Today’s Text: Luke 9:57-62
Today’s reading contains 3 short incidents in which Jesus cautions men about what it really means to follow him. The first has to do with loss of personal convenience, the second and third have to do with family.
To the man who asked to go and bury his father Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead, you go preach the kingdom of God”. Is it wrong to bury your father if you are following Jesus? Why did Jesus say this?
Today’s Text: Luke 9:51-56
As Jesus is traveling toward Jerusalem they pass through a Samaria village that does not accept him. James and John suggest calling fire down from heaven to destroy the village. Jesus tells them they have the wrong attitude – He did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them!
Twice the text notes that Jesus’ “face was set” (‘steadfastly set’ in one case) for the journey to Jerusalem. In fact, it says this is the reason the Samaritan village rejected Him. What is the significance of that phrase “He steadfastly set His face” for the journey to Jerusalem?
Today’s text: John 7:2-9
The feast of Tabernacles occurs in late September / early October so we are about 6 months away from the Passover during which Jesus was crucified.
Jesus would often tell his disciples not to tell anyone that He is the Christ. After several of the miracles He told the person healed not to tell anyone what He had done for them. It is an good and curious question as to why Jesus would do this.
In today’s reading His brothers raise a similar question as they urge Him to go to the feast and make Himself known. “No one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly (4)” seems reasonable.
How does Jesus respond to their request and how might this explain the other times He wanted to do His work quietly?
Today’s Reading: Luke 9:49-50
The word sectarian as used in the heading means an exclusive narrow minded loyalty to one’s own group (sect) and rejection of all others.
What do you think was John’s motive in telling Jesus what He did?
What in particular did John object to about the group he rejected?
Is there any evidence that though these men did not physically walk with Jesus they were in fact His followers?
Today’s Text: Matthew 18:21-35
Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive his brother and offers, “up to seven times?” The parable of the unmerciful servant was given to help Peter (and us) understand how wrong it is when we are forgiven by God and then are unwilling to forgive others.
As you read the parable you see that the Master (who represents God) was disgusted with the his servant (who he had had mercy on) because of his lack of compassion and refusal to forgive. Note also that even his fellow servants were “very grieved” by his behavior. Everyone who witnessed what he did strongly disapproved!
What was so wrong about the unmerciful servants actions?
Give two reasons why this parable teaches us we should forgive others.
Note: the difference between a denarius (a days wages, of which he was owed 100) and talent (something like a years wages, of which he owed 10,000!) is ASTRONOMICAL! Don’t miss that as you consider the story!
Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:12-26
This is Matthew’s “follow up” to the teaching about becoming like little children. Remember the apostles had asked the question, “who is the greatest?” (Mark 9:34, 35).
There are three parts to this reading: (1) The parable of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine in search of one that was lost, (2) Instructions concerning a brothers who sins against us, and (3) A statement regarding the authority of the apostles.
Question: How does Jesus parable about the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine fit in with the discussion about becoming like, not despising, and not offending the “little ones”?
Today’s text: Mark 9:33-50 (skip over 38-41 till next week).
Mark’s account reveals that the disciples had been arguing on the road about “who was the greatest?”.
In Mark, Jesus answer also contains the teaching about becoming like little children, but Mark also includes the very straightforward statement, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (9:35).
Like Matthew, Mark records how Jesus stresses, not just become like children, but be willing to receive children and do not cause these little ones to stumble.
The well known, severe warning in 43-48, “if your hand or foot causes you to sin….if your eye causes you to sin…”, is usually thought of as a general warning about our own personal battles with sin. But here we see it is found in the middle of this discussion about not offending or despising children What might be the connection?
Today’s Text: Matthew 18:1-10
Sometimes you wonder what the disciples were thinking! In today’s reading we see they come to Jesus asking “who then the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. This was not uncommon for them (we will see more examples in the days ahead) and most of us struggle with the same ambitions.
Jesus responds by telling them they will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless they become like little children.
What does Jesus warn or teach about little children in addition to the idea that we should become as little children?
What effect do you think this “little children” teaching had on the disciples who were arguing about who was the greatest?
More on this tomorrow.
Today’s reading: Matthew 17:24-27
In today’s reading Jesus is scrutinized regarding another responsibility of the Jews: does he pay the taxes that every Jewish head of household was to pay to support the temple. Instead of speaking to Jesus they approach Peter and and ask him and Peter says “yes” (He pays).
Later Peter and Jesus discuss the question and Jesus makes the point that the sons of Kings are not usually required to pay. Some see Him here claiming to be exempt – the temple was, after all, His father’s house!
Jesus argues that He is free from the tax, but pays anyway lest they offend.
Now to the most curious part of the story: He tells Peter to catch a fish and find a coin in the fishes mouth and use that to pay the tax! What possible reason might there be for the method Jesus used?
Today’s Text: Mark 9:14-32
Coming down from the mountain Jesus encounters a multitude gathered around man whose son is epileptic and demon possessed. The father had asked the other disciples (the 9 that did not go up the mountain?) to cast out the demon, but they could not.
Jesus perceives a lack of faith on the part of the disciples as well as the father who said “if you can do anything have compassion and help us” (9:22). Jesus restores the child, counsels the disciples about their lack of faith, and then tells them again about His upcoming death.
This is where Jesus said (according to Matthew) to His disciples, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
Do we still need mountain moving faith today?
What else did Jesus say to His disciples about the demon (Mark 9:29)?