Responding to God’s Servant (Matthew 12:15-50)

In this passage of his Gospel, Matthew describes several responses to Jesus as he preaches about his kingdom. We need to remember that this period in the ministry of Jesus occurred before the cross and he had to instruct people about their expectations regarding his mission. There was the danger that they would attempt to bring in the kingdom of...

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Preaching to Pagans (Acts 17:16-33)

Luke, in this chapter, continues his reports of what took place in different places when Paul and his colleagues took the gospel of Jesus to them. We can see that there was a variety of responses ranging from hostility (Thessalonica) to eager interest (Berea) to curiosity and scepticism (Athens). Yet whatever the response of those who rejected the...

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Conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-19)

Luke records the story of Paul’s Damascus Road experience three times in the Book of Acts. Two of them are taken from accounts Paul gave in trial situations and are recorded towards the end of the book. The other account is the one described by Luke in Acts 9. Given that Luke was an intimate companion of Paul he would have heard the story from P...

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Paul’s Days of Ignorance (Phil. 3:1-7)

On several occasions, Paul refers to his way of life before he was a Christian. He says that he grew up in Tarsus before moving to Jerusalem to study under a famous rabbi called Gamaliel. Paul was aware of the significance of Tarsus because he describes it in Acts 21:39 as not an obscure city. Tarsus was the capital city of the Roman province of...

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God at Work (Titus 3:4-7)

We have been thinking in recent weeks about Bible passages that tell us what a Christian is. The word ‘Christian’ now has many different meanings and usually when it is used further clarification is needed. Sometimes it is used as an adjective, as when we speak of a Christian country as opposed to an Islamic country or a communist country. When use...

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Jesus and the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14)

The previous chapter had closed with Jesus making a contrast between his yoke and the yokes that other teachers placed on their followers. In the two incidents about the Sabbath we see examples of how his method was very different from what the Pharisees did or expected from others. The first example concerns what Jesus prioritised and the second...

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Closing Thoughts (Rev. 22:6-21)

As we come to the closing section of this amazing book, we hear the voice of Jesus speaking through an angel to his servant John. He reminds John that the fulfilment of what was described was near. How do we interpret the meaning of near? I suppose the answer to that question is that it is near in a relative sense in comparison to the length of...

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Responding to Rejection (Matthew 11:25-30)

In this set of verses, we see the response of Jesus to the circumstances he was facing. The verses highlight three things – a prayer, an explanation of his role, and a most gracious promise to those who were burdened. We can see how observing this and listening to what he said would help and encourage the disciples as they listened to what he had t...

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The Saviour for Great Sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)

Several of these trustworthy sayings are found in the Pastoral Epistles. They were probably short statements of faith that early Christians used as summaries. Perhaps Paul composed them or else he made use of them, and with this one he added a comment at the end.

Obviously, this saying is short and we might be tempted to say that it is also simple....

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The New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-22:5)

It is interesting that the book of Revelation begins with considering the church from an earthly point of view (the seven churches) and closes with a description that looks like a heavenly point of view. The best way to try and understand what is being said is to work through the description and work out what each aspect means.

John is given an...

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The Matters of the Heart (Matt. 11:1-24)

In this middle section of the Gospel we begin to see the development of opposition to Jesus as the initial period of popularity begins to wane as he engages in his public ministry. The opposition will come mainly from the scribes and Pharisees as they attempt to reverse the influence of Jesus over people.

As we can see from verse 1, Jesus continued...

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What does it mean to be a Christian? (Colossians 3:1-4)

Different answers could be given to that question depending on the situation. The circumstances in Colosse were that false teachers were minimising the role of Jesus in the work of salvation. In that situation, the response of a believer was to recognise the greatness of the salvation that Jesus has provided for his people. This is what Paul...

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The New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21:1-8)

Many people are frightened by what they imagine is over the horizon. The future is unknown, and they prefer the confusion of an uncertain present to thinking about the world that is to come. Yet God in his love and mercy sent to John a message about the future that was conveyed to him by his Saviour, Jesus. It is beneficial to imagine how joyful...

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The Presence of God (Psalm 46)  

Psalm 46 is frequently called Martin Luther’s psalm. During the initial years of the Reformation when there was much hostility to him and his colleagues, he would often suggest to his friend Melanchthon that they should sing Psalm 46 because it assured them of divine help. Luther’s hymn, based on this psalm is translated into English under the tit...

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The Millennium (Rev 20)  

The meaning of the thousand years is very much discussed today. Probably, the most popular idea about it is that it refers to a thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth. This period is regarded as commencing after Jesus returns and then reigns in Jerusalem for a millennium. Many devout believers have held and do hold to this idea. Indeed, most of the...

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The King’s War (Rev. 19:11-21)

John is given another vision of the war that is taking place between Jesus and his opponents. It is not a literal war – after all Jesus does not ride into battle sitting on a horse. Nor do believers or angels, depending on who his army is composed of. If we interpret this passage literally, we will have to imagine a literal battlefield at which a...

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Evening in Capernaum (Matthew 9:27-34)

Matthew continues his record of what took place on the day when he was called by Jesus to leave the tax desk and follow him. Maybe one reason for all the activity was a desire of Jesus to show his new servant the amazing things he could expect to see as he was being prepared by Jesus to serve him.

It looks like Jesus was making his way home when...

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The Wedding of the King (Psalm 45:14-19)

Psalm 45 celebrates beforehand some of the significant activities of the Messiah. The author was guided to say who the Messiah is – he is both God and man. He also writes his song from the point of view of the Messiah’s enthronement, which we know occurred when Jesus ascended to heaven following his resurrection. The psalm does not mention all the...

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The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-10)

This vision is connected to the previous one through the contribution of the heavenly choir who celebrated the events described in each. The connection is made by contrasting the prostitute Babylon with the true Bride. Both are described as cities in the Book of Revelation and the activities of each are summarised – the activities of the city of m...

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Two Daughters (Matthew 9:18-26)

It was certainly a day of surprises in Capernaum. Matthew received a call that surprised him when Jesus came to his tax-desk; his friends attended a meal with Jesus and his disciples that they had not anticipated; the unknown woman received a cure from Jesus for her longstanding illness; and the local synagogue ruler had an astonishing request...

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The Warfare of the King (Psalm 45:3-5)

We have noted previously that this Psalm is a prophecy of the reign of Jesus. His reign began when he ascended to heaven and was seated on the divine throne. In the psalm, the psalmist provides descriptions of three features of the reign of Jesus – there is his enthronement, his warfare and his wedding. Last time we looked briefly at his e...

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New Wine in New Wineskins (Matthew 9:14-17)

It seems that this conversation between the disciples of John followed on from the meal in the home of Matthew rather than happening sometime later. Mark tells us that the disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting (Mark 2:8), so maybe the meal that Matthew gave for Jesus and his disciples was held on one of the two days each week that...

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The King on the Throne (Psalm 45:6-8)

These verses are quoted in Hebrews 1 as descriptive of Jesus and his kingdom. The psalmist uses the example of a royal event to illustrate the exaltation of Jesus, and we need to work out what some of his allusions are pointing towards. I want us to observe six details about his enthronement.

In verse 2, the psalmist mentions that the king is...

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Call of Matthew (Matthew 9:9-14)

There are different ways of approaching this incident recorded by Matthew. Obviously, it was the occasion of him meeting Jesus and becoming one of his apostles. It was the commencement for Matthew of a life that he could not possibly have imagined. It would never have crossed his mind while he was working in Capernaum that a group of people in...

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The Beauty of the King (Psalm 45:1-2)

The composer
The unknown author of the psalm was compelled to write thus song. This is obvious from the first verse. We should note that it is a song of love, coming from his heart. In the first verse, he explains what he is doing, which is writing a song for the temple choirs to sing. He tells them that it is a song about a king. What king is...

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Judgement is Coming (Rev. 14:6-20)

Having given to the church the encouraging description of the church triumphant, John now receives details about the Day of Judgement. Those details are given first through the messages of three angels and second through the imagery of two harvests.

The messages of the three angels
The first angel has a message of good news even although the Day of...

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With the Lamb on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1-5)

In chapter 13, John had described the activities of the two beasts which represented the political and religious powers ranged against the church of Christ. This combination shows itself in different ways. In the days of John, the political authority was Rome and the religious activities that were engaged in supported the authority in Caesar....

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The Healing of the Paralysed Man (Matthew 9:1-8)

Having delivered the two demoniacs in Gadara Jesus returned across the sea to Capernaum, here called his own city. We may wonder why it is so named, given that he lived there for a much shorter time than he did in Nazareth where he had lived for almost thirty years. One answer could be that Capernaum had not rejected Jesus in the manner that...

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The Benediction (2 Cor. 13:12)

We are all familiar with the benediction at the end of 2 Corinthians because it is the one that is usually repeated at the close of a service. As we know, a benediction is not so much a prayer but a statement of what we can expect from God. Of course, we can pray for the blessings highlighted in the benediction. Still it is more an expression of...

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The Two Beasts (Rev. 13)

In this chapter, John describes two ferocious beasts. One came from the sea and the other from the earth. I would suggest that John in referring to their origins says they belong to this creation, to the fallen world, rather than having a heavenly origin. The details given of each beast indicate that the first is mainly political and the second is...

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