Christ has discussed and warned his disciples about the struggles and issues that the church will face in time as they go to carry out Christ’s mission. The temptation is not to go forward with Christ’s mission. I mean if this is a kingdom that only involves cross bearing plus suffering then why go? Christ gives the assurance that we go because we will receive the prophet’s reward. So, what is that prophet’s reward?
Christ’s disciples will face trials, struggles, and hardships. Christ has already mentioned the hardships that await us. However, Christ goes on to speak of other problems that tempt us beyond just the comforts of this world. Christ tells us that we might have to walk away from family to be incorporated into the kingdom of God. How can Christ talk about disrupting the family? Why would we want to give up these earthly comforts for Christ?
One would think that being a disciple of Christ would result in instant glory. It must have been an incredible privilege to be sent out by Christ himself, and the people would embrace the messengers of the kingdom with open arms. This is what we would think, but Christ exhorts us to exercise wisdom in a way that almost seems contradictory. On the one hand we are to be humble doves, but on the other hand we are be be slithering serpents. How do we reconcile these two concepts? What is Christ trying to communicate to us?
Matthew alerts us that Christ enters history to save his people from their sins. One would expect Christ to be received with excitement, but that is not the case. Now Christ sends out his disciples to the surrounding area to proclaim the gospel. Will they be embraced with open arms? Abraham’s children embrace the substance of their redemption?
We know that Christ is our redeemer and our messiah. We know that Christ has entered history to save his people from their sins. Does this mean that Christ is indifferent or uncaring? How do we know that our Lord cares about us when we are down here on earth and he resides in glory?
Matthew tells us that this Jesus is the embodiment of Yahweh’s salvation that his name means, “Yahweh Saves.” There are two ways that we can understand Christ conducting himself. He could have his authority from Satan so he is only deceiving his followers or he can have his authority from God. I think that his authority is from God, but who do you say empowers Christ? This is the question that Matthew desires us to answer.
There is no doubt that Christ is the standard of wisdom. He is the embodiment of wisdom and so we would expect his followers to embrace him. We find that not only do the pharisees question Christ’s credibility, but so do John’s disciples. What basis do they have to question them? Did Christ do something wrong or are they out of line?
Christ comes to the other side of the sea and is in his home town and district. It would seem that everything is going to go well because now Christ is among his own people who should embrace him. We find that Christ announces the significance of his office by forgiving sins. Christ came to redeem us from our sins so why would Christ’s forgiving sins be so controversial?
When Christ goes outside the land we would expect Christ to be embraced with open arms, but that is not the case. In fact, Christ encounters satanic forces, and then the men of the city affirm the satanic rebellion. What does this tell us about the status of man? What does this tell us about man’s nature desire for God? What does this tell us about the grace of Christ?
When we consider the message of Matthew’s gospel the concern is that we discern whether or not we are insiders seeking to do the Lord’s will. However, if I am not genetically tied to the Israelite people, Abraham is not a direct genetic descendant in my family tree, and I am not genetically tied to the prophets then can I be an insider? What if my faith is not as strong as it should be does that mean I am excluded from the inside? How do I know if I am an insider who possesses the Gospel promises?