Intro to Matthew – Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who immediately followed Jesus when Jesus called him. The Bible says he left everything behind. Being a tax collector for Rome must have caused some problems with the other Jews, especially Simon the Zealot who advocated the violent overthrow of Roman rule. There is no hint in Scripture, however, that these two men had problems with each other which must attest to the greatness of Jesus and His ministry.

I believe that all four Gospel Books were prophesied in Ezekiel 1:5,10 and Revelation 4:7. In each case, we are given a glimpse into the spiritual world, which, in our terms, was rich in symbolism in order to convey a message to us that we could understand, but only with the Holy Spirit’s help. Four visions are described:  1) Lion,  2) Calf/bull/ox,  3) Man,  4) Eagle. The Lion (king of the beasts) represents Matthew’s Gospel because he emphasizes Jesus as being the King of the Jews. The calf/bull, or ox (workers) represents Mark’s Gospel because he emphasized Jesus as being the lowly servant. The man represents Luke’s Gospel because he portrayed Jesus as the Son of Man from Adam’s lineage. Finally, the eagle (soars high above all else; majestic) represents John’s Gospel because he presented Jesus as the Son of God with a lineage from eternity. I believe these are the spirits that God used to give the Holy Words to these four gospel writers.

Matthew 1:

Verses 1-15 are usually boring to the new reader, but worth a gold mine to veteran believers. Combined with the genealogy listed in Luke, it proves the proper genealogy for the Messiah and goes back to both Mary and Joseph who came from King David’s line – a must for the predicted Messiah. Matthew’s verses are abridges meaning some names are omitted, but still accurate. It also follows Joseph’s tree while Luke follows Mary’s. Jesus can be traced all the way back to Adam, unlike anyone today!

Were Mary and Joseph married prior to the “immaculate conception?” The “immaculate conception” does not refer to Jesus’ virgin birth. It refers to the Roman Catholic belief that Mary’s birth resulted from a miraculous conception from the Holy Spirit rather than a human sperm, hence she was free from Adam’s sin seed (original sin). Protestants do not share this view because it cannot be supported by Scripture and it sets the stage to elevate Mary far above what is proper.  Mary and Joseph were “betrothed” which, in Jewish custom, was the first stage of marriage that lasted a year before the wedding night. It was more legal than mere engagement.  The virgin birth, however, according to numerous New Testament passages, was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew word can be translated “young maiden” which could mean either virgin or not. But if we believe that the NT is also God-breathed, then virgin it is! The NT always uses the word “virgin” not “maiden.” Another important point to make regarding the necessity of a virgin birth is the fact that Jesus’ seed did not come from the sinful Adamic lineage, so He was not born in sin and pre-programmed to sin. He could have sinned, however, but didn’t. He was indeed “the second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). Another intriguing question is, “Did God use Mary’s egg or not?” We can all agree that the sperm (assuming one was used) was from the Holy Spirit, but was the ovum also? Some say yes and some say no.

“Emmanuel” is defined as “God with us.” This is powerful support for the deity of Christ.

Did Mary have more than one child? Yes, Jesus had brothers and sisters, and even named a few brothers (Mt.12:46-47, Mt.13:55-56, Mark 6:3). John 2:12 makes it clear that “His brothers” was not referring to His followers (also John 7:3,5,10; Galatians 1:19). The Roman Catholic Church believes any “brother” or “sister” reference to Jesus is referring to children Joseph had from a prior marriage. But there is no Scriptural or historical support for this. We must trust the Holy Scriptures alone, not the traditions of men (Matthew 15:9). Sadly, the Catholic Church deifies Mary. For example, they assert that she was sinless and perfect in purity, hence no sex ever (perpetual virginity) and they claim she can hear all prayers to her from people around the entire world just like God. The Roman Catholic Church is a religion of substitutes for Jesus Christ – the Pope, the priests, the saints, and Mary – all of which are unnecessary and not Scriptural. We can approach God through Christ alone, no one else is needed.

Little is known about Joseph. He probably needed a supernatural dream (that he got) to believe that Mary had not cheated on him – quite a man of faith. The Bible does not mention him at all after Jesus was 12 years old. Theologians speculate that he probably died before Jesus’ ministry began, or died at least before the crucifixion considering Jesus told John to take her into his house and care for her. This could also be another reason why John lived the longest of the Twelve. Another thought is that God may have taken Joseph early because He wanted to separate from people’s minds the miracle of Jesus’ conception from the idea of being formed from a “father from the earth.” Jesus did say that He was from above and not from this world (John 8:23).

Matthew 2:

v2: The Star of Bethlehem, what was it? Theories vary but simply stated it was either some natural or supernatural phenomenon. If natural, some claim it was certain planets converging like Saturn and Jupiter. But v9 gives huge clues to which few pay attention. It reveals that the star “went on before them,” so it was moving in a way that people could see the movement and follow it. We can’t do this with stars or planets seen in space. Then it reveals that the star stopped moving when it hovered over Bethlehem. Again, natural lights in the sky do not do this. So I opt for the supernatural theory.

Another question is, “How did the magi know about this star? One interesting theory is that they had been influenced by handed down Daniel teachings that may have included Numbers 24:17. This mentions a star and a scepter and that may trace back to Genesis 49:10 which mentions “Shiloh,” signifying the Messiah. And since the magi (and there may have been more than three) all worshiped the baby Jesus, Something Big was going on here!

v5-6: Quotes one of the most amazing Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah – that Bethlehem, a very small village, will be His birthplace (Micah 5:2). Isaiah 11:1 claimed the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Joseph was warned in a dream not to go to Judea, so he settled up north in Nazareth. The Bible gives no indication that Joseph was aware of or understood these prophecies. We do not even know if Joseph realized at this early time if Jesus was the Messiah. I know the Holy Spirit spoke to him plainly about Jesus saving His people from their sins. We can assume he knew Jesus was special, but he may not have yet known HOW special.

v12: The Dream. This was God thwarting Satan’s attempt to kill the Messiah, as symbolically described in Revelation 12.

God may create dreams for us, but so can a demon. Our mind is the part of us that is the link from the natural world to the spiritual dimension. The Bible teaches that we have a triune nature – body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess.5:23 and Heb.4:12). Our soul is our personality and our spirit communicates with God. When we are born-again in Christ, I believe our spirit is untouched by the devil and his cohorts. But our soul is vulnerable. Christians can still suffer from past experiences and haunts. For example, a Christian who is plagued by nightmares can be set free by the power and authority of Jesus Christ. These nightmares are tormenting the person’s soul. For years I had trouble falling asleep – no nightmares, but my mind just wouldn’t shut off. Many thoughts were negative (about me) as well. So I finally started thinking about why. The answer was that I thought of things to worry about, and that got the adrenalin going so I could not relax and fall asleep. All this time I was thinking that those thoughts came from me. Then God did a great thing for me. In His still small voice, He said to me that I had a tormenting spirit assigned to me. The word “assigned” got my attention. I did not fear this, but actually thought, “Hey, I must be doing something right if a supernatural being of darkness was put on my back.” So every time that spirit started to invade my soul (thought-life of my personality), I rebuked that thing in the name above all names…The Lord Jesus Christ! Without fail, that “voice” would vanish from my mind and I could go to sleep! But I rejoiced, not because evil spirits did what I said, I was just so happy to be a real child of God and that my Dad in Heaven loves and cares for me (and YOU)!

We need to be careful to properly discern dreams. As stated earlier, they can come from God or the darkness, or, frankly, they can simply being the physical brain doing its crazy thing with no spiritual attachment. Our brains must have rest. During sleep it stores everything that happened to us each day. The frontal lobe that imparts logic rests while the rest of the brain (subconscious part) keeps ticking. This is why some dreams can be so bizarre. It’s because the rational part isn’t working, it’s resting. It is not in control any more. So I wouldn’t analyze each dream we have. The average person has about 3 dreams per night. They actually serve to keep us asleep and gives us good deep sleep – this is the REM cycle (Rapid Eye Movement). If we do have a dream that we think might be from God, seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help us understand it. Some believers may have more dreams from God than others – we all have different ministries in Christ and we need each other to function completely as a “body.”

v13-23: More warnings by God via dreams.

Matthew 3:

v7-10: John the Baptist nails religious hypocrisy to the wall. The big myth that he attacked in v9 was that religious folks tend to think they are okay with God because they were born into a certain “faith family.” Not so. We must be born-again in Christ to be okay (sinless) with God.

v11 – John the Baptist knew who he was and who he wasn’t. He knew his purpose was to prepare the hearts of people to accept eternal life that Jesus would give a bit later. That prep was not to merely feel sorry for sin, but to not want to do it anymore. This is true repentance. I suspect that Judas felt sorry for what he caused for Jesus to the point of killing himself, but did he really want to change his ways of life (repent)? Probably not. (The Gospel of John reveals that Judas was stealing money from the disciples traveling group). That’s torment, especially considering all the great things Jesus had done! Of course at his point of suicide, Satan had been inside him since he dipped his bread in the sauce with Jesus at the Last Supper. So if an unrepentant human literally has Satan himself inside them, I’m not sure if anyone could survive that power without Christ.

v12 – My version reads “winnowing fork in His hand.” In the old days, people would plunge this fork into a bunch of freshly picked grain and toss it up in the air. The breeze would blow the chaff (worthless part) away while the good grain fell down onto the threshing floor. Jesus’ ministry would serve this same purpose, but spiritually. His Word would turn on or turn off people. The “turn-ons” are the wheat or His kids, and the turn-offs are the chaff (ones who reject God). The wheat gets gathered into His barn (Heaven) and the chaff gets burned up with a fire (Hell).

Water baptism is a way to publicly confess that we are sinners in need of a savior, namely, Jesus. It symbolizes burying our old sinful self and rising up a new person in Christ. In the Bible, this baptism was always complete immersion into water. Jesus, not having any sin, did not have to do this. He said, however, that He must fulfill all righteousness. So He was setting the example for us to follow. I can only think of pride being the reason why a believer would not do this. Infant baptism, though well-intentioned, is a man-made tradition not found in Scripture. Infant dedication is Scriptural. The idea here is for parents to “give back to God” their newborn child with the promise of raising him/her in the knowledge of the Lord. I strongly recommend that believers who have never been water immersed (baptized) to do this as soon as possible.

I believe there are 3 conditions that are needed to be met before water baptism (immersion) takes place:

1) Teaching about it from the Bible, have an understanding of what you are doing (Matt.28:18-20).
2) True repentance (Acts 2:37-38).
3) Personal faith (Mark 16:15-16).

It matters not what age you are. This needs to be done. Jesus did it and He tells us to do it. So it is also an act of obedience. Over the years I have heard great testimonies from people who obeyed this.

A Catholic friend of mine who believes in Jesus and cares for others responded to my above comments:

The reason Catholics baptize as soon as possible is to wash away the Original Sin that we are born with. As you know a being with sin cannot enter the kingdom and since the only sin a child would have is the one Adam and Eve brought on mankind. A baby who dies can’t enter heaven with that sin. That is one of the other reasons Abortion is such an evil act. The other part of Baptism of Christ was that John was a Levite and kings needed to be Baptized by a Levite priest. This act that Christ went through was to show people that he was starting his mission and to show God that He was ready. The Holy Spirit descended again to be with Christ as He did when Mary became pregnant. By the way the oldest Apostle was Mary. She was the only one with him from his birth to his death and also at his rebirth.

My response: Thank you for taking time to comment. I know the reasons why the Roman Catholic Church baptizes babies. The reasoning can make sense and well-intended, but it is reasoning that the church fathers did not have. By fathers I mean Paul, Peter, John, and the rest of the Apostles. There is no mention of it in the entire New Testament. It was an add-on by man’s reasoning. Protestant churches often have the same belief. As I said, the practice of infant baptism is well-intentioned. But if it is not in the Scriptures, then we need to take another look at it. If the man-made reasoning behind infant baptism is true, then it would be IMPORTANT ENOUGH to be stated in the Scriptures – why would God leave THAT ONE out? What’s ironic is that infant baptism, which is practiced by many, is not in the Bible, whereas infant dedication is practiced by few and it IS in the Bible. Another thought – Jesus did not have to be water baptized as an adult, but did it because He was showing us the example of what we needed. Why then didn’t God make sure that He was baptized as a baby, although He also did not need to do it, to show us that proper example?

Do you believe all aborted babies will then go to hell? (he said “no” later, which is a contradiction from his initial comments). This certainly is consistent with a Roman Catholic view of the “original sin” doctrine. But I don’t believe aborted babies go to hell. The ideas behind “original sin” concepts are man’s thoughts. What I think (admittedly just another man’s thought here) about “original sin” is that it makes us inevitable sinners if given the chance to live that long. But where the line is drawn between innocence and sinner I cannot comprehend though I’ve tried. The Jews had a tradition called the “age of accountability.” Once that kid reached the age of 13, he was responsible for any of his wrongdoings rather than his parents. But, again, these are man’s beliefs, not Biblical. Some scenarios we can think of regarding how God judges young ones to Heaven or to Hell create not-so-good conclusions about the God we worship. So, after all my wrestling with this topic, I’ve concluded that we cannot know all the answers on this, but we can trust God that it is fair and good. All I know for sure is what is in the Bible and what is not.

Please take a look at this site. I think it addresses this tough issue fairly:

With all respect to Mary, she was not an Apostle. An apostle is a disciple of Jesus Christ sent out to start churches. Mary certainly was a disciple (follower, believer), but she did not start churches and no authority was given to her.

Just another thought…I’ve wondered why John the Baptist’s ministry was so far away from where the people lived. He preached out in the wilderness and people had to travel out there by foot! One guess is that it was God’s way of weeding out those who were seriously repenting – under conviction of sin and not wanting the sinful ways of the world anymore. Maybe this location helped improve the experience of those true sheep of Israel. It may have been a stronger demonstration of that willingness to not be like the crowd. Just guessing here.

v16: God’s Spirit came down onto Jesus. This may have been the beginning of Jesus having supernatural powers for reasons listed below.

Matthew 4:

I have wondered how the Apostles could leave their positions so abruptly, I mean, did Matthew even tell his boss? One possible explanation is that the authority and power of the calling out of a “chosen one” from God is that strong. Jesus later says, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt.22:14). Would we have the courage if it was us? I think yes, only because I believe God would give it to us. Some humorous speculation: Jesus later called fishermen James and John “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Some think that it meant they had tempers. I don’t think so. I think when they left their dad Zebedee in the fishing boat when Jesus called them, Zebedee got pretty LOUD about this Guy taking his sons from him and his business! Plausible, but not important. Perhaps most likely is that Jesus was alluding to John and James’ desire to send fire down on a Samaritan town that wasn’t interested in the Gospel.

v3-11: The Temptations of Christ – The most significant battle ever fought in the history of the world, and not a shot was fired and no one was killed. Everything was at stake! If Jesus gave in to any one of the three, He would have been defeated by our chief enemy and then that enemy would have a claim on our souls that even God could not annul. Therefore, we must look closer at this Event. Notice that the devil knows Scripture. He knew, for example, that Psalm 91:11-12 was referring to Jesus! I don’t think anyone else knew that until after Pentecost! Also notice how Jesus used Scripture to combat His enemy’s voice. We need to do the same, especially when evil thoughts hit us. There are no new tricks up Satan’s sleeve (2 Cor.2:11).

When did Jesus get His supernatural powers? There have been silly fables passed down over the years about Jesus doing miracles as a little boy. One was that He made some birds out of clay, then clapped His hands and they came alive and flew away. Another had Him sliding down a beam of light when coming down off a rooftop. Uh…I don’t think so. What does make sense is that He received the power just after He was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Why? A) There is no reliable source stating He had them before, B) The nature of these 3 sudden temptations, which explains why the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness and had Him fasting immediately after His baptism. The Spirit knew something big was coming and He had to prepare Jesus to face it. C) Put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. If you got His powers suddenly, don’t you think you would hear thoughts just like the 3 temptations? “Hey, man, you don’t have to work for food anymore, you can just snap your fingers and there it will be!” “Hey Messiah, make a circus show of yourself by falling down 100 feet and survive without a scratch – you’ll be the toast of the town!” (Eat your heart out David Blaine and David Copperfield). “You can have the whole world paying you homage, just do it my way (worship me).” Therefore, the very nature of the temptations seems to reveal not only what powers were given to Jesus, but also when. If Jesus had these powers earlier in life, I am sure the devil would have come to Him then. One does not possess powers like Jesus for years and not be tempted to use them wrongly.

Did Satan have the authority to give Jesus the kingdoms of this world as he said in v9? Yes, ever since Adam & Eve sinned he has been the Prince of this world (1 John 5:19), but not for long. The only way Jesus could achieve Kingship is totally obey the Law and humble Himself to the greatest extent (God allowing Himself to become a hated criminal and willing to die a most embarrassing/painful death) and literally be willing to give up all rights and power in order to gain everything (Phil 2:8). That has stripped the power away from Satan. Satan must have known that the only way he could defeat this plan was to get Jesus to do just one thing apart from His Father’s will, and come to Him at the most opportune times…(Luke 4:13)….quite amazing.

Fasting 40 days and 40 nights – that’s the upper limit that is physically possible (most would die before that), I suspect that He was quite emaciated at the end. Hence, “angels had to minister (feed?) Him” v11. He may have been so weak that He couldn’t lift His hand. I assume He had water through it all, because that limit is less than a week.

v23-25: Let the miracles begin!

The next big battle? Probably in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 5: 1-11:

The Beatitudes generally are encouraging to believers. They all recognize that life on earth is tough, but if we stay in God’s path, it will be so great for us in eternity. They all are fantastic and encouraging promises, and most come right out of the Old Testament Books.

“Poor in spirit” refers to people who realize they are spiritually bankrupt without God’s mercy and grace. It’s the opposite of being arrogant or having the feeling that the world owes you something, and it’s a realization of who we are and who we are not in God’s eyes. It is people such as these that will be saved (“theirs in the kingdom of heaven”). This group of believers is comprised of both economically wealthy and poor people, and all who are in between on the materialistic scale. “Poor in spirit” certainly does not pertain to people with little or no money. Some (not all) of these types will steal anything if given the opportunity, i.e. looters. If these types were “poor in spirit” as Jesus means, they would not steal in these circumstances.

“They will inherit the earth” means that this world will be revamped and made afresh when all evil is purged and judged. Heaven will be on Earth forever. But the current Heaven will pass away along with the current earth (Isaiah 65:17. 2 Peter 3:13, Rev.21:21:1). Not sure what we will be doing, but the way I see it, the Yankees will never win another baseball game! (Hezekiah 2:13).  🙂

Time and place to be Meek – I think meekness is a lifestyle, a mindset. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be firm at times, even angry (if it is righteous anger). But this can be a fine line to walk, especially considering how good human nature is at justifying attitudes/behavior. The closer we get to Jesus, the more meekness will show through. I also do not think that being meek makes one saved. There are a few meek people on earth that have either totally ignored Jesus or have rejected Christianity for whatever reason, yet still carry a mantle of meekness. The Bible says that all good gifts come from above (James 1:17). So God may give to someone the ability to be meek, but it is still their responsibility to be “poor in spirit” so that they can go to the Cross to find eternal life. Unfortunately, they are still sinners like us all and have the same spiritual need as anyone – the Blood of Jesus to wash away that sin.

Pure heart? I do not think there exists a person on earth with a perfect “pure heart.”  Of course, God does not define this in His Word. So, I think a “pure heart” means lover of truth, even the truth that says we are sinners in need of a savior. If a person that has this, God will reveal Himself. For people who do not have this “love of the truth,” God will purposely send a deluding influence so that they will believe a lie for the purpose of judgment (2 Thess. 2:10-12). But doesn’t the Bible say that the heart is deceitful beyond all else and desperately sick (wicked) in Jeremiah 17:9? Yes. So how then can someone have a pure heart? In John 1:47, Jesus talks with Nathanael for the first time and says that he has no guile (craft, cunning). Although not having craftiness does not necessarily qualify for God’s definition of “pure heart,” something about Nathanael’s inside attracted Jesus. Jesus also said that He saw Nathanael under the fig tree before Philip called him. Again, just guessing here, but I think Jesus might mean that He can see what kind of heart that God will produce in time as a result of salvation. This is difficult because we are creeping into that age-old question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.” The literal answer to this old “stumper” is a no-brainer if you believe in Genesis – the chicken came first! But the gist of what it brings up is tough – is there something in the saved that attracted God and thus we get saved? Why did I respond to the Gospel and others no worse than me, reject it? Do we really have a choice? I believe so. I know Jesus told the 12 that they did not choose Him but He chose them. But couldn’t they, like Judas, reject? Sure. Well, there’s choice. Further discussion on this tough issue could probably go on until the Second coming.

Comic Relief: Yankee Fan response from my good friend Tim – Dave, I love your teaching except that part about the Yanks not winning in heaven… my only answer to that is that they don’t need to as they’ve already won more than enough on this earth…. But if there is baseball in heaven the Yanks will surely be winning (meekly of course)….

Matthew 5:12-48:

v12: If you ever get attacked or ridiculed because you are a Jesus follower, this verse can give you lots of encouragement.

v13-15: “Salt of the earth” means we have the responsibility to preserve righteousness on earth.

v16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This does not mean we are saved by works or that we should be proud about being a Christian. Rather we must allow His Spirit to shine through us to others that they may know there is only one God and that Jesus breaks down the barrier between us and Him.

v17-20: Though The Law cannot give us eternal life, each law holds true and does convict people of sin. So I think He is saying that the laws are still the righteous standard, but only He would always obey them. But when the Perfect finally comes, there will be no need for this standard any more because no one will sin again.  But for the time being, we should not tell people they can steal or lie, because that is still wrong and will carry negative consequences.

v21 & 28: Jesus again reveals something that the OT did not – that sin actually starts in the heart and that makes us guilty enough to miss heaven even if the act is not committed. This is a hard message for the self-righteous, but it is true. If we did not lust in our minds first, then we would not commit the outward act of adultery (or fornication). There is also the message of getting right with God before we die.

v29: Please do not take this literally. If society did, the seeing-eye dog business would sky rocket. Jesus wants us to find out what the source is that causes sin and to not give it a chance to blossom. If the problem is lust, then don’t go out of your way to give the devil an opportunity, i.e., watch TV, rent sexy movies, attend strip joints, buy porn, etc. As with alcoholism triggering mechanisms, lust problems can be triggered by only slight stimuli. Jesus says, don’t go there (for your own good).

v31-32: Stay married unless there is no “faithfulness.” This does not say anything about physical violence. But i would hope and think that God would not want any human to continue submitting to this. I would advocate physical separation with legal restraining orders, leading to real change and reconciliation. This is a difficult issue because we can all think of situations where divorce would be a good thing even though Scripture does not advocate it. Example – if a husband will always be a wife-beater, does this mean that the wife cannot divorce him and start life anew? Scripture does teach that if a non-believer wants a divorce, then that is okay. But I don’t see Scriptural justification for a believer to divorce a spouse for any other reason except for adultery. I hope that some cases can be an exception (???). The trouble can be, however, once exceptions become accepted, more exceptions will expand viewpoints…and the slippery slope takes over. When divorce becomes too easy, then more will opt for it without trying hard to settle things – lots of motivation disappears. Tough issue.

DAVE: v37 – This is about establishing and maintaining a good reputation so that when we say whatever, people will believe us. The fact that we don’t call out upon some higher name to try to convince people we are telling the truth is actually a good thing. Only insecure people who have not been consistent truth-tellers feel they must do something like that (hence it “cometh from evil”). Think about it. There’s a real pearl of wisdom in this verse. I think this verse also leaves room for social courtesy which includes tact if something potentially hurtful is said.

v38: Turning the other cheek – Today, face slapping is an insult, punishment, or just plain abuse. Back then it represented a clear situation of oppression or dominance. So you could 1) fight back, or 2) meekly take it, maybe with “Yes, Sir.” Jesus suggests a third approach. Offer the other cheek. You are not fighting back but neither are you meekly taking it, and, do I dare say, you are asking for more? (This reflects an attitude of not being fearful of man because of your solid relationship with God). If they hit you, keep your stand which signifies that they cannot intimidate you while at the same time showing them that you will not resort to their base level because you do not want to hurt them. It takes more strength and courage to turn the other cheek than to slug it out with someone. It also shows that you have something that they do not have. Also, maybe an onlooker will be curious to find out why you reacted that way. You may get it hit again or you may not, but either way you’ve made points. You are not exactly what they think you are, you are a person and deserve more equal treatment and respect as a person, you are aware of the truth behind the fraud. You are amplifying awareness of, and insulting, their bullying behavior and the system that allows it. (Source: Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence, Fortress Press, 2003).

v43-46: Demonstrates the uniqueness of Christianity over all other religions. We are not called to behave like this just because it’s good, not just to make us look good, but to give glory to Someone else – the very God from whom all these good abilities flow. This concept you will not find elsewhere in this world – no other religion, sect, or philosophy. Let us take comfort in knowing such an awesome God.

An eye for an eye makes perfect carnal sense, but not spiritual sense. Hard hearts can be softened by us not having an eye-for-eye attitude. This can open them and others to salvation.

Salt and light” – this means that followers of Christ are here not only to proclaim the Gospel, but also to preserve righteousness on earth until He returns. This means we stand up for truth and righteousness in our families, churches, communities, workplaces, political circles (local and national), wherever we find ourselves. To find out how to do all this in specific ways needs prayer, wisdom, and supernatural power from above. We are not called to be “do nothings” or to “sit up on a hill” waiting for the Second Coming. If we lose this fervor, then Jesus says that this “salt” or ability to preserve righteousness is good for nothing and will be trampled over by unbelievers. If, for example, our nation loses is power in the world and gets destroyed by outside or inside forces, maybe the cause is that Christians were not salt. In the OT when the Jews did not stay on God’s “salty” path, they were invaded by outsiders (heathens) and trampled by various enemies, sometimes leading to captivity in other lands. Good lesson for the Christian of today. Keep in mind that it is God’s will to bless a nation, not to destroy it.

Our real enemy is not communism or Islam, but their power will increase if Christians sit back and do nothing. There are many battles going on as I type these words. But there is only one front-line battle and all others stem from it: The authority of the Bible – all conflicts stem from this battle: Is the Bible God’s Word or not? Is It the only book that is God’s Word? The more this is rejected, the more immorality rises. Scientists who reject the Bible will believe in evolution, which is a pseudo scientific mask of humanism. Humanism is a man-made philosophy asserting that God is not important or relevant, therefore man is the center of his universe and gets to make up the rules of life. It drives the government controlled school system. It is not solely atheism, which denies the supernatural existence of a creator, although atheism is one its strong tentacles.

Man has rejected his Creator’s Word and has made up his own laws and standards. This has been our consistent problem throughout history. Examples of this world trying to stamp out God’s Truth include: Adam & Eve’s disobedience, Nimrod in the Shinar Valley instigating the Tower of Babel (representing a defiance of God), Moses’ people making idols while he was receiving the Ten Commandments directly from God, pagan nations trying to wipe out Israel as a nation (still going on today), Israelis murdering their own Prophets, the crucifixion of Jesus, various governments trying to destroy Bibles (communism always attempts this), persecution and murdering of Christians over the centuries, especially the millions of Christians murdered by many Popes who were not allowing people to read the Bible. In all these examples, mankind was and is rebelling against God’s Truth and “salt.” The spirit of this world (Satan) is in the hearts of the people of this world and has blinded their eyes, and it hates God, His Word, and His people (who are “in the world, but not of the world”). People of this world haven’t the foggiest idea of who their real enemy is. Some actually think that it is Christians. That’s how deep the deception has grown. It’s kind of similar to the Nazi’s convincing the German people that all their country’s woes were somehow caused by Jewish people. Absurd as this idea is, enough people believed it.

Matthew 6 – “Rich” vs. Rich

v1-5: Underscores the motto of a mature Christian walk – “It’s not about us, it’s about Him.”

v6: This does not mean we should never pray aloud in a group. It means don’t pray to be noticed as a “good Christian.” However, a strong prayer life will pray alone often, way more than in front of others.

v7: Jesus reveals to us how to pray and how not to pray. It’s not how many words we use that makes God hear us, it’s the quality of those words (are they heart-connected?). He wants us to avoid rote repetition as well. He then gives us a beautiful template (The Lord’s Prayer) and then people use those exact words and repeat it like crazy…uh…didn’t He just tell us not to do that? I’ve seen people eye each other with darts flying because one group used the word “debts” while the other used the word “trespasses.” Is this worth fighting over? Either word captures the essence of what Jesus said. There is nothing magically powerful in certain words put together that make up a prayer. Prayers are NOT formulas. We are encouraged to keep praying about things too, even the same things (Luke 11:5-9), He just doesn’t want our prayers to be reduced to rote repetition. In this verse 7, Jesus states that the heathen pray in that manner. Finally, do we ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray? Based on Romans 8:26-27, we actually need to do this (at one point there are no words…then how about tongues?… but prayer nonetheless).

v15: Scary…we HAVE to forgive others, or we will not be forgiven. I’ve never heard this in a sermon over 50 years of knowing Jesus. So if we have trouble forgiving others there are a few things we can do to help: 1) realize the depth of our sin which God is willing to forgive, 2) ask God why we struggle with this, 3) ask Him to help us be willing to forgive people. The good news is that exists a lot of help for us on this crucial issue. I’ve also written an article on how to know we have really forgiven someone. You can find it by clicking on “At Issue” then scroll down to the “Search” box and type in “forgiveness.”

v19 – There are only two sources of treasure: this world and God’s Kingdom. They are opposed to each other and always will be until Christ puts all His enemies under His feet (Acts 2:35; Ephesians 1:22). One source says to gather things to oneself in order to become rich, while the other says to give things away to become rich. One lasts forever, the other is gone forever at death. Furthermore, Jesus says whichever source we plug into, that will rule us.

v22 – Eye is a lamp: we need to be careful what we watch. David had it right in Psalms 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.” I guess that rules out most TV and movie watching. In today’s culture, we need to go out of our way to fill our eyes with positive things. Repeated evil watching numbs us to the magnitude and horror of that evil. It darkens our soul. Because our Heavenly Father loves us and knows what can destroy us, He says things like, “Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Here’s a deeply penetrating question that the Holy Spirit has asked me at various times over the years, “If I were to ask you to give up _______ (you fill in this blank), would you be willing? This probes and challenges our hearts and helps us see where we really stand (God already knows). Notice how He didn’t DEMAND me to give up something. Love does not demand its own way (1 Cor.13:5) and He speaks the Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). So….if we are willing, the more we grow. If we are not willing, ask God to help us be willing. He promises to withhold no good thing from us (Psalms 84:11).

v25-33 – Great promise – if we put God first, He will make sure we have adequate food, shelter, and clothing. I don’t see the “prosperity gospel” here. He’ll give us what we need (not what we may want). I think Paul would not be pleased if he saw some ministers driving expensive cars and living in luxury and justifying by saying, “Nothing but the best for the King’s Kids!” Paul was stoned and left for dead, whipped, shipwrecked, imprisoned in the inner most cell, etc. But he was rich in God’s economy.

v34 – A paraphrase may read, “In summation, don’t worry about tomorrow because it will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble to deal with.” It’s where any 12-step program gets their “Live one day at a time” slogan.

Matthew 7 – Judging vs. Condemning

v1-5: When Jesus says we should not “judge” He does not mean we should not draw conclusions about behavior in others. He created a conscience in all of us that judges issues of morality all the time. In order to stay away from evil we need to judge it first as being evil. So what Jesus is saying is that we should not condemn people as you see them do evil. Furthermore, we must be careful how we judge others because if we are harsh, then we will receive similar harshness from God…and that’s scary. In context, Pharisees were judging with hypocrisy, so Jesus dealth with that here. Critics and skeptics will always try to make Christians feel as though we are narrow-minded and judgmental if we draw lines on morality. They are in serious error. Earlier in Matthew, God says that we are to be light and salt. Should we therefore say that marriage is just between a man and a woman? Yes. Should we snub homosexuals or treat them like dirt? No. We all have sin in us. Should we say abortion is wrong? Yes. Should we look down on a person that has had an abortion? No. This is what Jesus meant. Most people struggle with judging others because they will easily spot the other person’s faults but are blind to their own. The closer I got to Jesus in my personal walk with Him, the more I realized how much was wrong in me. Furthermore, if I spend time fixing me, I don’t have the time to criticize others.

v6: We should not share the deeper truths of Christianity with people who are “dogs” or “swine” (reprobate – beyond being granted repentance) because they will take that info and make things worse somehow. I know individuals that continually go out of their way to criticize Christianity. I certainly would not share some deep Scriptural truths with them.

v7-11: Reveals how much God loves to give and wants to give. Giving, however, can be enabling, i.e. giving what people want, like lying for an alcoholic or giving money to a gambler. So I guess God has to be careful about what He gives us.

v11: Many people say that Jesus Christ was a good moral teacher. Well, this good teacher just blatantly stated that humans are evil in this verse. These same people (humanists) will insist that we are basically good. If He is teaching the opposite of what they believe, how can He be a good teacher in their eyes? Christian critic Bill Maher said Jesus is okay but not His followers. I don’t think Bill knows what Jesus said. Sadly, most Americans do not know all that Jesus said. We cannot merely label Jesus as a good teacher. The magnitude of His personal claims do not leave us that option. He is a liar, a lunatic, or the Truth. He gives us no other choices.

v12: Jesus states the classic “Golden Rule,” and, if we obey it, we will obey other things that God likes because all of the Old Testament and the content of the Prophets can be summed up with this.

v13-14: Jesus gives the best advice that any human soul can hear…plus a scary warning. Salvation will be only ONE WAY, but destruction will be MANY WAYS. See John 14:6.

v16: “You will know them by the fruits” – outward behavior reveals where people are at with God. This ties in with what the Book of James says about proving salvation by works (James 2:17-18). He is not saying that works saves us, but rather that real faith will automatically result in good behavior.

v21: This may be referring to Judgment Day when some souls will be rightfully calling Jesus “Lord” but their lives on earth never demonstrated that faith. Faith without works is dead, the Book of James says.

v22-23: These may be the verses that will put phony evangelists and phony faith-healers in trouble on Judgment Day. One popular TV healer claimed he heard from God the names and diseases about people he did not know. Then it was found out that he wore a tiny ear piece and his wife, who had spied on people in the lobby before they entered, was giving him the information while he was on stage. When he was exposed, his defense was that he admitted getting some info from his wife but over half of it came from God. Yeah, right! This man has returned to the ministry and is on cable TV after staying low for a while. Unfortunately, there are many more of these phonies getting money from people.

v29: I love this one because it not only adds credibility to Jesus, but intrigue as well.

Matthew 8:

v4: Why did Jesus not want the leper to tell others about Him healing Him? Perhaps it would have been a distraction form immediately going to the priest about it. This was important because Jesus had to obey all the Old Testament laws. Also, perhaps if word got out too fast, it would be difficult for Him to travel to the many district He needed to speak to. He only had about 3 1/2  years to speak the Word of God to folks.

v5-13: Jesus does not have to touch someone for healing, just His word has that power. He made sure He commented on the amount of faith in a non-Jew to let the Jews know that being Jewish alone does not make a true child of God.

v19-22: In order to truly follow Jesus, there must not be any other priorities (idols).

v29: Demons know there is an appointed time for their eternal judgment to begin and they recognized who Jesus was without Him saying a word. The spiritual realm is much clearer than our realm.

v32: This is scary because it shows how much demonic power can reside in a human without driving him/her to oblivion as was in the case with the pigs when they received the demons that were in the men.

v34: Not sure Jesus had a chance to do that much in the community of the Gardarenes (near Sea of Galilee). One thing we know is that the herdsmen lost a lot of pigs, and I don’t think they were too happy about that. Real supernatural power to cast out demons was too scary for these town folk, hence they demanded that He leave. This is understandable. It’s not like people see this sort of thing every day. Luke 8:22-39 and Mark 5:1-19 reveal much more details about this account, although they mention only one demon-possessed man whereas Matthew mentions two. We cannot assume that this is a contradiction. Luke seems to be zeroing in on more details – which he is noted for (Luke 1:3), therefore he may have focused on the one man while there easily could have been more involved. Luke probably got his details from Mark. Luke was a physician from Rome so he was not part of the 12 Apostles. In fact, I don’t think he ever saw Jesus, but he was a stickler for not only details but chronology as well.

Matthew 9: Did Jesus Heal Everyone? New Wine Skins?

Most of Jesus’ miracles were instantly performed which proves that God’s creative process can be sudden, not millions of years of evolution. Michael Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, wrote a book entitled, “Darwin’s Black Box.” He gives compelling scientific evidence against the notion of slow evolutionary steps in biology from the molecular level. His basic point is this: if something is alive, it is comprised of complex mechanisms (machines) that must be operating in top-notch (adult/mature/completed) form inside in order to maintain the life of the organism. If just one of these mechanisms is not fully formed (and therefore not functional), then life cannot exist or be sustained. All microscopic, molecular mechanisms must be in tact and working always to maintain life or to even have life. Based on modern scientific facts, there is no such thing as a primitive cell. If it’s alive, it’s complex. Darwin wrongly predicted that the smaller the organism is, the more simple its structures would be. To carry Behe’s facts and logic one step further, for life to exist in its present form, there had to be a “sudden poof” of creation! This would be followed by minor adaptations caused by environmental stresses and God’s creative ability over the years (i.e. varieties of dogs), but life forms always were produced after their kind. Sounds like the Genesis account to me. Evolutionists have, for the most part, neglected Behe’s claims. Those that have opposed them have either misrepresented what Behe has said or used lame reasoning.

Interesting Update concerning that “sudden poof” of creation – Noted theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku (staunch evolutionist), has recently claimed that life had to have originated very suddenly (something from nothing in seconds), which is difficult for him to fathom. Science sometimes gets close to the truth. God, however, is not found via man’s intellect alone. We all must humble ourselves as a little child in order to be able to gain eternal life.

Another thing we learn from Jesus’ miracles is that God loves us and wants to heal us. But I dare say that He must be careful how and when He does this. I notice that Jesus does not go out of His way to heal all lepers, all blind people, etc. At one point He singled out and healed only one man in a crowd of physically hurting people near a pool (John 5:1-9). He did heal all who came to Him, however. He realized that something more than physical healing was needed in people – that is, salvation, or the Kingdom of God within their hearts. Without this, even physical healing would not help them in the long run (the eternal perspective working here). Without this, people would try to turn God into a magic Genie to solve all their problems of this world (that the sin curse causes) without truly repenting of their sin. God is not a Santa Claus in the sky. By just healing everyone, He’d have little time to preach the news about the Kingdom. (I think this is one of the reasons that Satan tried to get Him to “change the stones into bread” during the Temptation in the wilderness). At one point in Scripture He rebuked a group of people that were following Him because they were only interested in getting free food from Him – not the eternal things. So Jesus went out of His way to heal only those He saw the Father in Heaven telling Him to heal (John 5:19). I also believe that a big part of that temptation from Satan was to try to get Jesus to perform His heaven sent power on His own, apart from the Father.

What does this all mean for us today? God still is in the healing business (Hebrews 13:8). He encourages us to ask (Matt.7:7). There are some churches that have “healing teams” consisting of people who have that gift from the Holy Spirit. Does healing prayer work every time? No. Why? We can only speculate: motives may be wrong, God’s trying to get us to focus on something else first, or He may have a better time for us, it’s difficult to say. But I always encourage people to pray for healing in the name of Jesus. I’ve known several people since my born-again experience in 1970 that have had miracle healings.

What can we learn from the people who were healed by Jesus? Some were thankful and some were not (Luke 17:17), and some blabbed about it when Jesus said not to (this chapter v30-31). His healings certainly caused quite a stir and got throngs of people to seek Him out. I’m sure more heard the Gospel and teachings of Jesus because of those miracles.

Why these miracles cited in the Bible and not others? Difficult to say, but according to the Gospel of John, if they described all of them, the world could not contain the books (John 21:25).

v13 – “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice.” This is the difference between having religion vs. having a personal relationship with God. Religious people will attend churches, temples, etc., they will do outward rituals, but their hearts are far from God. It’s easy to be religious, it’s more difficult to truly follow Jesus.

v16-17: The New Wine Skins – Jesus is revealing that keeping the Old Testament Law (not that anyone could keep it) will not work for salvation, and that He will usher in God’s full revelation of what it takes to have eternal life, namely the New Covenant. Many Jews who rejected the New One were satisfied with the Old and did not want to repent and be born-again. The same can be said for religious people today. They would rather just go to church, give some money, and perform some standard rituals than truly follow Jesus. These are satisfied with “the Old.”

v30: Why would Jesus tell a healed person not to tell others? One reason may be that He was very concerned about His ability to get to other towns to preach. If too many people crowded about Him, it would be hard to go to all the places His Father was apparently telling Him to go to for the sake of getting the Word out. He only had 3+ years to accomplish this, and He knew that many people would just want healing rather than truly follow Him and live for His Eternal Kingdom.

v34: Claiming that Satan was healing rather than the Holy Spirit is that one sin that cannot be forgiven – blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 12:22-32 for the context).

v37-38: How are we doing as laborers for Christ? I’d say that if we love Him with all we have, and love others as we love ourselves, then we will automatically labor well for Him. We will automatically have joy (John 15:11), even through difficult times. Others will notice that we have something that they do not have (Matt.7:16, and Galatians 5:22-23). If each day we say to Him, “Your will be done, not mine” we will be laboring just fine! And God knows we need MORE LABORERS so He asks us to pray for that. Christians as a whole in America, however, have a long way to go in my opinion when you consider all the churches that claim to be Christian. I believe that a small percentage are doing wonderfully while the rest are slumbering spiritually.

Matthew 10:

v6: According to Daniel’s prophecy in his Chapter 9, the Jews had only a limited time before the Old Covenant was fulfilled and shut down by Jesus. Therefore Jesus made sure that His first target for His Words was the Jews. This does not mean God loves the Jews more than Gentiles (non-Jews).

v9-10: Jesus was teaching His disciples how they can rely on God to provide needs.

v11-15: All this was done to be clearly shown on the Great Day of Judgment.

v16: “Wise as serpents” means be familiar with the evil and the deceptions that you will confront in this world. Do not be naive, but maintain your integrity and righteous attitude and behavior through it all (innocent as doves).

v16-22: Tough stuff revealed to his disciples! Hatred and death are coming, but God will be with them always through it.

v23: Difficult verse because it depends on what branch of eschatology (method of interpreting end-time prophecies) to which you belong (Full Preterism, Partial Preterism, Dispensationalism, Historicism, or Idealism). For more info in these, you can read my commentary on the Book of Revelation. I lean toward historicism, but I think preterists would agree with me here. The phrase “until the Son of Man comes” is at issue. I believe Jesus is referring to either His resurrection or the huge judgment against Israel in 70 A.D. when all was destroyed, including the Old Covenant Temple (never to be rebuilt, as the dispensationalists claim). Remember, the context of all this is Jesus was sending His disciples TO THE JEWS. So it’s all about the ending of the Old Covenant. Hence, the argument for that verse’s interpretation is on solid ground. Dispensationalists tend to interpret that difficult verse as referring to His Second Coming, but that just makes no sense to me.

v24-33: Again Jesus is revealing the tough times coming for His disciples, but assures them of their value to God and they do not have to fear. God knows us so intimately that He knows how many hairs are on our heads! Lastly, it is important for us to confess our faith in Jesus to others to confirm our salvation.

v28 – God destroys both body and soul in hell, but no mention of our spirit. The Bible reveals that humans have a triune nature – body (physical), soul (personality), and spirit (communicates with God) (1Thess. 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). Does this imply that human spirits live on forever? Not sure. If all is burned up and destroyed in the Lake of Fire (and this is the second Death), how then can someone be alive and suffer forever? Jesus said that the unrepentant sinner will perish in Luke 13:3. If they perish, how then can they live forever? I’ve been contemplating this for years. The Bible makes clear that the devil and his fallen angels will be tormented forever, but not so clear about humans. For sure, unsaved humans will be punished according to what they were exposed to while on earth and what they have done. Whether that punishment lasts forever is questionable in my opinion. This notion upsets most Christians, but I have studied this issue for years whereas most believers have not looked into the issue from the Scriptures. This does not mean I am correct, however. It just means it’s not just a whim of a thought on my part. A book called “Rethinking Hell” published by Cascade Books is a compilation of several authors who use Scripture to advocate eventual annihilation (following punishment deserving to each individual life). As far as I can tell, these authors have given this controversial issue much prayer, thought, and research, and are not part of some liberal theological persuasion as many Christian would automatically suspect. They love Jesus and are dedicated to allowing the Scriptures interpret the Scriptures. They have looked hard at every single verse in the Bible that may lead people to think that Hell involves everlasting torment for unsaved human souls and have then offered good explanations for their convictions. This is not an attempt to claim that hell does not exist nor does it assert that everyone eventually gets into Heaven. It does not minimize the horror of the judgment of the unsaved. Hell is real and horrible, but does it last forever for human unsaved souls? You can ask me to send you a fair, in-depth look into this controversy. My email is [email protected]

v34: The most important and the most dividing question in the history of mankind is this: WHO IS JESUS CHRIST? This divides people rather quickly even today.

v37-39: Losing and finding life? Jesus means that eternal life is gained if we give up our will over our life to Him and allow Him to mold us and our situations according to His will rather than clinging and trusting in ourselves and trying to control situations to please our selfish wants or ambitions. For me personally, for some reason I always believed in God, Jesus, and the Bible, but I did not surrender my life to Jesus until I was 21 years of age. When we surrender to Jesus, we invite Him to reside in us and sit upon the thrones of our soul-lives because we have fallen in love with Him. But if we cling to our self-centered bents, we will lose all. Head knowledge of God’s existence means little as it has little affect on our behavior. Surrendering our lives to Him out of love and following Him has maximum behavioral affect. This is the true “born-again” experience that Jesus says is necessary to gain eternal life. “Taking up our cross” simply refers to us denying our self and allowing God to rule us. The cross represents dying to sin and self, and following Him. It does not mean that each person will have to bear something dreadful in this life apart from the promised persecution we will experience as true believers (John 15:20; 2Timothy 3:12).

Matthew 11:

v3-6: Why did John the Baptist suddenly have doubts about who Jesus was? The Bible does not say, but a guess is that he was expecting the Messiah to conquer Roman rule for the Jews and since Jesus wasn’t giving any sign that He was doing that, John wondered. The Old Testament’s prophecies describing a “suffering servant” seemed to be under the Jewish radar in Christ’s time. Jews today who reject Jesus as their Messiah believe that those OT “suffering” prophecies refer to the nation of Israel, not Jesus (as if the Jews have been suffering for the sins of the world??). Jesus’ response was simply quoting Old Testament prophecies that He was fulfilling at that time.

v7-10: Jesus interprets the “messenger” prophecy as being fulfilled by John the Baptist. He also said John was “Elijah” who was to come (v14). Obviously John was not an incarnation of Elijah but perhaps they were of similar spirit??

v11: Jesus had high praise for John the Baptist, but to think that in the state that John was in at that time, being alive in a fleshly body, doesn’t even come close to the greatness and glory of the least member of the Kingdom of God (Heaven). This is but a small glimpse into how great Heaven will be. (With due respect, no mention of Mary here).

v12: All theologians and Bible scholars admit that this verse is difficult to understand. Some experts insist that we must translate the Greek into Hebrew first, then we get a better understanding. But when they did this, they were still guessing at its meaning. The best one I found was from Al Maxey – “The kingdom of heaven earnestly and forcefully presses forward, and it is entered into by earnest, eager pursuers of it.” Luke 16:16 could be rendered in the following manner: “The gospel of the kingdom of God is being proclaimed, and everyone is eagerly, intently and purposefully pursuing entrance into it.”

“Another possible meaning is that Jesus is speaking about the perversion of truth committed by His critics and opponents. In other words, a right understanding of the kingdom had been attacked. People had the wrong idea about what the kingdom of heaven really was. That’s why John the Baptist asked if Jesus was really the Messiah. In that sense, then, Jesus would be saying that violent men are insisting the kingdom must be a political kingdom that begins by overthrowing the Romans. Jesus did not come to earth to do that.” (

“The most direct meaning of these words seems to be that when Jesus began His public ministry, the kingdom of heaven was beginning on earth in the form of Jesus and His followers. But great opposition has risen up against heaven’s kingdom in the form of men like Herod—who imprisoned John the Baptist—and the Jewish religious leaders.” (

Lastly, and perhaps the most simple interpretation, is that since the Kingdom of God was so close to the Jews, since John the Baptist and now Jesus starting His ministry, people who were against all of it would kill John and Jesus in an attempt to have the Kingdom belong to them (see Matthew 21:38).

v16-19: A perfect description of all naysayers of this world.

v22: A slight glimpse into what Judgment Day will be like. Much depends on how much revelation of truth one has experienced in this life, and there will be varying degrees of punishments as well as rewards. We tend to think that the people living in Sodom were EXTRA bad, but Jesus said that if they saw His miracles, the city would not have been destroyed. I think this means that those “extra bad” people would have repented! So the people of Capernaum will receive worse punishment than the sodomites of Sodom. Self-righteous Christians take heed. Lastly, one of the biggest results of miracles that God wants is REPENTANCE. This puts human souls on the right path in life.

v25: This verse explains why proud university professors and proud scientists (or any proud person) cannot believe in God’s Word.

v28-30: It’s difficult for the people of this world to grasp that giving our burdens over to Something we cannot see successfully lightens our load. But this is true. Jesus’ load is light, kindly, and pleasant – no big “cross to bear” here. This is a huge mental health boost. Unfortunately, contemporary intellects have created the counterfeit to this. Some colleges train little children to “invite Mr. QR into their bodies” in order to relax them from limb to limb. “QR” stands for “quieting reflex” and is presented to children as an “invisible man” who must be invited into their bodies. One must wonder if the real Jesus is not being invited in, are other entities entering innocent souls? Sadly, people want the benefits of Jesus, but not Jesus.

Matthew 12:

v1-14: Jesus sums up the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by saying the more important thing in this life is having compassion, not religious sacrificing.

v8: Jesus claims that He is Lord of the Sabbath, i.e., He made and makes the rules and interpretations. Just my opinion so it may be wrong.

v15-21: Jesus quotes Isaiah’s prophecies about Him. Side note on v20 – “battered reed” – back in His day kids would take reeds and blow through them making a noise (it was called “having fun” in those days). But when the reeds became bruised or battered, the kids would throw them away and pick out fresh ones and repeat the “fun.” So since this verse from Isaiah is about Jesus, it means that Jesus loves to fix “battered reeds,” which we all are due to iniquity, and use them for a good purpose again. Cool, eh?

v22-29: A huge healing and deliverance! But Pharisees said it was satanic power. Again, they showed no compassion for the man who was blind and mute. Jesus refutes their statement and says that the “strong man” must first be bound in order to succeed in casting out demons. Some believe this is when Satan was bound so that he could no longer deceive the nations. If so, it’s not a total binding, but a limited one and could be spoken about in Revelation Chapter 20. If interested, check out my commentary on that chapter.

v31-32: “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” – the only sin that God will NOT forgive. Unfortunately, some Christians believe they’ve done this. It does not mean grieving the Holy Spirit (any time we sin, we do this). It means seeing the power of the Holy Spirit in action face-to-face and giving credit to Satan. Can a Christian do this? I don’t think so. I have heard some believers say that speaking in tongues is of the devil and though I strongly disagree, I don’t think this rises to the level  of evil in this context. I would think that only an extremely hardened heart, such as what many Pharisees had, would fall into this category.

v36-37: The power of our own tongue is greater than we think.

v38-42: Jesus hints of His resurrection as being the final sign given to prove His claims to be true.

v43-45: A warning about getting set free from demonic control followed by not getting close with Jesus – we will be 7 times worse later. Perhaps this is one reason why Jesus just didn’t go out of His way setting free all people with demons. If they did not get Christ’s Spirit inside them, more demons would return later making their condition worse for themselves and those near them. Yes, He helped those who came to Him, but He realized that He needed to travel to other towns to preach about the Kingdom, and those who were delivered from demons needed to get Christ in their hearts.

v46-50: Jesus is distancing Himself from all His earthly family members, and rightfully so. In His eyes, who are His real brothers and mother? The ones who do the will of His Father in heaven. He said a similar thing in Luke 11: 27-28 when a woman yelled out from a crowd, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed.” But Jesus said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.”

I’m sure Mary had no problem with handling statements such as these from Jesus because the Bible says that she did not brag about being His mother. In fact, she treasured all the great things that the angel spoke over her in her heart (Luke 2:51). She even confesses God as being her Savior (Luke 1:47) which reveals that she, too, needed saving from sin. This is all quite remarkable regarding Mary. In my life, I’ve flunked the humility test a few times. I deeply love and respect Mary, but she is not a mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5).

Matthew 13:

v1-23: The use of parables was predicted in Psalm 78:2. their meanings were hard to understand originally but over time more people, with the help of the Holy Spirit, could get the messages. This one outlined four categories of people who hear God’s Word. It reveals the specific things that can rob a person of salvation, so we need to be ever mindful of such things.

v11: Not sure why only a few were granted the meaning besides fulfilling prophecy.

v24-30: A tare looks like wheat but it is not. It is a weed – good for nothing. In early stages of growth they cannot be distinguished from each other. Later, they can. Like people alive on earth — we cannot tell by what they look like on the outside whether or not they are (or will be) a child of the Kingdom. I remember during my first year teaching in 1971. I met an intellectual teacher who headed up a discussion group on a conference day. After listening to this bearded, bespeckled man speak for 20 minutes I said to myself, “Don’t even bother sharing Jesus with this guy!” He and his wife happened to have a baby that would die soon from a birth defect. A few months later, he met a Christian family that also had a baby with the same birth defect. Hoping to gain advice as to how to deal with this child, both he and his wife accepted the Lord by the great witnessing from this couple. He was actually a big healthy stalk of wheat and I only saw a weed! This man later became an endearing friend to me and a great influence. We cannot judge by outer appearances or by personal stereotypes or prejudices. You know, sometimes a drug addict is within an inch of becoming saved while the proud church-goer is far from it. God knows who the wheat is and who the tare is, we don’t. So, sow that seed everywhere you go….you never know…it’s kind of like fishing.

Interesting side note: This converted friend of mine was raised a staunch evolutionist and taught science at the high school level for years. When he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, his first thought was, “Evolution is a lie.” This occurred immediately – no time for “Bible indoctrination” or “Christian indoctrination.” If the Bible is NOT true, how then could something like this ever happen? If the Bible is NOT true, how could a highly educated and respected Saul, on his way to persecute Christians, suddenly put his own life on the line by preaching a resurrected Jesus?

v29-30: Jesus reveals the reason why God did not destroy everything when sin first occurred.

v33: This meaning is that His Kingdom starts small and unnoticable but grows into the biggest Kingdom and it will never end. Daniel saw this in a vision. Check out Daniel 2:31-35 (hint: the “stone” is Jesus).

v44-46: reveals that nothing is more important than the Kingdom of God and we must be willing to give up anything to get into it.

v47-50: Reveals that all evil will be purged and only righteousness will exist in His Kingdom.

v52: “Scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven” may refer to a person who studies and becomes very familiar with the truths of the Kingdom (Scriptures). A Jewish scribe’s job was to study and know all the Scriptures so well that would recopy them several times over the years never changing one iota of a stroke of a pen. If they did, the whole page was thrown away and he would start again. So Jesus is saying that when someone, especially a Jewish OT believer, becomes a “scribe of the Scriptures” (perceives the shift from OT to NT and teaches others correctly), they need to preserve old truths still relevant while revealing new ones or bring newness to what is taught so people of each generation can relate to it and understand it…quite a heavy responsibility. This is just a guess on my part.

v53-58: Because Nazareth villagers knew Jesus when He was just a boy, and they also knew His family members, it was difficult for them to believe he was the Messiah. Jesus became known as a Nazarene not a Bethlehemite. Maybe they thought the Messiah would come from an unknown place (John 7:27). Commentaries speculate that some Jews thought the Messiah would disappear for a while following his birth in Bethlehem and then appear “out of no where” as an adult later.

Matthew 14 – What Jesus Did NOT Do

v19-20 – Multiplication of food miracle: Some skeptics have theorized that these 5,000 people had concealed food, and Jesus’ sermon inspired them to share it. Therefore no real miracle took place. The real issue about Jesus and the Bible is this: Are the miracle accounts real and truthful? If, for example, Jesus did rise from the dead, then why would we question the bread miracle? It makes no logical sense to believe in the resurrection but not believe in the food miracle. It seems logical to me that if Jesus rose from the dead, He could easily provide a bunch of food from a few leftovers. From those three temptations we know that Satan knew He could. If we reject one miracle account, how then can we believe in another miracle account? There are tons of miracles described, some in detail, throughout the Bible: instant creation from dust, Red Sea splitting in a very timely fashion (and there was dry land on the bottom with walls of water on the sides), walking on water, Moses and Elijah suddenly appearing with Jesus, raising of the dead, floating axe head, physical cures, a prophets bones healing someone, virgin birth, etc., etc. In my mind, either they are all true or all a bunch of lies. The credibility of the Bible is at stake for every statement It makes.

v29-31: Now we have another miracle – Peter walking on water with Jesus. Peter failed only when he took his eyes off of Jesus. Good lesson for us today. As long as we keep our eyes (and faith) in Jesus, we will be okay no matter what this world does to us. But if we take our eyes off Him, the fears of this world (like the waves around Peter) will overtake us and we will sink and not do so well.

v33: They worshiped Jesus. The important part of this passage is WHAT JESUS DOES NOT do. Jesus did NOT stop the worship. So, if He is not God in the flesh, He’s guilty of a great sin – for every Jew KNEW THAT THERE IS ONE GOD AND HE ALONE IS TO BE WORSHIPED. In every other case in the Bible where someone started to worship a man or angel, that man or angel stopped the worship immediately (Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10). Jesus did not. And this happened a number of times throughout the Scriptures. This is a tough fact for the cults to deal with, because every cult that believes in the Bible will deny the deity of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 15 – This woman was called a dog?! Or does God’s love extend farther than most think?

v1-9: Jesus beautifully demonstrates the difference between the traditions of men and God’s desire. In this one instance, the Jewish leaders were conveniently “dedicating” their money to God (this practice was called “Corban” – see also Mark 7:11), therefore they could not use it to help their needy parents! Jesus rebuked them for holding man’s teaching above God’s commandment about honoring parents. Furthermore, Jesus quotes the Prophet Isaiah describing religious people of His time and of today when they honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. Jesus says that kind of worship (or church/temple attendance) is in vain…ouch! Religions today (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Islam, etc.) all have man-made traditions that suppress God’s heart’s desire for people on earth. Churches that don’t have this ruling their group, and if they focus on Jesus and loving others, usually have the most growth over time. The bottom line is this: any doctrine or practice that we have must emanate only from the Scriptures because they alone are God-breathed (Acts17:11). Group/church leaders/cults who like to “lord it over (control) their flocks” will always have some other source that they elevate to or above Scriptural status. Men like power and are corrupted by it.

v11, 17-20: I can hear all the little kids rejoicing over these verses, “See mom? Jesus didn’t wash His hands either!” Oh how we humans love to take verses out of context to justify whatever. I think Jesus was speaking about moral defilement rather than germ defilement. While it is true that God creates antibodies along with an amazing immune system to thwart constant germ invasion, I deem it wise to wash hands before eating – not as a religious purification ceremony, but just for common sense sake since we now know about pathogens.

v14: Jesus says blind people will follow blind guides and they both will perish. Regarding those blind leaders/guides – Jesus surprisingly tells His disciples to “leave them alone.” In other words, there’s no hope for them. Maybe we are not supposed to go out of our way to convert them, or maybe even to debate them. I’m just guessing here. In any case, it is the only time when Jesus gives this sort of command. I also noticed that after Jesus rose from the dead, He did not appear to any of those religious leaders who conspired to kill Him….not even to “stick His tongue out” at them… 🙂

v22-28: This story is very difficult to accept at first reading, especially for new Bible readers. It appears that Jesus is refusing to help this woman and, to top it all off, he calls her a “dog.” First, this woman was a Canaanite – a non-Jew whose people had a long history of being idol worshipers, perversion, godlessness, and were staunch enemies of Israel. Hebrews referred to pagans as “dogs” because of their unclean habits and practices. For some reason, the Jews were never able to totally drive them out of their land. Jesus was saying that His first priority at that particular time was to minister and teach God’s chosen people. There would be a time for the Gentiles (non Jews) a tiny bit later. But because of her great faith, He healed her daughter. Perhaps Jesus was also making it clear to people that this was a great sinning person and yet He still answered her quest and performed a great miracles for her. In other words, God loves everyone no matter what ethnic background from which they come. Also note the degree of humility in this woman – to consider herself to be a mere dog looking for scraps under a table is quite moving. God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Matthew 16:

v14: Jesus’ fame was growing fast and there were many rumors about who people thought He was. Since John the Baptist became famous and probably liked and respected by many, some believed that Jesus was John resurrected from the dead.

v16-17 – Peter’s answer that Jesus was the Christ was a huge deal to Jesus because Jesus knew that this was not only the first time in this planet’s history that this truth was uttered, but it was also divinely revealed. In other words, Peter did not just figure this out himself. It was not just his opinion or some emotional rant. Jesus knew that the Father in heaven told it to Peter.

v18-19: This is controversial because it sharply divides Protestants and Catholics. The foundation of the Roman Catholic Church springs from their belief that Jesus just made Peter the first Pope. In other words, they believe that the power to rule (“keys of the Kingdom”) over the Christian Church was given to this man and to later successors.

Protestants, on the other hand, believe that the “rock” that Jesus was referring to was not Peter or any man, but it was the faith to which Peter just confessed. In other words, the Rock of the Christian Church is the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus had not yet explicitly taught Peter and the other disciples the fullness of His identity, and He recognized that God had revealed to him who Jesus really was. His confession of Jesus as Messiah poured forth from him, a heart-felt declaration of Peter’s personal faith in Jesus. It is this personal faith in Christ which is the hallmark of the true Christian. Those who have placed their faith in Christ, as Peter did, are the church. Peter expresses this in 1 Peter 2:4 when he addressed the believers who had been dispersed around the ancient world: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” At this point, Jesus declares that God had revealed this truth to Peter.

Roman Catholicism interprets verse 19 as the power given ONLY to the papacy. The Protestant belief is that it is the power given to all believers, that Jesus wasn’t talking just to Peter but to all of His disciples. In fact, later in Matthew 18:18, Jesus says the “power of the keys of the Kingdom” were given to all the disciples, not just to Peter.

Concerning “the rock” – Jesus appears to be using a play on words in the Aramaic to Greek language. “You are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church.” Roman Catholicism asserts that Peter’s name means rock, and Jesus is going to build His church on a rock and Christ is linking the two together. The word for “Peter,” Petros, means a small stone (John 1:42). Jesus used a play on words here with petra (“on this rock”) which means a foundation boulder, as in Matthew 7:24- 25 when He described the rock upon which the wise man builds his house. Peter himself uses the same imagery in his first epistle: the church is built of numerous small petros “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) who, like Peter, confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and those confessions of faith are the bedrock of the church. When Peter told Jesus that He would never be killed, he was not called the foundation rock but a stumbling block (v23).

In addition, the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Christ ALONE is both the foundation (Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:11) and the Head (Ephesians 5:23) of the Church. It is a mistake to think that He gave either of those roles to Peter, or any mere man throughout history. All the apostles played a foundational role in the building of the church (Ephesians 2:20), but the role of primacy is reserved for Christ alone, not assigned to Peter. So, Jesus’ words here are best interpreted as a simple play on words in that a boulder-like truth came from the mouth of one who was called a small stone. And Christ Himself is called the “chief cornerstone” (1 Peter 2:6,7). The chief cornerstone of any building was that upon which the building was anchored. If Christ declared Himself to be the cornerstone, how could Peter be the rock upon which the church was built? It is more likely that the believers, of which Peter is one, are the stones which make up the church, anchored upon the Cornerstone, “and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6).

God did use Peter in the foundation of the church. It was Peter who first proclaimed the Gospel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47). Peter was also the first to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48). So Peter was certainly a major player in the founding of the early Christian Church, but he was not the only one. Furthermore in the Book of Acts which gives an account for early church history, Peter never acted like a Pope by exercising authority over all, including Paul. Believers did not look up only to Peter to make all the tenets of the faith. To the contrary, Paul even criticized Peter publicly for being embarrassed when prominent Jews caught him sitting with Gentile believers (Galatians 2:11-14).

The Roman Catholic Church uses the argument that Peter is the rock to which Jesus referred as evidence that it is the one true church. As we have seen, Peter’s being the rock is not the only interpretation of this verse. Even if Peter is the rock in Matthew 16:18, this is meaningless in giving the Roman Catholic Church any “direct pipeline authority” from God. Scripture nowhere describes Peter as being supreme over the other apostles. The New Testament does not describe Peter as being the “all authoritative leader” of the early Christian church. Peter was not the first pope, and Peter did not start the Roman Catholic Church. The origin of the Catholic Church is not in the teachings of Peter or any other apostle.

The concept of one mere man being in charge of the worldwide Christian believers evolved historically from about 200 AD to 500 AD. After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, there was a power vacuum, and the so-called “bishops of Rome” were gaining prominence over the last 200 years. What is called The Roman Empire became The Holy Roman Empire. The difference? The former was ruled by civil authorities while the latter was ruled by Catholic men. By 533 AD, Emperor Justinian made a decree making one man the Head of the Church. This power became official in 538 AD and led to the Papal State rule that lasted 1,260 years during which true believers were hunted down and tortured and killed by many popes over those years. If you read Daniel Chapters 2 & 7 carefully, you can see all this history being portrayed in a symbolic, prophetic form.

One last thought…if all popes throughout history were indeed anointed by Jesus to be the Head of the Christian Church worldwide, why were many so evil? Why were they so drunk with power? Why did they torture and kill thousands of believers over several years? Why did they accept being addressed as “Holy Father” when we have only One Holy father in Heaven?

Recommended Resource: “Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics” by Ron Rhodes. Copyright: Got Questions Ministries, 2009.

v23: A paraphrase could read: “Satan get out of here! You are a dangerous trap for Me because you are thinking from man’s viewpoint, not God’s.” Poor Peter! He says what he thinks is a good thing to Jesus, and Jesus doesn’t even call him Peter, but addresses him as Satan because Jesus knew that Peter embraced something that Satan wanted to say (and indeed did say through Peter). This does not mean that Peter was satanic. It does mean that believers can be influenced and even used by the enemy unknowingly at times. Man’s mindset is to fight for what you want, and force your way into power. This is not how God’s Kingdom, which is the most powerful one and only one to last forever, is built.

v28: One guess as to what Jesus is referring here to is the Transfiguration where He was glorified during a supernatural visit from Moses and Elijah. The reference could not have been His Second Coming because all who were hearing this have died way before this event, obviously. But Peter, James, and John did see the Transfiguration shortly after Jesus told them this (Chapter 17). A few Bible scholars think that “Jesus coming in His glory” refers to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD as a judgment against the Jewish nation rejecting the Messiah.

Matthew 17:

v6 – The Transfiguration is certainly a picture of Jesus fulfilling the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) of the Old Testament. Certainly Peter, James, and John got a brief glimpse of Jesus in His future glory. I’m fairly sure that this extraordinary event gave the disciples courage and hope during those frightening and despairing days that would follow. I’ve always wondered why Jesus picked just those three to experience this. Then He tells them not to tell anybody – Whew! That would be tough for me.

Why afraid? I don’t think they were afraid of the appearance of Moses and Elijah, but hearing that voice from the cloud is what did it. It’s not like you hear that every day! I ‘m not sure how close Jesus was to them at this time. By their side, literally? Probably not. He could have been 10-15 yards away. I don’t know about you, but not only would that noise and voice from a cloud spook me, but just standing near Jesus would be enough to give me the shakes (whether or not He was doing anything)!

11-13: Jesus reveals that John the Baptist played the role of Elijah the Prophet who was supposed to come before the Messiah. So I do not think Elijah literally appeared in John, but rather a similar spirit in a different person.

14-21: A demon was seizing a boy and making him be thrown into the fire and the disciples could not cast it out, but Jesus did. Jesus said sometimes you need to pray and fast to cast some demons out of someone. This would give more supernatural power.

22-23: Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection. This notion probably went right over the heads of the disciples probably due to their pre-existing views of the Jewish Messiah – that He would be a worldly conqueror and rid them of Roman tyrannical rule.

24-27: Jesus says that believers in Him are technically exempt from paying the Jewish Temple tax (not free from the Roman taxes), but He said to pay them lest we give offense. I would have loved to see Peter’s eyes when he caught that fish with that shekel in its mouth.

Matthew 18 – Cut Off Those “Triggers” and Ya Gotta Forgive

v7-11: Stumbling block message. Cut off our feet? No, Jesus gave the same teaching in Matthew 5:28-29. Do not take this literally. If society did, I would invest in wheel chair sales and I would be first in line to need one! Jesus wants us to find out what the source is that causes sin and not give it a chance to blossom. If the problem is lust, then don’t go out of your way to give the devil an opportunity, i.e., watch TV, rent sexy movies, attend strip joints, buy porn, etc. As with alcoholism, deep lust problems can be easily triggered by only slight stimuli. A.A. has this saying, “One drink is too many, and a thousand is not enough.” Before sin conceives itself in us, there is a step-by-step process (James 1:14-15). Jesus says, don’t allow that first step that will set off the falling domino-type reaction. If the first domino does not fall over, then the last one won’t either. If you don’t take the first drink, you won’t get drunk. I can lose my temper. So God showed me some of my triggers. One is when I attempt to do a handyman’s job that would take someone who knows what they are doing 15 minutes. Well, when I’m into my 35th minute, I start to lose it. So I try to remember to pray before all tasks, and the moment time passes too long, I need to take a “Holy Pause.” If I don’t, something will be thrown or some bad words will somehow slip out of my big profane, untrained mouth (James 3:1-8). Whatever weakness we have, ask God to reveal our triggers, then “cut them off.” It actually works.

v10: It appears like we have angels assigned to us. I’ve always wondered about that. It’s a comforting thought. I heard Dr. Mary Neal (author of “To Heaven and Back”) share her near death experience. She drowned and her spirit left her body. She was accompanied by two angels and she somehow knew they had been with her all her life. Interesting.

v15-17: Reveals how we are supposed to deal with offenses or people who practice sinning. Unfortunately, this is ignored too often. The main motivation must be compassion, not ill-will.

v18: Now Jesus is telling all of His disciples that they have the authority to bind and loose things…not only Peter. Having the “keys of the Kingdom” enable us to do such work. Binding and loosing is a Jewish legal phrase giving authority to someone to determine whether something is allowed or forbidden.

v21-35: How often should we forgive someone who sins against us? Peter suggested up to seven times. But Jesus said, ” 70 times 7.” This is a good thing for US! If we only forgave others 7X, then that’s where God would have to stop forgiving us…oh-oh! Get rid of ALL grudges, they only hurt us – in this life and in the life to come. When we realize how much God has forgiven us (and we don’t even remember 90% of our sins), then it becomes easier to forgive someone who is guilty of sinning just a few times against us. Forgiving them doesn’t mean that we forget what they did nor does it mean that we trust them if they repeat it. It just means that we will not hold it against them.

We choose to hold on to grudges or release them. God does not force this. Even for horrific sins against us (such as rape) can be forgiven through God’s help. A rape victim was counseling with a pastor, and after one year from the crime she was still grinding her teeth and wringing her hands. She begged the pastor to tell her what she must do to stop the torment. He said, “You must forgive him.” She became furious and demanded one good reason why. He said, “So he stops hurting you.” This man was in prison and would never see this woman again, yet she gave him the power to torment her. All God is looking for is our willing to do this, and He will step in and help us. If we really love Him, forgiving is easy. If we choose not to forgive, we are that evil man who went around demanding debts to be paid back to him after he had been forgiven mega dollars. Many people fail to see themselves in this illustration told by Jesus.

Matthew 19:

v4 – Jesus said that God, from the beginning, created human beings male and female. I guess He doesn’t believe in evolution then because it says that in the beginning they just appeared as one living asexual cell billions of years ago. Maybe He just didn’t graduate from the right university.

v12: Some people have been called to be “eunuchs” for the Kingdom of God. This means they are called to not marry, and God will give them strength to do this.

v17: Jesus is hinting to this guy that he is calling Jesus God (good support for the deity of Christ). Then He tells the guy to keep the commandments to get saved. But He knows no one can. In fact, He purposely leaves out the commandments that this guy breaks big time. Sadly, he left and did not turn to Jesus repenting and asking for His help. Had he done this, he could have had eternal life granted to him.

v21: I don’t think Jesus is saying that in order to be saved we must sell all our possessions and give that money to the poor. But our hearts need to be there – willing if need be. This young man’s heart or willingness would never be there and Jesus, of course, knew it and simply brought it to light. In order for us to truly follow the Lord, the Kingdom of God must be the number one priority. Jesus must have the preeminence (Colossians 2:18).

v24: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Some have said that in Jesus’ day, the eye of the needle was an opening through city walls made only for people to enter after hours, so it was small and therefore impossible for an attacking army to enter swiftly. Camels, therefore, had to kneel and unload all their baggage in order to go through. Kneeling and crawling is difficult for a camel but not impossible. Rich people often do not see their need for God and therefore are rarely saved. The problem with this needle explanation is that there seems to be little or no foundation for it. Jesus used the Aramaic word “gamla” which can also be translated “rope.” Rope in those days was often made from camel’s hair. But the meaning of “gamla” depends on its context. If used with “riding” or “burden” it always means camel. If with “eye of the needle” it means rope. So the “eye of the needle” most likely meant a literal end of a sewing needle, and, it would then be impossible for a rope to go through. Would this then mean that rich people will not be saved? I don’t think so. Over the years wealthy people have been saved and Christ-confessing. Perhaps it is safer to say, that it is very difficult for rich people to be saved, but a few do (after all, Jesus later said in verse 26 that all things are possible with God). Abraham is saved and he was very wealthy, Joseph of Arimathea, who put Jesus in his tomb, was a rich man and very likely saved.

Many people living in the Bible lands at the time when the Gospels were written, erroneously believed that wealth indicated God’s favor. If one was poor, then the people believed that he must surely be cursed by GOD. This is why the disciples were astonished to such a degree, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” (v25).

v30: “The last shall be first” – Judgment Day will be a shocking event, especially to those who think they deserve a great reward. Is reward based on degree of revelation and what one does with that? If so, a person who has not been revealed much but did greatly with what he did have may receive an eternal reward higher than someone who knew a lot of truth but acted only partially on it (Luke 12:48). But aren’t we all required to seek and find God’s truth? Tough issue. But it is safe to say that pride and humility are in the works on this. Jesus just got done telling His disciples that because they left their families and worldly possessions behind to follow Him, a great reward awaits them. Then He says verse 30 perhaps as a warning to them not to get an inflated head.

Matthew 20:

v1-16 – There are different concepts that Jesus was illustrating here. I think the main one is that in the Judgment, if you think you deserve much, you won’t get it, though you are still saved. If, on the other hand, you think that you will receive little, you will be pleasantly surprised. The original group of workers were kindled to jealousy and that was the problem as well. They did agree to the price and got that pay. God is also trying to show us that all these “payments” are gifts, not deserved rewards. If we got what we deserved, we would be in hell. Grace, however, works like Jesus’ story. Shall we be jealous or feel defrauded because our Creator is generous to others? Let us hope not. If we are Godly, we will be happy for those who get much, we will not be thinking of ourselves.

There is another possible meaning. The Jews considered themselves to be God’s chosen people, and they were. Therefore they had a tendency to think that their reward will automatically be greater in Heaven compared to any Gentile. Many Jews, however, did not follow or obey God, some flatly denied and rejected Him. As a result, in the “end times” many Gentiles responded well to the Gospel and have been saved. Genetic ancestry does not determine personal salvation. Perhaps the overriding point is that people who have been walking with God for a long time may not think people who repent on their death bed should go to the same Place as themselves. I know the idea of a Hitler-type getting saved just before his death bothers many people. In reality, however, how many people wicked as Hitler actually truly repent on their deathbed??

v17-19: Once again Jesus predicts His death (method too) and His resurrection. The hearers struggled thinking He was speaking in parables again and not being literal. Most likely they still thought of the Messiah as one who would make Israel free and the leading nation of this world.

v24 – After all His teaching and now near death, Jesus has to hear this jealous bickering among the Twelve. Instead of blowing up at them, He simply says, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave….” What loving patience! Thank God.

v31 – A possible illustration to encourage us to be aggressive in asking God for help, not letting other people or bad situations dissuade us from pursuing God. Their persistence did make Jesus stop and meet their needs.

Matthew 21:

v1-11: More prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, evening including the use of a donkey! I’ve heard Christian pastors state that these same people who were hailing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, later cursed Him to the cross. I do not think this is true. First, there is no Biblical evidence. Second, it is safe to assume that there was a different crowd with Pilate and Jesus. The Pharisees along with “their kind” prevailed.

v12: The Bible says that God would have great zeal for His House (Psalms 69:9). The Old Testament Temple was very precious to God. He gave very specific instructions on how to build it because every part of it somehow represented Christ. There were outer and inner courts as well as the innermost chamber called the Holy of Holies where God’s Spirit dwelt. No human was allowed in there because sinful people cannot survive the the presence of God in His spiritual, pure form. However, once a year at Passover, only the Jewish High Priest had to go through the veil into that inner most chamber and would survive ONLY if he was sprinkled with lamb’s blood – and that lamb had to be without any blemish or flaw. There have been claims that the Jews would tie a rope around the ankle of that High Priest in case something “went wrong.” Then they could pull him out of there without having to enter themselves. There is no credible confirmation about this claim, however.

The outer court was for the Gentile believers. They were called “the Seekers.” They weren’t allowed any further into the Temple structure by the Jews. This is where the moneychangers set up their tables to exchange money for people who came from other countries. The problem was that the moneychangers were crooked and did not give fair exchanges. Moreover, this sort of activity, even if honestly done, should have not been done inside the Temple at all. Lastly, this activity was interfering with the Gentile believers in that they all could not enter in where they were supposed to. In sum, this was the holiest place in the world and the Jews were disrespecting it and perverting it, hence the justified anger from the Lord. By the way, the Bible does not say that Jesus’ whip actually touched anyone. It simply says that He drove them out yelling at them and quoting the Scripture about what His House is supposed to be (Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11).

Two Interesting Notes:

(1) When Jesus died on the cross, that veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom signifying that the barrier between God and man was torn down by what Jesus had accomplished (Matt.27:51). This veil was about 80 ft. high and very thick. My question is, what did the Jewish leaders do when they saw this? It had to be a scary breach! As far as I can gather from searching, there is no Jewish record about it. But it would certainly have to speak volumes to them. Specifically, God’s Spirit would not be there anymore so no one would die. If they sewed it back up, someone should have died during the repair if their OT was still in effect. I wonder how they handled it? There were about 47 years of further existence of all these structures before the total destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple came in 70 A.D.

(2) Shortly after Jesus’ ushered in the New Covenant with His Blood sacrifice, Jerusalem and that Temple were utterly destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Since then, the Jews have NOT had animal sacrifices! Of course, they are no longer needed according to Christian thinking. The Jewish religion, however, never would have reason to cancel this practice yet they do not do it. If they brought back this practice, animal rights groups would have a field day with it. I wonder if those same groups oppose abortion?……nah…”kill the humans but save the whales.”

Things are getting tense between Jesus and the rulers of the Jews. Much of His discourse is predicting that many Gentiles will have eternal life, but not the Jewish leaders who continually fight against God’s love and truth. Because the context of chapter 21 deals with the deterioration of the “chosen race,” the fig tree probably represents Israel as a nation, or at least a Jew who is not doing God’s thing (producing fruit). Even for us believers today, the lesson is if we really believe then we will have fruit. Phony Christians with no fruit do not last long. They are either exposed or become so backslidden that they are worthless (lost their “salt”).

v14-15: After healing blind and lame people, all the Pharisees could muster was anger toward Jesus. You know, even an “average sinner” would probably be happy for those who were healed! But not those Jewish leaders. And I emphasize LEADERS. All Jews did not reject Jesus. All 12 apostles were Jewish. All NT writers except Luke were Jewish. I’ve heard some people say if a person is Jewish, he/she cannot be Christian….as if Christian is a DNA race of humans! There has been a strong “Jews for Jesus” group going on for years. My pastor’s wife is Jewish. There should be no dislike for Jewish people by Christians. There should be no dislike for any ethnic group of people by Christians.

v18-21: Some theologians who believe this fig tree represents Israel, also believe that Matthew 24:32 refers to Israel becoming a nation once again thus signaling to the people of earth that the End is near. No one knows for sure if this is accurate. But it is interesting that Israel was totally destroyed as a nation in 70 A.D. and was not restored as a nation until 1948 A.D. Jesus did predict that after Israel rejected Him that Jerusalem would be destroyed because they did not recognize their God when He came. He specifically stated that not one stone in the Temple would be left on top of another. In 70 A.D. when the Roman General Titus rampaged Jerusalem, the fires were so hot that they melted all the gold in the Temple ceiling so that it ran into the crevices of the stone walls. So the Roman soldiers pried them apart to get at the gold thus flattening the entire Temple. Other interpreters believe that 70 AD marked the end of the covenant with physical Israel and the Jewish nation now plays no role in Biblical End-Time prophecy. They assert that God’s true Israel began when Christ was crucified and rose from the dead and is now represented by the worldwide Church. Whoever is correct on this issue, the fact remains that 70 AD was a very significant date in human history.

v33-45: The Parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers: The “landowner” is God. His “journey” may represent His withdrawal from sinful mankind (anyway, farmers can’t see the landowner in this parable). The farmers are the Jews who were put in charge of the land and giving the owner what he deserved. The landowner’s slaves were the Old Testament prophets sent by God at different times throughout Jewish history trying to correct waywardness. The landowner’s son is Jesus (the heir to all). Casting Him “out of the vineyard” may represent the fact that Jesus was killed outside the city walls. In v42, the “stone” is Jesus; the “builders” are the Jews; the “chief cornerstone” is Jesus raised to highest glory and authority and what holds the Church together. In v44, if we “fall onto this stone” we will be humbled but saved, but on whomever this stone falls, they will be destroyed in the Lake of Fire. (I think this interpretation has a fair chance of being accurate). But always bear in mind, parts of it IS an interpretation.

Matthew 22:

v1-13: Again a similar theme about the nation of Israel being judged for their rejection of living life the way God intended. And, in these end times, God is reaching far and wide for anyone to accept His invitation of having eternal life with Him. But in v11, there was someone who did not belong. Why? It says, “he wasn’t dressed in wedding clothes.” When Jesus returns, He is “marrying His Bride.” His Bride is us, the real church (the universal church world-wide comprised of all true believers). This story is describing this wedding. A person who does not have the proper wedding clothes may be someone who thought he was saved because of his good works. If a person believes they are going to Heaven when they die, they either believe it on the basis of genealogy (Jews), good enough works, or the unmerited mercy of God in Christ. If we believe that it is only the Blood of Jesus that saves us and not our own goodness, then we will be “wearing the proper robes on that Day.” I think this was Jesus’ way of telling people that there are some that think they will have eternal life when they won’t. Jesus said the Way is narrow.

v14: “Many are called (or invited) but few are chosen.” Scary verse. Many will hear and maybe even understand the Gospel (the Good News invite to Heaven) but not all will embrace it, in fact, only few will.

v39:  “Neighbor” means everyone and anyone, but don’t try to strive within yourself to achieve this kind of love because it will not come. If we could please God by doing what He wants by human effort, then Jesus was foolish to go through the suffering and embarrassment of the cross. Rather ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and then you will have His love emanating from you to all others. It is His spiritual surgery in our hearts that does this, and there is not a single person who does not need it. If we love God whom we cannot see, we will love man who we can see (1 John 4:20). Our love for God will spill over to whomever is around us.

v40: If we obey these two commandments, we will obey all the others.

v41-46: Jesus is making an important point to the Jews – He’s not just a normal offspring of King David’s lineage (just not a son). That quieted them down for a while :-).

Matthew 23:

v9-10: Jesus tells us to not call anyone “Father” because there is only One Father of us all. I don’t think He means that calling our dads “father” once in a while is wrong. It becomes wrong when we use it as a title of prominence who would lord it over us. He also says do not call anyone “teacher” (or “leader”), but Ephesians lists “teachers” as part of the five-fold ministry of the Church. so, again, I think the meaning is we should not allow others to lord it over us (1 Peter 5:3) and “bow down to them.” Respect our leaders, yes, but they are not God.

v24: Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel means to overlook a major problem by emphasizing a small one. “Legalists” will do this.

v37-38: An extremely sad moment for Jesus. He knew that the Jewish nation is about to reject Him and therefore a horrible destruction awaits those who live in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Matthew 24: THE END OF THE AGE, The “Olivet Discourse”

Warning – This chapter is one of the most difficult parts of the Bible to understand, and there are differing views.

v2: Jesus foretells the Temple’s destruction by the Roman army that occurred in 70 A.D., and every stone was literally torn down!

v3: The disciples ask when the would the Temple be knocked down, and when will the end of the age come, and when would He return. They seemed to link all three as happening at the same time, but Jesus did not say that. So a cloud of confusion manifests quickly here.

v5: Jesus warns of many false Messiah’s that will deceive many. Historically, this began shortly after Jesus and has continued since.

v6-8: Wars will come. “Rumors of wars” may describe the fear and threat of hostilities breaking out which has unfortunately been a part of this world continuously.  But Jesus said this is not the end but just the beginning along with famines and earthquakes. Due to the context of the next verse (9) He had to be referring to the threat of violence in His time period.

v9: The disciples would be killed and hated.

v10: Many will fall away and act badly.

v12-13: Due to increase of lawlessness most people’s love will grow cold. Sounds like today as well because any time there is an increase in lawlessness, love loses…no matter what generation is involved. Not losing faith during this time, however, ensures eternal life with Jesus.

v14: The word “world” may mean “inhabited earth.” Which can mean the author’s perspective of the known world at that time.

v15-34: Two ways to interpret these verses is to assume that they are describing events that cover the entire church age (from the Resurrection to the end of the world) or speaks only about Jesus’ day and the next 40 years leading to destruction in 70 A.D.

Jesus was perhaps saying that things are going to be bad for now and a long time in earth’s future, so here is what will happen to you guys. I think verses 15-34 are describing specific things that will happen within the next 40 years (literal generation) of the disciples’ lives based on verse 34. He was preparing their minds to accept the horrors to come for THEM, not someone in the 21st century. One problem Jesus had to deal with is that His disciples were thinking that if the Temple would be destroyed, then that MUST mean the End of the World. That is how much pride and importance the Jews put in that Temple and their nation. Jesus, did not know the exact day or hour of His return, but he probably knew it would be many years. So He wanted people to always be ready and watchful. I believe this tension between the “soon” and “not quite yet” helps people keep proper priorities in their life.

The specific horror would be the siege and eventual destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the nation of Israel in 70 A.D. which Jesus predicted in 24:2. Jesus knew there would be a narrow window of opportunity for His Jewish believers to escape death at that time. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded a remarkable account of the horrors and destruction and how all the Christians fled at the right time leaving the doomed unbelieving Jews behind to suffer God’s judgment for rejecting Him when He came to them. I strongly believe that Jesus is referring to this time in Luke 23:28-31. The brief window of opportunity to escape was when the Roman army suddenly retreated after surrounding Jerusalem in 66 or 67 A.D. They returned only 3 weeks later and slaughtered almost every Jew after the Christian Jews had fled to a town called Pella. It was a siege that lasted about three years. From Pella, they went out and proclaimed the Gospel to many other countries. Within a couple of generations, even England and Scotland heard the Good News about Jesus Christ. Old Testament Israel was gone, but God’s Truth began to be proclaimed worldwide by His True followers (The Church)! The “fire” that was kindled at Pentecost was now surging out to other nations. I believe Jesus was referring to this glorious part of history in Luke 12:49 when he said, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!

Verse 20 gives another clue that the content was for back then only. Jesus was concerned for the Jewish believers because He knew if the fleeing time was on a Sabbath, they would not flee. Hence the prayer.

Some Christians do not recognize the importance of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Jesus told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to another nation that would produce fruit (Matthew 21:43). Since 70 A.D., there has been no Temple, no sacrificing, no Old Covenant. Israel had broken its covenant with their God and was judged at that time, as Jesus had warned. He said, “This generation shall not pass away until all these things take place.” A generation is 40 years. Dispensationalists (those who place most “End-Time prophecies” still in the future), believe that Jesus meant this “race” (meaning the Jews) rather than “generation.” From what I’ve read, I don’t think that reflects good translation scholarship but rather is as result of dispensational bias. I believe it feeds a wrong mindset about End-time prophecy. Claiming that a ethnic group of people will not pass away until certain things occur is sort of a useless statement. If I said Italians won’t disappear until Jesus comes back, what does that tell me? Nothing. Jesus was not describing something far off into the future in verses 15-30. It was all about what was going to happen to them soon.

Dispensational (futuristic) beliefs have dominated American churches since the 1900s. The unfortunate thing about this is that other methods of interpreting End-Time prophecy are not being taught. There are four approaches – futuristic (dispensational, Antichrist = future one man), historic (most of Revelation has been fulfilled in history already, Antichrist = papacy), ideal (End-time prophecies are generally true for all generations until Jesus returns, Antichrist = all who rule in place of Christ and persecutes Christians), and Preterist (all prophecies have been fulfilled by 70 AD except the Second Coming, Antichrist = Nero). When I studied all four, I discovered that they all have good points, although I do not believe all their claims are accurate. In fact, I think the most misleading one is futuristic. Churches should expose their people to all credible schools of thought on this issue and let people decide for themselves what they will embrace. This issue has nothing to do with salvation or walking tightly with the Holy Spirit, therefore, believers can agree to disagree on these issues and still walk in harmony. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be happening as much as it should. A book I recommend is “Revelation” by Steve Gregg. It gives a balanced view of these four approaches.

A “tribulation” would happen TO THE DISCIPLES. The whole context in these verses is about their time. Verse 15 describes a similar event in Daniel’s time. In this Matthew 24 case the “abomination” is the pagan Roman army. The “holy place” is the city of Jerusalem containing the Temple. The “desolation” is the utter destruction of people and Temple. This tribulation started in 67 A.D. and ended in 70 A.D. So verse 29 may mean “after the tribulation “begins” those bad things would occur to that generation. So this context of time lasts up to verse 34.

Then there seems to be a big transition to the future starting in verse 35. This describes the end of the world not the tribulation of 67-70 A.D. Verse 36 continues in this transition by saying, “But of that day,” which has to refer to heaven and earth passing away.

v27-28: “The coming of the Son of Man” is certainly referring to Jesus. But many assume it means His Second coming at the end of the world. If this phrase refers to “His coming” in 70 A.D. to judge Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, then it fits into the context. In verse 28, Jesus is most likely speaking of the impending slaughter of Jews when they would be surrounded and attacked by the Roman army who had as its insignia – an eagle on their flags. “Vultures” can be rendered as “eagles.” so the thousands of Jewish corpses that were being encompassed by the eagles ready to feed describes 70 A.D. so the soldiers themselves were probably being depicted as vultures

In verse 29, He is talking about a tough time for them, not some great tribulation in the far distant future. How do we know this? The consistent symbolic language used throughout the entire Bible. Anytime Scripture speaks of the sun and moon not shining light it means judgment is coming. When Isaiah, Amos, Joel, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah uttered these exact same words, those orbs in space kept shining, but judgment and destruction did occur historically. So when Jesus uses the exact same words, why do dispensationalists suddenly claim that those things Jesus talked about have not yet happened because the sun and moon have never stopped shining? Those Biblical phrases about the sun and moon have ALWAYS been symbolic. To arbitrarily change that is not following proper interpretive protocol. The Bible interprets Itself. When Jesus says He will be coming “on the clouds,” He probably does not mean that literally either. He was using well-known OT symbolic language that was used by Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel. So it would seem that Jesus was using this language structure to let the Jews know what is coming in 70 A.D., and ultimately many would “see” (understand, perceive) that it all happened because Jesus is the Son of God whom they rejected. No one literally saw Jesus in the clouds during that siege of Jerusalem and its fall, although there were rumors that people saw visions of such in the sky over Jerusalem.

In addition, I think Jesus described signs of the End to comfort believers. Even though He, at that time, did not know the day or hour of His return, He must have known that it would be a number of years. If so, He knew that people would start doubting His return. But as it is, we can take comfort in knowing that all those things have occurred or are occurring now.

One last comment is also in order here. The concept of “The Great Tribulation,” referring to some futuristic horrific 7-year time period, is a myth that has been invented by dispensationalists. The Bible speaks only of “great tribulation” but never THE great tribulation. This serious error stems from  wrong insight from Daniel 9:24-27. The so-called future tribulation is supposed to be the “missing 70th week of Daniel’s “70 weeks of years” prophecy. They fail to see that Jesus fulfilled that last week in His coming. There is no gap between the 69th week and the 70th. Hence that future tribulation is a clean wipeout. More details available in my “At Issue” on top of this website. Scroll to bottom and type in “missing week” in search box. Dispensationalist translator, Cyrus Scofield, inserted the word “the” in front of “great tribulation for Revelation 7:14. He allowed his bias to help him translate the Scriptures. Over the centuries since Christ came, thousands of believers throughout this world have gone through horrible tribulation. It does not seem right that only one group in the future will receive a special blessing due to what they will experience. So I think that this verse is speaking about all the true believers that were slain and/or severely persecuted for Christ’s sake. More about this issue in my commentary on the Book of Revelation.

False Christs are leaders of false religions and smaller groups called cults. Surprisingly, there were several false Messiah’s begging Jews to follow them into the desert during the 67-70 A.D. horror. Over the centuries a rather large percentage of cults claim to be based on the Bible which is very telling in itself as to the credibility of that Book. If the Bible is the only true book revealing the only true God, then Satan would need to pervert that Book more than any other to keep people in darkness. Jehovah’s Witnesses have claimed various past dates as the Return of Christ – all wrong, of course. Any leader of a false religion claims to “be the Way” and therefore would qualify as a false Christ. Is this being narrow-minded and judgmental? Not if it’s the truth…and I don’t see anybody else that defeated Satan, sin, selfishness, and death and fulfilled all the Messianic Prophecies, coupled with the greatest miracles ever performed other than Jesus Christ Himself…I think I’m totally safe with Jesus. To settle for anything less than Him is shortsighted and insulting to God. If I made all this Bible stuff up, then I could say that it is my opinion, but no one could make this up. It is neither mine nor yours. It is either God-breathed or the biggest hoax that ever hit our planet. There is no in-between here. We really do not have that option as C.S. Lewis has so aptly put in his writings.

It has been reported that the Mayan calendar claimed that the world will end in the year 2012. Actually it doesn’t say that. Some have interpreted it to say that. The Mayans had horribly satanic rituals of human sacrifice. I will therefore not trust anything they say about this world. This is the kind of stuff that Jesus was warning us not to follow after. I think it has been Satan’s ploy to get people who do not know the truth to “cry wolf” many times throughout history, so when the real thing comes, people will not believe and therefore will not repent to be saved (2 Cor. 2:11).

v30: This is a tough one. Some say this refers to Jesus’ authority in heaven to destroy His enemies. “See” may mean to recognize or perceive. “Sky” may not mean literal air but “heavens.” But there were reports recorded about people seeing visions in the sky during this time. One had a man standing above the Temple just before its demise. Others had chariots racing in the skies as though going to battle.

v31: This might be saying that this “saving and gathering” process would begin then and carry on for centuries and will continue to the end of the world.

v32-41: I do not think that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel because the same parable in Luke adds the phrase, “and all the trees.” All Jesus was saying was that certain signs can be recognized with certain events.  Verse 34 may be an end to an important context. In other words, there may be a time frame shift starting in verse 35. Verses 35-41 may be describing nearing the end of this world. Though the Bible does not spell this out, most think that this v40-41 ties in with Paul’s description of what is called the “rapture” (1Cor.15:51-52). This is about the people who are still alive on earth at the moment of Christ’s Return. Paul said, “We shall not all sleep, but will be changed in a twinkling of an eye.” So, it seems, that those people may still die but not spend any time waiting (“sleeping”) for the Judgment Day. Just a guess. Rapture enthusiasts never seem to think that those raptured will die. The wages of sin is death, the Scripture says, so I will assume that they will die. Many books have been written about the rapture and they sometimes tend to say things from conjecture leaving readers with the impression that the Bible says something that it really doesn’t. Be careful. As far as the rapture is concerned, I believe it will be the end with no room for a time period following as many dispensationalists believe. The problem is the differences in interpreting what the millennium actually is and what it involves. That is discussed later.

v45-50: Based on verse 48, we may take some liberty and assume that Jesus knew that it would be a long time (at least in earthly time) for Him to return. He knows human nature better than we do, and He describes two types of people. One, is not diligent to do the Lord’s work until He returns because he assumes he has a lot of time. How many people do we know that do this very thing – “I’ll get religious when I get older!” Well, you might not get older, and if you do…you probably won’t change with a heart that reasons like that. People are very deceived on this point. The other slave does his Master’s bidding until his death (or Second Coming). Moral of the above comments? Live each day as though we do not have years and years to go. If, for example, we knew we will die in two years. Would we change anything?

Conclusions: No one (including Christian authors) knows everything about end-time prophecy. The Old Testament Book of Daniel and The Book of Revelation offer more specific detail on the End, but both are heavily laced with symbolism. Some of that is explained in the Scriptures while some is not. When Daniel wanted to know what his vision meant, God declined and said that the meanings will be sealed up until the end time comes when some will have the insight then (Daniel 12: 8-10).

Another fascinating verse in Daniel 12 is 4: “But as for you Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Knowledge and travel technology have surged only in our very recent past. Consider modes of travel in Moses’ day – predominantly horseback and mule. In Jesus’ day some two thousand years later, travel was the same. Now think of us. The Wright Brothers took the first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. The glider went 20 feet high for 12 seconds at 6.8 mph. Only 63 years later, we put a man on the moon. I believe that Daniel 12:4 has come to pass which puts us at the end of this age. That doesn’t necessarily mean the end will occur in our lifetime, but we should be close.

The first thing Jesus does when talking about His Second Coming is to warn us of false prophets and false reports. Here are some other signs that must happen before He comes back:

1) Wars & rumors of wars.
2) Famines & earthquakes (are earthquakes on the rise or is it because we measure and record them now? I think they have increased).
3) Christians will be hated, persecuted, and killed. The first wave was shortly after Christ (lions and crucifixions) by Rome. This persecution stopped when Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D. with the Edict of Milan. This was short-lived, however. The Roman Catholic Church formed (at least the idea of Peter being the first pope and some men began looking toward a single man for authority in 398 A.D. This position, later to be the formal papacy, was called the “Bishop of Rome.” As the power of this position increased over the years, the persecution of true believers began to increase leading to the Dark Ages, when no one read a Bible except priests. There were always “renegade” groups, however, that preserved the faith in Scripture as being the Final Authority on Truth. Dark Ages persecution from about 400-1798 AD. This persecution was carried out by the Roman Catholic Church. The Papacy ruled the earth until 1798 A.D. and killed many who believed that only the Bible is the true authority for Truth on earth, not the Pope. Today, our brethren are persecuted in China, Africa (especially by Muslims) and other third world countries. In our country, Christians are not looked upon as a favorable influence on society any more. We are stereotyped as narrow-minded, judgmental bigots. Fox Newsman Brit Hume said on TV that Tiger Woods should consider the Christian faith because he needs forgiveness and restoration. Hume caught all sorts of harsh criticism for “imposing his religion onto someone else.” Conservative columnist Cal Thomas appropriately came to Hume’s defense by saying that Muslims try to impose their religion, Bret was lovingly offering an option – quite a difference! The point being, Christians are being viewed as “the bad guys” in the USA now. Hitler got millions of people to believe a similar lie in the early 1940s regarding the Jews.

4) False prophets arising and leading many astray (cults, false religions).
5) Increased lawlessness (read any newspaper today).
6) The love of many will grow cold (the “Me Generation”?).
7) The Gospel preached in the whole world (not many places left, if any).
8) The sun will be darkened, the moon will not gives its light, and the stars will fall from the sky. This is NOT literal. God consistently uses symbolic language from Old Testament to the New Testament. This symbolizes judgment. The following OT Scriptures declared that the sun would not give light indicating coming judgment rather than literal darkness: Amos 8:2,9; Ez.30:6-18 & 32:2-15; Isaiah 13:9-21 and its fulfillment was verified in Daniel 5:28-31; Zeph.1:4 & 15; Isaiah 5:3 & 30; Jer.4:3,23,28; Jer.13:9,10,16-19; Micah 3:6 & 12). In all these cases, light never became dark literally, and they all were fulfilled in OT times. Why, then, should we suddenly take this same description literally in this chapter in Matthew or in the Book of Revelation?

I’d say all of the above signs have occurred since Jesus’ day.

v37-39: Jesus speaks of Noah and the ark as being an historic fact. Some churches today teach that it was just a folk tale that contains life lessons for us today. Lessons? Yes. Tale? No. There’s ample geological evidence for a global flood.

To sum up: Jesus does not want us to cower in fear at the end of this age nor to remove ourselves from society waiting and chanting on some hill. But He does want us ready and serving Him when it does come.

Food-for-thought: Isn’t our death equal to the end of the age for us? We don’t know when it is coming and He wants us to be ready and serving Him when it comes. Sounds the same to me.

Matthew 25:

v1-13: Although these verses seem to be all about Jesus’ Second Coming, I think the general gist of what He is saying applies to all generations. “Taking oil in flasks” speaks of persistent faithfulness causing spiritual readiness. We all need this. Why virgins? I don’t believe Scripture means literal virgins. When we are covered by the Blood of Jesus, it purifies us to perfection. Virginity is symbolic of this purity. It also could symbolize the Jews because they were chosen to be special and faithful only to God (pure). So Jesus was telling the Jews that not all Jews will be saved in the end – only those who respond to God’s voice and Plan. Again, the Jews thought that they were automatically saved because of their lineage. Jesus was saying no to that.

v14-30: The reason the third guy was judged as evil is because he did nothing with what God had given him. How many people today waste their abilities (whether they have many of few) on things or self rather than investing them into God’s work? Like the fig tree that did not have fruit on it was cursed then withered and died. So too will the people who do not respond to God’s love and have some fruit from their lives.

KELLY M: Another thought on the guy who buried the talent he was given–the master had a perfect right to expect increase from the seed that was planted (“seed money”) as a farmer does from his seed. By not even sticking it in the bank, which required no work from him, the guy was purposely trying to defraud his master (“I knew you were a hard man, and would take what you had not sown…”), not just lazy. I used to think the master was being pretty mean until God brought up the farmer/seed analogy when I was reading it one time. The money was given to the servant FOR A REASON, and he knew it. Blessings are not given to us to hoard, but to use in the master’s work.

v31-46: Jesus lists what a person’s life looks like if they are born-again. It should motivate us to do these things knowing we’re not just helping people but also the Lord. So we either serve ourselves or God. I fell madly in love with Jesus when I listened to the crucifixion part on the Jesus Christ Superstar Album that came out in 1970. Even though that album did not portray the real Jesus, it contained enough truth to motivate me to read the Scriptures for the first time in my life. I wanted to know what He really said. I was 21 years old and a senior in college. I desperately wanted to help Jesus. Then when I read v40, I found the way to do this.

Matthew 26:

v2: Jesus speaks plain about His upcoming crucifixion.

v13: Jesus says, “…wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world….” This gives a hint that Jesus knew that His Second Coming would be a long time away because it would take time to reach the world. See also Mark 16:15.

v18: As sad and scary as this verse is, it helps me realize that Jesus is in control and knows what is going on.

v24: Controversy – We are not sure about the correct interpretation of this verse which is referring to Judas’ betrayal. Some believe it says that it would have been good for Judas’ sake that he was never born. Others think it may mean it would have been good for Jesus if Judas was never born. Some would like to believe that Judas was forgiven and would not be thrown into the Lake of Fire. We must be mindful, however, that he was stealing money from the Group (John 12:6) and even in the very next verse here, Judas was lying to Jesus claiming that he would never betray Him. So we perceive from Scripture that Judas never repented (wanted to change) although he certainly felt sorry for what his action eventually did to Jesus. So much so that he killed himself. Again, no repentance or turning to the Lord for forgiveness. Judas was also identified by Jesus as the son of perdition who was lost (John 17:12). In contrast, Peter denied Jesus three times and ran off weeping bitterly, but made a nice comeback later. I assume he repented and indeed desired to follow and serve Jesus rather than simply believe in Him.

So why did Judas betray the Lord? My theory is that he feared the Romans more and more as this “Jesus movement” seemed to be making waves in Jerusalem. I think he feared for his life and thought he could cool things down a bit, plus obtain a little money too. Obviously if he truly believed that Jesus was God in the flesh and the Savior of the world, he probably would not have done it. Just my thoughts.

v26-28: Controversy = Roman Catholicism teaches “transubstantiation” (wine changes literally into the Blood of Jesus and the bread into His body) therefore a soul must believe in and partake of this to be saved. Protestants reject this, citing that Jesus was speaking figuratively as He often did. For example, He said He is the Bread of life, but this does not mean He consists of baked dough. He said He is the Light of the world, but He obviously is not a bulb or a fire. He said to cut off our hands if they cause us to sin, but I don’t see Catholics practicing that. The fact is that Jesus used figurative language often and it is easy to identify.

Moreover, there were strict laws regarding the Passover lamb sacrifice – no blood shall be eaten! (Deut.12:16,23-24 and many others). Jesus would never go against God’s written Law. Therefore I believe that the wine and bread were symbols of the Blood and Body of Jesus and that He was saying that we must take Him into our lives and follow Him to be saved. Finally, If the Catholic view is correct, then no Protestant can be saved…and few, if any, Catholics, would claim that today. So they have a problem with this topic, not the Protestants. Back in the Dark Ages, however, this Catholic doctrine caused many to fear damnation unless they did the “Catholic thing.” Fear played a major role in the history of the False Church. This Catholic view by the way, did not come about in early church history. There is no evidence throughout the Book of Acts, which indicates that the disciples taught this doctrine of transubstantiation. It did come about hundreds of years later, however, when the Papacy had its power roots over people growing. The date was 1215 A.D. at the Fourth Lateran Council. so what happened to all those Catholic souls before this time, and all the other believers before the pope came up with this one??

v31: More prophecy fulfillment about His followers being scattered when the Shepherd is struck.

v39: The utmost case of self denial.

v41: Very famous saying still quoted today, but few realize that it came from Jesus, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” In context, the three disciples He took with Him to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane could not stay awake at this tense time.

v48: The fact that Judas had to give the arresting soldiers a sign (kiss) in order to get the right man strongly suggests that many people in Jerusalem had never seen Jesus, at least among the Roman soldiers. Of course, they wouldn’t be interested in some Jewish religious orator anyway.

v52: Reveals that the Messiah did not come to establish an earthly throne as perhaps Peter and the others thought.

v53: Reveals the unbelievable supernatural power behind Jesus that He never summoned to His aid. The fact that He COULD have but DIDN’T has always awed my mind and has attracted me to Him since the end of 1970.

v59-61: Evil-hearted leaders tried to obtain false testimony against Jesus but couldn’t find any.

v63-64: When pressed to admit He was the Messiah by the high priest, Jesus, possibly out of respect for that position, proclaimed the truth, but added something horrifying…that THEY would see Him with ultimate authority and coming in the clouds of Heaven.

Interpretation: Dispensationalists claim this refers to Jesus’ Second Coming. Historicists, however, claim to refers to the horrible judgment against Israel and Jerusalem in 70 AD and that Jesus realized that the high priest would still be alive when this occurred. This would mean that Jesus spoke is figurative terms once again, and not literal terms. The phrase “coming in the clouds” is used in the OT and it always meant that judgment was coming (Is.19:1; Ez.30:3-4; and in Ps.104:3-4 clouds symbolize divine power).

v75: Until this experience, Peter was not yet broken, a phase that we all must experience in order to really follow Jesus. “Broken” refers to the realization that we are nothing without Him and can do nothing without Him. Pride in self, which is advocated in humanism but is one of our chief enemies, is done away with.

Matthew 27:

v3-5: When Judas found out that Jesus had been condemned (to the cross) then he felt remorse and threw back his money from the Pharisees. Judas confessed his action as sin realizing he had betrayed “innocent blood.” Judas was “a devil” from the beginning of his relationship with Jesus and the Twelve and Jesus knew it (John 6:70). As treasurer of the group, he was stealing money from them (John 12:6 & 13:29). Speculation suggests that he turned in Jesus because he was afraid that His “movement” was getting out of hand and he feared for his own life. By turning Jesus over to the authorities, Judas may have thought that things would quiet down to a safer level. But this commentary may treat Judas too kindly. Verse 3, however, does imply strongly that Judas did not want Jesus to be executed. Why, then, did he kill himself rather than seek mercy and forgiveness? Well, this may demonstrate the difference between feeling sorry for sin and repenting from sin. With the latter, you not only view actions/attitudes as morally wrong, but also do not want to be that way anymore. I don’t see Judas as a repenter. Another factor to keep in mind is that Satan entered into Judas at the Last Supper (John 13:27) and the Scriptures do not say that he went out of him. It is Satan/demons who drive people toward suicide today as well as in Jesus’ day. I assume that Satan is stronger than any demon, so how long could any human last if devoid of God’s Spirit and full of Satan himself?

Critics claim that the Bible contradicts itself regarding Judas’ mode of death. In the book of Acts 1:18 it describes Judas’ suicide as him taking a sword and slicing into his belly so that his bowels came out thus calling the place the “Field of Blood.” Theologians believe that as he hung himself he also used the sword as he plunged his head forward and downward with the noose around his neck thus nullifying any contradiction.

v6-10: Irony of Ironies! After murdering God, the Jewish leaders wanted to treat Judas’ returned silver lawfully. The OT Prophets Zechariah and Jeremiah predicted all this scenario quite specifically. It makes more sense that Judas did cut himself open so that blood would be a major aspect of his death thus naming the field where it occurred “The Field of Blood.”

v11-24: People yelled for the release of Barabbas, an evil man rather than letting Pilate release Jesus. Pilate found nothing about Jesus warranting death and his wife had a bad dream and told him not to harm him. But the mob prevailed and Jesus was sent to the cross. The crowd killed the life-giver and saved the life-taker.

v14: This fulfilled prophecy from Isaiah 53:7.

v25: A chilling statement from the Jewish mob that foreshadowed their slaughter in 70 A.D.

v26: Jesus was scourged. This whip was a leaded whip – full of pieces of sharp sheep bone that tore off flesh.

I think that all people must know what Jesus went through just prior to and during His cross experience. Jesus said when He would be lifted up, God would draw men unto Him (John 12:32). When Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” played in theaters, it was reported that a thief turned himself into the police and confessed his crimes after watching what Jesus went through. Consider this other report from CBN:

Dan Leach had been carrying the enormous guilt of snuffing out another human life for several months. But he likely would never have been caught as the local authorities had all but ruled his girlfriend’s death a suicide. After seeing the movie, Leach had a life changing encounter with God. The movie resonated something within him as he watched the thief who was suffering on the Cross beside Jesus. Dan was riveted as he watched Jesus say to the thief that despite all of the sins he had committed, because he believed, he would soon be with Jesus in paradise. Dan Leach wanted that. He too wanted to be with Jesus in paradise despite the horrendous sins he had committed. He asked God to change him. On August 13, 2004, Leach was sentenced to 75 years in prison. However, the almighty power of God, using “The Passion of the Christ”, has changed his life forever. There are many other stories in “Changed Lives” that are just as powerful.

Bible antagonist and comic Bill Maher mocks our faith because our sadistic God “sent his son on a suicide mission.” We believe that God was in Christ, so God felt the pain too. Our God knew that sufficient suffering was paying for the sin of the world and would lead millions to eternal life. No doubt God, the Son, felt the pain and rejection, after all, He was literally in the role of the Son, but God the Father was pleased to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10-12). Our God is not a sadomasochist, He just knew what was necessary and could see the Big Picture. Bible critics cannot even see the frame let alone the big picture as they stare at just one piece of a “777,777,777,777,777-piece puzzle.”

I’ve often wondered how I would react if I went back in a time machine to the site of the crucifixion knowing what I know today. My best guess is that I would sob and vomit, knowing that my sin drove Him to go through that. Would I be mad at the Pharisees and those like them? I don’t think so. I would feel fear for them as they will face Jesus on the Judgment Day, and I would realize what they would face in 70 AD. I would get mad at them if the crucifixion was not necessary.

v42-4: Amazingly, Pharisees that seemed to be quite literate in the Old Testament Scriptures, were uttering the very words at Jesus at His crucifixion that King David prophesied in Psalms 22. You would think that they would “see themselves” in this role and fear.

v45: Was this a “timely” eclipse or a supernatural event? Since eclipses do not last more than about 2-3 minutes and since this one lasted three hours, I would conclude it was supernatural.

v46: Jesus quotes the beginning of Psalm 22 to alert everyone to the fact that He was now fulfilling that prophecy. This Psalm was written by King David about 800 years before crucifixion was “tweaked and perfected” by the Romans from the Persian invention, yet this horrific punishment was perfectly described by the psalmist. In addition, He must have felt abandoned by God for the first time in His life because He was becoming sin on the cross (2 Cor.5:21) and God cannot tolerate sin in His presence (Habakkuk 1:13) – so The Father withdrew from Jesus. That must have felt horrible for Jesus.

v51: The veil in the Temple separated God from mankind. If someone went beyond it, they would die. Only the Jewish High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies once a year and sprinkled with lamb’s blood. The tearing of this veil signified that Jesus paid the price for sinners and we could approach Him through faith in Him. I believe that God’s spirit left that site forever.

v52-53: This is so odd that I can’t comment much about it. Only tons of questions come to mind.

v57-60: Written between 701-681 B.C. in Isaiah 53:9, the prophet Isaiah wrote about a sinless servant (the Messiah) being put to death with the wicked and buried with the rich.

v66: The enemies of Jesus made sure that tomb was sealed so no one would get out! 🙂


v9: Jesus is once again worshiped while not stopping it.

v11-15: Roman soldiers in charge of Jesus’ tomb were in big trouble! They would be facing the death penalty for allowing Jesus’ body to escape. So they went first to the Jewish priests to tell them what had happened. Apparently they knew the priests had sway over some Roman officials. Some money was given to the soldiers to spread the lie that disciples stole the body. The priests’ sway probably spared the soldier’s lives.

v17: Jesus was worshiped again without stopping it.

v18-20: The big send-off to the world!

Comments on the Resurrection: There are only four major historical events in our history: 1) the birth of Jesus, 2) Jesus never sinning, 3) His crucifixion, 4) His Resurrection. Take away any one of these three, and there would be no hope for us. Critics constantly try to do away with no. 4, however. Here’s why they have failed: There are only a few scenarios if Jesus did not rise from the dead, and all fall apart:

1) He did not really die, possibly due to help from a drug taken before, and later escaped from the tomb Himself or with someone’s help.

Rebuttal = the Roman soldiers made sure He was dead by thrusting the spear into His side. The fact that blood and water came out indicates the pericardium (a sheath surrounding the heart) was swelled with fluid which happens under extreme pain and suffering. Medically we now know this is proof that His heart was pierced through – tough to survive that. Escape from the tomb? If He did it Himself, He would have had to kill the guards which is highly improbable as the guards would have the upper hand physically. Furthermore, the guards were not dead. In fact, they went and reported what had really happened. If Jesus had friends help Him, they would have to kill the guards. If the guards were found dead or never found, His enemies would trumpet this loudly so people would not believe in the Resurrection. That never happened.

2) His followers stole His dead body hence the empty tomb.

Rebuttal = When the tomb guards returned to the city, they reported to the chief priests all what had happened. These guards feared for their lives because the Roman penalty for falling asleep on duty was death. So the Jewish leaders gave a large sum of money to the guards and promised they would sway the governor to leave them alone. The bribe given to the soldiers persuaded them to lie and claim that His disciples came by night and stole His body while they were asleep (v11-15). If true, then the disciples were preaching a lie that cost them persecution and ultimately premature deaths (except John). People do not die for what they know to be a lie.

3) His disciples were hallucinating over their charismatic leader.

Rebuttal = It wasn’t only the disciples who saw a resurrected Jesus. Over 500 people saw Him. A high number of people do not have the same hallucination over a very short time. Furthermore, no one was expecting this. In fact, when told, there were skeptics among the disciples. This was not the climatic end to a crescendoing fantasy. Also, all His enemies had to do was to present His dead body to the public, and the Christian faith would have been silenced forever.

4) NT records were tampered with and this became a later addition to glorify a dead hero.

Rebuttal = It is known from sources outside the Bible that the sect known as Christians came into existence in the reign of Tiberius, and what brought them into existence was their belief that Jesus rose from the dead. So it could not have been a later addition in history, in fact, it was the INITIAL CAUSE of Christianity.

I also find it interesting that Jesus never presented Himself to His enemies, the Pharisees and Sadducees. I guess He knew it wouldn’t help anything. (If I were Jesus, heaven forbid, I’d be tempted to at least stick out my tongue at them). 🙂

So when April comes, instead of saying Happy Easter (which could merely mean you are pro-bunnies), why don’t we say, “Have a meaningful Resurrection Day.” Now there would be no confusion about what we mean…. :-).