BSF Matthew Week 16, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Today’s lesson is another in tearing down old “support structures” so Jesus can renovate the apostles into His church.

Many will look at this passage and think about the interactions between Jesus and the woman.  But, it is important to keep in mind the other people in the room: the apostles.  What was Jesus teaching them?

To get to that we need to back up a little bit.  We know from Matthew and Mark that this woman was a Syrophoenician women from Tyre and Sidon.  We look at that today and say, “so what?”  But, to the observant Jew of that time, being raised in the lessons of the old testament, this fact meant a lot.  To put it in perspective, think about whatever the seedest part of the nearest big city is to where you live; the part of town that shows up in the news for drug dealing and prostitution every week.  Now picture a woman from that part of town showing up on your doorstep one day and refusing to go away.  For the people of Jesus’ day, a Syrophoenician women from Tyre and Sidon would have immediately brought to mind Jezebel.  Not only a gentile, but all the images of idol worship and sexual debauchery would have been a standard stereotype.

The apostles urged Jesus to “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  Jews crying out after them was nothing knew, but they would have had a completely different stereotype bias against a Jezebel.

Jesus even plays to this in His lesson.  “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  Go back and look at how Jezebel died to catch the nuance in that line.

But, Jesus did not see her the same way.  He wanted to remove the blindness of the apostles who could not see past her nationality and race and area of origin.  What Jesus saw was a woman who had great faith.

Would it offend you to be categorized along side a dog?  Would that turn you away from your focus?  Let’s be honest, in comparison to God we are less than dogs are to man.  We have no right to sit at the master’s table, we have no way of earning that right.  But Jesus invites us to be His brothers and sisters.  He adopts us into His family.  Plus, in God’s economy, getting the left-overs and hand-me-downs is not such a bad thing.  Every time they feed large groups of people there is more food left-over than there was to start with!

My Answers:

9.
a.
John 7:1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. (if you look at Parallel Bible / Harmony of the Gospels, this is the passage from John tied to this story in Matthew and Mark)

b.
Lord, Son of David – She was a descendent of Ham, cursed by Noah to be servant of servants, ancestors often worshipped idols – Jezebel from Tyre & Sidon

10.
a.
Rom 1:16, to the jew first and then to the greek, to test her, to clarify, to give her the better portion

b.
very willing to take the crumbs that fall from their master’s table

c.
He went to a house, didn’t want people to know, gentile, syrophoenician race, let the children be satisfied first

11.
a.
She went with the parable – even the dogs… very willing to accept the position of a dog to heal her daughter

b.
love of daughter, belief in Jesus as Lord, Son of God, understood what it meant to be demon-possessed

c.
prayers for family

12.
a.
daughter was healed, demon left, example for future christians, great faith, in the bible

b.
faith is confidence in hope assurance in not seen, impossible to please God without faith

BSF Matthew Week 16, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

In building rennovation, sometimes the only way to build something up is to first tear down the weak support structures.  In gardening, to allow room for growth you sometimes need to cut back or pull out the weeds. The parables and teachings of the past few weeks lessons are culminating this week as Jesus continues that work with His apostles.

The apostles were Jews, raised in the traditions of the elders.  The teachers and pharisees from Jerusalem would have been like getting a visit from the big bosses from the top office at corporate headquarters.

The idea that these bastions of knowledge and wisdom were wrong must have been like a wrecking ball striking the main support beam of what the apostles knew about being an observant Jew.  Clean and unclean were not just cornerstones, they had come to be a foundation of the religious.

But Jesus was not simply tearing down the apostles faith, He was building it.  He was removing the weak, infested structures and replacing them with rock.  The pharisees were offended, but millions would be saved.  To secure the foundation of the church, he could not build on the traditions of the elders.  He had to build on love, compassion, healing, serving.  He had to build on faith in the Word of God.

Sometimes we cannot focus our eyes.  There may be an astigmatism or injury.  But just like a doctor may prescribe glasses, we can be given sight and the ability to focus through the lens of God’s Word, Jesus Christ.

My Answers:

6.
Rigidly following rules doesn’t make one holy.  What flows forth from their heart is a sign of their holiness.

7.
a.
The pharisees were offended

b.
every plan that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots – leave them, they are blind guides

c.
If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit

d.
He was blinded – he thought of the priests and pharisees as holy men who were teaching right things

8.
a.
Your actions and thoughts, the things that come out of you or that you do from your own motivation – not outside influences, but inside: evil thoughts, lust, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, malice and deceit, slander, lewdness, envy, arrogance, folly

b.
envy, worry, greed, slander, folly – yes

BSF Matthew, Week 16, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal

The definition of focus is “the center of interest or activity.”  What is your focus?  What is the center of your interest or activity?

For the Pharisees and teachers who traveled from Jerusalem to meet Jesus, their focus was on “holding to the tradition of the elders.”  It wasn’t on God.  It wasn’t on the Messiah.  It wasn’t on learning and understanding and healing and being healed.  It was on ceremony.  Ceremony gave them power and authority.  Ceremony gave them comfort.

Ceremonies are not inherently wrong.  Structure can be very helpful in our walk with God and our approach to learning and studying His word.  But when they become the focus instead of an aid, then they are a distraction.

I was with a older friend recently discussing a worship service she attended.  She was totally distracted because there were live plants on the alter in the church.  According to tradition, only cut flowers are to be placed on the altar as a reminder of the price Christ paid.  Nothing wrong with that tradition, and a great pointer back to Jesus, but when it became such a distraction that it prevented worship, it took over the focus.

We have to be careful of this in BSF and in our churches as well.  There are many unspoken guidelines of “how we have always done things” that can become the focus.  This can often be a major obstacle for people entering bible study or church service because they see the hypocrisy of the distraction of our heart.

The traditions are perfectly fine as “hows”.  This is how I approach worship, this is how I prepare myself.  But when they become the whats and whys then we need the reminder of the hymn: “turn your eyes upon Jesus… and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim”

My Answers

3.
a.
The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions

b.
Why do you break the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions?

4.
a.
It was a way of weaseling out of using money to support parents by pledging it to the church as a future contribution

b.
The commandments come first, other things that support them are fine, but never over-rule them

5.
a.
let go of commands but hold to traditions.  Follow certain rules and obligations but don’t have a heart for or daily walk with God – do not study His word or help others

b.
When I go through the motions instead of taking time to prepare my heart for worship