Over the past five weeks I’ve been going through a book study on Matthew’s Gospel and love the way he fits Jesus life into logical chunks that connect to Israel’s history. I think one of the key ways we learn anything is to learn to summarize well and Jesus life and teaching is no different. One interesting thing I noticed is Jesus’ teachings don’t just demonstrate the coming Kingdom and what He will do but He really builds the picture of what a Kingdom person or a true follow of Him will look like and do. Hope this helps you as you look to follow after Him better this next year and the summary helps in your own Bible study.
Like Moses Teachings on the Moral Life
In Matthew 5, Matthew shows us the first glimpse of what Jesus ministry was like by showing Jesus teaching immediately following His choosing the twelve disciples at the end of ch. 4. Jesus then strategically waits for a crowd to gather and begins teaching His disciples up on a mountain. You can imagine the scene Jesus is teaching His disciples and the crowds all have a listening ear to what He is saying to them. Jesus then goes into what many have called the strictest moral code ever taught. No doubt this made the disciples nervous to immediately be charged with such a strict code of what they should look like as His disciples and not privately but in front of all these listeners. Jesus finishes by saying they are the salt of the world, and catching the imagery perfectly a city on a hill giving light to everyone around. In the same way we as Jesus disciples are like that, these commands in Matt 5-7 are not just to help us realize our sin but real commands that should mark a disciple of Jesus before an onlooking world.
Like Joshua Teachings on Going Out
In Matthew 10, we see Jesus send out the twelve to do what He interestingly has been doing right before and then goes back to doing after they return:
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
— Matthew 10:1
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
— Matthew 10:5
Jesus just before:
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
— Matthew 9:35
And immediately following:
When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.
— Matthew 11:1
Jesus has been training and instructing them until this point and has been leading them both by example and with exhortations interestingly if you read Luke 8-9 you get an awesome picture chronologically just before He sends them out. In Luke, Jesus performs some of His biggest miracles and challenges the disciples in their trust in Him as He calms the storm at the sea of Galilee, casts out a legion of demons and raises a child from the dead. Jesus as the master trainer and rabbi prepares the disciples well before getting them in action doing the same ministry He has been doing. His ministry at that time is still to Israel so He commands them to only go to the lost sheep of Israel but later He will send disciples out to the whole world (Matt 28:19-20). He sends the disciples out without any money but later He will tell them to bring a money belt with them and even a sword for protection (Luke 22:36-38). Finally later the whole gospel can be preached since He has been crucified, buried and risen again and having given the gift of the Spirit. Other than this we have Jesus setting an interesting pattern that was often followed in Acts. Jesus tells them to go from town to town, to preach the Kingdom of God has come, to cast out demons, to heal the sick and to go into the homes of people who receive them and to stay with them as they teach and proclaim the Kingdom. Further for those who do not receive the message they are told to simply dust off their feet and move on. There is a ton we can learn from examining the methods of the Master here for reaching out and especially when we see how disciples like Paul lived out the methodology as the took the gospel out in accordance with the great commission (Matt 28:19-20).
Like Solomon Wise Teachings on the Kingdom Person
In Matthew 13 we see what I like to call Jesus\’ teaching of the Kingdom person. There is an interesting parallel here to the book of Proverbs and how Solomon describes the wise person. Here Jesus gives a series of five kinds of parables describing what a true disciple or Kingdom person of His looks like. Jesus\’ teaching here follows Jesus being asked to show signs of His being the messiah in spite of Him having done miracle after miracle to show this already and Jesus family trying to come take Jesus away believing Him to at least be going a little overboard in His teaching. Thus Jesus launches into the teaching in Matt 13 discussing what a true follower of His is like:
1. The parable of the four soils: in this parable Jesus shows that there are four kinds of heart conditions in which people hear Him. One is hard ground and they hear, say they don\’t understand and move on. The second is rocky ground where a person hears gladly but turns away at the first sign of persecution because they have no roots. The third is the person who hears but the worries of the world and desires for wealth choke out the truth. Finally the only soil that really bears fruit as it should is the soil that receives and begins bearing more and more fruit.
2. The parable of the tares: the parable describes the he situation of the Kingdom person. While ideally the situation would be good crops all growing together this garden has tares planted by an enemy in it. So now there are good plants and tares growing along side each other. As unideal as this is it is the situation we find ourselves in as disciples. Not all Christians or hearers of our message are pursuing or desire the Kingdom we are mixed up together often times not seeing what is in people\’s hearts completely until after some time and growth reveals the truth.
3. The parables of the yeast and seed: The parables of the yeast and seed both have to do with something small representing faith put into something with amazing results. The bit of yeast causes the dough to become huge and the mustard seed cause a giant tree to grow out. So too in the Kingdom person or disciple. If we begin to put our faith in what God has said He will do in and through us we will see a life begin to grow out with the greatness we see in Jesus\’ life.
4. The parables of the pearl and treasure: these next two parables have a theme in common as well. The person in the parable finds something worth selling everything they have to buy it. So too is the Kingdom life or the disciples life with God. It is worth selling all we have, giving up any and every dream to purchase it. This is what the Kingdom person will do.
5. The parable of the fisherman: finally the parable to the fisherman shows the end result of the Kingdom person. In the end God will take each person and look to see if that person is a kingdom person one desiring to follow Him. On this basis those who claimed to be disciples will be determined one from another, those who were truly Kingdom people will be \”brought home\” those who do not will be thrown out to sea again away from His presence. This parable should really inspire the fear of God is us who follow Him.
Like the Prophets Separate from Israel
In Matthew 16-17 Jesus begins to describe how He is going to be killed by the Jewish people. This is where Jesus first uses the word church (or assembly of disciples) and God the Father points Him out with Moses and Elijah standing there as the One who should above all be listened to. Jesus then goes into some statements about church or this separated community that will be founded now that Israel is clearly rejecting the Messiah. In this community we ought to learn from the people who are humble and really desiring to learn from Him. We are to each closely guard ourselves to be accurate and true to the word because God will severely punish anyone who leads one of His little ones astray. Finally, Jesus gives some words on church discipline which is based on forgiveness and repentance. If someone does wrong but confesses their sins and turns from them we ought to allow them back into the fellowship. This was so radical Jesus had to give Peter a parable to help him get it, to us who are forgiven much we also must be willing to forgive.
Like the Prophets Warning the Established Religion
Finally, Jesus demonstrates the role of Prophets like Jeremiah when in Matt 23 He gives seven woes on the things the Pharisees and teachers of the law are doing wrong. In summary they have started a system, that promotes themselves in roles above the rest and has become focused on the money coming in and their own image that they are even ignoring whole parts of scripture and they are unwilling to hear any criticism of the system to the point Jesus predicts they themselves will kill Prophets sent to them and later they prove this by killing Him. This section really ought to cause us to pause. How often to we hold certain teachers with so much respect we ignore whole parts of what scripture says because we don\’t know what to do with them? How often do we let our churches be controlled by how they look to the world rather than cleaning the inside of the cup so that we are really seeking Him? I am afraid that Jesus really hits close to home in the Church today… And we should really think about how we can get back to the ministry He went about doing with His disciples…
The Call to Continue His Work
Finally, I want to discuss John 17 as I think it summarizes Jesus last thoughts before ascending to heaven well. John 17 is the longest prayer we have of Jesus\’ in scripture, it is also the last prayer of Jesus since he prayed it just before He went to the cross.
Jesus starts off the prayer declaring that He had completed the work God had given Him to do in these disciples He had trained up and brought up Himself:
I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
— John 17:4
If there was a key word in this passage it would be the word \”same\” or \”just as\” just see below:
I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
— John 17:11
But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.
— John 17:13
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
— John 17:18
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
— John 17:22-23
Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
— John 17:24
Jesus called not just the disciples to this same work He was called to do but those who would believe because of their work in proclaiming the gospel:
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
— John 17:20
To summarize this prayer, Jesus called His disciples which includes us into this same amazing life and ministry He had lived. We too are to receive Him as described above to live as He calls us to and to share the truth just as He taught His disciples to. In this way we continue His work until He returns.