As we get into Matthew chapter five we find the sermon on the mount. There is no way to even come close to doing justice to this sermon by studying an entire chapter in one day. So, I am going to break it down. If you are in the habit of daily reading, I would like to ask you to read chapter five each day as we study it. When this is done in repetition, it is amazing how much more clear the passage is.
Jesus, at this point, is giving the only recorded sermon of His entire ministry. No where else do we see an entire sermon being presented. When seeing the words of Jesus else where we see snippets of what He is saying. So, think with me for a moment; How important must these words be? Jesus’ sermon, if read, is only ten minutes long. These words are of great importance and they completely destroy the tradition of that day and also today’s. In this sermon we see the recipe for salvation, Godly living, the desire of the true believer, those who will be forsaken that truly believe they are His, adultery, our witness, judging, anger toward a brother in Christ and much much more. I hope that you will get as much out of these chapters as I have.
Today we will just start with the first verse of introduction. It is important to realize why this introduction is mentioned. Opposite of what we do today, the teachers and rabbis would sit when they began to teach. When the master was seated it was time to pay attention. This is why we see in Acts that Paul was trained “under the feet of Gamaliel.” The term under the feet literally meant that students would sit before the master teacher as he taught them in the seated position. Much like today, when someone rises, we tend to know that they are about to speak and that we should listen. So we see that these are not just jumbled thoughts that have been placed together by the author, it is instead a sermon that builds, it has a beginning and has a conclusion.
Monday will will begin to look at the beatitudes. I have been surprised and enlightened by these eight verses more so than any other in scripture. If the book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ (which it is), I would consider the sermon on the mount the revelation of man. The beatitudes explain what happens when a person truly repents and I think you will find it quite intriguing. Can’t wait for Monday!
In today’s reading we see the temptation of Christ. Satan tries his best to get Jesus to skip the sacrificial death in God’s plan. Lucifer even offers to hand everything over if Jesus will change His direction of fulfilling the Father’s will. If we look a bit deeper at the temptations we will see what was behind them. When Satan wanted Jesus to turn the stone into bread and to have Jesus jump from the temple, I do not believe that it was just for the purpose of a meal or disobedience. The Jews, under Roman rule, were kept content and paying taxes because the Romans kept them fed and entertained. If Jesus were to do these two things the people would have crowned Him king on the spot. We will see later that Jesus had to slip away before the people took Him by force and made Him king. If Jesus would have taken the easy route and skipped the cross His reign would only have been an earthly reign. Jesus came to save men from sin, not from Rome. When these two temptations failed, Satan offered the kingdom to him with out a fight if He would bow to him. Once again, this would remove the sacrificial death on the cross.
We need to make sure that we see how Jesus, the son of God, defeated Satan’s temptations. Jesus did not debate Lucifer (although He could have and He would have won) He instead relied on the Word of God. Each and every attempt by the evil one was combated with the Word. With the truth of the Word Satan has no foot hold. It is interesting that Satan stopped after three attempts. Lies cannot stand up against the truth. Psalm 119:105 states “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…” If Eve would have trusted in the truth of God’s Word she never would have eaten the forbidden fruit. After doubting God’s word she denied God’s Word then, tragically, she disobeyed God’s Word.
Now we see, as I mentioned yesterday, the message of Jesus. He begins His ministry by preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17). Jesus not only demanded repentance, but He also said that the Kingdom was “at hand.” So often people view the Kingdom of heaven to be in eternity only, but it is not. When Jesus came he set up a Kingdom without borders. Jesus set up a Kingdom without discretion of race, ethnicity, gender or social status. The thing that makes people part of the Kingdom is a renewed Spirit through repentance. When trusting in Christ for the remission of sins and turning from those sins people become the son’s and daughters of God. This happens right here, and right now, not some time in the future. Kingdom dwellers obey their new found King.
I John 3:3 “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the son’s of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew not Him.”
In Matthew chapter three we hear, for the first time, the message of John the Baptist. This is a message that we need to listen to very carefully. This is a simple, to the point message that all men must understand to enter into a relationship with Christ and then into eternal life. If the message were to be heard today from the local church it would say (and we all have most likely heard it many times) “you need to ask Jesus into your heart.” This morning I’m going to kick a hornets nest. In my opinion, this is one of the most ungodly phrases that I have ever heard. This phrase has begun this centuries first step into the gospel of easiness. With this phrase many men have misled people into a false hope of salvation. With this phrase we can break down salvation into a neat little phrase that we can utter. This is a very clean way to confront the issue of salvation, but it is wrong. This phrase is mentioned no where in scripture and it doesn’t have the same meaning of the message of John the Baptist or of Jesus Christ. Salvation is dirty, it is the realization of sin, confessing it and repenting (turning away) from it. In the zeal to reach people many have watered down the Gospel to the point in which it is not even recognizable, in fact it is a different gospel altogether. We read in Galatians 1:8 ” If any man preach any other gospel unto you other than that which we have preached let him be accursed. As I said before so say I now again, even if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you other that which we have preached let him be accursed.” Much like John, when Jesus began His ministry His first message was also the same. We see in Matthew chapter four that the first words that Jesus spoke to the people when He began His ministry were: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Without repentance there is no salvation. There has to be a change.
The next thing that we will look at this morning is the fact that Jesus was baptized. This may seem odd at first; after all Jesus was sinless wasn’t He? One may wonder why a sinless man would need to be baptized. The reason is that baptism identified Jesus with the church. Not only was Jesus supporting the church but He is the head of the church. In Revelation chapter one we see that Jesus is walking among the seven golden candlesticks. These candle sticks represent the complete church, in which Jesus is actively a part of. The Jews used to baptize proselytes when they accepted the faith of Judaism. This action meant that they were now numbered with the other Jewish believers. In like manner baptism identifies us with the local church.
So the baptism of Jesus shows us two things: first it shows us that all believers should be attached to the local church in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). The second thing that we learn about baptism is that it is not a mechanism in which one gains salvation or the remission of sins. If the point of baptism was to remove sin, it would have been ridiculous for Jesus to be baptized.
The last thing that I would like to focus on this morning is the message that John gives to the religious crowd. In verse eight John says “produce fruit worthy of repentance.” He went on to tell them that just because they were Jews did not mean that they were followers of God. If I may give you another perspective of what John was saying, he basically says that the proof is in the pudding. If you have an encounter with a righteous God and repent; every one will know it. Friends, if we smell like the world, look like the world, have the same goals as the world and enjoy the same entertainment as the world, we have not repented. If we have not repented there is no salvation.
In today’s reading I would like to focus on the reactions to Jesus by the people that surrounded Him. We will see that in Matthew chapter two that it is often the same at is today. When encountering Jesus each one of us must respond. His existence and his sacrifice for sin along with His eternal Kingship demands a response from each of us. It would be impossible not to respond, because ignoring Him in itself is a response.
The first group that we will look at are the Magi; this group of men traveled a great distance to meet the new King in person. These men were considered to be “King Makers” in the region and they were greatly respected. There is little doubt why we see them mentioned in Matthew’s gospel since Matthew focuses on the Kingship of Christ. The Magi were gifted and trained in astronomy (which was at that time greatly mingled with astrology). The Magi came to meet the new born King for one reason, that reason was to worship Him. When they arrived, they did not just worship Him in jest. They not only traveled a great distance they gave gifts that cost them a great deal of their income. These men came and in worship gave themselves to the King of kings who deserves all that we have. This, obviously, is the proper way to respond to the savior.
The second group of people that we see are the religious crowd. The religious crowd, including but not limited to, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. This group of people should have been the ones who were most ready to receive the Messiah. They had been given the word of the prophets. These men had a special revelation as to the coming Messiah. Even though all of the signs were in place, this group was simply indifferent to the new King. I personally think that they had things just the way that they liked them and did see the need to rock the boat. They had wealth, prestige and the respect and obedience from most of the people. Just like the church of Laodicea they “had need of nothing”( Revelation 3:17) because they had no idea that they were in need is a savior. They had clung to their own righteousness. If one were capable of having their own righteousness there is no need for the righteousness of Christ.
The last group that we will look at is more of an individual than a group. This individual is king Herod. King Herod definitely believed that Jesus was to become king because he was threatened by Him. Herod realized that a new legitimate king would demand obedience. The obedience that this new king would deserve would be the kind that would cause Herod to give control over to someone else. There is no room for two kings in a kingdom and Herod had decided that he was going to be king over his own life. This is why Herod went to great lengths to stop this new king from reigning. He even went as far as to kill all the male children in the area under two years old. People still today will go to great lengths to minimize the great King, but just like Herod, it is a complete waste of time.e This King is not just an earthly king reigning over Judea; He is the King of Kings that reigns over all of creation. There is coming a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, even those who will not do it willingly.
Welcome to our study of the Gospel of Matthew! I trust that we will see more clearly the kingship of Christ as we study this book together.
I will only focus on the lineage of Christ briefly this morning. What I would like for us to realize this morning is that not only is Jesus the only legitimate King, but He is the last to be able to prove that His lineage links to king David. Israel is, and will be for some time, searching for the Messiah. They have rejected Christ and are awaiting another. The line of the Messiah must come from the line of King David. Around AD 70 the temple was destroyed along with all records in regards to lineages. Even if they claim a messiah has come, they could in no wise legitimize the impostor.
In view of the virgin birth, we will look at the first prophecy given us in scripture. This prophecy goes all the way back to Genesis chapter three. In Genesis chapter three and verse fifteen, as God was giving Lucifer his punishment and curse, we read “..And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heal.” The problem with this little verse is that the seed always comes from the man. We see in Genesis 38:9 that Tamar’s husband spilled his seed on the ground and he was punished for it. So the man, through his semen, produces the seed. In this text we see that there would be enmity between his seed and the woman’s seed. This is a reference to Christ for Jesus was the only person to have ever lived that was born of a virgin; therefore we have the “seed of the woman.” We see in this prophecy that Satan will bruise His heal (death on the cross) but Jesus will bruise His head (utter defeat at the end of days).
The reason that this is important is because we see that God had planned all along to redeem man through His son Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t show up on earth to fix a mess up. God didn’t, one day in heaven, begin to wring His hands and wonder “How am I going to fix this one?” On the contrary, He knew before the foundation of the world that Jesus would be the Messiah who would redeem His chosen people. It is unimaginable to me to think that God would create something while having knowledge that Jesus would have to suffer the horrible death due to that creation’s dis-obedience. This shows us that there is something so amazing in store in the future that we cannot accurately understand what it is. We do know that it was worth putting to death the perfect Son of God.
It is good to finally be with you again! I did not plan on taking a break from this blog, but sadly, circumstances demanded it. I want to give a special thank you for all of those who have contacted me in regards to this blog. It is very encouraging to know that there are people who have been following it and more importantly, in His Word every day.
We had just finished Second Samuel and began First Kings when we came to our abrupt stop. I wanted to dip our feet into First Kings in order to understand Solomon’s reign a little before we moved on. We see in First Kings that Solomon ends up falling into the trap of lust. Solomon begins to take wives from other nations and cultures and then begins to allow them to perform their religious acts to their idols; the idols that they had brought along with them. This mistake came with a great price for Israel; in fact it divided the kingdom into two separate kingdoms. This is why we read of Judah and Israel after this point in First Kings and then again in First Chronicles.
We will now begin studying the book of Matthew together. We have already gone through the Gospel of John, but as we look at the four Gospels (each, the story of the life of Christ from different perspectives) we see different attributes of Christ.
Matthew’s perspective is the perspective of the Kingship of Christ
Mark’s perspective is that of the servant-hood of Christ
Luke’s perspective focuses on Jesus’ humanness
John shows more of the deity of Christ.
As we begin to study Matthew together we will see this Gospel present: the King who is revealed, the King who is rejected and the King who is returning. Even the lineage given by Matthew goes back to King David showing the Kingship of Christ. John, showing the deity of Christ, instead, begins with Jesus being the Word in the very beginning. Mark gives no lineage because a servant’s lineage was a non issue and Luke, showing the humanness of Christ, traces the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam.
I hope that you will consider joining us as we are in the Word together. Monday’s blog will be focused on Matthew chapter one. If we were to read this chapter today we would be all set for Monday’s comments on it.