A lot of people have made far too much of what is called the ‘Golden rule’ found in Matthew 7:12. While this verses is important in the whole context of all that Jesus said and taught, it is not, nor was it ever, the be-all and end-all of His teaching. The Golden rule can never save us – only God can do that! However, the Godlen rule does remain an important expression of what it means to ‘love our neighbour’ as God’s Word consistently teaches us. The danger comes when we place the Golden rule as the most important and neglect to love God (the first and greatest commandment).
After instructing His disciples on how to avoid being careless in making evaluations of one another and then how to be careful with His Word and so make wise judgments, in Matthew 7:7-11, he then spoke about prayer. While it may at first glance seem that there is no connection between what Jesus had been saying in the previous verses and these ones, the connection is there and it is a strong one. If we are ever going to come close to doing what Jesus taught in verses 1-6, we’re also going to have to do verses 7-11 very well!
After Jesus warned his disciples to be careful of passing judgment on one another (Matthew 7:1-5), Jesus went on in Matthew 7:6 to say some words that are a little bit harder to understand. What is it about pigs and dogs that we must take note of? And, what did he mean by warning us ‘to be careful with what we do with our ‘pearls’? HIs words are weighty and they require some thought and some application!
The words of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7:1-5 are heavy and soul-searching, but they also require a great deal of thought and consideration if they are to be put into practise. These words have been misunderstood over time and probably also badly applied, but this does not excuse us from tackling both their implications and their correct application – which again (like so much in the Sermon on the Mount) is a matter of the heart.
In this great doxology from the pen of the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:33-36, we find how Paul gave glory and praise to God because of certain aspects of His character, namely His wisdom and knowledge. As we come to the end of the year and with uncertainty ahead of us, it’s good to be reminded that God knows more than we do and is able to be trusted in all that He has promised.
As Matthew’s presentation of Jesus was originally written for the Jews of his day, it’s no surprise that he relied heavily on the fulfilment of the Old Testament as he reflected upon the birth of the Messiah. This fact is quite clear in Matthew 2:13-23 where many Old Testament allusions to and prophecies about the coming Messiah all come together. Set against the backdrop of King Herod’s rage and eventual murder of innocent children in Bethlehem, Matthew presents Jesus as the true hope of Israel.
The wise men feature only in Matthew’s presentation of the life of Jesus, and while who were they and were they come from are questions that largely remain unanswered, even yet Matthew 2:1-12, gives us sufficient information to state some thing and learn others from their appearing, their actions and who it was that they found.
The story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1:18-25, has plenty in it that people of all generations can relate to. Mary’s surprise pregnancy must have been a shock to her just as it was for Joseph, but both persisted in faith regarding what God had told them. But in the end Mary and Joseph’s story is not the main point, for the text points us to the Saviour who is named as Jesus, Christ (Messiah) and Immanuel. He is the one that all mankind must relate and respond to, this Christmas or any time!
After dealing kindly with Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 10:1-19 tells us how David also dealt kindly with Hanun, son of Nahash the Ammonite King on the occasion of the death of Nahash. However, advisors for Hanun got into his ear and planted seeds of suspicion and fear and David’s ambassadors were treated with contempt. An all out war soon arose with inevitable consequences. Whenever God’s grace and kindness to mankind is rejected, those inevitable consequences still happen. We call it judgement and we must pray that people will repent before that judgement comes.
After God made a covenant with David in chapter 7, in turn, David remembered the covenant he had earlier made with Saul to never wipe out Saul’s descendants. In a lovely part of the unfolding tapestry of God’s grace, 2 Samuel 9:1-13 records how David showed loving kindness (Hebrew: chesed) to one of Jonathon’s sons, Mephiboseth. To many people this may come as a surprise as the Old Testament is often characterised as being all about law or war. But in the story of David’s kindness to this cripple, the heart of the gospel can be seen.