The Olivet Discourse – Plain & Simple (Part 3)

Read Parts 1 and 2. In Mt 24-25, Jesus set his disciples’ expectations about the end of it all. The end of the age would be an age of the end. The disciples assumed there would soon be a cataclysmic event to inaugurate Messiah’s reign. Wanting to be prepared, the asked Jesus about signs and times (24.1-3). They learn, however, the Messianic kingdom will come in stages. There would be […]

Search Without Flattery

“He whom you detest appears to you to be unworthy oft he grace of Christ. Why then was Christ himself made a sacrifice and a curse, but that he might stretch out his hand to accursed sinners? Now, if we feel disgust at being associated by Baptism and the Lord’s Supper with vile men, and regard our connection with them as a sort of stain upon us, we ought immediately […]

The Olivet Discourse – Plain & Simple (Part 2)

Read Part 1. Jesus’ disciples asked him what they thought was one big question (Mt 24.3): When will this world end and the Messianic kingdom begin? Surely, the temple’s destruction (24.2) coincided with the Son of Man’s “coming” (παρουσία) in final judgment to make an end of God’s enemies. The way Jesus answered their questions, however, corrected their premise. The destruction of Jerusalem and her temple (AD 70) would not […]

The Olivet Discourse – Plain & Simple (Part 1)

Jesus spent his evenings during “Passion Week” with his disciples in a village on the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem. On Wednesday (?) evening, Jesus “was sitting on the Mount of Olives” (24.3) when his quizzical disciples sidled up for clarification. Earlier that day they left the temple complex and Jesus, rather matter-of-factly, buried the lede. Messiah wasn’t coming to raise Jerusalem and her beloved (and corrupt) temple. […]

Let’s Not Pretend We Don’t Pretend

Woe to you pretenders. It briefly captures our attention if Jesus says it once. To say it seven times at one sitting captures us for eternity. Woe, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe to you pretenders. Like a methodical boxer, Jesus had picked his spots throughout Matthew’s gospel. The Pharisees were slow-footed heavyweights who stomped and thudded and complained. For three years, they chased Jesus around the ring flailing about […]

The With Us God

Joseph returned home from a busy day at the shop. He smelled like cedar with a hint of balsam. Sons of David deserved a table fit for kings. Mary would love it. He could hardly wait to enjoy their first meal around it as a family. Then the unthinkable happened. Joseph hadn’t seen Mary in three months. She had gone to visit her older cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with […]

A Tale of Two Betrayers

Matthew wove a subtle thread through his crucifixion account.  All the Gospel writers detailed Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but only Matthew recorded what happened to Judas afterward (Mt 27.3-5; cf. Acts 1.18f.).  He did so in such a way to compare and contrast Judas with Peter: two deniers of Jesus.  Matthew magnified the sovereignty and grace of Jesus to secure his own despite their failings. Satan tried every tactic to […]

Confessions of a Smooth Talker

You recognize smooth talk when you hear it.  Sometimes it’s too late, though, after you’ve set your heart on what you’ve heard.  By then you’ve likely given away something you never thought you would. Smooth talk is a grifter.  Thievery’s chiseled but sinister cousin.  Always cutting the corner as he pickpockets his way out of town.  He was good. Too good.  He said just enough but never quite enough.  He […]

Take Up Your Cross, and Stay There

“In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him and saying, ‘He saved others;  he cannot save Himself.  He is the King of Israel;  let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.  HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM;  for He said, “I am the Son of God.”‘” (Mt 27.41–43) Tell me if […]

Should Christians Buy a Powerball Ticket?

The current Powerball estimate is over $1 billion and counting.  It’s no wonder a recent article in The Atlantic cited this staggering statistic: “According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, lotteries took in $70.1 billion in sales in the 2014 fiscal year. That’s more than Americans in all 50 states spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and recorded music sales.” The article concludes: “In an age […]