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.
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.
This parable of Jesus highlights the pursuing love of God and how He is always at work to shepherd us back to Himself.
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.
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!
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.
In the next section of Matthew's gospel, Jesus continues telling parables to those gathered around him. Keeping with the agricultural theme, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a crop of good seed that has been sown in the field. However, in time, that good seed is intermixed with weeds sown by the enemy. This story about the weeds and the wheat gives us much to think about as we approach life in the Kingdom of God.
Among his collection of Jesus' parables, Matthew presents the Parable of the Soil first. As one of the few parables that Jesus actually explains, the meaning of this story is not difficult to comprehend. However, what it reveals about the centrality of hearing in the Kingdom of God remains revolutionary. Jesus invites all to consider the importance of His Word and respond in a way that is truly hearing. While some seed lands on the path, on the rocks, and among thorns, that which falls on the good soil bears a harvest beyond measure. May we be mindful about the soil of our soul and our receptivity to His good word.
As we open a new section of Matthew, this week will serve as an introduction for all the weeks to come. Serving more as a teaching than a scriptural exposition, we will discuss the definition of the parables, the rules of the parables, and the author of the parables. May we all discover the Kingdom of Heaven about which Jesus is so powerfully speaking.
After delivering the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus comes down the mountain and engages a variety of people in Kingdom ministry. These 9 stories from Matthew 8 and 9 are intentionally compiled and arranged by Matthew in order to paint a picture of Jesus and the people He pursues. The "People of the King" reveal the purpose and personality of the King. Watch as Jesus touches, heals, and speaks His powerful word to those who desperately need His merciful grace. Matthew invites us all to discover a Jesus far greater than many presume. For in these people and their stories, we find the gospel in flesh and blood.
In this passage, Matthew's goal is to communicate the two-fold purpose of Jesus' healing ministry: the establishment of both His authority and His compassion. His is a power like none other submitted to the Father and used to extend grace, mercy and life. Though He has ultimate authority, He is not an authoritarian. And, as His people, we experience life at its fullest when we are in full submission to His lordship and participate in the work that He is ripening among the harvest at hand.
Rounding out the last and final of Matthew's story triads, Jesus raises the dead, heals a bleeding woman, restores sight to the blind, and looses a mute man's tongue. Compared to the other story sets and especially with the other gospel writers, Matthew's account is short, abbreviated and lacking many of the finer details. But why? As Matthew describes the ministry of Jesus, he continues to zoom in and frame an essential aspect of Jesus' person and ministry. It's this news and Jesus' fame that spreads like wildfire through the region. And may it continue.
In the 2nd of Matthew’s story triads, Jesus calms the sea, casts out demons, and forgives the paralytic. In each of these Jesus is doing what only the Divine can do. Even more than being a Master Teacher or a Healing Messiah, Jesus is demonstrating that He is God in the flesh. What happens when God shows up? And how do we follow Him? As Matthew will show us, God shows up in the most unlikely way- around the table with tax collectors and sinners who are called to follow Him.
In the first of Matthew's story triads, Jesus heals a leper, a Roman centurion and the Apostle Peter's mother-in-law. Using different means and methods, Jesus demonstrates his ability to heal all sorts of issues among a most unlikely sort. However, even more than just demonstrating His power, each scene provides a powerful message about Jesus and his Messiah mission for us all.
From the beginning, God has always desired to have a distinctive people among creation to properly reflect His rule and reign. His heart has relentlessly been for a “treasured possession,” a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6, 1 Peter 2:9). Years ago, God’s great deliverer, Moses, led the people of Israel out of Egypt and up to a mountain where a covenant was established and God’s will for a Kingdom people was revealed. Unfortunately, due to human sin and brokenness, that community resulted in disobedience and a marred image of God. Many years later, God’s Greater Deliverer, Jesus, also went up a mountain to reveal a new covenant and a new Kingdom manifesto. Known as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7 is the first of the five major narrative sections of Matthew’s gospel and consists of arguably the greatest single collection of the teachings of Jesus. Using powerful words and evocative images, Jesus describes what life looks like for those gathered by and around the King. As the new covenant people of God, the disciples of Jesus are called to be a community of contrast – reflecting a lifestyle and a Savior that is both markedly different and gloriously distinct from the rest of the world. This sermon, and more importantly, this kind of life, illuminates Jesus and His Kingdom Come for the church and, by His grace, for the world.
This Sunday is an interlude in between the Preaching of the King (the Sermon on the Mount) and the People of the king (Matthew 8). Before we move on to the next series on interactions in Matthew's Gospel, we want to seriously consider our response to Jesus. In Matthew 7:28, the crowds responded to the Sermon on Mount with awe and astonishment at the authority of Jesus. What about us? This week, we will take a look at the biblical pattern of praise in the Psalms through analyzing 10 Hebrew words for praise. In doing so, we hope to recapture a response to Jesus and His authority that involves our whole body, whole person and whole life.
To download the Sermon Handout - "10 Hebrew Words for Praise" - click HERE
When was the last time you looked at and inspected the foundation of your apartment or house? Are you sure it has one? Let’s examine the foundation of your life this Sunday. As Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, He brings His message full circle…back to the core questions for His followers: Do you know Who I Am and is your life founded on Me? Jesus uses one parable in His sermon, and it’s at the end. Why is that significant? Come study the finale of the Sermon on the Mount with us, asking Jesus to reveal to you the identity of your foundation and the maturity of your spiritual life.
Have you ever been duped? Conned? Deceived? Have you ever been tricked into a counterfeit version of the real thing? As Jesus closes up the end of the Sermon on the Mount, He issues a real and sobering warning about the true nature of the Kingdom of God. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus explains that it is possible to fall for a version of the God life that is no life at all. Jesus exposes the counterfeits we all face: counterfeit roads, counterfeit guides, and counterfeit spiritual success. May we all have ears to hear what Jesus is saying!
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus both teaches His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:7-14) and why to pray (Matthew 7:7-11). This week, as we cover the why that ignites our prayer, we find Jesus emphasizing the character of God. It is only the one who has been confronted with the full character of God who will ever venture into the asking, seeking, and knocking that Jesus invites. Come learn from the Jesus school of prayer that transforms our lives into a passionate pursuit of God.
As we continue moving through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to teach us about our relationships (specifically what not to do) and the inner-work that needs to be done before we begin to speak into peoples lives. In this passage, He tackles the issue that tends to break trust in significant ways and diminish His love in our relationships: judging.