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54: Returning Home

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Matthew 17:22-18:5

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 17:22-23      Mark 9:30-32      Luke 9:43b-45
Matt. 18:1-5            Mark 9:33-37      Luke 9:46-48

Outline:

  1. The Future for Jesus Matt. 17:22-23
  2. The Future for Judaism Matt. 17:24-27
  3. The Future for the Humble Matt. 18:1-5

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Jesus and His disciples leave the area of Caesarea Philippi and return to Capernaum. They keep to themselves because Jesus is concentrating on teaching/training His disciples. In fact, this whole excursion from Galilee to Tyre, Sidon, and to Caesarea Philippi has been dedicated to teaching His disciples in a quiet, peaceful setting.

We are now into the last year of Jesus’ ministry. The dialog in these scriptures took place on their journey south and upon their arrival in Capernaum.

Jesus reiterates the future that He had previously mentioned [see Lesson 51]. The disciples were grieved by what He was saying. It was beyond their understanding. Jesus will continue to tell them about His upcoming death. He wants them to be prepared for what is coming.

They arrive in Capernaum and are immediately accosted to pay their temple tax. Jesus and Peter discuss this question. If Jesus really is the Son of God, there is no need for Him to pay the tax. In a way Jesus is confirming with Peter once again “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus confirms He is not obligated to pay the tax but it is also important not to offend them. So He sends Peter fishing and asks him to pay the tax from the money found in the mouth of the first fish he catches.

Later the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”? Jesus calls over a child to illustrate His answer. His Kingdom is for people that are like little children, trusting, depending, obedient, and, most of all, humble. The true Children of God will be those who seek “children” and welcome them into the Kingdom of God.

Lessons/Applications:

1. Jesus keeps us posted on what’s to come. He made sure His disciples knew what was to happen. Likewise, He has informed us as to what is to happen upon His return. Some of Jesus’ prophecies have been fulfilled and some are yet to be fulfilled. But the evidence of the past provides us assurance for the future. God is faithful. Listen to what He says.

2. We are obligated to God and His Church, not to a church. God desires our hearts, not our money. We give our money to fund the work of the Lord because our hearts love Him, not because of a man-imposed tax. We give according to our hearts. Check your heart; view your checkbook.

3. In today’s culture many believe there are many ways to reach heaven. Jesus states there is only one way, to believe in Him. Belief does not happen unless one humbles himself before the Lord, repents of his sin, trusts in Him, depends on Him, and obeys Him. We are to come as children and become His Children; sitting at His feet. We are to become Children of the Heavenly Father.

Children of the Heavenly Father

By Caroline V. Sandell Berg
Children of the heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird or star in heaven
Such a refuge ne’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them,
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though he giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

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