Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thoughts on Matthew

I have owned the New Testament on CD for several years. I've recently uploaded all 20 discs to my iPod and have been listening to them on my way to work. Because I am more a child of my generation that I am proud to admit, my attention capacities are limited. As such, I try to make it through three chapters twice during my morning commute. I've made it through Matthew and am halfway through Luke.

It has been interesting to hear the Word read without being able to see verse notations, paragraphs, or footnotes. I'm not ready to claim that it is a more elevated experience, but it has been easier and more enjoyable than originally anticipated.

I am also surprised at how many things have pricked my ear as "new" or noteworthy or puzzling. If a covenant child knows any part of the Scriptures, it's the Gospels, right? How can anything be "new" to a pastor's kid? I at all times have a pad of Post-It notes in my truck, and I have been writing questions/thoughts (dare I say, meditations?) as I listen. Below find the Matthew collection:

1) In Matthew 6, right after The Lord's Prayer, Our Savior says, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." This is a hard saying.

2) In Matthew 8, it is recorded that Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion. How can it be that Jesus, who is fully omniscient God, marveled? Doesn't marveling imply that He was surprised or that He heard a response that He did not expect? Is this a proof text for the humanity of Christ?

3) In Matthew 9, Jesus tells the Pharisees to "Go and find what this means..." He commands them to search God's Word for truth, and to discern the right and proper meaning. Jesus does not tell them to be more genuine or to seek a more earnest experience as a means to achieve a relationship with God. He commands them to read, study, and discern what pleases God based on the God's own written revelation. He commanded them to have right doctrine!

4) How are the words of Jesus about the fasting of His disciples related to His words about new/old wine and new/old wine skins? They are collected as one thought in Matthew 9. Is it an old covenant/new covenant thing?

5) Is the fact that Jesus was accused on being a drunkard (Matthew 11) a proof text for the validity of drinking alcohol?

6) How am I to reconcile that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday with what Jesus says in Matthew 12: "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth?" I only count two nights, no?

7) In Matthew 19, Jesus says " the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Are we to know for whom the twelve thrones in heaven are reserved? If 'those who have followed me' is correctly interpreted as the Disciples/Apostles, is it not also widely held that Judas will not be in heaven? Who then is the twelfth? Paul was appointed an apostle, but so also was Matthias--that makes thirteen.

8) Why does the Roman Catholic church allow its members to call priests "Father?" Our Lord insisted that the disciples not call any man on earth their father, and forbade letting others call them teacher in Matthew 23.

9) In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the signs of the end of the age. In verse 24 he says "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." To me, this verse confirms both the doctrines of Election and of Perseverence of the Saints (or the "U" and "P" of TULIP, for those of you keeping score at home). Not only does Jesus refer to his people as the elect (chosen), he says it is impossible for them to lose their salvation (even in the "end times")!