When Jesus tells the crowds that John the Baptist is "the Elijah" prophesied by Malachi, he was not repairing a prisoner's reputation. Jesus sounded the trumpet call of his gospel message, "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the good news." Malachi's prophecy of "Elijah" coming to announce the arrival of the Christ is the tell-tale sign that God is about to bring the fire of judgment against all enemies of his kingdom. For the moment, there is opportunity to join God's side by being joined to Christ Jesus. No one knows how long that moment of opportunity will last.
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.
Psalm 82 reminds us that there is much more to the world we experience than just what we see. The Bible does not answer every question we have about angels and their influence upon human affairs. What God does say to us encourages us, because God remains the Lord of all.
Jesus warns the twelve apostles about the persecution they will suffer because of Jesus' name. We can relate to some extent to the pressure they felt to compromise or deny faith in Jesus' name. In this passage, Jesus teaches four habits to help us be effective as his disciples. Following this way we can overcome the pressures of persecution.
Though there is much to fear in the world today, Christians will overcome by trusting Jesus to lead us in wisdom and innocence.
Jesus sees crowds of people coming to him. He says this is a "harvest." Jesus sees the crowds as "sheep without a shepherd." In this way, Jesus reveals to us a crucial element of reaching people with the good news.
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.
Some of the followers of John the Baptist are puzzled that Jesus does not lead his disciples to fast in preparation for the Kingdom of God. Instead, Jesus is feasting with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners. Jesus explains why he feasts by reminding John's followers that Jesus is the "bridegroom" whose presence means the Kingdom feast is about to begin. For Christians, this means we always have the joy of hope no matter if it is a time of fasting or a time of feasting.
Mercy is at the heart of everything Jesus did. This was on display when Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector, to be a disciple. Many other sinners came to Jesus, too, and found his mercy.