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A Year Through The Gospels: Week 2

January 14, 2016

Darryl Sluka

This is the second post in a year-long series that follows my Bible reading plan of repeatedly reading the Gospels all year.  You can read an introduction to this series in last week’s post, Week 1, here.

This week contains some of my thoughts on Matthew 17-28

Matthew 18:21–35  Forgiveness

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

“I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt.

“At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan.

“But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’

“At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened.

“Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’And his master got angry and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay everything that was owed. So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.””

Again, we see forgiveness playing a crucial role in the gospel (Jesus talks about the importance of forgiveness after the Lord’s Prayer in chapter six.)  Peter asked Jesus “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  Here, Peter is wondering at what point he is not longer required to forgive his brother for sinning against him.  Jesus gives his answer through a parable, and his message is that there is no permanent forgiveness from God unless we forgive those who have wronged us.  The master initially forgave the slave but then revoked his forgiveness when the slave did not forgive the debt of his fellow slave.  Following Christ is to forgive.  No matter how often we worship God, do good things in His name, or bring people to Him, we will ALWAYS be the slave who owed 10,000 talents.  We can beg Him for forgiveness, and He will forgive us, but He will revoke that forgiveness if we do not forgive others.  We are not saved by our acts of forgiveness, but salvation inherently encompasses our acts of forgiveness.  We cannot permanently receive forgiveness from God unless we continually forgive others.

Matthew 21:45–46  The Parable of the Vineyard Owner

“When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew He was speaking about them. Although they were looking for a way to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they regarded Him as a prophet.”

The Pharisees were not ignorant.  They knew all the Scriptures that Jesus was referencing.  They knew the Messiah would eventually come, and they knew the signs of His coming.  They knew about John’s role as the one who paved the way for the coming Messiah (see Isaiah 40:3-5).  Jesus’ parable told the Pharisees that they were being replaced because they rejected the messengers from God- and the Pharisees themselves agreed that the wicked vineyard workers should be destroyed.  The Pharisees could not accept Christ’s message because they had spent so much time deciding what was righteous in God’s eyes instead of relying on the Scriptures to reveal righteousness to them.  To accept Christ would be to go against and deny the tenants they had declared most important.

Matthew 25:31–46  The Separation of the Sheep and the Goats

““When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ 

“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’

“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! 

For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’ 

“Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’

“Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.””

Jesus tells His disciples the difference between the Sheep and the Goats.  The Sheep meet the needs of those around them.  They do whatever it takes to meet the needs of others: if someone is hungry, they feed him; if someone is naked, they clothe him; if someone is homeless, they house him; if someone is lonely, they visit them.  The Goats, on the other hand, observe the needs of others, but they look the other way and ignore the need.  The Sheep meet the needs because they have a love for humanity from God that compels them to do so.  The Goats have no such love within them, and they therefore do not consider aiding a person in need.  The Sheep receive eternal life, whereas the Goats receive eternal punishment.  Those without love cannot commune with God because God is love (c.f. 1 John 4:7-8).

Matthew 27:3–5  Judas Hangs Himself

“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.“I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said.  “What’s that to us?” they said. “See to it yourself!”   So he threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed. Then he went and hanged himself.”

Judas goes to the Priests because he sinned against an innocent man, but the Priests do not perform the necessary sacrifice for his forgiveness.  Instead, they say “What’s that to us?”  Why should we care about your sin?  They kill Jesus, the Messiah, because He did not applaud their practices and forgave people of their sins, but they do not faithfully carry out the instructions of the Law that they so tightly cling to.  If they truly wanted to uphold the Law, then they should have offered a sacrifice for Judas’ sin.  Instead, they tell him to deal with it himself, and he does so by hanging himself.

Matthew 27:41–42

“In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked Him and said, “He saved others, but He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.”

Here is another example of the wickedness within the Pharisees.  They say they will believe in Jesus if He comes down from the cross.  We do not believe in Christ by getting Him to do what we want Him to do.  God does not do miracles upon request lest we say “See, we got God to do what we wanted.”  God reveals Himself in ways that only a humble heart can see.  He provides a sign to those who want His Spirit, whereas He does not provide a sign to those who are interested in judging for themselves about what and who God is.

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