Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 14 2013 - Matthew 28:1-20 – Risen

After Jesus had been baptised by John, he was in a deserted area for forty days, at the end of which he was tempted by the devil. In the last of those temptations the devil had shown Jesus all the kingdoms of this world and had promised to give them to him if only he would worship him. Jesus rejected the temptation with the words, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10). Jesus had faithfully served the purpose of the Father, even to the point of dying upon the cross. Now he had been raised from the dead and has been given the place of supreme authority over the whole universe; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18). All the kingdoms of the world are his and shall be his. They are gained not through self-service, but through humble obedience to the Father.

He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:7-11)

It is to this end – that all might acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord – that Jesus now commands his disciples, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (28:18-20).

The primary verb in this command is not "go", but "make disciples". Jesus commands us to make disciples of people from every nation, from all backgrounds and cultures. We are not simply to seek converts but are to make disciples; we are to bring others to recognise that Jesus Christ is Lord and to teach them how to follow him and live for him. We can only do this as we ourselves live as disciples of the Lord Jesus – as we seek to obey all that he has commanded. Thankfully, we have not been called to do this on our own. Jesus has promised to be with us every step of the way. It is only as he is with us by his Spirit and is working in us to transform us into his likeness that we can be used by him to transform the lives of others. We cannot sell what we do not have.

This is the end of Matthew’s Gospel, but it is far from being the end of the story. Jesus took his followers back to Galilee that they might resume the life of discipleship and take up again the ministry he had thrust them into when he had been with them. It is the beginning of a new phase in the great story of God’s redeeming work – and we are now part of this story.

Risen Saviour, I call you Lord; may this be more than mere words. Help me to live by every word that you have spoken. And by your Spirit, fill me with your resurrection life so that through a life that radiates something of your presence and through words that speak of you, others may acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and join me in a life of glad discipleship.

Feb 14 2019 - Exodus 5:1-23 – Israel's burdens increased

At God's command, Moses returned to Egypt along with his brother Aaron. There they summoned all the elders of the Israelites and Aaron, speaking for Moses, told them all that the Lord had said. Moses then performed the signs God had given him to prove that he, the living God, was with Moses and would perform all that he had promised. Faced with such proofs, the Israelite leaders believed what Aaron was telling them: "When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped" (Exodus 4:31).

Thus far, all seemed to be going well. But now Moses and Aaron had to confront Pharaoh demanding he let the Israelites go. Initially they asked that the Israelites be allowed to travel a three-day journey into the desert to hold a festival to their God Yahweh.

Pharaoh will have none of it. He knows nothing of the Israelites strange God, the God of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has no intention of letting his slave labour go off on holiday. Who knows what rebellion they might plot against Egypt while they are out of his sight.

Pharaoh decides to nip this rebellion in the bud. He orders that from now on the Israelites will not be provided with the straw they need for the making of bricks. They will be required to find their own straw but will still be required to produce the same daily quota of bricks. A proportion of the Israelite workforce would no longer be making bricks but would be scouring the surrounding countryside to find and gather straw. The brick makers would be reduced in number but still required to make the same quantity of bricks. The burden of their slavery which had already prompted cries for relief is now increased – all because of Moses.

Nor was Pharaoh ready to hear the complaint of the Israelite foremen. They were harried out of his court with the accusation ringing in their ears that their people are just plain lazy!

The Israelite foremen complain to Moses saying, "May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us" (5:21). Moses then complained to the Lord, "Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all" (vv. 22-23).

Have you ever had the experience of seeking to be faithful to what you believed God had called you to do only to find that it brought trouble on you and upon others rather than blessing? Have you ever felt like complaining (or perhaps actually complained) to God at such a time – complaining that the trouble is all his fault?

Take heart that God in infinitely patient with us and unfailingly compassionate towards us. He does not respond with anger to Moses' complaint. He does not even point out that he had told Moses in advance that Pharaoh would harden his heart. As we shall see tomorrow, God responds by repeating his promises and assuring Moses that he knows what he is doing. He is at work in this very situation to demonstrate that his power is greater than that of Pharaoh and of all the gods of Egypt. He will rescue his people from their slavery as he has promised.

God can be trusted even when it seems that evil has the upper hand and is increasing.

Father God, teach me to trust you in the dark times when everything seems to be going wrong and all my best efforts for you seem only to make things worse. You have shown us your faithfulness and saving power in raising the Lord Jesus from the dead. Help us to remember that your Spirit at work in and through us is greater than all the powers of this world and that you, our God, always have the last word.

Peter Misselbrook