27th-30th April: Matthew 22:1-23:46 and Psalm 6:1-10
27th April: Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus speaks in parables. Some hear, understand and believe. Others miss the point altogether. One man was 'not wearing wedding clothes' (11). He was dressed in the 'filthy rags' of his own 'righteous acts' (Isaiah 64:6). He was not clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Revelation 21:1-2, 7:9-14). Without Christ's righteousness we are naked and ashamed. Sin brings shame. Before sin, there was nakedness without shame (Genesis 2:25). After sin, 'they realized they were naked...and made coverings for themselves' (Genesis 3:7). Spiritually we are naked before the all-seeing eye of God (Hebrews 4:13). Christ says, 'buy from me...white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness' (Revelation 3:18). God says, 'Come, buy ...without money...Seek the Lord...call on Him... He will have mercy...He will freely pardon...' (Isaiah 55: 1, 6-8). Do you want to enter God's Kingdom? Make sure you are clothed in Christ's righteousness.
28th April: Matthew 22: 15-33
The Pharisees were subtle - just like the 'ancient serpent who is the devil' (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 20:2). They tried 'to entangle Jesus in His talk' (15). They wanted to trap Him and bring a charge against Him. They asked Jesus about payment of taxes to Caesar (17). Jesus moved beyond this question to our greatest responsibility: 'Render ...to God the things that are God's' (21). If we must speak words of political significance - 'Render.. to Caesar the things that are Caesar's' (21) - , let them arise out of this: Giving God His rightful place in His Church, the nation and the wider world. Jesus' words to the Sadducees, in verse 29, were not simply a protest against the religion of the Sadducees. They were a protest for the Scriptures and the power of God. A positive faith is much more helpful than a purely negative reaction!
29th April: Matthew 22:34-46
The Pharisees had failed. The Sadducees had failed. Now, 'they come together' (34). There were differences between them, yet they were prepared to lay aside their differences and join forces in their common opposition to Jesus. They were trying to get Him to set one commandment above all the others. They would then say that He had insufficient respect for the other commandments. Jesus answered them wisely: Love - for God and our neighbour - embraces all the commandments. They have fired questions at Jesus. Now, He puts a question to them (42). He seeks to raise their thinking beyond the human level - Jesus is not merely 'the son of David' (42). He is the Son of God. Greater than all of the great men, He is 'our Lord and our God' (John 20:28). No more trick questions. Give the answer of faith: 'You are...the Son of the living God' (16: 16).
30th April: Psalm 6:1-10
What a pitiful picture: 'languishing ... troubled ... sorely troubled ... moaning ... tears ... weeping ... grief ... weak' (1-7). Transformation - Overwhelmed by evil becomes overcoming evil. 'O Lord - how long?' becomes 'The Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication' (3, 8-9). We look at our circumstances. We ask, 'How long must this continue?'. We look at Christ's Cross. We say, 'He has won the victory'. His victory becomes ours, as we say, in faith, 'the Lord accepts my prayer' (9). We look beyond our present circumstances to Christ's Second Coming. When He returns, the tables will be turned. In a moment, there will be complete shame for His enemies (10; 1 Corinthians 15:25) and complete salvation for 'those who are eagerly waiting for Him' (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Hebrews 9:28).