All the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-11)

What would you give for this kind of power?

Open Matthew 4:8-11.

“All the kingdoms of the world!” Satan claims to have them. He offers them to Jesus. History is full of people who would kill for that! Empires will do anything for that kind of power!

But how can Satan claim to have the kingdoms of the world anyway? The Jewish hymns declare that YHWH rules the whole earth and advise the nations to acknowledge him (e.g. Psalms 2, 8, 45, 72, 79, 97, 99, 110, 149). Does Satan really have all the kingdoms in his grasp? Well, … sort of. Continue reading “All the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-11)”

Putting God on the spot (Matthew 4:5-7)

Trusting God, or testing God? What’s the difference?

Open Matthew 4:5-7 and Psalm 91:11-12.

Psalm 91:1–2 (NIV)
1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

We love the psalms of trust. They calm our concerns. Fear subsides; faith soars. Beyond our immediate struggle, they help us see the unchanging love of our sovereign. We hold onto the one who holds us securely.

But there’s a world of difference between trusting God to hold us, and manoeuvring so God has to catch us. That’s what Satan suggested to Jesus: “Jump off the extremity of the temple: God said he’d look after you.” Continue reading “Putting God on the spot (Matthew 4:5-7)”

Short Video: Gospel of the Kingdom

Relax and enjoy the animation.

The Bible Project produces animated video summaries of Bible books and themes.

They’ve created a great little summary of The Gospel of the Kingdom (5 minutes). Watch on YouTube, or save a copy by right-clicking the Download button on this page (430 MB).

They also have some great introductions to books of the Bible, giving you the background and overview you need when you go to study a book. Check them out. My favourites are Genesis and Romans (2 videos each).

bibleproject_gospelofthekingdom

Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?

Is there a difference between “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of heaven”? Or are they interchangeable?

What does Matthew mean when he talks about the kingdom of heaven? Modern readers may miss the Jewish story, and imagine he means going to heaven when we die. For example, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23). So why is it so hard for rich people to get to heaven? Continue reading “Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of heaven?”

What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 3:11-12)

John the Baptist coined this term, as a way of contrasting his ministry with Jesus’. What did he mean?

Open Matthew 3:11-12.

What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? John said he baptized with water, but the coming king would baptize his people with Holy Spirit and fire. All later uses of this phrase refer back to John (except 1 Corinthians 12:13), so understanding what he meant is crucial to understanding the phrase. Continue reading “What is baptism with the Holy Spirit? (Matthew 3:11-12)”

Celebrating the arrival of the King (Psalm 72)

Tom Wright’s message, “Entering the Advent Season Celebrating the Arrival of the King”

Open Psalm 72.

Tom Wright recently delivered a message describing this season as “celebrating the arrival of the king.” Great perspective!

Here it is, reblogged: Continue reading “Celebrating the arrival of the King (Psalm 72)”

Heaven’s proclamation of Jesus (Matthew 3:17)

What did God announce at Jesus’ baptism?

caernarfoncastleinvestiture
Caernarfon Castle, 1969: Investiture of Prince Charles

Open Matthew 3:16-17.

Imagine standing on the banks of the Jordan as Jesus surfaced, hearing a voice proclaiming, “This is my Son, the one I love, who pleases me.” What would that mean to you?

You would not have thought, “Just look at that! The Father called him the Son, and the Spirit descended on him. There must be a trinity!” That understanding didn’t come until much later. So how would a first century Jew have understood the heavenly announcement? Continue reading “Heaven’s proclamation of Jesus (Matthew 3:17)”

Jesus’ priestly purification (Matthew 3:13-16)

Why was Jesus baptized if he wasn’t guilty?

Open Matthew 3:13-16.

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Others came confessing their sins (3:6). Jesus joined them. John refused, at least initially. Why did Jesus think he should be baptized to fulfil all righteousness (3:15)? Continue reading “Jesus’ priestly purification (Matthew 3:13-16)”