Heading North

April 1, 2019

Our passage for today is one that may be familiar to you. You may remember that it was Peter who was the first to answer for himself the question that Jesus poses. He is the first to declare his conviction that Jesus was indeed, “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Tax Collectors and Pharisees

March 30, 2019

Tax collectors were not popular people in the first century. They collected monies like customs fees on goods being transported through Galilee, and it is likely this tax collector gathers these sorts of fees among others. He would have been collecting taxes on behalf for Herod, the ruler of Galilee, who in turn collected for Rome.

What is Easier?

March 29, 2019

Jesus returned to Capernaum where some men seek his healing for a paralyzed friend. His first response is to pronounce the man forgiven, well known as the prerogative of God alone. By claiming the right to forgive, Jesus put himself in the place of God and committed (supposed) blasphemy. Yet Jesus is not just a man, he is also the incarnate God.

Healing

March 28, 2019

After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus came down from the mountainside and began healing. In the verses today, in both of these healings, the man with leprosy and the centurion have faith in Jesus. They believe he can heal. One, the man with leprosy, believes he can be healed personally. The other, the centurion, has faith on behalf of another, his servant. Jesus physically touches the man with

Follow

March 27, 2019

In these few verses, Jesus calls 4 of the 12 disciples. You’d think there would be more detail about such life-changing decisions. I mean these were men who had lives before meeting Jesus. They had jobs, families, friends, routines, and plans. But the author of Matthew gives us no real insight into how this all went down, except that Jesus called, and they went.

New Reality

March 26, 2019

After learning that John the Baptist had been placed in prison, Jesus “withdrew to Galilee.” He settled himself in Capernaum as the center of his preaching and healing ministry. Capernaum had a population of about 1,500 people, with a busy harbor on the Sea of Galilee. It sat on a major trade route, the Via Maris, that connected Damascus and Egypt.

The Sea of Galilee

March 25, 2019

Our scripture for today actually precedes the passage we looked at last Monday in our preparation to visit the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus shared the sermon we find in Matthew chapters 5-7. What today’s passage establishes is where Jesus made his home base throughout the course of his ministry as well

Keep on Asking

March 23, 2019

Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned his disciples against formal, hypocritical prayer, and gave them a model prayer. Here he takes the lesson a step further by teaching them to ask in faith.

Warning

March 22, 2019

The 6th chapter of Matthew opens with a warning, “Be careful.” Jesus provided a warning to avoid practicing our righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them. In other words, don’t perform religious actions to impress others. He gave three examples: giving, praying, and fasting, all disciplines that would

High Calling

March 21, 2019

The author of Matthew let us know early in this Gospel that Jesus has come to bring in the reign of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:17). In the following 3 chapters (5-7) the reader gets a glimpse at what this kingdom looks like.

Salty and Bright

March 20, 2019

The instructions to be salt and light are directed to the disciples, for the world or God’s creation. In the time and context of this writing, salt would have had layers of meaning for the people hearing. Salt connoted sacrifice, loyalty, a close relationship, seasoning, and preservative.

Blessed

March 19, 2019

Having traveled to the Holy Land, I can attest to the beauty of the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon (or sermons) on the Mount. It is a serene and lush hillside above the Sea of Galilea. Biblical scholar Peter Walker wrote this about the area,

The Mount of Beatitiudes

March 18, 2019

It is not possible for me to prepare you for the beauty you encounter upon arriving at the Mount of Beatitudes. The hillside where Jesus shared the Sermon on the Mount, which we find in Matthew chapter 5 - chapter 7, is filled with an expansive and beautiful garden as well as a small chapel that features the Beatitudes that we find in Matthew 5:1-12.

Prepare

March 16, 2019

Jesus began his ministry by going into the wilderness. He didn’t head off to start preaching and healing, though we can assume he was ready, he was 30 years old, baptized, and well-studied. But the Spirit led him to go into the wilderness.

Baptism

March 15, 2019

In the first century, purification through ceremonial self-immersion in the water of a mikveh (a ritual bath constructed in such a way that a person could step down into it and be fully immersed) was required for all Jews in order to preserve the state of purity required. This was especially important to enter the Temple in Jerusalem and participate in services during major festivals.