Readings

  • Matthew 14:1-12
  • Mark 6:14-31
  • Matthew 11:11-12

Prayer

Pray… that whatever good or bad happens to you in this world, that no thing and no person can separate you from the love of Christ.

Day 273 – John the Baptist’s Murder

Herod beheads John the Baptist for his wife, Herodias

 

  • Today’s passages recount a grim story highlighting how power and sin can completely blind our better judgement. Had you heard of it before?
  • It’s easy to get confused with the Herods. Here’s a brief overview. Herod the Great, the guy who killed the babies when Jesus was born, is dead, but he had several sons including Herod Aristobulus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip I. Herod Aristobulus had a daughter called Herodias. Herodias married her uncle, Herod Philip I, and they had a daughter, called Salome. After she was born, Herodias decided she fancied one of her other uncles more, Herod Antipas, and divorced Philip I so she could marry Antipas. Phew… did you get all that?!
  • It’s at this point that John the Baptist entered the scene and told Herodias that she shouldn’t divorce her husband in order to marry his brother (based on Leviticus 18:16). Herodias, enraged, made Antipas (who’s in charge) put John in jail (see Mark 6:17). It’s against this bizarre backdrop that the events of our readings today took place.
  • What do the passages, especially the one in Mark, say about Herod Antipas’ view of John? Based on the confusion about John’s identity, which is referred to in Mark 6:14-15, Herod didn’t seem to want to mess with him, but his wife wasn’t scared of John!
  • Herod had organised the feast with many important people in attendance. Salome, who was around 12-14 years old, came and danced for everyone. Happy with her performance, and perhaps bragging in front of his guests, Herod offered her anything she wanted. What did she ask for? Who coached her to ask for it?
  • What was Herod’s reaction? Do you think he was weak or strong when he went ahead with the murder of John? How do you think the pressure of his wife and the opinion of his guests might have affected his decision? Did he put his reputation before John’s life?

 

John shared a message about Jesus – and of God’s Law – that eventually led to His death. He shared the message of truth, even when it was unpopular, and in the face of the many dangers that it brought. We can hope never to be in a situation where our lives are in danger for sharing the good news of the Bible, but we can be sure that it will be often be unpopular. How does that affect the way you share it?

 

Don’t miss the fact the the death of an innocent man that we read today points us to Jesus. He too came with a message that was unpopular, and He too was put to death in an attempt to quash his mission. Little were they to know, of course, that their actions played their part not in destroying that wonderful mission, but actually achieving it!

Readings

  • Matthew 13
  • Isaiah 6:8-10
  • Psalm 78:1-4

Prayer

Pray… that through Jesus’ parables, you may understand great and powerful truth in the most simple of messages. Pray that you will see the gospel as the most valuable thing that anyone could ever have.

Day 272 – Jesus’ New Teaching Style

After Israel’s rejection, Jesus starts teaching in parables

 

  • Eight parables are recorded in Matthew 13 as Jesus’ teaching is explained simply to the people heard it. We won’t look at all the parables in these notes, but we will see that they all have common themes. I encourage you to think about what each one means for yourself before you end today’s study.
  • You’ll know the parable of the sower, I expect. Could you explain the meaning of the parable, including the people represented by the seed, without looking at the text? Have a go! Then re-read the text and see if you missed anything important. How well did you know the parable? Was it helpful that Jesus clearly explained the meaning?
  • I see real honest truth in the parable of the sower. Do you know people who you could place in the four different “responses” to the gospel? Which group do you put yourself in?
  • What sort of people was Jesus talking to when He talked in parable? What reasons does Jesus give, especially in Matthew 13:10-17, about the reason He had for speaking in parable? Why do you think so many of the stories were related to farming?
  • Jesus’ parable of the weeds might be less well known to you. Read it, and then read Jesus’ explanation of the parable in Matthew 13:36-43. Did the explanation help you to understand the parable better, or did you “get it” first time? Either way, what’s the basic message of this parable? Spend time on this question and focus on this text. It’s an important parable to consider when explaining why God hasn’t “rooted out” all the evil in this world already.
  • Have you ever considered that God’s “delay” in removing all sin from this world could be a significant act of grace of God? By waiting, what is God giving the people who haven’t come to Jesus an opportunity to do?
  • The mustard seed is a tiny seed that grows into a great plant. What does the mustard seed (and the hidden treasure, and the pearl of great value) represent? Do you treasure the gospel like it’s the most valuable thing you have?

 

When you hear a sermon, or perhaps a talk at youth club, what’s the thing that helps you remember what was said?

 

If the speaker knocked you square between the eyes with the message then you might remember the actual points the speaker said, or the verses. More often, however, you’ll remember a story or an anecdote that was shared to illustrate the point first, and you’ll (hopefully) then recall the biblical message afterwards.

 

Jesus knew well that this method of teaching worked, so he laid out His message to the crowds in a way that was immediately familiar. Many of Jesus’ teachings were about farming, because that was what people did. Nowadays, perhaps Jesus would make a comment about a TV show or video game, perhaps, or maybe the Premier League, to illustrate the point, like I’m sure you’ve heard in plenty of sermons!

 

When we share the gospel, there is no point in being clever about it, or complicated. We should meet people where they are, explaining the gospel message of salvation in whatever way the hearer needs to hear it. Hopefully I’m doing a reasonable job of that right now with you, Harry, Anabel and Jonah! How are you at clearly telling people what you believe in? Would it help you to consider explaining it using an example or story? If so, could you prepare one and write it in your journal?

Readings

  • Matthew 12
  • Hosea 6:6
  • Isaiah 42:1-4

Prayer

Pray… that if you are known as a Christian amongst your friend, and I know you will be, that your “fruit” – i.e. the actions you do and the things you say – will be good and honouring to Jesus.

Day 271 – Jesus’ ‘Work’ on the Sabbath

Jesus heals on the Sabbath & the ‘unpardonable sin’

 

  • Many of the words we read in Matthew 12 are ones that we have read in different gospel accounts, so we won’t reconsider the subject of working on the Sabbath again in detail in these notes again. It’s certainly worthwhile to consider what differences are in these verses to those we read on day 255 though. Don’t forget the basic point though. The Sabbath was given for good rest, not burdensome rule-keeping.
  • What do you think about working on a Sunday? Did you have opinions on it, and have they been changed by today’s words from Jesus? How is it possible, in your life, to keep the Sunday “special” without being legalistic about what you do and don’t do on it?
  • How does the passage referenced in Isaiah link in with the idea of Jesus not wanting the people to “make him known” (Matthew 12:16)?
  • You might need to read Matthew 12:16-32 more than once to understand it. Let’s work through it. The Pharisees were watching Jesus cast out demons. Who do they say Jesus was? How did Jesus, in verses 25-27, counter their suggestion?
  • Jesus was able to drive demons out of people in the same way that a man could steal from a house when the owner is tied up. In the case of the demons, who is the “owner”? What story that we have already read which shows that Satan was powerless over Jesus?
  • If the “house” is the sinful world in which we live, where the devil does have power, what was Jesus doing when He came to “plunder”?
  • Many people have struggled over the verses about the “unpardonable sin” mentioned in verses Matthew 12:31-32. Your study bible may have notes on these verses which are helpful. The basic message is that continued and unrepentant resistance against the work of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ message will not result in eternal life. If you know the good news and continually harden your heart to it, the Bible has strong warnings for you. But if you are worried that you have perhaps committed this “unpardonable” sin, be reassured. Your concern is great evidence that you are open to the work of the Spirit. Nevertheless, these verses should challenge us against claiming to love God whilst repeatedly refusing to deal with sin in your life.
  • Matthew 12 continues with Jesus’ teachings on “fruit”. A good tree – one which has goodness and love at its roots – will produce good tasty fruit – and lots of it. A bad tree, with a hard or evil roots, can clearly be seen by the poor crop on it. This metaphor is used by Jesus as a challenge to the Pharisees (and to us). What does it mean? What “fruit” do you produce, and is it good? How are you known by other people? Do you want your fruit to be different? Put simply, does being a Christian change you for the better?
  • Jesus’ family are mentioned today. How are we part of His family too?
  • Why did we read Hosea 6:6 today? It’s a great verse about the weight God puts on obedience, rather than confession. Can you change anything in your life so that you apply these words more faithfully?

 

 

The beautiful words of Isaiah end our time of reading today. Spend some time thinking about what each of the verses mean, and how they might connect in with the main readings in Matthew.

 

The verses, of course, talk about Jesus. Jesus lived a life that honoured His Father. When we consider Jesus, we can see the fruit that He produced. He “faithfully brought forth justice” in a humble way which brought glory to God, as Isaiah 42:3 prophesied so clearly.

 

How do you show your love for Jesus in your fruit, the things you do? I don’t mean the physical act of going to church, or something like that. I’m talking about how you life a live for Jesus, and how people can see your love for Jesus in what you do and say. If someone watched you for a week, how would they know that you loved and followed Christ? What’s different about you?

 

It’s a challenging question, isn’t it?!

 Readings

  • None… unless you need to catch up!

Prayer

Pray… for something that is on your mind today.

Day 270 – Day Off

 

 

We’re cracking through the days now. Did you know that there were less than 100 days to go now until the end of the year?

 

That’s right – we’re definitely in the countdown now, even if it’s a rather long countdown still! Well done though – it’s another great milestone.

 

Let’s keep learning about King Jesus! Go go go!

Readings

  • Matthew 10
  • Micah 7:5-7
  • Mark 6:7-13

Prayer

Pray… for confidence in sharing your faith, and encouragement when it’s hard or when people don’t want to know.

Day 269 – Jesus’ Sending of the 12

Jesus prepares the 12 for conflict & sends them out

 

  • Jesus has brought His group of disciples together, spending time teaching them and provoing His credentials through His teaching and miracles. Now came the time for Jesus to send the twelve men out into the nearby towns to share the gospel.
  • Why do you think Jesus chose to have 12 disciples? Does this number ring a bell for you? What might it be a reference to?
  • Why do you think Jesus wanted the disciples to go out, rather than go Himself to every town?
  • Before Jesus sent them out, what many things did he warn them about, especially in Matthew 10:16-23? Did Jesus paint an easy picture of their work? What encouragement  did He give to His disciples when they were persecuted?
  • Verse 16 talks of serpents and doves, in regards to being shrewdness and being innocent of wrong. We’ve read of serpents and doves in the Old Testament. How were both pictured in Genesis?
  • Matthew 10:5-15 tells us how the disciples were to act. Where were they to preach to specifically?
  • What were they to take with them, and what payment were they allowed to take? Why? How do you think comforts such as extra bags, clothes or payment might have affected the disciples as they did their work, or (perhaps even more importantly) how other people viewed them?
  • What was Jesus’ call to do in the face of those who didn’t want to hear the message? Was it to keep going and going with the preaching, or to leave and speak to someone else instead? Does this affect the way you might act now?
  • Jesus comforted his followers in Matthew 10:26-33. What did He mean when he talked of sparrows?
  • Jesus followed that message of comfort with some hard phrases about requiring commitment, coming with a sword, and for making enemies with families. It’s important you understand this. Jesus wasn’t coming to destroy or bring enmity for the sake of it, but He was expecting those who followed Him to put Him number One in their lives, even if that was costly in terms of human relationships. How does this make you feel? When it comes to Jesus or a friend, who do you want to please the most?

 

Jesus words to his disciples are, of course, for us too. We might not have the power to raise from the dead and perform miracles like the disciples were given, but notice that even with that power, the disciples faced persecution and rejection. We preach the same message to people just like those who heard it 2,000 years ago, and it’s just as important!

Readings

  • Luke 8:41-56
  • Mark 5:21-43
  • Matthew 9:14-38

Prayer

Pray… that you will completely trust in Jesus, despite the privileges and comparative luxury in which we are fortunate to live.

Day 268 – Jesus’ Ministry at Sea of Galilee #2

Jesus heals a daughter & a haemorrhaging woman

 

  • Jairus was an official at a synagogue. This would have given him a certain level of status. The text doesn’t say whether he was a Pharisee or not, but of course it’s important not to pigeon-hole people into types. Regardless of his position or status, Jairus understood who Jesus wass and did what we should all do – bow before Him.
  • Whilst Jesus was walking to Jairus’ house, what happened?
  • The disciples pointed out that there would have been a great crowd jostling around to get close to Jesus. Why did Jesus specifically point out the touch of the woman?
  • By healing the woman, Jesus would not only have removed the pain and discomfort of the issue she was having. The discharge of blood would have made her ceremonially unclean, according to the laws that we studied all the way back in Leviticus. Now that she was healed, she would have been able to come to the temple. In effect, therefore, Jesus was helping her to become spiritually clean too.
  • How do you think you would have felt about the delay caused by speaking to the woman, if you were Jairus? How do you think he felt when his friend came to tell him the awful news about his daughter? Would you have been angry at Jesus, or disappointed in Him? Or would you have continued to trust? What indications are there in the passages that the people at Jairus’ home assumed it was “too late” for Jesus to do anything?
  • Jesus commanded the people watching not to tell others of the events that occurred today. Remember the notes from yesterday? In this instance, the healing took place in Jewish region, where mistaken rumour about Jesus could have led to difficulties in his ministry.
  • Matthew’s account of the two healings are much shorter, but we read other accounts in his book today. How did some of the Pharisees consider Jesus when they see him casting out demons? The Pharisees actions should serve as a thoughtful reminder to us that being a rule-following Christian, and going to church every week, doesn’t always mean that we have a personal faith in Jesus.
  • Matthew 9:35-38 sums up Jesus’ character throughout his healing ministry: He had compassion on people. He saw needs and provided for them. I’m sure we do the same in our own small way, but focus on verse 37. The “harvest” is the large number of people who need to be hear the saving message of Jesus, and the “labourers” are the people sharing the good news. Of course there were very few labourers then! But the need for people to hear the good news of Jesus is the same now as then. How well do you “labour” to share the good news among your friends so that they understand why you love and follow Jesus?

 

We love to hear about Jesus healing people, don’t we? That’s the side of Jesus everyone likes to hear about. It’s the “giving” Jesus, the compassionate Jesus, the inclusive Jesus.

 

And that’s true – we do worship a great God that gives, and shows mercy and welcomes all. For that we can truly rejoice!

 

This passage does have its difficult calls though. Jesus calls us to help people by sharing the news of Jesus – and telling that that they are sick and need healing! Man, that’s not an easy thing to say! Now,you might not use that word, of course, as the word “sick” has a variety of connotations, but the fact of that matter is that the Bible says that we are all sinners and all need saving. If we saw a person with a broken hand, we’d take them to the hospital. In the same way, we are called to bring people to Jesus who need Him too. That’s everyone, in case you were wondering who!

 

Passages like the ones today can teach us about the goodness of Jesus, but it should also point us to the importance of how Jesus can – and does – heal today too. Physically sometimes, but even more importantly, spiritually. Be challenged. And be brave for Jesus!

Readings

  • Luke 8:19-40
  • Mark 4:35-41
  • Mark 5:1-20

Prayer

Pray… a prayer of thankfulness that Jesus is Lord over all creation, and that one day we will live in a perfect new creation.

Day 267 – Jesus’ Ministry at Sea of Galilee

Jesus calms the sea & casts out Legion

 

  • Why do you think it’s helpful to read two separate accounts of these miracles, even though they basically re-tell the same stories? Do you think there is anything to be gained from seeing unity in the gospel writers? Does either author give interesting extra information that the other doesn’t?
  • The first miracle we read today shows Jesus calming the storm. What did this show that Jesus had power over?
  • If we were in a storm in a small boat nowadays, we would likely be afraid just like the sailors were. I don’t even like it when the waves rock for too long when I go sailing in the Hebrides! Why do you think Jesus asked them why they were afraid?
  • We can’t “rebuke the wind” like Jesus did. What can we hold onto when our lives feel like the boat, being tossed about in the wind and waves?
  • The second story we read shows Jesus’ power over the demonic. How was the man, who is unnamed, described? He must have been a sorry sight.
  • When Jesus approached, the man spoke. We see the words in Mark 5:7. The words come from the demon, using the voice of the possessed man. Does the demon know who Jesus is?
  • The words basically mean “what do we have in common?” or “mind your own business”. The demon went on to plead with Jesus. What did the demon know about Jesus’ power over it?
  • The voice called himself “Legion”. A legion in the Roman army was a group of 6,000 men, suggesting that this man was highly tormented by many demons, or a very powerful one.
  • The demons were fearful of being sent into the “Abyss” (Luke 8:31). This is a place of confinement for demons, and is later referenced in Revelation 9:1. Where do they beg to be sent instead? Why do you think Jesus allows this? Does the choice of animal make you think about anything?
  • Previously Jesus has told some people he healed to keep the matter quiet. In this instance, he didn’t. He told the man to declare what had happened to him. A possible reason for this was that this event happened in a Gentile area, and people would have reacted differently to those in a Jewish area.

 

It’s been ages since I posted a video, and as we spent a bit of time in Mark today, that’s as good a choice as any! Enjoy watching; it’s very helpful.

 

Unlike Matthew, who seems to have written his gospel for a Jewish audience, Mark looks to have directed his account of Jesus to a gentile audience (remember, that means anyone who wasn’t a Jew). He was a little like a Christian pastor teaching people who Christ was and why they should follow Him. It’s written at quite a fast pace, and has plenty of action in it, which may have helped and encouraged people to read it! It also skips some of the Old Testament references and genealogies that authors like Matthew refer to. Mark clearly wanted his audience to realise not just who Jesus was, but how they can follow Him even though they weren’t part of the Israelite nation.

 

Try and keep this in the back of your mind as you read.

 

Readings

  • Luke 7:18-35
  • Matthew 11
  • Isaiah 35:3-6

Prayer

Pray… for comfort and clarity over areas of your Christian faith where you have struggle or doubt.

Day 266 – John the Baptist’s Doubts

John questions Jesus from prison & Jesus comments on John

 

  • Doubt will be an issue for us all throughout our Christian lives. You might think doubt only comes to those who don’t understand, or are weak, or have been “taken in by the world”. If that’s the case, prepare to be shocked. John the Baptist – the man who pointed the way to Jesus and baptised him in the Spirit – is recorded as questioning Jesus today.
  • This might be one of the first passages of the New Testament that we have studied thus far that you perhaps were not so aware of before. What are your immediate thoughts having read Matthew and Luke’s accounts of this situation?
  • Where was John located when he sent his questions to Jesus? How might this have affected his mood? Do you doubt more when you’re in a stressful situation?
  • John’s questions might have been simply inquisitive rather than anything else, but why do you think he was challenged about whether Jesus was the promised messiah? What do you think John might have been expecting from Jesus? Do you think being in prison was part of the John’s expectations of events?
  • In Matthew 11:4-5, Jesus answered John. He did this by quoting Isaiah and pointing to the things He had been doing (healing and teaching). What point was Jesus making?
  • Jesus went on to teach the crowds. In Matthew 11:11 he said John is “great” in human terms, but that the “least of the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. What did Jesus mean by this do you think?
  • Matthew 11:20-24 mentions many cities. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were places where Jesus did many miracles, but many people in these cities didn’t repent. Jesus went on to say, however, that Tyre and Sidon, two very pagan cities, would have repented. Remember Ninevah in Jonah’s time? They repented at the message Jonah shared. How much more would sinners who actually saw Jesus? Jesus’ human point is that your past is less important than seeing the reality of Jesus and His message. It helps us see why some people who don’t think they are already “OK” are more hardened to Jesus than those who have previously ignored Him.
  • When you struggle with doubts, Matthew 11:25-30 is sure to give great comfort. Spend some time in prayer thanking God that He has made Himself known to you, and that Jesus can take the burden of your sin and shame.

 

 

Doubt affects us all. There will be times when God feels very real to you. There will be times when it feels like you’re a leaf being washed away in a tidal wave of ambivalence towards the Christian message. At times like this, it can be so easy to drift away from Christ.

 

When these times come, the Christians in your life will be ever more important in helping, and encouraging you. Your family, your friends, your church, your youth leaders – all may be able to play a part in helping talk through your struggles, and pray with you, and support you when you need a spiritual arm on your shoulder – or maybe even a real one!

 

If, however, those people aren’t there because your friends are exclusively non-Christians, or because you have drifted away from church, then it’ll be harder to find the support you need.

 

Your ultimate rock, of course, is Christ, and to Him you can – and should – always turn first. Prayer and time in God’s Word can bring you closer to Jesus and help you in your struggles. But your support networks around you will play a great part too – especially if that means reminding you of the great love found in Jesus in the first place.

 

You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian, or have a good number of Christian friends, or go to a weekly bible study. But those things can be so encouraging and affirming that I would encourage all to be a priority when you’re able to.

 

And – of course – you can then be that encourager to others too!

 

Readings

  • Matthew 8:18-22
  • Luke 9:43-62
  • Matthew 16:24-26

Prayer

Pray… for a heart that seeks to put following Jesus before everything else.

Day 265 – Jesus’ Demands of Discipleship

To follow Jesus is to make Him your first priority

 

  • The inescapable message of today’s passages is the challenge of following Jesus, and the inevitable challenges, and sometimes suffering, that will occur when one does it fully. You should be challenged about whether you are following Jesus in name and in some of the things you do, or whether you life is committed to Jesus in such a way that everything you do is affected by whether it gives glory to Him. We’ll never be perfect in this regard, but we should always be striving in the right direction!
  • What was Jesus saying to the man who questioned Him in Matthew 8:19? What did He mean about foxes and birds? What was Jesus challenging the man on, in this situation?
  • What do you think about the story of the man who had to bury his father? Was Jesus being mean, or egotistical, when He challenged the man to “follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead”. Does it help if I phrase the sentence as “let the spiritually dead bury their physically dead”?
  • Matthew 16:24-26 are well known and deeply powerful words. What does it mean to “take up your cross”? Can you think of a time when you have “taken up your cross” and stood up for Jesus, even though you suffered for it? What about a time when you backed down? Do you “take up your cross” enough?
  • You have many good things in your lives. What does Matthew 16:26 say about the futility of gaining even the “whole world”, if one’s soul is forfeited?
  • Luke adds several details in his accounts of these events, and records the disciples having rather petty arguments about who the greatest was. How did Jesus respond? Do you consider yourself great?
  • Jesus is recorded as rebuking, at at least disagreeing, with His disciples several times in the passage in Luke. Jesus loved (i.e. cared deeply for) His disciples for sure, but He was quick to challenge them when they thought, spoke or acted in the wrong way. You can rebuke someone and love them at the same time. Do you realise this when you are being rebuked or challenged by your parents, or by other authority figures?

 

I’ve had many good chats with all of you Eurekans from time to time, and sometimes difficult ones when I’ve challenged you on decisions you made that maybe weren’t putting Christ first. When I had those chats with you, if I did, what did you think?

 

 

I’m sure you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed conversations of that nature. Maybe at the time you thought I was being a bit preachy, or picky. Maybe in retrospect you agree that you probably needed to hear the words that were said. Maybe not!

 

We will all sin, and we will all fall short of the challenge set before us to live a life that honours Christ. A mature faith, however, will understand the reasons for being challenged by sin, and see – like when Jesus rebuked his disciples – that it comes from a loving heart.

 

Jesus calls us to an seemingly impossible standard – to put Him first, in all things. We *will* fail in this, but when our hearts are set on Jesus, we’ll look back to Him, and he’ll pick us back up and we can start again. Time and time and time again!

 

Take heart in the challenges of today’s passages. Jesus is worth living for, more than you, and I, can ever imagine.

Readings

  • Luke 7:1-16
  • Matthew 8:5-17
  • Isaiah 53:4

Prayer

Pray… for someone by name that you know is unwell at this time.

Day 264 – Jesus’ Healings in Capernaum & Nain

The centurion, the widow’s son, & Peter’s mother

 

  • The pace slows back today as we focus in on two subjects: Jesus’ ability to heal (even from the dead), and the question of our faith in Jesus. We read similar accounts of the story of the centurion in both Luke and Matthew, but watch out that you spot the subtle differences in the teaching of both gospel accounts.
  • We meet a centurion today. Make sure you appreciate who this person was. He was the commander of 100 or so men, and was part of the Roman (and therefore pagan) army that was occupying Judea. As a Roman, he would not have been popular with the Jews (the Romans were the occupying forces, of course), especially as he was a commander.
  • How did the centurion ask for help from Jesus? What did he say that showed great faith in Jesus’ power to heal?
  • Have you ever done a trust fall – where you fall back and trust a person standing behind you to catch you? When you do it properly, you have to completely trust the catcher. If they don’t catch you, you’ll fall and hurt yourself. Do you think the centurion’s trust in Jesus is similar? What about your own faith?
  • Do you think the people around would have been shocked at the warm reception Jesus gave this man because of his faith? How would his extra comments in Matthew 8:11-12 challenged the Jews watching on? This is one of the most important things to take away from today’s readings. Jesus is saying the entry into His kingdom is based on faith on Him, rather than an ethnic or cultural background.
  • What did Jesus do to the dead man? Do you know how many other instances there are of Jesus healing someone from the dead?
  • If you were in the crowds as you watched these miracles, do you think you would have been convinced about Jesus’ authenticity (i.e. that he was God)? Why do you think some people were not?
  • Matthew referenced the Old Testament twice in the reading from chapter 8, in verse 11 again in 17. How did Jesus fulfil the prophecy in Isaiah? The end of the passage in Matthew links in the verse from Isaiah. Why do you think people are not always healed today when they pray for healing?

 

Remember that Matthew and Luke were talking to different audiences. Matthew was generally teaching a Jewish audience that Jesus was the Messiah that they had been promised. Luke was teaching a non-Christian about why he should examine the teachings of Christ and follow him. You may have spotted that Matthew makes mention of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in today’s passage, who will of course have been familiar with the Jews, but Luke skips this detail when writing his account for his friend.

 

It’s an encouragement to us that the way we share the gospel will look different depending on who we are sharing it with. You should think like this too. When you are talking with someone about Jesus, consider what they may or may not know, and make sure not to assume things that someone with a church-going background may know!