GOD WITH US:
Walking with Jesus
Matthew 9:9 – 13
Matt. 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
Matt. 9:10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
~ Read John 9:35-41 ~
What you just read is the tail end of the narrative of the blind man who is called before the Pharisees. If you are not familiar with this section, please take the time to read all of John 9. This is another miracle that drives controversy. It seems like every time Jesus displays any compassion or divine authority, it makes certain people uncomfortable.
This section shows Jesus pursuing the healed blind man as he was cast out from before the Jewish leaders. One of the most powerful questions that Jesus presents to this man is, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” That is a question that all of us must spend some time thinking about. There are two types of people in this narrative, the ones who experienced the power of Christ verses those who are hunting facts.
Talk it out:
1. What is it that separates this man, who believes, from all of those who do not believe?
2. Read verse 39 again. In your own words, what do you think Jesus is saying here?
3. To whom do you relate the most? The Pharisees or the blind man?
~ Read Hosea 6:1-6 ~
As you probably noticed, the last verse of this text is the verse that Jesus quotes in the passage from the sermon this past week. Working through the context of that quote, you can see the prophet Hosea calling Judah to return to the Lord. God is the one who brought punishment upon them for the way that they had disobeyed Him. Even worse, the way they lived their lives in constant hypocrisy. They lived in ongoing sin but continued to sacrifice in the temple as if it appeased God. This is how all the other nations and their gods worked. They would sacrifice things to keep their gods from getting mad. Hosea indicates that there is more to the relationship between the creator God of the universe, and His people. God does not just want his people to go around making sacrifices because they fear Him. He also is not interested in the act of a sacrifice as the extent of a relationship with His people. God is forming a holy, righteous nation who belong to Him and are ultimately ruled by Him. God’s desire is for our hearts to be transformed and to begin to live holy lives that point others toward His glory. This has always been the plan and now through Jesus, it is an active plan accomplishing the Great Commission.
Talk it out:
1. What sticks out to you the most when you read through this section of Hosea?
2. What do you think the author is driving us toward in the first three verses?
3. What do you think verse 4 is saying?
4. Take a moment to search your heart and seek where you may be simply offering sacrifices instead of what the Lord truly desires.
~ Read Acts 3:17-26 ~
This is one of the sermons that Peter preaches in the early section of the book of Acts. These early sermons centered around Christ and repentance. As you read through these sermons, you get the feeling that Peter is not necessarily revealing new information about the narrative of Jesus, but rather, about the significance of that narrative and what it means for those who believe. In other words, the Jews he is talking to are well aware of the guy who they hung on a cross not that long ago right outside their town. Peter’s messages often start with a note of guilt for their part in his crucifixion.
In this specific sermon, Peter spends some time connecting Jesus with the “mouth of the prophets” and the prophecy Moses gave about one who would come after him. Jesus’ true identity is revealed as the one that they have been waiting for. Peter essentially tells the Jews that as natural as it is to believe in the covenant with Abraham, and the words of Moses, and all the prophets and kings to follow, so is it to come to Jesus and repent before him that He might work purification in their lives.
I know this sounds like a bunch of historical hodge-podge, but the point that Peter is making is very important. He just told the Jews that Jesus is the answer and natural next step for their entire world. From Abraham to now, this makes perfect sense. This is exactly the message we need to hear as we continue to search for the answers in our world.
Talk it out:
1. Read verse 18 – 19. What would it take for someone to obey the command of verse 19?
2. Read verse 26. This is an interesting verse, because many of these Jews thought they were living according to the Law and obedience. Yet Peter says that God wants Jesus to turn them from their wickedness… In what ways do you need to be reminded of this message daily?
3. As you think about your own story, can you see how Jesus is the natural next step? If you have followed Jesus for a long time, are you still living in awe of the work of Christ?
~ Read Luke 15:1-7 ~
You can see that in the first two verses of this passage from Luke, you have a parallel of tax collectors and sinners gathering to eat with Jesus. Also, the Pharisees complaining about the situation at hand. Although, the main parallel for the call of Matthew (or Levi) in the book of Luke is in chapter 5, we still note the similarities in this text. The thing I am most interested in you connecting is the fact that the parable to follow this text is the one of the lost sheep. The story of the lost sheep is one of my favorite stories. There is a foundational joy in the reality that Jesus seeks out the one that is lost and celebrates its return into relationship with Him. On one level, this is a philosophical model for our ministry thinking. In essence, the Pharisees are not thinking right about the situation in that they are more concerned about Jesus’ “sin” of eating with sinners, rather than the redemption of those sinners. They chose judgment over celebration. This is probably because they do not know who Jesus really is and the authority and power that is truly within him. However, you and I are without excuse. We must choose between judgment and celebration every single day. When we see the hurting, the sinner, the rebellious, are we the Pharisee standing in judgment, or are we believing in the power of Jesus to find and celebrate his lost sheep.
Talk it out:
1. Why do you think Luke chooses to place the parable of the lost sheep right behind the 15:1-2?
2. Why does the shepherd go through all the effort to find one sheep?
3. Read verse 7. What does this verse mean? How does it impact your worldview?
~ Read Acts 1:6-8 ~
Silly disciples… I love how this text starts. The disciples are asking Jesus if this is when he is finally going to accomplish all the things they thought he was supposed to. They still are not tracking all that he accomplished through His death and resurrection. Before you get too hard on the disciples, know that we often live our lives in a parallel state. We are waiting on Jesus to do something great for us, when in actuality, there is no way he could do anything as great as he already did.
I love verse seven and eight of this text. Verse seven is sort of a reprimand for their silly question. Verse 8 is a statement of power and mission. I can’t even begin to tell you how often I need to be reprimanded and then focused on the real thing that matters in God’s redemptive plan. This is the last thing that Jesus tells the disciples before he leaves them for good. There is power in these words. Take some time to read them and think about them.
Talk it out:
1. Why do you think the disciples were asking the question they asked in verse 6?
2. Break down verse eight to the best of your ability. What does Jesus say is going to happen to the disciples? Then, what will they become? Where? What does this mean to you?
3. Each of us is called to this mission in our Christian life. What does this mean for you in the daily life that you live?