If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Genesis 9–10, Matthew 9, Ezra 9, Acts 9. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Matthew 9.
In every paragraph of this chapter, Jesus interacted with religious leaders:
- In verses 1-8, Christ forgave and healed a paralyzed man but teachers of the law accused him of blasphemy (v. 3).
- In verses 9-13, Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, to become his disciple. Matthew, in response to Christ’s call, hosted a party in his home and invited all his friends to meet Jesus. This time the Pharisees criticized Jesus for associating with sinners (v. 11).
- In verses 14-17, John’s disciples asked why Jesus and his disciples did not fast.
- In verses 18-26, a synagogue ruler asked Christ to raise his daughter from the dead.
- In verses 27-34, Christ healed two blind men but the Pharisees gave demons credit for healing them, not God.
Then, iIn verses 35-37, Christ’s ministry was summarized. He went all over Israel teaching and healing. In verse 36, we are told that Christ’s attitude toward all of these people was “compassion.” And why did they need compassion? Because, although they lived in a religious culture and had God’s word and his promises to them as a nation, according to Matthew, “…they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The fact that this chapter contains so many religious leaders from different aspects of Judaism should suggest who caused the people to feel harassed and helpless: their religious leaders!
- Religious leaders accused Christ of blasphemy (v. 3).
- Religious leaders failed to understand why Christ took his message to sinners (v. 11)..
- Religious leaders did not understand the joy of having Christ with them and how he was bringing in a new age for Gentles (vv. 15-17).
So Matthew described the people as being “like sheep without a shepherd.” Instead of directing people to God and watching over their spiritual growth, the religious leaders were harassing people leaving them helpless to resist and wandering aimlessly in their spiritual lives (v. 36).
Although the religious situation in front of him was confusing and abusive, Christ saw great opportunities to reach people (v. 37). His response to this situation was to call the disciples to pray for true spiritual leaders—workers who would gather in those ready to be harvested for his kingdom. Yes, there were many with official religious designations who were looking shear the sheep or slaughter the sheep; Christ, however, encouraged his followers to ask God for more genuine workers.
Think about this in terms of our modern life. There plenty of religious options out there; they are confusing and contradictory. Many “ministries” are really in business to sell self-help books or seminars to benefit the author more than the reader. In the face of all of that, Christ reminded us that the harvest belongs to God. If more genuine spiritual leaders are needed, Christ urged us to ask God for them.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.