During times like these it’s important to stay spiritually grounded. One great way to that is with the The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan. There’s so much anxiety and fear going around don’t contribute, rather be a light of hope and love in your community. It’s not enough to read about Jesus, we’ve got to live like Him! Remember two things: He>covid-19 and pray for a vaccine. Blessings to you my friends. By the grace of God we’ll get through this together.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus – Week 12 – March 23-27:
Monday – Matt. 7:24-29 (cf. Luke 6:47-49): Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount concludes with a fourth warning and summary statement. The last warning is a parable about one man building on rock and another man building on sand, emphasizing the importance of acting in accordance with Jesus’ teaching. We neglect the warning at our peril. “And when Jesus had finished speaking these words” (v. 28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1) the crowd responds with awe. What amazes them so much about our Lord’s teaching is not His use of beatitudes, parables, hyperboles, or others forms of teaching; rather what astonishes them is His authoritative teaching, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (v. 29). Jesus declares God’s word, and the people recognize that He speaks with authority unlike any other.
In what ways was Jesus’ authority demonstrated in His sermon? What difference does it make to you that Jesus teaches with authority?
Tuesday – Mark 1:40-45 (cf. Matt. 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16): “If You will, You can make me clean.” Afflicted with the worse disease of his day, a man with disfiguring leprosy doesn’t questions Jesus’ ability to heal, but rather His willingness to heal. Unfortunately, too many think that they are beyond help. Yet, we see Jesus’ answer to the man in v. 41 through His compassion, His touch, and His word. Mark tells us that Jesus was “moved with pity” when He heard the man’s request. Deep down in the pit of His stomach, Jesus felt a gut-wrenching compassion for this man. Then what follows is the Lord’s touch, He “stretched out His hand and touched him.” Mark delighted in telling the stories of Jesus’ touch (cf. 1:31; 1:41; 5:41; 6:5; 7:33; 8:23; 9:27, 36; 10:16). There’s no doubt that this was the first time in a long, long time that this man had felt the warmth of human contact. Finally, the Lord spoke, “I will; be clean.” Unbothered by the man’s question or grotesque appearance, Jesus compassionately heals him and sends him on his way.
What does Jesus’ interaction with the leper tell you about His character and how He will treat you with your “unclean” sins?
Wednesday – Mark 2:1-12 (cf. Matt. 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26): Four men struggling with a litter on which lay a paralytic, prone and motionless man, approached the fringe of the impossible crowd. Their attempts to get through to Jesus were met with noisy rebuffs. So they did what any desperate person would do… they tore the roof of the house and lowered their beloved friend down to Jesus. What a picture of faith! “And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 6) and “Rise, pick up your bed, and go home” (v. 11). Jesus’ power to heal the paralytic’s physical infirmities proved the veracity of His claim and power to forgive sins.
Let’s think through this story in spiritual terms. What sorts of sins may psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually “paralyze” you? Is there any such “paralysis” in your life from which you might be freed if you asked Jesus to forgive you? Who are some trusted friends who will go to any length to help you? Bring them into your struggle with spiritual paralysis.
Thursday – Matt. 9:9-17 (cf. Mark 2:13-22; Luke 5:27-39): “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed Him” (v. 9). Can you imagine writing your own conversion story in your very own gospel account of Jesus’ life? That is what we’re getting in this passage. To most first-century Jews, tax collectors, were easily the most hated men in Jewish society. They were viewed as religious and political traitors, trained extortionists, and thugs. Nevertheless, it’s that very type of person whom Jesus called to be His disciple, and later an apostle. Excitedly, Matthew threw a party and invited his friends to meet Jesus. This was too much for the religious hard-liners, who questioned, “Why does [He] eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (v. 11). In response Jesus made three statements: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (v. 12), “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (v. 13a), and “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (v. 13b). Each declaration demonstrated that our Savior’s mission was (and still is) to save those who acknowledged their sinfulness.
From your perspective, what does each one of Jesus statements mean, and how does each relate to you?
Friday – John 5:1-18: Although opposition to Jesus smoldered beneath the surface, the story of Jesus’ healing at the Pool of Bethesda highlights the beginning of open hostility toward Him by the Jewish leaders. John repeatedly ties his narrative to various Jewish feasts (ref. 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; 7:2; 10:22; 11:55), and so he does with this story, “After this there was a feast of the Jews and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (v. 1). Entering the holy city, Jesus encountered the blind, lame and paralyzed (v. 4). To one invalid He asked, “Do you want to be healed?” (v. 6). The text states that this poor man had suffered in his condition for thirty-eight years. “Yes I do,” the man desperately replied. So Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed and walk. And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked” (vv. 8-9). Just as the thirty-eight years proved the gravity of the paralysis, so the carrying of the bed and the walking proved the completeness of the miracle. John briefly mentions that the healing took place on the Sabbath day, thereby setting the stage for the confrontation that followed.
The fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (see Exodus 20:8-11). In their zeal to apply this command, what do the critics of Jesus fail to realize? What does this say about them? Are you ever tempted to exhibit this same type of narrow-mindedness?