Matthew 28: The Last Words of Jesus

Last words are important. Jesus is exceptional in the fact that he shared last words on the cross and before ascending to heaven.

In the last chapter of Matthew, we find Christ’s parting words are:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

His focus? Making disciples, or followers, of Jesus. How? Going, baptizing, teaching.

Matthew began by calling Jesus the Messiah. He ends by calling us to help others discover Jesus as Messiah.

The Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus, lived, died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and has promised to return. These essentials distinguish Christianity from other spiritual traditions. In fact, Christians are called to share these truths with others as part of our calling.

Part of me was simply thrilled to finish handwriting the first book of the New Testament (Only 26 more to go!). But more importantly, I found myself challenged to follow Christ’s call and communicate it to others in every manner possible.

May we use every moment of our day to communicate Christ’s love and message.

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.

Matthew 27: Why Jesus Died

The death of Jesus is graphic. Even Mel Gibson’s rendition of the cross (barely R-rated) does not do it justice. An innocent man was nailed through the wrists and ankles to crossbeams of wood and left in the sun to die. To confirm the death, a Roman spear was thrust into his heart. There is nothing here that can even be included in a children’s story book about Jesus without some creative adaptation.

All this to ask the obvious: Why did Jesus die? Why did he suffer? Volumes have been written in response, but the text itself offers one insightful reason: to reveal Jesus as God’s Son. The centurion at the cross specifically noted, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (v. 54).

Matthew’s goal from the outset was to show Jesus as Messiah (1:1). As he nears the climax of his book (the resurrection being the climax), the death of the Messiah is intended to draw attention to his sacrifice as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53). As readers encounter Christ’s great love, then his power over death, the intended response is, “Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. I will follow him.”

Just as Matthew answered Christ’s call to “follow him,” Matthew’s work is designed to cause others to do the same. As I wrote out the concluding words to this chapter, my thoughts were, “Is every area of my life devoted to following him?” Of course, the answer is that I am human and some areas lack in devotion. God has given me plenty to improve upon in my own life.

For readers today, my encouragement is to see the cross as God’s call to devotion to his Son. Are you following him completely today?

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.

Matthew 26: God’s Plan (and Ours)

God and evil have always served as an intriguing discussion. Whether philosophers or everyday parents struggling with the trials of life, there is the ongoing question of how can a good God allow (or create) evil?

Volumes have been written, but Matthew 26 offers some interesting insights. Here, Jesus is betrayed by Judas, arrested by his enemies, and even denied by his top disciple Peter. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong–and that was before being beaten and hung on a cross to die.

But Jesus didn’t lament the existence of evil. He understood the Father had a plan and that plan was big enough to include the evil taking place around him. Why was that?

First, Jesus, as God’s Son, had the distinct advantage of being perfect. However, from a human perspective, we can see he embraced both the idea of a perfect Creator and an imperfect creation. Without this tension, humans would simply exist as robots without choice, erasing love from the scenario. This love, displayed most strongly in the cross of Christ, is exactly the reason Jesus came in the first place.

So why does God allow evil? One way to answer is love. Without evil, there is no choice. Without choice, there is no love. God’s plan is much bigger (and better) than ours. Let us look to him for wisdom rather than our own human limitations this day.

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Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.


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