We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel, and we happen to have some extra copies if anyone would like a paper copy. Raise your hand up real high and somebody will drop one by your row or your aisle. It is always great, (especially this morning), great, to follow along with your eyes on the text. It will help you engage with the Word more, and with the Lord more, and open your own heart and mind to whatever God may have to say to us.
Now, a couple of just introductory things. Matthew, by the way, is the first book in the New Testament. Some of you know, a couple of years ago, when the pandemic hit, we decided to do the book of Revelation. We thought, “now, that is a much bigger theme than anything that we were experiencing”. So, we went for Revelation and, which was wonderful, I enjoyed that. If you were not able to be with us during that, that is all up online. And for those of you online, I encourage you to study the book of Revelation. It is amazing.
Then after Revelation, we decided let’s push reset on everything. And so we went back to Genesis, so that was all last year. Some of you remember that as well. And those are all online as well if anyone would like to study the book of Genesis. The book of beginnings. The book that helps us with the questions that people have been plagued with for years and years and years, like “why is there something rather than nothing?” “Where did everything come from?” “Why is there this something?” “What does it mean to be a human person?” That is an important question right now, and where you go for an answer really matters to how you see yourself and how you see others in this world around us. So, Genesis, great place to go.
Then we thought, “well, as we start a new year, let’s go to the first book of the New Testament, to the gospel according to Matthew”. I just have a couple of introductory comments if you do not mind. The authorship, well, we are not a hundred percent certain of this, and in these four gospel accounts, none of them really say, you know, “to all of you from me, my name is Matthew”, it does not start that way. That is the way ancient literature was written. But all the way back to the second century, Papias, and Irenaeus, two early church leaders, attribute a gospel to the disciple named Matthew. At the end of the second century and into the third century, the learned scholar, Origen, refers to a gospel by Matthew. In the fourth century, they are all joined by Eusebius, who was one of the early church historians, and by Jerome, one of the leading theologians of the first few centuries of the church. They all recognized and referred to a gospel account that was written by Matthew.
Who was Matthew? Not unlike others of that time, he appears to have had two names. In Mark’s gospel, chapter two, and Luke’s gospel chapter five, he is referred to as Levi, the son of Alphaeus, and in his own book, Matthew, he tells the account of when he, a tax collector in chapter nine, became a believer. He had his pen, he was there at work, and evidently the Lord Jesus walked right by and just said two words to him that radically changed his life, “follow me”. Matthew stood up, took his pen with him, (as he had kept a record of what people owed as a tax collector) and somewhere along the line, my assumption is that perhaps even Jesus changed his name to Matthew from Levi. Levi, the tax collector, keeping a record of what people owed, changed his name to Matthew, which means “gift of God” and began a record of how Jesus paid it all. You and I, our account with God can be settled right now because of the finished work of Christ.
This is an amazing book. I am really excited about getting to study it together. There will be some important themes. We are calling our study of it, “The King and His Kingdom”. The name “Jesus” appears one hundred seventy-nine times in these twenty-eight chapters. You know, it is not magic, it is not, I am not into numerology and all sorts of that. I am just noticing that if you see certain words show up a lot, you kind of get a sense of what the author had in his original intent in writing. He wants to tell us about the King. He wants to tell us about Jesus. “Kingdom” is mentioned fifty-four times and thirty-one of those times, it is coupled with “of heaven”. Kingdom of Heaven, (and Matthew is careful to not say “Kingdom of God”, because he is a Jewish guy. He would avoid uttering, you know, and speaking, “Yahweh”. He would avoid that out of respect for the name. He would not want that name to be on sinful lips, so he would say Kingdom of Heaven). Fulfillment themes are mentioned sixteen times in Matthew. In this chapter that we will study today, it begins right there.
It is kind of cool that in addition to all the miracles of Jesus, Matthew contains the largest collection of Jesus’ teachings of any of the four gospels. When we get to the Sermon on the Mount in chapters five, six, and seven, was it all spoken in one setting? I do not know, but a lot of us assumed that that was the case, but this guy is an accountant, I got a feeling he has got all kinds of paperwork that he is carrying around with him as he is collecting stuff. Maybe it was, maybe it was not all spoken at one moment, but the Sermon on the Mount is very important. This accountant organizes his material and puts it in what we call chapter five, six, and seven. He did not call it that, but we do in our English Bibles.
The parables are here, and they are well organized, as well as the stories of Jesus’ miracles. But in terms of the body of teaching, or the things that Jesus said, the Sermon on the Mount parables, and then that amazing Mount Olivet discourse that we will get to in chapters twenty-four and twenty-five, it is one more time looking at what Jesus had to say about the end of times and what His role is in all of it. If Genesis offers us a record of the creation fall in the beginning of God’s unfolding plan of redemption in Genesis chapter three, as we learned. Here, we are kind of zooming way high up to like a hundred-thousand-foot view as we begin this book. We are going to go all the way back actually to Abraham.
I do not know if this has happened to you, but do you feel like after the last couple of years you have pretty much exhausted all that Netflix and Amazon Prime have to offer? Raise your hand if you think you have seen most of what they have got. The other thing is, I do not know if you have noticed this, but most of them, most of those shows and I am sure, you know, we enjoy them. Kim and I are now into the sort of phase where we are even watching ones with subtitles. It is okay with us. We will take whatever. We just want a good story, and we really like stuff from the UK, by the way, because it just really seems to be about the story and not about, you know, let me persuade you to this cultural moment or whatever. It is about the murder mystery or the, whatever it is. I love that kind of stuff. I have noticed that a lot of them roll credits at the end, you know, so you get who played the role of this and all that sort of thing. Then whose music it was and all that, that all comes at the end. Matthew is kind of the inversion of all of that, isn’t it? Some of you may have read ahead. I do not know if you did or not, but we are going to begin with verse one and look with me at it, if you will. It is the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. So right at the beginning, you know, all of you who just love genealogies, this one is for you, you know, and this is a really great way to start.
I am going to read through the chapter, and I am going to come back to a couple of comments about Matthew and I think you will start to see as you get to know this brother, (you know, our older brother, Matthew), but that is the way it begins. He says the book of the genealogy or the record of the genesis or the origins of Jesus Christ. And remember we have said this before, “Christ” is not His last name. It is not like Jim Thomas; my last name is Thomas. Okay. So, Christ is a title. It is the Greek version of “Christos”. It is the Greek version of the Hebrew title, Messiah. Matthew, the Jewish tax collector, well educated, great at keeping records, what he starts with is identifying Jesus as God’s anointed one. He starts off that way. There is no guesswork here. It is not something that happened four hundred years after Jesus ascended back into heaven and then four hundred years later, some of His followers wanted to prop up the image of their fallen hero. No, from the beginning of the New Testament, it is accepted as fact that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham, because Christ would have to be the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham. Jesus knew that, so he begins with that kind of bold statement that just says, this is true about Jesus.
Let me connect the dots for you. He is the Son of David, and He is the Son of Abraham. The promise of God’s covenant promises goes all the way back to Genesis chapter twelve, which we studied in the book of Genesis, and that is the Abrahamic covenant. Then there is the Davidic covenant, which is that the Lord would take one of David’s King David’s descendants and establish this throne, the throne of David forever. We just sang “Forever” didn’t we, I love, that is a beautiful word in the Bible, “forever”. He is King forevermore. So, this just starts off that way. Let me fly through this list of forty-two names. If you can, keep up with me, listen fast, will you? Because it goes fast.
“To Abraham was born Isaac, to Isaac, Jacob, and to Jacob, Judah, and his brothers. To Judah were born Perez and Zerah, twins by Tamar, [that is a woman, not usually mentioned. Women are not usually mentioned in ancient Jewish genealogies but there will be five mentioned. Four will be the ancestral mothers, if you will, of Jesus. One will be the biological mother of Jesus. Okay,] to Abraham was born Isaac, Jacob Judah, and to Judah, Perez and Zerah by Tamar, [and a little bit more in a few minutes on her]. To Perez was born Hezron, to Hezron, Ram, to Ram was born Amminadab, to Amminadab Nashon. To Nashon, Salmon, Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab, [another woman] and to Boaz as was born Obed by Ruth, [another woman], and to Obed, Jesse. To Jesse was born David the king, [and they would all have known David the king. And here he draws that direct line between Jesus and David the king]. To David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah, [Anybody know her name? Bathsheba, Most of you know her name, that is great, wonderful.] to Solomon was born Rehoboam, to Rehoboam, Abijah, to Abijah, Asa, to Asa was born Jehosephat, to Jehosephat, Jehoram, to Jehoram, Uzziah, to Uzziah was born Jotham, to Jotham Ahaz, to Ahaz, Hezikiah, to Hezikiah was born Manasseh, to Manasseh, Amon, to Amon, Josiah, to Josiah were born Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, to Jeconiah was born Shealtiel, and to Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, and to Zerubbabel was born Abihud, And Abihud, Eliakim, and Eliakim, Azor, and to Azor was born Zadok, and to Zadok, Akim, and to Akim was born Elihud, and to Elihud was born Eleazar, to Eleazar, Matthan, and to Matthan, Jacob, and to Jacob was born Joseph, the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born.”
That’s interesting, the rhythm is broken there. Did you notice that? It is not, he was not born to Joseph, but Joseph was married to Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ, Christos. In Latin “Christus”. In Hebrew, “Messiah”. This is just amazing. Therefore, all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations. I like the pacing here. This is an accountant at work. Do you know an accountant? An accountant would do this. Three groups of fourteen, makes it easy to memorize when it is three groups of fourteen, and guess what they depended on a lot in the ancient times, oral tradition, memorized. So, you see that makes so much sense that he would group it this way. He does not, (as is the tradition with ancient genealogies, especially biblical ones), it does not mean he is saying the name of every generation. It just means that, and they would use the term, “who was the father of the father of the father”. Just sometimes we would be the, you know, I mean, if David is the father of Jesus, there are a bunch of generations between them. But Jesus is his descendant in a way. In this genealogy, Jesus, and this is really a tracing of the record of the Joseph line. In Luke’s gospel chapter three, we have more of Mary’s line by the good doctor and historian himself, Luke, who well researched, you know, everything. But here it is, you know, sort of the legal, if you will, genealogy of Jesus, whereas in Luke three, the biological or the physical generations leading up to Jesus. So, this is great. By the way, if you or someone, you know, is planning on having a child in the next couple of years or whatever, there’s some great names in here. I would love to see somebody come back with a Shealtiel, and we will dedicate that baby right away. I will give you a slot all by yourself. We will not, we will do double, triple or whatever. If you have got a Jehosephat, bring ’em on, okay. We are happy about that.
All right, so that is the genealogy of Jesus. It goes all the way back to David, all the way back to Abraham, and it connects Jesus to these messianic promises and these important covenants in the history of the world. It is a hundred-thousand-foot view of the history of redemption that culminates or finds fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus. Now watch the rest of the chapter, and then we will make a few comments and we will be done.
“Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows, [Doesn’t that sound like an accountant? Now, here is what happened. Boom. I am just the facts, you know.] when his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together, [That implies exactly what you think it implies. Some of you. Not all of you, but some of you are thinking that I am sure.] she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [In their day and time, by the way, the whole idea of becoming married was a lot different than ours. You know, in our day in time, it is kind of you grow up, you kind of sift through the, you know, the social landscape, you may be set your eyes on somebody. You hope they notice you. You know, I noticed with some of the teenage boys around here, they start wearing deodorant and combing their hair and stuff. It is like, suddenly, they are kind of, you know, they are thinking maybe there is somebody they might like or whatever and they want them to like them back, so they do not want to smell bad. They try to look, you know, brush their teeth, whatever. That is the way it is now. Back then, see a wedding, a marriage, may have been arranged by the parents. Think about if that happened to you in your day and time? Wouldn’t you be nice to your parents growing up? Wouldn’t you be like, “hey mom, dad, I, yeah, I honor you all my life. I obey everything you tell me to do. Let’s pick a good one”, you know, that kind of thing. But here, back in their day and time, it is quite possible that this could have been an arranged thing. They had three stages really, to sort of the marriage process, there was engagement, betrothal, and then there was the marriage ceremony itself or the consummation where the marriage is consummated. So, in the stage at which these two are at, it says here in verse eighteen, that they are, that Mary is betrothed to Joseph. That means they are in the year remaining before the actual ceremony, the wedding ceremony is going to take place, and it is as good as if you are married. It is just that it is not physically consummated. So, the commitment is now so serious that it would require a writ of divorce if you were to want to break off and not actually go through with it. What we have here is that Mary’s betrothed, Joseph, before they came together physically,] she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. [we get some insight into these human beings, and it is very important for us, I think, to remember that they are human beings. You have read and we have taught many times from the account in Luke. So, we have the birth narratives in both Luke and in Matthew here, don’t we, and we are all familiar with the fact that the angel appears to Mary and says, “you are going to have a child”. She says, “How can this be? I am a virgin”, and last time she checked, and last time all of us checked that does not happen to virgins, right? But the angel goes on to say, “This will be something the Holy Spirit will do”. There is none of this nonsense about, as you see in some pagan religions where there is a deity that in some way physically couples with a human, it is not that. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and the Holy Spirit will do something that we still cannot explain. It is not that same kind of thing that you read about in some of the pagan religions, and the assurance is going to be given to Joseph that he needs to go ahead. Even though he currently, in verse nineteen is thinking to himself, “I do not know how this happened to Mary. I do not know. I hear her saying what she is saying, because she seems to know, she seems to suggest that God did it.” But if you are on Joseph’s side of that message, it is going to be hard to accept, right? So, verse twenty comes because the Lord God is doing something much bigger than the laws of physics currently.
He was going put her away secretly, verse twenty-one], “When he had considered this, behold an angel the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, [So here is this angel appearing to Joseph in this dream,] Joseph son of David, [knows his name, knows his lineage, might even be queuing him up with that term, ‘son of David’. Might be queuing him up to think in his dream about the Messiah’s line.] Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son. [This is before sonograms], so the angel already knows the gender. She will bear a son. She will call His name, Jesus. [He has even given the name to Joseph in the dream]. For it is He who will save His people from their sins, [that is kind of what the name Jesus means, “God or Yahweh is Salvation”. It was a common name back then. It was not that uncommon. There certainly would have been other people named Jesus back then much like in our own day and time, there are names that are kind of popular or whatever for the time being.] His name will be Jesus because He will save His people from their sins. Now, all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord, through the prophet might be, [here it is], fulfilled”.
Matthew is very much about the fulfillment issue and the subject of fulfillment in his gospel. This took place, in other words, it was planned. It was not random. It did not just happen. It was planned, and now it is being fulfilled. It was even predicted. He is going to quote Isaiah 7:14 and show how the prophet predicted that this would happen. So planned, predicted, fulfilled in the person of Jesus. That is why verse one is so important. This is Jesus the Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. He is in that line. He is the Messiah, and He will save His people from their sins. Isaiah had predicted this, verse twenty-three, “behold the virgin shall be with child, shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, (which translated means “God with us”).”
Why would God even bother to be with us? That has crossed my mind so many times. Why would God even bother with this rebellious planet, with this dark-loving planet, full of people that run the other way. With this group of people who, when you look at this list even, you see all kinds of brokenness, all kinds of rebellion, all kinds of messiness. Yet it is through that line that the Messiah will come, but He will not come in the normal way. He will be very unusual. This conception is very unusual, and His birth is powerful that He would come and become one of us.
“Joseph arose from his sleep. [This is beautiful about Joseph], he arose from his sleep, and he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took her as his wife. [I wish Jim Thomas was, I wish that I would be that resolved to God’s will as it has been revealed to me, because I have got a whole book full of God’s will right here. I wish that every morning I got up and went out and did this. Somebody identify with me or am I all alone in this? I mean, this right here, this is the Word of the Lord to me. You know, and, Joseph, who we do not know a lot about, we do not know how he disappears from the scene. We are not sure, but one thing I know about him is that when the Lord spoke to him in this dream, through this angel, he got up the next day and did what God told him to do. Oh, may we get up tomorrow morning and do what God has already told us to do. Then Joseph, it says here in verse twenty-five], he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son, and he called his name, Jesus”.
There is so much there. If you are interested and concerned about this, some of you may have heard that the word “virgin” there, (“alma”), could also be translated to “young woman” or “young girl”. While I will acknowledge that is true, please understand that in around the third century B.C., when the Jews, not the Christians, but when the Jews decided to make a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, including Isaiah, where it says “alma”, “a virgin shall be with child”, the Jews who translated into Greek in the third century B.C., use the word “Parthenos”, which is a Greek word most regularly used for “virgin”.
The other thing that is true about this angel saying this, “it should be a sign for you”, you know, and the prophet saying that “it will be a sign for you”, is that it is not a sign if it is just a young woman having a baby. Why? Well, because young women have babies all the time. It is a sign because a virgin has a baby. That is what makes it remarkable, different, extraordinary.
That is also important for us because Jesus is both human and divine, He is not just the product of a male and a female coming together so that He is just a human, but He is both. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, and what we have is the Godman, Emmanuel, God with us. What a beautiful chapter, what a great way to start. I mean, this is awesome.
All right, so when you read through Matthew, here is what you learn about Matthew. He is humble. What I really like about Matthew is that he, there are no selfies, he never quotes himself, okay. So, you are not going to see a lot of Matthew saying, “and I said to, so and so, you know, you know,” he is not doing that, he is not doing that at all. Here is me and Jesus. You know, he is not doing any of that. He is humble, and He is Jewish, we know that. Levi, a very Jewish name, named after one of the leaders, the heads of the twelve tribes, but for Matthew who is humble, it is not about Matthew. It is about Jesus. He is not a product of the culture of self-expression. Matthew is not that. Matthew is a part of the culture of kingdom realities, and he wants to promote Jesus, the King and His Kingdom. Matthew sees Matthew’s story as fitting into His-story, Jesus’ story. He is a part of that, and it is beautiful.
He appears to write with a Jewish audience in mind. He quotes the Old Testament more than any of the other gospels. Some say, I have seen numbers as low as fifty times he quotes the Old Testament, and I have seen other numbers as high as ninety-nine times. And that is probably based on some of the inference-type passages where it is echoing some of what is in the Old Testament, but that is a lot of Old Testament quoting. He is a tax collector, so that means he was scorned and hated by his own people.
Isn’t it interesting, the people that Jesus gathered around Him? If you read Peter J. Williams’ “Can We Trust the Gospels?”, I think is the name of the book, it is really great because he says one of the most fantastic things about the four gospel records is that they are unlikely. There are so many aspects to them that are unlikely. It is unlikely that it would be women that would be the first ones to the tomb and the ones that you would count on their testimony in that day and age to bear witness to the fact that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Why? Cause they could not. Women could not even be witnesses in a court of law. They just did not have that privilege and that status. But even these disciples that Jesus gathers around, and Matthew included, it is fascinating to me how they do not really go together and even throughout all four gospels, you see them telling the truth about their weaknesses. You know that Peter denied Christ three times. You know that, I mean, they are just upfront and honest that it is really all about Jesus and it is not really all about us. I love that about Matthew. He is a skillful record keeper, and we will see that more as we go through. He is a disciple of Jesus. What I am saying here is he is an eyewitness and an ear witness to what we are going to read in these twenty-eight chapters. So, this is first-hand witness credibility instead of some theologian two thousand years later, trying to posit the notions, you know, that trying to weed it all out, thin it all out.
Here is what I think from two thousand years later. The arrogance of people in our own day and time to not just take the ancient text and let it speak, to allow it to speak, you might think it rubbish, but at least be honest enough to let it speak and to consider the veracity, the potential veracity, and the credibility of this text. He is a disciple of Jesus, earwitness, eyewitness, a gifted teacher himself. He will include, as I say, more teachings than anyone else.
So that is a bit of what we know about Matthew. We will call this chapter, “Who is this King and What is His Kingdom Like?” I think for the first part, the genealogy, is “Who is this King?” Look, He is the Son of David, He is the Son of Abraham, he is the Messiah. Then “What is His Kingdom like?” Well, it begins with this plan of salvation that God thought up, and then God comes and invades space-time history to become one of us and to come and be with us. Really powerful, wonderful.
Included in this genealogy, as I said earlier, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, four of the ancestral mothers of Jesus, two of them likely not even Jewish, Canaanites. One of them an-out-and-out professional prostitute, Rahab the harlot. Ruth, a Moabitess, not even Jewish. (The tribe, the Moabites, came from the incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters.) All I am saying here is, this list of forty-two names overflows with the cry for redemption. We overflow with that same cry because in our day and time, with all that is going on in the world around us, we have come to, we have fallen to our knees and we find ourselves lifting the empty hands of faith and saying, “Help Lord”, “Mercy Lord”, “Redeem Your people, Lord”, “We need You Lord”. That is what is beautiful about a chapter like this, the Bible is set in space-time history, we are reminded of that.
“Matthew does not begin with ‘once upon a time’, [Keller says] This is the genealogy of Jesus. It means he is grounding what Jesus Christ is and does in history. Jesus is not a metaphor. He is real. This all happened.”
You see if all of this did not actually happen, if it’s fantasy, myth, legend, if it is augmented reality or artificial reality, then the only redemption we are going to have is also artificial and augmented. If you, as a human person, if I, as a human person, really need redemption, we need real redemption, not artificial, not augmented. We need real names, real people here in this chapter, real places in the real world, not a fairy tale, not a fantasy. And I love that because this is a real offer of real redemption. I know I need it. Even when I retreat into my phone and my fake world, I still need real redemption, and so do you, if you are honest about it all.
Secondly, redemption history was and is in motion. We see that here, don’t we? It is flowing, it is moving fast. Matthew, the great record keeper, does a good job of that here. Look at forty-two names, you know, and there were more names, but here are forty-two of them. That certainly helped a lot of people see that God was on the move. God was doing things. I love “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, most of you do as well. You probably remember the scene where Father Christmas comes around, everything is covered in snow. It is all ice and all that sort of thing. “Seems like it is always winter and never, [Yeah, that is good, you guys now go home and read “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”. But yeah,] it’s always winter and never Christmas.” Sometimes it feels that way here in our day and time too. It feels a little like we have been going through winter for two years and never got to Christmas, even though we had that holiday thing. But when does Christmas come? When does this wonderful thing happen? And the beauty is that this thing is not wrapped up in fiction and I love C.S. Lewis, and I love his fiction, but it is wrapped up in history. It is wrapped up in reality. What it is saying is that God’s redemption plan is in motion. It is in motion now and it is real redemption.
I love the way John Piper says,
“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them”.
Is that awesome or what? I mean, we are all the time, you know, driving around and not even seeing the stuff we are passing. I remember when Kim and I were on the road for all those years, we would sometimes, I would drive like, you know, we would be in our little van going to do a concert in some basement of some church or something like that, and we would drive, sometimes I would drive a whole hour and not even remember the last hour on the road. It is just a blur, you know? We live, some of us live that way and we are missing, we are only seeing three things and He is doing ten thousand things. If you wake up, if I wake up, if we were to do that, we will see God at work in so many wonderful and really, truly powerful ways. So, redemption history was and is in motion.
Thirdly, the genealogy of Jesus reflects God’s love for the entire world. I think that is really important for us to know. It cannot be emphasized too strongly, that when it comes to the atonement, please understand this, God’s love is the cause, not the consequence of the atonement. Do you hear what I am saying? God does not love you because Jesus died for you. God, Christ came and died for you because God loves you. You see the difference? “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Now get that inside of your head and heart, especially if you have been steeped in a sort of performance mentality all your life and you think that that is what it takes for you to be accepted by God. That you have got to perform at a certain level and balance out the scales. Well, that is not true. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that there, get rid of the scales, there are no scales. This is an offer, God’s done for you that you cannot do for yourself. Would you like that offer? Would you receive that offer from Him? Look at that. How beautiful is His grace toward us.
Matthew, I want to, just from the standpoint of the message of Matthew, I want to put it in one sentence for you. This will be point number four, the King has come, and His Kingdom has been inaugurated. It has begun. That is what chapter one basically says. The King has come. He has been born into the world. You know, here we go. Call His name Jesus. Joseph responded to what the angel told him to do and called His name, Jesus. And here we go, get ready. You know, I mean the next, you know, twenty-seven chapters are just a wild ride, and it is awesome.
James N. Anderson says,
“If there were to be an invasion of the imminent by the transcendent, all for the salvation of sinners, would we not expect it to be mysterious, to defy human comprehension? Such mystery would be a mark of reality, not human invention”.
In other words, all of this about a virgin birth. All of this about angels appearing and speaking to somebody in a dream, all of this about connecting the dots between Jesus of Nazareth, from first century Jewish, to poor Jewish carpenter guy, right? Connecting him back to David, connecting him back to Abraham. All that sounds mysterious in a lot of ways, but it is kind of so mysterious, it sounds like what would happen if the transcendent invaded the imminent. Yeah, is sure does, doesn’t it?
I want to close with this quote from David Gooding, great Bible teacher. This is from his commentary on the book of Hebrews. He says,
“God has appointed us a captain of our salvation, made Him responsible for seeing us through this world home to glory. Thank God we can count on His faithfulness and know that He will never fail. Never once lose His patience or His temper with any of us, but will fulfill, [there it is.] His appointed task to the very end. He will save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him”.
So, will you come? Have you come? If you have come before, abide in Him as Andrew Murray, a wonderful little book that he wrote. I am using that as a daily reader myself. And it is powerful, but this idea that we abide in Christ is so amazing. He will save to the uttermost, somebody, there is no way He can save you or forgive you or possibly love you, and yet, no, this is exactly what the claim of the Bible is. He will save to the uttermost, no matter how far you have run, no matter how much you have rebelled. He is in the business of saving sinners like me and like you, and like these forty-two names on here that include everything from prostitutes to murderous kings, like King David. To the broken, like Bathsheba, who was kidnapped and raped. To the incestuous relationship of Tamar with Judah, her father-in-law, because he, Judah, was so unfaithful and disrespectful to her and yet she thought the solution was to dress up like a prostitute and seduce him. We need the redeeming power of God in Jesus Christ because some of us try to take charge and do it ourselves and we just cannot do it. It is a burden too great for us to bear. We need Him to save us to the uttermost. Amen?
Let’s pray. ‘Lord, thank You for Your word. How excited we are to open the front page of Matthew’s gospel and just find ourselves here. Standing in the line of those who are at the foot of the cross and in great need of Your redemption, but how wonderful that You came. You did not have to. How wonderful that You came. You did not owe it to us. Give us Lord now a greater vision for You, our King, and the Kingdom that You have invited us to become a part of. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen and amen.’
(Edited for Reading)