Defective and immature people in God’s house? (Matthew 21:14-16)

Jesus’ answer for what’s wrong is not exclusion: it’s the radical inclusion that comes from restoring our brokenness to wholeness.

What does the son of David do for his people as he enters the capital? Matthew alone reports this:

Matthew 21 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. (NIV)

Jesus had healed the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others in Galilee, where the crowds recognized the God of Israel working through him (15:30-31). The reaction in Jerusalem is polarized.

The crowds ascribe salvation (Hosanna) to the Davidic descendant who saves his people, but those who hold the reigns of the city are put out. They feel threatened, just as Saul did when God’s anointing had moved to David and the people sang his praises as the one who would save them (1 Samuel 18:7-8; 21:11; 29:5).

This descendant of David is the saviour/king in the story of his regal ancestor.

Continue reading “Defective and immature people in God’s house? (Matthew 21:14-16)”

His healing presence (Matthew 14:33-36)

Can a king sort out what’s wrong by healing rather than jailing people?

Open Matthew 14:33-36

Jesus’ kingship is Matthew’s dominant theme. From the introductory sentence (“anointed ruler, son of David”) to the culminating declaration (“all authority in heaven and earth”), the kingdom of God is here because the king is here.

Matthew contrasts the world’s true king with our existing rulers. Herod built fortresses to defend his kingship and armies to enforce his decrees. He used prisons to silence critics like John the Baptist. Yet, Matthew shows remarkable empathy for Herod: Herod didn’t want to kill John; he was trapped by forces beyond himself (Matthew 14:9).

I love the way Matthew juxtaposes the earthly ruler’s party for himself in his palace (14:1-12) with the heavenly king’s provision for his people in the wilderness (14:13-21). Jesus is the Son who listens to his Father (14:23). That’s why he has authority to calm not only the earth but the unruly sea (14:24-32). His followers see him as the Son with the eternal sovereign’s authority (14:33).

The crowds also recognized Jesus as he returned to Gennesaret on the northwest shore of Galilee. The men in charge of this town sent messengers to notify everyone of his arrival. They honoured him as a person of significance, the reaction appropriate for a royal visitor or a representative of God.

Continue reading “His healing presence (Matthew 14:33-36)”

Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?

With the pain and fragmentation the church is experiencing, this repost calls us to pull together around the heart of our faith: Jesus.


A liberal, an evangelical, and a charismatic walked into a bar. Secretly, the evangelical hoped his elders didn’t see him talking to the other two. Especially in a bar. They were already locked in a debate about healing when Mary arrived. “Sorry I’m late.” Continue reading “Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?”

The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)

Open Exodus 15:22-27.

The euphoria of coming out from Pharaoh’s oppressive rule didn’t last long. The Hebrews soon discovered they were still in a broken world.

They had not returned to Eden’s Garden where the rivers of God’s presence gushed forth in all directions to water creation (Genesis 2:10-14). No, they were in parched wilderness, without water, for three days (15:22). Continue reading “The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)”

How the Shepherd gathers his sheep (Matthew 10:5-8)

Our Shepherd empowers us to care for his people.

Open Matthew 10:5-8.

“Sheep without a shepherd” — it’s a disturbing image for a ruler who cares for his people (9:36). One man cannot round up the scattered sheep (9:37-38), so Jesus commissions twelve undershepherds (10:1-4), sending them to the lost sheep to announce his kingship (10:5-8).

Continue reading “How the Shepherd gathers his sheep (Matthew 10:5-8)”

Jesus the healer (Matthew 8:14-17)

What kind of ruler rectifies evil by curing his people?

Open Matthew 8:14-17.

We’ve seen how factions of the church respond differently to the healing stories in the Gospels, and we raised the question of whether the gospel of the kingdom can bring us together. Let’s read this through the kingdom lens: Continue reading “Jesus the healer (Matthew 8:14-17)”

Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?

A liberal, an evangelical, and a charismatic walked into a bar. Secretly, the evangelical hoped his elders didn’t see him talking to the other two. Especially in a bar. They were already locked in a debate about healing when Mary arrived. “Sorry I’m late.” Continue reading “Can the kingdom gospel bring us together?”

Jesus’ kingdom agenda (Matthew 4:23-25)

What was Jesus’ main message? How would you describe his message in a single phrase?

Open Matthew 4:23-25.

Does your pastor have a key theme you hear in most messages? Perhaps you hear how wonderful people are, an encouragement to be your best self. Perhaps you hear how depraved people are, and the importance of getting saved. Perhaps your church focuses on being kind and loving, or perhaps it calls you to act for justice. For some, exegeting the Bible is central, while for others church life is the focus. Most of us preachers and teachers have a core message.

So what was Jesus’ core message? If you had to summarize what Jesus wanted to say, what would it be? A single sentence: how would you describe it? Say it (out loud if you can) before reading on. Continue reading “Jesus’ kingdom agenda (Matthew 4:23-25)”