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Week 4: Matthew 8:1-13; 11; 12:33-50 Luke 7; 8:19-21; 11

Sunday (Luke 7:1-17; Matthew 8:1-13)

Luke

Healing the Centurion’s Slave

7:1 After Jesus had finished teaching all this to the people, he entered Capernaum. 7:2 A centurion there had a slave who was highly regarded, but who was sick and at the point of death. 7:3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 7:4 When they came to Jesus, they urged him earnestly, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 7:5 because he loves our nation, and even built our synagogue.” 7:6 So Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7:7 That is why I did not presume to come to you. Instead, say the word, and my servant must be healed. 7:8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 7:9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. He turned and said to the crowd that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith!” 7:10 So when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.

Raising a Widow’s Son

7:11 Soon afterward Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 7:12 As he approached the town gate, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother (who was a widow), and a large crowd from the town was with her. 7:13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 7:14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and those who carried it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 7:15 So the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 7:16 Fear seized them all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” and “God has come to help his people!” 7:17 This report about Jesus circulated throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Matthew

Cleansing a Leper

8:1 After he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 8:2 And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 8:3 He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 8:4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you do not speak to anyone, but go, show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Healing the Centurion’s Servant

8:5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him asking for help: 8:6 “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible anguish.” 8:7 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8:8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Instead, just say the word and my servant will be healed. 8:9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come’ and he comes, and to my slave ‘Do this’ and he does it.” 8:10 When Jesus heard this he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel! 8:11 I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 8:12 but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; just as you believed, it will be done for you.” And the servant was healed at that hour.

Prayer

Lord, may my faith be as informed and sure as the Centurion’s.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus is asked by a Roman centurion, one responsible for about 100 men, to heal his favored servant. The centurion may have been a local citizen pressed into service, but was not a Jew (see Luke 7:9b). However, in this case, the Gentile centurion was sympathetic to the local Jewish culture and had an awareness of Jesus.

When Jesus is still at a distance the centurion sends word that He not trouble Himself to come all the way, but to instead “say the word, and my servant must be healed” (Luke 7:7, italics added) — he knew Jesus would merely need to give a spiritual order for this to happen, as he himself would give a military order with the anticipation and the surety that it would be obeyed. Jesus is favorably impressed by the man’s understanding of spiritual authority and his faith, as “not even in Israel have I found such faith!” (vs. 9b), in contrast to the often faithless and stubborn Jews.

Restoring life to the dead son of a woman leads a large crowd to glorify God and declare that Jesus is a “great prophet” (Luke 7:16) sent by God to help His people. Matthew adds the account of the healing of the leper, who asks Him for healing if He is willing, to which Jesus responds “I am willing. Be clean!” (8:3).

Faith In Action

Consider

Do we have as clear and compelling an understanding of the authority of Jesus, and as revealing an evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as did the centurion?

Do we believe unflinchingly that Jesus has authoritative power over all creation, that He has given us access to that power through the Holy Spirit, and that He acts in powerful ways in and through us?

Reflect

Jesus did not need to physically touch the leper in order to heal him, He chose to do so to make a point: He sent the newly-healed leper to make a sacrifice (a leper was not allowed to do so) as a testimony to and as an indictment against the priests. Jesus’ higher purpose was always discipleship and evangelism.

When have you been used by God, through a healing or some provision He has made in your life, as an instrument of His discipleship or evangelism? What was the result in your life or the life of another?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the story of His provision for or healing of you which He wants you to share.

Act

Today I will recall a miracle, great or small (other than the gift of my salvation), that God has done in my life or the life of someone with whom I am personally familiar. I will share that story with someone and celebrate with them the loving grace and power of God.

Be Specific __________________________________________________

Monday (Matthew 11:1-24; Luke 7:18-35)

Matthew

11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

Jesus and John the Baptist

11:2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds Christ had done, he sent his disciples to ask a question: 11:3 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 11:4 Jesus answered them, “Go tell John what you hear and see: 11:5 The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. 11:6 Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

11:7 While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 11:8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes are in the homes of kings! 11:9 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 11:10 This is the one about whom it is written:

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

11:11 “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it. 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John appeared. 11:14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come. 11:15 The one who has ears had better listen!

11:16 “To what should I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to one another, 11:17 ‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’

11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Woes on Unrepentant Cities

11:20 Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent. 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 11:22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you! 11:23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued to this day. 11:24 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!”

Luke

Jesus and John the Baptist

7:18 John’s disciples informed him about all these things. So John called two of his disciples 7:19 and sent them to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 7:20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” 7:21 At that very time Jesus cured many people of diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and granted sight to many who were blind. 7:22 So he answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them. 7:23 Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

7:24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 7:25 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fancy clothes? Look, those who wear fancy clothes and live in luxury are in kings’ courts! 7:26 What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 7:27 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.” 7:29 (Now all the people who heard this, even the tax collectors, acknowledged God’s justice, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. 7:30 However, the Pharisees and the experts in religious law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

7:31 “To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 7:32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’

7:33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 7:34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 7:35 But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

Prayer

Lord, may I speak with the clarity and have the boldness of John when I have opportunity to share the Good News.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus receives a challenge from the disciples of John the Baptist, “‘Are You the One Who is to come?’“ (Luke 7:20). Jesus responds by noting the many public healings and miracles in His ministry which are evidence of Who He is and which should assure John that He is indeed the One. And He affirms to the crowd the calling of John, “my messenger...who will prepare the way” (Luke 7:27).

Matthew notes that John was at the time in prison and had heard about “the deeds Christ had done” (11:2), which helps us in understanding the perspective and urgency of John.

Jesus criticizes and condemns the cities in which he had done “many of His miracles” (Matt. 11:20), yet they did not repent. Jesus notes that some in Tyre and Sidon, though plenty sinful, would have responded to the evidence of His ministry and repented, rendering them available for forgiveness. In contrast, Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen His miracles yet remained unrepentant — to their woe.

Faith In Action

Consider

Do we sometimes drift into doubt when under pressure, because we are not resting in the assurance that Jesus truly is the One?

Reflect

Do we recognize that an unrepentant heart makes us unavailable to blessing?

Have you been attacked by unbelievers, or confused Believers, and drifted over in to sharing their doubt? How was your faith impacted?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place in your life where you drift toward doubting.

Act

Today I will deal with a place where I doubt and, instead of trusting in my own strength and wisdom, turn my eyes upon Jesus and trust in Him and His strength. I will ask someone to pray in agreement with me to purge that place of doubt from my life.

Be Specific _________________________________________________

Tuesday (Luke 7:36-50)

Anger and Murder

5:21 “You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ 5:22 But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell. 5:23 So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift. 5:25 Reach agreement quickly with your accuser while on the way to court, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the warden, and you will be thrown into prison. 5:26 I tell you the truth, you will never get out of there until you have paid the last penny!

Adultery

5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 5:30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

Divorce

5:31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ 5:32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 5:34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all – not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 5:35 not by earth, because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 5:36 Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 5:37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.

Retaliation

5:38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 5:39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 5:40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. 5:41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 5:45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 5:47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 5:48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Prayer

Lord, as I read Your teaching, may my heart and mind be transformed to begin to see the world, and my purpose in it, through Your eyes.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus walks through a series of examples on what it means to live as a child of the Kingdom, rather than as a hopeless slave to Law, and teaches regarding the most emotionally and sociologically powerful issues of the day.

Anger & Murder. Whereas the Ten Commandments include the act of murder, Jesus speaks of any instance where the heart bears a seed of anger, bitterness, distain, or unforgiveness — such pollutes a righteous heart and ‘murders’ your relationship with other Believers. And “you will be thrown in to prison” (Matt. 5:25), both emotionally and spiritually isolated from fellowship with your family in Christ.

Adultery. The Ten Commandments specify the physical act of sexual immorality (relations with a person not ones own spouse) as ‘adultery’. Jesus saying “Do not commit adultery” (Matt. 5:27) is referring to any thought which even contemplates such an act. King David, when he viewed Bathsheba bathing, failed the test because he failed to turn away, allowing himself to be tempted as he looked and contemplated a wrong relationship. Jesus advises to stop the downward slide when being tested by not allowing the opportunity to be tempted — protect the heart by being proactive and, “if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away!” (Matt. 5:30).

Divorce. The Old Testament’s legalistic application of “divorce” (see Deut. 24:1-4) was designed to constrain the carelessness by which men with “hard hearts” (Matt. 19:8) were discarding their wife for another woman merely for convenience or pleasure. Jesus describes the consequences when saying, “everyone who divorces his wife ... makes her commit adultery” (Matt. 5:31). He does not intend that marriage to or by any and every divorced woman (or man) is adultery, He speaks of a Christian who is non-Biblically divorced.

Oaths. In ancient tradition, it was common to make an oath so as to lend artificial credibility to ones promise. Leviticus 19:12 specifically forbids making an oath and using God’s name to lend credibility. Jesus instructs to simply be honorable when giving your word: “Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one” (Matt. 5:37). Christians should be known as people of unquestionable integrity in all matters.

Retaliation. Jesus refers to the ancient tradition of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (see Exod. 21:23-25), God’s words given to Moses on the mountain. In primitive times the culture was highly literal and abstracts not well understood; thus, a long detailed list of actions and consequences was felt necessary. Since the culture in New Testament times is now capable of abstract thought, Jesus instructs, “whoever strikes you on the cheek, turn the other to him as well” (Matt. 5:39), in order to reduce conflict — metaphorically, He is speaking of any action which violates others boundaries. His intent is not to teach a pacifistic response to an attack designed to do real harm, but to instruct not react to provocations designed to drag one down to another’s level.

Love of Enemies. Jesus reminds His listeners that Leviticus instructs them not to bear a grudge or seek retaliation against others, but rather to “love your neighbor” (see Lev. 19:18). He notes that some have added to this “hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemy” (Matt. 5: 43,44). Jesus reminds that they were once the enemies of God, yet He loved them; they should do likewise, loving their enemies and praying that they also receive the gift of the eternal love of God.

Faith In Action

Consider

There has been as much, or more, bad teaching since Christ walked among us as there was before He came; Christ has been misrepresented and His Word distorted.

As you read the Scriptural passages on what it means to be a child of God versus a worldly person, which most clarified (or challenged) your understanding and the intended application?

Reflect

Jesus challenges us to be Christ-like, not merely in law-based behavior, but in the very essence of our hearts and minds. He calls us to be loving and loyal, faithful and forgiving, righteous and respectful — this is challenging when our fallen nature is to be hateful, disloyal, faithless, unforgiving, fallen, and disrespectful. Only with the Holy Spirit in us can we overcome our nature and become more like Him.

Bring to mind one of those character traits as it might be practiced in your life as a Believer, and consider how difficult it would be, without God’s help, to be as God calls you to be.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct your attention to any source of ‘spiritual authority’ upon which you rely that is suspect (lacking truth in word and action) and where you find your deeds not matching the words of your mouth. Conversely, ask Him to show you where, and under whose authority, you are being a good and faithful servant.

Act

Today I choose to do a careful assessment of the people and publications which I allow to be a source of spiritual influence in my life, looking closely at how well the Beatitudes are being lived out in them. If there is not a close parallel to seeking after perfection in their lives and teaching, then I will remove them from my life.

I will seek to discern if there are places in my life where I play the part of a righteous Christian, but my heart is really in a worldly place. I will repent, ask God’s forgiveness, and submit to the Holy Spirit’s cleansing.

Be Specific ____________________________________________________

Wednesday (Matthew 12:33-50; Luke 8:19-21)

Matthew

Trees and Their Fruit

12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit. 12:34 Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. 12:35 The good person brings good things out of his good treasury, and the evil person brings evil things out of his evil treasury. 12:36 I tell you that on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every worthless word they speak. 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

The Sign of Jonah

12:38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees answered him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 12:39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 12:40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 12:41 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here! 12:42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon – and now, something greater than Solomon is here!

The Return of the Unclean Spirit

12:43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but does not find it. 12:44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the home I left.’ When it returns, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order. 12:45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first. It will be that way for this evil generation as well!”

Jesus’ True Family

12:46 While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers came and stood outside, asking to speak to him. 12:47 Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to speak to you.” 12:48 To the one who had said this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” 12:49 And pointing toward his disciples he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Luke

Jesus’ True Family

8:19 Now Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not get near him because of the crowd. 8:20 So he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” 8:21 But he replied to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Prayer

Lord, may we remember that fellow Believers are our true family, because they partner with us, in relationships superseding that of mere blood relations, to do Your work.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus challenges that “the mouth speaks from what fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34) and declares that if our heart is evil then so will be our words, no matter how righteous-sounding we try to make them.

Jonah preached repentance and Nineveh repented. The queen of Sheba (see I Kings 10:1-3) sought truth and found it in the wisdom of Solomon. But “an evil and adulterous generation” (12:39) demands signs and are unrepentant, even though the Messiah has been shown to them. Jesus tells the Pharisees seeking a sign “something greater than Jonah is here!” (Matt. 12:41) and “something greater than Solomon is here!” (vs. 42).

Jesus cautions that merely ridding oneself of the presence, practice, or influence of evil does not prevent evil spirits from returning to fill the void; indeed, it may lead to evil returning with “seven other spirits more evil than itself” (Matt. 12:45). [“The key to the example appears to be that no one else has been invited in to dwell” (NET sn).] One must not only empty oneself of the world, but fill oneself with the Holy Spirit — by way of genuine surrender to the Lordship of Christ.]

The family of Jesus arrives while He is doing ministry, and someone suggests that He greet them — to which He replies that His family is defined by “whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven” (Matt. 12:50). Luke clarifies who is our family, saying they are those “who hear the word of God and do it” (8:21).

Faith In Action

Consider

Do we contemplate the condition of our heart before we open our mouths? Are we repentant when confronted and convicted by God? Or are we rebellious, resistant, and resentful?

Do we keep one foot in the world and the other in the kingdom and, in doing so, prevent the Holy Spirit from dwelling in us, which leaves us open to the Enemy’s attacks?

Reflect

Does our obedience stand as evidence that we hear the word of God and do it and that we are in the family of Christ?

Have you discovered yourself failing to use the things of Christ to fill the emptied places in your life — places once filled with the things of the world you left behind — which led to these places being flooded with more spiritual garbage than before! How did you counteract?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way to greater spiritual maturity, no matter the cost.

Act

Today I choose to focus on and be encouraged by one place in my life where the words of my mouth rightly show evidence of a heart seeking righteousness. I will ask another to pray in agreement that I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me to greater spiritual maturity, so that I will be a more intentional witness to God’s presence in my life.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Thursday (Luke 11:1-36)

Instructions on Prayer

11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 11:2 So he said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come.

11:3 Give us each day our daily bread,

11:4 and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

And do not lead us into temptation.”

11:5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 11:6 because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 11:7 Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 11:8 I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

11:9 “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11:11 What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 11:13 If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus and Beelzebul

11:14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the man who had been mute began to speak, and the crowds were amazed. 11:15 But some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons, he casts out demons.” 11:16 Others, to test him, began asking for a sign from heaven. 11:17 But Jesus, realizing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and a divided household falls. 11:18 So if Satan too is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? I ask you this because you claim that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 11:19 Now if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 11:20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you. 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are safe. 11:22 But when a stronger man attacks and conquers him, he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied and divides up his plunder. 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Response to Jesus’ Work

11:24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but not finding any. Then it says, ‘I will return to the home I left.’ 11:25 When it returns, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 11:26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

11:27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd spoke out to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!” 11:28 But he replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”

The Sign of Jonah

11:29 As the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it looks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 11:30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation. 11:31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon – and now, something greater than Solomon is here! 11:32 The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here!

Internal Light

11:33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a hidden place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, so that those who come in can see the light. 11:34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is diseased, your body is full of darkness. 11:35 Therefore see to it that the light in you is not darkness. 11:36 If then your whole body is full of light, with no part in the dark, it will be as full of light as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

Prayer

Lord, may I not be found wasting my influence on others by hiding my fellowship with You as if under a basket, but rather sharing my relationship with You so Your light will shine on others.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus offers, by way of example, what has come to be known as the Lord’s prayer when His disciples ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus intends it as a guideline for personal prayer, not as a ritualized chant to be recited en masse during organized worship.

The key elements of Jesus’ guidelines for prayer are:

May Your name be honored. This lays-claims to an intimate relationship with the Lord God, joined with honoring and glorifying Him.

May Your Kingdom come. We are expected to long for the return of Christ — this requires true separation from the world and actively longing for Heaven, the place of perfect righteousness.

Give us each day our daily bread. Daily bread is the food of Christ — His teaching, love, provision — which sustains us day to day. We are asking Him to give us each day what we need for the day.

Forgive us our sins. Forgiveness of sin first requires that we ask for forgiveness — after which, God promises to act.

We also forgive everyone who sins against us. Translated from the Greek, “who is indebted to us,” (see Matt. 6:12) this not only speaks of the sin of violation against personal boundaries, but also speaks of people in social circumstances who are indebted to one another for favors done and needs met.

In response to favors done or needs which have been met, we are only obliged to show gratitude — although one may feel they have further obligation, and the other may have an unjust sense that they are owed something in return.

Feeling resentment against others for not doing something for us and feeling owed by others for what we have done for them are mutual sins which require forgiveness from God so that He may forgive us — “if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins” (Matt. 6:15).

Do not lead us into temptation. This does not suggest that God causes temptation, but is “a rhetorical way to ask for His protection from sin,” (NET sn). The equally-acceptable translation, “into a time of testing,” removes any hint that God might be the author or promoter of sin — sin always begins with us allowing a test to become a temptation.

Jesus challenges us to understand that God wants us to call upon Him with “sheer persistence” (Luke 11:8), humbly and submissively pleading for Him to meet the need which we have no hope of meeting ourselves.

To the charge that He casts out demons because He is “the ruler of demons” (Luke 11:15), Jesus reminds that we must be “fully armed” (vs. 21) — by implication, with the same armor He used in the desert, the Word of God (see Luke 4:1-13).

We are not to imagine there is a middle ground — Jesus tells us that one is either with Him or against Him: “Whoever does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23).

Jesus tells us to be certain that His light shines from us and that we not put it “under a basket” (Luke 11:33). We need to be intentional about sharing His light for others to see.

Faith In Action

Consider

Are we obedient, as was Jesus in the desert, in resisting the Devil? Or do we fail, as did David and Bathsheba, causing what was a test to become a temptation?

Do we honor God in all that we say and do? Do we accept His forgiveness and new teaching daily? Do we confess our sins to God, repent of them, and seek (and accept) His forgiveness? Do we hold grudges and obligations against others? Do we avoid the places where God allows us to be tested?

Reflect

Do we call upon Jesus daily for our daily bread, His filling us with the Holy Spirit and teaching us through the Word? Do we accept the reality that there is no middle ground to stand on between Jesus’ firm foundation of Truth and Satan’s quicksand of deceit?

What does a personal inventory reveal to you about things in your heart: Are there things that you do not want seen in the light? What should you change in your life to be sure you are sharing Jesus’ light with others, not contributing to the darkness?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to greater maturity, after first confessing and then repenting (turning away from) the places where you know you have fallen short.

Act

Today I choose to celebrate where the Holy Spirit has led me to greater maturity and to confess and repent where I find I fall short. I will tell someone about Jesus (in person or by e-mail, text, telephone) and show them Jesus in me by a change in my attitude or priorities.

Be Specific __________________________________________________

Friday (Luke 11:37-54)

Rebuking the Pharisees and Experts in the Law

11:37 As he spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so he went in and took his place at the table. 11:38 The Pharisee was astonished when he saw that Jesus did not first wash his hands before the meal. 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 11:40 You fools! Didn’t the one who made the outside make the inside as well? 11:41 But give from your heart to those in need, and then everything will be clean for you.

11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of your mint, rue, and every herb, yet you neglect justice and love for God! But you should have done these things without neglecting the others. 11:43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love the best seats in the synagogues and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces! 11:44 Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it!”

11:45 One of the experts in religious law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult us too.” 11:46 But Jesus replied, “Woe to you experts in religious law as well! You load people down with burdens difficult to bear, yet you yourselves refuse to touch the burdens with even one of your fingers! 11:47 Woe to you! You build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. 11:48 So you testify that you approve of the deeds of your ancestors, because they killed the prophets and you build their tombs! 11:49 For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 11:50 so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. 11:52 Woe to you experts in religious law! You have taken away the key to knowledge! You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered those who were going in.”

11:53 When he went out from there, the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to oppose him bitterly, and to ask him hostile questions about many things, 11:54 plotting against him, to catch him in something he might say.

Prayer

Lord, may I respectfully challenge anyone who asserts a role of authority in Your family and yet misrepresents Your Word.

Scripture In Perspective

Jesus unleashes a full assault on the religious authorities, for their obsession with tradition over truth, when He says, “you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it!” (Luke 11:44). He is throwing one of their silly superstitions back at them (the folly of walking on graves) to make a point: The religious authorities are having a bad effect on people who are fundamentally unaware of where they are walking.

Luke reports the unrepentant reaction of the religious authorities, who instead “began to oppose Him bitterly” (11:53) and try to find a way to catch Him in a wrong act or word.

Faith In Action

Consider

Are we also guilty of elevating tradition to the level of Biblical truth, perhaps in guilt-driven rituals or other things that we believe, say, or do which lack Biblical support?

Are we chastised to think that we may be teaching, by way of example, others to act and think in ways that are not Biblical?

Reflect

Are we fearful of criticism or consequences and therefore avoid speaking the truth in love?

Have you heard bad teaching and spoken up? What was the result?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you need to get in-line with the Bible’s teaching and direction.

Act

Today I choose to discern where in my life an action, belief, habit, ritual, or tradition is motivated by something less than the higher calling of God and if it is possible that someone might emulate me or draw some conclusion about Jesus that is not Biblical when they observe me in that place. I will ask for and accept God’s forgiveness, and accept the power of the Holy Spirit to alter that in my life.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

Saturday (Matthew 11:25-30)

Jesus’ Invitation

11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. 11:26 Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.

11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

Prayer

Lord, Your yoke is easy to bear, because it is made with Love and Truth, and You give me rest along the way.

Scripture In Perspective

The “wise and intelligent” (Matthew 11:25) Jesus speaks of are the businessmen and religious leaders whom He chastises for being wise in their own eyes, intelligent in their collection of knowledge, yet lacking in the God-enabled understanding needed to make them truly wise.

Jesus praises God His Father in Heaven for the ministry He has brought to Earth through His Son. He then compares the “rest for their souls” (Matthew 11:29) which He offers His people to the terrible religious burdens the religious leaders create and impose on them.

Faith In Action

Consider

Have we celebrated the gift of Christ with sincere praise?

Do we recognize the terrible weight of the world making us weary and burdened, and do we allow Jesus to remove or share it with us?

Reflect

How different are we from the wise and intelligent whom Jesus chastised? Are we also sometimes wise in our own eyes and intelligent in collecting knowledge, yet unwilling to humble ourselves and gain the understanding from God needed to make us truly wise?

When have you recognized that following God more closely, listening to and obeying the Word, has resulted in His light yoke replacing the world’s heavy yolk?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you feel weary and burdened because you are trying to handle a worldly challenge in your own strength.

Act

Today I choose to salute a saint by speaking words of praise and encouragement, serve an unbeliever, or sing a song of praise to God for my salvation. I will allow the Holy Spirit to be my comfort and strength in one area where I feel weary and burdened because I have tried to handle a worldly challenge in my own strength.

Be Specific ____________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –”The Chronological Gospels” – “Week 4 of 12” - prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in June of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

 

Related Topics: Devotionals, Curriculum