I hope your Easter was a truly blessed one! I spent much of the weekend in solitude and with family (in part, because I was sick on Sunday), but it was a very good weekend of reminders of frailty and new life. I did spend time with Henri Nouwen, one of my favorites especially on Easter. If you would like to read my Easter mediations click here to go to my personal blog.
We have just made a huge jump in time in Matthew 3. Kids have grown up to be adults. The time for ministry has come.
"John baptizing Christ" by Guido Reni
This is the first mention of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, in Matthew. He is one unorthodox bloke, to put it mildly. He must have failed his seminary class on seeker-sensitive preaching:
He saw several Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized by him. “You brood of vipers!” he said to them. “Who warned you to escape from the coming wrath? You better prove your repentance by bearing the right sort of fruit!” (3:7-8)
His first words are what strike me in this chapter:
“Repent!” he was saying. “The kingdom of heaven is coming!” (3:2)
John’s first words introduce us to what will be a major theme in Matthew, actually the biggest idea Jesus and his followers ever talked about. What is this kingdom? It is coming here? When? One’s understanding of the Gospels is sadly deficient if one does not come to understand what the “kingdom” is.
What struck you in this chapter?
Tags: Bible, BIble reading, Easter, God, Gospels, heaven, jesus, John the Baptist, kingdom, kingdom of heaven, matthew, Pharisees, repentance, Sadducees
Blessed Good Friday!
Today is a truly somber day, yet “good” nonetheless because of what it means and what comes on Sunday. It is an interesting juxtaposition to be reading about the birth of Christ on the day we remember his death. Though, I wonder if death didn’t remain in the back of Jesus’ mind everyday of his earthly life. Praise God for his faithfulness!
Four times in this chapter we are told that the events of Jesus’ early life are unfolding as the prophets of old foretold:
- Jesus was born in Bethlehem because “that’s what it says in the prophet.” (2:5)
- Joseph took his family to Egypt to flee from the murderous Herod in order to “fulfill what the lord said through the prophet.” (2:15)
- The “murder of the innocents” in Bethlehem was even foretold: “That was when the word that came through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled.” (2:17)
- Joseph took his family to Nazareth to settle once Herod the Great had died because “this was to fulfill what the prophet had spoken.” (2:23)
Scholars opine that each of the gospels was probably written to a specific audience, just like the letters were. Many experts see much in Matthew to suggest that it was intend for a Jewish audience. The emphasis on fulfilled Jewish prophecy about the Messiah is a key piece of evidence for a Jewish background.
Regardless of theory, this chapter reminds us that Jesus didn’t come out of nowhere as a self-styled Messiah. He is the one talked about long ago. He isn’t “new” as much as he is “very old.” Jesus was no after-thought. He is the long-desired one. And he is here. Now. God with us.
What struck you about this chapter?