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February 15, 2021 7:00 am
Think back to grade school grammar class when you first learn the difference between statements and commands. If the command is a sentence that gives an order and demands a response. Then Jesus words follow me are certainly no mere suggestion today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn how this short two word sentence has the power to change our lives. So welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyd preparing you to think and act biblically. Have you ever read the phrase the kingdom of God, and wondered what exactly it really means. What does this kingdom look like and how can we prepare ourselves to be good citizens of it. Let's listen in together as Dr. Boyce sheds light on this topic were studying Matthew's gospel but let me begin by referring to something in John's Gospel, at the very end of John's Gospel thereto versus let's give us an important clover understanding the unique character of these New Testament books that we call Gospels. John says at the end of his book that are many other things that Jesus did that could have been written down, but that he is chosen. These in order the people who read them. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing might have life in his name other words, what he is doing there is giving us his principle of selection was true for John is true.
The other Gospels, to only it's not always stated quite so clearly it's true. Mark and Luke, and it's also true hear of the gospel of Matthew. This is the point in Matthew's gospel halfway through the fourth chapter. When Matthew begins to write about Jesus ministry everything before this has been more or less on the nature of an introduction is given us a genealogy which has all the something of Christ human ancestry is a very brief account of the birth of Christ first visit of the Magi, then we have the story of John the Baptist in his baptism of Jesus and the temptation senses eyesight all that is introductory here for the very first time he begins actually talk about the ministry and by doing that what he does is pass over many things that we know from the other Gospels actually happened example refer to John's Gospel again we go to those early chapters we found that Jesus had significant ministry. Before this point drawn in his early chapters leading up to the fourth chapter verse 43 tells us of things that Matthew doesn't even mention told the Jesus master called the first of his disciples. Shortly after the baptism by John. The story of the turning water to wine at Cana regarding the Jesus resided for a short while at Capernaum and he returned to Jerusalem for an early Passover. Each of the moneychangers from the temple for the first time on that occasion. Yet his conversation with Nicodemus, he conducted an early teaching ministry in the Judean countryside and then the hat is encounter with a woman of Samaria on his way back north again.
Now it's at this point that Matthew seems to pick up the story. Matthew doesn't say here explicitly that Jesus early ministry overlapped with the later ministry of John the Baptist, but his language permits, it doesn't exclude it.
Matthew has had Jesus in the desert near the Jordan, where John was now Matthew says the beginning of this section that when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison. He returned to Galilee. This would actually have been about a year later, Matthew doesn't tell us how John came to be imprisoned, but he doesn't later going to find it when we get to the 14th chapter I want. Matthew is concerned about and emphasizes because this indicates his principle of selection in these early chapters is that Jesus began his work in the Galloway which identifies by a quotation from the Old Testament. From the book of Isaiah chapter 9 verses one into its identified as Galilee of the Gentiles is important to Matthew. In other words, Jesus Jewish Messiah and King began his ministry in a predominantly Gentile area and he did it in order to fulfill an important Old Testament prophecy of the prophecy reads like this land of Zebulun land of naphthalene. The way to the sea along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. People living in darkness have seen a great light on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. I would be striking, all by itself.
But what makes it particularly striking is that the key versus verses 13 to 16 are unique to Matthew on the car and Mark or in Luke orange on it seemed strange at first because Matthew was the most Jewish of the Gospels, everybody recognizes that he is writing primarily to Jews.
One of the unique or at least dominant features of Matthew's gospel are all these quotations from the Old Testament is the command the gospel and the message of Christ to those who have a Jewish background and yet it's this very Matthew who talks about the coming of the Gentile wisemen find Jesus at the time of his birth, and the gospel ends with the most explicit of all the great commissions to go with the gospel to all nations. Matthew 2819 so Matthew doesn't want us to forget it and always writing primarily to Jews either at the start of his gospel or the end of his gospel or anything in between.
This message of the Jewish Messiah is not for Jews only, but it's for Jews and Gentiles as well. Words I could use other languages, insisting as much as did the author of the fourth Gospel, the gospel of John. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Now, let's think about Galloway, which is where Jesus began, or was it and what was it like word Galilee probably comes from the Aramaic word Gallia which means a circuit that's the case referred at least at one point of its history to those 20 Gentiles cities that were given to King Solomon by Hiram the king of Tyre and read about in first Kings mind that isn't the original meaning. However, because the name Galilee went back even to the time of Joshua and at that point, Galloway referred to the area west of the Sea of Galilee, which at the time of Joshua was settled by these two tribes of the been mentioned Zebulun and not the later of any Gentiles. There and in the larger surrounding area and the area became even more Gentile after the Syrian conquest, which carried away many of the Jews from the northern kingdom I wasn't large Galilee was only about 50 miles in length from North to South was about 25 miles broad, but it was densely populated and was also very prosperous, far more densely populated and far more prosperous in the area of Judah to the south, Josephus, Jewish historian, I was writing about a generation after the time of Jesus Christ said that there were 204 cities in Galilee, each of which had more than 15,000 inhabitants. That's a lot of people would question that perhaps except the Josephus ought to know because he lived there.
He was actually a military commander in the region. Now we are told why Jesus left Nazareth and adopted Capernaum as his own town is what Matthew says he does in the first verse, but we link this often something. Luke tells us as he begins his narration of the ministry of Christ we may have an explanation you read the fourth chapter of Luke, beginning with verse 14 you'll find that Jesus began his preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath and that is a result of that, the people rose up in opposition took him to the brow of my health I were going to throw him down and stoning to death.
I don't know if that's the reason I would be a perfectly good reason for leaving Nazareth and going to settle in Capernaum. At any rate, Matthew doesn't say that what we would gather as we read this is that Jesus went there because it was an important center in Jesus day and it would be a wonderful base for carrying out this itinerant ministry to Galloway which occupied him in these early months and first year. Verse 23 tells us what Jesus did, tells us that Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. We go back to verse 17, near the beginning.
He begins with the matter of chief importance what he tells us there is a Jesus began to preach. This is what he preached repentance for the kingdom of heaven is near something very brief statement reminds me of that similarly brief statement of the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark which says the same thing Jesus began to preach the kingdom and he began to say, the people must repent and believe the gospel. Very brief and is a great deal tells us the content of this is the kingdom of God's rule, the reign of God, and it tells us a little bit about it because the reason the kingdom of heaven is near is a Jesus is near is good news because Jesus the Messiah has come, he's the king he's the center of the kingdom. Those who come to him enter the kingdom and at that point we say is we should wall how does this have anything to do with us. How does it become personal. How how do we become citizens of the kingdom, the answer is repent and believe the good news. That's exactly what we have to preach today. That's the gospel. Repent and turn from your sin and believe the good news about Jesus Christ and has to do with his reign as king and as Lord I was. Not only that we have at the priest today. This was the message even before the time Jesus came to preach. It was the message of John the Baptist that interesting. If you look back to the third chapter verse one you'll find that this is what John preached repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. When you come to the fourth chapter 1 chapter later. Verse 17 new find is this what Jesus is preaching repent for the kingdom of heaven is near that indicates very clear why that there are no contradictions in Scripture. And when you're talking about the gospel. There is only one gospel. Jesus is going to add to it. Of course going to fill it out as a matter fact is the start that in the very next chapter.
But even now it's a full gospel that's the gospel you and I are called upon to believe once we believe it also teach it to others we seen in this introductory section 2. The actual earthly ministry of Jesus Christ that we are introduced to the first important location that's Galilee, Galilee of the Gentiles as a way of telling us that this is a universal gospel. It's not merely for the Jews.
And secondly, we have been introduced to the basic message of the message is repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. Now were going to be introduced to a very important part of Jesus methodology. Jesus did was call disciples whom he would then teach and commission to go and teach and preach the other people. According to the fourth gospel that we have to bring in at this point. Jesus was already acquainted with some of these man Andrew had been the follower of John the Baptist, and he was one of two who followed after Jesus when John pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. The other one is unnamed, but most people assume. I think rightly that it was John the author of the fourth gospel to himself. He doesn't refer to himself in the gospel.
He does speak of that disciple whom Jesus loved, but a medication just another unnamed disciple to probably was drawn and then the chapter also tells how Andrew went and brought his brother Peter to Jesus and then how Jesus called Philip and went and brought his neighbor Nathaniel so two of these brothers, Andrew and Peter and probably John also were already known to Jesus and had been called by him earlier. So then we ask well what is it that Matthew is describing at this point of Jesus had already called them. Answer seems to be was a further call a little more specific ministry. First occasion he called them to come and learn. Now he is calling them to join him full-time morning and serving.
This is what Matthew seems to emphasize when he says that immediately after this call.
They left their nets in the case of Peter and Andrew and they left their boat and their father. In the case of James and John began to follow Jesus. Later in the gospel of Matthew going around it out is going to tell who the other disciples later became apostles war is going to tell about his own calling in the ninth chapter shows by the way, that when Jesus is calling all these people beginning with these four. Jesus doesn't work without meanness means he uses as his disciples whom he calls, whom he teaches and trains are within going to each other. You and I are in that number. Jesus is called you to be his follower as he has to hear the Christian and your to go out other people with the gospel and that's what these men did.
Now these four are prominent Simon Peter, he became the natural leader of the 12 is mentioned in every single one of the lists of disciples major stories about them here in Matthew, we come to another great one in the 16th chapter, but also the other gospels and enjoy one Andrew doesn't seem to have become as prominent as the other three disciples, but he has a very important role. One thing we learn about Andrews. It is always bringing other people to Jesus. Every time he comes into the picture is out there bringing somebody else in this James. James was the first of the apostles to be martyred, was killed by Herod were told, and I actually saw that the killing of James, please. The Jewish leaders he decided to rest Peter would have been killed to God delivered Peter because he had more for him to do. And finally, John John the apostle, whom Jesus loved wrote the fourth gospel.
He wrote three Johannine letters he wrote the book of Revelation is worth noting that since the sideline at this point that although his brother James was the first of the apostles to be martyred. First of all these people to die John his brother lived to a ripe old age finally died decades later on the Isle of Patmos having been used by God.
All that time. It's a way of saying that none of us can predict God's ways take some home early. Some minister for a long time. All the valuable insight we don't understand God's ways. But that's the way he operates. Now we come to these words with which Jesus called the disciples and they are the words follow me very basic find that particular combination of words throughout many of the stories it's here and Jesus calling up your Andrew, James and John, but several chapters later. That's the way Jesus calls Matthew and it appears in John's Gospel many times it's there in the first chapter, not always in the command to follow, but in the description of what happened the early disciples took off after Jesus, they followed heaven.
At the very end of John's Gospel we find when Jesus had spoken to Peter and had given him a commission. Peter was somewhat embarrassed by Apple called attention of the beloved disciple again as John Jesus said now if I want him to remain until I called business that is yours. Your task is to follow me. So in Matthew Mark Luke and John from the beginning of the end of all these Gospels you have this great command follow me. The words follow may occur. 13 times in the Gospels and in addition that after all sorts of other occasions when people actually are said will follow Christ.
That means we gotta stop and think a little bit about what it really means to follow Jesus was mean to follow him. First of all it has to do with obedience. Obedience is a very unpopular thing today we'll like it. So we have phrases that are pejorative whenever we talk about obedience. We thought about blind obedience. For example, or mindless obedience we have in mind there generally is the kind of obedience that might be required of a soldier by some malicious military commander wants him to do something terrible. That's kind of the way we think about obedience. So when we come to a phrase like this follow me, we tend to reinterpret it as an invitation so much of our gospel preaching today is done that way.
We parted said Jesus is a gentleman he would never command anybody to do anything but he's nice and he offers invitations and what he says is I would like you to follow me with you.
Please follow me. I think you would find it helpful if you would follow me if you follow me out of all sorts of nice things for you and I'll solve all your problems and more or less that's the way the gospel is preached, I don't mean to suggest that there isn't anything of an invitation in these words can certainly say people we would like to clap you, we invite you to follow Jesus Christ. But it doesn't take a master of grammatical structure read those words understand that they are not an invitation because when Jesus came, Peter and Andrew, James and John by the Sea of Galilee in the address them was in an invitation he said follow me. So the command of Jesus Christ heard by those in whose hearts God was working was received.
That's why they immediately left their nets to both their father anything else and began to follow Jesus, let me say that without obedience is no Christianity that people can follow Jesus in some lesser sense sort of being intrigued by religion or perhaps by his personality and then when the going gets tough, fall away. Jesus himself said that lots of people like that.
But the real following of Jesus Christ.
Real Christianity is a Christianity that obeys his voice.
Those were truly Christ's sheep obey his call and follow him from the very beginning of the end.
What's the first thing obedience. Secondly, when Jesus said, follow me. His command also involved in repentance. When Jesus called Matthew. It was very evident that Matthew was a sinner. That's what tax collectors were regarded as being word even comes out in the story in both Matthew and Mark. The calling of the first disciples is preceded by a record of Christ's first preaching and that focuses on the word repent of repentance is evidence of my calling in Luke the equivalent account is embedded in the story of Jesus's miraculous multiplication of fish. When the disciples were fishing as a result of alleged Peter response to Jesus by saying the part for me, for I'm a sinful man overboard. So, in all those cases, it's very evident that the call to follow Jesus bent at the same time also a repentance from sin and eyesight. How could it be otherwise. Jesus is the holy one of God is never taken a false step is never move in a single evil direction. So if you and I are following Jesus, we have to be turning our back on sin and sense of what conversion is all about conversion means to turn around were going one way following sin we hear the voice of Jesus calling, we turn around we begin to follow Jesus and by definition, we turn our back on sin mean that Christian never sends a do we fall into sin when we do we have to repent of the sin and get on with the task of following our Lord.
That's why Martin Luther said when he talked up that first thesis of the 95 theses on the door of the Catholic Church that Wittenberg would Jesus Christ called his people to repent event that all of life was to be a time of repentance is the third thing. Submission because following Jesus also involves submission. Jesus is the Lord we follow when we have to follow him as Ward means we have to submit to his authority in one of his sayings about discipleship. Jesus pictures that is putting on a yoke. That's what animals Ward linked them to one another and to the farming implement in order to do work actually submitted to that kind of direction and authority submit itself comes from the Latin word Saba which means under me told me Terry BCB submit means to place report or send so submission really means being placed under the authority of another.
So again I asked the question how could it be otherwise, of the one we are following is the Lord we put it this way. If you are not submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ you're not following the Lord Jesus Christ. If you're not following the Lord Jesus Christ are not a Christian's attention to what he says from time to time is not good enough. Lots of people do that is not following Jesus Christ as Savior is a four thing all about trust. This is the fourth element because it's impossible to follow Jesus Christ without trusting him you don't trust them. What you do you trust yourself. Trust other people you trust the things you see on television, or that you read in the newspapers of the secular book cure despite well Jesus has a point of view, of course, is worth listening to really trust them implicitly and I trust these other things instead. If that's the case you're not a follower of Jesus Christ.
You have to trust in the failure to follow really means that your omitted some other goal you're trusting some other thing or some other person and then last of all, how about perseverance because when Jesus said, follow me. Didn't mean follow me this afternoon. They can get back your fishing.
It didn't mean I like you to follow me for six months and see if you really like it and at the end of that time you can make a decision whether you want to continue following me or not wasn't that all Jesus said, follow me, never backed off from the command and when he reiterated later what it meant. He said it's those who persevere to the end that is, those who follow me to the very end who are saved saved by your perseverance. I would put all of that on analysis of the was something we could do to maintain our salvation. But listen, if you are saved by Jesus Christ or his disciple, a true Christian, you will persevere because that's exactly what it means. David wrote about it in Psalm 119 you know that section of that long Psalm that begins your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path ends with these words by heart is set on keeping your decrees that the very and that's it exactly. A true disciple is one who follows Jesus Christ to the very end of everything, Charles Spurgeon, a great Baptist preacher wrote the Jesus call these early disciples like this: every disciple was number one Imperial number two. Appropriate number three, full of promise.
Number four, constructive, and number five effectual.
I have five points but those are five more is what he said. They come straightaway they come in all costs that come without a question they come to quit their old haunts and they come to follow their leader without stipulation or reserve you done that you heard the call of Jesus Christ to you, follow me, follow me the larger Christian lot.
You are the best still on the way worse. You may be in rebellion what it means to be a Christian be saved. We come to the very end of the section.
Just briefly we point out what we have there.
We have a record of the two main thrust of Christ's ministry. It was first of all, teaching in their synagogues, which includes preaching and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
I mention it because it gives us an outline for what follows. Because the next chapters are grouped under these headings. First of all, teaching chapters 5 through seven recall of the sermon on the mount for going to begin to study it next time and then healing or you have some examples of that in chapters 8 and nine are the teaching goes Matthew contains six main sections of Jesus teaching chapters 5 through seven chapter 10 through 1318 23 in chapters 24 and 25 let me come back to where we were at the beginning and that I'll close the last thing Matthew tells us in this chapter is that as a result of Jesus teaching and healing the good news spread about him throughout Syria Galilee that the capitalist, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan versus 24 and 25 that embraces all the major regions of the country, but especially those in the north, Galilee of the Gentiles. It was a spiritually dark region. The light head, the holy spirit was now drawing people from these very diverse dark places to believe on Jesus about the day to day world is equally dark. The light is shining even more brilliantly universally than it did in those early days. But the problem is were told in Scripture is that people love the darkness rather than the light of the reason for that is that their deeds were evil. When you come to the light. You have to turn your back on sin. If you're one of these people who have been preferring the darkness to light. Now is the time to repent and turn from your seventh place your faith in Jesus Christ. Trusting him following after him. The kingdom of heaven is here. The gospel tells us that the judgments is imminent. Are you going to escape the judgment of Almighty God. If you refuse to repent of your set of believe on Jesus Christ.
Now let's pray our father, we thank you for your word and its power that even when spoken through the week and adequate and stumbling lips of a mere man or woman your spirit take it to the heart and bring about those changes which mean the white instead of darkness, life, instead of death or father we ask you to do that through this same gospel that has always been preached.
It's the Old Testament gospel. It's John's Gospel it's Jesus gospel is been the gospel that the followers of Jesus Christ, to proclaim to a dark world ever since less that we pray even now say that you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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