The King has come | Matthew Intro (Snohomish)
November 24, 2013 Series: The King Has Come | Matthew
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 28:18–28:20
INTRO – THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
This morning marks the beginning the longest sermon series we’ve ever preached in the history our church—the book of Matthew. The book of Matthew is likely the 2nd written record of Jesus life, after Mark, containing 28 chapters and a total of 1068 verses—every one of which we will read. Our series will require five different study guides, include at least 85 sermons, and take us nearly two years. And although many pastors avoid the book of Matthew because of its size, or preach through it much more quickly, we intend to slowly savor every word. The Bible teaches that every Word of Scripture is breathed out by God, through men inspired by the Holy Spirit. But the book of Matthew is unique, in that, it is the most comprehensive record of Jesus direct teaching. In other words, it is not only an account of everything Jesus did—it is the most complete record of everything Jesus said.
Please turn the end of the book of Matthew chapter 28. Ironically, we’ll begin our study of what has historically been called the “book of Jesus sayings” with the last thing that Matthew records Jesus to have said: Matthew 28.18-20 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is called the Great Commission.
THE PURPOSE OF THE GOSPELS
These final verses summarizes the heart of what Matthew wanted us to learn from what he wrote. These three verses represent Jesus’ final declaration of who He is and what He has done; His final instruction for who we are and what we are to do; and His final direction for how and how long we are to do it. And it will only take me 85 sermons to explain all of that to you. This first sermon is not only the introduction to the story, it is just as much an introduction to the storyteller. To that end, I want to share: 1) the purpose of Matthew’s gospel 2) the person in Matthew gospel and 3) the power of the gospel in the life of Matthew’s himself.
What is a gospel?
The book of Matthew is known as A GOSPEL—a type of literature. Unlike epistles to churches like Corinth, letters to individuals like Timothy, or apocalyptic visions like John’s Revelation, gospels deal primarily with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They are more than a biography, more than a character sketch, more than even a narration of miraculous events; the gospels give us proclamations and instructions for response. The term gospel, literally evangel-ion means “good news”. Historically, heralds would walk into towns and proclaim news of events that had occurred which changed the listener’s condition or situation. The gospels are by nature evangelistic. The gospel of Matthew contains all kinds of moral, ethical, and theological teachings of Jesus. But these are not THE gospel—they are the results of the gospel. Christianity is not the explanation of a way of life, but the proclamation of one man’s life. The gospel is primarily a declaration that God has done something to change everything. And, as revealed in the Great Commission, Matthews writes FIRST to declare who Jesus is and, SECOND to call us to respond to that declaration: Jesus has received Lordship by what He has done, therefore, we must obey.
When and why were the gospels written?
We need to understand that, Matthew did not sit and take notes as Jesus was preaching and teaching. On the contrary, the book of Matthew was written 20-30 years after Jesus ascended to heaven. Even though Matthew is the first book that appears in the New Testament, it was written after Paul the Apostle had completed all of his missionary journeys and written all of his 13 letters. As the church grew, Matthew’s gospel was likely composed as Christians began to experience its first great Roman persecution. Churches were being planted and eyewitnesses to Jesus life, including the 12 apostles, were being murdered. Moved by the Holy Spirit, men like Matthew began to write down the one story of Jesus in order to 1) Preserve the one story for the church 2) Teach the one story in the church and 3) Spread the one story beyond the church. But, if there is only ONE Jesus and one story, why did God give us four gospels accounts? Good Question. Each the gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the story of Jesus. Though the essential stories are the same, God used the personalities and the experiences of each gospel writer to reach a different audience in a different way—similar to different news stations reporting the same story. Each writer is a unique person giving us a unique portrait of Jesus.
1. MARK was a young Jewish Christian who writes like a preacher. He wrote to Romans who valued power, action, and conquest. It follows that Mark wrote the shortest gospel, uses the fewest Old Testament quotes, explains Jewish customs, uses 150 active verbs, and records the most miracles (35). There is no record of His birth or his early life, and Mark’s story begins with Jesus baptism at age 33. There is no genealogy because Romans don’t care about the heritage of servants. Jesus is portrayed as a servant-king, one who conquers, but does so through service and suffering. His gospel ends with the conversion of a Roman solider at the foot of the cross declaring Jesus to be God.
2. LUKE was a Gentile doctor who wrote like an educated doctor to uneducated Gentiles. It has been said that a minister sees men at their best; a lawyer sees men at their worst; but a doctor sees men as they are. Funded by a wealthy benefactor named Theophilus, Luke writes as a reporter wanting to investigate every fact. 90% of Mark is found in Luke. As a result, he writes the longest gospel. Jesus is portrayed as portrayed as the Son of Man, fully human and full of the Spirit. In Luke, Jesus’ genealogy is traced back to Adam. He is the last and better Adam; He is everything we were intended to be and one day will be as humans.
3. JOHN’s gospel is the most different. He is a Jewish Christian writing to Greeks. He does not write a perfect chronology of events, rather, He writes as a theologian with a purpose. John declares his purpose several times—He aims to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. His genealogy goes back to God where Jesus is declared from the first verses to be the eternal creator. 90% of John is unique to John. Unlike the other gospels, there are no parables, no exorcisms, but claims of divinity by Christ.
THE PERSON OF THE GOSPEL (JESUS)
The purpose of all three was to some aspect of the person This brings us to the person of Jesus in gospel of Matthew. What is unique about Matthew’s gospel? The Gospel of Matthew was written primarily for two purposes and two audiences.
First, Matthew wrote to defend. He wanted to prove that Jesus was the promised King, the Messiah. Matthew wrote as a Jew to reach Jews by arguing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah Israel expected. The phrase “…this was to fulfill” appears in the gospel 16 times. His conscious fulfillment of Prophecy is a key aspect of Matthew’s portrait. It can be argued that Matthew’s primary and deliberate purpose is to demonstrate how Christ’ fulfills all of the Old Testament Prophecies (Matthew 26.55-56) 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” This gospel is Matthew’s effort to establish the authority of Jesus, and thus fulfill the first half of the Great Commission.
Second, Matthew wrote to teach. He wanted to record not only what Jesus did, but all that Jesus said. Matthew wrote as a Christian to teach Christians. Matthew was largely responsible for producing the first collection and first handbook of the teachings of Jesus. This is probably why I have come to love Matthew—we see Jesus as a teacher. More than any other gospel, 60% of this book is Jesus direct teaching. It is the only book is organized around five great blocks of teaching marked with, “When he finished saying these things”. It is the only book that possesses the complete teaching of Sermon on the Mount. It is the only book that gives us teaching about church discipline. Matthew also organizes his gospel to that it is easy to memorize. The book of Matthew would have served as the first theological textbook for the church, to instruct the people of God concerning the person and work of Jesus. This is Matthew’s effort to give the church Jesus’ teaching, and thus fulfill the 2nd half of the Great Commission.
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (CONVERSION OF MATTHEW)
We see the purpose of the gospel of Matthew, and the unique person of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, but it is important to see the power of the gospel in Matthew himself. His call to follow Jesus is recorded in Matthew 9, but I am going to read it out of the gospel of Luke chapter 5. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, but lived in Capernaum. During his ministry, Jesus went from city to city, but usually returned to his hometown of Capernaum. On one of these occasions, having just healing a paralyzed man, by forgiving His sins, Jesus walks over to Matthew’s office which happens to be a tax booth. 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And 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. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5.27-32). Matthew was not chosen because he was a healthy faithful Jewish. He was a sick sinner, the best of us are.
Levi—the Tax Collector
Matthew is also a rather obscure disciple; outside of Peter, John, and Judas, most were. Other than the record of Jesus’ call to follow, he is not mentioned outside of lists of the 12. The only reason we speak of Matthew more than we do Bartholomew, Philip, or Thaddeus is because they didn’t write books. But even the gospel headed by his name is, in fact, anonymous; it is attributed to him by early church fathers. From what we know about Matthew before he follow Jesus, is that he was a tax collector. Like every government, Rome collected taxes. There are property taxes, head taxes, and import taxes. They had a unique system to collect taxes. They had what would be called a farm system for their customs taxes. Various collectors, usually men of great wealth, would bid for different geographic districts. Some had better trade routes than others. Bidding meant estimating how much one might collect from a particular district then paying Rome in advance. Winning a district meant you then had authority, backed by Roman soldiers, to collect taxes from anyone in that district. As collecting taxes benefited them personally, tax collectors became corrupt extortionists. The Jews considered THE example of a “sinner” and the Romans viewed them no better than brothel keepers.
As a tax collector, Matthew would have been despised by everyone—he was the 1% that actually did rob others of life to make a life for himself. He possessed the ambition to abuse, the authority to extort, and the power to imprison. This man was hated. Jewish Matthew also went by the name Levi. This has led some to believe that he was a member of the Levitical tribe, meaning, he was supposed to be pastor. Having abandoned this service, he chose instead to pursue a more lucrative career serving a King who was not Jesus. He was a devoted servant of King Herod Antipas, sitting at a booth daily in Jesus’ hometown of Capernaum in Galilee. In order to serve as a tax collector, Matthew would have been well-educated, extremely wealthy, highly organized, and very greedy. This not only helps us to see why he was qualified to write such an amazing piece of literature, we also see the incredible power of Jesus to transform anyone. Much like Paul who went from Murderer to Martyr, Matthew went from being Money collector to Martyr—run through with a sword after evangelizing Ethiopia.
Matthew—the gospel writer (Luke 5.29-32)
Though the gospel we have is evidence of his complete transformation, the beginning is recorded in Luke. After Jesus called him to follow, he got up and left everything. He left behind wealth. He left behind position. He left behind power. He left behind security. Matthew left everything because His meeting with Jesus changed everything. Following a homeless and penniless Galilean peasant for three years wasn’t the best career move. But serving the one and only King, the promised Savior, the Son of God was the right one. And the first thing he does is throw a big expensive party for Jesus and invite every sinner he knew to attend. Matthew exemplifies the Great Commission. Having believed who Jesus is, he wants more than anything for others to believe. He knows that if Jesus can save a corrupt, greedy, unwanted, tax collector who is despised more than thieves and prostitutes—he can save anyone. He is a disciple already try to make disciples. And while everyone confused as to why Jesus would ever pick a sinner like a tax collector to be a disciple. Jesus only saves those he knows are sick, broken, and empty. All of Matthew’s experiences, all of his education, all of his rebellion, all of his extortion, all of his years devoted to building His own kingdom were designed by God to one day advance the His Kingdom.
And Matthew never wants his readers to forget who he was—because that only makes much more of who Jesus is. We should not be ashamed of our broken past, especially if God has redeemed it so as to bless others like he did with Matthew. It is noteworthy that, in Matthew chapter 10, where he gives a list of the disciples—he is the only gospel writer to add that he was a tax collector. He wants us to remember how Jesus took this unknown tax collector and transformed him to one of our greatest teachers.
In conclusion to this introduction, the Gospel of Matthew teaches us three things:
The gospel of Matthew teaches us that Jesus is the promised King. That means he is the promised son to Adam and Eve that crushes Satan. That means is the promised seed to Abraham who will heal the whole world. That means he is the promised prophet to Moses who will lead us from slavery to sin. That means is he is the promised priest in Zechariah who will forgive all sin in one day. That means he is the promised King who will brings all things under His rule forever.
The gospel of Matthew teaches us that Jesus is a missionary King. The King not only dwells with us, not only provides for us, not only protect us, our King sends us. He has commanded us to go into the world to proclaim. We are not running into the world telling people what they ought to do (or not do), rather, we are declaring what God has done. We are not charged to proclaim that man should “love thy neighbor, forgive your enemy, or give to the poor.” Those are the results of our proclamation that in Christ, God has loved us, that God has forgiven us, and God has blessed us.
The gospel of Matthew teaches us that Jesus is a teaching King. Through his words, but more so through his gospel-centered life, Matthew teaches us that we are citizens of a different and greater Kingdom. More than citizens, we are ambassadors who have been given a ministry. And though our ministry begins with proclaiming to all people, of all nations, all stations of life, all cultures, and all contexts who Jesus is and what He had done, it doesn’t end there. If we are truly His disciples committed to making disciples, we will also teach others to observe all that Jesus commanded—including the Great Commission. In other words, are studying Matthew not because it is the easiest, but because we want to be obedient to what Jesus said. . Matthew is a teacher, teaching us that Jesus is a teacher, teaching us to be teachers. Matthew 28.18-20 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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)