The Gospel of Matthew: A Discussion …

Finished my read through the Gospel of Matthew and three things are really standing out in my mind right now:

  1. The earthly ministry of Jesus was marked by near constant conflict.  If He wasn’t arguing with the disciples, He was arguing with the Pharisees.  If not the Pharisees, it was the priests and the scribes.  But interestingly enough, when it came to the masses, His approach was much softer, much more inclusive.  So I’m left with the impression that He relationship with leaders (both those that He was training and those that He was critiquing) was exceptionally tough.  So what do you think?  Do you think Jesus’ attitude towards leaders was tougher that His attitude towards the masses?  And what might this mean for us as leaders in the church?
  2. The second thing I noticed was the unbelievable power that was manifested in His public ministry.  Almost everywhere He went, the blind were being given their sight, demons were being cast out, the paralyzed were walking, etc…  Interestingly enough, I started to make the connection between His power and the public’s interest in His ministry.  For the first time, I was able to put myself in the Story and I was struck by the realization that I absolutely would have gone to see the Man who worked these miracles.
  3. The third thing I noticed is actually a bit disconcerting at the moment.  If I knew nothing of the writings of Paul, or Peter, or John, and all I had to go one was the public ministry of Jesus, I’m not sure I’d actually be considered a disciple.  When I look at those that He describes as being “in” the Kingdom versus those that He describes as being on the “outside,” I’m not sure I measure up.  There is a really high cost to discipleship, and I don’t feel as if my life is measuring up to the standards our Savior proscribes …

So what about you guys?  What’s standing out to you in your readings? 

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5 Responses to The Gospel of Matthew: A Discussion …

  1. mahoneyrm5150 says:

    As I told you before, I cannot keep up with this reading schedule for a variety of reasons right now, but I have read and studied Matthew enough to react.

    Your third point is the consistently troubling point for me as well. Jesus never teaches double imputation, justification by faith ALONE, or other Luther/Calvin categories that came to dominate “the gospel” and evangelical culture. Jesus is about praxis, praxis, praxis and more praxis. As a result, I think Liberation Theology, at least, has a point to make to evangelicals. Imagine the feeling of terror of hearing the words in Matthew 7.

  2. So the question is: how do you move from “troubling” to action?

  3. Sarah says:

    So after finally getting a chance to read Matthew & Mark yesterday, here are some of my thoughts through the book of Matthew:

    1. It is a great reminder of the prophecies fulfilled and it’s interesting that this book was written to the people of Israel and that this book is the one pointing out that the prophecies had been fulfilled.

    2. A question: If John the baptist was baptizing people before Christ and callling them to repentance, were the people of Israel still required to make sacrifices in the temple?

    3. I think it’s pretty cool to see Jesus’ human nature in Ch. 4 where you see the angels attending him after being tempted.

    4. In 4:13 we see that Jesus moved to Capernaum. It made me wander who he lived with? What did his own home look like? Did he cook his own meals? Again just thinking about the humanness of Christ while on earth.

    5. When Jesus called the disciples, each one seemed to follow immediately. It seems as if there’s no conversation whatsoever–no convincing needed. Had they heard of Jesus already? Was there something in his persona that just drew people to him?

    6. I was reminded of the power of prayer and the love Christ has for each of us and his desire to bless us when we ask and truly believe.

    7. I love that Jesus took the time to heal Peter’s mother-in-law. Just a reminder of the care he has for those around him. As I write this, I also realize that Peter is married. . . interesting.

    8. You see the first trinitarian reference in Matt 10: 20.

    9. Again seeing Jesus’ human nature as he gets frustrated at the disciples in 17:17

    10. Why are there 2 things repeated in Matthew: 1) the warning against part of your body sinning and 2) divorce

  4. Sarah … I think it’s interesting that three of your observations surround the issue of Jesus’ humanity. Why do you think that was standing out to you?

    As for your question regarding John the Baptist baptizing and the Temple, it’s a bit of tricky question. Scripture never gives us any reason to believe that YHWH moved back into the Temple when it was rebuilt during the time of Ezra/Nehemiah. So while the priests were still practicing the sacrificial rituals, perhaps some of the people had a sense that these rituals were “working.” Perhaps that is why you see people seeking out alternative means of connecting with God such as baptism. Might they have understood that God wasn’t present and found themselves looking for other ways to connect?

    One last thought related to your question. Jesus clearly adopts the practice of baptism and even puts it front and center as a “must do” item. But there is nothing in the Old Testament that suggests anything similar to this action. So, what we have is Jesus adopting a “man-made” practice (as performed by the Essenses prior to Jesus’ birth). Kind of interesting, eh?

  5. Peggy Pedersen says:

    Baptism, or ritual immersion as a purification rite was practiced regularly in the temple. It was required of all new converts, as well as those who needed to be ritually purified after becoming impure through menstruation, touching a dead body, etc. Therefore, the connection was already understood in the minds of the Jews attending on John that immersion in a body of running water along with the recitation of a prayer and repentance had a cleansing effect on the soul, however it did not negate the need for sacrifices. Note that in those days, the baptizer never touched the baptizee as it was necessary for nothing to prevent the water from touching all parts of the body (even the eyes were kept open). In the case of Christian baptism, of course, the sacrifice has already been made by Christ.

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