Saturday, April 17, 2021

Answers To The Pharisees

Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We return today to our series in the Gospel of Matthew after breaking away for The Passion and Resurrection of our Lord.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels, because of their similarity in recording events in Jesus’ ministry in similar sequence, and with similar wording.

Matthew, writing to the Jews; (John) Mark writing from what some believe has been dictated from Peter; and Luke writing to the Greek-speaking Jews of the nation. There is evidence that Matthew might well be the earliest written of the Gospel’s accounts. C.I. Scofield notes that it was written in 37 A.D., while Mark was written between 57 and 63 A.D., and Luke between 63 and 68 A.D. (John’s Gospel was penned while John was exiled to Patmos, in 85-90 A.D.)

Jesus’ return to Capernaum after His visit to Gadara across the Sea, brings Him back to His home base with familiar people and surroundings. But the crowds always followed. The boats going back and forth across the sea, would have carried news back to Capernaum about the events from the Gadarenes: the demonic possession was purged, and the people’s swine leaped into the sea and drowned.

There were people hurting throughout the region, and word-of-mouth continued among them, raising their hopes for a healing. Their Pharisees and Temple Leaders could do nothing, but this Jesus....! This healer showed Himself to be faithful to the Word of God. Faith and trust in God they had, but no apparent means to put them into action, not even through their Temples.

Desperation and faith can be the perfect mix to draw us to the Lord. Realizing our own inability to make changes in our lives, Jesus can enter in, and alter our situations. In humbleness of mind, we can approach the Lord and lay out our petitions. He will hear us, and will respond when we are in a mode of worship.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” -  Matthew 11:28 

Today's Audio Message

Matthew 9:1-15 - "Answers To The Pharisees"

Chapter Summary:

Oh the self-righteous Pharisees!  They were the religious people among the Jews. Throughout Jesus’ ministry they were always in the crowd ready to criticize, harass, and conspire to trap Him in His words.  Having the word of God, these prideful men never recognized the Messiah had come and He is right in their midst.  You would think with such a desire to obey the Mosaic law, and knowing the scriptures, that they would have recognized Jesus as Messiah, and followed Him, but they didn’t.  In fact they spent all of their time trying to prove Jesus was a liar and a blasphemer.  Incredible.

In chapter 9, Matthew pens snapshot after snapshot of stories of broken people and their troubled lives.  They are desperate. They are hurting. They are sick and weary.  They have no hope until they hear of this miracle worker whose name is Jesus.  No one speaks like He speaks.  No one acts as He does.  No one can do the things He can do.  News gets around.  This Jesus of Nazareth is full of compassion and willing to help them. He has been travelling around the Galilee, and He is changing peoples lives. They seek after him, others are brought to him, and Jesus touches and heals them both physically, and spiritually. These people have experienced His kindness (which leads to repentance), and His compassion. They are forgiven and healed, and they depart filled with joy and peace sharing their testimony to everyone.

The Pharisees are in the crowd and having none of it. They do not see God as gracious and merciful and abounding in love, but as one who makes demands. They have elevated themselves above the people, and they are looking rather stupid right about now.  They were exacting in keeping the letter of the law - and are still missing its intent. All their petty man made rules and their cold and cruel behavior have distanced themselves from the people, and has displeased the Lord.  Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice and blind ritual. Jesus, who is the Son of God is the personification of mercy and grace.  He would soon become the Mercy Seat. He was the one great sacrifice for our sins. He offers Himself to us. He turns away the wrath of God from us. He bring us into the presence of God blameless and acceptable. 

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