25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 27

I have been held back by sickness, but even that won’t stop me from finishing this series! I find no coincidence in the fact that a chronic illness struck me right as we were to study the crucifixion of Jesus! One of the most, if not the most, memorable events in history. Our enemy hates the idea of the good news being spread!

No introduction needed. Let’s dive in!

Things we may have missed (I won’t call them main points, because the main point here is that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins and give us everlasting life. There is no other main point bigger than that!):

  • Looking for forgiveness from the world will make you crazy
  • Our emotions can overpower our morals if we aren’t careful
  • Our weakness will spill over to others
  • People will test and mock God’s Will
  • Even Jesus had questions
  • Believers’ eyes will be reopened at the sight of miracles
  • The enemy is terrified of prophesies being fulfilled

 

  • Looking for forgiveness from the world will make you crazy

Matthew 27:3-5 (NIV): “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”

Notice how Judas did not ask God for forgiveness. He went to the very people who took part in the sin – to take it back….to ask forgiveness….to maybe change things. It didn’t work. For people are just people, they do not always show grace. God is the only one who 100% of the time shows grace, and that is where we need to go when our souls are crushed with unforgiveness. After Judas was rejected in this scene, he went off and hung himself.  He couldn’t handle it on his own.

  • Our emotions can overpower our morals if we aren’t careful

Matthew 27:15-18 (NIV): “Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, ‘Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.”

Matthew 27:23 (NIV): “‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!'”

The only thing they had against Jesus was their own emotions towards Him. Whether they be jealous, in disbelief, angry or whatever…..they were willing to KILL someone based off of emotions! It may seem extreme, but do we act this way in our daily life? Do we push our family and friends aside because of emotions or grudges and show more grace to strangers….even strangers who have done wrong or are still doing wrong??? Are we putting more energy into helping strangers than we are into tending to our closest relationships?

In the second verse – the crowd did not even KNOW WHY they wanted Jesus killed! They didn’t give a reason! They were just so angry they were willing to pardon a true criminal. Are there people you are mad at and don’t even remember the reason why because it’s been so long? Or if you do remember the reason, is it really as bad as you once felt it was? Were you overreacting out of hurt? Even if you still feel justified in your unforgiveness, is that how Jesus taught us (by example) to live? In unforgiveness?

  • Our weakness will spill over to others

Matthew 27:32 (The Message): “Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross.”

They just came across this random man and made him carry this gigantic cross. I don’t know if Jesus knew this man or if he was just some random guy but either way, the enemy had beaten Jesus til he was so weak he could no longer carry the cross. It was up to someone else (against their will) to carry the cross for Him.

Now……have we ever been so weak that we can’t help but lean on those around us? Heck maybe we are so desperate, we end up sharing our story with the store clerk or the mail man. Whether it is our intention or not…..IT IS the intention of the enemy to knock down as many people as he can. So if that means someone else has to carry around our burden because we are too weak….well the enemy has a hay day with that! Don’t feel bad for going to those who care about you with your troubles. Fellowship is important. Also, don’t forget to take your worries to God and TRUST that he will look after you.

  • People will test and mock God’s Will

Matthew 27:42 (NIV): “‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.'”

Non believers will take advantage of situations. For instance, if someone is suffering from cancer and their mother is sitting next to them praying daily that they be healed and they end up passing away……the enemy will just snatch that right up and throw it our face. Why wasn’t this person healed? God has a plan that none of us are aware of and maybe it was his will for this to end the way it did. Maybe the person who suffered from cancer positively effected more people in one day than most people do in their whole lives. The fact that this person is now in Heaven, pain free is a miracle in itself! We can’t expect to always know the answers. God had a will when he sent his Son to save the world, although it appeared He left Him there to suffer.

  • Even Jesus had questions

Matthew 27:46 (The Message): “Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'”

Even Jesus Himself, who knew His Father’s plan and predicted it before it happened…..had questions. He had doubts. He wanted to know why this was happening. He felt abandoned. He remained strong through so much but got to a point where he had questions. We are not Jesus, so how many more questions and doubts will we have?

  • Believers’ eyes will be reopened at the sight of miracles

Matthew 27:51-53 (The Message): “At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered into the holy city and appeared to many.)”

If you look at this in a metaphorical way you will see that believer’s eyes will be opened when they experience a miracle. They are believers, so they believe it can happen but when it actually does…..their eyes will be re-opened and they will go out and share with many! These may be believers who had strayed from their walk or who had doubts.

  • The enemy is terrified of prophesies being fulfilled

Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV): “The next day, the one after preparation day, the chief priests and the pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

The enemy is terrified of looking like a fool and he would certainly look like one if prophesies started coming true! He will work overtime to make sure that this does not happen.

 

 

 

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What Freedom Really Looks Like

Following a weekend of celebrating the brave Veterans of our country, it only seems fitting to really reflect on the idea of FREEDOM.

I had a question to ask myself this morning and it was this: If we live in a FREE country and we serve a FREE God, why do we feel so UN-free? Imprisoned, hopeless, inferior, guilty, shameful, suffocated, and overwhelmed were some common themes that seemed to come to mind when I think of a lot of Americans these days.

After talking with God on my morning walk, he left me with this……Every negative feeling we feel can be traced back to one of our needs not being met.

I narrowed it down to 5 needs we must have met to be as successful as we can be here on Earth:

  • Survival (water, food, shelter etc)
  • Faith (something greater than us, quiet time)
  • Love/Relationships (significant other, family, friends)
  • Self Esteem (confidence, self worth)
  • Personality (interests, hobbies, fun)

God also clearly defined for me 3 ways in which we react when our needs are not met or are met poorly.

  • Emotional Reaction (anger, sadness, jealousy, greed, selfishness etc)
  • Put up a wall/Shut Down
  • Find a vice/Numbness

Thank you Lord for this clarity! If I can sit down at the table with God (as people do when they cherish a relationship) and just have coffee with him and bring him my hurts, I believe I can put it in one of the 5 categories of unmet needs and hopefully identify how I am trying to meet it with the 3 reactions. So you may think, although this list is interesting, what do I do once I’ve figured all of this out? How do I fix it? How do I get closer to feeling FREE?!

Through my own recent experiences, and a few little whispers from God, I’m thinking some answers may lie in the fruits of the spirit! Hang in there for a second while I try to make this connection for you. If we root ourselves in the holy spirit- we will bear the fruits of the spirit which include:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness and
  • self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I have had times through my suffering, though, where I don’t know how to “root myself in the holy spirit,” know how to hear from God or wonder why he’s not answering. I’m learning that when I’m in that moment, if I turn to one of these fruits and try to apply them to the situation……that I start to receive answers! And blessings on top of that!

If I choose to treat other people (especially those who have hurt me) with love, patience, kindness, self control……(insert any of the above)…..I start to see it cycle back around to me and I start to hear God’s whispers again! I feel like sometimes I just need some concrete steps I can take to give myself a little bit of relief instead of always relying on this huge overwhelming idea that there is a God up there listening and then trying to figure out how to hear him, when my physical eyes and ears try to test me. Am I right? This is me, being totally raw with you guys. I can’t pretend like it’s 100% easy to be a Christian all the time. Our flesh and just the nature of being human, sure do love to test us and make us ask questions! I believe God wants us to experience FREEDOM in such a way that we can be open and transparent with our friends and love God and grow in him together! I pray you are able to feel some relief and experience true FREEDOM through some of these strategies I’ve been trying lately!