Pastor's Pen
Christ’s Final Prediction of His Death - Matthew 20:17-19
In Matthew 16:21 and Matthew 17:22-23, Christ spoke to His disciples concerning His death, burial, and resurrection. The disciples were having a hard time accepting His message and were astonished that He persisted on going to Jerusalem. They did not want Him to die, and they feared going to Jerusalem. Mark 10:32-34: “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.” It was not until days after Jesus’ resurrection that they fully grasped what He had told them.
Even today, there are some who think Jesus’ death was a miscalculation, and some cults think He was a failure. However, His death was not accidental but intentional and planned with an eternal purpose. He came to seek and save lost sinners, both Jews and Gentiles (Luke 19:10; Romans 1:16). He came to restore the relationship man had with God in the Garden of Eden.
Imagine being a disciple and walking with Jesus toward Jerusalem, and you hear Him again say: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matthew 20:18-19). Would you have truly understood or believed it, even though this was the third time Jesus had told you?  He also reminded the disciples that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. Luke 18:31: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”
Adam and Eve, who lived in a perfect environment, had every need met, and lived in perfect harmony with God, turned away from Him. Knowing that they had fallen short, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. Death came upon all mankind because of Adam’s sin (Romans 3:23). Jesus came to take the penalty for that sin and offer eternal life to all who will receive Him. We can be set free from the power of sin only through Jesus Christ (Romans 15:17-19). Jesus’ death was not an accident, but the fulfillment of prophecy to provide our salvation from sin and restoration to God.
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.9/21/2023 6:26:59 AM

Labor Disputes - Matthew 20:1-16
In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus told a story. A man goes out early in the morning to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. They were contracted to work the day for a penny (denarius). This was considered worthy pay for a skilled workman and excellent pay for harvesting grapes. The man returned to hire more laborers at the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 11th hours and said he would pay them whatever was right. Can you imagine how thrilled the 11th hour laborers were to have been hired?
Verse 8: “So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.” All the laborers were paid the full wage (a penny). Instead of those who were hired first being happy for the other laborers, they felt that they should have received more, even though they received what they had agreed on. They murmured against the goodman saying: “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” (verse 12). “But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (verses 13-16).
This story has little to do with a labor dispute but with salvation. Verse 1: “For the kingdom of heaven (referring to salvation) is like unto a man (referring to God Himself) that is an householder.” God calls people to His service or to work in His vineyard. All who come to Him receive the same salvation. It does not matter how young or old you are, we are all treated as equal in God’s sight, including the thief who hung on a cross at Jesus’ crucifixion. We cannot buy or earn our salvation. It does not rest on our abilities, works, or sacrifices. Salvation is only through the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross.
There is only one way into the Kingdom of God and that is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” God does the saving, and all that come to Him are equal in the His sight. No matter how young or old you are or no matter the condition of your life (11th hour), you can come to God and know that you have eternal life. I John 5: 11-13: “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.9/6/2023 11:04:32 PM

The Rich Young Ruler - Matthew 19:16-30
The crowds that followed Jesus often approached Him with questions.  Matthew 19:16: “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” This is a good question when sincerely asked. The young man’s attitude was: You are good, I am good, I have not done anything wrong, and my wealth shows that God has favored me. In his self-righteousness, he may have expected extra praise.
Jesus answered: “Why callest me good? There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (verse 17). The young man felt good about himself and was bold to answer Jesus: “Which (commandment)?” No one has ever been good enough or performed enough good works that would warrant them eternal life.
“Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (verse 18). Jesus wanted the young man to see what was in his heart by pointing out areas of his relationship toward others. Not accepting any failure on his part and feeling very confident in his self-righteousness he replied: “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (verse 20). Jesus told him: “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (verse 21). This young man’s riches were his god. He went away sorrowful because he loved what he owned more than he loved God. He willingly traded eternity with God for temporary things.
Jesus told his disciples that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (verses 23-24). It says it is difficult but not impossible. The difficulty the camels had entering the eye of the needle refers to a low-overhead door into the city named Eye of the Needle. The camels would have to be unloaded and be forced to kneel, which enabled them to crawl forward into the city. To enter the kingdom of heaven, we must be willing to humble ourselves by getting on our knees before God. The rich young ruler refused to humble himself. He loved his possessions more than God.
The disciples were astonished at this. “Who then can be saved?” (verse 25). Jesus answered: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (verse 26). Peter told Jesus that they had left all and followed Him, and he wondered what they would receive. Jesus assured them that they would be blessed and inherit eternal life (verse 29). It is not how much we have in this life that determines our value. God wants us to put Him first in our lives. The rich young ruler chose perishable riches over the Savior.
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.8/24/2023 10:18:23 PM

The Issues of Divorce - Matthew 19:1-12
The trend toward divorce has sadly increased, even among Christians. Great multitudes were following Jesus, and the Pharisees approached Him with this question: “Is is lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Whenever a Pharisee approached with a question, it was not to encourage, but to dictate their form of spirituality upon the hearers. Among the Pharisees, there were two different philosophies regarding divorce. The stricter group felt that only conduct that shamed the husband could lead to divorce, while the other group could divorce for the slightest reason. Furthermore, only husbands could initiate a divorce. The Pharisees were deliberately trying to put Jesus in a difficult position.
Jesus took them back to Genesis: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 1:27; 2:23-24). Jesus validated their own Scripture. God is the Creator. He made both man and woman for the purpose of marriage. Once they are married they are to leave and cleave.
The Pharisees did not like this. It did not fit their philosophies. Since they did not hold Jesus in high esteem, they countered with: “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” (Matthew 19:7)). Jesus reminded them that: “Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their hearts, and that from the beginning it was not so” (verse 8).
In Malachi 2:14-17, God was angry with the Jews for divorcing their wives. Marriage was designed by God to raise up godly seed. He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Marriage is one man and one woman for life. It involves two people with different views coming together. There will be tensions at times, but it is worth it to work through these difficulties. Relationships take time and work. If a divorce should occur it is important not to seek remarriage, but to allow time for problems to be resolved. God may bring salvation and restoration to the family.
In 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 with divine permission, Paul addressed marriage. He began by pointing out that God established marriage. The husband and wife belong to each other. There are three reasons for marriage: 1) companionship, 2) intimacy, and 3) procreation.
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.8/10/2023 5:28:25 PM

How Often To Forgive - Matthew 18:21-35
In Matthew 18:21, Peter began with a question for Jesus. “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus had just spoken to them on how to resolve conflicts. We need to forgive those who offend us. Perhaps Peter felt by throwing out the number seven, there might be a loophole. Seven, a perfect number, seemed far beyond what others might be willing to endure.
Jesus was not about to let Peter (or us) off the hook. Verse 22: “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” The point is we are not to keep score and list the faults of others.  Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
In verses 23-27, Jesus illustrates God’s grace and gives a picture of forgiveness (salvation). A certain king had a large number of servants, and he discovered one owed him ten thousand talents (equivalent to millions of dollars). The servant and all of his family were to be sold to pay this debt. The servant fell down to worship the lord. He begged for patience and promised to pay all that is owed. The lord was moved with compassion and forgave all of his debt. Remember, Jesus paid our debt, also. There is no way we could pay our salvation debt to God. Grace abounds with these words: “I will forgive you.”
A shocking response is seen in verses 28-31. The servant who had been so graciously forgiven millions of dollars, showed no mercy to a fellow servant who owed him a hundred pence (about two day’s wages). He ignored his pleas for patience and cast him into prison. His friends were sorry at this turn of events and told the lord.
Verses 32-35 gives the lord’s response. He called the man a wicked servant. He reminded him that he had been forgiven and should he not likewise show compassion. One’s behavior has consequences. This servant was now delivered to the tormentors (jailor), until he could pay what was due. Verse 35: “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
We are to forgive others and not just a certain number of times. We are to forgive no matter how hard it is or how many times we may have been wronged. Remember, we have wronged God, and He forgives us. He also requires us to forgive others. We will be enslaved by sin if we hold anything against others, and do not seek forgiveness from them and God. Look to God to deal with any heart issues that keep you from making things right with Him and others.
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.7/27/2023 10:48:11 PM

Conflict Resolution - Matthew 18:15-20
Animosity and failure to resolve conflicts is the number one reason people leave churches, jobs, and organizations. This damages ministries, families, and relationships. All of us fall short at times and say or do things that cause conflict. What should we do?
Matthew 18:15 is speaking of genuine offenses, not petty differences or dislikes. You need to go privately to talk to the person and deal with the issue. If necessary, you must be willing to go back to resolve the conflict. Recognize and be sensitive to the fact that offenses may spring up because of burdens another person is under. We do not always know what is going on in someone’s life. Talk to the person, and do not harbor anger and bitterness.
What if a person will not hear you? (Matthew 18:16). Return to the person with one or two witnesses who will provide protection for both parties as the offenses are discussed. Remember, not everyone will respond the right way the first time.
If the person will still not hear you, tell it to the church (Matthew 18:17a). Sinful and serious issues that are not dealt with will cause great damage to the church and its ministries. Keep in mind that the goal of going to someone is not punitive but restorative.
After it is brought before the church and they still will not hear, they can no longer be part of the church (Matthew 18:17b). The goal is still for healing and restoration (Matthew 18:18). Although this verse seems confusing, keep in mind that God wants to bless us. If we do what is right when dealing with conflicts, God will bless us.
We need to meditate on Ephesians 4:29-32:
• Do not use corrupt communication.
• Purpose to edify and build up one another.
• Do not grieve (by sinning) the Holy Spirit.
• Beware of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking.
• Exercise kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.
• Remember God, through Christ forgives all who come to Him.
By allowing God to work in our hearts, we must determine to edify and not destroy others. We must restore and build up relationships where needed. As we live faithfully for God, we will build up the Body of Christ.
Posted By: Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.7/13/2023 7:39:01 AM