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The Gospel of Matthew

September 30, 2014

 

I have just finished a personal study of Matthew and decided to write out a general outline and, perhaps, comment per a different perspective similar to what I did for Mark’s Gospel.  I will not concentrate on applications.  That is best done through my detailed Chronology of the Gospels Commentary.

Walk Thru the Bible emphasizes Jesus as King, Israel’s Messiah from a Jewish perspective.  Chapter 11, John’s questioning of whether Jesus is the Messiah, acts as one of several interludes in Matthew’s Gospel and is placed after Matthew’s own “documenting by example” of Jesus’ direct answer given to John’s disciples in Matthew 11:5 based on Is. 35:4-6 and 61:1. After this Matthew seems to focus on Jesus’ ministry to different people groups.

And that concept, the question “What’s the Focus” is what generated the following outline.  This outline follows those found in Study Bibles but takes just a little different perspective on Matthew’s inspired writing.  God’s Word is divinely inspired so it is right and proper to read and study it from different angles from time to time.  Then one becomes able to appreciate and enjoy the richness and depth of God, the Almighty, our Creator, together with His Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, and our Teacher, His Holy Spirit.

I trust this outline will cause your heart and mind to wonder and wander, yes wander, and let the Holy Spirit guide you to different perspectives and views of His Truth relating to your personal belief and faith in Jesus.

Owen Greenley; August 2014

 

 

I.            “Focus on Jesus’ Early Life.                       Matt. 1:1-2:23

A.    His Genealogy                  Matt. 1:17

B.     His Birth                           Matt. 1:18-25

C.     His Early Years                 Matt. 2:1-23

 

The genealogy of Jesus is first seen as related to man.  He is the Christ but He is also related to Israel’s King David and Israel’s earthly father Abraham.  Jesus is CHOSEN by God and Is God.  There are 14 generations between Abraham and David, 14 generations between David and Judah’s exile, and 14 generations from their exile to Christ’s birth.  You can argue about the correctness of those generations but you can’t deny its’ pointing to a Sovereign orderly plan of a Sovereign God.

God the Father is directly involved with the birth of Christ through the Holy Spirit.  So now we have Jesus as the Lord God Incarnate, both human and divine.  This is the foundation of true Christianity, faith in Jesus as the Christ.

As seen in Matt.1:20-2:2, Mary’s responsibility was to give birth, Joseph’s responsibility was to name their special baby who was born under a special sign [star] for special worship [magi].  The Jewish leaders failed to connect the dots based on prophetic writings and the Magi were led to worship Him via a heavenly GPS.  The Magi humbly bowed in worship giving of them-selves [gifts].  Their worship should be a model of our worship.

Finally we see Joseph as the righteous obedient servant of God.  The family escapes Satan’s servant Herod [see also Rev. 12] by moving to Egypt and they don’t return until Herod is dead.  Thus, we have Divine Direction for a righteous man and Divine Protection for a righteous Son.  Likewise, let us express our obedient faith in God being assured He will direct our lives according to His Divine Will [Prov. 3:5-6].  He did this for His Son and He will do it for us, His adopted children.  Trust Him as Joseph did.

 

II.            “Focus” on John the Baptist’s Purpose.     Matt. 3:1-17

A.     His Message                     Matt. 3:1-12

B.     His Baptism of Jesus         Matt. 3:13-17

 

John’s message was REPENT.  Acknowledge your sins, seek to live a righteous life because the Kingdom of God is about to be revealed.  In other words, the Messiah is among us.  Therefore, stop your boasting about your Abrahamic human heritage and begin to look for your Divine heritage, the Son of God.  Prepare your hearts for His arrival.

Jesus came to John to be baptized and be revealed just as John preached.  Jesus did not need John’s baptism but Jesus chose to be baptized to reveal His human nature and relate to the people the importance of repentance. It turned out that Jesus’ baptism was His commissioning to begin His ministry.  Was His baptism private or public?  Luke writes that it was likely public.  Who saw the dove descending and who heard the voice of God?  Did just John or did others also see and hear?  I suspect the ones that saw and heard were those that were previously baptized by John and whose hearts and minds were anxiously awaiting their Messiah to be revealed.  So ask yourself; where is my heart and mind?  Have you seen Him?  Do you know Him?  Have you heard His voice and been commissioned into His service?  If so, serve Him and love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength for it is your reasonable service and He is worthy of your worship.  You have been dedicated, consecrated, anointed, and granted citizenship in His Kingdom.  Praise God!

 

III.            “Focus” on Jesus’ Initial Ministry              Matt.4:1-7:29

A.    His Temptation                             Matt. 4:1-11

B.     His Choosing Disciples                 Matt.4:12-22

C.     His Healing Ministry                     Matt. 4:23-25

D.    His Teaching Ministry                   Matt. 5:1-7:29

 

This section is worthy of deep study but you won’t find it here.  My Chronology of the Gospels comments are more detailed and there are several Bible Commentaries that go into great detail.

The first question is “How does temptation relate to ministry?”  Remember Satan tempts and God tests.  Satan doesn’t believe faith in God can be a core belief [remember Job?].  Neither do modern day psychologists and sociologists unless they are “born again” Christians.  Just look at their diagrams reflecting cultural behavior as a result of ones’ environment.  We are to flee temptation but let’s not be afraid of it either.  Tempting happens, usually at the front end of commencing a particular ministry. Expect it and also expect God’s testing.  We don’t like either but when we resist temptation and when we are faithful through testing we become stronger and more assured of God’s love and God’s leading.  We realize we are grounded in God’s Word and can depend completely on Him. We have passed the test and are ready for battle.

Now that we are ready and have been issued our uniform [Eph. 6] it is time to seek others to help us.  Jesus sought twelve disciples to train, teach, and eventually assist in His ministry.  Seeking help is a little different for us.  We seek help-mates [spouses], accountability partners, small groups for prayer and encouragement, and others who have different gifts and talents.  In other words, we need team-mates and a team to work effectively for the Lord.  That’s what Jesus’ disciples became after His ascension, a team of apostles for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus calls us the same way as He called the Twelve.  He says “Come”.  He says “Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross, and Follow Me”

The closing of Chapter 4 can be considered a general summary statement of Jesus’ ministry.  He preached, He healed, and He drew large crowds.  He began with the same message as John [see Matt 3:1; Matt. 4:17, 23].

Chapters 5-7 are the heart of Jesus’ teaching while on earth.  This is His “Sermon on the Mount” but He said all this over and over as He went to different towns preaching.  These Chapters are “cliff notes” for Jesus’ teaching and preaching.  Study them thoroughly.  Meditate on them often.  Know them intimately.  Note the positive message He has for us.

Consider these simple thoughts as you study Chapters 5-7:

1.      We are blessed and are to be a blessing to others; like salt and light.

2.      We are to confront and take action against sinful behavior.

3.      Our relationship with our spouse is to remain pure.

4.      Keep your word so others will trust you.

5.      Be a peace-maker.

6.      Love one another.

7.      Do not boast and do not seek man’s attention and praise. In other words, be humble.

8.      Model the Lord’s Prayer when praying.

9.      Be proactive in administering forgiveness and mercy.

10.  Seek God.

11.  Remember God loves you and will care for you.

12.  Let your “holiness” attract the attention of others so your life begs the question of whom you serve.

13.  Following Jesus will not win you a popularity contest.

14.  Respect others, note their “colors”, but do not act as their judge.

15.  Follow through with these instructions because its’ author is God the Father.

 

IV.            “Focus” on Individual Miracles.                           Matt. 8:1-9:34

A.    Leprosy Healed                                   Matt. 8:1-4

B.     Centurion’s Servant Healed                Matt. 8:5-13

C.     Peter’s Mother-in-Law Healed           Matt. 8:14-17

D.    One Requirement; Commitment         Matt. 8:18-22

E.     Storm Calmed                                     Matt. 8:23-27

F.      Demons Cast Out                               Matt. 8:28-34

G.    Paralytic Healed                                  Matt. 9:1-8

H.    Matthew Called                                  Matt. 9:9-13

I.       Wrong Motives Corrected                  Matt. 9:14-17

J.       Dead Girl Raised & Woman Healed  Matt. 9:18-26

K.    Blind and Mute Man Healed              Matt. 9:27-34

 

What Matthew records in this section are mostly healing miracles justifying Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah as He himself noted in Matt. 11:4-5 in answer to John’s disciples.  For “Focus” I have emphasized “Individual” over healing because group-type miracles are recorded later in Matthew 14-16 and one could rightly argue that D., H, and I. are not healing but just short interludes in the narrative.

So why did I include these three under the title Miracles and not take another tack?  The real reason is “I didn’t want to” but there is also a relationship with the term Miracle.  And that relationship is one of the heart.  The first two men didn’t have the desire and/or the need to commit to Jesus.  Therefore, no miracle was performed just like when Jesus went to Nazareth.  They chose convenience over commitment.  Matthew recognized his need and committed. Thus his change of heart and life was, in his mind, the greatest miracle of them all.  The demon possessed men did not have the ability to choose so Jesus chose for them because they recognized who He was and the power He possessed.  So in the end it is our choice whether or not we want to be part of His miraculous power.

Overall, all these instances express some level of faith in Jesus’ power to turn a negative situation into a positive situation.  These other miracles show forth the unbiased nature of Jesus’ ministry of miracles.  They cover the aspects of their culture.  Jesus used His Word and He used His touch.  It didn’t matter how severe or how insignificant the physical ailment was, He healed. He healed the rich, the poor, the women, the men, and the children.  He healed Jew and Gentile assuming the Centurion’s servant was a gentile.  He healed the old and the young.  The quantity or quality of their faith in Him was not an issue as long as they accepted their need for Him in their lives.  He showed His power over nature, His power to forgive sin, and His power over evil spirits.  He healed the prominent and the outcasts.

Jesus supported the religious practices given to Moses [lepers had to be declared clean by an independent party in order to reenter society] but discounts the need to fast as imposed by religious leaders.  Fasting comes from the heart and is not for show; especially for those who are already sitting at the feet of the Lord God Almighty.

In summary, Jesus has full and complete power over all things and, therefore, has provided us undeniable proof that He is Christ, the Messiah.

 

V.            “Focus” on Kingdom Workers                             Matt 9:35-12:50

A.    Many are Needed                   Matt. 9:35-38

B.     Training and Instruction         Matt. 10:1-36

C.     Committed in Love                 Matt. 10:37-42

D.    Jesus Validated as Christ        Matt. 11:1-6

E.     John Validated as “Elijah”      Matt. 11:7-19

F.      Repentance and Acceptance   Matt. 11:20-12:37

G.    Anticipate a Big Miracle         Matt. 12:38-50

 

Again, I have taken a large portion of Scripture and looked for a common thread or theme.  I chose Kingdom Workers because they are needed, they need to be trained, and they need to be fully committed and validated in purpose.  Their message is to preach repentance for sin and lead people to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Finally, they are to express faith and hope in the “Big Miracle”, Jesus dying on the cross for our sin and being resurrected from death to life.  Today, we as Kingdom Workers look forward to the next “Big Miracle”; His coming again to receive us unto eternal life with Him.

As stated earlier, the harvest is ready and workers are needed.  Are you watching from the sidelines or are you signed on and in training?  The Kingdom Training program does not have the customary “probation period” used in the workplace today.  The task is simple; preach the Kingdom of God is near and heal the sick.  The only problems are that the wages are low and the message is not always welcomed.  We are to welcome into the Kingdom those that accept His message and warn those who do not accept that there is a coming judgment.  Our example is Jesus Christ and He instructs us to Be Careful, Be Bold, Be Steadfast, and Fear God.  Recognize that Christ’s message can be divisive.  But we who love the Lord with all our heart and do His work are truly blessed.

Next Matthew inserts the account that Jesus’ ministry validates His claim that He is the Christ.  Jesus goes on to validate John’s ministry as that of “Elijah”, His forerunner.  Connect the dots.  Prophecy has been fulfilled.  Validation by the Lord and others is important to all who minister.  One can’t always go by positive results.  John’s disciples returned hearing the validation of Jesus as the Christ and telling John the validation of his ministry.  In summary, the Lord values all Kingdom Workers for the special and specific task they have been assigned.

The next section, Matt. 11:20-12:37, is long.  It speaks to the importance of repentance and acceptance, repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus as Christ.  Failure to repent and accept will result in judgment and death.  Here we learn children are more apt to accept His message than community leaders.  But with humility, Jesus invites all to “Come and Learn” who He is and find peace and rest.  Jesus proclaims He is Lord of the Sabbath, is greater than the priests, and is worthy of worship.  Some understood and followed Him but the Pharisees refused to connect the dots and instead accused Him of alignment with Beelzebub.

Consider Jesus’ invitation to “Come”.  Consider His demonstrated power.  Listen to His Word.  Understand and accept Jesus as who He claims to be, the Son of God who comes to seek and to save sinners. Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.  There is today a Kingdom Worker nearby, a person who needs to hear the Kingdom message.  Which are you?

 

VI.            “Focus” on Teaching by Parable                 Matt. 13:1-52

A.    Parable of the Sower/Soils                  Matt. 13:1-23

B.     Parable of the Weeds                          Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43

C.     Parable of the Mustard Seed              Matt. 13:31-32

D.    Parable of the Yeast                            Matt. 13:33-35

E.     Parables of Treasure                            Matt. 13:44-46

F.      Parable of the Net/Fish                       Matt. 13:47-52

 

Matthew’s recording of Jesus’ teaching by parable is all in this one chapter.  Its’ “Focus” is not only on Parables but also on “The Kingdom of God”.  These are Kingdom parables relating to Jesus’ message “Repent for the Kingdom of God is Near”.

We can look at the Kingdom of God as being the person Jesus, the Church or a body of believers, or ones’ faith and acceptance of Jesus as the Christ.  All are true but the latter is probably the better with respect to the context of the Gospel.

Only the Parable of the Sower and Mustard Seed are found in all three synoptic gospels.  Only the Parable of the Sower and the Weeds are given interpretive explanations by Jesus as to their meaning. Parables usually make a single point or point out a single principle.  Perhaps that is why Matthew recorded Jesus’ explanation for the Sower and Weeds so we would not misinterpret the true meaning. In other words, exercise caution in carrying analogies beyond the single point being taught.

Very quickly and simply then, what do we learn concerning the Kingdom of God?

1.      Accepting God’s Word and having a strong faith to withstand outside influence requires good soil [a pliable heart], a heart that is open to the evidence that Jesus is Christ.

2.      God allows both believers and unbelievers to live together in harmony until the time of harvest when they are separated, unbelievers for judgment and believers for their reward.

3.      Faith starts with one but quickly grows into an attractive body capable of providing care and protection to others.

4.      The believer influences the world in which they live so as to enhance its’ beneficial nature/culture for righteousness.

5.      Ones’ faith is a valuable treasure to possess and is greater than any and all possessions.  It is a source of great joy.

6.      At the end of time believers will be separated from unbelievers and each will be given their just reward.

So the Kingdom of God begins with a few believers whose influence attracts others. Their number grows until God determines it is time to separate them from unbelievers so each receives their just reward.  Those who believe have eternal value and great joy now and in heaven.

 

 VII.            “Focus” on Opposition                              Matt. 13:53-14:12

A.    Personal Opposition                            Matt. 13:53-58

B.     Political Opposition                            Matt. 14:1-12

 

Opposition to the message “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near” is a natural occurrence in a fallen world containing hardened hearts [Matt. 13:18-19].  Opposition to the Gospel happens.  Expect it but don’t let it bother you even if it means death.  That is easy to say but difficult to comprehend.  These verses [among others] come to mind; II Cor. 12:9, Mark 13:9-13, and Acts 7:54-60.  The issue is not if you face opposition but when, how, and what opposition you will face.  Whatever the situation, remember Jesus is with us.  Believe Him.

Matthew just records two instances of opposition to make his point.  Jesus’ credibility is personally attacked when He preaches in His home town of Nazareth.  His opposition is so strong He is unable to minister to their needs.  The second instance concerns John’s beheading.  I have chosen to portray this as political opposition.  John’s message was a thorn in Herod and Herodias’ lives.  Therefore, Herodias used her influence to trap Herod into a position where he had to follow through on his word in order to save face.  Politicians today run on a platform to gain votes but sometimes their positions can backfire and force them into decisions they would rather avoid or table.

Opposition is common and we Christians all face it in various degrees.

 

VIII.            “Focus” on “Feeding” People.                     Matt. 14:13-16:12

A.    “Feeding” 5000                                   Matt. 14:13-21

B.     “Feeding” Peter                                  Matt. 14:22-36

C.     “Feeding” the Pharisees                      Matt. 15:1-20

D.    “Feeding” the Sincere                         Matt. 15:21-28

E.      “Feeding” 4000                                  Matt. 15:29-39

F.      “Feeding” the Insincere                      Matt. 16: 1-4

G.    “Feeding” the Twelve.                        Matt. 16: 5-12

 

This too is a section where you may challenge my outline as being forced.  I will not disagree but it also makes some sense when you consider “feeding” defined as meeting all the needs of the people.  In this section Jesus meets peoples spiritual needs, emotional needs, intellectual needs, and physical needs in a variety of settings.

This section begins with the feeding of 5000 in a remote place.  Many people gathered to hear Him teach and heal the sick.  Before leaving, He met their physical needs.  Jesus stayed to pray and sent His disciples back by boat.  They see Him walking on the water and are terrified.  They have personally witnessed many miracles but what they see is impossible.  The focus is on Peter because he jumped out of the boat but the message given is for all the disciples.  In fact, I believe it is the same message the Father gave His Son while praying.  That message is: “Take courage; don’t be afraid; and don’t doubt the power of God in your life.”  That message was an encouragement from the Father to the Son and it was relayed to the disciples by Jesus.

Next Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees and teachers about not following the Israelites’ tradition of cleanliness.  Jesus points out their hypocrisy because they pick and choose which laws to follow based on their own convenience [see Matt. 7:3].  Their priorities do not relate to the 10 Commandments but to their own commandments.  Here Jesus is challenging both their spiritual and intellectual mindset.

Jesus then records an encounter with a Gentile woman who wants healing for her daughter.  Tyre and Sidon are not Jewish strongholds but word of His teaching and healing has reached to the sea.  Jesus seems to challenge her sincerity and learns that she has an unquestioning faith in His power and who He is; Lord, Son of David, the Messiah.  She is seeking and she is persistent.  Her heart is like the good soil of Matt. 13:8.

Jesus goes on to “feed” 4000 people for 3 whole days, again teaching and healing them.  After feeding them physically, He and His disciples travel by boat to Magadan.  Thus, Jesus met all their needs with compassion and love.

Chapter 16 has to do with the religious leaders testing Jesus and asking for a sign from heaven.  These people are the direct opposite of the Canaanite woman.  They have heard and most likely seen Jesus’ miracles but they demand something greater involving the heavens.  Jesus directs them back to the Prophets implying not now but very soon.  His answer points out the importance of studying and knowing all prophetic Scripture so as to know what to expect and not be deceived by false prophets.  These religious leaders failed to connect the dots which would have led them to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah.  Jesus then has the opportunity to “feed” His disciples to avoid the false teaching associated with their religious leaders.

So we end this section on a solemn note.  We must study God’s Word and know God’s Word if we are not to be deceived and led astray by our own religious leaders who may happen to be politically motivated and willing to ignore God’s Word in favor of fitting in and seeking approval from society.  We are to seek approval only from God [II Cor. 10:18; I Thess. 2:3-4] if we are to avoid being deceived.  We must accept by faith that Jesus is Lord and Savior, we must study and know God’s Word, and we must devote ourselves to prayer so as to know God’s Will and subject ourselves to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  If you think this cannot happen, please realize that a good number of Christian denominations no longer believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word.

 

IX.            “Focus” on the Disciples                                      Matt.16:13-20:22

A.    Peter’s Confession                              Matt. 16:13-20

B.     Jesus’ Death                                        Matt. 16:21-28; 17:22-23; 20:17-19

C.     The Transfiguration                             Matt. 17: 1-13

D.    Prayer and Faith                                  Matt. 17:14-21

E.     Important Questions Answered          Matt. 17: 22 – Matt. 20:34

 

It is nearing the appointed time for Jesus to endure the cross so He begins concentrating His teaching time with His disciples.  It’s Decision Time.  “Who do you think I am?”  The disciples try to deflect this question but Jesus persists.  Peter finally blurts out the correct answer from his own heart.  The answer to this question is extremely important because your answer reveals your true faith.  Peter’s answer is the foundation of his faith and the foundation of the Christian faith.  Jesus cannot move forward to the cross without knowing his disciples have placed their faith in Him and will have the strength to carry on His ministry after He returns the His Father.  What about you?  You have read Matthew’s proof up to this Chapter that Jesus is the Christ.  Who do you say Jesus is?  Your answer to this question will determine where you will spend eternity.  Don’t just say your answer, believe your answer, believe in your answer, and believe Jesus is your Messiah, your Savior.

In many ways Matt. 16:13-20 is the climax of Matthew’s Gospel.  It’s downhill and straightforward from here until Jesus’ resurrection from the dead which happens to be the second foundation of the Christian faith.  The third foundation is the fact that Jesus is God Incarnate which Matthew dealt with in Chapters 1-3.

Upon hearing Peter’s answer, Jesus gives His first indication about His earthly future.  He is slated to suffer and die on the cross but there is also hope.  Jesus will rise again and go to the Father.  And there is more hope.  Jesus will return again with His reward for those who are faithful.  The faithful are defined as those who deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.  The faithful are those who place their faith and trust in Jesus, ministering on His behalf until He comes again.

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a mountain and they see Jesus, Elijah, and Moses transfigured before their eyes.  They are in heavenly resurrected bodies and heavenly clothes visiting with one another.  They also hear God’s voice again acknowledging Jesus as God’s Son [these three were also John’s disciples and likely heard God’s voice at Jesus’ baptism].  As they leave the mountain Jesus instructs the three not to reveal what they have seen.  These disciples were special and most likely their faith was greater and more mature than the other nine but Jesus didn’t want them to consider themselves as superior.  That is a good lesson for us too.  God may reveal Himself differently to different people but that does not mean they are superior or have a greater faith.  All who confess Jesus as Lord are equal in God’s sight.  One believer is not greater than another and one church is not better than another.  All are equal in the Lord.  Always be humble and don’t flaunt your relationship with the Lord.

Next Jesus addresses the necessity of faith and prayer.  Mark’s gospel gives the most detailed account.  The disciples had the power to heal before when they were sent out by Jesus two by two but they lacked that power this day because they neglected to pray and their faith was weak.  Even after their confession of Jesus as the Christ some doubt had set in [perhaps because they couldn’t believe He would die].  Remember, the power of God comes to us through prayer and faith.  Exercise it and don’t doubt [James 1:6].  Prayer and faith are the most important tools we possess in ministering to the needs or others.

Jesus reminds His disciples a second time about His upcoming death, preparing their hearts and minds for what they will soon experience.  Note that no matter how bad the situation is, Jesus offers Hope.

Jesus now takes the opportunity through His teaching and miracles to answer many important questions that His disciples have now or will have in the future.  Rather than continue to write and comment, I will just record the principles Jesus clarifies in Matt. 17:24 – Matt. 20:34.

1.      It is not what we are required to give but whom we are required to worship that is important.  [Matt. 17:24-27]

2.      The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are those who have the faith and trust of a child; who receive Jesus and accepts His teaching. [ Matt. 18:1-9]

3.      I AM, Jesus ,is interested in looking for those who have wandered away from the Truth.  [Matt. 18:10-14]

4.      Work out your differences and live in peace with one another for I Am with you.   [Matt. 18:15-20]

5.      Forgiveness is a way of life for those who believe in Jesus.  Repent of your sin and model mercy and grace.   [Matt. 18-21-35]

6.      Marriage is a sacred union ordained by God for one man and one woman.  Not all wish to marry but all are to remain pure.   [Matt.19:1-12]

7.      Introduce the children to Jesus so He can bless them  [Matt.19:13-15]

8.      Do not forget the first four Commandments.  Learn to rely on the Lord God Almighty.   [Matt. 19:16-30]

9.      Our responsibility is to work for the Lord where we have been assigned until He returns.   [Matt. 20:1-16]

10.  Remember, I will die but I will also conquer death.  [Matt. 20:17-19]

11.  Servant-hood is the highest position in the Kingdom of Heaven.   [Matt. 20:20-28]

12.  Remember, I am the Lord and give sight to the blind.   [Matt. 20:29-34]

Note the similarity of these answered questions to the Sermon on the Mount [Matt. 5-7].  Repetition is the key to learning.

 

X.            “Focus” on Jesus’ Authority.                     Matt. 21:1-23:39

A.    As King                                               Matt. 21:1-11

B.     As Priest                                              Matt. 21:12-17

C.     As Judge                                             Matt. 21:18-23:39

1.      The Fig Tree                                        Matt 21:18-22

2.      Challenged                                          Matt. 21:23-27

3.      Righteous Justice                                Matt. 21:28-22:14

4.      Clarifying                                            Matt. 22:15-45

5.      Warning                                              Matt. 23:1-39

 

I struggled with both the emphasis and the outline of this section because there are many directions one could go.  In the end I decided that overall Jesus began exercising His authority in Jerusalem which caused the religious authorities to question His authority which quickly drove them to find a way to kill Him.  Jesus starts His journey on a “high note” and it ends on a “low note” by weeks end.  This section covers Sunday to Wednesday of what we Christians call Holy Week.

The Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem grabs the attention of Israel.  Pilgrims are in Jerusalem to observe the Passover.  Jesus celebrated other Feasts in Jerusalem but He always arrived secretly without fanfare.  This time is different.  He is initially celebrated as their King, Son of David, but when questioned later on He is just a prophet from Nazareth.  Jesus enters with the authority of their King and exhibited His authority according to Prophetic Scripture.  But unbelief reigns by the day’s end because He has done nothing to remove Roman rule.

Instead, Jesus has challenged the religious authorities by removing the money changers from the Temple; His Temple.  He claims to have authority over the Temple, removing the corrupt practices and announcing it as a house of prayer.  He identifies Himself with God the Father and continues to minister to the people through His teaching and healing in the Temple Courtyards.  This angers the religious leaders because they sense He has usurped their authority.

Jesus and His disciples are staying in Bethany, traveling to and from Jerusalem on a daily basis.  One morning Jesus curses a fig tree because it is fruitless.  Mark’s account is a little more detailed but Jesus uses this occasion to remind the disciples the importance of believing in Him and not doubting when they pray.  Jesus has the authority to answer their prayers but they must believe and not doubt.  This is an important lesson to learn as they live through His death and resurrection and wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them.  Of course there is another aspect of judgment in this example; the judgment of Israel because they did not obey God and produce fruit for His Kingdom and the judgment of unbelievers because they didn’t believe and produce fruit for His Kingdom. Israel’s religious leaders are planting doubt instead of faith.  The wages of sin is death and so the curse of the fruitless fig tree is also death.

Jesus uses this opportunity to encourage the disciples to exercise their faith and not doubt when they pray so they can accomplish great things [Matt. 17:14-21; James 5:13-20].  Answers to prayer and one’s faith are directly related.  Great things happen when prayer and faith are combined.  But remember, God is always sovereign over the timing.

No wonder the religious leaders want to ask Jesus where He gets His authority to do what He did; His Temple cleansing plus His healing and teaching with authority.  Jesus has encroached on their territory.  Jesus answers their question by asking them what they think about John.  They know about “Elijah” and they know the people believe John was a prophet.  But they don’t believe John was the “Elijah” so they cannot accept the fact that Jesus is the Christ.  Their power has usurped their common sense and they refuse to connect the dots.  Jesus drives His point home with the parable of Two Sons, chiding them for not believing John and his call to repent, and two others parables of The Tenants and The Wedding Banquet.  Their disobedience to the Old Covenant is exposed and they are judged unworthy to be a part of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus goes on to clarify that there are two worlds; the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.  One has responsibilities to the governing authorities but God wants your heart, all of you.  The religious authorities are worried about who is married to whom in heaven but, instead, are chastised for not knowing the Scriptures.  Jesus continues to clarify by answering their question about the greatest Commandment by quoting Scripture once again.  God wants their heart. God wants our heart. They claim Christ is the Son of David  and they have heard that phrase used over and over these last days but they refuse to believe that this son of David is also the Son of God.  There are two kingdoms but the only way we can be members of both is by acknowledging Jesus is the Christ, Lord and Savior of all.  We must believe and not doubt.  “Help my unbelief” [Mark 9:23-24] should be on the lips of all who believe.

Matthew 23 is a warning to the Pharisees and religious leaders.  Jesus exposes them as hypocrites.  They don’t practice what they preach, they boast.  They turn people away from the Truth.  They love money and their priorities are upside down.  They are selfish and are into self-gratification.  They are dead spiritually.  They claim to be superior but have martyred the prophets and will continue to martyr prophets/apostles.  Jesus Christ has judged them no longer worthy of carrying the banner for the Kingdom of God until they acknowledge Jesus as Lord.

In summary, Jesus claims He is King, He is Priest [our High Priest], and He is Judge of all things concerning the Kingdom of God.  Believe and don’t doubt.  He is Lord and Savior.  Therefore, let us commit to serving Him and His Kingdom with humility for He is worthy.  Love Him and worship Him with all your heart.

 

XI.            “Focus” on End Times.                               Matt 24:1-25:46

A.    The Present                             Matt. 24:1-14

B.     The Future                               Matt. 24:15-35

C.     His Return                               Matt. 24:36-25:30

D.    Judgment                                Matt. 25:31-46

 

Consider the transition in Matthew 24:1-2.  This day began with Jesus removing the money changers from the Temple and by days end His authority was being challenged by various religious leaders.  Jesus and His disciples are returning to Bethany but first pass the Temple where Jesus predicts it will be completely destroyed [it happened in 70 AD but the Old Covenant was also replaced with the New Covenant after Jesus’ resurrection].  They arrive at the Mount of Olives to rest where the disciples ask their specific question “When will this happen and when will you return?”

Jesus has already taught them about the importance of faith and the importance of remaining faithful [Matt. 16-17].  He has given them Hope by telling them He will rise from the dead after three days.  Now He uses this opportunity to give them Hope for the future.  This is an important teaching because without Hope one’s Faith will wane.  In other words, Love initiates Faith and Faith is made strong through Hope.  It all begins with Love for the Lord and appreciation for what He has done for us.  But our Hope for His return is what keeps our Faith strong and motivates us to do His Work.

Matthew 24-25 is some of the clearest teaching on the End Times and the future.  Refer to my Chronology of the Gospels for applications.  In your own study of End Times and our Lord’s return add Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Joel, Isaiah, II & II Peter, I & II Thessalonians, and Revelation into your reading to complete your understanding.  You will still have questions but you will also have a more complete picture.  Remember, God did not reveal all the details but He gives us enough information to keep us from being deceived and gives us reason to keep watch.

In Chapter 24:1-14 Jesus warns us about what the future holds.  The life of a Christian will not be easy [see also Revelation’s 7 Seals] and many will choose not to believe in Jesus.  A key turning point is “the abomination that brings desolation” described in Daniel.  Those in Judea will flee to the mountains for protection and a time of great stress will commence [Trumpet and Bowl Judgments of Revelation].  The return of Jesus will take place during this time period.  Scholars disagree here because of what things they believe are specific and what things they believe are general.

And that leads us to the most important fact in Matthew 24:6.  Only God the Father has the knowledge concerning Christ’s return.  The reference to Noah leads me to believe few Christians remain at His return.  So therefore I don’t believe the “Rapture” is a big event.  That’s why there is so little information on it in the Bible.  God wants all to be saved [II Peter 3:19] so I think He is patient until a few believers remain.  Christ returns before even they lose hope.

Our responsibility is to “keep watch” and “keep working” in and for the Kingdom because His return will be a complete surprise.  Jesus supports those key points with two parables; the parable of the Ten Virgins and the parable of The Talents.  Contrasted in these two parables is the “faithful” versus the “faithless”.

Jesus then uses these two parables to reinforce and illustrate that there is a final separation/judgment of believers from unbelievers; those who have been faithful from those who have no faith and those who have been selfless from those who have been selfish.  The righteous sheep receive eternal life and the unrighteous goats receive eternal punishment.

It doesn’t matter how you interpret the future events, the bottom line is Place your Faith and Hope in Jesus.  Believe, watch, wait and be steadfast.  Great is the reward for us who love Him.

 

XII.            “Focus” on Preparing for the Cross.           Matt. 26:1-46

A.    Anointed                           Matt. 26:1-13

B.     Betrayed                           Matt. 26:14-16

C.     The Last Supper                Matt. 26:17-35

D.    Praying                              Matt. 26:36-46

 

Jesus’ anointing at the house of Simon in Bethany was either Tuesday evening [according to Matthew’s and Mark’s gospel account] or Saturday evening before the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem [according to John’s gospel].  If verses 1-5 belong to the previous section, then there is a break between verses 5 and 6 where the story could naturally back up to Saturday.  John’s account is more detailed where the anointing is done by Mary, the sister of Lazarus.  But the important fact is that Jesus’ body is being prepared for His death and burial in the home of Simon, who was probably healed of leprosy by Jesus, with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus, in attendance along with His disciples.  This is a big banquet honoring Jesus and Mary is the first one involved in preparing Jesus for what is to come.  Let me make just one point; love is eternal but being poor is temporary.  Love for one another trumps helping the poor.  And of course if we learn to love one another we will naturally help the poor.  Love will always precede help.  The irony of this story is that Jesus was probably considered poor in that culture.

Regardless of what day this banquet took place, Judas made contact with the High Priest that week and prepared to betray Jesus.  The opportunity did not come until Thursday evening after the disciples prepared and celebrated their Passover meal with Jesus.  The meeting place for this meal was arranged in secrecy so Judas had to wait until the meal was completed and Jesus and His disciples were back at their camping spot in the garden at the base of the Mount of Olives.  During the meal Jesus reminds His disciples that He came to serve [broken bread representing His body on the cross] and He came to be a sacrifice [wine representing His blood spilt on the cross]  for their sin.  Not just their sin but for all our sin.  Jesus will not partake of or lead us in this meal until the Kingdom of God is complete and we are all gathered together at the Wedding Banquet in Heaven [see Matt.22:1-4].

This point is clear; Jesus knows our hearts even if we don’t.  Jesus knew Judas’ heart was not right.  Jesus knew Peter’s heart was right even though Peter would soon deny that he even knew Jesus.  This reminds me of the parable Jesus taught in Matt. 21:28-30.

This section closes with Jesus praying for the Father’s Will to take precedence over Jesus’ human will.  He asks Peter, James, and John to come with Him to pray.  When critical and difficult circumstances arise in your life, ask others to pray with you.  Pray for one another and ask for strength to endure.  Only then can we be confident in proceeding according to our Heavenly Father’s sovereign Will.  Prayer is the foundation of a living vibrant steadfast faith.

 

XIII.            “Focus” on the Cross.                                 Matt. 26:47-27:56

A.    Arrested and Tried                              Matt. 26:47-67

B.     Peter and Judas                                   Matt. 26:69-27:10

C.     Condemned and Mocked                   Matt. 27:11-31

D.    Crucified and Dead                            Matt. 27:32-56

 

Judas left the “Last Supper” early and now arrives at their designated camp in the garden with armed men from the Sanhedrin.  Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss and Peter makes a feeble attempt to defend Jesus.  Jesus stops Peter, states He has the power to defeat His enemies, and makes the point that His Father’s Will must prevail so the Scriptures can be fulfilled.  God the Father’s Will is sovereign.  Even for us, life and death must be lived according to the Father’s Will, not man’s will.

Jesus is arrested and a trial begins in the compound of the high priest.  The Sanhedrin   assembled together with false witnesses.  Even the false witnesses cannot keep their stories straight so as to provide legal evidence.  Finally the High Priest asks Jesus if He is the Christ and Jesus says “yes”.  The sad thing about this is that these Jewish religious leaders’ eyes and ears were closed to the prophecies recorded in Scripture and eye witness accounts.  As such, their hearts and minds rejected the Truth.  The facts gave evidence that Jesus was Christ but their hearts rejected both the facts and the Christ.  What about you?  What is your heart saying?  Accept Jesus’ claim that He is the Christ, put your faith in Him, trust the Scriptures, and follow Him.

Peter [and John] observed this mock trial.  He was a Galilean so others in the courtyard questioned his allegiance to Jesus.  Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before he left and wept.  He did what he said he wouldn’t do and was ashamed.

Judas realized he was instrumental in causing Jesus to be condemned to die.  Even though Judas refused to accept Jesus as Christ, he realized Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing.  Instead of seeking forgiveness, Judas committed suicide.

Both Peter and Judas did wrong.  But Peter had faith and Judas had no faith.  Peter believed Jesus would rise from the dead as He said He would.  Judas refused to accept Jesus’ claims.  Peter sought forgiveness and life whereas Judas sought death.  We all have occasion to sin against God but Jesus promises to forgive us, not forget us.  Judas wanted to be forgotten, not forgiven.  The irony is he is not forgotten either.

Jesus is brought before Pilate who asks Him if He is king of the Jews.  Again, Jesus answers “yes” but then goes quiet.  The Jews say “no, crucify Him”.  They would rather Pilate release an evil man than a good man.  The crowd does much to influence evil and injustice.  Remember, we too are always responsible for the darkness/evil we create.  Do not give in to your emotions but always objectively investigate popular opinions to discern what is right and what is wrong.  Investigate using God’s Word as Truth.  Pilate turns Jesus over to the soldiers who beat Him, mock Him, and humiliate Him.  Evil always desires to humiliate the humble.  If you are humble and believe in Jesus you can be sure you will be humiliated someday.

Jesus is brought to a public place called Golgotha where He is nailed to a cross and crucified.  The soldiers, people, and religious leaders continue to mock Him, challenging Him to save Himself if He is indeed the Christ.  They are still asking Jesus for another sign, even in death.  It will happen but according to God’s Will, not their will.  Jesus cries out “Why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus felt forsaken but the Father had not forgotten Him.    Upon Jesus death, some of the dead came out of their tombs and witnessed to the fact that the resurrection of the dead was for real.  Therefore, we who believe have reason to trust that God has power to raise us from the dead to life.  What Jesus came to do “is finished”.  Jesus paid our debt for sin and has set us free to be like Him, now and forever.

 

XIV.            “Focus” on Resurrection  Facts                            Matt. 27:57-28:15

A.    Buried and Secured                                        Matt. 27:57-66

B.     Earthquake and the Empty Tomb                   Matt. 28:1-10

C.     Corruption Continued                                     Matt. 28:11-15

 

Joseph of Arimathea claims the body of Jesus, places it in his own tomb, and rolls the big stone across the entrance.  The chief priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus prophesied He would rise from the dead in three days so they convinced Pilate to seal the tomb and guard it.  This most likely took place after the Passover Sabbath on Saturday evening.  Doing it earlier would mean they broke their own Sabbath rules.

Sunday morning there was a second violent earthquake [aftershock].  The first quake happened when Jesus died on the cross.  An angel arrives at the tomb, rolls the stone away, and sends the soldiers into shock.  The angel announces to the women that Jesus has risen from the dead and to go tell the disciples.  Not only is the tomb empty, but the women are greeted by Jesus as they leave.  Thus, we have both a divine and human confirmation that Jesus is alive.

The chief priests and elders are forced to intervene again, bribing the soldiers and instituting a cover-up with Pilate if needed.  Money corrupts and silences truth.  It did with Judas and it did with these soldiers.  It still is a popular means of deceiving the public today.  If you want the truth, verify that money is not involved.

 

 XV.            “Focus” on our Mission                             Matt. 28:16-20

 

According to the various Gospel accounts, the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ met with His disciples in Jerusalem first and Galilee later as He instructed.  Prior to His death, His central message began with “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near” and ended with “I AM the way, the truth, and the life [John 14:6]”.  After His resurrection His message became ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.”  This message was repeated over and over, even upon His ascension recorded in Acts 1:1-11.  Note that His last words to His disciples [and us] are a commandment to minister with His Authority [Power], according to His Program while being assured of His Presence.  The Kingdom of God is near, the Kingdom of God is us, and the Kingdom of God is in us.  Now “Go, make disciples of all nations”.

 

In closing, I hesitate to even label these pages as a “lite commentary” of Matthew.  But in reading it I do hope you have been motivated to dig deeper into Matthew’s Gospel and deeper into God’s Word.  Once you start your own deeper study of God’s Word you will become more excited and more amazed about what His Word says and how, through the Holy Spirit, it relates to our daily lives.  I trust you enjoyed this perspective and are encouraged to “dig deeper’ into God’s Word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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