Matthew: The Power of the King

After almost a full year in the Gospel of Matthew, our journey through this narrative is coming to an end. And as the story reaches its pinnacle, Matthew intentionally slows down the story to cover the last week of Jesus' life. Out of all 28 chapters, 1/3 of the book is devoted to Jesus' final days that include His betrayal, arrest, death, and resurrection. Matthew wants us to know Jesus, not just as Good Teacher, not just as Miracle Worker, not just as Master Storyteller… but Matthew is devoted to introducing us to Jesus as crucified Messiah and sacrificial Savior.

Without this part- without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus… all the rest of the story falls flat. All of it loses its punch. Matthew wants you to know that Jesus came to die, and that Jesus rose again on the 3rd day. Without the “last days” of Jesus, you have no Jesus at all. In this last week of His earthly ministry, we will see like never before, the power of the King.

"Resurrection Life" Matthew 28:16-20 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

This is the last scene in the last passage in the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus is alive and gathers his disciples for his parting words and instruction. Traditionally known as the Great Commission, Jesus prepares his disciples to step into the rest of their life and ministry with power and purpose. Without a doubt, they had no idea what was in store for this post-resurrection life. The tomb is empty. Death has been defeated. Jesus is alive… now what? What does it look like for disciples of Jesus to live in response to the resurrection of Jesus? As Matthew closes his gospel, he provides an open-ended finale that rings with massive implication for disciples in every age and era. Will we listen and obey?

"Jesus Christ and Him Crucified" Matthew 27:27-56 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

After nearly a year in the Gospel of Matthew, we have finally reached its climatic scene: Jesus go to the cross to die. While some in the church have grown bored with death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we believe that this is earth-shattering reality is our only hope in life and death. This week we will walk through Matthew's portrayal of the crucifixion scene in all it's upside-down irony. While the surrounding characters all speak in mockery and condemnation, their words ring more true than they know. Come be reminded of God's foolish wisdom and His powerless power.

"The Rooster & the Silver: A Tale of Two Failures" Matthew 26:69-27:10 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

As Jesus is handed over to the arresting mob in the Garden, all of His disciples scatter and flee. However, as Matthew continues his account, he keeps the spotlight on two particular figures: Peter and Judas. Peter follows Jesus into the council courtyard where he eventually denies Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Judas, meanwhile, is filled with remorse and returns the 30 pieces of silver that he earned for his betrayal. Both men face moments of soul-crushing failure, but both end up in vastly different places. Judas ends up hanging himself. And, in time, Peter ends up restored. As we see these two men in contrast, Matthew reminds us that spiritual success is not somehow to be failure free. Rather, spiritual success hinges on how you respond to your failure. The rooster and the silver call us to engage our failure with Jesus for the Kingdom of God. 

"Three Ways to Be Human" Matthew 26:47-56 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

In the midst of their late night prayer time in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus and his disciples are interrupted by Judas and a great crowd armed with swords and clubs. This scene is the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. Judas sells out with a kiss. Peter swings his sword. And Jesus lets it happen. As we watch these 3 men in the garden, we see a mirror into own broken souls and the ways we live out our humanity. Misplaced desires and misplaced confidence expose our need for a Savior.

"Gut Wrench in the Garden" Matthew 26:36-46 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

Following their celebration of the Passover meal, Jesus takes His disciples to the garden known as Gethsemane. It is here, in these moments before His betrayal and arrest that Jesus spends several agonizing hours in prayer. It is gut wrenching in every sense of the word. And yet, it is in His gut-wrenching agony that we find help for our gut-wrenched world. This week, we are invited to step closer into what Jesus felt, what Jesus faced, and how He fought for the salvation of His people.

"The Church" Ephesians 3-4 (Guest Speaker)

Cole Brown joined us as a guest speaker on Sunday, October 1st. Cole is the founding pastor of a multi-ethnic church in Portland, and most recently served as a missionary helping plant churches in Mexico City, Mexico. He is a Humble Beast author and speaker, and has authored several books including, Daddy Issues: How the Gospel Heals Wounds Caused By Absent, Abusive & Aloof Fathers and The Gospel Is: Defining the Most Important Message in the World. Cole, his wife ReShawn, and his kids are longtime friends of the Jones family and have ministered to many.

"Church Planting" Luke 10:1-9 (Guest Speaker)

On Sunday, September 24th, we had the privilege to hear and learn from CJ Bergmen, pastor and church planter of Citizens Church in San Francisco. CJ and his wife, Renee, have ministered in San Francisco for the past 5 years, beginning with Redemption San Francisco, and now with Citizens. Citizens is one of the church plants that Reality regularly supports and we are excited to have CJ and Renee join us for the weekend to stir our hearts for God’s ongoing mission in other parts of our country. The Bergmens have a burden to be a part of a diverse, multigenerational, multiethnic church that serves the least of these, pursues health, and is a safe place for those who are hurting.

"The Meal" Matthew 26:14-35 (Matthew: The Power of the King)

As Jesus' last week commences, we will pick up with the meal commonly known as "The Last Supper." With betrayal and denial in the air, Jesus pulls together his disciples for one last celebration of the traditional Passover meal. As we look at the various facets of this night, we will discover a meal that is rich in history, meaning, and purpose. For in the meal, we see Jesus' power to retell God's salvation story in new covenant ways.

Matthew: The Parables of the King

Author Klyne Snodgrass once noted, “Stories are inherently interesting. Discourse we tolerate; to story we attend. Story entertains, informs, involves, motivates, authenticates, and mirrors existence.” Therefore it should come as no surprise that when the Son of God came in human flesh to reveal God to humanity, He came sharing stories. He came telling tales. But not just any stories… So much of the ministry of Jesus is marked by His infamous use of parables.

Following an intentional collection of healing ministry stories, Matthew's gospel account moves on to include several chapters of Jesus' parables. With great diversity in length, formatting, characters, and imagery, Jesus uses the familiar to explain the unfamiliar ways of God. Weaving together different tales, these stories all share a common theme: insight into the Kingdom of God. Over the next few summer months, we will dive into these stories of Jesus with an ear to hear. Parables are Kingdom stories with the intent: to puzzle, provoke, and make plain a person’s response to Jesus.

"The Talents" Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In many ways, the Parable of the Talents is "Part 2" and further elaboration on the Parable of the 10 Virgins that precedes it. As Jesus ends the first parable with the words- "Watch therefore, for you neither know the day nor the hour" - the next section helps elaborate the agenda of our watching and waiting. What is required to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant?" In this captivating story of stewards being given 1, 2 and 5 talents, Jesus reveals the most important dimensions of our life in between His comings.

"Waiting" Matthew 25:1-13 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

Jesus again returns to the wedding analogy to describe what the Kingdom will be like in that day.  Similar to previous wedding parables in which some are welcome in and others are not is the need to dispel any idea of a capricious or demanding God.  Instead, we see the opportunity to wait in submission to the Bridegroom's timeline or to impose our own limits on what we're willing to put up with and by virtue submit to ourselves instead of to Him. The big idea is that He invites us to wait in submission, within the context of community for something that is worth waiting for.


"The Feast" Matthew 22:1-14 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In Matthew 21, Jesus directly engages the religious elite to challenge their faulty assumptions about God and the way He works. Moving into chapter 22, Jesus continues down the same path by telling the parable of the Wedding Feast. This story is filled with invitations, rejections, and a surprise twist of an ending that should shock everyone into reconsidering the economy of the Kingdom. The way God deals with humanity is not how many assume. His invitation is wider. Our rejection is greater. His garments are stricter. And the feast is better than we can dare dream. 

"The Parable of the Two Sons" Matthew 21:28-32 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

This week’s sermon is more about people’s response to the Kingdom of God then about the the nature of the Kingdom itself. Jesus confronts the religious leaders who feel secure and feel like they are close to God and are better than others. They are so confident in themselves that rather than seeing their needs and the grace of the savior in front of them, they instead reject him and question his authority. So Jesus tells them about two sons who both rebel, but one repents. In this parable Jesus says what God is looking for is not more doing and is not more action, but what God is seeking is repentance. May we be people of repentance who turn from our doing and from ourselves towards the perfect Son who has perfectly obeyed in our place and has earned us our belonging.   

"Worship and Warning" Matthew 13:47-50 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

As we close out the collection of parables from Matthew 13, we come to the Parable of the Dragnet in Matthew 13:47-50. Moving from the dusty soil of the land to the fishing practices of the sea, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the process of dragnet fishing. As He describes the process of collecting and sorting the "good" from the "bad," we are given invaluable insight into the final judgment at the end of the age. By walking through the specific features and phrases of this story, we are inspired to worship and warning with an eternal perspective that our generation needs to hear.

"The True Treasure and the True Pearl" Matthew 13:44-46 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

In these two short parables, Jesus lays out two ideas: (1) The fact that the reign of God over our lives does not involve slight corrections or minor changes. Rather, the Kingdom of Heaven costs everything. In order for us to receive the kingdom there must be complete surrender we must “sell all that we have”. (2) Jesus is showing that He is the true treasure and He is the true pearl that is worth everything! He is of “great value” and therefore we joyfully sell all we have. But lastly we see that the only way that we can sell all that we have, the motivation behind it that enables us to do this, is that first Jesus treasured us, first Jesus sold all that he had to buy us. This is the motivation to surrender and to rejoice! 

"Small and Hidden" Matthew 13:31-33 (Matthew: The Parables of the King)

Next up in Matthew's collection of Jesus' stories is the twin set of the Parable of Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven. While both stories have distinctive features of their own, they are best read and understood together as they reveal our faulty assumptions about the Kingdom of God. Jesus compares the Kingdom to a grain of mustard seed that grows into a tree large enough to nest the birds and leaven that gets hidden in a batch of flour. In a world system that celebrates bigger, faster, stronger, better, Jesus highlights how God ordains the small, slow, and hidden to accomplish His ultimate Kingdom plans. Come discover the way of Jesus that turns our assumptions on their head with humility and patience.