Friday, September 28, 2012

Sow it, and it will grow

"These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 10:5-6)

I have read right over this and never given it any thought. Why does Jesus instruct them to go not into any city of the "non Jew" (being that of the Samaritans), but instead specifically to only the Jews? At least, that is what I infer from this.

Theologian John Gill offers this:

"he commanded them, as their Lord and Master; he gave them strict orders, which he expected them to comply with, and closely enjoined them, as they must answer it to him again, saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles; meaning, not the customs' and manners of the Heathens, they were to avoid; but that they were not to steer their course, or take their journey towards them: they were not, as yet, to go among them, and preach the Gospel to them; the calling of the Gentiles was not a matter, as yet, so clearly revealed and known, nor was the time of their calling come: besides it was the will of God, that the Gospel should be first preached to the Jews, to take off all excuse from them, and that their obstinacy and perverseness in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, might manifestly appear; and since Christ himself was the minister of the circumcision, he would have his apostles, for the present, whilst he was on earth, act agreeably to the character he bore, that there might be an entire harmony in their conduct."

We can take from this a spiritual maturity and growth process that the Lord will reveal and provide in all of us. It is not necessarily our place to go and preach, or in some cases nag and annoy others "in the name of Jesus" until we truly know the power and deliverance to which we are preaching, or until our ultimate and true calling has been given to us from above.

I have been looking for a message of Christian maturity for some time now, but the right verse seemed to elude me; yes, despite all of the incredible messages from Paul.

Have you been saved and felt God's commission on your life to "go to the ends of the earth" and testify, but you feel as though once you get there you'll be silenced by your critics? You feel as though you are prepared to preach the message of salvation to all who may, or may not, want to listen, but once you get that out, ask yourself "How will I ever explain this beyond that moment?"

Maybe God is urging you to be cautious and not run before you can walk, really, really well? Maybe God is urging you be steadfast in His Word, and allow it to seep into and fill the cracks and voids you yourself know to be empty? Maybe, just maybe, He has a plan that if you wait patiently for, will be fulfilled 100x's over. Maybe, just maybe, once Christ initially commissions the Twelve, His disciples, it is then that He unveils the parable of the sower (ch. 13) to explain how the seed sown on good soil, nurtured, watered, and properly cared for, yields a harvest better than any other.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AUTHORITY (Matt. 7-9)


"for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes" (Mt. 7:29).

"For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and 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" (Mt. 8:9).

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mt. 9:6).

"But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Mt. 9:8).

"Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority" (Mt. 10:1)

As I read through Matthew 7-9 this evening, the word "authority" stood out to me like never before. Jesus had authority, but it was not in the sense of the religious leaders of the Jewish faith were accustomed to. His authority was not considered an earthly authority, let alone one of a divine nature, yet He spoke, taught, healed, and rebuked evil with authority. What is in the word Matthew uses in his Gospel account that will give us some insight into the authority of Jesus?

In Mt. 7:29, authority is "eksousía" ("delegated power") which refers to the authority God gives to His saints – authorizing them to act to the extent they are guided by faith (His revealed word). Matthew uses the word "authority" a total of ten times throughout his Gospel account (according to the NASB translation), and one-half of those uses occur within just 3.5 of the total 28 chapters, all of which occuring once Jesus' ministry begins. What is Matthew trying to stress to his Jewish readers?

Greek To Me

This Greek work "eksousía" is derived from two words. "Ek" that has a two-layered meaning (out from and to) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object), and "eimí" meaning "I am, exist." Therefore, it should become easier to comprehend how Jesus' eksousía is a delegated power given of the heavenly Father that simply "is" in Him.

Biblos offers this: "eimí ("is, am") – in the present tense, indicative mood – can be time-inclusive ("omnitemporal," like the Hebrew imperfect tense). Only the context indicates whether the present tense also has "timeless" implications. For example, eimí is aptly used in Christ's great "I am" that also include His eternality (self-existent life) as our life, bread, light," etc. See Jn 7:34, 8:58. (1)

In comparison to the authority of the earthly leaders, that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, Jesus' authority was sourced by the Spirit, not that of a proxy or council, and was clearly being exhibited in His early teachings

Why didn't I see this before?

Leaning on the Word is vital to Christians, but we must not be afraid to dig into the text and discover the treasures of its context. Here, even though I extend the assignment by one verse (SUE ME!), Matthew is bringing the authority of the Messiah to a Jewish audience that had known nothing beyond that of their synagogue leaders. Let's keep reading and see how Jesus' authority is used and tested.