Having seen Christ’s confrontation of our hearts that are so prone to hate, and Christ’s expectation to perfectly love our enemies, we turn to our last point: the confrontation of our sinful hearts, and the expectation to love our enemies, can only be accomplished through the penalty-paying and power-providing transformation of grace that only Christ can give. He becomes our penalty-payer and our power-provider.Read More
Jesus not only confronts the matter of our hearts that are prone to hate, he moves on in our text to express the expectations he has for those who want to follow the true meaning of the law.
A second theme Jesus articulates in this passage is expectation. In verses 38-42, he calls on us to not retaliate when provoke but to give up our all – especially our hearts. Remember, these are illustrations to reveal his expectations of our hearts. In verses 38-42 he gives four implicit commands (through illustration) to reveal the radical nature of his expectations.Read More
Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
I wonder, sometimes we go to scripture and we find these phrases that are like second nature to us. We go to familiar stories, or Jesus’ teachings, and we think we understand what it means without any explanation or without understanding the context or setting. I wonder if this passage here in Matthew 5 is one of those familiar stories. If there is any passage of scripture that Christians know, and perhaps non-Christians alike, it’s a passage like this one that we’re considering today.Read More
As a result of her resolute faith, in the midst of regrettable tragedy, Elisha is moved to take up her plea and provide resurrection hope. The third and last truth we learn in this story is resurrection hope.
Starting with verse 32, we read how Elisha comes back to the house and does something that at first blush seems very strange. After praying to the Lord, he stretches himself on top of the dead boy, placing his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boy’s eyes, his hands on the boy’s hands. After doing this three times, we read that the once dead child awoke, sneezed seven times, and opened his eyes!Read More
The story in Shunem continues and from verse 21 on, we read a remarkable tale about resolute faith. That is the second truth we see in this story, in the midst of regrettable tragedy, we see a resolute faith that is unshakable and unflinching.
After the boy’s death, the mother takes her child and places him on the bed of Elisha’s guest room. Without hesitation, she tells her husband that she will find the man of God. Though her husband discourages her to go to Elisha in light of the apparent protocol or visitation rules that existed at that time, she replies simply, “shalom,” it is well. She has lost her child, but not her faith. Her faith is so resolute that she is sure the prophet will see her, regardless of whether it is the appropriate spiritual day to see men of God like Elisha.Read More
In the 1870s, Horatio Spafford was a successful Chicago lawyer and a close friend of evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Spafford had invested heavily in real estate, but the Chicago fire of 1871 wiped out his holdings. His son had died shortly before the disaster.
Spafford and his family desperately needed a rest, so in 1873 he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. While in Great Britain, he also hoped to help Moody and Sankey with their evangelistic tour. Last minute business caused Spafford to delay his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters on the S. S. Ville Du Havre as scheduled, promising to follow in a few days. On November 22, the ship was struck by the English ship Lochearn, and it sank in twelve minutes. Several days later, the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband the brief message, "Saved alone."Read More