Friday, January 08, 2010

What if Matthew's Gospel was about Jesus? (Because sometimes I can't see the wood for the trees)

I find it really easy to treat the Bible as a mirror to try and find myself in rather than a window through which to see Jesus. I know I'm not alone in this - I heard a preacher recently on Matthew 2 doing just this - it was a valiant attempt and I'm not critiquing him here at all. Lots of attempts at application and call to worship Jesus without actually telling us who Jesus is. A bit like chasing the wind. I'm all for application, but we have to start (and continue, and end) with Jesus. My wife and I spent some time reading Matthew over Christmas, not something we often seem to make the time for. Assuming that The Gospel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew is about Jesus then, these are some of our notes...
  • We open with the genealogy of Jesus (1:1) to tell us that Jesus is both son of David and Abraham. Any son of David is a son of Abraham so some of that seems a bit redundant... unless Abraham is going to be important to understanding who Jesus is, he the one who will bring his blessed rule to all nations (28:19-20)? The genealogy isn't actually that of Jesus but of his adopted father Joseph, and it's a royal line. Matthew is trying to tell us that Jesus is the royal heir to David's throne. He's not irrelevant and neither is his genealogy - he's the king forever! 
  • We're told that he'll be called Jesus because he'll save his people from their sins. This is to fulfil the promise that the Christ would be called Immanuel meaning God with us. Which begs the question why he's not called Immanuel. There must be some connection between the Christ saving us from our sins and God being with us. God saves and welcomes us. It's not just cool that he fulfils prophecy, it's the gospel.
  • In the incident with the wise men and the star (which seemed to distract the preacher), we're told that the one who was promised to be born in Bethlehem is the one who is shepherd and ruler of his people. King forever, saviour, God with us, shepherd and ruler....  David was the prototype, Herod an anti-type, Jesus is the good King who looks after his people. 
  • The wise men come "from the east" - in Genesis when people head east they're always going away from God's presence... could it be that they show us something of the nations being gathered in by Abraham's son?
  • He flees to Egypt to fulfil the promise that God's son would come out of Egypt. And yet he doesn't come out of Egypt, he comes out of Israel... Has Israel under King Herod become like Egypt under Pharaoh...  this baby King flees to safety by God's word. On top of which, Matthew is telling us Jesus is like Israel - he is God's son, he is the true Israel, the true people of God. It's not about us - Jesus is the faithful people of God.
So, worship Jesus- the eternal king who saves his people from their sins so that God will be with them, the good shepherd of his people who is God's son who comes out of the oppressive slavery of tyrants, to bring life to all the nations of the world! Jesus does it all just as promised in the Father's Spirit-breathed word - and this is amazingly good news. I want to know this Jesus, increasingly in all his revealed splendour. I know myself so prone to wander and just jump to me when I open the Bible, rather than seeing the one who the good book is all about.