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Series Theme:   Jesus in Matthew Meditations

PART ONE: Chapters 1 to 4

Meditation Title: Overview




Part 1: Chapters 1 to 4


Mt 1:1

Jesus in the flow of History


Mt 1:21

Jesus the deliverer


Mt 1:23

Jesus is God with us


Mt 2:1,2

Jesus, king of the Jews


Mt 2:6

Jesus the shepherding ruler


Mt 2:11

Jesus the object of our worship


Mt 2:22,23

Jesus the Nazarene


Mt 3:11

Jesus the baptiser in the Spirit


Mt 3:15

Jesus the fulfiller of righteousness


Mt 3:17

Jesus the approved Son


Mt 4:13-16

Jesus the great light


Mt 4:17

Jesus, bringer of the kingdom


Mt 4:18,19

Jesus, trainer of men


Mt 4:23-25

Jesus, bringer of Good News



Part 2: Chapters 5 to 8


Mt 5:1,2

Jesus, the Teacher


Mt 5:17,18

Jesus, fulfiller of the Law


Mt 5:21-24

Jesus, the Peacemaker


Mt 6:1

Jesus, bringer of Reality


Mt 6:9

Jesus, Adoption Counsellor


Mt 6:19-21

Jesus, Challenger of Priorities


Mt 6:25

Jesus, the Carefree


Mt 7:3

Jesus, the Wordsmith


Mt 7:24

Jesus, the Storyteller


Mt 8:2,3

Jesus, the Compassionate


Mt 8:8,9

Jesus, man of authority


Mt 8:14,15

Jesus, the Sensitive


Mt 8:16

Jesus, dispeller of darkness


Mt 8:20

Jesus, the homeless


Mt 8:24

Jesus, the confident


Mt 8:26

Jesus, the all-powerful



Part 3: Chapters 9 to 12


Mt 9:2

Jesus, forgiver of sins


Mt 9:4

Jesus, who knows all thoughts


Mt 9:9

Jesus, collector of sinners


Mt 9:15

Jesus, the Bridegroom


Mt 9:20

Jesus, source of power


Mt 9:25

Jesus, bringer of life


Mt 9:29,30

Jesus, bringer of sight


Mt 10:1

Jesus, imparter of authority


Mt 10:17

Jesus, bringer of persecution


Mt 10:21

Jesus, divider of families


Mt 10:37-39

Jesus, the prize above all else


Mt 11:19

Jesus, man of bad reputation


Mt 11:20,21

Jesus, bringer of bad news


Mt 11:27

Jesus, the Father's Son


Mt 11:28

Jesus, the burden bearer


Mt 12:8

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath


Mt 12:18

Jesus, Bringer of Justice


Mt 12:23

Jesus, the Son of David


Mt 12:39

Jesus, the Sign of Jonah


Mt 12:48-50

Jesus, the family member





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Meditation Title: Introduction


Mk 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


The gospel or ‘good news' is about a person, not a religion. For that reason, for those of us who wish to meditate or ‘chew over' the truths of Scripture, nothing else could be of more importance than to ponder on the person of Jesus Christ.


For those who have used the meditations on this site before, you may have realized that we limit the length of them so that they make simple reading for the person who wants to log on first thing each day and have short reading. For this reason, you may find these readings frustrating in that you may wish that they treat the verse for the day more deeply. Indeed sometimes you may wish that we exclude the occasional ‘chatty' style in favour of more detailed theology. Again we would explain that there is a specific reason for this: we wish to keep the flow easy with a light practical touch for those with busy lifestyles who feel they have less time to spare on such studies..


For those who would wish to see the verses more in context and expounded more fully, we would recommend that you go to the Bible Studies on this site that cover that area of Scripture. Nevertheless we trust there will be sufficient each day to stir your interest, challenge your faith and set you in the right direction in the midst of what, in the West at least, are increasingly busy days.







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Meditation No. 1

Meditation Title: Jesus in the flow of History


Mt 1:1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham


We all have history; it's what makes us what we are. If we're seventy years old we've got seventy years of history plus the family life that went before that made our parents what they were. In the past decade or so, finding out your genealogy has become a big thing for many people. History has become, not merely what we learnt in history at school or college, but it's the flow of what went in the life of my family – my parents, my grand parents, my great grand parents and so on.


Matthew, when he starts writing his Gospel, has a real sense about Jesus: he is linked to history. Jesus records Jesus as saying he had come from his Father in heaven (Jn 6:32-58 – read it an see how many times Jesus said it!), but Matthew wanted to touch base with his fellow Jews, and Jews were very conscious that they had history. Matthew is seriously into working out genealogies and he's worked out that if Jesus was Joseph's son, then you could trace him right back to Abraham, so the sixteen verses following this one do just that. This first verse is a summary verse. Jesus, he says, is part of the royal family of King David, and of course he went back to Abraham, who the Jews considered to be the father of their race. That's how Matthew sees it.


But how did God see it? Why did God inspire Matthew to dig out this genealogy? What was God wanting to say to us through it? Well, a variety of things, but as far as this first opening verse is concerned, God is saying that His Son is not ashamed to be identified with this people.


Now that is amazing really, because when you carefully read the Old Testament, the thing that stands out most about this people, is the way they kept on getting it wrong! The Old Testament is almost like looking through a microscope. When you do that you focus on one tiny thing and see it in detail. The whole human race is too big to observe so God gives us the nation of Israel to look at. What's more they have the benefit of God's blessing and God's help, and still they get it wrong. Oh no, if we had any high ideas about the human race, looking at this special nation would have shattered that illusion.


Now here's the wonderful thing: this nation epitomizes the sinfulness and folly of human nature, but Jesus is not ashamed of identifying himself with them. There is a sense that because he was born into this nation at that particular point of history that, humanly speaking at least, he is very closely associated with them, but that's not the key issue here.


When you get to know people from all walks of life, you increasingly see people who do not feel they are good enough for God. God wouldn't want to know me because I'm not religious, I'm not good. Exactly! That is the point of this verse. We see it later in Jesus' ministry again and again, Jesus coming across a group of people who, the religious people describe as ‘sinners', and he settles down with them, loves them and accepts them as they are, and shares his Father's love with them. That's what this verse is all about! It's saying Jesus came and associated himself completely with the human race. God in human form, yes, but this verse is like Jesus saying, ‘Hey, I'm with you guys. I'm part of your family. Abraham was a man of faith, but he often blew it! David was a man after God's own heart, but he often blew it. This is my family. I'm not ashamed of them. I've come to be part of this family and love you. That's what thus is all about!







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Meditation No. 2

Meditation Title: Jesus the Deliverer


Mt 1:21 you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins


There was a time in recent history when people saved Green Shield Stamps, Today we're more likely to save Air Miles or points on a store card. We used to be encouraged to save money in savings accounts. These are all examples of the word ‘save' being used to mean to store up. However there is a more powerful use of the word ‘save' which has tended to go out of modern use after it was over-used by certain parts of the church with “Jesus Saves” bumper stickers, promoting the counter-culture graffiti, “Jesus Saves green stamps” type of response.


The name ‘Jesus', your Bible will probably tell you, is the Greek form of Joshua which means ‘the Lord saves' or ‘the Lord delivers.' Without going into the various uses of ‘deliver,' a simple examination of our verse today shows us what ‘save' or ‘deliver' means. It means to rescue someone out of something or somewhere. Films have been made of the Vietnam war where American helicopter teams go in to the jungle to rescue soldiers out of the enemy fire. Rescuing people wrongly incarcerated by an enemy is a popular theme for adventure fiction.


So here is God's angel telling Joseph to call the baby his fiancée is carrying, Jesus. Jewish names had meanings and so the clear implication that is spelled out here is that this boy is going to become a deliverer, not from the Roman oppressors, but from sin. Now because of the very nature of sin, for many people they would have preferred to hear that he will deliver them from Rome, but God knows there is a bigger oppressor of the human race, that most of us accept without question, and just assume is normal. That oppressor is this thing called Sin, this predisposition to self-centred godlessness which then leads to unrighteousness.


This slavery to sin was later well expressed by the apostle Paul when he wrote, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom 7:15). That perfectly sums up our state. We'd like to be good, nice, kind and so on, but so often we find we're exactly the opposite. Like Paul we cry out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me(Rom 7:24). Yes, there is the need spelled out – our need of being rescued. We cannot do it on our own. We can try hard and work at self-help courses, but at the end of the day we are still the same self-centred, godless beings with a propensity for getting it wrong, and encumbered by guilt as a result.


It is into this scenario that God sends His Son as deliverer. How does he deliver? First by taking the punishment our guilt calls out for, and then by calling us to follow him, and then by equipping us with his own Holy Spirit and making us part of God's family. Suddenly the issue of our failure is not the all-important thing. Suddenly we realize we are loved and as that love fills us (His presence, His Spirit) there is a new lightness in our lives, a new freedom, and we have a sense of belonging. No longer is Sin the big issue; we've been delivered from its power (see Rom 6). Now love is the big issue as we receive the work of the Joshua from heaven.


So, we see this coming One, coming from heaven, but coming in the full flow of history, coming with a purpose, to set free all those who will turn to him for help, to be freed from that which had dominated their lives thus far. Welcome the deliverer!







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Meditation No. 3

Meditation Title: Jesus is God with us


Mt 1:23      they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."


The thought contained in this verse is either the most scary thing ever known or the most wonderful. Isaiah first prophesied these words (Isa 7:14), almost as a rebuke to king Ahaz, but Matthew now takes them and applies them to Jesus. It is an amazing thought. Religions throughout the world seek to reach God by a variety of means, but now, here, God says He will come and be with us in the form of this one human figure, Jesus.


Throughout the Old Testament period God had spoken to His chosen people again and again and again. Sometimes it was face to face (e.g. Ex 33:11), often through prophets and largely through the Law. Now He is saying He will come and actually live in the midst of His people. This is God close up and personal! The writer to the Hebrews summed this up: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being(Heb 1:1-3) The apostle Paul spoke of Jesus, saying he, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil 2:7) hinting at Jesus somehow putting off his glory as God's Son in heaven to live in a human form on earth. How else could we cope with him? Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane , prayed, And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began,” (Jn 17:5) indicating this same thing: back in heaven he was the all-glorious Son of God clearly seen. Here on earth he was God with his glory hidden.


Yet was it hidden or was it revealed in a different way? We'll see something of this in the coming meditations. But the staggering truth, which many balk at, is that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. Our minds cannot really cope with it. The fact that the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God can somehow limit Himself in a human being, defies our imagination. Did this mean He stopped being God in heaven while He was on earth in human form? No, of course not! It was simply that while He was still God in eternity, still all-powerful, still all-knowing, still ever present, He was also expressing Himself as His Son, the human figure.


It's a poor analogy but imagine a man who is a director of a company but also a father to small children. In the company environment he is seen in the all-powerful role of head of the company, and hundreds of people do his bidding. But then he goes home and plays on the floor with his small children. He is the same man but his children have no comprehension whatsoever of the enormity of his power and influence in the other world; he is just simply an ordinary figure in their limited world. He is not exercising his power or authority because that is not needed with his children. As we said, it's a poor analogy but it may help us grab something of the idea of God who is all-powerful who comes to us in a human form, limiting Himself for our benefit.


Just in case you haven't heard the old illustration, there was a little boy who had an ant farm but couldn't get the ants to understand him. He expressed his frustration to his father who replied, “The only way you'll be able to properly communicate with them is if you become an ant yourself.” That, in a sense, is exactly what God did. He became a human being like us and shared in our experiences so that He could show us, in ways we would understand, something of His love for us. Wow!







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Meditation No. 4

Meditation Title: Jesus, king of the Jews


Mt 2:1,2 Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?


In the first meditation we considered Jesus coming from heaven to associate himself with his people. Here in today's verse we have the first reference in the Gospels to this idea of Jesus actually being their king. In case we might think this is just some figurative description, we need to realize that Jesus considered it a real and practical description: Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied (27:11).


Although for us today the idea of a king appears to be a rather shadowy idea, because kings in the twenty-first century tend to have little power, for the Jews it was a very real thing. The word ‘king' appears in the Bible 2314 times! In their time a king was not merely a figurehead (unless the king was a vassal to a more powerful king); he was the supreme figurehead of the nation and the supreme power over the people. What he said went! More often than not he made the laws and directed that they be enforced – and they were! This was power!


Kings, for the Jews, were of real significance. They were first a sign that they were as good as any other nation. There was a sense of this in their first call for a king (1 Sam 8:5). Their thoughts of nationhood would have so often gone back to the golden days of King David who led them to victory against their enemies (2 Sam 8:1-6). A strong godly king was an instrument to bring peace and blessing to the nation.


In the Messianic prophecies there were often references to the Messiah being a ruler (Psa 110:1,2, Isa 9:7, Jer 23:5). Indeed the Lord said to Solomon, As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, `You shall never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.(2 Chron 7:17,18). Thus Israel were looking and hoping for one who would come as their God-sent ruler, to free them from the oppressor.


John writing his Gospel years after the others, had had time to ponder some of these things and as he looked back he began to realize the significance of some of the things that had happened: Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” (Jn 1:49). After the feeding of the five thousand, “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself(Jn 6:15 ). When Jesus came to enter Jerusalem on that last week, They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel !" Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.'(Jn 12:13-15). Thus, there was high anticipation that this was the expected coming King of the Jews. So it was that Pilate questioned him (see first paragraph above) and Jesus acknowledged that it was so. But was a he a defeated king or was there something else happening here that was not understood at the time? We'll see as we go on there was. This is God's king on the earth, but his rule was very different from that which had been expected.







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Meditation No. 5

Meditation Title: Jesus, the shepherd-ruler


Mt 2:6   But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel


We have spoken previously in these meditations of the expectations of the Jews about the coming One, and today's verse is another of those that the Jewish scholars had in mind when they thought of the Messiah. The Magi have come looking for Jesus in Jerusalem and the scholars there point them to Bethlehem, for it's there according to the prophecy of Micah (Mic 5:2) that the ruler, the king of the Jews, will be found. But, you will have noted, this prophecy extends the description of the ruler to say what he will do: he will ‘shepherd' Israel. We said yesterday that the point of having a king was to put you on equal footing with other nations and to provide a leader who will stand against the enemies of the nation, but this description adds a further dimension to the role of a ruler, to care for, provide for and protect the nation.


Jacob, in his last years, referred to God as his shepherd (Gen 48:15, 49:24). David the shepherd, famously in Psa 23 referred to the Lord as his shepherd. Asaph similarly later referred to God as their shepherd (Psa 80:1), so it was a familiar picture this one of a God who looked after them, cared for them, guided them and guarded them. The picture of Israel coming out of Egypt is easily seen as a big flock with God being their shepherd. As the centuries passed the Lord continue to be this to this people. It is likely to be no surprise therefore to see that the coming Messiah, this figure from God, will similarly perform this same role. Later on Jesus would identify himself as the Shepherd (Jn 10:11). Right at the end, the lamb that is Jesus will be the shepherd of his people (Rev 7:17) who will lead his people to springs of living (eternal) water.


The analogy of shepherd and sheep is a very powerful one, although an uncomfortable one for self-centred, self-concerned people, because it places us human beings in the role of sheep who, we know, tend to be foolish and stupid creatures who get themselves into difficulties. Even worse it declares that there is One who is so much greater than us who knows far more about our welfare than we do. For the self-centred and self-concerned, this is a distinct challenge to our sovereignty. If Jesus being a ruler over us wasn't bad enough, the picture of us being sheep who need a shepherd to look after them is really insulting to ‘self'.


However, for the millions of us who feel small and inadequate, the thought that the Lord is there to look after us and care for us and protect us, is really reassuring. It is a dangerous world we live in and if we know ourselves, we know that left to ourselves we are not up to it. We do need help. Then we have the picture of Jesus who comes to us from heaven, shares in our humanity, has all power and authority, but uses it to care for us. This isn't a God coming from heaven to beat us up, straighten us out, discipline us and kick us into line! No, this is a God who identifies with us and comes with care, concern and compassionate understanding. He's come to look after us and that in very practical ways. He came bringing healing; he came bringing teaching, wisdom and counsel to help us. He modelled a way to live; he showed us an alternative to self-centred, materialistic living. This picture shows us God who is so concerned for our well-being that He comes down alongside us to help us . That is good news!







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Meditation No. 6

Meditation Title: Jesus, the object of our worship


Mt 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.


The thought of worshipping a person is quite an alien one to most of us. There may have been Roman emperors and the like in the past, who claimed divinity, but we write them off as egomaniacal characters who are worthy of little consideration. Worship of individuals was rejected by the apostles (Acts 14:11 -18), as was worship of angelic beings (e.g. Rev 19:10 ). Worship requires a divine object. Worship means bowing down before a supreme being, to acknowledge their greatness and our smallness. God, surely, can only be the object of any worship we may offer. Offering worship to anything or anyone else, is foolish, so when the wise men fall down and worship this baby we find they get our attention in a big way.


If we had been modern-day reporters on the scene, we would want to know why these men of riches and wisdom had come so far and now, having arrived, why they bow before a baby. What is it about this baby that we can't see that they obviously can? Somehow these men have knowledge that we don't have. To all intents and purposes this baby looks the same as any other baby, so why worship it? It's only a baby!


And it is at this point that our credibility is stretched. Oh no, they tell us, this is God. Pardon? But I thought God was Almighty, all-powerful, all wise? Surely this baby is none of those things? Again it is perhaps a poor analogy as we struggle with these things that the Gospels tell us about Jesus, but imagine a container before you that appears sealed. Yet there is one tiny pin prick hole in it and through the hole there seems almost the indication that inside this container is light. Suppose that hole get fractionally bigger as the years pass until it is clear that there is light coming through the hole in ever bigger measure. It has always been light; it's just that the hole needed to grow to reveal the contents. Perhaps that's how it was with Jesus. The baby is too small a ‘hole' for us to realize the container is full of light. As the baby grows up, there are more indications and then, as he moves out in ministry, the ‘hole' is enlarged more and more and the glory that is there is revealed. The only trouble is that some of us are so polluted by self and sin that our eyes are dim and we can't see even the brightness that shines from the One who came in the form of a baby.


When individuals in the Bible saw the glory of God they fell down in abject worship (see Ezek 1:28, Rev 1:17). At various times in Jesus' ministry various individuals ‘saw' who he was: Nathaniel (Jn 1:50), Peter (Lk 5:8, 16:16), and Thomas (Jn 20:28). Each of these men suddenly realized that the one before them was more than a mere man. Each one acclaimed Jesus as he was, and thus worshipped him. This is the point: Jesus is the Son of God but because we have so many preconceived ideas about him, or because we are so tainted with unbelief, those are just words to us.


Perhaps we need to come to the Lord and ask him to open our eyes so that we can see the truth about him. How many of us, even if we've been Christians for many years, truly worship Jesus? How many of us truly bow before him and acknowledge him in all reality in our understanding as the all-glorious one who came from heaven, remained perfect (sinless) on earth, died in our place and rose from the dead and ascended back to the glory he had had previously? Maybe we need to ask for sight.







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Meditation No. 7

Meditation Title: Jesus, the Nazarene


Mt 2:22,23    Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth . So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."


People have different and sometimes extreme ideas about Scripture. One extreme is that it is full of mistakes and contradictions. It isn't, it was inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16 ). The other extreme is that it should be perfectly understandable with no questions arising. It isn't; it came through the channel of men. Now we say this today because our two verses produce a question. Where in the Old Testament does it say Jesus will be a Nazarene? The answer is that it doesn't. Some commentators scuffle around this by saying that Nazareth sounds like ‘branch' of Isa 11:1 but if it is Matthew would be using a word play and there seems no other indication of that. So somewhere in Jewish history some prophets, unknown to us, spoke of the Messiah coming from Nazareth .


Now the main thing we know of Nazareth is that it was a small town of no significance. It is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. Place names were important to the Jews because they were very conscious of their history, but Nazareth has no historical context. Even more, Nazareth is in Galilee in the north, far from Jerusalem . The fact of this being his home town was obviously well known (Mt 21:11 , 26,71). Luke more than Matthew establishes Nazareth as Jesus' home town (Lk 1:26 , 2;4,39,51, 4:16 ). In choosing this as Jesus' home location it is almost as if God is choosing the most obscure and isolated location in the land that He can for His Son's earliest years.   


If this is so, what does it say? First of all it confirms the whole tenor of the prophecies about the Messiah, that he would be of low estate and not highly esteemed (Psa 22:6, 69:8, Isa 49:7, 53:2,3 etc.). In no way does the Lord use the ways of the world – important image, advertising, big publicity – in bringing His Son to this world. Starting his life in a stable was clearly a pointer to this same thing. No big palace for the Son of God. In fact later on he would declare that he had no home (8:20).


Second, and flowing from this, is the clear indication that Jesus came to associate himself with the poor and needy. Perhaps a modern day equivalent of this would be Jesus being born in the slums of, say, India , because he wants to reach the beggars there. Everything we see of Jesus, as we read through the Gospels says he came to, and associated, with the poor, those so often referred to be the religious elite as ‘the sinners'. Tax collectors and prostitutes (Mt 21:31,32) knew that here was a man they could identify with. Can we identify with the big religious leaders of our day? Neither could the poor of Jesus' day associate or identify with the Chief Priests, the Scribes or the Pharisees of the time. Religiosity has no meaning for such people; life is too hard.


So God sends His Son to start off his human life, born in a stable, on the run to Egypt , and then back to years of isolation while he grew up in Nazareth. It is an obscure verse with a questionable background, but that is exactly how God set up His Son. Like the disciples (24:1), we get impressed by big buildings, big organisations, and important people, but God isn't! Nazareth is like a signpost to the nature of the Son and his work. It's like God is warning us, don't make human standards the standard by which you measure my Son and his work. Those values are false; you need to think again, for this is foundational in understanding God and His Son.







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Meditation No. 8

Meditation Title: Jesus, the Baptizer in the Spirit


Mt 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


Having lived through the ‘Renewal Movement' and the ‘Charismatic Movement' and the ‘Toronto Blessing', all in the latter half of last century, I am not phased by the thought of the working of the Holy Spirit, but I am aware that there are still people who are. I am grateful for the path the Lord has taken me down, but I appreciate those who are still nervous about something over which they have little or no control. Indeed there are people who are really fearful of being out of control, and that I suspect is why some people come up with negative comments trying to write off God moving today through His Spirit, which brings us to our verse today.


John the Baptist is telling the people to watch out for the Coming One (Jesus) who will be distinguished by the power he exhibits. No only is he more powerful, says John, he's so much greater than me that I'm not even worthy to be his servant. Whereas I've been baptizing you in water (implied), he continues, he's going to immerse you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. So whatever does that mean?


Well, it's clearly a twofold thing isn't it? Spirit and fire are the two elements. What happens when you immerse a cup or a rag in water? They are filled and saturated with the water. So what John is saying is that when Jesus comes, whereas my work is concluded by you being immersed in water, his work is going to result in you being filled and saturated by the very presence of God – His Holy Spirit. But, he implies, realize that He is a holy Spirit and therefore He will burn up all sin in you; He will have a purifying effect in you, that's why you need to do all you can to put your lives right before He comes. Now I suspect that merely allowing God to clean you up is not something that most of us would object to, for we recognize our need and we recognize that God is holy and that the work of Jesus on the Cross is to sanctify us, to set us apart as holy. That bit of it is not the problem.


The problem that some of us face is what we also read in the New Testament about what happened when people were ‘baptised in the Spirit' or ‘filled with the Spirit'. In some cases those being ‘filled' spoke in tongues (Acts 2:4, 10:45,46) and others prophesied (Acts 19:6). It is those things that some of us are uneasy about. Why might that be? What is there about them? Well first they are the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit and not us, so we may not actually like God being in control. Second they are something that we cannot do with God's specific enabling. The fake is very easy to discern, so you know if you're making it up. When God comes He enables us to do what we were not previously able to do, but that is the challenge. Pride may make us defensive and we accuse others of being elitists if they can do something but we can't. When Jesus comes he reveals the state of our heart. We thought we were fine up to this point but then we find ourselves being challenged and upset because we realise this is about His sovereignty which challenges ours, and it is about something that we, naturally, cannot do. Consider this: Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (Jn 7:37). He went on to speak about the Holy Spirit. Another picture? Springs! Can it be that when you're baptized, you're filled and your thirst is quenched as well. Thirsty?







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Meditation No. 9

Meditation Title: Jesus, the fulfiller of righteousness


Mt 3:15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."


Philosophers struggle with the concept of good. Some Christians worry that they are not good or not good enough. Once a man came to Jesus and asked, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Mt 19:16). He knew there was something to achieve, eternal life, but didn't know what to ‘do' to get it. Jesus didn't give a direct answer but replied, “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (Mt 19:17 ). The man asked what commandments and Jesus told him the Ten Commandments. I've kept those, he replied, inferring that wasn't good enough. OK, replied Jesus give away your possessions and come and follow me. What was Jesus saying in this dialogue? Keeping the rules won't satisfy you, your material possessions won't satisfy you, so throw all that out and just follow me.


What has all this to do with Jesus being a fulfiller of righteousness? Righteousness may be simply defined as right living before God. Our struggle is to know how to do that. Jesus says following the rules won't do it and trusting in affluence won't do it, but coming and being with him will. How is that? Well in every way Jesus IS righteous. As the Son of God he shares the Father's heart and does the Father's will (Jn 5:19 ,20) perfectly. The New Testament writers came to understand this (see Heb 4:15 ) realizing that he never sinned in his years on earth. He was perfectly righteous.


So in our verse today we have Jesus with John the Baptist, and John objecting to have to baptize Jesus. No, says Jesus, you may be right that I don't need to be baptized but we will do this because it is the right thing to do, so that others will see my example and follow. The Law didn't require it of him but grace did, so he did it. This is how Jesus lived. He always did what was right in every situation. You want to do right in every situation? Live close to Jesus, be led by his Holy Spirit, and you will.


But the idea of Jesus ‘fulfilling righteousness' or bringing righteousness to the earth, goes far beyond his daily living; it takes us to the Cross. Sin needed punishing, your sin and mine. How can sinners walk the earth while their sin is remaining as a challenge to justice? Justice says they should be judged and dealt with; their sins cry out. So the Son of God dies in our place and because he alone is God in the flesh, he alone is ‘big enough' to take all of our sins. On the Cross he takes our Sin and our sins and carries them to hell. They are totally and utterly dealt with. The Law and Justice are satisfied. Righteousness means living right and if sinning, taking the punishment. Yet now Jesus has taken the punishment and so as we live in harmony with him today, being led by his Spirit, we are being led into good works (righteous deeds) but when we stumble and fall and cry out, it is as if he reaches back into history and our wrong is placed on the Cross of two thousand years ago, and instantly we are made right, we are righteous again. We have gone through a series of events which, put together, are righteous, are right before God.


See it like this: Case 1: a godless person – they sin and do wrong – justice cries out and so one day they will pay the penalty for unresolved sin, hell. Case 2: a Christian – they sin, do wrong and cry out – Jesus puts their sin on the Cross – it is immediately dealt with and justice is done – it is a righteous outcome. Righteousness has been brought about (fulfilled) and we live for a new day. How wonderful.








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Meditation No. 10

Meditation Title: Jesus, the approved Son


Mt 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."


One of the things most of us long for more than anything else is approval, and it probably goes back to our childhood. There is nothing like approval and encouraging words from a parent or teacher to build you up. We want to know that we are well thought of by this ‘big person'. Sadly, many of us didn't get that when we were children because our parents didn't realize how important it was. Therefore today we find it difficult to receive words of approval from God. We're more likely to expect chiding words.


But here is Jesus who has just been baptized and as he comes up out of the water a voice comes from nowhere, affirming him. Did Jesus need that? I don't know. Perhaps as God in human form he was receiving his Father's approval as a means of identifying with us because, as we've just said, we all need that approval. But perhaps it was for the benefit for John and the other onlookers at this event. This was, perhaps, the Father, making a public declaration at the beginning of His Son's ministry, rather like a town crier used to go ahead of important people, announcing them to the crowds.


Now there is something else significant about the timing of this announcement; it comes before Jesus has started his ministry. Sometimes many of us feel we have got to have great achievements behind us before God will commend us. No, look again! The Father looks on the Son and first of all declares His love for him, but also declares the pleasure He gets from him. Think back, if you have children, to a time when they were small. Were you expecting great things from them? No, not while they were still small; you just enjoyed them, you took pleasure in them, for no reason apart from the fact that they were your son or daughter.


Now God is like that with us who know we are Christians. We are His children (1 Jn 3:1,2) and He takes pleasure in us for no other reason than we are His children. We don't have to achieve great things; we just have to be His kids. That is sufficient for God to take pleasure in us. If you find that difficult to believe, it may be more because you didn't receive approval as a child than anything else.


There is a very modern ring to this verse: “well pleased”! God isn't just pleased; He is well pleased, or very pleased. He's watched His Son live out some thirty years in an out of the way place on earth, and He's blessed by him. There has been no great ministry; the Son has just been there, part of a family, getting on with life, and the Father looks at him and is well pleased.


This may be time for a testimony. Many years ago when my daughter, my first child was born, a few weeks after we had her, I was standing looking down at her in her crib, and the Lord spoke to me. What do you think of her son?” “Oh, I think she's wonderful, Lord”. “What does she do?” “Well, she cries a lot, Lord. And she regularly wakes us up in the middle of the night. She's always wants to be fed and she makes terrible smells and needs changing.” “And what do you think of her?” Without a hesitation, “Oh, she's wonderful Lord. I love her” “Why?” “Because, she's mine.” “And that's why I love you, son, because you're mine.”


Isn't it simple? God takes pleasure in you because you're one of His kids. Isn't it wonderful that we can bless Him, just by being!








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Meditation No. 11

Meditation Title: Jesus, the great light


Mt 4:13-16 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali-- to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- the people living in darkness have seen a great light ; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.


Imagine a world with no Sun. Obviously it would be very cold but it would filled with blind people, for they say if you live in pitch blackness you go blind. But imagine this sunless world, not being a freezing wasteland and the people on it not blind but just not seeing. Then imagine someone arriving from another planet who has the same human form but who emanates light. If you've grown used to the dark you might not appreciate him coming for he reveals the world all around you as you've never seen it before. You start to see yourself and realize what you're like. You see other people and realize what they're like. Suddenly you appreciate the world in a way you'd never appreciated it before because now you can ‘see'.


Jesus comes as light to a dark land. It is Galilee in the north of Israel . It is ‘dark' for two reasons. First, because it is in the north, it had been prey many times to invaders from the north. Syria , Assyria , Babylon , had all at various times invaded from the north. It was a land that historically had known much bloodshed. Indeed it was a “land of the shadow of death.” But then it was also a land far from the religious life of Jerusalem . Historically, when the nation had been divided into ‘Judah' in the south and ‘Israel' in the north, after Solomon's reign, ‘Israel' had a terrible history of apostasy, being led astray from the outset by Jeroboam who set up idols north and south of the land and led the northern nation into idolatry throughout their history until they were eventually deported. It had a spiritually dark history and it is to this land that God sends His Son. The light from heaven comes to a dark spot of the earth and shines.


Spiritually Galilee was a no-go area, separated from their religious southern cousins by Samaria in the middle, a hybrid people, blocking the south off. There is a form of religion here, as we'll see, that was powerless and where Satan had free reign (see Mk 1:21 -24). The darkness was real and, from the numbers of sick that were soon brought to Jesus, the people were in a bad way. Into their midst comes one who speaks a different religious language, a language of love and reality. He appears to show no concern for class or creed but ministers God's love to whoever would come to him. It was a practical love that transformed lives. It accepted them as they were, and blessed them with the power of God so demons fled, and healing flowed. Health and life followed him wherever he went. Suddenly in this dark land, laughter was heard again and lives were released and hope returned. Suddenly it is clear that God is in their midst and the goodness of God is being poured out in very real, very practical ways. Suddenly the darkness is falling back before the light that is shining forth through this itinerant preacher-cum-miracle worker. It's not just a glimmer in the darkness, it is a ‘great light' and the word spreads like wildfire and crowds come flocking to it like moths to a candle on a dark evening. Never in the history of the earth has such a thing been known. The occasional miracles of some of the prophets from the past are put in the shade by the brilliance of what is happening. This is God on the loose. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness falls back.








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Meditation No. 12

Meditation Title: Jesus, the bringer of God's kingdom


Mt 4:13-16 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."


Many of us focus on our own lives, some focus on the church, but Jesus focused on ‘the kingdom'. In Scripture the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven' is interchangeable with ‘ kingdom of God '. One emphasizes the place and its characteristics and the other emphasizes the One who rules in it. A kingdom is a place where a king rules. When we talk about ‘church' we tend to focus on people. When we focus on the kingdom of God we focus on the will of God. Kingdom is all about God's will being expressed on earth, through His rule. Now on earth there are, ultimately, just two reigns, the reign of God over His kingdom and the reign of Satan over his dominion, hence, For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son(Col 1:13).


Note the difference between a dominion and a kingdom. A dominion is a territory that is being governed by another. Satan has a temporary rule over the godless people of the world (1 Jn 5:19 ), because they wittingly or unwittingly submit themselves to him rather than to God. A kingdom is a territory ruled by a rightful sovereign. The kingdom of heaven is the place where God rules unhindered. For the present time Jesus is extending that rule upon the earth. One of the psalmists caught the truth of this: The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:2). In Zion or Jerusalem, Jesus died on the Cross to purchase people from sin and Satan (Rev 4:9) and once that was done, the way was open for his reign to spread through every believer.


Yet before the Cross, there was three years of that reign being exercised through the Son of God. How was it seen? Consider Jesus' words to John's disciples: Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor (11:4,5). This was the King's representative exercising his power on behalf of the King (see Jn 5:19 -21) as he brought the reign of God to the earth. Can anyone think that this is a bad rule? Satan would make people think that God is a hard ruler but look at the things in this verse that God was doing through His Son. Every thing is Him bringing blessing to people, goodness into people's lives that will transform them for good.


Why did the people need to repent? Because up until then they had been submitting to Satan and his ways, and their lives were largely godless and unrighteous, but the amazing thing is that God allows each individual to exercise rule over their own life. Thus we can submit ourselves to Satan when we do our own thing and live godless lives, or we can turn to God and invite Him to come into our lives and exercise His rule in and through us. The call to repentance is a call to recognize our state and turn back to God and invite Him to be the Supreme Ruler over our lives.


This was the threefold work of Jesus: first to demonstrate the rule of God as he exercises God's power, second, to call people to become part of this kingdom, opening their lives to the King's love, and finally, to die on the Cross to enable people to be accepted into God's kingdom and not be destroyed because of their sin. This is the work of Jesus the kingdom bringer. Be part of that kingdom and rejoice!









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Meditation No. 13

Meditation Title: Jesus, trainer of men


Mt 4:18,19 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee , he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."


Many Christians are of the opinion that ‘church' is simply about turning up once a week, listening politely and then going away, back to normal life for the rest of the week. Nothing could be further from the truth, and today's verse starts to reveal that. Jesus, as we've already considered, came to bring the love of his Father to earth, with power, as he expressed the rule of his Father. But Jesus knew that the plan was not for this to be a bright patch in history followed by darkness. No, the plan was that all those who came to him would be mobilized into a ‘body' (see Eph 1:22,23, 4:16) to continue to do exactly the same things as he was doing in his three years of ministry.


His first disciples, seen in these verses, were fishermen, so he uses language they will understand. Come with me and I'll train you up to become those who fish for people. What was Jesus' ultimate objective? To glorify the Father by doing His work (Jn 17:4). What was that work? To draw people to God so that they might receive eternal life (Jn 17:2,3) knowing the Father. Put another way, it is to get people to receive and enter into the Father's love. Now to achieve that, God gives gifts of ministries, or abilities to continually be able to fulfil a particular role in the service in the kingdom, but those are, in turn, to enable others to do the things God has for them to do (Eph 4:11,12). God has a plan for each of us that enables us to be fulfilled doing the things He has on His heart for us (Eph 2:10 ).


But how does this all come about? Well, Jesus said to these new followers, “ I will make you….”. In other words, I will train you up, teach you, equip you and empower you to do these things. How did he then do that? He went and ‘did the stuff' while they watched, and then he got them to do what they'd seen him do. The same works with us. We either read it in the Gospels, are given faith by the Father to go and do what we've read, or we see leaders doing it, find faith rising and then start doing ‘it' ourselves. What is this ‘it'? It is whatever God puts on your heart to do. It may be simply sharing with another the Father's love you've come to know, it may be praying for them or with them and watching the Father move through your words and bring change to them. We come to realise that it is His power, not ours that brings the change and that makes it easy. All we have to do is be led and prompted by Jesus' Holy Spirit, do what he is nudging us to do, and then watch him bring the results.


But what does it need to start with? A simple willingness to follow Jesus and let him lead you into whatever it is he has on his heart for you. That's what happened to the disciples. They simply let Jesus lead them and the rest, as they say, is history. The same is true for us although, of course, we haven't got a physical body to follow. We have his Holy Spirit within. So what is needed? A willingness to let him lead you into whatever, and a willingness to do whatever he puts before you, and don't be afraid, he's not going to get you to do the thing you fear most on earth. He's already put within you gifts and abilities and characteristics that He's just waiting to use which, when you do respond, you will find bring you great joy and a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, because you are working according to His perfect design for you. Go for it!











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Meditation No. 14

Meditation Title: Jesus, bringer of Good News


Mt 4:23-25 Jesus went throughout Galilee , teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee , the Decapolis , Jerusalem , Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.


Talk to many people in the world and they will reveal that they feel negatively about church and religion. They won't say the same thing about ‘God' but church and religion get a bad press. Now that is tragic in the light of our verses today, because church should be the channel through which the good news comes, but the trouble is we have so often either distorted the good news or added to it so that it is no longer Good News. Consider what these verses tell us.


Jesus went first to the religious people in the synagogues to bring his message. It was the religious people first of all who needed to hear it because what they had was so far from God's intentions for them that Jesus had to start with them. The non-religious people would come next, but he had to start with those who were conveying a wrong picture to the rest! So what did Jesus do?


He brought the good news of the kingdom of God . Now we've considered the kingdom recently. We realized it was the coming of the reign of God to bring good. Now just look at that simple definition. It wasn't a call to be religious. It wasn't a call to try harder. It was simply a call to believe that God was in their midst to bring good to them, and Jesus proved it by healing everyone who came to him sick. In another set of meditations on this site we considered God in the Psalms and saw God as the Healer. When He was actually in their midst in human form, as unfettered as He could be, He healed and healed and healed. There is no question of it. Look at these verses. First of all he healed every disease and sickness among the people . As a result of this News about him spread all over Syria . No wonder! If someone turned up in our town or village and healed everyone who came to him, the whole populace would turn out! Look at the list: all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed. This doesn't miss anyone, any illness, any infirmity, any sickness. Whoever came, Jesus healed them! Now if that isn't Good News, what is? This is not just words; this is life changing stuff.


Now we have to recognize that simply healing someone doesn't necessarily make them a good person, but Jesus was leaving that side of things up to the individual. All he did was do good to them. That should have drawn them to God. For some it did, for others it didn't, but when they eventually died and had to face God, they could never say they hadn't known God's love and goodness. No, the truth about Christianity is that God has come and poured out His love on us. That is GOOD News. If we want to stay self-centred and godless after hearing this, there is something desperately wrong with us and we need to face up to that, for that is the very reason Jesus came. God didn't come to make us religious (there are already too many ‘religious' people in the world and they are bad news), but instead He came to make us His children, receivers of all of His goodness, all of His love, all of His blessing. That IS Good News!