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Looking for Jesus according to Matthew



1) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 7: When Jesus finishes these sayings, the effect is that the crowds are astounded at his way of teaching, for he is teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.

- Imagine you were there listening to Jesus!

- Knowledge vs Ignorance
1) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 7: When Jesus finishes these sayings, the effect is that the crowds are astounded at his way of teaching, for he is teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.

- Imagine you were there listening to Jesus!

- Knowledge vs Ignorance
Jesus vs religion

Religion is believing in God, attending religious services, taking catechism, being baptized, and receiving communion. Religion is tradition, ritual, ceremony, and learning the difference between right and wrong.

Religion is reading and memorizing Scripture, offering prayers, giving to the poor, and celebrating religious holy days. Religion is singing in the choir, helping the poor, and making amends for past wrongs.

Religion is something that was practiced by the Pharisees, those Scripture-loving, conservative, separatist, spiritual leaders who hated Christ enough to call for His death.

They hated Him not only because He broke their traditions in order to help people (Matthew 15:1-9 ) but because He saw through their religion to their hearts.

Religion doesn't change hearts

Jesus likened the religious Pharisees to a group of dishwashers who clean the outside of a cup while leaving the inside dirty.

He said, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?" (Luke 11:39-40). Jesus knew that a person can change his image without changing his act ( Matthew 23:1-3).

He knew that religious credentials and ceremony cannot change the heart. He told one of the most religious men of His day that unless a person is "born again" by the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Yet from that day until now, many of the most religious people in the world continue to forget that while religion can give attention to outward appearance, only Christ can change the heart.

Religion makes much of little

Jesus spoke to religionists who had a passion for detail when He said, "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue, and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone" ( Luke 11:42).

Jesus saw our tendency to make rules and to focus on "morally correct" behavior instead of keeping our eyes on the bigger issue of why we are trying to be so right. While the Pharisees were big on knowledge carried out to its logical conclusions, they forgot that God doesn't care how much we know until He knows how much we care.

It was this greater "why" that the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. . . . If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing" ( 1 Corinthians 13:1,3).

Religion offers the approval of men rather than God

Jesus reserved His strongest criticism for religious people who used their spiritual reputation to get social attention and honors.

To such religionists Jesus said, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces" ( Luke 11:43).

Then, speaking to His disciples, He said of the Pharisees, "All their works they do to be seen by men" ( Matthew 23:5).

Jesus saw clearly into the practice of religion, which holds the opinions and attention of man to be more important and desirable than the approval of God.

Religion makes hypocrites of us

Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them" ( Luke 11:44).

What looks better than being dressed right, attending religious services, and doing things that mark us as decent, God-fearing people?

Yet how many religious scholars, ministers, and faithful followers withhold honor and encouragement from their wives, attention from their children, and love from their doctrinal enemies?

Jesus knew what we often forget: What looks good may have a heart of evil.

Religion makes a hard life harder

Because religion cannot change a heart, it tries to control people with laws and expectations that are not even kept by the religionists who interpret and apply the rules.

With this "burden factor" in mind, Jesus said, "Woe to you also, lawyers [experts in religious law]! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers" (Luke 11:46).

Religion is good at describing high standards of right behavior and relationships, but poor at giving real and merciful help to those who realize they have not lived up to those expectations.

Religion makes it easy to deceive ourselves

It's been jokingly said, "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand." The Pharisees acted out a similar idea, but it wasn't funny.

According to Jesus, the Pharisees prided themselves in honoring and building memorials to the prophets.

The irony is that when they met a real prophet they wanted to kill Him.

"The only prophets they admired were dead prophets; when they met a living one, they tried to kill Him.

They honored the dead prophets with tombs and memorials, but they dishonored the living ones with persecution and death."

This is the point Jesus made in Luke 11:47-51 and in a parallel passage in Matthew 23:29-32.

The Pharisees had fooled themselves. They didn't think of themselves as prophet-killers. Religionists don't see themselves as the God-rejecting people they are.

Religion hides the key of knowledge

One of the greatest dangers of religion is that it causes us to be a danger not only to ourselves but also to others.

To the very religious biblical experts of His day Jesus said, "Woe to you lawyers!

For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered" ( Luke 11:52).

Religionists take away "the key of knowledge" by distracting people from the Word of God and from a "right attention of heart"

by the unnecessary additions of denominationally correct traditions and expectations.

Rather than leading people to God, religionists shift the focus to themselves and their own rules.

Religionists are those who trust the beliefs and actions of their religion to do what only Christ can do.

Religion leads its converts astray

In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."

Converts of religion are in double jeopardy. They bring a double enthusiasm to their new way of life, and with zeal they blindly defend their blind teachers.

They put themselves in the trust of people who have exchanged a system of rules and traditions for the life, forgiveness, and relationship of an infinite Savior.

Religion is important in its place (James 1:26-27), but only when it points us to the Christ who died for our sins and who now offers to live His life through those who trust Him (Galatians 2:20; Titus 3:5).

Jesus Christ is someone to know and trust

Jesus Christ is more than a system, tradition, or belief.

He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain, and sympathizes with our weakness. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, to intercede for us, and to bring us to His Father. He cried for us, died for us, and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be.

Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth, and then bring us safely to heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will repent and believe the gospel.


2) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 8: A scribe wants to follow Jesus wherever he goes but Jesus warns him the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.

- Apparently this one wants to follow Jesus but he is used to a certain standard of living and it doesn’t work with Jesus.

- Jesus knows what we think when we think!

- He follows his Father’s interests not his that’s why he is going to build a world for us not destroy the Earth and there will be no seats for those who are destroying it: remember the Israelites: they didn’t get into the promised land, they stayed at the door!


3) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9:

- Jesus forgives a paralytic’s sins!

- The scribes think Jesus blasphemes!

- Knowing what they think, he cures the paralytic to show them he can also forgives people’s sins!

- And the crowds are struck with fear and they glorify God!

- Religious leaders = superficial? Liars? They have seen or heard about Jesus’ miracles and they know what he does and who he is?


4) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9: The Pharisees don’t understand why Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners!

- Apparently they can’t understand he has come to help sinners to recover!

- Really strange people!

- The question is: what are they good to? Nothing!

- They are only leeches!

- They don’t help anybody!

- On the contrary!

- Jesus wants people to listen carefully to his message and be saved, religious leaders do business and want people to listen to them to serve their own interests and go to destruction exactly as it happened each time when Jerusalem was destroyed!


5) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9:24

τὸ (to)
Article - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

κοράσιον (korasion)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 2877: A little girl, a young girl; a girl, maiden. Neuter of a presumed derivative of kore; a girl.

is not dead,
οὐ (ou)
Strong's 3756: No, not. Also ouk, and ouch a primary word; the absolute negative adverb; no or not.

ἀλλὰ (alla)
Strong's 235: But, except, however. Neuter plural of allos; properly, other things, i.e. contrariwise.

καθεύδει (katheudei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 2518: To sleep, be sleeping. From kata and heudo; to lie down to rest, i.e. to fall asleep.

- Another powerful verse! When someone you appreciate a lot dies, how do you think about the situation?


6) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9:27-30

- We see two blind men, they know who Jesus is and what he can do and they don’t want to miss the opportunity so they keep searching him and he asks them a question and THEIR EYES RECEIVE SIGHT like a gift but they had to struggle to get it! Do we really strive to take the opportunity Jesus gives us before it is too late? If we want Jesus to come to us, we have to sincerely come to him and look for him! It is a personal choice and it is our decision, not others! Jesus warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem and those who escaped were saved, the others died or were taken into slavery! It doesn’t matter if people listen to their religious leaders or not, they decided and they paid the price, that’s it!


7) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9:32-34

- People bring him a speechless man possessed of a demon!

- Jesus expels the demon!

- The speechless man speaks again!

- The crowds are amazed!

- As usual, the Pharisees oppose him!

- They call him the ruler of the demons!

- Can we say, on the one hand, GOOD SENSE from NORMAL PEOPLE and, on the other hand, BLINDNESS from RELIGIOUS LEADERS!


8) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9: Jesus goes to different cities and villages and teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom and curing people!

- Jesus is a good example of hard work for God to follow, the religious leaders are not as they are busy looking for their own interests!


9) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 9: Jesus feels pity for the crowds because they are shepherdless then he says that the harvest is great but with few workers so it is necessary to beg the master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest!

- Jesus is clear: the religious leaders are good to nothing, they leave the people ignorant!

- They must be taught!

- Searching is also important!

- It is essential to look for God!

- We can’t stay passive and say: I didn’t know!


10) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 10:

- Jesus tells his disciples that he is sending them as sheep among wolves!

- So he wants them to be cautious as serpents but innocent as doves!

- He warns them that men will hand them over to local courts and will scourge them in their synagogues!

- Think about who are the WOLVES!

-And Jesus tells us to be careful about them because once again they have their own interests which are not ours!


11) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 11: All the same, wisdom is proved righteous by its works.

- It is not possible to compare Jesus’ wisdom and the religious leaders’ wisdom!

- Sometimes it is necessary to open our eyes and our ears to really see and hear because people are used to man’s tradition! It is like when people come back from work and switch on TV, it makes noise but they don’t really see it or hear it!


12) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 11: Jesus thanks his father for having hidden his Word from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children.

- This is an important verse: God’s Word is not for the intellectual or those who think they know everything!

- On the contrary, if we want to understand God’s word, we need to be open-minded like young children and learn and study again and again God’s word!

- We must do more than just reading but scrutinize God’s Word as much as we can and daily, not once in a while!

- The more we look at it, the more we will get used to it and to the context and the more details which at first seem just details will appear as essential to our understanding!

- And some details are the keys to understand the whole, if we don’t get them we miss the whole part!

- We must become specialists of the Bible by studying it carefully and with our heart thus we can receive the help of God to open our eyes and ears!

- If we don’t make the effort to get closer to God, how do we want him to get closer to us!

- Think about some faithful servants of God in the Bible: they were not amateurs in term of faithfulness but they strove to become so!


13) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 11: Jesus is mild-tempered and lowly in heart, following him means refreshment and he invites us to take his yoke which is kindly and his load light!

- Do the religious leaders make Jesus’ yoke KINDLY and his load LIGHT?

- Can they help us find REFRESHMENT for ourselves?

- Not according to what Jesus says!


14) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 12: The Pharisees are looking for a way to accuse Jesus so they ask Jesus if it is lawful to cure on the Sabbath!

- So Jesus tells them about a sheep that has fallen into a pit on the Sabbath and he asks them if they are not going to save it!

- And he adds that a man is more valuable than a sheep!

- The problem is that the religious leaders are looking for their own interests!

- So they take care about their own sheep!

- But they don’t care about ordinary people!

- So ordinary people can go to destruction, it’s not their problem!


15) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 12: Jesus speaks about his servant whom he has approved and to whom he has given his spirit and he will bring justice!

- God chose his servant, not them!

- God approved him, not them!

- God put his spirit upon him, not upon them!

- He brings justice, they bring injustice!

- He doesn’t quarrel, they quarrel!

- He brings hope, they can only bring disappointment!


16) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 12:

- A good tree produces good fruit and a rotten tree produces rotten fruit!

- Jesus calls the Pharisees offspring of vipers!

- He says they can’t speak good things because they are wicked!

- And the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks!

- Or is that people forget what is a fine fruit and get used to rotten fruit?

- Or a mixed fruit?

- Strange!

- Is it like nature when we live in cities: we don’t see it anymore!

- We get used to concrete or artificial life!

- more and more people prefer video games instead of real life!

- Strange!

- We don’t see anymore!

- We don’t hear anymore!

- We don’t touch anymore!

- We don’t taste anymore!

- We don’t smell anymore!

- And we are supposed to be superior animals, aren’t we?

- Do we know anything?


Why fear ? I would say this .
And the crowds were awe struck and they glorified God !

As Christians we should have a reverence for God and worship Him, but why would we fear him ?

- My answer:

- Usually people fear what they don't know!

- They had trouble to understand him!

- They had ears but they didn't hear!- They had eyes but they didn't see!

- Maybe it can also be connected to respect!

- When Jesus comes back as a warrior many people will try to hide if i am not wrong!

- If we do our best to be faithful to God, there is no need for fear!

- If not, we can find good reasons!


17) Jesus vs the religious leaders

Matthew 12:

- The Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign!

- But he tells them they will only get the sign of Jonah the prophet!

- Jesus always fights against the religious leaders!

- “wicked and adulterous”: definitely strong words!

- But also a warning for faithful people meaning get away from them if you don’t want to share their destiny!

- When Jesus was on earth, very few accepted to lose their position and believe in him and follow him!