As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Wild & Crazy Harvest

Parable of the Sower
Parable of
the Sower
In Matthew 13:1-23 we read two parts of a story of a wild harvest. The story is a parable with an explanation revealing certain secrets of the kingdom of heaven. These are secrets which are hidden from those whose hearts are calloused. This parable is a key to the thirty or more parables of Jesus that are recorded in the Gospels. Other parables are not explained in such great depth for us, but left to our imagination, inspiration and discussion. We notice that Jesus’ teaching method was not usually to spoon feed his disciples with ready-made answers, but to give us food for thought. God wants us to rely on the Holy Spirit and use our brains. Jesus explained the kingdom of heaven as being like a harvest with different results depending on where the seed was sown.

In Step with God

In Step With God: Understanding His Ways and Plans for Your Life
In Step with God
In Matthew 11:16-30 we read an allegory of children in a public square calling out to one another and arguing over whether to play funeral or wedding. In the Church we sometimes argue over what kind of worship music to play. Some Christian music sounds like a dirge and some sounds like a party. Perhaps like the children in the marketplace, we also cry out to God about our music choice, but he is not concerned? Are we like that generation who criticized John the Baptist and Jesus as being out of step with God because of legitimate lifestyle choices? Is the kind of music we play unimportant to God? Are such things petty outward matters of personal taste? Could it be that what really gets us in step with God is what’s going on in our hearts — repentance?

Three Insignificant Towns

Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel
The First Word of the Gospel
Why did Jesus denounce three small town in Galilee (Matthew 11:16-30)? Were they like Tyre, Sidon or Sodom, ancient cities with bad reputations like Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Bankok? Apparently not. They were insignificant and not one of the ancient world’s major sin spots. There was no temple prostitution, reputation for debauchery or ritual child sacrifice. That had occurred in other places and at other times. Jesus even said that if those ancient sin cities had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, they would have repented. There we have the crux of the problem. While so many Christians focus on morality and social justice issues, Jesus pointed out a far worse problem, unwillingness to repent. Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida had the privilege of encountering Jesus and refused to repent. Everyone of us will some day encounter Jesus. What will we then do?

Church Burdens & Jesus’ Rest

Lifting the Burden: Reading Matthew's Gospel in the Church Today
Lifting the Burden
When we read Jesus’ offer of rest (Matthew 11:16-30) we can be skeptical. People are suspicious of the Church. The Church does not always offer rest but the yoke of human rules and burdensome traditions. And therein lies the difference. Church rules are not always God’s rules. Churches can lead us to rest in Jesus, but the rest is in Jesus not the Church. Others may say that it’s not Church rules that bother them but God’s. They want to sin and not have to obey God’s restrictive rules. Yet, that is a misunderstanding of God’s way. God’s instructions are designed to relieve burdens from our lives. For instance, unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease, divorce, family animosity, poverty and loneliness are burdens which can all result from sexual immorality. Jesus offered rest from the burdens our sins have caused us.

New Testament Sabbath: Jesus

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity
Some Christians take a Sabbath day. Sabbath means rest, and many treat Sunday as their day of rest, while some still prefer the original Sabbath, Saturday. Certainly, as a principle following the spirit of the law, a day of rest is a good idea. However, there is no command anywhere in the New Testament for a letter of the law Sabbath day, Saturday or Sunday. There is however, an offer of rest. Jesus made that suggestion in Matthew 11:16-30. He said, Come to me and I will give you rest. If we prefer to take that as a command in stead of an offer, it would be the only New Testament Sabbath command. It is an invitation to more rest than a physical day off can give. It is a proposal for permanent rest from the burdens of sin.

Hope for the Condemned

Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons
Crisis in America's Prisons
What would you do if Jesus condemned your city? In Matthew 11:16-30 Jesus cursed three ancient cities. Could God curse modern nations? He did that in Old Testament times. Is there any hope? After Jesus had condemned Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, he offered hope. What is that hope? He said, Come to me and I will give you rest. Are we weary and burdened because of the wrong-doing that we have done? There is an answer, Jesus. Our prisons are filled but we still have the world’s highest crime rate. Our politicians posture and argue but we still have the world’s highest debt. We argue over health care while people lose their homes and savings to skyrocketing costs. We work longer hours than any other industrialized country and have no rest. Is there an answer? It starts with Jesus.