Gospel Meeting - April 27-30
Join us April 27-30 for a gospel meeting with Jeff Wilson.
Sunday 9:30am, 10:30am and 6:00pm
Monday - Wednesday 7:00pm
A Moment with the Bible
The first thing that is interesting about this scene is that Jesus is teaching His disciples in the presence of the multitude. The text says that when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and then His disciples came to Him and He “began to teach them.” Therefore, Jesus taught His disciples the principles of Kingdom citizenship, but He does so while the multitudes listen in. At the end of the sermon, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching. They are seeing His direct instructions to His disciples, which gives them a clear picture of what it takes if they too will follow Jesus.
The main focus of this sermon is the “kingdom.” Jesus uses the word eight times in the sermon. This is critical teaching in light of the fact that the Jews were looking for the coming of the kingdom. However, the kingdom the Jews anticipated was an earthly, physical kingdom. They looked for a messiah who would lead earthly battles and sit on an earthly throne. But Jesus offers pictures of His kingdom that are far different from what they were expecting. Notice that in this sermon Jesus never utters a word about breaking the power of Rome or about the policies He would enact as their new king. Instead, He challenges them on their character. Jesus’ primary concern was who a man is on the inside. Even when He spoke of worship, His focus was on the heart of a man and how that determined his outward actions. Truly, just being religious was not the kind of person who was going to be pleasing to Jesus.
When we contrast human ideas about a kingdom and how Jesus presents His kingdom, we have to be amazed. When we think of a kingdom, we think of the strength of the military, the size of the economy, the freedoms enjoyed or not enjoyed, and the material wealth of its citizens. In other words, we think of those things that affect our physical life. But Jesus invites people to come into a kingdom in which none of those things matter. Instead of striving for earthly greatness, Jesus complimented humility. Instead of earthly wealth, Jesus said that the only real treasure was in heaven. Instead of anxiousness and worry, Jesus encouraged contentment. Instead of trying to best one’s neighbor, Jesus insisted on loving him as one does himself. And instead of taking the path of life that the majority follows, Jesus said that true life would be found on a narrow and difficult road that few would follow. Which kingdom is in your heart?
A Moment with the Bible
The text before us is the introduction to the greatest sermon ever given, the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew is unique in his presentation of the discourses of Jesus. Matthew records nine discourses, five of which are considered major discourses, each of them ending with the phrase, “when Jesus had ended these sayings,” or something similar. The Sermon on the Mount is considered the “Manifesto of the King.” It offers us the foundation for kingdom citizenship. No one can be a disciple of Christ without striving for these principles in his life.
Jesus prepared the people for His sermon by going about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and healing their sick. He became so well known that His fame even went beyond the borders of Palestine. Jesus had no healing “failures.” Every manner of disease and demon possession was remedied by Him. Notice again the kind of people who were attracted to Him. These are the outcasts of the world, the ones who were hurting and rejected. Nothing has changed. His appeal is still to the common man, though His call goes out to every man.
But let us not miss the point. Jesus did not come to heal man’s physical diseases. If He had, every man would have been healed and every man from then on would have been healed. No, these healings were but symbols (“signs” as John would say) and representations of His ability to heal the greater spiritual disease of sin that without Him would ultimately destroy every man eternally. Jesus called upon the people to make that very connection in Mark 2:1-12. Our present day religions make a serious mistake when they try to create churches that primarily seek to satisfy man’s earthly needs. While Christians must do what they can to aid those in need, their primary work is to bring the gospel of Christ to a lost world. Jesus’ mission was not physical, but to “seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). If we are His disciples, we will follow Him in this work.
A Moment with the Bible
The essence of Jesus’ preaching was the same as that of John’s: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The phrase “at hand” indicates the kingdom was ready to begin. Many today believe and teach that Jesus later had to rescind this promise because of the rejection of the Jews who would not allow Him to establish a physical kingdom. Such a position misses the point that Jesus came to establish a heavenly not an earthly kingdom. Besides, how is it that the Son of God cannot fulfill the promises of God made since before time began (Titus 1:1-3)? The Jews of Jesus’ day had the same mistaken idea of the kingdom. It is the reason that Matthew used the phrase kingdom of heaven 37 times to indicate the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ.
The call of Peter, Andrew, James, and John is instructional. Notice the kind of person Jesus calls to follow Him and to whom He entrusts to do His work. These are not great, talented, impressive men by the world’s view. They are fishermen, ignorant and unlearned (Acts 4:13). But through these men, God turned the world upside down. It is God’s modus operandi. Throughout history, God has always used the men and women that the world has rejected to show His glory and His greatness. This should give us hope. While the world rejects the Christian because he accepts biblical truths that are contrary to worldviews, God establishes His kingdom through us while the world and its lusts pass away. We need not be great or talented to be useful to the Lord. We simply need to be submissive to His will. He will take care of the rest.
Think of the contrast between fishing for fish and fishing for men. The first is for that which is temporary and fleeting. It fills only for the moment and then passes away. But fishing for men is a work that fills one eternally. It is a work that lays up treasure in heaven and gives another soul the opportunity of eternal salvation. Is there a greater work that one can do on this earth? Jesus said that one soul is worth more than the entire world (Mt. 16:26). Every Christian needs to use what talents they have to be fishers of men!
A Moment with the Bible
“Angels came and ministered to Him.” This is a statement we pass over very easily. In what way did they minister to Him? Did they provide Him the bread He so desperately needed after a forty day fast? We are not told, but we do get a glimpse into the work of angels. Later in Hebrews 1:13-14, we are told that angels are sent forth to “minister for those who will inherit eternal salvation.” Again, we are not told what they do to minister to the saved, but it is nice to know that they do.
Verse 12 signals the beginning of the “Galilean Ministry.” This period in Jesus’ life lasts about a year and a half and covers the bulk of Matthew’s account. It is not until 19:1 that Matthew follows Jesus back into Judea. This is a different pattern from Luke who mostly covers the “Perean Ministry” (six months on the eastern side of the Jordan River as Jesus travels from Galilee to Judea, Luke 9:51 – 19:57).
The passage quoted by Matthew concerning Jesus arrival in the region of Capernaum is Isaiah 9:1-2. Isaiah had foretold of the coming Assyrian invasion by Tiglath-pileser (734-732 B.C.). These were dark days for Israel both in regard to the invasions and in regard to their idolatry. The northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were hardest hit as invading armies attacked from the north. But Isaiah gives hope as he tells them a “light” that would one day dispel the day of doom.
The entire context of the quote goes through verse 7. It is a great chapter foretelling the coming Messiah. He would be “born” (vs. 6), be given names such as “the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace” (vs. 6), and become King over His kingdom (vs. 7). The verses quoted by Matthew are especially significant because they show that the Messiah would come as a “light to the Gentiles.” This is the fourth time in four chapters that Matthew mentions the Gentiles and suggests their acceptance into the kingdom. What a wake-up call this would be for the Jewish readers!