Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jesus tells the Message Plainly, Are You Listening?

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (Matthew 16:21, NLT).

After Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (16:16), the phrase “from then on” marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. If in the beginning of the Gospel story Jesus announced that the Kingdom of Heaven was near, here he points a new emphasis on his own death and resurrection. At this time in their association with Jesus, the disciples hadn’t understood fully Jesus’ true purpose because of their ideas of what the Messiah should be and do. Although they acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, they still thought this meant Jesus would free Israel from Rome and set up an earthly kingdom (for this was what many false messiahs tried to do, but failed). In reality, far from conquering, in the world’s view he and his disciples would be conquered.

So Jesus began teaching “plainly” and specifically about what would happen. Jesus would not be the dominating and powerful Messiah because he first had to “suffer many terrible things… and… be killed.” (Jesus’ first coming was in humility; his second coming will be the exact opposite). For any mere human king, death would be the end. Not so with Jesus! Death would be only the beginning, for “on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” Jesus couldn’t said it more clearly. Yet we’ll soon see that the disciples still didn’t understand, either because they weren’t listening very closely or because what Jesus was saying didn’t make sense to them.

Think about this: People often say they can’t understand the Bible – that they get confused by various sections of the Scriptures. Even long-time believers can have trouble interpreting certain parts. But God has plainly spoken to us through his Word – we just have to be listening. Certainly some passages can be more difficult to understand than others, but most people have trouble obeying what they know God is saying. The Ten Commandments and Jesus’ statement about being the only way to the Father (John 14:6), for example, are quite clear. As you read Scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart and open your eyes; then look for the plain teachings you can believe and obey. As for the plain, essential teachings, don’t make excuses.

It’s not about what you don’t understand that matter,
But as you can immediately understand and plainly explained to you – do it and obey.
And then God will open your eyes and understanding more of His truths to you.

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