Honoring God’s Sabbath

Later, Jesus was walking with his students through some wheat fields on a Sabbath (103).  His students were hungry, so they began to pick heads of grain & eat them as they walked.

Some Pharisees complained to Jesus, “It’s against God’s law for them to do this on the Sabbath!”

Jesus replied, “But you know that King David once broke God’s law — by going into the tabernacle & eating bread that had been offered to God, bread that only God’s priests were supposed to eat.  And you know that priests themselves break God’s law every Sabbath — by doing their temple work then.  But you don’t complain about those things!

“There is a bigger issue here,” Jesus said.  “In the inspired scriptures, God says, ‘It is mercy that I want, not animal sacrifices.’  If you really knew what this means, you wouldn’t condemn people who remain innocent before God.  I’m offering you the true spirit of God’s Sabbath.”

That same Sabbath day Jesus went to a local synagogue, where there was a man who had a paralyzed hand.


The Pharisees there wanted to trick Jesus into breaking the Sabbath law, so they asked him, “Is it against God’s law to heal on the Sabbath?”

Jesus answered, “What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Won’t you lift it out, in violation of the Sabbath law?  Well, in God’s eyes, people are worth much more than sheep. So the spirit of God’s law absolutely allows us to help people on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it became completely well again, just like his other one!


The Pharisees were enraged at being shown up in this way, so they continued making plans to eliminate Jesus. When Jesus heard about their plot against him, he went away from that place.

Large crowds followed Jesus; he healed all the sick people and told them not to tell other people about him.

In this way, Jesus showed the truth of what God had said about him through the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years earlier:

“Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, the one I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will send my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim my judgment to the nations. 

“He will not argue or shout or make loud speeches in the streets. He will not break off a bent reed; he will not put out a flickering lamp. 

“But he will persist until he causes justice to triumph. In him all people will find hope.”

God, please help me to love honoring the spirit of Your Sabbath, every day..

(103) Matthew 12:1-21, Mark 2:23-3:6, Luke 6:1-11

Repent & Rest

When many people in the towns where he had performed most of his miracles did not stop sinning, Jesus gave them this severe rebuke (102):


“How terrible it will be for you, people of Chorazin! How terrible for you, too, people of Bethsaida! If the miracles which I did in your presence had been done in sinful towns like Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have stopped sinning long ago. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre and Sidon than to you!

“And as for you, people of Capernaum, you hoped to lift yourselves up to heaven, but you will be thrown down to hell. If the miracles which I did in your presence had been done in a sinful town like Sodom, it would still be in existence today. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the people of Sodom than to you!”

Jesus paused & prayed, “Father, God of heaven and earth, thank you for showing to simple, uneducated people what you have hidden from wise, over-educated people.  I know that you wanted things this way.”

Then Jesus said to those who were still with him, “My Father has given me all things. No one truly knows me except God, and no one truly knows God except me — and those people to whom I choose to reveal him.

“So come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Place your heavy burdens on me.”

“In return I will place on you a burden that is light & easy to bear.  You will receive rest for your souls, by learning gentleness &  humbleness of spirit.”

God, please help me to love learning gentleness & humility from Jesus.

(102) Matthew 11:20-30

John The Baptizer & Elijah The Prophet

After Jesus finished instructing & sending his twelve witnesses, he continued teaching & preaching in the surrounding towns (101).

John the Baptizer was in prison; he had been locked up by Herod.  (Herod was the local ruler propped up by the Roman forces occupying Israel.)  When John heard about the things that Jesus was doing, he sent some of his students to Jesus to ask him: “Are you the one that John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus answered, “Go back and tell John what you see & hear.  Blind people see, lame people walk, people with leprosy are made clean, deaf people hear, dead people have life restored, and the good news about God is being preached to the poor. By all this, God wants to bless you by removing all doubts about me.”

While John’s students were leaving, Jesus spoke about him to the crowds: “When you went out to John the Baptizer in the desert, what did you expect? That he would simply be a blade of grass bending in the wind? Or that he would be a man dressed up in fancy clothes? (People who dress like that live in palaces, not out in the desert!)

“No, you expected John to be a prophet, didn’t you? And, so he is.


“But you saw much more than a prophet. In the inspired scriptures, God said that John the Baptizer would bring you a message about me: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’

“John the Baptizer is greater than any man who has ever lived on this earth. Yet even the least person living in God’s kingdom is greater than John.

“From the time John began preaching until now, his message has been violently resisted – even though all the prophets & the law of Moses spoke about the coming of God’s kingdom, just as John teaches.  If you are willing to believe the law & the prophets, then you should see that John the Baptizer is that same Elijah whose return was prophesied.

Then Jesus warned them against expecting to have relationship with God on their own terms.  “Listen to what God is saying to you!


“Don’t whine like children sitting in the marketplace — one group crying out to the other, ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn’t dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn’t mourn!’

“When John came, he fasted & drank no wine, and people said, ‘He has an evil spirit in him!’  When I came, I ate & drank, and people said, ‘He’s a glutton & a boozer, and a friend of tax collectors & other outcasts!’

“You jump to conclusions, you fill in some justification & then you declare that wisdom!

“But true wisdom is seen in the actions of those who truly love God.”

God, please help me to love & live by Your wisdom.

(101) Matthew 11:1-19, Luke 7:18-35

The Mission: A Cross For Everyone

Jesus concluded giving his witnesses their mission (100):

Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I came to bring division to the world. Your testimonies about me will set family members against one another; sometimes, your worst enemies will be the members of your own family. Whoever loves family members more than me cannot be my friend.

And whoever doesn’t take up his own personal cross and follow in my steps cannot be my friend. If you try to preserve your life on earth, you will ultimately lose it; but if you will lose your life on earth for my sake, you will have life preserved forever in heaven.


Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes God who sent me.

Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward.  Whoever welcomes God’s servant because he is God’s servant, will share in his reward.

And whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of my students, because he is my student, will certainly receive a reward.


When Jesus had finished instructing them, the witnesses went out & did exactly as they had been told.

  • They preached that people should turn away from their sins.
  • They expelled many evil spirits.
  • They anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

God, please help me to love You, even when family & friends reject me for that.

(100) Matthew 10:34-42, Mark 6:12-13, Luke 9:6

The Mission: His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Jesus continued preparing his students to go out as his witnesses (99):

If they say I am controlled by Satan, they will say worse things about you.  But don’t be afraid of people who say such things. Their evil deeds do not escape God’s notice; they will be judged by God.


Your job is to continue spreading my message, everywhere you go.  Don’t be concerned about those who can only destroy your body; rather give your highest respect & honor to God, who has power to condemn both your body and your soul to hell.

Sparrows seem insignificant, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without God’s consent. In the same way, God is aware of everything that you’re going through; he’s even aware of every hair on your head!  You are more important to God than many sparrows.


If you declare publicly that you belong to me, I will do the same for you before God in heaven. But if you reject me publicly, I will reject you before God in heaven.

God, please help me to love showing my love for You.

(99) Matthew 10:25-33

The Mission: Like Teacher, Like Student

Jesus continued teaching his students, preparing them to be sent out as his witnesses (98):

Be aware that men will arrest you & take you to court, and they will even beat you in the synagogues.


You will be brought to trial before rulers & kings.  But these will become opportunities to tell God’s good news to both Jews and non-Jews!

When they bring you to trial, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, the Spirit of God will give you the right words to say.

Because of your testimony, everyone will be convicted about their rebellion against me.  People will hate this so much that some of your own family members will hand you over to be put to death! But in the midst of all this hatred & persecution, whoever stands with me to the end will be saved.

When they persecute you in one town, move on to another one. There will always be plenty of towns that need your witness, even until I return!


No student is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master.  It is enough simply to become like me, in your love for God.

Jesus, please help me to love becoming more like You.

(98)Matthew 10:17-24

The Mission: Serpents & Doves

Then Jesus called his twelve chosen witnesses together and gave them authority to expel evil spirits and to heal every disease & every sickness.  These twelve men would be sent out in pairs by Jesus, with the following instructions (97):


Go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Tell them that God’s kingdom is open to them right now!  They can serve God as their king right now!

Restore health to the sick, even those with leprosy; restore life to the dead; and expel evil spirits.  You have been freely given God’s kingdom, so freely give God’s kingdom to others.

Don’t carry any money; don’t carry an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Trust God to provide what you need for your work.

When you come to a town, find people who welcome you, and stay with them until you leave that town. Bring peace to every house in which you stay; if the people in that house welcome you, let your peace remain with them; but if they don’t welcome you, then keep your peace.

If any home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place. On the day of judgment, God will show more mercy to the evil people of Sodom and Gomorrah, than to the people of that town.


I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So you must be careful as serpents, but also carefree as doves.

God, please help me to love trusting You as I serve You.

(97) Matthew 10:1 & 10:5-16, Mark 6:7-11, Luke 9:1-5