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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Matthew Section 6: Conflicts

Matthew strategically places the sixth section of his Gospel. After talking about Jesus' authority and purpose, Matthew draws the reading into the conflicts Jesus had with those who doubted Jesus' claims and the other trouble Jesus experienced near His crucifixion.

Many of the stories in this section start with the religious leaders asking Jesus a question to test him (19:3), 22:15-16, 22:34-35) or the disciples (or their mothers) asking questions of Jesus (19:10, 19:25, 20:20-21, 24:3, for example). While questions are not difficulties or problems, per se, they are showing the trouble Jesus had getting people to truly understand the nature of who He was.

This was really nothing new, as the reader see in the challenge to repent found in Matthew 23:37-39, where Jesus indicates that "Jerusalem" had been rejecting God for quite a long time. Of course, the main section of teaching in this section referred to as the Olivet Discourse and speaks of the coming Kingdom and the end of time.

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

I see maybe 25 to 30 sermons in this section. Perhaps more, depending on how slowly one needed to move through the Olivet Discourse. This section is filled with didactic material in that a question is given to Jesus and then He gives an answer. However, because the answers Jesus give can be difficult to understand and even harder to apply, preaching through this section would probably take a while.

Section six is a fascinating part of this Gospel and Matthew uses it well to contrast the previous five sections and to set off the pinnacle of his record found in the upcoming section: the crucifixion and resurrection.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Matthew Section 5: Purpose Revealed

After showing Jesus' authority (Section 3) and explaining why Jesus came (Section 4), Matthew then shows that Jesus began to declare His purpose for coming. This section begins, interestingly, with examples of people misunderstanding Jesus' purpose. First, the people in His home town reject Him simply because they knew Him as he grew up (Matt. 13:55). Then, Matthew tells how Herod misunderstood Jesus as well. Herod saw Jesus as John the Baptist reincarnated and then Matthew gives the background story between John the Baptist and Herod. Next, the crowds misunderstand why Jesus came. Jesus feeds the 5000 and there are leftovers enough for twelve baskets, presumably for the disciples. John's Gospel indicated that the people misunderstood Jesus feeding them (John 6:14-15). Finally, after the feeding of the 5000, the disciples sailed out on the sea of Galilee and were afraid when Jesus came out to them. After Jesus commented on their lack of faith (Matt. 14:31), the disciples began to see that Jesus was in fact God's Son (Matt. 14:33).

After these stories, Matthew portrays Jesus interacting with the crowds directly and talking about Jesus' purpose. For example, Jesus explains why he speaks in parables (Matt 15:15-20), He talks to the disciples about who Jesus is (16:13-20), and He begins to tell them of His suffering and death (17:11-13). Then Jesus launches into an extended sermon about forgiveness.

Here is a visual aide for the fifth section of Matthew (Click picture for larger image):

I would expect about 20 sermons from this section as well. This fifth section, Matthew begins to clearly show Jesus' purpose. While the disciples will not truly understand until Jesus rises from the dead, believers today have the benefit of hindsight and see that Jesus did tell them His purpose as Messiah.