Facing Judgment Day: Matthew 10:5-15

Focus Passage: Matthew 10:5-15 (NIrV)

Jesus sent these 12 out with the following orders. “Do not go among the Gentiles,” he said. “Do not enter any town of the Samaritans. Instead, go to the people of Israel. They are like sheep that have become lost. As you go, preach this message, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal those who are sick. Bring those who are dead back to life. Make those who have skin diseases ‘clean’ again. Drive out demons. You have received freely, so give freely.

“Do not get any gold, silver or copper to take with you in your belts. 10 Do not take a bag for the journey. Do not take extra clothes or sandals or walking sticks. A worker should be given what he needs. 11 When you enter a town or village, look for someone who is willing to welcome you. Stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, greet those who live there. 13 If that home welcomes you, give it your blessing of peace. If it does not, don’t bless it. 14 Some people may not welcome you or listen to your words. If they don’t, leave that home or town, and shake the dust off your feet. 15 What I’m about to tell you is true. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Read Matthew 10:5-15 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

At the close of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples before He sends them out on a missionary journey during the middle of His time on earth, Jesus tells them how they are to interact with the towns they meet.

Jesus first described what they were to do, and then He described what they shouldn’t take with them. Jesus finishes by describing how they are to interact with the people and towns they come to. He says, “When you enter a town or village, look for someone who is willing to welcome you. Stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, greet those who live there. If that home welcomes you, give it your blessing of peace. If it does not, don’t bless it. Some people may not welcome you or listen to your words. If they don’t, leave that home or town, and shake the dust off your feet. What I’m about to tell you is true. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (v. 11-15)

In His concluding remarks, Jesus makes a statement that is almost startling. “On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (v. 15)

Jesus closes by basically saying that anyone who refuses the messengers who God has sent them is in worse shape than the worst towns in the ancient world. Sodom and Gomorrah were so bad that God personally intervened and destroyed them. Jesus basically describes those who refuse to listen to the messengers God has sent as being in worse shape than these horrible, ungodly locations.

Within this idea, I see two themes present. One theme is a warning; the other theme is a promise.

The warning I see in this idea is that those who don’t pay attention to God’s messengers have no hope for the future. While it may appear on the surface that they are wise to reject God, when judgment day arrives, they will have no defense.

However, with this warning is a promise for another group of people: Those God has sent as messengers. God’s messengers throughout history have not been received well. Those God has sent will always have people who oppose them. Since God’s messengers always faced opposition, and since Jesus Himself faced opposition, I see no reason to believe it will be any different in the future. God’s messengers will face opposition.

The promise for God’s messengers in this idea is that even when we are rejected, God will stand up for us when judgment day arrives. God will fight for those who claim Jesus and His sacrifice.

All of God’s followers have an advocate in Jesus. Jesus paid the ultimate price and faced ultimate rejection when He was crucified. None of it was what He deserved, but He chose it for you and for me. When history finally ends and judgment day arrives, Gods followers and His messengers will know that they chose the right side.

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Jesus Met the Standard: Matthew 22:1-14

Focus Passage: Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV)

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Read Matthew 22:1-14 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Have you ever wondered if God expects us to measure up to a standard?

Or, have you ever thought that Jesus came, met God’s standard, and because of this, we don’t have to think about standards, or how we live anymore?

In Jesus’ parable within this entry’s passage, we find an answer to these questions. The parable here in Matthew shares a similar storyline with another one of Jesus’ parables recorded in Luke 14:7-24. However, since the setting Jesus was in was different when He shared Luke’s version, and because the punch-line conclusion is also different, we will look at Matthew’s version of this parable separately from Luke’s. Also, Matthew’s version includes the character we will be focusing on in this entry.

After the banquet hall is full, the king decides to mingle with the last-minute guests attending, and to His disbelief, He finds one who is not wearing wedding clothes. How disrespectful is that!?

However, what happens when we look deeper at the other details about these attendees.

The original invitees rejected their invitation, so the King sent servants out to gather anyone who wanted to come. These last-minute invitees would not have had time to go home to get changed; some might not have even known where the King was hosting this party.

So the implied conclusion is the King had wedding clothes ready for those who came who did not have any. Not only was the invitation free, so was the attire. The barrier to entry into this feast is really simply just showing up and getting dressed.

But somehow, a guest gets inside who is not wearing wedding clothes. Perhaps he rejected the gift of the clothes, or perhaps he simply thought they were unnecessary and that his current clothes were good enough, but in the end, he is thrown out.

Who is at fault here: the king for throwing out a guest who wouldn’t conform or the guest who rejects the free gift and singles himself out?

Many might point to this parable and say the guest is at fault, but if this is the case, then these people are also admitting God has a standard, and that not everyone’s perspective about God is correct. This guest had the perspective that wedding clothes were not necessary, but with this choice, he also made the choice to be thrown out.

Some people might live with the thought that everyone will be included in the banquet, and it doesn’t matter what someone believes, thinks, or does. In this line of thinking, the King is at fault for being unreasonable: He invites people at the last minute, but then requires something from them. However, this belief clearly misses not only the reality that everything needed to enter the banquet was free and provided, but also that even before the banquet hall filled up, there were a number of people who rejected the invitation and who were also excluded.

In this parable, Jesus teaches us there is a standard, but also that Jesus met the standard, and He gives us the results of His success – free wedding clothes. But we still have the choice whether to accept His gift, or reject it.

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The One Who Knows You Best: Luke 10:21-24

Focus Passage: Luke 10:21-24 (GNT)

21 At that time Jesus was filled with joy by the Holy Spirit and said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned. Yes, Father, this was how you were pleased to have it happen.

22 “My Father has given me all things. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said to them privately, “How fortunate you are to see the things you see! 24 I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, but they could not, and to hear what you hear, but they did not.”

Read Luke 10:21-24 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Tucked away in a prayer Jesus shared within the earshot of His disciples is a very powerful and profound statement. While we are quick to focus on the second side of the idea Jesus shared, the first side is really just as powerful – perhaps even a little more.

In verse 22, Luke records Jesus saying, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

We tend to focus our understanding of this verse on how Jesus is the only way we can truly know the Father, and while this is completely true, this truth comes as the second half of the big statement. When setting up this statement, Jesus shares how the only One who truly knows Him is God the Father. The disciples had spent lots of time with Him, and of those on earth, they probably knew Him the best, but their knowledge was nothing like the knowledge God the Father in heaven had.

This huge idea extends to everyone alive today and to everyone who has ever lived – and that includes you and me. While your friends, family, and other significant people in your life know you, their knowledge of you is nothing compared to God the Father’s knowledge of you. God even knows you better than you know yourself. This means that He knows your thoughts, your hopes, your dreams, your mistakes, your anger, your passion, and really every other thing you have ever thought, said, done, and/or forgotten.

And even with all this knowledge, God still loves you. We know this because Jesus came to this earth to give His life for people like you and me. While humanity was actively sinning, Jesus came to show us that God still loves us.

God knows us better than we know ourselves and He has chosen to love each of us regardless of our mistakes. The only question that remains is whether we will accept His love and love Him back, or if we choose to reject the gift He has freely offered to us.

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Previewing the End: John 1:1-18

Focus Passage: John 1:1-18 (GW)

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning.

Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.

He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.

The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.

God sent a man named John to be his messenger. John came to declare the truth about the light so that everyone would become believers through his message. John was not the light, but he came to declare the truth about the light.

The real light, which shines on everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him. Yet, the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He went to his own people, and his own people didn’t accept him. 12 However, he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. 13 These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way—from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.

14 The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.

15 (John declared the truth about him when he said loudly, “This is the person about whom I said, ‘The one who comes after me was before me because he existed before I did.’”)

16 Each of us has received one gift after another because of all that the Word is. 17 Laws were given through Moses, but kindness and truth came into existence through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.

Read John 1:1-18 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In John’s introduction to his gospel, we learn an interesting truth about God and about Jesus. John opens his gospel using simple terms, but they share a very powerful and profound message.

In the opening verses of this introduction, John tells us: “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.” (v. 1-4)

John describes the Word as being with God in the beginning, as bringing the world into existence, and as being the source of life in the world.

But John then shares a profound idea that we might miss if we are reading too quickly. This idea sets the stage for all of the gospels, and really for all of history: “The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.” (v. 5)

If the Bible has a theme verse, this would be a strong contender the top spot. While there are great verses about God’s love, this verse speaks not only about His love, but also His power, and it shares the ultimate conclusion: Darkness never overpowers light.

Darkness is the absence of light. It spreads easily and effortlessly when a light goes out. But darkness cannot put a light out. If a light is present anywhere, the light wins over the darkness every single time.

It is this truth that John applies to Jesus and His ministry: the dark spiritual forces of Satan are no match for the light that Jesus is. What Jesus did for us is a light that shines through history and it will never be extinguished, no matter what Satan tries. John draws us to the ultimate conclusion of history in this unassuming verse: No matter what it looks like today, when history ends, Jesus wins.

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