Tag Archives: Matthew

Burden (Matthew 12)

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been looking at the words of Jesus within the context of whatever was happening around those words, whether it was the death of a family member or faith in a storm.  Some biblical experts have said that it might be highly likely that these events may not have exactly followed one another, however, the author of each gospel put these stories in this order for a reason.  I was reading another section of Matthew when I found something pretty fascinating.

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.  Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?  I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.  If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12: 1-8

The Pharisees valued following the rules, so much so that they added extra rules to clarify how to follow the original rule.  Their faith was very outward and works-centric.  I can relate to a certain extent.  I’m a rule follower.  And I know that I can easily fall into the idol of rules.  Of being right.  The Pharisees made rules so they could be right, and anyone who did not meet these expectations was sinning.

In this back and forth, Jesus references Hosea 6 which has some interesting foreshadowing.  In verse 2 it says:

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

Hosea 6:2

Three days?  That verse must have been on Jesus’s heart a lot, though in this conversation, he uses verse 6:

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Hosea 6:6

The Pharisees were missing the point.  Love creates relationships, not rules.  Grace extended strengthens bonds.  Jesus was telling that God longs to know them and he longs for them to know him, to tear down the walls of outward perfection and embrace the perfect love in humility that is offered to them.

And Matthew prefaces this whole interaction with these verses at the end of chapter 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

People were obsessing about the wrong things, following rules to earn God’s love and favor.  Even I still do this.  I get worried about doing things the right way instead of slowing down, listening, and loving my neighbor.  I’m learning how to let go of being right and allow Jesus to show me true righteousness relationship through faith, grace, and love. 

Context: A Brief Observation of Matthew 14

I grew up in the church.  I have heard the stories of Jesus feeding the 5000 and of Jesus walking on the water, but I only recently realized the context of these stories.  What was actually happening in the life of Jesus during these miraculous events.

Because Matthew 14 opens up with the death of John the Baptist.  I don’t know how close Jesus and John were growing up.  I know that when everything was happening to Mary, the angel told her about everything happening to Elizabeth, and Mary traveled to help.  I know that in the womb, John recognized the divine nature of Jesus, just as he does at Jesus’s baptism.  But I don’t know how much they spent time together between these two events.

But here, we come to the end of John’s life.  Herod had imprisoned him for speaking out against his relationship with his brother’s wife, Herodias.  And during a party, John’s head is presented to Herodias’s daughter on a platter.  John is dead.  His body, what is left, is buried by his disciples. And word is sent to Jesus.

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

Matthew 14:13

He set out on a boat to a place where he thought he would be alone.  But when he arrived, the people were there, waiting for him.  And he had compassion.  I just can’t imagine, in those moments of grief, his compassion compelled him to teach, encourage, and heal those around him.

This chosen remote place wasn’t ideal for dinner preparations, which prompts the miraculous feeding of the 5000.  Once everyone is fed and there are enough leftovers to sustain his followers.  He sends them away on the boat he arrived in.  He dismisses the crowd.  And he goes to the mountainside to pray.

Because this entire time, he has yet to have a moment to grieve.  A moment to spend with his Father, perhaps talking to him about his loss.  If ever he needed a recharge, this would be one of those moments.  At then, at dawn, he walks on the water.

Yes.  Feeding over 5000 people with five loaves and two fish is amazing.  Walking on crashing waves through howling winds is amazing.  But doing it all in the midst of grief.  In the loss of family, both physically and spiritually, he kept going.  I just want to sit today in the awe of Jesus’s compassion.  He came on this earth to love and to show us how to love.  He grieved and then he showed the power of God over this broken earth.  In his lowest moments, he relied on the miraculous divine strength of God to do amazing things.  It gives me hope that even in the lowest grief, God is still working, preparing to do things beautiful and miraculous.

Sustaining: Building Your House

Just a quick one this week.  I thought this was neat so I would point it out.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  – Proverbs 14:1

Of course, if you grew up with the “Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock” song, perhaps like me, you started humming the tune as you read this verse in Proverbs.  Of course, this seems pretty straightforward.  Wise women build and foolish ones tear down.  There isn’t much more context to this particular verse.

But we know through the teachings of the Wise Man story in Matthew 7 that it’s what we build the house on that determines the wisdom or foolishness.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  – Matthew 7:24

No matter what comes our way, it’s where we lay our foundation day by day that makes our house, our family, our path stable.

So where are you laying your foundation today?