The Lord’s Prayer – Its context in Matthew.
Sunday November 20,2022
The Lord’s Prayer: Initial thoughts from the context of Matthew.
Type: Gospel. Matthew is most certainly the author. Written sometime between 50-70 AD. Matthew was a tax-collector residing in Capernaum whom Jesus told to follow Him and he did. Nothing is known of Matthew’s exploits as an apostle. That, after preaching to his countrymen in Palestine, he went to the East, is the general testimony of antiquity; but the precise scene or scenes of his ministry cannot be determined. It was universally believed by church fathers that Matthews was the first gospel issued, but it cannot be dated with precision. It is also universally accepted that Matthew’s gospel was prepared and constructed with a special view towards the Jews (which is further evidence for it being the first, as the church was almost all Jews at the start). Remember, however, that there is no Jew or Gentile in the church, so it is not as if Gentiles have nothing to do with this wonderful first gospel. At the end of this gospel Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Matthew gives the fullest record of the Sermon on the Mount. It defined Jesus’ position with regard to the law, He came not to destroy but to fulfill. He demanded a righteousness that was of God Himself, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” “You have heard it said… I say to you.”
Context: Genealogy, birth, Magi, persecution of Herod, flight to Egypt, baptism, temptation in the wilderness and then He heads to Galilee to begin His ministry, which begins with:
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
He then called His first disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, and John).
And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
And, ‘Immediately they left and followed Him.’
The gospels are all literary. They are not simply history; a setting down of the facts of the life of Jesus. They include this but in a literary way. That is why they are not identical, while at the same time, written by different men in different places at different times, the first three are remarkably similar (synoptic – see the same). Therefore, the way in which Matthew presents things is meant to be significant to the reader. When Jesus’ ministry begins, after He has prepared Himself for it, He says first, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In context, “Stop following the wrong kingdom and follow the one true kingdom.”
Then, to the first disciples of that kingdom, He says, “Follow Me.” Following Him is the same as following the kingdom because He is the King and all the way, life, and truth of the kingdom are based completely on Him. There is no other, no competing view, no debate, no congress to hash out laws, but only the one way of the one true King.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
And He promises to give them a different job. Their vocation has to be different because the kingdom of heaven is not the kingdom of earth that all of us are to repent from.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
And then, “Immediately they left and followed Him.” Fulfilling our new lives and our new vocations in Christ, as members of His kingdom, demands obedience in all areas of life.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
The call of the disciple parallels the call of all of us.
Waiting to give Him all of ourselves in obedience, is waiting to experience the life of the heavenly kingdom while on earth, and with the added bonus that you experience it behind enemy lines, before Christ plants His footprint again on this earth and establishes His kingdom physically. It is the life of knowing the mystery and living the mystery. Page after page of Scripture is telling us of its marvelous blessing and the pain of missing it.
When Jesus’ ministry begins there is a call of immediate obedience to His followers. It reveals to us the importance of full obedience as believers. What He calls us to think, to do, to say, and where to go - we must go. If we do not, we must confess and repent and get going without regret. Matthew will then give us the Sermon on the Mount. This account in Matthew is the longest discourse in all the Gospels. It is the spiritual principles of the kingdom of heaven. It is the ethics of the Mosaic Law the way they should be kept; the way they should have always been kept.
Sermon on the Mount – God will for ethics in man.
The Law revealed them, but no one attained them.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
The impact of this truth is not known enough, or well enough (as goes for me). What could only be a list of commandments that signaled death to the sinner, now becomes a way of life to the sinner justified in Christ, who is in Christ, and who is forgiven of all sin.
Notice that the Law is not abolished but fulfilled. The blood of Christ fulfills it for all believers, and our position in Christ as a new creation allows us to accomplish what the precepts of the Law were always meant to be – a good summary of which would be to love one another as Christ loved us.