Why Make Disciples?

Today’s reading is Matthew 28.

If you had asked me before today, “Why do we need to make disciples?” I would have said so people can be saved. And, certainly, that is true. However, it hit me in today’s reading that Jesus’s stated reason for us to make disciples is because “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Why do we make disciples of Jesus? Because Jesus is the King of heaven and earth. Why do we share the gospel? Because Jesus is King. Why can we be unashamed of the gospel? Because Jesus is King. I often say things like, “Will you make Jesus your King?” And while we all know what is meant by that statement, it isn’t actually the right question. Jesus is King. He is your King already. You need to be His disciple because He is King. The real questions are: Will you confess Jesus as King, and will you surrender to Him as such? How about today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 1.

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The Marginalized Crucified Jesus

Today’s reading is Matthew 27.

There is an increasingly romanticized notion about the life and ministry of Jesus. To hear it told today, Jesus came into town, ticked off all the oppressive elites, while He called all the marginalized, vulnerable, oppressed people to Himself just loving on them until they turned their lives over to Him. But those wicked, awful Roman oppressors and hypocritical religious elites got Jesus crucified. Have you ever noticed though who actually got Jesus crucified? It was the crowds. It was the marginalized, vulnerable, weak common people. Pilate knew the religious elites had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous. That is, he knew Jesus had garnered a following among the people of which the Jewish leaders were envious. So, Pilate, backed into a corner because of his own political situation and trying to get out of crucifying Jesus without causing a career ending riot, decided to give the decision to the people–the oppressed, vulnerable, marginalized people whom Jesus had welcomed, touched, loved, served, healed, cleansed. And they shouted, “Crucify Him!!!” They chose a known thief, murderer, and insurrectionist to be set free. Of course, the priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to do this. But how? Up until then, they hadn’t taken action because they feared the crowds. But somehow on that day they were able to persuade the crowds. And here is the key we need to understand. The vulnerable, oppressed, weak, poor, marginalized crowds turned on Jesus for the exact same reason the scribes, elders, priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees did. Jesus didn’t measure up to the kind of Messiah they expected or wanted. As far as every one of these groups was concerned, Jesus had demonstrated He didn’t come to serve their interests. And so they were pliable. A week earlier, they were ready to make Jesus King. But He hadn’t come in doing what they expected, so today, they were amenable to His execution. Wow! The amazing thing was, there wasn’t a single person in that crowd that if you had asked them would have said, “Why yes, I think the Messiah should be crucified.” Yet, they ended up doing so because they all, with just a handful of exceptions (perhaps 120), decided this guy couldn’t possibly be the Messiah because He didn’t act the way they wanted Him to. I know I need to take that as a warning.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 28.

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Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

Today’s reading is Matthew 26.

Recently, I had the blessing of hearing an author’s take on why Judas betrayed Jesus. I got a great deal out of the presentation. However, his take was not quite the same as mine. In addition to that, I’ve heard from other people even different perspectives than these two. And so, reading of Judas’s betrayal again today has me asking, “Why?” What really prompted this betrayal? And why doesn’t God go ahead and specify? Then it hits me. I believe there is great benefit in thinking through the possible motivations. I’ve learned a great deal about Judas and also about me from the different perspectives. However, at the end of the day, what God demonstrates is the why is not nearly as important as the fact that he did. Whether Judas was trying to force Jesus’s hand to go ahead and establish the kingdom, whether he was disillusioned with Jesus’s kind of kingdom, whether he thought Jesus would not be condemned and so this was a great opportunity to get some money and no one would get hurt (my personal leaning), or some other motivation, Judas betrayed Jesus. That is the point that matters. We have all kinds of reasons for our sins. Some reasons seem rational, but none of them really are. Some reasons make sense to me on the surface, but really none of the reasons do. The point here is no matter the motivation, sin is never the right choice. Judas sinned and whether we can make psychological sense out of his motivation or not is in many ways beside the point. The same is true for our sins. Why did you sin? Why did I? Really, it doesn’t matter. We now need a Savior to forgive us and free us from them. I don’t know why you sinned, but I do know why you need Jesus. Let’s turn to Him today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 27.

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What’s Up with the Sheep and Goats?

Today’s reading is Matthew 25.

What is going on with the sheep and the goats in Jesus’s teaching about judgment? What I have missed for years is this is actually a commentary on Ezekiel 34. There, Ezekiel spoke against the shepherds of Israel, but also the flock itself. In Ezekiel 34:17, God says, “Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats.” He then goes on to rebuke the members of the flock for selfishly caring for themselves while leaving others their muddy tramplings. These “strong” sheep would butt and abuse the “weak.” Jesus is providing a commentary about this passage. What does this judgment look like? It is not just judging against those who actively mistreat their brethren. It is also a judgment against those who do not care for the brethren in need. Only those who visit their sick, weak, hungry, oppressed brethren in their need, caring for their fellow flock and kingdom members will remain in God’s flock under God’s shepherd. The rest will be judged and cast out. The question then is are we caring for our brothers and sisters? Or are we focusing on ourselves and ignoring our brothers and sisters? Jesus cared so much He left heaven to lift up the weak sheep. Let’s follow in His footsteps because when we visit our brothers and sisters in their need, we are visiting Jesus in His need just as He visited us. Praise the Lord!

Monday’s reading is Matthew 26.

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Faithful and Wise Servant

Today’s reading is Matthew 24.

Did the same person who told us the parable about the 11th hour workers also tell the story about the wicked servant who capitalized on the Master’s delay by beating his fellow servants and by eating and drinking with drunkards? Yep! While it is true that the person who sincerely comes into the vineyard in the 11th hour will receive grace upon grace, it is also true that the person who capitalizes on the Master’s delay, purposefully holding off, planning to get things straightened out just in the nick of time before the Master arrives, will get caught unawares and will receive judgment upon judgment. Of course, be sure, the one honored here is the faithful and wise servant, not the perfect and sinless servant. There is a huge difference between the stumble of a faithful and wise servant and the procrastination of the wicked servant. But we need to be honest. Many wicked servants justify their delay by claiming, “Hey, nobody’s perfect. We all sin.” The issue is not really how you are doing on the day of the Master’s return. The issue is how are you conducting your life. We don’t need to straighten up today because the Master may return today. We need to be faithful and wise today because that is the right thing to do. We also need to understand that if we think we’ll have time to get everything right sometime off in the future so today we can delay and procrastinate, we’re wrong. There won’t be time because the Master will return when we least expect it. I don’t know what hour of the day it is for you. The thing is, neither do you. It may be the first hour. It may be the eleventh. Either way, what God deserves is faithful and wise service right now. No matter how we spent yesterday, let’s spend today in faithful, wise service to the Lord.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 25.

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A Modern Pharisee

Today’s reading is Matthew 23.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples, ‘The Pharisees do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their social media reach wide and the posts of their actions long. They love the likes and retweets they receive. They love to have the place of honor on the internet, competing for friends and likes. They love to have the greetings of those who agree with what they say and jump to their defense when someone disagrees. But you are not to be called Teacher or Father, for you are all siblings. And you have one Teacher who is Jesus. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.'”

So says the guy writing a blog post. Yes, I get it. And I’m talking to me as much as to anyone else. This platform can accomplish great good. At the same time, it can lead us down a subtly dark and sinful path. As we navigate it, let’s be fearlessly and thoroughly honest about what we are doing here. And let’s make sure it is always and only God whom we are glorifying.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 24.

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Beware a Shocking Idol

Today’s reading is Matthew 22.

Are you sitting down? If not, please sit down. I’m about to share something with you that is going to be very shocking. In fact, I guarantee it is going to be hard for you to accept. When this post is over, I am almost certain you will think I’m wrong. But I’m not. It is right here in my Bible in black and white. I want to see today’s reading as a warning against an idol that I am sure you think cannot possibly be an idol. I say all this because even now as I type this, I myself am rebelling against it. I’m talking about the idols of marriage and family. Make no mistake. Marriage is extremely important. It is to be the daily picture to the world of Christ’s love and sacrifice for His bride, the church. You need to be working on it and in it. Parenting is extremely important. It is one of the first and fundamental ways we can fill God’s temple with image bearers for His glory. You need to be working on it and in it. However, marriage and family are not the most important things. Please, notice what Jesus says. As important as marriage and family are here on earth, they do not go into eternity. As hard as it may be to accept, in the end, you will not be resurrected to be reunited with your spouse, your parents, or your children. Yes, you will be reunited with and welcomed by the saints, the family of God, but you will not be moving into a mansion with your spouse in a neighborhood peopled by your earthly family. In the resurrection, we are like angels who neither marry, nor are given in marriage. So, do make your marriage and your earthly family a priority, but do not let them become THE priority, lest they become the idol that separates you from the One, True, Living God.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 23.

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