Matthew Journey Chapter 3

The book of Matthew moves on . . .

Chapter 3

This chapter tells the story of John’s ministry and Jesus’ baptism. It’s really a fascinating story, all told. Everything that happens here is such a story of something strange breaking in violently to the way of life everyone was used to. There is a lot of stuff here.

  • Right off John talks about the kingdom. He’s in trouble here, because the Romans in charge were used to talk of subversion and riots. Talk of a new kingdom coming near was just asking for it.
  • This mention of the kingdom also makes us rethink our image of a kingdom. Is John talking about Heaven literally crashing into earth, or something more subtle?
  • The description of John makes him out to be quite a freak. It’s possible he had taken the old testament Nazarite Vow (think Samson without super-strength).
  • When John sees the Jewish leaders, he is quick to tell them what he thinks. People knew the system was becoming corrupt; John is not foolish, and he knows they are not there to learn and change.
  • It’s a commonly overlooked theme in the Bible: the harsh words here are for so-called believers, not the common people gathering around.
  • We see here, like in the last chapter, that we can not get haughty thinking God needs us and that we are somehow special as Christians. John tells the Jewish leaders not to assume they are powerful and authoritative because of their heritage. God will use what and who he must, and God will get the job done.
  • When Jesus comes, John does not want to baptize him because he recognizes Jesus deity. As he always does though, Jesus joins with the others when he could be set apart.
  • Jesus is always looking to join us. Baptism is declaring to be part of something. Jesus is on our side, and he proclaimed it here.
  • Baptism occurred before this and was a form of ritual cleansing. John’s was different because you were baptized by someone else instead of doing it yourself  This was because you were joining something, not just cleansing.
  • The image of baptism and passing through the water carries with it the story of the Exodus. When we join with Jesus, we are leaving a life of slavery and entering a journey to something new.
  • God comes down from heaven after this and recognizes Jesus as His son, and declares His pleasure with the whole proceeding.
  • Every time you see the Trinity in the Bible, they are pointing to the others. God comes down and recognizes Jesus. Jesus is always pointing to the Father and he declares that the Holy Spirit will be greater than him. The Holy Spirit directs us to Jesus and to the Father.
  • The Trinity is a picture of perfect relationship. It’s perfect harmony, three and also one. It’s a picture of love where you are always looking to the others and pointing to them rather than to yourself.

To me, Matthew three contrasts two ways of life. One is about myself and keeping the status quo. The other way of life is where I am joining others on a journey of change, and where I am more concerned with those around me with myself.

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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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