Matthew Journey Chapter 8

Chapter 8

  • Amazingly, after the often confusing and very challenging words of the Sermon on the Mount, huge crowds start following Jesus.
  • People appreciate the Truth!
  • Jesus here heals people and keeps it quiet.
  • Do we find ourselves helping the hurting and healing the broken as advertisement, or do we do it because it’s our mission?
  • The centurion has power not because of his authority, but because of borrowed authority of the one over him . . . how can we borrow God’s authority?
  • I love how some of this chapter feels like friends telling stories, jumping back and forth some, little snippets here, like hearing second hand about a good basketball game from a few excited guys who were actually there.
  • This chapter raises up the faith of the random people around Jesus, while the disciples are astounded at what he can do.
  • In another unexpected twist in this chapter, Jesus performs the most miraculous miracle, and when people find out they run him out of town.

I love the contrasts in faith with this chapter. The underclass people accept Jesus, those close to him are still confused, and some groups just want him to go away. It just goes to show how God is always doing something, but it is our choice how we respond to it.

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The Return – Matthew Journey Chapter 5

After a month or so hiatus, the Matthew Journey returns, with Chapter 5.

Whew, Chapter 5 is intense! Here we find the so-called Beatitudes and the beginning of Jesus’ single longest sermon. This is a chapter all about rethinking.

  • In the Beatitudes, Jesus bit by bit turns everything we think about life and power on it’s head.
  • This is such a cool example of asking the wrong question. For instance, we want to ask, “God, how can I find happiness.” Jesus answer is, “You should be asking, how can you comfort others and bring them happiness?”
  • What would happen if we applied these principles in this year’s election?
  • Totally dig the implications of verses 13-16. Jesus really highlights how we should be a new creation by giving us ludicrous examples. I love it when Jesus resorts to hyperbole. Let’s build a huge city on a hill so no one will see it and turn on a light so we can cover it up so we can’t see.
  • If you think the existence of sin is debatable, consider this: we all repeat behavior that is bad for us, things we know are foolish.  These are usually things that go against our personal value system. This is as ridiculous as turning out the light when you’re trying to find your way, and it is a sign of how fallen our world is.
  • Sin sets us apart from the animals if you think about it . . . no animal would be so dumb as to do something that was knowingly bad for it.
  • It is so hard to be a new creature sometimes, and God is always there to show us grace.
  • After pointing out how we need to be a new creation, Jesus up and points out that it is impossible to do it!
  • Why must Jesus teaching be so frustrating sometimes!!?
  • I love this. I was actually discussing this with someone online today. The law that Jesus demands we follow can not be followed completely, and that makes God’s grace that much more valuable.
  • I am so messed up in so many ways, so this cuts deep. But Jesus is still there for me.
  • Jesus demands that we go the extra mile.
  • And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? OUCH!
  • This is one of the greatest, simplest arguments for what may seem illogical–loving our enemies. Any idiot will be kind to those who are good to them. It takes a real idiot to go out of there way and love their enemies.
  • Ok, kidding about the idiot part, but isn’t that how it feels sometimes? It is so counterintuitive to go the extra mile.

Man, I could go on and on, this is one of my favorite sections in the Bible, and maybe my favorite part in Matthew so far. It is such a great, confusing, confounding, and satisfying piece of text to digest.

Matthew Journey Chapter 4

In Matthew 4, so much happens. Jesus leaves for over a month alone to face temptation, and then begins his ministry. By the end of the chapter his ministry is in full swing.

Matthew 4

  • It is so strange if you go a chapter back here. Chapter 3 ends with the Father declaring his love for the Son, and the Spirit coming on him as a dove. Chapter 4 begins with the words, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
  • Just because God loves us does not mean he will protect us from all chances of difficulty or harm
  • Andy Stanley really contributed to my understanding of the temptation. He points out how the three temptations mirror the most dangerous temptations that we face. Jesus is first tempted to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. Next he is tempted to presume upon God, which is a fancy way of saying you try to back God into a corner based on your understanding of who He is. Last, Jesus is tempted to take a shortcut to his goals by breaking outside the boundaries God has set for him.
  • After this we find out that John the Baptizer is in prison, and it seems that Jesus steps into John’s role of calling for repentance and announcing the arrival of the Kingdom. This shines another light on Jesus joining of the people by being baptized by John previously.
  • Jesus is considered by the people to be a Rabbi, which was a respected Jewish teacher. A rabbi would have disciples, or followers, who would be with him every waking moment to learn everything possible. Jesus chooses his first two disciples here, (Simon)Peter and Andrew.
  • As Jewish children grew up, they went through stages of learning. At a certain age, the brightest would continue to “level 2” learning, while others continued to learn their families trade. These level 2’s, after studying, would find a rabbi whose teaching (or yoke) they appreciated, and apply to be his disciple. Only the best and brightest were accepted, and the rest earned a living with their families like the others.
  • When Jesus chooses these two disciples, they were fishing with their father. This means they were young and had not moved on to higher learning. They were the not-so-brights . . . the unaccepted.
  • There are many times in my life where I feel like one of the not-s0-brights.
  • Jesus does not just wait for them; he calls them out. He requests that they follow him. This says much about who Jesus accepts to be his followers compared to whom the “religious” leaders would choose.
  • After this it says Jesus began to heal the sick and spread the good news. He didn’t start a building program, he didn’t raise an army, he didn’t start a petition, he didn’t hole up in his house and hate the world. He met the world on their basis, and brought them hope and healing.

Chapter 4 once again shows me a Jesus who meets us where we are. He was tempted in every way that we are tempted. He chooses the least among us. He brings us hope and new life rather than rules and consequences. Jesus is becoming like us to meet with us. He is looking past our outside value to our inner worth. Jesus is setting us up for relationship with him. This is so awesome and so different than any other way of life or “religion.”

Matthew Journey Chapter 2

More thoughts on Matthew . . .

Chapter 2

As Chapter 2 opens, Jesus is an infant and is visited by the Magi, what we call the three wise men (although the Bible never records how many magi there were). Herod tries to kill Jesus, but his family escapes to Egypt, returning only after Herod has died.

  • The fact that these Magi met fairly easily with Herod seems to signify they were important people.
  • The Magi were following signs not connected with Jewish tradition. God can get His message out without us if He wants to; His inclusion of us in His plan is an act of love, not need.
  • Multiple times people in this story fulfill prophesy who are often working against God’s plan. The leaders who would later oppose Jesus identify him as the Messiah, and the evil rulers of the day forced Jesus’ family relocation as prophesied.
  • Matthew is written to the Jews. The talk of going to Egypt and returning to the promised land would have brought to mind their people’s time in slavery to Egypt; it would have reminded them of their later exile and current rule by the Romans. They would read this and see a Saviour who is coming out of exile and returning to the land of promise.
  • While Jesus’ family is forced to move to a rather poor district, Nazareth, they would not have been poor. The gifts from the wise men, while not making them rich for life by any means, would have greatly supported them in in their travels.
  • Matthew Chapter 2, for me, is a story of God’s control in all circumstances, His keeping of promises, and the promise of return from exile.

Matthew Journey Chapter 1:18-24

The Matthew Journey continues, as we get closer to the birth of Christ.

Matthew 1:18-24

  •  Jesus was born into scandal.
  •  Can you imagine how hurt and angry Joseph must have been?  And even with that, he planned to do the kindest thing possible and quietly divorce Mary, even though he had the legal right to humiliate her.
  • Today, would some “religious” people think the “righteous” thing would be to expose the sinner and publicly disassociate with them? Just a thought.
  • God names Jesus but commands Joseph to  perform the act of giving him the name.  In biblical times, naming a person was a sign of connection, relationship, and possession.  God seems to be saying, “Joseph, this will be your child, so name him,” but pointing out at the same time that Jesus will be the Son of God.
  • The angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to do these things.  Joseph knew the embarrassment he would receive for being engaged to a pregnant girl in his society.  Following God’s commands can often be a scary thing.

Matthew Journey Chapter 1:1-18

Every Saturday I will be going on a journey through Matthew, bit by bit. Conveniently, it begins with the Christmas story.

Matthew 1:1-18

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