Week 3 summary:
This week, we will read several stories from Jesus' life from different gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke are referred to as the synoptic gospels because there are a lot of similarities in the stories that each author shares. In fact, one theory is that Mark was written first and that the authors of Matthew and Luke used a lot of stories from Mark, plus additional information.
Through some of the stories we will read this week, Jesus starts to “draw the line in the sand” in terms of what it means to follow Jesus as a member of God's Kingdom.
Day 1: Matthew 12:22-50; Luke 11
Jesus has been performing many signs and wonders (miracles) that should prove that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah (which means Savior). However, the people ask for more signs to which Jesus replies that they won't get another sign except the sign of Jonah. (Jonah 1:17 says that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days. Jesus was predicting that He would be in the grave 3 days and that would be their sign.) But people of His generation – His people the Israelites – were not believing. In the book of Jonah, Jonah goes to Nineveh (Gentile country) to get them to repent, which by the way they do. Jesus says that it will be much better for the people of Nineveh because they did repent and believe than for the Israelites of His time that saw the signs and wonders and did not believe.
Day 2: Matthew 13; Luke 8; Isaiah 6:9-10
Today we will learn about parables. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus teaches in parables on purpose. (See Matthew 13:10-15 which includes the reference to Isaiah 6.) Why? Given Jesus' mission to convey the message of the Kingdom to everyone, starting with Israel, He was not intentionally hiding the truth from sincere seekers. But to those that really did not want to follow, they would not get the meaning of the parables directly.
Day 3: Matthew 8:14-34; Mark 4-5
In the passage from Matthew, Jesus starts to explain what it means to truly follow Him. Bottom line – for a true follower of Jesus, Jesus needs to be not only your first priority but your only priority.
Day 4: Matthew 9-10, Hosea 6:6
Another line in the sand...Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector as one of His disciples. (Tax collectors were Jews but collected taxes for the Romans. Therefore, you might classify them as a traitor. To make matters worse, the tax collectors would not only collect what they were told by the Romans to collect, but they would collect whatever amount they wanted, so that they could line their own pockets. So not only were they traitors, but they cheated and stole from their own people. Tax collectors were hated by their own people. And yet, Jesus called Matthew, this “sinner” as one of His disciples.) After calling Matthew, Jesus went to a party at Matthew's house with other “sinners.” This was not liked by the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus wasn't worried about that. He came not to the religious leaders but to those that were spiritually ill – the “sinners.” See Hosea 6:6. The letter of the law may say “sacrifice” but the spirit of the law is “mercy.”
Day 5: Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9:1-17
No special comments today.
Day 6: Exodus 16, John 6
John 6 is an incredibly important passage. Jesus continues performing miracles. One miracle is feeding over 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Because of the miracles, the crowds are constantly following Him – but why are they searching Jesus out? Jesus says (in John 6:26) that they are not searching for Him because of the miracles but because they had all that they needed to eat and were filled up. In other words, Jesus satisfied their physical needs. Even though they had seen miracles, they wanted more miracles and compared what they wanted to see with what their ancestors had seen when God provided manna from heaven to feed the Israelites during the Exodus as they waited to enter the promised land. (See passage from Exodus 16 and also Psalm 78:23-24.) Manna was given to sustain the Israelites in the desert. But now, Jesus says that He is the bread of life from heaven, sent to sustain/feed His followers as they (and we now) wait for the ultimate promised land (eternity with Jesus). The people of the day were clamoring to satisfy their physical needs but Jesus is the answer to their spiritual needs.
Day 7: rest