John the Baptist experiences some doubts about whether Jesus is the Christ. Jesus' answer offers John wisdom to avoid the hazard of unfilled expectations when it comes to God. We are wise to learn that lesson, too.
Naturally, we all wish we could live in a place like the Garden of Eden. This is at the heart of much of our progress and civilization. Still, crime rates and constant wars around the world remind us that modern civilization is far from Eden. Jesus teaches his disciples how to live the life of Eden now, even while we are still so far away.
Though there is much to fear in the world today, Christians will overcome by trusting Jesus to lead us in wisdom and innocence.
In the light of three stories in Matthew 9:18-31 we learn that acts upon much more than it can see. These insights challenge Christians to raise the bar in how we pray.
Matthew's story of Jesus freeing the Gadarene men from demon-possession challenges us to take seriously the invisible aspects of reality. Just as the disciples that day were confronted by the reality of evil, personal spirits, Matthew reminds us that Jesus' authority is just as real. More important, Jesus' authority is irresistible. Be found faithful to Jesus, and have no need to fear the demonic in our world.
Wise students learn key lessons from the way the winds and the sea obey Jesus one stormy day. Matthew's framing of this story with questions of discipleship points the way.
Ask. Seek. Knock. God knows what each of us needs at every moment. He already moves to meet our needs. (Remember Matt 6:24-34.) Like any good father--and infinitely more than the best human fathers--God wants us to ask him for whatever is on our heart. Not that he will grant everything we wish for. But so that he can teach us and relate to us like fathers relate to their children.
Jesus's resurrection proves the reality of the Christian hope for eternal life beyond death. It also demonstrates the divine power available to help Christians live Jesus' way now. Jesus calls Christians to store up treasures in heaven, because that is where our hearts will be. We also hear him saying that our hearts will have immense resources to serve God faithfully and to love others well. We need to be sure that we are investing out devotion, our time, and our money in that eternal hope.
In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is tested by Satan as to whether Jesus--unlike Israel before him--would live up to God's acclaim of Jesus as "My son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew's narrative of how Jesus succeeds against Satan's powerful temptations instructs all of us that righteousness is the fruit of true and total love of the Father.