Matthew Chapter 8

Miracles are Signs of Divine Authority
(Read Matthew 8:1-13)
Jesus performed many miracles to demonstrate his claim that he is the Son of God (John 20:30-31).  They were not performed selfishly or senselessly.  Miracle is sermon in action. It is a sign that points to something beyond itself. The miracles were not done to impress people or to force others to submission. They often followed a message (John 5:14-24).  During Christ’s ministry, large crowds followed him. Suddenly a leper came to him and kneeling before Jesus said, “Lord if you will you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2).  Jesus touched him and immediately his was healed.  Jesus told him to show himself to the priest in obedience to the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 13).  Jesus is able and willing to heal the sick.  He does not want anyone to perish in their sins (1 Timothy 2:4). Touching the leper shows how merciful is our Lord.  This could make Jesus ceremonially unclean. But he was willing to touch the leper to identify with him (Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4).  He did not heal the leper to attract people or become popular but to prove that he is the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-5).  A centurion came to Jesus and requested him to come and heal his servant who was paralyzed and greatly afflicted. Jesus said, “I will come and heal him”.  He said “I am not worthy to have you into my home, just say a word and my servant will be healed. I am of a man of authority in the Roman military”. Jesus said to the Roman officer “Go your way, what you have believed has happened”.  The young servant was healed that very moment. Jesus marveled at his faith and said, “I have not seen such faith even in Israel”. Only other time Jesus marveled was at the unbelief of his own people (Mark 6:6). The kingdom blessing was not limited to Israel. Jesus is the Savior of the world.   The entry into his kingdom does not come through ethnicity but through faith in Jesus (Matthew 8:10).  Faith is the attitude of trust that allow God to do whatever he may choose to do. Augustine said, “I never had any difficulty to believe in miracle since I experienced the miracle of change in my own heart”.  Christ is able to save sinners.
The Cost of Discipleship
(Read Matthew 8:14-27)
Rest of the chapter gives the account of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the calming of the storm and healing of two demon-possessed men.  In the Jewish culture women were not regarded important socially.  Yet Jesus had compassion on Peter’s mother-in-law who was suffering from high fever. Jesus healed her and she got up and served him.  God saves sinners to serve him and others (Ephesians 2:8-10). Christ came to remove the social and cultural barriers.  He brings about reconciliation between God and sinners. Jesus also healed many demons possessed people.  This was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 “He took our infirmities and bore our sickness”. Jesus emphasized on the cost of discipleship to the scribe who wants to follow him (Matthew 8:20-22). The scribes are scholars of the Law.  Our great commission is to make disciples.  A disciple should be willing to make Jesus the priority in his life with total devotion to him. The “Son of man” is the title Jesus used frequently to show that he is the Messiah (Daniel 7:13). True disciples follow Jesus unconditionally.  While crossing the lake in a boat the disciples got fearful thought they were perishing in the storm.  Jesus rebuked the wind and waves.  And suddenly all was calm.  Considering his power, the disciples wonder what kind of man Jesus must be.  Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith.  Jesus is the creator of the universe, and he controls all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).  The disciples marveled at his authority and said, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him” (Matthew 8:27).  Jesus is able and willing to help us in our troubles.
Jesus healed the Two Demon-possessed Men
(Read Matthew 8:28-34)
Two demon possessed men recognized Jesus and said, “Thou Son of God, why are you bothering us before the appointed time” (Matthew 8:29). Demon recognizes who Jesus is.  The demonic power cannot withstand against Jesus.  The demons knew that they will be destroyed completely someday.  Jesus graciously brought his victory to the demon possessed men ahead of time (Matthew 8:30-31).  Wherever Jesus goes, he brings God’s powerful reign and blessing. Demons requested to send them away into the herd of pigs. Jesus granted their request. The whole herd of pig rushed down to the sea and perished.  The herdsmen fled and told everyone what happened.  The entire town begged Jesus to depart their town and leave them alone.  This is picture of depraved people who live in disobedience to God. Demons can torment believers but cannot possess them. Christ can restrain demons because He conquered Satan and Demonic powers by his death and resurrection. Since believers are in Christ, they have nothing to fear from Satan and demonic powers (1 John 4:4). Demons still exist to promote evil and create hardship. We can withstand the demonic power by the spiritual armor God has provided (Ephesians 6:10-20). There is no power compare with the power of our God. Take courage in your battle against sin and Satan.

Matthew Chapter 7

Do not Judge
(Read Matthew 7:1-12).
The Bible often warns believers not to pass judgment on others (Romans 14:10-13; James 4:11-11).  Because we are sinful, and we often excuse ourselves from the very sin we condemn others (Romans 2:1).  We should not judge the inner motives of another person and use ourselves as the standard of judgment. We should avoid hypocritical judgment. It is like worrying about a speck in our friend’s eye, when we have a log in our own eyes.  We must remove the log from our own eyes before we even begin to help others.  It is possible only when we realize that God has judged Jesus in our place, and we need his mercy. Only the grace of God what humbles us and frees us from judgmental attitude toward others. The New Testament is filled with making impartial and scriptural judgment.  Be curious and don’t be judgmental.  Jesus said, “Do not give dog what is holy and throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn and attack you” (Matthew 7:6).  It is futile to continue to present truth to those who refuse to obey.  What is the difference between judgment and discernment? The judgment declares a verdict, while discernment seeks solution. Instead of making harsh judgment, we should pray sincerely for those whom we are concerned about.  Prayer is Christian alternative to judgmental attitude.  God promises to answer our prayers (Matthew 7:8).  Jesus contrasted earthy father with heavenly Father by saying “If our earthly fathers are kind to us, how much more our heavenly Father delights to answer our prayers” (Matthew 7:11).  Ask, seek and knock are three imperatives in prayer. We must pray for those whom we are prone to criticize. Jesus wants his disciples to obey “the golden rule” that summarizes the second table of the Law.  “Do to others what you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12).  Someone has said “Pride is a blinding and the destructive sin that causes us to poorly evaluate others”.  Pray that God would protect us from the sin of pride.
Disciples are known by their Fruits
(Read Matthew 7:13-20)
All who claim to follow Jesus are not true disciples. A true disciple is genuine in his commitment to Christ. Only a transformed life will bear good fruit. It was a common method to teach by contrast among Jews. True discipleship is presented in contrasts in two ways. They are compared to two trees, two professions and two foundations (Matthew 7: 13- 29).  True disciples are those who enter into a living relationship to God through the narrow gate of faith in Jesus Christ. Christ is both the gate and the way (John 10:7; 14:6).  In fact, Christianity was known as “The way” in the early church (Acts 9:2; 22:4).  Many are on the broad road of their own works to arrive heaven.  This will lead them only to destruction. Those who humble themselves reach heaven by the narrow gate of grace.  True Christians have a transformed lifestyle. That does not mean they are flawless.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is thrown into fire. Jesus here warns us of false prophets.  They appear in sheep clothing but are wolves in heart. They deny and distort the truth. The disciples should not be deceived by their cleverness.  Every good tree produces good fruit. Corrupt tree produces evil fruit.  The changed life is the proof of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
True Disciples Walk the Talk
(Read Matthew 7:21-29)
Jesus said everyone who profess Christ are not disciple.  If our faith in Christ does not transform us, it is meaningless and offensive to God.  On the judgment day many will call Jesus as Lord and claim that they have done many wonderful works in his name.  But Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).  They are not born again, nor their lives are transformed by God.  Faith is the root of salvation and works are its fruit. Those who live in sin, lack assurance of salvation.  They call Jesus master but do not obey him. They call Jesus light but don’t walk in his light.  They call Jesus fairest of ten thousand but don’t love him.  Christ is interested in our motive than our performance.  Christ concludes the sermon with the illustration of two foundations.  The wise man hears God’s Word and builds his Christian life on the solid rock of Christ.  But the foolish man builds his life on his opinions and human philosophy. When trials and persecution come all that, he built will be destroyed. Here, the rock represents Christ and his Word.  True believers not only listen to Jesus but build their lives upon his Word. The entire sermon was addressed to believers.  People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching because he taught them as one who has authority and not as their scribes (Matt 7:29).  The scribes were the scholars who interpreters of the Law.  They relied on traditions for their authority. Jesus calls attention on himself in this entire sermon.  Do you listen Jesus and build your life upon his Word? Is Christ the focus of your life?  

Matthew Chapter 6

Teaching about giving and prayer
(Read Matt 6:1-8).
Jesus taught about wrong religious practices.  He warns that we do not give alms for human recognition. We serve God because we love him. Those who do good work for human praise will not be rewarded in heaven. Those who serve God in secret will be rewarded openly.  Pharisees made public prayers to impress people.  Our giving should be spontaneous, cheerful, generous, and regular (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Cor 9:5-7).   Our giving shows our spirituality.  The believers should find their satisfaction and security in God rather than in wealth.  Public prayer was important in the Jewish synagogues (Mark 11:25). Jesus warns against the hypocritical prayer.  Private prayer prepares us to pray effectively. Jesus warns against vain repetition in prayer. Such praying was practiced by heathens (1 King 18:26-29).  Our prayer must be the sincere expression of our heart. God knows our needs even before we pray.  Someone has said “Prayer is not man’s attempt to change the will of God, but it changes our will to His will. It is not conquering God’s reluctance but laying hold of his willingness to help”.   God’s ears are opened to our prayers (Psalms 34:15).
The Model Pray  
(Read Matt 6:9-15).
Prayer is believer’s lifeline to God.  It is the expression of our confidence in Him. The two major elements of prayer are adoration and petition. This is not the Lord’s Prayer.  This is the model prayer Jesus taught when disciple requested. “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  Jesus had no need to ask for forgiveness because he is sinless and holy. To better understand this prayer, we can break it down into two sets of petitions. The first three petitions focus on the glory of God and the second three petitions on personal needs.  This prayer begins by addressing God as our Father in heaven. He is our holy Father (Matthew 6:9).  The Christians are privileged to address God as their Father (John 1:12).  God’s name was so sacred to Jews, so that they never pronounced it. Only the born-again people have the right to pray in this manner.  In our prayers, God should be recognized as holy.  He should be honored and adored for who he is.  “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  God’s kingdom represents his reign and rule now (Rom 14:17).  It will be fully realized when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).  We should make our daily needs known to God by praying “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God provided the daily needs of Israel (Exodus 16:14-15). Similarly, God will provide our needs when we pray (Philippians 4:19). Since the believers are forgiven, they should forgive others (Matthew 6:12). An unforgiving attitude can lead to our spiritual ruin. The Christians are not immune from temptations. They are tempted by their own lust to do evil (James 1:13-14). They should seek God’s help to overcome temptations. God does not tempt us to do evil.  God may use trails to test our faithfulness to him. This prayer closes with praise. “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever Amen “.  Jesus taught disciples to pray in his name (John 14:13; 15:16, 23).  Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).  Jesus is highly exalted and is given him the name which is above every name. He has authority over all things, and he is the Lord of all (Philippians 2:9, 10; Matthew 28:18). Jesus promised to answer our prayers (John 15:7, 16). 
Teaching on Fasting, Money and Possessions
(Read Matthew 6:16-24)
Fasting was practiced in the Old Testament period  (Leviticus 16:29). The Pharisees fasted to display their piety before people. They disfigured their faces to get attention. The true purpose of fasting was to overcome temptations by contrition and spiritual communion (Isaiah 58:6).  Jesus warns his disciples against the misuse of fasting. Voluntary fasting practiced in the early church (Acts 13:2).  It was to focus on Christ from physical distraction. Jews considered material wealth as the blessing of God. Ill-gotten wealth is not a sign of blessing. People see money as their ultimate source of security in the world.  The wealth can make us less dependent on God and more dependent on ourselves. Jesus teaches his disciples to find their security in God. He is faithful to meet their needs.  God meets the needs of his people through the generosity of other believers.  The generosity and compassion are the marks of true conversion. We must overcome our natural inclination toward materialism by prioritizing our spiritual life. We should lay up our treasures in heaven.  If our spiritual sight is healthy our affection for eternal things will be strong. You cannot serve God and money at the same time (James 1:8; Matthew 6:24).  In our prayer and fasting, we should not draw attention to ourselves. We should overcome the hinderances to prayers by trusting in the promises of God (James 1: 6-7; 4:2-3).
Remedy for Worry
(Read Matthew 6:25-34).
Worry is a powerful force that can distract us from serving Christ. Worrying about material and temporal things can deprive ourselves of the spiritual blessings. Modern medicine tells us that worry can shorten life. A worrying person has a divided heart.  Worry does not make sense (Matthew 6:25).  Someone has said “Worry is irrational and ineffective” (Matthew 6:26-27).  It is illogical and not fitting to believers (Matthew 6:30-32).  Anxiety and worry are the result of lack of faith in God (Matthew 6:30).  It has a direct relationship to our spiritual and mental health. Worrying is a waste of time and energy.  It is a sin. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). A worrying person lives in constant insecurity. Jesus explains how God provides for birds and gives beauty to flowers. Jesus asks his disciples “Are you not much better than birds and lilies”. Stop worrying because your heavenly Father cares for you (Matthew 6:25-30). We must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to us. When our priority is spiritual and Christ centered, God will take care of our material needs.  Someone has said “Where God guides, He provides”. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries”. Each day has its own troubles and challenges. God is sufficient to meet our needs.  Christians should not be anxious about everything because it will robe our joy.  Lord is faithful to provide all our needs.

Matthew Chapter 5:13-48

The Sermon on the Mount: 

You are the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world: (Matthew 5:13).  This is the summary statement of the Christian life. It is not a command, but something we are by virtue of being in Christ.  The salt adds flavor, acts as a preservative, melts coldness and heals wounds. This speaks of how we should impact the world in our relationship with others.  Our lives will produce either positive or negative results in the society.  Christians should bring purity where there is decay, flavor to life where there is disappointment and creates thirst in others to know Christ.  If the salt loses its flavor, it is no longer good for anything (Matthew 5:13). The implication here is that if Christians lose their testimony they will be trampled under the feet of unbelievers.
You are the light of the world: (Matthew 5:14-16).  
Jesus said “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).  In Him was life and the life was the light of all mankind (John 1:4). Jesus is the source of light. The smallest light can dispel the greatest darkness.  As Christians we are to be the light of the world. We should reflect light to a world that is under spiritual darkness. The more we are conformed to Christ the better we reflect his light. This light or lamp should not be put under a basket but on a stand to shine before others (Matthew 5:15).  Believers must keep their lives clean in order that the light of God may shines through them.  Let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16).  
Christ Fulfilled the Law: (Read Matt 5:17-20)
Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17).  They testify of Christ (John 5:39).  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 10:4).  Pharisees turned the law into outward observance. Their walk did not match their talk (Matthew 15:8).  Jesus met all the demands of the law. Christ wants his disciples to live a life of righteousness. The religious leader’s words didn’t match their life (Matthew 23:3-7).  Unlike Pharisees, Jesus taught with authority (Matthew 5:18).   Jesus assures that until heaven and earth disappear even the smallest detail of the law will pass from the law until all is fulfilled.  The law was given to point out our need of the Savior (Galatians 3:24). Jesus said, “Your righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes”. The Pharisees and Scribes did everything to impress others, but their hearts were far away from God (Matthew 23:3-7).  Christian life is a transformed life that reflects Christ.
God Looks at Heart: (Read Matthew 5:21-32)
Jesus contrasts his teaching with the law. The Law of Moses commands “You shall not murder or commit adultery (Exodus 20:13).  Jesus explains that these sinful behaviors are rooted in sinful desires.  Human anger leads to murder in most cases.   So, we must give attention to the motives that drive us into actions.  God is not interested in heartless obedience.  Christian behavior should flow from a transformed heart.  God will not accept our worship unless we are willing to resolve personal conflict with others (Matthew 5:24).   Many people engage in religious activities to suppress their guilt. It is better to come to terms with enemy before it is too late (Matthew 5:25-26).   The lustful look comes from sinful heart.  We must flee from those things (Matthew 5:30).  Repeated lustful gazing is as sinful as committing the act of adultery. The remedy is to fix our thought on Christ (Philippians 4:8; Romans 13:14; 2 Corinthians 10:5).  We must seek God’s help to bring our desires under the control of the Holy Spirit.  Great care must be given to marriage and divorce.  The Arab custom says husband can divorce his wife saying three times “I divorce you”.  Jews insisted on certificate of divorce to give legal protection to both the wife and the husband.  Moses’ concession was not intended to be taken as license for divorce (Matthew 19:8). The adultery and unfaithfulness in marriage should be the reason for divorce.  The scripture does not permit divorce.  In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). We should be willing to forgive one another and be reconciled (Hosea 3:1; Genesis 38:26).  “Everyone who divorces his wife except on the ground of sexual immorality makes her to commit adultery. Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).   
Teaching about Oaths and Revenge: (Read   Matthew 5:33-42)
Oath taken in the name of the Lord speaks of its sanctity and binding (Deuteronomy 23:21).  Jesus says that such oath taking is unnecessary if we speak the truth.  The Christians should not take oath by the name of God. Our “yes” must mean yes and our “no” must mean no.  It does not mean it is not wrong to take oath in the court of law.  The principle of retaliation is common among unsaved.  Jesus taught that Christians should not attempt personal retaliation.  God will repay vengeance to those who deserve it (Romans 12:19).  This does not mean that we should not defend family or our country. The believers should overcome evil with good (Matthew 5:8; Romans 12:21).  They should trust God even when legal litigation goes against them. “If someone takes your coat from you by force, give your outer garment also. The idea is that “When a Roman solder compels to carry his armor for one mile go the extra mile to prove your commitment to Christ”.  The believers should not set bad examples and attempt to share the gospel with others. When we lend something to people, don’t expect anything in return. There are many warning against borrowing and cross-signing in the scriptures (Proverbs 6:1; 11:15; 22:7; 27:13). We should help those who are in need (Matthew 5:42).
Love your Enemies: (Read Matthew 5:43-48)
The law of love summarizes the sermon on the Mount.  We are commanded to love one another. This summarizes the entire second table of the Law (Leviticus 19:18-34).  Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  We can love our enemies by praying and helping them in their needs.  Only by loving, we can win over those who hate us.   Our love for them is proof of our salvation (1 John 3:14).  It shows that we are truly the children of God.  God sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Unbelievers love those who love them.  Even tax collectors love their friends. We love others because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).  Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  The word “Perfect” means “complete and mature”. It does not mean sinless perfection. We are complete in Christ.  Pray that God would help you to reflect Christ in this fallen world. How blessed to know Christ and live a transformed life in this fallen world!