Sunday 10th MarchPsalm 48

Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,
    in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

Beautiful in its loftiness,
    the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
    the city of the Great King.
God is in her citadels;
    he has shown himself to be her fortress.

When the kings joined forces,
    when they advanced together,
they saw her and were astounded;
    they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there,
    pain like that of a woman in labor.
You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
    shattered by an east wind.

As we have heard,
    so we have seen
in the city of the Lord Almighty,
    in the city of our God:
God makes her secure

Within your temple, O God,
    we meditate on your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God,
    your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
    your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices,
    the villages of Judah are glad
    because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
    count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
    view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
    to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
    he will be our guide even to the end.

Psalm 48 is a Psalm about the greatness of Jerusalem, the city of the Great King, but when we read it and come to parts that tell us of enemies trembling at her sight, of fleeing in disarray we are apt to say, hold on, sometimes it seemed to be the other way round.  This is true of the situation of Jerusalem just like many other cities in the world.  The events of human history have always been a collection of ups and downs.

Jerusalem however has more than one meaning, just as the Great King is more than King David or Solomon.  The book of Revelation tells us of the last things when the heavenly Jerusalem will come down to be with men, “I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev 21:2).  This has to do with the end time when Jesus who is the King of Kings comes down to be with us.  The Psalm pictures Jerusalem in its best times but also sees the greater Jerusalem above. As the Church has prayed throughout the ages, “Come Lord Jesus”, our expectation is undimmed as we also see glimpses of heaven on earth in a multitude of ways.  We give thanks for great things here, even as we know the best is yet to be.


If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as or an app such as YouVersion

Monday Matthew 11:1-19

While Jesus continues his teaching around the towns of Galilee we find a group of John’s disciples coming to him with a question from John who was in prison at the time, ““Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (v3).  The question has been raised as to whether this was John’s question of doubt or whether he was merely sending his doubting disciples to hear and see Jesus for themselves.  It is true that John’s disciples had questioned Jesus about fasting earlier thereby showing an element of wariness on their part but Jesus’ answer to the question was for John – “Go back and report to John” (v4).  It appears that John was becoming hesitant about his testimony of Jesus being the coming one and Jesus tells his disciples to view what was going on and go tell John with the words “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (v6).

Jesus then testifies that John was the greatest of the prophets of the Old Testament and challenges the crowd to say who it was they recognised in John when they went to the river to be baptised.  He then confirms the belief that a messenger would be sent before the Messiah came and he says John was that prophet, the ‘Elijah’ of the new age preparing the way for Jesus.  The bit about the kingdom of heaven being subject to violence some find puzzling; it needs to be understood in the context in which it was given; many were seeking to crowd in to Jesus such that it was a crush for some.  However away from the crowd which accepted John and Jesus, there was another crowd which complained.  They wanted one thing from John, another from Jesus, and another of their own imagining; this is the meaning of the dirge and the dance, it was about a crowd of grumblers,  It is always terrible when people want God to dance to their own tunes.

Tuesday Matthew 11:20-30

Jesus did many things around the towns of the North, the land around Galilee, yet he compares them to wicked cities of the past, saying that they were worse.  It would be a shock to them to be compared to Tyre and Sidon, or to Sodom, all cities they would characterise as terrible cities of sin, yet Jesus says that if he had been around then and he had taught and performed miracles such as he had around Galilee, they would have repented long ago.

Those who didn’t repent when they heard and saw Jesus would think of themselves as cautious in the worldly-wise attitude of those who wanted to keep control of their own lives.  His disciples, who were pretty ordinary men who had given up much in order to be his followers, would be seen as a bit simple and thoughtless.  Jesus, in his prayers to his Father, gives thanks that this is the way God has arranged it.  It is not to the wise and clever, to the cunning and self-satisfied that the kingdom of God is revealed but to those who hear and obey him, and Matthew finishes with Jesus’ appeal to all who would listen.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest …. My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (v28,29).

Wednesday Mathew 12:1-14

It has been said, “governments try to make safe laws, the gospel makes safe people”.  What happens with governments is that they end up making more and more refining laws which results in killing ‘The Law’ with a thousand cuts.  The gospel brings people to God through Christ and turns them into safe people to live with.  The person who knows God learns what He likes, and lives accordingly.

God’s law, given at Sinai was 10 words – the ten commandments – yet even these were viewed as consisting of two parts, “Love God: love your neighbour” (Leviticus 19:18).  Jesus when asked about the great laws repeated “Love God with all your might and love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:39).  The pharisees however could only see obedience to God in terms of particular acts which, if performed, would make them righteous.

The disciples began to pick heads of grain as they walked through a field because they were hungry and the pharisees condemned them for doing work on the Sabbath which was prohibited.  When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath in the synagogue, they condemned him for breaking the law.

Jesus gave them examples from the Old Testament where people performed work on the Sabbath but were not condemned.  They failed to see what righteousness was and could only see righteous acts.

Thursday Mathew 12:13-21

Before we leave the healing of the man with the withered arm, we should note how Jesus heals him.  He just tells the man “Stretch out your hand”.  The man could have said, “but Jesus, that’s what’s wrong with it, it doesn’t work: it is ‘unstretchoutable’”.  The fact that he doesn’t is testimony to his faith for he hears and believes it will be possible because Jesus has said it.  It is always the way with our faith, it is seen when it is acted upon.  We believe and do that which, on merely human terms, is not possible but, with the word of God, becomes possible.

At this point in his gospel Mathew wants to refer his readers back to scripture which he does in vs18-21, quoting from Isaiah 42:1-4, however we note that it comes after the decision of the pharisees to start plotting Jesus’ death.  When a large crowd follows him he warns them not to tell others about him because his time to be revealed had not yet come – and wouldn’t be until the pharisees plan had come to fruition. 

Friday Mathew:12:22-37

In this passage we find another miracle of Jesus when he heals a man who was blind and mute and some of the crowd responded with, “could this be the Son of David?, in other words, the Messiah who was to come, and who many of the Jews were expecting”.  The pharisees who heard of this exclaimed that it was by Beelzebul that he drove out demons.  Beelzebul is a transliteration from the Old Testament meaning “Lord of the Flies” and is a name of the Devil.

Jesus replies that if he casts out demons by Satan, then Satan would be fighting against himself.  A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  He goes on to say that whoever is not with him is against him and whoever doesn’t gather, scatters, which is a challenge to all who hear his word to respond positively.  No-one can be neutral when it comes to Jesus, fence-sitting is not an acceptable position, we are either for or against.  He goes on to say something about sins, those which are against him will be forgiven but sins against the Spirit will not.  This is sin against the Spirit is the action of saying that good is evil or that evil is good.  Sometimes people may find themselves unwittingly against the word of Jesus but when that opposition is not just against him but against good, against righteousness itself, then it passes the line of forgiveness.  C.S. Lewis once said, what if we find that it is God himself that we hate?  If that is the case then the end of the line has been reached, the last card has been played, there is no further journey.  That is where the gate of hell is, it is the entrance into eternity with no hope.  Jesus words here are sombre and not to be forgotten.

Saturday Matthew 12:38-45

The pharisees now come and want to see a sign from Jesus.  Have they not seen what Jesus has been doing?  They had witnessed some of Jesus work (e.g. the man born blind) but they were not interested in these things, only in testing Jesus so they could accuse him.  Jesus, on the other hand, was not going to perform things for the curiosity of onlookers.  I remember as a child Christian asking Jesus if he would make a can fall off a wall for me, which he declined to do (surprise, surprise!) knowing that I was only interested in seeing if I could make things happen by using his name.

What Jesus did in reply to them was to refer to the book of Jonah and the great fish as prophesying about Jesus and his three days in death, and also to the book of Kings and the Queen of the South seeing the wisdom of Solomon.  Both the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South would rise up in judgement at the people of his generation for their refusal of him and their lack of faith.

He also warns against leaving a vacuum in one’s life for, as the old saying goes, the Devil finds things for idle hands to do.


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