The Kingdom of the King
The key phrase throughout the book of Matthew is the Kingdom of God (or heaven). Now it's a little bit hard to get a handle on all the components but I would like to set out some ideas to get you started and I am sure you can add a lot more as you go.
First of all, there is an idea of the now and the not yet. We live in the truth of redemption and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit now and future paradise in the physical presence of the King. It's almost like a person who is under the age of 18 and waiting to inherit a fortune. That person is in the now and the not yet. He is planning and living today for what is truly to come in the future.
Matthew 17:1-5 gives us a picture of Jesus himself living in that kind of tension.
"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'"
This story gives a picture of the future glory of the king and yet He was still headed to the cross. It calls out the idea that "one day every knee will bow" and still our redemption had not yet been bought. Peter misunderstands and thinks that Jesus is being elevated to their status of prophets. But God, the Father paints the picture in a terrifying display, "This is my son in whom I am well pleased." Jesus has no rivals. He is the only one person of whom it can be said that he made us, and then became one of us; that he is the Lord of glory, and a human being; that he died in shame on the cross, yet is now seated on the right hand of Majesty, having returned to the glory he shared with the Father before the world began.
Now let's see a passage dealing with how we should live in this world, but in light of our future heritage. Matthew 25:31-40 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." This is an amazing picture of the calling on our lives in the kingdom.
We are actually interfacing with Jesus daily when we are serving the marginalized, the broken, the victimized and the poor. As we do this in this life, we are actually doing it for the Kingdom of the future. Now that melts my brain. Lastly,the resurrection has the same now and not yet component.
Easter shows how dangerous he is. It says, he's out there somewhere risen and you are never sure what he is going to do. "He's not safe, but he's good."
Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)
(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.
We are getting down to the end of our observation section of bible study.
Next stop in 3 weeks will be interpretation. It might be a good time to go back over what you have learned and put them on an index card in bullet form so as you go to the next part you take observation with you.
Okay, here's the next tip. Look for things that are emphasized. I have been leading you to this in the above section because of the kingdom emphasis. Of Matthew's 1062 verses, over one third are in the form of Jesus giving a discourse. Guess what the main topic is? That's right, the Kingdom. The main topic of the book of Matthew is the King and his Kingdom.
So, as you read these 14 chapters this week take note of every story that is an illustration of the Kingdom. Write down what it says about it, for now and for later. How are we called to live in light of these truths? For example, when you see our king dying for his enemies, how does that reflect how we should treat those who have different political views, different values, or are just downright folks we don't get along with so well?
Notes from David's Journal
Re-Read closely Matthew 23.
It's a fascinating diatribe from Jesus to the Pharisees! These words flow from the gentlest man who ever lived. He loved in a way no one of us could ever loved. But He really didn't like the Pharisees at all. Why? Because they reduced God's kindness, mercy and love to rules and regulations. They made their faith an outward obedience instead of an inward compassion.
In fact, I've often wondered if there are only two religions in the world: Pharisees and genuine Christians? The former (and you fill in the brand of the different "religious" codes) emphasize doing, outward and pride. They feel they have "it" (God) and anyone who doesn't do what they do is outside His favor. But true Christians know how unworthy they are. They live in constant humility. They bask daily in God's unmerited grace. And they love to give that grace away to all, those who do and don't do alike!
Spend some time this week identifying what I call "the Pharisee in me."
Make sure it's eliminated from your faith walk. Or you just may hear Jesus' harsh words of Matthew 23 spoken to you...and me.