Read: Matthew 12; Mark 3; Luke 6
Marked: Matthew 12:2, And when the Pharisees saw [it,] they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”
At its base, religion is about do’s and don’t’s. But relationship is about love, grace, and mercy. The religious are looking for what you haven’t done to tell you what you must do. But Jesus set the example and pointed to what David did and even what the priests of the temple did, and then to emphasize what He said, healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.
Jesus taught that the highest law was to love God and the second highest was to love your neighbour. The Sabbath was never intended to keep us from loving God or loving our neighbour.
God desires mercy and not sacrifice and we never err when we are merciful. Even if we do err, Jesus said in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:7), “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Lord, as You have been merciful to me, help me to be merciful to others.
Read: John 5
Marked: John 5:26-27,“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Genesis chapter 1 details how God created everything we see around us. God has life in Himself and Jesus, the Son of God, has life in Himself, and He gives life, everlasting life, to anyone who asks in His name.
The title, the Son of Man, refers to a prophecy in Daniel 7:13 where Daniel sees one “like the Son of Man” who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. This is Jesus and He has the authority to execute judgment.
Read: Matthew 8: Mark 2
Marked: Mark 2:5, When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sins. But many reject the idea that they are sinners. Yet, Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
If asked what one must do for God to allow them into heaven many reply with, “Good works”. But our own righteousness can’t undo a lifetime of sin. There are no cosmic scales weighing the balance of our good and bad.
Only Jesus has the power to do that because only Jesus lives a sinless life and He has become for us the atonement for sin. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Read: John 2-4
Marked: John 4:13-14, Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Which well do I drink from? The well of water which never quenches, or the well of the fountain of life which only Jesus offers?
I find myself going back again and again to the first well. Seems kind of silly really. Nothing in this world will satisfy indefinitely. But the water which Jesus offers satisfies eternally. It gives an everlasting hope. It quenches an inward desire to live like nothing else can.
Read: Matthew 4; Luke 4-5
Marked: Luke 4:1-2, Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
We can all be tempted, but we should not think that temptation comes on us suddenlys. Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days and then the real attack began.
He attacked Jesus in His hunger (V2-3). What is it I hunger for? Do I hunger for the things of this world or for the things of God? If for the things of this world, should I be surprised that I will be attacked by the enemy?
He attacked Jesus in His position (V5-7). Though Christ had great power and authority He chose meekness and humility. Am I tempted to want more; more power, more authority, or am I willing to leave the world behind and embrace the place and position God has place me in?
He attacked Jesus’ faith in the Father. Am I ever tempted to abandon the things of God, thinking my life is not worth living, or have a lack of self esteem, or suffer despondency? (V9). Jesus responded in the way I should. There is much more to life than what I know and desiring more out of life will not prepare me for the next.
Power and prestige are fleeting. There is always someone who seeks to take it from you. Life is worth the living if we learn to serve the Author of life.
Read: Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3
Marked: Matthew 3:1-2, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
From the earliest days of Jesus the word went out to people to repent. Repent means, to change one’s mind, to turn from sin back to God, to think differently.
Later Matthew writes, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). Paul wrote, saying, “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17).
So, the kingdom of God is not like the world. It’s not about finding pleasure as the world seeks it, but receiving from God what the world is not able to give.
Read: Matthew 2
Marked: Matthew 2:8, And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found [Him,] bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
Jesus calls all of us to follow Him, but not everyone does. In Luke 9 we read that some Jesus called gave reasons why they couldn’t. One wanted to bury his father and another wanted to say goodbye to family. Jesus said they weren’t fit for the kingdom.
Herod said he wanted others to find Jesus for him and bring back word. But we must each go to Jesus. He calls us and our response should be to follow. It’s not easy to follow. It requires self-sacrifice (Luke 9:23). Self-sacrifice begins with putting Christ first and following Him.
Read: Matthew 1; Luke 2
Marked: Luke 2:32, A light to [bring] revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
As promised, God allowed Simeon, a just and devout man, to see the Messiah before he died. As announced by the angels at His birth, Jesus came into the world to bring peace and goodwill toward all men (V14). As Simeon proclaimed, Jesus was sent by God to bring revelation, that is, the knowledge of God to non-Jews and Jews alike.
Romans 1:16 instructs this good news is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for Jew and gentile. Salvation in Christ is available to all
Read: Luke 1; John 1
Marked: Luke 1:6, And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Throughout Scripture righteousness is declared on those who walk in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.
I find, as I consider Scripture, that I can’t pick and choose what I will and won’t obey. Either I obey them all or I obey none. I can’t be blameless if I only obey the things I want to obey.
When I am in doubt as to what I should do when Scripture is unclear, I lean on what is clear and do what best glorifies God.
Read: Malachi 1-4
Marked: Malachi 2:6, The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity.
Like the priests, Christian’s have a responsibility to speak the truth. The Bible is the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). In truth is the Word of God revealed and we are commanded to bring it to all people (Matthew 28:19).
But, we must do it with knowledge. It is the application of the knowledge of truth and justice that will lead us away from iniquity.