Matthew 3:5-12 (Week 12)
John the Baptist’s message was “repent, for the kingdom if heaven has come near.” When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the Jordan River, John had a message for them...a message that is very relevant for all of us today.
He told them of the need for repentance and said: Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, and your heritage (as sons of Abraham) is neither necessary nor sufficient for your salvation.
The call to repentance is either an invitation to kingdom life or a warning of coming judgement: there is no third choice.
This week, as we start Matthew Chapter 2, we are in Jerusalem about two years after the birth of Jesus. Herod the Great is the Roman-supported, self-proclaimed King of the Jews and finds himself visited by Magi from the East looking for “one who has been born king of the Jews.”
As the story unfolds, Herod and the religious leaders of the day are disturbed as their power is threatened. Yet, the Magi are delighted as they worship and bring gifts to the King even though they likely do not begin to comprehend just Who it is they have traveled to see.
The theme of the reaction of the political and Jewish religious leaders as compared to the gentiles is already in play this early in the story of Jesus’ life. This same theme will play out throughout his life and death.
So many things about the life and teaching of Jesus, starting with His arrival, are not as we perhaps would have expected. As we continue through the Gospel of Matthew, it is imperative that we keep the eyes of our hearts open to working of God in and through Jesus. Somewhere along the line, probably in many places, we are likely to have our expectations challenged. Are we willing to hear what Jesus teaches and not just what we want Him to teach or what we always thought He meant?
If Jesus is the unexpected messiah, are we willing to expect the unexpected?
Are we willing to accept the unexpected?
Matthew knows that the life and teaching of Jesus will challenge its hearers…so Matthew is challenging his readers from the outset.
We often believe a lie that says "Nobody understands me," but in fact, Jesus does! Because He is physically Mary's son, He is 100% human. Jesus is also legally Joseph's son, and as such, is the Heir of Abraham and David and is King of the Jews. Fundamentally, however, Jesus is God's Son. He is the 100% divine King of Kings. He is the King of the Kingdom of Heaven and the fulfillment of scripture.
The name Jesus means "Yahweh is salvation," and the title given to Him, Immanuel, means “God with us." Both His common name and His title given here in Matthew 1 indicate two profound truths:
-Jesus specifies what He does--> “God saves”
-Immanuel specifies who He is -->“God with us”
We can not separate WHO Jesus was and WHAT Jesus Did.
We can not walk in salvation without walking in relationship.
We pray the same prayer as 13th-century English bishop Saint Richard of Chi-chester:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.
Joseph was a righteous man, but His betrothed was found to be pregnant. He had to find a way to reconcile his righteousness with his compassion. Fortunately, Joseph was also a dreamer. This week, on Father's Day, we find the truths of this man's life to be impactful to all of us...fathers included.
This week we introduce the Gospel of Matthew by providing necessary background information that will set the context for and inform our discussion of Matthew. Additionally, we start into the actual text of Matthew's gospel by exploring the true meaning of Matthew 1:1.