BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 18, Day 5: Matthew 17:22-27

Summary of passage:  After Jesus descended the mountain, he gathered the disciples together in Galilee and told them he is going to be betrayed, killed, and raised again.  The disciples were full of grief.  Then they traveled to Capernaum where tax collectors asked Peter if Jesus paid the temple tax.  Peter replied yes.  Then Jesus asked him if he needed to pay the tax since he is the son of a king.  Peter (I think still slow to get this) said no and then Jesus told Peter to go catch a fish which will have a gold coin in it for the tax.

Questions:

12a)  Because they were up on the mountain with Jesus and overheard his conversation with Elijah and Moses who were talking about Jesus’ forthcoming death and resurrection (Luke 9:30-31).

b)  Because they were filled with grief.  Before they had been in denial and thought he was joking.  Now they realize it will be true.

c)  Honestly, I can’t say either way.  We are not given enough information here in Matthew to conclude such an inference.  Mark, however, tells us outright that they didn’t understand what Jesus meant and were afraid to ask him about it (Mark 9:32).  Luke tells us that “they did not understand what this meant.  It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it (Luke 9:45).

Hence, I would say nothing in Matthew reveals this but Mark and Luke do.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Again, not sure I have experienced the same kind of grief as I have never been told a loved one of mine is about to be killed or is dying.  However, there have been many times in my life I have been frustrated, angry, sad, confused, and dumbfounded because I couldn’t see God’s purpose in my circumstances.  Most of these have to do with money.  But as I’ve gotten older I put more and more of my faith in God and what He is doing in my life so the “grief” which is not the word I’d use is lessened.  I’d call it more frustration and anxiety than anything else.

13a)  It is atonement money, to atone for their lives.  It was used for the service of the Tent of Meeting and as as memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.

b)  Personally, I thought this was just weird but I think Jesus used it as another example of his power over all things and how anything is possible with belief in him.  Also, this shows God’s provision for all His people, including His Son.  Jesus relied on the Father; therefore, so must we.

Conclusions:  Not sure why BSF did not send us back to Mark and Luke for 12c where this is stated clearly for Matthew leaves out that detail.

It’s hard to interpret “filled with grief”.  For what is grief?  The definition is “suffering, distress; deep and poignant distress cause by bereavement; sorrow” but grief looks different for every person.  Thus, it’s hard to say from Matthew if they got it for their grief could have been so deep over it all.  One could argue that they would be joyous because Jesus is dying for their sins.  But is death every joyous?  Not for loved ones left behind as is the case in the disciples.  They are losing their friend, teacher, and leader and I’m sure the depth of love between them all would be hard to imagine.

I know you are supposed to be joyful that Jesus died for our sin but the fact he had to die for our sins is sad to me.  I can’t imagine watching it happen before my eyes; seeing him beaten and tortured and hung on a cross–suffering for my inadequacy.  I can understand the disciples sorrow here and that is why inferring they didn’t understand from sorrow to me would be a stretch if Mark and Luke hadn’t have outright said so.

Thus, to me, Jesus’ death is both sad and joyful like death of believers who are going to a better place today.  I would bet sorrow trumps joyfulness especially right after death for most people.

The temple tax supported the temple and the worship services.

Map of Capernaum and Galilee:  I liked this simple map I found showing the whole region of Galilee:

http://www.lifeandteachingsofjesus.org/son-man/map-of-galilee-2/

End Notes: We can use the temple tax collection as a way to date the Bible because the temple tax was collected either at Passover or about a month earlier depending on where you lived.  So Jesus has about one month to live.

Only men paid this tax.  Note also once the temple was destroyed in AD 70 the money was still collected but went to Rome instead.

Rabbis were exempted from this tax as was princes (Jesus) but he paid it anyways to avoid controversy.

Note Jesus who didn’t owe anything paid anyways and paid for Peter.  See any parallels here?  Jesus paid for us when he didn’t have to.

This story is found only in the Book of Matthew and we all know Matthew himself was a tax collector, which makes sense why it was recorded only here by him.

I tried to discover more background on this story for you all but every thing I read was a speculation and contradicted each other.  Thus, I decided to leave it stand as is and take the simplistic road.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 18, Day 4: Matthew 17:14-21

Summary of passage:  After the Transfiguration, Jesus began traveling and preaching again.  A man approaches Jesus, asking for mercy on his son who has seizures and is suffering.  The disciples could not heal the boy.  Jesus, frustrated at the disciples lack of faith, chastises the crowd for its unbelief as well.  Jesus rebukes the demon and the boy is healed.

The poor disciples, still dense to Jesus and all he is, asks why they couldn’t heal the boy even though they have been granted healing powers to do so (Matthew 10).  The answer is their little faith.  With faith, they will be able to move mountains and nothing will be impossible for them.

Questions:

9a)  The father of the boy

b)  To have mercy on his son and to heal him

c)  The disciples

d)  “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?  Bring the boy here to me.”  Then Jesus healed the boy.

e)  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Basically, the father didn’t believe Jesus could heal the boy especially after the ineptness of the disciples so he asked for help to believe.

f)  One word:  unbelief.  Or Lack of faith.  Whichever.

10a)  All things are possible for those who believe.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Little faith is characterized with the presence of doubt.  It’s when you say this to yourself, “Ok, God, I’m going to pray that you bring me financial success” but your very next thought is you doubt it will happen or come soon.  You don’t fully trust God to do it.

Small faith is 100% trust in God and His ability to accomplish anything you ask.  You do not doubt Him.  It is small because faith grows over time.  It always starts small and grows from there.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I need patience more than faith.  Patience I will actually accomplish my one goal in this world of creating something that will touch others.  Faith it will happen.  For I do doubt especially when I finish a book that it will go anywhere.  Faith my dreams will be realized, Lord.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Anything is possible with the Lord.  To take that in, believe it, banish all traces of doubt from my mind, and put all of my trust in Him and His ability to do great things in my life (not my ability which obviously is dismal to say the least).

Conclusions:  Great lesson.  I got more out of this than the Transfiguration study.  Not that it wasn’t good (it was).  It’s just this is what I needed to hear right now in this moment of my life.  God speaks to each of us differently and meets each of us right where we are at.

Read Mark’s version of this story (Mark 9:14-29).  Fascinating the added details and even the reason Jesus gives for the disciples inability to heal the boy.

We see one of the best prayers in all of the Bible here in my opinion given by this father with no recorded name:  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  We all doubt.  We all sometimes lack trust in God.  We all let our egos take over and believe we can do it without Him.  When this happens, pray this verse.  Pray for God to help you overcome your unbelief.  For you to return to Him and to let Him do it.  To overcome your pride, to let go of your doubts and anxieties, and be humbled before the Creator of the Universe and to rest in Him.

To believe.

Which takes faith.  And it takes Him.  So don’t let go…

End Notes:  Notice the similarities between Jesus here descending the mountain and Moses when he came off the mountain.  Both met with God and received incredible spiritual gifts.  Both met with unbelief.  Sad the unrepentant human heart.

Note how man fails even when blessed with amazing abilities but Jesus never does.  It is good for us to fail so that we rely on Jesus.  Otherwise, why would we need a Savior?

Again, we see Jesus’ frustration at his disciples and now that his time is approaching for the cross maybe even a bit impatient at their denseness.

What matters is where our faith is placed.  Is it in God or in something else?  Small faith in God is infinitely better than little faith in nothing or even great faith in something else such as ourselves, others, our careers, etc.

And if you have small faith in Him, it will grow to produce great things.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 18, Day 3: Matthew 17:1-13

Summary of passage:  Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up on a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus.  Peter offered to build each a shelter.  God enveloped them in a cloud and said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”  The disciples were terrified.  Moses and Elijah had disappeared.  Only Jesus remained.

Jesus told them as they walked down the mountain to not reveal what they had seen to anyone until after his resurrection.  Confused as usual, the disciples wonder why does the Law say then that Elijah comes first.    Jesus tells them that Elijah has already come and gone but no one recognized him.  It was John the Baptist.

Questions:

6a)  Because Moses was the first great lawgiver and as such he is representing the Law and Elijah was the first great prophet and as such he is representing the Prophets.  These two are chosen to show how Jesus now supercedes them.

b)  “They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” Basically, the resurrection and what it meant.

c)  First, that Jesus was meant to suffer and die for all of mankind.  Two, that Jesus wouldn’t die. He’d always be living with the Father in heaven as Moses and Elijah would.

7a)  Well, we learn from Mark and Luke that Peter had no idea what he was saying.  But the overall effect was the suggestion put Jesus on an equal level as Elijah and Moses.

b)  Peter was rebuked by God and interrupted because Jesus is above Elijah and Moses not equal. God had to make that very clear as exhibited by Peter he obviously needed that clarification.

c)  Listen to Jesus was God’s command.  This taught us that:  1)  Jesus was God’s Son (Psalm 2:7).  2)  God loves Jesus  3)  God is well pleased with Jesus (Matthew 12:18 which quotes Isaiah 41:1-4).  4)  Him you shall hear (Deuteronomy 18:15) and he will proclaim justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1).

[Note:  I broke up the love and well pleased which I would imagine is probably put together by BSF but I thought that fact God loves Jesus was very significant since the greatest commandment given to us according to Jesus in Matthew 22:37-38 is to "love the Lord your God will all your heart" and your neighbor.  Love as God loves.]

8a)  He came “before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes” or before Jesus.

b)  He preached the truth, told others to repent and turn to the Lord.  He was thrown in jail for his teachings, beaten and tortured, and eventually died for his beliefs.  The same for Jesus.

c)  Jesus says Elijah “will restore all things”, future tense.  This refers to the fact that Jesus has not died yet so people have not yet been restored to God.

Conclusions and End Notes:  I covered a lot of this analysis yesterday.

The disciples are confused because they know Elijah is prophesied to come first (Malachi 4:5) which they believe but they just saw Elijah standing next to Jesus on the mountain and Jesus came first.  Hence, the background to their perplexity.

Scholars say the Malachi passage better refers to the Two Witnesses in Revelation (Revelation 11:3-13) and Jesus’ Second Coming.

Another example of how God knows more than us mere humans and despite our best efforts to figure out God’s Word, mysteries still remain.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 18, Day 2: Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36

Summary of passages:  Matthew 17:1-8:  Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up on a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus.  Peter offered to build each a shelter.  God enveloped them in a cloud and said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!”  The disciples were terrified.  Moses and Elijah had disappeared.  Only Jesus remained.

Mark 9:2-10:  Same exact story except here BSF has us reading what happens next (which they don’t in Matthew) and we learn that Jesus tells the disciples not to speak of what they have seen on the mountain until he rises from the dead, an expression which baffles the disciples.

Luke 9:28-36:  Same story except Luke says it was 8 days and not 6 days and does not use the word “transfigured”.  Instead, he says how Jesus’ face changed.  Jesus, Moses, and Elijah spoke of Jesus’ departure.  Peter seems to be confused.

Questions:

3a)  A mountainside

b)  Jesus, Peter, John (the brother of James), James, God, Elijah, Moses

c)  He had been teaching his disciples about his death for the people and saying how some of them won’t face death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

4a)  Jesus was a ball of light and his clothes were the purest white.  He dazzled and sparkled and was probably a most incredible sight.

b)  Peter saw firsthand the majesty of Jesus and God.  He received honor and glory in that moment in the cloud.

c)  Both.  Why else bring the disciples if it was just for Jesus?  The disciples needed to see it as much as Jesus needed to experience it.

5)  Matthew 24:30; 26:62-64:  In the future at the Second Coming, we will all get to see Jesus in his power and glory coming on the clouds in the sky.  He will sit at God’s right hand.

John 1:14:  John says how he has seen Christ’s glory who came from the grace and truth of the Father.

John 17:1-5:  Jesus asks to be glorified in his presence with the glory he had before the world began. I am assuming to become a man then Jesus wasn’t in all of his glory until the transfiguration.

Acts 26:13-14:  Paul recounts how Jesus appeared to him in a light from heaven that was brighter than the sun.

Philippians 2:9-10:  God exalted Jesus to the highest place (like in the Transfiguration) and gave him the name that is above every name so that every knee shall bow.

Revelation 1:13-17:  Jesus is white and his face was shining like the sun in all of its brilliance.  He was dressed in white and his eyes were blazing.

Conclusions and End Notes:  There is a TON here and I will do my best to explain it.

Transfiguration means “a change in form or appearance.”  The term is used specifically in the Bible here to only mean this one occasion.  It was an actual physical change as we read.  It was from the inner soul though and not dropped from heaven.  The radiance had always been there just now it is shining forth, taking on characteristics of the resurrected body.

Why now did the transfiguration occur?  For both Jesus and the disciples.  For Jesus he was encouraged for he was about to go to the cross.  For the disciples it confirmed the necessity of the cross and Jesus’ death.  Here the suffering is linked with the glory.

Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney says this:  “It was the crowning with glory of the perfect human life of Jesus, God’s stamp of approval on his sinless humanity.  This established his fitness to be our sinbearer on the cross and an entry for Jesus into the glory in which he would reign–a manifestation of the king coming into his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).”

Scholars believe this fulfills Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 16:28 right before this that some of them will see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.  Luke calls this in 9:27 “the kingdom of God”.

Why only John, James, and Peter?  Well, we’ll never know but scholars say either to keep the word from getting out since Jesus tells them to tell no one or because these three needed to be watched.  I would say he chose these 3 out of God’s grace to witness such a moment.

The discrepancy in days is a matter of translation details again.  The Greek word means “about a week” so it was translated as 6 in Matthew and Mark and 8 days in Luke.

Again, the Greek verb for “transfigure” suggests a change in the inmost nature.  Scholars believe Jesus hid his glory until this moment.

Also, we can’t read this chapter without remembering what happened just before.  Scholars say this must fulfill Jesus’s words in 16:28.  When the apostles wrote, it wasn’t broken up in chapters and verse.  This only occurred beginning in the 16th century, a full 1500 years after these words were first written.

Why Moses and Elijah?  Scholars say because Moses embodies the Law as the first great lawgiver and Elijah represents prophecy as the first great prophet.  The Old Testament meeting the New Testament so to speak.

Some say Moses represents those who have died and are going or will go to heaven (Jude 9) and Elijah represents those who won’t face death at the Second Coming but will go to heaven as well (2 Kings 2:11).

Note Elijah and Moses only talk with Jesus, not the apostles.

It is pointed out by Mark and Luke that Peter has no idea what he is saying.  Would you?  You just saw Christ in all his glory.  I’d be dumbfounded as well.  It probably would have been best for Peter to remain silent but as we saw when Jesus walked on water, that wasn’t him.

Yet the effect of Peter’s words put Jesus as equal with Moses and Elijah which as that time was important.  As we all know, he is above them but back then the Jewish people revered Moses and Elijah as right under God.

The cloud is the same as in the Old Testament when God speaks.  This is to shield man who cannot see God’s glory.

Here, God interrupts Peter and rebukes him [can you imagine?  being rebuked not only by Jesus but by God himself?  I'm pretty sure I would have soiled my pants!  Poor Peter!  Not something I want to be remembered for.] once again, saying that Jesus is above Moses and Elijah, above the Law and the Prophets.

Note that God uses the Word here:  Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1; Deuteronomy 18:15.  It’s so cool how God is the Word and has been since the beginning and that is all that is needed.

God says to listen to Jesus.  It’s all about Jesus.

The disciples fell in fear at God’s voice once again.  We are to be in awe of Him and have a healthy fear.

The disciples needed the reassurance of who Jesus was (the Messiah) right after Jesus told them of his forthcoming sufferings for their sake.

Only Jesus remained.  He is sufficient.  He is enough.  He is all we need now.  We have no need of Moses and Elijah.  Jesus is enough.

Fun Fact:  This was the only time Jesus appeared different than a normal human being. He had none of the glory usually associated with God (Exodus 40:34).

Fun Fact:  The title “Son of Man” is used about 90 times in the Gospels for Jesus.  It was first used in Daniel 7:13, which introduced the Messiah who would rule all of history.