Dear Student of the Word,
2008 is fast coming to a close and so is our study of Matthew. We begin to study the last few days of Jesus' life prior to His crucifixion, this week looking at the Passover meal He celebrated with His disciples. The meal began with Jesus sending the disciples into the city to look for a man who would provide the room where they would celebrate. This is what I wrote about that Passover meal:
I point this out because many people believe they are in either one or the other category – creative or administrative. I formerly thought this way too, but now I see that I am both and God helps me function in both because of who He is. Do you think like I used to think? Do you see yourself as more creative or administrative? Are you ready to grow in the “other” sphere as God helps you?
v. 19 – The disciples went and found the man that Jesus had directed them to and, sure enough, the man gave them the place in which they were to prepare and celebrate the Passover. God made their job easy by going ahead and preparing the way. I have felt and known that kind of help in my career, and it is special thing. When God directs and I obey, the job always goes smoothly. Yet I don’t believe God always gives this kind of specific direction. At times, we are to walk in what we know and carry out our duties in a work-like fashion, which doesn’t mean that work style isn’t spiritual. I point that out because there are some who are looking for God’s direction in everything, even the simplest things. I think that sounds spiritual, but isn’t realistic. Do you agree with me or not?
vs. 20&21 – This is the 28th time that Jesus said “I tell you the truth” according to Matthew’s gospel. Do you tell the truth? Do you exaggerate, leave out important details, hide the truth, tell half-truths, or just plain lie? I hope not, but it’s hard to be truthful in every situation. What if someone you love asks you, “How do I look?” and he or she look terrible? How do you answer the question? Jesus told the truth that people were not even asking for, as in this example. He told the disciples that one of His closest Twelve was going to betray Him. They could not believe it, so He had to assure them that He was speaking truth. I want to be as committed to telling the truth as Jesus was and is:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:14-16, emphasis added).
v. 22 – The disciples were shocked by this truth and began to proclaim their innocence by denying any personal responsibility. While Judas would betray Jesus specifically, all of them would betray Him in a more general sense by abandoning Him in His hour of need. Loyalty is a rare trait, as we discussed a few days ago. Most people will serve their own interests, which is why this passage in Philippians has always been so special to me and one I have tried to use as a guiding principle in my life:
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel (Philippians 2:19-22).
If Paul only had the pleasure of knowing one like Timothy in his lifetime, how many people like Timothy will you and I ever know? And a more important question is: Can you be one like Timothy according to this definition in Philippians?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. You can write them or find the studies to Corinthians, First Timothy and Mark's gospel on the site where this week's entry is posted. You can also go there to sign up to receive each week's study.
Plus a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation, along with the unpublished Faith Files, can be found on my website in the archives. Lord willing, I hope to have the New Testament studies finished by the end of 2009.