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Jesus Preaches Law & Gospel. Matthew 11

Jesus Preaches Law and Gospel

Matthew 11:30

Law and Grace! They are, seemingly opposites, but they are both essential in our preaching, in our religion and in our worship. Like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage, and you can’t have one without the other.

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Now this passage is a paradox. It compares law and gospel, sin and grace – two concepts which on the face of it seem to contradict each other, yet together they are true! Like a coin, with two sides – they are different, yet they are the same coin! It’s not a ‘one-off’ paradox either. It occurs frequently in the Bible. eg. Matthew 20:16 Matthew 22:14, John 6:37, John 15:16.

Now, let’s look at the passage and see what we can learn.

1 The Heavy Burden of the Law.
The background is that Jesus has been preaching about judgement again. He pronounces a series of woes on the unrepentant people of Israel who had all the privileges of divine revelation over centuries of time, but had rejected God. Their condemnation under the broken law is summed up in these awful words: 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

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The city dwellers are thoroughly condemned for their sin, their sinfulness, their rejection of the God who created them and delivered them. They have ignored redemptive history, the mighty acts of God in preserving and prospering them. They have turned their backs on God and because He is utterly Holy, they will stand before Him, condemned in their sins. There is no hope, humanly speaking. Yet, amazingly God continues to reveal himself to sinful mankind. There is good news – for there are sinners who WILL HEAR, those whom God has ordained to be his.

Read more…

Pharisees and False Accusations #1 (Matthew 12)

Scribes, Pharisees and False Accusations #1

Text Matthew 12:1
In Matthew 12 Jesus comes under sustained attack from the Pharisees. In this first episode, they’re actually walking through a cornfield, on the Sabbath Day, watching in case some minute sub-clause of a Law is infringed, so that they can build up their case against Christ. And here it is… At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. Were the disciples not stealing the grain? See Deuteronomy 23:25 So, the charge against the disciples, and by extension against Jesus was that his disciples were working on the Sabbath. Read more…

What’s the Point of Parables? Matt. 13:1-17

What’s the Point of Parables?

Text. Matthew 13:1-17. v10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

Here’s a passage that includes an historical and geographical setting, and a story, a parable used to teach a gospel lesson, and the actual exegesis of the lesson, – and a question by the disciples concerning the teaching methods of Christ. So it’s a rich passage of Scripture indeed! Let’s look at the passage… Read more…

How to be Content in Dark Days

Being Content in the Darkest of Days.

Text. Psalm 90 cf Numbers 20.

This psalm is the only psalm written by Moses – and it’s a prayer for peace and contentment, resting in God’s greatness and love. Moses has had an ‘Annus Horribilus.’ It’s in Numbers 20 and RC Sproule thinks that this psalm is a response to it. In Exodus 20 three major events occurred in the life of Israel’s greatest prophet.

  • The death of Miriam, Moses’ sister. Numbers 20:1 Miriam had preserved Moses’ life when he was a child, but her jealousy of Moses had led her to and Aaron to rebel against him, and she had been severely rebuked by God for that sin. Numbers 12:1  It may have been shortly after that, at Kadesh-barnea, the very border of the promised land, that she died.
  • Moses learned that he’ll never be allowed to enter into the promised land. Because Moses had not followed God’s explicit instructions, he was told that he would see the Promised Land, but that he would never enter into it. Numbers 20:7-12
  • The death of Aaron the Priest. The third event in this horrible time of trial was the death of Aaron, Moses’ brother. Numbers 20:24-28

Three events that must have shaken Moses, – his world was rocked to the core. What’s he to do? How will he react? In reflection, these are the words that he wrote.  We too can benefit greatly from this psalm, in imes when our souls are passing through times of despair, dark times.

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In the psalm Moses teaches us:- Read more…

The Temple Tax Matt. 17:24-27

The Temple Tax

Text: Matthew 17:24-27.
In this study Jesus teaches us on our responsibility to be thoughtful to others, so that in our exercise of Christian freedom, we do not cause others to stumble.

1. An Ethical Challenge. v24-25
Jesus and the disciples are at Capernaum, in the spring-time, for the Temple tax was collected locally in March every year – if you missed paying in March you had to go to Jerusalem to make payment. Let’s explore what’s happening here:-

  • The temple tax. The temple was a hugely expensive institution to maintain, and each year, in March all Jewish men over 20yrs would be required to pay towards the upkeep of the temple. The temple tax began as far back as Moses. Exodus 30:13  The tax was always the same for every man – half a shekel, the equivalent of two Greek Drachmas. Little booths were set up in the local towns and villages, and the money was collected by the appointed men. These men came to ask Peter if Jesus would pay the tax.
  • The tax-collector’s demand. Have you noticed how enthusiastic tax collectors and VAT inspectors are about their work? These men in Capernaum were making sure that no-one was denied the opportunity to pay their taxes. What’s their enquiry about?
    • Is it an indictment? Are they looking for grounds to lay a charge? What an opportunity for the Pharisees this would be, Jesus disrespecting the Temple by refusing to pay!
    • Is it coyness? Were these tax collectors overawed by the mighty works that they were seeing being done in Capernaum, and reluctant to approach Christ for money? Thus approaching Peter to ask about Jesus and the tax.
    • Is it a matter of exemption? Not everyone paid this tax! Rabbis, (including many of the Pharisees) seemed to have been declared exempt. The Essenes argued that what Moses originally meant was that the tax should be paid once in a lifetime at 20 and refused to pay more than once. Was Jesus part of an exempt group, – as a Rabbi or an Essene?
  • Peter’s rash reply. YES! He does pay the tax. I wonder did Peter think before replying? Some commentators don’t think he did, for Jesus has to give him a lesson, some more instructions when he returns to the Saviour’s company.

So, that’s the background. Now, let’s see the words of Jesus to Peter, and they consist of both… Read more…

The Dark Side of Christmas

The Dark Side of Christmas

Text. Matthew 2:13 -23

The birth of the Saviour is a reason to rejoice!. That’s certainly reflected in the biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus. The Magi:- Matthew 2:10 – John the Baptist, Luke 1:41 – Mary. Luke 1:46 – The angels. Luke 2:10 – The shepherds. Luke 2:20 It’s a time of great rejoicing, and rightfully so. But not everyone rejoiced and it is to those tragic events we turn this morning:-

1. The Situation where Evil Flourished.
A group of pagan, gentile astrologers had been led by God to come to Jerusalem. They weren’t sages, they weren’t kings and there may or may not have been three of them. They were people whom the Jews would have despised and had nothing to do with; secular atheists who believed in a pagan form of religion. When then are they part of the narrative of Christ’s birth? God brought these unworthy Gentiles to Christ, just as he had brought the filthy outcast despised shepherds to Christ.
So they reach Jerusalem, and they seek for the one who is born King of the Jews, and they go straight to the palace, – just where you’d expect a king to be born, and they meet Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of Israel. It’s fair to say that although Herod was troubled, he didn’t quite believe these men, for he could easily have sent a group of soldiers with the Magi, to take the life of the Messiah. Instead he insists that if and when they find him, they should return to him, so he can go worship too. They do find him, but they don’t return! That’s when we begin to see… Read more…

Peter’s Final Words. 1 Peter 5:10-14

Peter’s Closing Words

Text. 1 Peter 5:10-14
So we come to the very last paragraph in Peter’s letter to the suffering church. He’s going to sum up everything he has written in just a few words, and and the first sentence of this is a prayer. It’s an interesting prayer, for you would expect Peter to pray that their suffering be removed from them. That’s what I would pray for others, especially for fellow Christians. I would ask God to remove all suffering from them. But Peter doesn’t pray like that. He prays that their suffering would be SHORT and would be BEARABLE and would be beneficial FOR THEM! That’s because… Read more…