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.
22 January Mt 11:16-24
Jesus compares His critics to truculent children who refuse to be pleased. Shall we play weddings? Too lively. Shall we play funerals? Too dull. John the Baptist? Too strict. Jesus? Too fond of a party (vv.17-19). Of course, the problem lies not with Jesus, but with our hearts. He spells out the tragic consequences for the cities of His day (vv.20-24). But those who humbly follow Jesus as their King will live to see the wisdom of discipleship, for the proof of the pudding is in the eating (v.19).
23 January Mt 11:25-30
People may pride themselves on their sophistication, but it cuts no ice with God who dismisses our pretensions and reveals Himself to little children (v.26). What room is there for boasting when we are powerless to know God unless Jesus chooses to reveal Him to us (v.27)? So lay down the ill-fitting yoke of pride (it will rub your neck raw if you continue to wear it), and take instead the yoke of following Jesus which has been designed to fit you perfectly (vv.28-30). His yoke will heal you.
24 January Mt 12:1-14
Sin has so corrupted human nature that we twist God’s good gifts into cruel and inhuman burdens. The Sabbath was God’s kindly, joyful provision of weekly rest for ex-slaves who formerly never had a day-off. Humans distorted it into an opportunity for self-righteous posturing that oppressed rather than blessed (vv.1-8), and led to people being treated worse than animals (vv.9-11). Thank God, Jesus restores the priority of mercy (vv.7,12-13), though the merciless hate it (v.14). Your reaction?
25 January Mt 12:15-21
In contrast to the violence and injustice being plotted by the Pharisees (v.14), Jesus is the gentle Servant of the Lord prophesied by Isaiah (vv.17-19). He deals tenderly with the broken and failing (v.20), unlike His critics who would allow the hungry to go without food and the sick to remain unhealed (yesterday’s reading, vv.1-14). There’s a wideness to Christ’s mercy that will embrace all nations, not just Israel (vv.18,21). How different is God’s true Servant from all empty pretenders!
26 January Mt 12:22-29
Already some Pharisees have plotted to kill Jesus (v.14). Now they compound their guilt by attributing Jesus’ mighty acts to Satan (vv.22-24). Such is the darkness to which religious zeal can lead us if it is not informed by the light of Christ. The truth is that the coming of God’s kingdom means that Satan’s kingdom must fall. Like a strong man bound, Satan is helpless to prevent Jesus plundering his house and freeing his captives (v.29). This is surely a cause for praise, not complaint!
27 January Mt 12:30-37
The kingdom of God that has come in Jesus brings grace and forgiveness for all who repent (v.31). Nevertheless, people who say, “I will not follow the Spirit when He points me to the Saviour” shut themselves off from salvation (v.31). The problem with Jesus’ opponents lay in themselves (vv.33-35): like bad trees, they inevitably produced bad fruits. What carelessly gushes from our mouths reveals what we truly are (vv.36-37). Let us make sure we are truly “with” Jesus (v.30).
28 January Mt 12:38-45
The Pharisees’ demand for a sign (v.38) seems insincere after they have rejected what Jesus has just done (vv.22-24). Jesus will not play their game. Their problem was not lack of evidence but wilful evasion of the evidence. His crowning miracle will be his resurrection (vv.39-40), but He has done enough already to leave them without excuse (vv.41-42). Their continued unbelief in the face of such evidence leaves them worse off than ever (vv.43-45). May God deliver us from such hard hearts.