Monday, March 10, 2014

Matthew 21:18 - 22:1-14

Matthew 21:18-22 The Fig Tree Withers

Every spring thousands of worshippers poured into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  Jesus spent the night in the nearby town of Bethany.  On His way back to the Jerusalem He was hungry and saw a fig tree by the road, but found nothing on it except leaves.  The fig tree and the olive tree are usually symbols of Israel and Judea in the Bible.  Like the Pharisees and chief priests the fig tree did not fulfill its purpose.  It was a living symbol of deceit and hypocrisy.  He said to the tree, "'May you never bear fruit again! And immediately the tree withered.'" - Matt. 21:18-19.  The nation of Israel never produced fruit meaning they did not obey God.  The disciples saw this and asked how it withered so quickly.  Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer," - Matt. 21:21-22.  We are to have faith and not doubt.  This kind of faith takes conviction of Jesus' love and knowledge of God's will.  You must be a true believer.  God knows what we need, but He wants us to ask.

What fruits do you produce?
How are you fulfilling your purpose?
A real relationship with God produces real results in life.
God knows what we need, but wants us to ask.

Matthew 21:23-32 - Jesus' Authority is Questioned

Jesus entered the temple and began to teach.  While He was teaching, the chief priests and elders asked Him on whose authority was He doing these things? (Matt. 21:23).  No doubt they were rude and impolite.  They had ignored the miracles He had done.  The miracles alone should have answered their question.  Jesus answered with a question, "John's baptism - where did it come from?  Was it from heaven, or from men?" - Matt. 21:25.  They were asking out of their own selfish desires and unbelief and could not really expect an answer they would recognize.  They discussed among themselves and gave an answer.  They were afraid of the crowds and were ashamed and had to say they did not know.  John had already announced who Jesus was, but the leaders could not decide about John.

They were not able to answer Jesus so He told them a story and asked for their opinion.  The story was about two sons.  The first son refused to obey his father, but later changed his mind and went to work for his father.  The second son said he would go to work, but was not sincere and did not go.  Jesus then asked which of the sons did what the father wanted.  They answered, "The first." - Matt. 21:31a.  Neither son was perfect, but the second son finally obeyed.  Jesus said, "The tax-collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.  And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." - Matt. 21:31b-32.  The tax-collectors and women were like the first son.  They listened to John and changed their ways, but the religious leaders did not.  Their religion was all about words and rules.  They claimed to be God's servants, but did not obey God.

Which of the 2 sons represents your life?
How do you obey your Father in heaven?

Then Jesus told them another parable, the parable of the tenants.  A landowner planted a vineyard and rented it to some farmers or tenants.  When the harvest approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.  The tenants beat up a servant, killed one, and even stoned another.  He sent more servants and the tenants did the same things to them.  Then he sent his son thinking they would respect him, but when the tenants saw him they wanted to kill him and take his inheritance.  They took the son and threw him out and killed him. 

God is the landowner and the vineyard is the earth or Israel.  Jewish leaders were like the tenants.  God had given them responsibility and expected them to look after the people.  The servants were like God's prophets sent to the people of Israel many times long ago.  The leaders made God's servants suffer.  Example: They beat Jeremiah and put him in prison and they killed Zechariah.  Then the landowner sent his son who is Jesus.  Jesus knew the Jewish leaders would plan to kill.  The tenants threw the son out of the vineyard and the soldiers killed Jesus outside Jerusalem.  "When the landowner comes he will bring those wretches to a wretched end and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time." - Matt. 21:41.  Harvest time is when Jesus comes again and the wicked will perish.  The other tenants here are the Gentiles. Since the Jewish nation rejected Jesus, God would allow the Gentiles share in His inheritance.

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:  The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes?  Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.  He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." - Matt. 21:42-44.  The Stone and the Capstone is Jesus.  "He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone." - Acts 4:11.  When the leaders heard this, they knew He was talking about them.  God had revealed their pride.  They were so mad that they looked for a way to arrest Him, but were afraid of the crowd because it was Passover time and didn't want to cause any problems. 

Are you worried what other people think about you as you follow Jesus?
Will you be ready when the harvest time comes?

Anyone who rejects God's Son will receive God's judgment.
To be God's servant we must obey.

Matthew 22:1-14 - The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Jesus spoke again in a parable saying the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  The king sent his servants to invite guests to the banquet, but they refused to come.  Then he sent more servants to tell the guests to come, but they paid no attention to them.  They seized his servants and mistreated them and killed them.  The king was enraged and sent his army and destroyed the murders and burned their city.  Since the guests he invited would not come, he told his servants to go to the streets and invite anyone they find.  The servants gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad and the banquet was filled with guests.  When the king saw a man who was not wearing wedding clothes, he threw him outside into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  "For many are invited, but few are chosen." - Matt. 22:14.

The kingdom of heaven is like a wedding banquet, a very joyous and festive place.  God wants to share His joy with us.  God is the king.  His son is Jesus.  The invited guests were the Israelites.  The religious leaders did not listen to Jesus' messages. They tried to find ways to discredit Him.  They also did not listen to the prophets.  They didn't love or fear the king.  The servants are the prophets and apostles sent out by God.  The continual rejection of God's loving invitation cannot be forgiven.  It is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit.  The king sent judgment and punishment upon them.  He didn't cancel the banquet, because God has a plan.  The people on the street were ordinary people.  They are the Gentiles, tax-collectors, prostitutes, and common sinners.  When the Jews rejected Jesus, He went to the Gentiles.  These people did nothing to be invited.  The offer of free salvation is presented to the whole world.  We are all invited, but few will come. 

God has a plan for mankind and He sticks to it.  God is King then, now and forever more.  God is sovereign.  People reject God's Son, Jesus because they have the wrong priorities.  They are attracted and attached to the world.  They doubt His love and don't trust Him.  Man has a sinful heart and has a tendency to sin.

As for the man without the proper wedding clothes, we are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14).  The man is an example of someone who is indifferent to the gospel.  He came to make an appearance and to eat the king's food.  His heart had no love for the king or his son.  The man refused to wear the wedding clothes so the king put him out into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 23:13).  In other words, in Hell where there is no light and without the presence of God.  Apart from God is only despair.  "For many are invited, but few are chosen." - Matt. 22:14.  God invites all people to come, but few people completely accept the invitation to enjoy a place where God rules.

How are you indifferent toward the gospel?
Do you think of God only once or twice each week or when you are in trouble or need something?
Will you ask Him to renew your thinking and make Him the center of your life?
Have you excepted Christ's invitation?

Apart from God there is only despair.
God invites all into His kingdom.

Wow what lessons.  See you for the next lessons in Matthew.

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