Title: Matthew: Finale
Text: The Book of Matthew
FCF: We often struggle
Prop: The gospel is about Christ alone; we must rejoice that we have been given an inheritance with Him.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to the book of Matthew. There are 1071 verses in the book of Matthew, and by God’s grace we have looked at each and every one of them. We have investigated every thought of the author, in the order that he was inspired to present them to us. But we are by nature quite forgetful people, aren’t we? Do you remember what we were talking about in Matthew chapter 10? Even if you remember what we talked about in chapter 10 – what relationship does chapter 10 have with chapter 28?
Today will be a different kind of message. Instead of looking at a particular text, we are instead going to assume the role of systematic theologians. Rather than sitting back and allowing one thought to pour over us from the text – we will instead fit together all we have learned into categories of truth.
Our endeavor today is to answer the question, what is Matthew’s whole message to his audience? How does his message relate to the New Testament? How does his message relate to the whole counsel of God’s Word? And perhaps most applicable, what does Matthew’s message mean for us?
I have attempted to give you a running start on answering those questions today. I have provided an outline to you of the entire book, along with some general notes about the book itself. And today we’ll look at, what I think are the 4 major themes in the book of Matthew. Do not assume that these 4 themes are the sum total of Matthew’s message. And do not assume that after this message you will know everything there is to know about the book of Matthew. The Word of God is living and active, its truths run deeper than we may ever know. I’d say that after this sermon, and the 104 before it, you’ll be well on your way to a good introduction of the book of Matthew. 😊
But before we get to any of this, let’s pray and ask for the Lord to guide us through.
Before we look at the four Major themes of the book of Matthew, let’s quickly walk through the 7 cycles of narrative and discourse in the book of Matthew. Just to refresh ourselves on what we’ve learned. Please get out your outlines and follow along so as we talk about the chapters thematically you can see what happened in those chapters specifically.
[Slide 2] The Prologue: Chapter 1-2
• Old Testament Prophesy about the Messiah fulfilled
• Jesus is the King of the Jews and the Son of David
• Gentiles were heavily involved in the ancestral line of the Messiah
[Slide 3] Cycle 1: Chapters 3-7
• Jesus is the King of the Jews and the 2nd Adam.
• Jesus is sinless and fulfills all righteousness.
• Describes Kingdom citizens as holy, law-keeping, seekers of God and His righteousness.
• Sermon on the mount is thematically significant for the entire book.
[Slide 4] Cycle 2: Chapters 8-10
• Jesus possesses power and authority over nature, sickness, demons and sin itself.
• But the religious elite reject His authority.
• As opposition rises, Jesus sends His disciples out for a short-term mission in Galilee.
• He shows His Kingly authority by giving them instructions for the mission.
[Slide 5] Cycle 3: Chapters 11-13
• Opposition toward Jesus and His message increases.
• The religious elite suppose that they do not need a Messiah for their sin, since they already are Kingdom citizens.
• Jesus gives parables indicating that those who merely look like kingdom citizens and those who actually are kingdom citizens will be separated by their fruit.
[Slide 6] Cycle 4: Chapters 14-18
• Various groups of people misunderstand who Jesus is and why He came.
• Jesus is transfigured revealing exactly who He is and then He tells His disciples that He came to die.
• He then teaches this pattern of humility to His disciples, to be greatest they must be least.
[Slide 7] Cycle 5: Chapters 19-23
• Israel misunderstands, misapplies, and disobeys God’s Word despite having it available to them for centuries.
• Jesus pronounces woe on the religious elite, commanding them to carry out their plans to kill Him and so bring about judgment on them, 1st Century Judaism, and Israel in general.
• Namely, the removal of God’s glory from them.
[Slide 8] Cycle 6: Chapters 24-25
• The disciples seek clarification on the timing of when this would occur
• Jesus reveals some signs of the end- some that ARE and some that WILL BE.
• Jesus concludes by warning His disciples that they must endure and be ready for the end. Only those who endure and are prepared will be saved.
[Slide 9] Cycle 7: Chapters 26-28
• Pre-Cross we those who are most likely to defend Him, instead, abandon Him
• At the cross we even see God the Father abandon Him, of course we know why. It should have been me.
• Post-Cross we see people change.
• Post-Resurrection we see people change even more.
• Because of His obedience, God gives Jesus all authority in heaven and earth.
• Jesus commands His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, remembering that He will go with them.
[Slide 10] So now that you can remember at least broadly what Matthew has written about, let’s synthesize all that information into what I have found to be the four major themes of the book of Matthew. I have put them in ascending order so we can build to what is the top theme in the book. So without further ado…
I.) [Slide 11] #4 - Kingdom Citizens live holy lives
a. This earns the number 4 spot, not because it is unimportant compared to the rest of them, but because there are spans in the text, the narrative especially, where this is not a central focus in Matthew’s writing.
b. Let’s go to Matthew chapter 7:21-23.
c. You have heard that all roads go to Rome – well all roads in Matthew go back to the sermon on the mount. And one of the core teachings in the sermon on the mount is this truth. Kingdom citizens live holy lives.
d. 21-23 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?” Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!”
i. We noted when we looked that this text that Jesus is not teaching works FOR salvation but rather works FROM salvation.
ii. When God brings someone to life, He does so with a purpose. And that purpose is to display good works for His glory.
iii. This is SO important, that Jesus says that those who continue to break God’s law, even if they perform mighty works in His name, will not inherit His Kingdom.
e. But how else does this teaching crop up throughout Matthew?
i. As early as chapter 3 we see John preaching righteousness and repentance.
ii. Jesus is baptized to fulfill righteousness
iii. Jesus resists temptation from Satan Himself and preaches repentance and belief in the gospel.
iv. He describes His kingdom citizens as hungering and thirsting after righteousness
v. He confirms that keeping the whole law is a burden but they can come to Him not to remove the burden, but so He can help them carry it.
vi. He says that a good tree bears good fruit
vii. There is parable after parable of the fruitfulness of those who receive God’s word and are part of His Kingdom
viii. He tells the disciples that in order to follow Him, they must lose their lives, they must crucify themselves daily.
ix. He describes a good servant as one who does not allow others to remain in sin and forgives others their sins against them
x. He says that the kingdom of God will be taken from the religious elite with no fruit and given to those who will produce fruit.
xi. He says to give to God what belongs to God – namely your very lives
xii. He rebukes the pharisees for their hearts of wickedness
xiii. He says that only those who persevere in good works will escape judgment
xiv. He says His sheep are those who love others and goats are those who do not
xv. Jesus gives His life because all men are not righteous
xvi. And finally in Chapter 28 after the resurrection He commands His disciples to go and make disciples by teaching them to obey His commands.
f. Labeling this as #4 may convince you that this is not as important as #1, which would be true. But make no mistake, compared to the study of angels in Matthew, compared to the study of the end times in Matthew, compared to the numerology in Matthew – THIS is VERY Important to what Matthew is saying.
g. So when we take this theme and broadly trace it through the New Testament, do we find that this theme continues? Uh, yeah, it continues in a BIG way. The other gospels reiterate and add to Jesus’ statements on righteousness. The works of Paul emphasize in a HUGE way how we are slaves of righteousness if we have been set free in Christ. Our freedom produces an ability for us to produce the fruit of the Spirit. James says that faith without works is dead faith that does not save. Peter says to examine yourself if you do not have good works for you may not be a believer. John says that if you are not producing good works you may not be a child of God. Jude says that those who live in license of the flesh are fake believers. I do not think that it is up for debate. This theme is woven to every single book in the New Testament. And Matthew’s contribution to that message is the actual words of Jesus and how those words have been repeated and amplified throughout the New Testament. If you are a believer – you will live a life characterized by holiness, because you have been given God’s grace.
h. How does this theme work itself out in the whole counsel of scripture? Matthew, takes great pains to connect the Old Testament to the New. How God commanded the first humans to keep a law. And it was broken. God desired holiness from His creation from the beginning. And from the beginning He promised a seed would come to fulfill that holiness. And that is Jesus. All the sacrifices and rituals pointed to this amazing truth. God is Holy and wants His people to be holy. He wants them positionally holy, that is why there were sacrifices, but also practically holy, which is why he demanded righteousness and faithfulness.
i. This theme, affirmed as a theme throughout the bible, has HUGE ramifications for us as believers. It perfectly accounts for the detail in God’s law and our inability to keep it. It perfectly accounts for Christ’s death and resurrection and what that continues to mean for us. It wonderfully informs us on the power of our God and nature of His salvation for us. We have been recreated in Christ to be His masterpiece, designed for Good works which He has planned for us from the beginning. The reward of His suffering is a church with unstained garments of righteous purity.
Transition: And that is #4. What is #3? How is it connected to #4?
II.) [Slide 12] #3 The Gentiles have always had a part in God’s plan and will now have a larger part to play in God’s plan. (Israel set aside for a time)
a. Sometimes I think we read the Old Testament and assume as the 1st Century Jews did, that God only had interest in the Jews. In fact, for much of the Old Testament they are called His people.
b. Looking at the previous theme, we may wonder if God only wants the Jews to be holy.
c. Matthew’s theme reveals the universal aspect of God’s plan. He has always had and will continue to have a plan that includes all His creation.
d. Matthew makes this point sing in a book written to Jews where he frequently, and deliberately, shows Gentiles having faith in Christ while the most religious of Jews reject Him.
e. Because of this, Israel as a nation would be set aside by God for a time.
f. Let’s go to Matthew 8:10-13 - 8:10 When Jesus heard this he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel! 8:11 I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 8:12 but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; just as you believed, it will be done for you.” And the servant was healed at that hour.
i. After this centurion confesses his faith that Christ has authority to heal his servant without ever seeing Him…
ii. Jesus boldly declares here that he has found no such faith in Israel.
iii. He then reveals that descendants of Abraham will not be included in the Kingdom while those from gentile lands would be.
g. And this theme of Gentiles being important is consistent throughout Matthew’s book.
i. David’s line is full of gentiles
ii. Gentiles from the east came to worship Him when He was born
iii. Egyptians harbored Him as a child when the King of Judea wanted Him dead
iv. John the Baptist says that God could raise up stones if He wished that would obey Him, he doesn’t need the descendants of Abraham
v. Satan offers Him all the kingdoms of the world – an offer He rejects because He will follow another path to make His Kingdom global
vi. Jesus confesses that ancient gentile cities would have believed if they were given the same signs as 1st century Jewish cities.
vii. Matthew quotes many OT references about the gentiles hoping in the Messiah
viii. Jesus says that His true family is His disciples – hinting at a non-physical family status.
ix. A Canaanite woman is complemented for her persistent dependence and faith.
x. Israel continues to reject their own Messiah
xi. The Olivet discourse predicts a global nature of the kingdom of God, going beyond the borders of Israel.
xii. Jesus’ final commission sends the disciples to the whole world – all the nations.
h. To Matthew’s audience being primarily Jews, this theme would be especially sharp for them. What an astounding truth that God’s Kingdom has been opened up to all peoples and nations.
i. How does this theme present itself in the New Testament? The New testament both describes and guides this theme as the gospel goes forth from Judea to Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. The work of the apostles keeps spreading and spreading – perhaps even to Spain (although that is more tradition than scripture). Much of the New Testament has to do with combining Jews and Gentiles into one assembly together as they are all being awoken from their death in sin to life in Christ.
j. But actually, it has always been this way. Some of the most powerful and miraculous conversion episodes in the Old Testament are stories when God moved and gentiles were converted. This shows that God has not abandoned all of His creation save a single people group, but has instead, from the beginning, determined and decreed that men and women from all nations will be His own, and that He will give His life, not only for some but for many! And His death, His atoning sacrifice will not only be for the sins of the elect but it will be a sacrifice for the whole of His creation. His plan is to take it all back. Not meaning that all would be saved – but meaning that everything would be His – forever!
k. What this theme means for us? We were pagans. Our minds were darkened. We had no hope. I am no Jew, and most of you aren’t either. But God’s plan extended – even to me. That I might be grafted into the promise to Abraham. That through the seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ) we all may be inheritors of God’s promise.
Transition: So Matthew’s core message so far is that God desires holiness, and that in Christ, He will get it from both Jews and Gentiles as His new covenant goes out to people of all nations, and Christ atonement affects the whole world. And related to this idea that those who were unworthy are being made worthy, is another theme laced throughout Matthew.
III.) [Slide 13] #2 The Greatest in the Kingdom will be the least
a. As a broader principle, this theme reveals why the last theme was true. It is because the very nature of the Kingdom is upside down from that of the kingdom of this world.
b. Look with me at Matthew 18:1-5
c. Those who are least, are great in the kingdom. Meaning that childlike humility and dependence is what makes it possible to enter the Kingdom – not self-righteousness or lawkeeping.
d. And then those in the Kingdom, are not considered great when others serve them, but rather when they serve others.
e. - 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 18:2 He called a child, had him stand among them, 18:3 and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! 18:4 Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18:5 And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me.
i. Jesus tells His disciples here that the kingdom of God works backward from the way they have always seen things
ii. The utter helplessness and dependence of a child on his parents is a strong illustration of what you must become if you are to be great in the kingdom.
f. Throughout Matthew we see this theme communicated
i. Jesus is the ultimate example of this and his example starts in chapter 1, where God the Son subtracted from Himself by adding a human nature. Jesus, in addition to being God, became also a man. And he became a man of noble birth, but at a time when that didn’t matter.
ii. Jesus had to learn and grow in wisdom. How humiliating for the God of the universe to have to learn? He grew up in Galilee in the town of Nazareth. I mean, can anything good come from Nazareth?
iii. He submitted to baptism. John rightly said – you should be baptizing me!
iv. He endured the temptation of Satan. Why didn’t He just command Satan or at least to keep his forked tongue behind his teeth? Instead – he endured
v. He served his creation by healing them and preaching to them
vi. He describes his citizens as being servants and lovers even of their enemies
vii. He describes his citizens as being secret givers, fasters, and prayers.
viii. He describes his citizens as putting God’s kingdom before their own needs like food and clothing
ix. He describes his citizens as always seeking, asking and knocking looking for the Father
x. He ate with sinners
xi. He delegated authority even though he had all authority
xii. He offered to bear up the burden of the law
xiii. He feeds the hungry
xiv. He has compassion on Gentiles
xv. He reveals himself to be God and then tells them he will die
xvi. He teaches them overtly that they must serve if they wish to be great.
xvii. Jesus attempts to show this to a rich man that he must find desperate need of Him not wealth
xviii. He corrects his disciples for the third time about humility being core to the Kingdom
xix. He gives parables that talk about how tax collectors and prostitutes will inherit the kingdom before the religious elite of Israel.
xx. The two great commands are to love God and others
xxi. He pronounces woe on the Pharisees for their elevation of themselves above the people.
xxii. He describes his sheep as servants.
xxiii. He lays his life down a ransom for many
xxiv. And he takes it up again and commands His disciples to go and do as He did.
xxv. And guess what – even though throughout the book of Matthew, his disciples were described, ALWAYS, as having deficient faith – the faith they had now, the faith of Christ, allowed them to preach the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world!
g. Jesus is the prime example of this in action. Jesus was the greatest and he made himself the least. To be in the Kingdom, to be great, you must be least.
h. This concept is core to the essence of the gospel, and it is no surprise that it becomes core to the essence of the church. Just as an individual must be dependent on Christ, so the body of Christ is dependent on one another. And the greatest servants in the body, those are the ones who are qualified to lead. We see both positive and negative examples throughout the New Testament. It seems as though this concept was something that even the early church wrestled to live out. The New Testament writers are constantly imploring congregations to love one another and stop being divisive. To serve each other.
i. How does this theme present itself in the whole counsel of God? Well, how much of God’s law was devoted to respecting others and their property? How much of the law was devoted to being needy of God? Indeed the whole law is summarized in this way.
j. Does this theme of Matthew need to be preached today? Oh boy. Our churches are infested with people who assume church is a place they can go to get something rather than a family that needs them to serve. Church membership is not joining a club, it is promising to serve the Lord and each other sacrificially. And because of this church membership is not an unconditional right, but rather a conditional privilege. Stop expecting to be served because you think you deserve it. Instead, serve because Christ deserves it.
Transition: And all these themes come down to the final theme. The primary theme. The main thrust of all of what Matthew teaches. It is…
IV.) [Slide 14] #1 Jesus is THE Sovereign King of All things
a. Of all the themes in Matthew’s book, this is quite obviously the highest priority on Matthew’s mind.
b. There are so many references to this authority, we won’t actually turn to one, but as we did with the previous themes I’ll mention the contexts of passages where this theme is reinforced.
c. And in the previous themes, I did not find the theme in every context, but throughout the book.
d. But this final theme, is literally in every single context. There is not a place in Matthew that you can turn where the absolute authority of Christ is not taught in way one or another.
i. He has the pedigree of a King
ii. He is called God
iii. He is worshiped by wise men and called the King of the Jews
iv. He is honored by John the Baptist as one whom John is not worthy to carry his sandals and certainly not worthy to baptize
v. He resists Satan and commands him to be gone and Satan obeys Him.
vi. He calls disciples unto Himself
vii. He heals sickness by His will
viii. He preaches with authority as if He wrote the scriptures Himself, even giving corrected and expanded interpretations on the law. He does this throughout the book of Matthew at least in 7 discourses and even teaching beyond that.
ix. He critiques the religious elite and calls them hypocrites
x. He speaks of heaven as if He is an authority on the subject.
xi. He, though human, advises to disregard the needs of this life to pursue God’s Kingdom and righteousness and promises on God’s behalf that their needs would be filled
xii. He is the judge who determines entry into the Kingdom of God
xiii. He commands mastery over disability, sickness, demon possession, nature, the interpretation of God’s word, and so on
xiv. He commissions his disciples for service and commands them what to preach and to whom
xv. He promises reward for those who receive them
xvi. He declares judgment on Jewish cities that would not listen to His message
xvii. He claims to have been given all things by the Father, and given sole authority to reveal the father to those whom He chooses.
xviii. He is the Lord of the Sabbath
xix. He is the servant of God who will not bruise a reed
xx. He King over the forces of darkness and wielder of the Spirit of God
xxi. He will die but overcome death
xxii. He describes in no uncertain terms who will be permitted to enter His Kingdom and He describes the Kingdom of God – His Kingdom – as if He knows what it is like
xxiii. He feeds people miraculously, walks on water, undoes wicked traditions of men, knows how men are spiritually defiled.
xxiv. He heals a gentile woman’s daughter without ever seeing her
xxv. He will build an assembly that the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against
xxvi. He will die but conquer death
xxvii. He was transfigured before their eyes and shown to be God
xxviii. He predicts his death and resurrection again.
xxix. He corrects the Pharisees again
xxx. He says in the new age he will rule all things and the disciples will rule with Him
xxxi. He compares himself to the king in a parable of the kingdom of God.
xxxii. He is called the son of David by two blind men
xxxiii. He cleanses the temple, withers a fig tree, and speaks of the kingdom of God as if it was His Kingdom.
xxxiv. He answers unanswerable theological questions and baffles the religious elite with theological questions that lead to the inescapable answer that the Messiah will be God Himself.
xxxv. He pronounces judgment on the Pharisees and Jerusalem
xxxvi. He prophesies about the end of all things and takes his place at the judge of those who would enter the Kingdom
xxxvii. He humbly and willingly succumbs to the plot of men and dies forsaken of God, only to be restored with all authority in heaven and earth.
f. There is no question that Matthew wishes to show Jesus as THE sovereign authority of all creation.
g. And the New Testament is the outworking of that authority culminating with Revelation where that He reinvades and retakes all of His Creation- forever.
h. From the whole bible we understand that All things were created by and for Him. That the world was made for this purpose. That even all the way back in Genesis 3, this has always been the plan of God. To allow his creatures to fall into sin, so that He may bring glory to Himself through His Son.
i. And the crazy thing is… in all of that… we who are His elect – become co-heirs to that throne! He shares that authority with us! Your salvation was not so cheap that it simply bought you forgiveness my friends. It is infinitely more than that! Stop talking about merely how you were forgiven! Because in Christ you have been granted more than we may ever know – especially in this life. God has made us alive in Christ and so shall we ever live in Him!
Do you want to know what the book of Matthew is about?
[Slide 15 (end)]Matthew’s book is about Christ – his authority, his humbling as a pattern for us, to realize that the least become greatest. That God desires men of all nations to be drawn to Christ and be made into law keepers through Him for His glory. Matthew teaches plainly that the gospel has never been and will never be about you. But you become graced inheritors of it through Christ. Praise the Lord!
This is the Gospel According to Matthew. And I hope you agree, that we have been supremely blessed to have had the opportunity to study it.