New Testament in 6 months – day 5

5 Apr

Matthew 7:1- 8:17
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, ’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 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. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing, ” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord, ” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go, ’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come, ’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this, ’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

As I read this passage three themes jumped out at me: do unto others, be sure of who you believe in and having faith.
“Do unto others”, as Jesus says, captures the basics of all the Law and Prophets (basically Old Testament teaching). If you treat people as you would want to be treated then, unless you are a masochist, you will treat people well. Not that it is easy. As we all find, from time to time, there are people who we just don’t get on with. But, through the commandment that we do to as we would be done to, we are reminded that our feelings are not what we should base our actions, but instead we should be firm in our obedience to God.
And the reason why flows straight in to this. Because it is only because we know who God is and how He has revealed Himself to us that we take His commands seriously. But this second theme also comes with a warning, that if we are not careful we may end up being rejected because we have believed in something other than God, but mistook it for God. And in this we see very clear encouragement in what we should do to be sure of who we are following. We have the Bible, which is clear in who it says God is. And through reading the Bible we can test all that we might think, feel and hear about God to know if it is true.
And when theme 2 is fixed we start to see the growth of faith, like that we see with the Roman Centurion. The Centurion’s faith is an amazing model for us, not least be causes he is a gentile and has a questionable religious history, but he believes that Jesus has the power to heal. And because he has this belief, he does not put any limitations on how or where it is done from. He just says to Jesus “just say the word” and he knows it will be done.

For me, the theme of faith is the biggest challenge we face today. We live in a world where information is all around us and easily accessible to all. If I want to find out something then I can. I didn’t have to take someone’s word for the score in a football match, I can go online and find out. I don’t have to trust the definition of a word someone has given to me, I can go online or use a dictionary app on my phone. Yet faith is all about taking something on trust and believing, and it is the crux of Christianity. We believe what we have been told about Jesus, as handed down over the last 2000 years. And it is through that belief, our faith in Him as Saviour, that we are saved.

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