Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8 - Matthew 12

Today's reading in our daily plan is Matthew 12. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Jesus is accused of breaking the Law by working on the Sabbath (verses 1-14). It’s obvious to Jesus that the Pharisees care more about the letter of Law than the spirit, so he shows them that this focus makes them value their own possessions (sheep, in this case) more than people.
  • Jesus defends himself from the accusation that he heals by the power of the devil (verses 22-37). He uses logic and analogies that the Pharisees conveniently ignore.
  • In this section Jesus utters a troubling sentence: “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” This may mean that, after Jesus goes back to Heaven, the Holy Spirit will work through his followers, and speaking against their message of salvation will be worse than speaking against Jesus. But the exact meaning of Jesus' words are difficult to determine -- and as long as you follow Jesus' commands to love God, love people, and share God’s love, you won’t have to worry about this.
  • Jesus says (verses 38-42) that the only sign he’ll give to these people is being in the heart of the earth three days and nights. This is a foreshadowing of the three days that Jesus was dead after his crucifixion and before his resurrection.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The Pharisees had always looked good and been admired. But encountering Jesus revealed who they really were. A genuine encounter with Jesus always shows who a person really is. At that point, that person has a choice to make. Like the Pharisees they can defend themselves and go on the offensive. Or they can see themselves for who they really are - more sinful than they ever realized, and more loved than they ever dared to imagine - and repent (have a change of heart that leads to a change of action) and put their faith in Jesus, who is the one who loves them and who died for their sins.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Would you say you've had a genuine encounter with Jesus? Has it revealed who you are at your depths? Has it led you to see the ugliness inside you? Has it led you to an appreciation for God's grace - that he loves you anyway? How have you responded to your encounter with Jesus? Not just originally, but everyday, as you should have a genuine encounter with Jesus everyday. What is Jesus revealing about you today, and how will you respond?