Matthew 21 Overview

This chapter brings us to Jerusalem with Jesus. There are many important events that take place in chapter 21. Here’s a list of the highlights:

1. Triumphal Entry

2. Second purification of the Temple

3. Barren fig tree cursed

4. The secret of answered prayer

5.  Jesus’ authority questioned

6. Parable of the two sons

7. Parable of the householder

 

The scene is set for the incredibly dramatic events that take Jesus to the cross and the tomb, and to His glorious resurrection.  If you ever get the opportunity to see a good Passion Play, it is an experience you will always treasure.  My daughter and I were privileged to see the play in Oberammergau, Germany, in 2000. We went with my son and his wife.  It brought the events of that week to life in a whole new way, and I’m so thankful we were able to be there.

Jesus had Compassion

Matthew 20:33-34. “They say unto Him, Lord that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.”

com·pas·sion
kəmˈpaSHən/
noun
  1. sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
    “the victims should be treated with compassion”
    synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude,sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance,kindness, humanity, charity

    1. antonyms: indifference, cruelty
    Origin
    Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from compati‘suffer with.’
     

 Jesus had such pity for people that He actually suffered with them in their pain. He had compassion on all of us, didn’t He?

This beautiful picture of Jesus simply touching the eyes that He had created is evocative of the personal, intimate way in which He wishes to interact with each one of us.  He wants healing for us in more than our physical needs; He wants to heal our sinful souls, and take us to live with Him forever in heaven.

I love it that the two healed men immediately followed Him. No hesitation.

And Jesus Stood Still

Matthew 20:32. “And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?”

Sometimes, in God’s Word, I am just stuck on a small phrase, a few simple words.  This time, it’s “And Jesus stood still.”

During most of His ministry, Jesus was active.  He walked miles and miles. He healed, fed, and ministered to thousands of people. He taught, speaking from the Old Testament scriptures. He debated seldom, because His answers usually silenced His opposition.  He rode out storms, walked on water, cast out demons, stilled the wind and the rain, raised loved ones from death, visited with the throngs, comforted the grieving.  And He occassionally went off by Himself to rest, and to pray.  Seldom did He simply stand still.

The crowds must have been pressing in on Him.  Hot, sweaty, demanding, and curious to see what He would do next, they didn’t want to be slowed down by a couple of lowly blind beggars.

BUT!  Jesus. Stood. Still.  Not for a king, a prince, a high priest, or a Roman centurion, but for two blind men whose faith was so great that they recognized Him and cried out to Him, in spite of the efforts of the crowd to hush them up.

You know, I’m just a nobody. When I die, some will remember for a while, but not for long. I’ve read that most of us pass into oblivion in the world’s memories in about 60 years. And yet, when I cry out to my God, do you know what happens?

He Stands Still–for ME! He listens, He heals, He comforts, He speaks to me through His Word and gives me what He knows I need.  He ignores the noisy crowd who want something else from Him, and He ministers to my need.

That’s the kind of God I serve:  One Who will stand still when He hears me cry out to Him; One Who loves me in spite of my insignificance in the world’s eyes, because in His eyes I am significant indeed.

Do you know my Jesus?  Do you know my Friend?

The Multitude

Matthew 20:21. “And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou Son of David.”

I believe it is safe to assume that it was the Holy Spirit Who touched the hearts of these two blind men, leading them to recognize Who Jesus was. It is interesting, then, that the great crowds who followed Him were apparently not of the same mind, or the same degree of faith; otherwise, they would not have rebuked the blind men and tried to keep them out of the way.  Apparently the crowd did not share the blind men’s faith the this was indeed the Son of David, Messiah, He Who had come as the Anointed One to redeem Israel and all sinners from the result of their sin.

There are great crowds today who “follow Jesus.” I even read recently about the publishing of a gay-friendly version of the Bible, which by its very nature must have had to omit several important passages.  President Obama himself once claimed he was a Christian, but all of his words and behavior since then have pointed in a different direction. 

Matthew 7:21-23 makes it clear that in the final judgment, there will be many who have claimed Christ, but that He, Who knows our hearts, will send away because He never knew them. You can read my post about this passage here.

The lesson for us today is that it can be very dangerous to follow the crowd. Of course, that is not the only thing that can be pulled out of this passage. But for me, today, this morning as I study and write, that’s the thing that speaks to me. It is dangerous to follow anyone other than Jesus. It is dangerous to become enamoured of a man or a woman and to honor that person’s words and writings above the Word of God. There is a lot being written today that true believers need to sift through the Word.  There is more being said from pulpits, and from TV and radio microphones, that we need to hear with great discernment and not follow simply because everyone else is.

Jesus certainly did not follow the crowd, as we’ll see tomorrow. 

Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment, Part 6

People who are plagued with fear of abandonment, or who have experienced it, find that it controls their thinking.  It is always at the forefront of their minds, even as they are in the process of developing a new relationship.  Because they  can be obessessed with the fear of being abandoned again, it becomes almost certain that they will cling to a new relationship so tightly that the other person feels smothered. Escape from such a cloying relationship becomes the goal, and the abandoned person is abandoned again. The cycle continues, with every repetition of the cycle convincing the person more deeply that he is unloved, unloveable, unworthy, and guilty.

The next thought pattern is to wonder why God has abandoned me, if indeed there is a God. When we can’t figure out any logical reason for our pain, it is in our nature to blame God, to deny His existence, to believe that He is a Being Who sits in heaven with a scorecard in His hand, keeping track of our bad behavior and punishing us in a variety of awful ways.

So the first thing I want to address, by way of help for those who deal with abandonment, is  how they think about God. It is always our thinking that, when we change the wrong and replace it with the right, will help us dig out of our despair.

First, we need to understand that God’s nature makes it impossible for Him to behave contrary to what He has said. It is one thing to believe in God; it is quite another to believe God. If we believe God, then we can appropriate His words into our lives in such a way that our lives will be changed.

What has God said?  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth” (Matthew 28:20).

Here is a website that gives a list of ten biblical proofs that God will not abandon us:

http://www.thejourney2grace.com/index.cfm?i=11059&mid=1000&id=324730

Jeremiah 29:11 is a wonderful promise.

Do you struggle with fear, doubt, and discouragement because you were abandoned?  Do you have a sense of emptiness that you just can’t fill?  I want to challenge you this week to dwell on the scriptures I’ve given  you here.  Pray, asking God to help your unbelief; asking Him to help you understand Who He is. Don’t focus on the people who have hurt you. Focus on the God Whose plans for you are to prosper you, not to harm you; to give you a hope and a future.

And come back here next week for more help.

Two Blind Men

Matthew 20:29-30. “And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou Son of David.”

How do you suppose those two blind men knew that Jesus was the Lord, the Son of David? They couldn’t read, after all. Clearly they had some education, though, and had listened to the Law and the Prophets being read. Clearly they understood Who Jesus was, though their eyes could not see Him. In simple faith, they called to Him for mercy, believing  fully that He was the Son of David, the Son of God.

Wouldn’t you love to have been there?