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    Week 2: Matthew 3-5

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    Chelsea
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    Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:33 am

    Week 2 - June 13-18 - Matthew 3-5


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    Eric

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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Eric on Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:18 pm

    Matthew 3
    John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus

    There are some major points which reach out to grab you about this section—the first “red text” or direct quote of Christ in this book, ingrained as it is in his baptism, which itself brings forth a big divine moment—and further something which someone like me may be inclined to run with—the description and social role of John the Baptist, a quirky wilderness spiritual leader who rebukes leaders of the day and draws many people from across the region, draws major historical comparisons and says a great deal about societies and cultures—but instead what draws my attention this morning is something a bit more specific:

    Scripture: [John rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees] “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:8-10; NIV)

    Observation: For the sake of (relative) brevity and staying on point, I did not put in the sections on either side of this quote wherein John laid down a fantastic rebuke and an intense metaphor, respectively. I find myself wishing his preaching was given more page time.

    Back on point, though, his warning to the religious authorities that they will not be spared for the sake of Abraham, for “out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” is quite interesting. In a way it harkens to the Old Testament, where God repeatedly brought his wrath upon his people, seeing the whole of the people enslaved and individuals, families, or tribes destroyed or dispersed when they forsake Him. However, this is also a departure from that same Old Testament, where the chosen people’s lineage was always maintained, if at times culled. Memory brings up times when the families of the Bible may have been kept up by means that were rather sketchy from the perspective of proper conduct. John’s rebuke throws this to the wind, saying that the Lord can fulfill his promise to Abraham through means other than his current descendants. His particular way of saying it is deliberately caustic (I’d like to have a book of John the Baptist in the Bible), but it does seem to hark to the eventual result of Christ’s sacrifice, that out of gentiles God can raise up children for Abraham.

    Application: That we ought to be great, fruit bearing trees for God is something that Jason has brought up and which we have discussed before. This key reminder really struck me, particularly given its really vivid imagery (“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”). So outreach is, without exaggeration, pretty important.
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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:39 am

    [Unrelated Note: The line "I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" was running through my head the other day for some reason. I have no idea why, but I like this verse, so I was fine with it.]

    Anyway, Responding to your post, Eric, that section from John stuck out to me too. Especially the "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." Talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees - who prided themselves in their "religiousness" - John talks about, essentially, humility. John is "making straight the path of the Lord" by dishing out a much needed reality check - God could raise up an entire army of Pharisees and Sadducees if He so pleased; you are nothing special.

    The NKJV says "bear fruit worthy of repentance." Worthy. John was not baptizing people to make a big show. Instead, he was looking for people who grieved their sins and wanted to begin a life transformed for the coming Messiah. John wanted to see (through their actions) that they grieved their sin before they even stepped forward for the baptism of repentance. Like what Pastor Tre was talking about on Sunday, just because they were religious teachers and children of Abraham, it didn't mean they were entitled to eternal life.

    I know that I don't often like to think of the debt that God has forgiven - my debt. I like verses that talk about the "fruits of the Spirit" that power and embolden, but not so much the "fruits of repentance." But the former doesn't come without the latter. John makes it very clear to the religious leaders (and us) that the family we're born into, what we've done, the social status we have, etc. does not buy us a thing - nor is it useful to God. Only those who take up true repentance can "bear good fruit" (and be saved) and to do that we must give up any notions of superiority.


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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:00 am

    Matthew 3
    The Baptism of Jesus

    Scripture: "Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.'" (Matthew 3:15)

    Observation: Jesus didn't need baptized. John knew this. Still, Jesus says he wanted to "fulfill all righteousness." The baptism of repentance that John had to offer may have seemed beneath someone like Jesus, but it was important to Jesus because it was important to His Father. Even though it didn't "make sense" for Jesus to need baptized, he did it if only to prove he would be obedient to His Father.

    Application: Too often I put off following God's will, because it doesn't "makes sense" or I don't think it "applies to me." However, I'm missing out on key opportunities to surrender my will to God and show Him my obedience. Not in a showoff-y way, but in a way that creates discipline and dependence on Him. Instead of trying to figure out if a part of God's Word applies to me, I should figure out how it applies to me and how I can fulfill it.


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    Obijuan

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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Obijuan on Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:08 pm

    I find it quite interesting that Jesus asked to be baptized by John even though he didn't need to be, I do agree that sometimes I too put off things because I don't need to do them, but if I don't then who will?

    I can't wait to go to heaven though and see John the Baptist, his attire must be ridiculous.


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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:35 pm

    I think it's a cool image of "the passing of the torch." As John the Baptist says, "He [Jesus] must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30) Since John was supposed to pave the way for Jesus (the Messiah), and Jesus' baptism basically signals the beginning of his ministry, John's purpose has reached completion in this moment. So I think there is a cool poetry in John being the one to baptize Jesus even though, like he said, John was the one in need of baptizing.

    Y'know how you normally picture people in heaven in white robes? I wonder if John will be wearing an albino camel skin.


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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:21 am

    Matthew 4
    Jesus Is Tested In The Wilderness

    Scripture: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." (Matthew 4:1)

    Observation: It was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus to the place he was to be tempted, which sort of explains the line in the Lord's prayer "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One." The book of James makes it clear that God does not tempt people (James 1:13 - "When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone"). However, as we see in this situation (and famously in Job), He does lead people into situations where they are tempted.

    Application: The best way to be prepared for temptation is to be filled with the Holy Spirit (the battle of Fido the Flesh vs Sparky the Spirit Razz). As Ortberg puts it, to be in "the flow of the Spirit" at all times is the goal.

    Reading the commentary on this verse from the Matthew Henry commentary (which I got off Bible Gateway), I found this interesting. It's long so I'm going to put it in spoiler tags so you can read it if you like:
    Spoiler:
    Immediately after the heavens were opened to him, and the Spirit descended on him, and he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, the next news we hear of him is, he is tempted; for then he is best able to grapple with the temptation. Note, 1. Great privileges, and special tokens of divine favour, will not secure us from being tempted. Nay, 2. After great honours put upon us, we must expect something that is humbling; as Paul has a messenger of Satan sent to buffer him, after he had been in the third heavens. 3. God usually prepares his people for temptation before he calls them to it; he gives strength according to the day, and, before a sharp trial, gives more than ordinary comfort. 4. The assurance of our sonship is the best preparative for temptation. If the good Spirit witness to our adoption, that will furnish us with an answer to all the suggestions of the evil spirit, designed either to debauch or disquiet us.

    Then, when he was newly come from a solemn ordinance, when he was baptized, then he was tempted. Note, After we have been admitted into the communion of God, we must expect to be set upon by Satan. The enriched soul must double its guard. When thou has eaten and art full, then beware. Then, when he began to show himself publicly to Israel, then he was tempted, so as he never had been while he lived in privacy. Note, The Devil has a particular spite at useful persons, who are not only good, but given to do good, especially at their first setting out



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    Obijuan

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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Obijuan on Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:40 am

    Sorry for such a late post on this. For Matthew 5 it seems to cover the commandments more in depth and to count all your blessings or I guess in a sense realize your blessing but as I was reading this in The Message, because its awesome, the verse that caught my attention the most was 48, being the last verse. "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the was God lives toward you."Matthew 5:48 The Message

    I think this ties in to what Jason has said a lot, if you are going to call your self a Christian than make sure you truly and whole hardheartedly being a Christian. If you are being as Christ like as you can possibly be and doing everything for God then following these commandments will be natural. Just like we would hate to be a bad example for any organization we represent, we must grow up and be a subject of His Kingdom.


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    Re: Week 2: Matthew 3-5

    Post  Chelsea on Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:24 pm

    Matthew 5

    So the famous Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes - dispositions that we as believers should have, and that are considered blessed by God. This is one time that I do appreciate the Message, because growing up I heard the Beatitudes time and time again and due to this, they kind of lost meaning to me. It was one of those, "Hey, here's some awesome stuff we're never going to teach you how to live out, but you should be able to quote on command for whatever reason." So reading from the NIV or NKJV, it's hard for me to get what Jesus is really saying here. I think the Message does a fairly good job at putting it in common language and getting me to at least think about how it applies to my own life. Because it's not just a list of things to memorize, but a lifestyle Jesus is telling his most dedicated disciples - the ones who are willing to climb the mountain with him - to adopt.

    A little ways down, as Juan said, Jesus then goes through some of the Commandments. In the book, Your Own Jesus, Mark Hall talks about how in these sections, Jesus is teaching in a technique called "fence-building." This was commonly used by the religious teachers of the time, and the people were very familiar with it. What it basically involves is taking something from the Law (murder, adultery, etc.) and making that your "inner fence." Then, you take everything that falls into a gray-area (temptations that may lead to breaking that law and the like) and make that your outer fence. The theory is that if you don't breach the outer fence, you'll never come close to the inner fence. This is one of the reasons that by the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had added something ridiculous like 600 laws to the original Levitical laws.

    On the other hand (and I'm stealing this part from someone, but I don't remember who - it might be Ortberg), the idea of never calling someone "idiot" or "stupid" is extremely difficult. Add on everything that Jesus covers in this sermon alone and you've got yourself an impossible task. If that doesn't make it worse, in the verses before this, Jesus leads in with "Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands...will be called least in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19) James says that to break even the smallest portion of the law is to break the whole law. (James 2:10-11) So Jesus sets up this impossible task and then tells us to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). After all that, anyone who thinks they can make it to heaven on their own merits is kidding themselves. Jesus just got seriously real with everyone, again proving he'd be a terrible car salesman. Anyone reading/listening to this may be absolutely overwhelmed, knowing they've already fallen short, but that's aside from the grace of God. God's grace is so amazing and so necessary that there is not one person who can live without it. Jesus' message is clear: You need God more than you think. To the lost, it may sound condemning, but I see it as convicting and humbling - to get just a glimpse of how short I fall and to know that God's grace is sufficient to cover all of it.


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