The Burial of Jesus: When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27).
Centurion – A Roman military officer in charge of 100 soldiers. Son of God – It cannot be determined whether the centurion made a fully Christian confession, or whether he was only acknowledging that, since the gods had so obviously acted to vindicate this judicial victim, Jesus must be one especially favored by them. Arimathea – A village in the hill country of Ephraim, about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem.
The Guard at the Tomb: “62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard” (Matthew 28).
Jesus Has Risen: “5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28).
The Great Commission: “16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28).
Matthew ends with the reassuring and empowering words of him who came to earth to “God with us.”
The Soldiers Mock Jesus: “7 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” Praetorium – This is the governor’s official residence in Jerusalem. Scarlet Robe – The outer cloak of a Roman solider.
The Crucifixion of Jesus: “2 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
Cyrene – A city in North Africa. Mixed with gall – Tradition says that the women of Jerusalem customarily furnished this pain-killing narcotic who were crucified. Jesus refused to drink it because he wanted to be fully conscious until his death (verse 50).
The Death of Jesus: “45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.”
Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani – A mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew, translated by Matthew for his readers.
“51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
Curtain: The inner curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The tearing of the curtain signified Christ’s making it possible for believers to go directly into God’s presence (see Hebrews 9:1-14; 10:14-22).
Judas Hangs Himself: “Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:1-5).
Jesus Before Pilate: “11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
“20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:11-26).
BIBLE STUDY OUTLINE THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: APRIL 10 – APRIL 16, 2017
The Resurrection (chapter. 28)
The Earthquake and the Angel’s Announcement (28:1–7)
Jesus’ Encounter with the Women (28:8–10)
The Guards’ Report and the Jewish Elders’ Bribe (28:11–15)
The Great Commission (28:16–20
Key Events During Jesus’ Final Week:
Sunday: Crowds cheer Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem-Palm Sunday (Chapter 21:1-11)
Monday: Jesus angers leaders by throwing vendors out of the temple (Chapter 21:12-46)
Tuesday: Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders (Chapters 23-25)
Wednesday: Judas bribed to betray Jesus (Chapter 26:14-16)
Thursday: The Last Supper; Judas betrays Jesus; Peter denies Jesus (Chapter 26:17-75)
Friday: Jesus’ crucifixion; the chief priests rally the people to chant, “Crucify him!” (Chapter 27)
Highlighted Scriptures of the Holy Week Events:
The Plot Against Jesus: “When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people” (Matthew 26:1-5).
Jesus Anointed at Bethany: 6″While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table” (Matthew 26: 6-5).
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus: 14 “Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Matt. 26).
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial: 31″Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” 34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” 35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same” (Matthew 26:31-35).
This chapter covers the Jewish leaders’ plot to kill Jesus, Judas Iscariot‘s agreement to betray Jesus to Caiaphas, the Last Supper with the Twelve apostles and institution of the Eucharist, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane and the subsequent vindication of Jesus’ predictions that one of the twelve will betray him and that he will be disowned by Peter.
This chapter is divided into 75 verses as follows:
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47–56)
In Matthew’s Gospel, the teaching of Jesus is now finished. In the last days leading up to his betrayal and crucifixion, he warned the multitudes about the corrupt religious leadership, and he spoke to his disciples about things to come. Now, it was time for Jesus to fulfill his work on the cross. One theologian writes, “Having instructed his disciples and the Jews by his discourses, edified them by his example, convinced them by his miracles, he now prepares to redeem them by his blood!”
The Meaning of Jesus’ Death: As Jesus’ death approaches, he instructs his disciples more fully in the meaning of his mission. The disciples could not guess that their teacher’s death was part of God’s sovereign plan, and they would scatter in fear once it came; but by reinterpreting a familiar ritual (the Passover, an annual celebration of how God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt), Jesus gave them a new way of looking at God’s purposes, which would make sense once he had risen. Jesus’ mission signifies a new Passover (26:17-20). In the context of the Passover, Jesus shows that his own mission provides a new act of redemption (vv. 17-20, 26).
The Last Supper: “‘17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 8 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’”
BIBLE STUDY OUTLINE THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW: APRIL 2 – APRIL 9, 2017
The Arrest, Trials and Death of Jesus (26:14—27:66)
The Resurrection ( 28):
The Earthquake and the Angel’s Announcement (28:1–7)
Jesus’ Encounter with the Women (28:8–10)
The Guards’ Report and the Jewish Elders’ Bribe (28:11–15)
The Great Commission (28:16–20)
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times: “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (verses 1-8).
The Day and Hour Unknown: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (verses 36-42).
The Parable of the Ten Virgins: “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (verses 1-5).
The Parable of the Talents: ‘“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness’” (v. 21)! The good servants are considered “good” by their master because they felt the responsibility of their assignment and went to work without delay. As a result of this work, the master increased their responsibility. It seems as though a part of the good servants’ reward included a share in the master’s joy for their work. This sets the good servants apart from the idle servant. The good servants diligently worked even in the absence of the master.
The ‘Well Done’ is said to both servants who were given the five and two talents because they used it well on behalf of the ‘Master’: “The man with two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness’ (vv. 22-23)!
The third servant is shamed by his master because his irresponsibility demonstrates his lack of love. We read in Matthew 25: “Then the man who had received one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. ‘So, I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, “‘You wicked, lazy servant! So, you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest” (vv. 24-27).
The Sheep and the Goats: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me'” (vv. 34-43).
Rewards in the kingdom of heaven are given to those who serve without thought of reward. There is no hint of merit, God gives out of grace, not debt.
Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.
The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11): The climax of the Christian story is upon us. Christ is about to enter the gates of Jerusalem to songs of praise, only to hear those same voices turn first to accusations and then to jeers as he goes to his death on a cross. This entry has its genesis in Jesus’ strategy to bring himself and his message to Jerusalem. This was much more than a PR opportunity not to be missed because of the concentration of people in Jerusalem during Passover.
Matthew begins, as does Mark, with the finding of the animals. The actions of the crowd are as they are reported in Mark. Their acclamation, using the words of Psalm 118, which, heralds the Davidic Messiah. Matthew simplifies their cry. It becomes: ‘Hosanna to the son of David.’ ‘Son of David’ is an appropriate title for Israel’s Messiah. It is found on the lips of the Canaanite woman, two sets of two blind men (20:29-34; 9:27-31; Mark 10:46-52), and a few verses later on the lips of children who also cry: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (21:15).
Jesus at the Temple: ‘“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers”’ (vv. 12-17). Jesus is stated to have visited the Temple in Jerusalem, where the courtyard is described as being filled with livestock, merchants, and the tables of the money changers, who changed the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian money. (Gentile money could not be used at the Temple because of the graven images on it.) Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims.
The Authority of Jesus Questioned: All sorts of folks ask Jesus questions in Matthew’s Gospel, and both their questions and Jesus’ answers are striking. There are many different kinds of questions asked of Jesus. Both the Baptizer and Pilate ask questions about Jesus’ identity; John asks if he is in fact the one they have been waiting for (11:2-3), and Pilate asks if he is the king of the Jews (27:11). The Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, chief priests and elders asked questions to try to trap.
Here in Matthew 21 Jesus responds to the question put to him with a question of his own, and a parable to illustrate it. The chief priests and elders ask Jesus where his authority comes from. His return-question is about John the Baptizer. He asks them if John’s baptism came from heaven, or from the human mind? His question reverses the trap which the chief priests and elders are trying to set for Jesus. His accusers take the fifth, refusing to answer Jesus lest it incriminate them in the eyes of the crowds. So, Jesus, in turn, doesn’t answer their question about his authority either, but he does tell them a parable.
BIBLE STUDY OUTLINE MONDAY, MARCH 27 – APRIL 2, 2017
Passion Week ( 24–27)
The Olivet Discourse ( 24–25)
The Anointing of Jesus’ Feet (26:1–13)
The Arrest, Trials and Death of Jesus (26:14—27:66)
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16): This parable of the laborers in the vineyard is about the 9th (and 10th) commandment. In a very real sense this parable is about coveting. While “covet” may not seem the most obvious word to describe what is going on here, it does fit both the emphasis of Jesus’ teaching and the overarching emphasis in Matthew on the Law and Jesus’ representation of it in a way that transforms our thinking and doing. Coveting lies at the heart of this parable in a couple of ways. We covet what God chooses to give to others.
A parable is essentially an elaborate allegory. We are invited to see ourselves in the story, and then apply it to ourselves. The wages at stake (even at the moment of Jesus’ first telling of the parable) are not actual daily wages for vineyard-laborers, but forgiveness, life, and salvation for believers. We need not literally be laborers in a vineyard, as we are all of us co-workers in the kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:9). We have a tendency, as the parable aptly illustrates, to covet and to be resentful of what others receive from God. The owner of the vineyard asks those who have worked longest and (presumably) hardest for him, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” The point is that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness are God’s to give away as God sees fit.
Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time: “Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (vv. 17-19). The bold portion is an additional statement in this third prediction of the passion. Jesus would not be killed by the Jews, which would have been stoning, but would be crucified by the Romans. All three predictions include his resurrection on the third day (16:21; 17:23).
A Mother’s Request: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father” (vv.20-23). The Gospel of Mark has “James and John, sons of Zebedee,” asking the question (Mark 10:35-37), yet there is no contradiction. The three joined in making the petition.
“Drink the cup” – This a figure of speech meaning to “undergo” or experience.” Here the reference is to suffering. The same figure of speech is used in Jeremiah 25:15; Ezekiel 23:32; Habakkuk 2:16; Revelation 14:10; 16:19; 18:6 for divine wrath or judgement.
“Ransom for many.” – “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 28). Ransom is the Greek word used most commonly for the price paid to redeem a slave. Similarly, Christ paid the ransom price of his own life to free us from slavery to sin.
Two Blind Men Receive Sight: “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (vv. 28-34). Mark and Luke mention only one blind man. “Son of David” – Is a Messianic title.
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? This question comes after Jesus has already told his disciples twice about the suffering and death that awaits him in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21-23; 17:22-23), and after he has told them that following him entails denying themselves and taking up the cross (16:24-25).
Causing to Stumble: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (v.6).
The Parable of the Wandering Sheep: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish” (vv. 10-14).
Jesus’ Ministry in Judea and Pera (Matthew Chapter 19)
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there” (vv. 1:2).
The Little Children and Jesus: “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there” (vv. 13-15).
The Rich and the Kingdom of God: “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments” (vv. 16-17). The rich man was thinking in terms of righteousness by works. Jesus had to correct this misunderstanding first before answering the question more fully. There is only One who is good: The good is not something to be done as meritorious in itself. God alone is good, and all other goodness derives from him—even the keeping of the commandments, which Jesus proceeded to enumerate (vv. 18-20).
BIBLE STUDY OUTLINE MONDAY, MARCH 20 – MARCH 26, 2017
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (20:1–16)
Prediction of Jesus’ Death (20:17–19)
A Mother’s Request (20:20–28)
Restoration of Sight at Jericho (20:29–34)
Passion Week (chapters 21–27)
The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem as King (21:1–11)
The Cleansing of the Temple (21:12–17)
The Transfiguration: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (vv. 1-3). The transfiguration was: (1) a revelation of the glory of the Son of God, a glory hidden now but to be fully revealed when he returns; (2) a confirmation of the difficult teaching given to the disciples at Caesarea Philippi (16:13-20); and (3) a beneficial experience for the disciples, who were discouraged after having been reminded so recently of Jesus’ impending suffering and death (16:21). “He was transfigured,” thus, the three disciples saw Jesus in his glorified state (see John 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17).
Jesus Healed a Demon-Possessed: “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him” (vv. 14-16). Jesus was upset that the disciples could not heal the demon-possessed boy. Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me. Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment” (vv. 17-18).
The disciples then came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (vv. 19-21). Faith as small as a mustard seed: The mustard seed is not the smallest seed known today, but it was the smallest seed used by Palestinian farmers and gardeners. In the time of Jesus. Therefore, a small amount of faith in God can and will bring forth great miracles.
Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time (Matt. 17:22): “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief” (vv. 22-23). The first-time Jesus predicted his death was in Matthew 16:21.
Of first importance is the way this announcement of Jesus’ coming passion and death are tied so closely to Peter’s confession and in turn to what it means to follow as a disciple of this Messiah.
Peter did not want Jesus to die, but Jesus would say to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matt. 16:23). Jesus would then say to his disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matt. 16: 25)
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah – “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[c] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
Today’s lesson has fittingly been acknowledged as pivotal and climactic in Matthew’s narrative of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. The stories to this point have repeatedly pressed the issue of faith and discipleship as the many stories of Jesus’ teaching and healing have led these disciples and ourselves to expect some things about this one called the Son of Man.
And now these stories are focused in Jesus’ intensely direct and personal question and in Peter’s response. “But who do you say that I am?” There is no escape and this is no time for evasion. Peter speaks for the disciples, for Matthew’s gospel and the community to which it is first addressed, and certainly for us, announcing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God (16:15-16). Jesus confirms this “confession” by Peter as a mark of God’s blessing and as the “rock” upon which he will build his church (16:17-18).
Jesus Predicts His Death (Matthew 16:21-28)
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (verses 21-22).
This passage moves from a focus upon Jesus and his vocation to his demands for disciples. Jesus has just congratulated Peter for his recognition that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Moreover, Jesus’ language has intimated authority: Peter the Rock provides the church’s foundation, he receives the keys to the realm of heaven and his earthly authority carries heavenly significance. But now Jesus begins a process of reinterpreting what being the Messiah really means — and what following that Messiah entails for the disciples. If Peter cannot bear the revelation of Jesus’ coming suffering (16:22), how will he respond when the focus shifts to disciples whose fate mimics that of Jesus?
BIBLE STUDY OUTLINE MONDAY, MARCH 12 – MARCH 19, 2017
Jesus’ Last Ministry in Galilee (chapters 17:22-18:35)
Prediction of Jesus’ Death (17:22-23)
Temple Tax (17:24-27)
Discourse on Life in the kingdom (chapter 18)
Jesus’ Ministry in Judea and Pera (chapter 19)
Teaching concerning Divorce (19:1-12)
Teaching concerning Little Children (19:13-15)
The Rich Young Man (19:16-30)
That Which Defiles: “Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them” (verses 1-2; 16-20).
This passage focuses on the main idea that spiritual uncleanness is in the heart, the will, the mind, or whatever term is used for the spiritual nature of the person. It does not come from eating without washing the hands. The keeping of external regulations was to have directed the faithful to focus on inner spirituality, but it did not do this. And so external ritual replaced inner spiritual reality! Jesus took this opportunity to teach that truth—at the expense of the teachers’ reputation. As far as He was concerned, they had failed in their task because they misunderstood the Scripture, and so they were useless as guides. They would be rooted out and destroyed.
The of the Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28)
“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”
This story in Matthew 15 is very troubling. A Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus to heal her daughter. By the end of the story, her daughter has been healed — but between the crying and the healing, Jesus says some “un-Jesus like” things. But Matthew doesn’t clean up this story. Matthew dares to give us a very human Jesus and he paints a specific picture of this woman. She is a Canaanite woman. She is not one of Jesus’ people.
She won’t give up. “Lord, help me,” she begs. Jesus says: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But the Canaanite woman is feisty and stubborn. The life of her daughter is at stake. She picks up his words and throws them right back: “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” When Jesus hears this, he says, “Woman, great is your faith!” Surely there’s enough for me and my daughter. That’s what Jesus finally heard and came to believe. “For saying that, you may go — the demon has left your daughter.”
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (Matt 14:13-21): “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (verses 13-14).
Stories of Jesus feeding huge crowds with only a little were an important part of the earliest traditions of Jesus’ followers. Matthew’s Gospel includes two near-duplicate stories (see also Matthew 15:32-39), which are close parallels of two in Mark (6:32-44 and 8:1-10). Luke (9:10-17) and John (6:1-13) also include the “feeding of the five thousand” or a parallel.
Feeding a Crowd: The narrative of the feeding of the crowds in the wilderness is notably straightforward. Jesus was moved by compassion for the crowds and healed them. Late in the day, the disciples assessed the situation (in the wilderness there is nothing for the hungry crowds to eat) and perhaps they, too, were moved by compassion when they suggested the crowds be sent to nearby towns where they could buy food. Jesus had another idea: feed them right here with what we have. Taking the five loaves and two fish the disciples had on hand, Jesus blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. The disciples fed the crowds, numbering five thousand men, plus women and children. Everyone had enough to eat, and they gathered up the leftovers. The story does not tell us how the hungry crowd is fed in the wilderness; only that no one leaves hungry. And so the story invites us to use our imaginations.
Bread: Blessed, Broken & Given: Multiple feeding stories in the gospels should not surprise us. They echo a common theme in Israel’s scriptures. As bread and fish feed the hungry crowd in the wilderness (translated “a deserted place” in Matthew), manna in the wilderness provided daily sustenance for the Israelites.
Jesus Walks on the Water (Matt 14:22-36)
From this setting, we already see Jesus as a man of prayer (v. 23). Rather than sticking around to reap the political benefits of his miracle, Jesus retires to prayer. (Mt 14:23).
If the disciples were still struggling against the winds at the fourth watch of the night—the Romans divided the night into four instead of the Jewish three watches—the disciples must have been exhausted. Probably accustomed to awakening around 6:00 a.m., they instead found themselves still trying to cross the lake between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. We may criticize the disciples for accepting the popular notion of ghosts, but the biggest offense here is that they still underestimate Jesus’ power. It has not occurred to them that he could know their plight, walk on water to come to them or catch up to them in a storm! To their credit, however, the fear issue seems to be solved once they recognize that their teacher is with them. They knew him well enough to know that if he was there, he would bring them through their storm.
Although the proposal that Peter walk on water is first Peter’s idea (v. 28), Jesus’ response indicates that he approves of it (v. 29). Peter is gently reproved not for presumptuously stepping from the boat but for presumptuously doubting in the very presence of Jesus (v. 31; compare 6:30; 8:26; 16:8; 17:20. Disciples were expected to imitate their masters, and Jesus is training disciples who will not simply regurgitate his teachings but will have the faith to demonstrate his authority in practice as well.
As stated last week, a parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus relied heavily on parables; now let’s look at the meaning of two parables from Matthew 13.
The Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9) – Jesus explains this parable in verses 18:23. Let’s look at the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the evil one comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road. “The seed falling on rocky ground – this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But since they have no root, when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it. The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it. The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears the word and understands it, and then produces a harvest, yielding 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown.
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl (Matt 13:44-45) – God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidently found by a trespasser. The finder is filled with joy – what a find! Then proceeds to sell everything he/she owns to raise money and buy that field. Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, the finder immediately sells everything and buys it.
These two parables teach the same truth. The kingdom is of such great value that one should be willing to give up all he/she has in order to gain it. Jesus did not imply that one can purchase the kingdom with money or goods.
John the Baptist Beheaded – A Prophet Martyred: The parallels between the missions of John and Jesus have been building toward the climax of this paragraph. John has introduced Jesus, proclaiming the same message that Jesus would (3:2; 4:17).
The murder of John the Baptist is also in (Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9). “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,” (Matt 14:1), “Herod Antipas,” identified as Herod the tetrarch in the Gospels, was the son of Herod the Great and brother of Archelaus (2:22). Of the Herods, Antipas figures most prominently in the Gospels since he ruled over the regions where both John the Baptist and Jesus conducted most of their ministries, Perea and Galilee. Antipas is remembered primarily for his imprisonment and execution of John the Baptist. Antipas had married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. Though Antipas respected and feared John, nevertheless he had John beheaded as the result of a plot by Herodias.
John had been arrested because he challenged the legitimacy of Herod’s divorce and incestuous remarriage. “Herodias” was the daughter of Aristobulus, a half-brother of Antipas. She had been married to her uncle, Herod “Philip,” and had borne him a daughter, Salome. However, she divorced her husband and married Antipas, who was already married.
Herodias was a guilty and vindictive woman who wanted John dead, and she devised a plan to get rid of him. At the king’s birthday party, her daughter performed a provocatively enticing dance which so appealed to the drunken Herod that he “promised with an oath” she could have whatever she wanted. She asked for “John the Baptist’s head in a charger” (a table platter).
John the Baptist paid the ultimate price!