A matter of life and death. That’s what you say about something that is of utmost importance and demands your full attention. It brings to mind things like medical issues and fear inducing situations. It usually doesn’t make us think about our words. After all, words are “just words.” The book of Proverbs considers words to be extraordinarily powerful- a matter of life and death according to Proverbs 18:21.
Wisdom handed down from one generation to another. This has taken many forms throughout the years. Sometimes it’s a lecture or a lesson, but often times it’s simply advice about how to live life. It can be kind of like going out fishing with your dad and listening as he gives you some advice on whatever topic comes up. That’s kind of how the book of Proverbs reads and what we’ll be studying for the next few weeks.
As we come to the end of Matthew’s Gospel, we take the time to go back and look at the story he has told. We look at who Jesus was and the message he preached. A story of a king, his kingdom, and how every other kingdom will eventually crumble, but His is an eternal and abiding one.
“What is the king’s mission?”
“What is my role in that mission?
Those are the guiding questions of a Christians life. If we see God as our king, then we must understand that he has given us a mission. A mission to expand His kingdom one disciple at a time.
Categories, labels, groups- our culture loathes these things. No one wants to be defined or lumped in with others. Such is our individualistic mindset. However, Jesus makes it clear that on the final day there will be two categories- the righteous and the unrighteous. There is no middle ground, no nuance. When that day comes, which category will you be in? How about your friends and neighbors? Our answer to these questions comes with the weight of eternity.
Pay attention to the things that really matter. This is Jesus warning to us all. We may not expect it, but that’s not excuse- we’ve been warned. Prepare yourself and prepare your hearts. One day he will return and we will all give an account for our lives. Will you be ready?
The Olivet Discourse is a Jesus’s longest and most specific teaching about “the end.” However, it is also one of His most controversial and confusing teachings as well. What can we learn from his teaching about “the end,” and what was he really trying to tell us?
Jesus reserves his harshest words for those that had the best reputation in Israel. The religious elite and spiritual teachers of Israel were known for their piety, but Jesus saw through the show. He lays out the charges against them and is relentless in calling out their hypocrisy. What lessons can we learn from these men and Jesus’s stern rebuke?
If you could sit down and have dinner with Jesus, what questions would you want to ask? There may be a flood of questions that come to mind, but one of them might be the same question the Pharisees had- “What is the most important command in the law?” Jesus’s answer to this question is simple and straightforward, and it’s the essence of the Christian faith to live it out.
When a king hosts a party, he expects everyone invited to show up ready to celebrate. The story Jesus tells us is that too often many will send their RSVP, but think they’ll find a better offer somewhere along the way. When that happens, the gracious king is ready to throw the doors open to anyone that will come.
A church is only as strong as the marriages in it. That’s because marriage is the shadow of the true thing- the gospel. When a church gets marriage right, it’s probably because it’s getting the gospel right. One month before he gets married, Chris Hodge gives us a picture of why marriage is so important- not just for one another, but for the whole church.
Sometimes looks can be deceiving. Between religious posing and political power grabs, Jesus was surrounded by imposters and posers. Yet he chooses to highlight this hypocrisy through an odd choice of objects: a fig tree. What does the fig tree reveal about the people around Jesus and even about ourselves?
Jesus had many enemies during his life and just as many after his death. There is no shortage of enemies of the resurrection. This was true immediately following that first Easter, and it’s just as true today. What does it look like to be an enemy of the resurrection? Why do so many Christians believe in the resurrection, yet live as though that same power isn’t available to them today? Easter isn’t just a one-time event- it’s the foundation of our faith and the power in our lives.
“We have no king but Caesar!” Words that are packed with symbolism and condemnation. It exposes the loyalties and priorities of the Jewish leaders and serves as their condemnation. While their words may be obvious in their misplaced loyalties, ours are often more subtle. How often do we proclaim we have another king?
“It’s our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”- Dumbledore (From Harry Potter)
This quote taken from the Harry Potter books/movies is a powerful little proverb that is a challenge to us to consider what our choices say about us. But is it really true? Are we nothing more than the sum total of choices and decisions? Certainly, the final hours of Jesus’s life leave many men with massive choices they must make. Most choose poorly and must deal with the consequences of those decisions. However, it’s not always this way because when Jesus enters the picture- things often get turned upside down. It’s because of Jesus that our choices- not matter how poor- don’t have to be our defining moment.