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.
5 February Mt 13:53-58
The parables that Jesus has taught have emphasised that His ministry divides people according to their reaction. Here, His neighbours give a negative verdict. Their pride is offended that one of their own should so outshine them in wisdom and power. Thus they did not benefit from His miracles as they might have done (v.58), for just as Jesus delighted to reward faith (e.g., 8:10, 13), so He judges unbelief. The verdict we pass on Jesus leads to the verdict He passes on us.
6 February Mt 14:1-12
The rejection of Jesus in Nazareth (yesterday) prefigured His greater rejection in Jerusalem. Likewise, the brutal murder of John the Baptist foreshadowed Jesus’ own violent death. A weak ruler (Herod) was manipulated against his will into killing God’s servant (vv.6-10); Pilate would follow a similar path (27:11-26). There is perennial warfare between the seed of the woman and the serpent’s seed (Ge 3:15). We should not be surprised or dismayed, but give thanks for Christ’s victory.
7 February Mt 14:13-21
Even when Jesus sought quiet, the crowds followed (v.13). Compassion, not frustration, was His response (v.14), for His love is measureless. Hungry people following their Lord into the wilderness and discovering His miraculous provision … every Jew knew the manna story, and now it was repeated before their eyes. Who is Jesus, they wondered? He’s the Exodus God who leads His people out of slavery, and provides all they need. “They all ate and were satisfied”– and still plenty to spare (v.20).
8 February Mt 14:22-36
See Jesus walking – not slogging – on the storm-tossed lake. No matter how high the waves, how strong the wind, how dark the night, Jesus rules. How? The words translated, “It is I” (v.27) are literally, “I am” – the name of God’s self-disclosure in Ex 3:14. Jesus is the God who made and rules all things. His grace is sufficient to save us, whether we are an experienced disciple beginning to sink (vv.30-31), or someone stretching out a hopeful hand to Him for the first time (vv.35-36)
9 February Mt 15:1-20
This passage highlights the danger of substituting outward ritual for inward devotion to God. Religious traditions may end up undermining God’s word rather than supporting it (vv.3-6). Hypocrisy is the unhappy result (vv.7-9). Not external dirt, but inward pollution, is the root of the human problem (vv.1-2, 10-11, 16-20), and no amount of water can touch it. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse our hearts (Mt 26:28). Thank God, our Lord is mighty to save, whatever our past, as we’ll see tomorrow.
10 February Mt 15:21-28
A Canaanite woman crying out to Jesus (v.22)? The Canaanites were the ancient inhabitants of the land who suffered God’s judgement through Israel’s sword in the days of Joshua. She’s got no chance! Yet Jesus’ three rebuffs of her (vv.23-24, 26) are matched by her threefold appeal to Him as “Lord” (vv.22,25,27). She must have Jesus. Jesus wanted His disciples to see that the tenacious faith lacked by the Pharisees and the people of Nazareth was found in a Canaanite. Whoever wishes to may come!
11 February Mt 15:29-31
The Canaanite woman was not the only “outsider” entering God’s kingdom. Galilee (v.29) has already been identified as an area of mixed population (Mt 4:15). Now he tells us that this Galilean crowd “praised the God of Israel” (v.31), implying they were not themselves Israelites. They were used to looking on from the outside, but Jesus draws them in. Isaiah foretold this (Isa 42:6-7); and what Jesus her11 February Mt 15:29-31e does on a small scale, He will multiply after His resurrection (Mt 28:19) – for our sake.