Pastor’s Bible Reading Notes – Sept 10/17

Introduction: The theme of this summer’s Bible notes keeps us looking for how the “LORD” faithfully keeps His covenant with His people, continuing with them even in their deepest afflictions, and even in their times of deepest temptation and sin. Whether it is Judah in his compromised immorality with his daughter-in-law Tamar in Genesis 38, or Joseph in depths of despair as he waited in prison for his dreams to come true in Genesis 39-40, God’s grace restores these men to the place where faith (or repentance) is rekindled into a restored relationship with their Lord. God would not let the faith of Judah be crushed because of his sinful mistakes or the faith of Joseph be swallowed by grief! In this week’s notes, we return to Matthew’s Gospel, therefore, to celebrate how God continually works in the lives of all His people to renew our faith and renew us in our love and devotion to Him as our Savior and our God.

Mon/Tues/Weds: read Matthew 22:34-40: The ‘testing of the Lord Jesus’ is never a wise or godly motivation for our actions. In Matthew 22:35-36, one of the teachers of the law seeks to tempt Jesus into a compromising misstatement about God’s law – just as another such lawyer tested Jesus in Luke 10:25 about the way to attain eternal life. In both sinfully motivated traps, Christ’s high respect for the law of God (and His commitment to it in His own life) shines forth.

He tells the lawyer in Matthew 22:37 that loving God with all one’s heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself compromises the heart of obedience to the law of God! Everything else hangs on such devotion to God and our neighbor. Christ commends this exact same answer from the lawyer in Luke 10:27, and tells him that if he keeps these great commandments of God’s law – really keeps them – then he can indeed live by them (Luke 10:28). But let’s also remember that these two experts in the law are both motivated by a desire to “tempt” and trap Jesus, while justifying themselves. We are told of this dangerous motivation in Luke 10:29: “…wanting to justify himself, he said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

Their attempts to justify themselves by keeping God’s law show that these questioners of our Lord were indeed hypocrites! But why then does Jesus seem to encourage them in such self-righteous law-keeping? Is it really true, Jesus, that we can live by our obedience to God’s law? What Jesus is doing is answering a ‘fool according to his folly.’ Just as he answers the rich young ruler in terms of keeping the Ten Commandments in Mark 10:19ff., because that man was determined by his good works to inherit eternal life, so He answers these lawyers by drawing out the logic of their works-righteousness to its full extent – as if to say to them: If you are going to reject Me as your Savior who justifies sinners – then you are left with no other option than to seek by your own efforts to gain eternal life! Of course, such efforts on their part are doomed.

But nevertheless, Jesus is actually kind to these men by using the convicting perfection of the Law of God to drive them to an end of hoping in themselves. Through the law comes knowledge of sin, and Jesus wants these men to be convinced that they are sinners, so that they might be driven to find their hope in a Savior, whose righteousness can really save!

Thursday: read Matthew 22:40-46: All the hopes of the Old Testament prophets hung on the prophesied day of divine visitation, when God Himself would come down in human flesh, as the long-awaited Messiah, to save His sin-cursed people. This is what Jesus declares in Matthew 22:40. It was prophets like David, who knew his own sinful bankruptcy and failure to keep God’s law (remember Psalm 51) who longed for the day when God Himself would come down, mighty to save!

Of course, for the Pharisees and teachers of the law, there was no need for God Himself to come down to save! Since they were righteous in their own eyes because of their law-keeping and wise in the ways of power and influence in this world, they only wanted a human Messiah like King David, who would deliver to them freedom from the Romans! Then they could set themselves up as rulers in the land, with the son of David as their puppet king whom they could use for their own ends! No wonder, then, when Jesus asks them about the origin of the Messiah (or Christ) in Matthew 22:42 – they instantly say that He will be merely the son of David! That’s all they needed – a human king and man-made savior from the nations of this world! No need for God Himself to save at the cost of His own Son’s life!

Jesus pounces on their arrogance in Matthew 22:43, pointing out that David himself, inspired by the Spirit of God, calls the Christ ‘his Lord’! How then could the Christ be merely the son of David if he calls him ‘Lord’? In this way, Jesus proves Himself, as God’s Son, to be the long-awaited Christ – whom all the great prophets like David longed to see!

Meditate and Pray: Lord, thank you that you have not listened to mankind’s proud claim to be able to pull himself up by his own bootstraps! Thank you that you take seriously the mess we get ourselves into by our own sin, and that you send your Son to rescue us from the evil and sin of our lives! Help us to have a proper appreciation for the Divine source of our salvation in the person of Jesus Christ. Help us to see the need for our Savior to be the only-begotten Son of God! Help us now to welcome Jesus afresh into our lives as we sing the words of hymn # 311:

Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
To take away transgression and rule in equity.

He comes in succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight.

For Him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end:
The mountain dews shall nourish a seed in weakness sown

Whose fruit shall spread and flourish and shake like Lebanon.

 

He comes in succor speedy to those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in His sight.



 

Fri/Sat: read Matthew 22:43-46 & Mark 12:37: Oh the delight for a small child to hear the sweet, quiet, secure and happy voices of his or her parents talking into the night as he goes to sleep! What a privilege, for example, it was for me as a young boy to get up late at night if I had a troubling question and burden in my heart, to then unburden my soul to my mom and dad – and satisfied with their answer about the things of God, to go back to my bed secure in the faith!

Well, that is exactly what David gives us in Psalm 110:1, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 22:44. By the inspiration of the Spirit of God, he overhears the voices of God the Father and Son as they talk about the Son’s ultimate victory over sin and Satan:

The LORD (Jehovah our Father) says to my Lord (Adonai – an Old Testament name for God applied to Christ), sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Do you hear the tones of love and commitment between the Father and Son as they work out and plan your salvation? Do you hear their delight in the world of mankind (see Proverbs 8:30), and in the Kingdom of saving grace they would create to live with you forever?

Meditate and Pray: We cannot do better than to quote Charles Spurgeon on this privilege of hearing God’s voice in the Scriptures:

What wonderful conversation from eternity there has been between the Father and the Son! From this secret and intimate communion springs the covenant of grace and all its marvelous arrangements. All the great acts of grace are brought into actual being by the word of God; had He not spoken, there had been no manifestation of Deity to us; but in the beginning was the Word, and from of old there was mysterious fellowship between the Father and His Son Jesus Christ concerning His people and the great contest on their behalf between Himself and the powers of evil. How condescending on Jehovah’s part to permit a mortal ear to hear, and a human pen to record his secret converse with his coequal Son! How greatly should we prize the revelation of His private and solemn discourse with the Son, herein made public for the refreshing of his people! Lord, what is man that thou shouldest thus impart thy secrets unto him!

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