Friday, May 27, 2011

Matthew on His Own

Friday in the week of Easter 5
May 27, 2011

The Lord be with you

The story of the life of Jesus is very familiar to Christians, as it should be. We have heard countless sermons about his birth, ministry, death and resurrection, as it should be. But, because of that great familiarity, it is sometimes hard to hear the voice of the individual Gospel writer. We, almost automatically, synthesize the various Gospels into one smooth story. What one Gospel writer leaves out we just supplement from the other Gospels. For example, John tells us that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on Maundy Thursday. The other Gospel writers leave that out. However, when we hear a Maundy Thursday sermon based on, say Matthew, the sermon might very well refer not only to the establishing of the Lord’s Supper which Matthew records but also to the foot-washing found in John’s Gospel. For the most part, this is good. The problem, as I already mentioned, is that it sometimes become hard to hear the voice of the individual Gospel writer.

Currently we are studying the Gospel of Matthew in our Sunday morning adult Bible study. In Matthew 4:18-22 the Evangelist records the calling of the first four disciples.
    While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
In Matthew’s Gospel this is the first time Jesus and these four men meet. We know from John’s Gospel that they had actually met before this call, but Matthew doesn’t record it. These two accounts do not conflict. Matthew does not say this is the first time the disciples meet Jesus. However, for the sake of the point Matthew wants to make, he does not record the earlier meetings. Matthew is not expecting his readers to supplement information from John’s Gospel. In fact John’s Gospel had not been written when Matthew wrote his Gospel.

So what is Matthew’s point? Just this, we are saved by Christ, not by our own efforts. Jesus seeks out and calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John. THEY do not seek Jesus. JESUS seeks them. JESUS calls them. This is made all the more remarkable as it is quite the opposite from the norm back in First Century Judea. Back then the student would seek out the teacher. Here the teacher seeks out the students.

Matthew is saying that we are saved by grace through faith, it is not our own doing, it is a gift of God, now of works, so no one can boast

There are many more treasures to be found by reading Matthew on his own. If you live in the area of Spartanburg, we welcome you to join us Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM.

Blessings in Christ
Pastor John Rickert

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