No Power and Little Understanding – Part One

In 1517, the same year in which Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-Five Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Raphael Sanzio began a painting of Christ’s transfiguration. When he died in 1520 at the age of thirty-seven the painting was not finished, but Raphael had completed enough for us to understand it. He showed Jesus on the mountain with Peter, James and John. Everything is bathed with light.

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No Power and Little Understanding – Part Two

When Jesus tells the disciples that they have “so little faith” it is not a matter of quantity since he explains in the next verse that even faith “as small as a mustard seed” can move mountains. Moving mountains is a proverbial expression for overcoming difficulties (see Isa. 40:4; 49:11; 54:10). The disciples must have had at least that much faith in some sense or they would not have tried to do the exorcism.

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No Power and Little Understanding – Part Three

The second failure of the disciples in this section is handled briefly, probably because it has occurred before and will appear again several times more. It is their failure to understand Jesus’ prediction of his death and resurrection. This is the second explicit prediction in Matthew, the first having occurred in the previous chapter where it was the reason for Peter’s foolish rebuke of his master (Matt. 16:22).

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No Power and Little Understanding – Part Four

In today’s lesson we look at what we can learn from the story of Peter and the tax collectors.

1. The importance of inoffensive conduct. Jesus explained that although he was exempt from the two-drachma tax he would still pay it in order not to cause offense. It was not that he was unwilling to offend the temple authorities or anyone else when that was necessary, as it was when the truths of the Bible were at stake.

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No Power and Little Understanding – Part Five

We ended yesterday’s study with the question, “How can Jews and Jewish Christians support a pagan religion with their taxes?” The story is unique to Matthew, but it is understandable that he alone should record it since he had been a tax collector. He is saying that, however odious they seem, taxes even to the Roman government should be paid since what really matters is not the use pagans make of Christians’ money but whether the state gives us freedom to keep on preaching the gospel.

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