Matthew 18, pt. 1: To be the Greatest, be the Least

Tonight we will be studying Matthew 18, verses 1-14. The first five verses of this passage give us a practical view of the disciples, putting them in a very normal light. How many discussions do men have trying to determine which is the best basketball team, best business venture, musical group or computer product? Mankind likes to categorize and arrange things into hierarchies. The disciples were trying to do this when they were wondering who is best in the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps they were thinking of Elijah, Moses, Abraham and other great men of faith in God. They simply wanted to know who was greatest, or best. 

But when they ask Jesus, His answer to them changes our entire perspective on putting things into hierarchies, at least in the godly sense. Because God is the greatest and this is absolute! Aside from God, there is no one that can be greater.

But this fact is beside the point of Jesus’s statement. Jesus is ultimately trying to communicate to them that if they even want to get to heaven, they need to think differently: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭18:3-4‬

This means not thinking in terms of “Who’s best?” or “Who’s better?” but instead not concerning ourselves with these things and concentrating more on being humble. This means not thinking highly of ourselves and also looking for opportunities to help others. Humility implies a lack of selfishness in our thoughts and an increase in our awareness and consideration of others. You see children act this way, and often. Ultimately children do grow up to think like adults but there is a time in childhood when we are naturally curious and have an empathy for others. Children with this frame of mind are not worried about who is best of where they are in the pecking order; rather they are innocent and unassuming.

Jesus is telling the disciples that if they want to be the greatest, they need to be the least. And this state of mind needs to be the goal of every follower of Christ. Instead of asking why we are treated differently or why we didn’t get what we deserve, we need to ask who we can help and how can I help facilitate?

Verses 6-9 have Jesus taking the discussion in a new direction: offenses, or temptations. Specifically, Jesus is talking about leading others into temptation: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” So whether it is Satan or a bad influence, anyone that leads a believer into temptation is sure to receive grave consequences. 

The latter part of this section in verses 8 and 9 show Jesus telling the disciples the importance of spiritual purity: that it is even more important than our physical faculties. In other words, if I am unable to prevent myself from sinning through prayer, willpower, etc., it would be better for me to remove my eyes and prevent the sinful activity that way. A profound statement, for sure, but it also reveals how God would have us arrange our priorities. It shows us how much more important our spiritual life is over our physical one. 

To close tonight, read verses 10-14. Here, Jesus talks of the importance of a single lost sheep to a man. Jesus mentions how much the man celebrated when he finally found the sheep and how he celebrated over that single sheep more than the other 99 sheep he owned. This is an analogy (or parable!) showing how God rejoices over a lost soul returned to Him. It does not mean that God loves the lost more than the saved, but it does mean that God seeks the lost more because the saved are already with Him. 

If you have left God, know that God is looking for you to return. And know that when you do, He will rejoice. Tonight I urge you to not think highly of yourself, to see what you can do to help rather than criticize, and to seek God in your heart and in your deeds. This life is so short and the pleasures are fleeting. It is wisest to spend time investing in eternity with Him over the thin substance of this life. 

Praise God!

Matthew 17, pt. 3: Prophecy & Responsibility

Tonight we will finalize our reading of Matthew 17 with verses 22-27. 

Verses 22 and 23 show us again Jesus telling His disciples about His upcoming fate of death and resurrection. The disciples loved Jesus and were following Him everywhere, hanging on every word He spoke. Jesus’s proclamation of His death made them very sad and we can still reasonably assume that they did not completely understand what Jesus meant when He told them. Nevertheless, He did tell them and was prophesying in His own right. Much like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus was not always understood but the meaning of His words were revealed as the truth of the events came to pass. 

Blessed are we that now we can understand Jesus’s words!

In verses 24-27, Jesus makes two important points to Peter. Men had come collecting the temple tax and asked Peter whether Jesus pays the temple tax. Peter just says simply “Yes,” then goes in to Jesus to inquire about it. Without Peter having to ask, Jesus knows what is coming and asks Peter from whom the king’s of the earth take taxes. Is it from their sons or from strangers? Peter rightly says it is from strangers. Jesus is making the point that He is the Son of God, and that He does not need to pay the tax. That is the first lesson Jesus teaches Peter; that as the Son of God, He enjoys a close and special relationship with God, one that is beyond our comprehension. 

Jesus is also affirming that He is indeed the Son of the God who is spoken of in the Old Testament, who dwells in the temple.

The second lesson Jesus teaches Peter is that we still should meet certain responsibilities, even if it is just to convince others that we are trying to do the right thing. Jesus tells Peter to find the necessary tax in a fish taken out of the sea. In this way, Jesus works a miracle, satisfies the tax and pays nothing all at once. 

The power of our example is greater than we think it is, especially as we age and younger people look up to us. 

Tonight I urge you to look up to Christ’s example. He always did what was right and He did it in every instance. We do fail as men and women trying to live a godly life, but we should not let our failures discourage us. Rather, we should always hold Jesus’s example as our standard, and try to reach it even though we know we will often fail. After all, it is God’s grace through Jesus that makes our salvation possible.

Matthew 17, pt. 2: The Power of Faith and Prayer

Tonight we will continue in chapter 17 by reading verses 14-21. If you can, please read these verses before our study below. 

In verses 14-21, we read of a boy that is under demon possession. The boy’s father had brought the boy to Jesus’s disciples, but the disciples could not expel the demon. When the boy is brought to Jesus, He immediately rebukes the demon and it leaves the boy. Then Jesus chastises His disciples because they should have been able to remove the demon from the boy but they could not due to their lack of faith. 

Jesus’s lesson to the disciples is one we can apply to our lives as well. We should not permit ourselves to think that something is too difficult or that it cannot be done by God. Also, the strength of our faith and depth of concentration in our prayers can affect the outcome of the things we seek from God:

– Am I praying half-heartedly? 

– Am I praying for something that I don’t really believe will happen? 

– Am I praying for something just because I think I should? 

These approaches in faith and prayer are faulty. Instead we should pray with the expectation that God will both hear and answer our prayers, and that He is absolutely capable of doing anything we ask. He may decide to not act, or His answer may be no, but He is always able to do anything we ask. 

The Bible provides guidance on God’s power and and how to pray:

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”‭‭ James‬ ‭4:3‬

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.‭‭” Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬

Tonight, when you pray, make a true effort to speak to God, understanding His great love, compassion and power.

Matthew 17, pt. 1: The Transfiguration

How much do you know about Jesus’s transfiguration? What do you think really happened to Jesus up on that high mountain? Read verses 1-13 and try to picture what Jesus’s face and clothes really must have looked like in those moments.

When Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to the mountain, he is transfigured before them. The word “transfiguration” means to change or transform appearance. This is what happened to Jesus. God changed how Jesus appeared to Peter, James and John so that He could show His pleasure and approval of His Son, who was carrying out the divine will of God. Whether this means that Jesus’s true spiritual body was what shone through or God simply made Jesus appear brighter to glorify Him is unclear. The message is that God showed favor and approval of His Son through this transfiguration and Peter, James and John were made witness to this amazing occurrence.

Moses and Elijah also appeared, talking with Jesus, although we do not know what was said. Their presence is significant though in that these men, like Christ, were strong and encouraging instruments of God in their own time, carrying forth God’s will. Jesus being in the company of these heroes of righteousness and faith further solidifies His place as a fulfillment of prophecy and the most significant component of God’s plan to redeem lost sinners.

Peter characteristically is eager to act and suggests building three tabernacles to Moses, Elijah and Christ. But God interrupts Peter’s ignorant yet well-intentioned suggestion by throwing all of the attention on Jesus. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Jesus is the reason for this moment and God the Father wants it known. How awesome!

Peter, James and John all fall on their faces at the sound of God until Jesus asks them to rise and not be afraid. When they get up, only Jesus is there, and He appears normal again. He instructs them not to tell anyone about what happened until He rises from the dead.The disciples’ question and Jesus’s response in verses 10-13 are an indication of both the disciples’ and the scribes’ lack of knowledge. The difference in these two groups is that the disciples discern the right source to get the facts. Their trust, loyalty and belief in Christ solidifies as time goes on.

Peter, James and John show great faith and amazement at the transfiguration, yet they still have so little comprehension of what it will all ultimately mean. Jesus is to die and rise again, to save all mankind. It is profound and amazing to ponder that fact even today, so it is easy to understand how the apostles understood so little despite being in the midst of everything. How blessed we are today, that God has given us His Holy Word, so that we may know these wondrous and saving truths. And that we may know that we have the hope of an eternal life in heaven, where we will be in the presence of God for all eternity.

The transfiguration is the second place in time I would go if I had access to a time machine. The first is the cross.

Matthew 16, Pt. 2: The Son of Man

Tonight we will finish Matthew 16 by reading and studying verses 13-28. The first section we will look at tonight is verses 13-20. 

In this passage, Jesus asks His disciples a question, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” It is obvious that Jesus knew who He was, as He refers to Himself as the Son of Man. This term, the “Son of Man” might not make sense the first time we read it. We are all sons of men, after all. In Jesus’s case it was notable that He is named the Son of Man because He was God come down to earth in human form. So when Jesus asked the question, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” of His disciples, He is acknowledging His divinity as known among them, but He wanted to know who the common population thought He was.

Jewish history in the Old Testament has many prophets working miracles for God’s glory, so it is not surprising that people thought of Jesus as one of these prophets or even John the Baptist, who had gained a following before his death. But Jesus’s question then segues into a follow-up question of who the disciples thought He was. Peter answers truthfully and honestly that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God. 

Jesus’s reply to Peter in verses 17-19 can be misinterpreted. When Jesus affirms Peter’s answer and builds upon Peter’s declaration, Jesus is speaking in a way that reveals the plan for spreading the gospel after He dies and is resurrected. For the church is not built on Peter, but rather is built upon the fact that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son sent to seek and save the lost. Peter’s and the other disciples’ efforts to preach and spread the gospel would help to build the church. The Holy Spirit will also eventually provide them with the ability to perform miracles. The binding and loosing remark meant that they would have the power and knowledge to preach what is lawful and what is unlawful. 

Jesus’s request that they not reveal His identity came so that the spreading of this information not compromise His earthly purpose by prematurely bringing judgment and punishment upon Him. 

Verses 21-28 include two important ideas for us as Bible students: Jesus was continuously tempted and to follow Him requires sacrifice.

When Jesus tells the disciples that He would have to die, Peter objects strongly, naively thinking that Jesus was above such a thing. While Peter’s strength of belief is impressive, it also reveals that he did not yet fully comprehend Jesus’s purpose on earth. This was the first time that Jesus told them what literally needed to happen in order for Him to fulfill His purpose and die for the sins of all humanity. This concept is is of a divine design and did not necessarily gel with the ways the disciples understood Jesus up to this point.

Nevertheless, Jesus persists with an explanation because He knows that they will ultimately understand and preach the plan of salvation to mankind. 

Jesus’s rebuke to Peter is eye-opening because He calls Peter Satan. Of course Jesus does not literally think of Peter as Satan, but Peter’s admonition to Jesus that He was too good to suffer such things represented to Jesus a temptation. Jesus was a man while on earth after all and although He never sinned, He did experience all temptations just as we do, and that too so that He can aid us when we are in need (Hebrews 2:17-18). Jesus’s temptation in this instance was to forego the suffering on the cross and thwart God’s plan. 

But as we can see in verse 23, Jesus’s resolve to remain true to the plan of salvation was very strong and He would not allow the temptation to remain before Him for long. His resistance to it provides an excellent example for us, in fact. Do I let a temptation hang around in front of me, do I let it stay in my brain as it continues to wear me down until I ultimately give in? Or do I absolutely and immediately resist as Jesus does in verse 23? It is easy to see which is the more effective practice! 

Finally in verses 24-28, we have Jesus’s admonition to both the disciples and to us by extension that we should sacrifice all for Him. Living for Christ is the answer; living for self is ultimately an empty pursuit. All of the money and possessions in the world are nothing beside the hope we have in heaven with Jesus Christ. How am I living today?

Matthew 16, Pt. 1: Leaven and Truth

Tonight we will study just the first twelve verses in Matthew chapter 16. Within these verses we have Jesus teaching his disciples a valuable lesson about discernment. 

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the Jewish elite, the wealthy men of strong knowledge, reputable birth and affluent means. Ideally, these groups would have been first to recognize Jesus as the Christ and follow Him. However, their minds and attentions were not on the things of God, but rather were consistently on other more worldly matters such as social status and the like. In our passage tonight, these men ask Jesus to show them a sign from heaven, presumably to prove that He was the Son of God. 

But Jesus quickly reveals their hearts by telling them that they know how to read basic weather patterns in the sky, yet cannot see that the Son of God is standing before them. He then rebukes them by saying that the sign that they will end up seeing is the sign of the prophet Jonah. This is meaningful because Jonah’s prophecy to Nineveh was that God would destroy it because of its ungodliness. And indeed Jerusalem was destroyed around 70 a.d. by the Romans. Could this have been what Jesus was alluding to?

Jesus uses this interaction with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as an opportunity to teach His disciples. He warns the disciples to beware the leaven, or the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus’s meaning was that the disciples should avoid agreeing with them and to not take on their beliefs or be influenced by them. Because, as stated earlier, the hearts of the Pharisees and the Sadducees were not in the right place and their speech and actions showed it. 

However, this lesson was at first lost on the disciples. They thought that the leaven Jesus was talking about was the ingredient for bread which causes it to rise. Jesus was speaking figuratively, but they didn’t get it. They thought He was talking about actual bread. Jesus used leaven as an example to show that to absorb just some of the influence of these Pharisees and Sadducees would make a dramatic influence on the disciples’ beliefs and opinions. This influence on character can be compared to how leaven works in bread to make it grow and expand, it transforms it. Even just a very small bit of leaven can cause a great change while preparing bread. Jesus was telling them to beware this influence.

But the disciples thought they were supposed to avoid the actual bread from the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus then becomes impatient with them for not getting it, especially in light of how the disciples had fed thousands with so little bread and fish in the recent past. (Remember feeding the 5,000, then the 4,000?) The disciples could have recognized that Jesus was not talking about actual leaven or bread, but that He meant the cumulative negative influence of the spiritual impostors that were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

There are two separate things we can learn from this passage tonight. The first is that the negative influence of questionable values can have great consequences. For us today, this means truly examining the character of those we choose to spend our time with and ask, “Does this person have a godly character?” Sometimes we will find that even though entertaining and comfortable, the company of some people ends up affecting us negatively and actually distances us from God. Be aware.

The second application has to do with seeking. At the beginning of this passage, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were seeking a sign that Jesus was who He said He was. Do you think they were sincere? I think they probably were. But their problem was that their hearts were not oriented on the truth of that which they were seeking. Sometimes there thing that we seek is starting us right in the face.

Matthew 15, Pt. 2: Humility is the Key

Tonight we conclude our study of Matthew chapter 15. Jesus departs Gennesaret and goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon. The first section of tonight’s story takes place in verses 21-28. 

In this passage Jesus is beset upon by a woman from Canaan. She asks Him to make her daughter well, who has been possessed by demons. Jesus and His disciples resist her pleas at first, because she is not a Jew. As God’s chosen people, Jews were the rightful recipients of God’s blessings through Jesus Christ. The fact that Jesus denies her at first seems callous yet in the context of whom Jesus was trying to reach with His teachings, it makes sense. 

We know that later after Jesus had died and been resurrected that God gave Peter a vision that showed that the blessings of Jesus Christ were to be bestowed upon all people, not just Jews. The fact that Jesus notes the Cananite woman’s faith in verse 28 and heals her daughter is a precursor to the future (effective now) when God blesses all mankind through Christ.

Verses 29 through the end of the chapter reiterate a theme and occurrence we have seen happen before. Jesus heals the multitudes of various afflictions, ailments and maladies and the people glorify God because of it. Then Jesus once again performs the miracle of feeding thousands with just a few meager resources. 

Jesus was spreading the Word, teaching, preaching and healing. This is another step in His ministry to heal all of those who come to Him seeking salvation.

Jesus can see into your heart, just as He did the Canaanite woman. Will He see as great a faith there tonight as He saw in that woman, whom He compared to a little dog? Remember from verse 27, the statement of hers that convinced Him? It was her humility.

Matthew 15, Pt. 1: For This, Jesus Would Expose Us Too

Verses 1-9: Jesus is approached by the scribes and Pharisees, who are seeking to find fault in Him. Of course they always fail because Jesus had no fault in Him and in fact their attempts repeatedly backfire when Jesus exposes their hypocrisy.

The scribes and Pharisees think they have found error within Jesus’s disciples because they have observed that the disciples do not wash their hands when they eat bread. This “error” is not based on any scripture derived from heaven but is actually based on a tradition (vs. 2). What sin is there in failing to observe a tradition made by man? This was not a commandment made by God. 

Jesus exposes them immediately in verses 3-6 by explaining to them (and us!) how they conveniently avoid giving money to their needful parents. The scribes and Pharisees were giving money to God as they had been commanded, and this was undoubtedly good. However, they were using this expenditure as an excuse to avoid giving money to their parents, who were in need. By saying to their parents, “I can’t give you any money to help you with your needs because I am giving all of my extra money to God,” they were in actuality committing a sin because they were not following the commandment to honor their father and mother. Whether this was a trend among the scribes or the Pharisees or if Jesus saw into the hearts of the specific individuals questioning Him seems undetectable, but the sin is exposed nevertheless.

Jesus then quotes to them from Isaiah 29:13 and publicly declares they have fulfilled this prophecy because their words indicate that they love and worship God, but their hearts prove that they are actually very far from Him.

There are a couple of interesting applications we can take from Jesus’s lesson to the scribes and Pharisees tonight. First, know the importance of the difference between what God has said and what rules we simple humans have fashioned. And under no circumstances are we to place more importance on anything over what God has commanded. To be able to make judgments like these requires knowledge of God’s Word, does it not? And knowledge of God’s Word requires study and more than a surface understanding. 

In fact, we should be very careful with how we consider God’s Word. Because our own desires can creep into our reasoning and soon our own logic and reasoning is making decisions in our best interests at the expense of God’s commands. For this, Jesus would expose us, too. 

The second application is that the scribes and Pharisees were basically revealing their own lack of obedience and faith through their question. The words revealed the fallacy of their understanding of the import of God’s word and their challenge to Christ showed their lack of belief and trust in the Son of God. Had they not heard of all of the things He taught and the wonders and miracles He worked? And they were asking about the disciples washing their hands before eating? They were being absurd.

Verses 10-20: Lastly for tonight we have Christ’s sublime explanation about how what we say exposes us: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:18-20

It is not necessarily surprising that the disciples require this explanation after Jesus first explains this profound spiritual truth. Because the first time we hear it, it doesn’t seem to immediately quite compute, does it? How can what I say corrupt me?

The main point is that what we say reveals our corruption because it originates from within our corrupt hearts. As we saw with the scribes and Pharisees, this can happen even when we are trying to be righteous. And that is why it is so important to remain steeped in the depth of the God’s Holy Word: we can’t trust ourselves. Satan will find an opening and he will spread corruption through sinful actions, creating shame, disgust and sorrow.

Tonight I urge you to renew your dedication to knowing God through your Bible. Knowing Him is the only way to remain truly righteous!

Matthew 14: Death & Miracles

Verses 1-12: John the Baptist is in prison because he had spoken out against King Herod’s sister-in-law, Herodias, saying that King Herod’s brother’s (Philip) marriage to her was unlawful. King Herod would have already killed John the Baptist but he feared retaliation from the many people who believed and followed him. King Herod mentions that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, meaning that he believed the miracles being performed were the work of a resurrected prophet. This is notable because it reveals Herod’s ignorance as to the true respective identities of John and Jesus Christ.

During Herod’s birthday celebration, his niece danced for him. This was Herodias’ and Philip’s daughter. Her dancing so pleased Herod that he gave his word that she could have whatever she wanted. Herodias prompted her to ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herodias obviously knew that John had condemned her marriage to the king’s brother and she wanted revenge. With reluctance for fear of the people, Herod orders that John’s head be removed and placed on a platter. The macabre presentation is made to the young girl, who gives it to her mother Herodias that had the original idea. Jesus was told of it, and went away to be alone and pray, most likely seeking strength and solace from God.

Verses 13-21: But Jesus cannot be alone and He is followed by many many people that believe in Him and that have needs. Jesus’s empathy moves Him to heal the sick.

When evening approached, the need to eat arose and the disciples suggest to Jesus that the people should be sent to the villages to buy food. Instead, Jesus miraculously changes five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for five thousand men, plus women and children. A true miracle! 

Verses 22-36: In this passage Jesus is again seeking solitude, seeking to spend time with His Father in prayer. This time Jesus does get the time He needs and does not attempt to return to the disciples until late into the night. When He does return, He finds the disciples on a boat tossed by waves on a tumultuous sea. 

Jesus returns to them by walking on the water to them. Since there was a watch, they were able to notice Him coming and they were all very afraid. They did not recognize Jesus and thought that He was an apparition, a ghost. Amidst the stormy waters, Jesus calls out to them and tells them to not be scared but to cheer up. 

Peter, ever the faithful skeptic, wants to test whether it really is Jesus and asks that if it is truly Jesus, that He command Peter to join Him on the water. Christ complies and Peter walks out on the water to Him. But Peter’s faith vanishes as he fears the wind and the choppy sea and he begins to sink into the water. Peter cries out for help and Jesus chastises him for his lack of faith while bringing him safely to the boat. Once in the boat, the wind stops and all who were in the boat glorified in Jesus as the Son of God. 

This chapter ends with Jesus and His disciples successfully crossing the water over to Gennesaret. When they arrive, Jesus is recognized and again compelled to heal the sick. Jesus does so. The faith of these people was great, believing that they need only touch the edge of His clothing in order to be made well.

Are we not like Peter ourselves sometimes? There is a problem or obstacle before us that we cannot see a way out of and we despair. Everything we know as fact is telling us one thing but faith whispers to us the opposite. Too often we ignore that still, quiet voice of faith and heed the clamor of reason and words of the faithless. But God’s grace comes to us all when we realize that, after the storm has passed, that things were really quite manageable all along. With His help, I can do anything. 

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”‭‭. Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13

Matthew 13 Pt. 3: Rejected at Home

Tonight we conclude our study of Matthew 13 with verses 44-58. Jesus has three more parables to share with His disciples before He resumes traveling.

The first two parables are very similar and carry the same meaning. These are the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the valuable pearl. In these parables, men find things of great value, then they sell all they have to obtain them. In these parables Jesus is teaching us that we need to be willing to forsake everything important to us so that we can follow Christ.

Sinful habits can be pleasurable, but we need to leave these behind and practice righteousness instead. There are also friendships, beliefs, practices and comforts that are in conflict with God’s Word. Even though denying ourselves certain things can be initially painful, in the long run of a life well-lived according to God’s Word, it is more than worth it. In fact it is a life that brings us more happiness, pleasure and a deep sense of calm serenity. These benefits all result in the knowledge and confidence we have in knowing that our God has received us and will care for us. These parables reflect that too; look at how happy the men in the parables were.

The third parable, concerning a dragnet, is similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares. This parable says that at the end of the age, the good will be divided from the wicked of the world and the wicked will be cast into hell. 

There is a mini-parable in verse 52: “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” In this verse, Jesus is saying that when He teaches, the things that He teaches are known by the disciples because of their belief. In this sense, everyone that believed Christ held the esteemed position of a scribe, or one who knew God’s Word intimately. Jesus was revealing God’s mystery to the common people through His parables and teachings.

In the final verses of chapter 13, it is revealed to us that Jesus was rejected even in His hometown. It seems that despite His teachings and works, the people of Nazareth could not reconcile a divine presence with the carpenter’s boy they saw grow up as Jesus. Many things can cloud our faith, even familiarity.

Tonight, I urge you to not be afraid to leave everything behind for your belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ. God is true in every instance, not only when it is convenient or fitting. He deserves our complete loyalty and faith. Praise the Lord our God!