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Matthew 12:38-45
When Jesus is described as 'he will not argue or shout, and no one will hear his voice in the streets' (12:19), do not for a moment think that this means Jesus will be a silent doormat or a recluse or a cipher. It does mean that he will not be an argumentative demagogue, or a self-promoting poll-watcher. But it does not mean that he will not call a spade a spade.

His response to the words, and requests, of the religious leaders is a case in point - look at Matthew 12:34, where he describes them as (effectively) the spawns of the devil. And look at Matthew 12:39, where he describes them in Old Testament prophetic language, drawing an explicit connection with the unfaithful ('adulterous') Israel of the Old Testament.

The connection is clear: just as God's people in the Old Testament ended up using God as their 'trick pony', so too here the religious leaders demand that Jesus fit to their programme, and their whims.

God does not do this. His Son, the Lord and Saviour of the world, does not do this. And we should not expect more of Jesus than he is!

Prayer:

Read Psalm 121, and pray through it...
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Matthew 12:38-45
Well, a head start on next week's passage...

And how modern of the Pharisees and scribes in their request of Jesus - look at verse 38...

On face-value, a respectful request, understandable even... but on deeper reflection, what hide, what arrogance, what pride!

First, they are 'answering' Jesus, so they are demanding evidence that he really is who he claims.

Second, they are ignoring what they have just seen and heard - look back at 12:13-14, and 12:22-23.

Third, they are demanding that Jesus behave for them, perform for them, accommodate for them and their programme and priorities.

How modern! And how uncomfortable for us to read!

Prayer:

Father, protect me from pride. Protect me from desolation. Instil in me a deep satisfaction in your sufficiency alone, in what you have done for sinners in Christ. Amen.
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The Consecration and Installation of the Eighth Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Armidale, Rod Chiswell, was held today in Armidale.

It was a magnificent service, finishing with the Lord's Supper. It was a great reminder of the role of both the Bishop and the rest of us under-shepherds: to teach God's Word faithfully, so God's people grow in Jesus and others meet Jesus.

Two verses stood out: Isaiah 6:7 and Matthew 28:19-20...

Prayer:

Give thanks to God for his transforming grace in Jesus, and the words of eternal life to take to the world - and pray for the Lord's strength to sustain Rod and Jenni as they lead us in proclaiming this truth!
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Matthew 12:22-37
Verses 36-37 are the kicker here, the place where the sharp point of Jesus' reply to the religious leaders hits home.

The fruit of the people's lives emerges from the state of their hearts. The proclamation and the practice, to slightly change the image, must match. Jesus has been thoroughly consistent about this, right from the last section of Matthew 7 (in the Sermon on the Mount). Actions/fruit don't save people (deal with their sins) but they do display if their sins have been dealt with.

To put it bluntly, fruit displays whether someone is connected by faith to Jesus.

The religious leaders reveal their complete animosity to Jesus at this point. The disciples are listening, remembering what they were taught in the Sermon on the Mount. And the crowd is being challenged to make a commitment. What are you thinking?

Prayer:

Father, forgive my sins. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Renew a right spirit within me. Amen.
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