January 31

Matthew 20:17-34


In verses 17-19, Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. This is the third time it is recorded in Matthew. 


In verses 20-28 Jesus teaches that greatness comes through serving. Jesus had already told the disciples that they would sit on twelve thrones and serve over the twelve tribes of Israel. The mother of the sons of Zebedee, asked Jesus if her two sons could sit on thrones on either side of Jesus, the right and the left. James and John were with her. Jesus asks, “Can you drink the cup and be baptized with My baptism?” 


“To drink from the cup” was a phrase used for experiencing joy or sorrow. Here, Jesus used it to mean sorrow (see Psalm 23:5 my cup runs over, Jeremiah 25:15 cup of fury). When you drink something, you take it INSIDE. “To be baptized with His baptism” meant to surrender to the same death. When you are baptized, you are experiencing something from the OUTSIDE. Both did suffer persecution for Christ. However, God the Father was the One who would make the decision on the thrones, not Christ Himself. 


The other ten disciples were displeased when they heard about John and James requesting a higher position. Jesus addressed the attitudes. He didn’t say that the desire to do great things was wrong, but to desire to be above one another in position was wrong. He taught a kingdom principle: greatness comes by serving. Jesus uses Himself as an example. His purpose in coming to earth was to be served, but to serve. 


In verses 29-34, Jesus heals two blind men. They heard Jesus was passing by so they shout out, “HAVE MERCY ON US. O LORD, SON OF DAVID!” To ask for mercy was to ask for compassion. Did they feel qualified to receive? Did they feel they deserved healing? No, they went to Christ base on His love, not their goodness. 


To call Jesus the Son of David was recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, the promised Savior. They were desperate for a move of God. The crowd tried to silence them, but they didn’t care what people thought. They wanted to see! The believed Jesus could and would do it. They just shouted for His attention even louder. Jesus hears them, asks what they want. For some, it could have seemed obvious that two men would want their sight. Still, Jesus wanted them to state what they wanted. Jesus could have done a number of things for them. He was locating where their faith was at. What are you asking from Jesus? What thing are you relying upon Him to do? They said, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 


Jesus is said to have had compassion. He was motived by love for the men. Immediately the two men could see. Imagine! They couldn’t see, then suddenly they could see! That is a life altering event! They followed Him. 


When Jesus works on our behalf, He does so because of His great love for us. This Gospel we carry is about RELATIONSHIP with Christ. If we could only comprehend how great His love is, for us and for others, we could receive and give so much more. Even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If He would die while we were sinners, then we know His love for us isn’t based on our goodness or our performance. He loves us – flaws and imperfection and all. We just need to surrender to His Lordship, act on our reliant faith (which includes repentance), and receive. 


Exodus 25-26


In chapter 25, the Lord instructs Moses to ask the people for freewill offerings to build the tabernacle. The Lord did not want anyone to give out of obligation. The Lord gives specific details of what He wants the people to bring to resource His plan. God had a pattern in mind, a pattern after the temple in the heavenlies (verse 9). 


Hebrews 8:5 “who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”


In Exodus 25:8, God gives the purpose for the tabernacle: “That I may dwell among them.” In fact, the Hebrew word for tabernacle means “dwelling place.” God wanted to be as near to His people as He could possibly get.  


The tabernacle was basically a portable tent. We’ve done portable church before, setting up and tearing down. Jerry would work hard to make sure every tablecloth was straight. When I read about the precision Moses gave to the people, I think of my husband and the tablecloths. The details were important to God, making a place of excellence for God and His people to meet. 


God begins with instructions for the ark of the testimony, which would go into the Holy of Holies. Then He describes the table for the showbread, and the gold lampstand, which would go into the Holy Place. Again, copies like what was in heaven. 


In chapter 26, Moses gives instruction for the construction of the tent, a rectangle, divided into two parts by a veil. The larger section was the Holy Place. The smaller section was the Holy of Holies, the place where God’s presence would manifest and the priest would offer atonement. 


Remember, this tabernacle communicates God’s love for people. He desires for us to know Him and experience Him. It communicates salvation and redemption. God came after the Jews, and He’s come after us. He’s the initiator. We love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). Hallelujah!


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