Who Is “The Greatest”?

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'” (Matthew 18:1)

We might do well to ask why the scripture tells us that it was “at THAT time” that the disciples asked Jesus this question. What was the significance of “that time”?   If you look back, Jesus had just told Peter to catch the fish with the coin that would be found in it, and pay the poll tax for the two of them. Did this cause envy among the disciples?  What about the other 11?  Was Peter greater than they?  Was being party to this miracle an indicator of his preeminence?  Additionally, this episode is not too far removed from Peter’s confession of Christ in Chapter 16, and Jesus’ response that the keys to the Kingdom were given to him. Was Peter the greatest? And who is the greatest among us today? Continue reading

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Don’t “Sit In the Seat Of Scoffers”

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, not sit in the seat of scoffers.” (Psalm 1:1)

Psalm 1 opens with a blessing for the person who does not “walk”, “stand”, or “sit” in ungodliness. Most of God’s people today would like to think that we have indeed avoided these worldly postures — but have we? Continue reading

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When It’s OK To Cause Offense

“Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:12)

We’ve all heard it: “You made so-and-so mad with what you said.” Sometimes it is spoken or implied that we should go and “sooth the ruffled feathers.” And there are times when that is exactly what we should do. But Jesus also shows us that there are other times when we are to do nothing about such “concerns.” Continue reading

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People > My “Rights”

“However, so that we do not offend them (cause them to stumble) go …” (Matthew 17:27)

In the Book of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul told us that we should restrict our own freedoms, in order not to make others stumble. Jesus gives us an example in this passage of what this looks like in real life.

The disciple Peter had been asked if Jesus paid the tax for the temple. He told his questioner that He did, but was evidently troubled about it at heart when he went back to Jesus. The Lord spoke to him first and asked if kings of the earth taxed their own sons. Peter said that no, they taxed strangers. Jesus responded, “Then the sons are exempt.” His impliciation here is that since He is the Son of God, He should be exempt from the Temple tax.  He had the “right” not to pay it. But His next words teach us an important lesson: Continue reading

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Disappointing Disciples

“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:16)

The man had brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, hoping that they might be able to heal him. But he was disappointed.  “They could  not cure him.”  This is not that unusual, even today. People often come away from disciples of Jesus with a feeling of disappointment. Continue reading

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Seriously?

“Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?”  (Matthew 15:33)

Seriously?  Where would they get enough bread to feed the multitude of 4000 who had been with Jesus and His disciples for 3 days, and who were really hungry?   Oh, I don’t know … maybe from the same place where they had gotten enough to feed the FIVE thousand in the last chapter?!  These guys had just witnessed the feeding of the 5000. Did they not learn anything from what they had seen and experienced with Jesus?

A better question for ourselves we probably could not ask. Continue reading

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When God Answers An Outrageous Request

“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.'”
“And He said, ‘Come!'”  (Matthew 14:28-29)

Can you imagine the gall that Peter had, to make this outrageously brash request of Jesus?  But even more, WHY in the world would Jesus indulge such a foolish request? The obvious thing to do would have been to lecture Peter on how he should not test  God, or make foolhardy requests — not to GRANT the outlandish request! Continue reading

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