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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Matthew Section 4: The Parables

After a couple of days of graduation obligations, a holiday, and a couple of days of conferences, I am trying to get back on track with my overview of Matthew. The forth section of Matthew is a little hard to summarize. The title (not original with me) is "The Program of the Messiah Explained." This is not real helpful when reading just the title. However, this section starts with John sending his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the one they had been waiting for or is their someone else coming. Jesus answers them by saying:
Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me. Matthew 11:4-6
After this, Jesus shows through actions and short speeches explaining His purpose. For example, Matthew 11:30, 12:8, 12:50. Then, Jesus gives word pictures (parables) of what His Kingdom is like. All of this helps us see clearer what is was Jesus was accomplishing through His ministry.

The main discourse of this section is the parables, which is really more like several short speeches put together. But again, this shows Matthew "editing" Jesus' parables for a purpose. Matthew 11:28 provides the reader with a challenge to accept Jesus and His purpose and Matthew 13:51 provides the reader with a challenge to understand Jesus' purpose.

Here is the visual aide for this section (click picture for larger image):

I would expect about 20 sermons from this section, although some of the shorter parables will be taught together to get the thrust of overall message conveyed through them.

In the forth section, we get a clearer picture of Matthews purpose of His Gospel. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic predictions, and He taught the principles of the new Kingdom. He showed He had the authority He claimed He had. He now begins to communicate why the Messiah was sent.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our New Backyard and Neighbors

Here is a picture of our new backyard (click image for larger picture):

My daughter took this picture from our back porch. I kind of miss the mountains found in Colorado Springs, but this view is still really nice.

Here is a picture of our neighbors to the east (click image for larger picture):

The five horses in this field go out every day and graze. They romp around and have a good time. We will go over and talk to them and give them grass sometimes. They are pretty good neighbors.

Just thought I would share my backyard view for a nice change.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matthew Section 3: Jesus' Authority

As section two closes there is a mention that the people are impressed with Jesus' authority (Matt. 7:28-29). As section 3 opens, Matthew gives story after story which shows that the people were right on track. In each of the narratives found in section three of this gospel, Jesus displays His authority over sickness, the physical world, the spiritual world, and even death. However, the authority is linked to the theme of people placing their faith in his authority. For example, the centurion who wanted his servant healed displayed enough faith in Jesus' authority that Jesus comments on it (8:10). The woman who touched Jesus' garment was told her faith in Jesus' authority to heal was rewarded (9:22). Then, after these stories, Jesus lays his hands on the disciples and transfers His authority to them (10:1).

The major discourse for this section is the commissioning of the disciples found in chapter 10. The challenge Jesus sets forth in this section is the challenge to follow, found in 10:34-42. In short, Jesus says He must be first priority over every aspect of the believer's life or they cannot follow him.

Below is the visual aide for this section

I would anticipate somewhere between 15-18 sermons in this section (at least another four months). With the third section we begin to see some progression with Matthew's thoughts. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic predictions, and Jesus taught the principles of the new kingdom. Now he begins to show the power with which he will rule His Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Matthew Section 2: Jesus' Teaching

The second section of Matthew begins with Jesus calling the first of His disciples and beginning actual ministry. The majority of this section is what is known as The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is essentially setting the religious establishment on its ear with this sermon. Matthew shows that Jesus, being the Messiah, has the authority to preach in such a manner. In fact, that is how the section ends (7:28-29).

The major discourse for this section is obviously the Sermon on the Mount. It is two chapters long is the longest sermon of Jesus we have on record. If we want to know what Jesus was about, we must understand these chapters. In this section we have the first of the challenges we find throughout Matthew. Here we have the challenge to enter into the kingdom. The bible student will remember this passage as the wide gate and the narrow gate. The observations of these challenges are not original with me but, again, I cannot seem to find who enlightened me of them.

Again, I have a visual aide for this section. And, as with all the visual aides I will produce for the overview of Matthew, the title is not mine but I cannot find whose it is. The brief section titles are mine to help me remember the flow of thought throughout Matthew. (Click picture for larger image).

Jesus covers a multitude of topics in this section and it should be fascinating to not only trace Jesus' thoughts throughout this sermon, but also to preach on what Jesus preached on.

I see no more than twenty-three sermons in this section. However, I would anticipate a much smaller number since many of the section are two verse sections. This indicates to me that they are not stand alone thoughts but are related to the previous or following verses. Again, this is one whole sermon and was not meant to be busted up into several weeks of teaching. However, to do a fair job with the text and in the culture we live in today, the pastor must do just that while remaining faithful to the passage. In short, I am not sure how many sermons would be produces from this section but I would anticipate at least four months in the sermon on the mount.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Matthew Section 1: Messianic Fulfillment

The first section of Matthew is the story of Jesus' preparation for ministry. It is Matthew's genealogy, birth narratives, some discussion of John, and Jesus' baptism and temptation. The major discourse of this section is John's preaching, which makes sense because Jesus' ministry had not started yet. But it also helps Matthew show that John is the "voice in the wilderness" (Matt 3:3) which Isaiah wrote about.

In fact, Matthew uses six Old Testament passages to show that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. Also, Matthew uses four Old Testament passages during Jesus' temptation (one misused by Satan) to highlight places where the people of God had failed miserably. But where they had failed, Jesus succeeded. In addition to all these, when being baptized by John, Jesus says He needed to do so to "fulfill all righteousness" (3:15). In short, by simply existing, being born, and being baptized and tempted, Jesus fulfills many prophecies on which the Jews were waiting. Matthew makes is clear that Jesus is the one to fulfill all these prophecies.

I have included a graphic of the section. The title is from a commentary but for the life of me I cannot remember which one and as I look through the commentaries I have, I cannot find it. I am sure it is not original with me. The summaries of each section of the chapters are my titles. They are brief but descriptive enough for me to remember the story and perhaps see the theme throughout each section. (click the picture for a larger image)

So to get his audience ready for the message he was going to convey to them, Matthew shows Jesus fulfilling prophecy after prophecy even before He officially begins His ministry.

I would anticipate somewhere between seven and nine sermons out of this section. If I preached one sermon per section it would obviously be nine. However, it could be seven because I could see gathering the wise men, the move to Egypt, and Herod's massacre being one sermon. However, I would think this would mean a skimming over these important events.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Cool Feature

I found a neat new feature for my blog. I am sure many of you have already found it. It is called RefTagger. By adding a brief bit of HTML in the footer of my blog, I can automatically have verses pop up in a little window when the mouse has rolled over the verse. For example, I type 2 Timothy 2:2 and it should provide a link to the verse so it is easily read.

I can type a whole chapter (Psalm 63), I can type several chapters (Matthew 5-7), or a couple of verses (Eph. 2:8-9).

I will try this to see if it is easier for me then typing the HTML for, which is what I have been doing. Let me know what you think.

Overview of Matthew: Addendum

I wanted to make a brief addition to the introduction discussion on Matthew. Specifically, I mentioned in the previous post that I identified eight sections through the book. I would like to make a few comments on this. First, these eight sections are probably more like seven. As I will show in the upcoming posts, the last section I identified is probably more like the tail end of the seventh section. So it may be more accurate if I said I see seven sections throughout the book. Nevertheless, I am going to post eight.

Also, I have read more than one commentary which identifies only five sections. They make a good argument for these five section. For example, Mounce (NIBC) says about the structure of Matthew,
The clue lies in the formula "when Jesus had finished saying these things," which is repeated with only minor variations at the close of each section (Matt 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, 26:1). This fivefold structure is common in ancient Jewish literature (cf. the five books of Moses, the five divisions of the Psalms, the five Megilloth, etc.). Barker, Lane, and Michaels point out that Matthew's five "books" deal with the ethics of the Kingdom (5:1-7:27), mission (10:1-42), redemptive history (13:1-52), church discipline (18:1-35), and eschatology (23:1-25:46). These would be major concerns of an early church desirous of instructing new converts. pg. 3

This is interesting and somewhat convincing. But I wonder about chapters left in the gaps of these five sections. For example, I see chapters 8 and 9 integral to understanding chapter 10. And this all flows from the end of chapter 7, which I see as the previous section. Allow me to explain.

The section section of Matthew (roughly chapters 5-7) ends with the people amazed at Jesus' authority in his teaching. Then chapters 8 and 9 tell story after story of Jesus' authority over sickness, the spiritual world, the natural world, and even death. Then the beginning of chapter 10 begins with Jesus transferring that authority to the twelve disciples and sending them out into the world.

To me, it looks like Mounce has chapter 10 as the second section but does not show how the surrounding chapters related to that section. Therefore, I am sticking with my seven/eight sections and working from that point of view.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overview of Matthew

As I begin to look at the study of Matthew, I want to take several posts to gain a bird's eye view of the entire book. This post I will give some introductory thought and then the next few posts will reveal the main sections throughout Matthew.

To begin with, I hold to the traditional view which says the disciple Matthew is the author of this Gospel. This disciple was also called Levi and who was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) It is interesting to me to note that the call of Matthew (found in the previous verse) is the only call of a disciple in which only one person is called. We read of Peter and Andrew's call (Matt 4:18-20) and James and John's call (Matt 4:21-22). Matthew's call is the only recorded call where he is alone. This may go to show how much of an outcast his profession made him to his fellow Jews (Mark 2:14) or it may mean nothing at all. I just find it interesting.

I also believe Matthew was writing to Jews. There are many proofs of Matthew's audience throughout the book but a few of the specific items which I would focus on is first the lineage which Matthew starts his Gospel. The evangelist starts by showing that Jesus was from the line of Abraham and from the line of David. Second, Matthew uses the Old Testament in a very specific manner. That would be to show that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies (more will be said about this in upcoming posts). Finally, the focus on Jesus being the King and that His Kingdom has come is a significant characteristic of his Gospel which shows his audience are Jews.

The last thing I will discuss on the overview of Matthew is that I identify eight distinct sections which make up the whole of his book (these divisions of the book are something of a mix of my thoughts and those from different commentaries). In each of these sections, there is a large narrative section in which the story of Jesus is unfolded. Additionally, there is a section of significant discourse in each of these sections. The only exception to this is the section on the passion of Christ which does not have an extended discourse but is mostly all action. Finally, in each discourse found in each section there is challenge issued to the readers. These will be identified in the upcoming posts.

The next several posts will continue the overview of Matthew but will look a bit more closely at these eight sections.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buy My House...Please

Buy our house...Please! If you are reading this, you are a potential candidate. Who wouldn't want to live here?

Click Here to see a video of our house.

After watching the movie, click on the "More Photos" to photos.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Beginning of the Beginning of the New Testament

I have been doing some preliminary work for studying through the book of Matthew. The more I study it and the more I talk to others about it, the more I look forward to preaching through the first gospel. I will be posting my thoughts throughout the study on and off. I am not sure my posts will be a complete representation of the entire book. We will have to see. Nevertheless, posting helps me communicate my thoughts and maybe they will be an encouragement to you, too.

This first post I want to address the approach I will take to the book of Matthew. I have been through many studies of the different gospels and usually the study turns into a study of the harmony of the gospels: John said this, Mark said that, and it all takes place between these two verses in Luke. While I think a study of the harmony of the gospels is an important one, and while I think anyone going through one of the gospels needs to understand how they all fit together to tell the story of our Savior, I also think that each gospel writer had a message to tell in their own individual gospels.

Thus, I want to study Matthew and understand his message to his audience. I know studying Matthew will necessitate some reference to the other gospels. But I think Matthew placed the events of Christ's life and ministry in the order he did and mentioned the events he did to contribute to his overall message. And when these events are place in the appropriate chronological order with the other gospels, then Matthew's message becomes muted if not silent.

So, as I post my thoughts regarding my study through Matthew, I expect to only rarely refer to the other gospels unless that will contribute and clarify the story and message Matthew is conveying.

So let me know what you think of my approach. Is it valid? Do you agree? Let me know.

Next, I will post an overview of Matthew.