Jesus gives us an extensive teaching using seven parable that all deal with the kingdom of heaven..
Jesus enters into further controversy, this time starting with what is or is not allowed on the Sabbath. He adds teaching about his own resurrection and who his true family is.
Matthew 12.mp3 (Jake Medlong)
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
I deeply desire that my life would bear good fruit, the kind that would please you in every way. For that to happen I ask first that you would make the the kind of person that might be comparable to a good tree, so that good fruit would naturally appear.
Since it is true that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, I ask you first to purify my heart. Let my heart be filled with an abundance of good. Then let my mouth speak good things that would impact others for good purposes.
Let me be a good person in your eyes because I allow you make me good. There is no possible way for me to be good on my own. Then let my life bring forth good out of my good treasure.
One way or another, I am going to leave a legacy. Let what I leave behind be good. Once again, Father, I desire that my life would bring forth good fruit. For that to happen I ask you to change me from within, so that good would be the natural outcome of all that I say and do.
And I ask this for Jesus’ sake and for his glory.
My thought today is a simple one, but still always relevant: Jesus cares. This occurred to me while reading the following passage.
9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
It seems the observers were more concerned about their questions pertaining to the Sabbath than they were with the poor guy who needed to be healed. Afterward, the Pharisees who witnessed the healing confirm this by going out and conspiring how to destroy Jesus. Their additions to or interpretations of the law took priority over helping someone in need.
Jesus, as we know, was willing to be their victim. He would not, however, hold back from doing good to the man with the withered hand. Admittedly the man’s hand was no life-threatening injury. He may have lived with his problem for years. During that time, however, his frustration may have grown. His discouragement may have increased.
We have reason to be encouraged when we see ourselves as someone comparable to the man with this disability, We cannot do as much good as we would like. We are not as capable as we often feel we need to be. Our inadequacy is constantly glaring at us in the mirror and laughing. And Jesus cares.
Christ is happy to renew our strength. He is not too busy nor overly concerned with Sabbath requirements that were mere legal additions or interpretations to begin with. He cares. Jesus simply and personally cares. And he wants us to know that.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Today I am feeling especially weak in my labors and I sense that I need your rest. It is not merely a physical rest that I am in need of, but a spiritual rest for my soul. Help me not to let my burdens get the best of me, but rather help me to share them with you. Help me to experience your rest, the spiritual rest that only you can give.
I desire to learn from you, Lord Jesus. Teach me what it is to be gentle and lowly in heart just as you are. It is precisely in this lowliness that I am reminded I was not meant to bear these burdens alone. You invite me to serve alongside you. Just as two oxen were joined by their yoke, I desire to be joined with you. It is then and only then that I will not be heavy laden in my service. Again, help me to experience your rest, the rest that only you can give.
Your yoke is easy and your burden is light. How different this is from the yoke and the burden of the world. Elsewhere you said that apart from you, we can do nothing. How true that is, and how clear it is that laboring alone, without you, is foolish. Please take my work, my labors, my heavy burdens upon yourself and place your yoke upon me.
Help me, Jesus, to experience the work that is actually rest when I labor together with you. There is really no other way for me to effectively serve.
2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
John the Baptist was languishing in prison. Conditions were harsh even for him, a man unaccustomed to comfort. Further, he was not a criminal, and he knew he didn’t belong there. Where was that Messiah that was going to set the world right? Jesus was certainly that very man, wasn’t he? There was the voice from heaven and the Spirit descending like a dove. He was a relative and John knew him well enough to believe Jesus of Nazareth was the one. But again, here he was, locked up and no happy ending anywhere in sight. Who can blame him for asking Jesus for some word of hope or instruction?
The doubts of a saint are vastly different from the doubts of the skeptic. When we find we don’t have the Jesus we wanted, we need assurance, even if we are determined to believe. It’s a question of trust. We can trust someone during difficult times, but still acknowledge that the times are difficult. Disappointment with God is a real thing. Our faith may waver, but it will not fail. Surely, as we wait, God will strengthen our heart.
The skeptic sees things differently. Difficulties just add to his denials. She builds a wall of doubt out of bricks inscribed with objections. Trials are never an acceptable outcome of obedience. Disobedience can always find its reasons.
The saint knows better. The narrow gate and the difficult way lead to life. The rugged cross is something to cherish and something to cling to, while awaiting to exchange it for a crown. Is this the Jesus we wanted? No matter, it is the real Jesus. And he would tell us the same thing he told John:
“The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”