As I mentioned in my earlier post – there is one Gospel of Jesus Christ and we have this gospel revealed to us through the eyes of four different writers.
Matthew’s Gospel contains three main themes: the King revealed, the King rejected, and the King is returning.
The King revealed
As the King revealed, we find in the introduction of this Gospel, Jesus’ ancestry traced from David. All through Matthew’s Gospel we find direct references to the King and His kingdom.
At His birth, we learn of wise men from the East bearing royal gifts for a King. John the Baptist declares the arrival of the King; and in Jesus’ temptation after His baptism, Satan offers Jesus, all the kingdoms of the world – acknowledgement by Satan that Jesus has a right to rule.
The Sermon on the Mount was the establishment of His laws for His followers, and His miracles signified that He was indeed, ruler over all. His parables present hidden truths to the citizens of His kingdom. A week prior to His death, Jesus enters Jerusalem as its King, and some people are given an insight into Who He is.
At the time of His crucifixion, Jesus predicts His future reign and His last words in Matthew’s Gospel confirm His royal authority and He issues a royal command to His followers. Matthew 28:18-20 (NIVUK): “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It’s remarkable when you are presented with an outline of the truths about Jesus, that His nature and role becomes so clear. Likewise, it should be obvious to everyone what our response to this truth should be; and, there’s no escaping the fact that we have before us, a clearly articulated royal command, which we must follow with all our strength.
The King Rejected
In this study of Matthew we will see right from the early stages – the constant theme of the King rejected by the people, He had chosen as His nation. The Old Testament is the story of God guiding His people to a place, and telling them how to recognise their eternal King. But they were deaf and blind and did not see the truth, He was a King rejected.
In Matthew’s Gospel we read a lot about Jesus’ kingliness, and the emphasis on this aspect brings into even greater focus, the gravity of the failure of the majority of people to accept their true King. In this gospel, we will hear over and over again, the immense calamity that arises because of their rejection of the King.
In fact, rejection is a key point in this gospel. Right from the start, we find that His mother was in danger of being rejected by Joseph. Then, the ruler of the land, Herod, rejected His presence, and His family had to flee to Egypt to escape. Later, we learn that the people of His village, Nazareth, rejected His fulfilment of prophecy; and, in the early days – His family rejected His mission.
The rejection of our Lord, is unending, and can be seen in other Gospels as well, for example:
John 6:60-66, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Jesus’ final rejection is seen in His death on the cross; and ever since that day – there are many who still reject Him.
The King is Returning
Matthew’s Gospel places a lot of emphasis on the second coming of our Lord and God, Jesus. In the following verses, we are given an insight into the triumphant return of our amazing King of kings.
Matthew 24:30-31; “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his people from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
I think that the return of our King is all the more sensational and earth shattering, when placed next to the constant rejection of the truth by many, many people. At that time, seeing will be believing!
In the next post on this subject, I’ll look at the first seventeen verses of chapter 1.
(References: My summary is based on the amalgamation of many sources; the general outline will follow the Bible Study Notes prepared by the late Rev Eric Bird.)