New Testament History, Literature and Theology
Session 7: Discipleship in the Book of Matthew
By Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
A. Introduction and the Understanding of a Disciple [00:00-3:03]
Welcome back. We’re going to start today working on the book of Matthew again. Last time, we were talking about Matthew as being methodical – gathering things that Luke scatters, taking the discourses and exploding the words of Mark, but yet the works of Mark described, shrinking them down and getting smaller. Now, what we want to do today is talk about--after Matthew is methodical, we were talking about Matthew in terms of discipleship. We called it “apostling” or discipleship, and we had talked about the notion of a new righteousness that Jesus was taking commands that were talked about and drove them into the heart in this kind of core, new righteousness that Jesus was talking about. Not as the scribes and the Pharisees to be seen of men, but the matters of the heart. So that it was a matter of murder before, now it’s of the heart in terms of anger. Before it was terms of adultery, and now it’s in terms of lust of the eyes. And so Jesus is taking the law, and driving it into the heart in this kind of righteousness that he was doing as a teacher, a second Moses.
Now, what I want to do today is work on – first of all, we’ll start with the understanding of the apostles. It’s pretty interesting when you compare these different things, the understanding in the parables and also in Mark. In Matthew chapter 13 it says “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven is given to you, the apostles, but not to them.” So, in Matthew he portrays the apostles as being those who understand: “Understanding is given to you, but not to them.” In Mark chapter 4, verse 13, parallel passage, “Jesus said unto them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable? How, then, will you understand any parable?’” And so Jesus rebukes the disciples then for their lack of understanding in the book of Mark, but in Matthew he says, “Unto you is given understanding.” And so that’s interesting the difference between Mark, the disciples not having understanding, and in Matthew, them having understanding. A similar type of thing is seen in the next one here: “Don’t you understand this parable?” Mark says, “Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear. Many prophets wanted but couldn’t see what you see.” So these passages are working with Matthew and just distinguishing Matthew and Mark.
B. Understanding in Matthew and Mark [3:03-5:40]
Now what’s interesting also is when you go to the boat and the walking on the water. Let me just compare--and what I’m doing is comparing Matthew and Mark and showing how Matthew is different than Mark and then saying, “Hmm, this is some sort of a theme.” Why did Matthew shift things away from the way Mark had it? So when they were coming in the boat, remember, Jesus was walking to them on the water. In Mark it says, “and they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” And in Matthew it says “and those in the boat worshiped him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” So when Jesus gets in the boat in the one, it’s saying they didn’t really understand all the loaves and what was going on there. In Matthew it says, they worshipped him as the Son of God. So it’s just very interesting, then, this comparison between the two.
He talks about in terms of the leaven, also. Let me just go back, we’re in the boat scene again, the same story in Mark with the leaven and the boat, Jesus instructing the disciples, he says, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:21). But if you go over to Matthew 16:12 it says, after warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, he says, “then they understood that he had not told them to beware the yeast of leaven of bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” So Matthew portrays the disciples as understanding. In Mark, he says they didn’t understand, and it needs to be explained to them. So it’s just kind of interesting here the way that the disciples are portrayed. Mark rebukes the disciples for not understanding. Matthew drops that and instead, Jesus instructs, and so Jesus is portrayed in the book of Matthew as an effective teacher. I think Matthew is portraying Jesus as this effective teacher, and therefore he has his disciples understanding because Christ is an effective teacher. So his disciples do understand because of his teaching, whereas Mark is not developing that instructional aspect of the theme so much. And he shows kind of the precursor, where Matthew shows they may gave gained understanding after the instruction of Jesus. So it’s just interesting the way the two kind of separate on this point.
C. Reconciling these Differences of Understanding [5:40-8:07]
Now, how do you get these to fit together? The walking on water incident we talked about earlier, it says, “When he climbed into the boat, they were completely amazed for they had not understood.” Here’s Mark 6:50, they had not understood about the loaves and they didn’t get it. Yet in Matthew it says, “then those who were in the boat worshipped him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” So in Mark they don’t get it, yet if you look in Matthew, they do get it, and they say as he gets into the boat, “You are the Son of God.” So just contrasting these two things on this understanding what they understood and what they didn’t understand. Warning of the yeast of the Pharisees, we just mentioned that. The warning about the yeast of the Pharisees, the Pharisee story ends with a rebuke – “Do you not yet understand,” and that’s in Mark. Whereas, in Matthew 16, after the warning of the Pharisee’s leaven it says, “then they understood that he had not told them to beware the yeast of bread but of the teaching of the Pharisees.” And so just contrasting these parallel passages where Matthew seems to show that the disciples do understand – Christ is an effective teacher. Matthew goes after more – not that they didn’t understand – Matthew goes after this oligopistoi. Now, oligo, many of you study history, and so you know oligo is like oligarchy. What’s an oligarchy? What’s a monarchy? A monarchy is the rule of one. An oligarchy is the rule of the few or the many. Oligarchy – the rule of the few. So this is few, pistoi is “faith.” So, Jesus rebukes them for having little faith in the book of Matthew. So in Matthew, they kind of get it – they understand. But what Matthew rebukes the disciples for is not that they didn’t understand, it’s just that they had little faith. Matthew brings this up in several passages: “And Jesus, aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?’” So, in Mark it was because they didn’t understand, but in Matthew, it says, basically, the problem was a lack of faith. They do have understanding and that kind of a difference. So it’s kind of interesting to compare the two – Matthew focusing in on the level of faith.
C. The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer [8:07- 11:29]
Now, we’ve shown, kind of, Jesus working with this discipleship, that they are to seek after righteousness, as an aspect of discipleship. We’ve shown the disciples understand, how it points they lack faith, but they understand, and now we come to a major topic that I want to call the cost of discipleship. And as soon as I mention that phrase, “cost of discipleship,” what comes to mind? Well, what you have is – most of us are aware that there was a guy named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and this is around the time of World War II, and he wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship that’s been published and many have read now. And Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in Germany when Hitler was rising in the 1930s, as Hitler was rising up he actually was a theologian at the time as a young man as this was all happening and he saw what was happening in Germany. He actually came to America and studied in America down at New York City and actually attended a black church down there and was really inspired by, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and things of the black community and their spirituals and their expression of their faith. He then went back to Germany and then worked on starting a seminary. And the seminary was not the governmental-approved seminary. So he taught in this seminary for a while and developed his thought – he was a pacifist. As Hitler began to rise, they basically shut the seminary down, and so he again hopped to London and then off to America and this was now – I think it was in the 1940’s – and when he came to America, though, this time, he realized that something bad was going on in Germany, and he realized that he could not speak to the German people if he fled Germany when his people were struggling. He came over to America where he could have had a very wonderful life and done his thing, but he got back on the boat and shipped back over to Germany. He walked right into it knowing that he was probably going to be killed, and he and some others then were plotting the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Here’s a pacifist then, when faced with real evil like that, comes up and says “you know, it’s not just enough to turn the other cheek now. We’ve got to do something. This guy is killing people and it’s really bad and we need to do something.” So, he began plotting the assassination of Adolf Hitler. He was then incarcerated, and it turns out that about two weeks before the Allies came in and liberated Germany – about two weeks before the liberation, he was stripped naked, taken out, and hung in a German prison. Just two weeks--if he had made it, but that was the Lord’s will for his life. This is the cost of discipleship. And when Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes and talks about the cost of discipleship, this man knows what he’s talking about. He chose to turn around and walk back into that knowing that that would cost him his life. He was a true follower of Jesus Christ.
E. The Cost of Discipleship – Persecution Today [11:29- 16:54]
There’s also many things in this age, I often ask students, we read about early--Fox’s book of martyrs and other things about how in the early church there was persecution, especially in the first century after – not the first century but the second century when you had Roman officials. In the first century, it was mostly local persecution, people trying to show their loyalty to the emperor and things but many Christians were killed. James, the brother of John killed 44 AD. Peter – crucified upside down in Rome. Paul, was beheaded in Rome. So you had many Christians – Paul, you remember stories from the book of Acts, being beat up and all sorts of nasty things happen to him, being stoned, left for dead, those types of things. And so I ask people, “When was the great era of persecution in the church? When have more martyrs died than any other century that we’ve had so far? In two thousand years of the church, what was the century that’s most noted for Christian martyrs?” And the answer is not the first or second century. The answer is the twentieth century. More Christians have died in the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first century than have died in all of those centuries of the church. And it’s very interesting. Right now we’re looking at Nigeria, and up in northern Nigeria there’s some Muslim folks that are just killing Christians – going in, taking out towns, killing people that go to church. We remember, and I told – when was this, a year ago or two years ago now – in Iraq when you had Christians having been in Iraq for two thousand years. I mean, the church spread there right after Christ’s death, and the Christian church has been in Iraq for two thousand years. We took over and defeated Saddam Hussein, and now the Christians are in Iraq, they’re worshipping. In Baghdad, there’s 68 people worshipping in a Christian church. They’re facing the front and they’re worshipping in a Christian church service, and all of a sudden, an Islamic terrorist comes in the back with a machine gun and kills 68 people. Shoots them in the back, kills these people – innocent people, no weapons, no way to defend themselves – they are shot dead. And then you ask yourself, “Where is this in the media? Where was this?” It was a one day media story and then it was gone. I even asked in my class, “Did anybody hear about this?” And there was one or two people that even heard about what happened. 68 Christians shot dead in the back at a worship service in Baghdad – nobody even barely knows about it. Actually in my class, it was really interesting, one person said, “I wonder what they did to deserve that.” I’m sorry, that’s upside down. You’re blaming these people for – and so these people are shot, helplessly shot like that. Nigeria.
What about southern Sudan and things like that? I mean, Moammar Gadhafi, he’s out of power now, Moammar Gadhafi is dead. But Libya – he was paying Muslims to go down and kill Christians and from the northern part of Africa. And again, Christians dying, Christians dying – the world just kind of blinks their eyes and shuts and makes excuses for it and says, “Well, it was just a crazy person that did this.” And you say, Wait, it’s happening over and over and over again. What happened? Oh, the Arab spring, the wonderful Arab spring of 2011, and then you ask the question, what just happened in Egypt? They freed themselves, yes, the freedom in Mubarak from Egypt and then all of a sudden you say, What happened to the Coptic church? The Coptic church has been in Egypt for two thousand years, and they’re burning down churches and killing Christians, and this they call the liberation of the Arab spring – this great period of freedom and Christians are dying and everybody’s applauding that they’re finally getting democracy and the democracy is leading to the death of Christians. Again, who says anything? It’s all hushed up. Nobody says anything. Very little. And so, what I’m saying is the cost of discipleship is very real, and as I look at many of you young people that are taking this class now, my heart breaks because my guess is, you’re going to see persecution like you’ve never seen before. Things are not getting on an upsurge here. No, things are getting more and more militant. As a Christian, you’re going to end up very likely having to see these massive movements against Christianity where people are killing Christians or worse, in some senses, they are inhibiting Christians so the Christian message cannot be proclaimed. And so what happens is, you get governments saying, “Well, you’re not allowed to do this, you’re not allowed to do that as a Christian.” So, it’s something we need to think about – the cost of discipleship. So I just want to work on this notion, of the cost of discipleship. You remember that girl in the Columbine shooting and that one boy came up and was killing kids in his class, and he asks the girl, puts a gun to her head, and says, “Are you a Christian?” She says, “Yes.” He pulls the trigger and shoots her right in the head and kills her dead. We say what a tremendous testimony. The last thing – “Are you a Christian?” she says “yes” and she dies at that point. Tragedy. Tragedy. That was in America out in Colorado.
F. The Cost of Discipleship—Not Peace, but a Sword [16:54-20:11]
So, cost of discipleship. Let me just read some comments from Jesus. This is from chapter 10 when Jesus is sending the twelve – he’s sending his twelve disciples out – and he’s warning the twelve disciples what it’s going to be like when they go out and he says this: “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother; a man’s enemies will be members of his own household, and everyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” I think another passage from actually one of the other gospels says this: “Jesus says (and this is an interesting passage, too) “I did not come to bring peace, but the sword.” This is Jesus Christ speaking. He says, “I did not come to bring peace, but the sword.” And so you ask, “Is Christianity a religion of the sword?” And you say, “Well, yeah. Jesus teaches, ‘I did not come to bring peace, but the sword’” And so people say, “See, Christianity is a violent religion, too!” Wrong. You’ve got to look at the context there. What is the context? He’s not telling his disciples to take up the sword. When Peter takes up the sword and chops off Malchus’ ear in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says, “Put up your sword; those who live by the sword die by the sword.” Jesus says, “I did not come to bring peace, but the sword.” What he’s meaning is “You disciples, as you go out, the sword is going to be used on you.” And Jesus says what’s happening here is not bringing peace, but the sword will be used on you. It’s not a call for them to take up the sword, he’s just warning them that the sword – that death – is going to be the destiny of what? The apostles. All of them died of martyrdom, except John – we wonder what happened there. And Paul we know as well. So, the cost of discipleship, the discipleship issue.
It’s an interesting thing for me, with the disciples, you’ve got all twelve of them – Judas hanged himself from betraying Jesus. Paul will die as a martyr, beheaded in Rome. Peter will be crucified upside down because Peter does not consider himself worthy to die like Jesus died. So what’s interesting, that all the twelve apostles basically die of martyrdom. John, there’s some question there what happened with John because he lived into the 90s, but basically all of them die of martyrdom. You say, “That tells me something about the Christianity,” because, before Christ rose from the dead, these guys were all running scared and hiding, and now after the resurrection, you see the power of God in their life. And it’s just an interesting testimony to the truthfulness of Christianity. These people died – they didn’t make up legends about Jesus – these people died for what they believed. They died for their beliefs. When you get all twelve of them dying, you’d expect that, if they were just making up myths and legends about Jesus, that one of them would say, “Hey, we just made that stuff up. It’s okay, you don’t have to kill me because it was all just made up.” No, no, no. They all went to their death having proclaimed Jesus Christ risen from the dead.
G. Cost – Forsaking Attachments [20:11-23:56]
So, okay, cost of discipleship here. Let’s just talk a little more about some of this. You get the case of the rich young ruler. Let’s look down and see here, we’ve talked about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and that true disciples will suffer rejection, persecution, hatred – not peace, but the sword. And so, that’s what we were just talking about. Then you have the “For I have come to turn a man against his father or daughter against her mother; a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household, and anyone who loves his mother or father more than me is not worthy of me. And anyone who does not take up his cross…” and the image of taking up one’s cross – we look at it kind of a religious thing today, but the cross was a cruel instrument of death, “… and follow me is not worthy of me. And whoever finds his life will lose it. Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Now, here forsaking is the cost of discipleship by leaving or forsaking attachments. So you have this story of the rich young ruler in the book of Matthew and I just want to read through this. The rich young ruler comes to Jesus and says, “What good things must I do to get eternal life?” So, the guy comes up and pops the question to Jesus directly – “what must I do to get eternal life?” – you’d expect Jesus to say, “Believe on the Messiah. Believe on me and you’ll have eternal life.” That’s not what Jesus tells this young man. Very interesting. He says, “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal other things.” The young man responds this: “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” It says – I believe it’s in the book of Mark – that Jesus looked at this young man who had apparently kept the law, and Jesus loved him. Yet, Jesus pushes him to the next step, and he says, “If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.” He went away sad because he had great wealth. Then Jesus comments, “It’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven, into the kingdom. So, you get this statement here with the rich young ruler not being able to give up the attachment to his wealth, and Jesus said, “Give it up, give it to the poor. Come and follow me.” So, the disciples are befuddled with that. They say, “Who, then, can be saved?” “It’s harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom than the camel to go through the eye of a needle.”
Now, by the way, I take the eye of the needle to be the actual eye of a needle. Everybody has always said, “Well, it was a gate that the camel had to go through to take off all the goods.” I don’t know, that’s never really clicked with me. I think, actually, he’s talking about a needle and just showing this great contrast. He’s trying to say it’s impossible – without God – it’s impossible for a rich man. But, by the way, we do know that there were rich folks that did accept Christ in the early church. We’ve got Joseph of Arimathea; you’ve got Nicodemus and others that seem to be people of wealth that supported Jesus; we’ve got Lydia in the book of Acts,– Lydia, the seller of purple; and others, so it’s not an anti-wealth thing. It’s just saying that this wealth apparently had its claws into this young man and Jesus knew right where it was.
H. Cost – Denying/Losing Oneself [23:56-27:13]
Now, dying to one’s self and losing one’s self for Christ’s sake is another aspect of the cost of discipleship. And so, this comes up here in what’s called the passage on the imitation of Christ, and let me just read this passage. It’s from chapter 16, verses 24 to 26. It says this: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? And what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” So Jesus here, talks about the sacrifice for Christianity. Sometimes I wonder about the cultural Christianity I see in America where, people are saying, “If you follow Jesus you will get a wonderful life. You’ll have kind of a purpose-driven life – you’ll have a purpose in life and everything will go well. God will plaster this big smile on your face and you’ll be just happy all the time.” And you say, “Wait a minute, we’re talking about the cross here. We’re talking about suffering and losing one’s life for the sake of the gospel.” So, it’s just interesting how I think things have shifted more to this “health and wealth” kind of gospel: follow Jesus and he’ll make your life – everything will work better. And the answer is – in some deep senses – the answer is yes, there’s more of a sense of purpose and meaning in life and a purpose-driven life, but there’s another sense in which there can be great losses and great suffering Christian people follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are to walk in the steps of Jesus, and Jesus’ way is the way of sorrow. Jesus is a “man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.” You don’t see him, unless you’re in Christian bookstores or something as the laughing Jesus. You see Jesus what? Weeping over Jerusalem, you see Jesus suffering, and that is the path that we’re called to. So that isn’t the happy--happy all the time kind of Jesus that’s portrayed in our culture. This imitation of Christ – we’re even got a book by Thomas à Kempis wrote called The Imitation of Christ--and so those who would follow Christ imitate him and that they follow in his steps, and his steps are the way of the cross, to lose one’s life for others. And so this is a tough message. The cost of discipleship is there. It’s been--and the disciples who have followed Jesus have paid huge prices with their life, their family, and all sorts of things. So anyone who follows Christ will know those kind of things. “Now, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” We imitate Christ. We walk in his footsteps. As he goes to the cross, so do we.
I. True and False Disciples [27:13-32:18]
Now, another point here is, then – the cost of discipleship. We’ve talked about true righteousness; we’ve talked about understanding, that we need to understand our teacher; and we’ve talked now about the cost of discipleship. Now I want to look at this theme of true and false prophets or true and false disciples. Apparently there’s true and false disciples. And so, what does Matthew teach about false apostles and disciples? We’re talking about what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ, and apparently, there are true and false disciples. Matthew brings this up in pretty poignant ways. And so, we can talk about the parable of the tares where what? A farmer goes out and sows good wheat in his ground. While he’s asleep, the enemy comes and sows weeds in the garden. What happens is it comes up, the servants see that there’s weeds now mixed with the wheat, and they say, “Should we take the weeds out?” and the master says, “No, leave the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest,” and at the harvest, he’ll send out his reapers and his reapers will separate the wheat from the tares, and he’ll burn up the tares with unquenchable fire – obviously standing for something negative – but the tares get burned up. But they grow together, the wheat and the tares grow together. The wheat comes up and produces a harvest of about sixty, a hundred heads of grain. The tares produce nothing, and so they’re burned up. So, this is the parable that there’s a mixture, in the Christian church. You think that everyone’s a Christian and the answer is no, there’s a mixture. Jesus warns us about it in this parable. Faith or works? This is the big question that comes up – faith or works?
Now, I want you to look at this, this statement from Jesus and this is from Matthew chapter 7. This is the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus’ core teaching – the Sermon on the Mount. And this is what he says, and I think this is absolutely a terrifying set of verses in some senses. Now, I know we don’t get terrified of anything, we need to be happy all the time because Jesus has saved our soul and we’ve got fire insurance now. Well, look at this and see what you think: Matthew chapter 7, verses 21 and 22, he says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who” – who what? Who gets into the kingdom of heaven? All those who say this little phrase – I prayed when I was five years old, “I believe in Jesus” and Jesus forgave my sins. So I said this little formula: “Jesus, I believe in you and I trust in you” and if we say this little formula then we’re saved. Is that what Jesus says? Who gets into the kingdom? Here he says it explicitly. This is Jesus’ teaching about who gets into his kingdom. And it’s not those that say “Lord, Lord” – check this out – “but only he who,” what? “does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” “Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?’” In other words, “I was a preacher. I was a preacher. I went out and preached your gospel. I prophesied in your name, and in your name I drove out demons.” In other words, “Man, we were so good we were casting demons out in Jesus’ name, and performed many miracles.” These guys actually did miracles. They thought they were doing miracles for Christ. “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.’” Did these people actually think they were doing these things in Christ’s name – miracles, prophesying, preaching, casting out demons. Christ says, “I never knew you.”
The possibility of self-deception .This, I think, fronts right to us the possibility of self-deception – that a person can think they’re a Christian. These people did apparently thought they were Christian, they start listing off all these things that they did. And Jesus says, “No, no. You’ve got to do the will of my Father.” So then we need to find out what is the will of the Father. But these people thought they were doing it, and Jesus says, “I never knew you,” and then he says, “Away from me, you evil doers.” So, there is the possibility of self-deception. I’m just raising that because it seems to me a lot of people think they’re Christians, and, as my son once told me, I buy a Lakers jersey and put on a Lakers jersey, does that make me a Lakers basketball player? No. You know, if I live in a garage long enough, does that make me a car? No. You’ve got to do the will of the Father and so you’ve got to be real careful with some of this.
J. True and False Disciples – The Sheep and the Goats [Mat. 25] [32:18- 35:38]
So, there are true and false disciples. Here’s another one, and this is really penetrating as well. This is the sheep and goats, and this is in the final judgment. Now you’re up in heaven, in a heavenly context, and the Father is going to separate the sheep from the goats – the sheep on his right hand, the goats on his left. How does he separate the sheep and the goats? The goats are going to be the bad ones that go to the wrong place. So, on what basis do they get into the kingdom? On what basis do the sheep get into the kingdom? Let me just read to you here, it says then, “Then the king will turn to those on the left and say,” – to those on the left, so this is the goats – “‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.” Actually, it’s kind of interesting, do you know that Jesus speaks more about hell than he does about heaven? And yet people today are saying, “Well, of course there’s no hell because we don’t have any sin.” Number one – our culture, we delete the whole notion of sin and therefore we delete the notion of any kind of consequences afterwards. We’re Americans after all. We can do what we want and there are no consequences, right? No. Jesus talks about this, he says, “cursed ones, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.” Now, why? Why? – “‘for I was hungry and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t invite me into your home.’ Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth. When you refused to help the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’” They were surprised. “‘When did we see you? When did we see you sick and naked and didn’t help you?’” They were surprised. They thought that they had done it. And Jesus says, No, no. ‘As much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.’” It’s kind of interesting, too, when you go over to the sheep, and he says to the sheep, “Come into my kingdom.” The sheep say, “Well, how do we get in here?” He says, “As much as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.” And the sheep themselves didn’t even know when they had helped these people and things like that, so it’s just interesting the kind of reversal here. Again, I’m just raising the issue of self-deception. A real important book, for people to be aware of is Scott Peck’s old book called People of the Lie. What happens is we get comfortable with the lies that we tell ourselves and Jesus here at the end. There are no excuses, and again, our culture is made up of excuses. We’re always the victim. We’ve always have got some sort of excuse going, and Jesus says, “No, no. It doesn’t wash here. Even though you thought one thing, that wasn’t the reality, and you’ve got to face reality now, and there are consequences to your decisions. You didn’t help the least of these and so depart me, workers of iniquity.” This is a very, very strong passage that raises this issue of self-deception.
K. Doing the Will of the Father – Am I a Christian? [35:38-39:46]
Now, one more thing, let’s go back to this and just one more thing that I want to pick up. Jesus, in terms of his disciples, he comes and his mother and brothers come up to him. His mother and his brothers, Mary and James and Joseph, come up to Jesus and basically, they want to see Jesus, and Jesus – and this is Matthew chapter 12, verse 49 – he pointed to his disciples and said, “These are my mothers and brothers.” In other words, he’s expanding his definition of family here and the community, away from kind of a blood line with mother and brothers kind of thing that he’s related to blood-wise, and he basically expands it that, “These disciples, these are mine. These are mother and brothers.” Then he says this: “Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Who is his brother? Who is his sister? “Anyone who does the will of the Father, my Father in heaven, is my brother and sister and mother.” Notice he doesn’t give you some little formula to say, “Oh yeah, just believe in me, tell me you believe in me and then everything’s cool.” No, he doesn’t say that. He says, “Whoever does the will of my Father who’s in heaven.”
then, one last one with this kind of idea of true and false disciples. Check
this out. The wise man built his house upon the rock. The foolish man built his
house upon the sand. Everybody knows that kind of story, the wise man built his
house upon the rock – we sang that song when we were kids – and the foolish man
built his house upon the sand. What is the difference between the wise man and
the foolish man? This is Matthew chapter 7, again, the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus says this: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts
them into practice, is like the wise man who built his house upon the rock.
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is
like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.” So Jesus is making a
clear distinction here between--true disciples as ones who hear the words of Jesus
and put them into practice. Now what are the words of Jesus? He’s just talked
about that for three chapters in the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the poor
in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the pure at heart,
for they shall see God. Blessed are you when men persecute you and do all sorts
of nasty things for righteousness’ sake, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus explains, then, in his teachings, and he says, “Whoever hears these words
and puts them into practice.” It’s not just enough to say, “I hear and yeah, I
believe that stuff.” No, no. He’s got to put it into practice.
Actually an exercise that I use with myself is, on a fairly regular basis, I ask myself this: “Am I a Christian?” I ask myself this question: “Am I a Christian?” And you say, “Oh, Dr. Hildebrandt, you’ve been teaching the Bible for all these years.” Remember those guys that preached the Word and he said, “Depart from me, evil doers”? I ask myself, “Am I a Christian?” And the answer isn’t “Oh, of course. Yes.” Am I doing the will of the Father? I think it’s a healthy question for a person to ask themselves to seriously consider, “Am I a Christian?” and to ask themselves, “Am I walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Am I taking up my cross and following him?” And so, I think it’s a healthy thing, not in terms of a terror, like I’m earning my own salvation and I’ve got to do all these works. “No, but I think it’s just a healthy thing to reflect so that one doesn’t get complacent with their Christianity. They say, “Oh yeah, I’m a Christian. No problem. I got the Lakers jersey on, see? And the Lakers jersey means I play basketball with the Lakers.” No. You’re wearing the jersey, you’re not a player. So you have got to be careful with that, and I think it’s a healthy question to ask – “Am I a Christian?” and to think deeply about what that means.
L. Theology of Jesus – The Great Teacher [39:46-43:58]
So, true and false disciples, cost of discipleship – those are pretty heavy things. Now what I’d like to do is work next – we’re going to switch topics away from discipleship now. We’ve talked about various things of discipleship – the cost of discipleship, the righteousness involved in discipleship, the understanding of disciples, Jesus as a teacher, and the true and false disciples, and those types of things. What I’d like to do next is turn to Matthew’s theology of Jesus – the theology of Jesus and how Matthew portrays Jesus. Each of the gospel writers will portray Jesus differently. Actually, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because they see Christ through one eye. “Syn optic” – through one optic, through one eye. So, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called synoptics because they’re so parallel to each other, they seem to be very interdependent on each other, whereas John is going to give us a totally different perspective. As we said before, it’s really neat to have multiple perspectives on Jesus because each person is, then, going to be writing from their own perspectives on how they saw Jesus. That allows us to get – like we said, we need two eyes to get depth of field, and so we can see from multiple perspectives – we get a depth of understanding on Jesus, then, from these multiple gospels. John’s going to be very different – I forget what, it’s about 92 percent of John is totally unique to the book of John. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke – there is going to be a lot of overlap but yet Matthew, Mark, and Luke each portray Christ differently. So I want to pick up – part of it’s who they are. The author will portray and see Jesus in a certain way. The other thing that’s really important is the audience that they’re writing to, and Mark will seem to be writing to a Roman audience and so he will pick up on a lot of Roman themes in Jesus. Matthew seems to be writing to a Jewish audience – some people in the early church actually thought that Matthew was written in Aramaic, and there was a big debate over whether Matthew was originally written in Aramaic and then translated into Greek or if it was originally written in Greek. So Matthew seems to have this Jewish orientation, Mark more Roman in terms of audience, and then Luke, of course, is writing to Most Excellent Theophilus, who’s some apparently important figure in the ancient world that he’s writing both Luke and Acts to, this leader. So, different perspectives from the author themselves and who they are, but also different perspective in terms of the audiences that they’re writing, and we as interpreters, then, we’ve got to take into account both who the author was and who the audience was in order to understand what he’s communicating there.
So, theology of Christ from Matthew’s perspective, and how does Matthew see Jesus and how is it unique and things? One of the first things that Matthew portrays Jesus is that Jesus is the Great Teacher. In the book of Matthew, Jesus is kind of like a rabbi, going around teaching, and so he’s the Great Teacher. And so, it says, in chapter 12, verse 42, as you had that Jesus – there’s “one greater than Solomon is here”. Solomon was the great wise man of the ancient world, of ancient Israel, and now “one greater than Solomon.” Remember how we said that Jesus in the book of Matthew is portrayed as being the new Moses, and we’ll come back to that theme as well, the new Moses. But here we see as far as a wise teacher as Solomon was – the man who gave us many of the proverbs of the Old Testament and was the wise teacher. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction” and Solomon would go off and teach. Jesus, “one greater than Solomon”, is here now, and that is Jesus. So, Jesus is a wisdom teacher and portrayed, and even some of the forms that he uses: the beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” “Blessed are the pure at heart…” – the “blessed,” that formula, the blessing – the beatitudes are a wisdom form. It’s a literary form that was used by the sages back in the Old Testament, so Jesus is that.
M. Jesus is Greater than Moses [43:58-48:18]
is greater than Moses, and so you get this comparison with Moses: “You have
heard it said of old time,” and then he quotes things out of the Old Testament
in various places, “but I say unto you,” – he’s an authoritative teacher. He’s
one that’s greater than Moses. Moses laid down the law. As Moses had five books
– Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – called the Pentateuch,
“penta” – five, “teuch” – book, five books, the first five books of the Torah,
the books of instruction, the Torah. In the book of Matthew, Jesus presents
five discourses. And so you’ve got basically the Sermon on the Mount, the
sending of the twelve, the parables of the kingdom, the teachings on the church
in Matthew 18, and then the Olivet Discourse in 24 and 25. So Jesus does these
five discourses that are set off, as we said, by that common phrase, “When
Jesus finished this…” and it’s set off. So Matthew seems to be structuring his
book around these five major discourses of Jesus.
Some people think – and I think it’s reasonable – that Matthew is setting up these five discourses of Jesus to parallel Jesus as the new Moses. So this is an interesting connection there – the five sections of Matthew, the new law as DeSilva in his New Testament introduction pointing this out. The parallels between Moses and Jesus are kind of interesting. I mean, there seems to be a purposeful and intentional paralleling of Jesus and Moses. For example, the infants are slain. Only Matthew, out of all the gospels, Matthew is the only one that tells us that Herod killed all the infants in Bethlehem. We said Bethlehem was a small town, so we’re not talking – when I was younger, I thought it was hundreds and thousands of babies dying, under two. It’s a very small town. We’re probably talking under a dozen kids probably at that time because it was a very, very small town. As we said, it would fit easily – Bethlehem would fit easily on Gordon College campus here, and so it’s not a huge place. But infants slain at the birth of a king – Jesus. Do you remember at the birth of Moses there were also other infants slain as well? Remember they were putting babies in the river and then they were trying to kill all the male babies with the Hebrew midwives and things? So you have babies dying and then Moses rising up, and then Jesus, you have babies dying and Jesus rising up. So you get this parallel between – and it’s only done here in Matthew, the other gospel writers don’t have it. Both Moses – Moses goes to Egypt, Moses is in Egypt – and Jesus goes to Egypt. Joseph and Mary – the angel comes to Joseph and says, “Head down to Egypt because Herod’s going to try to kill the kid.” And so basically, Joseph packs up Mary and Jesus and they head to Egypt. Then Jesus comes out of Egypt. When Jesus comes out of Egypt, it is: “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” Just like Hosea chapter 11:1 says: “Out of Egypt I call my Son” and his son was Israel and who was leading that? That was Moses. So as Moses comes with Israel out of Egypt, so Jesus in his early years, comes out of Egypt. So, Jesus is this kind of new Moses. Jesus is this new Moses coming out of Egypt. Both Moses and Jesus meet God on a mountain. Moses goes to Mount Sinai and receives the covenant, the incredible covenant from God at Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb. Jesus meets God on the Mount of Transfiguration, and so it’s a very interesting thing. They both meet God on a mountain, and then the transfiguration. At the transfiguration in Matthew chapter 17, who shows up? Moses and Elijah. Remember? Elijah was supposed to come first and John the Baptist, there’s some connections there. But with Moses – Moses was there on the Mount of Transfiguration, so Jesus is like this new Moses and having discussion, dialogue with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. So there seems to be this parallel between Moses and Jesus. Jesus is the new Moses in the book of Matthew.
N. Jesus as Healer – The Centurion’s Servant [48:18-53:15]
Now, there are some other ways of looking at Jesus. In the Old Testament, Yahweh, Jehovah, was considered the Healer. “Adonai rophe” – the Lord, the Healer. Matthew picks up on this, so you see Jesus as a healer in the book of Matthew. There are two types of miracles that Jesus does. One is called therapeutic miracles and that’s when Jesus actually heals somebody and fixes them. They’ve got some physical malady and he fixes it, that’s called the therapeutic miracle. But there are also non-therapeutic miracles. Now a non-therapeutic miracle would be, Jesus walks on the water. Nobody got healed. There was no therapeutic healing. There was just Jesus walking on the water. At the transfiguration, Jesus is transfigured and becomes transfigured in front of them. That’s again, it’s a miracle – it’s a miracle, but it’s not a therapeutic miracle. So there are two types of miracles – therapeutic and non-therapeutic miracles.
Then as you look at the therapeutic miracles, there are some beautiful stories in the book of Matthew chapter 8, for example. There’s a centurion. Now, the centurion is a Roman centurion, so he’s coming from Rome, he’s over a hundred guys. Their legions were usually, what, around six thousand – I don’t know; the legions were quite huge. Then in the legions, it was broken up at various levels, and this guy was over a hundred people. So he’s a centurion, and he’s a big figure. He’s an important figure. He’s a Roman centurion. Again, the Jews are under the Romans, and so the centurions are usually negative, Roman domination. The centurion comes to Jesus, and the centurion, then, is asking Jesus to come heal his servant because his servant is really struggling and there’s some medical problem with this servant, and Jesus – he basically asks Jesus. “Will you come and heal my servant?”
Now it’s very interesting that the centurion – the centurion’s over a hundred – is he concerned about his servant? The centurion is so concerned about his servant. He’s not coming for himself, he’s coming for his servant. I just think that shows something of the character of the centurion. The centurion doesn’t play it as the big “I am the mighty centurion who is over a hundred Roman soldiers and I can blow people away and do” – no, no, no. This centurion has got a servant who’s suffering, and he comes to Jesus to ask Jesus for help. That puts him then, what? In terms of his status, it puts the centurion under Jesus. He’s coming to Jesus begging for help for his servant. That means that he’s got to get off his high centurion horse and get down under Jesus and make a request to Jesus. Now, the problem is the centurion comes to Jesus, and Jesus says, “Okay, I’ll go with you.” The centurion stops Jesus and says, “I am not worthy for you to come into my house. I am not worthy for you to come into my house.” Again, this centurion – you see the humility in this man. He’s a very powerful man, but you see his humility. “I am not worthy for you to come into my house,” and then he says, “I am a man under authority and I understand that. I speak and people do what I say. Yeah, I’m the man. I speak and I can send people to their death. I speak and people go do my bidding. I am the man. I know what it’s like to be under authority and to have people, where you speak and they jump because I am a centurion.” And he says to Jesus, “Just speak the word and my servant will be cured.” What’s Jesus’ comment? Usually Jesus is rebuking his disciples – “You guys still don’t get it?” or, “Oh, you of little faith” – and he’s rebuking his own disciples. He turns to the centurion and the centurion says, “Just speak the word – you don’t have to come to my house. My house is not worthy of you. Just speak the word and he’ll be healed.” And Jesus says, what, “I have not found such faith in all Israel. I have not found such faith” – the centurion. Jesus speaks the word and the guy is healed. The servant is healed. What a beautiful story! Jesus speaks and things happen. Now, by the way, anyone from Old Testament class you remember. Who speaks and things happen? “In the beginning, God created and he said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” “God spoke and things came into being” – Psalm 33:6. He spoke, by His word, and now you’ve got Jesus speaking and healing people. The maladies of life, the things that are wrong in life, Jesus can speak and make them right and heal this person. So it’s just kind of really interesting, there with the centurion’s servant especially in a book written to Jews.
O. Jesus Heals through touch: Woman with an Issue [53:15-56:32]
The other one is as he’s going there’s this guy who comes up, his name is Jairus. Jairus has got a daughter who’s on the verge of death, she’s going to die, Jesus is going to go heal her as well, so another therapeutic miracle. This is in Matthew chapter 8. There are a lot of miracles in Matthew chapter 8 and 9. Chapter 13 – Matthew and the parables, but chapters 8 and 9 – Matthew has a lot of miracles. So, Jesus is going through the crowds, everybody’s pushing Jesus and things, and then all of a sudden Jesus – how does Jesus heal? Well, we just saw with the centurion, he spoke and it happened. But how does he heal a lot of times? Through touch. So the people are pushing him in the crowds, he’s going after Jairus – the guy’s daughter’s dying, she’s going to die. So he’s going to the guy’s house to heal her. He’s going through the crowd – the crowd’s pushing – all of a sudden this woman comes up and says “Man, if I could just touch the hem of his garment. If I could just touch his garment, I’ll be healed.” She’s hemorrhaging blood. She’s hemorrhaging blood for years and has been to many doctors and no one’s been able to heal her. She said “If I could just touch the hem of his garment…”
She pushes through the crowd, she touches him, and all of a sudden – now, you’ve got to think of this from a Jewish perspective. She’s a woman who’s hemorrhaging blood. Is she clean or is she unclean? Think about the book of Leviticus we studied last semester. Is she clean or is she unclean? She’s hemorrhaging blood. She’s unclean. Now, how does cleanness pass? Usually cleanness and uncleanness passes through touch. And if someone’s unclean, say, has leprosy, and they touch you, you then become unclean until the evening, and you’ve got to wash and various things like that. So this unclean woman comes up to Jesus and she touches his garment. Jesus should be made unclean. But instead what happens? It backfires on her. She touches him and she becomes clean. She’s healed. Jesus turns to her and says to her, “No, no, it’s not you touching my garment, it’s your faith that’s healed you.” Jesus has healed her. So, it’s a beautiful, beautiful passage there with this woman. Again, how did Jesus heal her? Through touch. She touched Jesus and was healed.
The other one, I think, that touched--and just this is off the top of the head--it’s in also Matthew chapter 8 there. Do you remember Peter’s mother-in-law? Peter had a mother-in-law, and Peter’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever, and how does Jesus heal Peter’s mother-in-law? He comes over and touches her, he takes her by the hand, and her fever departs. So Jesus, how should I say? – Jesus touches people. Jesus touches people, he heals them, and they are made right. It’s just a beautiful image, of Jesus speaking and healing people. Jesus touching people – the touching means what? That Jesus is close. The touching is a very close kind of thing, and Jesus is close and touches people and heals them. And so, you’ve got the therapeutic miracles that Jesus is a healer. Jesus is a healer, and heals people – it’s wonderful – with his touch and with his speech. He speaks and it happens.
P. Immanuel – God with us [56:32-60:05]
Now, let’ Immanuel. This is another aspect. Now when you say “you’re teaching the Deity of Christ in the book of Matthew.” most people think about teaching the Deity of Christ, you usually think about the – what book would you go to? Somebody’s struggling with the Deity of Christ. Suppose, some Jehovah Witnesses come to your door, and they start saying, “Well, Jesus is really a god, he’s not really the God” and they start going off on all that with their New World Translation and start trying to influence you. What book do you usually go to to refute that, to show that Jesus Christ is God? You usually go to John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word,” – Jesus – “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God.--the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” And so we know this is Jesus and it’s talking about the Word was God, and “I and the Father are one,” and other passages from the book of John. Of course, they have all their refutations of those verses and mistranslations from their Bible, but usually you go to the book of John when you think about the teaching of Jesus as being deity.
I want to look at the book of Matthew and just pick up this concept of the deity of Christ in Matthew. And one of the themes I want to pick up here is this notion of his name, his name being Immanuel. Now, most of you recognize this “el” at the end. “El” means God. Then “emmanu” means “with us.” So, God – “El is with us.” This is a beautiful – it’s an incredible, beautiful name – this is the name of Jesus, “and he shall save his people from their sin, and he shall be called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” Matthew chapter 18, when he’s talking about the church and the context of church discipline, he says “Where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst. Where two or three are gathered, there am I in the midst.” So God, in terms of his Immanuel, God with us. Then same thing is found over in the Great Commission. This is how the book ends. It’s kind of interesting, the book of Matthew begins with this name Immanuel, God with us and the naming of Jesus early, and the book ends with the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 through 20. This is how Matthew concludes his book: “Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples,” you see how important that discipleship theme is, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all commandments I have given you.’” And then he concludes this way: “And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” “I am with you always.” Immanuel, God with us. And so, you get these great statements coming out of this name, Immanuel, in the beginning of the book, in the middle of the book, and at the end of the book, this “I am with you” which is beautiful because he’s asking his disciples to do some really tough stuff, but he is with them.
Q. Peter Walking on Water [60:05-65:24]
Now, Peter walking on water is an interesting one. I just want to bounce of a new idea off of you. I was reading in the book of Job and this really hit me, and I want to just propose this as an idea for you to consider. I’m not saying this is gospel, – I haven’t heard anybody say this, so I’m just – whenever I discover something myself, I always question it, whether it’s actually legitimate, but I just want you to think about this. This is Jesus walking on the water. Do you remember in chapter 14? You have Jesus walking on the water. Peter then says, “If it’s really you, Jesus, let me get out of the boat with you.” Peter gets out of the boat and he takes a couple steps, he sees the waves, he freaks out and falls in, Jesus then pulls him out, and, when Jesus gets into the boat, what do the disciples conclude? They conclude “You are the Son of God.” Jesus walks on water, and they conclude that he’s God from that. Now, how does that work? Well, it seems to me – and actually I was over in the book of Job, and I read this in the book of Job, and it’s just interesting. He walks on the water, and their conclusion is “You’re the Son of God”. How do they jump from walking on water to God? Now check this out. In the Old Testament, Psalms 68 and other places, God is portrayed as “the rider of the clouds,” and it’s kind of, I think, a spoof and a put-down of Baal worship because Baal was the one that rides the clouds in Canaanite religious God says, “No, no. I’m the one who rides the clouds,” that is, “I am the one who brings in the rain. It’s not Baal who does the rain, I am the one who brings in the rain, the rider of the clouds.” In Job, it says this, Job chapter 9, verse 8: “He alone stretches out the heaven.” Who stretches out the heavens? “He alone stretches out the heavens.” It’s talking about God. “He is the one who stretches out the heavens.” And what else does He do? “… and treads on the waves of the sea.” “He stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” So it seems to me that – what do they see Jesus doing? They see Jesus treading on the waves of the sea, and they conclude, “Who is the only one who treads on the waves of the sea? This is what God does. God stretches out the heavens and he treads on the waves of the sea.”
Now you’ve got to understand a little bit about Jews in terms of their – the Jews were mountain folk. When you get into the land of Palestine, you’ve got the, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Dead Sea on your right side or East. It then comes up into a mountain about – in Jerusalem area – about 2700 feet up, the Dead Sea is about 1300 feet below sea level, so you’ve got a, what, about 3 – 4000 foot rise there, and then down to the Mediterranean Sea. So you got the Mediterranean Sea that’s coming up – so they are usually mountain people. The Jews don’t do the ocean very well. When they talk about the ocean--the Mediterranean Sea, these kind of things--they usually talk about the great ocean as representing chaos. So when the sea is raging, that’s chaos to them. They’re not sea folk; they like the mountains, the protection, you know, the stability – the mountains. The seas are chaotic and always changing and frothing and so the seas represent chaos a lot of times. So what you’ve got is God walking on the water and Jesus calming the sea. The chaos is calmed by his word. Chaos does not overcome him, he does not engage it. He calms it. He walks on the waves of the sea. So you get Jesus and--just showing his power as God. It’s interesting too that Peter gets out of the boat and walks on it, and this year, I think, there were some students asking questions in class, but you’ve got Jesus walking on the water and then Peter walks on the water. What’s the significance of that? And I wonder whether it’s a little glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. What you’ve got is, not only does Jesus, as God, tread the waters, but then here you’ve got a disciple, a follower of Jesus treading on the water as well. I wonder if that shows that as the kingdom comes that someday we will have dominion over the whole earth as Genesis chapter 2, man was given dominion over the earth. Someday there will come a time where we will walk on the water like Jesus did, and Peter, with Peter, you get a little glimpse of that, here’s the kingdom happening. Peter walks on the water. This is the destiny of humankind as we have dominion over the earth. No longer will chaos rule but we will walk on the water. So, this is maybe a little foreshadowing there of the coming kingdom with Peter. So, just some ideas there, I’m not pushing them very strongly because I have questions about some of it myself, but it’s just interesting. They conclude after seeing him walk on the water that “You are the Son of God.”
R. The Kingship of Christ [65:24-69:06]
Now, let’s look at kingship and the kingdom of heaven. A lot of people have said, “what is the kingdom about? The kingdom is where the king rules, and the king is Jesus Christ.” So these are some things that point out the kingship of Christ in this kingdom of heaven, which is a major theological theme in the book of Matthew. In the genealogy – if Jesus Christ is a king, does a king need a genealogy? A king needs a genealogy – a normal person, yes, kind of – but, a king needs a genealogy. By the way, who does Jesus’ genealogy go back to? Dave Matthewson brought this up if you listen to his lectures – in a brilliant way on the first verse of Matthew. In the book of Matthew: “Jesus Christ, the son of David.” “Jesus Christ, the son of David.” And so the genealogy is showing Jesus’ connection as the son of David, the one who is going to fulfill the Davidic covenant and come – from 2 Samuel chapter 7 – that David’s throne is going to rule over Israel “forever and ever.” Jesus Christ now is coming as that great son of David who is greater than David, his son who will “rule forever.” So his genealogy goes back to David and it also goes back to Abraham and the fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant and spreading out –a blessing to all nations. Jesus Christ, in the Old Testament, when we did Samuel, you remember when a king is made – Samuel has made a king – what’s the first thing a new king’s got to do? The same thing is found in Judges. When a judge is made in Israel, what’s the first thing the judge does? What’s the first thing a new king of Israel does? The first thing a king of Israel does is he goes out and he wins a military victory. He’s anointed king, the first thing he does is wins a military victory. Jabesh Gliead, Saul’s case. Does anybody remember David – David is anointed in 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed king, and then chapter 17, the next chapter – David’s anointed in 1 Samuel 16, and in the next chapter, David goes out and fights Goliath. So, the king is anointed, and then the king has a major victory, and that’s the role of the Goliath story in relationship to the kingship of David and just literarily.
Now, who is Jesus? Jesus now is the king, he is the son of David. What does Jesus do? Jesus goes out in the wilderness. He’s baptized by John the Baptist – in one sense that’s his anointing. He’s baptized by John the Baptist in chapter 3, and in chapter 4, then, Jesus goes out into the wilderness and in one sense re-dramatizes Israel. Whereas Israel was in the wilderness and they messed it up, Jesus now will go in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, and Jesus will become the true Israel, and where Israel failed. Jesus now will be tempted by Satan and he will succeed where Israel had failed. It’s his victory over Satan. When Jesus goes out into the wilderness, he’s just been anointed in chapter 3 – in chapter 4 he goes out in the wilderness and defeats Satan. “Turn these stones to bread. Throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple and God’s angels will pick you up.” “Don’t tempt the Lord, your God,” Jesus said. Takes him up to the high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, “Bow down and worship me.” Jesus says, “You worship God alone.” Jesus then refutes Satan all three times, actually, quoting from the book of Deuteronomy from about chapter 4 to about chapter 11. Jesus uses Scripture to refute Satan. Very interesting battle there between Satan and Christ.
S. Lord of the Sabbath and the Son of David [69:06-
Now, the Lord of the Sabbath. Do you remember Jesus – they were asking him to see whether he would heal this guy with the withered hand, and Jesus says, what? “The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath,” and the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath, and who is the Lord of the Sabbath? God/Jesus. He is called the “son of David” nine times in the book of Matthew. Nine times the “son of David”, which, again, shows Jesus as king, and by the way, in the Picture Scripture, you can see I portrayed Jesus as Humpty Dumpty with a crown on his head because Jesus is portrayed as king in the book of Matthew. This “son of David” title occurs nine times. The other gospel writers only mention it three times, so Matthew has like three times as many references than the other gospels, synoptic gospels, with this “son of David.” And then, we’ll come back to this later, but you see this DVD over here? It’s fourteen.
Another aspect of Christ’s kingship, I think, is found in the genealogy. Let me just kind of cover that now, we’ll come back to it a little bit later on. In the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 1, you get this interesting statement where he’s going through the genealogy of the various kings, and as he does that, he concludes the genealogy and he goes through all the kings of Israel. He starts with Abraham as the father of Isaac, Isaac as the father of Jacob, Jacob as the father of Judah and his brothers, and then he goes down through the various things. David was the father of Solomon, Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam, the father of Abijah, goes down and to the exile to Babylon. At the end of the genealogy it says this: “Thus, there are fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,” Abraham to David – fourteen generations, “and from David to the exile to Babylon, fourteen generations.” Abraham to David – there were fourteen, David to the exile – 586 BC when the first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians – fourteen generations. “And then fourteen generations from the Babylonian exile to the time of Christ.” That number fourteen, fourteen, and fourteen comes up and you say, “Well, we actually know that that’s not really right, that actually if you go to Matthew chapter 1, verse 8 and you compare that to 1 Chronicles 3:11 you’ll say, ‘Wait a minute, Matthew, you skipped the names of three kings.’” Three kings are skipped. Why does he skip three kings? He’s trying to get it to fourteen, fourteen, and fourteen, and so he skips three kings. We know from 1 Chronicles 3:11 that there were three kings that he skipped. We know the names of those kings – well, they’re kings, so we know all the names of all the kings of Israel and Judah but he skips three. Why does do that? He’s trying to make it come out to the number fourteen. Why is the number fourteen so significant?
Well, back in American culture – I’m looking at a clock on the wall now – when you see numbers, what, it’s twelve o’clock, we use – our number system and our alphabet system are two different things. We’ve got A, B, C, D – those are our letters and that’s what we write with in words. You’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4 – that’s our number system. We have a separate number system – Arabic numbers. Our letters are different from our numbers, and that’s very handy, then, to be able to separate numbers from, what you normally write. Back in Jewish times, in the first century they used a principle called gematria – and there’s some debate on this, but I just want to kind of approach this idea – where the numbers and the letters were the same thing. So, basically, A would be 1, B would be 2, C would be 3, D would be 4, and so D, actually, in Hebrew is 4, V is 6, and D is 4. And you say DVD equals – and if you do 4, 6, 4, it turns out exactly to fourteen. The DVD – now you say, “Well, this is a prediction in the Bible of DVDs, two thousand years before they ever existed. Matthew is telling us about DVDs.” Yes, he is telling us about DVDs, but you also remember that the vowels were added later, that initially, the Hebrew language was just strictly consonants, and I want you to look at this. DVD – who is that? Put in the vowels – who is that? David. D-A-V-I-D, David. And so, what Matthew is doing is he’s using the genealogy of Matthew to say fourteen generations – Jesus Christ is the son of David. Fourteen generations – Jesus Christ is the son of David. He uses that, and possibly in that kind of a way, and that’s why he’s doing the fourteen, fourteen, and fourteen to say, “Jesus Christ is the son of David, the king of Israel, who is going to reign forever and ever.” So these are just some interesting things, about how Matthew is portraying the theology of Christ. Here Christ is being portrayed as king.
T. The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew and Mark [74:24-77:57]
Now, let’s talk about the kingdom of heaven. There is the prominence in Matthew of this phrase, “the kingdom of heaven”. And now let me just work with this a little bit. Jesus when he’s going to John – John’s out preaching – what does John preach? John preaches, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew chapter 3, verse 1. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” That’s John the Baptist’s message. Now, what else? In the beatitudes – you guys read an article by David Turner, a friend of mine I used to teach with years ago. David Turner wrote an excellent article in Criswell Theological Review on the beatitudes. David, there, notes that the beatitudes begin “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” So the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And if you end the beatitudes, down in verse 10--it says, “Blessed are you when men will persecute you, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” And so, in chapter 5, verse 10 when it ends the beatitudes – the beatitudes begin and end with this promise of the kingdom of the heaven. So that’s the beatitudes. It’s called an “inclusio”? It’s like book ends. The beatitudes start and they end with this promise of the kingdom of heaven. It’s kind of a neat thing there.
Now, 32 times – Matthew, it’s used – this phrase, “the kingdom of heaven”, is used in Matthew 32, 33 times in the book of Matthew. So it’s a major theme. Matthew’s 28 chapters – it’s mentioned in all those chapters. So 32 times in Matthew, “the kingdom of heaven”, is mentioned. Now, what you notice is if you go over to the other gospels, is it kingdom of God or is it kingdom of heaven? You’ll notice Matthew keeps mentioning the kingdom of heaven. And the other gospel writers use kingdom of God. Let me just show you an example of this, and, again, my methodology is – what am I doing? I’m contrasting the book of Matthew with, say, the book of Mark, and I’m going to put up parallel passages. These are parallel passages, and then watch how the words get shifted, and say then, “Why would Matthew do that? Why would he shift the words?” So it says, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you,” Matthew 13, the chapter on the parables of the kingdom. "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you.” Well, it’s very interesting, if you go over to the book of Mark, in chapter 4, verse 11, which is Mark’s parables of the kingdom, and what you’ve got there, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.” And so here you’ve got in Mark “the secret of the kingdom of God,” here in Matthew you’ve got “the secret of the kingdom of heaven.” So it seems that Matthew has switched out – most people believe that Mark was written first and that Matthew is dependent on Mark a little bit.
Now Matthew actually was a disciple of Jesus, so he actually heard the words of Jesus, and you say, “Well, wait a minute here. How can he just switch words like that?” Number one, you’re going between languages, you’ve got purposes, is it possible Jesus preached these parables and talked of them several times.
U. Reconciling the Differences [77:57-80:47]
We’ve got a guy here at Gordon College named Dr. Graeme Bird, and he’s introduced this idea of jazz, and I just want you to think about this, and let’s just maybe think about this a little bit for a second here. Dr. Bird, when he plays, let’s just say he plays “Jingle Bells,” and so – this is actually too crass for him. He can be a concert pianist. So let’s just say he’s doing “Jingle Bells.” He can play it in a classical form. So he sits down at the piano – let’s just do “Joy to the World” maybe would be a better one – so he sits down to “Joy to the World” and he plays “Joy to the World” on the piano in a classical way. He plays it like a Beethoven or a Mozart, and he plays it with all these little things, and so therefore “Joy to the World” sounds classical. Then he takes that same song, “Joy to the World, the Lord has come,” and he plays it now as a gospel song. And so he plays it, you know “Joy to the world…” and as a gospel song, as it would be played in a gospel church when people are singing “Joy to the World.” You’ve got he plays it classically, he switches then. It’s the same song “Joy to the World” and you recognize it in the classical form and you recognize it when he plays it in the gospel. But you say, “Wait a minute, but it’s different, it’s like jazz.” It’s the same song, but he’s kind of jazzed it differently because if you were in a classical context, he would play it like that. If you were in a gospel church song, he would play it like this, and then he does this, bluegrass version of “Joy to the World,” and so he does more of a jazz kind of thing with it, and it sounds totally different but yet it’s the same, and you recognize it as “Joy to the World.” Now all those three ways that he plays it are each “Joy to the World,” but they’re played differently and because there’s different audiences. So it’s the same, but yet it’s different.
Anybody’s who’s preached – I think I’ve told you guys this before, I used to be a circuit-riding preacher when I was down in Tennessee, teaching down in Tennessee, and I would preach in five different churches. I’d go from one church and I would make up a sermon and then preach it once, twice – second time, my wife always said the first time was terrible, second time it got much better. Third time, she said, “That was your best,” and then by the time I hit the fourth and fifth church, she said, “By the fifth church,” she said, “I could tell you were bored with your own sermon.” So what would happen is – and each time I would preach it, depending on the audience, the words that I would use to preach that same sermon would be a little different. What I’m suggesting is that Jesus is going to be preaching multiple times, and so you’ve got to be really careful when you say, “It’s got to be exactly the same words.” Matthew is going to be writing to different audiences, and different audiences are going to hear it in different ways. And so here, you’ve got this switch between kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God.
V. Heaven as a metonymy for God [80:47-83:17]
It’s possible – and I’ve heard this explanation given and I kind of agree with it –Matthew uses the kingdom of heaven because he is writing to the Jewish people, and therefore, the Jewish people do not like to say “God” and you can see this in the way they do their name “Yahweh” or “Jehovah,” they don’t pronounce it, they’ll say Adonai or they’ll say Hashem – “the name,” and everybody knows “the name,” when they say Hashem – they mean God. But they don’t say the word “God” because they don’t want to commit blasphemy, and I really respect their respect for the name of God. I was kind of grossed out in our culture when I see this OMG stuff going down. I just see this, somebody stubs their toe and all of a sudden it’s “Oh my God,” and I just say, “What kind of way are we referring to this” – we’re never allowed to say – a teacher can get up in front of a class and just drop something and hurt herself and she can say “Oh my God,” but if the same teacher goes like this and says “Oh my God,” the ACLU is after her and she’s going to get sued and lose her job. So just be very careful with that, and I respect the Jews for that. Now Matthew, then, says “kingdom of heaven” – kind of like my mother used to say. My mother used to say, instead of saying “God help me”, my mother used to say “Heaven help me. Heaven help me.” When she said “Heaven help me” what did she mean? She meant “God help me” but she would say “Heaven help me.” So heaven is used as a circumlocution, or a metonymy one could say – heaven is used as a metonymy or circumlocution to refer to God. So I think Matthew does that – in honor of his Jewish audience he switches it to “kingdom of heaven,” and that seems to be his thing because of his Jewish audience. Do you adapt your message according to the audience? Of course you do. Therefore, Matthew uses “kingdom of heaven” rather than “kingdom of God.”
Okay, the kingdom of heaven. Now, what I think I’m going to do is take a little break here now. We’ve been going quite a while. So let’s relax for a little bit, and when we come back we’ll talk about the kingdom of heaven.
Transcribed by Sarah Woodbury
Edited by Ben Bowdon
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt