Morning Bible Study
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Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just
at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.
Jesus has been talking about money.
He’s been talking about how we believers are “stewards” of what God has
given us and we need to be careful to leverage our resources to build
relationships with unbelievers and ultimately lead them to Christ so they will
be with us in heaven for eternity.
We stopped short just before Jesus said,
16:13-16 Trust the Unchangeable
:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and
love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You
cannot serve God and mammon.”
:13 No servant can serve two masters
In any business, it’s important that there is a clear line of authority.
When there are two different “bosses” of equal authority, the employees are
going to be confused when each boss wants something different.
Employees will ultimately take sides with one boss or the other.
:13 You cannot serve God and mammon
mammon – mammonas – treasure;
Jesus clarifies for His listeners just what two “bosses” He’s concerned
Which one has the ultimate authority in your life?
Is it God, or is it your money?
Jesus wants us to learn to “use” our money to serve our Master (God).
He doesn’t want you to try and “use” God to serve money.
:14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these
things, and they derided Him.
:14 the Pharisees, who were lovers of money
lovers of money – philarguros (“love”
+ “silver”) – loving money, greed
A form of this word is found in:
(1 Timothy 6:9–10
NKJV) —9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction
and perdition. 10
the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some
have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through
with many sorrows.
Keep in mind the Pharisees are the “church people” of the
day. They are the ones who believe all
the right things and try to do good things.
Yet they are in a dangerous place.
Church people can be way too in love with their money.
:14 they derided Him
They were literally “turning up their noses” at Jesus.
Jesus was talking about learning to use your money for the sake of the
kingdom, and they didn’t like anybody telling them what to do with their money.
Talking about money in church is not a pleasant thing.
There are churches that go overboard when it comes to money, and yes it
seems that with some churches all they can think about is how to fulfill that
century English proverb:
“A fool and his money are soon parted”.
Don’t let bad, abusive churches be your reason for not being a good steward
with the money God has given you.
You are still accountable to God for how you use your money.
Be careful that you aren’t offended every time the subject of money comes
up in church.
You may have the same problem the Pharisees did, that they loved their
money too much.
:15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men,
but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an
abomination in the sight of God.
:15 what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of
You could paraphrase this as, “the things that men think are the coolest
are actually stinking, rotten things that make God want to vomit.”
:15 who justify yourselves before men
The Pharisees were more concerned about how other people saw them than how
God saw them.
They were more concerned with the outside, the things that people saw, than
they were with the inside of their heart, which God sees.
23:25–26 NLT) —25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you
Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup
and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind
Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside
will become clean, too.
The problem with having people admire you is that people tend to admire the
People admire things like fancy cars, big houses, and outward appearances.
Those kinds of things make God sick.
God cares about what’s going on in the heart. God cares about integrity.
The Emperor's Seeds
Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it
was coming time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his
assistants or one of his own children, he decided to do something different. He
called all the young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It has
come time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor. I have decided to
choose one of you.” The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am
going to give each one of you a seed today. One seed. It is a very special
seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one
year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge
the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor
of the kingdom!”
There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the
others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole
story. She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed
and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it
had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk
about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept going
home and checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks,
five weeks went by. Still nothing. By now others were talking about their
plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months
went by—still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed.
Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say
anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their
plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going
to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to
be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his
mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the
other youths. They were beautiful—in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty
pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him. A few felt sorry
for him and just said, “Hey nice try.”
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young
people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and
flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed
the next emperor!”
All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his
empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified.
“The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!” When Ling got
to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All
the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to
quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your
new emperor! His name is Ling!”
Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be
the new emperor?
Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I
told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.
But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling,
have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed
would not grown, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was
the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it.
Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”
Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by
Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.
:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the
kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
:16 The law and the prophets were until John
Up until the time of John the Baptist, the teachings of the Law of Moses
and the Old Testament prophets were the things that guided the people.
:16 Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached
From the time of John the Baptist until the day Jesus was speaking, there
was a change in the message as the things that were long ago prophesied were
now coming to pass.
Jesus was the long awaited King, the Messiah.
He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The message of the Pharisees was that you were either “perfect” like they obviously
were, or you were hopeless.
God’s message was that people everywhere could be saved, that they needed
to repent of their sins and believe in the Messiah.
:16 everyone is pressing into it
Try to remember the context of where we are at with Jesus.
(Luke 15:1 NKJV) Then all the
tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
In our passage, Jesus is referring to these sinners that have been
“pressing” and getting into the kingdom.
:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle
of the law to fail.
:17 than for one tittle of the law to fail
Jesus had a fuller form of this teaching earlier in His teaching ministry:
(Matthew 5:18 NKJV)
assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one
tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
The “jot” and “tittle” are names for the two smallest letters of the Hebrew
alphabet. (Hebrew text from Deut. 6:4)
The “jot” was the smallest, the “yodh”,
sometimes called the “jot”, which looks like an apostrophe and carries the
sound of a “y”.
The “tittle” was the Hebrew letter “waw”
(or, “vav”) looks like our small
letter “l” and carries the sound like a “w”.
:17 easier for heaven and earth to pass away
One day heaven and earth will actually pass away (Rev. 21:1)
Yet God’s Word will not pass away.
(Isaiah 40:8 NKJV) The grass
withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
Just in case you got to thinking from verse 16 that the Law is no longer
important, think again.
God wasn’t changing the rules to get into heaven with Jesus.
The Law was still in effect.
The Law still shows us we are sinners.
The Law shows us we need sacrifice to atone for our sins.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not get rid of it.
He is the perfect sacrifice.
The entire Bible has the same message – you need to believe God.
In the Old Testament times you needed to believe that God would provide Himself
a sacrifice, as Abraham believed. (Gen. 22)
The entire 11th chapter of Hebrews has one consistent message –
that all the Old Testament “saints” had faith in God.
11:6 NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for
he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder
of those who diligently seek Him.
Trust what doesn’t change
Sometimes it’s good for things to change.
Aren’t you glad some things change?
The problem comes when it’s our morality that changes, our sense of what’s
right and wrong.
Fifty years ago it was wrong to get a divorce. Now it’s okay.
Forty years ago, it was wrong to kill a baby inside it’s mother’s
womb. Now it’s okay.
Twenty years ago it was wrong for two people of the same sex to be married. Now it’s the “Modern Family”.
Jesus doesn’t change
(Hebrews 13:8 NKJV)
Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He has always been a friend of sinners, the people who were “pressing in”
on Him (vs. 16)
He has always been God’s solution to man’s sin.
He wants to forgive you. He wants to
help you. He wants to help you turn from
God’s Word doesn’t change.
(2 Timothy 3:16–17
NKJV) —16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Don’t let your ideas of wrong and right be based on the
latest polls, court decisions, or TV shows.
What’s “right” never changes. It’s in God’s Word.
:18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and
whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
:18 Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery
How does this fit the context? It
sounds like Jesus just changed channels and started a completely different
Perhaps this is one of the things that are “abominable” to God (vs. 15) (He
hates divorce – Mal. 2:16)
Perhaps this is something that isn’t supposed to “change” (vs. 17)
Divorce and remarriage
This is a difficult subject to deal with because I’ll bet somewhere around
half of you have been divorced and remarried.
Some more than once.
In Jesus’ day, this was just as difficult an issue as it is in ours.
Some were quite strict and taught that the only reason allowable for
divorce was if the wife wasn’t a virgin when she married, or if she committed
Others were more liberal and taught that you could divorce your wife for
any reason you wanted, even if she burned the toast too many times.
Are there any valid reasons for divorce and remarriage? I see two.
Jesus Himself said,
19:9 NKJV) And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual
immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who
is divorced commits adultery.”
immorality – porneia
– this is a very broad term simply meaning “any kind of sex outside of
If you are divorced because your spouse was unfaithful, you
are allowed to remarry.
Corinthians 7:15 NKJV) But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a
sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to
In the narrowest sense, if you are married to an unbeliever
and they want out of the marriage, you are allowed to get out.
Some have suggested that even if the other person claims
to be a believer, but they walk out on the marriage, they are acting like an
unbeliever. I’m not sure I disagree with
Some see spousal abuse under this as well. If your spouse is abusive, they are acting
like an unbeliever and have “left” that marriage.
Some of you may be wondering…
What if I’ve been divorced and remarried and I don’t fit
into one of these exceptions?
You need to consider that perhaps you’ve sinned. But rather than ruining the marriage you’re
currently in by walking out of it, you need to make a commitment to God that
you’re going to be committed to your current marriage.
While it’s true that there are allowable reasons for divorce, don’t forget
that Jesus is trying to get you to do the hard work of staying married.
Most of the problems you will face in your marriage are NOT reasons for
divorce, they are reasons to work harder and make a better marriage.
Maybe get counseling.
Maybe start checking out the “Coupleship Connection” on the 1st
Saturday of each month.