Sunday 3rd MarchPsalm 47

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
    peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
    the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
    the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing to him a psalm of praise.

God reigns over the nations;
    God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
    as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
    he is greatly exalted.

This is a Psalm of rejoicing and thanksgiving right from the start and it is sung as from God’s people who have been delivered from enemies and had a great inheritance bestowed upon them.  The ancient people at the time would have thought of deliverance from Egypt, or deliverance from enemies in the Promised land, while rejoicing in the blessing of their new land which God had promised.  As New Testament Christians we think of deliverance from the enemy of our souls, Satan, who accuses us all day long of our sins and frightens us with death, but through faith in Christ we have escaped, we are forgiven and live in the bright homeland of God now and in glory in perfect freedom.

The ancient people would sing when their King took his seat on his throne after great victories: we, in our New Testament knowledge, sing praise as Easter people singing, “God has ascended amid shouts of joy, amid the sounding of trumpets”.  With us it is the shout of praise that we have when we say on Easter Day, “Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed”.  We have a bright land of freedom when we leave behind our old life, knowing that we are no longer enslaved to sin and look forward to the time when we will be assembled with all God’s people through the ages to see the grand finale of our ascended life with Christ being enthroned in splendour.


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 Mathew 9:9-13

Here is Mathew’s calling of himself. Whether he wrote it himself or it was written by a close friend or young amanuensis we do not know, John was hesitant about saying too much about himself in his gospel, however Mathew would certainly have wanted it to be known that Jesus had called him.

Mathew’s occupation was one which was looked down upon by the Jews because it meant working for the Romans who were the conquerors and rulers.  His friends and associates were obviously other tax collectors and the like and when he had a dinner for Jesus the ones who came along to join them were fellow tax collectors.  The strict Pharisees saw this and asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with such company.  The question is always pertinent, who should we associate with?  It is not such a simple question because although Jesus was associating with these men (and it would be men) it was not because he agreed with their lifestyle or occupation but so that he might save them – just like Zachaeus.  Followers of Jesus are not to throw in their lot with this world and its views but be seeking to be savers of people, if we stand apart from them we cannot be savers.

Jesus gave his reason for dining with these men by telling the Pharisees that he didn’t come for the healthy (the Pharisees would classify themselves as such) but for sinners.  We must never give the impression that Church is for the righteous, it is for sinners, and that means us.

Tuesday Matthew 9:14-17

This passage is about fasting and a query from John’s disciples to Jesus about why his disciples did not fast as often as they did. 

Jesus answer picked up on the illustration of a marriage feast where the presence of the bridegroom  would not be a cause for restriction but for glad and happy enjoyment.  For us, at Christmas time when families gather together, there is much rejoicing and happiness, to say nothing of feasting, but when the time comes to depart there are hugs and perhaps even tears at the coming loss until we can see each other again.  Jesus says that as long as he is with his disciples there is no need for fasting because God is with them in Himself.  The time would come after his ascension when the Church would fast, seeking his return with much prayer, so that the end of all things would come about and they would be with him forever.

Is self-discipline linked to prayer in too short supply in our modern western Churches?  I wonder.   Some Churches such as the Catholic and Anglican make much of the season of Lent whereas others view it more as a man-made season not to be observed, but is it replaced with any teaching and practice of fasting from things (not necessarily food) as a self-discipline to show our earnestness in worship and prayer?

What of the old and new cloth?  I would suggest that it may be to do with the old cloth being the Old Testament practices which need to be discarded unless they are transformed into something new.  The Galatian Church fell into this danger and Paul warned them about it in his letter, “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” (Gal 4:10) telling them that they are doing these things to earn favour with God and as New Testament Christians should know that doing things to earn favour with God is going in reverse. Any act done for God should not be done as a slave for a master but as a Son for a Father.  One can be done grimly, the other, gladly. 

Wednesday Mathew 9:18-26

This is the story of the synagogue leader called Jairus in Mark and Luke although unnamed here in Mathew.  The other difference is that in Mathew the leader comes and says his daughter is dead whereas in the other gospels she is dying, but the difference is not important, we know that she was dead when Jesus eventually arrived at the man’s home.

Mathew holds up the man’s faith for he believes that if Jesus lays his hands on her she will live.  In chapter 8 when the Centurion said his servant was sick,, Jesus offered to go but the Centurion’s faith was such that he said you don’t need to come, just say the word.  Here the man wants Jesus to come.  Will he tell the man to have more faith and then he will say the word and heal the girl?  No, he doesn’t, he goes with the man.  We all know the saying ‘play the ball where it lies’, well Jesus does that with this man – and he does with us – he doesn’t despise weak faith but encourages it.

On the way however the man’s faith is tested because Jesus pauses on the way to deal with a woman who had been ill with a bleeding for 12 years.  She had faith that if she touched his cloak she would be healed, and indeed she was.  However Jesus wanted her to own up and so stopped until she did so.  We should always own up to our faith in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.

When Jesus arrived at the synagogue leader’s home the girl was dead but the shocking thing is the attitude of the people who mocked when Jesus said she was just sleeping.  We can’t hang around people who mock and Jesus sends them away before healing the girl of her sleep in death.  News spread, but did everyone believe in him?  We shall see that wasn’t the case.

Thursday Mathew 9:27-34

In this story we see Jesus asking two blind men whether they had faith that he could cure them.  They said, yes, and he touched their eyes and restored their sight saying, “according to your faith let it be done to you”.  Although Jesus told them not to talk about it they spread word around and many over the region knew about it.  Why Jesus said this was probably so as not to be inundated with demanding people because he had not come to do a general healing ministry.

After the blind men we see a person who couldn’t speak because of some demonisation or other which Jesus cured leaving the man able to speak.  The Pharisees immediately charged that it was by the prince of demons that Jesus had done this.

There will be times in the lives of Christian folk when they may be charged with doing things, whatever they may be (not necessarily exorcisms of evil spirits), with hypocritical and false motives.  It can be hard to feel people are implying that your deeds are twisted and untrue, David experienced it and spoke about it in many Palms.  When such happens, we must learn to hold our peace and, like David, ask God to vindicate us. “Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me” (Psalm 35:1).  Jesus moved on.

Friday Matthew 9:35-10:15

Travelling around the towns and villages Jesus taught in the synagogues and healed those who were sick.  His teaching consisted in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and we want to ask what this meant.  The Kingdom of God stretched back to God’s covenant between him and Israel most particularly seen in King David.  It is about God’s reign, and Jewish expectation was that, though God reigned over everything, his reign would become concrete over the world when the Messiah, the special son of David had come.  Most held it in the sense of political supervision over the nations but as the early Church came to see, its roots started in the spiritual lives of people which would be hidden only to come out in time.  For instance, Paul speaks about the hidden plan of God that Gentiles were to be brought into this kingdom of God, it was not just an Israelite political hegemony but something much bigger. 

For his hearers at the time however, Jesus’ healings were proclaiming his Messiahship and they looked forward to the coming fruition of an earthly realm in their time.  Even at the time of his ascension (Acts 1) his disciples were of a similar mind.

Jesus view of the people who gathered to him was one of compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd and it is here that he turns to his disciples and speaks of the need for harvesters and then sends the 12 out with his authority to do what he has been doing, to proclaim the Kingdom of God as near and to heal and drive out demons.  Their commission is only to the Jews but even there, those who wouldn’t receive them, would find judgment would come.

Saturday Matthew 10:16-42

Though Jesus was sending out his 12 disciples on a limited time schedule, his words of warning to them extended far into the future and would be understood by the early Church.   This also gives sense to the words of v23 which speak of the Son of Man coming before the gospel is finished going through all Israel.

For those who have been brought up in modern Western democratic countries the words of persecution seem distant but we ought not to ignore them.  Whoever thought, in the modern and advancing society of early 20th Century Europe, that the horrors that came could at all be possible.  The words Jesus spoke to his followers about conditions of trial should always be remembered.  Read the passage over but hear the words of Jesus not to fear (v26, 28,31) but to be faithful.

A Prayer.  Heavenly Father I thank you for your overarching care and pray that you will grant me courage and hope at all times in the days left to me.  Through Jesus Christ, Amen.


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