed to making the things of God into money-making schemes that took advantage of people who were genuinely seeking God and His blessings. The Lord’s house and His work should never be designed to take advantage of needy souls monetarily. Offerings for the Lord’s work must be received. Tithes and offerings are the means by which the Lord has chosen to finance His work in the world, but never as a means through which individuals can become wealthy at the expense of those who are genuinely seeking God and His will for their lives. Modern prosperity preachers, of which there are many today in the world, should seriously take note of our Lord’s feelings toward such, and should know that a fearful day of reckoning is awaiting those who thus abuse His work and His children. It would really be better for them to tie a millstone around their necks and jump into a very deep sea than to offend one of our Lord’s “little ones.” In one way of thinking, the very height of dishonesty and thievery is using the Lord’s work for the gaining of “filthy lucre,” for the work of the Lord is the single most important work in the world. To benefit from that work in an insincere and dishonest way is a terrible sin for which there will be a great reckoning.
Let’s look at one last thing before we leave these early teachings recorded in John 2. When Jesus cleansed the Temple, a question was asked, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” This was their way of questioning Him concerning His authority when it came to the Temple and its operations. Jesus answer is telling; “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He was speaking, of course, of the temple of His body, and of His literal, physical resurrection after death. Incidentally, these words which were spoken in the very early days of His earthly ministry would be used against Him in the religious trial proceeding His being taken to Pilate. See the following passage; Matthew 26:59-68.
The resurrection was the unquestioned proof of His Deity and of His authority. Paul wrote, “...Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead....” (Romans 1:3-4) The resurrection was proof of the validity of every claim that the Son of God made during the days of His earthly ministry. We can rest assured that every claim, every promise and every warning made by the Son of God, like all of the Word of God, is forever settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89) How helpful have been the truths given in John 2 in helping us to more clearly “see” our Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture Reading: John 3
As we are endeavoring to more clearly see and understand our Savior in light of His own teachings, we come to some of the most familiar of all His teachings; those that He shared with Nicodemus concerning the New Birth. Most of Chapter 3, Verses 1 through 21, was spoken by our Lord to an earnest soul that came to Jesus privately with questions that only He could answer; “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man could do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with Him.” This flattering statement reveals the dilemma faced by Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, whose peers had widely rejected the Lord Jesus. He concluded in his own heart that Jesus was God’s representative and was seeking greater light. Perhaps his coming to Jesus by night reveals his hesitancy of being seen with the Lord by his peers, or by those within his circle of influence. Be that as it may, he did come personally seeking a conversation with and a greater understanding of our Lord. Like the Greeks that approached Philip, he was seeking to more clearly “see” the Lord Jesus.
In examining these teachings of our Lord to Nicodemus, it is worthy of note at the things that Jesus did not say in His response to this ruler of the Jews. After receiving what would be considered by most as very flattering words from Nicodemus concerning the “things” that Jesus had done and the evident power through which He had worked, our Lord made no response whatsoever. Rather, He immediately addressed the spiritual need of the man standing before Him; “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus took the emphasis off of Himself and directed all upon the need of Nicodemus. He did not respond, “Thank you, Nicodemus, for your kind words of affirmation. I appreciate your appraisal of my work.” No, He rather spoke to the man standing before Him of the necessity of his being “born again.”
While the Lord Jesus was never disrespectful of any, He did not acknowledge one man’s greatness over another, or in any way imply that some men were less needful of the saving grace of God than others. Whether He found Himself before a “ruler of the people,” a lame or blind needy soul, or a fallen woman at a well near Sychar, the Lord Jesus ever revealed His compassion and His willingness to meet the needs of those with whom He was confronted. This was His great goal, and it was certainly not His desire to receive the accolades of men.
Now, let us return to what we can learn of the Lord Jesus from His teachings. Upon hearing Nicodemus’ flattering words, the Lord Jesus went immediately to his great spiritual need of being saved, of being “born again.” This again takes us back to the primary purpose of the First Advent of our Lord, that being the salvation of souls; “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) The Gospels are filled with many wonderful works performed by our Lord. We noted that in Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel we were blessed to see the first of our Lord’s earthly miracles, but there were many more in those early days. In John 2:23 we read, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.” He healed lame limbs, restored sight to blind eyes and even raised the dead, but these were not the purposes for which He came. He came to save souls, to meet the most important and most pressing need of all, salvation. So we see this clearly in our Lord’s dealings with Nicodemus.
We should also take special note that the needs of this “ruler of the Jews” were not being met in his religious duties and connections. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus’ life was rigidly governed by the Word of God and by the writings of respected men of the past. As a ruler of the Jews his character was beyond question, and he was a most respected man among the people of that day. However, he had never been “born again.” While our Lord never minimized the importance of obeying the dictates of Scripture, He did assure all who would listen to Him that salvation was not obtained by a conforming to God’s law, but through the “new birth,” a spiritual regeneration. And, He also emphasized that the “new birth” was only possible through a look of faith in Himself. He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” As good a man as Nicodemus was, he was still a sinner in need of Christ’s salvation, and that salvation was only possible through faith in the Lord Jesus; His death, burial and resurrection.
Scripture Reading: John 4
Before examining the teachings of Jesus in this Chapter, we will consider a few questions that will set the stage for our devotional study.
1. Why was it said, “...for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans? See 2 Kings 17:24-41
The Samaritans in Jesus’ day were a mix of Jews and Assyrians that had been sent to occupy the land after the Assyrian invasion. Because they were not pure Jews, they were considered unclean, and thus to be avoided.
2. What is significant in the statement, “And He must needs go through Samaria?
Many leaving Judea for Galilee would cross the Jordan and travel through Peraea and Decapolis rather than travel through Samaria for they so reviled the Samaritans. Therefore, the “must needs” must have been due to some reason other than simple geography and the shortest distance between Judea and Galilee. We now understand that the “must needs” came from the spiritual needs of the “woman,” and of the people of the nearby village, needs that were graciously met by our Blessed Lord.
3. Was the “worship” of which the woman spake the worship of God as was practiced by the Jews in Jerusalem? See 2 Kings 17:27–32
The worship of the Samaritans was a confused mixture of Judaism and the false religions that were prevalent throughout that region of the world. God has forever condemned mixing truth with error, a practice as ancient as creation and as widespread today as it has ever been. Truth must not be mixed with error. See 1 John 4:6.
4. What is the “gift of God” to which Jesus referred in Verse 10? See John 3:16.
The “gift of God” was the Son of God to Whom the woman was speaking. That “Gift” was sent from heaven to purchase eternal redemption for all that would believe. The Lord Jesus was offering this gracious “Gift” to this fallen woman, and she received that “Gift,” thus changing for life forever.
The interaction of Jesus with the woman of Samaria is of great interest. One of the things that is pointed out is that Jesus was not restricted in His dealings with mortals when it came to the accepted norms of His day in the Jewish world; “...for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Our Lord was not bound by the traditions of the fathers or the prejudices of the religious elite. Here was a woman that had lived a broken life, having been married 5 times and living with a man out of wedlock at the time of this meeting. She needed what Jesus alone could offer, and He would not allow the spiritual blindness of His day to keep Him from meeting that need.
He spoke to the woman of the “gift of God,” a gift that He was willing and ready to present to her at Jacob’s well. He informed her that all that would be required of her was to “ask of Him,” and she would be granted “living water” that would quench the thirsting of her soul eternally; “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst....” The “thirst” of which Jesus spake was not that for the supply offered by the well upon which He sat, but was the thirsting of the soul separated from God by sin. In John 7 He referred to that same thirst when He cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Verses 37-38) Jesus thus identified the great need of all, that being of the thirst-quenching grace and power of the Holy Spirit given to all who are saved through faith.
Another interesting aspect of this conversation was the fact that Jesus was willing to identify Himself as the “Messiah,” something that He was seldom willing to admit publicly. “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak to thee am he.” (Verses 25-26) The woman believed His words, for when she left her waterpot to return to the village, she told all, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
Jesus taught the woman a valuable lesson concerning worship. Worship in Jesus’ day had been corrupted to the point of being unrecognizable by Biblical standards. He revealed to her that true worship was not dependent upon place, be it upon the mountain there in Samaria, or in the city of Jerusalem. While it is true that Jerusalem had been chosen as the place of the Temple, and thus was referred to as the City of God, the city was not the place chosen by God where worship had to be observed. Jesus taught that worship was not the observance of rites, rituals or ceremonies, but was a spiritual exercise by those that had responded to truth. Later, Jesus would pray for His own that they might be “sanctified” with truth, noting that “truth” is the Word of God. Therefore, according to Jesus’ teachings, worship is a spiritual exercise that is governed by the truth of God’s Word. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
What a wonderful transformation took place in the woman’s heart! She was confronted with her sin, (See Verse 16-18) and with the truth of her spiritual need. Jesus revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, the One Who could “tell us all things.” She obviously became a believer in the Lord Jesus, for she could not wait to run back to the village with the good news, “Is not this the Christ.” In this, she provides an illustration of the work of grace in the heart of sinners, and the resulting excited and enthusiastic witness they willing share with others concerning their blessed Savior. Jesus told His disciples, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me....” (Acts 1:8) What happened to this woman there at Jacob’s well has been repeated countless times throughout the world since that day that is recorded in John 4. It happened to all of us who have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus. We may not have been on a well, and our lives may not have been quite as marred as was this dear woman’s, but as sinners we were in desperate need of what Jesus had to offer. And, because of His work of grace in our hearts, we, like the woman of Samaria, should be telling everywhere we go, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ.”
The testimony of the woman resulted in many of the nearby village giving their hearts to Jesus Christ. O, child of God, let’s be excited about the Lord Jesus and His work of grace in our lives. Let’s share this good news with all we come in contact with. The woman was not well versed in doctrinal truths. She probably could not quote many verses of Scripture, if any. But, she did tell all what the Lord had done for her, and souls were saved. May God help us to be such enthusiastic witnesses for our Lord!
Scripture Reading: Mark 2:1-12
“Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
As of the writing of this devotion, the latest reports from around the world tell us that there have been almost 177 million people that have tested positive for the Covid 19 virus, with almost 3.9 million deaths. These figures are staggering, and the virus is yet to be defeated. Investigations are ongoing as to the origin of the virus, with speculations and accusations filling the airwaves. More cases are being reported daily, and only our Lord knows when all of this pandemic will have run its course. However, there is a malady that has stricken humanity that is far more deadly and far reaching than that of this pandemic. The malady is sin.
Everything bad, harmful, distasteful and disruptive that has happened to the human family is the result of sin. One only has to examine the early days of humanity in the Garden of Eden to see the bliss into which the Almighty created and placed the human family. All of that changed drastically when sin entered. Where there was joy came sorrow. Peace was exchanged for turmoil and death replaced life. Look around at all of the devastating effects of sin in the world today, and know that sin continues to reign. Even this awful pandemic that has plagued our world for over a year is the result of sin.
Child of God, every sickness and difficulty we face is either directly or indirectly the result of sin. Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. If you are currently enduring some difficulty or sickness, it may not be because you have an unconfessed sin in your life. However, as stated earlier, all of our difficulties, diseases and death come from the fact of sin and it’s curse. We are a cursed people because of sin, and because all are sinners (Romans 3:23), none are exempt.
Having said this, notice carefully the verses that we read today. This man who was brought to Jesus “sick of the palsy,” was suffering from this condition directly as a result of some particular sin in his life. That was not always the case, but it certainly was here when we examine how Jesus dealt with him and the words spoken by our Lord to him. Are some maladies faced by individuals the direct result of some sin or disobedience? Obviously! An illustration of this can be found in Acts 12:20-25. Herod had reached out and directly persecuted the Christian Church, having James “killed...with the sword.” (Acts 12:2) He fully intended the same for Peter, and would have succeeded apart from Divine intervention. On a certain day afterward, Herod was being praised by blinded souls as they cried out, “It is the voice of a god, and not of man.” And, because he accepted this praise, the angel of the Lord “smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” That was a terrible malady of death, and it came directly as a result of his sin. Another illustration of this fact, and this concerning a person of faith, is David’s physical maladies brought on because of sin. See the following passages; Psalms 38:1-22 and 51:1-19. In both chapters, David speaks of physical suffering he was enduring because of disobedience in his life. When the man smitten with palsy was brought to Jesus, nothing was initially said concerning his healing, only of his sin. “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Jesus did not specify what “sins” He was referring to. He did not need to for this conversation and the work of forgiveness was personal. The man knew well the sin of which the Savior was speaking, and that was why he was suffering from “palsy.” There was a similar situation in John 5 when Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda. When Jesus healed him of his paralysis, He said to the man, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (John 5:14) Physical maladies do sometimes come as a direct result of sin in the sufferer’s life.
While suffering may be the direct result of sin in the life of the sufferer, all suffering is the indirect result of sin and it’s curse on the human family. However, there is wonderful news found in the Word of God; Jesus Christ can and will forgive sin! Praise God! His simple and profound statement to the man was this, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” While there is no indication initially of the man’s response, there must surely have been a sense of relief, joy and thanksgiving that filled this man’s heart. He fully understood all that Jesus was saying, and all that Jesus know concerning his situation. That thing that had been plaguing him physically, and tormenting him within, had been forgiven. What a glorious blessing! Forgiveness! This should, and does bring hope to many hopeless souls. There is the possibility of forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.
There were those who were looking on that were appalled at Jesus’ statement. Their response was, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” And, in all honesty, they were correct in their question, “who can forgive sins but God only.” Their mistake came in not recognizing the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Almighty God Incarnate. Man cannot forgive sins. He might pronounce a forgiveness, but cannot forgive sins. Only God can grant forgiveness.
The way in which Jesus dealt with these questions is the wonderful news of this passage. “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins...I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” The proof of Jesus “power on earth to forgive sins” came when the palsied man “took up the bed, and went forth before them all....” Jesus did forgive the man of his sins and proved that power to do so by healing him of his palsy. Praise the Lord! Jesus can and does forgive sins, granting pardon and renewal to all who place faith in Him.
What can we learn from this passage and Jesus’ teachings? First, there is the lesson on the fact of sin. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Beloved, all are sinners. Secondly, all of mankind’s sufferings are directly or indirectly the result of sin. Man was not originally created to suffer sickness, pain or death. This was brought upon us because of sin. And, thirdly, and this is the good news, there is forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Beloved, until the Lord Jesus comes for us, there will be sickness, suffering, pain and death all will endure because of sin in the human family, because of our sin. But, praise the Lord, there is forgiveness and pardon through our Lord Jesus Christ. For those reading these words that have not been “born again,” call upon our Lord this day for salvation, and claim His power and promise of forgiveness of all your sins. For those reading these words who do know Christ as Savior, confess your sins to Him and find that glorious forgiveness that only He can provide. (See 1 John 1:5 - 2:2) Thank God for His glorious and gracious forgiveness!
Scripture Reading: John 5
We are continuing our consideration of the seeing, the understanding of the Lord Jesus. Our study began with the request made by certain Greeks of Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21) This study has led us to examine the teachings of our Lord that we might understand Him more perfectly. Of course, we will not carefully examine every word spoken by Christ, something that all that follow Him should do regularly, but we will look at some of His main teachings. The passage we have looked at today certainly qualifies as some of His main teachings.
The emphasis of the words of our Lord in John 5, Verses 19 through 47 could be summarized as proving His authority as the Son of God. There were some very important revelations given in these verses. For instance, Jesus informed His listeners that He had the power to “quicken.” The word “quicken” means to enliven, or to make alive. For humanity cursed with death because of sin, nothing could be more important than this. (See the following passages; Genesis 2:15-17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-9.) The curse that was brought upon humanity because of sin was death; death physical, spiritual and eternal. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus claimed this “power” to grant life in John 5. It should be acknowledged that anyone can claim anything, and that a simple claim to have this or that power is of little or no value unless it can be proven. Jesus did prove that He has the power to “quicken” when He raised three different people from the dead. He raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43), the widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-17), and His friend Lazarus (John 11:38-44) In fact, when Jesus died on the Cross, Matthew noted, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:50-53) He that has the power of life, the power to grant life to those dead in trespasses and sins, has been proven beyond question.
Another truth revealed by the Lord in this passage is that to Him has been committed all judgment. Jesus said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” In our day of liberal theology and mentality, many are of the opinion that faith is the key to a spiritual understanding, just faith in general and not in anything or anyone in particular. “If you just have faith all will be well.” This is not an accurate saying. Just believing in something is insufficient. One could believe will all of their power in a spark of Divinity that lies in the innermost part of all people, but believing that with all the heart will not make it a reality. All do not have a spark of Divinity, for all are “dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) Faith is the key to all spiritual understanding, but it must be faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To “honour” the Lord Jesus is to accept fully all of His claims and to obey all of His commands. There are those today that will acknowledge that He was a good man, a great teacher and a great leader of men, but all the while denying His Deity and Lordship. These are not honoring the Son. To honor the Son is to believe His Word, to trust in His death, burial and resurrection, and to seek to please Him in all aspects of life. It is to reflect His holiness and grace. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ....” (Colossians 1:27)
The fact that all judgment has been committed unto the Son is verified throughout the teachings of the New Testament. All of the redeemed will stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10) It is the Lord Jesus that will return to this earth in power and great glory to judge the nations. (Matthew 24:29-31; Zephaniah 3:8; Revelation 20:7-10) And, it will be the Lord Jesus before Whom all of unredeemed humanity will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment. (See Revelation 20:11-15) All judgment has been committed unto the Son. All who have denied Him, who have cursed Him and who have persecuted His followers will stand before Him someday, bowing their knees before Him, only to hear Him banish them to the eternal lake of fire that burns with brimstone.
Also, in this passage in John 5, the Lord Jesus spoke of the witness provided that verifies His Person, power and claims. There was the witness of God the Father, a witness that was shared with the world in the miraculous events surrounding the birth of Christ. The Father also witnessed of Christ by speaking audibly on different occasions verifying His authority and power. See the following passages; Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 17:5; John 12:28. He spoke of the witness of John the Baptist. The people of Jesus’ day were very familiar with this witness, and the great spiritual revival that was sparked through the ministry of John the Baptist. It was literally a nationwide revival as John was sent from God to prepare the way for the Son of God. Then there was the witness of the works that Jesus did during His earthly ministry. How many healings took place during this time only our Lord knows. Many were healed of various diseases and ailments. Many were delivered from possession. Jesus exercised power over the elements on several occasions. His miracles, which were many, were visible, undeniable witnesses as to His person and claims. Finally, there was the witness of the Word of God. Beginning in the Book of Genesis, and running throughout the Word of God all the way to the Book of Revelation, there is one witness after another of the Lord Jesus. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)
The most valid and evidentiary proof of the Lord Jesus Christ is found in the precious Word of God. Peter said, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” He then added, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy,” speaking of the Word of God. (See 2 Peter 1:16-21) The witness of God’s Word concerning the Lord Jesus is infallible and reliable. That witness is essential for the salvation of the soul. Again, Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23) Because of this, God’s Word has been attacked relentlessly by our adversary and his unbelievers throughout the centuries. There is no more loved book in all the world than the Word of God, and none more hated and despised. The reason for this is clear. God’s Word provides the clear and undeniable witness to the Person and power of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for His Holy Word!
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5 - 7
The Sermon on the Mount
When considering the teachings of Jesus, we must spend some time looking at this sermon. In doing so, let’s begin with some questions and some observations.
1. Were the instructions of the Lord Jesus to His own more concerned with external conformity to laws, rules and regulations, or were they more concerned with internal matters, matters of the heart?
2. Did Jesus’ teachings disagree with the instructions given in the Law of God, or did His teachings provide further detail and elaboration on those laws?
3. What was different about Jesus’ teachings on prayer, and His practice of prayer and that of the “hypocrites?”
4. How did Jesus’ teachings on “treasures,” or finance and investment differ from the philosophy of the world on such matters?
5. What did Jesus expect from His followers when it came to their relationship and attitude toward others around them?
6. Read carefully Matthew 7:21-23. Why were these mentioned in these verses not allowed to enter into the kingdom of heaven?
7. The children’s song about the “Wise Man,” and the “Foolish Man,” and their building of their houses on different foundations was taken from this passage of Scripture found in Matthew 7:24-27. In your own words, write out what made the difference in these two men and the result of that difference. How does this teaching divide the human family into two very different groups?
“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)
That which made Jesus’ teachings so unique was how vastly different they were from the spiritual leaders of His day. He emphasized the spiritual, the internal and the eternal. Our Lord was more concerned with matters of the heart than He was with the external conformity to the Law of Moses. Jesus knew and fully understood that none were able to completely conform to Moses’ law. That is why He condescended to this earth in the first place; so that He might fulfill all of the Law of God and die on Calvary’s Cross as the Supreme sacrifice for sin. Jesus would do for sinful man what sinful man could not do for himself. Because of this, mankind would be given the opportunity to know our Savior in the free pardon of sin, and then have Him give them the strength and ability to live for and through Him.
Did Jesus encourage disobedience to the Laws of God? Absolutely not! He did, however, know that humanity’s corrupt and sinful nature needed much more than outward conformity. He knew that the need was a spiritual birth, the New Birth. As we read further into His teachings, we will see that He would not only redeem those that placed faith in Him, but He would also provide for them the Holy Spirit to enable them to live for Him. His teachings also revealed that if the heart of an individual is truly right with Him, the outward manifestations of the inward faith would shine forth as a “light of the world.”
When the Greeks inquired, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” they needed to see that His teachings were real, they were life changing, transformative. His teachings were “truth,” and that truth would set people free from the bondage of sin that would result in their eternal loss. This is what the sin-enslaved of the present day need to see.