Leviticus 18-20; Psalm 44; Matthew 20:1-16; Acts 27:1-26 Matthew 20:1-16: Picking up on an apparently fairly enigmatic phrase at the end of the last section (“first, last; last, first,” 19:30), Jesus expounds more on that principle by telling a story to illustrate his meaning. By 20:16 he has explained what it is that he is saying, “So…

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Leviticus 16-17; Psalm 43; Matthew 19:16-30; Acts 26:19-32 Matthew 19:16-30: Another encounter that is well-known, and often misinterpreted. A man comes up to Jesus with what is apparently a genuine, as well as important, question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (19:16). But Jesus notes the precise elements of his question that indicate…

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Leviticus 14-15; Psalm 42; Matthew 19:1-15; Acts 26:1-18 Matthew 19:1-15: The teaching that Jesus gives in this passage about divorce is interpreted in a number of different ways within the Christian church today, and this has led to no small degree of controversy over the years. While we may not always see eye-to-eye with those…

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Leviticus 11-13, Psalm 41, Matthew 18:15-35, Acts 25:13-27 Matthew 18:15-35: This passage in Matthew 18 is much used in church circles, and not always well understood. It is one of only two times that specific word for “church” is used by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. One is when he is confirming that the foundation of the church is…

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Leviticus 8-10; Psalm 40; Matthew 18:1-14; Acts 25:1-12 Matthew 18:1-14: The question “who is the greatest?” has plagued Christian communities—and indeed all communities—since the beginning. In our frail humanity and fallenness, we seek for significance in the wrong places. We try to be better, greater, greatest—we do not simply enjoy the thing for the beauty…

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Leviticus 5-7; Psalm 39; Matthew 17:14-27; Acts  24 Matthew 17:14-27: Coming down from the mountain, Jesus is immediately met with a coming-back-to-earth moment of reality. Having been elevated and transfigured (Matt. 17:1-13), he now is back to dealing with the day-to-day realities of life and with people in their weakness, sickness, with demonic tendencies and…

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Leviticus 1-4; Psalm 38; Matthew 17:1-13; Acts  23:12-35 Matthew 17:1-13: The next event, the famous Transfiguration, connects to the previous by the phrase “And after six days” (17:1). What will it mean for some not to taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom? Some will see that coming of…

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Exodus 38-40; Psalm 37:23-40; Matthew 16:13-28; Acts  23:1-11 Matthew 16:13-28: Peter’s confession of Christ is justly famous, for good reason, and yet frequently misunderstood at the same time. Jesus begins by asking who people say that he is (16:13). This is a technique for teaching, asking a question in good Socratic mode, not because Jesus…

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Exodus 35-37; Psalm 37:1-22; Matthew 16:1-12; Acts  22  Matthew 16:1-12: The contrast between those who received Jesus’ teaching and responded with faith (like the Canaanite woman, 15:21-28), and others (like the Pharisees), becomes yet more stark and glaring. The Pharisees, along with the Sadducees, come to Jesus to test him (16:1). And what a test!…

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Exodus 34; Psalm 36; Matthew 15:21-39; Acts  21:27-40  Matthew 15:21-39: By contrast with the Pharisaic refusal to accept Jesus or listen to God’s Word, but rather instead trump God’s Word by means of their own human traditions—by contrast with this approach to Jesus, and God, we come across now the faith of a Canaanite woman.…

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