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Woe on Unrepentant Cities March 17, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 11:20-24.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus condemns the denizens of the cities where He has conducted His Galilean ministry, including:

He states that they – while viewing themselves as righteous – are actually more unrighteous than the denizens of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom; thus, they will receive a more severe punishment at the final judgment.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus condemns those who have failed to (appropriately) respond to His miracles, asserting that they will be worse off than those who never witnessed His miracles. I must admit that the notion of God meting out varying degrees of punishment at the final judgment is rather difficult to grasp. Those who are separated from God at the final judgment must endure unimaginable agony for eternity. Is it conceivable that some among that group could be punished more harshly than the rest? Are there varying degrees of “infinite” suffering? I suppose this is a rare instance of a topic on which I prefer to remain ignorant.

Jesus Heals a Paralytic February 11, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 9:1-8.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus travels to Capernaum, where He encounters a paralytic and four of his friends. These men trust that He can heal their friend; He responds by:

  • forgiving his sins
  • declaring that the ability to forgive sins is equivalent to the ability to heal
  • healing him.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Jesus rebuked several scribes for their blasphemous thoughts. Ryle offers some insights on this point:

Nothing can be concealed from Christ. What do we think of in private, when no one sees us? What do we think of in church when we seem grave and serious? What are we thinking of at this moment while reading these words? Jesus knows…Surely we ought to be very humble when we consider these things: we ought to thank God daily that the blood of Christ can cleanse from all sin…

I must admit that when I desire to spend time with God, e.g. while meditating on my daily Bible reading, I am easily distracted. I believe that distracting thoughts in those instances are not genuine acts of worship, since I associate those thoughts with my sinful nature; thus, I regularly confess those thoughts to God. Ryle’s last point, then, is instructive: since I cannot rid myself of distracting thoughts in this life, I must constantly rest on Christ for my salvation. Moreover, even though my sinful nature attempts to exert its influence over me through distracting thoughts, I know that I will eventually defeat it – and those thoughts – with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

The Faith of the Centurion January 28, 2018

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 8:5-13.

Summary: In this passage, a centurion approaches Jesus in Capernaum and requests Him to heal his paralyzed servant. Jesus declares that He will go to the centurion’s house and heal his servant. The centurion then displays the depth of his faith in Him by asserting that He can heal his servant at that moment – as He is sovereign over all disabilities. Jesus responds by:

  • drawing a sharp contrast between the saving faith of the Gentiles and the worthless faith of the Jews
  • healing his servant at that moment – thereby displaying His sovereignty over all disabilities.

Thoughts: Here, a centurion acknowledges the sovereignty of Jesus over all disabilities. This caused me to consider the depth of my trust in traditional and modern medicine. Many believers – either knowingly or unknowingly – assume that the answers to important questions of health and wellness lie in our corpus of medical knowledge. Yet one can make the following inference from this passage: Christ is also sovereign over our corpus of medical knowledge. How can we properly acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ in this regard? Perhaps we can:

  • continue to give thanks to Him for the advances in our medical knowledge that have occurred throughout human history, as He is the source of all knowledge
  • view any insurmountable barriers in this realm as signposts pointing to His kingdom – which will be free of all diseases and infirmities when it is fully realized.

Jesus Begins to Preach October 29, 2017

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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 4:12-17.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus responds to the news that Herod has imprisoned John the Baptist by relocating to Capernaum – thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-2. At that time, he begins his preaching ministry, exhorting others to repent of their sins in light of the impending arrival of the kingdom of God.

Thoughts: This passage marks the commencement of Jesus’ preaching ministry. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

There is no job so honorable as that of the preacher. There is no work so important to human souls. It is a job which the Son of God was not ashamed to do. It is a job to which he appointed his twelve apostles. It is a job to which St. Paul in his old age specially directs Timothy’s attention – he charges him with almost his last breath to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2).

After mulling over this point, my current thought is that the ministry of preaching can be emotionally draining. After delivering a particular sermon, a pastor may be unsure as to whether they are maximizing their impact on their congregation. This feeling of doubt may be exacerbated by the reality that not all of their congregants will respond positively to a given sermon. This should spur us, as lay Christians, to continue to pray for our pastors. We should not pray that they would avoid discouragement, as that is impossible in this life; instead, we should pray that they would not be conquered by their discouragement. Moreover, we should pray that they would continue to fulfill their calling, as God is their ultimate judge.