Category Archives: Matthew

Beatitudinal Observations…

The Sermon on the Mount is filled great controversy. Historically, dispensationalists have seen these teachings/exhortations as futuristic. In other words, they do not apply to a present people, but they are models for the kingdom, which is to come after the seven year tribulation.

Covenant theologians have also been cautious in treating these beatitudes as ethical guidelines for the Christian life. Some fear that taking these assertions too literally may lead to legalism or moralism. After all, biblical laws can only be seen as hypothetical, but never achievable.

The center of this Matthean narrative is necessarily contrary to the previous two assertions. The Sermon on the Mount is an expansion (not an abrogation) of the Mosaic proclamation in the Old Covenant. In fact, one central reason Matthew contains so many mountain allusions is precisely because he is portraying Jesus as the New/Better Moses; the One who brings a message not limited to theocratic Israel, but the theocratic cosmos.

The Beatitudes are not so much about a blessing/cursing motif, but about a shame/honor motif as K.C. Hanson observes.[1] The Sermon was given to bring the new sons of the New Creation into glory and exaltation. They are being honored in this newly created kingdom, where the religious leaders of the day are being portrayed as shameful.

These are not legalistic rules for a future society nor are they the hypothetical ideals of a present society; rather, they are the honorable characteristics of a present society to be lived out in the heavenly kingdom that has come to earth.

[1] K.C. Hanson  How Honorable! How Shameful! A cultural Analysis of Matthew’s Markarisms and Reproaches.

The Kingdom of Heaven

St. Matthew’s preference for this phrase is consistent with his emphasis on the heavenly kingdom descending upon earth. In the great Lord’s Prayer, the kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven serves as an image of the coming reign of Christ. In His earthly ministry, Messiah begins to undo the darkness of the old world by bringing from heaven a kingdom of light. As David Garland puts it:

The kingdom of heaven is favored because it is a way of referring to God’s transcendent work and lordship that is coming down from heaven…it serves as an image for God’s sovereignty as Lord of heaven who will make all things right on earth.[1]

[1] David Garland, A Literary and Theological Commentary on Matthew, pg. 48.

The Incarnation: Gospel, Deception, and Justice

The audio from my first sermon after Christmas.


Prayer: May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock, and our Kinsman. Amen.

Sermon: People of God, this is not a silent night in Bethlehem. The barbaric Herod wants destruction and death; he wants a Christ-less world. He does want a joyful world, but a world of joyful tyranny. Illus. One of the untold stories of WWII occurred in 1943 in German occupied Denmark. The Danish people found out that 7,500 Danish Jews were about to be rounded up and deported to German concentration camps. The Danish citizens spontaneously came up with a plan and quickly rallied round to save their fellow people; and remarkably, almost all of the country’s Jews escaped and found refuge in Sweden from Hitler’s genocidal plans.[1]

We find a similar event in our gospel lesson, except the survival and security of this royal family does not come through ordinary people, rather it comes through the word of an angel in a dream. This narrative in Matthew’s gospel is quite simple to divide, because there are indicators in the passage. There are three sections in these verses. Each section concludes with a prophecy indicating that it has been fulfilled. This is quite significant. Three of the Old Covenant prophecies are fulfilled in verses 13-23. “What we are going to find is that Matthew understands Jesus to be the fulfillment not only of explicit prophecies, but also a fulfillment of Israel’s history. He is another Moses, another David, indeed, another Israel.”[2] The history of God’s people in the Old World foretold of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ because he was the object of that history.

In the first section from verses 13-15, highlight the departure of the holy family. Once again, Joseph serves an important role in redemptive history. The narrative illustrates a parallel between the Joseph of the new world and the Joseph of the old world. You may remember that in Genesis the old Joseph received revelation through dreams, just like the new Joseph (1:20; 2:13, 19, 22).[3] And just like Old Testament Joseph, this Joseph also takes his family to Egypt to find safety (2:13). Joseph is the new Joseph. His faithfulness is stressed again and again for us in Matthew. The angel told him to rise and flee to Egypt until an appointed time. In the very next verse, Joseph acts obediently by rising and taking his family to Egypt by night. Joseph takes action in the danger of the night. He knew the warning and he knew that the angel spoke the wisdom of God. Continue reading The Incarnation: Gospel, Deception, and Justice

“Until” in Matthew 1

Robert Rayburn summarizes simply the use of  “until” in Matthew 1:25:

The natural sense of the “until” is that Joseph and Mary had a normal married life after Jesus was born, contrary to the Roman Catholic doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. The natural sense of Jesus being called her “firstborn” in Luke is that Mary had other children and that the “brothers” of Jesus mentioned in Matt. 12:46 were also her children by Joseph, also contrary to the notion that she remained a virgin the rest of her life.

Advent Sermon: Matthew 3:1-12; The Gospel of Repentance

Matthew 3:1-12

Prayer: May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock, and our Kinsman. Amen.

Sermon: People of God, you may be familiar with Leo Tolstoy’s short story entitled: “Where Love is, God is.” The story is about a man named Martin, who after losing his son to an illness “gave way to despair so great and overwhelming that he murmured against God.”[1] He wanted to die; he became hopeless. He had nothing to live for. One day an old man confronted Martin’s view of life. He said that the reason Martin despaired was because he wished to live for his own happiness; to which Martin replied: “What else should one live for?” The old man answered: “For God…He gives you life and you must live for Him.” What Martin discovered as the story unfolded is that in the gospels you will find how God wants you to live.[2] In the gospels, Martin will be restored.

As we navigate the gospel of Matthew this season, we too will find restoration; we too will find how God wants us to live. And what we discover this morning as we look to chapter three of Matthew is that the way to begin this life of restoration is by living the  life of repentance.

The bringing in of a new world order will require a new way of life; a life of repentance. Martin Luther stamped his distaste for the abuses of the church in the 16th century in his 95 theses. But how often do we remember Luther’s first thesis; the one who made the top of the list. It reads as follows:

“When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”[3] Continue reading Advent Sermon: Matthew 3:1-12; The Gospel of Repentance

John, the Locust Eater

In Matthew 3, John eats locusts (as well as wild honey). But why locusts? Locusts consume and devour things. John is declaring a message of doom to those who do not repent. If they fail to heed his message, they will be devoured by locusts.