Matthew 5:13-16 Salt And Light.

Matthew 5:13-16 Salt And Light.

Salt was and is used for a number of reasons, here Jesus refers to how salt brings out the flavour in other food when it is applied. If it loses this ability then it is worthless (v. 13). Like light, salt is something people seek in order to make living possible. Light is also necessary to do anything, to go anywhere. If the light is hidden then it is as though it did not exist, and no one is helped by it (vv. 14-15). It is interesting to see these as examples of Psalm 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” Jesus promises not just existence or survival for the life to come, but he promises that we might have a blessed abundant life. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). This is the flavour enhancing and life illuminating nature that the Lord’s people are called upon to be in the world, to the glory of the Father in heaven (v. 16).

Matthew 5:1-12 The Blessed Life.

Matthew 5:1-12 The Blessed Life.

The word ‘blessed’ hearkens back to the blessings and curses of the covenant. First of all, the blessed life is only enjoyed by those who understand their spiritual poverty, and such are destined to possess the kingdom of heaven (v. 3). Those who thus mourn, shall be comforted (v. 4). The blessed possess the kingdom of heaven, but they inherit the earth (v. 5). The blessed life is one characterized by a hunger and thirst after righteousness to the full (v. 6). There is a reciprocity for the merciful, as they also will be shown mercy (v. 7). The pure in heart shall also see God (v. 8). Persecution will come for righteousness’ sake, but it is the peacemakers who will be called the sons of God (vv. 9-10). A blessed life will include this persecution to some extent, as long as it is because of one’s loyalty to Christ (v. 11). There is a great reward for those who thus suffer, even as was experienced by the prophets of old (v. 12).

Matthew 4:23-25 The Gospel Of The Kingdom.

Matthew 4:23-25 The Gospel Of The Kingdom.

How many times do we hear the gospel referred to as the gospel or good news of the kingdom? We usually stop short on the extent of this good news, even though we have been instructed to pray – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Will any doubt that in heaven there is not one sliver of area not under his kingdom rule, and this perfectly? Part of the good about the gospel is that includes everything – a restoration of the paradise lost at the beginning. That is also why the good news is not just good for the spiritual realm and the defeat of Satan and his forces, but it includes bodies as well. There is no part of what makes us human that is not touched by the gospel, since every part is diseased.

Matthew 4:18-22 Brothers Effectually Called.

Matthew 4:18-22 Brothers Effectually Called.

After officially declaring the inauguration of his incarnate earthly ministry, Jesus then calls for disciples who would follow him, learn from him, and one day carry on his work on the earth. The first were the fishermen brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother (v. 18). Appealing to their careers as fishermen, he called them to help him in being fishers of men (v. 19). What is remarkable is the fact that, as Matthew writes, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (v. 20). Such was the efficacious power, with the Spirit, of his call – it was effectual for what God alone intended. Jesus then came upon two more brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also fishermen, mending their nets.

When he called them, they also immediately left their boat and their father, and followed him. For these men, the call of God was greater than their work or careers, even if they were apprentices of their father. Jesus’ authoritative and effectual call was greater than family ties. They would now be about learning to be fishers of men, including tending to their new nets, their new tools of the kingdom. We should also note that although James and Andrew were called away from their father, like Peter and Andrew, Jesus nevertheless placed some premium upon the fact that these were brothers, that family ties were not dissolved, they were simply called together, to a Christocentric purpose.

Matthew 4:12-17 Jesus Begins His Ministry In Galilea.

Matthew 4:12-17 Jesus Begins His Ministry In Galilea.

Upon being anointed by the Spirit, with the witness of the Father, Jesus the Son was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and he was victorious, making his constant appeal to the Scriptures (4:1-11). Now, at the commencement of His earthly ministry, he left Nazareth for Capernaum (v. 13a), “which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali” (v. 13b), but only upon the news of John the Baptist’s imprisonment, for this was another sign that the one hoped for, to whom John pointed, had now begun his work (v. 12). As testimony to this commencement, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, the very words that were understood to be applicable to the inauguration of the Messiah’s work, and Jesus claimed this as now finding fulfillment in Himself (vv. 15-16; Is. 9:1-2 Cf. Is. 52:10). “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (v. 17 Cf. 3:2; 10:7; Mk. 1:14-15). Clearly this was the goal all among, and what the Messiah came to help bring about – that God’s kingdom would come, and His will done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). The people who sat in darkness were seeing a great light, a light that would dispel the shadow of death.

Matthew 4:1-11 The Devil Tempts Jesus Who Appeals To the Word.

Matthew 4:1-11 The Devil Tempts Jesus Who Appeals To the Word.

Upon being baptized by John, the Spirit descended upon Jesus, and the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (3:17) The persons of the trinity bear witness to each other, no other witness is required, but as it turns out John was a witness – that Jesus, who fulfilled all righteousness, had the Spirit light upon him, which comes to all who are to fulfill a mission for the Father, and with the testimony of the Father. To this end we are told that this same Spirit “led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (v. 1) The three persons of the Godhead were in agreement. “And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.” (v. 2). For any other human being, Luke’s statement would be a huge understatement, but Luke wanted to make the point that He who was both God and man, did actually hunger.

By the same token, Jesus was also tempted. By this also we learn that it is no sin, per se, to be tempted. Forty days is significant. “The temptation of Jesus parallels the testing of Israel in the desert. The forty days correspond to the forty years of wandering (cf. Num. 14:34). This event recalls Deut. 8:1-5, used by Jesus in response to one of the temptations. The experience of Israel in the desert was the type or shadow of Jesus’ temptation in the “wilderness” after His baptism.” (NGSB 1509) As the Son of God, lighted upon by the Spirit, and receiving the testimony of the Father, He was called upon to fulfill His messianic mission, and as such he was about to be tempted by the devil, with temptations particular to His personage. Some believed Jesus was the Christ already, and some did not, and this would continue until His ascension and beyond.

However, anyone with knowledge and interest in the Scriptural hope of the Messiah, would know that this person would be the one who would, in his person, occupy the three anointed offices, and it is precisely in regard to these offices that the devil tempts Jesus to renounce. The devil’s first temptation was in respect of his office as a prophet. Would he satisfy his hunger, or resist? Of course, he resisted, because as the Prophet the word of God was paramount, and as it turns out, he quoted a verse which put these two staples in their proper perspective (vv. 3-4 Cf. Dt. 8:3). In the second temptation, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, the temporal place of the office of the Priest (v. 5). Here the devil actually thought to quote scripture himself (v. 6; Ps. 91:11-12). The irony in quoting from Psalm 91 is that it speaks of the devil’s defeat by the Messiah.

Psalm 91:13 states, concerning the Messiah, that He would “tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” (Cf. Ps. 110) In Jesus refusal to do what was an attempt to tempt the Lord, he also convicted the devil as doing just that with the Messiah (v. 7; Dt. 6:16). The devil then seeks to tempt Jesus in His kingly office, with a promise of a kingship of his own, if only Jesus would worship him (vv. 8-9). This final temptation got to the ultimate end of things – who will be worshipped? Again Jesus quotes Scripture, and in the process dispenses with the devil. The covenant LORD, is the only God who is to be served (v. 10; Dt. 6:13; 10:20). When the devil departed angels indeed came and ministered to Jesus, for He also is worthy to be worshipped and served (v. 11). The angels were given charge for Him (v. 6a; Ps. 91:11).


Matthew 3:13-17 John Baptizes Jesus.

John, who knowing his baptism was one of repentance, could not fathom why Jesus would seek him out to be baptized. Jesus’ word to John was that it was a time of transition. For the time being it was the right thing to do. The fact is, when John was finished we find the answer to John’s query-it was an opportunity for the Spirit and the Father to bear witness to the Son. It was an anointing for service for the Son. The Father declared that Jesus was His unique Son, therefore God Himself, and with Him the Father was well pleased. The One John was preparing the people for had come, therefore his work was done. The transition was Jesus taking up the mantel of His public ministry, but first He would be tempted by Satan in the wilderness.


Matthew 3:1-12 John The Baptists’s Call To Repentance.

John the baptist came preaching a message of repentance in the wilderness (v. 1 Cf. Mk. 1:3-8), because as he said “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 2). The themes of the exile, as is seen in the genealogies, and the exodus of the Son, are joined now by this specific mention of John’s location. It brings to mind the history of the generation, including Moses, who wandered in the wilderness, after the exodus, because unlike Joshua (or Jesus) and Caleb, they did not believe the promise of God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven in the promised land (Cf. Dan. 2:44). Isaiah’s prophecy foretelling of John’s appearing echoed the wilderness experience, one which should have been one of repentance and faith but was not (v. 3 Cf. Josh. 14:10; Lk. 1:76; Is. 40:3). John’s baptism was as specific as was his message-strictly concerned with the matter of repentance (vv. 4-6, 11 Cf. Mk. 1:5; Acts 19:4).* It would later be replaced by the Trinitarian baptism instituted by Christ as the sign of the new covenant administration (Cf. Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 18:25; 19:3).

This focus on repentance led to his very scathing rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees, because all along they never acknowledged their need to repent, claiming that being a physical descendant of Abraham was enough (vv. 7-9 Cf. Jn. 8:33). Talk was not enough, much less simply being born into a given tribe or family. Repentance, like faith, is something that is planted by God and shows the fruit thereof. The coming of the Messiah was a time of old covenant lawsuit and new covenant renewal (Cf. Ps. 96:13; Zeph. 2:1-3; Mal. 3:1-7; Is. 4:3-4; Jer. 31:31-34). “Every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (v. 10 Cf. 7:19). The One to whom John pointed would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (v. 11 Cf. Lk. 3:16; Jn. 20:22; Acts 2:3-4; I Cor. 12:13). This was a time of winnowing the wheat, the true children, from the chaff, the pretenders (v. 12). Again, this was the concluding message of Malachi (Ch. 4). John fulfilled the role of the Elijah to come (Cf. Lk. 1:17)

* The mention of locusts reinforces the point that John was a man who followed the law (v. 4 Cf. Lev. 11:22).


Matthew 2:13-23 The Exodus Of The Redeemer.

Joseph was not hidden in the shadows. He was treated as what he was, the covenant head of his family. Just as an angel of the Lord appeared to him when Mary was found to be with child, even so here an angel again appears to him to warn and instruct him to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, so that Herod could not murder Jesus. Joseph was a true protector and deliverer of his family, with the help of an angel. This necessity, laid upon them by providence, also led to the fulfillment of another word and message from the Lord. Their exodus out of Egypt, with the death of Herod, fulfilled both the law and prophecy (Cf. Nu. 24:8; Hos. 11:1), an echo of the past (Ex. 4:22-23).

Sadly, the escape of Jesus led Herod to have all males born in Bethlehem and its districts at that time murdered, much like what happened at the time of Moses birth (v. 16 Cf. Ex 1:22ff.). This also fulfilled a prophetic word from Jeremiah (vv. 17-18 Cf. Jer. 31:15). Again, with Herod’s death an angel of the Lord again appears to Joseph informing him of Herod’s death and instructing him to return with Mary and Jesus to the land of Israel (vv. 19-21). However, they did not return directly to Bethlehem, but because Herod’s son succeeded him they were warned by God in a dream to go to the region of Galilee (v. 22). “Is. 11:1 refers to the Messiah as a ‘Branch’ (Hebrew netzer) from the roots of Jesse; this verse may have been in mind” (v. 23) (GSB p.1508).


Matthew 2:1-12 Jesus’ Birth Is Celebrated And He Is Worshipped!

There were those who believed that the appearance of a bright star signalled the birth of a king, and being over the land of the Jews, these wise men naturally interpreted the star as appearing for the birth of the King of the Jews (v. 1 Cf. Lk. 2:4-7). These very well might have been other descendants of Abraham (Cf. Gen. 25:6). However, it also alluded to the star of Jacob, also written about by Moses, recording the prophetic word of Balaam. “A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Nu. 24:17). These wise men came not merely out of curiosity, they came to worship (v. 2 Cf. Lk. 2:11). However, any thought of another king alarmed Herod, since he no doubt interpreted this as a threat to his position and power. For this reason he forced the Scribes and Pharisees to do something they might not otherwise have thought of at this time-answer the question as to where the Christ was to be born (vv. 3-4). However, they answered from the prophet Micah, that the Christ would indeed be born in Bethlehem (vv. 5-6 Cf. Micah 5:2).

The confirmation of the place of the Messiah’s birth made Herod all the more nervous, and in a secret meeting with the wise men he learned of the time of this event. However, he still did not know the exact location, so he tells the wise men to inform him of Jesus’ location when they found him, assuring them that he wanted to also worship Him (vv. 7-8). The record of this star continuing to lead them to the exact location of Jesus would lend further support to this being a providential miracle in fulfillment of that word through Balaam (vv. 9-10 Cf. Nu. 24:17). “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him” (v. 11a). It is often missed that this was a clear statement of Jesus’ deity, for if He were not God they would have been rebuked, even as they were “divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod” (v. 12). The gifts they gave were those fitting for the King (Cf. Ps. 72:8-11; Is. 60:6). It is by this biblical example that the church celebrates Jesus’ birth.