The Bible In Our World (Part 24)



By Don Ruhl

Matthew draws us to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms as well as the kingdom or church of God.

Matthew Introduces Jesus 

Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Why is that? Since Matthew wrote primarily for a Jewish audience, he had to establish that Jesus was a Jew and He was descended from both David and Abraham to begin to lay the groundwork that Jesus is the Christ.

Notice how Matthew presented the genealogy in three sections, showing the perfect timing of God in presenting His Son to the world in the fullness of time, “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations” (Matt 1.17).

Another interesting note on the genealogy are the four women mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and by implication Bathsheba. These women were either Gentiles or had been married to Gentiles. Perhaps Matthew sought to show the Jews that Jesus is also for the Gentiles.

Matthew also introduced Jesus by showing some events surrounding His birth. Again, Matthew made a connection with the Old Testament, showing Mary to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 7.14, “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matt 1.22, 23).

Also, Matthew showed the wise men worshiping Jesus and giving Him gifts, but the significance of that is that they were Gentiles.

The Sermon on the Mount

There are five major discourses in the Gospel According to Matthew:

  • The Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5–7)
  • Missionary Instructions (Chapter 10)
  • The Parables (Chapter 13)
  • Matters of the Church (Chapter 18)
  • The Judgment (Chapters 24–28)

Jesus began this sermon with the Beatitudes (Matt 5.1–12). Beatitude is from the Latin, meaning “happy,” or “blessed.” Or think of it this way: Beatitude = be this attitude.

Next Jesus used the imagery of salt and light to show the influence of His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt 5.13, 14).

I remember as a junior high schooler that my stepfather referred to someone as “the salt of the earth.” At the time, I was not familiar with the Bible, so I did not know what he meant. What did he mean? What did Jesus mean by the salt of the earth? He meant salt is a flavoring agent, making life better.

Also, the picture of a city on a hill has made its way into American culture. John Winthrop used the expression in a sermon on the Arabella in 1630 just before the Puritans landed in America,

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken…we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God…We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are a-going.

President Reagan used it in his farewell speech,

And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing. The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

The Republican Convention in 2008 used it several times.

The Sermon on the Mount set the tone for the ministry of Jesus and for the life of His disciples.

4 thoughts on “The Bible In Our World (Part 24)

  1. While Winthrop (and Reagan) alluded to Mt. 5:14 (the city on the hill), they generally preferred the kingdom of Israel as their model for America. In Mt. 5:43 Jesus alludes to the difference between his new kingdom and the kingdom of Israel when he says “you have heard it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” Moses gave Israel the law about loving neighbor (Lev. 19:18), but defined the neighbor as “the sons of your own people.” As for other people, like the Canaanites in their promised land, the command was to destroy these enemies (as in Lev. 26:7). The early Pilgrims and Puritans preferred to follow the O.T., viewing Indians as “Canaanites.” And Reagan (and the other presidents) also preferred to fight and kill enemies of their “godly” nation.

    In Mt. 5:44, however, Jesus goes on to say, “but I say to you, love your enemies.” The true city on the hill will be faithful disciples of Jesus who make up his international kingdom and obey him as the one true king. Jesus says they will be hated by all the nations (because they refuse the deception and violence of the kings and kingdoms of the earth, who prefer “freedom” for the sons of their people rather than love for enemies).

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