Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Gospel Of Matthew And Discipleship

The gospel of Luke may be recognized as the quintessential gospel for the Christian's understanding of discipleship. Such phrases like " cannot be My disciple." Matthew's gospel is all about discipleship, too. I was actually surprised to see a number of books given to the discussion. The main reason for the attention with regard to Matthew is because of the importance of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and the great debate surrounding the audience to which Jesus addressed his teaching and his reason for addressing them. The most recognized two verses about discipleship in the gospel of Matthew are Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission. The truth is the entirety of Matthew's gospel is about discipleship. If one takes the position that Matthew's gospel was the first gospel written, then this gospel becomes the foundational gospel through which the apostles made use in their disciple-making adventures. I take this position. And, I believe that it was this gospel that accompanied the disciples throughout the book of Acts as they went and made proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In our Sunday School class with the youth at Apex, we have been considering the gospel of Matthew in relationship to discipleship. Prior to Matthew 5, we have no commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the first four chapters are important to discipleship because they communicate that what we know and believe about Jesus Christ is essential to being a disciple. The geneology in Matthew 1 demonstrates that what we know about Jesus concerning the promises made to Abraham and David are essential in discipleship. He is the one through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed. And, he is the one who is the legitamate, rightful heir to the throne of David. Matthew 1 also shows that what we know about the virgin conception is essential to discipleship.

Today, we looked at Matthew 3 specifically concerning the life of John the Baptist. It is so interesting that the prophet whom Jesus called the greatest prophet performed no miracles. What determined who was the greatest prophet, according to Jesus, was not what he did but the greatness of the message which he proclaimed and the one whom that message concerned, namely the Son of God, Jesus Christ. John's life, which was cut short prior to being a "disciple" of Jesus, demonstrates "otra vez" that what we know and believe about Jesus Christ and our relationship to him is absolutely tantamount in the life of a disciple. The greatest prophet recognized and proclaimed that Jesus was mightier than him and that he was "not fit to remove his sandals." Disciples are not excused from having the same understanding. Jesus is more powerful and more worthy of our entire devotion than ourselves. While Matt. 3:11 shows who Jesus is, Matt. 3:11b-12 demonstrates that a disciple is going to have a correct perspective about what Jesus is one day going to accomplish eschatologically, a great baptism and a great judgment. The near-far element in Scripture which is often so visible in the OT is seen in these verses. We have the benefit of being baptized with the Holy Spirit now, and we anticipate a great eschatological judgment at the end of the ages. The "greatest prophet" ascribed to Jesus in his messages his great strength and his great worth and his future great judgment. While most "Jesus movies" draw great attention to John's condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herod's immoral relationship with his brother's wife, I believe the hallmark of his testimony are these verses in Matt. 3:11-12. What a beautiful Christology!!!!!!!!

I love John's words to Jesus. Jesus came to John to be baptized. But, John's correct Christology led him to respond accordingly...Jesus, you don't need me; I need you! If this greatest prophet had such a view of Christ, how much more should his servants? This type of understanding about who Jesus Christ is is essential and foundational to discipleship!

Like I always tell the youth, Jesus is more honorable, more valuable, more precious, more powerful, more loving, more wonderful than anything and anyone else in this entire world.

1 comment:

  1. I like your image. Good work. May the Lord bless you and enlarge your ministry.