In Jesus’ Words: Follow Me (Mark 2:13-17)

Do you remember that feeling when you got picked for the team in school? It probably made you feel happy or relieved. Or maybe you remember not getting picked, and it seemed to make your whole day feel even worse.  Everyone wants to belong somewhere, to know they have worth. We want to feel, that even though we might not be very good or have made some stupid mistakes, someone believes in us anyway, and likes the potential they see in us. Well, that’s exactly what Jesus did, and how he made people feel.

Jesus was known for dining with sinners and tax collectors. Tax collectors were in a category all by themselves and considered the biggest sinners of all. It would have been scandalous in those days to be seen with them, much less dine at their house. Now, Jesus was not hanging out with them to call out their sins or to prove his point, which he certainly had the authority to do. He was there for one thing: Follow Me! Jesus saw their potential over the bad. He was giving them a chance. They had been picked for the team!

~ The Call of Matthew, Dining with Sinners ~
Mark 2:13-17

Then Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to Him, and He taught them. Then, moving on, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So he got up and followed Him.

While He was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also guests with Jesus and His disciples, because there were many who were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked His disciples, “Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew went on to follow Jesus the rest of his life, giving up his rich lifestyle. He wrote a book about Jesus’s life which became one of the four gospels. He went on to minister to Persia, Macedonia, Syria and Ethiopia to bring the good news to kings and sinners, and he never regretted that day he was picked or his decision to follow.

In Jesus’ Words: Final Words – The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

The book of Matthew has taken us on quite a journey.  It is filled with Jesus’ words from his sermons, the stories and parables he told to the crowds, teaching for his disciples, arguments with the Pharisees over the meaning of the law, and many dinner conversations with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew being the most famous tax collector).

From Jesus’ humble beginning in Bethlehem, he taught in the temple, he healed many – a man with leprosy, a paralyzed man, a woman who was bleeding, blind men –  he casts out demons, miraculously turns water into wine, calms the storm, walks on water, clears out the temple from the sellers and money-changers, proclaims to be the Messiah and is crucified on the cross for making this claim, is resurrected and witnessed by many. Jesus was constantly on the move during his ministry, and everywhere he went, crowds followed him. This was not an isolated event in history.

Now we come to the last statement from Jesus before he ascends back into heaven.

~ The Great Commission  Matthew 28:16-20 ~

The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted.

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Most likely there were more than just the 11 disciples with Jesus, since crowds always followed him. The fact that Matthew says some doubted gives the most credibility and transparency to his writing. Matthew is not trying to cover up facts or push some fake story to us. There will always be people who doubt, but a story like Matthew’s cannot be told in such detail, and during the time these events happened, if it were not true.

Jesus, in his final words to us, confirms the gospel message:

Jesus’ authority:  His humility on earth has ended and He has now been exalted and given all authority in heaven and earth.

Trinity:  He mentions the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am with you:  Just as it was announced in the beginning that the baby Jesus should be named Immanuel, “God with us”, Jesus is still with us to the very end.

If you would like to see how Jesus is shown throughout the entire Bible, go to my menu series on “Christmas Story from Genesis to John“. It has 31 entries, one for each day of the month, showing how Jesus was present with God from the beginning as the promised Savior, and how his life is accurately prophesied throughout the Bible.  I will soon have a downloadable version too.  God Bless!

In Jesus’ Words: By what authority? (Matthew 21:23-27)

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The average church sermon is probably only remembered for about twenty minutes after it has ended, or until we get to lunch.  But the words of Jesus have been remembered and recited for over 2000 years after he spoke them.

Jesus only directly answered three of the 183 questions he was asked, according to gospel accounts.  Sometimes he would put the question back on the person and sometimes he stayed silent.

Jesus asked more questions than he answered.  His own questions were intentional, to make people think or challenge their view.  He often asked people what they wanted or what they believed.  “Who do you say I am?’’  “Who do you seek?’’  

Jesus may not have regularly answered their questions, but he always spoke right to their heart. He asked though he already knew their answer.  And when they doubted, he would simply say, “Come and see.”  Jesus’ logic could not be undone then, and it still stands today.

~ Matthew 21:23-27  Jesus’ Authority Questioned ~

When Jesus entered the temple complex, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to Him as He was teaching and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? Who gave You this authority?” 

Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for Me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.  Where did John’s baptism come from? From heaven or from men?”

They began to argue among themselves, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men,’ we’re afraid of the crowd, because everyone thought John was a prophet.”  So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

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31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 18 – Joseph is engaged to Mary

mary_tells_josephOur Christmas story now switches to the book of Matthew for more details about Mary’s engagement to Joseph.  The author Matthew was originally a tax collector (considered to be one of the lowest class of sinners in those days).  Yet after Jesus dines with him and his rebellious friends in his home (also considered improper to associate with such sinners), Matthew gives up everything to follow Jesus and becomes one of his twelve disciples.

In the beginning of the book, Matthew lists the genealogy from Abraham to King David, and from David to the Babylonian exile, and from the exile to Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Joseph was a legal heir to the throne through King David’s son Solomon but neither he or his children could be the physical heir because of his ancestor Jehoiakim’s curse from God, which states that none of Jehoiakim’s descendants would ever sit on the throne.  In addition, Joseph is now told the news that Mary is carrying a holy child.  Joseph’s story is no small detail.

We are not told exactly how Mary told Joseph (can you imagine that conversation?), but Matthew does give us an account.

Matthew 1:18-19
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

Joseph could have had Mary stoned, and saved his own reputation by making a public example of her.  Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and this might possibly have affected his business too.  Mary, knowing the possibilities that awaited her, still continued on.  Joseph must have been a man of great restraint, mercy and humility.  He was chosen by God to be Jesus’ earthly father – to provide for him and protect him.  That was no insignificant thing.

I pray that you will reach out to our Heavenly Father, who shows us the way for mercy, love and unending forgiveness.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 19 – an angel visits Joseph

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Joseph considered divorcing Mary from their engagement when he heard the news that she was with child. But that was not God’s plan. This becomes the third time an angel appears announcing the baby Jesus – first to Zecharia, father of John the Baptist, then to Mary, and now Joseph. And the angels are not finished yet with this Heavenly celebration!

Matthew 1:20-22,24
But after Joseph had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

I pray that you will know the God of joy and celebration this Christmas season.

* Merry Christmas *