Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham April 26, 2020

We reminded ourselves in our notes before Passion week that Jesus’ sufferings are not to be understood as occupying only the last week of His life. His whole life of obedience led Him to experience what it meant to suffer under the rage of His foes. In particular it was the Pharisees and Scribes who hated Christ for His righteousness and in their uncontrollable rage made so much of His life very hard. This was particularly true on the day which of all days should have been the most refreshing and encouraging for our Lord: the Sabbath day, when He went to God’s house to worship. Sadly, time and again, the Sabbath became a time of great, undeserved anger against Him, as Jesus’ enemies sought His destruction. Let us learn to rest on the Lord’s Day, in thankful recognition that Jesus’ endured the tumult of sin, misery and hate on His holy days so that we might rest secure on ours.

Monday: read Matthew 5:18-20 and Matthew 12:22-24 and 34-37. The glorious good news is that in Jesus Christ, God makes available to us an evangelical righteousness far beyond the legalistic righteousness of religious hypocrites. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 5:20, when He insists that all those who truly enter into the kingdom of God must have a righteousness which exceeds the self-righteous good works of the Pharisees. But such a message condemning their self-righteousness enraged these teachers of the law. Out of such a heart hatred towards our Lord, they began to spew forth all kinds of ungodly accusations against Him – especially on the Sabbath day. Yet through it all, Jesus remains in control, as the One who would one day judge these men’s wicked words, (Matt. 12:36-37).

Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the patience of the Lord Jesus, in His willingness to endure so much opposition and blasphemy even on the most holy of days – the Sabbath! Thank Him that, despite the vile things which His foes said about Him, He was able to offer perfect worship every time He stepped into Israel’s houses of worship – even though they were often little more than “synagogues of Satan”.

Tuesday: read Matthew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6. Here we see why the righteousness of our Lord Jesus exceeded the superficial self-righteousness of the Pharisees. While they spied on Him to catch Him in what they wrongly thought to be breaking the Sabbath, Christ’s righteousness showed itself to the man with the withered hand by healing him on the Sabbath day, thereby bringing glory to God by healing the body (and we trust the soul) of this invalid, and in this way fulfilling the great command:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40

But notice the result of the ungodly anger of Christ’s enemies against Him on this occasion. They went out of our Lord’s presence full of seething resentment, determined to plot Jesus’ death, while Jesus’ godly anger at their hardness of heart prompted Him to boldly rescue the suffering invalid body and soul, (Mark 3:5)! Godly anger is productive and saving! Ungodly rage produces nothing except murderous rage.

Meditate and Pray: Let us thank Jesus for His ‘Sabbath day courage’ in rescuing sinners from the physical misery of their bodily afflictions and the spiritual bondage of their oppressors. Sing about our “lion of a Savior”, who will return with that same wrath against His foes and the same gracious determination to save His church on the Last Day, using hymn # 318:

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,

Once for favored sinners slain;

Thousand thousand saints attending,

Swell the triumph of His train:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him

Robed in dreadful majesty;

Those who set at naught and sold Him,

Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,

Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,

Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,

Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;

All who hate Him must, confounded,

Hear the trump proclaim the day:

Come to judgment! Come to judgment! Come to judgment!

Come to judgment! Come away!

Now redemption, long expected,

See in solemn pomp appear;

All His saints, by man rejected,

Now shall meet Him in the air:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

See the day of God appear!

Wednesday: read Matthew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:5. In order to rescue us in a timely way from our sin, how we need a Savior capable of the same righteous indignation which He showed in rescuing the man with the withered hand! How brave of Jesus to decisively command this man to “stretch forth his hand” in Mark 3:5 for healing, knowing that doing so would ensure the murderous rage of His foes as well as ultimately His own death! How easily we would have found an excuse for avoiding this deadly confrontation were we in Jesus’ place! But Jesus’ holy anger makes Him determined to go to the Cross! That is the difference between our selfish indulgence of an angry spirit and Christ’s selfless, saving rage against sin. As Wm. Harrell puts it:

Jesus determined to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath and not wait a day to do so. He did this even though the man’s hand had been withered for some time and the Savior waiting only one more day to heal that hand would have avoided provoking the Pharisees’ murderous rage. Yet our Lord had many reasons for such swift action on the Sabbath, not least of which was to have that miracle serve as a sign that whereas our God is slow to anger, He is swift to bring upon us His compassionate mercy.

Meditate and Pray: What a brave Savior, heedless of the cost to Himself of rescuing us. Let us pray for those enmeshed in sin! Oh Lord Jesus, stretch forth your hand to save!

Thursday: read Matthew 12:7-14. As we take one last look at the Sabbath controversy of these verses, the emphasis has to be on our Lord’s poise and control despite the opposition He faced on His Father’s holy day of worship. How could Jesus find the grace to worship, to heal and to teach so graciously in the very teeth of such hatred against Him? Well, was it not because, for the first time since the Garden of Eden, there was a Man offering up perfect rest and trust to His Creator?


Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham April 26, 2020

Jesus is clearly the Second Adam, coming back to this fallen creation; to this wilderness blasted by the curse, and re-creating all that was lost from the Garden. Just as unfallen man was blessed with a perfect rest on the Sabbath day, so Jesus the perfect One rested with perfect refreshment in His own good works and obedience to the Father. Nothing could disturb His rest – not even the murderous threats of His foes!

Meditate and Pray: May the Lord grant us the privilege of entering into His rest as our Savior. Though we must by faith, “strive to enter into that rest” (Heb. 4:11), He can give us the strength to, “forget what lies behind”, and to strive afresh to enter more fully into that peace which He has purchased for us. Sing about such a rest in Christ, using hymn # 188:

Jesus, I am resting, resting,

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,

And Thy beauty fills my soul,

For by Thy transforming power,

Thou hast made me whole.

(refrain) Jesus, I am resting, resting,

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,

I behold Thee as Thou art,

And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,

Satisfies my heart;

Satisfies its deepest longings,

Meets, supplies its every need,

Compasseth me round with blessings:

Thine is love indeed!

(refrain) Jesus, I am resting, resting,

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Friday: read Matthew 12:14-12:21. Why wouldn’t Jesus on the Sabbath Day have an abiding sense of restfulness? I say this because, in the ultimate sense, the plot to murder Him in Matt. 12:14 actually brought the Day of Jesus’ victory and absolute rest on the Cross that much closer! Jesus was, after all, the “Suffering Servant” of Matt. 12:18, who came to finish sacrificially all that fallen man needed to find the rest of forgiveness at Calvary! It was on the Cross, declaring, “It is finished”, that Jesus produced the perfect peace of the Garden of Eden fully restored. Just as by Adam’s one act of disobedience, misery, death and unrest ensued, so by Christ’s one act of obedience on the Cross, real rest and peace returned! Consider, for example, this summation of Christ’s deep ‘Sabbath rest’ on the Cross in Andrew Bonar’s words: Was not the rest of Jesus as


Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham April 26, 2020

deep – nay, deeper, might we not say? – when He rested from His agony on the Cross, than when the Father rested after creation?

No wonder the sun in darkness hid itself as He died and the tired, old earth shook and quaked! Christ’s noble work in dying demanded the death of the old creation, (and the old Sabbath too), so that Jesus’ waking up on His Resurrection day ‘in the garden’ of Easter morn meant a new creation and a new day of rest! Perfect rest restored! Perfect Sabbath accomplished on the first day of the week!

Let us close this week’s notes with a hymn in the Scottish hymnal that sums up Christ’s perfect work in place of the old Adam and the old creation, by John Henry Newman:

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise;

In all His words most wonderful,

Most sure in all His ways.

O loving wisdom of our God!

When all was sin and shame,

A second Adam to the fight

And to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood,

Which did in Adam fail,

Should strive afresh against the foe,

Should strive and should prevail.

O generous love! that He, who smote,

In Man for man the foe,

The double agony in Man

For man should undergo.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

And in the depth be praise;

In all His words most wonderful,

Most sure in all His ways.