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Showing posts from January, 2017

Miracles and Might: Matthew 8:1-4

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the great sermons of all history, and it has certainly been a great blessing to me to have gone through it.  But thank God that our Lord did not just come with words.  We need truth, for it is by the truth that men are set free, but we need more than truth.  For the problem is that we are not only lacking in understanding, but that we are also sinful.  And sin has made us morally blind and spiritually dead.  You can speak to a dead man until you’re blue in the face, but you aren’t going to get anywhere until that dead man is made alive.  We need resurrection.  We not only need truth brought to us, but we need power exercised for us and upon us. 
Evidently Matthew understood this, for he now proceeds from the words of Jesus to the works of Jesus, from the demonstration of the authority of Christ in his teaching (Mt. 7:28-29) to the demonstration of the authority of Christ in his miracles.  In the next two chapters (8-9), Matthew gives us a tour of at l…

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand? Matthew 7:24-29

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague about students who retake a course because they failed it the first time.  His theory is that it is actually harder for many students the second time around.  (In my experience I have found this to be almost always true, so I was very interested to hear his theory!)  The reason he gave is this: many students who are taking a class the second time tend to confuse seeing a concept again with understanding that concept.  In other words, they mistake familiarity with comprehension.  And as a result, they don’t tend to study as hard as they should and end up repeating the same mistakes all over again.
What our Lord describes here in these verses is a similar phenomenon in a religious context.  What he is saying is that many people mistake hearing truth with embracing it and living it out in their lives.  As a result, they fail, except in this case it is not just a test or a college course but the judgment of God. 
Verses 24-27 are a parable th…

Counterfeit Religion: Matthew 7:21-23

One of my favorite documentaries to watch is the BBC’s Planet Earth.For me, it is a chance to revel in the grandeur of God’s creation.But it is also a chance to remind myself that the world in which we live is marked by sin and its effects and that “the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Rom. 8:22).There is coming a time, according to the prophet Isaiah, when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, but not yet (cf. Isa. 65:25).I am reminded of this in a particular episode of the documentary which followed some elephants on their migration.They document how that, during the migration, an elephant calf had been separated from its mother.Alone in a desert and desperate for water, it was trying to follow the trail of its mother.However, the narrator clues us in to the heartbreaking reality that the elephant calf is going the wrong way.It is following the tracks of its mother, but in the wrong direction.It thinks it is getting closer to its mother and water when…