The King has come | Matthew Intro (Marysville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 26:56–26:56
Good morning! We are beginning our series studying the Gospel of Matthew that we will continue off and on for the next 18-20 months. This first section Arrival of the King, will take us from the beginning of Matthew 1 though the end of chapter 7, the conclusion of the Sermon of the Mount just after Easter. This week is our introduction to this series and Matthew’s Gospel, good news of Jesus Christ the King.
God is a King and this world is His kingdom.
God’s word begins with Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. By speaking creation in to existence God created a kingdom; a kingdom where He is King over everything and worthy to receive all glory, honor, and worship of that which he created. He makes men and women in his image to dwell with Him in a garden managing His creation as representative of His kingdom for His glory and our Joy. There is one King and one kingdom, the King is good and the kingdom is paradise. Quickly a second kingdom emerges from a lie from satan claiming the King is not good and paradise would be better with humanity (not God) as the ultimate authority. Rebellion begins; mercy and sacrifice are given, followed by exile. God’s perfect kingdom cannot remain good if evil is allowed to remain. From this time forward another voice will challenge God’s authority in peoples’ lives while humanity is divided between those who listen and comply to God’s commands, and those who submit to the voice of the enemy who tells us we can be our own king. Two kingdoms, each calling out for the allegiance of God’s people.
Populations increase, so do laws, taxes, and authorities, apart from the guiding voice of God, manmade governments take many forms. Religions are created around spirits and creation as people seek meaning in an increasingly intimidating and chaotic world. Hostilities rise internally, externally wars break out, exploitation of the weak, and corruption is consistent throughout history, only the names and faces change as each successive generation choses the lie of “man’s” kingdom rather than the truth of God’s kingdom.
God, the King, has a political agenda for the world. He begins with redeeming a man, Abraham, who he blesses with a family who God promises, in Gen 12, will turn into a nation who will be a blessing to the world, but will be distinct from the world. This family is eventually enslaved by Egypt, the world’s most powerful Kingdom, who God systematically tears down as he frees His people Israel. Lead by Moses, then Joshua, as God’s representatives, these people are to be an alternative kingdom, from the world who follow their own self will, worship God as King and reflecting His character and will. God’s people are supposed to reflect God’s character and will. When Joshua passes, Israel loses their distinctiveness and succumbs to the sins of their neighbors. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25 After 400 years of kingdom chaos the people cry out to Samuel, the prophet, for a king. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 1 Samuel 8:5-7 Samuel goes on to warn the people these kings will draft your sons for their wars and tax your resources for their plans and legacies. Saul, David, Solomon successively rule over God’s people, not perfectly, but well. Within a few generations wicked kings rise up and the kingdom is torn asunder, God’s people are again enslaved and exiled. They are brought back to Jerusalem, rebuild the temple and waiting for the great and awesome day of the Lord. (Malachi 4:5) Greek and Roman kings rule over Israel, God is silent and hope fades. As the New Testament narrative begins, God’s people are under subjugation from a foreign pagan nation, the dictatorship of Herod an unstable and unfaithful king, paying exorbitant taxes used to fund their own oppression. Israel is divided by culture, religion, and politics waiting for salvation and deliverance from oppressive kingdoms He promised but has not yet fulfilled. It is a dark time but the King is coming.
Gospels Proclaim Jesus Christ the King
The New Testaments opens with four distinct yet harmonious “gospel” accounts of Jesus. Gospels are not a modern biography providing every historical detail we may want, but they provide us with the insight we need. Gospel is a political term meaning “Good News” reserved for major military victories or the birth/coronation of an emperor or king. The gospels exist to display the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the God-Man, savior-King of His people and living Lord of all creation.
Mark purpose, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” 1:14-15 The kingdom is a hand because the king is present. Repentance is turning from man’s kingdom (Rome) and believing Jesus is King.
John’s purpose, Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31Believing Jesus is the divine King, Son of God, and pledging allegiance to him brings life because this King and His kingdom is the source of all life.
Luke’s purpose, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Luke 1:4
Matthew’s purpose to show, “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Matthew 26:56a Matthew was likely writing at the church in Antioch with a large amount of Jewish Christians so as a Jew writing for Jews he is constantly echoing back to the Old Testament to show Jesus is THE long awaited King and THE savior of the King’s chosen people, Israel, who has been promised for generations. Antioch also has a large gentile population so Matthew all about unpacking what it means morally and spiritually to be part of the kingdom of God. He opens with a genealogy tracing Jesus family line starting from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though King David and ends with the great commission to go into the world making disciples and baptizing new citizens in the Kingdom of God and teaching them to observe all Jesus commanded a disciple to do and be. In order for anyone to be able to work towards this end they would need to have an accurate and robust account of what Jesus actually taught. A full 60% of Matthew’s gospel is the teaching words of Jesus. He breaks down Jesus teaching into five distinct sections including, ethics, discipleship and mission, the kingdom of heaven, the church, and the end times, each ending with “and when Jesus finished these sayings”. Each section includes a sermon or discourse of teaching from Jesus preceded by a narrative about Jesus. The narratives are important because they answer the question of the King’s identity; Jesus is THE King, while the teaching discourses unpack the implications and instructions necessary for the citizens of the kingdom to live serving the King.
Who was Matthew?
We are going to spend months reading/studying/preaching through Matthew’s gospel of Jesus we are not going to learn very much about Matthew because he was not interested in the church to knowing more about him, he wanted people to know Jesus, follow Jesus, and worship Jesus. Be wary when pastors preach more about themselves and their lives at the expense of Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection.
Jesus is the unrivaled hero of the Bible so while we take time to looking at who Matthew was, it is still through the lens of who Jesus is and what he accomplished though Matthew’s life. Matthew was a man living for himself, serving the kingdom of the world. He was a Jewish man collecting taxes from Jews to give to the Roman government. This wasn’t just your typical IRS cog in a bureaucratic machine occupation. Roman taxes were collected by agents who bid for the rights to collect taxes in a certain city/region, like a franchise. They would pay the Roman’s what they bid and collect more to cover their own salaries and lifestyle. These agents regularly collected significantly more than was required or would seem reasonable. More than just bureaucratic authority, tax collectors had the force of Roman soldiers behind them. With responsibility over a powerless population, tax collection functioned like the mob, or a drug cartel, with the tax collectors living luxurious lives at the expense of a fearful people around them. Usually tax collectors were foreigners who were loyal to Roman and dispassionate to the plight of the people they were extorting. Jewish tax collectors, like Zacchaeus and Matthew, were seen by Jewish society with great distain. They were collaborators with the oppressors, traitors to the kingdom of Israel. They were instruments of economic and social slavery and they profited from it. Think drug dealers in any city who take money/resources/life from a community and exchange it for addiction, slavery, and death. That is how the Tax collectors were perceived. Religious Pharisees saw them as unclean for dealing with gentiles and consorting with prostitutes so they were excluded from the religious life in the synagogues and temple. It is believed Matthew was a Levite meaning his family extremely religious and he would have grown up with an intimate knowledge of Jewish theology and traditions yet he chose to serve the king of pagan Rome rather than the creator King of the Bible. He was like a pastor’s kid turned drug dealer.
Luke 5:27-32 27After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus saw, Jesus called.
Jesus meets Matthew the outskirts of Capernaum. He was sitting, manning his station likely near the water or on the border of the territory so he could collect excise tax from weary travelers entering the kingdom of Herod Antipas or from hard working fishermen just coming off the sea of Galilee. The tax booth is where all people are to humble themselves and submit to the kingdoms of man. It is here Jesus, comes in direct contact with an agent of the wicked king of Israel who is under the “king of kings” of the world Caesar. Those around Matthew live in equal parts fear and distain of this man because of who he is and the kingdom he represents. Jesus sees this man who is an enemy of God and His people, who has great worldly wealth and authority. How does Jesus respond? He does not bow in submission or fear, he does not reject with distain. Because of who Jesus is and the kingdom He represents, Jesus clearly calls him and says “Follow me” renounce your allegiance to your king Herod, to your Caesar, and come follow me THE King.
Left everything, rose and followed Him.
Until this meeting Matthew likely knew OF Jesus who had been traveling in the area, preaching, and performing miracles, recently healing a man who had been paralyzed, Matthew but didn’t KNOW Jesus. Given a direct command by Jesus “to follow” results in Matthew’s complete and immediate obedience. This is AMAZING! Jesus hasn’t done ANYHING for Matthew. He doesn’t offer him a better position or more money or more opportunity. Matthew isn’t carefully deciding between a successful corporation and an unproven but promising start up. Jesus doesn’t look like a King, but he has authority and new life in his words. This as miraculous as any healing Jesus preforms in the Gospels. Jesus commands a paralytic to rise up a walk and he does. Jesus commands a man paralyzed by sin following the wrong king to follow Him and he does. Jesus is the King with authority over our broken bodies and our broken souls.
There no trial run or probationary period only an absolute finality to Matthew following Jesus. Matthew’s gospel doesn’t mention this but both Luke and Mark are clear when they say “leaving everything”. Matthew’s position could and would be quickly filled by Rome. More than just leaving a lucrative job he was leaving THE structure of power and oppression of man’s kingdoms renouncing his favored status among kings and giving his allegiance to Jesus as the King who stands in opposition to all other kingdoms. If following Jesus didn’t work out the fisherman could always go back to their boats but when you follow a man claiming to be King and the Son of God you can’t go back to working for Herod Antipas whose father killed all the male children in Jesus home town in an effort to prevent Jesus from growing up and gaining influence. Jews wouldn’t have him because he had spent his life’s work extorting them. Once he rose and followed the only choice for the rest of his life would be to continue to follow Jesus wherever it lead and whatever the cost. Jesus is the King Matthew was created to follow and following lead him to joy.
Celebrated and brought others he knew to Jesus.
Matthew’s gesture of leaving his tax booth and following Jesus was not made with grim submission or resignation like someone who knows he’s doing the right thing but is grieved by the cost. He wasn’t begrudging “Ok Jesus you’re right I’m hurting my neighbor, I guess I’ll stop or wait till you leave to go back to what I am doing.” No Matthew celebrates! Again Matthew’s gospel doesn’t mention this because of his humility but Luke and Mark mention Matthew made a GREAT FEAST in his own house. He follows Jesus and his response is not “Lord Jesus, can you bless me?” it is “Lord Jesus, let me honor you!” Jesus is the guest of honor. Matthew is excited for his new life, but he’s more excited for his new king and he wants to share with everyone he knows. Jesus is there, the disciples are there and Matthew is celebrating becoming a disciple with the only crew he’s known, one as disreputable as himself. Matthew doesn’t cut off his old friend and associates from the party or limit it to just Jesus disciples. He invites them and brings them in, to share in his joy and meet His King. The participants are joyfully and restfully reclining at the table with Jesus while the opponents of Jesus are on the outside looking in.
Pharisees couldn’t understand why Jesus would commune with “Sinners”
They aren’t really asking the disciples a question they’re leveling a charge against Jesus. Pharisees are not as healthy as they think. They did not understand the importance of the nature of Jesus mission. They expected a messiah who would crush sinners and pat the “righteous” on the back, not one who would “eat and drink” with sinners particularly those representing the kingdom who is oppressing Israel while calling the “righteous” religious people hypocrites. Before this meal Jesus had already told the kingdom of heaven will be even more diverse and unlikely then Matthew’s table Matthew 8:11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, The Pharisees did not realize or did not believe their self-righteous religious kingdom is just as offensive to God’s kingdom as Caesar and Herod’s kingdoms are. The religious need to follow King Jesus just as much as a traitorous tax collector or prostitute does. 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”…… 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We are not well, we are sick.
We don’t just need a counselor or an affirmer we need a healer. Tim Keller says “Most of us want Jesus as a consultant rather than a king and he does not come that way.” Jesus the king did not leave His throne in heaven to come down and pat people on the back who have fooled themselves into thinking they are well or condemn those who don’t meet men’s standards. This was a business trip; Jesus has business with sinners who must produce repentance to be saved. Jesus mission was characterized by grace, and the pursuit of lost sinners. He calls them to repentance. Repentance is turning from one kingdom, the kingdom of man, to the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus called Matthew too; this is what Jesus calls all of us too. None of us are well, all of us need a physician, so he comes to us. He calls us! Sick don’t always know they’re sick and they’re not always excited or glad to receive treatment, especially if it’s difficult or painful. Some would rather suffer with a disease then endure the cure, not releasing the fullness of joy that comes from being made well. Some don’t see themselves as being that sick, when the fact is they are terminal. Some dismiss the importance and purpose of Jesus mission and exclude themselves from the kingdom’s blessings. Jesus doesn’t just go to sinners because they cry out to him, but because they need him.
My fear is we could spend the next several months studying Matthew’s gospel learning about Jesus while not recognizing our need for Jesus. We could think we’re getting well because we are at a celebration with people who Jesus has saved. We could think we’re welcome at the party even though we don’t know the guest of honor. Being around people who are being healed by Jesus won’t save you any more than wondering the halls of a hospital will make you well. We will have to humble ourselves enough to confess to other patients and doctors and nurses we are sick with sin need to repent and receive the same treatment they are receiving from the Great Physician.
I doubt Matthew woke up that morning thinking he was sick needing repentance, needed to reject his kingdom, leave everything, and follow a new king, but he was and he did. Jesus calls him, makes him well, and a day that started as an agent of oppression for King Herod and Caesar ended with a celebration in honor of King Jesus. Matthew followed King Jesus. He saw Jesus submit to the will of the Father willingly giving himself up to the threatened kings of this world who murdered the King of Heaven, the Son of God, on a cross with a sign that read “King of the Jews”. Three days later he saw Jesus risen and he knew Jesus is not like the kings of the world who protect their kingdoms by shedding the blood of enemies and condemning to death those who reject the king’s authority. He establishes His kingdom by shedding His blood FOR enemies of the crown and calls them back to life with the King reclining at His table. Matthew was there when Jesus commissioned his disciples, representatives of His kingdom to continue the royal mission to call sinners to repentance, baptize new citizens into the kingdom, and teach them what it means and looks like to follow the king. Matthew continued to follow his king and his mission by worldly standards his life ended poorly as he was martyred in Ethiopia by a sword or spear for calling people who thought they were kings and queens to repent and believe the good news of King Jesus. That is where following Jesus lead Matthew, but that is not where he finished for we know he is reclining at the table with the King.
We are not to be kings, this is not our kingdom; we are to humbly follow the King who created His kingdom. We do not have royal blood flowing in our veins, but for those who have repented of their kingdoms and worship Jesus our souls are covered clean in royal blood flowing from His cross.
More in The King Has Come | Matthew
May 11, 2014Jesus the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29 (Mville)
May 11, 2014Jesus is (Scary) Gracious | Matthew 7.15-23 (Snoh)
May 4, 2014Kingdom Admission | Matthew 7:13-23 (Mville)