Matthew: Jesus is *Christ the King

Jesus teaches in Galilee

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Matthew 4:23 to 13:58

www.easyenglish.bible

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

Jesus teaches in Galilee – Matthew 4:23 to 13:58

Jesus teaches and he cures sick people – Matthew 4:23-25

v23 Jesus went through the whole region called Galilee. He taught in the people’s *synagogues. He *preached the good news about the *kingdom. And he cured every disease and every illness among the people. v24 News about Jesus spread all over the country called Syria. People brought everyone who was sick to him. They were suffering from different kinds of diseases and pains. Some of them had *demons and other people had mental illnesses. Also, some people could not move. Jesus cured them all. v25 Great crowds of people followed Jesus. They came from Galilee and the district of the 10 towns called Decapolis. Also, people came from Jerusalem city and from the region called Judea. And people came from across the river Jordan.

Verses 23-25 Jesus travelled about in the region called Galilee. Galilee was a small region on the west side of the lake that is also called by that name. For a small region, it had many towns and villages. Jesus taught in the *synagogues. There were *synagogues in all the towns. There could be a *synagogue in any place where there were at least 10 *Jewish men. The *synagogue was a building where the *Jews came together. The *Jews met there for many purposes. It was where they *worshipped God. It was where they studied God’s laws. It was the place for public prayer.

Everywhere he went, Jesus *preached the good news about God’s *kingdom. The *kingdom was not a physical area. It was where God ruled in people’s lives. In the *Old Testament, God ruled over his people, the *Jews. Jesus taught that people could come into this *kingdom. To do that they must accept God’s rule over their lives. They should listen to what Jesus taught. And they should do what he said.

Jesus cured every kind of disease among the people. People came from many places for Jesus to cure them. Jesus cared about every part of a person’s life; in other words, he cared about the whole person. He came to satisfy the needs of people’s spirits and he cured their bodies.

News of what Jesus was doing spread quickly. The news spread through all Syria. Syria was a country to the north of *Israel. Also, Syria was the name that the *Romans gave to the whole region, including both Syria and *Israel. Matthew may have meant this rather than the country called Syria. People came from all over this region. Jesus cured all those people who were sick. He cured every kind of disease. And where there were *demons, he forced them out. He cured those people who had mental problems. If people could not walk, Jesus made them able to walk.

Great crowds followed Jesus. These crowds came from Galilee and the district called Decapolis, which had 10 towns. The district called Decapolis was to the east of the Jordan river. (But one of the towns, called Scythopolis, was to the west of the river.) Many people came from Judea, which was in the south of *Israel. And people came from other areas which were east of the Jordan river.

Jesus teaches the people – Matthew 5:1-12

v1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down, his *disciples came to him. v2 And he began to teach them. He said:

v3 ‘God *blesses the people who are poor in spirit. The *kingdom of heaven is theirs.

v4 God *blesses those people who are sad now. He will comfort them.

v5 God *blesses the humble people, because the earth will belong to them.

v6 God *blesses those people whose sincere desire is to do right deeds. God will satisfy them.

v7 God *blesses those people who are kind. They pity those people who need help. God will be kind to them and he will pity them.

v8 God *blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see God.

v9 God *blesses those people who work for *peace. God will call them his children.

v10 God *blesses those people who suffer *persecution because of their right manner of life. The *kingdom of heaven is theirs.

v11 God *blesses you when people insult you because of me (Jesus). People may *persecute you and they may speak all kinds of evil lies about you. v12 If they do these things because of me then you should be joyful. Be glad, because you will have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people *persecuted the *prophets who lived before you.’

Verses 1-2 We know the passage from chapter 5:1 to chapter 7:29 as the *Sermon on the *Mount. A *sermon is a lecture or speech. Jesus may not have taught all these things at one time. And he probably taught them more than once and on several occasions. There is so much in this *Sermon, that perhaps Jesus taught it over several days.

Jesus saw the great crowd that followed him. He went up into a mountain. He sat down there and he taught his *disciples. It was the custom for the teacher to sit down to teach. There he taught his *disciples. These people wanted to learn from Jesus. Matthew does not say that Jesus taught the whole crowd at this time.

In Luke’s *Gospel, Jesus came down from the mountain to a plain (Luke 6:17). If this was the same event, Jesus and his *disciples descended to a large open area. That area could have been on the side of the mountain. And the crowd gathered in that place. Then Jesus spoke to his *disciples. There were many *disciples as well as a crowd of other people. But the event in Luke’s *Gospel could have been another occasion. It was possible that Jesus taught this *Sermon more than once. The *Sermon in Luke is much shorter than in Matthew.

Neither Luke nor Matthew wrote their *Gospels in strict time order. They arranged their material to match the plan of their books.

The main subject of the *Sermon was the *kingdom of heaven. It gives to us moral rules for life in the *kingdom. The other *Gospels refer to the *kingdom of heaven as the *kingdom of God.

Verses 3 The poor in spirit are those people who depend entirely on God’s love and kindness. They know that nothing in them deserves anything from God. They cannot bring anything to God. They can do nothing to earn their *salvation. They recognise that they need God. And they trust him to help them. God will *bless those people that are poor in spirit.

To humble people, such as these, God gives the *kingdom of heaven. Those people who believe enter the *kingdom now. And their future will always be there with God. People who are not poor in spirit will never enter the *kingdom of heaven.

Verse 4 Jesus does not here refer to people who are sad because of the death of someone. He speaks of those people who are sad because of their *sin. Because of this right attitude, they will receive Jesus into their lives and God will forgive them. Those of God’s people who weep now will be able to laugh. They are sad because of the evil things that they see in the world. God will comfort them. They will see the purposes of God and they will have real joy.

Verse 5 Humble people are not weak people. Sometimes it requires considerable strength of character to be humble. Humble people could depend on themselves but they choose not to do so. Rather they depend entirely on God. And they are not selfish but they are gentle with other people.

God will *bless the humble people. They will have their place in God’s *kingdom. In the future, they will live with God on the new earth (Revelation 21:3, Psalm 37:11).

Verse 6 God *blesses those people who want to do good things and to be good. Their desire is like hunger, or like the need to drink. It is a strong and sincere desire. They know that they are far from perfect. They know that they are not good enough to satisfy God. But God will satisfy their sincere desire. God will remove their failures from them and he will give to them his own goodness. This is what Jesus did by his death. He died on our behalf. He took all our *sins and he suffered because of them. He rose from death and he gives to us a new life. We receive all these wonderful benefits when we invite him into our lives.

Verse 7 ‘To people that are kind, you (God) are kind. To people that do nothing wrong, you do nothing wrong (Psalm 18:25).’ God *blesses kind people. The needs of other people so affect them that they desire to help. And where anybody has done wrong deeds against them, they forgive. This is in God’s nature too. He is kind to us. When we invite him into our lives, he forgives all our *sins. When we are kind, God will be kind to us. When we pity other people, God will pity us.

Verse 8 Often the heart means the physical heart or the emotions. But here it means the mind and thoughts of the person. People who are morally pure (in other words, free from *sin), will see God. God wants us to do only what he wants. That sort of person understands most clearly what God is like. Nobody is by nature pure in this way. It is possible only by sincere *faith in what the *Lord Jesus has done on our behalf. He has removed from us all of our *sins when he died on the cross. So, God will accept us as pure and free from *sin if we have invited him into our lives.

Verse 9 God is the ‘God of *peace’ (Philippians 4:9). *Peace (that is, a right relationship) among people and with himself (God) is what God desires. Therefore, those *disciples who work for *peace are doing God’s work. Such *disciples are God’s children. God will declare that they are his children.

Verse 10 ‘All who want to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will have *persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). The *disciples’ manner of life should be different from that of other people. Because of this, people may oppose them. And the *disciples may suffer because of the way that they live.

God gives the *kingdom of heaven to these *disciples. They enter the *kingdom now and their future is there with God.

Verses 11-12 Jesus speaks to each *disciple. God *blesses you when people *persecute you because of Jesus. That must be the reason for the *persecution. Jesus is not blessing those *disciples who make other people angry by their (the *disciples’) wrong or foolish actions. But he will give his *disciples a great reward if they suffer because of their relationship with him.

*Persecution may be in words as well as physical actions. The *disciples of the *Lord Jesus often suffer insults. Sometimes people speak lies about Christ’s *disciples. They falsely accuse the *disciples of evil deeds. When these things happen because of Jesus, the *disciples can be very glad. There will be great rewards for them in heaven.

This *persecution is not something new. Jesus and the *prophets suffered in the same way. This should encourage the *disciples. As they remain loyal to Jesus, they will have many enemies. But in the end, there will be great rewards in heaven.

Salt and light – Matthew 5:13-16

v13 ‘You are like salt on the earth. But if salt loses its taste, you cannot make it taste like salt again. It will be good for nothing. People will throw it out and they will walk on it.

v14 You are the light that gives light to the world. You cannot hide a city that is on the top of a hill. v15 Nobody who lights a lamp then puts it under a bowl. No, he puts it on a lamp holder. Then the light shines for all the people in the house. v16 In the same way, let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see your good deeds and they will praise your Father in heaven.’

Verse 13 Jesus says that his *disciples are like salt and light. Salt and light are such common things. Salt must taste like salt and it must have the qualities of salt. If salt loses its taste, it is of no use. That salt would have no favourable effect on the soil. It is rubbish that people would throw out on the path. And they walk on it.

As the *disciples are salt, the earth means people. The use of salt preserves food. Also, it gives taste to food. The *disciples of Jesus should have a good effect on society. They should oppose wrong attitudes and actions. They should be active in their good deeds.

What we now call salt does not lose its taste. It is a chemical called sodium chloride. However, at that time, a major supply of salt was from the Dead Sea. This would have included a mixture of chemicals. If water had washed out the sodium chloride then the rest of the mixture would have lost its salt taste. So, it would no longer preserve food and it would not give the salt taste to food. There was no way that anyone could make it taste like salt again.

If the *disciples fail to have a good effect on society, they will not be like real salt. They will be like salt that has lost its taste.

Verses 14-16 Jesus spoke of himself as the light of the world (John 8:12). Like him, his *disciples are like light. They should behave in such a way as to give light to the world. This means that the world is like a place in darkness. That darkness is not the lack of natural light. The sun and the moon provide natural light. But the world’s people are in darkness because they do not know God. The task of the *disciples is to bring the light (the knowledge of God) to them. People should look at what the *disciples do. This should show to them something of what God is like. This light should attract many people to believe the *gospel. They will come to the light that is in Jesus.

Jesus’ *disciples are like a city on a hill. Many cities in Judea were on the hills. So, people could see them from far away. Often they built their houses with white stones. During the day, this reflected the light. And after dark, there would be the glow of the lamps from inside the houses. So, the city on a hill was there for all to see. You cannot hide that city. That city shines like a light to all the country round it. Like the city on the hill, people everywhere can see the *disciples. And what they see should show the *Lord Jesus to them. Jesus’ *disciples ought to live in such a way that people see Jesus in them.

During *New Testament days, people would light their houses by means of oil lamps, which were similar to candles. The whole purpose of the lamp was that people could see by its light. It would be no use if the lamp were under a bowl. It had to be where its light could spread in the house. The purpose of a *disciple is to spread the light of Jesus in this dark world. The *disciple is achieving nothing if he hides his *faith in Jesus. The *disciple should live in such a way that people will see his *faith. They will see how he lives. His good deeds will point people (direct people’s attention) to God. And they will praise God the Father who is in heaven.

The importance of Moses’ law – Matthew 5:17-20

v17 ‘Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the *prophets. I have not come to destroy these things but to bring them about. v18 I tell you the truth. Nothing will disappear from the law until the end of heaven and earth. Until everything has happened, not even one letter or part of a letter will disappear from the law. v19 Suppose that a person does not obey the least command in the law. And suppose that he teaches other people to do the same. Then the *Lord will call him the least person in the *kingdom of heaven. But suppose that a person does obey the commands. And that person teaches other people to obey them. Then the *Lord will call that person great in the *kingdom of heaven. v20 I tell you that you must do better than the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. If you fail to do better than them, you will never enter the *kingdom of heaven.’

Verse 17 ‘The law and the *prophets’ mean the whole of the *Old Testament. The law, sometimes called Moses’ law, means the first 5 books of the *Old Testament. We know these 5 books as the books of Moses. Moses’ law contains many rules to obey and principles to follow. The *Pharisees and the teachers of the law interpreted these rules and they added to them their traditions. Often they accused Jesus that he was not obeying their laws. However, Jesus obeyed all the laws that God had given by Moses. But he did not accept the traditions that people had added to the law.

Jesus came from God. He came as a man to satisfy the law. Jesus came to show the true meaning of the law. He gave examples of this in the next few verses. He also came to do all that the *prophets said about him. He did not come to deny the *prophets. Jesus did not refuse to accept any part of the Bible. He recognised the *Old Testament as the word of God.

Verse 18 ‘I tell you the truth.’ Jesus used this phrase for effect, that is, to attract attention. What follows this phrase is, therefore, important. This physical world, the heavens and the earth, will end. But what God has said in the Bible is more permanent than that. We must not take away even the smallest letter or the tiniest part of a letter from God’s law. We must obey all of it.

Verse 19 Because the law is permanent, our attitude to it is important. A person may try to put aside some small part of the law. And he may teach other people to do the same. But God will call that person least in the *kingdom of heaven. A person may have the right attitude, so that he respects the law greatly. And he may teach other people to have the same attitude. God will call that person great in the *kingdom of heaven.

Jesus did not teach that some parts of the law are more important than other parts. Failure to obey one small part of the law is failure to obey the whole law (see James 2:10-11).

Verse 20 The teachers of the law and the *Pharisees tried to obey every command. They added to the commands in order to explain them. By this effort, they hoped to achieve a standard of life that would please God. However, by these means it is not possible to please God. There is no way that people can get to heaven by their own efforts. Unless the *disciples did something better, they would not enter the *kingdom of heaven.

Jesus teaches about anger – Matthew 5:21-26

v21 ‘You have heard what God told people long ago. “You must not murder anyone.” In addition, “Anyone who murders another person will be in danger of judgement and punishment.” v22 But this is what I tell you. If you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be in danger of judgement. You may say that your brother or sister is worth nothing. If you do this, you will be in danger of punishment by the judges at the court. And if you say to someone, “you fool”, you will be in danger from hell’s fire. v23 Suppose that you have come to the *altar to give a gift to God. And there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you. v24 Leave your gift there at the *altar. Go and settle the problem with your brother or sister. Then come and give your gift to God. v25 Settle the matter quickly with your enemy before you get to the court. Otherwise, he would bring you to the judge. Then the judge might hand you over to a guard to put you in prison. v26 I tell you the truth. You will certainly not leave there until you have paid all the debt.’

Verses 21-22 Jesus did not replace the law. He taught the principles which were already in the law. These go much further than the people had understood.

Jesus referred to the 6th of the 10 major commands. ‘You must not murder anyone’ (Exodus 20:13). Those who murder were in danger of judgement and punishment. The punishment for a person who was guilty of murder was death. That was the law for those who actually murdered another person. Jesus explained the command to show that it meant more than the actual deed. He interpreted the command to include intentions and attitudes. Before a bad action, there comes a bad thought. Therefore, bad thoughts are as wrong as bad actions.

Those people who are angry with a brother or a sister could be in danger of the judgement. Brother or sister means another person and not just a member of the same family. Anger is often the cause of murder. This judgement would not be by men. God is the judge of the thoughts and attitudes of people.

Hell comes from the *Hebrew word ‘Gehenna’. This was a valley to the south of Jerusalem. It was also called the Hinnom Valley. In the past, it was a place where people had *worshipped false gods in a very wicked manner. In their *worship, they made children go through fire (see 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6). The valley became the place where people from Jerusalem burned the city’s rubbish. It was a place where fires burned all the time. Among the *Jews, there was the idea that the last judgement would be there. The punishment of wicked people would be in the fires of Hinnom, which is therefore a word-picture for hell.

Verses 23-24 Problems can happen between people. Where such difficulties exist, those people cannot really *worship God. It is not a question of who is responsible for the trouble. They must try to settle the problem between them before they come to *worship God. Here the person has come into the *temple with a gift. He has come to the *altar. But there he remembers that someone has a problem with him. He must try to solve the problem before he gives his gift to God. Whether he was responsible for the trouble or not, he must go to that other person to settle the matter. The act of *worship is not as important as the attitude of the person who *worships God.

Verses 25-26 Where there is a quarrel, it would be wise to settle it as early as possible.

For example, your enemy may say that you owe him a large debt. Even on the way to the court, you should try to make your enemy your friend. Perhaps you could arrange a plan by which you could pay him. Perhaps he would forgive you all or some of the debt.

When you arrived at the court, it would be too late. The judge may decide that you must pay the debt. But you do not have enough money to pay it all. The judge would send you to prison. This was what usually happened in such circumstances at that time. The prisoner would not get out of prison until he or someone else had paid the whole debt.

Jesus teaches about wrong sex – Matthew 5:27-30

v27 ‘You have heard what God told people long ago. “You must not have sex with someone else’s wife or husband.” v28 But this is what I tell you. A man must not look at a woman with the desire to have sex with her. In his heart, he has already done it. v29 If your right eye causes you to *sin, take it out. Throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body, than for your whole body to go to hell. v30 And if your right hand causes you to *sin, cut it off. Throw it away. You will lose one of your limbs. That is better than for your whole body to go to hell.’

Verses 27-28 The 7th of the major 10 commands says, ‘You must not have sex with the wife or husband of another person’ (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). That command speaks of the act of sex. But Jesus says that the thought is as guilty as the act. In addition, he refers to any man with such thoughts about any woman. He does not speak only about married people. This command is for both sexes. Jesus spoke of a man’s thoughts about a woman. However, the same principle is for both men and women.

Jesus meant that marriage should be for life. Husband and wife should be loyal to each other. Neither of them should have sex outside of the marriage.

Verses 29-30 What we see can tempt us to act or to think. If that causes us to *sin, then it would be better not to see. To show this, Jesus talks about the right eye. People thought that the right eye was the more important eye. If the right eye is the cause of *sin, take it out. Throw it away. This would be better than to keep both eyes and to go to hell. Jesus did not intend us actually to do this. He was showing that *sin is a serious matter.

In the same way, Jesus talks about the right hand. The right hand was the more valuable hand. If that hand was the cause of *sin, then cut it off. This would be better than to keep both hands and to go to hell. Again, Jesus did not intend us actually to do this. In fact, neither the eye nor the hand is the cause of *sin. *Sin comes from the heart and mind.

Jesus teaches about divorce – Matthew 5:31-32

v31 ‘Also, you have heard this rule. “A man who divorces his wife must give to her a *written divorce paper.” v32 But this is what I tell you. A man may divorce his wife only if she has had sex with someone else. Any other reason could cause her to be guilty if she has sex. If she marries again, both the woman and her new husband would be guilty because of sex with her.’

Verses 31-32 The intention in marriage is that a man and a woman should live together. These two persons become a single unit for the rest of their lives. They become as one (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). However, from the start of history, men have divorced their wives. Because of this, Moses wrote that the man must give a *written divorce paper to the wife. There had to be two witnesses who put their names on the divorce paper. These witnesses had to be present when the husband gave the divorce paper to his wife. Then the husband must send his wife away. If she marries another man, her first husband cannot take her again (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The divorce paper had to include that the woman was free to marry another man.

The reason for a divorce was that the woman was not clean. The law did not say in words what this meant. But what it meant was plain. It meant that she was guilty of sex with another man either before the marriage or during the marriage. However, by the time of Jesus, a man could divorce his wife for any reason. But a woman could not divorce her husband unless he agreed to it.

Jesus agreed with God’s original intention. A man should have one wife. And they should live together until one of them dies. If either of them has sex outside of the marriage, this could be a reason for divorce. But this was the only reason that Jesus would accept.

Jesus was saying that, after divorce, a person should not marry again. If that person does marry, the new couple would be guilty of wrong sex. But in the first century, a woman would almost certainly want to marry again. Otherwise, she may not have anything to live on. So Jesus taught that her original husband should not divorce her. He should not cause her to be guilty of wrong sex acts.

Of course, God can forgive all kinds of *sin, including wrong sex acts. We must turn from our *sin and confess it to God. He can forgive us because of Christ’s death.

Be careful when you make promises – Matthew 5:33-37

v33 ‘You have heard what God said to the people long ago. “You must not make false promises. You must do what you have promised to the *Lord.” v34 But this is what I tell you. Do not make such firm promises. Do not use the word ‘heaven’ to express how serious your promise is. You must not do this because heaven is God’s *throne. v35 Do not use the word ‘earth’ to express how serious your promise is. You must not do this because God rests his foot on the earth. Do not use the name ‘Jerusalem’ to express how serious your promise is. You must not do this because Jerusalem is the great King’s city. v36 Do not even declare that your own head is proof of your promise. You must not do this because you cannot make one hair on your head white or black. v37 Let your “yes” mean yes. And let your “no” mean no. If you say more than yes or no, it comes from the devil.’

Verse 33-36 The exact words that Jesus used are not in the *Old Testament. But there are several passages with similar words (Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21-22; Psalm 50:14; Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). If you make a firm promise, you must not neglect to do it. There are passages that speak about promises in the name of God (Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20). However, Jesus says in effect, ‘Do not use anything as evidence and proof of your promise.’

Jesus says, ‘Do not make such firm promises.’ Then he mentions the things that people used as witnesses and proofs of their promises. They used heaven, the earth or Jerusalem. They used their own heads. To use heaven, the earth or Jerusalem is in effect to use God’s name. (God is the great King in verse 35.) To use their own heads means nothing because they cannot change the colour of one hair.

Verse 37 Jesus was saying that his *disciples must speak the truth always. When they say ‘yes’ it means yes. When they say ‘no’ it means no. People must be able to believe what a *disciple says. Therefore, there is no need to make such promises. No promise can make untrue words true. True words need no special promises to prove that they are true.

Love your enemies – Matthew 5:38-48

v38 ‘You have heard what God said. “An eye instead of an eye, and a tooth instead of a tooth.” v39 But I tell you this. Do not oppose an evil person. If someone hits you on the right cheek, turn also the other cheek to him. v40 Someone may accuse you in court because he wants your shirt. Then let him have your coat as well. v41 If someone forces you to go with him one mile, go with him two miles. v42 Give to the person who asks you for something. Do not refuse the person who asks you to lend him something.

v43 You have heard what people long ago said: “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” v44 But I say to you, “Love your enemies. Pray for those people who hurt you.” v45 Do this so that you may be real children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to shine on evil people and on good people. He causes the rain to fall on good people and on bad people. v46 You may love only the people who love you. God will not reward you for that. Even the people who collect taxes do that. v47 If you greet only your brothers and sisters, you do no more than other people. Those people who do not know God do the same. v48 So you must be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’

Verse 38 When a person hurts someone, that person should suffer in the same, or a similar way. This is what the *Old Testament rules said (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21). If a person murders someone, he should die because of it. If he causes someone to lose an eye or a tooth, he should suffer a punishment. The punishment should match the crime, so that for a more serious crime the punishment was more severe. In all these circumstances except murder, the usual punishment was the payment of money to the person who had suffered. However, Numbers 35:31 did not allow a murderer to pay money; he deserved only to die.

Verse 39 Jesus’ *disciples should not return evil deeds for evil deeds. If someone does wrong deeds to them, they must accept it. They should not do the same to him. Rather they should be ready to suffer more wrong deeds.

If a person slaps you on the cheek, then allow that person to slap you on the other cheek. The slap on the cheek was not only painful, it was an insult.

If a person takes your shirt, allow that person to take your coat too. In court, the person could take the shirt but he could not take the coat. He had to give the coat back before the sun went down (Exodus 22:26, Deuteronomy 24:13).

If he forces you to go one mile, go for two miles. It was common for *Roman soldiers to force people to carry their luggage for one mile.

This does not mean that we should allow evil forces to succeed. There is a constant struggle against the evil things in this world. However, Christians cannot overcome those evil things if they themselves carry out evil and cruel acts. Instead, they must overcome the evil things in this world by means of their own good actions (Romans 12:21).

Jesus’ *disciples should be generous. They should be ready to give to anybody that asks for something. They should not consider whether the person deserves it or not. They should be willing to lend to anyone who asks. They should not consider whether they could trust that person with the loan. Jesus was not saying that his people should act foolishly (Matthew 10:16). Rather he was teaching them to have generous attitudes towards everyone.

Verses 43-47 The command to love your neighbour is in the *Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). Also, you must love the foreigner who lives among you (Leviticus 19:33-34). However, nowhere does it say, ‘Hate your enemies.’ But this was the common idea. If you must love your neighbour, then it may seem only reasonable to hate your enemy.

Jesus extended the rule of love even to enemies. Instead of hate for enemies, there should be prayer. Jesus’ *disciples should ask God to *bless those people who hurt them. We should do good deeds, even to those people who *persecute us.

Jesus showed us what he meant. As the soldiers were *crucifying him, he prayed for his enemies. He prayed, ‘Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34)

God’s love does not depend on the character of the person who receives the benefit of his love. It comes from his own nature because God is love (1 John 4:8). His attitude to all people is the same. He gives the sunshine and the rain to both the good people and the evil people. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to die for the *sins of his enemies (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-10). Those people who believe in Jesus become God’s children. They show it when they love both neighbours and enemies.

God loves all people. And he expects his children to do the same. Good people and bad people love those people who love them. But Christians should love even their enemies as well. Good people and bad people greet their friends. To greet someone was to show respect for them. It was a request for God to *bless them. So, Christians ought to regard their enemies as if they were friends.

The *Jews thought of the men who collected taxes as the worst of *sinners. This was because they collected taxes from the *Jews on behalf of their enemies, the *Romans.

Verse 48 God the Father is perfect in his person and in his actions. Christians must try to be as perfect as God is. This is an impossible standard for us to achieve. Jesus was the only person to achieve this standard. However, by his death, Jesus took all our *sins and failures on himself. In return, he gives to us the reward of his perfect life. Therefore, God accepts us as perfect when we have *faith in Jesus.

Jesus teaches about gifts – Matthew 6:1-4

v1 ‘Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you.

v2 When you give to poor people, do not be like the *hypocrites. They play *trumpets in the *synagogues and on the streets. They want people to see how good they are and to respect them. I tell you the truth. They have their reward already. v3 You should give to poor people. But your left hand should not know what your right hand does. v4 So, when you give to poor people, it must be in secret. Your Father (God) sees in secret and he will reward you.’

Verse 1 We should do good works. However, our attitude and our reasons are very important. The reason why we do good works must be to help people or in a good cause. Our purpose must never include the desire for other people to see how good we are. It would be better if nobody other than God saw the good deed. Even if other people must know about it, that should not be the reason for the good deed. If that was the reason for the good deed, then we cannot expect God also to reward us for it.

Verses 2-4 Among the good works that Jesus’ *disciples should do, is to give to poor people. Jesus expected that they did so already. To give to poor people was part of the *Jewish religion. It was a command in the *Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 15:11).

Some people wanted other people to see how generous they were. By various means, they made sure that other people knew about it. They obeyed the command but they wanted other people to praise them for it. They gave their gifts in public places where people could see them. Jesus called the people who gave in public ‘*hypocrites’. It was as if they were playing *trumpets to attract attention. They pretended to care about poor people. Their real purpose was to appear to be good and holy. They wanted the people to praise them. These *hypocrites have received their reward already. Their reward was the honour that other people gave them. They will receive nothing from God.

It is right that we should give for the benefit of poor people. However, our attitude and our methods are important. The attitude should be a genuine care for poor people. In addition, the method should be as private as possible. God our Father notices all that we do in secret. He sees what we give in secret. And he will reward us in some way. However, we must not do good deeds merely to earn a reward. That would be as bad as the actions of the *hypocrites.

Jesus teaches about prayer – Matthew 6:5-15

v5 ‘When you pray, do not be like the *hypocrites. They love to stand and to pray in the *synagogues and on the street corners. They want people to see them and to respect them. I tell you the truth. They have their reward already. v6 When you pray, go into your room. Close your door. There pray to your Father who is in secret. Your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

v7 When you pray, do not use an excess of empty words. People who do not believe in the real God do this. They think that in long prayers their gods will hear them. v8 Do not be like them. God the Father knows what you need. He knows even before you ask him. v9 So, this is how you should pray.

“Our Father in heaven, we pray that your holy Name will receive honour. v10 Let your *kingdom come. You want certain things to happen. We pray that those things will happen, as in heaven, also on earth. v11 Give to us each day the bread that we need. v12 Forgive us for the wrong things that we do. In the same manner, we must forgive those people who have done wrong things to us. v13 Do not allow severe tests to overcome us. But rescue us from the Evil One.”

v14 If you forgive other people their *sins, your Father in heaven will forgive you. v15 But if you do not forgive other people, your Father in heaven will not forgive your *sins.’

Verse 5 Prayer was, and it still is, a most important part of the *Jewish religion. Many *Jews pray very frequently, or even almost constantly. They pray both in public and in private. They have prayers both before and after their meals. They pray prayers from the Bible and from their prayer book, and they may add prayers of their own.

It was the custom to stand when they prayed. Some people would stand and pray aloud. Some of them would pray long prayers. However, sometimes people did these things because they wanted other people to notice them. They tried to give the impression that they were good and holy people. They wanted other people to respect them. Jesus said that such people were not really praying to God. Jesus called them *hypocrites. They will receive nothing from God in answer to these prayers.

Jesus did not say that public prayer was wrong. Public prayer is a normal part of Christian *worship. But God does not accept the use of long prayers and clever words when people use them to impress other people. When we pray, we must speak to God and not to other people. Long prayers and clever words do not impress him. What matters to God is the sincere attitude of our hearts.

Verse 6 The *hypocrites wanted people to know that they were praying. They wanted people to admire them because they seemed to be holy. But Jesus said that his *disciples should pray in secret. Where possible they should find a quiet place where they will be alone. There they can talk to God in secret. The sincere prayers of God’s people please him greatly. God the Father will answer those genuine prayers.

Verses 7-8 There is no need to pray long prayers to get God’s attention. There is no need to use an excess of words. There is no need to go on and to repeat our requests many times. And we do not have to explain all the details of the situation to God. We do not have to persuade him to answer us. God knows what we want. Better still, he knows what we really need.

Jesus does not forbid all long prayers. And he does not forbid us to repeat our prayers. He had long periods in prayer. He spent whole nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). In Gethsemane, he prayed the same prayer three times. Also, he told a story to his *disciples to show them that they should pray at all times (Luke 18:1).

Verse 9 Jesus gave to them this prayer. In Luke’s *Gospel, the *disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. And Jesus taught them this prayer (Luke 11:1-4). Jesus may have given this prayer to them on different occasions. We know it as the *Lord’s prayer. This is how we ought to pray. It is not enough just to repeat the words. But when we pray together we often say these words. In prayer, by *faith we talk to our God. This prayer is a pattern (in other words, a model) for our own prayers.

Jesus began the prayer with ‘Our Father’. When we pray, we call God our Father. This is true for all who believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and by *faith, we become God’s children, members of his family (John 1:12; Mark 3:34-35; Hebrews 2:11). For us to be God’s children means that he is a father to us. The word 'our' is plural. It links the person who prays with other Christians.

When we call God ‘Father’, it is an expression of love. That love is between God and his children. But the words ‘in heaven’ show that he is great. We declare that he is God, the maker of all things. He is the God who has all power. And with fear, we respect him as our God.

God’s ‘Name’ means God himself. It includes the whole character of God. God is holy. We praise God for who he is. This is the proper attitude when we come to God in prayer. We give honour to him before we ask for anything.

Verse 10 Our first request is for his *kingdom to come. God is the king and he rules in heaven. We want to see him rule on the earth as well. In effect, we ask that he will rule as king in our lives, and also in the world. He is God and we are his servants.

His *kingdom is here already in the hearts of those people who believe in Jesus. But one day the *kingdoms on the earth will become the *kingdom of our God (Revelation 11:15). Then all people will turn to him and they will serve him. God will complete his purposes and he will set up his perfect *kingdom.

We pray that God’s *kingdom will increase now. And we pray for that future perfect *kingdom of God to come on the earth.

Verse 11 Then there are three requests for us. The first one is for bread (in other words, the basic food that we need) each day. Jesus expects us to pray each day. Our basic food is not the result of our work alone. It is a gift from God. We depend on God to provide for us. This means more than food. We ask God to supply all that we need for each day. We must trust God each day for his help.

Verse 12 The second request is that God would forgive us. *Sin is like a debt that we owe to God. We cannot pay that debt. Only God can remove it from us. However, we too need to forgive those people who have done wrong deeds to us. We cannot expect God to forgive us if we do not forgive other people. But God does not forgive us because we forgive other people. He forgives because of his great love. When we *repent of our *sins, God forgives us because of Christ’s death for us. But if we ask God to forgive us, we ought to forgive other people.

Verse 13 God himself never tempts us to do wrong deeds (James 1:13). However, he does sometimes test us to prove our trust in him. This request is for protection from anyone or anything which would tempt us to do wrong deeds. We should run away from the wrong deeds that tempt us. But we are weak. So, we ask God to save us from every evil thing that tempts us. In particular, we ask God to save us from the power of the Evil One, that is, the devil.

Verses 14-15 We should be willing to forgive other people. If we are not, we cannot expect God to forgive us. We may find it difficult to forgive people. Then we should ask God to help us to do so. If we forgive other people, God can forgive us. If we do not forgive other people, God will not forgive us.

Jesus teaches about *fastingMatthew 6:16-18

v16 ‘When you *fast, do not look miserable. That is what the *hypocrites do. They look sad to show other people that they are *fasting. I tell you the truth. They have received their reward already. v17 But when you *fast, put oil on your head. And wash your face. v18 Then people will not know that you are *fasting. But your Father (God), whom you cannot see, will know. Your Father sees in secret and he will reward you.’

Verses 16-18 The one time that the *Jews had to *fast was on the *Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:31). The *Day of Atonement was the 10th day of the 7th month. (The 7th month was Tishri; it was about our month of October.) Later there were other periods when the *Jews *fasted (see Zechariah 8:19). Then people chose to *fast at other times for private reasons. Many *Jews chose to *fast twice a week (probably Monday and Thursday). They did this as an act of *worship or to help them to pray.

The *hypocrites let people know that they were *fasting. They wanted people to think that they were holy. But they had no benefit from God because of this. Their only reward was that people noticed them. Those people who *fast should do it in secret. They should appear as normal so that nobody will know about it. Then their Father in heaven will see it. And he will reward their secret *worship or prayer.

Life is more important than money – Matthew 6:19-24

v19 ‘Do not store up wealth for yourselves on earth. Here *moths and *rust can spoil it. And here thieves can break in and they can steal it. v20 But store your wealth in heaven. There neither *moths nor *rust can spoil it. And thieves cannot break in and they cannot steal it. v21 Your heart will be where your wealth is.

v22 The eye is like the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. v23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So, if the light in you is darkness, the darkness will be very great.

v24 Nobody can serve two masters at the same time. Either, he will hate one of them and he will love the other one. Or, he will be loyal to one master and he will dislike the other master. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

Verse 19 Most people want to be wealthy. They work to gain wealth. This becomes the most important thing in their lives. But what they store on earth they could lose. In those times, beautiful clothes were valuable. Therefore, rich people would collect and store them. But small insects, such as *moths, can damage clothes. Some things that the rich people kept could spoil in other ways. The word ‘*rust’ here does not mean just the *rust that spoils some metal objects. It includes anything that eats into (destroys) the objects of wealth. *Moths and *rust do not affect some things, such as silver or gold. However, thieves could break into the store and they could steal everything.

Jesus did not say that we must not work for profit or to increase our wealth. He did not say that we should not provide for our future. But the main purpose in life must not be to get wealth. There is more to life than money. Wealth on earth is temporary. It has no value beyond death. Life after death is much more important than wealth in this life. Jesus’ *disciples should have a right sense of values.

Verses 20-21 Wealth on earth is temporary. Wealth in heaven is permanent. Wealth on earth can suffer damage and loss. And its benefits end with the owner’s death. Wealth in heaven can never suffer damage or loss. *Moths and *rust cannot spoil it. Thieves cannot steal it. And its benefits go beyond the owner’s death.

Wealth means the things that we consider most precious and important. For the *disciples, the things in heaven are more important than the things on earth. ‘You have risen with *Christ into new life. So, concentrate on what is in heaven. *Christ is there. He is sitting next to God in the place that has honour. Concentrate on the things that are above. They are in heaven. Do not think about the things that are on this earth’ (Colossians 3:1-2).

Our hearts means our thoughts, desires and emotions. The things that are most important to us will occupy our minds and hearts. The most important thing ought to be God’s *kingdom and what he wants us to do (Matthew 6:33). We need to be and to do what God wants. To do that, is to store up wealth in heaven.

Verses 22-23 People thought of the eyes as a window through which light enters the body. If the eyes were good then the body was full of light. If no light came in through the windows (the eyes), there would be darkness in the body. The body here means the person rather than just his body. When the eyes are good, the whole person gets the benefit of the light. If the eyes are not good, the person cannot see well. It affects all that the person does.

Jesus uses the idea of light and darkness to mean what is good and evil. The good things in a person are like the light that shines. The person with a good eye therefore means someone who does good deeds. The bad things in a person are like darkness. The person with a bad eye therefore means someone who does evil things. Darkness (in other words, bad things) has completely overcome him.

Verse 24 Nobody can be the servant of two masters. He will serve one master better than he serves the other master. He cannot be completely loyal to either master. When people consider wealth to be of greatest importance, they make wealth their master. To serve wealth means to try to gain as much money as possible. Such people cannot serve God properly. We may have both God and money, but we cannot serve them both. God expects us to be completely loyal to him. Unlike slaves, we do have a choice. We can choose to serve God, or to serve money. However, we cannot choose both.

Do not worry – Matthew 6:25-34

v25 ‘Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life. Do not be anxious about food and drink. Do not worry about clothes to wear. Because life is more than food and the body is more than clothes. v26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow crops and they do not gather the harvest. The birds do not store grain in sheds. But your Father in heaven feeds them. And you are worth much more than the birds. v27 You cannot add one hour to your life by means of your anxious thoughts. v28 Do not worry about clothes. Look at how the wild flowers grow in the fields. They do not work and they do not make clothes. v29 I tell you that Solomon in all his *glory had splendid clothes. But even his clothes were not as beautiful as one of these flowers. v30 That is how God dresses the wild plants in the fields. Those plants are there today, but tomorrow people will throw them into the fire. So, you can be sure that God will dress you. You have so little *faith.

v31 Therefore, do not worry about what you will eat. Do not worry about what you will drink. And do not worry about what you will wear. v32 People who do not know God worry about all these things. But your Father in heaven knows that you need them all. v33 But first, desire God’s *kingdom. Your desire should be to do what he wants. Then God will give to you all these things as well.

v34 So do not be anxious about tomorrow. Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough problems of its own.’

Verse 25 Because the *disciples belong to God, they should not be anxious about their lives. Other people worry that they may not have enough. People worry about what they shall eat. They worry about what they shall wear. There are more important things in life than food and clothes. The *disciples need not worry about those things. It is important in all circumstances that they trust God. God knows that his people need food and clothes. And God will supply all that they need.

This does not mean that the *disciples need not work for these things. But they should not be anxious about them.

Verse 26 Think about the birds that fly in the sky. They do not farm for their food. They do not work to cultivate their food. They do not store food for the future. They do not worry about these things. God provides for the birds. People are of more value to God than birds. As our Father in heaven, God takes care of those people who trust him. God has a special relationship with the *disciples: he is their Father. He does not have that same special relationship with the birds, but he even provides for the birds. So he will certainly provide for his people, who are his children.

This does not mean that the *disciples need not work. We must not make our trust in God an excuse to be lazy. Birds do not just wait for God to drop food into their mouths. They must search for their food and they must build their nests. But they are not anxious about these things. Neither should we be anxious about the Father’s provision for us.

Verse 27 It is not certain whether this verse refers to time or height. The verse could be, ‘You cannot add one cubit to your height.’ A cubit was about 18 inches (45 centimetres). People would worry about the length of life more than about their height. Worry could even reduce the length of life. Either way it shows that worry is of no use. These things are beyond our control. They are small things to God but they are impossible for us.

Verses 28-30 Jesus had used the birds as an example. Now he talks about the wild flowers that grow in the field. They do nothing to achieve their own beauty. They do not make clothes for themselves. God gives to them their beauty. The skill of men made magnificent clothes for King Solomon. But even the most splendid clothes can never be as beautiful as a single flower.

Wild flowers do not last long. They grow in the grass. People cut the grass and they burn it. The flowers and the grass are so temporary. They are living one day and they are in the fire the next day. God does so much for the flowers that last for such a short time. People are worth much more to God than flowers. Therefore, God provides for his own people what they need.

People who are anxious, have little *faith. If they had *faith in God, they would not be anxious. Jesus’ *disciples need not be anxious about clothes. They should have *faith in God.

Verses 31-32 Since God cares about the birds and the flowers, there is no need to worry. If he provides for them, he will provide for his people. People must work for their daily needs. But those people who trust in God should not worry about these things. Jesus commands his *disciples not to be anxious about food or clothes. Life is so much more important than these things. Their Father in heaven knows what they need.

Verse 33 Of first importance, Christians should desire God’s *kingdom. So, they should allow God, who is their *Lord and King, to rule their lives. Their purpose must be to live as God wants them to live. This is not to earn their *salvation. Nobody can do that. We all have to accept what Jesus has done for our *salvation. Also, Christians should desire to spread the news of the *kingdom so that other people may find God. These should come before all that the *disciples might want.

Christians must put God first in everything. Then he will supply all that they need.

Verse 34 There is no need to be anxious about tomorrow or the future. God knows the future. And we cannot change it no matter how much we worry about it. Tomorrow will have its own problems, but we must trust God to deal with these problems. There are always enough problems today for us to overcome. Christians have problems as other people do. But Christians need not worry about them. They can look for God to help them solve the problem.

Do not act as the judge of other people – Matthew 7:1-6

v1 ‘Do not be judges of other people. If you do, God will be your judge. v2 In the same way that you act as judge over other people, God will be your judge. And what you give to other people, God will give to you. v3 You notice the little piece of dust in your friend's eye. But you do not notice the big piece of wood in your own eye. v4 You say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye.” But look! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. v5 You are a *hypocrite. First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend's eye.

v6 Do not give holy things to dogs. The dogs will turn to attack you. Do not throw your *pearls in front of pigs. The pigs will walk all over them.’

Verses 1-2 Jesus was not talking about real judges here. He was talking about people who constantly express their opinions about the behaviour and attitudes of other people. They are behaving as if they were judges. They like to accuse other people of wrong things.

A judge decides whether a person is guilty or not guilty. If we are not real judges, we have no right to make such judgements about other people. We should not be the judges of other people because we ourselves are not perfect. Only God is the perfect judge and one day we must all stand in front of him (Romans 14:10). If we imagine ourselves to be the judges of other people, God will use the same judgement against us.

This does not mean that we cannot have opinions about other people. We need to be aware of each other’s faults (Matthew 18:15). However, it is not our job to accuse other people or to act as a judge of other people. We must make decisions about people and all kinds of things. But we should do it with a right attitude. So we must be humble. And we must remember that God is our judge.

Verses 3-5 Jesus uses humour to teach a serious lesson. Here is a man with a large piece of wood in his eye. A man with a large piece of wood in his eye cannot see properly. He offers to remove a tiny bit of dust from his friend’s eye. But still he has the large piece of wood in his own eye. A small fault in another person is more noticeable to us than the large faults in ourselves. Often we do not see our own faults.

We need to examine ourselves first. If the man removes the large piece of wood from his own eye, he will be able to see clearly. It is better for us to deal with our own faults than to tell other people about their faults.

Verse 6 Probably the ‘holy things’ refers to the food (especially meat from *sacrifices) that only the priests may eat. They were to give dogs the food that people would not eat (Exodus 22:31). It would be wrong to give to dogs the holy food. These dogs were wild dogs and not pets. They would turn to attack the person who fed them.

It would be stupid to throw *pearls in front of pigs. Pigs cannot appreciate the value of *pearls. Pigs would walk over them and they would lose them in the mud.

Jesus used the words ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’ here to refer to some very wicked people. These people have chosen on purpose, to refuse the truth about Jesus. They will not accept the truth and they oppose the *gospel. It would be a waste of time to give holy and valuable things to people who behaved like that. They would only make fun of those things. And they may *persecute those people who give to them. We should give holy things and valuable things to those people who can appreciate them. The holy things and valuable things probably refer to what Jesus taught. God can guide us to the people who are ready to hear his message. However, when people are unwilling to hear God’s message, we should not force them to listen. If we did, we would only cause them to deal with God’s holy message in an unholy manner. So God would receive no honour as a result of our efforts.

Ask God for what you need – Matthew 7:7-11

v7 ‘Ask, and God will give to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will open for you. v8 Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And to everyone who knocks, the door will open. v9 If a son asks his father for bread, the father would not give to him a stone. v10 If a son asks for a fish, his father would not give a snake to him. v11 As bad as you are, you know how to give good gifts to your children. Much more your Father in heaven will give good things to those people who ask him.’

Verses 7-8 Jesus tells his *disciples to ask, to search and to knock. All three of these are continuous and all of them refer to prayer. Continue to ask. Continue to search and continue to knock. To each of these actions, there will be success. God will always hear true prayer. God will give to those *disciples who ask. The *disciples who search, will find. And God will open the door to those *disciples who knock. He will answer those prayers in the way that is best. God’s answer, therefore, may be different from the request. Prayer must be in *faith and for the right purpose (James 1:5-8; James 4:2-3).

Verses 9-11 God is our Father in heaven. He is so much better than even the best human father. Therefore, we can be confident when we approach God our Father. No human father would give a stone instead of bread to his child. Round stones could look like the loaves of bread that people made in that region. He would not give a snake instead of a fish to his child. A snake could possibly look like a type of fish. Bread and fish were the most common food in the Galilee region. An evil father knows how to give good gifts to his children. God is even more ready to give good things to his children.

Among the good things that God the Father gives to his children is the *Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

The most important rule – Matthew 7:12

v12 ‘Always do for other people what you want them to do for you. This is what the law and the *prophets teach.’

Verse 12 The *Jews taught this rule in the negative. Do not do to other people what you do not want them to do to you. But Jesus puts it into an active rule. Do for other people what you want them to do for you. Jesus’ *disciples should be active and they should do good deeds to other people. A good attitude to other people is what the *Old Testament teaches. (The law and the *prophets mean the *Old Testament.)

Jesus tells us that we can express the whole law and the *prophets in just two commands. You must love the *Lord your God with all your heart. And you must love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). This love means that there can be no selfish attitudes or behaviour. The proper attitude is to love other people and to do what is best for them.

The way to heaven is hard – Matthew 7:13-14

v13 ‘Enter in through the narrow gate. There is a wide gate and a broad road. But that way leads to hell. Many people go through that wide gate. v14 But the gate is small that leads to life. And the road is narrow. Few people find that way.’

Verses 13-14 There are two ways in life. People must decide which way they will go. It is important to make the right choice. Jesus describes this as the choice between two gates and two roads. There are two ways and two final places. Jesus tells his *disciples to take the way through the narrow gate. This gate and the narrow road is the way to *eternal life. The end of this road is a home in God’s *kingdom. It is harder to find the narrow gate than to find the broad gate. The narrow road is harder to follow than the broad road. There are more people on the broad road than on the narrow road. The broad road is easy to follow but it leads to death and permanent loss.

To enter through the narrow gate means to come to Jesus in *faith. Then we follow him. He said that he is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). There is no other way to *eternal life.

False *prophets and their evil deeds – Matthew 7:15-23

v15 ‘Be cautious about false *prophets. They dress up like sheep, but inside they are like fierce animals. v16 You will know these people by the results of their lives. *Grapes do not come from bushes with *thorns. Neither do *figs come from a plant with *thorns. v17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit. But a bad tree produces bad fruit. v18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit. And a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. v19 We cut down every tree that does not produce good fruit. And we throw it on the fire. v20 So, you will know these false *prophets by the results of their lives.

v21 Not everyone who says to me, “*Lord, *Lord” will enter the *kingdom of heaven. Only the people who obey my Father in heaven will enter the *kingdom. v22 Many people will say to me on that day, “*Lord, *Lord. We *prophesied in your name. We forced out *demons in your name. We even did many deeds of power in your name.” v23 Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you. Go away from me, you who do evil deeds.” ’

Verse 15 Jesus warns his *disciples about false *prophets. There have always been false *prophets and false teachers. These people say that they speak in the *Lord’s name. They seem to be true *disciples. What they teach sounds good and reasonable. At first, they are no different to the other *disciples. They act like sheep with the rest of the sheep. But they are dangerous like fierce animals. They will upset the unity of the *disciples. They will cause trouble in the church.

Verses 16-20 *Disciples should test all that the *prophets say (1 John 4:1). And here Jesus tells the *disciples to test these *prophets. What they seem to be is not important. What they do will show their real nature. Their deeds should agree with what they say.

A good tree will produce good fruit. A bad tree will produce bad fruit. Each fruit tree will produce its own kind of fruit. *Grapes are a fruit that grows on its own kind of plant. *Thorn bushes are bushes with sharp bits like needles on them. The fruit is the test of the tree. But this test may take time because fruit does not become ripe quickly. Jesus uses this as an example of good and bad people. A person may seem to be good. However, the reality is in what he does. A good person does good things. This comes from his inner nature. He does good deeds because he is good. The bad person does bad things. His inner nature produces evil actions and words. This may not be immediately noticeable but it will show itself in the end. By this, the *disciples will know whether the *prophet is true or false.

Verses 21-23 There are false *prophets. And there are people who are not real *disciples. They call Jesus ‘*Lord, *Lord.’ False teachers try to teach the *disciples things that Jesus did not teach. Because these false teachers are not real *disciples of Jesus, they will not enter the *kingdom of heaven. After this life, there will be a day of judgement. Then Jesus will be the judge. He will declare that they are not his *disciples. The test will be whether they have obeyed God the Father.

These false *disciples will protest that they have done wonderful things in the name of Jesus. They have *prophesied in his name. They have forced out *demons in his name. But what they have done cannot earn a place in heaven for them. They did not invite Jesus into their lives, so they never had a real relationship with him.

Jesus has the authority to make the final judgement of people. And he will tell the false *disciples that he never knew them. He will say, ‘Go away from me. Go away all you who do evil deeds’ (Psalm 6:8).

Two kinds of people – Matthew 7:24-29

v24 ‘Some people hear these words of mine and they obey them. They are like a wise man that built his house on rock. v25 The rain poured down, and the rivers flooded. The winds blew strongly and they beat against that house. But the house did not fall because it was on the rock. v26 Some people hear these words of mine and they do not obey them. They are like a foolish man that built his house on sand. v27 The rain poured down, and the rivers flooded. The winds blew strongly and they beat against that house. That house fell down with a great crash.’

v28 Jesus had finished this speech. What he had taught astonished the crowds. v29 He taught them as a person who has authority. This was not like their teachers of the law.

Verses 24-27 The person who obeys Jesus is like a good builder. He digs down and fixes his base into the rock. Then he builds his house on that base. Rain can come down on the house. Waters can rise and flood the house. Winds can blow and beat upon that house. But the house on the rock will be safe from the effects of the storm.

Another person hears Jesus. But this person does not obey Jesus. He is like a bad builder. The base of his house is not on the solid rock. The base is on the sand. The storm will destroy that house.

If somebody obeys the *Lord Jesus, that person has a real *faith in him. When difficult things happen, he still trusts Jesus. He has built his Christian life on a sure base.

The person who does not obey the *Lord is not safe. His life does not have a solid base in which he can trust. That person may call Jesus *Lord, but he is not a real *disciple of Jesus. At the day of judgement, he will not be safe.

Verses 28-29 Jesus finished what we call the *Sermon on the *Mount. Much of what he taught was to the *disciples. But the crowds heard what he said. What he had said astonished the people. And how he said it impressed them. Jesus was not like other teachers because he taught with power and authority. This was not normal. Other teachers would use the traditions and the opinions of previous teachers (see Mark 1:22). But Jesus had his own authority. Jesus knew the truth of what he taught. He did not need to express the opinions of other people.

Jesus cures three people, and more people – Matthew 8:1-17

v1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. v2 Then a man with *leprosy came to Jesus. The man got down in front of Jesus, to give honour to him. He said, ‘*Lord, you are able to cure me. You can do it if you want to.’

v3 Jesus reached out his hand and he touched the man. Then Jesus said, ‘I do want to. Be well.’ And immediately Jesus cured the man from *leprosy.

v4 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Do not tell anyone about this. Go and show yourself to the priest. Offer the gift that Moses ordered. This will show that the *leprosy has gone.’

v5 When Jesus entered Capernaum town, a *centurion came to him. The *centurion appealed to Jesus for help. v6 He said, ‘*Lord, my servant is at home in bed. He cannot move his body and he is in much pain.’

v7 Jesus said to the *centurion, ‘I will come with you. And I will cure him.’

v8 But the *centurion said, ‘*Lord, do not come into my house. I do not deserve it. Only say the word and that will cure my servant. v9 I, too, am a man under the authority of superior officers. And I have soldiers under my command. I order one soldier to go and he goes. I order another soldier to come and he comes. I tell my servant to do this and he does it.’

v10 When Jesus heard this, it surprised him. He spoke to the people that were with him. ‘I tell you that I have not found anyone in *Israel with *faith like this. v11 I tell you that many people will come from the east and from the west. And they will sit and they will eat with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the *kingdom of heaven. v12 But God will throw into darkness those people who should be in the *kingdom. There they will weep and they will rub their teeth together.’ v13 Then Jesus said to the *centurion, ‘Go home. As you have believed, so it will be.’ In that same hour, the servant recovered.

v14 Jesus came into Peter’s house. There he saw that Peter's wife’s mother was ill and in bed. v15 Jesus touched her hand, and the illness left her. She got up and she served him. v16 That evening, the people brought to Jesus many who had *demons. He commanded the *demons to leave them. Also, he cured all who were sick. v17 He did these things to bring about what Isaiah the *prophet had said. ‘He took our pains and he carried away our diseases.’

Verses 1-4 At this time, Jesus was popular with the people. They had heard what he taught while on the mountain. And they followed him. Then a man with *leprosy came to Jesus. That may not mean that this event followed immediately. Matthew brings together events by subject rather than by time.

*Leprosy is the word in the Bible for some serious skin diseases. The word included diseases other than what we now know as *leprosy. Some of these could get better. In those days, there was no medical way to cure or to stop *leprosy.

When a person had *leprosy, he was not clean in the *Jewish religion. For this purpose, the word ‘clean’ did not mean the opposite of ‘dirty’. Instead, the word ‘clean’ described someone who could join in public acts of *worship. A *leper could not do that. The *leper had to keep away from other people. He or she could not live in towns or villages. He had to remain outside places where other people lived. When other people were near, he had to cover his upper lip. And he had to cry, ‘not clean, not clean’ (Leviticus 13:45-46). He could not work to earn money for himself. He had to depend on the gifts of other people to live.

This man with *leprosy came to Jesus. He fell down in front of Jesus. He called Jesus *Lord. Maybe he saw Jesus as more than a man, because he *worshipped Jesus. But probably he called Jesus ‘*Lord’ to give him honour. He must have heard that Jesus cured diseases. He believed that Jesus was able to cure his *leprosy. He said to Jesus, ‘You can cure me.’ However, he added, ‘If you want to.’ Nobody would touch a person who had *leprosy. Such an act would mean that they too would not be clean for the purposes of their religion. Also, people would be afraid that they could catch the disease. But Jesus reached out and he touched the man. Jesus had pity on the man. By this act, Jesus showed this poor man that he cared. Jesus cured him from his *leprosy and the disease went immediately.

Jesus told the man to say nothing about it. He told the man to do what the law said (Leviticus chapter 14). He must go to the priest. And he must take a *sacrifice of a sheep and flour (Leviticus 14:10 and 14:21-22). The priest had to examine him. Then the priest would declare that the disease had gone. This would be necessary for the man. People would know that he had been a *leper. They needed proof that the disease had gone. They would want to know that the priest had checked the man carefully.

Verses 5-10 Capernaum was a town on the north and west side of Lake Galilee. As Jesus entered the town, a *centurion met him. A *centurion was an officer in the *Roman army. He may not have been *Roman but he was not a *Jew. He commanded about 100 soldiers. This *centurion asked Jesus for help because his servant was sick. The servant was in bed at his home. The servant was not able to move and he had much pain. The *centurion believed that Jesus could cure his servant. Immediately Jesus said, ‘I will come with you. And I will cure him.’

Because the *centurion was not a *Jew, he would have come with *Jews. They would have spoken to Jesus on his behalf (Luke 7:3-5).

A *Jew would not go into a foreigner’s house. But Jesus began to go toward the *centurion’s house. The *centurion said that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his house. Jesus was a *Jew. However, that was not the reason why the *centurion said that. He said that he did not deserve to have Jesus in his home. He was an officer in the *Roman army but he was a humble man. He believed that the word of Jesus could cure the servant from a distance.

The *centurion knew what authority was. He had to obey the military leaders who had a higher rank than himself. And his own soldiers and servants had to obey him. He had this authority from those above him. He believed that Jesus had authority over diseases. He believed that there was the power to cure in the words of Jesus. If Jesus told the disease to go, it would go. Jesus did not need to be in the same place as the servant.

The *faith of this *centurion astonished Jesus. The *centurion was not a *Jew but he believed in Jesus. Jesus had found nobody among the *Jews with such *faith. This man’s *faith was extraordinary.

Jesus gave the order and he cured the sick servant.

Verses 11-12 Many *Jews of that day thought that the *kingdom of heaven was only for the *Jews. They thought of themselves as the sons of Abraham. Every *Jew expected to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the *feast in the *kingdom of heaven. It would surprise them to see people from all round the world go into the *kingdom. People who are not *Jews will be at home there. They will come from the east and from the west, the whole world. Foreigners whom many *Jews thought had no hope will be there. They will have a place in heaven because they accepted Christ into their lives (Matthew 28:19-20). But many people who should be in the *kingdom, will not be there. They had the opportunity to enter but they would not accept Christ into their lives. Entrance to the *kingdom does not depend on nationality but on *faith. The citizens of the *kingdom of heaven will include both *Jews and people who are not *Jews.

Outside of the *kingdom is the darkness. God will send those who refuse his *salvation into that darkness. In that place, people will weep and they will be in pain.

Verse 13 Jesus turned from the crowd to the *centurion. He told him to go home. Because of the *centurion’s *faith, Jesus cured the servant. At that moment, the servant became well again.

Verses 14-15 Peter and Andrew were from Bethsaida town (John 1:44). That town was probably where they were born. It seems that later Peter made his home in Capernaum. His brother Andrew lived there with him (Mark 1:29). And probably Jesus lived there with Peter while they were in the Galilee region.

When they came to Peter’s house, his wife’s mother was there. She was ill and in bed. She had a fever, in other words, an illness that made her too hot. But with a touch of his hand, Jesus cured this woman. Immediately she got up and she served them.

Verses 16-17 Jesus had come to Peter’s house on the *Sabbath day. The *Sabbath day starts on Friday evening and it ends on Saturday evening. The law in the *Old Testament said that people must not work on the *Sabbath. The *Pharisees even thought that to cure a person on the *Sabbath day was against the law. Also people would not travel on the *Sabbath. So, the people waited until the evening when the *Sabbath day had ended. Then they brought the sick people to Jesus.

Some people in the crowd had *demons. Jesus spoke to the *demons and he forced them to leave these people. He did not allow the *demons to speak because they knew him (Mark 1:34). They knew that he was the Son of God. They knew that Jesus was the *Christ.

Jesus put his hands on each sick person (Luke 4:40). And he cured all their diseases. Jesus did not always put his hands on sick people. But it does show us that the power to cure flowed from him.

Matthew’s purpose was to show that Jesus was the *Christ. Jesus was the person that God promised to send. Jesus did what the *Old Testament *prophets wrote about. As Isaiah said, Jesus took away the pains and diseases of the people (Isaiah 53:4). These deeds showed the authority of Jesus as God’s servant. They pointed forward to Jesus’ death when he would take away our *sins (Isaiah 53:4-5).

People want to follow Jesus – Matthew 8:18-22

v18 Jesus saw crowds about him. Therefore, he told his *disciples to go to the other side of the lake.

v19 A teacher of the law came to Jesus. He said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’

v20 Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes to live in. And the birds in the air have nests. But the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’

v21 Another *disciple said to Jesus, ‘*Lord, first let me go to bury my father.’

v22 But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me. Let dead people bury their own dead people.’

Verses 18-22 Jesus left Capernaum to get away from the crowds. He decided to go with his *disciples to the other side of Lake Galilee.

As Jesus was going to the boat, a teacher of the law spoke to him. He said that he wanted to follow Jesus as a *disciple. He wanted to learn from Jesus. He would go wherever Jesus went. The man had not understood what this might mean. If the man followed Jesus, he would have to share Jesus’ way of life.

Jesus replied that animals and birds have their homes. Jesus as the Son of Man had no home here, in this world. To follow him would mean to be willing to suffer the loss of all things in this world. The man was not willing to do this, so he could not follow Jesus.

Another man, who was a *disciple, came to Jesus. Jesus had called this man to follow him. Jesus called him to *preach the good news (Luke 9:59-60). But this man was not yet ready to come. He wanted to bury his father first. If his father had died, the man would not have been with Jesus. It was the duty of a son to bury the father. And they would bury a dead person during a period of just 24 hours after his death. The son would have been busy until he had buried the father. Maybe the father had died and the son had buried him. And the son wanted to stay for a period of time, in order to show respect for his dead father. However, most probably the father had not yet died. The man asked to stay at home until his father died. Then he would follow Jesus. Perhaps he wanted to receive his father’s property first, so that he could afford to be with Jesus.

Jesus did not accept this excuse. Those who were at home could bury that father. Jesus says that dead people ought to bury other dead people. By this, he did not mean that his *disciples should not bury dead people. It is the duty of Jesus *disciples to care about everyone who suffers. However, only people who are dead in their spirits choose not to follow Jesus. A person should never delay his decision to serve God. If this man chose not to follow Jesus yet, he would still not have a right relationship with God. There is no proper excuse for that. Not even this family matter is a sufficient excuse not to obey Jesus. This man must obey Jesus now. When Jesus tells a person to do something, he expects there to be no delay.

Jesus stops a storm – Matthew 8:23-27

v23 Jesus got into the boat and his *disciples followed him. v24 Then there was a great storm on the sea. The waves began to cover the boat. However, Jesus was asleep. v25 The *disciples went to him and they woke him up. They said, ‘*Lord save us. We are drowning.’

v26 Jesus said to them, ‘You should not be afraid. But your *faith is so small.’ Then Jesus got up and he told the wind and the sea to be calm. And it became very calm.

v27 This astonished the *disciples. They said, ‘What an extraordinary man is this. Even the wind and the sea obey him.’

Verses 23-27 Jesus and his *disciples got into the boat and they started to go across Lake Galilee. They were part of the way across the lake when there came a fierce storm. The lake is about 700 feet (215 metres) below sea level. Winds sweep down through the valleys that lead to the lake. And these winds often cause sudden storms. This time the wind was so powerful that it caused the waves to crash against the boat. Water began to fill the boat. It seemed likely that the boat would sink.

Some of these *disciples were skilled sailors. But they could do nothing to save themselves and they were afraid. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. So, the *disciples woke Jesus. In despair, they cried to Jesus to save them.

Jesus asked the *disciples why they were afraid. They ought to have had more *faith. *Faith removes fear, and fear opposes *faith. *Faith is a practical trust in God. They should have trusted God to protect them.

Jesus had already shown his power over *demons and diseases. Now he showed his authority over the forces of the natural world. He stood up and he spoke to the wind and the waves. The wind and the waves obeyed him and they became calm.

The *disciples knew that Jesus was someone special. But this display of power made them afraid. It astonished them. They wondered what kind of man Jesus was. Jesus had power over the wind and the waves. In the Psalms, God has the power to control the wind and the waves (see Psalm 107:23-32). Jesus showed that he had this same power. This event was evidence that Jesus was the *Christ.

Jesus frees two men from *demons – Matthew 8:28-34

v28 Jesus came to the other side of the lake, to the Gadarene region. Two men who had *demons came out of the graves. And they came to meet Jesus. They were so fierce that nobody could pass that way. v29 They shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to punish us before the judgement time?’

v30 Some distance from them, a large group of pigs was eating. v31 The *demons appealed to Jesus. ‘If you force us out, send us into that large group of pigs.’

v32 Jesus said to them, ‘Go.’

So, the *demons came out of the men and they went into the pigs. Then all those pigs rushed down the steep slope into the sea and they drowned.

v33 The people who were feeding the pigs ran away. They went into the town. There they told everything that had happened. And they told about what had happened to the two men with the *demons.

v34 Then all the people from the town came out to meet Jesus. When they saw him, they appealed to him to leave their region.

Verses 28-34 Jesus and the *disciples arrived in the Gadarene region. There are three names for this region in the *Gospels. The first one is the Gadarene region. The main town was Gadara. This town was about 6 miles (about 10 kilometres) from the lake with a deep valley between it and the lake. The town in the passage would seem to be a small town near the lake. Mark says that this incident was in the Gerasene region (Mark 5:1). The main town was Gerasa, which was probably about 35 to 40 miles (about 60 kilometres) from the lake. Luke records this story as in the Gergesene region. Gergesa was probably a small town near the lake. We do not know enough about the geography to explain these differences.

Many of the people in the region were not *Jews. *Jews would not keep pigs. They did not eat pig meat because of the law in the *Old Testament (Leviticus 11:1-7; Deuteronomy 14:8).

As Jesus stepped out of the boat, two wild men met him. There were many *demons in these two men. (In Mark and Luke, the authors write about only one of these men.) These men came from a town near to the lake. But they lived among the graves. The *demons, which were in these men, recognised Jesus. They knew who Jesus was. They knew that Jesus was the Son of God. They cried out because they were afraid of Jesus. The *demons knew that God would punish them at the judgement day. However, they appealed to Jesus not to punish them now. Jesus had ordered the *demons to come out of the men.

There were about 2000 pigs there on the hill (Mark 5:13). The *demons knew that they could not stay in the men. Instead, they asked that they might go into the pigs. Jesus let them go into the pigs. The pigs ran down into the lake. And the pigs all drowned in the lake. Then the 2 men knew that the *demons had really left them.

The men who looked after the pigs ran away to the town. There, they told how the *demons had gone into the pigs. They told the people how Jesus had authority over the *demons. They told the people how Jesus had cured the men. And all the people came out to see what the men had told them. They came out to meet Jesus.

Because they were so afraid, the people of that region asked Jesus to go away from them. Jesus got into a boat with his *disciples and he left them.

Jesus cures a man who could not move – Matthew 9:1-8

v1 Jesus got into a boat. He went back across the lake and he came to his own town.

v2 Some people brought to Jesus a man who could not move. He was lying on a mat. Jesus saw the *faith of the people who brought the man. Jesus said to the man, ‘Young man, have courage. I forgive your *sins.’

v3 Some teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This man *blasphemes.’

v4 Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said to them, ‘You are thinking evil things in your hearts. v5 Tell me which of these is easier. To say, “I forgive your *sins.” Or to say, “Stand up and walk.” v6 The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive *sins. And I will prove it to you.’ Then he spoke to the man who could not move. Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up. Pick up your mat and go home.’

v7 The man got up and he went to his home. v8 When the crowd saw this, it filled them with fear. And they praised God because he had given such authority to people.

Verses 1-8 Jesus got into the boat with his *disciples and they went back to Capernaum. He taught the people in a house there. Some *Pharisees and teachers of the law had come to that house. They had come from all over Galilee, Judea and even from Jerusalem (Luke 5:17). They had come to hear what Jesus said. Probably they wanted to test what he taught. They wanted to know if Jesus agreed with them about the law and their traditions.

There were 4 men who wanted to bring their sick friend to Jesus. Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26 give several more details about this incident. The friend could not walk so they carried him on a mat. They believed that Jesus would cure their friend. But when they arrived at the house, they could not get in. There were so many people already there.

Many of the houses had flat roofs. And they had outside stairs up to the roof. The typical roof was wooden beams, which the builders had placed across the mud brick or stone walls. They covered the wooden beams with various materials such as earth, grasses and mud bricks. In this house, they had used harder materials as well.

The 4 men took their friend up the stairs and onto the roof. Then they opened a hole in the roof. Such damage as they may have done was easy to repair. Then they let the sick man down on his mat with care through the hole. They let him down until he landed at Jesus’ feet (Luke 5:19).

Jesus saw the *faith of the 4 men who had brought their friend to him. Clearly the man had *faith as well. God only forgives us when we have *faith in him. Jesus said to the man, ‘Have courage. I forgive you your *sins.’

*Sins are wrong deeds against God. So nobody can forgive *sins except God in heaven. No *angel or man could do that. If Jesus were an ordinary man, this would be *blasphemy against God. However Jesus, the Son of Man, was more than a mere man. In effect, Jesus showed that he is God. But the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees who were present on this occasion would not believe that fact. They began to reason among themselves that this was *blasphemy.

However, Jesus knew their thoughts. He told them that their thoughts were bad. He asked them to decide which of two statements was easier to say. It was easier to say, ‘I forgive your *sins.’ The result of that need not be noticeable. But to tell the man to stand up and to walk was harder. Immediately they could see the result. So, the effect of the second would be evidence of the first. If the man walked then Jesus had authority to forgive *sins.

Jesus told them that he, the Son of Man, did have authority on earth to forgive *sins. And he proved it. He told the man to get up. He told the man to pick up his mat and to go home. The man got up and he went out. Jesus had forgiven his *sins and he had cured the man. (There is no evidence in this account to show that *sin was the immediate cause of this man’s disease.)

Fear came upon the people. And they praised God because he had given such authority to Jesus. We do not know what the effect of this was on the *Pharisees and teachers of the law.

Jesus chooses Matthew – Matthew 9:9-13

v9 Jesus went on from there. And he saw a man called Matthew. Matthew was sitting in the office where he collected taxes. Jesus said to him ‘Follow me.’ Matthew stood up and he followed Jesus.

v10 Later Jesus was having dinner in the house. Many men who collected taxes and *sinners joined him. They sat at the table with Jesus and his *disciples. v11 The *Pharisees saw this, so they asked Jesus’ *disciples. ‘Why does your teacher eat with people who collect taxes and with *sinners?’

v12 But Jesus heard them. He said, ‘Healthy people do not need a doctor. But those people who are sick do need a doctor. v13 Go and learn what this means. “I desire kindness and pity, and not *sacrifices.” I have not come to call people who are good. I have come to call *sinners.’

Verse 9 As Jesus went from that house in Capernaum, he passed a tax office. The purpose of this tax office was to collect taxes on goods that passed by on the road. People paid tax on goods that crossed the borders of that territory. Matthew worked in the tax office. In Mark and Luke, his other name was Levi and his father was Alphaeus. He was at work when Jesus came to him. Jesus told him to come and to follow him. Immediately Matthew obeyed. He left his job and he followed Jesus. Matthew became one of the 12 *apostles of Jesus. He was the author of this *Gospel.

Verses 10-13 Matthew had a party at his home with Jesus and the *disciples (Luke 5:29). Among the other guests, there were many of his friends who collected taxes. People did not like the men who collected taxes. They collected taxes for the government. And they were able to collect more than they should from the people. In this way, many of them robbed the people and they often became wealthy. There were other people there that the public called *sinners.

The *Pharisees complained about Jesus because he ate with these ‘*sinners’. These ‘*sinners’ were people who did not obey all the laws and traditions of the *Pharisees. To eat with someone meant that you were friendly with that person. Therefore, *Pharisees would not eat with these ‘*sinners’. They asked the *disciples why Jesus ate with such people. Jesus heard what they were saying.

Jesus said that healthy people do not need a doctor. Sick people do need a doctor. Jesus then told the *Pharisees to learn a lesson from the *Old Testament. ‘I desire kindness and pity, and not *sacrifices’ (Hosea 6:6). Hosea shows that God does not desire merely legal religion. Love and kindness are much more important. Without love for God, religion is of no value. Also, real religion must show love and kindness to other people.

Jesus came to this world to save *sinners. He came to offer to them the opportunity to *repent. That is why he had the name Jesus (see Matthew 1:21). However, many *Pharisees thought that they were good enough already. They would not admit that they were *sinners too. They did not believe that they needed God to save them from their *sins. Jesus did not come for people who thought like that. Therefore, Jesus had nothing to offer to them.

Jesus’ *disciples do not *fast – Matthew 9:14-17

v14 Then John’s *disciples came to Jesus. They said to him, ‘The *Pharisees and we have periods when we *fast. Why do your *disciples not have times when they *fast?’

v15 Jesus said to them, ‘The guests at a wedding cannot be sad while the bridegroom is with them. But the time will come when people will take the bridegroom away from them. Then they will *fast. v16 Nobody sews a piece of new cloth on old clothes. The new cloth would get smaller and it would pull away from the old clothes. Then the hole would be worse. v17 People do not put new wine into old leather bags. If they did, the bags would break. The wine would spill and it would ruin the bags. Instead, people put new wine into new wine bags. Then both will continue to be good.’

Verses 14-15 John the *Baptist’s *disciples often *fasted. The *Pharisees’ *disciples did the same. The *Pharisees often *fasted every Monday and every Thursday and at other times as well. Such periods when they *fasted had become a tradition in their religion. Perhaps some of them thought that this earned them some benefit from God. Jesus’ *disciples did not follow the same tradition. John’s *disciples wanted to know why this was. The law has only one definite day on which the *Jews should *fast. That day is the *Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32).

Jesus answered them with a reference to a wedding *feast. Elsewhere, John the *Baptist had described himself as the best man (the bridegroom’s friend) and Jesus as the bridegroom (John 3:29). Guests at a wedding eat and drink. It is a time of joy and a good party. While the bridegroom is with them, his friends do not *fast. In the same way, while Jesus was with them, the *disciples did not *fast. However, the time would come when Jesus was not there. Jesus knew that he had come to die. Then the *disciples would be sad. And they would have times when they would *fast. This would not be because Jesus told them to do it. It would be a reaction to the situation.

Many Christians do have times when they *fast. But this should not become just a tradition. Christians often *fast for special purposes. For example, they may do it to give themselves more time to pray. Or, they may do it to help them to have humble attitudes in front of God.

Verses 16-17 To repair an old coat with new cloth would not work. The new cloth would get smaller when it got wet. So, it would tear the old cloth and it would make the hole worse.

In those days, they kept wine in leather bags that they made out of the skins of animals. Most often, it was the skin of goats. At first, the skins were soft and they could stretch. But as they got older, they became harder and stiff. New wine increased in volume in the skin. Therefore, new wine needed new skins. New wine in an old skin would split the old skin. Then the wine would break the skin and it would flow out.

What Jesus taught was new and different from the traditions of the *Jews. It was not possible to combine the two. By their traditions, they tried to explain the law and they added their own rules to it. Jesus showed them how they should understand the *Old Testament law.

Jesus cures a sick woman and he gives life to a dead girl – Matthew 9:18-26

v18 While he was saying these things to John’s *disciples, a ruler came to Jesus. The ruler got down in front of Jesus to give honour to him. He said to Jesus, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and lay your hand on her. Then she will live again.’ v19 So, Jesus and his *disciples stood up and they went with him.

v20 Just then, a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came behind Jesus. She touched the edge of his coat. v21 She was saying to herself, ‘I will touch his coat. And that will cure me.’

v22 Jesus turned and he saw the woman. He said to her, ‘Have courage, daughter. Your *faith has cured you.’ And at that moment, she became well.

v23 Jesus came to the ruler’s house. There he saw the funeral musicians and many people who were crying aloud. v24 Jesus said to them, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead, she is asleep.’ But the people laughed at him.

v25 When the crowd had gone out from the house, Jesus went inside. Jesus took hold of the girl’s hand and she got up, alive. v26 News of this spread through that entire region.

Verse 18 A ruler came to Jesus. This ruler was Jairus. He was a leader in the *synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 5:22). He fell down in front of Jesus. He appealed to Jesus to help his daughter, who was close to death (Mark 5:23). She was his only daughter. He asked Jesus to come to his house before she died. Jairus believed that Jesus could keep her from death. If Jesus laid hands on her, he could cure her. News of her death came to them as they went (Mark 5:35). Jesus encouraged Jairus to continue to trust God.

Verses 19-22 Jesus and his *disciples had started to go with Jairus toward his house. There was a large crowd with them. In the crowd, a woman forced her way to Jesus. This woman had been ill for 12 years. All that time she had suffered a loss of blood. She had been to many doctors. But none of them could cure her. This had cost her all her money (Mark 5:26). Her state made her *unclean in the *Jewish religion (Leviticus 15:25-33). That meant that she could not join in public *worship. She could not go to the *temple. And she should not even touch other people. She was now desperate. But she believed that Jesus could cure her. She thought, ‘I will touch his coat. That will cure me.’ She expected God to cure her when she touched Jesus’ coat. She had *faith. In other words, she believed that God would act on her behalf. So, she touched Jesus’ coat. Immediately power from Jesus cured her.

Jesus was aware that someone had touched his clothes. In the crowd, as they went along, many people must have touched Jesus. Jesus asked who touched him (Mark 5:30-31). This seemed to be a strange question to ask. But Jesus felt power go from him. He knew that a particular person had touched his clothes. Jesus would have known who had touched him. But he wanted the woman to come forward. At first, everybody denied it. But the woman knew that she could not hide. She had to admit it.

She did not want to make public her problem. She would have been afraid to speak about it. Now she trembled and she fell down in front of Jesus. Perhaps she was afraid that Jesus would be angry. Then she told him and the crowd the whole truth. And she told them that the power of Jesus had cured her. Maybe her story had to be public. Many people would have known of her illness. They needed to know that she was no longer *unclean.

Jesus spoke to her in a gentle manner. He told her that her belief in him had cured her.

Verses 23-26 Probably because of the delay, Jesus did not get to the little girl in time. She had just died. However, Jesus and those with him arrived at Jairus’ house. As was the custom in those days, people gathered both inside and outside the house. There were family, friends, servants and people whose job was to weep for the dead person. The funeral musicians played their instruments. In that country, they buried the dead person before 24 hours had passed. They were all weeping and they made a loud noise.

Jesus said to them all, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead. She is asleep.’ But they knew that she was dead. So, they laughed at Jesus. None of them believed that he could bring the girl back to life.

Jesus said that she was only asleep. This was not to say that she was not dead. Rather it was to say that her death was like sleep. This death was not permanent. The girl would wake up as from sleep.

When the people had left the house, Jesus went to the girl’s room. He took with him her parents, and also Peter, James and John (Luke 8:51). Jesus took the hand of the girl. He said to her, ‘Little girl, get up.’ Immediately the girl’s life returned to her. She got up and she walked (Mark 5:42).

The people knew that the girl had been dead. Now they knew that she was alive again. News of this spread through that entire region.

Jesus cures more people – Matthew 9:27-38

v27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him. They cried out, ‘Have pity on us, Son of David.’

v28 When Jesus entered the house, the blind men came to him. Jesus asked them this question. ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’

They replied, ‘Yes, *Lord.’

v29 Then Jesus touched their eyes. He said to them, ‘Because of your *faith, it will happen.’ v30 Then the men were able to see. Jesus gave to them a strict order. ‘You must not tell anyone about this.’ v31 But they went away and they spread the news about Jesus in that whole district.

v32 When the two men were leaving, some people brought another man to Jesus. This man was dumb because he had a *demon. v33 Jesus forced the *demon out from the man and the dumb man spoke. This astonished the crowds. And they said, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened in *Israel.’ v34 But the *Pharisees said, ‘By the ruler of the *demons, he forces out *demons.’

v35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages. He taught in their *synagogues. He *preached the good news of the *kingdom. And he cured every disease and every illness. v36 Jesus saw the crowds. He felt great sympathy for them and he pitied them. They were anxious and they were very weak. They were like sheep without anyone to look after them. v37 Then Jesus said to his *disciples. ‘There is a great harvest. However, there are few workers to gather it. v38 So, pray to the *Lord, who owns the harvest. Ask him to send more workers to gather his harvest.’

Verses 27-31 Jesus left the ruler’s house and he went on his way. Probably a crowd followed him. And these two blind men followed him. As they followed, they cried out. ‘Have pity on us, Son of David.’ Son of David was a popular *Jewish name for the *Christ. These blind men believed that Jesus was the *Christ.

Many *Jewish people expected that the *Christ would be a political leader. God would send him to rescue their nation from the *Romans. However, they did expect him to be able to cure people with special power from God.

Jesus did not give to them an immediate answer. Jesus went into a house, probably the house where he stayed in Capernaum. The two blind men did not give up their hope. They followed Jesus into the house. Jesus then tested their *faith. They declared their confidence in him. They believed that Jesus was able to cure them.

Then Jesus touched their eyes. He cured them because they had *faith. They did believe and then they could see.

Jesus told them not to talk about what had happened. But they were blind and people knew it. Now they could see. They could not keep it a secret. And they talked about what Jesus had done.

Verses 32-34 The two men who had been blind left. Then some people brought another man to Jesus. This man was dumb because he had a *demon. Jesus ordered the *demon to come out of the man. It came out and the man was able to speak. This astonished the crowd. This was a new experience for them. It was evidence that Jesus had power over the *demons.

Some *Pharisees were present on this occasion. These *Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus had power from God. They could not deny what Jesus had done. The dumb man could now speak. Jesus had forced a *demon out from the man. Therefore, they said that his power came from the ruler of *demons. Elsewhere they called the ruler ‘*Beelzebul the prince of *demons’ (Luke 11:15). The name *Beelzebul came from the name of a false god. To the *Jews, it was another name for *Satan.

Verses 35-36 Jesus was in the Galilee region. He went through all the towns and villages in that region. Matthew repeats the words that he wrote in Matthew 4:23. Jesus taught the *Jews in their *synagogues. The *synagogue was a building where the *Jews came together. Everywhere he went, Jesus *preached the good news about the *kingdom. And Jesus cured all kinds of diseases among the people.

Everywhere Jesus went, crowds followed him. He saw them as people who needed so much. They were weak and worried. They were like sheep with no *shepherd to lead them. Jesus cared about them. He pitied them. And he wanted them to find in God the answer to their needs.

Verses 37-38 Jesus told his *disciples that there was a great harvest. However, there were not enough workers to gather in the harvest. This meant that the people were ready to accept the good news of the *kingdom. The workers were *disciples who would take the good news to the people. There were too few workers who were ready to tell the good news to other people.

The *Lord who owns the harvest is God. Jesus tells his *disciples to ask God to send more workers who will tell the good news to the people.

Jesus sends out his *apostles – Matthew 10:1-15

v1 Jesus called his 12 *disciples to him. He gave to them authority to force out evil spirits. And he gave to them authority to cure every disease and every illness. v2 These are the names of the 12 *apostles. First, there were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. There were Zebedee’s son James and his brother John. v3 Then there were Philip and Bartholomew. And there were Thomas and Matthew. Matthew collected taxes. There were James, who was Alphaeus’s son, and Thaddaeus. v4 And there were Simon the *Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot later handed over Jesus to his enemies.

v5 Jesus sent out these 12 men and he told them what to do. He said, ‘Do not go among the *Gentiles. Do not enter a *Samaritan town. v6 Rather go to *Israel’s people. They are like sheep that have lost their way. v7 As you go, declare this message: “The *kingdom of heaven has come near.” v8 Cure the sick people, and raise the dead people to life again. Cure the *lepers, and force out *demons from people. As you have received without payment, so give without payment. v9 Do not take any gold, silver, or even copper coins in your pockets. v10 Do not take with you a bag for your journey. Do not take any extra clothes, *sandals, or a stick. People who work deserve to receive their food. v11 When you enter a town or village, find a good person there. Stay with that person until you leave that place. v12 As you enter the house, greet it. v13 If the people deserve it, allow your *peace to remain there. But if they do not deserve it, allow your *peace to return to you. v14 In some places, the people may not give a welcome to you. And they may not listen to what you say. Then as you leave that house or that town shake the dust off your feet. v15 I am telling you the truth. On the judgement day, it will be easier for the people from Sodom and Gomorrah than for the people from that town.’

Verse 1 Jesus went up a mountain and he spent a whole night in prayer. In the morning, he chose a group of 12 men to be with him as his *disciples (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus had many *disciples but he chose these 12 to be his special *disciples. That selection may have been on an earlier occasion. Jesus called the 12 together and he gave to them the authority to *preach the good news. He gave to them authority to cure people from every kind of disease and illness. Also, he gave to them authority to command *demons to go out from people. Jesus called these 12 *disciples ‘*apostles’ (Mark 3:14-15).The word ‘*apostles’ means that he sent them out to do his work.

Verses 2-4 The first in the list is Simon. Jesus called him Peter, which means a rock or a stone. Another name for Peter is Cephas, which means the same (John 1:42).

Andrew was Peter’s brother and they were both *fishermen. They came from the town called Bethsaida but Peter lived in Capernaum. Probably, they were both *disciples of John the *Baptist before they met Jesus (John 1:35-42).

James and John were Zebedee’s sons. They were *fishermen and they were partners with Peter and Andrew. Their mother was there when Jesus died (Matthew 27:56).

Philip came from Bethsaida. He brought his friend Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:43-49). It could be that Bartholomew was another name for Nathanael. Nathanael came from the town called Cana in Galilee (John 21:2).

Thomas also had the name Didymus (John 11:16). This means a twin (one whose brother or sister was born at the same time).

Matthew collected taxes before Jesus called him in Matthew 9:9. His other name was Levi (Mark 2:14). He wrote this *Gospel.

James the son of Alphaeus was probably the same as James the younger (Mark 15:40). If so, then his mother was one of the women called Mary who followed Jesus. This Mary was the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), which could be another name for Alphaeus. Matthew’s father was Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). If this was the same Alphaeus then James was a brother to Matthew.

Thaddaeus had another name: Judas son of James (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13).

Simon the *Cananaean is called the Zealot in Luke 6:15. The name Zealot probably means that he was a member of the group called Zealots. These Zealots tried to free *Israel from the *Romans.

Then the last of the 12 was Judas Iscariot. ‘Iscariot’ may mean ‘man from Kerioth’, a place in Judea. His father was Simon Iscariot (John 6:71). Probably Judas Iscariot was the only one of the *apostles that did not come from Galilee. He handed Jesus to his enemies. Then he killed himself. When he died, Matthias took his place as one of the 12 *apostles (Acts 1:20-26).

Verse 5 Jesus sent the 12 *disciples to the villages of the Galilee region. He told them not to go to the *Gentiles. *Gentiles were people that were not *Jews. He told them not to go into any *Samaritan town. The *Jews did not deal with *Samaritans in the same way as other *Gentiles. However, *Samaritans were not *Jews.

Verses 6-8 Jesus sent the 12 *disciples to *preach to the *Jews. He compared the *Jews to sheep that had lost their way. The *Jews are God’s people, but they had wandered away from God. The task of the *disciples was to bring them back to God. The *disciples must tell them the good news about the *kingdom of heaven. That *kingdom had come near to them. Jesus was the king of that *kingdom. The way into the *kingdom was by *faith in Jesus.

As the *disciples *preached the good news, they would cure sick people. They would cure all kinds of diseases and illnesses including *leprosy. They would raise some dead people to life. And they would force *demons to leave people. Such works of power would prove the truth of the *gospel that they *preached.

Jesus gave to them his authority to cure and to free people from *demons. The *disciples did not pay for this power. Therefore, they must not expect payment from the people.

Verses 9-10 Usually people take with them what they need for such a journey. But Jesus told the *disciples to take nothing extra with them. They must go as they were. They must not take any money to pay for rent or food. They had to depend on God and the kindness of the people for these things. In those days, it was the custom for people to receive travellers into their houses. It was the custom to offer them food and a place to sleep while they were there. So, the *disciples could expect such kindness in each place.

A person on a journey would carry a bag with spare clothes. And a person on such a journey would walk with a stick. But Jesus told the *disciples not to take a bag with them. They must not take spare clothes or shoes. And he told them not to take a stick with them. This may mean a special or second stick for the journey if they already had a stick (see Mark 6:8). They must not make any special provision for their journey. They must not depend on their own resources.

An employer was responsible for those people who worked for him. Those people who worked deserved their wages. This usually included their food and lodgings. The *disciples worked for God. Therefore, God would supply all that they needed for the work.

Verses 11-15 When the *disciples arrived in a place, they would find somewhere to stay. In most places, there would be no hotels. However, it was the custom to offer food and lodging to travellers. The *disciples would accept the offer from a good person. And the *disciples should stay in the same house until they left that place.

As they entered the house, they must greet the people there. The usual way to greet people was to say, ‘*Peace be to you.’ In effect, it was a prayer to ask God to *bless them. If the people there gave a good welcome to the *disciples then they deserved that *peace. God would answer that prayer. However, if the people did not deserve it, that *peace would not remain on those people.

The *disciples may come to a place where the people would not receive them. The people in such a place would not listen to what the *disciples *preached. Then the *disciples must leave that place or that house. But they should shake the dust from their feet. The *Lord would consider that as evidence against the people from that place.

People who refused the *gospel would have to answer for their action on the judgement day. On that day, God will be their judge. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because the people were so wicked (Genesis chapter 19). To refuse the *Lord Jesus would be worse than that.

Jesus warns his *apostles – Matthew 10:16-25

v16 ‘Listen, I am sending you out like sheep among *wolves. So, be as wise as snakes and as innocent as *doves. v17 Be cautious with regard to people because they will take you to court. And they will whip you in their *synagogues. v18 And they will force you to stand in front of rulers and kings because of me. There you will be witnesses for me to them and to the *Gentiles. v19 When they arrest you, do not be anxious. Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time, God will give to you the words that you will speak. v20 You will not speak from yourself. It will be the Spirit of your Father who speaks by you. v21 Brother will hand over brother to death. A father will hand over his child. Children will oppose their parents and they will kill them. v22 Everyone will hate you because of my name. But the person who remains loyal to the end, I will save. v23 When they attack you in one town, escape to the next town. I tell you the truth. You will not have gone through all the towns in *Israel before the Son of Man comes.

v24 A *disciple is not greater than his teacher. And a servant is not greater than his master. v25 It is enough for a *disciple to be like his teacher. And it is enough for a servant to be like his master. They call the head of the house *Beelzebul. Therefore, they will call the members of that house by worse names.’

Verse 16 The instructions in this section go beyond the immediate task of the 12 *apostles. They are for circumstances that would come to many Christians in the future. This time, the 12 *apostles would receive a more friendly welcome.

The *Lord Jesus sends his servants into a world that will not always accept them. He sends them out like sheep among *wolves. *Wolves are strong and fierce wild animals, and they often attacked sheep. On their own, sheep cannot defend themselves from the *wolves. They must depend on their *shepherd. Jesus told his *disciples that people would oppose them. People would attack them as the *wolves attack the sheep. Jesus warns his people that there would be serious dangers to come in the future.

However, the *disciples must be as wise as snakes and as innocent as *doves. People thought that snakes were clever and cautious. So, Jesus’ *disciples must be wise and sensible. People thought of *doves as gentle and innocent birds. So, Jesus’ *disciples should be kind and without fault. They should not cause people to act against them. Rather they should try to live in *peace with all people.

Verse 17 Jesus warns his *disciples about the reaction of people. Always there will be people who are enemies of Christians. In every age, Christians will suffer because they belong to Jesus. At first, the enemies were some of the leaders from their own nation. It was not long before many other groups of people opposed the Christians. Even today, many Christians suffer because they believe in the *Lord Jesus.

Their enemies would take the *disciples to court. The *synagogue was usually a place for *worship; here, it seems to act as the local law court. There people would whip the *disciples. The *Jewish law allowed them to whip a guilty person up to 39 times. The *apostle Paul suffered this 5 times (2 Corinthians 11:24). The *Gentiles had no such rules. In their courts, they would whip a person as much as the judge wanted.

Verse 18 In addition to the *Jewish courts, Christians would stand in front of rulers and kings. The *Roman ruler Pontius Pilate was the judge when the *Jewish leaders brought Jesus to him. In Acts, there are several occasions where Christians went in front of *Gentile leaders (Acts 12:1-4; Acts 17:5-9; Acts 18:12-17). The *apostle Paul had to go in front of the *Roman rulers Felix, Festus and Agrippa (Acts chapter 24 to 26). Later, Caesar (the most important ruler in Rome) was his judge. Since then in many countries, Christians have suffered in the same way. They would suffer because they belonged to Jesus. However, by means of this, Christians would tell the good news about Jesus.

Verses 19-20 Jesus warned the *disciples of these troubles but also he promised them help. When they stood in front of these judges, they did not need to be anxious. They did not need to worry about what to say. They would not need to defend themselves. God would show them what to say. They would speak by means of the *Holy Spirit in them (Mark 13:11). This is not a promise that the judges will free them. Many Christians have died because of their trust in God. But the effect of their deaths has been a powerful declaration of the truth about Jesus.

Verses 21-22 The people who oppose Christians may even include members of their own family. Often family members become the worst enemies. In these extreme circumstances, they would hand over their Christian relatives to death. All kinds of people would hate Christians because they belong to Jesus. This does not mean that everyone will hate Christians. Those people who do hate them do so because of the name of the *Lord Jesus. People hated Jesus. Therefore, Christians can expect people to show the same wrong attitudes that they had against him. Jesus said, ‘The world may hate you. But remember that it hated me first’ (John 15:18).

In all of their troubles, Christians must remain loyal to Jesus. And he promises at the end of their lives to save all who do remain loyal to him. Even if they die, they will always live with their *Lord. They will have *eternal life.

Verse 23 Jesus sent his 12 *disciples to the towns and villages of Galilee, which was part of *Israel. If the people in any town or village would not receive them, the *disciples must go to another place.

Later he sent many more *disciples ahead of him on his journey to Jerusalem (Luke 10:1). It is difficult to say how many there were. Many Bibles have 70 rather than 72. The word 'another' may mean that these were in addition to the 12 *apostles. So the total could be as many as 84. But it is more likely that the 12 *apostles stayed with Jesus at that time.

They would not get to all the towns in *Israel before Jesus, the Son of Man, comes. People have understood this sentence in different ways. Jesus would finish his task on earth at his death on the cross. After three days, he would come back alive. In that event, the *Holy Spirit declared Jesus to be the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4). By that time, the *disciples would not have *preached in all *Israel’s towns. That is one possible explanation. However, the problem is the phrase ‘before the Son of Man comes’. Usually we would expect that phrase to mean when Jesus returns to rule the world. But that explanation seems not to match Matthew 24:14.

Verses 24-25 Here the word *disciple does not just mean Jesus’ *disciples. Leaders and teachers had their *disciples. A *disciple of a teacher is his student. A student cannot learn more from a teacher than the teacher knows. In those days, there were not as many books for the student to read. The student depended on his teacher for all that he learned. Therefore, the best that the student could be was to be like his teacher. The student could leave that teacher. Then, perhaps, he could become greater than his previous teacher. But while he is a *disciple, he can only learn from that particular teacher.

The life of a servant was entirely at the command of his master. A servant could not be superior to his master. The greatest thing that the servant could achieve was to be like his master.

People will behave no better toward the *disciple than they will toward the teacher. The servant can expect people to respect him less than they respect his master.

Jesus’ enemies had refused to accept him. And they would not believe what he taught. They said that his power was that of *Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24, Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15). *Beelzebul was the prince of *demons. The name comes from the name of a false god. It became another name for *Satan.

The head of the house means Jesus or God. If they call Jesus or God *Beelzebul, they will call God’s people by worse names. The link to *Beelzebul was a bad insult to Jesus. So, his *disciples should not be surprised when people insult them.

Fear God, not people – Matthew 10:26-31

v26 ‘So, do not be afraid of those people. Everything that people hide, God will show. We will know everything that is now secret. v27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light. What you hear as a whisper in your ear, declare from the tops of the houses. v28 People can kill the body but they cannot kill the *soul. Do not be afraid of them. Rather be afraid of God. He can destroy both the *soul and the body in hell. v29 Two *sparrows cost only a penny. But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father. v30 God has counted even the hairs on your head. v31 Therefore, do not be afraid. You are worth more than many *sparrows.’

Verses 26-27 Three times, Jesus tells his *disciples not to be afraid (verses 26, 28 and 31). Those people who believe in Jesus need have no fear.

Jesus told them that the leaders did not respect him. In the same way, they will not respect his *disciples. Jesus was not afraid of what evil men would do to him. He knew that they would kill him. Jesus said that his *disciples would suffer because of him. However, like him they should not be afraid. Jesus knew that his death and *resurrection would bring us *eternal life. No matter how much his *disciples suffer, they can be sure of *eternal life.

None of the things that people do will remain secret. In the end, nothing will be secret. God knows even the thoughts that people have. Nobody can hide anything from God. God will show in public all that people try to hide (1 Corinthians 4:5).

What Jesus tells them in private, the *disciples must *preach in public. They have a duty to tell people about the *Lord Jesus. What they have received from Jesus, they must not keep secret.

They must declare it even from the roofs of houses. Houses were often one storey, with a flat roof. A flat roof made a good platform from which to speak to a crowd. And often people would meet on the roof of a house. *Disciples of Jesus must speak about him wherever they meet with people. Jesus told his *disciples to go to the people in all nations (Matthew 28:19). The good news about Jesus is for all people.

Verse 28 The life of a person is more than the physical body. The *soul is the real life of a person. People can kill the body but they cannot kill the *soul. When a person dies, the *soul leaves the body. Even *Satan has no power over the *souls of people. But God is the judge of all people. Only he has the power to send a person to hell. Hell is a place where both the body and the *soul of a person suffer.

The *soul is the real life of a person. It does not die when a person dies. And *Satan has no power over it. But God is the judge of all people. Those people who do not believe must suffer God’s judgement in hell.

Therefore, Christians need not be afraid of either people or *Satan. Rather they should fear God. This fear means more than just to respect God. God is so great, so powerful and so holy. He has total power and authority over all things. Christians should both love and fear God.

Verses 29-31 A person could buy these common little birds. Poor people bought small birds for food. They cost very little, just two little *sparrows for one penny. One penny was one assaria. An assaria was a very small *Roman coin. It was worth a 16th of a denarius. A denarius was equal to a day’s wage for a farm worker.

God cares about each one of those little birds. He sees when each one of them dies. God knows everything about everything. He knows each hair on the head of each of his people. He has such knowledge of each person. He knows more about us than we can know about ourselves. Therefore, his *disciples should not be afraid. They are worth more than many *sparrows to God. God is the Father of his *disciples. And they can trust God their Father to take care of them.

Tell people about your *faith – Matthew 10:32-42

v32 ‘A person declares in public that he belongs to me. I will declare to my Father in heaven that that person is mine. v33 A person declares in public that he does not belong to me. Then I will say to my Father in heaven that that person is not mine.

v34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. v35 I have come to turn a man against his father. A daughter will be against her mother. And a son’s wife will be against his mother. v36 A man’s enemies will be people who live in his house. v37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me does not deserve to be my *disciple. Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me does not deserve to be my *disciple. v38 Whoever does not take up his cross to follow me, does not deserve to be my *disciple. v39 Whoever finds his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

v40 Whoever receives you receives me. And whoever receives me receives the Father. It is the Father who sent me. v41 Whoever receives a *prophet as a *prophet, he will receive a *prophet’s reward. Whoever receives a good person as a good person, he will receive a good person’s reward. v42 Someone may give a cup of cold water only to one of the least of my *disciples. And he gives it to him because he is my *disciple. I tell you the truth. The person who gives the water will certainly not lose his reward.’

Verses 32-33 It is important that Christians are loyal to Jesus. A Christian must not be afraid to say in public that he belongs to the *Lord Jesus. Then Jesus will tell God his Father that this person belongs to him. If a person denies Jesus, Jesus will deny him. He will tell the Father that this person is not his. A person’s words are evidence of the real state of that person’s relationship with God.

Of course, Peter denied Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75), but later he turned back to God. Jesus understands our weaknesses and he knows about our fears. We must pray for the help of the Holy Spirit, so that we can speak publicly about our relationship with Jesus (Matthew 10:19-20).

Jesus spoke of ‘my Father’ here, not ‘our Father’. God is the Father of all who believe. But Jesus has a special relationship with God. Jesus is the Son of God.

Verses 34-36 Jesus said, ‘I have come.’ In this, he shows that he already existed before his birth. Jesus came from God for a purpose. That purpose was to save his people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21). By that means, he did come to make peace between God and people.

However, he did not come to bring peace on earth between people. Many *Jews expected the *Christ to bring political peace to *Israel. However, Jesus did not come for that purpose at that time. He came to oppose the evil forces of every kind in this world. Although that is not a physical war, the good news of Jesus causes divisions among people. Some people accept the death of Jesus and believe in him. Other people refuse to accept that Jesus died on their behalf. And the division often causes strong feelings. Some people feel so strongly that they will even kill Christians. Through history, Christians have died because they believed in Jesus. Even today, Christians are dying because of their *faith.

The good news of Jesus can cause family members to fight against each other. A son could turn against his father. In that society, the father was the head over the family. It was the duty of the son to respect his father. A daughter could turn against her mother. The mother was the most important female in the family. The daughter should respect her mother. The wife of a son came into the family as a daughter. Therefore, she should respect the mother as much as a natural daughter should. The worst enemies can be members of the same family. The *Old Testament *prophet Micah said that this would happen. ‘Sons refuse to respect their own fathers. Daughters oppose their own mothers. A woman hates her husband’s mother. Your family is now your enemy’ (Micah 7:6).

Verses 37-39 The first command is that we should love God. The law says that you must love the *Lord your God with all your heart. You must love him with all your *soul, with all your strength and with your entire mind. Jesus includes himself in this command because he is God. Our love for Jesus must be first and greater than our love for anyone else.

It is right that we should love our fathers and mothers. It is right that we should love our sons and daughters. We must love our wives and husbands. However, our first duty is to love Jesus.

A *disciple must be loyal to Jesus first. He must want to please God. He should live for Jesus and he should follow Jesus. Because the *disciple is a Christian, someone might want to kill him. The *disciple must be ready even to die for Jesus.

The *Romans killed criminals on wooden crosses. The criminal had to carry his cross through the streets to the place of his death. There the *Romans would attach him to the cross by means of nails. The *disciples would have seen criminals die in this way. When the criminal took up the cross, there was no escape. Jesus used this to show that a good *disciple must be willing to die for him. The *disciple must take up his cross and follow Jesus.

The person who lives entirely for this life and for himself will lose his life. His life on this earth ends at his death, and then God’s judgement will be against him. The person who lives for Jesus will have a good life now and after death. He will have *eternal life.

Verses 40-42 To receive a person can mean to invite that person into your house. It means to give a welcome to that person. Also, it can mean to accept what that person teaches.

The *disciples are agents of the *Lord Jesus. To receive the agent is in effect the same as to receive his master. The Father sent Jesus so Jesus was the Father’s agent. Therefore, to receive a *disciple is in some way to receive God the Father.

A *prophet is a person who speaks on behalf of God. To receive such a person will bring a *prophet’s reward. To receive a good person will bring a good person’s reward. This could mean the same reward that the *prophet or the good man will receive. It could mean that the reward will come from the *prophet or the good man. To receive a *prophet or a good man is to agree with them. It is to accept what they do and to share in their work.

In that hot country, a traveller could expect to receive a cup of cool water. That in itself does not deserve a reward. However, someone may give water to a *disciple because he belongs to Jesus (Mark 9:41). That small act will bring a reward. The smallest act of kindness to a Christian is as if the act was for Jesus. Therefore, such an act will have its reward.

Jesus and John the *Baptist – Matthew 11:1-19

v1 When Jesus had finished his instructions to his 12 *disciples, he left that place. He went to teach and to *preach in their towns.

v2 Now John (the *Baptist) was in prison. He heard about what the *Christ was doing. So, John sent some of his *disciples to Jesus. v3 They asked Jesus, ‘Are you the person who is coming? Or should we look for someone else?’

v4 Jesus answered them, ‘Go back to John. Tell him what you hear. Tell him what you see. v5 Blind people receive their sight. People who could not walk can walk now. *Leprosy leaves the *lepers. Deaf people can hear. Dead people become alive again. Poor people hear the good news. v6 Happy are those people who do not lose their *faith because of me.’

v7 As John’s *disciples went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. Jesus said, ‘You went out into the desert to see this man. You did not go to see a weak man like tall grass that the wind blows. v8 You did not go to see a man in fine clothes. Men who wear fine clothes are in royal palaces. v9 No, you went out to see a *prophet. Yes, I tell you, John is more than a *prophet. v10 John is the man that God wrote about by the *prophet. God said, “Look! I will send my agent ahead of you. He will prepare your way before you.” v11 I am telling you the truth. Of all the people who have ever been born, not one of them is greater than John the *Baptist. Yet, the least person in the *kingdom of heaven is greater than John is. v12 From John the *Baptist’s days until now, the *kingdom of heaven has suffered attack. And powerful people try to take it by force. v13 All the *prophets and the law *prophesied until John came. v14 And if you will believe it, John is Elijah. The *prophecies said that he would come. v15 If you have ears to hear, then listen.

v16 I shall say this about the people in these days. They are like children who sit in the market place. They call out to the other children. v17 “We played music for you, but you did not dance. We sang a funeral song, but you were not sad.” v18 John came. He did not eat and he did not drink. So, people say, “He has a *demon.” v19 The Son of Man has come. He eats and he drinks. They say, “Look at him. He eats too much and he drinks too much wine. He is a friend of those men who collect taxes. He is a friend of *sinners.” But a wise person’s actions prove that wisdom is right.’

Verse 1 Jesus had taught these things to the 12 *disciples probably in or near Capernaum. Then he left that place to teach and to *preach in other towns. Matthew does not mention that the 12 *disciples went to the towns and villages. And he does not record that they came back from that task. Both Mark and Luke tell us that the *apostles returned to Jesus. They told him everything that they had done (Mark 6:30; Luke 9:10).

Verses 2-3 Soon after Jesus had begun his public work, Herod had arrested John the *Baptist. Herod had taken Herodias as his wife but she was already the wife of his brother Philip. John had told Herod that he should not have married his brother’s wife. He had said that it was not legal for Herod to marry her. That is why Herod had arrested him (Mark 6:17-18). Herod sent John to the prison in the Machaerus Castle, east of the Dead Sea.

While he was in prison, John heard news about Jesus. At Jesus’ *baptism, John had seen the *Holy Spirit come down on Jesus. He had heard the voice of God. God had declared that Jesus is his Son. At that time, John believed that Jesus was the *Christ. John told the people about Jesus. He told them that God had sent Jesus. Jesus was the man who was to come, in other words, the *Christ (John 1:15; John 1:29-36). Now John was in prison he began to have doubts. So, he sent his *disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the man?’ Perhaps Jesus had not done what John expected the *Christ to do. John wanted to be sure that Jesus was the *Christ.

Verses 4-6 Jesus does not directly answer John’s question. Instead, he asks John’s *disciples to tell John what they had heard. They heard what Jesus taught the people. And Jesus told them to tell John what they had seen. They saw the powerful works that Jesus did. Maybe they would report the reactions of other people as well. Then John would have his answer. He would know that Jesus was the *Christ.

Jesus then reminds them about the powerful deeds that he had done. What Jesus said would remind John about Isaiah’s *prophecies (Isaiah 35:5-6). He starts with the blind people that he had cured. There was no record in the *Old Testament of any incident when a blind person had become able to see. There was nobody before Jesus who could give sight to blind people. When the *Christ comes, blind people will receive their sight. Deaf people will be able to hear. Those people who cannot walk will jump up. In addition to these, Jesus tells how he cured *lepers of their *leprosy. At that time, there was no cure for *leprosy. And Jesus raised dead people to life again. Probably before this event, Jesus had raised from death the son of the widow from Nain (Luke 7:11-15). Also, before this event Jesus may have raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41-43, Luke 8:53-56). The only other time we read that Jesus raised a dead person was Lazarus (John 11:39-44). However, this was after the time of this passage. We do not know whether Jesus had raised other dead people. All of these things would convince John that Jesus was the *Christ.

The final evidence was that Jesus *preached good news to the poor or humble people. Isaiah had said that the *Christ would do that (Isaiah 61:1).

Jesus was not the kind of *Christ that many people were expecting. And what Jesus did offended the leaders of the *Jews. But because of these things, John had his answer. Jesus was the *Christ that God had sent. Jesus was the man that God called his Son.

Verses 7-9 John’s *disciples left. Then Jesus spoke to the crowd about John the *Baptist. Probably, the character of John impressed all the people who heard him. Many of the people in the crowd would have been there as he taught in the desert. Probably many of them had gone to John and he had *baptised them. Now Jesus would show them the importance of John.

The wind blows the tall grass and it bends in the wind. As it bends, the grass seems to be weak. John was not weak like the grass. He had a strong character. He was not afraid even to warn King Herod about his evil deeds.

John did not wear fine clothes. He was not superior, wealthy or royal. He wore clothes that he had made from camel’s hair. And he had a leather belt round him. Those were the simplest clothes that poor people wore. But the clothes that John wore were like those of the *prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). John’s choice of clothes showed clearly his humble attitudes.

John was not like any of the other *Jewish teachers. He spoke like a *prophet. He even dressed like a *prophet. The people could see that John was a *prophet. He spoke to them God’s message. There had not been a *prophet like this for hundreds of years. That is why so many people went out to the desert to hear him.

Jesus agreed that John was a *prophet. However, John was not like other *prophets. He was a special *prophet. Jesus said that John was more than a *prophet.

Verses 10-11 John was not just a *prophet. He was the agent that God sent to declare the arrival of the *Christ. And his task was to warn people that God’s judgement would come. Unlike other *prophets, John was himself the subject of *prophecy. Jesus repeated what the *prophet Malachi had said. ‘I will send my agent ahead of you. He will prepare the way before you’ (Malachi 3:1).

Isaiah wrote about ‘the voice that cried in the desert’. The voice said, ‘Make straight in the desert a road for our God’ (Isaiah 40:3). John the *Baptist understood this passage to be about himself. ‘I am the voice that cries in the desert. Make straight the way of the *Lord. This is what the *prophet Isaiah said’ (John 1:23). John the *Baptist used this passage to show that Jesus is the *Lord. Jesus is God, but he became a man.

This role as the immediate witness to the *Christ made John more than a *prophet. By it, he was the greatest person up to that time. He had the most important duty that any *prophet could have. He announced that Jesus was the Son of God.

The *kingdom of heaven means the people who have received the new kind of relationship with God. That relationship is now possible because of Jesus’ death. So, at that time, John was not in the *kingdom of heaven. Herod killed John before the death of Jesus opened up the *kingdom. John was the greatest person in the old society. He was not yet in the new society of the *kingdom of heaven. John was not poorer in character or in what he achieved. However, the least person in the *kingdom has greater benefits than John had. The least were greater because they lived to see that *kingdom come in the *Christ.

Verses 12-15 Jesus refers back to the days when John the *Baptist *preached in the desert. From that time to the time when Jesus spoke, the *kingdom of heaven suffered attack. The *kingdom did not come with John. Jesus brought in the *kingdom of heaven. The attacks came when Jesus taught about the *kingdom. Many people opposed Jesus because of it. They *persecuted him and in the end, they killed him. Even to this day, many people *persecute Christians because they speak about the *kingdom of heaven.

John was the last of the *Old Testament type of *prophet. All of the *prophets and the law spoke about the *kingdom of heaven that would come. This included the work of John the *Baptist. These were to prepare for the *Christ to come. The *prophets and the law did this work until John came. And John completed that part of their work. His message was that the *Christ had come. He pointed to Jesus as that *Christ. When Jesus came, a new age had begun. The function and effect of the *prophets and the law did not stop then. The *Old Testament was and still is the Word of God.

The *prophet Malachi wrote, ‘I will send to you the *prophet Elijah. He will come before the great and terrible day of the *Lord comes’ (Malachi 4:5). Perhaps it was from this passage that the *Jews expected Elijah to come before the *Christ. They expected Elijah to announce the *Christ. They thought that Elijah was the agent of the *Lord (Malachi 3:1). John the *Baptist was that agent and he did announce the *Christ. So, for those who believed it, John was that Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13).

John himself denied that he was Elijah (John 1:21). Elijah had not come to life again in the person of John. However, John came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:16-17).

Verses 16-19 Jesus spoke about the reaction of the people of his day. Most of them did not accept what either John or Jesus taught. He said that they were like children in the market place. The market place was the centre of the local society. While the adults carried on their business, the children played.

In their imagination, the children played at weddings and funerals. One group played happy music. However, their friends did not dance. Then they sang funeral songs but their friends did not pretend to be sad. Whatever they did, the other children did not join in the game. The people, especially many of the *Pharisees and leaders, did not accept either John the *Baptist or Jesus.

John the *Baptist came. He *preached and he *baptised in the desert. He ate very little normal food and he did not drink wine. He was too serious for these people. And what he taught was a serious message. He was not like ordinary people. He was different. They would not accept John or what he taught. Therefore, the people said that John had a *demon. Of course, that was not true. It was their excuse, because they would not accept John’s message.

In contrast to John, Jesus ate normal food. Also, Jesus drank wine as all the people did. So, the people accused him. They said that he ate too much. And they said that he drank too much. Neither of these things was true. They said that he had the wrong type of friends. They would not accept Jesus or what he taught. Jesus was the friend of people that the society called *sinners. Jesus became the friend of *sinners because he wanted to help them to return to God. He came to this world to save *sinners.

What John and Jesus both taught was God’s wisdom. Those people who accepted it proved it to be true. That wisdom changed their lives and it gave to them a certain future.

Jesus warns those people who did not believe – Matthew 11:20-24

v20 Then Jesus began to warn the towns where he had done most of his powerful deeds. He warned them of a future judgement because the people did not *repent. v21 He said, ‘It will be terrible for you, Chorazin. It will be terrible for you, Bethsaida. Powerful things have happened in your towns. Suppose that the same powerful deeds had happened in Tyre and Sidon. The people there would have *repented long ago. They would have put on rough clothes. They would have put ashes on their heads. v22 But I tell you that on the Judgement Day it will be better for Tyre and Sidon than for you. v23 And you Capernaum, you seemed almost as high as heaven. But you will descend as low as hell. Powerful things have happened in your town. If these powerful deeds had happened in Sodom, it would still be here today. v24 But I tell you that on the Judgement Day it will be better for the region of Sodom than for you.’

Verses 20-22 Jesus did most of his powerful deeds in and near the towns in the Galilee region. These deeds should have caused the people to accept Jesus as the *Christ. The deeds should have convinced them that God was at work among them. This should have caused the people to turn to God. But most of them opposed God as they refused to accept Jesus. Therefore, they would suffer because they did not *repent.

There is no record of the visit of Jesus to Chorazin. Matthew and Luke mention it only this once (Luke 10:13). Chorazin was a small town about 2 miles north and west of Capernaum. The probable place of Chorazin is now called Khirbet Keraseh (or Kirbet Keraze). Nobody lives there now.

Bethsaida was the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44 and 12:21). It was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6:45). The name Bethsaida means ‘house of fish.’ It was close to the east of where the Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus cured a blind man there (Mark 8:22-26) and he cured many sick people (Luke 9:11). Both Mark and Luke record that Jesus did many powerful deeds there. Jesus did many more powerful works than those that we read about in the *New Testament (John 21:25).

Tyre and Sidon were towns on the Mediterranean coast to the north of *Israel. These towns had become very rich and powerful, but by their proud attitudes they opposed God. The *Old Testament records the severe punishment of Tyre and Sidon (Isaiah chapter 23, Ezekiel chapters 26 to 28, Amos 1:9-10). If God had done the same powerful works there, the people would not have refused him. They would have *repented. They would have put on rough clothes and ashes upon their heads. Those actions were the way that people expressed humble attitudes in front of God. Therefore, the punishment of Chorazin and Bethsaida will be worse than that for Tyre and Sidon.

Verses 23-24 Jesus had made Capernaum his home in Galilee. He did many of his powerful deeds there (see Matthew 8:5-17; Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 1:23-28; John 4:46-54). And he taught in the *synagogue and in the area of the town. The people there had become very proud of themselves, as if they were better than other people. They had so many benefits but they will not rise up to the heavens. Instead, they will go down to the lowest place, even to hell.

If Jesus had done his deeds in the evil town called Sodom, it would have *repented. God would not have destroyed that town. Therefore, on the Judgement Day, the punishment will be worse for Capernaum than for Sodom.

For the Bible’s account of what happened to Sodom, read Genesis 18:16 to 19:29.

Jesus offers rest to people – Matthew 11:25-30

v25 At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, *Lord of heaven and earth. I thank you because you have hidden these things from wise and intelligent people. But you have shown them to little children. v26 Yes, Father because it pleased you to do it like this. v27 My Father has given everything to me. Nobody knows the Son except the Father. Nobody knows the Father except the Son and those people to whom the Son shows him.

v28 Many of you are tired. You are like animals that struggle with heavy loads. All of you come to me and I will give to you rest. v29 Put my *yoke on you and learn from me. I am gentle and I am humble in heart. Then you shall find rest for yourselves. v30 My *yoke is easy and my load is light.’

Verses 25-26 Many people had refused to accept the *Lord Jesus as the *Christ. This was especially true of many of the leaders of the *Jewish religion. The people thought that the leaders were wise and intelligent. The leaders ought have understood about Jesus but they did not. At that time, Jesus prayed to his Father. Jesus thanked God that he had hidden these things from these wise and intelligent people. This does not mean that God refuses to help wise and intelligent people. It does mean that by natural wisdom or knowledge no person can find God. However, Jesus thanked God that he had shown the truth to little children.

Jesus used the word ‘children’ to contrast with the wise people. He did not mean just young people. By children, he included those people who accept him by *faith like little children. They do not receive the truth by natural means. Even wise and intelligent people must receive Jesus by *faith and not by knowledge. Such truth comes only from God and we must receive it by *faith.

Verse 27 There was a special relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus has always been the Son of God and God has always been his Father. We can have God as our Father only by *faith in the *Lord Jesus.

God the Father has given to Jesus power and authority over all things. Jesus was and he is the Son of God. Without God’s help, nobody can really know who Jesus is. The Father alone has the full knowledge about Jesus. Only God the Father can show the nature of Jesus to us. And the entire truth about God the Father belongs to the Son. Without Jesus' help, nobody can know God the Father. Only Jesus can show us who God really is. It is by means of Jesus and only by means of Jesus that we can know God.

Verses 28-30 Jesus invites all who are aware of their need to come to him. He invites all who are tired with life’s struggles. That includes every kind of difficulty that people have in their lives. Whatever the cause, Jesus can give rest from the struggle and the problems.

Jesus said, ‘Put my *yoke on you.’ A *yoke was a special piece of wood. The *yoke fitted on the necks of animals. By it, the farmer joined two animals together. The two animals could work harder together than two single animals. So the *yoke forces the animals to work hard and to use up all their energy. Jesus offers relief from the difficulties that control our lives. Although we may still have the same difficulties, we will have a new master. As our new master, Jesus promises that he will not force us to work too hard. In the word-picture, he offers a new and more comfortable *yoke. His *yoke joins people with him. He leads and helps them to live without a struggle.

To take Jesus’ *yoke is to become his servants and students. He invites people to follow him. He invites them to serve him and to learn from him. In effect Jesus said, ‘Join yourself to me. Learn to be as I am.’ Jesus was gentle and humble in heart. Those who do this will be at rest in their hearts. There will still be problems in life but there will be an inner rest. That rest will come from a right relationship with God.

His *yoke is easy. This does not mean without difficulty. It means that it is good and pleasant. The load is a light one. To serve Jesus is a delight and it brings much satisfaction.

Jesus is *Lord of the *Sabbath – Matthew 12:1-8

v1 At that time, Jesus went through some fields of grain on a *Sabbath day. His *disciples were hungry. So, they began to pick the grain and they ate it.

v2 The *Pharisees saw what they were doing. So, the *Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Look. It is against the law for your *disciples to do this on the *Sabbath day.’

v3 Jesus said to them, ‘You have read about David. David and the men that were with him were hungry. v4 He went into God's house and he ate the holy bread. It was against the law for him and the men with him to eat that bread. Only the priests had the right to eat it. v5 You have read in the law that the priests in the *temple work on the *Sabbath day. But this does not make them guilty. v6 I tell you that something greater than the *temple is here. v7 The *Scripture says, “I desire kindness and pity more than *sacrifices.” If you had known this, you would not have blamed innocent men. v8 The Son of Man is *Lord of the *Sabbath day.’

Verses 1-2 Jesus and his *disciples walked through a field on the *Sabbath day. The *disciples were hungry. So, they picked some grain. The law allowed a person to pick the heads of grain by hand (Deuteronomy 23:25). So, the *disciples were not wrong to pick the grain.

The *Pharisees saw what the *disciples did. They did not speak to the *disciples about it. They spoke to Jesus. The *Pharisees did not complain about the *disciples’ action as such. Their problem was that it was on a *Sabbath day. The law said that they should do no work on the *Sabbath day. And the *Pharisees thought that to pick grain was work.

Many traditions tried to describe what was work. To the *Pharisees these traditions had in effect become the law. To harvest grain on the *Sabbath day was work. Therefore, they thought that to pick grain was work. The *disciples ate the grain. They had prepared food, which in the opinion of the *Pharisees, was work. Therefore, by these little rules, what the *disciples had done was against their law.

Verses 3-4 Jesus did not answer the *Pharisees’ protest directly. Instead, he reminded them of what David did (1 Samuel 21:1-6). He was running away from Saul who wanted to kill him. David went into God’s house. And he took the holy bread that only the priests could eat. He ate some of that bread. And he gave some of it to those men who were with him. That was against the law because David and his men were not priests. However, the Bible does not say that David was guilty of any wrong act on this occasion. David took the bread only because he needed food.

The *Jewish teachers reasoned in this way. If a thing was true for someone less important, then much more it was true for someone more important. Maybe here Jesus meant that he was more important than David. Jesus was greater than David was. David became Israel’s king, but Jesus is the *Christ. David went into God’s house and he took the holy bread. He then ate that bread. The Bible did not blame David. The *Jews accepted that David was right to do this. The rules were for the benefit of people. So, David was right to take the bread when he was hungry. In the same manner, Jesus’ *disciples were right to pick the grain on the *Sabbath. Because of the hunger of David’s men, it was right not to follow the law. Much more then, when the *disciples were hungry, it was right not to follow the traditions of the *Pharisees.

In this reply, Jesus showed that these *Pharisees had not understood the law. Their attitude to the law was not right.

Verses 5-6 The law says that you must not work on the *Sabbath day. However, the priests worked in the *temple on the *Sabbath day. They had to make *sacrifices on the *Sabbath day (Numbers 28:9-10). They had to change the holy bread on the *Sabbath day (Leviticus 24:8). And the priests had other duties to do on the *Sabbath day. But the priests were not guilty because of this work.

The work of the *temple was more important than the *Sabbath rules of the law. There was an authority in the *temple that was greater than the *Sabbath law. However, now something that was even greater than the *temple was there. That ‘something’ means the *Christ, that is, Jesus. Jesus was greater than the *temple. His authority was greater than that of the *temple. Jesus’ authority was therefore above that of the *Sabbath law. And his authority was superior to the traditions of the *Pharisees.

Verses 7-8 The *Pharisees studied the *Scriptures. They tried to obey all that they read in them. They were proud of their own efforts to obey Moses’ law and their traditions. But many *Pharisees failed to understand what the *Scriptures really meant. The heart attitude is more important than acts of religion. Kindness and pity are better than *sacrifices. Many of the *Pharisees did not understand this truth. So, they said that innocent people were guilty. Instead, they should have been kind. And they should have helped people to find the truth.

Already Jesus had called himself the ‘Son of Man’. The *Pharisees would know that Jesus spoke about himself. Jesus told the *Pharisees that he is the *Lord of the *Sabbath. His authority is over the *Sabbath law. In this, Jesus showed that he is the *Christ.

Jesus cures a man's hand – Matthew 12:9-14

v9 Jesus left there and he went into their *synagogue. v10 A man with a hand that he could not use was there. The *Pharisees looked for a reason to accuse Jesus. So they asked him this question. ‘Does the law allow someone to cure on the *Sabbath day?’

v11 Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose that you have a sheep. If that sheep falls into a ditch on the *Sabbath day, you would lift it out of the ditch. v12 A person is much more valuable than a sheep. Therefore, the law does allow us to do good deeds on the *Sabbath day.’

v13 Then Jesus said to the man, ‘Reach out your hand.’ The man reached out his hand. And the hand became as good as his other hand. v14 But the *Pharisees went out and they plotted against Jesus. They discussed how they could kill him.

Verses 9-10 Jesus went from that place. He went into a *synagogue to teach on a *Sabbath day. A man was there who could not use his right hand (Luke 6:6). The *Pharisees saw this as an opportunity to accuse Jesus. They thought that perhaps Jesus would cure the man on the *Sabbath day. Therefore, they asked him whether it was right to cure on the *Sabbath day.

In their minds, this was against the law. They would allow a doctor to cure someone on the *Sabbath day if that person’s life was in danger. But here the life of the man was not in danger. Therefore, Jesus should not cure him on that day. Jesus could cure him on another day.

Verses 11-12 Jesus replied to them. They would pull a sheep out of the ditch on the *Sabbath. They would help a sheep on the *Sabbath but they would not help a man. But a person is more valuable than a sheep.

Jesus asked them a question. He asked whether it was right to do good deeds or to do evil deeds on the *Sabbath. He asked whether it was right to save life or to kill (Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9).

By his questions, Jesus showed to them what the law really meant. If we can do good things, we should do them. If we do not then, in effect, we have done evil things. If we can save life, we should do it. If we do not then, in effect, we destroy life. This refers to the *Sabbath as for any other day. It was right by the law to do good things on the *Sabbath day. Therefore, to cure this man was not against the rules for the *Sabbath.

Verse 13 The attitude of these *Pharisees made Jesus very angry (Mark 3:5). The man’s need was noticeable but the *Pharisees wanted to test Jesus. The man had not asked Jesus to cure him. But Jesus called the man to come in front of the people. Jesus did not touch the man. He just told the man to reach out his hand. The man believed Jesus. He did what he could not do. He reached out his right hand. As he did so, the hand became as good as the other hand.

Verse 14 The *Pharisees who were present on this occasion, were very angry. Jesus had proved that they were wrong. They did not understand the law or the purpose of the *Sabbath. In front of the people, Jesus had shown that their attitudes were bad.

They went out and they plotted against Jesus. They discussed how they could murder Jesus.

The reason why they wanted to kill Jesus was not because of the *Sabbath rules. Rather it was because they would not accept the authority of Jesus. He is the Son of Man and the *Lord of the *Sabbath. This means that Jesus is the *Christ. Most *Pharisees refused to believe that. Therefore, they considered it to be *blasphemy. And the punishment for *blasphemy was death.

Jesus is God's servant – Matthew 12:15-21

v15 Jesus knew about this so he left that place. Many people followed him, and he cured all of them. v16 But he warned them not to tell other people about him. v17 He did these things to bring about what God had said by Isaiah the *prophet.

v18 ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen.

I love him and he gives to me much pleasure.

I will put my Spirit upon him.

And he will announce judgement to the nations.

v19 He will not struggle and he will not shout.

Nobody will hear his voice in the streets.

v20 He will not break a weak grass stem.

He will not put out a flame that is burning low.

He will continue until he causes right judgements to succeed.

v21 And in his name, the nations will hope.’

Verses 15-16 Jesus knew that a group of *Pharisees was plotting to kill him. So, he left that place. Jesus often turned away from his enemies until the right time came. Many people followed Jesus. He cured all those among them who were sick. However, Jesus did not want news about him to spread. Therefore, he asked the people not to talk about him. This was not because he was afraid of his enemies. It was because he preferred to do his work in a more private manner.

Verse 17 The *Jews expected the *Christ to be a leader and a ruler. He was to be their king. Isaiah said that he would also be God’s servant. Many *Jews had not understood that the *Christ would be a servant. However, Jesus did what Isaiah had written about him (Isaiah 42:1-4).

Verse 18 In this *prophecy, God introduces the *Christ as his servant. God chose him for a special task. The Son of God as a man was also God’s servant. ‘Jesus put aside his *glory. And he became a servant. He came in the form of a man.’ (Philippians 2:7). God loves his servant, the Son whom he loves. And God’s servant pleases God.

God gave his Spirit to his servant. God gives something of his Spirit to all who serve him. However, the Spirit himself came upon this servant in a special way. By the Spirit, the servant was able to announce judgement for the nations. The *Jews at that time thought of their nation as special to God. That was right. However, many of them did not realise that God cares about the people in every nation. However, the *prophet saw that all the nations have worth to God. The servant will be the judge and he will make right judgements for all the nations. *Christ’s time on earth did not complete this part of his task. When Christ returns, he will carry out those judgements. But the *salvation that he brought is available now to people in every nation.

Verses 19-21 God’s servant will carry out his task in a quiet manner. He will not quarrel or cry out. He will not force his ideas on other people. He will not raise his voice in the streets to attract people to himself.

He will be gentle and kind to weak people. The grass stem was common and ordinary. So this word-picture means that he will care for ordinary people. The flame that is burning low is ready to go out. He will not put out the flame. In other words, he will encourage all who struggle with life. He will take interest in those people that the world considers the lowest of people. Such was the nature of the *Christ as he served on the earth.

Jesus’ work as God’s servant led to his death. But he rose again from death to life. And his work continues. In the end, right judgements will succeed. When he returns, Jesus will be the judge of all people and all nations.

Jesus' power is from God – Matthew 12:22-32

v22 Then some people brought to Jesus a man who had a *demon. This man was blind and he could not talk. Jesus cured the man. Then that man could talk and he could see. v23 This astonished all the people. They said, ‘Perhaps this is the Son of David.’

v24 The *Pharisees heard what the people were saying. So they said, ‘This man only forces out *demons by the power of *Beelzebul. *Beelzebul is the ruler of *demons.’

v25 Jesus knew what those *Pharisees were thinking. So, he spoke to them. ‘You could divide a *kingdom into two parts. But if the parts fight against each other, they will destroy the *kingdom. No city or family that fights against itself will last. v26 So, if *Satan forces *Satan out, he is fighting against himself. Then his *kingdom will not continue. v27 You say that I use the power of *Beelzebul to force out *demons. If that is true, then by what power do your sons force out *demons? Therefore, they will be your judges. v28 But if by God’s Spirit I force out *demons, then God’s *kingdom has come to you. v29 Suppose that someone wants to get into a strong man’s house to steal his property. First, he must tie up the strong man. Then he can steal the things that are in the strong man’s house. v30 If a person is not with me, he is against me. If a person does not gather with me, he scatters. v31 Therefore, I tell you, God will forgive people all *sin and *blasphemy. But he will not forgive people who *blaspheme against the *Holy Spirit. v32 God will forgive anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man. But God will not forgive now or in the future anyone who speaks against the *Holy Spirit.’

Verses 22-23 The word ‘then’ does not mean that this event was immediately after the previous event. It was some time later that some people brought this man to Jesus. The man was blind and he could not speak. In his case, this was the work of a *demon. Jesus forced the *demon to leave the man, and by that means Jesus cured him. Then the man could see and he could hear. All the people saw this and it astonished them. They asked each other whether Jesus could be the Son of David.

The people were expecting the *Christ to come. ‘Son of David’ was a name for the *Christ. The *Christ when he came would do powerful deeds. But most people expected the *Christ to be a ruler who would fight for them. Therefore, Jesus was not quite what they expected. However, the people were now asking each other whether he could be the *Christ.

Verse 24 These *Pharisees had already decided that Jesus was not the *Christ. In their opinion, Jesus was an enemy. But they could not deny that Jesus had done a powerful deed. They answered the crowd that ‘this man’ was not the *Christ. With dislike, they called Jesus ‘this man’. They said that ‘this man’ was forcing out *demons by the power of *Beelzebul. They said in effect that Jesus was evil. And by the use of evil powers, Jesus had forced out the *demon. That was what they were saying.

*Beelzebul was their name for the prince of *demons. The original name Baal-Zebub meant *lord (ruler) of the flies. Baal-Zebub was the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1:2). Ekron was one of the 5 cities of the *Philistines (Joshua 13:3). The name *Beelzebul or Beelzebub became another name for *Satan. Therefore, these *Pharisees said in effect that Jesus worked for *Satan.

Verses 25-26 The *Pharisees had a problem. Jesus had a power that was beyond normal human power. That power must be either a good power or an evil power. They could not admit that the power was good and from God. Therefore, they had to pretend that the power was evil and from *Satan. Jesus knew what they were thinking.

Jesus explained where the error was in their opinion. If two parts in any group fight against each other, the group will not last. The group could be a family, a city or a *kingdom. If by the power of *Satan, Jesus forced out the *demon, then *Satan was fighting against himself. Such an idea must be stupid. *Satan would be destroying his own *kingdom.

Verse 27 Some other *Jews were trying to free people from the power of *demons. Jesus called them the ‘sons of the *Pharisees’. Probably they were not their actual sons. They could be their students or other members of the *Pharisee party. However, they would use the name of God in their efforts.

The *Pharisees were right that no person has the power to force out *demons. Therefore, there must be a higher power at work. That power is either from God or it is from *Satan. Jesus tells them to ask their ‘sons’ what power they use. Their ‘sons’ would deny that *Satan would force out *demons. The ‘sons’ would agree that the power must be from God. Therefore, Jesus did not force out *demons by *Beelzebul’s power.

Verse 28 Jesus had proved that he forced out *demons by God’s power. He did it by God’s Spirit. Jesus invited the people there to think what this meant. It meant that God’s *kingdom had come. The king was there.

The *Jews expected the *Christ to come as a king. To them, the enemy was Rome and the *Christ would fight against Rome. The *Christ had come as a king but the enemy of God’s *kingdom was *Satan’s *kingdom.

Verse 29 Here is another way to look at the facts. The strong man guards his property. To take his property from him you must defeat him. The strong man meant Satan. His possession was the man that the *demon controlled. Jesus defeated *Satan and so he was able to free that man. Jesus did not force the *demon out by *Satan’s power. Therefore, Jesus is more powerful than *Satan.

Verse 30 People must make a choice. Either they accept Jesus or they refuse him. Either they are with him or they are against him. There are only two sides. If people are not on Jesus’ side, they are his enemies. A person on Jesus’ side gathers people to him. His enemies turn people away from Jesus.

Verses 31-32 We cannot talk of one *sin as less bad than another *sin. *Sin is *sin and all *sins are bad. God can forgive us even if we *sin against Jesus. But God will not forgive the *sin of *blasphemy against the *Holy Spirit. The *sin against the *Holy Spirit is the attitude of a person who chooses on purpose not to believe God. That person has chosen strongly to oppose God’s work by his *Holy Spirit. It is such a strong decision that the person will not ever change his mind.

These *Pharisees saw the good deeds that Jesus did. They said that the power to do these deeds came from *Satan. They called evil ‘good’ and good ‘evil’. They could see the truth but they decided to oppose it. This attitude puts such persons in a state in which they cannot *repent. As they cannot *repent, God cannot forgive them. And they cannot believe in the *Lord Jesus for *salvation.

People know you by your words – Matthew 12:33-37

v33 ‘Make the tree good and its fruit will be good. Or, make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad. You will know the tree by the fruit that it produces. v34 You are like young poisonous snakes. You are evil people. You cannot speak good things. Out of what fills the heart, the mouth speaks. v35 Good people can say good things because of the good things that they keep in their hearts. But evil people say evil things because of the evil things that they keep in their hearts. v36 I tell you that one day God will be your judge. And you must give an account to God for every careless word that you have spoken. v37 Your words will show that you are not guilty. Or, your words will show that you are guilty.’

Verses 33-35 A good tree will produce good fruit that one can use. A bad tree will produce bad fruit that one cannot use, for example, poisonous fruit. Each fruit tree will produce its own kind of fruit. Jesus uses this as an example of good and bad people. A person may seem to be good. However, the reality is in what he does. There are two kinds of people. Some people are like good trees that produce good fruit. And other people are like bad trees that produce bad fruit (see Matthew 7:16-20).

John the *Baptist called many of the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees ‘children of poisonous snakes’ (Matthew 3:7). Jesus repeats what John the *Baptist said. Poisonous snakes are dangerous and you cannot trust them. Jesus said that many *Pharisees were like that. Although they impressed people by their religion, in reality many of them were evil people. Therefore, they were not able in truth to say good things.

What people say comes from their hearts. By ‘heart’ here, we mean the real person. You cannot in reality know a person by what that person seems to be. The person with a good heart has a sincere and real relationship with God. That person will produce good words and deeds. The person with an evil heart will produce bad words and deeds.

Our words show our real character.

Verses 36-37 One day God will be the judge of every person. The evidence for or against us will be all that we have said. Our careless words show what we are. We speak a careless word when we do not consider its effect. God, as our judge, will use what we have said to make his decision. Our words show our true character. Our words show whether our relationship with God is real and sincere, or not. Our words show whether we are truly good or bad people.

Nobody is perfect in what he says. Only a perfect person could control everything that he says (James 3:2). We cannot earn *salvation by what we say. We must depend by *faith in the goodness of Jesus and his death for us. Our words show whether we have that *faith in Jesus.

Some *Pharisees and teachers ask for a *miracle – Matthew 12:38-45

v38 Then some teachers of the law and *Pharisees answered Jesus. They said, ‘Teacher, we want you to show us a *miracle as evidence.’

v39 But Jesus answered them, ‘People today are evil and they are not loyal to God. They ask for a *miracle as evidence. I will give to them no evidence except what happened to the *prophet Jonah. v40 Jonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of the huge fish. In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave for three days and three nights. v41 At that time when God is the judge, the people from Nineveh will rise up. They will stand with the people who live now. And they will prove that you are guilty. They *repented when Jonah *preached to them. But look, someone greater than Jonah is here. v42 At that time when God is the judge, the queen of the south will rise up. She will stand with the people who live now. And she will prove that you are guilty. She came from far away to listen to Solomon's wisdom. But look, someone greater than Solomon is here.

v43 When an evil spirit has come out from a person, it travels through dry places. It looks for a place to rest but it does not find one. v44 Then it says, “I will return. I will go to my house that I left.” When it comes, it finds an empty house. Someone has swept it and he has made it ready to live in. v45 Then the evil spirit goes out and it brings 7 other spirits. These spirits are more evil that it is. And they go in to live there. So, the state of that person will be worse than it was before. It will be the same with the evil people who live now.’

Verses 38-40 Jesus had already done many *miracles. These teachers of the law and the *Pharisees knew about those *miracles. It was strange that they should now ask for a *miracle as evidence. They were asking Jesus to prove who he was. They wanted him to give to them proof that his authority was from God. But this does not seem to be a sincere request.

They came to Jesus and they called him ‘teacher’. They were probably being polite. They would not have accepted Jesus as a teacher.

Jesus would not perform a *miracle to satisfy their curiosity. Jesus referred to the people of that time as evil. They said that they were God’s people. But they had refused to trust in God. Jesus would not give to them a *miracle now. However, he would give to them evidence like that of Jonah.

Jonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of a big fish (Jonah 1:17). He came out from it alive. In effect, he was dead but he became alive again. Jesus was telling them that he would die. Jonah was three days in the large fish. Even so, Jesus would be in the grave for a similar period of time. ‘Three days and three nights’ was a phrase that meant ‘a few days’. Jesus was actually dead for part of three days, from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. As Jonah was alive again, so Jesus would rise from death. That would be the proof that God had sent Jesus.

Verses 41-42 Jonah *preached the word of God to the people in Nineveh. The people in Nineveh *repented and they turned to God. Jesus was much greater than Jonah. God was doing a greater work by means of Jesus than he did by means of Jonah. But most of the people to whom Jesus *preached did not *repent. They did not believe him and they did not accept him as the *Christ. At the time of the judgement, the people of Nineveh will show that these people were guilty.

Nineveh was the capital of a country called Assyria. It was on the banks (side) of the River Tigris, to the north of the city called Babylon. It was a vast city. Nineveh was 48 miles (about 80 kilometres) round its walls. The walls were 100 feet (30 metres) high and 10 feet (3 metres) thick. On the wall, there were 1500 buildings for defence, each building was 200 feet (60 metres) in height. Jonah 4:11 says that 120 000 people were living in Nineveh. The people in Nineveh were very wicked. God told Jonah to warn the people in Nineveh that he would destroy Nineveh in 40 days. However, because they *repented, God did not destroy the city.

Then Jesus talked about the queen of the south. We know her as the queen of Sheba. Sheba was the country that we now call Yemen. She heard about Solomon’s wisdom. From Sheba to Jerusalem was a long and difficult journey. But she came all that way to hear Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10). God showed more wisdom in Jesus than he did in Solomon. Jesus was much greater and wiser than Solomon. But the people who lived at the same time as Jesus would not believe him. At the time of the judgement, the queen of Sheba will show that the people of Jesus’ day were guilty.

Verses 43-45 In the *Gospels, we read about evil spirits that lived in people. The spirits considered those people to be their homes. On several occasions, Jesus ordered these spirits to leave people. When a spirit left its home, it wandered in dry places. People thought of dry deserts as the place where there were evil spirits. This evil spirit looked for a place of rest in the dry desert places. It did not find such a place of rest. So, it tried to go back into the person that it called home.

In Jesus’ story, the spirit came back to the person. It found that nothing had taken its place there. It was as if someone had cleaned the house. It was better than it was before. And the person was available for the spirit to come in again. So, the spirit returned. It brought 7 worse spirits with it. They all made their home in the person. Therefore, the state of that person was worse than it was before.

In this story, the evil spirit had come out from the person. But it is not enough just to send an evil spirit away. It is necessary to fill that empty place. But this person may not invite the *Lord into his life. Then he is open to the return of the evil spirit. When the *Lord forces an evil spirit from a person, the *Holy Spirit must come in. Then the evil spirit cannot return.

Jesus' real family – Matthew 12:46-50

v46 While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers stood outside. They wanted to speak to Jesus.

v47 Someone told Jesus, ‘Look! Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. They want to speak to you.’

v48 Jesus replied to the person who had spoken to him, ‘Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?’ v49 Jesus pointed to his *disciples. And he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. v50 My brother, sister or mother is anyone who obeys my Father in heaven.’

Verses 46-50 Jesus taught the people in a house. His mother Mary and his brothers wanted to speak with him. But they could not get in because of the crowd that was already there. Someone told Jesus that his mother and brothers were there.

Then Jesus told the crowd who his real family was. His family is all those people who obey God the Father. They had become like mothers and brothers to him.

Jesus was not refusing to accept his natural family. He respected his mother very much. At that time, his family did not believe in him. But he taught that we could become members of his family. We can be his family when, by *faith, we obey the word of God. The most important thing is that we must have a right relationship with God. (See John 1:12-13.)

A story about seed – Matthew 13:1-9

v1 That same day, Jesus went out from the house and he sat by the sea. v2 Great crowds came to him. So, he got into a boat and he sat there. The whole crowd stood on the beach. v3 And he taught the crowd many things by means of stories. He said, ‘Listen. A farmer went out to sow his seeds. v4 As he sowed, some seeds fell on the path. Birds came and they ate those seeds. v5 Some seeds fell on stony ground where there was not much soil. Those seeds grew quickly because the soil was not deep. v6 But when the sun rose, it burned those plants. And the plants dried up because they had no roots. v7 Other seeds fell among weeds. The weeds grew first so the new plants had no space to grow. v8 Other seeds fell on good soil. There they grew into plants that produced a harvest of grain. Some plants produced 100 seeds. Some plants produced 60 seeds. And some plants produced 30 seeds. v9 If you can hear these things with your ears, then listen.’

Verses 1-3a (Verse 3a means the first part of verse 3.) Jesus left the house where he was. He went down to the shores of Lake Galilee. A very large crowd came to Jesus there (Mark 4:1). They came from all the towns in that region (Luke 8:4). Jesus got into a boat so that they could hear him better. Then he sat down to speak to them. It was normal for teachers to sit to teach. As he sat in the boat, Jesus taught the crowd by means of stories.

Verse 3b–9 (Verse 3b means the second part of verse 3.) The first story was about a farmer. The farmer went out to sow his seeds. The farmers in that country scattered the seeds on the ground. Then they covered the seeds with soil.

In those days, farmers did not erect fences round their fields. People would walk through the fields. So, there were paths across the plot of land. As people walked on these paths, the ground became hard. Some of the seeds fell on these paths. The ground was too hard for the seeds. And birds came and they ate the seeds. So, none of these seeds grew.

In some places, there was hard rock near the surface. In these places, there was not much depth of soil. The seeds that fell there started to grow. However, there was not enough soil and it was too dry for them. When the hot weather came, it burned those young plants. They did not have deep roots and so they died.

There were weeds in some parts of the ground. Some seeds fell among those weeds. The farmer had not cleared the weeds from the soil there. So, the weeds grew with the seeds. The weeds grew faster than the seeds. The seeds started to grow. But those young plants could not develop among the weeds.

The seeds that fell on the good soil grew well. Those seeds grew into plants that produced a good harvest. The best seeds grew into plants that produced 100 seeds each. Other seeds grew into plants that produced 60 or 30 seeds each.

Jesus asked the crowd to think about the meaning of this story. But he did not tell them what it meant.

Why Jesus used stories to teach – Matthew 13:10-17

v10 The *disciples came to Jesus. They asked him, ‘Why do you use stories when you speak to the people?’

v11 He replied, ‘God has shown to you the secrets of the *kingdom of heaven. But God has not given that knowledge to other people. v12 To the person who has, God will give more. So, that person will have plenty. Another person has nothing. God will take away from him even the little that he has. v13 This is the reason why I speak to them in stories. They look but they do not see. They listen but they do not hear. And they do not understand. v14 In them, what the *prophet Isaiah said becomes true. “You will listen but you will never understand. You will look but you never really see. v15 This people’s heart has become unable to learn. They do not hear with their ears. And they have shut their eyes. Otherwise, they might look with their eyes. They might hear with their ears. And they might understand with their hearts. Then they would turn to me and I would cure them.”

v16 But God has *blessed you. Therefore, your eyes see and your ears hear. v17 I am telling you the truth. Many *prophets and good men desired to see the things that you see. But they did not see them. They wanted to hear the things that you hear. But they did not hear them.’

Verses 10-11 The *disciples asked Jesus why he taught the people by means of stories. The people did not understand what the stories meant. He told the *disciples that they could know the secrets of the *kingdom of God. The word ‘secret’ here means that which we cannot know by natural means. God shows to his people what these things mean. Those people who do not believe in Jesus cannot understand these stories. God has not shown the secrets to them. These stories hide the truth from those people who do not believe. But they show the truth to those people who do believe.

Verses 12-13 The *disciples had *faith in the *Lord Jesus. They wanted to obey Jesus. Therefore, they could understand what he taught. And they would learn more of the secrets of his *kingdom. Other people heard what Jesus taught. But they did not have *faith in Jesus. They were less able to understand. And God will take away even what that person seems to have.

Most of the people would not accept Jesus as the *Christ. So, they could not accept what he taught. They would not understand it. They would see what he did. However, they would not see what it meant. They would listen to what he said. However, they would act as if they had not heard it. Because that was so, Jesus spoke to them in stories.

Verses 14-15 What Isaiah had said was true of these people (Isaiah 6:9-10). The people would not accept what the *Lord said. If they did see, they would know the truth. If they did listen, they would hear the truth. Then they would understand with their hearts. They would turn to Jesus and he would give to them *eternal life.

Verses 16-17 Jesus told the *disciples how God had *blessed them. Therefore, they were able to understand what Jesus taught. The people looked but they could not really see. The *disciples could look and they could see. The people could listen but they could not really hear. The *disciples could listen and they could hear. The people could not receive the truth that Jesus spoke. But the *disciples could receive it.

The *disciples had seen that Jesus is the *Christ. They had heard what he said. They had seen what he had done. The *prophets and many good people in *Old Testament times had wanted to see the *Christ. But they did not see him. They wanted to hear him but they did not hear him.

Jesus explains the story about the seeds – Matthew 13:18-23

v18 ‘So, listen to what the story about the farmer means. v19 Some seeds fell on the path. That is like when a person hears the message about the *kingdom. But he does not understand it. The devil comes and he takes that message from the person’s heart. v20 Some seed fell on stony soil. This is the meaning. A person hears the message and he accepts it immediately with joy. v21 But what he hears does not have a lasting effect in his life. It is like a plant with no roots. It lasts for a short time. When trouble or *persecution comes because of the message, that person’s *faith fails at once. v22 Some seed fell among the weeds. This is the meaning. A person hears the message. But the problems of life and his desire for wealth stop the message, so that it cannot develop in his life. The message achieves nothing in his life. v23 But some of the seeds fell on good soil. This is the meaning. Some people hear the message and they understand it. So the message achieves wonderful results in their lives. That is like the harvest. One seed grows into a plant that produces 100 seeds. Other seeds grow into plants that produce 60 or 30 seeds each.’

Verses 18-22 Even the *disciples did not know what the story meant. Jesus explained it to them. The story was about the seed rather than the farmer. The seed means the word of God. It is the message about the *kingdom of God. The farmer scatters the seed. The people who hear the word of God receive it in different ways.

Some seed fell on the hard path. Some people hear the good news of God’s *kingdom but they do not understand it. The devil takes the truth away from them. And they soon forget it. So, they do not believe it.

Some seed fell on stony soil. Some people hear the word of God and they accept it with joy. But it does not change their hearts and minds. This temporary belief does not last. Soon the effect becomes weaker. When difficulties or *persecutions come, they turn away from the *Lord.

Some seed fell among weeds. Some people hear the word of God and they let the word affect them for a time. Then they get too busy to think much about God. The problems of life and the desire for wealth do not allow *faith to grow.

The shallow (weak) belief of these three groups cannot last. And it has no real effect in their lives. Such belief is of no use. It produces nothing worthwhile.

Verse 23 There are those people who hear the word of God. They believe it and it changes their lives. They live for God and they continue firm in their belief. So, they grow strong in the *Lord.

This story teaches us an important lesson. We must not only hear the word of God but we must believe it. We must not only believe the word of God but we must act on it. We must allow the word of God to change our whole life.

A story about wheat and weeds – Matthew 13:24-30

v24 Jesus gave to them another story. He said, ‘The *kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. v25 But while everybody was asleep, his enemy came. That enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Then he went away. v26 When the good seeds grew, they produced grain. But the weeds also appeared.

v27 The man’s servants came to him. They said to him, “Master, you sowed good seed in your field. So, where did the weeds come from?”

v28 The man answered, “An enemy has done this.”

The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and to gather the weeds?”

v29 The man replied, “No. If you pull up the weeds, you might pull up some wheat as well. v30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest time. At harvest time, I will tell the workers to gather the weeds first. I will tell them to tie the weeds in bundles and then to burn the weeds. But the workers will gather the wheat and they will put it into my shed, to store it.” ’

Verses 24-30 Jesus told another story to the people. This story shows how the *kingdom of heaven grows in the world. The farmer sowed good seeds of wheat in his field. At night, an enemy sowed weeds in the same field. The two types of seed grew up together. As they grew, the servants could see the difference. They saw that the wheat was producing grain. But the weeds did not have any grain. They knew that the farmer had planted good seeds. So, they asked him where the weeds came from. He told them that an enemy had planted the weeds.

The farmer would not allow his servants to pull up the weeds until harvest time. If they had pulled up the weeds, it would have damaged some of the wheat. At harvest time, they would gather the weeds first and they would burn them. Then they would gather the wheat into the sheds, where they stored it.

The weeds were probably a plant called darnel. These plants can carry a poison that is dangerous to people. Darnel is similar to wheat. You can see the difference clearly when the wheat produces grain. Darnel has stronger roots than wheat. The roots of both plants would grow together. If you pull out the darnel, its roots would disturb the roots of the wheat. If you allowed darnel seeds to remain with the wheat seeds in store, the poison could ruin the wheat.

This story shows that the *kingdom and its enemies are both growing (increasing) in this world. The time will come when the *Lord Jesus will separate them. He will punish his enemies. And he will save (rescue) his people. Jesus explains this story in detail later (Matthew 13:36-43).

Stories about *mustard seed and *yeast – Matthew 13:31-35

v31 Jesus gave to them another story. He said, ‘The *kingdom of heaven is like a *mustard seed that a man planted in his field. v32 That seed is the smallest of all the seeds. But when it has grown, it is the largest of the bushes. It grows as large as a tree. So, the wild birds come and build their nests in its branches.’

v33 Then Jesus told them another story. ‘The *kingdom of heaven is like *yeast that a woman took to make bread. She hid it in a large amount of flour until the *yeast had spread through it all.’

v34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in stories. He did not say anything to them other than in stories. v35 This is what God had said by the *prophet. ‘I will open my mouth and I will speak in stories. I will tell things that have been secret since the start of the world.’

Verses 31-32 The *mustard seed was a tiny seed. It was smaller than the other seeds that people planted. But it grew to be a bush as large as a small tree. It could grow to a height of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 metres). That was larger than any other bush. It was large enough for birds to build their nests in it.

There are seeds smaller than the *mustard seed. But in that culture, people said that it was the smallest seed. Jesus used the common idea of the *mustard seed as the smallest seed. His purpose is to show how great a bush can come from such a small seed.

The man planted a *mustard seed in a field. It was not normal for a man to plant just one small seed. And he would plant it in a garden rather than a field. The one seed means the *kingdom of heaven. The field means the world. The *kingdom seemed small to people at first. But in the end, it will grow to be a very great *kingdom. It will grow very large, as people from all nations come into it.

Verse 33 Women used to make bread for their family. They would put a small amount of *yeast into the mixture of flour and water before they baked it. The *yeast affected all the flour in that mixture. This caused the bread to rise. A small quantity of *yeast was enough to make a large quantity of bread.

The *kingdom of heaven is like that. At that time, it seemed so small. But it would affect the whole of the world. As the *kingdom extends, it changes the lives of people.

Verses 34-35 Teachers of the *Jews often taught by stories. And Jesus taught the crowds about the *kingdom of heaven in stories. This does not mean that he did not speak to them in plain speech. Jesus was doing what the *prophet had written (Psalm 78:2). God had not shown these truths about the *kingdom of heaven before. Jesus explained his stories to the *disciples. So, they could now understand. Until now, people had not been able to understand these things.

Jesus explains the story about the weeds – Matthew 13:36-43

v36 Then Jesus sent the crowd away and he went into the house. His *disciples came to him. They said to him, ‘Explain to us the story about the weeds in the field.’

v37 Jesus answered, ‘The man sowed good seed. That man means the Son of Man. v38 The field means the world. The good seed means the children who belong to the *kingdom. The weeds mean the evil one’s children. v39 The enemy who sowed the weeds means the devil. The harvest means the end of the age. And the workers, who gather the harvest, mean the *angels. v40 The workers pulled up the weeds and the fire burned the weeds. It will be like that at the end of the age. v41 The Son of Man will send out his *angels. They will collect out of his *kingdom all that causes *sin. They will gather all the people who do evil things. v42 The *angels will throw them into the place of fire. There, people will weep aloud and they will bite their teeth together. v43 Then the good people will shine like the sun in their Father’s *kingdom. If you can hear these things with your ears, then listen.’

Verses 36-43 Jesus left the crowd and he went back into the house. There the *disciples asked him to explain the story about the weeds in the field (Matthew 13:24-30). Something in the story was a puzzle to the *disciples.

The man in the story means Jesus. He sows the seeds in the world. That process is continuous. His good news goes across the world, and brings people into a right relationship with God. They become the children of God. However, at the same time, the devil is active in the world. He is doing his evil work. The result is that many people in this world belong to him. Jesus referred to those people as the children of the devil. Either people belong to the *kingdom of heaven or they belong to the devil’s *kingdom.

The two groups will continue to live together in this world until the time for Jesus’ return. Then the *angels will separate them. Jesus will send *angels to gather all that causes *sin from his *kingdom. The world belongs to him and therefore it is his *kingdom. The *angels will take away the people who belong to the devil. They will suffer a terrible punishment in hell. Their fate will be like a very hot fire. They will suffer with much pain in that place. But those people who believe in Jesus will live in God’s *kingdom. There they will share Jesus’ *glory.

Three stories about the *kingdom of heaven – Matthew 13:44-50

v44 ‘The *kingdom of heaven is like a collection of very valuable things that someone hid in a field. Someone else found those things and he hid them again. He was very happy about it. He sold all that he had. Then he went and he bought that field.

v45 Again, the *kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who was looking for beautiful *pearls. v46 He found one very valuable *pearl. He went away from there. And he sold everything that he had. Then he bought that *pearl.

v47 Again, the *kingdom of heaven is like a net that *fishermen threw into the sea. They caught many different kinds of fish. v48 When the net was full, the *fishermen pulled the net to the shore. They sat down and they put the good fishes into baskets. But they threw away the bad fishes. v49 It will be like this at the end of the age. The *angels will go out and they will separate the evil people from the good people. v50 The *angels will throw the evil people into the place of fire. There, the evil people will weep aloud and they will bite their teeth together.’

Verse 44 At that time, there were no places to put valuable things for safety. The owner would hide them on his own property. One method was to bury the valuable possessions. The owner would often bury coins or precious things in a jar in the earth. Sometimes an owner would then go away, and he would never return to get his valuable things back. Then nobody would know about the valuable things. In times of war, people would hide things from the enemy soldiers. If the owner died, nobody would know where to find those things. The owner of a property owned all that was in that property.

Jesus spoke about a man who discovered some very valuable things in a field. What he found filled him with joy. He could not afford to buy the field at once. Therefore, he covered up the valuable things. Then he sold all that he had. Then he could buy that field. When he owned the field, he would own the valuable things in it.

The *kingdom of heaven is like the valuable things. It is such a joy to find it. It is worth much more than all our possessions. We would gladly give up all our possessions to receive a place in the *kingdom of heaven.

Verses 45-46 Jesus told a similar story. People in those days thought that *pearls were very valuable. This merchant was looking for beautiful *pearls. He knew what he wanted. And he searched for it. He found one *pearl that was very valuable. He sold all that he possessed. Then he bought that one *pearl.

We could possess nothing as valuable as the *kingdom of heaven.

Verses 47-50 *Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee would throw a net into the sea. The net in this story was a large one with heavy objects at the bottom of it. Therefore, it would be like a wall of net in the water. The *fishermen would drag the net with their boats. The net would catch all the fishes in that area of the sea. And the *fishermen would bring the net to the shore. There they would take the fishes out of the net. They would put the fishes that were good to eat into baskets. They would throw away the rest of the fishes.

The *kingdom of heaven is like the net. There are all kinds of people on the earth. God will declare some of these people to be good. Because they have accepted the *Lord Jesus, he will bring them into the *kingdom of heaven. The *angels will separate them from the rest. The *angels will take away the evil people, like *fishermen who throw away bad fishes. Those evil people will suffer in hell. Their punishment will be like a very hot fire. And they will suffer with much pain.

Old and new possessions – Matthew 13:51-52

v51 Jesus asked his *disciples, ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to him, ‘Yes.’ v52 So, Jesus said to them, ‘Some men who teach the law have become *disciples of the *kingdom of heaven. They are like the owner of a house who brings out from his wealth, new and old things.’

Verses 51-52 The *disciples said that they understood the stories. However, how much they understood is not clear. They still needed Jesus to teach them about these things.

Most of the teachers of the law were against Jesus. But some understood the truth of the *Scriptures. These teachers believed and they had accepted the *kingdom of heaven. They were *disciples. Now they could teach the truth about the *kingdom of heaven. They had already learned the truth about the *kingdom from the *Old Testament. Now, in addition, they had learned about the *kingdom from Jesus. So, when they taught, they could teach both old and new lessons. They would teach both the *Old Testament, and the new lessons that Jesus had taught them.

Jesus goes to his own town – Matthew 13:53-58

v53 When Jesus had finished these stories, he left that place.

v54 Jesus came to the town that had been his home. He began to teach the people in their *synagogue. He astonished them by what he taught. They said to each other. ‘We do not know where this man gets this wisdom. We do not know by what power he does these powerful deeds. v55 This man is the *carpenter’s son. His mother is called Mary, and his brothers are James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. v56 And all his sisters are here with us. We do not know where this man gets all these things.’ v57 Because of these thoughts about him, they would not believe.

Jesus said to them, ‘A *prophet receives honour everywhere, except in his own town and in his own house.’ v58 And he did not do many powerful deeds there because they did not believe.

Verses 53-54 Jesus left the place by the sea where he had told the stories. That place was probably Capernaum. He went to Nazareth, the town where he grew up. Jesus had left his home in Nazareth in the past year or two. Now as he returned, Jesus taught in the *synagogue.

In a small town like Nazareth, the *synagogue was an important place. It was the place for public *worship. Also, it was the place where teachers taught from the *Scriptures. It was common for the leaders of the *synagogue to invite visitors to teach. Therefore, they must have asked Jesus to speak. This is the last record that we have of Jesus in a *synagogue.

Jesus’ words really impressed all who heard him. His wisdom astonished them. And they discussed among themselves who gave to him such wisdom. They had heard of the powerful deeds that Jesus had done. And they asked themselves where he got the power to do these things. He must have got this authority from God or from someone else.

Verses 55-56 The people there knew Jesus. He had lived most of his life in their town. He had been just one of them. To them, he was the son of Joseph the *carpenter. Joseph had died but his sons would have continued in his occupation. The people knew all his family. Mary was his mother and there were 4 brothers. And he had sisters who were still in the village. Now Jesus had come back with extraordinary authority. They could not understand how this could be.

James, who was one of the brothers, later became the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19). Probably he was the author of the book of James. The writer of Jude calls himself a brother of James (Jude 1). It could be that Jude was the same person as Judas, another of the brothers. (In the Greek language, Jude and Judas have the same spelling.)

Verses 57-58 The people in Nazareth refused to believe that Jesus was a *prophet. It offended them that he had such authority. To them, he was just an ordinary man from their village.

In his remark, Jesus agreed that he was a *prophet. That remark was probably not new. It was something that people said. A *prophet does not often receive honour among his own people. Often, people who do not know the *prophet respect him more than his own family and friends.

Jesus did cure a few sick people there (Mark 6:5). But he did not do many powerful deeds there because they did not have *faith in him.

Word List

altar ~ the special table where priests burned animals and other gifts that they offered to God.

angel ~ a servant of God from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages. So, angels are God’s servants from heaven. But there are evil angels who opposed God. These evil angels now serve the devil.

apostle ~ someone whom God sends; especially one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers.

baptise ~ to use water in a special ceremony to show that God has forgiven (washed away) a person’s *sin.

baptism ~ the act when a person *baptises someone.

Baptist ~ the title that we use for John, whom God sent to prepare people for the *Christ’s arrival.

Beelzebul ~ a name for the ruler of *demons.

blaspheme ~ to say things against God; to curse God or to insult him. Such behaviour is *blasphemy.

blasphemy ~ to speak against God; an insult against God.

bless ~ to show kindness

Cananaean ~ the title of Simon, who was one of Jesus’ 12 *disciples. It probably means that he was a member of a group called the Zealots. These Zealots tried to free Israel from the control of the *Romans.

carpenter ~ a person who works with wood.

centurion ~ an officer in the *Roman army.

Christ ~ The Christ is the name for the person whom God would send to save his people. The word ‘Christ’ means that the person has received an anointing. The anointing was a special ceremony that appointed someone to carry out a special work for God. Jesus is the Christ and he was called Christ. God sent Jesus to save his people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21).

crucify ~ a *Roman method to kill as a punishment. The *Roman soldiers would nail the person to a cross of wood.

Day of Atonement ~ a day when the *Jews *fast and pray for God to forgive their *sins.

demons ~ evil *angels that serve the devil.

descendant ~ a future member of a family or nation.

disciple ~ a person who follows a leader, especially the 12 men that Jesus chose to be with him.

dove ~ a kind of bird.

eternal life ~ It is a new quality of life now for those people who truly believe in Jesus. And it continues in heaven, after our body dies. This eternal life will never end.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.

fast ~ to choose not to eat for a time; a period of time when a person chooses not to eat.

feast ~ a time to eat and drink. The special times of *Jewish ceremonies are feasts.

fig ~ a kind of sweet fruit.

fishermen ~ men whose job it is to catch fish.

Gentile ~ any person who is not a *Jew.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

Gospel ~ one of the first 4 books in the New Testament. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin because of Jesus Christ.

grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called a vine.

Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit whom Jesus sent to help his people. The Holy Spirit is another name for God, also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a person but not human. He carries out God’s work on earth. He is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son.

hypocrite ~ someone who pretends to do good deeds in order to give a false impression.

idol ~ the image of a false god.

Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.

Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their *descendants.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. In the *New Testament, we often read about God’s kingdom. This nearly always means the people over whom God rules, and not a territory on earth.

leper ~ a person with a serious skin disease called *leprosy.

leprosy ~ a serious disease of the skin.

Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. In the *Old Testament, LORD was a special name for God. The word ‘lord’ can also mean a master or a ruler.

miracle ~ a powerful deed that does not happen by natural means. Often, miracles seem impossible to explain. Miracles show God’s power.

moth ~ an insect that eats cloth.

Mount ~ a mountain or hill.

mustard ~ a type of *spice that people grew in their gardens.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

peace ~ a right relationship with God or with other people; a prayer that God would *bless people with such a relationship.

pearl ~ a precious stone.

persecute ~ to attack and to hurt someone because of that person’s beliefs.

persecution ~ attacks against someone because of that person’s beliefs.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who tried to keep all God’s rules. They thought that by this they could please God.

Philistines – the inhabitants of a country called Philistia.

preach ~ to speak God’s message in public, and to teach his word.

prophecy ~ a message from God that a person speaks by the power of the *Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. A prophet can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart. People who repent must turn their minds and hearts away from *sin. They ask God to help them so that they can now serve him.

repentance ~ When a person *repents, that is repentance.

resurrection ~ life after death.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the most important rulers at the time of the *New Testament. Anything that belonged to Rome was called Roman. The people from Rome were called the Romans.

rust ~ the effect of damp air on metal, that spoils the metal.

Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week (Saturday) which is special to the *Jews as a holy day.

sacrifice ~ a gift to God to ask him to forgive *sins or to thank him for something. To sacrifice is to make a sacrifice.

Sadducee ~ one of a group of *Jews who did not believe in heaven or in *resurrection. They were an important group of *Jews at the time of Jesus, and they included the most important priests. They only used the five books at the beginning of the *Old Testament. They believed that people would not live again after death.

salvation ~ a right relationship with God. The only way for anyone to receive that right relationship is when God forgives that person’s *sins. And that is only possible because Jesus died for us. We must confess our *sins to God and we must invite him into our lives.

Samaritan ~ a person from the country called Samaria, or a description of something from that country.

sandal ~ a shoe with a piece of leather underneath and leather pieces to fit to the foot.

Satan ~ the name of the devil.

Scriptures ~ the books of the Bible. Where Jesus talks about the Scriptures, he means the books of the *Old Testament.

sermon ~ a lecture or speech.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

sin ~ Sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God.

sinners ~ people who *sin.

soul ~ the part of a person’s nature that other people cannot see; the real life of a person that continues after the death of the body.

sparrow ~ a kind of small bird.

spice ~ a sweet substance or a substance with a strong smell.

synagogue ~ a building where *Jews gather for prayer; a meeting place for *Jews.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had a temple in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God. But at other temples, people *worshipped false gods.

thorns ~ sharp hard points on a tree or bush.

throne ~ the special chair for the king or for an important person.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument which makes a loud noise when someone blows into it.

unclean ~ unable to join in public acts of *worship.

wolf/wolves ~ a kind of wild animal that is like a large dog. Wolves are strong and fierce animals.

worship ~ the act when someone shows honour to God (or to an *idol). When a person worships, that person praises God. That person thanks God. And that person respects God.

written divorce paper ~ the official record of a divorce. Either the husband, or someone on his behalf, would prepare this for the wife, to prove that she was no longer married to him.

yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise before someone bakes it.

yoke ~ a bar of wood that joins two animals together; something which unites people in a common task.

Book List

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Leon Morris ~ The Gospel according to Matthew ~The Pillar New Testament Commentary

D.A.Carson ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

R.T.France ~ Matthew ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

Bibles: NIV, ASV, NRSV, CEV, TEV, GW, ISV, KJV, LITV, MKJV, RV

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament

 

© 2015, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2015

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible