When you finish this session, you should be able to:
- Understand the five models for discipleship
- Know the eight characteristics of kingdom life
- Understand how the Law is fulfilled
- Discern the correct attitudes which led to maturity
- Make a decision between the two ways of life
In Book One, we will look at the Narrative section to define what models Jesus used to train his disciples. Then, we will look at the Instruction section to discern from his teaching ministry what discipleship consists of in our lifestyle. Finally, we will see that Jesus calls for a decision to be made in our life.
| Overview |
Book One: Show and Tell Discipleship Matthew 3.1-7.29
IntroductionMatthew wrote his book as a training manual for the church at Antioch. In it, he made deliberate attempts at showing his readers that Jesus was the New Moses for the New Israel. The first division of the five books in his overall book is to be seen as a comparison with the five books of Moses called the Law of Moses in the New Testament (Luke 24.44).
The first of the five books within Matthew begins at Chapter Three. This book, like the other four, is broken into a narrative and an instruction section.
Book One deals with discipleship. In it, we will observe five models for discipleship, which by themselves are incomplete, but seen as a unit, form the basis for the instruction section on discipleship.
In Chapters Three and Four, Matthew shows these models being lived out in the lives of John the Baptist, the people who came to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus, and the first four disciples– Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
The five models are:
- Learning about Attacks
Narrative: The Models For Discipleship: Matthew 3.1-4.25
Model 1: Obeying Matthew Matt. 3.1-17
| John the Baptist, Obeyed: Matt. 3.1-4
There are four things Matthew points out about John the Baptist.
First, he preached in the desert. Second, he preached the message he was given. He told his followers to repent, which means to turn around and move toward God, and that the kingdom of Heaven (God) is near, i.e., God’s rule was breaking into the world. The kingdom of God can be seen in three events.
- The birth of Jesus
- The proclamation of John
- The ministry of Jesus himself
Third, John identified with Elijah in dress, which may suggest that he understood himself as the one who would prepare for the ministry of Jesus. Finally, he ate interesting food. Of these four points, the second demonstrates the obedience of John the Baptist.
| The People Obeyed: Matt. 3.5-6
It seems that people are always starving for reality. When John began preaching in the desert, they came from everywhere and obeyed the message of John the Baptist (Matt. 3.6).
| The Pharisees and Sadducees Disobeyed: Matt. 3.7-12
The Pharisees and Sadducees were the two religious groups of the day. The Pharisees believed in the unity and holiness of God; the election of Israel as God’s children, and in the absolute authority of the Torah. The stress of their religious beliefs was more ethical than theological. The Sadducees believed only in the written laws of the Pentateuch. They rejected the doctrine of life after death, angels, and demons. They came to view the event in the desert but did not participate (Matt. 3. 7).
Thought: What you believe may not be as important as who you believe.
Both groups were told two things. First, God was going to give them the ax because of their disobedience (Matt. 3.10). Relying on their past relationships would be of no avail. They could name-drop Abraham’s name all they wanted and it would not help (Matt. 3.9a). Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel. They believed that because they could trace their lineage back to him, they were safe as God’s children. To this idea, John says no!
Thought: Your relationship with God depends on you, not on who you know or on what denomination you belong to, or to what church you attend.
Second, both groups were told that God could choose who he desired (Matt. 3.9b). The real point is that God chooses the ones who choose him. It is important to note that in the middle of a passage concerning judgment, there is a message of hope.
Thought: There is always hope in the middle of our darkest hours. Look for it!
Matthew tells us that a person can be baptized with judgment (fire) or he or she can be baptized with the Spirit. Verses 10, 11, and 12 all end with the word fire. In verse 10, fire means judgment. In verse 12, fire means judgment also. Because the context is judgment, verse 11 must also be understood with the same meaning—judgment.
Jesus came for two purposes. First, He came to baptize his followers into life. This baptism was the inauguration of the age to come.
Second, he came to baptize into death (judgment). This judgment occurs at the close of this present evil age and the realization of the fulfillment of the age to come.
In simple terms: this present evil age is the age in which we live. It is an age dominated by evil because it is controlled by the Evil One, i.e., Satan. The age to come has already invaded the present evil age in the ministry of Jesus. He brought a little of heaven to earth. We now live in the presence of the future.
Thought: We make a choice, will we be judged or will we be baptized with the power of the Spirit of God?
| John and Jesus, Obeyed: Matt. 3.13-17
John did not want to baptize Jesus in water, but rather wanted the Spirit baptism which he had just forecast (Matt. 3.11). Even though he did not want to baptize Jesus, John obeyed and baptized him (Matt. 3.13-14). Jesus’ reply to John’s hesitation was that ...it is proper for us to do this… . Both needed to obey and they did (Matt. 3.15).
Jesus was baptized in obedience. As soon as Jesus came up out of the water (the indication is that he came to shore versus staying and confessing his sins of which he had none), he was empowered by the Spirit, and his Father proclaimed to all …this is my son. The term son as applied to Jesus is progressive in Matthew, from Son of Abraham, Son of David, Son of Joseph, Son of Mary, to My Son.
Thought: We are sons and daughters of many things as well. The most important one is to be called God’s son or daughter.
Model 2: Learning about Attacks: Matt. 4.1-11
To be attacked is one of the greatest fears in the world. Believers need to understand that attacks are going to be par for the course in their new life with Jesus. Their one-time friend, the Evil One, is now their enemy. He will constantly in every way try to regain his stronghold on those who now follow Christ.
Thought: Jesus was not immune from attacks, neither are we.
| Attacked by Satan: Matt. 4.1
The words led by in verse 1 could be translated snatched away. These words give a much deeper meaning than led by. There is something violent and stormy about them. The word tempted could be translated attacked. This word definitely carries a war-like feel to it.
Verse 1 could then read: Then after being baptized, coming to shore, being empowered by the Spirit, and hearing the word from God, Jesus was snatched away by the Spirit into the desert to be attacked by Satan.
There are two things which should be noted with this translation:
- Jesus was removed by the Spirit.
- The Spirit’s presence with Jesus at the point of attack by Satan.
Thought: Regardless of where the enemy attacks us, God’s Spirit will be present to protect
| Attacked at the Weakest Moment: Matt. 4.2
Jesus was attacked after forty days and nights of fasting when he was the hungriest. The Evil One knows our weakest moments. It is at those minutes that he will attack. That Jesus survived may be a further indication of the Spirit’s help as he remained with Jesus during this period.
Thought: It will be at your weakest point that the Evil One will attack.
| Attack-Counterattack #1: Matt. 4.3-4
The first attack of Satan was asking Jesus to misuse his sonship. The word tempter in verse 3 could be translated attacker. Verses 5 and 8 tell us the attacker is the devil, while verse 10 identifies him as Satan. The attack of Satan was not at the point of questioning the sonship of Jesus, …If you are…, but rather affirming that Jesus was God’s son. The if should be translated since, thus reading, Since you are God’s son, make you something to eat. The attack was to misuse his sonship.
Thought: The attacks of the enemy will usually occur around something which is good in your life. His attack will be for you to misuse or abuse the good.
The counterattack of Jesus came by Jesus using Scripture (Deuteronomy 8.3). Jesus knew the specific word to use on Satan to lay the attack to rest.
Thought: It is important for us to know Scripture so we can use it as a defensive weapon on the enemy. Beware that you don’t pick up the habit of using Scripture as a weapon to beat up on your family, friends, and other believers or go on a random verse quoting spree.
| Attack-Counterattack #2: Matt. 4.5-7
The second attack was asking Jesus to make a public display of his sonship and prove God’s word correct. Satan said two can play at this game; if you are going to quote Scripture, so am I. The Scripture quoted by Satan was really misquoted (Psalm 91.11-12). Satan left out a whole phrase.
Thought: If you know the real thing, you will be able to spot the phony.
The counterattack of Jesus again comes by the use of the OT (Deuteronomy 6.16).
| Attack-Counterattack #3: Matt. 4.8-10
The third attack was the climax of the struggle. Worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world…. The exchange would be one kingdom for many kingdoms.
Thought: The Evil One is always willing to trade you one item for another. The downside is that what you receive from him, looks like it is more and wonderful, but it is really less and only a facade.
The counterattack is again the use of Scripture (Deuteronomy 6.13).
Jesus commands him to leave. Satan responded to the command and left (4.11). The attacks of Satan are being explained in these verses.
Model 3: Timing Matt. 4.12-17
Jesus did not immediately go out and begin to preach. First, he went home, probably to rest from the ordeal he had just encountered. When he left home, he began to travel and proclaim the kingdom of God.
Thought: The Old Testament says that there is a time for everything. It is right!
Jesus’ message was the same as John’s message (cf. Matt. 3.2). The difference was that the king was now making this statement. When it was the right time, Jesus did what he needed to do.
Model 4: Calling Matt. 4.18-22
Jesus called the disciples to be what they were. They would only change their catch. He wasn’t going to fish for them but teach them further how to fish (Matt. 4.19, 21b). The response was immediate (Matt. 4.20, 22).
Thought: God will provide an opportunity for us to be utilized by him to do his work. The good news: he never asks us to do anything that we are not capable of doing.
Model 5: Ministering: Matt. 4.23-25
Matthew demonstrates the process of discipleship by showing Jesus’ model for his disciples who were involved in the following three areas:
- Teaching (Word)
- Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom (Word)
- Healing (Works)
The words and the works of Jesus are the same. What he says, he does. What he does, he says.
The response of the hurting people was to come and get help. Distance did not make a difference (Matt. 4.25).
Thought: When we follow this pattern, we will have the same results—hurting people will come to be helped.
Some Basic Affirmations
- God wants obedience.
- The enemy will attack at our weakest moment.
- We need to learn the art of counterattacks.
- There is a right time for us to minister.
- God is very interested in believers knowing who they are.
- Both the words and works of Jesus should be used in our personal ministry and corporate ministry.
What Can Jesus Followers Learn?
- How to obey what is set before you.
- Attacks from the enemy will be common, but we don’t have to take it on the chin; we can counterattack.
- There is a right time on God’s calendar for us to minister to others.
- God will not call on you to do something that you are not capable of doing.
- The works and words of Jesus are the same. We should use both when ministering to others.
Matthew has shown the ecclesia in a written form several models for their new life. These models were, first of all, lived, before being explained.
INSTRUCTION: The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5.1-7.29
Eight Characteristics of Kingdom Life
We now come to the instruction section of Book One. In the narrative section, we saw several models for discipleship. These were the show times. Now Matthew structures his material with a tell time. These instructions are not to be thought of as occurring at one time and in one setting. Matthew simply structures the material in such a way to give his message. The message is to demonstrate that Jesus is the New Moses.
This is the first set of five instructions. Moses was the man behind the writing of the first five books of Scripture. So that there is no misunderstanding of the comparison between Jesus and Moses, Matthew shows Jesus teaching on “a mount” (in Luke, it is on a plain, Luke 6.17 KJV), just like Moses received the covenant on “a mount.”
In this section of Scripture, Matthew shares the teaching of Jesus concerning the New Man. When a person accepts Jesus into his or her life, that person becomes a new person. This is a reality. The problem that we often face is that our practice of life doesn’t seem to be on an equal basis with our position, that is who we are told that we have become, i.e., a new person.
God’s desire is that our practice matches our position. It is only with his help that our practice and position can become a match. The so-called beatitudes are Jesus’ statements about who we really are. They are the positional statements of the age to come, which has invaded this present evil age.
The word blessed in these passages means to be congratulated. The emphasis is on divine approval rather than human happiness. Each of the eight sayings could be translated like this: Congratulations to those who have realized their spiritual bankruptcy, to them the rule of God belongs (v. 3).
These eight characteristics (Matt. 5.3-12) lead to a result (Matt. 5.13-16). Here is a summary of these eight characteristics.
The Characteristics: Matt. 5.3-12
Characteristic #1: Jesus followers are powerless without God.
Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5.3).
Congratulations to those who have realized their spiritual bankruptcy, to them the rule of God belongs.
This is the knowledge that we do not have any power by ourselves to do what God desires.
Characteristic #2: Jesus followers are mourners because of their brokenness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matt. 5.4).
Congratulations to those who are broken because of the power of evil and sin, they shall receive comfort in their brokenness.
As we look around us in this present evil age, we mourn. We are broken by the evil and sin that we see and commit. We realize that in that brokenness, God will comfort us and others.
Characteristic #3: Jesus followers are controlled by the Spirit (Galatians 5).
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matt. 5.5).
Congratulations to those who are always angry at the right time for the right reasons (self-control), for theirs are the legacies promised by God.
Remember self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Here is the essence of self-control, learning to be angry at the right time for the right reasons. The practice of this accrues to us God’s promises.
Characteristic #4: Jesus followers desire to live according to God’s standard.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matt. 5.6).
Congratulations to those who are hungry, as if they had not eaten for a long time, and thirsty, as if they were stranded in the desert without water, for right living in the right path, they shall be satisfied.
This is a call to desire God’s way of living more than anything else in life.
Characteristic #5: Jesus followers long to display mercy.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matt. 5.7).
Congratulations to those who can get right inside other people’s skin until they can see with the other person’s eyes, think the other person’s thoughts, feel the other person’s feelings, the same will be done for them by Jesus.
The mercy which Jesus has shown us—to see what we see, to feel what we feel, to think what we think—is what he desires for us to show to others.
Characteristic #6: Jesus followers have correct motives.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matt. 5.8).
Congratulations to those who live life with no ulterior motives, they will have fellowship with God.
Our motives should adjust to God’s motives; we do his work because we have his motives.
Characteristic #7: Jesus followers produce peace
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God (Matt. 5.9).
Congratulations to those who produce the right relationships between men and women, they are the ones adopted by God under his rule.
In a world of broken relationships between families, workers, God’s children, we have been called to produce the right relationships as God’s adopted sons and daughters.
Characteristic #8: Jesus followers are often mistreated.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5.10).
Congratulations to those who are constantly mistreated because of right living, theirs is the rule of God.
As we live between the ages, between D-Day and V-Day, we will be persecuted, mistreated. Jesus says it is to these people that the rule of God belongs.
Matthew summarizes these characteristics in verses 11-12. Remember, these are positional statements. Our practice should move toward achieving who we are told we are.
The Result: Matt. 5.13-16
The above eight characteristics result in becoming salt and light as our practice meets our position.
Salt: In the ancient world, salt symbolized that which purified and flavored. These characteristics belong to our New Life in Jesus, which is being lived out in this present evil age. As salt is to food, giving it flavor, believers are to live adding real flavor to the neighborhoods and cities in which they live. Often the opposite is thought to be true, i.e., that Christianity takes the flavor out of life. But, in fact, Jesus says we put flavor into life.
Light: In John 9.5 Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world. Here in Matthew 5.14, Jesus is stating that the ecclesia is, in fact, what he is. We are the light of the world as we practice our position, i.e., live out who we are in Jesus.
It is important to note that the ecclesia is told (Matt. 5.16) that we are to shine before humankind, that they may see our good deeds and give God praise. The word deeds is works and would include: the call to live out your position—i.e., the beatitudes, and the call to do the same works as the light himself did. The instructions for the ecclesia from this section are: to become who we are (live by his words) and to do what Jesus did (do his works).
What About The Law?
In the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, we looked at the eight positional characteristics that we have been called to practice. Now in this section, we will look at how Jesus viewed the Law.
In order to understand the view of Jesus, we need to look into the First Testament and try to understand the First Testament Law. Those of us who have been around Christianity for any time have most probably heard that we (the New Testament people) live under grace, not Law! This saying may not be the case. The ancient covenant with Israel, which was delivered by Moses, was formed like other ancient treaties of the time. To understand the form is to understand its function.
There were six principal parts, which were found in most ancient treaties, which could be called Lord-Servant treaties.
- The Preamble: The preamble showed that the relationship between the parties to the covenant was not equal.
- The Historical Prologue: The historical prologue demonstrated that the relationship between the two parties was built on a basis other than sheer force. It was built on what the lord had done for the servant.
- The Stipulations: The stipulations of the covenant shared the essential obligations of the servants. The major obligation was loyalty.
- The Provisions for Deposition and the Public Reading of the Text of the Covenant: The object of this section of the covenant was to help the servants to remember the covenant stipulations.
- A List Of Witnesses: The list of witnesses validated the covenant.
- Blessings And Curses: The last section of the covenant was to demonstrate to the servants the benefits of keeping the stipulations and the results of not keeping the stipulations (Joshua 8.34-35).
This is the form of the covenant given by God to Moses. It is found in part in Exodus 20 and in total in Deuteronomy.
- The Preamble: I am the Lord your God…(Exodus 20.2a). God and the Israelites are not equals.
- The Historical Prologue: …who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Exodus 20.2b) God’s act of redemption was based on his choice and grace, not on Israel’s accomplishments.
- The Stipulations: (Exodus 20.3-17). The basic one is in 20.3: You shall have no other gods except me. The essential obligation of loyalty is stressed.
- The Disposition Of Text is found in Deuteronomy 10.1-5 and Public Reading Of The Text is found in Deuteronomy 31.10-13.
- The Witnesses: There were none needed.
- The Curses and Blessings: The list of blessings are found in Deuteronomy 28.1-14 and the list of curses are found in Deuteronomy 28.15-68
The Exodus from Egypt was the redemption of the Israelites. It was after Israel’s redemption from Egypt that the Law came. The Law-Covenant was never intended to be a system of legal observances whereby one could obey and earn God’s acceptance. The commandments are stipulations of the covenant relationship which are rooted in grace. They are the basic statements of the quality of life that should characterize those who belong to God. All Scripture knows only one way of salvation, the grace of God. God reveals his redemptive purpose, always based on grace not on man’s ability to obligate God to save him because he has kept the law.
Jesus has come to bring this concept its fullness or completeness. He did not change nor do away with the law. He simply restated for clarification what God desires from his people. It is still: God redeemed us and here is our faithful and loyal response. With this in mind, let’s look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.17-48.
The Law Fulfilled: Matt. 5.17-20
Jesus did not come to set aside or disturb the Law. He came to bring its intended meaning by actualizing the stipulations completely in his life and teaching (5.17). Jesus regarded the Law as changeless and eternal (5.18). He regarded the law as something that is both done and taught (5.19). He focused his teaching in this section on his disciples. Among the Jews, the Scribes and Pharisees were regarded as those who most perfectly and completely taught and lived up to the requirements of God. For them, it had become a matter of external obedience. Jesus insists that the Scribes and Pharisees were the opposite of the correct model for the disciples. For the Pharisees, you did in order to be. For Jesus, you become in order to do.
The Law Illustrated: Matt. 5.21-48
Now Jesus turns to six illustrations to demonstrate his position on the Law. They are cast in comparative language. This is done by Matthew in order to compare Jesus with Moses and show Jesus to be the New Moses for the True Israel, which is the ecclesia. Each one follows a pattern:
- You have heard: Matt. 5.21, 27, 33, 38, 43, or It has been said: 5.31
- But, I tell you: Matt. 5.22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44
Jesus traces every deed to its underlying motive and thought.
| Murder: The Sixth Commandment or Stipulation: 5.21-26
Jesus provides three expressions of evil (Matt. 5.22).
- If a Jesus follower had anger, s/he could be tried and receive condemnation by a local court.
- If a Jesus follower were involved in slander and contempt, s/he must answer to a supreme court, which was the Sanhedrin.
- If a Jesus follower was openly abused by calling someone a fool (raca), s/he could suffer eternal judgment.
It is important to observe the increase in the severity of punishment.
Jesus offered two illustrations where this stipulation could be broken and what a Jesus follower should do about it (Matt. 5.23-26).
- If a Jesus follower should remember doing one or more of the three things (anger, raca, fool) while worshipping, s/he should stop his worship and be reconciled with his brother or sister.
- If a Jesus follower is being taken to court, s/he should settle matters quickly.
The following is a parable which carries the above illustration to its conclusion. Settle matters quickly… (Matt. 5.25), if you don’t, it will be impossible to pay (5.26).
| Adultery: The Seventh Commandment or Stipulation: Matt. 5.27-32
Adultery and fornication are interchangeable terms in many places in the First Testament. The Law in the hearts of his disciples is now shown. Neither God nor Moses intended that this commandment should be only an outward Law or rule for life. What this commandment (Matt. 5.29-30) included, Jesus now states.
He warns against allowing any occasion for evil thoughts. It is not limited to married men lusting for married women, single man-married woman, single man-single woman, married woman-single man, single woman-single man, married woman-married man other than the spouse. Everyone is included. Jesus uses hyperbole, an exaggeration for an effect, to make his point as to the seriousness of the matter.
| Divorce: Matt. 5.31-32
Marital unfaithfulness (NIV) destroys the marriage and by this act, the marital bond has been severed. Jesus makes what is implicit, explicit.
| Oaths: The Third and Ninth Commandment: Matt. 5.33-37
In kingdom life, one should be able to say a simple yes or no to satisfy the truthfulness of one’s statements.
| Retaliation: Matt. 5.38-42
Verse 38 could be translated: Do not resist in a court of law or oppose before a judge the one who wishes to do you injury. This is not a doctrine of absolute non-resistance to evil. The followers of Jesus are not to behave according to the principle of strict retaliation in asserting legal rights. This attitude surpasses the spirit of the legal codes but does not supersede them.
There are four illustrations provided:
- Insulting behavior (Matt. 5.39b) should be met by a believer with the righteousness of the kingdom.
- A suit in a law court (Matt. 5.40) should find the believer giving more than is asked for.
- A Jesus follower should go beyond what is being asked (Matt. 5.41).
- A Jesus follower should give, not lend to the one who asks to borrow (Matt. 5.42).
In short, believers should do more than what is normally expected.
| Love Your Enemies: Matt. 5.43-48
Hate your enemies was a teaching of the Pharisees, not a First Testament teaching. Jesus turns the tables and tells his followers they must not follow that model, but follow God’s model and love everyone–even one’s enemies.
Correct Attitudes, Loyalty-Singlemindedness: Matt. 6.1-34
In chapter 6, Jesus continues teaching his disciples concerning right living (righteousness). He shares three areas that everyday life is concerned with:
- Worship: Matt. 6.1-18
- Wealth: Matt. 19-24
- Worry: Matt. 25-34
Each one of these concerns is relevant to the life of a Jesus follower.
In these verses, Jesus shares about three different areas of worship: giving, praying and fasting. He begins by giving a general principle in the first verse. Then he proceeds in each area to tell his disciples what they should not do and, then, what they should do.
|| General Principle: Matt. 6.1
Verse 1 states the theme for the section. Righteousness or right living is summed up under giving, praying, and fasting. True worship is an interior condition. Exterior motions without a corresponding interior response will not necessarily mean anything to God. The motive should be a desire to please God and not to secure the praise of men.
|| Giving: Matt. 6.2-4
It is not the practice of giving, which Jesus addresses. It is giving as a public display to which he is opposed. The word hypocrite (Matt. 6.2) means actor. Matthew uses the word for those (possibly the Pharisees) who were actually unaware of their religious vanity and playacting. Their reward is recognition among their fellowmen. Giving here is for the sake of the poor not for personal satisfaction. It is giving, which is motivated by a desire to obey God, which will be rewarded by God.
|| Praying: Matt. 6.5-16
The same pattern is here: Do not be like the play-actors when you pray…this is how you should pray… (Matt. 6.5, 9). The address is not a put-down of prayer, but a put-down of the showboating style of prayer, which would call attention to the one praying! Jesus gives his disciples a pattern for prayer in what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.
Remember, the basic background of the teaching of Jesus is that of the invasion of God’s rule into the kingdom of Satan. This provides an adequate key to understanding what Jesus is teaching.
- The first petition is the hallowing of God’s name, which means not only reverence and honor given to God, but also to glorify him by obeying his command.
- The second petition is that God’s kingdom would start out and would demonstrate his will, i.e., to make things right on earth as it is in his presence. At some point in the past, Satan was cast out of God’s presence along with a host of beings. The war which arose in heaven was cast down to earth. Jesus was teaching his disciples and us to ask the Father: “Just as you have expelled Satan from heaven, establishing your rule there, that you bring about that same rule on earth.” Everything was now all right in heaven; Satan was cast out; now he is to be pursued on earth. In the original language of the Second Testament, a word has many qualities to allow the reader to know the nuances the author intended the reader to grasp. In English, we have present, past, and future. In Greek, we have the present, imperfect, future, aorist, perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect tense. Each of these tenses allowed the author to choose the nuance s/he wants the reader to pick up on. Since the word “come” (English) is a nuanced word in Greek, the reader should think about the nuance the author provided. It seems best to understand the words of Jesus here as saying to his disciples that when they were praying “your kingdom come” they may choose words like “let your kingdom which has already come be seen.” Why? Because to say “come” implies that what you are praying for is somewhere other than where you are and has to be beckoned to appear at your command. To form words of prayer that catch the jest of what Jesus was demonstrating for his disciples should acknowledge that his kingdom is already here and could presently be observed.
- The third petition comes in verse 11. Give us today our daily bread…. This, unfortunately, is an inadequate translation. It could better read: …Give us today the bread of tomorrow…. Hunger is a work of Satan. Jesus took the work of Satan seriously. He requested the Father to bring to his people today some of the abundances of God’s rule from tomorrow.
- The fourth petition is …And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Here again, a better translation could be: Do not let us succumb to the attack of the evil one but deliver us from the evil one and his attacks. Jesus was giving instructions to his disciples on how to pray when Satan comes to attack. Satan was surely going to attack them in their ministry.
The entire prayer of Jesus is based on his conviction that this present world is under the control of the evil one. The praying of the disciples in this fashion was one more tool in their arsenal to counter-attack the kingdom of Satan.
|| Fasting: Matt. 6.17-18
Jesus was not opposed to the practice of fasting. He had fasted himself. He was, however, opposed to the look at me and my fast kind of attitude. He simply told his disciples that normal behavior is best.
Matthew 6.1-18 that is about worship is not to be read as a comparison between public and private styles of worship, in which one could come away with a belief that only private worship is of any value. Balance (not my favorite word in describing activities in the Spirit) is what is usually prescribed. As I have written elsewhere, I prefer the idea of harmony over balance because it takes at least two notes struck at the same time to produce harmony. One note does not! I like to use the word harmony instead of balance because it takes at least two different notes to achieve harmony. One needs both an exterior and interior concern for worship. a note of exterior worship and a note of interior worship.
| Wealth: Matt. 6.19-24
In a nutshell, Jesus gives his teaching on wealth. The comparison is between earthly wealth and heavenly wealth. We are instructed not to lay aside earthly wealth that can be consumed by moths, rust, and thieves, but to put our wealth where corrosion and decay and thieves cannot reach. His point is that the divided interest which a person has, who is trying to store in one place while being a citizen of another place, is unworkable. He illustrates this idea in two ways:
- Illustration #1 Sound Eye: This little proverb means: If a man divides his interest and tries to focus on both God and possessions, he has no clear vision, and will live life without any clear direction.
- Illustration #2 Singlemindedness of Service: This proverb states: loyalty to God must be undivided.
| Worry: Matt. 6.25-34
This section now carries forward the main theme of the preceding section (loyalty and single-mindedness). There are two basic kinds of worry about which Jesus speaks.
First, worry about life: singlemindedness toward God will dispel anxiety about ordinary material needs.
- Illustration #1 Birds of the Air: This illustration does not teach idleness. It teaches freedom from worry. Worry about clothes is only singled out as a specific area of life.
- Illustration #2 The Lilies of the Field: The phrase O you of little faith refers to a lack of trust in the power of God to provide and care for his own children.
Second, worry about tomorrow: There is no need; we should let it worry about itself.
What does one do in place of worry? Seek first his kingdom (rule) and his righteousness (right-living) and all these things (provisions) will be given to you as well. God’s desire is that our wealth (storing), and our worrying attitudes be corrected in our worship to him. God’s desire is that we have the proper interior motivation and that we are loyal and single-minded toward him.
Judging, Prayer, Ways, Fruit, Response: Matt. 7.1-29
| Introduction And Review
As you have seen, Matthew is made up of five books plus the introduction (birth narrative) and conclusion (death and resurrection narrative). In each book, there are two parts—a narrative section and an instruction section. In Book One the narrative section takes us through the baptism and temptation of Jesus, the calling of his disciples, and a summary of the first healings of Jesus. The instruction section of Book One is called The Sermon On The Mount. There we looked at the beatitudes and the Law. In the discussion about the Law, Jesus clarifies the Law by using the formula: You have heard of old…but I say to you. He chose six different areas of life to demonstrate that clearly. In Chapter Six, he teaches about worship, which includes giving, prayer and fasting, riches, and worry. Now in Chapter 7, we have the conclusion of The Sermon On The Mount. Jesus teaches about judging and prayer and, then, calls for his disciples to make a choice.
| The Judgment Of Others: Matt. 7.1-6
| Illustration and Explanation: Matt. 7. 1-2
In these verses, Jesus spoke about judging (censoring) a person’s weaknesses and faults in a harsh and condemning way. He is not speaking of the judgment of those in the body who continue to have a habit of life which is not in accord with who Jesus has called them to be or who have a continual rebellious spirit and refuse to repent.
The instruction here is very simple and straightforward (7.1). Do not judge (stop judging or censoring), or you too will be judged. The indication of the original language is that the action (judging) is occurring and should immediately be stopped. To censor others is to invite God to censor you.
The explanation of the proverb is also simple (Matt. 7.2). For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. The indication is that God will judge a person with the same measure of severity that the person has used to judge others. If you want to be mercifully dealt with, show mercy now!
An illustration is provided to make the instruction clear (Matt. 7.3-5). Jesus uses two figures of speech to illustrate:
| The Hyperbole: Matt. 7.3-4
This illustration is not told to set forth a set of conditions for the legitimate judgment of others, i.e., clean up my act, then I can clean up my brother’s. It is given to show the utter absurdity of trying to judge others.
| The Ironic Statement: Matt. 7.5
An ironic statement is saying the opposite of what you mean. Since you will never be able to get rid of all your own hang-ups and faults, you surely will never be able to remove the hindrances in your brother/sisters’ life. There are three reasons why judging is absurd.
- First, we never know all the facts about the person we have decided to judge. We often base our judgmental opinions on second and third-hand information.
- Second, it is impossible for the one judging to be impartial in his or her judgment.
- Third, when we decide to judge, we simply are asking God to let us do his job for a moment. It’s like saying “Get up, God; I need your throne for a moment. I think I’m better at this than you!”
| The Decision To Discern: Matt. 7.6
This sentence in Matthew is written in a Hebrew poetic form called chiasm. A chiasm is a literary device in which a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order offering a mirror effect.
Do not give dogs what is holy,
and do not throw your pearls before pigs,
lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you (Matt 7:6).
The first two lines should be seen as a parallel text:
Do not give dogs what is holy
and do not throw your pearls before pigs
What’s with the third line though? If its verbs correspond to the order of the first two lines, then the dogs trample the pearls and the pigs turn to attack. That seems odd, though, and the scholars who argue for a chiastic design are surely correct.
Do not give dogs what is holy
and do not throw your pearls before pigs,
lest they trample them underfoot
1and turn to attack you”
Seen this way, the pigs will trample the pearls, and the dogs will turn to attack. In short: Jesus appears to be warning his disciples to preach only before receptive audiences.
The Continual Prayer: Matt. 7.7-12
We have Hebrew parallelism again. Verse 7 has three lines and verse 8 the same. We are not being told to do three things: ask, seek, and knock. We are also told to do one thing, i.e., pray and continue to pray for what we need. The words are commands (imperatives). One could say: When praying concerning your need, ask and keep on asking…everyone who asks and keeps on asking, receives… There are no limitations or conditions attached to the statement.
| The Illustration: Matt. 7.9-11
Bread and fish represent the foods that would be most common around the Sea of Galilee. Verses 9 and 10 may indicate that prayer takes on a father-son relationship. There is a comparison in verse 11, i.e., You who are evil as compared to God…. The idea transmitted here is that God delights in giving good gifts to his children.
| The Golden Rule: Matt. 7.12
Here, then, is a summary of the good works which are demanded of Jesus followers from Matthew 5.20-7.11. The followers of Jesus are to treat others in the same way they would like for others to treat them. This rule is meant for those who live under the rule of God. Only a person whose life is submitted to God can care as much about another’s welfare as about his or her own.
| The Two Ways: Matt. 7.13-14
Jesus calls for a commitment. There are two gates and two roads in life. One gate is wide and the corresponding road is broad. Entering this gate leads to a road whose end is destruction. The other gate is small and its corresponding road is narrow. Entering this gate leads to a road whose end is life. Many follow and enter the first, and few follow and enter the second. The call of Jesus in verse 13 is to choose the narrow gate and enter into the life of the kingdom.
The True Fruit: Matt. 7.15-23
In this section of Scripture Jesus is warning his followers to watch out for false prophets. In today’s verbal parlance, that is often referred to as fake news! The warning of Jesus was prophetic. Matthew’s time and his ecclesia were plagued by antinomianism. This was a group that believed that people were saved by grace and not by works and that this salvation extended to free the saved person from moral or ethical obligation.
| The Exhortation: 7.15
Watch out… these false prophets (fake news! purveyors) are not what they seem to be. The true believer can know these fake news! purveyors by their conversation and lifestyle. Fruit within this context means what Jesus had just taught about—the conduct and lifestyle of the ecclesia and individual Jesus followers.
Matthew is not speaking against charismatic happenings. He is speaking against people who attend charismatic happenings as a substitution for living a righteous life. Harmony is the key. We are to live as Jesus lived as well as work as Jesus worked. One without the other is inadequate. The word of Jesus to these fake news! purveyors is: I do not regard you as my own… Those who practice lawlessness (evildoers) means those who have substituted charismatic practice for a relationship with God. The point is that we need both.
The True Response: 7.24-27
For Jesus, the right response is to do what he has just taught about— practice a Jesus follower lifestyle. The next book in Matthew brings the harmony of doing the works. Here Jesus urges his followers to do his words as well.
Again, the choice is to be made. Do and be grounded on the rock or do not do and be grounded on the sand. The choice is to be wise or unwise.
The Amazed Crowds Responded: Matt. 7.28-29
These verses are the conclusion of Book One and the Sermon on the Mount. The reaction was amazement. Jesus had taught in the first person—I say to you. He had not taught them by teaching built on the traditions of others. Remember, the call of Jesus in this instruction section has been to live a correct lifestyle, one which is directed by him and brings glory to him. We are to do his words as well as his works.
Some Basic Affirmations
- God wants us to know how to live in this present evil age.
- We are to become salt and light.
- The Law is fulfilled in Jesus.
- We are called to be loyal and singleminded.
- The enemy is out to destroy us even by the use of look-alike gifts.
What can Jesus Followers Learn?
- There are lifestyle attitudes that can help a Jesus follower to live in the midst of this present evil age.
- Jesus followers put flavor into the world by producing the light of Jesus in every life.
- We practice correct living because of our love for God.
- Having correct attitudes about worship, wealth, and worry will move us toward being mature.
- A judgmental attitude will only cause grief in life.
- Life is made up of choices. Be careful to make choices that lead to life.
- Having harmony is a central key to Christian maturity.
Catalog your ideas about the following thoughts.
- Obedience: What are the results of being obedient?
- Learning about Attacks: List the ways that you know the enemy attacks you and your family.
- Timing: How do you know when the timing is right to make decisions in life?
- Calling: What has God called you to do in life?
- Eight Characteristics of Kingdom Life: How does living these Age to Come characteristics change your frustration level about daily life?
- The Law: How has legalism affected your life? What can you do to change those areas where legalism still runs its course in your life?
- Correct Attitudes: How do your attitudes about worship, wealth, and worry play out in your life daily?
- Judging, Prayer, Ways, Fruit, Response: How does judging affect your daily equilibrium? How does a continual prayer for a specific need in life bring equilibrium? What choices do you need to make today that will lead you to live a better life? Who are you listening to that causes bad fruit in your life?
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- Why do you believe obedience is such a priority with God? How would you define obedience?
- What does disobedience cause in your life? How do you know that you are being disobedient?
- As a Jesus follower, how difficult is it to obey? Do you find yourself thinking that you can make the rules, but you don’t have to live by the rules you make?
- What is your current belief about the Spirit’s part in the attacks in your life? How does knowing how he relates to them, help you in the attacks that come from the evil one?
- In what ways are you aware that Satan attacks your concept of who you are in Christ?
- What are the weaknesses the enemy can attack you the quickest with the most success?
- How does the model of handling the challenge of public proof help you become better equipped when this attack occurs?
- What has the enemy offered you lately for the rule of God in your life?
- How do your timing and God’s timing differ? How do you correct this misconception?
- What fears do you have that God will call on you to do something that you are not capable of doing? Where do they come from? How can you erase them?
- Do you spend more time ministering the word or doing the works of Jesus? How do you achieve harmony in your life?
- How do the eight characteristics of Kingdom life help you understand the model of daily life that God wants you to live out in the present evil age? Name some areas in your life where these characteristics lived-out would change your life.
- How does the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus compare to your understanding of living by grace, not Law?
- In what ways does the teaching of Jesus broaden your concept of worship?
- What are your attitudes concerning wealth? How does the model Jesus offers differ from yours? What will you do about altering your concepts?
- What can you change in life with the help of God that will help you gain single-mindedness?
- What does judging others cause in your own day-to-day life? What can you do about it?
- How can you repair your prayer life to include continual prayer? Do you feel that you are bothering God when you continually ask of him the same thing?
- What choices in life caused you to be on the wrong road? How do you know which road leads to life?
- How does making a response take you away from being paralyzed in life situations?