Prepare the way

Prepare the Way (Chapter 1-4). Matt’s theme is found as he opens with the genealogy of Jesus. For Jews knowing who they are and where they come from is hugely important. Jews believe that there is a single God who not only created the universe but with whom every Jew can have an individual and personal relationship. They believe that God continues to work in the world, affecting everything that people do. Thus, Jews believe God appointed them to be his chosen people in order to set an example of holiness and ethical behavior to the world. Thus, Jewish life is very much the life of a community and there are many activities that Jews must do as a community. Take prayer, when they pray common prayers they use we and our, instead of I and me. This forms the basis of a Jewish relationship with God based on His covenant. In exchange for the many good deeds that God has done and continues to do for the Jewish People, Jews keep God’s laws. Matt who is writing to these individuals says, the one God is sending us a Messiah, and this is how Jesus came to be God with us.

Matt shares a list the names given to Jesus in his opening chapter Matthew 1:16~and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ (Χριστός Christos). (ESV) Matt says I am talking about the anointed one. In Matthew 1:21~She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (ESV) Jesus means Jehovah is salvation. Then in Matthew 1:23~Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (Ἐμμανουήλ Emmanouēl) (ESV). Thus Matt calls our Lord the anointed salvation of God with us. That is pretty fitting of Jesus Christ our Lord. What we witness depicted each year during the celebration of Advent comes from Matt’s account of the birth of our Lord in Chapter 2. His gospel is the only record of Wise Men from afar. 

Then Matt takes a 30-year gap before returning to the life of Jesus. As he shares a preaching forerunner who signals the appearance of the Messiah. Matthew 3:1 & 4~In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea…Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. (ESV) As Jesus leaves the obscurity of home in Nazareth, He goes down to the Jordan for His first burial. A baptism of revelation by John the Baptist. Where the Trinity of God is manifested. Matthew 3:16-17~when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV) 

God the Father spoke over His only begotten son who pleased Him by submitting to plan of redemption. God the Son was the faithful servant promised to reconcile by grace through faith. And the God the Holy Spirit was peace and the anointing for ministry. The first temptation in human history took place in the Garden of Eden Genesis 3:1~Did God actually say…(ESV) Where the first Adam will fail in verse 17 as he listens to his wife, we find that the second Adam must also be tempted in all things. Hebrews 4:15~For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. (NIV) 

The temptation of Jesus takes place in a wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 has Matt revealing the contrasts between the temptations we all face and the ruin sin causes in our lives. Take the temptation for living in the short-term, seeing only the moment before you and the hunger of our flesh. To which Jesus replies in Matthew 4:4~Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (ESV) Next, Satan asks Jesus to tempt God by testing His care for us (4:5). Jesus simply responds in Matthew 4:7~‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test. (ESV) Finally, Satan offers Jesus the whole world, if He will bow and worship him (4:8-9). Christ Jesus reminds us in Matthew 4:10~You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. (ESV) 

Notice in all three temptations, Jesus quotes scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16; 6:13 to counter Satan’s attacks. This should teach us how important it is for us to know, memorize, internalize the scriptures written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), if we are to be victorious against the temptations of our enemy, Satan. 

Today, get the victory of Jesus by placing your whole life under the blood and walk each moment with Him. Staying in constant prayer. I know this is difficult, but we have a lifetime to get better at it. 

The Gospel of Matthew

Today, we pull back for a bird’s eye view of the Gospel of Matthew. Also known as Levi, he was a hated tax-collector before becoming one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Matthew 9:9~As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (ESV) Tax collectors were often locals who would extort the tax and were allowed by law to keep anything above what was owed to the government. From this liaising life of duplicity, Matt is called to faith by Jesus. Following our Lord, he will give his life for the cause of Christ. His gospel focuses the message of Jesus to the Jews, in order to convince them that He is the Christ, the arrival of the long-expected Messiah, the Son of David who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. 

Therefore, Matthew frequently links the life of Jesus with Old Testament prophecies by using the phrase that the scripture might be fulfilled. Matthew 26:56~But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (ESV) As we come to the Gospel of Matthew, we find that the book has natural movements that provide us with the groundwork for helping us connect with Messiah. As Matt opens, his first 4 chapters share the preparation of the King. His sharing of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount outlines the Kingdom’s Laws (Chapter 5-7) In (Chapter 8-12) we read of the Opposition to the Kingdoms Power. Then move into Parables about the Kingdom in (Chapter 13). Then to the Rejection of the King (Chapter 14-18). Before turning to King in Judea (Chapter 19-28) join us this week as we walk through the Gospel of Matthew in 6 parts.

Today, let’s take time to ask God how we can share the story of the Messiah, the Savior of the world with those we meet outside our doors. 1 Peter 3:15~But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV)

Trust God

Depend on God (24-25) Do you truly depend on God? Is He your all in all, or your everything? Join us as we arrive at one of the greatest Biblical verses on assurance and security found in the Bible. Jude 24 ~ Now to him who is able to keep (φυλάσσω phylassō) you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, (ESV) (φυλάσσω phylassō) is a military term that means to guard or to keep watch. This means God is at His post, guarding us against any attack. Proverbs 3:26~for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (NLT)

Saints, if we rely on God, He will keep us and present us faultless before the presence of His own glory and He does this with exceeding joy (24b). Jesus didn’t die just to get us into heaven, rather He died for us to be faultless when we get there. So that we will arrive blameless, and full of His joy. A joy that is inexpressible. 1 Peter 1:8~Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (NIV) God desires that each of us live in His joy. The joy that we are filled within His presence. That is why when we come to community or small group or Bible Fellowship, or prayer meeting we leave feeling empowered, full of Joy. Listen to Paul describe this fact in 1 Corinthians 1:8~He will also keep you firm to the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV) What could bring us greater joy?

Thinking about the exceeding joy awaiting us causes Jude to burst into praise. Jude 25~to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (ESV) Glory refers to God’s worthiness of praise and honor. Majesty which is God’s mega-greatness, dominion and power refers to God’s awesome sovereignty, or absolute control, over the entire universe. Jude says God is in control. He was in control all of our yesterdays, He is in control today, and let me remind you Jude says, God will be in control tomorrow. Therefore, we can always Depend on Him to keep us from falling. 

Our Takeaway: Have you connected with God lately? If you have been sitting with there with a cumbered load of cares, His joy absent in your life, or just doubting. I want you to hear the words of the Psalmist today in Psalm 104:1~Praise the LORD, my soul. LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (NIV) Authentic Christian Living in the last days requires us to Remember, Remain, Save, and Depend. As you pray today, why not take this time to seek God from the inside out, in every aspect of your life and family.