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The Lord’s Supper September 29, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:17-30.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus commands Peter and John to:

  • enter Jerusalem, where they will find a certain man carrying water
  • follow this man to a house
  • inform the owner of this house that the time of the Rabbi’s death has arrived and that the Rabbi has been divinely ordained to celebrate the Passover at his house.

They respond accordingly.

Later, while eating the Passover meal with His disciples, He asserts that one of them (i.e. Judas) will deliver Him up – thereby fulfilling God’s divine plan. That disciple is cursed and will experience the severest damnation in hell.

The disciples are exceedingly sorrowful and doubt themselves, as they are unsure as to the identity of the traitor in their midst. After some time, they are able to resume eating the Passover meal.

Later, He takes bread, gives thanks to God for His provision, and distributes it, telling them:

  • to eat it
  • that it is emblematic of His body, which He gives to die in death for man.

He then takes a cup, gives thanks to God for His provision, and gives it to them, telling them:

  • to drink it
  • that it is emblematic of His blood, which seals a new covenant between God and man.

Indeed, His blood will bring about forgiveness for all who believe.

Thoughts: In verse 24, Jesus asserts that it would be better for Judas if he had never been born. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

There are always people who deny the reality and eternity of hell. We live in a time when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God’s mercy at the expense of his justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a “love of God lower even than hell.” Let us resist such teaching with a holy jealousy, and abide by the doctrine of Holy Scripture…

I still struggle to grasp the connection between hell and eternal suffering. While I believe that this is a genuine connection – as it is established by Scripture – it does not resonate with me. It is difficult to picture those who have not accepted God’s offer of eternal salvation being compelled to endure eternal suffering. Indeed, I wonder: what does eternal suffering look like? My struggles are at least partially fueled by the knowledge that I also deserve that punishment – and it is only by God’s grace that I will not have to pay that penalty. Perhaps this connection will resonate with me as I grow in my understanding of God’s holiness.

In verses 26-29, Jesus institutes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Our Lord knew well the things that were before him, and graciously chose the last quiet evening that he could have before his crucifixion as an occasion for bestowing a parting gift on his church.

Even though I have taught several Sunday School lessons on this particular topic, I was able to glean a new insight on this particular stroll through this passage. In particular, I was struck by the fact that Jesus instituted this sacrament less than 24 hours before His death. He knew that He was about to endure an unfathomable degree of physical and emotional pain – yet He still calmly instituted this sacrament. How did He remain focused on the task at hand? Did He experience any turmoil in His heart as He distributed the bread and the wine? If I had been in His position, I would have succumbed to my fears. Thus, as we continue to observe the Lord’s Supper, we should be mindful of the courage and strength that He displayed as He instituted it.

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus September 28, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:14-16.

Summary: In this passage, Judas (from the region of Kerioth) goes to the chief priests and sets up his betrayal of Jesus. After bargaining for thirty pieces of silver, he spends a week planning his heinous act.

Thoughts: This passage sharpens the contrast between the righteousness of Jesus and the unrighteousness of all others. Here, Judas reveals his unrighteousness by willingly betraying his Lord. Indeed, Judas had spent the last three years with Jesus – observing His miracles, hearing His sermons, and sharing in his private teachings. Essentially, he learned how to live righteously before God during that wonderful period. Yet he grew disillusioned with Jesus and eventually betrayed Him. As modern-day believers, we are tempted to view Judas with an air of superiority – yet we must not fall into this trap. Indeed, we are also in danger of growing disillusioned with our Savior, and so we need His grace on a daily basis.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany September 23, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:6-13.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus is at the house of Simon – a former leper – in Bethany. Mary approaches Him with a vessel made of alabaster containing perfume that is worth a year’s wages; she then pours it all over Him.

This angers the disciples, as they believe that she has wasted her perfume. In particular, Judas had wanted to enrich himself by selling it.

Jesus responds by:

  • asking them why they are furnishing Mary a burden – as she has shown her love for Him by lavishly preparing His body for burial
  • asserting that while they should still meet the needs of the poor, they should show their love for Him at this time
  • asserting that all who read the Gospels will encounter a memorial of Mary’s act of love.

Thoughts: Here, Mary worships Jesus by preparing His body for burial. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Third, we see in this incident a blessed foretaste of things that will take place in the day of judgment. On that great day no honor done to Christ on earth will be found to have been forgotten. The speeches of parliamentary orators, the exploits of warriors, the works of poets and painters, will not be mentioned on that day; but the least work that the weakest Christian woman has done for Christ, or his members, will be found written in a book of everlasting remembrance.

The main point of this passage is to celebrate Mary’s beautiful act of worship of Her Savior. Now if one attempts to apply this passage to the process of drawing up a church budget, difficult questions arise. For example, a deacon could ask, “should we use these miscellaneous funds to start a literacy program for neighborhood youths, or should we transfer them to our building fund?” Such questions often lack simple answers. Thus, I believe that when reading this passage, we should not attempt to complicate matters by pondering its modern-day applications; instead, we should be thankful that God worked through Mary to help her grasp the reality of Jesus’ impending death – a fact that the disciples failed to grasp.

The Plot Against Jesus September 22, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 26:1-5.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus completes the Olivet Discourse and then informs His disciples of God’s plans regarding His death.

The chief priests and the Jewish lay nobility then meet to plot His death, planning to wait at least eight days before acting.

Thoughts: Here, the chief priests and the Jewish lay nobility are cognizant of Jesus’ popularity, knowing that they cannot execute their plot against Him during the week-long Passover. Their thoughts on this point sharpen the contrast between their unrighteousness and His righteousness. While He is entirely faultless, they seek to preserve their lofty status among the Jews – knowing that the Romans would punish them in the event of a riot by their “subjects.” Now I should note that as a modern-day believer, I am tempted to adopt an air of superiority towards the chief priests and the Jewish lay nobility in this passage. Yet I know that this passage – and the remainder of Matthew – only reinforces the following points:

  • only He is righteous
  • His suffering and death stem from my unrighteousness
  • I need Him as my Savior.

The Sheep and the Goats September 16, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 25:31-46.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus states that at His Second Coming, He will:

  • be joined by all of the holy angels
  • reign in Jerusalem
  • judge all of the people who are still alive
  • separate believers from unbelievers.

He will then invite believers – who are blessed by His Father – to live under His earthly rule. Indeed, He has chosen them from the foundation of the world, and they have demonstrated this fact by performing good deeds for fellow believers – thereby performing them for Him.

He will then banish unbelievers to hell, as they have not performed good deeds for believers – thereby failing to perform them for Him.

Thoughts: Here, Jesus blesses believers for the deeds that they have performed for Him. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

People’s deeds are the witnesses which will be brought forward, and above all their works of charity. The question will not merely be what we said, but what we did: not merely what we professed, but what we practiced. Our works unquestionably will not justify us: no one will be declared righteous by observing the law; but the truth of our faith will be tested by our lives.

Now in John MacArthur’s sermon on this passage, he asserts that Jesus specifically references good deeds that were performed for fellow believers; this assertion is supported by the phrase “brothers of mine” in verse 40. Thus, I am curious as to whether Ryle would concur with MacArthur’s viewpoint. Also, it is good to consider the following question: do good deeds performed for unbelievers constitute spiritual fruit? I would answer that question in the affirmative; that being said, this passage implies that if one is a genuine believer, then they will perform good deeds for other believers. Thus, we must aim to bless other believers in this life.

Jesus also condemns unbelievers for the deeds that they have not performed for Him. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Who can describe the misery of eternal punishment? It is something utterly indescribable and inconceivable. The eternal pain of body; the eternal sting of an accusing conscience; the eternal society of none but the wicked, the devil and his angels; the eternal remembrance of opportunities neglected and Christ despised; this is misery indeed.

These are stomach-churning points that we, as believers, do not ponder. Of course, the notion of unbelievers enduring “eternal punishment” is inherently sickening. I believe that this relates to our inability, as finite entities, to grasp the concept of infinity. How can suffering never end? How can God never show mercy to those who have rejected Him in this life? Does He ever think of those whom He has eternally condemned? Does He ever grieve their failure to accept His offer of salvation? While these are painful questions, we must not allow them to hinder our witness to the unbelievers in our orbit.

The Parable of the Talents September 14, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 25:14-30.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus states that His kingdom can be represented by a man who goes on a long trip; before his departure, he delivers his goods to his servants. In particular:

  • one servant receives a bag of coins weighing five talents
  • another servant receives a bag of coins weighing two talents
  • a third servant receives a bag of coins weighing one talent.

This apportionment corresponds to their respective abilities.

The first two servants instantly engage in business and turn a profit; each of them actually doubles the amount that they have received.

Yet the third servant buries his bag of coins.

Their master eventually returns and compares accounts with them. The first two servants bring the profit that they have turned. He declares that they are excellent; thus, he will grant them more opportunities to turn a profit.

Yet the third servant attacks him, declaring that he is unforgiving and that he takes things from others. This servant assumes that if he had engaged in business and:

  • lost money, then his master would have punished him
  • made a profit, then his master would have taken it from him.

Thus, he chose to bury the amount that he had received.

His master declares that he is wicked and lazy; thus, he commands that this servant’s bag of coins be transferred to the first servant.

Similarly, God will grant those who bear spiritual fruit more opportunities to bear spiritual fruit. In contrast, those who do not bear spiritual fruit will not receive any additional opportunities to bear spiritual fruit. Moreover, He will cast them into hell.

Thoughts: In this passage, the first two servants are able to double the amount that they originally received from their master. This spurred me to consider the following hypothesis: significant profits are usually associated with significant risks. If this hypothesis is correct, then I believe that it relates to our walk with God. In particular, God may call us to take a particular risk, e.g. by placing ourselves in an uncomfortable position. In these cases, we may appear to fail – but perhaps we can bear more fruit when we are in a state of discomfort. As believers, we should consider how God may be calling us to take a particular risk; if so, how can we hold fast to Him, trusting that He will be glorified when we respond in obedience?

“Talents” play a central role in this passage, and Ryle offers some insights on this point:

Anything whereby we may glorify God is a “talent.” Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible – all, all are talents.

Ryle has an interesting viewpoint; he proffers a non-standard definition of “talents” (my understanding is that “talents” are usually defined as being equivalent to spiritual gifts, but I could be wrong on this point). If Ryle’s definition is correct, then as believers, we should ponder our advantages while discarding any notion of comparing ourselves with other believers in this regard. Given the advantages that are inherent to our circumstances, how can we leverage them to bear spiritual fruit? We must ask God to open our eyes on a daily basis, viewing our circumstances from His perspective.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins September 9, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 25:1-13.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus states that His kingdom can be represented by ten bridesmaids who take their torches to greet a bridegroom. Five of them are prudent and bring flasks with oil, while the other five are morons, failing to bring these flasks.

The bridegroom does not arrive at the expected time, though; thus, they all fall asleep.

At midnight, a cry is raised to announce his arrival. They awake, and the prudent bridesmaids re-light their torches with their oil. The others ask them for some oil; they respond by instructing them to purchase their own oil.

Later, the bridegroom arrives while the moronic bridesmaids are still procuring their oil. The prudent bridesmaids join the festivities; the others are denied entry, though.

Similarly, believers should be alert for His Second Coming – since they cannot predict it.

Thoughts: Here, the ten bridesmaids are asleep when they learn of the arrival of the bridegroom. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

It will be just the same when Jesus returns to the world. He will find the vast majority of mankind utterly unbelieving and unprepared; he will find the bulk of his believing people in a sleepy and indolent state of soul. Business will be going on in town and country just as it does now; politics, trade, farming, buying, selling, pleasure-seeking will be taking up men’s attention just as they do now…

This passage reminds us of the suddenness of Jesus’ Second Coming. It bears repeating that since no one – besides God the Father – knows the exact timing of that event, all who are alive at that moment will be taken by surprise. What we do know is that He will arrive at some point; thus, we must persist in our preparations for that event. Now I submit that as long as we continue to prepare for His Second Coming, God will not disapprove of us when we engage in “politics, trade, framing, buying, selling, pleasure-seeking.” In fact, we may be engaged in those pursuits at His Second Coming – yet if we are prepared for that event, then He will not judge us for such pursuits. Of course, we must not allow such pursuits to distract us from our preparations…

This passage also reminded me of my unbelieving friends and relatives. My impression is that each of them is doing well – and assured of the accuracy of their worldview. Yet I wonder: are they actually masking inner hurts and pains that could be healed by the Gospel message? If so, how can I help them remove that mask of contentment? I must continue to pray that God would be at work in them, softening their hearts and enabling me to capitalize on any opportunities that He might grant me to bring them closer to Him. Indeed, I must remain confident that God can help at least one of them to place their trust in Him.

The Day and Hour Unknown September 7, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 24:36-51.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus asserts that only His Father knows the time of His Second Coming. He reminds His disciples that Noah’s contemporaries did not care about the flood, maintaining their personal and social routines until the cataclysm. Similarly, those who will witness His Second Coming will not care about it until it occurs; at that time, unbelievers will be judged – yet believers will be saved.

Thus, they should be constantly alert for His Second Coming. Just as a man who knows when a thief will come will not allow him to dig through his house, so they should be prepared for His Second Coming.

He then states that the kingdom of God is like a faithful and sensible servant who is told to rule over their master’s house. Their master will place them over all of his possessions – while dichotomizing an unfaithful and foolish servant.

Similarly, at His Second Coming, He will reward those who are faithful to the stewardship that He has given them – while condemning all others to hell.

Thoughts: Here, Jesus asserts that believers and unbelievers will be separated at His Second Coming. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

There will be no time for repentance or a change of mind when the Lord appears: everyone will be taken as they are, and reap according as they have sown. Believers will be caught up to glory, honor and eternal life; unbelievers will be left behind to shame and everlasting contempt.

It appears that Ryle believes in the Rapture, based on the phrases “caught up to glory” and “left behind.” Admittedly I am still confused about the mechanics of His Second Coming; thus, I am unsure as to whether Ryle is correct. If the theory of the Rapture is correct, then what will happen to a:

  • vehicle that was being operated by a believer?
  • meeting at work that includes at least one believer?
  • patient who was undergoing an operation led by a believer?

Perhaps it is best to not fixate on the mechanics of His Second Coming and allow God to work according to His ways and timing.

Here, Jesus exhorts believers to be prepared for His Second Coming. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

He knows the sleepiness of our nature; he knows how soon we forget the most solemn subjects in religion; he knows how unceasingly Satan labors to obscure the glorious doctrine of his second coming. He exhorts us to keep awake, if we do not want to be ruined forevermore. May we all have an ear to hear his words!

It should be reiterated that being prepared for His Second Coming does not mean that we should anticipate His arrival on a particular date. Now I also believe that it does not mean that we need to meditate on His Second Coming on a daily basis. Instead, I believe that preparing for His Second Coming is equivalent to serving Him faithfully. In particular, we should regularly ask, “has God been glorified through my thoughts, words and deeds today?” If we can answer that question in the affirmative, then we are ready for His Second Coming; when He actually arrives, then He will reward us for being in a state of readiness.

Signs of the End of the Age September 3, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 24:1-35.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus and His disciples depart from the temple. Although His disciples are still in awe of the temple, He asserts that it will be devastated.

They respond by asking Him when:

  • the temple will be devastated
  • He will fully reveal Himself as the Messiah
  • will be the final end of the age of man.

He responds by warning them to keep their eyes open so that they would not be deceived. While there will be:

  • many false Messiahs who will deceive others
  • constant wars and rumors of wars
  • famines and earthquakes throughout the world

these events only mark the beginning of the final end of the age of man.

Later, true believers will be arrested, afflicted and even murdered – since they identify with Him. False teachers will deceive false believers, and false believers will betray true believers. Yet true believers will be saved after enduring these trials, and the Gospel message will be proclaimed throughout the world.

Now when they see that which is abhorrent to God that causes devastation in the temple – as referenced in Daniel 11:31 – they should flee. Those who are on their housetops should not attempt to retrieve their belongings, while those who are in their fields should not attempt to retrieve their outer cloaks. Moreover, pregnant women will be ripped open, and infants will be smashed to pieces. They should pray that their escape would not be hindered by the weather or by Sabbath-day laws, as they are witnessing the worst period in world history. He notes that if that period were not immediately curtailed, then no one would be saved – yet God will immediately terminate it so that those whom He has chosen will be saved.

He then asserts that some will try to deceive them by claiming that the Messiah has fully revealed Himself. Yet when the Messiah fully reveals Himself, that event will be public and glorious.

At that point, the entire universe will disintegrate – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Isaiah 13:10. They will see Him in heaven. While all unbelievers will mourn this event, His angels will gather all believers throughout the world and bring them into His kingdom.

He concludes with the following lesson: just as when a fig tree puts forth its leaves, it is time for summer, so when they see all these things, it is time for them to be brought into His kingdom.

Thoughts: In verse 4, Jesus warns His disciples to not be deceived regarding the timing of His Second Coming. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Irvingism and Mormonism have been only too successfully used as arguments for rejecting the whole doctrine of the second coming of Christ. Let us watch and be on our guard.

While I am (somewhat) familiar with Mormonism, I had never heard about Irvingism before I read that quote, spurring me to learn about Edward Irving. Based on my brief investigation, it appears that Edward Irving was simply another preacher who attempted to predict the Second Coming of Christ. Perhaps repeated failures to predict the timing of that event should spur believers to resist the temptation to “control God” by making such predictions. By not fixating on particular times and dates, we place His Second Coming into the hands of the Father, trusting that He will exercise His sovereignty on some future date.

Here, Jesus presents a list of catastrophic events that will occur before His Second Coming. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

One main subject of this part of our Lord’s prophecy is the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. That great event took place about forty years after the words we have now read were spoken. A full account of it is to be found in the writings of the historian Josephus.

On a related note, I read through several transcripts of sermons by John MacArthur on this passage; in one of those sermons, he asserts:

Now, some people have tried to say that this is a sermon about the destruction of Jerusalem, that this whole sermon was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed. For many reasons that is impossible, as we’ve tried to point out in our previous message.

It is apparent that there is no single interpretation of this passage, and I am not prepared to resolve that debate. Given that the pastor at my previous church emphasized the significance of authorial intent in reading Scripture, I would posit that Matthew’s original audience would have understood Jesus’ prophecies in light of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. I would also posit that they would have had no concept of a future desolation that would last for seven years. That being said, I could be wrong on both of these points; thus, I anticipate learning the correct interpretation of this passage in the next life (or even in this life).

In verse 34, Jesus notes that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

Third, these verses teach us that until Christ returns the Jews will remain a separate people…The continued existence of the Jews as a distinct nation is undeniably a great miracle: it is one of those evidences of the truth of the Bible which the unbeliever can never overthrow…The Jewish nation stands before the world a crushing answer to unbelief, and a living book of evidence that the Bible is true.

While the meaning of “this generation” is also debatable, Ryle’s thoughts remind me of Paul’s assertion in Romans 11:25-32 concerning the ultimate salvation of the Jews. If Ryle’s interpretation of “this generation” is correct, then it is all the more remarkable at this point in world history that the Jews continue to exist “as a distinct nation” – since Ryle could not have anticipated the Holocaust. Indeed, I wonder if God is actually displaying His sovereign plan in continuing to preserve the Jews as “a separate people”; if so, when will He restore them to His favor and enable them to acknowledge the identity of His Son, Jesus Christ? That is an event that should spur all believers to rejoice in His abundant grace.

Seven Woes September 2, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 23.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus addresses His disciples and the crowd, noting that the Pharisees – and the scribes – have authority. Thus, if they read from the law of Moses, then they must be continuously obeyed. Yet they are hypocrites, as they pile on regulations that must be obeyed by all without caring for those whom they burden. Thus, they should not be continuously obeyed.

Indeed, the Pharisees – and the scribes – perform their religious works to be seen by others. For example, they:

  • wear large phylacteries
  • have large fringes on their garments
  • desire to sit by the host at banquets
  • desire to sit on the raised platform at the front of synagogues
  • desire to have their excellence acknowledged in the marketplace.

In contrast, His disciples should not desire to have their excellence acknowledged by others, since only He is excellent. Moreover, true excellence lies in serving others, as those who push themselves down will be pushed up, while those who push themselves up will be pushed down.

He then divinely judges the Pharisees – and the scribes – as hypocrites, as they:

  • keep people from entering the kingdom of God
  • convert Gentiles to their movement – who eventually surpass them in their hypocrisy
  • are liars and morons, as they fail to keep their vows and then assert that their vows actually had no meaning, as they were only declared in reference to the temple and/or the altar
  • tithe from their kitchen items while failing to honor God in truly important matters such as justice, mercy and faith
  • appear to be pious – yet plunder others, demonstrating their unrestrained desire for gain
  • appear to be righteous – yet are full of lawlessness
  • commemorate prophets and assert that they would not have sanctioned their lynching by their ancestors – yet plan to kill Him, the greatest prophet of all.

Thus, He damns them to hell, noting that He will send preachers to them. He knows that they will reject these preachers – thereby increasing their condemnation. By stoning them, allow the Romans to crucify others and persecuting the rest, they provide further evidence of their guilt. Indeed, they will be judged when the Romans invade Jerusalem in AD 70.

He then weeps over Jerusalem, as He wants its denizens to enter His kingdom – yet they reject His grace. Therefore, God has abandoned them – yet they will eventually acknowledge Him as their Messiah, thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Psalm 118:26.

Thoughts: In verses 23 and 24, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and the scribes for fixating on trivial matters – while neglecting critical issues – in their worship. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

They made great ado about tithing “mint” and other garden herbs, as if they could not be too strict in their obedience to God’s law…and yet at the same time they neglected great plain duties, such as justice, mercy and faithfulness; this again was a great sin.

One thought is that many believers derive pleasure from setting (quantifiable) targets and achieving them, e.g. “tell five strangers about Jesus at this outreach event.” Yet weightier issues are often difficult to quantify, causing believers to struggle with them. We ponder questions such as:

  • what does it actually mean to love God and to love one’s neighbor?
  • when our sinful nature resists our holy desire to actually obey these commands via concrete actions, how can God emerge victorious in that regard?
  • when we fail to perform “great plain duties,” how should we respond to our failures?

These are challenging questions, yet we must address them.

In verses 29-32, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and the scribes for their hypocrisy regarding their commemoration of the prophets of God. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

A passage from the Berlenberger Bible on this subject is striking enough to reproduce here: “Ask in Moses’ time who were the good people; they will be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but not Moses – he should be stoned. Ask in Samuel’s time who were the good people: they will be Moses and Joshua, but not Samuel. Ask in the times of Christ who they were: they will be all the former prophets, with Samuel, but not Christ and his apostles.”

This is an interesting point; a (potentially) related observation is that we may not react strongly to criticism if we sense that it is not directed at us. Moreover, if we perceive the accuracy of these rebukes, then we may think more highly of those who present them. Yet when we are criticized, our passions are inflamed, and we lash out at those who rebuke us. Indeed, we often find it difficult to maintain restraint in the face of criticism and evaluate it objectively – especially when those who rebuke us make no attempt to soften their words.

In verses 33-36, Jesus asserts that the Pharisees and the scribes are responsible for the deaths of the prophets of God. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

The blood of the early Christians shed by the Roman Emperors; the blood of the Vallenses and Albigenses, and the sufferers at the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre; the blood of the martyrs who were burned at the Reformation, and of those put to death by the Inquisition – all, all will yet be accounted for.

As a believer in a First World country, I often forget that many of my fellow believers have paid the ultimate price for their beliefs. Thus, this passage is a sober reminder of the cost of our shared faith; it also reminds me of the importance of consistent prayer for believers who are being persecuted. I also anticipate meeting many martyrs in the next life and learning how God empowered them to hold fast to their faith – even to the point of death.