When to confront? When to step away? What can we learn Jesus’ responses to other leaders in his community?
What is it that isolates us from each other? I don’t mean Covid, though that has certainly contributed to feeling cut off from each other in recent years. What are the things that drive wedges between us, leaving us feeling withdrawn and distant?
I’m trying to learn from how Jesus related to people. He often taught the priority of sorting things out when we fall out with our sisters and brothers. Other times the disciples were bewildered to see Jesus giving up on community leaders in the rough and tumble of Galilean life without reconciling. His responses contain insights I need for leadership and relationship.
Continue reading “A lesson in leadership and confrontation (Matthew 15:1-20)”
Kings and priests were both anointed in the OT. How does this conflict of powers play out in Matthews’ Gospel? It goes to the heart of his explanation of the cross.
Once you realize the gospel is the good news of the kingdom (with Jesus as the anointed king), you see how the latter part of Matthew’s Gospel is the conflict of the two positions anointed by God: high priesthood and kingship. Matthew 21–28 chronicles the outworking of that clash.
Anticipating the conflict (Matthew 1–20)
Continue reading “Two powers (Matthew 21–28)”
Two olive trees supporting the menorah? How does this relate to Jesus?
Read Zechariah 4.
Matthew promotes Jesus’ agenda — the kingdom of God — as the fulfilment of the promises God gave through the prophets, with numerous allusions to Zechariah. We’re looking at how Zechariah’s visions informed Jesus’ agenda.
When the kingdom fell apart and the people were exiled to Babylon, Zechariah delivered God’s call for the exiles to return (1:3), declaring that God would lead them home like a new exodus (2:6-12). He said they would see the twin signs of God’s leadership over them: Joshua the cleansed high priest in God’s house, and “the Branch” of David’s house who would reign as God’s anointed (3:8).
Continue reading “Rulers of the restored kingdom (Zechariah 4)”
Warnings of a dangerous path, not wishes for disaster. That’s what Jesus meant by “Woe.”
If you think Jesus deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, you might be shocked by the way he addressed his enemies. Should we follow his example? This post helps you put his declarations of woe (Matthew 23) in context.
Jesus was approaching the capital to be recognized as king. That’s how the people called it: the son of David, coming in the name of the Lord to save his people (see on 21:9). But their joyful news sent shock waves through the powerful people of the city.
Continue reading “Woe there: how did Jesus treat his enemies? (Matthew 23)”
What’s the most important thing God ever told us to do? The answer describes kingdom life, what the king intends for his community.
The fight is on!
Jesus is in one corner. Opposing him is a tag team of Israel’s leading fighters. They’ve stopped fighting each other to bring down the people’s champion. Three rounds:
- Pharisees lead the attack by testing his support for Caesar. Jesus sends them back in their corner: give Caesar the currency in his name, but he’s not the ultimate authority (22:15-22).
- Next, Sadducees take a swing at his resurrection hope, but Jesus finds their vulnerability. They failed to factor in God’s power, the I AM, the life-giving Being (22:23-33).
- Then an unnamed hand gathers reinforcements to bring down God’s anointed.
This fight is the final week of Jesus’ life. It’s building towards the final assault on God’s anointed. He’s been in this fight since he was born, when Herod gathered together all the ruling priests and scribes of the people to investigate this king of the Jews (2:4). Now the leaders are gathered against him by an unspecified hand (same verb, passive voice):
Continue reading “Loving God and people (Matthew 22:34-40)”
Since we can’t have the marches and parades this year, let’s make Anzac Day a more contemplative experience. Whether you’re educating children at home or just wanting to make the day stand out from the humdrum of lockdown, let’s make it significant. Continue reading “A different Anzac Day”
What can we learn from Jesus about how to handle conflict?
Open Matthew 12:14-21 and Isaiah 42:1–4.
How do you handle conflict? Fight? Or flight?
Some of us are fighters. We stand our ground. We’re warriors for justice, for ourselves and for others. We’ll never stand by and let evil take the reins.
Some of us avoid conflict. We keep the peace at all costs. We take the way of the cross: it’s more godly to suffer wrong than to demand rights.
Funny thing is that both groups conscript Jesus. Justice warriors look up to a Jesus as a leader who stood up for the poor, the outcasts, the unacceptable “sinners.” He trained his followers to handle confrontation, bringing not peace but a sword (10:14-39). He announced woes on the Galilean towns that rebuffed his kingship (11:20-24). He confronted the Pharisees so vehemently and persistently that they wanted to destroy him (12:1-14).
Then, suddenly, Jesus suddenly quits the confrontation and withdraws (12:15). And this isn’t the first time. When John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus withdrew into Galilee (4:12). This non-confrontational Jesus was not what John expected the Messiah to be (11:3). Jesus didn’t rescue John. John was beheaded, and Jesus withdrew again (14:13).
So what’s all this withdrawing? Is this another side to Jesus? Is this the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of children’s lullabies? Continue reading “Face or flee? What Jesus did with conflict (Matthew 12:14-21)”