Dearest Road Mappers,
I hope you all are enjoying your Fall and getting excited to head into the holidays!
This blog we will talk about the last two books of Matthew and the next blog we will close this book and begin......Acts!
The next two books focus on Church Administration(14-18) and The Judgment(19-25).
These last two books focus on Peter's great confession, the transfiguration, the third prediction of death, the way to Jerusalem, and the last great conversation.
The 5,000: 14
After the death of John by Herod , Jesus began a series of withdrawals from Galilee.
We see this in 14:13, 22; 15:21, 29, 39; 16:4-5, 13.
In one of these instances Jesus fed the 5,000. The act of “taking” the bread, “giving thanks,” “breaking” it, and “giving” it creates somewhat of a hint or a prelude to the last supper.
Let's address something that's mentioned in 14:13, “little faith.”
While many have now used this to define faith as something to be quantitative, it's actually unlikely that this would be the meaning of the expression. In Mark's gospel when he tells the same story he doesn't use the phrase “little faith,” but he asks, “Why do you not have faith?”(Mark 4:40) Likewise with Luke in his gospel asks, “Where is your faith?” It's more likely that the expression of “little” or “great” faith are metaphors for the presence or absence of faith.
Purity & Purity Laws: 15
Jesus already reversed the contamination of impurity in some of the healings by contact with lepers, blood, and death:
- Leper 8:2-3
- Woman with hemorrhage 9:20
- Dead girl 9:25
But here in chapter 15 Jesus addresses the purity laws in responding to a question he was asked about the ceremonial laws of washing of hands:
- He points out that the practice of washing hands was not written in the Torah but only in the Halakah(oral law).
- Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of all this legalism with the questions and accusations.
- He makes clear that true purity comes from the heart: 15:10-11, 16-20
Peter's Great Confession: 16:13-20
Jesus asks, “Who do you think I am?”
- Peter was the one offered the confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God
- Then Jesus gives a pun on Peter's name:
- In Greek, Petros or Petra, means rock.
- Jesus says, “upon this petra” he would build his community
- When he speaks about the “gates of Hades” he is making a metonymy referring to the realm of death. For example: even death would not overcome Christ's church.
FINAL WITHDRAWAL FROM GALILEE
The Transfiguration: 17:1-13
The transfiguration is something that is widely misunderstood or just not understood in general, so let's take a good deep look at it:
- Neither Moses nor Elijah ended their lives in ordinary ways
- Moses was 'buried' by God himself at Mt. Nebo/Pigsah(Deuteronomy 34:1, 5-6)
- Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind of fire in 2 Kings 2:11
- Together, Moses and Elijah represent the witness of The Law and witness of the prophets
When the three are together on the mountain- Moses, Elijah, and Jesus- the disciples saw them, then God spoke and a cloud appeared, and they fell to their faces. After Jesus told them to get up and have no fear, Moses and Elijah were gone. When the three were together in the cloud it was The Law, the prophets, and the fulfillment. When Jesus walks about alone it represents him fulfilling The Law and all that was prophesied.
LINKING THE THREE EVENTS:
- Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ
- Peter's confession is reshaped by Jesus' announcement that he will die in Jerusalem
- The experience of Jesus' future glory confirms the triumphant outcome
John the Baptist fulfills the prediction of the coming of Elijah
- “See I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.” Malachi 4:5
- Though John himself disclaimed his role as Elijah(John 1:21), Jesus indicated that he fulfilled the prediction of Malachi(Matthew 10-13 and Luke 1:17)
The Third Prediction of Death: 20:17-28
In addition to his suffering from the Jewish leaders the second prediction adds that he would be 'delivered up' or betrayed. Now, Jesus adds that he will be turned over to the Gentiles, mocked, and crucified. Though earlier Jesus had used the cross as a metaphor for discipleship(16:24), now he indicates that his death will actually be by crucifixion. Thus, the 'cup' then becomes a metaphor for his suffering, and his death will become a substantial payment(or ransom) for others.
ON TO JERUSALEM
Triumphant entry: 21:1-17
Riding on a donkey was a symbol of peace. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem with people chanting Hoshia-na! Which means Save Now! And soon after his arrival Jesus drove out the money exchangers who turned the Temple Courts into a market.
Three parables about whom God accepts 21:28-22:14
- The parable of the two sons validates John the Baptist’s ministry. It wasn't those who claimed acceptance, but those who did God’s will that were accepted.
- The parable of the vineyard farmers uses the known imagery of Israel as God’s vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). Here, the story of the rejected son moves to the rejected stone and the loss of a privileged status for the Jewish nation.
- The parable of the wedding banquet shows that anyone may come; however, all who come must come in an appropriate manner.
Controversies in Jerusalem
Various groups now challenged Jesus, hoping to entrap him and diminish his reputation among the people. Controversies of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes tested him publicly. These controversies led to the last great conversation, the conversation about the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and the fall of the temple.
Paying tax to Caesar 22:15-22
The question asked is a lose-lose situation....'is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar'
Here's why: if he supported the tax, he would lose popular support and if he objected, he could be reported as a resister.
Marriage in the Resurrection 22:23-33
The Sadducees question probably came out of an ongoing debate with the Pharisees over the idea of the resurrection(a question intended to discredit the reality of resurrection). Jesus' answer was double-edged. Not only did the Sadducees limit God's power to create new conditions, he also said that 'in the resurrection' those resurrected would be 'like the angels.' Jesus' quotation of Exodus 3:6 is in the present tense, indicating that God could hardly be the God of those who ceased to exist.
The Great Commandment 22:34-40
The difference between the greatest commandment and the Torah was simple: the Torah had 613 commandments and Jesus had one.
Who is David's Lord? 22:41-45
All agreed the messiah would be a descendant of David. There are three figures in view in Psalm 110, Yahweh (LORD), Adonai (my Lord), and David (the author of the Psalm). Jesus seemed to know his opponents would agree that Adonai in Psalm 110:1 referred to the Messiah.
THE LAST GREAT CONVERSATION
The Seven Woes
These “woes” use language that actually be received as curses.
Here they are:
…for preventing people from coming near to God 23:13
…for winning converts to a distorted religion 23:15
…for using a hierarchy of oath-formulas to evade the truth 23:16
…for nit-picking tithing practices while ignoring justice, mercy and faithfulness 23:23
…for the outward show of holiness but inward corruption 23:25
…for exalting external religion for appearances while harboring internal wickedness 23:27
…for extolling past prophets while murdering present ones 23:29
Each woe begins with a hypocrisy.
Jesus gives a conversation about the temple and addresses three things
- The destruction of the temple 24:1-2
- The “coming” of the Son of Man 24:3, 27, 30, 37, 39, 42, 44, 50
- The “end” and the question we ask is, does this “end” refer to the end of the temple or the end of the age? Most agree Jesus was referring the end of the temple
When reading Matthew24 and 25 the question is....is there a transition? No doubt Jesus starts with the temple, but where does he go from there?
What conclusions can we draw?
Next we will move on to the Passion of Christ, not the movie!
Let's take the next days to read the end of Matthew a few times. Yes, a few times. Read chapters 26 and 27 a few times over to have a fresh and ready look into how deep we will go.
It will get more heavy, the weight of his glory that is.
Let's be ready and praise Jesus!
One encouragement for this week is this:
“Whatever happens, never stop praising the Lord.”
I heard it once from a friend, and it has stuck with me for years.
God bless you my sweet Road Mappers,