John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--11

Matthew 19-20 contain SIX events in the life of Jesus. In these texts, there are FIVE references to disciples.

1. Jesus' Teaching about Divorce. Matthew 19:1-12.
    a. Jesus left Galilee and went into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan River on the east. There he cured many people in large crowds. 19:1-2.
    b. Some Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" Quoting Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24, Jesus replied that "what God has joined together, let no one separate," that is, a man cannot divorce his wife. 19:3-6.
    c. These Pharisees said, "Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?" (citing Deuteronomy 24:1-4). 19:7.
    d. Jesus responded that Moses allowed this because God's people are HARD-HEARTED, but from the beginning it was not so. Then Jesus said, "Whoever divorces his wife, except of unchastity, and marries another commits adultery."  Throughout all centuries, people have tried to find ways to avoid clear teachings about all the issues connected with sex: fornication, adultery, lust, homosexuality, bestiality, pornography, etc., etc. To practice or approve sexual sins is unacceptable to God, which Paul makes very clear in Romans 1:18-32. 19:8-9.
         e. JESUS' DISCIPLES respond to Jesus, concluding that in light of this teaching, "it is better not to marry" at all. Of course, this brings up the other extreme, which also is clearly contrary to God's will as portrayed in Genesis 1-2. So Jesus said that not everyone can accept this teaching. Some can be eunuchs, but certainly not all. 19:10-12.

2. Jesus blesses little children. Matthew 19:13-15. [See Matthew 18:1-4]
    a. Parents brought little children to Jesus so Jesus would lay hands on the children and pray. But JESUS' DISCIPLES spoke sternly to these parents. 19:13.
    b. Jesus rebuked his disciples and said, Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such little children. Then Jesus laid hands on these children. 19:14-15.

3. Jesus teaches his Disciples about the value of Money and Possessions. Matthew 19:16-30.
    a. A "young man" asked Jesus, "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus replied: ONLY God the Father is good. Then he said, If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. The young man asked, Which ones must I keep? 19:16-18a.
    b. Jesus quoted several of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:16-21, and the commandment, Love your neighbor as yourself in Leviticus 19:18. 19:18b-19.
    c. The young man said: I have kept all these commandment. What do I still lack? 19:20.
    d. Jesus responded, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. 19:21-22.
    e. Jesus took this opportunity to teach his DISCIPLES about the importance of money and possessions. He told them, "It is hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven." To illustrate this, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." Obviously, Jesus is saying it is impossible for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. 19:23-24.
    f. When JESUS' DISCIPLES heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus responded that human beings cannot make this possible, but with God all things are possible. No one can enter the kingdom of heaven with God's grace. 19:25-26.
    g. Then Peter began to defend himself. We [The Twelve] have left everything. What then will we have? Jesus replied, Those who have truly followed me will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for Jesus' name's sake will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. Many who are first will be last, the the last will be first. 19:27-30.

4. Jesus teaches the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Matthew 20:1-16.
    Jesus told his hearers that the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers. During the day, he hired more laborers at 9:00 a. m., at noon, at 3:00 p. m., and even at 5:00 p. m. When the work came to an end, the landowner gave each laborer the very same wage. Many of these laborers were angry because they worked longer than others. The landowner told them that work is an opportunity, a gift, and the giver can give his laborers whatever he wishes. The point is: No one is worthy for the opportunity of serving God, because God is the creator, sustainer, and giver of everything. Be thankful for this opportunity. 20:1-16.

5. Jesus Predicts his Death and Resurrection. Matthew 20:17-34.
    a. As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took his DISCIPLES aside themselves to be with Jesus. He told them, and at Jerusalem, Jesus will die, be buried, and rise again on the third day. 20:17-19.
    b. The mother of the sons of Zebedee knelt before Jesus, and asked him to let Jesus place James and John at Jesus' right hand and at his left hand in the kingdom. Jesus told her that she did not know what she was asking. Only God the Father can grant this request. 20:20-23.
    c. When the ten DISCIPLES heard this mother's request, they became angry. Jesus rebuked all of them, because God did not choose them to be rulers or tyrants like worldly people do. Whoever wants to be great among you must be a SERVANT, and whoever wants to be first must be a SLAVE. Jesus set this example: "Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve; and to give his life a ransom for many." 20:24-28.
    d. As Jesus' DISCIPLES were leaving Jericho, a great crowd followed him. As they moved forward, two blind men beside the road cried out to Jesus, Have mercy on us. The crowd sternly rebuked them, but they cried out louder. They asked Jesus to open their eyes. Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately their received their sight. 20:29-34.

These two chapters teach us three important lessons about TRUE DISCIPLES:
   1. Repeatedly, Jesus' disciples thought, said, and did wrong things. After all, they are FOLLOWERS, not LEADERS.
    2. Jesus' Disciples desperately wanted to receive notoriety and praise for their so-called position. Jesus sternly rebuked them for this self-centered attitude.
    3. All true Disciples are Servants, Followers, Ministers, not Leaders.

Share YOUR concerns and insights and problems and hopes and dreams with others.

Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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