How Many Times?

April 13, 2020

Matthew 18:21–24

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.

Last week we looked at what Jesus said as he concluded the Sermon on the Mount. It was the parable about building on the rock. But sometimes we get so involved with the details of the story that we fail to notice what Jesus said about hearing and not doing.

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” – Matthew 7:24

The difference in the two houses was the foundation, one was built on the rock, and the other was built on sand. The reason one was built on the rock was because one of the builders not only heard the words of Jesus but he actually did what Jesus said to do.

For the next few weeks we will be looking at the commandments of Jesus. If you are not doing these things you are not building on the rock. You may be a believer in Jesus Christ but lots of believers have lives that crumble just like the lives of unbelievers when the storms of life hit. Jesus said building a life that will stand through the storms is in the doing… not in the hearing only and not even in just believing.

One of the most important commands of Jesus is to forgive one another. And not just forgive your friends or family or fellow believers but even your enemies.

So Peter comes to Jesus with a question about forgiving. He knows he must forgive, he has already settled that question. After all, when Jesus taught them to pray he said “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  If you want God to forgive you then you need to forgive others. Makes sense.

But what’s the limit to forgiveness? Are we to forgive forever? Are we to become “doormats” for people to walk all over us? Once somebody discovers that I will forgive them won’t they now take advantage of me? Shouldn’t there be a final trespass where I can say, “Now you’ve gone too far!”

Peter thinks so, and he sets a number – seven. Seven times you can offend me then I cut you off. Jesus does not agree. Jesus throws out a number that is still being debated today. It is either seventy-seven or seventy times seven but either way it was a number that was somewhat open ended. Why such a number? Maybe it was because God does not want us to keep track. Jesus says to forgive others as God forgives you. Does God give up on you after seven offenses? After seventy-seven? Four hundred ninety? You get the picture. God keeps forgiving and so do you. You cannot follow Christ and not forgive. To build upon the rock is to be forgiving, not just believe in forgiveness.

 

 



Authority

Daily Devotion – April 10, 2020
 
Matthew 7:24–27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
 
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. 

Every once in a while, a rabbi would come along who was teaching a new way of understanding the Torah, this was called his yoke. And this would be amazing. This would create a buzz. Imagine someone saying,

I think the old teacher has got it wrong. I think understanding what the text is saying involves something that is clearer to me. I want to give a new teaching.

Now that would be a staggering thing. It did not happen often. That required authority on the part of a rabbi. And the Hebrew word for this authority was the word shmeha. (shmee-ha’)

 So, it would be a staggering thing when a rabbi would come along who was a rabbi with authority, a rabbi with shmeha.

This might not ever happen in your lifetime, for a rabbi to come along who had shmeha, who said “I think I understand the text better—I think I can help us get more clearly what it is that God wants you to do with your life.” That was staggering. People would travel from miles to hear a rabbi with authority, a rabbi with shmeha because that could change everything.

The New Testament talks about such a rabbi. He comes teaching and the great exposition of Jesus’ teaching is The Sermon on the Mount. What Jesus does over and over again is to say, “You’ve heard it said…  but I say to you.”

Rabbis didn’t say that kind of thing unless they had shmeha. And, then He would teach on what the teaching of the Torah really means. “You don’t just instinctively give into vengeance. The life in the Kingdom of God, up there coming down here, which is what He came to teach about—life in The Kingdom—looks different than that.”

“You have heard it said, love your neighbor hate your enemy. Get even with somebody who hurt you. But, I say to you, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…

He is just teaching on what life is like in The Kingdom of God. And, His teaching is absolutely fundamental to His mission. And, when He finishes, there is this consistent response.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority.”

 



Amazed

Daily Devotion – April 9, 2020
 
Matthew 7:24–27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
 
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. 

13 times in the gospels, the word translated astonished or amazed is used to describe the people’s reaction to Jesus. They were amazed with Jesus. Because he was so intelligent. Because he was bold. Because of his teaching, because he spoke as one who had authority. Because he healed all manner of disease, and touched lepers, gave sight to the blind and cast out demons. They were amazed at his compassion, his love for people, his ability to speak to a crowd… he was the epitome of the word amazing.

I find all these things amazing as well. When I read of Jesus in the eyewitness accounts of him found in the New Testament writings I am overwhelmed by him. “Never a man spoke as this man speaks”, someone said of Jesus. “No one can do the miracles he does unless he is sent by God”, someone else says. His personality was dynamic and captivating. People sat for hours listening to his teaching and just when they thought they had seen everything… he amazes them with something else.

This is Jesus, the one we worship, the son of God, the savior of all the earth. He is amazing. We are going to look at the things he taught in the coming weeks, but today on the Thursday before Resurrection Sunday, the day that Jesus was crucified (that’s right, it was on Thursday not on Friday) I want to share with you my favorite all time video about this man Jesus.

The quality is not that good but take the time to watch it as we think about all he did for us. You have likely seen it before, but it is worth sharing again.

Enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDCMUCsHof0eB6MLRm0tHmpW7ILg&v=ECxUupqLNQA&feature=emb_rel_end

 

 




Daily Devotions 2020