- When I shared some of our family miracle stories, I kept saying that all we needed was to know God. If we knew God, everything else falls into place. In thinking about how I could help people get to know their good Father, I realized that the best way is to study the life of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus shows us the Father.
- Read Matthew 1:1-17. Read the genealogy of Jesus. We’re trying to learn about Jesus because it’s going to help us get to know God.
- What tribe of Israel was Jesus’ family part of? What’s significant about that?
- He was Jewish. He was one of God’s chosen people.
- When Israel divided, Judah and Benjamin remained; the others ended up being known as the “lost tribes of Israel.” Israel and Judah each had bad kings, but only Judah ever had good kings.
- Why is it significant that names like Asa and Uzziah are in his lineage?
- Those were kings of Israel. From David through to the deportation (where everyone is captured and taken away to Babylon) is a list of kings. If the kingdom of Israel, in its earthly sense, hadn’t come to an end, Jesus would have been in line to be king.
- Read Matthew 1:18-end. Remember the goal of each reading is to learn more about who Jesus is so we can get to know our good Father.
- A baby is conceived when a piece of the mother comes together with a piece from the father. The piece from the father is called “seed.” The DNA from both, half and half, make up the DNA of the child. Jesus didn’t have an earthly father, but he didn’t have only his mother Mary’s DNA. If He did, He would have been a woman, her identical twin. Jesus’ father was God Himself, by the Holy Spirit. Why was that important that Jesus’ seed was from God?
- Seed bears fruit after its own kind. An apple tree produces apple seeds which produce apple trees. It can’t produce anything else.
- Jesus had to be a man; but Jesus also had to be God. The seed of the Holy Spirit produced God in the flesh. Jesus was different from the rest of mankind because He was born God, born with the power to overcome sin, born free from the curse of sin. It shows us the life we can come into when we are born again.
- What does the angel announce is Jesus’ purpose?
- to save His people from their sins
- What name was Jesus called? What does it tell us about God?
- Immanuel, God with us
- In order to be with us, Jesus had to give up His heavenly home, had to give up His freedom of living without a body. He chose to become a baby, a weak, helpless thing. Jesus had a body from that point on. He was limited to being in one place at a time. He chose to take on the human experience of hunger, tiredness, pain, and temptation. He did it to show us the Father. He did it so that we could be with the Father, so that we could have the relationship of Father and child that was stripped away from us when sin entered the world.
- Read Matthew 2:1-12. Remember the goal of each reading is to learn more about who Jesus is.
- What are some of the titles given Jesus?
- Who is He shepherd and king over?
- Israel, the Jews
- What of today’s scene shows His significance to God?
- A new star appeared in the sky. Somehow this was foretold and the wise men were able to recognize the new star and knew its significance, that the King of the Jews had been born.
- God protects Jesus and His family from Herod.
- The wise men worship Jesus. The basic meaning of the word is to bow down before. They bowed down before a baby to show it honor. Jesus was worshiped for His position, not for anything He had done. He was just a baby. He was born to be worshiped.
- Jesus was a baby. What does that tell us about God?
- He humbled Himself to come be with us. He lived in a womb. He was King of the Universe and He submitted Himself to obey an earthly father. He had every right to demand anything and everything, but He demanded nothing, gave up everything, to show you love.
- He was also a cause for joy. The wise men rejoice when they find Him.
- It’s said the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh each have a particular significance.
- Gold could be a symbol of Him as king.
- Frankincense was an incense and could be a symbol of Jesus as our High Priest.
- Myrrh was an embalming oil, something you put on someone after they have died. It could be a foreshadowing of His death on the cross.
- Jesus was king and ruler and submitted to being born as a baby. The omnipresent God submitted to taking on the limitations of a human body. He became flesh. He never gave up being God, but He also became man.
- Read Matthew 2:13-end.
- We’re going to look at this one a little differently. Jesus was God, but He was also a man. Let’s look at this reading to learn about God’s children. What do we see about Jesus’ life and how God cares for Him as a person?
- Jesus was protected by God. Someone had a plan to kill Jesus, but God wouldn’t allow it because it wasn’t time.
- Jesus had a destiny planned by God.
- God directed Joseph through angels and dreams to not only take care of Jesus but to arrange His life according to His plan. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which was also prophesied.
- Read Matthew 3.
- We see Jesus as man and God in these verses; man, as one being baptized, and God, as one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- Baptism is the death and resurrection of a Christian. It’s the burial of our old life. We are a new creation in Christ, and baptism is the laying down of our old life and the raising up of our life in Christ. And like the Holy Spirit comes to Jesus when He is baptized, so we receive the Spirit when we are washed clean of our sins and given new life in Christ.
- His baptism scene is also very significant because we see the Trinity. The word Trinity is never in the Bible anywhere, but it’s the concept of the three-in-one God. The Bible tells us that God is one, but here we also see God in three persons, Jesus the Son, His Father, and the Holy Spirit, all at once.
- Now, let’s learn about our Father from what we learn about Jesus as God in these verses. How does John describe Jesus? What does that tell us about God?
- He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat. He will gather the wheat into his barn but burn the chaff with never-ending fire.
- A definition of baptism is to cleanse or purge. I think that definition fits here. In baptism we are cleansed from our past sins so that the Holy Spirit can dwell in us. Some consider being baptized with fire as being the same thing as the Holy Spirit, but I think I see them as separate things. Paul teaches that a believer goes through many trials to enter the kingdom. I see that as the fire, the refining process of being transformed bit by bit into the image of Christ. It’s one of those “both-and” as my husband and I say. We are both made perfect in Christ Jesus and we are being made perfect. We press on and work to take hold of that which we already have through Christ.
- God does the work of making us ready and able to live in His kingdom, to have our bodies be His dwelling place. And it’s the place we want to be. He will make a separation of those who are His and those who are not His. We are gathered to Him or we are destroyed. There is only one good and safe place to be!
- Read Matthew 4:1-11, the temptation.
- The only reason Jesus was able to be a perfect sacrifice, dying on the cross for us, is that He is fully human and fully God. He couldn’t die if He weren’t human. He couldn’t be perfect if He wasn’t God. Here we see the two in action together. Where do we see his humanity, and what can we imitate about it?
- He gets hungry.
- He is tempted.
- He uses the Word of God to stand firm and not give in to temptation.
- In Hebrews, this moment is used to describe Jesus’ empathy for us. God can empathize with being tempted in every way, which is part of our assurance that in Christ we have the power to overcome temptation as well.
- Satan makes an appearance here. What do we learn about God from the encounter?
- God sets up the encounter. God’s not afraid of Satan. He leads Jesus to the place where He will be tempted, in order that He be tempted.
- God’s Word is what overcomes. Truth is what overcomes. God gives us a Sword to fight with, His Word. God gives us what we need to overcome.
- Our weapon of defense is our shield, our shield of faith, specifically mentioned to hold off the devil. The only way to have faith is to know God. Faith is being sure of what you hope for, certain of things you can’t see. How can we be certain of anything? We can be certain of the unchanging character of God. We can be certain of His unchanging Word. He and His Word will always be the same.
- And we see angels come to take care of Jesus at the end of the trial.
- Read Matthew 4:12-17, the start of Christ’s ministry.
- The first part of this section is just talking about where Jesus was. This shows, as before, how Jesus’ life was planned, that He had a destiny. His life wasn’t an accident. God has a purpose and destiny for our lives and is directing our steps if we are yielded to Him. It doesn’t mean we have to even consciously make each choice that we make; He can just move us into the places we need to be in.
- What is Jesus’ message to people?
- “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
- To repent means to change your mind. What would it mean to “repent of your sins and turn to God?”
- It would mean changing your mind about sin and God, choosing to hate sin and love God instead of hating God in order to love your sin.
- Read Matthew 4:18-end, the Ministry of Jesus Begins.
- Jesus calls His first disciples. What promise does He give them?
- “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
- He says He’ll show them how to fish for people. Then what do they see? What does He show them? What happens next?
- He teaches, announces the Good News about the Kingdom, and heals everyone of everything.
- Read Matthew 5:1-12, the Beatitudes.
- The Beatitudes is the title given to this list of blessings that Jesus pronounces. They don’t match what the world calls blessed, though. Who does God bless and reward?
- the humble
- those who mourn (think about those who mourn sin and the nations denying and defying God, Ezekiel 9:4)
- those who are gentle
- those who desire after what is right
- those who are merciful
- those with pure hearts
- those who pursue peace
- those who are persecuted for doing right
- those who are mocked, lied about, spoken evil of because they follow and imitate Jesus
- If we experience persecution, what should our response be?
- Read Matthew 5:13-16, Salt and Light.
- We aren’t told to be salt and light. God just says we are salt and light. What is our job?
- not to lose our saltiness and not to hide our light
- What does this section tell us brings God praise?
- good deeds
- This is a contrast to verses about praying and giving and fasting in secret, which we’ll read in the next chapter.
- Read Matthew 5:17-20, Fulfilling the Law.
- What do we need in order to enter heaven?
- righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees, the religious leaders
- Jesus fulfilled the law for us. We receive His perfect fulfillment of the law by faith. By faith we are credited with righteousness.
- Verse 19 shows the difference between those who are seeking to obey all the laws of God and those who don’t think they have to. They both are in the kingdom of heaven. One is called greater than the other.
- Read Matthew 5:21-48, “You have heard it said.” As you read these, think on the high calling of Christ. It is the life He led. It is the life you should be living in the power of the Spirit. If you are falling short of this, repent and take a step toward Christ, what’s referred to as the upward call.
- Read Matthew 6:1-18. It’s hard to keep the focus on Jesus when He’s teaching all these things to us. But, let’s try to think about Jesus as we read this. What is it He wants to get across? What’s the main point of this section?
- Live your life for an audience of one, as they say. Don’t live to be seen and praised by men. Live to be seen and praised by God.
- Stop and pray the Lord’s Prayer specifically. Make it your own.
- Read Matthew 6:19-21.
- We are taught it is wise to store up for ourselves. This Scripture says the opposite. We’re specifically told not to store up. How can we store up in heaven instead?
- We’ve just read about praying, fasting, giving for God. Those are ways. Anything we give to God is a way. We should give everything to God, live as living sacrifices.
- What do we learn about God from His direction about storing up?
- He’s not concerned with following the wisdom of the world! Faith in Him trumps any earthly wisdom.
- Read Matthew 6:22-24.
- What point does God want you to see here?
- This is more about money. I think this is saying we need to keep our eyes on Jesus.
- We need to seek and pursue Him alone. Trying to justify any other way is a deception and will fill you with darkness.
- Read Matthew 6:25-end.
- This end of the chapter tells us how to seek after Jesus and keep our eyes on Him. What do we need to do and not do?
- Don’t worry!
- Seek God’s kingdom, the life of Christ displayed on earth, and live righteously.
- Read Matthew 7:1-6 on judging others.
- What is the main point here?
- Elsewhere in the Bible, believers are told they will judge. This Scripture is a warning about hypocrisy. We need to judge ourselves before pronouncing any judgment on others. There is a warning that we will be judged by the same standard that we judge. That’s a good reason not to judge, but we see Paul pronouncing judgments. It’s not that we’re never to judge what’s right and wrong, but we’re to make sure we are living right.
- Jesus will judge all people and nations. What does that reveal about Him?
- He is able to judge everyone. He is righteous and just and will only pronounce righteous judgments because He has no fear of judgment coming on Him.
- Read Matthew 7:7-11 on effective prayer.
- What does God like about our asking? Why do you think?
- It shows we believe we’ll get it. We’d give up if we thought it was impossible.
- What does the comparison to earthly fathers show us about God?
- He’s saying He’s a greater Father than these and yet these would give their children the good things they asked for.
- Read Matthew 7:12, the golden rule.
- I think this ties into the judging/hypocrite verses. How do you want to be treated? God sums up for us everything He wants us to do. We just have to remember this one rule for life. It says it sums up the Prophets and not just the Law. The law is rules for living, so that makes sense. The Prophets contain promises and warnings for God’s people, much of which is tied to behavior. As if how you treat others is how you will be treated.
- Read Matthew 7:13-14 on the narrow gate.
- What do we learn about God from this?
- Even though the Bible says His desire is that all be saved, He’s not going to just welcome everyone in. He says, “Few will find it.” It says it’s a difficult road. He’s not interested in our ease and comfort in coming to Him. It also shows that people “choose” the broad path.
- Read Matthew 7:15-29, the true disciples.
- There are three sections here, but they are all related. What’s the main point?
- There are two people.
- There are those who entered through the narrow gate and those who chose the wide path.
- There are good trees and bad trees. The good tree is full of Goodness, people who have the Spirit of the Living God, because only God is good. These are the one who do God’s will and who obeys God’s teaching.
- The others are still trees, still produce fruit, go through the same storm, say, “Lord, Lord,” but God does not know them and rejects them and their fruit.
- There are two people.
- Read Matthew 8:1-17. What do we learn about God through watching Jesus?
- He is willing to heal.
- He doesn’t do it to gain attention. He does it for their sake.
- If you struggle with God’s willingness to heal in your situation, think of it in this simple way. If Jesus was standing in front of you and you asked him for healing, would He give it? Well, He’s even closer than standing in front of you!
- He loves seeing faith in people!
- He meets people where they are at. He’s willing to go with them if that’s what they need to believe, but He obviously can just know it is accomplished.
- He has authority! It was a simple thing for Him to deal with sickness, demons.
- Read Matthew 8:18-33.
- Jesus questions the man if he’s really ready to follow Him. We read before that the road is hard. We read here that Jesus is in effect homeless, not that He wasn’t always provided for, but He didn’t live what much of the church calls a “blessed” lifestyle!
- What did the disciples do wrong in the boat?
- They feared! In America at least, we hear the saying often about how it’s okay to be afraid, that courage or bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but the decision to not let the fear control you. While I like the saying and even tell my kids that nothing (including fear) ever gets to control them, the reality of the Scripture is that the disciples are rebuked for being afraid.
- God wants us to not be afraid.
- What do we learn about God from His command to the wind and waves?
- He has control over nature.
- Why do the townspeople ask Jesus to leave town after He does a miracle and frees the men from the demons that had bound them?
- They didn’t know Him! They were relying on their senses, what they were seeing, and perceived it as bad.
- They didn’t know the love and goodness of God. They didn’t know that an answer to prayer that looks different than what you would want could be the best thing to happen.
- Jesus leaves and there is no recorded account of His returning to that area. What does that show us about God?
- God doesn’t force Himself on people. That’s not love.
- Read Matthew 9:1-8. What do we learn about Jesus?
- He sees faith, and faith leads to the forgiveness of sins.
- He forgives sin. He has the authority to forgive sins.
- He can make a lame man walk.
- Read Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus calls Matthew.
- Who does Jesus call to Himself? Who is God seeking?
- Those who know they need a savior.
- Matthew’s identity changed when he started following Jesus. He was no longer known by God as a sinner; He was a follower of Christ. After the cross He will breathe His Spirit into them and they will have new life. But even at this point, God sees the finished work. That’s who He is. That’s what He does.
- Again, God isn’t forcing Himself. Jesus calls. They are free to respond.
- Read Matthew 9:14-17, fasting.
- Jesus says they will fast later. Do you ever fast? He also says that new wine goes in new wineskins. If you want the Holy Spirit in your life, you need new life in Christ first; you need your sins forgiven, to be washed clean and made new!
- Read Matthew 9:18-34, faith and healing.
- What do we see is Jesus’ response to the people who seek Him out?
- He helps them all. He responds to all their requests. He’s never put out that He’s being interrupted, begged from, called away from what He was doing. He responds to them all. He answers every request. No one is put off until tomorrow.
- We see that people are amazed. They see that Jesus is different from every other magician, shaman, or anyone else who has ever purported to do miracles.
- Read Matthew 9:35-end, workers.
- What do we learn about God from this section?
- He has compassion on His people.
- He sees their need for leaders.
- He expects people to be their shepherds.
- He expects people to go out as workers for Him.
- He expects us to pray for workers to go out.
- He expects us to participate in the work He’s doing.
- Read Matthew 10:1-25.
- We see Jesus has the authority to pass on His authority. Who does He give authority to? What can they then do?
- His authority is given to His disciples.
- They then have the authority to do the physical works of healing and deliverance that Jesus had been doing.
- They also can preach His word with authority.
- They pronounce blessings and curses.
- Who is Jesus sending them out to?
- His lost sheep, the Jews.
- Does Jesus promise “blessing” the way the American church tends to see it?
- No, they are promised problems basically. They are promised persecution.
- What promises do they have?
- That when they are arrested, the Spirit will speak for them.
- That they will be beaten.
- That they will be hated.
- The disciples’ job through all that is to not fear and to endure.
- Read Matthew 10:26-end.
- The disciples are told to fear God. When Jesus tells them that, how does He describe God?
- as able to destroy body and soul in hell
- What is the promise to those who don’t fear Him but deny Him?
- God will deny them (“Lord, Lord” — “I never knew you.”)
- The point isn’t fear, but the overarching command to not fear! He uses the sparrow and our hair to show how tenderly and specifically He cares for them. What does it show us about our good Father?
- He knows us intimately: the number of hairs on our heads (which by the way, changes all the time!).
- He’s not unaware of any trouble we are facing. Nothing can happen to us that would catch Him off guard.
- Jesus came to bring a sword. What does that show us about God?
- He’s not just sitting on a cloud playing a harp.
- Being a Christian means dying. Jesus says that we find Life by giving up our life. We do that by “taking up our cross” each day and choosing to die to ourselves. We don’t live for ourselves. We live for God and others.
- Jesus is our one faithful friend. Jesus is the one we can trust no matter what.
- Jesus doesn’t want His body divided, but He wants His body divided from all other loyalties, even those as close and as important as the bond of a family.
- Read Matthew 11:1-19, John the Baptist.
- How do we know that John the Baptist knew who Jesus was?
- He saw the Holy Spirit descend like a dove on Jesus and heard the voice of heaven calling Jesus His beloved Son. John the Baptist announced Jesus as God’s chosen one, telling others that He was the Lamb of God who was going to take away the sins of the world.
- And yet, here he is asking if Jesus really was the Messiah. God can handle the questioning. We see it in places like Psalms and in the Prophets, like in Habakkuk for example. Realize what persecution can do to a man. We see a different result in Acts when those filled with the Spirit are thrown in prison. They don’t turn to questioning, but to praise!
- While we can question God as humans with limited understanding, it’s not healthy to stay there. Jesus points John in the right direction, to Scripture. The answer is there. It’s always there.
- He points John to Scripture, describing the righteous acts He’s performing. We look at what He’s done to see who He is. That’s what we’re trying to do with studying Matthew!
- If you start with questioning, you need to end with praise. Know who He is and praise Him for it.
- Verses 18 and 19 show the judgment of others towards John and Jesus. They were doing opposite things, but they were both accused of doing wrong. God’s people will be misunderstood, judged, persecuted. But, also, I’d like to point out that God’s way of living doesn’t just look like one thing! They were doing opposite things, but both squarely in the will of God.
- Read Matthew 11:20-end.
- Has your nation repented of its sins and turned to God? Stop and confess the sins of your nation. Pray for a national turning to God. Without it, a nation faces “sorrows.”
- Then pray and give your burdens to the Lord. Let Him carry them. He has given you the gift of revealing the Father to you. May you continue to get to know Him, with more and more of His character, nature, and authority being revealed to you day by day as you seek Him and put Him first.
- Read Matthew 12:1-14, the Sabbath.
- Men try to condemn others for not following their interpretations of the law. What is it that God desires, not condemnation but what?
- He wants us to show mercy.
- What does it mean to show mercy?
- Let your heart go out to others. Instead of judging others for thinking differently than you, love them. Let your heart go out to them to see their perspective. Pray for them for truth to break through. If you feel the need to share truth, share it out of love, not “rightness.” Love is the measure of a Christian, not how “right” you are about things.
- This goes right back to treating others the way you want to be treated.
- Read Matthew 12:15-21, God’s Chosen Servant.
- What is God after? What do these verses say He’s bringing about?
- What is God’s justice? What is He bringing justice for?
- While God has inspired His people to fight for many social justice causes because He loves people and His people love people, His ultimate act of justice will be putting Satan in his eternal prison and doing away with death and everything tied to it (sin, sickness, destruction, etc.)
- Read Matthew 12:22-end.
- There is another reference here to the good and bad tree. Verse 34 gives us one way to know if a tree is good or bad. What is it?
- We can see what’s in someone’s heart by what they say.
- It is followed by a warning about our words. What is it?
- We will be judged by our words.
- The Pharisees want proof that Jesus has authority, as if He hasn’t already proven Himself! Their demand is similar to Satan’s pushing Jesus to prove Himself during the temptation.
- Verse 45 describes the compounding of evil in those who don’t fill themselves with God and His Word. Be filled with the Spirit; make your heart and your tree good!
- Who is in God’s family?
- Those who do God’s will.
- Read Matthew 13:1-30, parables of the farmer.
- What can we learn about God from this first section?
- Jesus spoke in parables so that not everyone would understand. Only some are listening and can understand. Again, He’s not forcing anything on anyone. His disciples seek understanding from Him.
- He spreads His Word far and wide, but many/most reject it, if not right away, then eventually.
- He allows false Christians to be in the church. Paul says the division between Christians shows who is genuine.
- Read Matthew 13:31-end.
- What can we learn about God?
- He will separate out the righteous and unrighteous. There will be a judgment. There will be an eternal distinction between the two groups. One is destroyed. One shines!
- What does He want to get rid of?
- all that causes sin and everyone who does evil
- Read Matthew 14:1-12, John the Baptist’s death.
- What can we learn about God from this passage?
- He allows His servants to be imprisoned and killed. That’s not a bad ending for a servant of the living God!
- God protects His children, but He also has purpose in and through our lives. Even His Son was arrested and killed. However, people had wanted to kill Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry and they couldn’t. They couldn’t until it was fulfilling Jesus’ purpose and destiny, fulfilling God’s good plan.
- Read Matthew 14:13-21, Feeding the Five Thousand.
- What can we learn about God from this passage?
- He has compassion on people.
- I think He fed the people as much for the disciples’ sake as He did for the people. He wanted them to see something. What did they see?
- God provides. God can provide. There’s no such thing as too much or too many for God to be able to take care of. God takes our little and produces much.
- You can’t out give God. This is a picture of God’s economy. You give and you receive more back. They end up with more than they started with. But also realize that once they first placed the fish and bread in Jesus’ hands, they had nothing at that point, nothing but hope in Christ, which is more than enough.
- Read Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus Walks on Water.
- What do you learn about God from this passage?
- He sends the disciples out into the water alone. He knows it’s going to be rough. He wants them to see how He can meet their any need.
- He has power over the laws of physics. He created the laws. He can break them at will. They are subject to Him.
- He can make the impossible possible for us.
- We can call out to Jesus even when our faith is failing us. He doesn’t abandon us when we are struggling with faith. He doesn’t require us to save ourselves. He’s there to rescue us when we call out to Him.
- Read Matthew 14:34-end.
- In this last little part, it mentions people begging to touch the bottom of His robe, and they are all healed as they do that. Why does God allow them to do that? Why doesn’t He just pronounce them all healed and send them home? It seems like that would be a human inclination to do.
- He meets people where their faith is. Their faith was in touching His robe. Maybe the story got around about the woman who touched His robe. People love following methods. It’s not methods that save us. They had faith to pursue Jesus and were healed. The problem comes in when people put faith in a method, a work to do to “earn” their salvation, to get their healing or whatever they are after instead of being after the One their full faith should be in.
- Read Matthew 15:1-20.
- What can we learn about God from this passage?
- He rejects worship that doesn’t come from a pure heart.
- He rejects offerings that don’t come from a pure heart.
- He rejects words that don’t come from a pure heart.
- He cares about you honoring father and mother!
- Read Matthew 15:21-31.
- What can we learn about God?
- While His first and foremost intention has been and always will be to save Israel, He loves people. His Word stands true for all people.
- He healed everyone! If there ever came a time when you couldn’t go to a doctor, you’ll have Jesus.
- We saw so many healings in our small church among the poor, oppressed Roma population of Macedonia. Time after time it was the same story. Someone needed surgery. They would come to us for money because they couldn’t afford the surgery. We’d say, “Let’s pray.” The church would gather and we’d pray all together. And they were healed. Ovarian cysts, eyes, throats, a broken arm. A toddler girl was supposed to never walk. A baby boy wasn’t supposed to live. A woman was healed of cancer. They were all healed. They needed God. They didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
- Read Matthew 15:32-end.
- Jesus has compassion on the crowd again. The disciples haven’t learned the lesson. Like our little Roma church, they hadn’t made the jump to their first thought being to just trust Jesus.
- This is a very similar story to the feeding of the five thousand. Again, they give what little they have and end up with more than they started with.
- How much did the people get to eat? What does that teach us about God and how He cares for His children?
- Everyone ate as much as they wanted.
- Trusting Jesus to provide is not about being poor and scraping by! He provides abundantly. He satisfies. The important thing is our hearts. We seek Him, not the stuff. We offer everything He gives us back to Him. We keep our hearts pure and free of selfishness. We love and enjoy Him and His good gifts.
- I just want to interject something here. I want you to know that God is a good Father. He can and will meet your needs! We (at least I know this is true in America) work really hard at not needing God. How many kinds of insurances are there? He may bring you (or all of us) to the point of really, truly needing Him. That’s not a bad place to be in. That’s certainly not a sad or dangerous or desperate place to be in. It can be a very exciting place to be! A number of years ago our family purposefully (following God’s leading) gave up all income, including raising support, and stepped out onto the water and let God provide for us. We lived off of miracles for a year and a half (with never any debt). Then the Lord provided the perfect part-time job that would cover costs and allow us to set our own hours and such so that it didn’t interfere with ministry. We always believed we went through that on purpose so that when others were thrown into that position, we would be able to tell them that the Lord reigns! He provides! His love for you cannot fail.
- It was during that time in our lives that I wrote The King Will Make a Way: An End Times Story for the Last Days Saint. It’s a story to encourage people to never fear and to live wholly for the King! (You can find the PDF in Reading 7 on allinonehomeschool.com.)
- Read Matthew 16:1-12.
- What do we see in Jesus here?
- frustration, it would seem
- He’s calling their generation evil.
- He asks, “Why can’t you understand?”
- Faith pleases God. Demanding from Him and ignoring everything He’s shown you and that you already know of Him, does not please Him.
- Again, Jesus doesn’t just spell it out and say to watch out for the deceptive teaching of the religious leaders. He speaks and prods and questions to get people to realize, to discover for themselves, to have it dawn on them.
- Why do we need to be watchful about the teachings of religious leaders, even those who know the Bible seemingly best of all?
- We see here how the disciples completely misinterpret Jesus’ words. Without the Holy Spirit giving us revelation, we can completely miss what Jesus is saying to us.
- On the other hand, those who just want to report what they hear from spirits can obviously miss what Jesus is saying because they aren’t starting with Jesus’ words at all.
- Read Matthew 16:13-23.
- Peter is called both blessed and Satan in this section. What was the cause of each?
- He was given the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah. Understanding of the mysteries of God is a gift from God, a gift He freely gives.
- Jesus rebukes Peter for having the thoughts of man. He’s speaking his human wisdom and with it trying to control Jesus. The wisdom of man is foolishness to God. Not the way to go!
- How often do people pray trying to micromanage God into following their human wisdom about what they think is best in a situation?
- Read Matthew 16:24-end.
- Here’s the crux of the Christian life: death to self to have life in Christ.
- What does it mean to give up your life to save it and to lose your life by hanging onto it?
- This can mean lots of little decisions each day to put others first.
- A selfish heart seeks after its own, defends itself, satisfies itself without thought of what it’s taking from others. It’s an unloving heart that will kill you from the inside out. It can only give small moments of pleasure, but it will lead to your death and destruction on earth and in eternity.
- But this can also be a big decision to lay down your life for Christ. It can mean losing your job because of your faith. It could mean going to prison for being a follower of Christ. It can mean being killed because you are a follower of Christ.
- Each day practice laying down your life in the little things, and God will make sure you are ready to lay down your life in the big things if He brings you to that place.
- This can also mean laying down your “rights” as an American (or whatever your earthly citizenship is). We are first and foremost citizens of heaven. We must choose love of God and love of others over everything else. (To love God is to obey Him. To love Him and others is the summing up of everything we’re commanded to do.)
- Read Matthew 17:1-13.
- What do we learn about God from this passage?
- I’m sure there’s a lot I’m not even considering.
- We do see God’s glory, meaning a little glimpse of His worthiness to receive glory and honor and praise, His worthiness to be worshiped. (The word worship is really referring to bowing down. It can be physical or a bowing of spirit, humbling yourself before Him, recognizing His authority and greatness!)
- We see God taking pleasure in His Son. (If you are in Christ, you no longer live but Christ lives in you. When God looks at you, He sees His beloved Son and is filled with joy.)
- Jesus didn’t really have what you’d call close friends on earth. He couldn’t really share a heart to heart with anyone. When He shared with His disciples, they didn’t get what He was talking about. I like the thought of God providing this gift, a chance to talk to friends, of Jesus getting to talk to some people who understood what was about to happen and who understood its significance.
- Read Matthew 17:14-21.
- Jesus heals the boy, so we know it was God’s will to heal the boy.
- Were the disciples able to heal the boy?
- Was it God’s will to heal the boy?
- Why wasn’t the boy healed when they tried?
- Did Jesus fast and pray at that moment before healing the boy?
- I’m prodding you here a little. It was God’s will to heal. The boy was healed. Jesus healed him. But even though it was God’s will to heal, the disciples couldn’t do it.
- My guess is that the boy was thrown into a seizure when they tried, maybe before/during/after, and it kept them from being able to believe that the boy was healed because they could see the problem so clearly instead of seeing clearly God’s will, ability, nature, and authority. Their vision got clouded, got distracted. (Mark’s gospel records the boy being thrown into a fit when he’s brought to Jesus and then again after He commands it out.)
- God doesn’t tell the disciples to get more power or something. Just to believe Him. We can believe in Him more as we get to know Him better.
- Jesus says this kind comes out with prayer and fasting. Jesus didn’t stop and go on a fast and come back. Jesus was prepared. He always had His eyes on His Father.
- He was always in prayer. He regularly spent the whole night in prayer.
- We don’t know much about Jesus fasting, but we know His life was a demonstration of “fasting.” Jesus’ life made Him always connected to God, giving Him a clear vision of who the Father is and what He was doing.
- The verse about prayer and fasting doesn’t appear here in Matthew in all translations. It appears in Mark’s version of the events, though. Some translations say prayer. Some say prayer and fasting. We can get the same principle either way.
- Read Matthew 17:22-end.
- What do we see in Jesus in the tax scene? What do we learn about God?
- Jesus says He has no need to pay the tax; in a way, that it’s His right to not pay the tax. But He doesn’t demand His right. He chooses to not “offend.” He obliges the demand.
- Note that God provides the money even for this thing that He doesn’t believe is really right. He provides extra money for it.
- Money can grow on trees if God declares it so!
- Read Matthew 18:1-10. Other translations add verse 11, “For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.”
- There are two parts to this: becoming like a child and welcoming a child, and an expectation of hell for those tempting others to sin.
- Let’s start with the good part.
- What does Jesus say is necessary in order to get into the Kingdom of Heaven and what does it tell us about God? (We’ve got to keep our focus on Him! It’s very easy to get our focus back on ourselves!)
- We need turn from our sins and become like children.
- The Greek doesn’t have the word sin specifically there. It says we must “convert” or “turn back,” “turn around,” “reverse direction.” It’s the conversion process, which involves repenting of your sins. It’s the changing of your mind about yourself and God. It’s the choice you make knowing you don’t want to live your life your way. You see the fruitlessness of it. You want to turn your life over to God and live His way. You confess your sins and ask for forgiveness. You ask for the good gift of His Holy Spirit to fill you and make all things new. You become a new person. You should be different after you are a Christian! You shouldn’t be able to just continue on with life as usual.
- The other part is becoming like children.
- In verse four it says be humble like this little child.
- In verse six it says these little children trust Him.
- I think those give us some instruction on the meaning of becoming like a child.
- We have to humble ourselves. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t work our way to salvation. We can’t do everything right. We can’t make all the right choices. We have sinned and have fallen short. We have to be humble and confess our sin and our need of God.
- We have to trust God. We have to literally put our lives in His hands. I like to pray this little prayer as I’m just first opening my eyes in the morning. I learned it in a children’s sermon a long time ago. “Good morning, Lord. This is Your day. I am Your child. Show me Your way.” Put your hopes, dreams, decisions, choices, days, moments, conversations, daily habits, relationships, and more and more and everything into His hands. Let go of it all and give it to His control. Choose to live His plans and purposes.
- We need turn from our sins and become like children.
- We read here another description of who will face “woe” or “sorrow.” Those who tempt others to sin.
- The person who sins is still at fault. No one made them sin. But, the tempter is still at fault. Their hearts aren’t right before God. A woman dressing to get a man’s eye to make him “want” her is one example, as would be someone tempting others to cheat or lie. They are tempters and are guilty. Those who say, “Don’t worry, just do it; God will forgive you,” are guilty.
- Our job is to encourage each other: to trust God, to love others, to do good works.
- God cares about us. He doesn’t want others to put us in harm’s way by tempting us. He makes that as serious a crime as the sin itself.
- One last thing is that Jesus welcomed the children to Himself. He says to not look down on them. Believe that children can understand and come to Christ!
- The point of this whole section was to answer, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Of course, Jesus is the greatest! To ask is to show you are missing the Kingdom!
- Read Matthew 18:12-14.
- What do we learn about God from the lost sheep story?
- He cares about each and every one.
- He doesn’t want to see anyone die without knowing Him.
- Read Matthew 18:15-end.
- We read about church discipline, to the point of shunning someone, and then we read about the unmerciful servant. I think they need to be read together in context.
- What’s the moral of the last story? Look at the last verse that sums up the lesson.
- We need to forgive each other.
- In the church discipline section, we read about someone who sinned against you. Believers have to forgive that person. Church discipline isn’t about you getting justice. It’s about saving the sinner and protecting the church from the “yeast” of sin.
- The point of “shunning” is to wake the person up to the seriousness of the sin and bring them to repentance in order to welcome them back. You have to have forgiven them so that you can welcome the person back.
- If you were the one sinned against, you have to forgive. You should do that first. Then decide if any other steps are necessary out of love for others, not yourself. Maybe it’s just a case of bearing with one another.
- Read Matthew 19:1-12, marriage.
- What does it teach us about God?
- He created us male and female. It’s how He designed life to continue life.
- At the same time, He says marriage isn’t for everyone. He basically encourages (as Paul does later) singleness, but at the same time says that He helps some accept that as His choice for them.
- We learn later in Scripture that marriage is an image of the believer (or of believers as the one Body of Christ) and Christ, an image of the oneness, the unity, the intimacy of two becoming one. That is why divorce is so against God’s heart. He will never leave nor forsake His bride. He loves Her completely. While He would never forsake His vow and turn away, He does allow us to reject Him, deny Him. (We saw in the parables how there are some who receive God’s word with joy and then fall away. We don’t have to have any fear of that happening to us as long as we choose to remain in Him.)
- Read Matthew 19:13-end.
- What can we learn about God?
- He values the least of these. He values children. He values those of lowly status in this world.
- He made it impossible for us to save ourselves. It is impossible for any of us to be saved apart from Christ. But with Him, all things are possible!
- He sees our sacrifice. It’s not that He’s keeping score, but He certainly knows the abundance He has available to give each of us, now and for eternity. He knows it’s more than worth it.
- Read Matthew 20:1-16, the vineyard workers.
- What can we learn about God?
- He’s generous.
- He’s kind.
- He doesn’t value our work the way we might look at it. In the story every was worth the same. He values the workers, not the work done for Him.
- We don’t earn anything from God. Being a Christian longer doesn’t make anyone better.
- Those who got to work all day had the gift of working all day.
- Those who didn’t get hired until the end of the day had to suffer the rejection of not being chosen and maybe were worried about feeding their families that day.
- God likes to flip flop the world’s view of things. In the Old Testament we see Him choosing the least, the youngest, etc. Jesus was not good looking. Here He says the first is last and the last is first.
- Read Matthew 20:17-28.
- Here’s the first and last concept again. He who wants to be first must be what?
- a slave
- What did Jesus come to do?
- to serve
- to give His life
- Anytime we are upset that we aren’t being served, we aren’t being like Jesus.
- Read Matthew 20:29-end.
- Again Jesus shows mercy; He has compassion. He asks what they want. He gives the good gift of Himself. Don’t be the religious people shushing those calling out for Jesus!
- Read Matthew 21:1-17, the triumphal entry and clearing the temple.
- What do we see about Jesus in these stories? What do we see of our good Father?
- Everything has been arranged. Not only is the colt waiting, but the owner is eager to give it to Jesus. God sees all, knows all, and has all under control. Was the colt owner someone Jesus had healed? We don’t know. But his heart had been prepared to release what he had to Jesus.
- Prophecy is fulfilled on many levels. God’s word is shown to be true.
- Jesus is praised. Kids praise Jesus. He is honored. People know who He is. He’s being called Son of David, the long awaited Messiah, the King of the Jews.
- Read Matthew 21:18-27, the fig tree and authority challenged.
- What do we learn about Jesus and His good Father?
- These sections are about God’s authority.
- He has authority over everything. He doesn’t have to prove it to anyone.
- He expects His disciples to pray with authority as well.
- Read Matthew 21:28-32, the two sons.
- Who does God consider to be His obedient children?
- Those who actually do what He says.
- Read Matthew 21:33-end, the evil farmers.
- This is a parable against the leaders of the Jews who time and again turned against God’s prophets. The Jewish leadership of that time was against Jesus and was about to cause His death. Jesus says the Kingdom of God will be taken away from Israel and given to another. After His resurrection, the apostles start with the Jews but then spread the Gospel everywhere. God hasn’t given up on Israel. Israel is and always will be His people. He has done all this for them. He is even opening the gospel to the Gentiles, in part for the people of Israel! He will turn the nation back to Himself and rule there. In the meantime, every believer gets to become part of Israel.
- Read Matthew 22:1-14, the great feast.
- This is in some ways similar to the story of the evil farmers. The Jews reject Jesus and the gospel is sent far and wide. Then it is reminiscent of some of those parables like the net of fish where they are all collected and bad ones discarded.
- What do we learn about God from this story?
- It reminds me of this verse: “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22)
- He invites and welcomes everyone – the kindness of God!
- Many reject Him outright. Others accept the invitation, but don’t take it seriously.
- This is one of the “Both-And” mysteries of God. He calls everyone. People make choices. Those who accepted the invitation and prepared themselves to join in the wedding party are called “chosen” as if they were handpicked.
- Whenever there are staunchly opposed camps arguing this or that side, each armed with their verses, often it can be seen as “Both And,” a balancing act of the fullness of Scripture and the mystery of God’s ways. Jesus is the narrow way. You can’t go too far this way or that or you get off the narrow way.
- Our goal is to remain in Christ, not hold onto our denominational beliefs. If we are abiding in Christ we are on the right path, and we will be at the party! Jesus not only leads the way to the Father; He IS the way itself!
- Read Matthew 22:15-33, taxes and resurrection.
- Here we see the religious people frustrating Jesus again. They are trying so hard to be right that they are missing God entirely. We need to humble ourselves and remember that our goal isn’t being right but loving God and others.
- How does Jesus describe God in verse 32 (the very end)?
- He is the God of the living.
- In Christ we have eternal life. We will never die. He will be our God forever.
- Read Matthew 22:34-end, the most important commandment and the Messiah.
- Here we have a repetition of the teaching that the law and the prophets is summed up in these two laws. What are they?
- Love God. Love others.
- Christianity is simple. Not a lot to remember here.
- Jesus then teaches that the Son of David is more than just an earthly descendant of David. Jesus will not be an earthly king like they imagine.
- Read Matthew 23:1-36.
- What do we learn about our good Father? How does He feel about religious acts?
- God hates a hypocrite. He couldn’t care less about doing all the right things. He cares about a right heart. Now, a right heart will produce right things (think good tree = good fruit). There’s no such thing as having a right heart and living a life full of sin contrary to God’s law.
- A hypocrite is a play actor. They are one thing but pretend to be another.
- This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:18, “Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.”
- If you feel like a hypocrite, confess and give your heart to God to transform.
- Read Matthew 23:37-end.
- What are they missing out on? How does He feel about His people Israel?
- Jesus gives the description of a mother hen wanting to gather her chicks under her wings. It’s a cozy picture, safe and warm. That’s God’s desire for His people. His heart is to hold them close, watch over them, protect them, care for them.
- Read Matthew 24:1-28. Let’s try to read this chapter and just read the Scripture and believe what it says and not bring in outside teachings.
- God is bringing about His Kingdom on earth. Jesus will reign on earth. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth where Christ will reign forever. When it’s talking about “birth pains,” He’s referring to bringing forth this new, eternal kingdom on earth.
- What do we learn about God?
- He promises war, earthquakes, and famines.
- He doesn’t want us afraid of those things! He wants us to know that even those things are part of what’s happening in His grand plan to bring about His kingdom.
- He promises that His followers will be persecuted, arrested, hated, and killed. Millions of Christians have been killed for their faith. The number of countries where it is extremely dangerous for Christians is growing.
- He promises the one who endures will be saved; that’s not a promise for those who turn away, betray believers, or fall into sin, letting their love grow cold.
- He promises His Word will go to all nations and that the end WILL come, even to the point of shortening the time. (Any woman who has given birth naturally feels there is comfort in knowing this will not last forever.)
- He warns His people. Nothing that will happen should be a surprise. He’s been warning His people for thousands of years.
- This sounds like a description of the last days Great Tribulation, where we are told the world will be at war with the saints of God. This chapter on another level is a prophecy of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
- Read Matthew 24:29-end. This is a description of the second coming of Christ.
- God’s power and majesty are on display. There will be two groups of people. The elect are gathered together to Christ. The rest mourn.
- In verse 29, we are told this will happen immediately after the tribulation.
- God wants us to be prepared. We are told it will be like the days of Noah. Noah was prepared. The rest were taken away by God’s wrath.
- In a similar way, His coming is described like a thief coming in the night and the master catching His lazy servant not doing what he was supposed to be doing. These are warnings to the unbeliever. A thief is a bad thing. Jesus isn’t coming as a thief for His believers. 1 Thessalonians 5:4 tells us that we won’t be surprised by a thief in the night. We’re to be the sensible servant doing what we should be doing!
- Read Matthew 25:1-13, the bridesmaids.
- If Jesus is the groom, what can we learn about God?
- This is more imagery of being prepared and not being left out of the marriage feast.
- God will say, “I never knew you,” to some who say, “Lord, Lord.”
- That, I think, goes back to His heart toward the hypocrite. On the outside, they go through the motions, but they have no love relationship with God in their heart. If you have no private prayer or worship life, if it’s just something you do when others are watching, you need to pay with your life, laying it down, and receive the oil of His Spirit for yourself.
- Apart from the end-time discussion, we never know the hour or day we will die and meet Jesus. We always should be ready. But more than that, we should love Jesus for His sake, not just trying to save ourselves. Then there is no concern!
- Read Matthew 25:14-30, the three servants.
- From the end of the story, what do we learn about God?
- He demands of us.
- He has given to us and asks that we use what we’ve been given for His good purposes.
- He rewards faithful servants.
- Read Matthew 25:31-end.
- What do we learn about our Father?
- He will be our ultimate judge who determines our eternity.
- The people being judged both act like they don’t know what He’s talking about. I think this goes back to the good and bad tree. The good tree produces good fruit. It just does. An apple tree doesn’t work really hard trying to produce apples instead of pears. It just naturally produces apples. A good tree WILL produce good fruit. This isn’t us working for our salvation; this is salvation working in us.
- Jesus didn’t come to get us to heaven. He came to get heaven in us (so to speak).
- Read Matthew 26:1-5, the plot.
- We see a conspiracy afoot. There is backroom planning on how to kill Jesus. When the Bible tells us not to call all things conspiracy that the world calls conspiracy, it’s not because conspiracies don’t exist! There is conspiring in this chapter.
- But what else do we see? Who has really done the planning?
- Jesus has known and has been telling his disciples that He is going to be killed, even that He will be crucified and that it will happen on Passover. He knew it long before the Pharisees even started their plotting.
- There is a human level of conspiracy. They may think they are doing a good thing, or they may know they are plotting evil. Then there’s a spiritual level of conspiracy. Satan works through people too. We’ll see this soon with Judas. Satan uses his demons to plant ideas. He knows human nature, but God know his nature. He steals, kills, destroys. Satan is predictable and uncreative. God uses him to pull off the ultimate victory! So at a final level, God is in control of it all and is using it all for His divine purposes, for our good and His glory!
- The point of the Isaiah verse about conspiracies is to not fear. Why should we fear their backroom plotting when it’s our good Father Who’s really in control?
- Read Matthew 26:6-16, the anointing and Judas.
- Here’s another example of something looking good on the outside but not being pleasing to God. In John’s gospel, we read that Judas was the one who said the money could have been given to the poor. It says that he said it not because he cared but because he used to steal the money. His hypocrisy continues to harden his heart further and further away from God, even though he was sitting in the room with him!
- Read Matthew 26:17-35, the last supper, denial prediction.
- God has prepared a place for the last supper. He instructs the disciples to say to the man, “The time has come…” What had God revealed to that man? What joy to be the one who gets to provide for the Lord and His disciples in these simple ways.
- Jesus predicts betrayal and denial. What do we learn about God through these scenes?
- Jesus probably knew when He picked Judas that he would be his betrayer. He certainly knew on this evening that he was, and yet Jesus welcomed him at his table and shared a meal together with him, an act that cements people like family in some cultures.
- Jesus knows Peter will deny Him. He’s not swayed by Peter’s grand proclamations. Yet, He loves Peter. He doesn’t berate him or belittle him. His heart is towards Peter, not Himself. He knows Peter’s denial will be much harder on Peter than on Him. I’m sure coming through that is what establishes Peter as the “rock” of the new church to come. He will never forget his human weakness and rely on himself.
- The act of communion is established here. What does that show us about God?
- He wants us to remember His covenant, His promises. How easily we see His people forgetting what He’s done for them. He doesn’t want that to happen to His church.
- Read Matthew 26:36-end.
- We see the weakness of humans. We see the strength of Christ, God in the flesh. He surrenders His life. He doesn’t have to be arrested and killed. He could escape if He wanted to. But that’s not His real desire. He loves God. He loves others. He doesn’t love His own life so as to shrink away from death. He even loves His enemies. We read in Luke’s gospel how He heals the servant’s ear after one of His disciples cuts it off.
- He doesn’t defend Himself. He could have flipped them out by telling them things He couldn’t have known as they were slapping Him and daring Him to prophecy. He remains silent. He wasn’t trying to save Himself. His desire wasn’t to save Himself but to save you.
- Read Matthew 27:1-26.
- Pilate believed Jesus was innocent and knew Jesus hadn’t committed a crime against Rome deserving of death. Yet, none of that mattered. Why?
- God’s purposes had to be fulfilled. Those who killed Him were still guilty. They carried out their sinful plans.
- But, still, it had to happen. It’s one of those “both-and” mysteries of God.
- Read Matthew 27:27-44. Jesus is crucified.
- The true King of the Jews is mocked. He doesn’t defend Himself. Could you stand up under that? Could you not defend yourself? Could you remain with a heart of love towards others acting in utter ignorance? Where is your heart towards others?
- Read Matthew 27:45-end. Jesus dies.
- There’s a gut-wrenching cry of, “God, why did you abandon me,” fulfilling yet another of a multitude of prophecies, most of which we’ve not even mentioned. Jesus isn’t killed; He releases His spirit. He laid down His life. It wasn’t taken from Him.
- The sky turns dark. The temple curtain is torn! There is an earthquake. There’s a resurrection of many godly men and women! What do we see of God here?
- We see God’s glory! So many things are happening.
- He displays His power over all creation with darkening the sun and shaking the earth. If the dark sun was a solar eclipse, just think how God would have set that in motion thousands of years earlier for that precise hour.
- The resurrection shows the power of what Christ just accomplished! Victory over death! His resurrection is still to come, but the victory over death was won at the cross.
- The temple veil is torn. There’s a lot of significance there, but the point is that Jesus opened the way to the Father. The holy place behind the veil was only for the high priest to enter once a year. If the priest hadn’t followed all the purifying rituals before he entered, he would die when he set foot in there. Now, we all have access to the Father! We don’t have to fear like Esther, who even feared her own husband because no one was allowed to just go and talk to the king. You could be killed just for trying. We can approach the throne with confidence! The blood of Christ cleans us and gives us access to the Father. By the blood of Christ we become God’s children are welcomed into God’s family!
- Read Matthew 28:1-15.
- What do we see of God here?
- He lets women be the first to know the good news of Christ’s resurrection. They believe more readily than the men do when they hear the news later on.
- He sends angels to earth.
- Angels produce fear when people see them. (They aren’t chubby babies with wings.) However, the guards faint and the women are encouraged to not fear.
- God’s right about everything. That story is still told today. I’ve heard it from a Jewish friend, even though it makes no sense at all. How could the guards know what happened while they were sleeping?
- Read Matthew 28:16-20.
- What do we learn of our Good Father?
- Read John 1:1-17.
- Who gave you life?
- Jesus, the Word
- What is the job of that life?
- To shine in the darkness
- Who would want to extinguish the light?
- Jesus is the light for everyone.
- What right does He give to us, to those who believe?
- To become children of God
- Why should it be incredibly easy to trust in Jesus and God? (Hint: verse 14, 17)
- He is unfailing in His love and faithfulness.
- How can we know God?
- Jesus revealed Him to us.
- God’s blessings are for us and are abundant! (vs. 16)
- Satan’s desire has always been to kill. Woman’s seed was going to destroy him. He wanted people dead to stop that from happening. He wanted the babies dead around the time of Moses to stop the deliverance of the Israelites. He succeeded in killing a lot of kids, but he wasn’t able to stop God’s plan. He missed Moses. He wanted all the babies dead when Jesus was born. He was trying to kill the Son of God. He was in trouble. He succeeded in killing, but he failed to kill Jesus. God’s plan wasn’t hindered. Around the time America was legalizing abortion, it was being legalized in much of Europe as well. Legalized abortion started in the communist Soviet Union. Why did abortion start to be legalized in the 1970s? Who is Satan trying to kill now? What is with this generation that we are living in now? What does Satan realize?
- Read John 1:19-end. “The Testimony of John the Baptist”
- What are the names Jesus is called and ways He is described in the baptism scene?
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
far greater than I am
he existed long before me
revealed to Israel
the Holy Spirit descended like a dove from heaven and rested upon him
the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit
the Chosen One of God
- Read John 2:1-12. “The Wedding at Cana”
- Is Jesus doing what He’s supposed to do?
- Jesus obeys His mother. It almost sounds like He disobeys His Father to obey His mother, saying, “It’s not my time yet,” but He is obeying God’s command to honor and obey His mother. He wouldn’t have done it if it had been sin for Him to do it.
- I love this miracle of doing something seemingly unimportant, but really important to the parents throwing the party. If it’s important to you, it’s not insignificant to God.
- Read John 2:13-end. “Jesus Clears the Temple”
- What angered Jesus?
- They were turning His temple into a marketplace. These were people making money off of people needing to make a sacrifice at the temple. Supposedly, they were doing this in the outer court which was the area given to the non-Jews to worship, making the money the focus of an area that should have been devoted to prayer and worship.
- I wonder what God thinks of the cafes and bookstores in some churches.
- What do you make of verse 24 about Jesus not trusting people? It says He didn’t trust people. Other translations include: didn’t commit Himself to people and He didn’t entrust Himself to people. What can we learn and imitate about that?
- We love others. Love is selfless. We don’t need anything back from the person we are loving. It’s not that we aren’t to ever trust anyone or believe what they say, but we aren’t to put our trust in them like we put our trust in Christ. We don’t rely on them. We don’t need anything from them for us to be okay. We have friendship in Christ. We have provision in Christ, etc. We have everything we need in for life and godliness in Christ Jesus. We only need Jesus. Our Good Father meets our every need. We don’t need to rely on humans. They will fail. God will never fail. Love never fails.
- Read John 3:1-21.
- Why does Nicodemus believe that Jesus is from God?
- all of His miraculous signs
- How can we see the Kingdom of God?
- be born again, by water and the Spirit
- Who has eternal life?
- those who believe
- How did God show love to the world?
- gave His Son
- Jesus came to save the world, but He did not come to do what?
- There is no judgment for whom?
- those who believe
- Who is already judged?
- those who don’t believe in Jesus
- People show their hearts by either being drawn or repelled by the light, by Jesus. Satan wants you to stay in the darkness. He wants you to hide your sin struggles or thought struggles. He wants to keep you in darkness. Freedom comes from bringing those things to the light, bringing them to Christ and confessing them. If you are struggling, confess your struggle to an elder who can pray for you. We don’t need sympathy or counseling. We need the truth of God’s word, the Truth, the Word, Jesus.
- Read John 3:22-end.
- What should thrill us? (like it filled John with joy)
- The success of Christ
- We shouldn’t seek our own success, but Christ’s. We shouldn’t seek our name being recognized, but the name of Jesus. When another believer is used by God to God’s glory, we should rejoice. When another believer is given an upfront ministry, we rejoice that we get to serve behind the scenes, etc.
- What is put into Christ’s hands?
- In verse 36, what is contrasted with believing?
- not obeying
- Obeying and believing are the same thing. If you believe in Jesus and God’s word, then you would obey what it says. Not obeying is proving you don’t really believe.
- Jesus is greater than anyone else (“above all” in KJV, NASB). He is given the Spirit without limit. He is loved by God. Everything is put in His hands. And He is in you. You no longer live but Christ lives in you. You are in position above all. You receive the Spirit without limit. You are loved by God. All things are put in your hands. (Think about this when it comes to our high position in Christ. All things are under His feet and He is the head of the body. We are the body. We are the feet!)
- Read John 4:1-26.
- Why do you think Jesus chose that woman to share with?
- I always think God can do a million things at once. He’s not at all limited to one reason. I think there was a lesson for His disciples in speaking with a Samaritan, and also a lesson for us in Jesus sharing His life with a Samaritan, a woman, and a woman with a “reputation” at that. But there were many Samaritans and many women, I think it’s because He sees what’s in her heart. What was on her mind? What is the first thing she asks when she realizes she’s speaking to the Messiah? She’s not focused on herself. She asks about worship. Is our worship acceptable? Why do you Jews say it’s not?
- What does God want in His worshippers?
- Jesus says that true worshippers will worship in Spirit and Truth.
- What do you think it means to worship in Spirit and in Truth?
- We are told we need to worship that way because God is spirit. He’s not flesh, so the physical place isn’t where He’s at. We don’t need to go somewhere or do some physical work to worship. Worship has to do with bowing down, to humble ourselves before God, to recognize His place and our place. True and proper worship is defined in Romans 12:1, calling offering ourselves as a living sacrifice as proper worship.
- Read John 4:27-end.
- A government official believes Jesus can heal his son. And, Jesus does heal him. If he was a government official, what was his nationality probably?
- Roman, not Jewish
- The disciples don’t dare ask why Jesus is breaking all the rules and speaking with a woman and speaking with a Samaritan. The Samaritans were half-Jews. They were the descendants of Jews who married those of other nationalities. They were despised by the Jews and avoided. They become among the first believers in Jesus. They are quick to accept the Messiah who accepts them. There is no record of any miracle being done, apart from the prophetic insight into the woman’s life.
- Why do the Samaritans believe Jesus is the Savior?
- because they heard Him
- This is in contrast to those Jesus speaks about in verse 48. Who are they?
- The Jews, I believe. His hometown, who welcome Him because they had seen Him do miracles. The Samaritans didn’t need to witness a miracle. The official wasn’t even Jewish. They believed.
- Jesus says His nourishment is what?
- from doing the will of God and finishing the work
- How are you nourishing yourself today?
- Read John 5:1-15. “Jesus Heals a Lame Man”
- Why does Jesus ask the man if he wants to be well?
- Jesus knows the answer, even beyond what seems obvious. It seems maybe another example of how God participates with us, not forcing Himself on us. He wants us to ask. He wants us to agree.
- Was the man healed instantly?
- Yes, after 38 years.
- What does Jesus tell the man?
- Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.
- God isn’t looking for people to zap when they sin. Satan is the one who steals, kills, and destroys. Jesus came to give us abundant life. Paul talks about handing a man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. The point was the man’s salvation, that he would repent. If we are desiring after something that’s apart from God, then God may turn us over to it and we’ll suffer the consequences, but He’s always ready to welcome us when we repent and turn back. There should be a fear of the Lord in that sense. He is a holy God. But, we also have to know Him as our good and loving Father, that we aren’t rejected and abandoned when something bad happens. But we should always let anything bad turn us to thanksgiving and praise, let it help us keep our hearts and minds on God. That way, whatever the enemy intended for evil, turns out for our benefit.
- Read John 5:16-30. “Jesus Heals a Lame Man”
- What do we learn about Jesus?
- God is His Father.
- He is equal to God.
- He is always working.
- Does everything in conjunction with the Father.
- He gives life to anyone He wants.
- He has authority to judge.
- Everyone will honor Him.
- He has life-giving power.
- The dead will hear His voice.
- His judgement is just.
- What is given to those who listen to Jesus, believe in God and obey His word?
- eternal life
- (already free from condemnation and and brought into life)
- Read John 5:31-end. “Witnesses to Jesus”
- What proves Jesus is from God?
- John witnessed about Him, but so did His teaching and miracles.
- Where does eternal life come from and not come from?
- Eternal life comes from Jesus, comes from believing in Jesus. Just reading Scriptures can’t save you. The Pharisees knew the Old Testament, which pointed to Christ, but they missed Jesus.
- The Pharisees thought they knew the Scriptures and thought they believed them. Jesus tells them they don’t even believe their own “faith.” He tells them they don’t believe the words of Moses, the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
- Are there things you think you believe but you don’t really? Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe God’s promises are true? Really? Do you not worry? Do you believe you have what you ask for?
- Read John 6:1-15. “Five Thousand and Walks on Water”
- Jesus tests Philip. He tests His disciples. What is the test?
- Will he recognize there’s no problem? Has he learned that what you see with your eyes isn’t the truth? Does he know that all things are possible with God? Would he think to ask Jesus to provide instead of thinking of how to solve the problem himself? Will Philip see Jesus instead of seeing the problem? The answer is standing before him. Can he see the answer is always Jesus or will he only see the problem or only see his human answer?
- Jesus could have done anything. Food could have appeared on everyone’s laps. How does He get the food to the people?
- But Jesus takes what is offered, blesses it, and has the disciples distribute it to meet the people’s needs.
- And in the end, they each have a basket’s worth of bread for themselves.
- What is the reaction of the crowd?
- They want to force Jesus to be their king. They didn’t recognize He was their king! He was a different kind of king. They wanted Him to come against the Romans. That wasn’t the war Jesus was waging.
- Read John 6:16-34. “Walks on Water” and “Bread of Life,” stopping before He says, “I am the bread of life.”
- The disciples give up on waiting for Jesus. They get caught in a storm. What is the reaction and result of Jesus’ presence?
- Jesus’ presence first terrifies and then relieves. They are immediately at their destination. They immediately were at their destination once Jesus was with them. He is our destination, the secret place, the place we run to. In His presence is the only place we need to be.
- What verse is basically saying, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”
- 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man (“Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself) can give you.
- Do you have God’s seal of approval?
- All believers have the seal of the Holy Spirit, His seal of approval, that you have been chosen.
- What is the only work God wants you to do?
- Believe in Jesus.
- They believe in the man who gave them bread but don’t believe in Jesus! They want to see a miracle. They are still focused on bread. They talk about Moses giving the people manna and don’t even recognize it as from God’s hand.
- Stop and think about your life. Are you not giving God credit and thanksgiving for all He’s doing and has done for you?
- Read John 6:35-59.
- Do we need to hunger and thirst for God?
- No, we have Christ; we have the Spirit; we don’t need to be hungry and thirsty for Him and cry out for Him.
- Who comes to Christ?
- Those who believe in God. These are the ones the Father has given to the Son.
- If you belong to Christ, do you have any fear of not being raised up with Christ?
- No! He will not lose one given to Him. The only way is if you made the choice yourself to walk away and reject Him and refuse to repent and return to Him. He won’t force Himself on you.
- According to these verses (John 6:44-45), how do we come to Christ?
- The Father draws us. God teaches us. If we listen and learn from the Father, we come to Christ.
- What does it mean, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you?”
- The people had no idea what He was talking about and were very confused. We have the image of Communion to help us understand. We break the bread and share it, remembering His sacrifice of His body broken for us so that we can be made whole, and remember our unity as the one body of Christ. We drink the wine, remembering His sacrifice on the cross, His blood shed for us. We remember with thanksgiving how his blood washed us clean from our sins, so that we can be clothed with Christ’s righteousness.
- Jesus also says, “Anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.” What could it mean to feed on Christ?
- We know Jesus taught that we do not live by bread alone but by the very words of God. Jesus is not only the Bread of Life, but He is the Word. We can read His word to feed on Him.
- Jesus just finished His speech about eating His flesh. Read John 6:60-end.
- If you can’t accept Christ’s flesh and blood, then what does He say you won’t be able to accept?
- His resurrection (vs. 62)
- What can we accomplish with all of our good works?
- nothing (vs. 63)
- If we’re seeking spirit and life, where should we look?
- in God’s Word, reading the Bible speaks into us spirit and life (vs. 63)
- Jesus chose those to follow Him who wouldn’t believe. He calls out to everyone. Everyone has the opportunity to follow Jesus. At the same time, it’s impossible to come to the Lord without the Spirit, without the Father’s say.
- When God requires something hard, are you going to stay? What do we have to believe about Jesus in order to stick around no matter the cost of following Him?
- Jesus has the words that give eternal life.
- Read John 7:1-13.
- Do you know what the Festival of Shelters is? It’s more commonly known as the Feast of Booths. It is an annual festival of rejoicing where Jews remember how God was with them in the wilderness providing for them. It lasts for a week and people spend that week in a temporary shelter, the booth. They build something out of natural materials and sleep in it for the week, kind of like camping! It’s good for us to remember the Lord provides for us. We should do it everyday, recognize He is the one providing for us, not us providing for ourselves.
- Is Jesus out to be famous? What are his brothers doing?
- They were mocking him. “Your fans are waiting,” they mocked. “If you can really do all these great things, then show everyone.” They weren’t believing the reports they were hearing. They knew “regular” Jesus. They probably had some jealousy of him. How do siblings respond to the “perfect” older sibling? They probably rolled their eyes and grumbled at Him more than once.
- Jesus says the world hates Him. Why do they hate Him?
- Because He accuses them of doing evil. People don’t want to hear what they are doing wrong!
- What were people saying about Jesus?
- That He was a good man or a fraud!
- Why were people afraid to say they liked Jesus? Why were they afraid to speak well of Him?
- They were afraid of the Jewish leaders. They Jewish leaders could kick them out of the synagogue, akin to losing their salvation.
- Do we do that today? Do we refrain from speaking up for Jesus for fear of what others might say or do?
- Read John 7:14-36.
- How do we know if someone’s speaking truth?
- If we are doing the will of God, we will know whether a teaching is from God.
- If the person is seeking to honor God and not seeking their own glory, then he speaks truth.
- What are the arguments for and against Jesus as the Messiah?
- They wouldn’t know where the Messiah comes from, but they knew Jesus was from Nazareth. They miss the fact that Jesus is from God, from heaven. They didn’t know where He was from.
- The Messiah wouldn’t do more signs than Jesus.
- Some are basing their decision on what they “know” and others by what they see is true. Neither seem completely convinced. There’s a debate.
- Jesus doesn’t walk them through and explain who He is. He speaks truth, but He speaks in mystery as well. He speaks that way so that only those whom the Father calls will truly hear what’s being said.
- Read John 7:37-end.
- Here the Pharisees know too much. Who was Nicodemus that defends Jesus a little saying He should be given a hearing before being condemned?
- He was the Pharisee that came secretly to Jesus and learned about how to receive eternal life.
- The Pharisees were even wrong about none of the Pharisees believing in Jesus.
- Why is it important to know the Scriptures for yourself?
- Even the experts can get it wrong and lead you astray. They were using their knowledge of the Bible to steer people away from Jesus.
- We need God’s word and we need the Spirit. We need rivers of living water flowing out of us and we need God’s words in our hearts. With those things together, we will overcome and not be deceived.
- Do you have rivers of living water flowing through you? If you are unsure, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Then live according to His Word so that no dam is built up blocking its flow!
- Read John 8:1-11.
- What do we learn about our good Father by looking at the person Jesus?
- He is merciful.
- He desires us to live righteously.
- He convicts the hypocrite of his hypocrisy.
- The oldest leave first. Could we say, the wisest? Was Jesus listing the Ten Commandments or listing their sins? We don’t really know.
- Read John 8:12-20.
- Verse 19 explains the premise behind this study. We want to know who God the Father is, so we are looking at Jesus to learn who He is.
- What’s it like to walk in darkness?
- scary, trip, hurt yourself, don’t know where you are going
- Jesus is the light of the world. What does following Him do for us? (Hint: It’s the opposite of walking in darkness.)
- no fear, keeps us from stumbling, lights our way, leads to life
- Read John 8:21-30.
- What does Jesus think about the people he is talking to?
- They are sinners. They belong to the world. They are to be condemned. They will die in their sins. Yet, He says they will understand after Jesus is on the cross.
- What does Jesus say about His Father?
- He is truthful. He hasn’t deserted Him. He doesn’t want Him to condemn the crowd.
- Who do you say you are? Who do you say the Father is?
- Read John 8:31-end.
- Who are Jesus’ disciples?
- those who obey Jesus
- What sets us free?
- the Truth
- What does it mean to be set free?
- free from the slavery to sin
- How do we know if God is someone’s Father?
- Saying that God is someone Father means they are of His Spirit. These are people who have the Spirit of God in them.
- love Jesus
- listens gladly to God’s words
- How do we know if Satan is someone’s Father?
- Who is of Satan’s spirit?
- liar, hater of truth, doesn’t believe Jesus
- love to do evil
- Read John 9:1-17.
- Why was the man born blind?
- So that the power of God would be seen in Him
- How does God heal him?
- He puts mud on his eyes and sends him to a pool called “sent” to wash off.
- I sent him to obey. I sent him as one humbled. It was an act of worship. Receiving healing can be an act of worship.
- It was a sacrifice to be healed. He was judged. He was questioned. He was then called upon to defend Jesus.
- Do you realize we are called upon to defend the truth of God’s word? The truth of who Jesus is? We aren’t to defend ourselves, but we are to defend Jesus.
- Read John 9:18-end.
- Why didn’t the blind man’s parents defend Jesus?
- It seems that they feared man more than they feared God.
- It’s ironic that the Pharisees demand that God should get the glory, upset that Jesus is getting the glory.
- Why are the Pharisees sure that Jesus is a sinner? (not in today’s reading)
- He breaks the Sabbath.
- He breaks the laws of the Jewish leaders. The Sabbath was created by God. He created it in love and as a way to show love. The Jewish leaders turned it into a burden.
- What does the man born blind know that he knows about God?
- He doesn’t listen to sinners, but hears those who worship Him and do His will.
- John in 1 John tells us that we have what we ask for if He hears us and that He hears us if we ask according to His will.
- Why did Jesus come into the world?
- to give sight to the blind and to show people they are blind