Tabletalk Devotions with R C Sproul: Jesus Leaves The Temple


Jesus Leaves the Temple

Matthew 24:1–2 “He answered them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down’” (v. 2).

We have two concluding comments on Matthew 23:37–39before we study chapter 24. First, verse 38 is in the present tense in the original Greek, which is a way biblical authors often make statements of certainty. The desolation of Jerusalem’s house — the temple — is sure to come. Secondly, verse 39might indicate that this event is not God’s final word on the nation that has rejected His Son. On the one hand, Jesus’ promise that the city will not see Him again until it says, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” may mean that the Jews who have rejected Him will bow to Him as King of kings when He returns, just like every other person who has denied Him (Phil. 2:5–11). Of course, only those who have received Him before His return will be saved, Jew and Gentile alike. On the other hand, the “Blessed is he” of Matthew 23:39could be Jerusalem’s future confession of faith in Jesus. This would imply that a great many Jews will trust Christ right before His return in glory (see Rom. 11).

Matthew 23 ends with our Lord’s lament over Jerusalem due to the judgment it will soon feel. Chapter 24 depicts this judgment, beginning with a description of Jesus’ travels. Jesus has been teaching in the temple (21:23–23:39), when He then heads for the Mount of Olives (24:1–3). This is significant because the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of God leave the temple and go east to a mountain — the Mount of Olives (11:22–12:28) — right before the Babylonians decimated Jerusalem in 586 b.c. Yahweh’s glory, John MacArthur writes, took “exactly the same route Christ follows” in Matthew 24:1–3 (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,170). Before Babylon destroyed the first Jewish temple, God’s glory left. Now Jesus, the glory of God (James 2:1), leaves the second Jewish temple, revealing to those with eyes to see that its grandeur will soon end.

The disciples again prove that even they do not understand all that Jesus has said and done, pointing out the beauty and size of the temple to our Lord (Matt. 24:1). But this physical structure will soon be replaced by Christ as the center of true religion (Rev. 21:22), a fact He brings to light when He predicts the end of the temple (Matt. 24:2), something unthinkable to the Jews of His day.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

It is a terrible thing to think that the Lord can become so fed up with those who claim to be His servants that He departs from their presence. God sometimes seems absent to us because we have grieved Him (Zech. 1:3). If you feel as if the Lord is far from you this day, consider whether there is unconfessed sin in your life. If we feel as though God is absent, this does not necessarily mean we are being disciplined, but it is a possibility we should consider.

For further study:

Psalm 51:11

The Bible in a year:

Isaiah 65–66

For the weekend:

Jeremiah 1–5

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That’s only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

Tabletalk Devotions with R C Sproul: Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem



Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem

Matthew 23:37–39 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (v. 37).

Today we return to Matthew’s gospel and resume our study of the last week of Jesus’ life, during which the Jerusalem authorities will crucify the Lord (chap. 27). Passion week, however, is not the first time Jesus’ countrymen reject Him as the Christ. Herod would not tolerate any rival and tried to kill the newborn king (2:16–18). Many Pharisees said He was of the Devil (9:32–34), and the towns of Chorazin, Tyre, and Nazareth did not repent when Jesus preached the Gospel to them (11:20–2413:53–58). Both Sadducee and Pharisee have asked trick questions of Jesus (22:15–40), falsely believing themselves pious when they denied Jesus’ messianic office. Yet those who reject Christ reject God Himself, and they will suffer for their impudence (23:1–36; see Luke 10:16).

Matthew 23:37–39 records Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem after declaring woes on the city’s leaders (vv. 1–36). He expresses sorrow that Israel has continually rejected God’s call for repentance in a metaphor that likens the Godhead to a mother hen, a rare biblical use of a feminine image for deity (see Isa. 42:14). Such imagery reminds us that our Creator is not male, though neither is He female — He is spirit (John 4:24). Nevertheless, we call God “Father,” not “mother,” for that is how He has told us to address Him (Matt. 6:9Rom. 8:15). God is our head and initiates salvation when He pours out His grace; male images for Him remind us of this fact, for men are given headship in the church and the family and thus, the right and duty to initiate (1 Cor. 11:31 Tim. 2:12–15).

Jesus’ lament shows us that human suffering, considered in itself, does not please the Almighty. Although God has ordained Jerusalem’s destruction, His revealed will in Scripture proves He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11). But, as John Calvin writes, “the will of God is exhibited to us in two ways,” and there is a sovereign will, unrevealed to us, that governs all that ever occurs (Deut. 29:29). By this hidden will God may ordain events that by themselves do not please Him but nonetheless contribute to His glory, which is supremely pleasing to Him (Isa. 48:9–11). God finds pleasure not in the suffering, but in the good He works for His glory through the suffering.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

We are not perfectly holy and have no inherent right to execute wrath. How then can we take pleasure in the death of the sinner if God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked? Our hearts should be broken, not gleeful, when we see someone destroy himself on account of his evil. As you lament the moral degeneracy of our culture, can others hear sadness in your voice? Are you grieved when the unrighteous remain impenitent?

For further study:

Ezekiel 18:31–32

The Bible in a year:

Isaiah 62–64

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That’s only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

RC Sproul: Tabletalk Magazine: Persecutors of the Prophets


Persecutors of the Prophets

Matthew 23:29–36 “On you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah” (v. 35).

Christ’s reference to the scribes and Pharisees being like whitewashed tombs (Matt. 23:27–28) allows for an easy transition to His final woe. Though the religious leaders think they are honoring the prophets when they build and embellish tombs and monuments, they are actually acknowledging themselves as being in league with those who killed the holy men (vv. 29–31).

In Jesus’ day, a period known as Second Temple Judaism, there was a boom in monument construction. These structures were intended to pay tribute to the prophets. They were also supposed to point out the piety of the builders, who in building meant to show that they would have obeyed the prophets their forefathers condemned. Yet in rejecting Jesus, the prophet par excellence, these men allied themselves with their wicked ancestors; in fact, they were worse than their forefathers because in Christ they saw truth more clearly (12:1–6John1:17–18). Jesus’ woe tells us that the scribes and Pharisees would have happily buried the prophets just as they gleefully sought to bury Jesus.

Since they are plainly evil, these enemies might as well get on with it and fill the cup of transgression to overflowing (Matt.23:32), a metaphor for making oneself fit for judgment beyond the shadow of a doubt (Gen. 15:12–16). Basically, Jesus is telling the Pharisees: “God’s wrath is coming on you anyway, why not hurry it along?” Our Savior knows there is more evil for them to do before they are judged. He is going to send them prophets, wise men, and teachers who will also be rejected, as if rejecting Christ is not enough (Matt. 23:33–34). Apostles, evangelists, prophets, and teachers will come to this evil generation and offer one more opportunity for repentance, but just like the Master, the bearers of good news will also be killed (Luke 21:17Acts 12:1–2).

Jesus’ foes will not miss a chance to spurn God’s grace; thus, on them will fall the blood of all the saints from Abel to Zechariah (Matt. 23:35–36). Abel is the first martyr (Gen. 4:1–8) in Old Testament history; Zechariah is the last (2 Chron. 24:20–21). Those who kill the Messiah and His apostles will feel the anger the Creator has stored up against all those who have hated His own.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry says it is easy for us to assume that we would be unlike the scribes and Pharisees and follow Jesus willingly. Yet even centuries later, he writes, “Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated.” Are we quick to follow the Lord as He presents Himself today through the preaching of the Word? We have no right to think ourselves better than Pharisees if we are not quick to obey His Word this day.

For further study:

Isaiah 63:1–6

The Bible in a year:

Isaiah 41–42

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That’s only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

Women of the Bible: Woman with Issue of Blood Healed

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Her character: So desperate for healing, she ignored the conventions of the day for the chance to touch Jesus.
Her sorrow: To have suffered a chronic illness that isolated her from others.
Her joy: That after long years of suffering, she finally found peace and freedom.
Key Scriptures: Matthew 9:20-22Mark 5:25-34Luke 8:43-48

Her Story

The woman hovered at the edge of the crowd. Nobody watched as she melted into the throng of bodies—just one more bee entering the hive. Her shame faded, replaced by a rush of relief. No one had prevented her from joining in. No one had recoiled at her touch.

She pressed closer, but a noisy swarm of men still blocked her view. She could hear Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, raising his voice above the others, pleading with Jesus to come and heal his daughter before it was too late.

Suddenly the group in front of her shifted, parting like the waters of the Jordan before the children of promise. It was all she needed. Her arm darted through the opening, fingers brushing the hem of his garment. Instantly, she felt a warmth spread through her, flushing out the pain, clearing out the decay. Her skin prickled and shivered. She felt strong and able, like a young girl coming into her own—so glad and giddy, in fact, that her feet wanted to rush her away before she created a spectacle by laughing out loud at her quiet miracle.

But Jesus blocked her escape and silenced the crowd with a curious question: “Who touched me?”

“Who touched him? He must be joking!” voices murmured. “People are pushing and shoving just to get near him!”

Shaking now, the woman fell at his feet: “For twelve years, I have been hemorrhaging and have spent all my money on doctors but only grown worse. Today, I knew that if I could just touch your garment, I would be healed.” But touching, she knew, meant spreading her defilement—even to the rabbi.

Twelve years of loneliness. Twelve years in which physicians had bled her of all her money. Her private affliction becoming a matter of public record. Every cup she handled, every chair she sat on could transmit defilement to others. Even though her impurity was considered a ritual matter rather than an ethical one, it had rendered her an outcast, making it impossible for her to live with a husband, bear a child, or enjoy the intimacy of friends and family. Surely the rabbi would censure her.

But instead of scolding and shaming her, Jesus praised her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

His words must have been like water breaching a dam, breaking through her isolation and setting her free. He had addressed her not harshly, but tenderly—not as “woman” or “sinner,” but rather as “daughter.” She was no longer alone, but part of his family by virtue of her faith.

That day, countless men and women had brushed against Jesus, but only one had truly touched him. And instead of being defiled by contact with her, his own touch had proven the more contagious, rendering her pure and whole again.

Her Promise

God promises to heal us. That statement may seem to fly in the face of the many who have suffered from illness and disability for years on end, but we need to remember that our concept of healing is not necessarily the same as God’s. For some, healing may not take place here on earth. True healing—the healing that will cure even those who don’t suffer from any particular physical ailment here on earth—will take place not here but in heaven. There, God promises the ultimate healing from our sickness, our disabilities, our inclination to sin.

Today’s devotional is drawn from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. to learn more about Ann’s writing and ministry.

Devotional: If You Love Me


Devotional: If You Love Me

“For me the issue has been settled. The Lord called me to reach out to my people and I have to. So whether they are killing me, I will still love them with the love of God. I do not see them as my enemies because they killed my son. I have forgiven them because they do not have Christ and that is all they can think at their level.”

These are the words of Reverend P, a pastor in Northern Nigeria whose son was murdered by the militant Muslim group, Boko Haram. Reverend P had received threats from Boko Haram because of his Christian faith and ministry. One day while his son was out walking they attacked him, cutting him to pieces with machetes.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to find Rev. P’s response of love and forgiveness astounding. Oftentimes, we like to talk about how much we love God. Love makes us feel good. But love isn’t just kindness and good feelings. God’s love is fierce. It’s jealous, unyielding and all consuming, in a pure and holy way. God’s love for us caused him to give up what he held most dear, his son Jesus Christ. And that same love asks much of us in return.

How do we show God that we love him beyond just giving lip service? The Bible says “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). If we can show God we love him through obedience to commands then that begs the question, which commands?  Isn’t the Bible full of commands?

There is a story in the book of Matthew where a lawyer asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is (Matthew 22:34–39). He wanted Jesus to pick just one. However, when pressed with the issue, Jesus couldn’t pick just one—he had to pick two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” What Jesus is saying here, which he reaffirms in scripture elsewhere, is that you cannot separate loving God from loving people. In fact, you can show God how much you love him by loving other people.

The Bible says “what you have done unto to least of these you did to me” (Matthew 25:40). Often we think of “the least of these” as a poor orphaned child or abandoned widow; that could certainly be true. But the least of these could also be a Muslim militant member of Boko Haram. Those hardest to love are often “the least of these.” So when Rev. P choose to love his son’s murderers and to obey the Bible’s command to “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27), he is showing God how much he loves Him. The Bibles says faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26). God wants our faith to consist of more than us telling Him we love Him, he wants us to show it. And one of the best ways to do that is by loving others, even when it’s difficult.

The good news is that this love is not contingent on our own abilities. Rev. P said “I will still love them with the love of God.” God is the only one who can grant us miraculous love in such a tragic situation. But it starts with a choice, like Rev. P, you get to decide daily if “the issue has been settled” in your heart or not. Will you show God your love for Him by loving the hardest of people?

This post originally appeared on the Persecution Blog. “Grace Taylor” serves on the staff of VOM. She was first introduced to the ministry of VOM by her parents and grandparents, who received the VOM newsletter, and through the VOM book Jesus Freaks. She has served in 12 different countries and is passionate about helping expand God’s Kingdom throughout the nations of the world.