In Matthew 25 Jesus tells three stories about the need to be ready for judgment, although the third looks to be giving us information about what will happen more than it is a story. Contextually, these are connected with his teaching about Jerusalem’s fall from chapter 24. But there are good lessons for us as we live our lives today.
The judgment scene in Matthew 25:31-46 is one which probably raised some eyebrows when the disciples heard what Jesus said. From the emphasis we often have – or don’t have – in our lives, perhaps it should raise some eyebrows today, as well! Continue reading “What are we doing?”
“Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered” (Matthew 21:18-19 NIV).
This incident may seem a bit strange and quite harsh to us. It was early morning and Jesus was travelling back to Jerusalem with his disciples. He was hungry – after all, it was breakfast time. They saw a fig tree and went over to it, but there were no figs on it. So Jesus, basically, cursed the tree: “May you never bear fruit again!” Why did Jesus do this? Continue reading “A worthless tree”
Throughout history people seem to have had the idea that those who were rich would get to heaven and those who were poor would struggle to get there. This seems to have been backed by this idea: the wealth of the rich was evidence that God was blessing them; the poverty of the poor was proof that God was not with them. As attractive as that philosophy has been, it doesn’t take much reading in the Bible to discover that, more often than not, it is the poor who are faithful to God.
This brings us to the young man who came to Jesus who was quite rich. He asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NET). He had the idea that if he did something good he would be given eternal life. And since he was wealthy, he could afford to do whatever it was that this teacher asked of him. Continue reading “The perils of prosperity”
“Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns” (Matthew 14:13 NET).
Jesus had just received news of the death of John. We know from Luke 1:36 that their mothers were related, so it may not be speculating too much to suggest that Jesus and John may have known each other as children. Being close in age, if there had been family gatherings they would probably have ended up together. Continue reading “Make time for God”
“When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied, ‘Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me’” (Matthew 11:2-6 NIV).
Can you imagine what John must have been going through? When Jesus came to him at the Jordan to be immersed he had seen the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove, identifying him as the promised Messiah. Yet if Jesus was the Messiah, why was John in prison? And why was Jesus doing nothing about it? So he sent his followers to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah. Continue reading “Accepting who Jesus is”
“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1 NIV).
Genealogies. Most do not find these the most exciting part of scripture to read. When the Reader’s Digest, known for publishing condensed versions of books, brought out their Condensed Version of the Bible, guess what they left out? One of the obvious was the genealogies – after all, who wants to read these? Yet these serve a purpose, both in life and in scripture. Continue reading “The ancestry of Jesus”
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV).
Who will we serve? Will we follow God or will we serve something, anything else? This is a question that people have had to face since time began and one that all people will continue to be challenged with. Even though many, or even most, in our society don’t want to make a choice, that in itself is a choice. “You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God” (James 4:4 CSV). Continue reading “We will serve the Lord”
“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.…So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:6-11 NIV).
Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they had conquered the land. Each tribe had been allocated their inheritance and they had settled into their homes. Joshua was now a very old man (Joshua 23:1) at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29). He called the leaders of the tribes together one last time to remind them of what God had done for them and what God required of them. “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14). Continue reading “Love and obedience”
“The people of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance” (Joshua 16:4 ESV).
After conquering much of the land of Canaan, the land was divided between the tribes of Israel. This was to be their inheritance. Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh had already received their inheritance, their land, on the east of the Jordan in the lands they conquered before entering Canaan. In return for receiving their inheritance early, they had to lead the army as they conquered the Promised Land. Continue reading “Our imperishable inheritance”
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:10-12 NIV).
Caleb was one of the great men of Israel. He was one of the twelve spies that were sent throughout Canaan when they first arrived at the border a few years after leaving Egypt. Ten of the spies were so overwhelmed with what they saw that they panicked and could not see how they could conquer the land. But it was Caleb, along with Joshua, who brought a different report. They knew that with God’s help they could take the land just as he had promised. Continue reading “He had a different spirit”