15th Sunday after Pentecost
Don’t You Know His Value?
Text: Matthew 16:21-26
Oh, Peter! How could you? Last week we listened as you made the most beautiful and clear confession of faith. When Jesus asked the disciples who they thought he was, you blurted out immediately, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” What a confession of faith! You properly identified Jesus as the Messiah who is true man and true God. And Jesus promised that your statement of faith would be the rock-solid foundation of his Church forever. So Peter, how could you?
We’re told that after Peter made his confession of faith, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Jesus was teaching his disciples about what he really came to do. It was now about to happen.
But Peter, the man of impulse, took action again. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” Oh, Peter! Don’t You Know His Value? Don’t you know what he came to do? I suppose Peter had good intentions. Jesus was his friend. Jesus was his teacher. No one ever wants to see a friend die. Read the rest of this entry
The 14th Sunday after Pentecost
The Church Shall Never Perish
1. Because Jesus gives us power
2. Because Jesus gives us a purpose
Text: Matthew 16:13-20
The statistics are scary. The number of Americans who are Protestant Christians might be as low as 50% these days. 50%! Of those Americans who claim to be religious (Christians or not), only about 40% attend church on a weekly basis. 40%! In school that would be an “F” grade. (In case you were wondering, Florida is below that national average at about 38%.)
Society is becoming less and less Christian. Prayer is not allowed in schools. The 10 Commandments have become 10 suggestions. Rather than being the common bond for most Americans, Christianity is now the common thing to mock and make fun of.
But this is not endemic to America, this is pandemic across the globe. Religious freedom is currently in danger in Canada. Massive cathedrals sit empty in Europe. Christians need to worship in secret in the Middle East, in China, and in many other places. Even more frightening are the recent statistics about Islam. The American population of Muslims is supposed to double in the next 20 years. The world population of Muslims is to reach 2.2 billion and surpass Christianity in the next 20 years.
And all the while, as Christianity shrinks and sputters, sin and Satan seem to be soaring supreme. How can you listen to the radio without hearing a bad word or gossip these days? How can you watch TV or a movie without the temptation of lust creeping into your mind? How can you live in America and not be overcome with greed and envy?
Are we a dying breed? Is Christianity on its last leg? Will the number of Christians shrink and shrink until there are none left? Is Christ’s Church doomed? No! As bad as things may look, as lonely and persecuted as we might feel, Jesus promises: The Church Shall Never Perish. Read the rest of this entry
This is the first weekly reading in the plan for reading your Bible in one year. The assignment for this week is the book of Matthew. It should only take about 10-15 minutes a day, or about four chapters a day to complete the assignment.
Here are some comments to help you grow in knowledge and faith as you read Matthew:
Background: The Gospel of Matthew was written by its namesake, Matthew the apostle. Matthew was one of the 12 disciples. The record of Jesus calling Matthew to follow him is in Matthew 9 and Mark 2. Matthew, also called Levi, was a tax collector by trade–a profession not looked highly upon at all. The tax collectors at this time were viewed as the scum of the earth because they often would cheat the people and steal money. Whether or not Matthew did this in his previous profession, we do not know.
Each gospel writer clearly wrote for a specific purpose. Mark wrote for a Gentile audience, revealing Jesus as the Savior of all. Luke the doctor wrote his gospel as a letter to his friend Theophilus and as a summary of all the information he carefully researched. John clearly reveals the true divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ. Matthew clearly wrote his gospel for a Hebrew audience. Over and over again he quotes Old Testament Scripture, making it very clear that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and making the perfect bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament
We cannot be sure of the date of writing. It seems likely that it was written before 70 A.D. Jerusalem fell in this year, but that important event is not mentioned at all in Matthew. It also seems possible that Matthew may have been the first gospel that was written, perhaps as early as 50 A.D. Whatever the date, the message is clear: Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah and Savior! Read the rest of this entry