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A Year Through The Gospels: Week 1

January 7, 2016

Darryl Sluka

A Year Through The Gospels: Week 1


I am doing something different for my Bible reading plan this year.  Last year, I read the entire Bible for the first time within a year.  Reading the Bible in a year is a great practice that has many benefits, but I decided to spend this year reading through the gospels.  I will read through each of the gospels repeatedly.  My goals in doing this are to immerse myself in the teachings, works, and life of Jesus for a year; reach new understandings about who Jesus was, what he said, and how he manifested his message; develop a mental outline of each book; Each week, I will post about that week’s reading along with my top insights and discoveries.  If you have not decided upon a Bible reading plan for 2016, I encourage you to consider reading through the gospels with me this year.

While reading through each book for the first time this year, I am looking for details and insights that I have not previously noticed.  I chose this approach because I have read the rest of the Bible since I last read the gospels, and that often reveals things I had previously missed.  Starting in Matthew, I read two chapters a day and jot down anything new in my journal as I read.  This week’s post will cover more chapters than normal because I started reading a few days before the new year.

Matthew 2:1-6

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem,saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”  When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.   “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:   And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah: because out of you will come a leader who will shepherd My people Israel.””

This section stood out to me in a new way this year.  The Christmas Eve service we went to talked about this passage.  The pastor said the Jews knew all about the Messiah; the chief priests and scribes probably knew this information about the Messiah by heart.  The puzzling thing is that all of Judea was troubled by the information the wise men brought.  Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for 400 years.  They knew about the Messiah, and they wanted Him to come and redeem Israel.  Yet, for some reason, everyone found the news that the Messiah might be in their midst to be disturbing.  No one thought “I might want to go and see if what these men from the east say is true.”  No one responded with joy, or gratefulness, worship, or dancing.  They felt uncomfortable and disturbed.

Matthew 6:9–15 The Lord’s Prayer

““Therefore, you should pray like this: 

Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] 

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.”

The final two sentences of this passage struck me.  When he is done, Jesus reiterates only one part of his prayer, forgiveness.  He makes sure he emphasizes the importance of forgiveness above everything else he just prayed.  He did not explain to them how to think of God as holy; nor did he expound on what our “daily bread” is.  Forgiving someone is difficult, and we do not do it naturally.  Most people suppress the wounds they receive from others and look for ways to retaliate.  That is not forgiveness; it is one-upmanship.  God does not play one-upmanship with us, and we should not play it with each other.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven; refuse to forgive, and you will not be forgiven.  This concept appears later in the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35).

Matthew 7:12

“Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets.”

From the beginning, God’s revelation to mankind taught us how to relate to Him and to each other.  The Law instructs us to love God (Exodus 20:1-2; Deuteronomy 6:4-9), and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:9-18).  The Prophets delivered God’s message of judgement to those in Israel who did not love Him (Jeremiah 2-6) or their neighbors (Hosea 4:1-3).  The Golden Rule stems from the Old Testament command of love your neighbor, and loving your neighbor stems from love you God.  We cannot know how to treat others the way they ought to be treated until we know how God ought to be treated.

Matthew 8:5–13

“When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony!” 

“I will come and heal him,” He told him. 

“Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured.For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 

Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment.”

Jesus says “I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith” when he listens to the centurion.  The centurion believed Jesus had authority.  He was the first one in Matthew’s gospel that asked Jesus to heal someone from afar.  Jesus went into towns and healed the sick, but they were brought to him.  This centurion believed Jesus could just say the word and his servant would be healed despite him not being brought before Jesus.  Jesus is surprised by this amount of belief and states that a Roman centurion had more faith than anyone he had encountered in Israel, including his disciples.

Matthew 11:4–6, 20

“Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed…”

Then He proceeded to denounce the towns where most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent:”

Jesus healed every type of sickness whenever he entered a town.  Everyone welcomed these miraculous works, as he always drew large crowds.  However, many people were offended by his message of repentance, causing him to denounce of them.  Letting Jesus do a miracle for you is easy and appealing.  Calling him Lord is difficult and requires you to die to yourself.  The towns embraced Jesus for his miracles and rejected him for his message.

Matthew 13:24–30 The Parable of the Wheat and Weeds

“He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’

“‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.

“‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.

“‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’””

The weeds do not belong in the field.  However, the master does not have them removed until the harvest, lest the wheat accidentally be uprooted.  This made me ask a question: are some obstacles to our growth, whether they be people or things, allowed to exist in order that we are not accidentally removed along with them in the process?  The weeds were neither intended nor needed by God.  Whatever effect their existence brings could most likely be brought about by another means, if God so desired.  They are therefore allowed to exist because of the grace of God, and God decides to use their presence for His purpose.

Matthew 16:24–25 Pick Up Your Cross And Follow Me

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”

We must lose our lives in order to find life.  The cross is the symbol of death.  The process of carrying a cross is very inconvenient, but that is the life Christ calls us to.  We are required to love others as ourselves; it is a life of putting others first.  The life of doing only the easy things that we desire dies, and a life of living for others is born.  Carrying a cross brings us down a road that kills us, but we ultimately find life.

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