Monday, March 24, 2014

#40daybible Day 21 (Matthew 1:1-7:29)

So we begin the second half of this 40 day journey with the Gospel of Matthew. For today's reading, which goes through the Sermon on the Mount, click here.

Reading notes:
  • I thought the intro to Matthew here was bold (for the NIV especially) to suggest that the author probably wasn't Matthew but rather someone with extensive training in the Law. Of course the Gospel is anonymous technically. But right or wrong in this case, submission to the Truth requires openness to modifying our traditions, including traditions about the Bible.
  • The genealogy of Matthew 1 is intriguing both in its division into 14s (the number of King David's name) and its mention of key women throughout. Each of these women is a testament to how God can use women considered questionable by others.
  • Perhaps these women implicitly prepare us for the story of the virgin birth (or more accurately, virgin conception), since Mary would have been looked at with suspicion. 
  • The importance of the virgin birth for Christian faith highlights the importance of the church after the New Testament, since the virgin birth receives almost no attention whatsoever in the Bible alone. 
  • The most important part of today's reading is the Sermon on the Mount. In my opinion, the key verses of the Sermon on the Mount are 5:17-20. The entire sermon maps out how Jesus' teaching gives the full meaning of the Law, as well as what kind of righteousness God is looking for in relation to the kingdom of God.
  • Matthew 5:21-48 gives a number of examples of this full meaning to the Law. It is not merely extending. Jesus gets to the heart of each matter in the light of the law of love. It's not enough not to murder outwardly. The person who fulfills the law of love does not murder inwardly either.
  • Similarly, it's not enough not to commit adultery outwardly or illegally. The person who fulfills the law of love does not commit adultery inwardly or legally by getting a divorce.
  • However, the last examples in Matthew 5 show that the law of love does not merely extend the OT law. At points it modifies or even reverses it. Jesus models for us that OT commands have to be filtered carefully through the law of love.
  • Matthew 5:43-48 pretty much sums up the chapter.
  • Matthew 6 shows what it means for your righteousness to surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees.
  • Matthew 7 gives the bottom line after hearing the sermon. If you're a wise person, you'll build your house on Jesus' teaching.
  • The NIV introduction is probably right that "Matthew" wanted his audience to think of Moses as they read. Jesus has more authority than Moses, and gives the fulfilled meaning of the Law from a new mountain.
Personal take-away:
  • Again, Matthew 5:43-48 pretty sums up all of Christian ethics. Love everyone, including your enemies, or to put it another way, "Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 7:12). You can't trump these verses with other verses. 

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