As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
26 February Mt 19:13-15
The disciples’ hesitation about the commitment of marriage (v.10) is now matched by their attitude to children whom they seem to regard as an intrusion and an inconvenience vv.13-15). Just like the Pharisees, the disciples need God to change their hearts. They have not yet grasped that denying our selfishness and laying down our life for others – essential in both marriage and parenting – are at the heart of God’s kingdom. The one who loses His life for Jesus’ sake will find it. Are you learning this?
27 February Mt 19:16-30
The rich young man saw himself as a commandment keeper, but he had not begun to keep the first commandment (Ex 20:3). His heart was enslaved by his love of money, which far exceeded his love for God (vv.21-22). Jesus exposed the man’s inability to change his own heart. Thankfully, God can change us (v.26), as the disciples had begun to experience (v.27). Every sacrifice made for God will be rewarded, for in His kingdom the world judges as “last” will indeed be first (vv.28-30).
28 February Mt 20:1-16
This parable is not meant to be a business model! Jesus is not teaching us about pay-scales. His point is that the kingdom of God does not operate on the basis of merit at all. If it did, we would all be lost, for our sin merits judgement. But Jesus compares God to a landowner who is generous to a fault, lavish in His kindness. We must not despise His grace when we see it given to others, as though we are more deserving of it than them. We have no cause for complaint, only for gratitude. Do your life show it?
1 March Mt 20:17-28
Jesus sees a terrible death before Him (vv.17-19). He will not die as others do, not even as other crucified men do, but uniquely He will die bearing the price of our sin in order to save us (v.28). And the disciples? Their mind is set on self-promotion and honours (vv.20-24). That may be the world’s style of leadership, but Jesus’ followers are to have nothing to do with it (vv.25-27). “This is our God, the Servant King; He calls us now to follow Him …” Will you?
2 March Mt 20:29-34
The crowds are enjoying Jesus but do not share His compassion. Hence they try to silence the blind men (v.31), but these desperate men shout louder, and Jesus heals them (v.34). Are we desperate enough to do serious business with God? That’s often the missing link. There’s no other basis for coming to Jesus except our need and His unique ability to meet it. Jesus opened their eyes not just to the trees and flowers, but to the God who had come to save them. They followed Him (v.34) – you too?
3 March Mt 21:1-11
At last Jesus makes an open and deliberate statement of His identity as the Messiah. He does this by arranging His entry to Jerusalem in line with the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 (vv.4-5): let everyone know that He is the King of whom the prophet spoke! Yet He comes in gentleness, not with the stern vengeance on God’s enemies that so many expected when Messiah came. This does not mean that God will fail to judge wickedness. But before that day arrives, God offers us His peace and reconciliation.
4 March Mt 21:12-17
Jesus was appalled to find commerce driving prayer out of the temple (vv.12-13). He interrupted the trading and replaced it with healing grace (v.14). The religious leaders were furious, and more so when children praised Jesus in messianic terms (v.15). Jesus’ quotation from Ps 8:2 (v.16) is a devastating reply, as Jesus accepts for Himself the praise which, in the psalm, is offered to God. How dare He? Because He is God with us (Mt 1:23), with the right to judge what happens in His house (v.13).