Orwell Bible Church

Matthew 13:53–14:36

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Two events relate how Jesus was rejected, first those of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth (14:53–58), and second, Herod’s beheading of Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist (15:1–12). Both the Nazarenes and Herod rejected the message that Jesus was the Messiah and that they must therefore repent of their sins.

Three miracles are then related (14:13–36), showing Jesus’ compassion (14:14) and credentials as the promised Messiah and King of Israel. Jesus’ authority over creation is demonstrated by his feeding of well over 5,000 people (vv. 13–21) and walking on the water (vv. 22–33), followed by his authority over sickness (vv. 34–36) and readiness to associate with and touch those who viewed as unclean.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. While some will repent of their sins and trust in Christ, the sad truth is that most will not, whether regular people or great rulers. Don’t evaluate ministry “success” by numbers; be faithful!
  2. You may well be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, like John the Baptist was. Jesus was himself rejected by his own hometown, so don’t expect to experience anything different! (John 15:20) Jesus said those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake have a sure future ruling with him (Matt 5:10). Rejoice that you’re counted worthy to suffer for his name’s sake (Acts 5:41), knowing that suffering for Christ goes hand-in-hand with believing in him (Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12).

Matthew 13:1-52

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Immediately after the Jewish religious leaders’ rejection of Jesus as Israel’s Christ and King, Jesus began teaching the public in parables (v. 3), and the disciples asked why he did so (v. 10). Jesus said that from then on, the truth he taught about the kingdom (“mysteries of the kingdom,” v. 11) would be taught in such a way that its meaning would be obscured to those who rejected him (vv. 12–15) but explained to and understood by those who believed him (vv. 16–17). Jesus’ teaching in parables was judgment on unbelieving Jews for their rejection of him as the Messiah, hardening and confirming them in their unbelief (vv. 13–15). Each parable makes one point and the parable’s details must be understood in relation to that one point.

Jesus does not redefine or change the nature of the kingdom in his teaching here. Through these parables Jesus prepares his disciples for the time between his coming death and his Second Coming, detailing the kingdom program during that time until he returns and establishes it.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. When you tell someone about Jesus there will be different responses to the message (vv. 19–23). Don’t conclude that immediate “belief” is true belief (vv. 20–22)! True faith is evidenced over time by good fruit (v. 23).
  2. There will be a judgment of the just and the unjust (vv. 24–30, 37–43, 47–50). There are only two ends or destinations, eternal life in the glorious kingdom or unending suffering in the furnace of fire. Where will you be?
  3. Though the message about Jesus is insignificant to this world (vv. 31–32) it is of greatest value (v. 33, 44–46). How precious is Jesus to you? How is your “value” of him seen in what you seek for in this life?

Matthew 12

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Jesus and his disciples went throughout Israel proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, that Jesus is Israel’s promised King and Messiah and all must repent and believe in him. Now Matthew details Israel’s religious leaders’ denial and rejection of Jesus to be the Christ. Twice they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (vv. 1-2, 9-14) and asserted that his power to do miracles came not from God but from Satan (v. 24). Jesus responded that they judged contrary to the Scriptures, thus being against God himself (vv. 3, 5, “have you not read,” v. 12 “it is lawful,” vv. 31-32 “blasphemy of…speaks against the Holy Spirit”) because they themselves were evil (vv. 33-37).

Matthew details Israel’s spiritually wicked and unfaithful character in verses 38–45. They rejected the truth Jesus taught yet wanted to see signs and miracles (vv. 38-42; cf. 1 Cor 1:22-25). Despite the good done through the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, because of Israel’s unbelief and rejection of Jesus they would be worse off than they were (vv. 43-45). Only those who hear, believe, and obey Jesus will be blessed (vv. 46-50).

These passages are important for by them Matthew details and explains why Israel did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. This marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry: he no longer preached the gospel of the kingdom to Israel but began preparing his followers for his death.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. “Surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (v. 28) refers to the person and power of the King, Jesus. This does not mean a “spiritual form of the kingdom” was present, as “you” refers to the Pharisees who just asserted that Jesus was empowered by Satan.
  2. “The unpardonable sin” (vv. 31-32) was a one-time event occurring when Israel’s religious leaders attributed Jesus’ power to Satan—a wicked spirit—not the Holy Spirit. This was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
  3. Jesus viewed, evaluated, and responded to attacks from the standpoint of the truth of Scripture. You must do the same!

Matthew 11

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Matthew begins to describe various responses to Jesus, from the godly John the Baptist to unrepentant cities. John the Baptist’s doubt about Jesus was answered by Jesus’ doing the indisputable works of the Messiah (vv. 4-6). Jesus’ commended John the Baptist’s character and ministry (vv. 7-10) but pointed out that the lowest citizen in the coming kingdom had a greater position than John did under the law (v. 11).

Jesus then noted the negative responses Jews had toward him as their Christ and King: scribes and pharisees were violent toward him (v. 12), Jews rejected both John the Baptist and Jesus (vv. 16-19), and the general population which did not repent at his preaching and corroborating miracles would thus experience judgment proportionate to their sin (vv. 20-24). Jesus praised the Father for honoring humble believers (vv. 25-27) and urged such to trust in him (vv. 28-30).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Sinners’ eternal judgment will be proportionate to their faith/unbelief (v. 22). Every sinner will be judged for his sin, and those who sin against greater light will have greater judgment. Today is the day of salvation! Trust in Christ, heed his invitation in verses 28-30!
  2. Jesus’ miracles were not an end in themselves but were evidences that his message was true. If there was not repentance and faith in response to Jesus’ message and miracles, there was only “Woe!” (v. 21). Sinners who have physical needs met but don’t trust in Christ face terrible judgment.
  3. Jesus praised the Father for his absolute sovereignty in salvation (vv. 25-27) and invited every sinner to rely on him with repentant faith (vv. 28-30). Follow Jesus’ example!

Matthew 10

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Following 9:35–38, Jesus sent the twelve apostles throughout Israel to preach that Jews must believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Israel’s King (10:7). Jesus also gave the apostles authority to do miracles that proved their message about the King and the soon-to-come kingdom was true and should be believed.

Jesus describes aspects of their ministry proclaiming the King and his kingdom that point to the future Tribulation period (10:17–23). Before Jesus comes again to establish his kingdom on earth, the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout Israel’s borders by believing Jewish disciples (Matt 24:14) who will experience the persecutions described here and in 24:9–10, 21.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. 10:5–15 do not give instructions for gospel ministry now, these are specifically aimed at ministry during Jesus’ time. Contrast this with Luke 22:35–36 just before Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion, where Jesus changes what they disciples should bring.
  2. Though Jesus’ teaching applies immediately to his time right then, there are truths and principles for our application. Following Christ involves suffering. Fear God not man (v. 28); confess Christ don’t deny him (vv. 32–33); live to serve Christ, not save your life (vv. 34–39); be hospitable to the Lord’s servants (vv. 40–42)!

Matthew 9

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Matthew continues to relate numerous miracles Jesus did, supporting his message that he is the Christ, the son of David, the King of Israel who “came to save his people from their sins” (1:21). Jesus’ authority to forgive sins is illustrated by his power of the physical effects of sin (vv. 1–8). These miracles also show the necessity of faith, the genuine and submissive belief that Jesus is the Christ (vv. 2, 18, 21, 27–28).

This chapter details the first occasions of religious opposition to Jesus. The scribes—religious lawyers—accused Jesus of blasphemy for forgiving sins (v. 3). The Pharisees—conservative, but focused on the letter of the law—took issue with Jesus being in close contact with “sinners” (vv. 10–11). The Pharisees contended that Jesus’ miraculous power was the result of demon possession (v. 34), clearly denying that he was the Christ, the King of Israel. Jewish opposition to Jesus would continue and increase from this time on, throughout Israel and the Roman empire as the gospel spread.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. If your sins are forgiven you can rejoice even though suffering much physically (9:2)!
  2. Jesus’ remedy for distressed, oppressed people was the ministry of the Word and praying for more to minister the Word (9:36–38). Distress and oppression are the results of sin, and sin can only be dealt with by faith in Jesus, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:14–17). Spread the gospel, and pray for more to spread it!
  3. Miracles’ significance are denied and completely missed because of unbelief (9:32–34).

Matthew 8

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

From 8:1–11:1 Matthew records numerous miracles Jesus did. Following his teaching regarding the character of those who would enter the kingdom (vv. 5–7), these miracles were concrete evidence that Jesus was the promised King and Messiah (cf. Isa 35:4, which Matthew quotes in 8:17).

Ethnic Jews were rightly heirs of the kingdom to whom the kingdom promises were made (vv. 11–12). And yet ethnicity alone did not automatically guarantee entering the kingdom. What is required is faith, believing that Jesus is the King. The centurion in verses 5–13—a Gentile—had such faith and Jesus and Jesus said that many like him would be present in the kingdom while Jews who should have believed will be absent (vv. 11–12).

“Son of Man” (v. 20) is a title of the Messiah from Daniel 7:13–14. The Gospels record Jesus using this title for himself more than any other designation.  

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. We often limit “sin” to our souls, but every evil effect in this world is because of sin. Jesus as the Christ and King will someday do away with every one of sin’s effects! His healing of leprosy, paralysis, fever, etc. in this chapter were clear proof of who he is and “advanced previews” of what life will be like in the kingdom!
  2. Truly following Jesus (vv. 18–22) involves a complete break with the world, so that one’s life is not bound up with things or money. One cannot claim to believe Jesus is the Christ and at the same time live for the comforts, accessories, frills, and luxuries of what unbelievers prize and live for.
  3. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?

Matthew 7

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Jesus concludes the main body of his teaching with a warning and exhortation regarding hypocritical evaluation of other believers. The warning is against condemning a brother for sin when one has sin in his own life that he hasn’t repented of. The exhortation is to first deal with your own sin and then you will be able to help your brother with his sin.

Jesus closes his teaching (vv. 13–29) urging his hearers to listen to and do what he taught. There is no other way to life (vv. 13–14). Those who teach otherwise are false prophets (vv. 15–20). Last, Jesus says that at the final judgment he will discern between hypocritical profession and genuine faith (vv. 21–23). It is not merely what one says but whether that faith is proven in daily life and practice (vv. 21–29).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Jesus does not condemn judging a brother but hypocritical judging (vv. 1–5; cf. Gal 6:1–5). Pray for God to convict you of your own sins! (Psalm 139:23–24)
  2. Verses 7–11 are a great encouragement to persistent, trusting prayer. Pray!
  3. Beware the pressure from others to go the way everyone else is (vv. 13–14)! The majority of humanity is wrong when it comes to spiritual things.

Matthew 6

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Jesus continues teaching how those who truly believed he is the promised Messiah should live. True followers of the Messiah live thoroughly righteous lives. We can know Jesus had his immediate hearers in mind from statements in verses 2, 5, 10, 13, 16, 31–33. These were Jews who worshiped in synagogues, looked for the coming kingdom, and experienced temptations from Satan.

Christians today must learn from Jesus’ teaching how to live righteously before God. examine your life regarding the areas and principles Jesus addressed in this chapter: Why and how do you do good works (vv. 1–4), pray (vv. 5–15), and fast (vv. 16–18)? What do you live for in this life (vv. 19–21, 24–34)? What is the fundamental character of your life (vv. 22–23)?

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. While Jesus condemns hypocrisy he does not condemn the various commands and deeds that righteous people should obey and do.
  2. Jesus helps us see the difference between living for the praise of men and the things of this this world and living for the praise of the Father. living for this life has benefits restricted to “now,” whereas living for the Lord has benefits for both life and eternity (cf. 1 Tim 4:8).

Matthew 5

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

The Sermon on the Mount shows Jesus’ authority as Israel’s King and his expectations how citizens of the kingdom should live. The Sermon on the Mount has direct application for those Jesus spoke to (Jews). They were under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law, so Jesus teaches the righteousness the Law demanded of them from the standpoint of the Law. The Sermon on the Mount does not give conditions of salvation but teaches the character of the saved.

Christians are not under the jurisdiction of the Law (Rom 6:14-15; 7:1-6; Gal 3-4), are citizens of Christ’s coming kingdom (Col 1:13), are to follow Jesus’ example (1 Pet 2:21) and walk as he walked (1 John 2:6), and being born again are to live righteous lives (Rom 6:13, 18-9; Titus 2:12).

Thus, Christians can and must learn how to live righteously from the Sermon on the Mount by learning its principles, hearing its lessons, and heeding its direct commands that are applicable for church saints, just like when reading the Mosaic Law. Here’s a basic outline of the Sermon on the Mount:

  1. The character of Jewish disciples at that time who would enter the kingdom, 5:1-16.
  2. The relation of Jesus’ teaching to the Mosaic Law, 5:17-20
  3. The main body of Jesus’ teaching, 5:21-7:12
  4. Conclusion to Jesus’ teaching, 7:13-29

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Note, Jesus does not teach a righteousness different from the Law; he expects nothing less for his Jewish hearers than the full, total expectation of righteousness as taught by the Law.
  2. Be sure to read the Sermon on the Mount from the standpoint of a Jew living during Jesus’ time, as if you were a Jew listening to Jesus teach. Then apply Jesus’ teaching and principles to your life as a church.
  3. Evaluate your life by God’s righteousness as Jesus taught here for all the different aspects and circumstances of life. Ask the Lord to help you “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (5:48)!

Matthew 4

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

Jesus’ qualification to be Israel’s Christ and King was demonstrated by his superiority over the devil, Israel’s archenemy (vv. 1-11). Though the devil is cunning and powerful, Jesus resisted his every temptation by appealing to Scripture.

John the Baptist’s ministry of announcing the coming of Israel’s Christ and King came to an end and Jesus’ ministry began (vv. 12-17). Many Jews expected the Messiah to be in and around Jerusalem, so Matthew addressed this by showing that Jesus’ ministry was largely conducted in the region around Galilee (v. 13), fulfilling OT prophecy regarding the Messiah (vv. 14-16; Isa 9:1-2). Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him and labor with him to save souls (vv. 18-22).

Jesus proclaimed the same message as John the Baptist (vv. 17, 23; 3:2). “The gospel of the kingdom” is that Israel must repent of their sins and believe that Jesus is their promised Christ and King. Jesus proved that he was Israel’s Christ and King by doing the works of the promised Messiah (vv. 23-24; cf. Isa 35:5-6; Ezek 34:16; Mic 4:6-7).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Respond to temptation as Jesus did: “It is written,” (vv. 4, 7, 10). Satan’s temptations are limited to this life, yet if yielded to will kill the soul.
  2. There is no contest between Satan, the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), and the King of Israel. The devil only comes to tempt, kill, and destroy (vv. 3, 11); Jesus is always with believers (28:20).
  3. Miracles are supernatural acts of God that infrequently occurred in biblical history. Miracles served as supporting signs of God’s messengers and their message, verifying such were truly from him.
  4. No one can do the “kingdom work” that Jesus did (vv. 23-24), for only he is Israel’s Christ and King. Our “mission” is to teach unbelievers about Jesus, calling them to repentance and faith.

Matthew 3

This is part of a Daily Devotional Orwell Bible Church prepares each week. You can get a copy from our Downloads and Literature page.

John the Baptist’s ministry was to call Israelites to repent of their sins, believing that the promised Christ was coming (vv. 1-3). Only then would they be ready to receive him. They publicly testified of their repentance and readiness to receive the Messiah by being baptized (vv. 5-6). True repentance is concretely seen in a changed, everyday life.

The reason why John called Israelites to repent was because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (v. 2). Jews had such reverence for God’s name that they substituted “heaven” for “God.” Thus, “kingdom of God” is the same as “kingdom of heaven.” Note that the kingdom was not present: “at hand” means near—it was not present but approaching fast.  

Jesus was baptized, not to show he repented of sin (he had none) but because he was committed to doing what was right (v. 15). The Holy Spirit’s coming upon Jesus was God’s public endorsement of Jesus to be Israel’s King (cf. Acts 10:38). The Father commended Jesus as the Messiah (v. 17), Israel’s King and sinner’s Savior.

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. One can be very religious and very lost (v. 7). Merely being religious cannot deal with sin; there must be repentance from sin and submissive faith in Jesus the Christ.
  2. True repentance is only seen by a changed life. If one’s life continues to be characterized by sin there has not been saving repentance, and one will face God’s judgment (v. 10).
  3. None will enter Christ’s coming kingdom who have not repented of sin and self-righteousness.
  4. The only way to saved from God’s wrath is by repenting of sin (v. 7). God’s wrath is coming!