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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’

As discussed in yesterday’s post, some characters from the Christmas story , despite their close proximity to the miracle, miss Christmas entirely.

We can make a case that the chief priests and scribes missed Christmas.  As strange as it sounds, those whose life was dedicated to the scriptures, to God’s law and teachings, missed God’s arrival as foretold in prophecy.

In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 2:1-2), Matthew tells us that after Jesus was born, Kings from the east came to Jerusalem looking for “the King of the Jews.”  Herod, when he heard this unsettling news immediately called for his experts in the field, the people most knowledgeable about such things.  He called the Chief Priest and the scribes, the experts in Jewish religion and writings.

As expected, these men knew exactly what the Kings of the east were referring to and where the “King” would be born.  Despite that knowledge, they had no presence in Bethlehem.  No one was monitoring the births of boys in town.  No one seemed to be watching for a Messiah in Bethlehem at all.

The words of the prophet Micah were no more than pen strokes on a parchment scroll.  The knowledge of God that these men had never translated into faith in God, so they missed Christmas.

We don’t want to judge them too harshly as this could happen to you or to me.  We might, like those men and others like them, mistake the mere knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word and even a role as a religious leader as sufficient to satisfy God.  Beware, even the religious leaders, the most “Holy” men of their time, missed Christmas.  Knowledge of God doesn’t equal saving faith in God.

If you do not have a personal, intimate, saving relationship with God.  If you don’t know Him (not just of Him), you can change that today.  Pray the following prayer to change your status from outsider, to child of God.  Don’t miss Christmas.

Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and I have broken your law.
I need a Savior; I cannot save myself.  Please allow your shed blood to cleanse me of my sin. Forgive me and cleanse me.  I want to live for you, to submit myself to you, to be a child of God.

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Sometimes we are told to “Make a joyful shout to the LORD” (Psalm 100) and  “Praise Him with clashing cymbals! (Psalm 150)”  Other times, we can be quiet.

We can be quiet in His strength

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says,  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The picture here is of oxen pulling a plow or a wagon.  The two animals would be yoked together.   A yoke is “a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal.”  In order to be yoked together, animals must be comparable in size, stamina and desire to work.   This provides an important spiritual lesson to the believer.

When we are yoked to Jesus, we go where He goes (by necessity).  Because of the yoke, we must look at what He looks at, see what He sees.  By being joined together like this, we benefit from His wisdom and His strength, and we can just be quiet.  Sometimes it is good to just walk alongside Jesus, yoked to Him, quietly learning from Him.

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The gospel of John represents one piece in a four-part testimony of the life of Jesus.  This is important because the Bible requires that there be two witnesses to establish a fact.  The use of four gospels each based on testimony of eye witnesses makes the totality of the gospels very credible.  The fact that each of the gospels is not identical to the others adds to the overall credibility.

If one were to interview four eye-witnesses to any event in history, each of them would emphasize different facts and provide a different presentation of the information depending on their audience.  That is exactly what we find in the gospels – four unique but internally consistent testimonies of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, a real man who lived a real life in Israel.

Looking at all four gospels, we see that each is addressed to a different audience, for example, the Gospel of Mark is written with a gentile (primarily Roman) audience in mind.  Little detail of Jewish history or culture is included.

The Gospel of Matthew is written to the Jewish reader.  Matthew starts off with a very detailed genealogy of Jesus and emphasizes  Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.

The Gospel of Luke was written to a gentile audience.  In as much as Luke was a physician and educated in Greek, he writes a more detailed, carefully researched gospel focused on Jesus as the Son of Man a Savior sent to save the lost sinner.

The Gospel of John was written with a strong emphasis on the deity of Jesus Christ.  John wrote to encouraged believers and to call unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ

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The Bible is divided into 2 testaments or sections:

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament

The Old Testament, written mostly in Hebrew, comprises approximately 2/3 of the Bible, and the New Testament, written mostly in Greek, comprises the remaining  1/3.  The Old Testament covers a period of approximately 4,000 years, and the New Testament covers a period of approximately 100 years.

The breakdown of the books of the Old Testament has been provided in prior posts in this Bible Basics series (parts 1-6).  The New Testament was introduced in our last post.

The first section or division of the New Testament is the gospels.  Each of the gospels has a different writer and a different target audience.  Each of the gospels also portrays or emphasizes a different aspect of Jesus.

  • Gospel of Matthew
  1. Written by Matthew also known as Levi
  2. Written to the Jewish religious person
  3. Emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah prophesied of in the Old Testament
  • Gospel of Mark
  1. Written by John Mark
  2. Written to the Roman person (pragmatic)
  3. Emphasizes Jesus as the servant-redeemer
  • Gospel of Luke
  1. Written by Luke, a physician who had traveled with Paul
  2. Written to the Greek mind
  3. Emphasizes the man-nature of Christ (the Perfect man)
  • Gospel of John
  1. Written by John who stood at the cross of Jesus and wrote the Epistles of John and the book of Revelation
  2. Written to a more universal audience
  3. Emphasizes Jesus as the Son of Man

After the Gospels which all basically cover the same time period from at or around the birth of Christ until His trial, crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, is the book of Acts which covers the early history of the Church.

  • Book of Acts
  1. Written by Luke (also wrote the Gospel of Luke)
  2. History of the Early Church from Pentacost to Paul’s final trip to Rome
  3. Documents how the Holy Spirit moved through those who had been saved and how the Word of God spread through those who would believe.

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