Please read Matthew 19:1-12

 

Background:  Marriage is fundamental for God’s plan for human life on earth.  Within God’s gift of marriage, His gift of sexuality can also be expressed and enjoyed in a way that is pleasing to Him and beneficial to people.  After God created Adam and Eve and gave them the gift of marriage, they fell into sin.  That sin has profoundly affected sexuality and marriage.  Marriage is difficult.  For that reason, some persons might consciously choose to avoid it (although single life is not easy either!). 

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion:  What has taken place whenever man has separated what God has joined?  Why did Moses, (as a legislator and administrator but not as a prophet) permit divorce in Israel?  Under what sinful circumstance does the LORD permit His people to acknowledge that the union of marriage is broken and to obtain a divorce?  What will it take for a child of God to live a godly life without being married?   

Possible answers:  Any time a marriage ends, other than in the death of one of the two parties, sin has taken place on the part of at least one of the persons.  Some of the people in the nation of Israel which Moses led were not believers. Their hearts were hard. This led them to be unwilling to unselfishly put in the hard work that marriage requires. In such cases, for an orderly society, Moses required them to at least “legally” get a written decree that acknowledged that the marriage was over. If the spouse of a Christian is “unfaithful”, that breaks the marriage. In such circumstances a Christian may (not must) get a legal divorce. Marital unfaithfulness can take many forms, not only sexual unfaithfulness: various forms of desertion; persistent physical or emotional abuse; impenitent failure to show the love that is God’s will for a married person. While marriage is filled with challenges, persons who choose to remain single or haven’t been gifted by God with a marriage partner, will need to be gifted by God with the grace to maintain sexual purity.  



Please read Matthew 19:13-15

  

Background: Although Jesus had not established baptism by the time of this incident, for centuries Christians have seen in this story the need for infants to be blessed by Jesus; His desire and ability to bless them; and parents’ responsibility to bring the children to Jesus to receive the blessing they need. Mark lets us know that Jesus was displeased with His disciples for their rebuke of these parents. Luke’s account tells us that at least some of these children were nursing infants.  

Question for personal consideration or family discussion: Why would the disciples rebuke those who were bringing their children to Jesus? 

Possible answers:  The disciples were plainly ignorant! Ignorant of the children’s need; ignorant of God’s value on children; ignorant of Jesus’ ability to bless the children despite the children’s inability to request or remember the event. Since we bring sinners into the world, we need to bring those sinners to their Savior. He loves them as He loves us. He is willing and able to bless them without them first believing and without their conscious desire to be blessed. He spoke the word and they were blessed!    

 

Please read Matthew 19:16-26

Background:  The “eye of a needle” is possibly a reference to one of the gates through the wall of Jerusalem. It was a small gate and low. A camel, especially a loaded one, could not stoop to get through it. The young man was rich. Following the thought pattern of the day, the disciples assumed that such a person must be under the favor of God and thus a likely candidate for citizenship in heaven.  

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: What do we humans naturally think is the way to eternal life? Of what is Jesus reminding us when He tells us “There is only One Who is good”? What makes it “hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”? 

Possible answers: Naturally we assume that eternal life in heaven is a reward for what you do.  When we remember that you need to be good, that is, perfect to dwell in the presence of God, then we understand that no one can earn that residence. Only God is good. Rich people, or would be rich people, easily let their goods become their god or become prideful. There is only one way for people to get there – God’s grace in Jesus. That Way works for everyone who believes.  

Prayer:  LORD drive out all pride from my heart and when it is empty do not let it become filled with despair but with hope in You and reliance upon Your grace. 



Please read Matthew 19:27-30

 

Background: Remember the context from yesterday – Jesus told the young man, who thought he could earn heaven, to “sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then, come, follow Me”.  

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: How is Peter’s thinking like that of the rich young man from yesterday’s reading? What is the meaning of Jesus’ words: “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”? What real blessing is graciously given in time and in eternity to those who by grace follow Christ?   

Possible answers: In pride, Peter too thinks that heaven is a reward for what you do.  He sees himself as having done what Jesus told the rich young man to do. Now what, Jesus? Will I get the reward? The “first” will be “last” – people whose hope is in themselves and rely on their own efforts will not be accepted. On the other hand, people who know they are “last”, that is, undeserving, and base their hope upon God’s mercy will find His acceptance and approval. Those who believe and follow Jesus may lose all their previous relationships and past possessions; but, in their relationship with other followers they will inherit a much larger family!  The needs of that family will be met by their Father. That Father will also graciously welcome them home when life on earth is done. 

Prayer:  Thank You LORD for calling us and enabling us to follow You in faith.  Help us to rejoice that we belong to Your family on earth. Graciously receive us into our heavenly home when our time comes; meanwhile, help us to trust that You will provide what we need along life’s way. 



Please read Matthew 20:1-16

 

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Doesn’t it seem like the people who worked all day have a legitimate gripe? This is a difficult parable! Remember the context from the readings of the previous two sections and you will have the key to understanding it. In fact, notice how verse 16 agrees with verse 30. At the end of the day – at the end of life or of history – what does human nature expect will be the thing that qualifies a person to spend eternity with God?   

Possible answers:  Our natural understanding bases everything on merit or works. We too grumble against God. We want what we deserve for what we perceive as our superior merit. Thank God He doesn’t give us what we deserve! Our relationship with God now and forever is based upon grace and grace alone! Because of our sin we deserve to be “last”, outside the kingdom. Because of his grace in Jesus, which we have received through His gift of faith, we shall be “first”, accepted as His children whose rightful inheritance is a home in heaven for eternity. (We have seen elsewhere that God’s grace is so complete that we will also be rewarded for the good things His Spirit produced in us during our time on earth.  Mark 9:41)   

Prayer: LORD, accept my thanks for receiving me into Your family on earth and for preparing a home for me in heaven – all by grace.  May Your grace lead me to a life of thanksgiving on my way home. 



Please read Matthew 20:17-28

 

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: Notice the contrast between the attitude of Jesus and that of James and John, their mother, and the indignant “ten”! What is behind the desire for greatness and positions of high honor and authority? Wherein does true greatness lie? What about the places at Jesus’ right and left hand?  

Possible answers: Jesus - the Creator and LORD of heaven and earth no less! - is speaking about the suffering He will go through in His willing obedience to God and service to us. All the while, the disciples are striving for personal privilege and prestige! In voluntary weakness, He is about to suffer and die to serve them; meanwhile, they are thinking about their own position and power. True greatness lies in humbly following Jesus in a life of unselfish service to others out of faith and love for God. There will be differing positions of honor in heaven. They will graciously be given by the Father to those persons for whom He has prepared them. People who seek such positions or, God forbid, think they have deserved them will certainly not receive them.  

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, keep me focused on Your awesome grace which led You to humble Yourself to save me.  Lifted up by Your love may I find joy in humbly serving others. Help us to live our lives in a way that shows our thankfulness for Jesus’ great sacrifice.



Please read Matthew 20:29-34

 

Questions for personal consideration or family discussion: How many blind people were there in this story? How many people had sight? How many followed Jesus? How about you?  

Possible answers: There were two who lacked physical sight.  How many lacked spiritual sight? How many there were in the crowd who didn’t see Jesus with the eyes of faith - only God knows.  The formerly blind men both followed Jesus. With the eyes of faith they had seen Him as the LORD, the Son of David, the Promised Savior. Now they could physically see Him with their own eyes. Do you see Him as Your Savior who forgives and loves you? (He does!) Are you following Him? (You can!)   

Prayer:  Jesus, through Your Spirit You have given us the eyes of faith to see You as our Savior.  Through that same Spirit give us the power to follow You in our life.  We know our following here will always be imperfect but that Your perfect love has covered our failures